The ‘Get You Through the Day’ shake.

Sometime back in December 2019 I decided that 2020 was gonna be different for me. I was going to lose weight and get healthier. Most of 2018 and 2019 was spent consuming a lot of food and even larger quantities of alcohol and I somehow had crept up to 91kgs – which might not sound like much but I am pretty short.

2020 I vowed to not drink any alcohol and was going to lose 20kgs. 125 days into 2020 I haven’t touched a drop. I have also lost 20kgs. Now I weigh 71kgs. Yay for me!

Anyone that has known me for any length of time will know that I am a semi-professional yo-yo dieter and will inevitably put weight back on – but so far so good.

These people that know me will also know I am a bit obsessive and when I say I am going to do something I do it!

My new regime, with a few exceptions, is this shake for breakfast and nothing else until 7pm when we have dinner. Lately 100+ days in I have had the odd sausage sandwich for breakfast; especially if we have some bread that has seen better days, but as a rule this shake is all I need.

There are slight variations, but generally, get the big Nutribullet cup, 1/3 fill with frozen dark fruits (it must be frozen), add a banana, a peeled orange (or grapefruit, once I did 3 limes), a scoop of Protein Works, and a small amount of water. Then blitz!

Sometimes I add a frozen spinach puck, sometimes I add a splash of Vimto or Ribena, and when there are vegetables in the fridge crying for the compost bin, they go in too. I rarely throw stuff away.

I used to add milk instead of water – but it really isn’t worth the calories or the potential to miss out on cups of tea – especially during lockdown where you only get milk every 2 weeks!

This can keep me going all day. I never get tempted to snack, and just go about my day without a thought for more food – until dinner time, where I just eat a regular meal.

I’m not suggesting anyone else does this. But this worked for me, and has changed the way I now eat.

Ten Minute Tiramisu

Weekends during lockdown are now a regular excuse to do a cook-along with Freya’s parents. We’ve done a few now and this week we both cooked leg of lamb (more on that in another post).

The In-Laws advocate that all meals have a starter and a dessert. We don’t tend to bother so we patiently waited for them to eat their beetroot, goats cheese, and salmon blinis before tucking into the main event.

After some lengthy shouting into computers we were ready to down tools until Mummy Two Two whipped out a Tiramisu and made Freya wish she could have some.

As luck would have it we had a packet of sponge fingers left over from Christmas. We were going to make Jamie’s Christmas dinner (in it’s entirety) but we didn’t get round to making his dessert.

So this was a bit freestyle but seemed to work. I whisked 4 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee, caster sugar and some very hot water with an electric food mixer until the sugar dissolved (this is the beginnings of a Dalgona coffee – but that’s for another time). To the coffee mix add some brandy then pour it over the sponge fingers.

While the fingers are absorbing all the coffee and brandy goodness, whip together a tub of marscapone cream, some double cream, vanilla bean paste and caster sugar until it comes too (careful not to split it).

Next grate some chocolate (traditionalists say to sift cocoa powder but I didn’t do this). We used Tony’s Chocolonely Dark Milk.

Finally layer the fingers, the cream and the chocolate.

It obviously isn’t a Tiramisu that the Italians will approve of – but for 10 minutes it wasn’t bad.

I imagine the 80% of it that is left will mature nicely in the fridge. I intend to add a coffee foam to my next portion. Simply whisk the same quantities of coffee, sugar and very hot water AGAIN but this time keep going for 3 or 4 minutes until soft peaks form. Spooning this over the tiramisu is bound to make it taste better. Alternatively just spoon it over iced milk.

Bacon Granola

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I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this – and many thanks too to Nigel Slater. This recipe comes from his latest book ‘A Year of Good Eating’.

Ordinarily I would probably have missed this recipe – but chance brought me to it. Previously I had not owned any of his cookbooks – I just wasn’t drawn to them – I think I was put off by the long narratives and story telling – but how foolish I had been.

I happened to buy a cookbook from an actual shop (rather than Amazon) as a last minute Christmas present but decided after I got home that the cookbook was totally inappropriate and not suitable for human consumption. The book seemed to be popular simply because the authors thought it best to swear their way through every recipe. Anyway I took it back – got store credit – and chose the Nigel Slater book instead.

What a great decision that was!

As luck would have it I had a spare couple of hours to kill one day while picking up my daughter. I sat in a pub with a pint and worked my way through this book, page by page, checking out every single recipe.

If I’m honest I think I will probably make everything from this book – excluding maybe a small handful of fish dishes that don’t interest me – but this was the very first recipe in the book.

Sounds weird doesn’t it – bacon granola!

In fairness it isn’t granola at all. But who cares. We have it at least once a week. It fulfils Freya’s desire to have a bacon sandwich – but she doesn’t get the bread and she’s still satisfied.

It’s so easy to make – and you can modify the recipe based on what you have to hand – that said I rarely deviate unless I run out of almonds.

Simply buy a packet of smoked streaky bacon, cut it into little pieces and fry it in a pan with a good chunk of butter until it gets crispy (but not too much). Having the pan up high helps this – and means you get it made a lot quicker. There’s nothing worse than making this when it’s only 1 degree on the boat and you’re wearing little more than a dinosaur onesie!

Once the bacon is done you throw in some rolled porridge oats. Stir these in so that soak up the juices from the butter and the bacon and then add whatever makes you happy. Here I’ve added cranberries, skin on almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds.

I’ve added other nuts with equal success; I’ve also added popped quinoa and used up pots of those ‘pour over the top of salad’ nut and seed pot things that people sometimes buy you. I reckon you could tip pretty much anything from a Graze box into this (excluding the chocolatey things!).

Give it a good old stir to warm it through. I’ve usually turned the pan off before I add all the other stuff but I use cast iron cookware and it keeps its heat for ages.

Serve it with a dollop of really good creme fraiche.

I don’t think you’ll ever have a better breakfast – although we’ve also had it for lunch and probably at least once for dinner!

It’s so easy – really quick – all in one pan – and give you a warm tummy and lots of energy to keep you going through the day.

 

Cabbage, Carrot and Flaxseed Coleslaw

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In the rush that was Christmas I bought two cookbooks. One I already had – but I needed to get over the £20 spend to get free delivery on Amazon so I also bought ‘Superfoods’ by Julie Montagu.

There had been a lot of chatter about Superfoods around that time – especially when one team on the Apprentice had an embarrassing moment misunderstanding what Superfoods were all about.

A quick flick through the book got me excited. Unlike other healthy living books this one generally gets by with using easy to get ingredients. Proof of the pudding was this dish.

The Cabbage, Carrot and Flaxseed Coleslaw is in the ‘Sides’ section of the book – and the recipe is enough for 4-6 people – but we just ate it as a main.

It’s incredibly easy to make – much like most of the recipes in the book – I think I had it made in less than 15 minutes. And there’s no cooking either; it’s all completely raw.

All you do is shred a savoy cabbage and a purple cabbage, grate some carrots, finely slice a red onion and toss into the mix a handful of mange tout.

To the coleslaw base to add a dressing made up of olive oil, garlic, dill, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and the juice of a lemon.

Mix it all together and serve with a generous sprinkling of flax seeds.

If you can’t find flax seeds buy linseeds. They are the same thing.

This salad was amazing on its own and would be the perfect accompaniment to any other dish I think – maybe a BBQ once the weather gets better in 6 months time!

Loved this book – and loved this recipe – thoroughly recommended!

 

 

Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Chickpeas in a Spicy Tomato Sauce


What a lovely few days of weather we are having lately. Summer is finally coming it would seem.

I threw this together in less than 15 minutes in an attempt to replicate to some degree Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal that we saw on TV over the weekend. I think I was close enough.

All I did here was empty a tin of drained chickpeas and a carton of passata into a pan and bring to a simmer with half a red chilli and couple of spring onions.

While they are simmering form meatballs from lamb mince mixed with Garam Masalla and fry them off. When they are done add them to the sauce.

I sprinkled chopped coriander on the sauce before serving but that was all I did.

I’m sure there was a salad in there somewhere when we watched the show but this was more than enough.