Standing still, but still standing. May 19th 2016.

I teach. In Ireland. In a secondary school. Look away now if that is going to upset you because it does cause quite a lot of heartache for lots of people at this time of year. We are about to get our summer holidays. Suddenly everyone wants to be a teacher – feel free! It is a wonderful job, but not as cushy as many would lead you to believe, at least not if you do it well. Hence I have not been blogging for a while – other priorities. It is an interesting way to live. While everyone else celebrates beginnings and endings in December and January, we do so in June and August as well. It is a time to take stock of our professional lives, but also our own lives and reflect on what changes have happened for us.

I have had a simple existence for many years now, always following the same pattern. I start the year in September with great plans to get healthy, lose weight and get fit. I do. I bring lunch from home, walk with friends and am careful with food. I follow different food plans depending on the year. I have done Weight Watchers, Slimming world, hypnosis, self planned diets. I have successfully lost a stone, sometimes two, and then Christmas has hit. Like a lead weight. Literally. I then eat my way through the two weeks and never get back on track. I rally a little in February and rouse myself to try again.

And yet. And yet. As June approaches I feel sad. I am never lighter on the last day of school than I am on the first day. I look at the staff picture taken in September and sigh. I always look worse in June.

Up until now. That’s what all the self help gurus tell us – up until now is an empowering phrase. It is. Up until now I’ve always been heavier at the end of the year. Up until now I’ve been a size in the twenties.

Now I’m a teenager again – a size 18 and maintaining. I’m three stone lighter than when I started the school year. I feel like a different person.

I have a way to go. I would still like to lose another five or six stone – and I will. I have managed to maintain this weight now for a couple of very difficult months when I usually just give in and gorge. I promise myself I’ll “be good in the summer”. Instead this summer I’m promising I will finally get going properly on my running – I have a target of August for a fully run five k and a target for next year’s Pieta House Darkness into Light five k of a 30 minute time. That’s the plan.

It’s been a good year.

I have eaten carbs when I felt like I needed to. I have eaten sugar when I wanted it. And then my body has said enough and I have stopped.

I have eaten out and enjoyed myself. I have been away with friends and my husband and had wonderful meals. I have changed my taste buds – something I never would have believed was possible at the beginning of this year. I have introduced sugar-free living to my children. They still eat carbs – and lots of sugar sometimes too – but they can see we can actually live without sugar – and we can enjoy beautiful tasty food nonetheless.

How is your journey going for you?

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Family parties – can it be done banting style? May 2nd 2016

We have a confirmation in our house this coming weekend.

My husband and I bant. Our children do not – well they do the bits they like I should say!

We are a major dessert family – and that will pose a problem – but I can overcome that one – I will make some lemon curd and fill it into some tiny little butter pastries I found in Sainsbury’s last month – they are delicious – and very carby I know – but the size of them makes it okay – they have only 4.3 gms of carb in each one – so I can live with that for my guests! I could make some pastry with almond flour but I’m not feeling the love there at the moment as everything I make these days seems to crumble – there’s an idea – I could do lemon curd beneath a nutty crumbly top for the purists! I’ll let you know how that goes! I plan to try out meringue made with xylitol today as well – for the top of the little lemon curd pots!

I will make the banting brownies too – I’ve to adapt the Nevin Maguire recipe – I’ll try to make that later today and post a picture. Or maybe I’ll get my daughter to make it instead – she’s fairly nifty in the kitchen.

I plan to make a banting pavlova – it should be possible – with xylitol – and that would be perfect for dessert too – with double cream and fresh berries! I know there’s a lot of small carb stuff going on – small carb stuff is okay as long as it’s not carb heavy food along with it.

I also perfected the humble chocolate pots last week – and wanted to share them with you – I actually weighed the ingredients this time! I also added ground almonds so I’m not totally out of love with almonds in general yet!

Chocolate pots recipe updated

Ingredients

  • 200gms cream cheese
  • 500mls cream
  • 30gms cocoa powder
  • 100gms ground almonds
  • 2tbls xylitol
  • 20 gms 100% chocolate, finely grated and more for dusting the top
  • generous tsp vanilla paste

Mix all the ingredients together with an electric whisk and fill into pots – this made 12 for me – I use ramekin dishes.

Grate some extra 100% chocolate on top and refrigerate for  24 hrs.

The almonds soak into the mixture and lose their grainy texture and add a rich creaminess to the final dish. A whole load of lovely. If you like it sweeter add more xylitol. There’s not a lot in each one as you can see from the number of pots I got from this.

Mains

I have a selection of salads from The Avoca Cookbook I plan to make that will be perfect for the barbecue – a good butcher who will provide a side of beef I can cut to size myself for individual portions. I may also provide chicken or pork with some pepper seasoning on it. Barbecue is great for banters! Provably why it started in South Africa – they call it braiing there I think!

I’m going for the broccoli, cherry tomato and feta salad, the carrot and courgette one and and cauliflower broccoli and nut one too – it calls for monkey nuts but I’ll use either almonds or pecans – smoked almonds if I can get them in Avoca on time!

By tweaking the recipes all will be banting friendly – even the carrot and courgette one if I up the courgette quantity and reduce the carrot part. See, it can be done. And I haven’t even mentioned my favourite food at present – the humble avocado – I plan something exotic for that – I’ll post that recipe next week – when I’ve made it up! It will involve bacon anyway – that’s a given!

IMG_2072

This is the carrot and courgette salad – a little more courgette and a little less salad and we’re away!

Obviously I will provide some rice or pasta for the visitors who don’t bant – but Paddy and I won’t feel deprived when we have this much to choose from.

I’ll post pictures of all as I go.

Orla