It’s so easy to fall off that banting wagon!27th June 2016.

No that isn’t me. However it is a little like I was last week. I’ve had a pretty hectic time since I last blogged. The school year ended and with it came the usual chaos of creating tests, correcting said tests and then writing reports. After all was done and dusted,  I headed away for twelve days to our favourite sun spot – my brother’s apartment in Spain.

We had a wonderful time. We ate very healthily for the first nine days – or at least I did – my husband can “cheat” for quite a while and escape the  consequences – not me! I had been doing so well.  If we were eating in we had the most fabulous lamb chops or rib eye steaks, with locally made sausage, accompanied by plenty of incredibly cheap but very tasty red wine. On nights out we had similar fare – until we went to an Italian for one of the girls’ birthdays – but I was fine – I had two starters which were banting certified. Then on the ninth day I threw caution to the wind and went for it – crisps, milk chocolate and – quelle horreur – bread.

Oh my but it was good bread! It was fresh hot French bread – not too crusty and oh so doughy in the centre – it went beautifully with Kerrygold butter, mortadella, avocado and brie. Accompanied by crisps – as you do! That was followed by a night out in our favourite Thai restaurant – The Banana Tree – and you know what, I decided that any damage I was going to do was worth it for the sake of just letting go. So I had the ribs, with that sticky sweet bbq sauce, the duck pancakes with hoi- sin sauce, and even some egg-fried rice!

We came home and when I stood on the scales I had eight pounds on from my best weight. I figured that as a lot of that was fluid I would be right back on track in no time. Until the very next day when I headed to the Radisson in Cavan for a belated celebration of a good friend’s fiftieth. That was the day of the Ireland Belgium game. Lunch was prosecco with a Caesar salad – and chips for soakage. It was followed by some very fine champagne and then a few cocktails, and a lot of crisps for more of the soakage. We even had a few chocolates! I made poor choices at dinner and then decided I’d had enough to drink – there was not a huge amount consumed – I have a pretty poor tolerance to be honest – I had about five drinks over the space of seven hours – but it was enough for me.

Dessert was the best – and the worst. Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and ice-cream.

I got up the next morning none the worse for wear and had a slice of toast. At which point I felt physically ill. I had eaten bread four days out of five. I just couldn’t eat any more.

So Monday last arrived and I stood on the scales. 10.25 pounds up. I started back at zero. The mad eating I thought I would never do again I had actually done and I knew it was time to stop. To me that is the beauty of this food plan. I immediately got back on track, by making my crackers, and eating buttery scramble and loads of cheese. I went back onto my favourite page – Realmealrevolution.com and read through the participant chats to get my focus back and remind me of the good that this way of eating offers in general terms.

The net result is a weight loss of 6.75 pounds in five days. I was out again last night – Chinese – so not suited to this way of living but I managed to retain my weight loss so I am happy with that outcome.

3.5 pounds to go to get back to my three stone best loss. I’m nearly there.

It helped  that I was quite active four days this week – I walked or cycled five times – that is a result I am very happy with.

Now it’s time to get the body losing again. I have found myself slipping back into my intermittent fasting and only having two meals a day with the greatest of ease. I feel so much better again. My skin has cleared up of my teenage spots. This is the right journey for me.

I feel like an alcoholic who had a binge. I was scared by the simplicity of the voyage back to sugar city. I couldn’t believe how easily I slipped back into the old ways. And yet at the same time I wasn’t enjoying the taste anymore. That was a revelation – the food no longer tastes half as good – however the powerfully addictive nature of sugar remains – I ventured back for a taste and got sucked in speedily.

I am so proud of myself that I got back on track so quickly. It’s also good to know that I can splurge occasionally – although I don’t know if I want to feel that bad again soon. The sugar made me feel sluggish and unwell. So I fell off the wagon. I’ve picked up a few extra bruises on the way, but nothing that will scar me for life. By next week it will be as if it never happened. It’s a journey not a destination as Arthur Ashe so rightly said.

 

Have a good week everyone. I’ll keep you posted.

Orla

 

 

 

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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?

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!

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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

 

 

 

Pork in white wine and cream. April 17th 2016

Final post – I need to get back to work! Another “let’s see what I need to use up in the fridge” recipe inspired by my older brother’s pork dinner of a few months ago.

Pork in white wine and cream

Ingredients

  • 900 gms pork pieces
  • 60gms butter
  • 1 leek chopped finely
  • 125gms chopped chorizo
  • 2 tblsps pesto – I used my wild garlic homemade one
  • 250mls white wine
  • 1 stock cube and 250mls water
  • i50 mls cream

I fried off the pork in Paddy’s bacon fat – he had a lovely lunch today – and put it into a separate saucepan. I used a medium pan and fried it off in two batches – otherwise it just sort of broils instead of fries in the pan and leaves the meat very tough. I put the butter into the pan and sauteed off the the leeks slowly. When they were softened I added the chorizo and the pesto and cooked that off for five minutes, then threw all on top of the pork.

I added the wine, water and stock cube to the saucepan and let the lot simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on at a low heat. I then added the cream and voila – Sunday dinner made – being served tonight with broccoli for the banters and with rice and carrots for the non banting family members!

I’ll let you know how the couch to five k is going soon….

Orla

Chowder another way. April 17th 2016

I’ve had lots of traffic recently from an English Facebook page so welcome! I’m going to do two quick separate posts on what I have cooked today and see if it is easier to find the recipes this way. I made this today because I opened a bottle of wine two weeks ago and never got to drink it – Paddy doesn’t drink white so if it is opened I have to drink it all – or it goes into cooking! I’m happy to report I had only one glass drunk of the very good white but I decided to use it up on this – I know chefs will say if you can’t drink it anymore you shouldn’t cook with it – I disagree – waste not want not is a preferred motto here!

Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 Leek chopped
  • 50gms butter
  • 3 stalks celery chopped finely
  • 1 veg/chicken stock cube and 200mls water
  • 250mls white wine
  • 150mls cream
  • 2 tblsps homemade pesto
  • 500gms fish pieces

Fry off the leeks until well softened in the butter. Add the celery and cook for a further fifteen minutes. Add the stock cube, water and wine and let it boil then simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the celery is soft. Add the pesto – another ingredient I needed to use up!

Turn off the heat and blitz the veg with a blender if you like fewer lumps – I find it gives a bit more texture to the soup as well. Then pour in the cream and add the fish. Leave the heat off and the residual will cook the fish through. I have just eaten a warm bowl – it was delicious – if you’d prefer you can reheat just before serving.

Simple! If you are vegetarian I’d simply omit the fish – you could turn this into a gorgeous broccoli soup by adding broccoli with the celery and blitzing it instead. Add a few chopped almonds on top when serving for some extra protein.

 

I finally baked bread! April 16th 2016

I’m posting quickly tonight because I finally did something I had planned for so long – and I eventually got around to it today. I wanted to share the results with you.

It’s hard when you get off the Banting treadmill to get back on – harder for some than for others. Paddy has fallen off slightly but the difficulty is that because he’s a man it hasn’t caused him a lot of weight gain. However with confirmation season approaching he has decided to join me fully again. He never ate as much fat as I did and I think that makes it much harder to bant – if you don’t eat fat you don’t feel full and so you eat more – but of the wrong stuff – and it becomes a vicious cycle. I wanted to make him some bread to show him that we can have a normal lifestyle while still staying true to the banting way. Truth to tell I also found a kilo of sunflower seeds I had bought in the first flush of banting which need to be used up and I figured this is a way to do just that!

I apologise in advance – I didn’t measure anything and just threw stuff in as I thought of it – so it might not have worked at all – it did – and beautifully too – this bread is nutty, full of flavour and almost sweet! Here is an approximation of what I did. I will measure the next time and update when I do. I should also have cooked it for a few minutes more – it is slightly wet inside – but we like our breads underdone at the best of times so it worked for us. I had a slice this evening with butter – it was gorgeous and I can only imagine how wonderful it will taste with salmon paté or just plain old smoked salmon on top! It tastes eerily like my mother’s brown bread from long ago – and looks like it too.

Banting bread

Ingredients

  • 1lb sunflower seeds approx
  • handful of flax seeds
  • 100gms almond flour
  • 50gms dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp each of bread soda and baking powder
  • 2 very large eggs – I used duck eggs so maybe try 3 hen eggs
  • 160gms cream cheese – edited amt – apologies!
  • 70mls double cream

I started by blitzing the sunflower seeds to a pulp in the food processor. Then I added all the rest of the ingredients on top and blitzed again until I had a mixture that looked like a thick bread mix. I really did this by trial and error – I have no scientific knowledge of the whys behind using bread soda or baking powder but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

When the mix was ready I spooned it into the usual 2lb loaf tin and put it in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees fan. Because there was no butter in it I put a few pats on top – I might add it in the next time to help to make a lighter consistency although it wasn’t too dense at tall really.  Then we turned the oven down and cooked it for a further 30 minutes at 150 degrees. It could have done with maybe ten more minutes but I took it out anyway.

It turned out easily from the tin – I do line my tins with the parchment inserts mind – and I left it to cool. There was a little fall off on the side – and I was afraid it was going to be crumbly and binnable – but no – I cut a slice and Paddy was impressed – it tastes great! The top of it looks green  when you slice into it – don’t be put off – it’s made predominantly of sunflower seeds which go green when baked!

I am going to cut this up tomorrow and freeze it – it will be lovely toasted I think with butter – or under the grill with cheddar on top! Another successful banting bake, and a wholly made up recipe of my own – now I just have to try to replicate it….. hmm…

Talk to you soon

Orla

POSTSCRIPT:

We ate the bread today and as we cut further into it it looked greener – it tastes divine but some of you might think there is something wrong with the green colour! There’s not – but I’ll make it next time with a bit less sunflower seed and a bit more almond flour maybe…. then it won’t taste as great though.

 

Getting there! April 13th 2016.

I said I’d post when I had news! Well today I reached my first tangible goal – three stone off. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot but believe me it is. It is 42 pounds or 19 kilos. The difference is enormous. I have reduced my BMI from 43.64 to 36.55. I have dropped from a size 24 to a size 18 – I’m a teenager again! That is so significant – that means I can now go shopping in regular shops again instead of having to search out shops for larger sizes only.

It has been slow but so worth it. I had a small blip over Easter and then decided to really try to go with the intermittent fasting. I have no food until about 1.00pm any day – honestly that is no hardship as I was never a breakfast person anyway – and then I eat a second time at about 7.00pm and I eat a hearty feed I promise – and that’s me done until the next day again. It means I eat a very big meal both times and I make sure to have lots of fat. I also keep a tin of nuts on my desk at work so that if I don’t get my lunch for any reason I have something banting friendly to fall back on. I am not evangelical. I am trying to make this lifestyle work for me. I have started buying the Lidl Almonds with chilli – they are not perfect – but God they taste great and I feel like a sinner when I eat them! So much tastier than crisps and so much more banting suitable! I think I’ve bought most of the stock in the three local shops I can get to! I got five tins today – the joy of it is my children love them – and if they will reach for those instead of crisps or buns I’m very happy.

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They are so spicy – and that’s what I realise is missing in my food when I want to go off course. I need strong flavours. So of course I went back to cooking – we have two hectic weeks in our house so I spent Saturday cooking so that when we arrive home from work there is something banting friendly to eat even if we only have half an hour to eat and go. I never managed to empty my third freezer – I will over the summer but I’m glad to have it this week.

I cooked a double batch of my Thai Green curry and of my normal curry and the pesto and white wine chicken – notice the theme running through all three?! They were great to have and so everyone got to choose their favourite one for tea on Saturday while I headed out with my buddies for steak and red wine.

I made a new recipe. The Late Late show here in Ireland – an institution of a Friday night programme – ran an item on what goes into sausages – I’d still eat them anyway – reminds me of the horsemeat scandal – my children were horrified to find that Burger King burgers contained horse – they said they’d happily eat them anyway  – but I decided to try again to make a sausage replacement with no wheat.

This is what I came up with – and they are so delicious that I had one for my tea this evening sliced and fried in butter and scramble thrown in on top. It is not a sausage – it is technically a pork burger but next time I may make sausage shaped ones – or even invest in a sausage maker…

Pork burgers

  • 1lb pork chops minced – ask your butcher to do that for you.
  • 1 egg
  • a dash of tabasco – adjust to your own tastes – I like spice!
  • salt and pepper
  • spices – I used my current favourite – the chip one – see below.

 

Simple as that. Mix all together and shape into either patties or little sausages. I baked mine in the oven at 180 degrees celsius in a fan oven for twenty minutes. Yo could leave them in longer if you wanted them to be browner but I did them for the freezer so I left them a little lighter. Gorgeous. I would say they’d be even nicer on the pan in a bit of coconut oil and a dollop of butter. Not that these got to the freezer – I did about double the batch and got to put away four only. My gang don’t like cheese put in anything but these would be delicious with real mozarella torn into them as well I think – but then they are moving from the realm of sausage flavour to burger.

I had this for lunch on Saturday with a slice of mature red cheddar melted over the top and Paddy had Bellingham Blue cheese over his – they were voted a success by all five tasters.

I found a great recipe for an alternative to fajitas the other day – have a look – this is the link – I’m definitely trying this one out next weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 

The dreaded plateau – and chicken delights. February 19th 2016

It’s been a lean few months in terms of weight loss. I have my 35 pounds off but since I reached that milestone I have stopped losing again. It’s frustrating to say the least of it. I have continued with the banting lifestyle – I just haven’t seen any improvement to my shape in recent times. I’m back to playing with the same three pounds up and down now for weeks.

I also stopped tracking. I broke out twice since Christmas – one major blowout involving wine, which is okay, but then crisps and chocolate biscuits too. Not a good evening – I got no sleep that night, and on a work night too! The second one was only little – I had a small piece of chocolate cake over the mid term – so not worth it. I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavour – it was very sweet, but I did it anyway. It didn’t set me back but I’m definitely not feeling the healthy lean feeling I had come to enjoy on the plan before this.

In an effort to get this whole thing moving again – I have a goal which is next May 2017 – my fiftieth birthday – I need to address a few issues. So here is my list of Not So New Year Resolutions – I’m hoping posting it here will help me to keep to it! I sat down this afternoon and watched the week four programme on the real meal page and it discussed plateaus and how to deal with them – so armed with that knowledge this is my plan.

  • First off I need to go back to tracking for a few weeks. I track on the real meal website – https://banting.realmealrevolution.com but there are apps out there that will track your food for you too if you don’t sign up for the course – there is a great one for iOS users – it’s from MyFitnessPal and it tracks your carbs, proteins and fats for you – it has more than 5 million foods in there so it should be pretty helpful! Ironically I went to download it and realised I had it from years ago – but never used it. Maybe I’ll start – it’s handy on the phone – and I do love my gadgets – it might be more fun that loading up the web page all the time.
  • I have gotten back into the habit of having about 40gms of Green and Black’s 85% Chocolate most evenings. It’s delicious and I love it. Now I’m thinking it’s maybe not such a great idea. I have definitely found I crave more food in general recently. I haven’t fallen off the banting wagon but I definitely snack more than I did before. I found Lindt 90% Chocolate in Sainsbury’s in Newry yesterday – and it is lovely – the carb content is much lower – have a look at the nutrient information.

    I was blissfully happy eating the 85% chocolate as it has only 14gms of sugar per 100 gms – so that is say 6gms of sugar a day – but look at the carb content! 22gms? That’s very high – too high for an everyday event. the interesting thing is that it is like a drug alright – you find the taste far too bitter to start and then you adjust and suddenly it tastes sweet and delicious and you’re getting that sugar rush all over again – no wonder I broke out twice in the last month! No more chocolate until Easter I think – that’s going to be hard but I want to get moving again so it has to be done! On a positive note I have no interest in any of the treats that appear with grim regularity at work – welcome as they are and generously given, I have no problem resisting as it is milk chocolate full of sugar – and to me at this stage it feels like I’d be ingesting poison. Result!

  • Having listened again to Prof Noakes about fasting I think this is something I need to try. he talks about our appestat all the time – the part of our brain that tells us when we have eaten enough – and suggests that when women plateau – and it is invariably women it happens to most – it is because our appestats are confused. We have spent so long too-ing and fro-ing  with every conceivable diet plan known to woman that it is difficult to teach it when we are genuinely full. SO fasting is a way to readjust the appestat. Mine is not happy at present. I am snacking all day – not eating a huge amount at any one time and so I’m not gaining any weight – but my body cannot tell me when I am hungry or when I am full. I need to pull back so I can experience genuine hunger again so that little part of my brain can get back into shape so I can too. I don’t think I could actually fast for days on end – people fast sometimes for up to five days – I’m not saying that I’ll do that but I will certainly try to snack less and fast more – have an eight hour window every day when I eat and then fast for the other 16 hours. That sounds drastic but it’s actually quite easy –                                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DALqoZYWig8&feature=youtu.be –              this is the link for a very interesting talk by an Australian doctor on the subject – I think I posted it before.
  • Because I had a dodgy knee for a while after Christmas I stopped doing my 11,000 steps every day. The knee is mostly fine again – I still get a twinge when I come down the stairs sometimes, and if I wear one particular pair of boots – I never went back to the walking however. As a result I’m averaging only about 6,000 steps a day. so I need to get this back up to 10,000 or thereabouts I’m thinking. I’m loathe to try a 5km run but maybe this time I’ll just go for it – not sure if I could actually do that – I’m not a runner – never was – but maybe I need to up my game a bit! I watch my former colleague Siobhán’s amazing transformation into an Ironwoman with awe – maybe I need to follow very gingerly in her footsteps – in a very minor way of course!

 

That’s the plan from now until Easter anyway. We Irish have a history of famine conditions and are great at the Lenten campaigns – mine is kicking in a few days late but let’s see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally – that chicken recipe. i found it over on a YouTube site called “proper tasty” and it’s one for chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach then topped with cheddar and paprika and baked in the oven.

Here’s the link to the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljklQ9VXBZ4 – it’ll take 41 seconds of your life and it’s worth it – I just had it for my tea – delicious and filling and satisfying. It’s amazing how much LCHF food is out there on so many different sites when you go looking.

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts
  • 50 gms spinach per breast
  • 50 gms ricotta per breast
  • cheddar for grating on top
  • salt, pepper and paprika

 

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius

Heat the spinach in a frying pan and when it has wilted add the ricotta and turn off the heat. Mix the two well together. Leave to cool unless you are planning to cook these straight away. Slice the chicken breasts almost through like hasselback potatoes – make sure not to cut straight through or you will end up with strips of chicken and not a breast.

Slot spoonfuls of the spinach mix into the gaps in the breasts then cover with cheddar and and a good dollop of paprika so they look red – as below, and season well with salt and lots of black pepper.

 

I cooked mine for about half an hour and served alone – you have veg and protein in the one portion here – serve with some broccoli if you feel it needs something on the side. It was a nice change but I’m not sure I’d make it a weekly addition – maybe once a month – they freeze really well so might be a good one for when there’s a busy time coming up. I am trying to empty my freezer not fill it at present so none went in mine today!

 

I’m away. New game plan starts tomorrow – wish me luck!

Orla