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.

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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!

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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

 

 

 

Rowing back and reining in…. April 2nd 2016

Easter is a long holiday in Ireland – this year more so than most years as our Saint’s Day linked with it so we had two weeks and two days off for the holidays – they still didn’t go any slower but it was a great break – and suddenly it’s all over again!

I have managed to maintain my weight loss – almost – I have two pounds on but that isn’t bad considering I’ve entertained several times and been out and about too – and of course my niece bought me a caramel flavoured chocolate egg – I didn’t completely resist – I shared it between four of us –  I still ended up having about 50 gms of sugar in my portion!

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So I did a bit of reading, and a bit of cooking, and a little shopping too to get myself re-energised for my banting journey – I still haven’t managed to start my couch to 5k – I’m scared of the notion of running if truth be told but I will have to bite that bullet now that the longer evenings are here. I did get out for a few walks over the break but not enough. What is interesting is that although I have now really been in plateau for about three months – well – I have four pounds off in that time – I have managed to maintain that weight loss and not do my usual mad hike back into bad habits and weight gain.

I read a really good article on the Realmealrevolution.com website last week about banting and food lists and what should be or not be on the green list – it was reassuring to know that this is not an exact science – Jonno wrote that the bottom line is that you make good food choices to suit your lifestyle, and sometimes that means cutting corners – not always but to focus on the most important aspect of banting for you – and for me that is following a lifestyle that I can live with while not feeling deprived or isolated from the rest of society!

In a nutshell this is the most important section of that article –

“What is Banting?

  • It is learning you are right to challenge your existing beliefs
  • It is taking control of your life and living on your terms
  • It is refusing to accept the status quo
  • It is making healthy choices and knowing why
  • It is being empowered, not overpowered, by what you eat
  • It is digging in. Not passing up
  • Not depriving
  • Not abstaining
  • It is indulging in delicious meals you used to think were harmful
  • It’s avoiding other meals you believed to be good
  • It is overcoming your body’s harmful addiction to sugar and carbs
  • It is saying ‘yes’ to real fats and real foods, and ‘no’ to refined grains and processed goods
  • It is challenging the not-so-supermarket machine
  • It is voting against the foods you don’t want by choosing the ones you do

Each of us has our own food journey and our own health story to tell and how we interpret what Banting is depends on our own life experiences.

The number one rule when Banting is to eat real food – no sugar, no refined carbs, no processed foods. This is not a diet; it is a lifestyle, and it is your lifestyle. The rest is up to you.”

– http://realmealrevolution.com/real-thinking/the-lists-keep-changing-but-do-they

I haven’t managed to stay off the dread sugar for the two weeks – but that was partly by choice – I felt like indulging so I did and decided to accept the consequences which were minimal – I also managed to reign in my mad cravings – I had no night like my Christmas binge night so that was a positive. I had fish and chips one day – and on that same day I gave in to a craving for some white bread – an Italian roll from Lidl – God it was gorgeous but I had the hangover from hell the next day – and no desire for bread or potato since! It really is amazing how awful I feel when I eat too much carb now – so that is incentive to stay away.

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I was at Mc Nean’s Restaurant in Blacklion today for a parent and child cookery course with my middle child – a Christmas gift for her – and I tasted all she made – including the chocolate brownie – and have no regrets – I didn’t taste the nibbles left out for us when we arrived – I took my chia porridge with me instead – and so I am learning moderation in all things. However that same child will be confirmed in five weeks today so there is some pressure on now to make the dress I am going to wear just a little more comfortable than it is already….

Here are a few new things I have discovered in my banting journey to make it a bit more interesting for us all….

I made my first ever chia porridge yesterday – and tasted it with a lot of trepidation – I bought chia seeds way back in August in my first flush of banting and then put them in the back of the cupboard terrified of them – I’m not sure why really – turns out they are pretty gorgeous if you know what to do with them.

I got the porridge recipe from realmealrevolution.com – it’s very simple –  mix a tin of coconut milk – check that there is no added sugar in – with 1/3 of a cup measure of chia seeds and a good dollop of cinnamon. Leave it in the fridge overninght – it doesn’t look hugely attractive in the morning – but what happens is the chia seed takes in the liquid and takes on the consistency of tapioca – I love tapioca so I’m good with that! It doesn’t taste too coconutty either – and then I added just heated frozen raspberries yesterday – it was fine – not glorious but it tasted good enough. this morning I added the same raspberries – and some chopped almonds and a little dessicated coconut – and wow! It was so delicious – and it is incredibly filling – I had half the portion that I made yesterday – a third is really enough, and it also lasts in the fridge for up to three days so it can be made in advance for a quick lunch on the go – a new delight to intrigue my staff buddies with! Honestly – the pictures don’t do it justice – it really does tste lovely!

 

I also made my own fresh pesto this week – I was in the butchers and vegetable shop – I love that they are side by side and so easy to pop into – it kept me out of the supermarket – and I do think that you get better produce from craft butchers. I saw wild garlic in the vegetable shop – new to me – so I bought it along with some basil and made a batch of pesto which I smeared onto some chicken wings as an alternative to bbq sauce – they were very tasty – although next time I may just use a new product my children love on their potatoes – a spicy seasoning which is delicious

– I’ll try that next time and let you know how that one goes. We put it on along with the oil before cooking… okay – the recipe.

Homemade Basil and wild garlic pesto

Ingredients

  • a handful of basil
  • a handful of wild garlic
  • 60 gms pine nuts
  • 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor and use for tomato sauces, or on wings as I did. The children loved it in some homemade burgers as well – that and some onion – gorgeous!

 

 

With the confirmation approaching I will be making food ahead and freezing – you know me and my freezer – so as I do I will post – today’s brownie by Neven was very adaptable for banting, and I have that Italian gateau that I can adapt too as a vegetarian side – I will get cooking and posting – oh and couch to 5 k-ing too!

 

Enjoy the weekend!

Orla

Making good Banting choices when eating out. March 6th 2016. 

   
    
 
It’s been a busy few weeks between work and family commitments. I’ve eaten out more often than I’ve eaten at home. I had two hotel stays and was away from home in Dublin for two full Saturdays on top of that with no access to home cooking. My weight? I’m down another three pounds. 38 pounds down and counting. Now that’s what I call a result. 

Remarkably this is an eating plan that is actually quite easy to follow when out and about. It takes a bit of practice but it can be done. Tonight I want to share a few tips about what to go for when you’re not at home. 

I ate in Frangos in Dundrum Shopping Centre for the last two weekends and both days took the same dish – fabulous smoked salmon terrine with Caesar Salad – hold the croutons- and the fennel and orange salad – hold the orange! It was luxurious, decadent and deliciously satisfying and filling. The Greek Salad was also very acceptable but I’m not a fan of raw onions so I declined. 

 I also found a few more items on their menu that could be eaten as well. Have a look and see what’s available to enjoy from this board. 

  
In fact there are two items here that would be fine. Hold the hummus on the veggie option and it’s a great choice, as is the rotisserie chicken salad. 

Another board – more choices. 

  
The half chicken is a great choice here too. Choose the salads carefully and you’re good to go. 

It’s easy to make good choices. 

I spent two different sessions in a lovely hotel in Athlone recently – the Sheraton. It’s a fabulous spot. The staff are uber friendly and extremely helpful. I had bar food there three times. A lunch of smoked salmon salad – delicious, and great value. I ordered Cajun chicken breast and they added bacon and cheese for me, held the bun and the fries, and gave me sautéed mushrooms and side salad. When I went back this week I had the minute steak with pepper sauce, aforementioned sautéed mushrooms and green salad.  

I also had a fabulous meal in Thyme with an college friend from thirty years ago – it’s a stunning little restaurant in Athlone  – there are lots of them. I wish I had taken photos. I had a divine starter of ham hock, with a celeriac velouté – gorgeous – steak again – what can I say – I love my steak! – and we shared a cheese plate. I had the vegetable side – some carrots but not too many, the rest were greens. 
This is so not a diet plan. It’s a really easy lifestyle. There are moments when I hesitate – I baked lovely lemon cupcakes today and was tempted for about five minutes 

  
In fairness you can see why. I did have a taste – one mouthful of a bun before I iced them. Then I went back to my mortadella salad with cream cheese. I do plan to bake more with Xylitol but not at the moment. 

It can be done. It’s not a diet. It really is just a lifestyle choice. 

Talk soon. 40 pounds is approaching – that’s got a satisfying ring to it!

Orla 

“Choceile” and almond cookies – Pancake Tuesday alternatives. February 6th 2016

Hi everyone.

I said I’d post a recipe or two on sweet treats because let’s face it if there are no sweet treats then this is not a good plan for life – it’s a bit dull and where’s the fun in being good all the time?

My children adore Nutella. Let’s be honest – I adore it myself – what’s not to love – a little jar full of hazelnut and chocolate sunshine that is so versatile – except that it is full of sugar – more than 50gms per 100gms of product – have a look – this has been all over the web this week –

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I don’t like to harp at the girls about food – I am aware as a person with an unhealthy relationship with food most of my life that it is essential that they grow up without obsessing. I did show them a clip or two that I saw about this particular product. It is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday in three days and I don’t want them to be the only ones not indulging in some chocolate covered beauties. Mind you in our house we tend to have the less traditional, but tastier, crumpet in place of the French crepe style flat version.

So I checked out one of my go to sites – http://www.ditchthecarbs.com/ and searched for the nutella recipe there – it is gorgeous. I didn’t weigh or measure out anything but this is worth trying – I’m bringing some in to work on Monday to let the staff taste because it’s so good. You can use either coconut oil or butter – I’m Irish – it’s got to be butter!

We call our version Choceile – eile is the Irish for other – a fitting name we figure!

Choceile

Ingredients

  • 200gm walnuts – Lidl packet!
  • A dollop of butter – about 45gms?
  • a generous tablespoon of Xylitol
  • 4 tblsps cocoa powder

Throw all into the food processor and blend until it’s no longer grainy looking. It is very chocolately and quite heavy – a dark spread. The girls didn’t like it at first but then I mixed equal measures of Philadelphia cheese and the spread and they loved it! Success. The next day they were ready for the mix without the cheese to lighten it. I had to make some more yesterday evening as the first batch was all gone – the younger two had it on breakfast brown bread all week – and I really didn’t mind – far better than jam or honey let’s face it! My children are not banting but we try hard to replace their treat foods with banting alternatives – they tend to fill them better and with all three of them stretching daily I’m happy to fill them with high fat food.

Of course I couldn’t have the bread with the choceile so I needed to try something new to spread it on. Hence the almond cookies. I found a recipe for almond cookies with honey and coconut oil in them but I am avoiding honey so I decided to just experiment – the result is fabulous – I made a batch of these Thursday and made another larger batch tonight – they are ideal for the choceile but on their own they are just as tasty – think chewy almond slice style biscuits – yum!

Chewy Almond Bites 

Ingredients

  • 200 gms ground almonds
  • about 60 gms  dessicated coconut
  • 1.5 tblsps Xylitol
  • 1 tsp almond essence – it’s worth paying for an expensive brand – no comparison with the cheaper ones
  • 2 tsps vanilla essence – ditto
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 tblsps melted coconut oil
  • About 30 mls cream

Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan

Mix all the ingredients together to form a paste. Pat out in random pieces on a silicon mat on an oven tray.

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Bake for about fifteen minutes – keep an eye on the oven – as soon as they are brown pull them out – they can go from perfect to bin fodder in a matter of seconds!

Leave them to cool on the silicon mat then pop into a sealed container – I imagine the shelf life on these is short – they won’t last that long I can guarantee you that – and they are a perfect alternative to pancakes next Tuesday if you feel like something but don’t want to go back to wheat based products for the sake of the day that’s in it.

 

Yesterday I saw a recipe for oopsie rolls – they look a bit like a flat pancake – made with eggs and cream cheese – could be another alternative – I’ll keep you posted!

 

Enjoy the sweets – I’m away to have a warm creamy bowl of tomatoey chowder!

Orla

 

 

 

 

 

How did Christmas go for you then? 28 December 2015.

Having 34 pounds off before Christmas was  a really great incentive to stay focused and not deviate from the banting lifestyle for the holiday season. I was determined to stay healthy and not go back to unnecessary and sugary foods just because tradition dictates that we should stuff ourselves for the holidays.

Christmas is all about the treats though isn’t it? You feel like you deserve to have a nibble of something a bit rich, have a glass or four of champagne and then of course all determination goes out the window and you wake in a stupoholic mess the next day wondering what went wrong!

I decided late on Christmas Eve after sampling a rather delicious mince pie which I made that evening that I was going to over indulge Christmas Day and taste all the things that have been absent from my life for the last four months, and hang the metaphorical expense of it all.

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My mother’s pastry – equal quantities butter and flour – deadly!

Before that however I did make a couple of Banting friendly treats which I will share later. So I got up Christmas morning ready for sugar.

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It was interesting. I had a bit of stuffing with the turkey and ham – and of course lots of brussel sprouts, and I took a bit of gravy on that – Bisto, full of bad things! It was rather lovely I must say. It helps when the turkey is one you have watched grow from a tiny bird to the twenty pound specimen that graced our table Christmas Day. I had nothing much to eat before that – I had some banting nuts and a glass of champagne – nothing else.

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Home grown twenty pounds of deliciousness.

Amazingly we were very full after that – I have noticed, as has Paddy, that our appetites are much smaller than before, which is great. So we resisted all else and had a break for an hour or so before diving into the homemade trifle.

My sisters will tell you. I am a sucker for “Tradition” – (sung like the song of that title in “Fiddler on the Roof”). So custard trifle it had to be – made with fake Bird’s custard, tinned fruit, shop bought swiss roll, bananas and sherry! Oh my. It was pretty gorgeous – topped with banting friendly freshly whipped cream!

Not content with just that, as the evening wore on I also had: mince pie, Christmas cake, a Curly Wurly, and about fifteen Roses. None of which satisfied me in the slightest. It was an interesting experience. The roses were in fact bland and quite unpalatable. Gone were the flavour rich foods of the last four months and in their place marched sugary, unsatisfying junk.

So. I ditched all on St Stephen’s morning, happy that I had had my blowout and my body was none the worse for one day’s gorging. I had two pounds on but that could be gone in the morning.

Except that wasn’t the end of it. That evening I opened our christmas cake – the iced one – and lost myself all over again. I had one piece and then another bit of a one, and then another. It was glorious. The almond icing was exquisite and the fondant icing on top was totally addictive. I then moved onto the box of Celebrations – did I mention I don’t actually like any of the flavours in the box? – followed by ginger nut biscuits. It was awful. The feeling of compulsion was back with a bang – it was as if I had never given up sugar at all.

 

The most interesting part of this for me has been the fact that I have learned that I am no way near being over my sugar addiction. I also learned that the carb element is not an issue – I had no interest in potato, and while I had the stufing, made with bread, it is really the herby flavour that I love there – next year I will make it with sausage meat instead! Sugar is such a potent drug. I woke up yesterday morning with 6 pounds on! Obviously that is temporary weight, and already two of those pounds are gone today. however. It just shows how easy it is to slip back into old habits.

Yesterday I went back to my banting lifestyle again. It was easy. I was very full and bloated feeling from the night before so I just had one meal in my parents’ house – turkey and ham and trimmings – lovely – and then last night when I got home and was ready to hit the junk I feasted on some banting junk instead – raspberry mascarpone cream and lemon curd, with some Green and Black’s 85% chocolate. I’ll let you know how long it takes to get back to my pre Christmas weight.

Am I sorry I “cheated”? Honestly? The old “negative about me” part of my brain is furious. Most of me is okay with it though – because this is a lifestyle change, not a diet. There is no set agenda. I want to lose weight, but more than that I want to embrace how being sugar free feels – and it feels so good – believe me! Today I’ve been very productive – sugar free! I ate the Green and Black chocolate last night as a bridge to detoxing. Then today I had a big bowl of turkey broth and put on a pot of our favourite recipe of all – the banting lasagne – I’m jazzing it up tonight – stuffing it into peppers and adding cheese on top, and serving with some guacamole – I haven’t told Paddy that yet though! I’ve stocked the fridge with smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and bacon, and I’ve bought more nuts to make some more banting nuts. I also baked seed crackers and got some duck pate – all fatty filling tasty delicious foods that will get me back into the banting way…..

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Blended turkey broth – twenty kinds of lovely today – fresh and light!

 



 

Two recipes as promised:

 

Raspberry and Lemon Delight

Microwave lemon curd:

This makes quite a large quantity of curd – I gave it away to three others as a little goes a long way.

Mix the eggs and xylitol together then add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix well then put in the microwave for about 90 seconds on full heat. remove and stir well.

Repeat this process again three more times but with only 60 seconds of heating each time. The curd is done when it coats the back of the spoon.

lemon curd

Raspberry cream:

Whip some fresh cream – about 150 mls, and add to about the same quantity of mascarpone which has been out of the fridge for about half an hour. Add 120 gms of frozen berries defrosted to room temperature – mix gently together and put all back into the fridge.

I served this from piping bags onto homemade shortbread. However you could have it like we did – in a pot without the biscuit. It was so tasty, and so rich and decadent that I didn’t feel at all deprived.

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Shortbread is optional!

The other recipe I made this Christmas which was a godsend was the banting nuts from https://banting.realmealrevolution.com. They were absolutely gorgeous. Definitely a recipe for life!

Spicy Bacon Banting Nuts

  • 250 gms Streaky Bacon Rashers
  • 4 packets Lidl mixed Nuts – 800 gms in total.
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 0.5 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 0.5 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • Plenty of Salt

I put the nuts in the frying pan to dry roast them while the bacon pieces cooked in the oven at 180 degrees celsius.

Once the nuts started to look like they were actually roasting in the pan I added the butter and the spices then took the bacon out of the oven and poured it and the fat into the frying pan

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I then placed all on a few sheets of kitchen paper back onto an oven tray and put back into the oven to dry some of the fat off the nuts. I turned the oven down to 160 at that stage.

I took them out after about ten minutes but kept an eye the whole time. I then salted them liberally and when they cooled down popped them into Kilner jars and gave as presents to friends and family.

By the way. Here is a before and a right now photo so you can see the difference that banting has made in my life.

I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I’m also glad I found this photo from last May to remind me of why I am changing my habits.

Happy New Year to you all!

Orla

 

 

 

 

Luscious lemon – and some beautiful broccoli. 29 November 2015. 

After all that baking yesterday I really thought I’d be wiped out today. Instead I was awake at 7.00! I find it so hard to get up during the week – it’s a mystery how easy it is to be up and about at the weekend. 

Anyway. I got up and pored over various websites for sweet treats for Christmas. I have taken down a recipe for coconut macaroons which I may try later but I’m mid corrections at the moment so they need to be done before I do any more domestic stuff! 

I made a gorgeous little lemon pot – definitely not too sweet but I loved it – Paddy had it with cooked raspberries for breakfast topped with hazelnuts – I’d do almonds the next time – or pistachios if you’re not being as rigid about carbs as we are – they have 28 gms of carb per 100 – very high for a nut. I might either experiment with a few variations on a crumble type crumb – Australian Masterchef is a great place for inspiration! Today was the starting place! 

Simple. I mixed some Philadelphia with fresh cream then added in one dessert spoon of xylitol and about a tablespoon of lemon juice. Whipped it up. Yummy! So tasty and creamy. 

   
  

  
    
 

It tasted delicious – I have a family gathering at the weekend – maybe a variation will grace the table…. 

The other recipe I have to share is a made up one – pure delight. 

I had about 700gms of broccoli in the fridge fast approaching bin state – I decided to make another broccoli soup – without the cheddar this time. I added the broccoli to a pot with one veg stock cube and a little water- maybe about a pint. I also added two courgettes – they are such good value at the moment – 49 cents in Aldi – Banting doesn’t have to break the bank! 

When the veg were soft I switched off the heat and added 250 mls of cream and a dessert spoon of Dunnes Stores Simply Better Italian pesto. It’s Banting friendly! 

It was gorgeous – so much so I’m planning on serving it for starter next Saturday night – family members be warned!  We had it with some Parmesan shavings and a bit of black pepper. 

    
 
I just saw a very interesting chocolate dessert on Come Dine With Me – I’ll definitely be adding it to my list of dishes next weekend. 

You can feed everyone Banting friendly food and not deprive them. 

Christmas is coming. Let’s make sure only the geese get fat. 28 November 2015. 


I mentioned before now that in my former life I was an avid baker. I love baking. I also love Christmas. With thirty pounds off I don’t intend to become a sugar eater anytime soon again. However this weekend I indulged in some baking, none of which is suitable for me at Christmas.

It’s frightening to actually see how much sugar there is in a Christmas cake. In a ten inch round today my daughter and her buddy put in 350 gms of dark brown sugar. I suppose that’s not too much really for the number of slices you’d get from that cake. Until you consider that there is also 1450 gms of dried fruits in there too. Suddenly there’s a whole lot more going on than you first thought.

I can honestly say I wasn’t at all perturbed by all the baking – we had our best friends over so we had quite an industry going on – chocolate biscuit mini puddings  and mini Christmas trees, and some chocolate brownies as well as my signature bake – raspberry and white chocolate muffins – there’s a cake sale at work next week for charity. I was happy to create and not indulge – honestly. I also think that it is important not to impose our habits on everyone else unless they choose.


It has set me thinking about the logistics of the holiday season however.

It is a season of eating – and so much of it is off limits for Paddy and me.

I have started to investigate alternatives that we could enjoy without feeling like we were missing out. None will contain carbs but I think I will seek out some desserts using xylitol. Apparently my sweet tooth is not quite as sweet as I think – the lemon cake I thought was deliciously sweet was apparently quite tart indeed!

I will make and post about some savoury nibbles in the next few weeks – if you would like me to try to create alternatives for best loved Christmas recipes comment and I’ll do a search to see what I can come up with!

I have a few ideas for stuffed mushrooms and peppers – and maybe even courgettes too – I’m loving that vegetable at present! I’ll experiment and let you know how it goes.

I love fish and have a few simple recipes using smoked salmon and crab – thanks to my sister in law. There is also a most wonderful little smoked haddock dish thatvi made twice before. I’ve lost the recipe but will definitely find it – such a gorgeous little mouthful it is!

I’ve only made two types of crackers up to now but I’ll try out a few more – they’d work well with the salmon paté and the crab dish.

It’s actually very simple to cone up with savoury dishes. The sweet ones are a bit harder.

Maybe that’s because sugar is really not Banting friendly. It’s hard to believe that I’m okay with that. Not so sure about my husband! I’d better get searching for some Banting desserts!

Baking as a banter – it’s not that simple! 31 October 2015.

In my BB days – Before Banting that is – I was a formidable baker. As in – I baked often endlessly – cakes, muffins, biscuits, crumbles, lemon tarts, petit fours …….. and never on a small scale – it was usually a batch of 24/36 at a time because there was always someone who needed a “bit of baking” in my mind. I associated my mother’s baking on a Sunday with all that was wonderful about my childhood – the feeling of love and warmth and satisfaction has never left me to this day. I vowed when I had my own house I would fill it and my family with sweet goodness. And fill them – and everyone else I know – I did!

That was then. This is now. Sugar free days – 71 now and counting. Or not. It has become such an easy way of life that I have almost forgotten that I loved it so much. Mind you, I rarely ate my own baking – I suppose that’s not a great recommendation for what I made but it didn’t appeal. I felt wonderful filling others up with what I made – then I ate a few Boosts or Starbars in the background, congratulating myself for my abstemiousness in regard to what I had baked!

So this is a big challenge for me. I love the act of baking. I love to fill the house with the smell of freshly baked goods. I need to find stuff I can make that creates that feeling of satisfaction without affecting the food plan.

Trying to get our children to give up the sugar completely will be another day’s task but for now at least Paddy and I are going for it!

So yesterday I baked a sugary and delicious coffee cake – not at all banting friendly, but then followed it up with these divine little tastes of heaven – cheesy muffins – they are really good – and again – another recipe that can go into the freezer for a busier day! They are from the Real Meal Revolution website – a free recipe there – one to get children eating more healthily. The only difficulty with that in our house is that none of our children likes cheddar. Sigh. Working on that but not hopeful!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs and a good tsp of Himalayan Salt
  • 200 gms grated mature cheddar and some more for decoration.
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in one bowl and all the dry ingredients together in another.

Combine the two. The mixture should be sticky and look like this:

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I use an ice-cream scoop to fill my muffin cases and I also apply some Carlex spray – a baking spray to prevent sticking. It is very difficult to get – I found it in the CookShop in the Buttercrane Centre in Newry – it may be available online but I’m not sure where you would get it – it’s not necessary and any cake release would work – I just find that one brilliant.

Anyway, after filling the muffin cases I put some cheese on top and gave them an extra sprinkling of Himalayan Salt.

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They cooked for about 30 minutes – I kept an eye on the oven – and came out filling the house with a most beautiful baking aroma – they also tasted great. These would work well as a side with chowder, as a breakfast on the go, or as “bread” for lunch if you feel that there is still something missing on your lunch plate. They tasted slightly coconutty and the almond flour felt very rich and moist. There is a hint of sweetness when you use almond flour that is quite intoxicating actually.

In other news this week I made a very quick and tasty banting cheese sauce for Paddy’s smoked haddock lunch yesterday – I boiled up some cream and threw in a bit of grated cheddar – would work really well with blue cheese if you are a fan – and then added a good grind of black pepper – paired it with some spinach – delicious! I had some salmon with the spinach and just added a bit of butter to mine.

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We also went out to dinner in one of our favourite restaurants in Drogheda on Thursday evening – The Eastern Seaboard – a gorgeous New York style eaterie – it was the alternative to spending two nights away in Galway – the girls loved it. Our baby has discovered a passion for ribs that is stunning to behold and our eldest girl has discovered chicken wings! Mind you the chicken wings in The Eastern Seaboard are out of this world – and also contain so much sugar in the sauce that we had to find an alternative – which we did – crab claws in lemon butter – yum! Those wings though …..

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They brought them to the table with the dressing on the side so I had one which was dusted in a tiny bit of flour, and then I ate the side of celery in a sour cream dressing. I shared the claws with Paddy.

For our mains we both had the burger – which is what we always have – but we asked for them sans brioche bun, and I got a side of salad greens in a vinaigrette dressing. When it came it had toasted seed on top – an extra little bonus I wasn’t expecting. It tasted fabulous and really I didn’t miss the bun.

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I felt very full after. The bonus for me was that our children had starters and mains and then were too full for dessert. So a less sugar fuelled trip than is usual when we eat out – always a good result.

Work beckons again on Monday so I’m not sure if I’ll get to bake any more before then. I’m giving in for now on the sugarfree treats – apart from the coconut pancakes, the deconstructed crumble and the chocolate pots – that’s enough to keep us going – I have made red velvet cupcakes for the junior party goers – and at least there’ll be plenty of people to eat the extra – there’s always the freezer for when visitors call!

Banting desserts – is there such a thing? October 26 2015.

I know I said that I’s make the banting lasagne and post about it next but there’s a bit of work in that and so it’ll have to be later in the week!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Bank holiday and feels like they have overindulged in a big way. Not so in our house. I visited my parents and my mother kindly refrained from making her signature bake – apple tart – on an oven tray – swimming in sugar. She was keeping temptation from Paddy but he is on a roll these days so was quite happy not to indulge at any rate.

It did set me thinking about the social aspect of banting. There has to be a way for this lifestyle to fit in with other less extreme eating plans. Is there any way I could make desserts that my Dad a chocoholic would love that would also be banting friendly. So I came up with a recipe for a chocolate mousse – I got the idea from a banter on the realmealrevoltion.com website – Kim thank you! She suggested making a chocolate mousse with three ingredients – avocado, cream and cocoa with a spoon of xylitol to taste.

So I whipped my cream, opened my avocado – only to find that it was not at all ripe – I hate that – they are easy to find in the supermarket but it’s a curse because they are often either too ripe and gone brown or unripe and inedible. Anyway. I had the cream ready, the cocoa waiting – and then remembered my mascarpone in the fridge! Out it came – I don’t do amounts but I used about 150 mls of cream and about 70 gms of mascarpone. I whipped the cream first then whipped the two  together for a bit and then added about 30 gms of cocoa powder. It immediately seized up! Oops! I had obviously beaten the cheese and cream a little too vociferously!

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Anyway. I added less than two teaspoons of xylitol and a little more runny cream and used a spoon to loosen it up.

Oh my goodness!

Such a tasty dessert. The wonderful thing about it all is that I used a total of only two teaspoonfuls of xylitol in that whole dessert – it made three generous portions –

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this is the packet I bought nine weeks ago when I started banting and I still have barely used any.

I topped the dessert with a few raspberries and a little coconut – it really is lovely!

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The end result is lovely but next time I will add the cream cheese and cream at the same time, whip them a little less, and use a spatula to mix the cocoa in. I will also put a half teaspoon of vanilla essence in for taste.

Try and enjoy!

A night away doesn’t have to scare you anymore. 19 October 2015.

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I spent Saturday night away with friends. It was wonderful. We stayed in Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim Co Meath and I was very impressed with the hotel and the staff there in particular.

Because it was an early meetup I had three meals to contend with, lunch, dinner and then breakfast the next morning. There was also the alcohol.

Banting does not say you should not drink but it does warn against excessive consumption for two reasons – both really good ones dammit – the first being that drinking can make the best of resolutions fly out the window, and the second is the number of “dead” calories consumed.

I am not one for depriving myself – on arrival three of us went to the lounge in the hotel and ordered barfood. I have to say the staff were incredibly helpful I got a salad and asked if I could get a little goat’s cheese  on top. It arrived with two very generous rounds of goat’s cheese which I couldn’t actually finish. They charged me nothing extra for the cheese which was really decent of them. The other thing which most impressed me was the list of allergans on the menus – every possible allergan was listed – except for sugar!

Then it was over to the guesthouse in which we were staying to have a few glasses of champagne. What a find! This champagne came from Tesco and was delicious. The best part of the champagne was finding out how low in carbs it is – about half the number that is in red or white wine – it must be the dryness of the taste – whatever – it was a beautiful bottle of champagne!

You can see what my main was – sirloin steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce, wilted spinach and buttery mushrooms. I had a crab salad for starter but asked that the dressing not be put on – no problem.

For dessert although I was far from hungry I had a cheese board. That’s where I had a moment – I ate all the grapes from the cheese board – about 16 in all – at 1gm of carb for grapes they pack a fair carb punch! Those, along with the champagne, a touch of prosecco and some fine Rioja added up to about 47 gms of carbs for the day – no cheating – I stayed with green foods all the while, apart from those grapes – and they were worth it!The cheese was disappointing – a tiny piece of brie which I ate, and then four different types of coloured cheddar. They did have very posh crackers – but they weren’t for me!

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I couldn’t have eaten another bite after that – which is most unusual for me – girlie nights away always involve chocolate and crisps. I had some macadamias with me, most of which I brought home again – and I had two squares of chocolate – there is only one square left now!

When I went down for breakfast I was happy to see the allergan signs up again so I asked if they had gluten free sausages – I wouldn’t go that route again – they were very small, only tasted okay – and I’m sure the sausages had sugar in as well – I’m becoming quite the expert at tasting it now!

The rest of the breakfast couldn’t be faulted – this was mine – and yes I ate every bite!

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That was enough though to keep me going until tea time at home.

The very best part of this night out was undoubtedly the feeling of control I had over food cravings. I didn’t once feel either hungry or deprived. I ate my fill – no chips – but that is no sacrifice when the veg is so tasty – and why wouldn’t it be when it’s slathered in butter half the time!

I left the hotel on a high yesterday – I had managed to have a great night away with my friends, not look like a sad dieter, and easily find plenty to eat from the standard menu. It was a revelation!

I will post a couple of recipes next time – I must try and see if I can set up a little recipe section on the page so you don’t have to trawl through everything to get to them.