Saturday, 30 March 2013

Popping In...and Popping Out...

 A quick Hello & Welcome to Follower N° 72, Anne. I thought you were already a follower, but there you are! You are now. So WELCOME!

I'm only popping in briefly to apologise for a lack of service last Sunday. This last week has been fairly manic, with lots of extra work, and I spent all Sunday planning - no time for fun in the Blogosphere. It's great that I'm earning lots (in March I actually earned more than I have done in any other month since we came here) but it does rather curtail me-time. As spring arrives (she says, casting hopeful looks at the grey sky and shivering in the cold!) maybe I'll try to watch less TV and do more Stuff (though with Doctor Who starting, plus Broadchurch, which I'm loving, an adaptation of "Labyrinth" coming up and a 3 hour Corrie Catch Up, I'm not sure I will be watching less TV at the moment!)

Still on the 5:2 regime. Not losing loads but feeling okay about it. We fasted on Friday and then had steak-and-veggie spicy mix served on Chinese leaf instead of tortillas. With natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of cheese they were delicious!

Hopefully I'll catch up with you over the weekend, but Happy Easter to you all. Thank you for following me, thank you for reading, thank you for commenting.

And I know I'm a day early - but, Thank God!, we already know how the story ends!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

More on the 5:2 Eating Regime

You know, we really are quite convinced by this eating plan - it has become easier as we have got used to it (although yesterday I was finding it difficult to concentrate by the end of a busy day of planning and phone lessons. I finally finished at 6.45 having started at 9.00) The science behind it seems reasonably sound - although, to be honest, I've not done a huge amount of research - and I am finally seeing results. After 4 weeks of eating 500 calories on Mondays and Fridays, I have lost 2 kg. And I've honestly not felt deprived. Yes, on fast days I have wanted to eat something - but it's been okay to say "Not today. But you can tomorrow." And sometimes I have eaten it (whatever it was) tomorrow; but sometimes I haven't!

 I've also found I have a different attitude to hunger. Before starting this, I was "afraid" of hunger. I'd usually have a snackette of some kind with me, just in case I felt hungry. But now I've learned that hunger comes and goes; that I can say to myself "OK, you're hungry. Get over it." Last Wednesday, I was in Roanne teaching, and between lessons I felt peckish; I had an apple with me, and I thought, OK, wait until after this next lesson, and then you can have your apple... I forgot I'd felt hungry and the apple remained uneaten! (I'm not sure I'd've been so sanguine had it been a chocolate biscuit though!)

I've started trying to exercise a little more too. I went out for a walk earlier this afternoon - an hour of tramping through mud and snow. I didn't want to go, but I'm glad I did. I hope I worked off at least one of the two biscuits I had for puddding at lunchtime! (A quick visit to another site suggests I burned 298 calories - so that's probably both biscuits!)

So, what's the food plan for next week?
MONDAY (fast day)  Breakfast: porridge & agave syrup (130 cals) Lunch: CuppaSoup (60 cals)
Dinner: Spanakopitta and lots of salad (250 cals)

TUESDAY: Fish pie - made with frozen fish in sauce that is in the freezer, with some mushrooms & onions thrown in as well. Peasncrots as a vegetable.
 (Just in case you haven't worked out what peasncrots are yet!)

 I'll prepare this before I go out to shop/teach at 4 o'clock, so Mr FD can pop it in the oven for it to be ready when I get home. I've got loads of phone lessons on Tuesday - it's great, but boy, this working does get in the way of life!

WEDNESDAY: Hairy Dieters Chicken Paprika but made in the slow cooker. That way I don't need to cook when I get home - except for some rice to go with it, that is.

THURSDAY: Penne Arrabiata It's another lateish home day, but this is a quick-to-make recipe. We'll have it with some fresh pasta and crusty bread from the market. 
(Not bad for a fast day?!)

FRIDAY (fast day) Breakfast: nothing Lunch:CuppaSoup (60 cals) Dinner: Good-for-you Green Curry (147 cals) plus 25g raw weight rice (89 cals)  Then I can have a banana (approx 100 cals) and a hot chocolate (40) through the evening.

SATURDAY: We've got Danièle & her vegetarian son, Sylvain, coming for dinner. I've not exactly decided, but I think I'll cook something from my Wagamama cookbook...Maybe Vegetable Gyoza to begin,  
Then Pumpkin & Tofu curry (but without the tofu - bleeuch!) Link here: I might also make some little veggie cakes with a dipping sauce, but I can't find a recipe for them at the moment. Then...Well, Wagamamas do a great white chocolate and ginger cheesecakeso if I can find stem ginger in syrup then I might give it a try. I know I've seen it on sale somewhere but I'm blowed if I can remember where!
SUNDAY: I'm not sure. There may be leftovers. Or it may be something from the freezer. But I don't think I'll buy anything special for this meal.

Angela - Thank you for your good wishes for MrFD's quick recovery. His road rash has nearly cleared up, but his shoulder is still causing a lot of problems. Our friend, who is a doctor, thinks that the rotator cuff (?) might be damaged. MrFD is having physio, but he is finding it painful. It may be a few more weeks before he's cycling (The bike has been passed as fit!)

PomPom - That kitty is absolutely beautiful...but I would think it will require a lot of grooming to keep him in purrfect condition. You keep working on Mr PomPom. I love our kitties very much! (Bib is asleep on my left arm at the moment. Luckily, I type one handed!)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hospital Food...

...and other stories

Mr FD discovered what French hospital food is like, due to an overnight stay this weekend. That's why I'm late posting this. He was out with the Cycle Club on Saturday, and he came off his bike. We're not exactly sure what happened, but it seems a drunk guy on a moped overtook the group, and then cut in too close in front. MrFD slammed on his brakes to avoid the moped, skidded and came over the handlebars. Other cyclists then ploughed into him. He's battered and bruised, with something not quite right with his shoulder, but it's not broken/dislocated. The hospital kept him in overnight for observation, as they feared a hairline fracture of the skull, but it seems he's okay. He had two scans plus an MRI on his shoulder, and they couldn't find any major damage. One side of his face is covered in "road rash" - not very pretty, but superficial. Thank God for cycle helmets: without it, I'm fairly sure he'd be fighting for his life. or worse.

                   (His road rash would have been worse if THIS was all he'd been wearing!)

His lunch on Sunday was rilletttes, served with bread, a gherkin and pickled onion, followed by chicken chasseur and endives gratinées. There was then a lump of camembert and a dinky little Paris Brest patisserie. As I was there, and hadn't brought lunch, I was allowed to eat his rillettes (very nice) and bread, half the camembert and I accepted a small piece of the Paris Brest. I don't think I've ever had hospital food in the UK, but I'm not sure that it runs to a 4-course meal!!
 This shows the food apparently served in Croyden's hospitals. Mr FD's looked much more appetising than this!

He's home now, but on the doctor's advice is not fasting for the next couple of weeks. I am, though, so I'll have to add more to his plate than mine..and try not to go green with Food Envy!

MONDAY: Porridge + agave syrup (130 cals)
                    Vegetable stir fry with 100g cooked chicken for me. The chicken is 170 cals, plus a sauce of sweet chilli sauce & soy (40 cals a tbsp) gives me 340 calories. The veg will be 60 cals AT THE MOST so I have 100 cals to play with - egg noodles? a hot chocolate? I'm not sure yet...

(I haven't fallen off the wagon at all. I am keeping on it very well. The weight isn't moving yet, but I've had some success getting into previously tight jeans!)

TUESDAY: I'll make a pasta sauce with mince and veggies before I go shopping & leave it in the slow cooker. We'll have it with fresh pasta when I get home. Mr FD had agreed that on Tuesdays and Thursdays he'd cook...but the accident has put him out-of-action a bit as he can't lift stuff. So we'll go to the good old Slow Cooker!

WEDNESDAY is also slow cooker day. I'm going to make Hawaiian Pork   This isn't quite the recipe - mine uses a tbsp of tomato chutney, & the liquid is stock, soy sauce & wine vinegar but it's a similar thing. Actually mine doesn't include peppers either, but I think I'll rectify that! We'll have it with rice, I think.

THURSDAY: I'm teaching late, so I'm going to make use of the slow cooker for the third time, so that we have a meal ready when I get home. I'll prepare a sausage casserole - toulouse sausages, a tin of ratatouille and some other vegetables, and we'll have it with crusty bread.

FRIDAY:  Another Fast day for me. I'll not have breakfast, hopefully exist on drinks and a Cuppa Soup until supper time - I managed it last week. We'll have Salmon Teryaki from this site - baked in the oven and served with lots of steamed veggies. Mr FD might get a baked potato to have with his. It's about 250 calories, according to the site, so if I've managed to go without the other meals I'll have enough "wiggle room" to allow a banana, and a hot chocolate to finish off the evening.

 (Though I fear the hot chocolate will be nowhere near as creamily delicous as this one looks!!!)

SATURDAY: This week's been a bit meat heavy, so I'll make a veggie curry, which we'll have with naan bread and loads of mango chutney.

SUNDAY: Hairy Dieters Chicken & Vegetable stew.This looks delicious and yummy and we'll probably have it with mashed potato and maybe a green vegetable.

 So, that's the Menu planning for this week. It's a bit more difficult doing it on a Fast Day - my tummy's rumbling!!

Thank you, as always, for your comments.
POMPOM - Definitely, you need to campaign for a kitty...but I hope you can get one from a refuge, as that way you are helping a Poor Kitty have a much happier life! If your fluffy yellow boy is as placid as our dear marmalade boy you'll be very happy!

ANGELA: You're right; he is a good neighbour. We are lucky to have several friends and neighbours who drop things off for us to courgettes are a favourite, during the courgette season!

KATE: I didn't make the meatballs in the end - I can't remember why - but I like the idea of adding mushrooms as a binding agent. That would add flavour too. Thanks for the tip!

SARA LOUISE : The little risotto balls were a real faff to do, but they were delicious! I didn't add cheese in the middle - which would have made them even faffier - but I can imagine that some mozzarella would add even more yumminess! Maybe next time!

JANE & CHRIS, and ANGELA: All cats are scoring top marks on their cat flap report. Some like it more than others - you can't stop Pomme and George using it (even when it's locked they try to use it!) - but it is certainly now used by them all with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Forgot to say: My back is fine now. See here for the full report

Saturday, 2 March 2013

That's what happens when you try to be clever!

I imported the cats' report card from Word and then couldn't get out of it to type anything else! So, to see how the cats are getting on with the cat flap, you need to read the post below this one.

This is about food.

Yesterday's fast day was a bit hard - don't know why - but the Moroccan style potato bake was good, with a big salad as well. It would have been even better for having some chorizo in it, but that wasn't allowed. If you're 5:2-ing I really recommend it as a meal.

I'm trying a recipe I saw somewhere for lunch tomorrow - left over risotto, made into little breadcrumbed balls and fried. With salad they should be yummy. I think the recipe I saw had mozzarella hidden inside the balls which dutifully melted, but I haven't got any. I wonder if a bit of grated Cantal would work? Here is Nigel Slater's take on them
Not sure they're exactly low calorie but hey! We're fasting other days!! Today we're having bacon, black pudding and beans for lunch.

Mr FD found a bag of veggies on the doorstep yesterday. We assume they came from Richard, a friend of ours who often pops back over to the UK for a few days. We are guessing that he's gone, leaving us a gift of the vegetables he had hanging around in the fridge. So we have had a windfall of a couple of big mushrooms (we'll have them with the bacon today), a cauliflower, baby corn, mange tout, cherry tomatoes, salad potatoes, a couple of whopping big parsnips and a sweet potato. Thank you very much, Richard!

Meal plans for this week:
MONDAY: Breakfast: porridge + agave syrup (130 cals)
                    Lunch: Green salad + egg + yoghurt (150 cals)
                    Dinner: Savoury cauliflower rice + 80g fish (120 cals)

TUESDAY: Cauliflower & pasta cheese with ham. And possibly the mangetouts

WEDNESDAY: Hairy Italian Meatballs - I can't find a recipe online, but it's a basic meatball recipe - in place of breadcrumbs though, you use grated carrot. Otherwise, they seem fairly normal - no egg to bind them, so they might crumble...but if it's into the tomato sauce, it doesn't really matter, does it?!
THURSDAY: Lamb burgers, made with minced lamb and grated courgette, spiced up with some harissa. Served with sweet potato wedges, tzatziki (I need to find some mint!) and salad.

FRIDAY: Breakfast: banana + biscotte (approx 130 cals)
                 Lunch: cup-a-soup (57 cals)
                 Dinner: a version of the Hairy Dieter's Baked Haddock Pots . I'm using smoked salmon in this. My version of the recipe is as follows. It serves 2, and I worked it out as 226 cals per portion:

200g spinach leaves (25 cals)
100g smoked salmon (179 cals)
100g leek, finely chopped (28 cals)
1 tsp cornflour (10 cals - I think)
2 eggs (150 cals)
75g Bridelight very low fat creme fraiche (60 cals)

Cook spinach in a tbsp of water until wilted (about 3 minutes) Squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer to a bowl, and add the chopped salmon, creme fraiche, leeks, cornflour, and lots of ground black pepper. Put into oven proof greased ramekins/ serving dishes. Cover each with lightly greased foil.
Bake at 220°C for 15 minutes until bubbling. Take dishes out, stir well, and then make a dip in the centre. Break an egg into the centre of each.  Recover and bake for about 8 minutes until egg white is cooked but the yolk is still runny. Take dishes out, let them stand for 2 minutes then serve. With bread if you have the calories. We won't.

SATURDAY: There's a vegetable tagine in the freezer that I've planned to eat several times and never quite got round to doing. So we'll have that tonight, with spiced couscous.

SUNDAY: I think I'll make a curry. Either following the Hairy Dieter's recipe for Chicken Jalfrezi or using a Pataks sauce that we bought in theUK. It depends on how lazy I feel! We've got some mini naans in the freezer so I'll use them as our starch with the curry. 

Our light meals will be of the soup-and-sandwich variety. I'll make a curried carrot & parsnip soup on Tuesday which should see us through till Friday, and we've got cheese and coppa to have as sandwich fillings, plus ham. I cooked this on Thursday, and it's been sliced and freezered for various meals (for example, Tuesday) in the future. We'll have some for sandwiches too.

Thank you for the comments on the last couple of posts, and the good wishes for my back recovery. A week on I am certainly much more mobile - I can walk, sit, lie without much pain, but with residual stiffness. Bending down, twisting or stretching is still painful, and I find if I sit for long it's difficult to get moving again. I'm taking a couple of painkillers a day, but not the über strong ones. I think today is the day when I need to venture out for more of a walk though (even though it's cold and grey and raw) (Maybe tomorrow instead...!!)

Interestingly, both Lesa and Left Handed Housewife thought that Alan Rickman (sigh) would help me in recovery. He could do my physio any day!! (Though to be fair, my kiné, Jean Claude, is quite cute too!)

Cat Flap Report

The cats are getting the hang of the cat flap. Here is their report card:

Pomme                                                       A+
 I'm happy to report that Pomme has understood the concept of the cat flap, and is able to use it without any difficulty. She can go out easily, and although she is less willing to come back in again she knows what to do. Well done, Pomme!
 George                                                       B+
George is competent using the cat flap to go onto the balcony; however he is less sure about how to come in. He has a tendency to expect others to hold the flap open for him. George needs to learn to apply the going out method to his return to the warmth. 
 Millie                                                          B-
Millie had a break through today when she went out of the flap without help. She did seem rather surprised to be out in the cold, but has obviously started to work out that the cat flap has something "magic" about it. She also used the cat flap to enter successfully (and very, very quickly) when frightened by the gritter lorry!
 Bib                                                              C-
Bib is totally confused by the cat flap and has no idea why the other cats are there in the kitchen one minute and suddenly have dissappeared from view the next. She suspects it's something to do with that holey-thing in the door, but she isn't very happy about examining it too closely.