Sunday, 27 March 2011

How to love sprouts!

Nearly all of us have pulled a face as a child when we were forced to eat Brussels sprouts, and I was no different. I really didn't like them. But for some reason, that all changed a couple of years ago and now I love them!! I can eat my way through a bag of them a day. And no, there are no "side effects"!
Even as an adult, you might go out of your way to avoid eating them, but you really shouldn't. They have so many health benefits. Firstly, it is really important not to over cook them as they will lose all their nutritional value and they will emit a sulfur smell that makes most of us hate sprouts in the first place. These little mini cabbages are a brilliant source of vitamins C and K and they are also a good way of getting lots of other good stuff into your body like vitamin A, folate, magnesium, riboflavin and potassium. Who knew all of that could be in Britain's most hated vegetable? (There was a poll in 2002). Brussels sprouts are also said to be one of those cancer preventing foods, and more research is being done into it.
If you steam Brussels sprouts, then they can have the benefit of lowering cholesterol. They also provide cardiovascular and digestive support. What is not to love about all that?

But, you still don't like the taste of Brussels sprouts?? Well, I have come up with a recipe that makes them super tasty. Also, when cooked like this, they are a great snack. You can pick on them whilst watching a film or the TV and they are a much healthier alternative to crisps or chocolate.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 250g Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmer and outer yellowing leaves removed.
- Fry light
- Sea salt, pepper, paprika and coriander

1. Place the sprouts in a baking dish and spray with fry light and sprinkle over a little salt and some pepper, paprika and coriander. Cut the larger sprouts in half if needed.

2. Cook at 200C for 30 minutes and then serve

Monday, 21 March 2011

My week of eating

Hello there!
I haven't forgotten about you all, I have been creating this blog all week.
I thought that it is all well and good telling you all what you should be eating, and saying what I eat all the time, when really I could be eating chips and lard everyday. I'm really not though. So, I took a picture of everything I ate over the week so you can see what I am having each day, including my treats. It wasn't the best week food wise, too much socialising meant not making the best choices!


Breakfast: Banana and Agave smoothie
Morning Snack: Trail mix and an apple

Lunch: Salmon, Avocado and Bulgar Wheat salad

Dinner: Ginger and Chili cod fillet with broccoli and mushroom, halloumi and tomato kebab
Evening Snack: Coffee and Raw choc orange bar


Breakfast: Banana, Strawberry and Blueberry smoothie

Lunch: Mushroom omelette with a 5 bean and avocado salad 

Dinner: Salmon stir fry

Dessert: Pears baked in agave with plain yogurt and cinnamon


Breakfast: Weetabix with skimmed milk, strawberries and blueberries

Lunch: Tuna and avocado on rye bread with a 5 bean salad

Dinner: Tomato soup and a bowl of carrots and broccoli


Breakfast: Poached egg on rye bread with marmite

Snack: Grapes

Lunch: Tuna and avocado salad

Snack: Plain yogurt with soumaq and crudites

Dinner: Veggie hotdogs on rye bread with mange tout (a bit random)


Breakfast: Pouch egg on rye bread

Lunch: Tofu and cabbage on rye bread with a salad

Dinner: Home-made courgette and pepper pizza on a wheat base with sweet potato wedges

Breakfast: Banana and strawberry smoothie

Lunch: Tofu strips and cous cous salad

Party food: Mars bar cake and crudites and dips

Dinner: Tuna 6inch subway on wheat with lots of salad


Breakfast: Didn't wake up early enough for breakfast. Ooops.

Lunch: Falafel, green bean and avocado salad

Dinner: Ginger and chili marinated cod on spinach with asparagus and broccoli

So, there you have it. Lots of very tasty and healthy food and when the healthier alternatives to not so healthy food.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

It's not necessarily alcohol that's the problem....'s the food you eat when you are drunk and the food you eat to help your hangover!
I'm not perfect when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, no one is. But, as I always say, it is about being good most of the time, and having a treat once in a while.
We went away over the weekend to stay in Nottingham, and whilst I knew I wouldn't be able to eat the balanced diet I normally do, I tried as best as I could. I practiced what I preached when it came to the buffet and treated myself to a bit of dessert. The fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate were definitely worth it. Nottingham being full of hills helped a little to burn it off after.

 A pretty big night out was planned, which I knew meant drinking. I try not to drink too often, and I don't see anything wrong with a couple of social glasses of wine every so often, but that is because I have reached my goal. In my opinion, I know some people will disagree, if you are serious about weight loss, you shouldn't drink at all for a while. When I first started losing weight, I gave up drinking. I didn't drink for 6 months and it was the best decision I made. For a start, I was drinking cider before that and what a huge amount of calories that is. Alcohol doesn't provide any nutrients, just a lot of calories and a lot of pain the next morning. If you have half a bottle of wine, that is 250 empty calories that could have been spent on a meal. I'm not going to go into any detail about all the other negative effects alcohol has, like liver damage, as we know all about that.
But, if you like a drink when you socialise, as long as you eat well during the week, a few drinks at the weekend won't do too much damage. The one thing that I always try to remind myself, is that your body will burn off the alcohol before it will burn off fat supplies. So, if you have a lot to drink, but think going to the gym the next day will still aid your weight loss, it won't. All the effort you put in at the gym after drinking will only burn off the calories you drank, and none of the fat you are trying to shift. This is fine if you are just maintaining your weight, as you drink and then burn off just that the next day. But if you are trying to lose fat, drinking is not going to help that.

If you are going to drink, choose your drinks wisely. When I did start drinking again, I only drank vodka, soda water and lime. It is the lowest calorie drink. Avoid diet fizzy drinks, because of the artificial sweeteners and just go for soda water. White wine and soda is another good option, although a little higher in calories. It goes without saying, avoid pints of cider and beer. Cocktails are also not a great option. You might think because it has fruit juice in it that it is good for you, but they are massively high in calories. Another good idea, is to drink lots of water at the same time. Have a pint of water in between ever alcoholic drink you have. Not only will it ensure you drink less, it will ease the hangover the next day too, trust me.

There are many people who think that a little bit of alcohol can have all kinds of health benefits, but I am focusing on it in regards to weight loss, which there is no benefit.

The reason why I think alcohol should be avoided, if you are serious about losing weight, is because, like the title says, I don't think that alcohol is really the problem, it is what you eat after. This is where my problems was, and still is. For most people, alcohol increases your appetite and when drunk, you are less likely to make good food choices. How many times after drinking, or when hungover have you really craved a salad? You don't. You crave comfort food, and that means loads of calories. If you are going to eat badly, try and make the best choices you can. Our drunken food of choice last night was subway - much better choice (if choosing the right filling) than a dirty kebab or deep fried chips. I made sure to have wheat bread and loads of salad in it, to make it the best choice I possibly could. I skipped on the fizzy drink with it and just had a water.


That would have been fine, but then we found a Greggs bakery that was open until 4am, and we wanted cake. We shared a muffin and cornflake cake, so it could have been worse. But, when sober, I would never make those food choices in one day. Especially after having been to a buffet at lunch. But, I had eaten well for 2 weeks before that, I had planned for it, and I made the best choices I could.
It's not just the food you eat the night you are drinking, it's the food you eat when hungover. You wake up with a mouth that feels like a carpet and you just want to sit in front of the TV all day and eat junk food. That just isn't going to be good for you. The first thing we did when we woke up was drink lots of water and eat a banana. When you drink alcohol, your bodies potassium levels lower, which is one of the reaons you feel so bad the next day. Bananas are really high in potassium, so although they won't cure the hangover, they will make you feel a lot better. They are also high in potassium, which will help that thumping headache you have woken up with.

So, one of the points of this blog was to try and give healthier alternatives to the foods we love. When I am hungover, I crave food like burgers and chips. When we got back home today, this is what I made. But I made it as healthy as I possibly can.
Here is my recipe for mushroom and halloumi burgers with sweet potato wedges.

- 2 sweet potatoes
- Paprika
- Cayenne pepper
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 4 slices of halloumi cheese

1) Peel the potatoes

2) Cut into chips/wedges

3) Boil the chips for 10 minutes

4) Drain them and put onto a baking tray, spray with fry-lite and sprinkle with paprika and Cayenne pepper and bake at 220C for 40 minutes.

5) After they have been in the oven for 25 minutes, grill the portobello mushrooms and halloumi slices for the remaining 15 minutes and then serve with salad.

If you do drink, try to just have a few, make good food choices, drink a lot of water, and don't walk into anything....I have a bruise all the way up my arm!

Friday, 11 March 2011

How to eat healthily at a buffet

In times of frugality, all you can eat buffets appeal to a lot of us. Instead of stopping when we are full, we continue to eat until we are bursting. Why? Well....we want our moneys worth. Whilst there is logic to this, it is not going to do your body any good. I have been guilty of doing this many times myself, but I am still going to be paying the same amount of money, regardless of how much of the food I eat, so why stuff myself with too many calories, when I could have a normal sized meal and stay healthy!

There is no reason why you shouldn't go to a buffet. They are great. You get to sample lots of different types of food, so you can have a little bit of everything - and that is how it should be. A little bit of everything. I am going to a buffet tomorrow. It is going to be my "treat", which I have every 2-3 weeks. But that doesn't mean I am going to binge, as that would undo everything. You can eat healthily (or not too badly) at a buffet, and this is how I do it.

1) Fill up on salad - You can pretty much guarantee that a buffet will have a salad bar, so make the most of it. This doesn't mean you have to sit there with a big plate of just lettuce leaves whilst everyone around you is eating a deep-fried heart attack. Salad is so much more than lettuce. You will usually find marinated king prawns, sugar-snap peas, broccoli in dressing, mixed bean salad, cheese, cous cous, peppers and loads more tasty, filling and healthy foods. Having this at the beginning of the buffet will help you make better choices the rest of the time, mainly because you will be nearly full. Don't see it as just healthy food. Salad buffets are amazing - just watch the salad dressings. Always go for a simple vinaigrette over a creamy dressing.

2) Skip the bread - There is always bread at buffets. The reason? It's cheap and they know it will fill you up so you don't eat much of the more expensive stuff. The bread is nearly always white bread, which is not good for you, and in my opinion is a total waste of calories. You are most likely going to dip it in something so it doesn't taste like bread. Save yourself for something more substantial, better tasting and generally better for you.

3) Drink water - You are going to be drinking a lot. The reason for this is because buffets put LOADS of salt in their food so you buy more drinks. Don't fall for it. Just drink water, as again, drinking fizzy drinks (apart from being incredibly bad for you) is wasted calories and will fill you up. You didn't go to a buffet to get filled up on coke did you? Drinking a glass of water before you even hit the buffet will fill you up a bit, so you don't pile your plate so high.

4) Look at everything on offer at the buffet before putting anything on your plate - If you just go to the start and start putting stuff on your plate before you have seen everything that is on offer, by the time you get the the end of the buffet line you will have way too much stuff on your plate. By looking at everything on offer first, you can make a decision on what is your favourite stuff out of it all, and what you really want to eat. Otherwise you will just end up eating everything on your plate just because it is there.

5) Go for protein - protein is filling and good for you, so it is a good choice at the buffet. Choose grilled chicken breast and eggs over high fat items like pizza and chips.

6) Just a little bit - As I always say, you need to eat a little bit of what you fancy. If you don't you will eventually cave and eat too much of it. So, at a buffet, if you fancy some pizza or fried chicken or curry, then have some, but only put a couple of bites of each of those things on your plate. If it is not there, then you won't eat it. Really enjoy each of those bites and savour them. You still get to enjoy the foods you love, but in moderation. My buffet plate always has tiny portions of all the things I love, so I don't miss out.

7) Soup - This can be a really good option at a buffet. Soup is filling and a lot of the time it can be healthy. Make sure you check what soup it is though. Vegetable soup is best, but watch that is doesn't have cream in it. Again - skip the bread. Studies have also shown that people who eat soup before their main course end up eating less in the main.

8) Eat slowly - It takes your brain 30 minutes to realise it is full, and eating at a buffet can make this even more dangerous. You try to eat as much as you possibly can and you don't realise you are full until it's too late, and you feel ill. Take a pause after every couple of mouthfuls, have a drink of water, talk to the people you are eating with. It will make a difference.

9) Avoid anything crispy - Do I really need to explain? Anything that is crunchy or crispy or covered in batter is going to be full of calories and fat. Just don't do it. Wouldn't you much rather have a little bit of cake for dessert?

10) Go for foods you don't normally eat at home - If you are going to eat something that is a little bit unhealthy, as a treat, then make it something different. What is the point of getting pizza, when you could just eat that at home. Make the most of eating out, and eat new foods.

11) Dessert! - This is normally peoples favourite part of a buffet. The opportunity to eat cakes and ice cream makes you feel like a kid again. Once again, eating healthily doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little bit of dessert. Get a small plate for your dessert and cover most of it with fruit. This will give you something sweet without all the calories. Choose which cake you REALLY want, and cut off a small peice. Alternatively, get a plate of cakes for the table, and you can all share.

Eating out is a luxury, so treat it that way. Enjoy yourself and eat the things you like, but just have little portions of them and enjoy every mouthful. I shall enjoy mine tomorrow, on behalf of you all.