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

 

 

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Standing still, but still standing. May 19th 2016.

I teach. In Ireland. In a secondary school. Look away now if that is going to upset you because it does cause quite a lot of heartache for lots of people at this time of year. We are about to get our summer holidays. Suddenly everyone wants to be a teacher – feel free! It is a wonderful job, but not as cushy as many would lead you to believe, at least not if you do it well. Hence I have not been blogging for a while – other priorities. It is an interesting way to live. While everyone else celebrates beginnings and endings in December and January, we do so in June and August as well. It is a time to take stock of our professional lives, but also our own lives and reflect on what changes have happened for us.

I have had a simple existence for many years now, always following the same pattern. I start the year in September with great plans to get healthy, lose weight and get fit. I do. I bring lunch from home, walk with friends and am careful with food. I follow different food plans depending on the year. I have done Weight Watchers, Slimming world, hypnosis, self planned diets. I have successfully lost a stone, sometimes two, and then Christmas has hit. Like a lead weight. Literally. I then eat my way through the two weeks and never get back on track. I rally a little in February and rouse myself to try again.

And yet. And yet. As June approaches I feel sad. I am never lighter on the last day of school than I am on the first day. I look at the staff picture taken in September and sigh. I always look worse in June.

Up until now. That’s what all the self help gurus tell us – up until now is an empowering phrase. It is. Up until now I’ve always been heavier at the end of the year. Up until now I’ve been a size in the twenties.

Now I’m a teenager again – a size 18 and maintaining. I’m three stone lighter than when I started the school year. I feel like a different person.

I have a way to go. I would still like to lose another five or six stone – and I will. I have managed to maintain this weight now for a couple of very difficult months when I usually just give in and gorge. I promise myself I’ll “be good in the summer”. Instead this summer I’m promising I will finally get going properly on my running – I have a target of August for a fully run five k and a target for next year’s Pieta House Darkness into Light five k of a 30 minute time. That’s the plan.

It’s been a good year.

I have eaten carbs when I felt like I needed to. I have eaten sugar when I wanted it. And then my body has said enough and I have stopped.

I have eaten out and enjoyed myself. I have been away with friends and my husband and had wonderful meals. I have changed my taste buds – something I never would have believed was possible at the beginning of this year. I have introduced sugar-free living to my children. They still eat carbs – and lots of sugar sometimes too – but they can see we can actually live without sugar – and we can enjoy beautiful tasty food nonetheless.

How is your journey going for you?

“Choceile” and almond cookies – Pancake Tuesday alternatives. February 6th 2016

Hi everyone.

I said I’d post a recipe or two on sweet treats because let’s face it if there are no sweet treats then this is not a good plan for life – it’s a bit dull and where’s the fun in being good all the time?

My children adore Nutella. Let’s be honest – I adore it myself – what’s not to love – a little jar full of hazelnut and chocolate sunshine that is so versatile – except that it is full of sugar – more than 50gms per 100gms of product – have a look – this has been all over the web this week –

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I don’t like to harp at the girls about food – I am aware as a person with an unhealthy relationship with food most of my life that it is essential that they grow up without obsessing. I did show them a clip or two that I saw about this particular product. It is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday in three days and I don’t want them to be the only ones not indulging in some chocolate covered beauties. Mind you in our house we tend to have the less traditional, but tastier, crumpet in place of the French crepe style flat version.

So I checked out one of my go to sites – http://www.ditchthecarbs.com/ and searched for the nutella recipe there – it is gorgeous. I didn’t weigh or measure out anything but this is worth trying – I’m bringing some in to work on Monday to let the staff taste because it’s so good. You can use either coconut oil or butter – I’m Irish – it’s got to be butter!

We call our version Choceile – eile is the Irish for other – a fitting name we figure!

Choceile

Ingredients

  • 200gm walnuts – Lidl packet!
  • A dollop of butter – about 45gms?
  • a generous tablespoon of Xylitol
  • 4 tblsps cocoa powder

Throw all into the food processor and blend until it’s no longer grainy looking. It is very chocolately and quite heavy – a dark spread. The girls didn’t like it at first but then I mixed equal measures of Philadelphia cheese and the spread and they loved it! Success. The next day they were ready for the mix without the cheese to lighten it. I had to make some more yesterday evening as the first batch was all gone – the younger two had it on breakfast brown bread all week – and I really didn’t mind – far better than jam or honey let’s face it! My children are not banting but we try hard to replace their treat foods with banting alternatives – they tend to fill them better and with all three of them stretching daily I’m happy to fill them with high fat food.

Of course I couldn’t have the bread with the choceile so I needed to try something new to spread it on. Hence the almond cookies. I found a recipe for almond cookies with honey and coconut oil in them but I am avoiding honey so I decided to just experiment – the result is fabulous – I made a batch of these Thursday and made another larger batch tonight – they are ideal for the choceile but on their own they are just as tasty – think chewy almond slice style biscuits – yum!

Chewy Almond Bites 

Ingredients

  • 200 gms ground almonds
  • about 60 gms  dessicated coconut
  • 1.5 tblsps Xylitol
  • 1 tsp almond essence – it’s worth paying for an expensive brand – no comparison with the cheaper ones
  • 2 tsps vanilla essence – ditto
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 tblsps melted coconut oil
  • About 30 mls cream

Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan

Mix all the ingredients together to form a paste. Pat out in random pieces on a silicon mat on an oven tray.

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Bake for about fifteen minutes – keep an eye on the oven – as soon as they are brown pull them out – they can go from perfect to bin fodder in a matter of seconds!

Leave them to cool on the silicon mat then pop into a sealed container – I imagine the shelf life on these is short – they won’t last that long I can guarantee you that – and they are a perfect alternative to pancakes next Tuesday if you feel like something but don’t want to go back to wheat based products for the sake of the day that’s in it.

 

Yesterday I saw a recipe for oopsie rolls – they look a bit like a flat pancake – made with eggs and cream cheese – could be another alternative – I’ll keep you posted!

 

Enjoy the sweets – I’m away to have a warm creamy bowl of tomatoey chowder!

Orla

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Orla

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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 …..

wings

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!

What’s the buzz with sugar. October 11 2015.

The reason that this eating plan resonated so loudly with me is because I completely got the nature of addiction that the realmealrevolution.com website talks about. When I ate too much I was never satisfied. I always wanted more and I never felt full. I could eat a packet of biscuits and still feel as if there was a hole in my belly. I could have a 200gm bag of crisps and it felt like a drop in the ocean of my hunger. So I was interested to see if I could actually go cold turkey and just like that give up sugar overnight.

That is a lot harder than you think. Not because I craved sugar but because it is in everything – and I mean everything – from bread, to pasta sauces, to crisps, to tomato ketchup to breakfast cereals. There is so much of that glorious white powder hidden in all our food that to get rid of it takes a mammoth effort. Have a look at a few labels – frightening!

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In this label you could be forgiven for thinking I’ve got it wrong – no sugar here –

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In fact there is – sugar hides under many names – and dextrose is just one. A few others are sucrose, maltodextrin, lactose, corn syrup, barley malt, mannitol, to name just a few. My suggestion? For the first week or two avoid processed foods altogether.

By eating only non processed food I managed to cut it out and have been sugar free now for 50 days. That is not to say that I have had no sugar. I have had no hidden sugar – and very little natural sugar to boot. I have had berries and the occasional glass – okay or two or three – of red wine but that is it. No cravings. I had a slight headache on and off for three days at the start but none since. If you feel the urge hit you take something salty – and you do need your Himalayan salt – it has over 80 minerals and so many health benefits you’d need to google it yourself if you don’t believe me. It is salt in its purest form – see – no processed salt here!

Anyway – back to the sugar business.

  1. I had two nights out in my first banting week – and visitors from Australia – that was a challenge – but I found it remarkably easy. In two separate restaurants I went for the buttered prawns and crab claws as a starter – a choice I’d normally avoid because of the high fat content. I had steak – although it was too big for me to finish so the dog had a great dinner that night! I had that with butttery mushrooms. I also had a couple of glasses of red wine. A wonderful evening with great food and no guilt. On the second evening I had chicken stuffed with mozarella and wrapped in pancetta – fabulous! It was served with buttered greens. I discovered by asking if the menu items were gluten free we were able to make good choices. My husband even had pepper sauce – creamy and delicious! Dessert was not an issue either night out – we could have had a cheese board but we were too full.

For our visitors I thought I’d better make some dessert however – in my pre-banting life I was a very good baker – I am known for it – so I had to provide dessert. I came up with this little number. It is gorgeous. It has replaced my berry crumble – I think it’s even nicer than crumble – and is remarkably simple to make.

You will need

750 gm bag of frozen mixed berries

A selection of nuts – pecan, walnut, hazelnut, and almond flakes

Some grated nutmeg or cinnamon to taste

Fresh cream whipped

Dessicated coconut

Dehydrated raspberries if you can get them – mine come from Trader Joe’s in America thanks to a kind sister! You can get them in Sainsburys though in the North or get them shipped from Amazon.co.uk. They are not an essential ingredient however so don’t stress!

Cook the berries until they have simmered for five minutes then take them off the heat.Allow them to cool – or serve hot whichever you prefer.

Put a small amount into a glass – about three or four dessert spoons only – leave the juice out – I just used a slotted spoon to lift them.

Bash your chosen nuts in a pestle and mortar if you’re fancy – if not – use either a food processor or put them in a bag and hit them with a rolling pin! I added some grated nutmeg but it’s not essential. Then pour some of the mix over the berries.

Top with whipped cream, some dessicated coconut, flaked almonds and dried raspberries if you have them.

I sometimes grate a little 85% dark chocolate over the whole thing as well – but I’m not bothered.

Voila!

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If you are feeling really decadent you could whip the cream with some mascarpone cheese and make it almost like a deconstructed cheesecake. You have to try it to believe it. This dessert is right at home beside apple tart, cheesecake or any other rich and creamy dessert – but it won’t feed your sugar habit and you can have this knowing that it won’t make you lose control. At a family gathering recently it was dessert of choice for several of the party – and they were none the wiser that it was a banting safe option.

Next time I’ll suggest a few easy lunches on the go – and show you how this food plan can be adapted for the skinnies in your house too – it’s not just a weight loss plan remember!

There’s a lot on the naughty list – does a nice one even exist? October 9 2015.

I said I would share the green list of foods with you – last time I told you all the bad foods so this evening – as it’s Friday and that’s worth celebrating in itself, here is the list of good foods of which you can eat an abundance. Like I said before, it is quite difficult to overdo it at first because the foods are often so rich and creamy that the taste alone fills you up. Prof Noakes on the website says at first to just follow the eating plan and don’t worry about quantity. It tends to take care of itself.

So – on the green list are:

Fats – animal especially, and either coconut or extra virgin olive oil. Plenty of butter – real Irish butter, from grass fed cows – the Realmealrevolution.com are big into grass fed – Ireland is a perfect banting zone – apart from our historic attachment to the potato obviously.

Meat and eggs – It’s okay at the start to eat a lot of meat if you like – just to fill your plate if you feel the distinct lack of carb there – but this is not the Atkins Diet – have enough but not too much – and most meals should include at least some protein. Best ones I find are fish, smoked or plain, and eggs – glorious eggs. For the first two weeks I ate scrambled eggs every morning – made in the frying pan for expediency – half an ounce – or an ounce if I felt like it – of butter, two eggs thrown in when the butter was almost melted. Left them for a minute then smashed them with a wooden spatula and liberally salted and peppered them. To die for.

You can of course have steak – sirloin is good as its fat content is higher than fillet. Take lots of bacon, streaky or back,  but try to avoid the smoked ones with sugar in – it’s very hard to find dry cured but they are the best. A good butcher will tell you if they are dry cured or not. Pork and chicken are good too – eat the skin of the chicken, or the wings or legs! We have used the barbecue almost every evening since we started – rain or shine – to cook our meat – divine! If you can get gluten free sausages buy them in bulk and freeze them. Did you know practically all sausages contain wheat derivatives? Not these babies however – a great find in M&S the other day – and gorgeous with fried eggs or streaky rashers.

sausages

Vegetables – the plan will tell you to bulk up with veg – really there is little need to bulk up on anything but feel free to eat all veg that grows on the surface of the ground – apart from butternut squash. That sounds difficult. It isn’t. Basically we eat lots of broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, courgette, mushrooms (in butter) and peppers – although because they are sweet they are a bit higher in carbs. Also on the list are things like aubergine, tomatoes, asparagus. I have a fabulous vegetarian recipe for an aubergine and courgette gateau with mozarella and tomato sauce – I’ll share it again – but I realised it is a perfect banting dish. Onions are there too but again when you cook them for a while they caramelise – a sign that there’s sugar there so we don’t really eat them so much. My husband’s favourite soup is tomato – now he has it whenever he likes – easy as pie – passata and cream mixed together and heated up with one spoon of Xylitol and a little garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Dairy – if you’re female – be aware – for some reason known only to the Maker Himself women don’t do so well when we eat lots of dairy. Men seem to do just fine. I don’t mean eat none – eat lots of butter, and full fat cream – divine in coffee – what’s not to love on this plan I ask you! I find Philadelphia Cream Cheese is also good and doesn’t mess with the plan. I have discovered that if I eat crackers and cheese every lunchtime however my body likes to hold on to the weight more hungrily than when I eat avocado say, or fish. I still eat cheese and I often have yoghurt – full fat Greek is the only one – and that seems to be okay. I buy my Greek yoghurt in Lidl – it’s very good.

Nuts and Seeds – I love macadamias. I only really realised this following this plan – and I found out yesterday that they are more readily available than I thought. Thanks Sinead for the share – I know where I’m going in the morning.

macadamias

Other good nuts are pecans, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts.  I made granola the first week then thought – too much trouble – now I bash a few hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts in the mortar and pestle – throw in a little nutmeg and cinnamon and that is just as lovely. I get mine in Lidl mostly although Supervalu has great value in hazelnuts – when they are in stock.  Pine nuts are great too – lovely in a salad. Another banting friendly recipe springs to mind – and one I’ll share again – the broccoli and feta salad in Avoca, with toasted hazelnuts. Yum!

Don’t fall for the peanuts, cashews or pistachios – lovely as they are, they are not as good for you as the others, as their carb count is very high compared to almost zero with the ones above.

I have linseed – or flaxseed, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds in good supply in the house. The girls love to add the poppy seeds to their yoghurt now – and a teaspoon meets your iron needs for the day – who knew such a tiny baby packed such a healthy punch!

You may wonder where the fruit is – it isn’t. Well at least there’s not too much of it. Basically I am following this plan because I have a taste for sugar so it is only natural that I am avoiding sugary foods as much as possible. And fruit falls into that category, except for berries – blackberries, raspberries, blueberries… I have some kind friends who gave me some fresh berries in September which I froze –  otherwise I just use the frozen mix – but I boil them first as a precaution then store them in the fridge for a couple of days.

That’s it. There’s quite a lot of food there – and all of it delicious.

Next time, I’ll tell you about sugar and a dessert you might even choose over a more sugary alternative!

What’s the story anyway? October 7 2015.

dinner 7.10.15

Dinner tonight in our house.

Having watched Donal’s film I sat at the computer and googled Real Meal Revolution to see what he was talking about. What I found was a free week of classes on what is called the beginner banting course. Just as well it was in holiday time as I spent the best part of three days devouring the free week information. I signed up for the five week course almost immediately. It cost me the princely sum of $49 – about €43 to get access to the whole site. Here’s the link if you want to have a look. Be warned – there’s a lot of information.

https://banting.realmealrevolution.com

Anyway if you don’t want to sign up for the free week or even read any of what is in there I will give you the gist of it. Basically you need to be eating about 70% of your calories from fat, 25% of your calories from protein and then 5% from carbs. That sounds complicated but isn’t. It sounds impossible but isn’t. It sounds sickening – isn’t that either! It is so satisfying that after day 1 I never looked back.

So how do you do that without having to spend hours studying the videos and notes and recipes?

You give up two things – carbs and sugar. You don’t eat potato, rice, pasta, bread or porridge – or any other carb loaded food. You also give up processsed sugar of every type both natural and artificial. The only sugar that should pass your lips should come from some berries on occasion and a sweetener or two in your cofee to start with in the mornings. Oh and the weekend wine – I’m never giving that up – in fact now it has become all the more enjoyable because I imagine it as such a luxury.

I should have said give up three things! You give up the guilt. Stop punishing yourself every time you put food in your mouth. Stop agonising over calories. Stop dreading nights out because you are afraid you’ll binge and lose control and then give up on yourself all over again.

Now it all sounds a bit drastic and like just anonther fad diet – but it’s not. It is based in sound medical fact. In recent years there has been a glut of articles suddenly suggesting that in fact natural fats are better for you than low fat alternatives – people are moving back to butter and full fat yoghurts – why? Because the alternatives are so full of additives and chemicals that they cannot be better for you than a less processed alternative. The name itself – Banting actually refers to a real person – one William Banting who was a rather corpulant British undertaker to the Royal Family in the 1800s in London. He went to a physician who took him off all sugar, saccharine  – who knew it existed in the 1870s – bread and potatoes. He ate four meals a day and thrived. He was so excited by the results of his new eating plan that he published a pamphlet at his own expense expounding the virtues of the regime – hmm – sounds familiar – I’m not the first zealot then!

The first week was tough – not because I was hungry but because I didn’t really know what to eat. On the website they give you a few helpful recipes to start – cauliflower mash was the first – sounds gross – was quite lovely the first few days and we haven’t had it since – basically a head of cauliflower steamed and then pureed to a mash like consistency with about 3 ozs of butter in it. Yum! It was a good one to start with because it looked like mash and tasted a lot like it too – the psychology of that was important. The other recipe was for a pureed combination of spinach and broccoli – with cream and butter – I added to taste – again lovely, but we did wonder would we ever eat real food again.

I lost 8.5 pounds that first week. I’ve been down the depleted glycogen stores road before so I knew that a lot of that was stored water, but in five years I hadn’t managed to lose that much weight in a week of trying. The psychological boost was enormous. Coupled with the decision my husband made after only two days, that he was going to join me, made it easy to try for just one more week.

The most amazing part was that I was never hungry. Not once. I ate as much as I wanted whenever I wanted. I lost all taste for sugar after that first day. I felt full and if I didn’t I ate some more.

Here’s a sample day from that first week…….

Breakfast : 2 eggs scrambled in half an ounce of butter

Dinner: 8 ozs roast chicken, half an avocado, 1.5 ozs of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, drizzle of garlic infused extra virgin olive oil

Tea: Seed crackers (recipe below), Philadelphia Cream Cheese and a creamy coffee – with 2 fl ozs of cream in.

No hunger. You’d be surprised how easy it is to lose the potato when you substitute with higher fat items. The other thing which is great is that none of it is processed – it’s not raw – I’m not an extremist for God’s sake – but it is all very natural and very healthy.

I bought nuts and ate those. There’s a fabulous Irish site called Nutsinbulk.ie where they sell macadamias which are the best nut of all to eat. I also drank plenty of water. They recommend you drink only two cups of coffee or four cups of tea a day – I tried to give up tea last year – after four days my family begged me to go back on it – this time – no problem. I take either one or two cups of coffee a day, no more.

So. There’s an awful lot of information there. It was a hard first week as I say but as the weeks went by I realised that we don’t have to eat baby mush every night and load our veg with butter – really, David I don’t – to follow this lifestyle. We just eat healthy natural food.

In the next post I’ll share the list of green foods – those you can eat when you are hungry – obviously if you eat 4000 calories a day you won’t lose weight – but you know what – you won’t be able to eat 4000 calories when you are eating such nutrient dense food.

Seed Crackers

100gms linseed

100gms pumpkin seeds

100 gms sunflower seeds

60 gms sesame seeds

3 tblsp psyllium husk – available in Health food shops!

400 mls water.

Mix all the seeds and the psyllium husk in together and then pour on the water. Add lots of Himalayan Pink Salt and some pepper if you like. Leave to – congeal is the only word to describe it really and then spread it out very thinkly onto two silicon mats or greaseproof paper – it will never come off the bare oventray. Bake at 150 celcius fan oven for about an hour – keep an eye  – picture below shows how they should look. They are perfect with cheese and absolutely gorgeous with lots of good Irish butter!

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Himalayan Salt – available in good butchers of all places

salt