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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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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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Crispy Duck Pancakes



Who doesn’t love crispy duck pancakes? Drizzled with sweet, sticky plum sauce I just can’t get enough of them, especially when the duck is extra crispy. Quite often Rich and I order them from our local Chinese takeaway, not bothering to attempt them at home, until now anyway.
But, having found three duck legs reduced to just £2 at the supermarket I couldn’t resist picking them up. I’m fortunate in the respect that I live next door to a co-operative supermarket; which can be super useful when you run out of something, or forget to pick something up. But, perhaps what I love best about it is that it’s great for bagging a bargain; I normally pop across at the end of the day when they are reducing everything and see what cheap treats I can pick up. So, this time it was duck legs, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do with them; attempt, for the first time, crispy duck pancakes.
There is a certain technique to ensuring the meat is super tender, but the skin is super crispy. It wasn’t without a bit of re-search that we realised steaming the duck first helps to keep it really moist, then deep frying it crisps up the skin so nicely. I’ll take no credit for this particular recipe as it was Richard’s wonderful dish and he really did do a splendid job.
1 ½ pints of vegetable oil
10 pancakes
2 duck legs
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp Szechuan pepper corns
Bunch of spring onions
Cucumber
Plum sauce
Start by rubbing the duck legs with the five spice and peppercorns, then place them in a steamer over boiling water. Steam the legs for about 40 minutes, until the meat is really tender and cooked through.
Remove the duck legs from the steamer and set aside on kitchen paper to absorb any excess water. Heat a pan of vegetable oil on the hob and carefully place the duck legs in and fry for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oil and place them onto the kitchen paper for a second time to drain the excess oil. Shred the meat from the bone and place in a warmed dish to serve.
Serve with steamed pancakes, chopped spring onions and cucumber and plum sauce. 
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Stir fried Garlic Beef with Oyster Sauce

Hoo Hing’s Chinese Supermarket


Have you ever been to a Hoo Hing’s Chinese supermarket? I had the pleasure of visiting the one in Enfield on Sunday, which was rather exciting. Really exciting actually, for a foodie it’s like an Aladdin’s cave of Chinese ingredients. You’d love it, assuming you like Chinese food that is. There is just so much to look at, it’s overwhelming really, with a hundred different sweet chilli and soy sauces, noodles and cooking utensils. I left with a receipt as long as my arm, if not longer, and still I hadn’t spent a fortune. Who knew you could buy 60 vegetable spring rolls for £2.65? I know what you’re thinking, I bet they were awful, but they are actually delicious.   
Historically, I’ve never been a fan of Chinese food, finding it all too gloopy and stodgy, often feeling like I had a hangover after eating it, seriously! I’ve always preferred Indian and Thai food, who doesn’t love a curry? But, I’m putting this down to bad experiences at poor Chinese restaurants. However, I’ve recently decided that it’s these bad restaurants that I dislike rather than Chinese cuisine itself. So, in an attempt to discover delicious authentic Chinese food I’ve decided I’d be better attempting to make my own, which prompted my visit to Hoo Hings Supermarket.
So, with my thinking cap on and a cupboard stocked to the rafters with tasty new ingredients, I set about making a delicious little beef dish with a fillet steak I picked up in Aldi for a few pounds, bargain! I marinated the beef in a little garlic oil, fresh garlic, ginger and some oyster sauce, before adding it to a hot wok and adding chillies, spring onions and green peppers and dried mushrooms (these had been soaked first). The almost sinister looking thick and sticky oyster sauce has such a wonderful sweetness that works beautifully with the steak and green peppers. Leaving it all to marinate couldn’t be easier, stir frying it takes minutes and you’ve a delicious, guilt free Chinese meal to enjoy in the comfort of your own kitchen without spending a fortune.
Before you read the list of ingredients and panic about the monosodium glutamate (MSG), let me just mention that it’s really a small amount and you use it instead of salt. All Chinese food, takeaway or otherwise will have MSG added; it’s a flavour enhancer and it really does make the world of difference – and used in moderation it’s completely fine. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how many foods contain MSG. Next time you reach for a packet of crisps check the list of ingredients, they’ll most likely contain it – that’s why they are so morish!

Stir-fried Garlic Beef with Oyster Sauce

Serves 2

* 1 fillet steak, sliced thinly
5 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp garlic oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp of monosodium glutamate
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
Knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Large handful of fresh bean sprouts
Half a green pepper, roughly chopped
Handful of dried mushrooms, soaked and drained
2 nests of egg noodles (thick)
1. Start by marinating the beef in a dish with the oil, soy, oyster sauce, MSG, garlic, ginger and green chillies – leave this for as long as possible, but half hour will suffice.
2. Heat a little oil in a wok (over a high heat) and add the green peppers and half of the spring onions stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the beef and marinade and stir fry until the beef is cooked to your liking, only a couple of minutes for me. Add the bean sprouts and mushroom, stir well and continue cooking for another minute until the vegetables have softened.
3. Serve the beef on a platter, garnished with the remaining spring onion and a bowl of egg noodles on the side.
This dish is delicious washed down with an ice cold Chinese Tsingtao beer.