That Italian Gateau I promised! 1st October 2016.

I don’t know where the time is going – but I’m not going to bed without posting this recipe – it is so divine – and it was such a hassle that I had to take out a few steps to make it a bit easier – tired as I am at the moment with work I still found time to make this – have a go – you will not be sorry!

This is also the perfect dish for that vegetarian friend who always says she’ll just eat the veg on the side and not to cook anything special for her. She will feel like the most special person in the world if you make this! It is an ideal dinner party dish – can be made ahead and frozen then defrosted and cooked. I also freeze portions for busy weekdays when cooking is way down the list after ballet, violin, acro-dance and God knows what else!

There are a few steps to this recipe. I will divide it as the work is divided so it’s easier to follow.

Italian Gateau

Ingredients

  • 3 courgettes – thinly sliced and left to drain with salt on, in a colander – put kitche roll over and under to soak the liquid
  • 50 gms fine coconut flour – spread thinly on a dinner plate
  • 5 eggs whisked lightly and put in a wide pasta type bowl
  • 250 gms grated parmesan – spread out on a dinner plate
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat some oil in a pan at medium temp. Lightly coat the courgette slices in the flour – or not – it makes the egg stick better. Then dip it in the egg and put it onto the plate of parmesan and coat the pieces. Place on the pan and cook until the coating is crispy and lightly brown – it doesn’t matter if it is a little browner but I prefer it golden rather than very dark. Turn and do the same on the other side. Remove and put on a plate with kitchen roll on to soak the grease. Repeat, adding oil as needed until all is cooked.

  • 400mls passata
  • garlic to taste – I use the paste
  • 2/3 tsps good quality pesto – more if you love it

Put passata and garlic paste in a saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Turn the heat off and add the pesto. Stir well.

  • 4/5 red peppers – I like red!

Place the peppers in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the skins crisp up. Turn oven off and leave the peppers in the oven for a while longer – this helps to get the skins to loosen. If I have time I sometimes cut them and take the seeds out before cooking them – but either way is fine. I don’t use any oil on them for this. When they are cool enough to hold peel the skins off and discard all but the flesh of the peppers. Leave to one side and drain off the water that comes off them before using.

  • 2 Mozzarella balls – about 250 gms net weight – two pkts of the Lidl one.
  • Basil plant
  • A second packet of grated parmesan – only about 75 gms of it needed

Now the fun starts. you have to assemble all the different parts. Put oven on to 150 degrees celsius  – mine is a fan oven. then place a layer of courgettes on the base of a lasagne dish. Add a layer of ripped up basil leaves, a layer of the peppers, a layer of mozzarella sliced from the ball and then a layer of the tomato sauce. Repeat. Cover with a final layer of courgette and sprinkle with parmesan and put into the oven for about half an hour – maybe forty minutes – keep an eye and you can judge. They say in the original recipe to weight it down before cooking – nah! Too much trouble. They use both aubergines and courgette – I use whichever I have – I don’t often have aubergine lying around so I don’t always use it – I think I prefer it without in fact.

There you have it. It does take a good bit of work but honestly- and I’m a person who doesn’t like long laborious recipes – this one is worth the hour or so it takes – and it’s all in small easy steps that you can leave and come back to.

The courgette fried in the oil is so nice that I ate a load of it just like that for my tea yesterday.

Leave to cool and then slice into pieces and freeze till you need it. I made about 8 good portions out of this amount.

Have a go and tell me how you get on.

Orla

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

 

IMG_3578

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

 

 

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

We have a confirmation in our house this coming weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate pots recipe updated

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Mains

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

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

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

IMG_2072

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

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

I’ll post pictures of all as I go.

Orla

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

311100404199

 

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.

download

 

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

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

 

I made it! January 28 2016. 

I said I’d post when I reached my first target – to lose 2.5 stone. That  happened yesterday. Not before time. I last lost weight on December 16th so it’s been a long road. I feel amazing. I’ve managed to reduce my BMI by 6 and drop about three dress sizes in the process. 

I’m not nearly at my goal – maybe six stone to go – but that’s okay. I’m a lot closer to the end zone than I was and I know I’ll get there. This isn’t a race. I’m not hungry at all. I’m not feeling the need to binge on junk. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t when I’m not. Gone are the peckish nights when I motor through everything in the cupboard. Gone are the sugar cravings again. Back is the taste of good food and on that very subject I found a recipe on Facebook this week that I tried this evening for tea and it’s worth sharing. 

Bear in mind that I didn’t get home until 8.00 tonight – this recipe took about ten minutes to prepare and tasted delicious. It took a further half an hour to cook. I had made pasta sauce for the children’s dinner so that was our dip – Passata, cream, pesto and a little red wine, heated together until the alcohol burns off.  

  
Cauliflower cheese ‘breadsticks’ with tomato sauce 

  • One head of cauliflower blitzed in processor
  • 4eggs
  • 2oo gms mozzarella 
  • Season with garlic, pepper, salt and oregano to taste 

Pre heat oven to 200 Celsius. 

Blitz the head of cauliflower in the food processor so it resembles breadcrumbs or rice – I overdid mine a little but it still tasted great 

  

  1. Microwave this for about six minutes with a cover on. 
  2. Mix the eggs, 100 gms of the cheese and the seasoning together.   
  3. When the cauliflower cools down mix these two together. 
  4. Pour out onto a parchment sheet on a baking tray. Make two rough circles of the mix. 
  5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.   
  6. Add the rest of the mozzarella on top and bake for a further five or six minutes. 
  7. Slice and serve with aforementioned tomato sauce. 

Scrumptious. 

That’s it for tonight. 

I’ve a few more recipes to share in the next week. I want to try out a few almond flour recipes and I saw an interesting nutty treat on Neven Maguire’s new cookery show that I’m going to try to adapt for Banting. It looks tasty but made with peanut butter so that’ll have to be changed anyway! 

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.

IMG_1180

  • 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.

 

IMG_1144IMG_1150

 

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