Rowing back and reining in…. April 2nd 2016

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

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

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

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

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

“What is Banting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Homemade Basil and wild garlic pesto

Ingredients

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

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

 

 

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

 

Enjoy the weekend!

Orla

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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

 

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

 

 

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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