Almost back there! September 3rd 2016.

I said I’d post when I was getting back to my best weight again. Well today I am two pounds off that. It has been an enormous struggle not to lose the run of myself over the summer and just give in to – well basically – laziness in terms of eating patterns and let it all go. I let go on the last three days of the holiday in Spain in June and since then I have not had a full week when I stayed completely banting pure all summer. I really have tried to stay on track and remember how far I have come. My biggest fear is that I will do as I have always done – get so far and then just go back up. My ocean – my fear of losing sight of the shore!

Not this time. I am in my busiest time – I’m back to school and it is hectic and chaotic – I have about twenty things to do at any given moment – I’ve been making out sheets for a workbook we are making for our second years all evening and I was busy all day before that – but – but – I am on a banting roll. It is so much easier to stay in focus and on track when busy. I had five of the ten gone  when I posted last time and I played about with that for weeks – last Monday I headed into work with seven on and my yogurt tub in hand. I haven’t looked back.

I also set up a challenge on my Facebook page – Banting in Ireland – very small – I challenged myself to two things – no eating at night after 8.00, and just two meals a day. That seems difficult to do – but honestly – ask my mother – I was never a breakfast person so banting allows me to wallow in that luxury – I hate eating in the morning and now I don’t. I have my lunch at work at 1.00 and then dinner at about 7.00 and that’s me done for the day. I had a great day yesterday – dinner was simply a big beautiful lump of fresh salmon, simply baked in the oven with olive oil drizzled over. Before that I had eaten a pot of Greek yogurt with some nuts I had prepared last week – tell you in a minute – and some blackberry compote – Mary at work brought me some fresh berries from her garden and I boiled them with a small bit of xylitol and then added ground chia seed when I took it off the heat. The combination of the three is really spectacular. The nuts are simple to make – I bought a bag of Lidl mixed Nuts and heated about 1.5 ozs of butter in a small frying pan then threw in the nuts and added a big dash each of mixed spice and all spice. They taste great – not greasy at all and they really up the fat content of my food without adding to the protein quantities which is where I am going wrong.

When I stood on the scales this morning I was delighted. Five pounds down – and I felt amazing. I got up at 5.30 one morning this week because I had so much energy – I sound a bit manic but it’s not that kind of energy! – and worked like a demon all the way through till 11.00. My energy levels are high, my skin is glowing and today I got into my skinny summer jeans that I only managed to wear once last May and then reluctantly put aside because they just didn’t fit. I’ve been in them since 9.00 and I’m still in them 13 hours later – a real sign of success!

My next aim is to get down below the next stone – that’s big – it’s ten years coming. I never thought I’d see this weight again and it is a real barrier to get below where I’m at – but you know I do my best work from now to December so I’m going to make it. I don’t know if I will get to my ideal weight by next May which is my fiftieth but I will be closer than I am now.

It’s funny. I’m a totally different shape now. I was so heavy before but couldn’t see it myself. Now however I see my weight but recognise the difference in my shape. I met a past pupil today who told me I was looking really well, and I said thank you – no explanation of “Oh I have loads more weight to lose” just – thank you. I can buy clothes easily – I just don’t have any money to do it with! Children have that effect, not that I am complaining for one second! But it’s wonderful to just step into a shop and not feel like the assistant’s eyes are boring into you willing you to understand the message that there’s nothing there to fit you. I will never forget that feeling – I have felt it too often. It happened once a very long time ago in Madame Kay’s in Dundalk for any of you that know it – the shop assistant actually said the words “I don’t think we have anything here to fit you Madam”. First off I was 24, and secondly I was actually looking for a Christmas present for my much skinnier sister. The shop is long gone, but the memory lingers and it can be difficult to shake off that feeling. I wonder will it ever truly disappear…

I’m on the cusp of the next step in my journey. I feel like it’s going to happen this time. I’ll let you know how it goes. My goal is to be into the next stone for October. I still haven’t taken the running challenge… That’s a tough one…

I’ll also post a few recipes the next time. I made a few new things but I’m not eating much sugar at the moment so I’ve no interest in posting about them!

 

A great reminder of why I am doing this! August 18th 2016.

I’m doing well enough this week – back on track and slowly but surely those ten pounds are disappearing – I have five off and am hoping that on the anniversary of my start day last year – August 24th – I will be back down to three stone off.

Three stone. I met a very good friend today who hasn’t seen me since this time last year – she noticed the weight and commented. I was explaining as I do to everyone I meet how I have ten pounds back on – no make that five – and then she showed me the photo we took at last year’s annual reunion – and I stopped – and will never bemoan my progress again. The featured photo is me today – and this one was me last summer at this time of year – the very week I started banting…

 

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The picture quality is poor – thankfully! But I looked at this today and suddenly realised just how much of a difference this year has made to me.

I am sleeker, fitter and in so much better shape. I can shop in “ordinary” shops now and I make good choices most of the time. I look at lots of other blogs and people’s testimonials and I think that everyone’s journey is a different one – mine has to incorporate the family life that I love and the baking I thrive on. I like to have a sweet treat – some advocate going off all sweet things – I couldn’t sustain that lifestyle – I like a treat after dinner sometimes – and if I can have that without spiking my insulin levels then I’ll do that.

I have gone back to my early days as regards my eating habits. I have made a batch of crackers just now for the week and if I am peckish at night I take a few with lots of butter and cheese on top. I have made a lime cream pot this week and tomorrow I will remake my raspberry chia jam – it was gorgeous – not too sweet and delicious with the banting almond scones I made last week.

I will post next week on my first anniversary and share a few photos from the journey so far.

Meanwhile here’s the recipe for the lovely almond scones I made – they were delicious served with butter and jam – and below that is the jam recipe – so simple! I use ground chia seeds in it – it worked really well – the texture is great – not too different from the real thing – and so much better for you. I figure a teaspoon a day will kill no-one.

 

The Banting Blondes – see website – http://www.thebantingblondes.com

Scandalous Scones

  • 200gms almond flour – very expensive but I used it this time!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

So simple!

Whisk the eggs the add all the other ingredients and mix well. Using an ice-cream scoop put mix into 6 muffin cases which I pre-oiled and pat them down so they are smooth. Leave in the oven for about twenty minutes then take them out and check – they should be barely browned.

Next time I will add some mixed and all spice and some vanilla essence. I might also add some baking powder to see if it will make them a little less heavy and compact – but hey – it’s very nearly like the real thing!

 

Banting Jam

  • 500 gms frozen raspberies
  • 4 tbsp xylitol
  • 40 gms ground chia seed

Add raspberries to a pot with the xylitol and bring to the boil very slowly allowing time for the raspberries to defrost without burning. Allow the mixture to come to a boil then simmer for about fifteen minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the  ground chia.

Store in the fridge – it will last about two weeks – if it survives that long! My children found this a bit grainy so didn’t eat it – me – I had no such issue. It is gorgeous on the scones but particularly with the lemon pots I made before – and the chocolate pots – decadent but good for you!

Enjoy!

Orla

 

 

 

 

I forgot to share my lemon curd! 30th June 2016

I should point out the picture above is not in fact my lemon curd – that looks nice but a bit fake in my humble opinion. Mine looks far more rustic.

We love all things lemon here – and I saw in a previous blog I made a lemon cream concoction that is utterly delicious. I thought at the time I had shared my lemon curd recipe too but now I realise I didn’t.

I’ll be honest – it’s not my recipe but I make it so often I have claimed ownership at this point! It’s from allrecipies.co.uk. I have changed the ingredients a little but I need to acknowledge someone else’s genius!

I have made curd in the past on the hob and it’s a hassle frankly – I’m not great with things that need to be constantly watched – I’m much more of a hands off cook – if it takes too much effort I’m not convinced of the benefits. This is a microwave version – in fifteen minutes you can have a jar of sunshine for your fridge that will curl your lips with the sharpness and make you smile after! It is truly lovely. It is also now my husband’s breakfast tipple of choice – he mixes it with a little Greek yogurt and heads to work happy! And trimmer – he has lost eight pounds since we came home from the holidays and it’s obviously not stopping that process.

Microwave lemon curd

Ingredients

  • 175 gms xylitol
  • 3 eggs
  • 115 gms very soft butter
  • zest of three lemons
  • 250 mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

Put the xylitol and the eggs into a bowl and whisk until they are combined – I just use a hand whisk – it takes only a minute – it doesn’t need to be frothy, just combined.

Put in the butter and roughly mix – if you were a good cook you could melt it, wait for it to cool down and then add it – life is too short – the recipe works fine this way, but it does need to be soft – the current weather conditions make it the perfect consistency – soft but not runny.

Add the zest of three lemons to the mix. As I mentioned before a Microplane grater is an amazing little gadget – it grates everything for me – it is worth the investment I promise you – for savoury and sweet. Then juice the lemons and add it through a strainer to the egg and sugar mix. One bowl. Very little mess. Ready for the magic.

Set the microwave for six minutes – mine is a 900 watt oven so yours will need less or more time depending on the wattage. After one minute take the mixture out and whisk by hand. The butter will be melting nicely at this point. Repeat the process every minute or so – it’s really important to do this or you will end up with little white flecks – bits of cooked egg white – we still eat it but it’s not perfect then!

The curd may take six full minutes – it make take five – after the fifth minute if it is not at all thicker it will need the extra minute. It might need a little longer but sometimes, maybe depending on egg size it can be thinner or thicker – this week’s batch was quite thick as you can see – if you microwave until it is like slightly thick soup but not walk on style it will be fine.

That’s it – refrigerate and enjoy in all manner of ways – I had it the other day over some blackberries, strawberries and raspberries – all Wexford fruit – so delicious. I added a dollop of freshly whipped double cream. I almost died and went to heaven in that moment!

Time to get back to the attic and the cleaning!

Orla

 

 

It’s a long road that has no turning. January 23 2016.

January is a tough month for all sorts of reasons. There are 31 very long days without a lot of money to spend. It feels like there is very little to look forward to after months of anticipation of the Christmas. It is a tough task during cold blustery winter evenings to remember why you are following a food plan that for everyone else seems overly restrictive and well nigh impossible.

I started the month seven pounds up. To date I have lost six and a half of those pounds. It has not been easy at all. I have followed the https://banting.realmealrevolution.com food plan and eaten no carbs or sugar since January 2 and nothing was working until last Saturday when I woke and discovered that almost all of the Christmas weight was finally gone.

uphill struggle

This is a great result for me. However when I looked back tonight over my tracker on the site I realised that I have not lost any weight proper since December 16 – that’s 38 days stuck at the same loss. That has always been an issue for me. I’ll be honest, Paddy has gone back to some of his old ways – he will have the odd potato or a little rice with dinner, and this evening he had some stewed apples – I’m emptying two of my three freezers in an effort to use up some of the mountain of food that is in the house rather than  just adding to the pile so stewed apples came up on the menu tonight! – another efficiency that will help in a penurious month! It can stick in the gut a little that although he is not following the plan as rigidly as I am, he is also maintaining his weight. It is a fact that weight loss is much easier for men than women.

So last week, at my wit’s end with no evidence that I was going to shake off those seven pounds – you may remember I had 3.5 gone when I spoke to you two weeks ago – I took to https://banting.realmealrevolution.com and the participant chat page for advice. It is a fantastic forum. People there are all like myself, banters who are following the plan, and reading, googling and searching ways to become a little more knowledgeable about living the LCHF way. I must say the support on there is simply wonderful and it makes the whole journey less daunting knowing you are not alone.

struggle

I got so much advice, more water, cut out the ounce of dark chocolate at night, eat twice a day, or try intermittent fasting even. What happened was that after getting all the advice I had a sit down myself and reassessed what I was doing that could be hindering the weight loss.

One thing was that I had stopped drinking so much water – I immediately upped that. – must have a glass now that I think of it! I watched a video by an eminent Australian doctor,  Robert Sabzo, on the benefits of intermittent fasting – I haven’t given that a try yet – I am afraid that if I did that I would go mad afterwards and undo all the good the fasting did for me – however I’m going to share the link – it makes for a really interesting article and the weird thing about this eating plan is that it’s very easy to go for 18 hours without eating and yet not feel hungry.

Another thing which had crept in without my noticing it much was that I was eating an awful lot of protein – far more than I needed. If you eat too much protein then the body converts it into carbs so you are on a slippery slope downwards again!

I had been doing very well on my 11,000 step a day challenge but read that when you are trying to lose weight that exercise causes you to make cortisol which can inhibit weight loss. I did play badminton on Monday night – with a slightly dodgy knee – not dodgy anymore – decidedly in trouble – so the stepping has dropped back to about 6000 a day – and the weight dropped!

Finally I ate a lot of eggs again – I’d gotten out of the habit and once I started back on them again I FELT thinner – it’s funny isn’t it! I also managed this week to get into a pair of jeggings that have never been on me before so I know that even though the scales is not showing the loss my body is – and that’s good enough for me – the scales will follow through in a few days, or weeks.

No cravings – I spent an hour dishing out cakes today to school visitors – no interest and no desire for the food. I love that power – I control the food now!

bread in chains

So here are a few of the sites that have become my go to places when I am looking for advice, inspiration or just some light reading!

This is a recent one for me – some interesting recipes on there – a gnocchi recipe made from mozzarella and egg yolks – see you can still have pasta and the like!

This is a lovely site – not everything on here is a LCHF friendly recipe but you can find lots of interesting ideas there.

This site is invaluable – it is a blog by two wonderful people on the https://banting.realmealrevolution.com/ forum and they have all sorts of interesting information there. There are testimonials from people who have lost a serious amount of weight on this plan, and I love the irony that it was originally a page that sold handmade chocolates – it just shows that if a chocolate maker can give up sugar anyone can! There is also a really good keto calculator on the page which will help you to decide what ratio of fats to protein and carbs you should be eating for your size etc.

Finally this one is just great! The name of the blog got me and I love to check in on it – I rarely cook exactly what anyone else does but I read their recipes and adapt to suit myself. I read about the egg fast  there – and it’s a great way to kick start a sluggish metabolism – I literally started it and had two pounds off the next day – maybe that’s what I’ll do again this week……

I’ll post again when I finally break the 35 pound barrier!

Orla

Back on the wagon – and stepping it out as well! January 10 2016.

They are not my feet – obviously – but that is what I decided to do for the New Year – it’s not a resolution – apparently we fail at all of those – but it’s a challenge I have set myself – to do at least 11,000 steps a day while Operation Transformation is on this year.

For those of you who don’t know, it is a weight loss programme in Ireland on RTE 1 which takes five ordinary folk and makes them leaders and they follow an intensive eight week weight loss and life changing plan – I am determined to talk to Dr Donal O Shea of that programme when I reach my target. Check out the page here http://www.rte.ie/ot/ – I don’t follow the diet or exercise plan but it is a great motivator to keep at your own plan – and that’s what I’m doing! The irony of watching is not lost on me this year. For the last few years Paddy and I faithfully followed the programme but we watched with a cup of tea in one hand, and a pile of biscuits in the other! Not any more!

Set yourself a target. Make it realistic, difficult, but achievable.

I have two. I will do my 11,000 steps, and I will be down 3 stone by February 14th. That’s the midterm here in schools and as I teach in my real life that’s as good a target as any. I have  lost 3.5 pounds of the 7 pounds gained at Christmas so that’s a reasonable goal. I have 2 stone 2.5 pounds off – this will push me to be disciplined. They say women keep their promises when they make them public to their friends – I guess that’s what I’m doing then!

 

I made a new recipe yesterday evening which I want to share. I have found myself going back to our old staples this week – I had gotten into lazy cooking habits really over the Christmas so I am back cooking dinners for the freezer. I did a big batch of Thai green curry which our children loved as much as we did, and I made 9 dinners of banting lasagne today. I also made a divine creamy chicken recipe which was incredibly simple and so tasty Paddy was eating it out of the pot!

Chicken and Bacon in a creamy white wine sauce.

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  • 1 tbl coconut oil
  • 150 gms bacon
  • 650 gms chicken pieces
  • 150 mls cream
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1tblsp pesto 
  • 1 red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Fry off the bacon in the coconut oil. Remove the excess fat and add in the chicken pieces and cook until fully browned. Add in the pepper, chopped to taste and then toss in the cream, pesto and white wine and simmer on a low heat for about an hour. The chicken becomes soft and tender and the flavour is spectacular.

 

One other recipe I must share is a fishy one – I’ll post it during the week – a delicious and incredibly simple one – divine!

Talk soon. Feel free to make your targets public if you wish as well!

Orla

 

 

New Year, new you! Or nearly new anyway. January 5 2016.

There’s always such a plethora of programmes, articles and information thrown at us in January about losing weight and getting fitter that I am surprised there isn’t a backlash against it all and an anti-fit campaign raging somewhere – maybe there is.

After I posted last week I felt so virtuous that I decided on New Year’s Eve that I could have another day of junk – I deserved it – and I had only put on four pounds after all – usually Christmas could be ten!

Unfortunately I learned too late that “cheating again” had major consequences, and it has been a very difficult week trying to shake off the excess.

I had a blowout of a day on New Year’s Day, and in fact New Year’s Eve wasn’t bad at all. I have issues with New Year’s Day in general – I know it is meant to be the start of something new for everyone but I don’t like to be led so I never have a good day on January 1. Usually it’s a rough one – and so it was this year…..

bisuits, cake, sweets, chocolate, not a lot of actual food on that list you’ll notice.

I was up seven pounds on January 2 and I felt like I had the world’s worst hangover. I’m not joking. It felt like I had been out to twenty four pubs the night before – and I hadn’t had any alcohol at all. I felt ill and unwell and terrible all day. I also was annoyed with myself that I had just eaten junk which hadn’t even tasted nice. My taste buds have definitely changed. I got no satisfaction from anything I tasted. The other part that upset me was that my BMI went over 39. It started at 43.64 and I had been down to 37.9.

I started back properly on Saturday. Here we are at Tuesday night – I’m about to head back to work and I have two of those seven pounds gone but I’m back in the zone. My BMI is more importantly below 39 again – it’s back to 38.74 – and that is such an incentive. I even went back onto the website and logged all the food I’ve eaten since then. I am eating a lot more these few days than I had gotten used to but I am following the banting mantra – if you are hungry eat – and I know that the quantity will reduce when my body gets used to the foods again.

I had some yogurt and berries and flaked almonds on Saturday – God I had forgotten how beautiful it all tasted. This morning I had two fried eggs and an avocado, and made a creamy chowder for tea which was gorgeous. I made some chicken broth and then took some of it and added a little cream, blitzed it smooth and then added my packet of fish pieces. It was delicious, and also satisfied my visual sense – it looked like chowder! The tomato based one is yummy but it doesn’t look like most chowder does.

 

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I don’t want to be anyone different to who I am. We live in a society that teaches us to always want to be someone different, to always aim to be thinner, richer, happier. I’m happy as I am. My only goal is a health one. I want to be fit enough to run with my girls this summer, and able to keep up with the hectic pace of everyday living without feeling exhausted.

Happy New Year to all and good luck with your own challenges.

I will be tuning in to Operation Transformation, starting tomorrow evening, and signing up for the million pound challenge – maybe you will too – let me know how it goes for you. In the meantime I have five pounds that need to get back to where they belong – down the drain – I’ll keep you posted.

Orla

images

 

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

 

 

 

 

Some like it hot! Curry etc…. 11 November 2015.

Apologies for not posting sooner – I kept planning to post and then life got in the way – we had a lovely family weekend and so I just didn’t bother with posting up the recent recipes I tried – but I’m back and I have a few lovelies for you all tonight!

My first task was to make a curry for Paddy. We love one pot meals and there is nothing nicer after a busy day to come home to something that is ready to pop into the microwave. So I searched high and low and finally found a suitable packet paste for Thai Green Curry.

It is from a range called Asian Home Gourmet and they are difficult enough to find – I got mine in Nolan’s Butchers in Kilcullen – they of Craft Butchers of Ireland fame – they won first place this year. I have sent an email to the company asking where the sauces can be bought and I’ll keep you posted.

So. Easy peasy.

I heated a saucepan with a little coconut oil in, then squeezed in the paste – I know you should make your own but you know – Tuesday evening – busy lives – I don’t usually have lemongrass and the like on hand! Have a look and you will see – nothing bad in the paste – a tiny amount of sugar in the fish sauce – negligible, so it was okay for us.

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Into the paste and veg I threw in about a carton of coconut cream – I had no coconut milk – it didn’t matter – it worked very well.

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Then I added my chopped up chicken breasts – I used three small ones for dinner for two. the sauce wouldn’t really stretch to more than that. I watched that it didn’t boil as coconut has an awful habit of separating if it boils vigorously. I left it on the hob at a very low heat – about 3 on mine – for 30 minutes – long enough for the chicken to cook and be tender.

Then I julienned my courgette and cooked it in a tablespoon of coconut oil and served the curry on top of that.

Oh my word – what a tasty dish – I will have to visit my mother again soon just so I can get a few sachets of that sauce – it was really gorgeous and so satisfying. So many people wonder how we can follow this plan with no carbs – everyone says – Oh I couldn’t live without my bread/pasta/potato/rice/noodles. Hello! Meet your sister! Yet here I am 12 weeks later expounding the virtues of courgettini as the noodles of courgette are called affectionately by the banting community! Really. I’m not pretending to like them – they are truly fabulous – and we do not miss the carbs!

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This is a new favourite.

Of course while that was cooking I had some chicken breasts left over so I decided to make up my own recipe – so I butterflied the breasts then threw some pesto – I found a suitable one with all the right ingredients in M&S – where would I be without them! Then I loaded them up with my mature grated cheddar from Lidl or Aldi – it’s all a blur – and whacked them into the oven at my favourite temperature of all – 180 degrees fan! They cooked merrily for 25 minutes and were amazing. I had half a breast for lunch the next day with avocado, tomato and leaves – oh and a dollop of Philadelphia – – my workmates were intrigued – and it tasted great and was so filling.

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This week I pooched in the fridge and sighed. My husband had an incident with some spinach which had gone off we think – his tummy was a bit wobbly for 36 hours – a great result on the scales mind you – he’s now down over 2 stone – I’m still hanging in at 25 pounds – it is the same with every food plan – men just lose more quickly than we do – and I realised that I had a 500 gm head of broccoli ready to throw away.

Instead I made broccoli and cheddar soup – with some other stuff I found!

I sliced a leek and fried it in a saucepan with a tblsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Then I chopped the broccoli into pieces and threw it in on top. I did let the leek brown a bit for flavour first. Then I added about a pint of water and a vegetable stock cube. I will be honest and say I don’t stress over brand of stock cube – there is always a bit of potato starch in them but my God that’s okay with me – I am a banter but not an evangelist! I then discovered a courgette that was ready to head for the compost heap any day soon too so I chopped that up as well and threw it in. Oh and I put in some dried mixed herbs. It was so easy. I let it cook until the broccoli and courgette were soft – about fifteen minutes.

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I then took it off the heat, poured in 100 mls of cream and blitzed it with the stick blender. when that was done I put it back on the hob and added 150 gms of mature grated cheddar and let it heat to eating temperature. That amount made five portions. It was just gorgeous. I added flaked almonds on top the first time I ate it then didn’t bother after that – it was so tasty and I have had it twice at work for lunch this week – really hearty and very satisfying.

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It has been an interesting ten days food wise. I am realising that there is so much food out there that is low carb and tasty – and sugar free. I found a great site called ditchthecarbs.com and have taken a page from their site about the best and the worst foods to eat.

It pretty much sums up what we are doing here. They also have some delicious recipes for you to try out.

Have a great week everyone!

10 Best Foods To Eat | ditchthecarbs.com

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!

Cottage pie, but not as you know it. 29 October 2015.

I’ll be brief today – we had a stay at home and clean the bedrooms day today, the girls and I – it is so satisfying to dump clothes that are far too big for you and to try on stuff that you haven’t been able to wear for a very long time. I am tempted to hold on to the largest of my clothes so that I can do a before and after, but you know I’ve done that before and then fitted right back into those clothes. So this time I’m binning them and will never wear them again.

Today I hit a milestone. I got my BMI under 40 for the first time since I started this plan. I have hovered at 21 pounds off for about three weeks and today it finally plummeted again so I now have 23 pounds off. But the bigger achievement for me is the BMI – I started at 43.64 so to finally get under the 40 and score a 39.71 is a huge psychological boost. The fact that I have done that in less than ten weeks is pretty impressive, and with no hunger pangs or desire to “break out” is even better.

So.

Cottage pie. Looks like it, tastes like it and is totally delicious. Our middle child even begged for extra cauli mash! Apparently it was “your best one yet Mammy”!

Meat mix:

  • 1lb mince
  • 1 oz butter to fry
  • 2 small onions and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped small
  • 3 stalks celery
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbls Worcester sauce
  • 1 cup veg stock – I really need to buy some beef stock!

Cauli mash:

  • 2 small heads of cauliflower
  • 1.5 ozs butter
  • 3 fl ozs cream
  • nutmeg and salt and pepper
  • 2 egg yolks at the end
  • Grated cheese of your choice

Method:

I threw in the mince for about five minutes first, then tossed in the onions, garlic and celery. I let that cook down for about ten minutes then threw in all the rest of the ingredients. I turned down the heat to simmer and let it cook away for about half an hour.

Meanwhile I cooked the cauliflower in a little water – you should steam it but there was a very big pot of it there so I just boiled it up. When it was just soft I took it off the heat and used a hand held blender – the stick type – to puree the cauliflower with the butter and cream. Then I added a good grating of nutmeg – I use the whole nutmeg and I have a fantastic microplane fine grater – it’s about five years old but still as good as new – they aren’t cheap – about €30 each but it’s a great investment. I’ve used this one for nutmeg, lime zest, chocolate, parmesan – the list is endless.

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I then added a good quantity of salt and black pepper and left it to one side. Bláthnaid spent the afternoon pinching it from the pot – such a healthy snack to be sneaking instead of sweets!

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Then I assembled the cottage pie. I dumped the mince mix into my standard lasagne dish and just spooned the cauli mash on top. I topped it off with some grated cheddar and then put it in a pre heated oven at 170 celsius for about 40 minutes.

It came out looking golden and delicious – as you can see below. It also cut and looked just like traditional cottage pie. It was very filling and has now also been added to the list of banting dishes we like in this house!

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It’s interesting that we started this journey ten weeks ago and the media has been inundated since with articles about fat being good for you and sugar being the very devil! Maybe we are just more aware of it all – here’s a link to another very interesting article that was published in Men’s Health just this week.

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/the-truth-about-fat-and-sugar-is-finally-explained?utm_content=buffer3f987&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

One other quick recipe.

I made these with a view to bringing them to our Halloween party on Saturday. My children said no! They are yummy – I think – but then that’s because I’ve had no sugar for 70 days – their taste buds are not quite so sensitive yet! They are very quick to make and I will definitely be trying them in different variations over the next few weeks – as I fix them I’ll keep you updated!

Almond cookies

Oops! I didn’t measure anything. I just threw in about a cup of almond butter – home made – very easy – roast two packets of Lidl almonds for eight minutes then blitz them in the food processor until it looks like peanut butter – much cheaper than buying a pot – thanks to Laura for that recipe! Then into that I added a bit of dessicated coconut, a teaspoon of baking powder, two teaspoons of xylitol and about 15 gms of 100% chocolate that I grated – have a look –

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plus one egg. I bought that chocolate in Avoca a couple of weeks ago – it gives a great chocolate hit but you wouldn’t eat it by itself – it’s very bitter. At €7.70 it’s not cheap but a very little goes a long way.

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Then I used the beater to blend it. It didn’t exactly blend like a soft dough but it did come together and I put it onto the baking tray in small mounds – I got I think 13 from this amount.

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They went into a 160 celsius fan oven for about 9 minutes and came out looking pretty much like they did when they went in!

The verdict?

I actually really liked them. They have a chewy texture like chocolate chip cookies but there is no sugar hit from them at all – you are kind of waiting for that to hit you and then – it doesn’t! Would I add these particular biscuits to my repertoire of banting recipes? I don;t think I’d be making them every week, put it that way. but it was an interesting experiment. I had two of them yesterday and still lost weight so maybe I should add them to the list after all!

Tomorrow I’ll be trying out some cheesy muffins I saw on the real meal website this morning, and making some very unhealthy sweet treats  – maybe I’ll see if I can slightly “bantise” my normal recipes!