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Why I’ve Joined Slimming World

I’ve decided that enough is enough, my poor waistline can no longer cope with all the indulgence I can’t seem to help myself from eating. I’ve always loved food, but since starting this blog that love of food has turned into an obsession, mostly an unhealthy one. It’s true, I love butter… but it’s time I had a break from cakes and creamy pasta dishes. I’ve gained a stone in weight since I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago – that’s contentment for you, but I’m not happy that my jeans are tight and I feel sluggish and lethargic sometimes.
I’d been thinking about joining Slimming World for a while, so I finally got round to making the plunge. I was very nervous walking into that village hall full of slimming ladies, who all seemed to know each other. The ‘newbie’ feeling, we’ve all had it at one point or another, but it doesn’t get any easier does it? That feeling that everyone is staring at you. But, honestly the group is so lovely, the ladies are so welcoming and two weeks in I already feel completely at ease.
I’d built up an idea in my head that slimming or dieting was going to be so difficult, but the SW plan makes it feel fuss free and like you are not depriving yourself of the foods you love, just cutting down and making healthier more informed choices. Never in my life have I felt the need to diet before, but at 10st 1.5lbs and only 5ft 2inches tall it’s quite necessary. My BMI suggests that I’m verging on being overweight, a scary thought! All in all, I have 1st 1.5lbs to loose, which is pretty much 10% of my body weight! 
I made the rather silly decision to start SW the week of my Birthday, so as anticipated I didn’t do so well the first week, I over indulged on fish and chips and far too much alcohol. I went to the group weigh in fearing the worst – but I’d actually lost 1lb. Harrah! Okay, so it’s only 1 measly pound, but a loss is a loss, and I’ll take that! This week I’ve been much better than last so I’m hoping I’ll have lost a bit more.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but essentially SW is about food optimising, having lots of healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats, potatoes, rice and pasta. Yes pasta! And cutting back on your wheat (bread) and dairy (milk and cheese), then there are your syns, the things like chocolate and wine, which you can have, but in moderation.
Being the avid cook that I am, I’ve purchased a few of the recipe books to ensure I stay on track and find it easy to make the right choices. So far I’ve cooked a whole host of dishes that have been very delicious. Trust me I was surprised, who knew curry without cream and spag bol without parmesan could taste so good. To show you just how delicious the SW meals are I wanted to share some snaps with you. For Slimming World recipes you can visit their website.
The recipe is from the SW A Taste of Asia book and it got huge thumbs up from the boyfriend, who was more than sceptical about a ‘healthy’ version of a special fried rice. “It’s better than take-away” he confessed!

Egg Fried Rice

Chinese Lemon Chicken
 
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3 Minute Beef Noodles

I’m certain I’m not the only one who often has leftover roast beef knocking about in the fridge from Sunday. There are only so many roast beef sandwiches one can eat – and nine times out of ten the meat ends up in the bin. I can’t stand throwing food away, so last week I decided to reinvent my leftovers into these delicious 3 minute beef noodles.
Considering they really only take 3 minutes to cook they are packed with pungent Asian flavours that are truly delicious. The recipe is just perfect for a Monday (or indeed a Tuesday following Bank Holiday) when you can’t be bothered to slave away cooking dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 nest medium egg noodles
  • 2-3 slices leftover rare roast beef
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Cooking Directions:

  1. Add the nest of noodles to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile mix together the sweet chilli, soy, vinegar and honey in a bowl.
  2. Drain the noodles and add the beef. Return the noodles to the saucepan and add the sauce mixture, heat over a medium heat, stirring to combine for a further 30 seconds. Top with the chopped coriander and serve.
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Jamie Oliver’s Steamed Asian Chicken & Cabbage Parcels

 
 
I have a slight obsession with recipe books; in fact I’m running out of space for them in my kitchen. I’ve discovered that the only place to buy them is a charity shop. Indeed, all of the charity shops in my town sell 3 books for £1 –even large hardback recipe books. I’ve recently found various Jamie Oliver books lurking amongst the shelves. Why someone would get rid of a Jamie book is beyond me. I’ve always found his recipes to be so inspirational. I love the different elements he brings to them, nothing is served without an accompanying salad or side dish, and it’s really creative.
This recipe is from Jamie’s Kitchen – one of his earlier books – I can tell this by the young, fresh faced lad with a cheeky grin on the cover (sorry Jamie). The book is brimming with recipes that look delicious; I can’t wait to test more of them.
This recipe really appealed to me, those of you who read my blog often enough will know this is because of the pungent Asian flavours. I love the idea of little parcels that can be dipped in the sweet chilli sauce – for me that is food that is fun – and totally delicious.
 

A Totally Delicious Asian Treat

Click here for the recipe!

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Honey & Soy Beef with Sesame Oil


A great flavour combination that makes for a super quick supper for a weeknight. The honey gives the dish a lovely sweetness that is offset by the saltiness of the soy. You can pack this stir-fry out with fabulous healthy vegetables, the more colourful the better, and you really don’t have to stick to the recipe, use up whatever you have lurking about in the fridge. It’s the colours in this dish that I love most, sure enough to brighten up any dinner table.
1 rump steak
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp runny honey
1 nest of egg noodles
½ red pepper, sliced
½ orange pepper, sliced
Handful of mange tout
Handful of baby corn, halved
Handful of coriander, freshly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 ½ cm of ginger, minced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Slice the rump steak thinly and place in a bowl, add the sesame seeds, oil, soy and honey and allow to marinate whilst you prepare the vegetables.
Add a little oil to a wok, fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for 2-3 minutes, add the vegetables and stir fry for 4 minutes. Add the beef and marinade, allow to cook for a further 2 minutes (for rare beef, a little longer if desired).

Meanwhile boil the noodles, drain and add to the work. Stir well. Serve with freshly chopped coriander.
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Hot & Sour Prawn Noodle Soup



You know those really old Asian cookery books with the ancient faded photographs that make every recipe look unappetising? Well this recipe is form on of those. I know those pictures can be really off putting, but I often find that old recipe books are the best for fool proof flavoursome dishes and this one is no different. There is something nostalgic about an old recipe book. I often wonder who’s cooked from it and how long it’s been around. But, hopefully my photograph looks a little more appetising. 
I made this dish yonks ago with my fiend Emily and I’ve been pestering her for the recipe ever since because it was so delicious and simple. Emily is also a keen cook, so we love nothing more than a midweek get together for cooking up a tasty meal, obviously washed down with a nice wine or, in this case, Thai beer.
This delicately light noodle soup would make the perfect Thai starter or lunch, although we made it for dinner; it’s actually more filling than you might imagine. It’s a myriad of flavours, from the sour element of lime leaves and oyster sauce to the hot of the chilli and fish sauce; it really packs a punch. The soup has a wonderful aroma when cooking; sure to make everyone hungry and the six chillies certainly give it a spicy edge, which I love. It would make for brilliant diet food as it’s ridiculously low in calories but packed with flavour, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

Serves 4
1tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 shallots, grated
2.5cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
4-5 small red chillies, finely chopped
1.5 litres chicken stock
3 kaffier lime leaves, sliced
10cm piece of lemon grass, chopped
225g rice vermicelli noodles
20 large peeled prawns
6 tbsp fish sauce
6 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
16 mushrooms, sliced
Coriander leaves, to garnish
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then stir-fry the garlic, shallots, ginger and chilli for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock, add the lime leaves and lemon grass and bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the rice vermicelli for 3 minutes, rinse, drain and divide equally among four bowls. Add the prawns, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and mushrooms to the soup, and then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pour the soup into the bowls and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve immediately. 

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Chilli & Garlic Prawns



A super simple supper that’s packed with flavour and goodness; what’s not to love? The simplicity is what I adore about this quick mid-week meal. It’s also something that is immensely healthy; with not a carb in sight it’s a good recipe to help you achieve that bikini bod. Unfortunately for me, I’m a little late, I’ve been on my holidays and never did establish that super trim tummy in time… but it’s never too late to try. I’ve pledged to get back into my running shoes next week, after a whole year off! God help me, I’ll regret all that paella I ate on holiday. However, all is not lost, with a few more meals like this one in the bag I’ll get there in no time.
Prawns are really the key here, because they have such a low calorie count, 100g of prawns has 105 calories, compared with 164 calories for half of a small chicken breast. Yes, I said half. If you are really not a lover of fish/ shellfish, why not try Quorn style chicken pieces, you can have 100g for just 89 calories. The trick is in creating a recipe that is stacked with flavour, but still manages to be low in calories and fat content. By skipping the noodles you’re saving around 200 calories, and trust me, with a recipe this delicious, packed with enough vibrant vegetables, you’ll hardly even miss them.
So, how do we create a tasty stir fry base? Simple, place your prawns into a dish, cover with the oils, soy, chopped chilli, garlic and basil. Refrigerate and allow the flavours to mingle for as long as possible, I suggest an hour or so, but if you’re in a hurry 15 minutes should suffice. You can add any stir fry vegetables to this recipe, the more colourful the better. I opted for sweet peppers and mange tout purely because it’s what I had in the house, but baby corn and spring onion would also be great flavours in this recipe. Be wary of using red onion, it would over power the delicate flavour of the prawns. Adding a large handful or bean sprouts would also be a nice addition.
8-10 shelled raw prawns
Handful of mange tout
2 spring onions
3 baby sweet peppers (red, orange and yellow)
½ large red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Marinate the prawns (as above). Meanwhile finely chop the peppers and spring onions, add these to a hot wok with a little oil. Once softened add the mange tout and the prawns and spoon in half of the marinade. Cook only until the prawns are pink and cooked through. This will only take a few minutes. I add the mange tout in at the end because i like it crisp to bite.

Season with freshly ground black pepper, easy on the salt, the soy will make the dish salty enough. 
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Guest Post – Maui Onion & Sesame Seed Crusted Ahi Tuna

Howdy folks, today I have a little treat in store for you. I had a email a few weeks back from a lovely lady called Kendra Thornton who is a travel expert with a longing to seek out great food whilst on her travels, she has been travelling the world since she was 3 months old. That’s a whole lot of travels.

Kendra noted my love of authentic Asian food and sent me this amazing recipe to share with my readers. You lucky people you! She discovered this recipe whilst in Hawaii and i can’t wait to give it a go.

Guest Post by Kendra Thornton – Maui Onion & Sesame Seed Crusted Ahi Tuna

When my husband and I were vacationing in Hawaii, there was one restaurant that really sticks in my mind. It was the Lahaina Grill and one dish in particular was so delicious that I refused to walk away from the restaurant without getting the recipe! I’m talking about the Maui Onion & Sesame Seed Crusted Seared Ahi.


Just thinking about it now, I wish I could go back and have it again, but luckily for me, I discovered how it’s made and am able to replicate this meal back in my home in Chicago. It serves as a fabulous exotic Asian meal that is always a hit at dinner parties. I’ve done it once for some friends here on the east coast, and I’ll be doing it again soon and wanted to share with you how it’s made.

2 Ahi tuna steaks, about 5 cm thick
350ml of dehydrated crushed onions
475ml chopped onions
45ml of olive oil divided
15ml raw sesame seeds

240ml jasmine rice
15ml minced shallots
15ml unsalted butter
480ml fish stock
1 vanilla bean

240ml white vinegar
480ml apple juice
480ml apple cider vinegar
168g unsalted butter
4 leaves of chives finely chopped

1. Caramelize the 480ml of onions over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Roll the fish in the dehydrated onions and sesame seeds. Brown all over.

3. Combine the rice, minced shallots, unsalted butter, fish stock and vanilla bean; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cover. Simmer until the rice absorbs the stock. Remove from heat and fluff the rice.

4. Mix the vinegars and apple juice over medium heat. Stir until reduced to 1/2 cup. Just before serving, cube the 168g of cold butter. Add it in small quantities, and continue to mix over medium heat. Pour mixture into blender and pulse.

5. To serve put a bed of rice down with a fillet on top. Top with caramelized onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette over it all and place some fresh chives over that. Goes best with steamed vegetables; you can’t go wrong with baby carrots.

Although you don’t have to stay in some of the top hotels in Maui or go to Hawaii to in general to get the taste of the island. Try it out, it serves two in case you want to go the romantic route!

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Thai Peanut Curry with Chicken

I want to offer my apologies for practically disappearing off the face of Blogger for the past 2 weeks. The truth is everything has been a little crappy of late. My boyfriend and I decided it was high time we called it day with our relationship. After all life is about moving forward and we certainly weren’t doing that. But alas, it is a new year and what better time to ring out the changes?
It’s no secret that Friday is my favourite day of the week, the promise of two enjoyable days off work is enough to make anyone excited, yet the weather continues to disrupt our plans and mean we are potentially stuck in the house. Nevertheless, I have just the recipe to make you feel warm and satisfied on such a cold and snowy night. This, I assure you, will become a firm favourite.
I cooked this for the first time this week for my friend Karly, who has never eaten Thai food before. Can you actually believe that? I certainly couldn’t. So after much bewilderment and repeatedly asking “you’ve really never tried Thai food before?” we decided that it was about time she did.   
The real beauty of this curry is that it can all come together in under 30 minutes, so if you fancy giving Jamie Oliver a run for his money this is the best place to start. When you think about authentic Asian recipes you’d expect that for that amount of flavour there would be hundreds of ingredients and hours of marinating, but this recipe, although quick, does not compromise on flavour, so why not give it a try?
  
Yes in my greed i really did over fill my bowl 🙂

2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts or 4 boneless skinless thighs, chopped into chunks
1 can of coconut milk
1 pack baby corn
2 red chillies, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Half pack of fresh coriander, chopped
1 large banana shallot, diced
4 tbsp Thai red curry past
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Thai rice to serve
  
Heat the oil in a large wok or pan, add the shallot, garlic, chilli and about a tablespoon of the chopped coriander. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes ensuring the onion and garlic do not burn. Then add the chicken and continue to cook for a further 6 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter; once this has liquefied into a thick paste add the fish sauce, soy, lime juice and sugar followed by the can of coconut milk. Stir well and continue to cook for 5 minutes, and then add the baby corn and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve the curry on a bed of Thai rice, garnish with chopped coriander, chilli and peanuts.
Serves 4
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Asian salmon with peanut sesame noodles












I was home alone last night whilst my boyfriend was on his fishing boat, which I suppose you could say inspired my dinner. I had fish on my mind, so I decided to cook myself an old favourite, spicy Asian salmon with peanut sesame noodles. This dish is absolutely packed with flavour and you can make it as spicy as you like, depending upon your taste.  

It’s so quick to prepare and the salmon doesn’t even need marinating as the flavours are so strong, and when cooked in the tin foil parcel it traps all of the steam and flavour in, this also keeps the salmon really moist. If you’re a fan of Asian inspired food you won’t be disappointed with this one. 

This recipe also works well with white fish fillets if you’re not keen on salmon. 



Ingredients:                                                           
For the Asian salmon:
2 salmon fillets
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1cm ginger, finely grated
1 red finger chilli, finely chopped
1 whole lime, cut into wedges to serve
For the peanut and sesame noodles:
300g fresh egg noodles
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 red finger chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC
  2. Combine the fish sauce, sesame oil, soy, lime, coriander, garlic, ginger and chilli in a bowl, mix well.
  3. Place each salmon fillet on a piece of tin foil (large enough to wrap around the salmon with extra space at the top to allow the steam to circulate).
  4. Divide the marinade between the two pieces of salmon, pouring over the top.
  5. Pinch the tin foil together at the top and sides, so that there are no gaps (you don’t want the steam to get out). Place the parcels on a baking try in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  6. When the salmon has 10 minutes left to cook, combine the peanut butter, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl, mix well.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat (it’s important not to use a high heat, otherwise the peanut butter will burn and stick to the pan). Add the mixture to the pan and heat until the peanut butter has melted into a liquid.
  8. Add the noodles and mix well, ensuring that all of the noodles are coated, once the noodles are warmed through remove them from the pan. Place in a large noodle bowl and garnish with the chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.
  9. Remove the salmon fillets from their parcels and place on a plate, pouring over any liquid from the tin foil. Serve immediately with fresh wedges of lime.

Serves:                            2
Preparation time:          5 minutes
Cooking time:                25 minutes

FINAL-Stir-Fry

Stir fry to sing about

Good afternoon foodies, today i’m demonstrating how easy the perfect stir fry really is, and there are so many reasons to sing about it. It’s healthy, versatile, quick, not to mention mega tasty! Pack it with crispy delicious vegetables, and remember the more colourful it is, the better for you it will be. Red peppers, chillies and onions with mange tout and baby corn are the perfect combination. And, you thought getting your five a day was difficult!



Remember to prepare your meat and vegetables before you begin cooking anything. I like my stir fry with a spicy bite and I’m mad about garlic so I add three chopped finger chillies and probably far too much garlic than is necessary, but this really is a dish you can make to suit your taste.
Serves:                           4
Preparation Time:         5 minutes
Cooking Time:               12 minutes
Ingredients
3 large chicken breasts cut into strips
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or stir fry oil if you have it)
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 cloves garlic
3 fresh red finger chillies
2 tbsp freshly copped basil
1 red bell pepper sliced
1 red onion sliced
1 bunch spring onions chopped into 2cm pieces
1 pack mange tout and baby corn (whole)
2 portions of ready to wok, medium soft noodles
Pack Sainsbury’s hoisin and garlic stir fry sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preparation
  
  1. Prepare your meat and vegetables before you begin cooking. Chop the vegetables so that they are of equal size. Finley chop the garlic, basil and finger chillies.
  2. Add the oil to a large wok or frying pan, heat for 30 seconds before adding the chicken, garlic, basil and chillies, cook on a high heat for 4-5 minutes allowing the flavours to develop. Add the soy sauce, vegetables and salt and pepper. Stir fry for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stirring continuously.
  3. Stir through the sauce and noodles, making sure that the sauce coats all of the noodles and vegetables, cooking for a further 2 minutes. If required add 2 tbsps of water to thin the sauce.
  4.  Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve immediately in a deep noodle bowl.

Tips
The secret to a good stir fry is a high heat and a watchful eye. The high heat will seal the juices in the meat and keep it really moist.