Monday, 25 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 25th March 2013

I was absolutely delighted to step on the scales this morning and see a loss.

Well, to be more specific, stepping on the scales is never delightful in itself (even though my bathroom scales are a rather fetching shade of pink) but to see a number that was lower than last week’s number – that was the good bit. It was not a huge loss but the number this week is less, lower, under the number last week. Hurrahs and happy dances all round.

Now this week. I’m out on Thursday (theatre, dahling) and am going to D’s for dinner on Friday (I have been promised confit duck legs; I, meanwhile, will be providing a red cabbage and pineapple side dish). The rest of the week:

o Chilli con carne (from the freezer) – this will do two nights.

o Smoked haddock and cheddar fish cakes with tender stem broccoli

o Easter Sunday lunch: slow roast lamb shoulder on Boulangere potatoes with minted peas and roasted asparagus

That leaves me one meal short, but I’ve stocked my cupboard full of soup, so I think Heinz cream of tomato with a cheese toastie on the side might do me one evening – it’s very soup-ey weather at the moment.

Head over to Mrs M’s for more meal planning fun.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 18th March 2013


Interesting week. Last Thursday saw D and I undergo (is that the right word? Sounds a bit negative...) our first trip to Relate. Communal navel gazing a go-go. Because our lines of communication have been pretty open I don't think there are too many surprises in store but there are still difficult conversations to be had and to me it makes sense to have them in a safe environment.

Then today I had an appointment for some individual head shrinking. You know, so I can learn how to cope with life's traumas without recourse to cheese.

There has been lots of talking. And shredding of tissues. And I'm still not in a particularly cook-ey place. But I have a meal plan for the coming week - ok, most are assembly jobs, but that's alright.

• Tonight was a chicken mini roast with roast potatoes (oh, I love roast potatoes) and oodles of greens.

• Tomorrow - omelette. With spiced potato wedges ( = middle class for chips).

• Wednesday - Caesar salad (more veg, you see) topped with a griddled tuna steak.

• Thursday - I think I might be out so quick and easy and fab - fish finger sandwich.

• Weekend: not finalised, but it's looking like Kashmiri curry with pilau rice, a lunch out at Saltaire Mills and lamb shank in mint gravy with mash.

More meal plans over at Mrs M's.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Recipe corner - salmon with curried mussels

Whenever I check my recipe page, I am always surprised by the relative dearth of fish recipes on here.  I love fish - all seafood in fact, and often gravitate towards it on menus over meat alternatives.  If a restaurant is offering sea bass, for example, then nine times out of ten that's what I'll pick.  And yet, do I appear to have cooked any sea bass and blogged about it over the past few years?  Not a (fishy) sausage. 

Anyway, this is not a sea bass recipe - actually, I think we're just meant to call it bass now - but it is very, very tasty nonetheless.  The original used twice the amount of butter and a disturbing(ly good) dose of double cream; this version is slightly less....we'll say refined...less creaminess means the curry flavour comes through a little stronger, but the fish can take it.  We actually cooked this with clams the other night as we couldn't get hold of mussels and they worked too and I can imagine it being very nice with prawns - although obviously you'd have to replace the shellfish liquor with a good stock if you went down that route. 


2 medium salmon fillets
Tsp olive oil

500g mussels (weighed with their shells)
125 ml dry white wine
Onion, roughly chopped
Handful of parsley – torn

25g butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
Tbsp curry powder
150g potatoes, finely diced (this equates to around 2 medium potatoes)
50g half fat crème fraiche
Juice of half a lemon

Serves 2, 16 pro points per portion

In a large saucepan, soften the onion and parsley for a couple of minutes before tipping in the mussels (having debearded them and discarded any damaged ones), the white wine and some seasoning.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for around 5 minutes until all the mussels have opened.  Strain over a bowl to collect the liquor and then remove the mussels from their shells.

Melt the butter in a pan and sweat the onion, carrot and celery until nice and soft.  Stir in the curry powder and cook gently for a couple of minutes to take off the raw edge.  Add about 300ml of the retained mussel liquor to the pan, bring to a decent simmer and then add the potatoes and cook until they are soft – about 10 minutes.  Lower the heat and stir through the crème fraiche and the mussels.

Now you can cook your salmon – heat the oil in a non stick frying pan, place the fillet in skin side down and then turn the heat down and cook for around ten minutes, flipping it to the non skin side for the last thirty seconds or so.  This should give you moist, just cooked flesh and a lovely crispy skin.  Serve the salmon, balanced atop the delicious curried mussel and vegetable mix.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Consistent in my inconsistency

Throughout all the time that I have been keeping this blog I have had periods where my weight has gone down, periods where it has climbed back up and the odd period of maintenance.  So, you could say the one thing that I have not managed to achieve is any sort of consistency. 

What I do know, or rather, what this has taught me, is that in order to lose weight successfully a lot of stars need to align.  Firstly, of course, you need to know how to eat properly - and by properly I mean in a way that will allow you to create a calorie deficiency while providing your body with everything it needs to function.  For some people, this will mean following a programme like WW or simply calorie counting.  For others, it will mean cutting out or restricting one or other food group.  I say, if it allows you to eat in a way that you can imagine eating for the rest of your life and if you feel healthy on it, there is no real right or wrong.

Secondly, movement.  I've read somewhere that weight loss can be divided up into something like 80% the food you eat and 20% the exercise you do (how a statistic like that is calculated I have no idea) and for someone lazy like me, there is a danger of using this as a bit of a get out clause.  But 20% is 20% and also, speaking as someone who has been known to battle the odd Black Dog, I know from experience that exercise really does do something positive to one's mood.

Which leads me on to the third and, perhaps, most important thing you need and that is the right headspace. It is no good knowing everything you have to do and knowing how to do it and even wanting to do it if your head is in a "dark and twisty" place (note to self: must stop bingeing on old episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" online...)  That is why the obesity crisis in this country will never be entirely solved by slapping taxes on chocolate bars and cans of Coke.  There may be a very, very small percentage of the population who doesn't realise that a diet of constant takeaways, fizzy drinks and pastes will cause them to gain weight, but in these days of media awareness, that excuse is starting to sound more and more excusey.

It was this third thing that drove me into the arms of lovely doctor recently. I need, once and for all, to get my head into the place I need it to be.  So I am going to see a counsellor in a couple of weeks with the very clear aim in mind of getting together a toolkit of techniques to help me put all the stuff I know inside out into practice - and perhaps also to get a bit more of an understanding as to why my relationship with food can be more than a little cockeyed. I also, at her suggestion, agreed to be referred to and to attend an eight week course run locally called "Weight Ahead".  Yes, I know.  The pun didn't sit well with me either.  But I was willing to give it a go because, I figured, even if I didn't learn anything new I would be taking positive action.

I attended my first session yesterday.  I am still not convinced I will learn anything new but I do think that going along and engaging and talking to the other people in the group will be a helpful exercise.  Unlike a Weight Watchers meeting which is a) scales centric and b) tries to sell you as much Weight Watchers produce as possible, this seemed to be more about making small, positive lifestyle changes in an impressively non judgemental environment.  I say impressive because I still sometimes think (and I must say this comes predominantly from reading of other peoples' experiences rather than my own) there are still those among medical professionals who are too quick to judge people with weight issues as ill educated and lazy.

And it may be coincidence, but I've definitely felt more on top of things these last few days.  I've eaten well and sensibly.  I've scared the mojo off before by making such proclamations.  I know full well it's as easy as anything to slip backwards.  But I'm going to take, and enjoy, my small victories when they occur.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 4th March 2013

I feel unusually chipper this Monday morning. I doubt it will last, but I shall enjoy it in the meantime. Anyway, for once, I have a vague sort of meal plan which will take me up to the weekend at least.

Last night I roasted a chicken – a gorgeously plump, golden thing, and the leftovers will form the basis of two meals this week:

o Cold meat with home made potato salad and mixed leaves (a nod to spring)

o Pasta pollo pesto – a remake of a dish that they serve in Pizza Express, basically a creamy pesto pasta bake with chicken and mushrooms. If it turns out well I may blog it.

Then we have a mid week fishy interlude:

o Pan fried salmon with curried mussels – yum. Another one to blog, I think.

Thursday I’m out at a leaving do. There’ll be a second portion of pasta bake in the fridge but I may end up just eating toast. Then…

o For the foreseeable future, I’m declaring Friday night Burger Night. I have some gorgeous steak burgers in the freezer one of which I’m going to enjoy in a crusty roll with slappy cheese, ketchup and pickle. Side will be potato wedges or salad depending on the points situation.

Not sure about the weekend, but hopefully I’ll be seeing my Mum at some point and my brother has suggested I bake her a cake which I think is an excellent idea.

Head over to Mrs M’s for more meal planning fun…