Wednesday, 1 October 2014 - , 0 comments

Food for Thought : A Few Refreshing Changes


There's nothing as refreshing as a few days away. So when my good friend who lives in Cyprus asked me if I'd like to stay with her for a week, how could I possibly say no?
What I didn't realise was that I could learn so much in a few days..and these small changes will be put into practice now I'm home.

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Although I'm very well-versed on the subject of the WeightWatchers plan and my focus is on low-fat and low-salt recipes, I realise that I could still eat more nutritionally-balanced meals from time to time and perhaps snack a little less.

My friend Penny is very well read on the subject of food, nutrition and digestion. She loves to eat healthily and adores food-but doesn't have that obsession with it like I do. So it was really interesting for me to spend a few days with someone who knows when they are full up, doesn't crave food the whole time and naturally knows how to eat!

This may sound crazy to you but because my life has revolved around weight loss, maintenance and tracking everything I've eaten for the past 4 years, I found the whole experience pretty interesting. So, I decided to keep a photographic food journal of everything we cooked and ate during that week. I continued to track and Penny ate as she always does. At the end of the week, we both felt fantastic, had eaten like kings and each lost 3lbs!
(We had both intended to lose a couple of excess pounds).

We also had a few treats not shown here-chocolate, crisps or icecream most days!


So here's what we ate. The breakfasts look repetitive because I've used the same image-but we had a variety of fresh fruit/vegetable juices every morning on an empty stomach. This was followed by a Mediterranean style breakfast of hard boiled egg, tomatoes and cucumber, which I really enjoyed-but we could have varied it if we had chosen to.



The fresh juicing is the first change I've implemented since I got home. In the past, I resented having to use a couple of propoints for a fruit/vegetable juice, but the sense of well-being I felt after 2-3 days was immense and I realised how much good it was doing my digestive system. 


I'm not someone who believes in gadgets for the sake of gadgets, but a juicer is well worth the investment.


I won't go through every dish but we ate hearty meals, large portions of fresh produce each day.


If we ate a large lunch, we'd have a delicious salad for dinner and vice-versa. We never felt hungry.


The fresh food costs were slightly cheaper in Cyprus than in the UK, but we were not extravagant and if we had sea bass or salmon one day, we'd have a chickpea stew the next to balance out the costs. We wasted nothing.


The next lesson I learnt was to up my intake of water. Penny noticed that I always went to make a cup of coffee or tea if I was thirsty and drank very little pure water.
This is another habit I've put into practice since I got home. I try to drink about 5-6 glasses a day. We all know we should be doing this but it's worth actually noting our habits.


The most life-changing one for me though, is this one!
Because fruit is 0pp on the propoints plan, I  previously ate huge amounts of it especially as a dessert after meals and as a way to fill myself up in the evenings...

Penny's knowledge of digestion meant that she could advise me that eating fruit AFTER a meal is not a good idea as it digests faster than other foods-therefore sits on top of the meal you've just eaten causing flatulence! Enough said!!!
All I can say is that by eating fruit on an empty stomach mid-morning or afternoon and maybe in not such vast quantities, my body feels so much more comfortable. Not only my life but the lives of everyone in my family have been improved as my digestive system is calmer and happier!

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I'll be bringing you some of the delicious recipes we cooked over the next few weeks.

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Little changes can make a big difference!

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Have you seen my YouTube channel yet?
Click HERE to go straight to it and see some of my dishes being made in the
Slice of Slim kitchen!


Don't forget to subscribe then you will be automatically updated every time I make a new film. 

RECIPE : Mango, Lime & Mint Chutney


I love mango chutney but at 2pp/55kcal per tablespoon it kind of defeats the object of my magical 0pp curry!
(Click HERE for recipe)
So...I decided to invent a low fat, ZERO propoint version of my own chutney and the result is truly yummy. I've mixed lime juice and peel into mine to introduce some sour and bitter flavours as I love lime pickle, so this combines both ideas. However, if you prefer your mango chutney traditionally sweet, just leave out the lime altogether. 
Mangoes can be an expensive ingredient, so look out for over-ripe ones that may have been reduced in price.

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The WHOLE amount is 0pp/approx.250kcal and is also suitable for a F&H/SS day

YOU WILL NEED : (Makes approx.300g)

1 large ripe mango
1 tablespoon Nigella/black onion seeds
1 lime
1-2 cups water
1 sprig fresh mint
1 clove garlic
1 red onion
1 tablespoon artificial granular sweetener
1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
1/2 a banana

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Dice the mango into small but chunky cubes. Pop into a heavy-based pan.
(I used a frying pan)


Sprinkle the Nigella seeds over the mango.


Squeeze the juice of one lime into the pan.


Cut the remaining peel very finely and add to the pan. It's the peel, not the juice, that gives the chutney a slight bitterness. You could try using orange or lemon instead.


Now add a cup of water and bring to the boil.


Chop the mint leaves finely.


Add the freshly chopped mint and a crushed clove of garlic to the pan.


Add finely chopped red onion, soy sauce and sweetener to taste.
(You may not need much sweetener if the mango is naturally very sweet).
Allow the chutney to bubble away on the hob for around 40-50 minutes. You may need to add another cup of water.


Finally, to round off the flavours and thicken the liquid, add half a chopped banana. Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring until the banana has completely broken down into the sauce. You won't really taste the banana-it just saves adding sugar or cornflour. Taste once more and 'tweak' the flavours to your personal preference-a little more soy sauce, mint, sweetener etc.


If you are going to preserve this for a while or to give as gifts, place into freshly sterilised jars while the chutney is still hot. Allow to cool down in the jar before storing then using.
(You can see how to do this in more detail in my Apple Chutney recipe. Click HERE)


Alternatively, allow to cool then serve with curries, cold meats or cheese. The chutney will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Sweet, aromatic mango chutney.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE

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Have you seen my YouTube channel yet?
Click HERE to go straight to it and see some of my dishes being made in the
Slice of Slim kitchen!
Don't forget to subscribe then you will be automatically updated every time I make a new film. 



RECIPE : Spiced Plum & Beetroot Chutney


This is the time of year when there's an abundance of harvest fruit and vegetables in our gardens and the supermarkets. I don't grow my own produce but sometimes I'm lucky enough to be given some by friends or family who do. There are bargains to be had in the shops too and if you're making chutneys, it doesn't matter if you are buying slightly under or over-ripe fruits as you can compensate with the flavourings you use.
This spiced plum and beetroot chutney was inspired by some rather disappointing sour plums I bought recently. I knew that I could turn them into something delicious just by adding a few interesting ingredients and I think you'll agree that this looks and tastes pretty spectacular!

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My chutney is 0pp/approx.450kcal for the WHOLE jar, also suitable for a Filling&Healthy or SimpleStart day, so a real winner!

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YOU WILL NEED: (Makes approx.450g) 

400g plums
6 small, pre-cooked beetroot
(the ones I used were cooked in mild vinegar)
1 red onion
1-2 cups water
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons artificial granular sweetener
a few basil leaves
1 tablespoon low salt soy sauce
1/2 a banana
black pepper

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Chop the plums into rough quarters and remove the stones. Pop into a heavy-based pan.
(I used a large frying pan)


Chop the beetroot into small chunks and add to the plums. The beetroot adds an earthiness to the finished chutney and makes it the most incredible colour. 
(If you prefer, you could use raw beetroot but you will need to allow a much longer cooking time).


Add a cup of water and bring to the boil.


Add the Chinese 5 spice, cinnamon, sweetener, basil and soy sauce. You'll need to adjust the flavours according to your personal taste. If the plums are very sweet, you may need less sweetener than my recipe states. If you use raw beetroot, you may want to add a little vinegar.





Chop the onion finely and add to the mixture. Let everything bubble and boil for about 40-50 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if you need to. You will find that the plums break down totally but the beetroot and onion hold their shape and texture.


To further thicken and sweeten the chutney, add 1/2 a banana. Cook for about 10 minutes until it breaks down into the sauce. You won't be able to taste it but this means you won't need to add any sugar for sweetening or cornflour for thickening.
Taste again and adjust the flavours to your personal liking-more spice, more sweetener, black pepper etc.


If you are going to preserve this for a while or to give as gifts, place into freshly sterilised jars while the chutney is still hot. Allow to cool down in the jar before storing then using.
(You can see how to do this in more detail in my Apple Chutney recipe. Click HERE)



Alternatively, allow to cool and serve with cold meats or cheese. The chutney will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Sweet, tangy, earthy, fruity chutney.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE

***


Have you seen my YouTube channel yet?
Click HERE to go straight to it and see some of my dishes being made in the
Slice of Slim kitchen!
Don't forget to subscribe then you will be automatically updated every time I make a new film. 

RECIPE : Exotic Mushroom Soup


Slice of Slim is always about fresh, accessible ingredients-nothing showy-just simple, tasty, low fat food.
However, sometimes, I might stumble across an ingredient that I just HAVE to try and these exotic mushrooms caught my eye the other day.

 On the surface they seem pricey at £3.99 for the punnet but
this soup serves 4 as a starter at 0pp/approx.60kcal per portion or 2 large main servings at 1pp/approx.120kcal per portion. It's also F&H/SS friendly.
The recipe I've invented is extremely easy and would make a really lovely dish if you were entertaining. I think £1 per head is pretty reasonable for something so impressive!


 Most supermarkets seem to have exotic mushrooms on sale but I particularly like this mixed selection from Waitrose.
I'd never cooked with such exotic mushrooms before, so a certain amount of guesswork was involved as to how to prepare them, but I'm really happy with the result!

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YOU WILL NEED : (Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a large main portion)

300g exotic mushroom selection
4 regular white/chestnut mushrooms
2 litres water
2 cloves garlic
2 low salt stock cubes (veg,chicken or beef)
2-3 tablespoons low salt soy sauce
juice of one lemon
white or black pepper
a few fresh basil leaves
small bunch of chives

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Pop the water on to boil.
Add the stock cubes, crushed garlic, soy sauce and lemon juice.


Wash the mushrooms gently under running water. They don't tend to be muddy so just give them a quick rinse.


The varieties of mushroom can vary from pack to pack according to availability, so the selection may be different to the ones shown here.


Cut off any tough stalks.


Slice any large mushrooms plus the regular white or chestnut mushrooms.


Cut the woody base off the stems of the small bunches of mushrooms.


Split the bunch into smaller portions but leave as bundles rather than separating into individual tiny mushrooms.


Repeat with the final variety.


Add all the prepared mushrooms to the pan of boiling flavoured water, along with roughly torn basil. Simmer for around 30 minutes. Season with pepper. Taste and add more soy sauce if needed.
The mushrooms will have a 'bite' to them. The soup is clear with a beautiful deep but subtle citrus flavour.


To serve, make sure that each portion has a good variety of mushrooms. I usually pick them out of the soup with tongs or salad servers before pouring the clear, tasty broth over the top.


Finally, snip a few fresh chives into each bowl before serving.

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Simply exotic.

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PRINT RECIPE HERE

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Have you seen my YouTube channel yet?
Click HERE to go straight to it and see some of my dishes being made in the
Slice of Slim kitchen!
Don't forget to subscribe then you will be automatically updated every time I make a new film. 



Sunday, 7 September 2014 - , , 1 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : Tesco Healthy Living Salads


Whoever has designed the Healthy Living range at Tesco is either a seasoned dieter or understands the mind of someone who is trying to lose or maintain weight, expertly.

I say this because it's all very well being able to buy a pot of reduced fat salad in the supermarket, but Tesco have taken it a step further.


Their reduced fat coleslaw and potato salads come ready-weighed into 3 separate portions-excellent! Especially if you are time short or want something easy to take to work in a packed lunch.
(Or you know you're the kind of person that might 'guesstimate' the portion size, or might not be bothered to weigh it accurately)


They even calculate the propoints, per portion on the back of the sleeve for you.
(The coleslaw is 3pp/102kcal per portion, the potato salad is 2pp/88kcal per portion)


Even better...once you've thrown the outer packaging away, the containers are individually labelled with a 'Use by' date, so you can keep tabs on the freshness.

The little plastic boxes are great to wash and reuse afterwards for grapes or carrot sticks etc.

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And the flavours? They are very much like any standard shop-bought salad- the coleslaw is quite tangy- lovely to top a jacket potato or 'fake bake'
(Click HERE for recipe).
 The potato salad is nice and creamy-yummy with some cooked chicken or salmon.
You could always add some natural yoghurt, lemon juice and some fresh herbs to dress them up a bit, but for convenience they get top marks from me!

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Tesco-you've come up trumps!

Thursday, 4 September 2014 - , 0 comments

Hot Off The Press NEWS : First YouTube Series complete!


Well it doesn't seem very long ago that I was thinking about starting a YouTube channel to bring some of my vibrant dishes to life fresh from the Slice of Slim kitchen!


Thanks to my amazing and creative videographer Jake Bishop who completely understood my vision, and some very supportive friends, family;
(Son wrote the soundtrack, daughter designed the logo, husband stayed out of the kitchen), and my wonderful sponsors, Matthew Curtis and FAGE (Total Greek Yoghurt), I have an introduction and 8 fabulous films in the bag!


I've already launched the introduction and first 3 tutorials so far;


(Click on the titles to go straight to them)


The last films are made, (Jake's busy editing them) and will be launched over the next few months while I plan the next series and try to secure some sponsorship to help me fund it. I can't wait to launch the rest and hear what you think about them.

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Click HERE to get viewing!

(Don't forget to subscribe)