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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Home grown twenty pounds of deliciousness.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 



 

Two recipes as promised:

 

Raspberry and Lemon Delight

Microwave lemon curd:

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

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

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

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

lemon curd

Raspberry cream:

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

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

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Shortbread is optional!

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

Spicy Bacon Banting Nuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year to you all!

Orla

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

   
  

  
    
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dessert in our house today. 22 November 2015.

Hi everyone. Apologies that it’s been 11 days since my last post. Life moves quickly on and people think I’ve given up on the banting – a favourite past-time has been to try things for a while and then give up. Not this one! My mother tentatively suggested that when the weight is not moving in a downward trajectory to stick with it. That has been the case for the last three weeks – until yesterday. I broke the two stone barrier and then had another pound off this morning – such a great feeling – I have 29 pounds off and I have brought my BMI down to a 38 – huge for so many of you but such a result for me. My husband went to the doctor and got his blood pressure tablets reduced by more than half. He also got a reading on his cholesterol – 3.6! Even the sceptics are sitting up now and taking note!

The beauty of this plan is I am not on a diet – I am just choosing to eat in a certain way – I can have a glass of wine if I choose, I can have a piece of chocolate if I want, but most of all – for the first time ever I can truly say that I have lost the gaping, yawning hole inside of me that food never filled before. Psychologists tell you that you are emotional eating – I have come to the conclusion that I was addict eating actually – because life has not suddenly become utopian – the same rows and the same struggles happen every day – but I don’t have the same yearning gnawing at me to feed the beast – the sugar addict!

Two updates on the previous post – that Thai curry sauce is available from Dunnes Stores – and at a cookery demonstration the other night I learned that if your coconut milk separates then add a little chilled butter and it will bring it back together!

 

Okay – today’s recipe comes from a site called Iquitsugar.com  – there are so many sites out there that have all sorts of recipes for you to try out. I’m going to my parents’ in – oops ten minutes so I made this cake as an alternative to Mammy’s tart! Let’s see how it tastes – I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Lemon cake with lemon sauce

Preheat oven to 160 fan oven

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tblsp of xylitol
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used cream!
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup almond flour- I used 3/4 and 1/2 coconut as I ran out of almond.
  • 1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil  – did you hear the scandal about that during the week – lots of reputable companies diluting with cheaper olive oil!
  • Juice and rind of two lemons
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites whisked to stiff peak stage

Sauce:

  • 1 tblsp cocnut cream – make sure not to take any of the watery stuff – just the solid cream.
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice
  • xylitol to taste – max 1 tblsp!

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and put to one side.

Throw all the wet ingredients into a bowl together – except for the egg whites – they need to be whisked to a stiff peak separately.

Then add the dry to the wet – I did it the other way around – will try the correct way the next time!

When all is mixed well fold in the egg whites and place all in a cake tin – mine was a ten inch – Id say an eight inch would be better but I didn’t have one here so I made do.

 

Cook this for about 25 minutes.

It came out flattish but smelling great – I’d suggest leaving in the tin as it’s very delicate – mine cracked slightly after moving it – not to worry – there’s a lovely sauce to go over it!

Heat the coconut cream in a pan and add the lemon juice and xylitol.

Pour over the cake and serve. I have no photo yet as I will do that at home in Newbridge!

I’ll post how it was received tomorrow – along with my husband’s meat soup recipe – he swears by it for filling him and helping the pounds to move!

Keep that sugar at bay!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Thank God – the freezer’s back in action! 28 October 2015

I told you all I’d try out a banting lasagne and let you know if it was worth the effort – actually I have to tell you it more than was – in fact I think I’d never go back to normal lasagne after trying this out!

There isn’t a huge amount of preparation in it after all. I thought because I was making a different type of white sauce that it would take ages – it didn’t as it happens.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb mince
  • 1/2 lb streaky rashers or bacon lardons
  • 3 sticks celery – chopped small
  • 3 small onions and two cloves of garlic – chopped small
  • 1/2 tube of tomato puree
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • 1 tbls Worcester sauce
  • Oregano and thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 cup beef broth – I had none so just used veg stock.

The mince mix was lovely – and as you can see there is absolutely nothing there that is not family friendly and “normal”!

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I browned off the mince and bacon then took it out of the pan. I needed a bit of olive oil to grease the pan then threw in the onion, garlic and celery to saute down. I then threw the mince mix back in and added all the other ingredients and left the lot simmering on the hob for about forty minutes.

Topping and “lasagne” sheets:

  • 2 cups cream
  • 8 ozs grated cheddar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
  • aubergine or courgette sliced to resemble pasta sheets.

I then made the white sauce – incredibly easy and so unbelievably tasty. I boiled up the cream in a pot and threw in the grated cheese – I had the thickly grated stuff from Lidl but the lighter grate might dissolve more easily – it still happily dissolved away. Then I added the nutmeg and some salt and pepper. I waited until just before assembly to add the egg yolks as I was a bit worried that they might scramble!

To assemble I sliced aubergine and put it in a layer at the bottom of my lasagne dish. I then dolloped on a generous portion of the meat mix. I repeated the process twice more then covered the lot in the white sauce – having remembered to add the egg yolks to it.

The lot went into the oven at 170 degrees celsius and it cooked until it smelled right – about 35/40 minutes.

It was glorious looking when it came out of the oven. The sauce on top looked as if it had curdled slightly – it still tasted delicious. I had a small portion  – it is really rich and very creamy. The aubergine was unnoticeable which I always think is a very positive thing to say about aubergine! The courgette I would use again – it actually added to the flavour of the dish.

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This was a real winner of a dinner. The best part? It has satisfied my need to freeze – I made the recipe and it made 6 portions – so I have two extra dinners for Paddy and me for some cold winter’s evening when we land in and and have nothing in the fridge.

The other thing which really pleased me about this dish is the fact that it was the first dinner we ate that felt like our “usual” food – in that we ate something that was a one pot dish – banting up to now for us has involved meat and a side. This feels more like the food we’d eat in a major rush week – so it’s good to know that we can adapt this food plan to how we live as well as adapting our lives to the food plan.

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The other recipe I made today – actually I made three more but I’m trying not to overshare! – was seafood chowder. It is tomato based and is an absolute dream dish – so easy to make and again a great staple for my freezer – did I mention my freezer? Actually I have three – a throwback to being one of nine children with two very busy parents – my childhood memories are of my mother baking in bulk every weekend and stocking the chest freezer for the 11 of us. So I have a thing about not running out of food – I need to have stores just in case! Hence the three freezers. The fact that there are only five of us in this house seems a moot point – the freezers stay.

The chowder is simple.

Ingredients:

  • 500 mls Passata
  • 250 mls fresh cream
  • ground garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 glass of red wine if it’s leftover – not necessary
  • 400 gms seafood mix
  • parmesan to taste

I put the passata and the cream into a pot and boiled it up – I also added some garlic – I have a great garlic mill that grinds it like black pepper – think I got it in Lidl or Aldi ages ago. Once it was boiled I turned it down to a simmer, added the red wine and threw in two packets of seafood mix – a combo of white fish, salmon and a bit of smoked. I let that cook down for about seven minutes and that was it. A healthy wholesome chowder – tomato based but lovely nonetheless.

I served it as you can see with some grated parmesan under it just for the hell of it – it went down a treat. A second bowl was had – and yes – I have three more portions for lunch next week sometime – see those freezers are very handy!

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I will let you know how the cottage pie tastes next time, as well as offering some less sugary ideas for Halloween Treats. I hope our friends aren’t offended when my offering is more banting than baking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh my goodness!

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

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

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

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

Try and enjoy!

A little experimentation with tastes for the Bank Holiday Weekend. 25 October 2015

So I have a plan this week – because I am off for the mid-term I aim to post a new recipe most days and let you know how they work out.

We were due to go away to Galway for a few days. We decided we would be better occupied sorting our lives out at home and just relaxing a little. Our three younger family members were devastated. No cooked breakfast in a hotel? That was the dilemma for them. They love relaxing here but they love hotel food more! So as a compromise I agreed to cook a hotel feed for them. We had sausages, white pudding and beans – or should I say they did. White pudding, though lovely, has a high quantity of wheat so that is a no no.

They also wanted crumpets. Now I am known in my family for my crumpets – they are pretty glorious though I say so myself – in fact when Paddy and I married first we had them most Sunday mornings – made with eggs, sugar, almond essence, flour and milk – they are thick, coated in Stork margarine so that the edges get salty, and divine with chocolate spread on. Obviously not a banting recipe!

So the challenge was to find a recipe that would create the illusion of the aforementioned crumpet but still taste good.

I searched on ours and your behalf and found a recipe on a very interesting little page called Nourishing Days – here’s the link – http://www.nourishingdays.com – sometimes this journey brings me to most unexpected places! The comments on the recipe did not give me cause for great hope but I searched for an hour and I could hear the hungry troops stirring above me so I dived in.

Here is the recipe:

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut milk or 3/4 cup cream + 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey or a pinch of xylitol
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut oil for frying or butter

First off –  I had no coconut milk so I just used coconut cream – I didn’t exactly measure but used almost all of the carton –

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Here are other ingredients I used – I get the vanilla extract in SuperValu or Dunnes Stores and the coconut flour from the local health food shop. Eggs can be any sort.

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The recipe says to beat up the eggs first and then add the rest of the wet ingredients – I didn’t read that so I just threw all the wet ingredients in together and beat it madly until it looked slightly frothy.

I then mixed the coconut flour with the xylitol – I just threw in  what looked like a spoon of it or so and then added a bit of baking powder. I threw all of that into the wet mix and beat it gently to mix.

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I let it sit for ten minutes but it really looked quite runny. I heated my pan with some butter in – I went to 4.5 on an induction hob – mid height – the result was terrible – pan too tepid and batter too runny –

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so the dog got that mix – better check that coconut is okay for the poor fellow!

I then debated – either throw it out and forget about them or try to thicken the batter – which I did – I added about twice this amount of coconut flour –

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and stirred to get this consistency –

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if you bake it looks a bit like a slightly grainy muffin mix – quite thick. Then I went again using coconut oil this time for the pan – I set the temperature to 6 and then turned it down once they started to sizzle – here is how they looked when they started out –

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which then became this

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and finally these

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They were really lovely. They had quite a coconutty flavour and tasted a little grainy, but my husband was quite happy to polish them off smothered in butter.

Having devoured a fry my children then decided to try them out. They adore the other ones. My middle child, an avid chef herself, took on the cooking of them and produced some tiny ones which the other two polished off with some honey – we didn’t have the honey because it’s very sweet. They really liked them which is great because the further into this journey we go the less I want them eating excessive processed sugar and wheat products – I will be happy to make these for them again.

The verdict:

The family really liked these – they would be beautiful with some whipped cream mixed with mascarpone and fresh or cooked berries as a decadent dessert. This quantity made enough for us all with batter left over.

Personally – they were just a bit too sweet for me – I could really taste the xylitol – and I used very little.

Result! I’ve lost my love for sugary foods! That and 22 pounds! And my husband has lost 25 – he’s nearly at his target – I’ve a while to go yet!

Next recipe is for banting lasagne. Have a great day!

Banting for the family. October 16 2015

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We have three children. They are delighted that my husband and I have engaged with this new lifestyle but they are not hugely interested in participating themselves. They are also very slim so following our plan would not be entirely suitable to them. We eat less than 25gms of carbs a day. They could not possibly do that. So we have found ways to make their lifestyle a little less like it was before and a little more Banting friendly.

We barbecue all our meat. It tastes so much better and so much more decadent on a cold October to smell the summer in our kitchen when Paddy brings the meat in. It is also much easier to get the girls to eat some of the fat in the meat that way – it loses its yellow look and the singed flavour is very tasty. As a result they get more calories from their meat than heretofore which means we can give them less carb on their plates. We also roast their potatoes and alternate between giving them normal potatoes and sweet potatoes. Originally they were less than keen on the sweet potatoes, but after a few tries, and cooked in coconut oil in the air fryer, they now take them quite happily as an alternative. We also give them the spinach and broccoli creamed and buttered dish which again fills them so that less carb is needed on the plate. For them it’s about reducing the carbs as best we can without removing them completely.

We give them the yoghurt treat every day for lunch and that beast that used to travel home in the car every evening with me has disappeared. Now the children can survive until dinner time without having to fill the gap beforehand. They often have extra meat for lunch to lessen the carb intake. I still give them bread for lunch, but sometimes they have rice or pasta, and although that is carb they eat far less than they did in the past. Because two of them aren’t allowed to bring nuts to school they can’t substitute these for the carbs yet. But at home they reach for nuts before the bread now.

The most interesting change for me is in their taste for sweet stuff. Because Paddy and I gave it all up eight weeks ago we just stopped offering it to them. They still get the occasional treat from relatives but for the most part sugar is gone from their diets, or is at least drastically reduced. They recently had icecreams when we had visitors and the youngest told me she wasn’t that keen to have one again because it felt “too sweet”. Two of them have taken happily to 85% chocolate – the Lindt bar is beautiful – and the other is training her tastebuds! It’s okay to have 20 gms of the chocolate without taking in too much carb – and that feels substantial and satisfying.

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There are plenty of foods on the green list I never mentioned the last day – amazing seafood for example –

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aubergines that can be prepared in an eggy Parmesan mix and fried, artichokes – and pâté –  a new one I discovered today. I bought some to put on my crackers as an alternative to butter or Philadelphia. You can have cured meats but in Ireland most of them seem to have either wheat products or sugar in so check the labels. One of our favourite meals which I forgot to mention in the last post is loin lamb chops with buttery spinach – delicious and so filling.

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There is very little on the orange list, just cashews and chestnuts, and most of the fruits. You can have them all but not in abundance if you are trying to lose weight as they can spike your sugar cravings and stop your progress. Carrots are also on the list and it’s okay to include them every once in a while. They are quite sweet so don’t overdo it. Each one contains 5gms of carb – which will cause cravings for other sugar if you eat too many of them.

Okay. If you haven’t already checked out the website –  realmealrevolution.com – do. You will get all the proper scientific stuff there with which I won’t bore you – but it’s worth a look.

I’m spending a night away this weekend so I have lunch, dinner and breakfast to eat. Unlike other trips I’m not scared I’ll go off course. I’ll be telling the hotel that I’m gluten intolerant and I’ll pack my macadamias for when the munchies hit with the champagne – that’s okay too on this plan – just as well!

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