Slimming World – 5 Weeks In

So I haven’t blogged in like a month. I fell off the blogging wagon. However, I have very much been on the diet wagon!

I’ve been at Slimming World for 6 weeks now and I’m very pleased to report I received my 1/2 stone award on Tuesday after an astonishing 2.5lbs loss, for a grand total of 7.5 lbs lost on Slimming World, and 9 lbs lost since the start of the year!

 photo 10961717_10155135999340198_348563449_n_zps31faff38.jpg

Woo!

 photo giphy_zpsil2gmodo.gif

Ben has also lost an incredible 10lbs! We’re absolutely chuffed to bits and determined to carry on. I hate to sound like a massive loser but I really am enjoying it. I’m loving the support network I’ve found via Instagram, I enjoy going to group and listening to everyones stories, I’m LOVING the food and don’t feel like I’ve been on a diet at all which is pretty impressive. As I’ve said before, I hate boring food and I’d be so depressed if I had to count calories or felt restricted in any way. Seriously, if we haven’t been shopping for a while and my work lunch consists of a sad collection of vegetables and yogurt or something, it actually ruins my day. We’ve started doing a smaller, weekly shop so we can get all the fresh veg and fruit you need ridiculous amounts of on SW, and this is working really well for us.

So, some of the food I’ve been eating! My photos aren’t the best as I take them with my phone instead of doing the right thing and getting my SLR out – in my defence I’m always too hungry (food blogger fail) but I hope I can show that you really cn eat some lovely, exciting food on SW! I do find it slightly upsetting sitting at group and some of the ladies are talking about their dinners like “I’ve had tuna and rice, chicken and boiled veg, lots of Muller Lights…” THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO LIFE!!

Breakfasts

I’m still obsessed with porridge. Literally cannot get enough. It fills me up, it’s super low calorie, I don’t have to use any milk…it’s AMAZING. I use the ‘whipped banana’ method as described on KathEats and no, I don’t sun the banana. I’d be eating the banana anyway and it’s way more enjoyable chopped up and mixed into the porridge to create a huge, frothy bowl of banana-ry goodness. Mmm! I have also recently discovered something that has, quite honestly, changed my porridge life. PB2 is a powder made from de-fatted peanuts (?) that tastes exactly like peanut butter with MUCH better stats. Just to give you an idea, a level tbsp of peanut butter is 4 syns. If you mix 2 tbsp of PB2 powder with a little bit of water, it’s 2.5 syns. TWO POINT FIVE SYNS. That’s just over half the syns, for twice the amount. Awesome times. I bought both the regular and chocolate versions from Amazon and I can’t recommend them enough if you’re a peanut butter fiend.

Porridge with PB2…not the most photogenic combination, but definitely a delicious one.

 photo 10966578_10155136001350198_1583447249_n_zpsedb93c82.jpg

On days when I want to save my HEXB for a wholemeal roll or pitta bread at dinner, I normally just have chopped fruit with a yogurt. Sometimes though, when it’s cold (which it always seems to be!) I fancy something a bit more substantial. Last week I experimented with a version of the magic pancakes, made even more magic by removing the oats! So it was just an egg. I whipped the white separately, folded in the yolk and some sweetener, and cooked them in a pan with some Frylight. The verdict? Actually okay! They would have been better if I hadn’t been in a massive rush to get to work and accidentally burned them, but definitely something I’d make again at the weekends if I wanted a treat without using my HEXB. Recommended!

 photo 10968164_10155136001805198_2115640278_n_zpsa18e2245.jpg

 photo 10962086_10155136000020198_2109080494_n_zpsa7bcf3b8.jpg

On the weekends, I can afford to be a little more extravagant with my breakfasts:

 photo 10984880_10155136001580198_1703364291_n_zpsfd11c374.jpg

Lunch

Lunches are usually leftovers with fruit, tinned spaghetti or tuna salads. Gripping stuff. However, this week I made the pea and ham soup from the SW website and loved it! It was so easy to make too, I couldn’t believe it! It’s done me for 3 lunches and it tastes delicious.

 photo 10961689_10155136002040198_646253907_n_zps91cf7233.jpg

 photo 10965466_10155136003075198_1442385875_n_zps0345ad19.jpg

 photo 10967960_10155136000620198_705340692_n_zps9208624b.jpg

 photo 10968200_10155135999710198_1058407073_n_zps4704f529.jpg

Dinner

Dinner is the highlight of the day and a chance for us to really experiment and have something a bit more exciting.

This was slow-cooker pulled pork in a BBQ sauce (diet coke added, totally makes it!) with a wholemeal roll, sweet potato chips and syn-free coleslaw. So good!

 photo 10966977_10155135999175198_566690400_n_zps21ca9e8e.jpg

Last Wednesday I randomly decided to make chicken tikka masala from the Fakeaways book (such a great book.) It was a really good recipe, if slightly faffy for a school night, but then that was my own fault. I also made Ben a vegetarian version, which added to the faff (he offered to make his own curry but I wanted to make him this one…schoolboy error) and I also sponatenouslty decided to make SW onion bhajis. So yeah, it was a good 2 hours worth of kitchen time…but it was worth it!

 photo 10979235_10155136002285198_1101613378_n_zps09f479a4.jpg

I won’t post the recipe because it’s in the book, but here is a gratuitous shot of the meaty and veggie versions simultaneously grilling in the tikka/yoghurt sauce. I probably wouldn’t bother with this step next time as it was crazy amounts of effort and I don’t feel it added a huge amount to the final taste.

 photo 10994845_10155136002820198_25014469_n_zpsbaf27514.jpg

This was also my first experience making cauliflower rice, and I loved it! I bought frozen cauliflower (much cheaper than fresh and lasts longer) thawed it for a bit, grated it using my cheese grater, and sautéed it in a pan with garlic and coriander. It was very rice-like and actually I think I preferred it. Definitely good if you feel like you’ve OD’d a bit on carbs (a common occurrence on Slimming World) although obviously I added chips just to make sure I got those carbs back in.

 photo 10962152_10155136002090198_662652885_n_zps7ab5ffac.jpg

The onion bhajis were really lovely too! They were just mashed chickpeas, sliced onions, curry powder, cumin and coriander, shaped into balls and baked! Definitely recommend if you’re like me and like your Indian Fakeaway to have a bit of everything.

 photo 10967707_10155136002195198_193712731_n_zps2e4fc18e.jpg

Some nights, only pasta will do. This was a godsend; after a busy day at work I was able to reheat a batch of beef in red wine I’d frozen a couple of weeks earlier, roast some veggies, pile it onto spaghetti and top with my HEXA of cheese.

 photo 10965377_10155136000110198_1072935458_n_zpsf9ea9055.jpg

This was creamy tomato pasta bake with chicken and bacon. I much prefer creamy, ‘Alfredo’ style pasta dishes over tomato based so this is a good compromise. I just stir in a few spoonfuls of Quark right at the end of cooking and it adds a lovely creamy flavour. Not as good as actual cream obviously, but if that was the case we’d all be thin and Slimming World wouldn’t exist.

 photo 10962174_10155136001925198_1027639710_n_zps1c9d856d.jpg

One night I came home to a beautiful meal cooked for me by Mr Ben, homemade SW falafel! Served in a wholemeal pitta bread (the WeightWatchers ones are a HEXB!) with loads of salad, garlicky yogurt, hummus, homemade ketchup and SW chips. This type of food lends itself really well to Food Optimising and we’ll be having it a lot more often now I know Ben can make it!! I’m joking, he loves cooking and would cook more often if I wasn’t such a kitchen nazi and enjoyed it so much myself.

 photo 10965652_10155136003010198_430162823_n_zpsd3fa3e01.jpg

My favourite meal of the last few weeks was a wonderful risotto stuffed butternut squash, a meal that deserves its own post so watch out for it this week!

To my fellow slimmers, good luck on your journey this week. To everyone else, happy eating!

Slimming World – Week 2 + recipe for Chicken Fajita Bowl

Okay before I go any further I have to just share;

I LOST 2.5LBS ON TUESDAY!!

Phew! Got it out of my system!! Obviously I am CHUFFED and it’s spurred me on so much to carry on Food Optimising and get to a weight I’m happy with. Yay! Ben also lost a fantastic 2lbs, meaning he’s already lost over half a stone! It’s only been 2 weeks! Blimey, the boy can diet.

I’m feeling so lucky to have a lovely group with a fab consultant; I enjoyed listening to everyones thoughts about the week they’d had. I even felt a bit emotional at times when people were saying how they’d struggled, how much they want it, etc. It’s also so inspirational; some members have lost SO much weight it’s insane! I don’t have a crazy amount to lose but hearing members saying they’ve lost 2/5/8 stone (!) just makes you think if they can do it, I can do it! Or I should be able to!!

So, a recap of this weeks eats! Apologies for the slightly late post this week, we’ve gone into the following weeks eats too, eek!

It’s been another week of lovely food. I cut back a bit on non-speed fruit and veg, and added in speed where I could.

Breakfasts have been my HEXB of porridge oats, made with water and splenda and topped with 1/2 banana. I find this fills me up till lunch at 1 which is brilliant! I experimented with yogurt, HEXB of All-bran and yogurt a couple of mornings but I just don’t find it as filling, or yummy! So porridge is my go-to weekday breakfast.

On Saturday I had a little treat of this:

IMG_3362

Smoked salmon, mushrooms in fry-light and two poached eggs with my new sillicone egg poacher. LOVED this! We were going to see Queen + Adam Lambert at the o2 in the evening and I knew we’d be having dinner out, so I wanted to minimise damage at breakfast and save both my HEX’s🙂

An example of the food I generally take to work each day. I often don’t end up eating the fruit as the rest is filling enough! Breakfast this day was layered All-Bran, yogurt, raspberries and apples.

IMG_3422

Tuna and sweetcorn with extra light mayo, chickpeas, spinach, apple and ham slices.

IMG_3423

Tuna sweetcorn sandwich with ham salad

IMG_3438

Lunch on a weekend, way more exciting! A bunch of random leftovers piled on top of spinach. Surprisingly good!

IMG_3392

Dinners have been a lot more interesting. Friday night we had loaded fries…Slimming World style! We made sweet potato and normal potato fries then layered panfried peppers, onions, courgettes and Quorn beef strips, all coated with a BBQ spice mix. We topped the bowls with shredded lettuce, sweetcorn, our HEXA of cheese, and a dollop of fat free yogurt. SO GOOD! And a fantastic way of eating loads of speed food without really noticing.

IMG_3355

Sunday’s dinner was 5% beef mince simmered for a looooongggg time with 100ml of red wine (4 syns) and beef stock, loads of finely chopped carrots, onions, courgette and mushrooms, garlic and tomato pasta. This is my new favourite Sunday dinner and it makes looooaads! I served it over papadelle pasta with roasted brussells sprouts and my HEXA of parmesan. A proper winter warmer!

IMG_3401

I made SW hunters chicken this week! I made a BBQ sauce using tomato passata, chopped onion, garlic, sweetener and KEY INGREDIENT diet coke! I made hunters chicken on last years Slimming World attempt but I just couldn’t replicate the sweet, sticky BBQ sauce using the usual Slimming World recipes. ‘Diet cola chicken’ is a popular SW dish using similar ingredients so I chanced it and chucked some diet coke into the pan. I simmered it for a while until it reduced and went sticky, then tasted it. BBQ HEAVEN!! It was so good. I’m never making BBQ sauce without diet coke ever again. I poured the sauce over two chicken breasts I’d wrapped in bacon (fat cut off!) and then topped the lot with my HEXA of cheese. Served with roasted sweet potato fries and a simple salad, this meal was incredible. I want to make it every day! If you want some proper pub tasting food on SW, definitely give this a make. It’s about as far away from diet food as you can get!

IMG_3439

On Thursday, myself and the boy went swimming. It was a pretty big deal. We bought swimming caps (mine is for extra long hair as I have a lot of hair…) and goggles and dug out our swimsuits from the drawer they were probably shoved into after we got back from Florida in 2013. We were both weirdly nervous, but it turned out to be fine! It was relatively quiet, the pool was lovely, and we managed a full 40 minutes before it started to get a bit busier and we felt like our arms were going to fall off. We got home about 8 which wasn’t too bad and I was so proud of us! We’re going to go at least once a week from now on, and really make a concerted effort to stick at it.

This is the dinner we had when we got home, which I had prepped before we left. SW syn-free carbonara with courgettes and spinach.

IMG_3445

Finally, my favourite meal of the week! Chicken fajita bowl, mmmm! Everyone needs to make this, right now. It’s so perfectly suited to SW! I didn’t really follow a recipe but I’ll jot down what I did in case anyone fancies giving it a go.

IMG_3461

Serves 1 with a small bowl of leftovers for lunch the next day, can easily be doubled to feed 2 (or 4 etc etc) quantities are pretty flexible depending on what you have!

Ingredients:

Chicken breast (I used one big one!)

Assorted fajita veggies; I used half a red pepper, half a yellow pepper, 1 courgette and 1 onion

Tomatoes

Coriander

Lettuce

1 Lime

Rice

HEXA of cheese

0% natural yogurt

Fajita seasoning (I used the Schwartz Fajita one)

Optional: avocado, chillis, black beans, refried beans…anything else you’d normally have with fajitas!

Method

1. Get your rice on! I used a sachet of microwaveable spicy Mexican rice which was in the cupboard, but normal white or brown rice would be fine too. The sachet is 2 syns so plain rice would be better as it’s syn-free! If you’re using plain rice, I read a lovely recipe where the cook mixed chopped coriander and lime juice into the rice which I think would be amazing!

2. Coat the chicken breast(s) in the fajita seasoning, spray Frylight on a baking tray and pop in oven for about 20 minutes

3. Meanwhile, slice the peppers, onion and courgette into long strips and fry slowly in a pan with Frylight. I find a slow pace reallllyy helps when you’re cooking with Frylight, it means the food doesn’t catch too quickly and cooks fully before browning. Add the fajita seasoning after the vegetables have been cooking for about 10 minutes.

4. Super quick pico de gallo time! This isn’t essential but really made such a difference to this bowl of goodness. Finely chop half an onion and a handful of cherry tomatoes and season well. I didn’t have fresh coriander so I used frozen, but either would work! Sprinkle coriander over the onions and tomatoes and mix it all together. I added a sprinkle of garlic powder too, for an extra kick. Put the pico de gallo in the fridge for the flavours to combine!

5. Chop lettuce, grate your HEXA of cheddar (I used reduced fat cheddar so I get 40g, score!) and cut a lime in half.

6. Get the chicken out of the oven and slice it up reaaallll good. Add your cooked rice to a bowl, and add the sliced chicken. Once the veggies are at an acceptable level of caramelised crispy-ness, pop them on top of the rice too. Add the chopped lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese, and top with a generous dollop of yogurt. Squeeze a lime all over the bowl and voila, ready to go!

IMG_3455

So it’s been a good week of eats! Fingers crossed I’ll see a loss on Tuesday! Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend🙂

Slimming World – Week 1

Gather round boys and girls, it’s Wednesday, which means yesterday was WEIGH-IN day! I went to group at 5.30, all nervous and jittery to face the scales after not weighing myself ALL WEEK, a huge achievement for me🙂

The verdict?

A slightly underwhelming 1.5lbs off. Hmmm. I was disappointed😦 I’ve been 100% on plan this week, something which has never happened before on any diet I’ve undertaken haha and I just feel I did everything I could to lose weight. However, I haven’t got a huge amount to lose (1.5 stone, maybe 2 depending on how it goes) so I’m not expecting to see huge losses each week. I guess I just thought for the first week, I’d see 2 or 3. Never mind! Onwards and upwards! One thing that was good is when I got home after group, I didn’t feel a mad urge to drink wine and eat chocolate and treat (cheat!) myself to make up for my disappointing loss. I simply made an on-plan dinner like every other night, and enjoyed it whilst watching Dr Christian Jessen chastise overweight people on Channel 4. Does anyone else LOVE TV shows about diets and weight loss? I’m all over them like a rash, especially this time of year!

So I’m going to carry on this week as I’ve been doing, introducing more speed foods where I can and making sure 1/3rd of my plate is always speed. Hopefully I’ll see a bigger loss next week🙂 In other news, my fiancé lost an incredible SIX POUNDS this week! He was absolutely chuffed and I’m so, so proud of him. Go Benj!

I have made some delicious meals over the past few days, something I am going to continue this coming week. I love trying new recipes and I find it keeps me interested and on-plan.

Here’s a brief round up (“Woody’s rounnndddd-upppp…” you’ll get that if you’re a Toy Story fan. If you aren’t, soz) of my eats over the past few days. Breakfasts have been porridge and water every day which surprisingly hasn’t got boring, with splenda, cinnamon and a chopped up banana. Still loving this combo!

On Sunday I cooked us a massive ‘grill-up’ – Tesco meat-free Lincolnshire sausages, sautéed potatoes, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and fried eggs. All cooked in fry-light, all FREE! Well, until I googled the sausages and discovered they were 1.5 syns EACH. EACH!! So this was actually 3 syns😦 Don’t buy those sausages. Unfortunately, I bought 2 bags, so we’ll be eating them for a good while yet.

Breakfasts this week will continue to be porridge or fruit and yogurt when I need to save my HEXB for later in the day. I always thought fruit and yogurt was a bit of a boring, wishy washy standard SW meal (something I strive to avoid in my own Food Optimising journey) but actually, it’s quite nice. I use fat free natural yogurt, sliced banana and pear, and a WeightWatchers Dessert yogurt on top. These have nice flavours like Raspberry Tart and Lemon Tart, and they just make the bowl way more exciting. These are FREE, but obvi Slimming World won’t be shouting this from the rooftops as WW are their Rivals.

10934362_10155029975330198_949295039_n

Yum!

Lunches have also been leftovers or a serving of the massive tuna sweetcorn pasta salad I made last night. I’d definitely recommend making one of these to nibble on through the week, I used Tesco extra light mayo which is only 1/2 sun per tablespoon and I used 3 for the whole lot🙂

Onto dinners! Oooooh I had some lovely dinners over the weekend! Friday night was burger night in our household! And what a treat that was. We had Quorn burgers, onion, lettuce, HEXA reduced fat cheddar, HEXB wholemeal roll, and I added bacon. So good! I was absolutely stuffed after this! Definitely going to keep these as a weekend treat so we don’t get sick of them, I feel like I could eat them every night though!

10921769_10155033746900198_1208141099_n

Saturday night I had rump steak with all the fat trimmed off, boulangerie potatoes (recipe here) and roasted veggies. I synned a tablespoon of the heavenly Creme de St Agur as a sauce for the steak. This was lovely!

10912967_10155031752680198_338228817_n

10912984_10155029975775198_1710633229_n

On Sunday I fancied something hearty and warming. Slimming World beef bourguignon fit the bill! I pretty much followed the recipe exactly apart from adding more garlic and chopped carrot, and leaving out the mushrooms. I also only had 250g of beef whereas the recipe called for 700g, so it was a much smaller portion! I served it over parpadelle pasta (free!) and sliced courgettes, with my HEXA of parmesan. You get a LOT of parmesan for your HEXA!

10921806_10155029976085198_459703698_n

10913725_10155029975920198_2000281554_n

Monday night was a bit of an gamble, but it turned out really well! I had planned to do cajun spiced chicken thighs but we didn’t have any cajun spice. I used a bit of southern fried potato seasoning that was kicking about in the cupboard instead, simply rubbing it onto the thighs after removing the skin and all visible fat. Served with roasted vegetables, sweetcorn, roasted sweet potato wedges and a garlic yoghurt dip, this was amazing! I love meals like this, with lots of different flavours and textures.

10836592_10155029974745198_1790814739_n

10904798_10155029975035198_2003274786_n

Finally, after weigh in last night, I had fish and chips! This was from the Fakeaways book and involved whisking egg whites and folding a yolk in to create a batter for the fish. I’ll be honest, the batter wasn’t great. After being out of the oven for approximately 10 seconds it deflated and went a bit soggy, pretty much tasting like fish with omelette on. Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not what I signed up for. I was prepared for this though as I’d read another bloggers experience of making this dish, and she warned this would happen. It looked convincing though and I was pleased how batter-like it appeared! Next time I’ll skip the batter faff and just have the fish plain, as it was delicious anyway🙂 This was also my first taste of mushy peas (I know, I’m 27 and need to get out more) and I loved them! I mixed in loads of salt, pepper and garlic powder as they were blander than bland to begin with, but after that they were damnnn good!

10933138_10155031751485198_1519858751_n

So that was my week! Onwards and upwards to this new week! I’ll be doing our meal plan tonight and getting organised for the next few days🙂 Good luck everyone else following SW!

First Few Slimming World Days

So, my first week of Slimming World! I started following the plan on Monday, weighed in to my new group on Tuesday, and it’s now Thursday night. We (me and the boy are both following the plan!) have been Food Optimising for 4 glorious days. It’s been really great! I already feel better, happier, calmer, and more in control. We pretty much spent 2 weeks over Christmas just eating whatever we wanted and to be honest, by the time we went back to work, I just felt so groggy and bloated. I felt like I’d eaten everything I could possibly have wanted over the Christmas period and I was ready to start eating fresh vegetables, smaller portions, and just generally food that was better for me.

Which coincided nicely with my return to Slimming World! My first weigh in was obviously not pleasant, but it won’t be going any higher than that now🙂 The consultant was fab, the group was friendly, and it’s right down the road from where I live! Very convenient indeed. I optimistically bought a 6 week countdown and I’m feeling SO motivated and excited for the next 6 weeks! I really am going to try to be strict and not have any ‘treat’ or ‘cheat’ days; I hate to be a cliche but I’d only be cheating myself! As I did last time. But we won’t go into that.

So, my eats! I’ve been eating some lovely things so far, and we have even more yummies planned for the rest of the week!

For breakfasts, I’ve been having porridge. I’ve never really had it before but I don’t know why, it’s so lovely! i’ve been having it with splenda and cinnamon, and also ‘whipped’ with a banana! I slice the banana really thinly and whip it into the oats with a whisk as the oats cook. The banana melts away and creates a really creamy, fluffy texture that also increases the volume of the porridge. I end up with a huuuuge fluffy bowl of oats and it fills me up until lunch, perfect!

IMG_3222

I made a big batch of tuna pasta salad on Tuesday and have been having it for lunch every day.

IMG_3223

It’s just pasta, extra light mayonnaise, sweetcorn and red onion. The EL mayo is 1 sun per level TBSP and there were 4 in the mix. 4 portions, 1 syn a portion! Yay! I’ve been having this with salad and fat free balsamic dressing, and occasionally a boiled egg if I really want to push the boat out. It is REALLY filling – on Monday I just had a salad and I felt all light-headed and horrible all afternoon which I think was a combination of not eating enough, and my poor body complaining that I wasn’t having any sugar or fat. We didn’t have the shopping delivered until Tuesday so Monday was slim pickings in the kitchen, hence the lame lunchtime salad.

Finally, onto dinners! The best meal because I have complete creative control in the kitchen and more importantly, TIME!

I believe that my first foray into Slimming World failed because, well, I gave up. But, before I gave up, I was trying to shoehorn my favourite food into the SW plan and it just wasn’t working. Some things work great cooked the SW way, some don’t. Creamy, fattening Italian sauces don’t work so well, simply because it’s hard to replicate creamy, buttery flavours without the calories. Natural yogurt has a funny twang IMO, as does Quark. I do love using Quark, but sometimes it splits even if you’re super careful with the heat, and then your dinner is ruined and you cry. Anyway, my point is, this time I am going to try to make new dishes that I wouldn’t have tried previously that work AMAZINGLY cooked the SW way, rather than trying to make pizza crust from Smash and feeling slightly dirty.

This week thus far, we have had a delicious tofu vegetable noodle dish on Monday (which I didn’t photograph😦 ) a quick Quorn chill and baked potato on Tuesday:

IMG_3224

A rather experimental chicken korma on Wednesday:

IMG_3232

This I possibly wouldn’t recommend…I LOVE korma and I love it because of the buttery, creamy, coconutty, almondy flavours, all of which are tricky to replicate when you’re fat-restricted. The korma in the Fakeaways book (my new bible) didn’t mention coconut at all and to be honest I wasn’t having any of that. I popped to Co-Op on the hunt for a fat free coconut yogurt (fairly optimistic given the size of the shop) and unsurprisingly, they didn’t have any. They did, however, have a new ‘Pina Colada’ Mullerlight. Hmmmm….would that work?I was tired and hungry so decided it would, and bought one. I also randomly bought a tiny bottle of almond essence which I thought might be a good substitute for the almonds normally in korma.

It…wasn’t great. The yogurt was okay (I sieved out the pineapple…) but even half a cap of the almond essence was too much, and it just reminded me of a cherry bakewell. Don’t get me wrong, I ate it all, but it left a weird taste in my mouth. If you like curry, I’d recommend going with a tikka or jalfrezi or something more tomato based, which is better suited to the ingredients you’re allowed to use.

Finally, tonight was the inaugural outing of the pork pad thai recipe, again from the Fakeaways book:

IMG_3237

I’m happy to report this was a much more enjoyable experience! I made it as per the book, with twice the amount of garlic and chill as I like strong flavours. However, when I tried it, it was bland😦 so I added more of each, more soy sauce, and a tablespoon of sesame oil (2 precious syns) to jazz it up a bit. It tasted a lot better after this, and a whole lime squeezed all over it completed the experience. I didn’t have any of the required veg in the recipe so I stir fried some veggies in a separate pan, and ate them alongside the pad thai to ensure I had my 1/3rd speed veggies.

I halved the recipe as I’m the solo meat-eater in the household, and I have over half left for another day🙂 Success!

I don’t snack a huge amount but when I’ve been peckish, I’ve gone for apples and lean ham slices. Exciting stuff. My daily synage has been between 4-7 each day which i’m THRILLED with (I know it’s only Day 4 but humour me) because last year I pretty much always spent my daily 15 on silly things like condiments, wine and chocolate, which I don’t think was really helping my losses. So I’m chuffed with my restraint.

I’ll leave it there as I’m knackered and it’s been a long week at work. On tomorrows menu is CHEESEBURGERS, a meal that works insanely well cooked the SW way! We’ll have them with a boatload of free SW chips and I can’t wait. We’re staying in on Saturday night (January is a very frugal month for us, out of necessity!) and I’m planning to cook a lovely steak which always feels like a treat on SW. Sunday I fancy a nice winter warmer and I think I’ll do the Slimming World beef bourguignon mmmm!

Ooh I hope this happy, motivated attitude continues for the next 6 weeks! Wish me luck🙂

New Year, New Blog Direction

Hello! *waves* Remember me? I used to blog here about…oh…10 years ago, about cooking and eating out and nice things like that?

No?

Well, that miiiiiight be because it’s been over a year since I actually last blogged…and before that it was 8 months since the previous blog! Oops!

In my defence though, I have been busy.

First of all, during our fabulous October 2013 holiday to Orlando, my darling boyfriend proposed to me in my favourite place in the whole world🙂

wdw201329214276247_6889349037_18_zps0afa1db7

You know what that means…A WEDDING TO PLAN!!

Then, when we got home, we welcomed this little princess into our home…our long-desired Birman!

IMG_7979_zpsf47f106e

IMG_1031_zps10ab5417

She’s called Saffie (Sapphire!) and she is just the best.

THEN, in December, we found out our landlord was selling our beautiful flat! So we were house-hunting once again.

We found an even more beautiful flat and moved in last April🙂

Phew! On top of this, Ben got an amazing new job, we visited his family in Cumbria, we went to Disneyland Paris and Paris for a week, attended 2 weddings aaaannddd went to the Isle of Wight for a mini break.

By the time all this had happened it was September and then wedding planning began in earnest (but that’s a post for another day!)

And now here I am, January 4th 2015 and wondering where the last year went!!

So, the new blog direction. I did consider starting a new blog to document my new adventures but then I figured this is ‘My Life In Food’ and at the moment, this is what my food life is!

My new adventure? Slimming World! I actually joined SW for the first time last January and lost 10lbs which I was chuffed with. However, job woes, the aforementioned house move and general stress meant I stopped going to group, started eating whatever I wanted, and put all the weight back on. And more. Oops!

I am going to my local group on Tuesday to start again. And this time, Ben is joining me! He wants to lose a few pounds himself so we’re going to do it together and I’m so looking forward to it! Although we aren’t getting married until next year, I would much rather get to the weight I want to be at this year, so I’m not stressing and crash dieting right before the wedding. And honestly, we’re just both so ready to lose weight, get fit, and feel generally happier about ourselves. We’re considering joining our local swimming pool and going a few times a week which I think could be fun, and I imagine we’ll be back to the nightly walks we used to do.

I’m going to document my food on here; partly to keep track of what I’m eating for myself, and partly to share recipes. One thing that struck me when I used to go to group was the amount of ladies who would describe their meals and how they were struggling to keep things exciting. I love cooking (obviously, as I have a food blog!) and I HAVE to make my food interesting and exciting otherwise I’ll just give up! I also brought dishes to the group tasting nights a couple of times and the other members couldn’t believe they were SW friendly! So I’m going to share recipes and food ideas that I’m using, to hopefully inspire my fellow slimmers🙂

I’m going to share some photos of things I cooked last year, to remind me of all the amazing food you can eat on SW!

Chicken and bacon carbonara

IMG_0081_zps938bd653

SW breakfast!

IMG_8011_zps45423601

Moroccan spice blend marinated Quorn chicken, giant couscous, and roasted veggies.

photo2_zpsf2530a1f

SW roast dinner – a classic!

IMG_7990_zps0feb5369

Roasted vegetable and tomato risotto – HEXA of cheese on top🙂

IMG_0012_zps9488ab95

Quern peppered steak with Quark pepper sauce, roasted potatoes, tomatoes and asparagus.

photo1_zps6228b6a9

Gammon, eggs, chips and beans. So good!

photo3_zpse5f71992

I lost 10lbs eating all this! It didn’t even feel like a diet! I need to say motivated and stick with this, wish me luck!

My 26th Birthday (or, Why I Have The Best Boyfriend In The World, Ever)

Okay so, I know I’ve been painfully slack on the blogging front recently. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses, I’d only be lying to myself *sob*

But, actually I do have a really good reason. You see folks, in just under TWO WEEKS, myself and the boy are off on our 2nd Once In A Lifetime trip to Florida, for three WHOLE weeks!!! That is a long time. And do you know what was an even longer time? The time that elapsed from when we made the actual booking waaaaay back in May 2012 (you may remember a blog post from around this time describing said booking) to this very moment. It was like 528 days. But now it’s really, really close, REALLY close actually, and to be perfectly honest I’m struggling to get excited for posting about food when there are park hours to be checked, itineraries to finalise and Halloween costumes to complete. Oh yes, we’ll be there for Halloween😀 We’re attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on actual All Hallows Eve which is pretty exciting and whats even more exciting, is the fact that we’re dressing up as Ariel and Eric to commemorate the occasion. Don’t worry, everyone dresses up at the party, we won’t be the only weirdo’s. We’ll actually be tiny fish in a vast sea of weirdo’s, yay!!

Anyway. So all my time has been taken up in planning and getting ridiculously excited for our holiday🙂 But here I am with an extra special post, possibly the most important post Polka Dot Kitchen has ever or will ever see, all thanks to my very lovely boy Ben.

A few weeks ago with my 26th birthday looming, Benj started teasing me. He kept saying he was getting all these exciting emails and he was getting sooooo excited but oh no, what a shame, he couldn’t share them with me. This went on and on for 2 very long weeks and then he stopped mentioning it. Aaaaand relax!

So it was my birthday yesterday and I was absolutely spoiled rotten by all my lovely friends and family🙂

First of all, my adorable parents absolutely blew it out of the water with this super cute personalised phone case:

1234263_10153265904325198_1520779981_n

My whole life, summed up on the back of a phone. Slightly depressing but scarily accurate.

My best friend and Florida holiday planning partner in crime Victoria outdid herself with this trio of awesome gifts; all for my upcoming holiday🙂 So cute. Carousel of Progress absolutely is the best attraction in all of Walt Disney World, I can’t wait to go on it whilst wearing my shirt!!

IMG_7149

I also got a plethora of dollars from my amazing work colleagues, grandparents and brother🙂 My spending money is looking pretty healthy now, lots of Haunted Mansion merchandise and Dole Whips on my horizon!

And then it was time for Benji’s gifts. First, I was treated to a looovely gift pack of Yankee Candles, my absolute faves🙂 Such a pretty burner!

IMG_7156

Next up was a pretty mind-blowing leopard print knife. We had his ‘n’ hers blue and pink knives but my pink one unfortunately got thrown out at some point and I’ve been using theblue one ever since. So happy to have my own!!

Then came this beauty. My very own pasta maker!! As an unashamed Italian food obsessive, I’ve wanted a pasta maker for a very long time now. I can’t wait to make egg yolk ravioli, spinach and ricotta tortellini, five cheese ravioli with browned butter and fried sage….ooooh the possibilities are endless! Such a good gift!! Also shown are aforementioned Yankee Candles and, ooh, a random bottle of wine! Gotta be done!

IMG_7154

But, this was not my main present. After the excitement of the pasta maker and my excited speech about all the different kinds of filled pasta I’m going to make (not unlike the above sentence) Ben produced six pink envelopes and handed them to me, saying, ‘these might be something to do with the emails.’ Exciting times indeed.

With baited breath, I opened the first envelope (they were numbered 1-6). The card read, To Libby, from Cynthia. A small postcard sized piece of paper fell out, which Ben quickly grabbed out of my hand. I looked at him quizzically.

“Do you know who Cynthia is?”

“Ummm, no I don’t think so…”

But as he handed the postcard back to me and I saw what was written at the bottom, I knew who Cynthia was! OF COURSE I KNOW WHO CYNTHIA IS!!

TFP, aka The Food Pornographer, probably the first food blog I ever read and certainly the one I have been reading the longest. The postcard was handwritten, from her to me, with a cute little message and some lovely birthday well wishes.

IMG_7144

Well, I was gobsmacked. I did NOT see that coming. He then handed me envelope 2 and I ripped it open with the over-the-top enthusiasm of a long-term Atkins dieter tucking into a baked potato.

When I saw the names written at the bottom I did a little squeal of excitement. Tina, Mal and Murphy!

And this adorable photo!

IMG_7145

I was getting a bit emotional now. I was struggling to comprehend the enormity of what he’d done and how much work had gone into this. I was also overcome with the fact that my favourite food bloggers had actually written my name. Having read these ladies’ blogs for like 5 years, I was slightly starstruck!!

And it was only going to get better!! Envelope 3 was from the totally cool and DOWNRIGHT HILARIOUS McKenzie from Grilled Cheese Social who had written me an adorable little note and told me she loved my blog!! This was almost too much. I had the food-blogger-birthday-messages sweats.

IMG_7140

How damn cute is that?

Next up is one of the superstars of the Disney blogging world, author of Disney Food Blog ( my number 1 source of all things Disney food-based and a site I check multiple times a day…yes, I’m too cool for school) AJ!!

IMG_7141

THEN things got insane. I had my fingers crossed about who could maybe, possibly be in the next 2 envelopes and they DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Envelope 5 was a lovely note with beautifully neat, teeny tiny writing and I almost knew who it was before I read the name at the bottom but surely he hadn’t managed to get her??

He had!! The sweetest, most thoughtful note ever from the amazing Angela at Oh She Glows🙂 Highlights include Angela saying she’s read my blog and thinks I’m hilarious (!!!) saying that she’s found a kindred spirit in me as she also thinks about lunch whilst eating breakfast AND the fact that she signed off with peace, love and plants. I actually love her. I was full on sniffling like a little girl at this point and Ben was pretty close himself!

IMG_7142

Finally, envelope 6! Could it be!? The queen mother of food blogs!?

Yep, it was! Kath Younger herself!! This card contained TWO postcards; a handwritten note and a photo of Kath with the note! I was actually besides myself with excitement. I read Kath’s blog every day when she used to post aaallll the time and now I look forward to my Saturday morning catch-up session when I read all her latest posts with my tea and toast🙂 She wrote such a sweet note and she even said at the end she hopes I get my polka dot kitchen one day soon. How nice is that.

IMG_7148

So after I’d re-read all the cards a million times and pounced on Ben with kisses and hugs, I asked him how he’d managed it! He said he’d just kind of had the idea, stalked the blogs from the blogroll and emailed all the ladies! Just like that haha! He was so pleased that everyone he emailed, replied back and went out of their way to help him. The blogging community really is the best.

Soooo I wish I hadn’t been so slack with my own blog lately, if I’d known all these heavy hitters were checking it out I would have made more effort!!

Oh well. One of the best presents I’ve ever had (apart from when Ben booked a surprise trip to Disneyland Paris naturally, but it would take a lot to beat that little gem!) and thank you so much Ben for organising it and all the lovely bloggers for taking the time to respond. You’ve made one beginner blogger very, very happy🙂

Thank you so much!

Potato, Spinach and Quorn Breakfast Hash

IMG_0555

Every so often you cook something absolutely amazing, using only the ingredients kicking about your fridge, with no prior planning or thought given to it previously. This is very unusual for me as I love the build-up to a dish creation and I often spend a lot of time thinking about how I’ll cook it and what it’ll taste like. Obsessive? Perhaps. But Polka Dot Kitchen wouldn’t exist if this didn’t happen!

A couple of Sundays ago, we woke up at a leisurely hour and dragged ourselves from our bedroom to our l0unge, to slump on the sofa just in time for Sunday Brunch. We looooove Sunday Brunch. We used to love Something For The Weekend and I was absolutely devastated when the BBC cancelled it. Like, inconsolable. Then the stars aligned and good old Channel 4 picked it up and we didn’t have to face a lifetime of Sundays without Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer talking about conservatories. Ahhh, bliss!

So this particular Sunday, we were running slightly low on breakfast supplies. And when I say low, I mean we didn’t have any milk, bread or butter. Three ingredients which pretty much top every breakfast dish ingredient list. We did pool together our change (about £1.47) and consider getting dressed and buying some hideously overpriced bits and bobs at the village shop but we decided NO. We Don’t Need It. I should mention, we spend pretty much all our lives saving for our Florida holidays (Floridays) the second of which is in a mere 90 days, so we are generally thrifty and always looking not to spend money. This is also the reason I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to; Florida planning is taking up all my time! We’re going for three weeks and so there are ESTA’s to do, hotel reviews to read, restaurant menus to peruse and the Disneyworld website to pore over and check I haven’t missed a single potential activity that could make our holiday EVEN BETTER. I’ll be doing a full food review on the Dibb (an awesome website for fellow Florida obsessives) and I’ll post a few on here too for those who are interested🙂

WOW can we say tangent!? Going back (again) to that Sunday, we basically didn’t want to spend any money. But I fancied a nice breakfast. We hardly ever have a cooked breakfast as I’m overly keen on toast with marmite but that day I really fancied one. So I perused our cupboards, did a quick google to see if anyone had ever put roughly these ingredients together, discovered they hadn’t so threw some oil in a pan and cracked on with it.

I started, as many recipes do, with some sliced onion. I love slicing onion like this as they take hardly any time to chop. I can’t be doing with finely chopped onion (even though that is how I prefer my onion) as it just takes soooo long and the chunks are never even anyway😦 I fried the onion slices in a pan with some olive oil, seasoning and garlic. While that was cooking, I cubed some potatoes that, judging by the sheer size of the sprouts coming out of them, had almost become living beings. They went into the microwave for about 4 minutes for a lazy boy boil and I then added them to a new pan with some more olive oil and seasoning.

IMG_0549

I wanted them to get all crispy and browned and I knew they wouldn’t if they were squished in the other pan with the onions. Two pans Morgan!

The onions were looking nicely browned by this time so I added in some spinach and a load more garlic. God I love garlic.

IMG_0548

I was feeling like this badboy needed some meat (and when I say meat, obviously I mean “meat”) so I grabbed whatever frozen Quorn delights were lurking in the bottom of the freezer, gave them a quick microwave to thaw a bit and chucked them in with the onions. We had Quorn fillets and sausages but I think most fake meat would work! Facon would work. Mmmmm.

The potatoes were now nicely browned and crisp, the onions were caramalised, the spinach was fully flavoured and the fake meat was browning away nicely. I tipped the onion/spinach/Quorn mix into the potatoes, added a tiny bit more salt and pepper and let it all come together while I cooked the eggs. I did consider adding some chopped tomatoes to the pan to moisten it all up a bit but honestly, it was so good on it’s own! But tomatoes would be nice if you wanted more of a liquidy hash.

I quickly fried two eggs and added them to the top of two hulking piles of hash. The verdict? LIFE-CHANGING. I found that the onions had flavoured the whole dish with a good, solid savoury taste and the minced garlic and super posh garlic oil (see Foodies Festival post!) had really made it all come alive. Ben actually said, and I quote, “This is the best breakfast I’ve had outside of America.” !!! Big words!! I was one smug store-cupboard chef that morning!!

IMG_0550

IMG_0553

*I haven’t added amounts as it was very much just chucking whatever I had in. I will say that I probably made enough for four and between two of us…we ate it all. Just sayin’. If I make it again I will record all measurements like a proper food blogger🙂