My Slimming World update Week 29-31

Last time I updated you I was very, very close to my target. Well guess what? I only went and bloody done it!

target-certificate

Yes, I reached my new target of 9stone with the fabulous help of Slimming world. I have taken to this plan like a duck to water when I joined back in August last year. As I have mentioned before ( or maybe not!) I do not have the busiest of social life thanks to my ME and Fibromyalgia. It means I am not out surrounded by temptation every weekend, which has obviously been a good thing for me, however, it has also meant my weight loss has been a slow but steady journey due to the fact i cannot conventionally exercise.

But it’s true that slow and steady wins the race in my case.

I have just today got all my summer clothes out ( wishful thinking on my part maybe!) and while sorting out my wardrobe I realise that actually not a lot fits me anymore. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way complaining, it’s a great problem to have.

I have also, since reaching target, stayed in weight loss mode so I can sit comfortably at the bottom range of my target weight. Although I haven’t weighed in this week due to a physio appointment I seem to be slowly creeping down to that level.

I have actually had a treat or two since last week, a few indulgences I promised myself when I got to target. So, after class last week my hunny and I went to the Kaspa’s Ice cream place down the bottom of my road and I thoroughly enjoyed scoffing a caramel shortcake waffle with ice cream…………………… IT WAS LUSH! Literally I could have just face planted it if I’m honest. Instinct then kicked in and I went into low syn mode for a few days to make up for it.

kaspas-waffle

Then came the weekend and I knew I would not be weighing in on the Monday and when my hubby suggested the second treat, a chinese takeaway…………………. well who was I to argue. Again I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful but I did find that I didn’t overfill my plate but had a bit of everything that I wanted. I also did not go back for seconds either. Again afterwards I went into low syn mode again for a few days to do a bit of damage limitation.

chinese

Something I have learned and realised though is that I know if I do not weigh in each week ( even though as a target member I don’t have to every week) I know I will probably find it all to easy to slip into some bad habits again and pile the weight back on. I have no intention of going back to the size I was, and in fact I am thinking about lowering my target just slightly again but at the moment I am happy with where I am at. This week with the weigh in back on the cards I have been sticking to the plan easily, but I know that because I am in target I do have a little leeway to eat or drink what I want on a night or day out, knowing I can go straight back to weight loss and low syn mode to counter act any damage and stay within my range.

For now though, I am happy to attend my group each week so I can stay in target, treat myself occasionally knowing I won’t do too much damage and look forward to treating myself to some nice new size 10 summer clothes.

Let me know how your weigh loss journey is going, I would love to hear from you

 

Slimming World week 1 my results

So, I completed my first week following the Slimming World plan, a fairly easy one to work out and follow in my opinion. I was able to be completely on plan all week as I wasn’t really anywhere or had any plans that would throw any major temptation in my way. I am a sociable drinker only so I don’t really sit every evening with a glass of wine ( although I can drink like a lush when I am out in company!). Therefore, for me the syns tallied on alcohol only matters if I go out. In that respect I found that I wasn’t using any where near my limit of syns per day so far.

My weigh in is on a Monday at 5.30pm although I think I my change to the Monday morning club that runs at 9.30 as I found that last night I didn’t end up eating until 8.30pm and took a migraine while I was at the meeting, so I do not want a repeat of that.

I have to say I was actually quite nervous when I was waiting to be weighed, although I knew I had been on plan but I still felt quite bloated ( although I don’t have a period I still have the joys of the bloating and pains!) and so I was preparing myself to have stayed the same.

Thankfully I had a loss of 3lb!  

I was overjoyed at this it is a great start,even though I felt like I had eaten way more than I normally would on a daily basis, but I guess it’s down to what you eat rather than how much or little that you eat. I can honestly say I never felt hungry throughout the week and really had to think about my HEX A and B choices. I will probably always use my A choice for my milk so I can have my tea and coffees but I can be flexible on my B choices.

**The one tip that helped me this first week was to measure my milk allowance everyday and pop it into a separate container in the fridge so I wasn’t estimating and going over, also use measuring spoons to measure any spreads- I have had Nutella and mayonnaise this week and I stuck to the measured spoons in order to count the syn value properly.

This week I should be on plan most days, however later this evening I am meeting friends at a local ice cream and waffle cafe…………………I am eating only speed foods in preparation! I will have a huge ice cream, I know I will, but I am happy in the knowledge that for the rest of the week I should be able to be ‘on plan’.

Bring on week 2

Bella Italia Oprington review

This time last week I had the chance to pop along the the new branch of Bella Italia that has opened in Orpington just next to the new cinema complex at The Walnuts centre. I have to admit it has been a few years since I was in a Bella Italia restaurant and so I was interested to see what had changed both in style and menu.

On entering the quirky style decor caught my eye immediately with vibrant colours and fabulous wall art. What did catch my attention was the brilliant use of lots of huge old picture frames painted in bright colours that made up the so called ceiling which you could see much higher up. I also adored the wire framed bulb lights which really suited the style perfectly.

bella italia decor

We went on a Tuesday evening around 630ish and although there were customers in there it wasn’t particularly busy so we had our choice of seats. Tables were decorated with old wine bottles with a candle in the top as your table light, kind of cheesy but something I personally have always liked for a bit of a rustic feel. They had a main menu but also they had a specials menu already on the table for you to have a look through- a meal for less than 300 calories ( believe it or not using the popular ‘vegetable spaghetti’ as the base) wonderful if you are on a healthy eating plan without missing out on going out with friends. There are also lots of gluten free options too some that are dishes in their own right and some that can be adapted to gluten free from the main menu such as the pizzas.

Having my husband with me ( my personal designated driver) I gladly opted for a lovely glass of rose wine whilst we had a good snoop of the menu which is quite extensive with everything from pizzas and calzones, pasta dishes, ribs and even sea bass. My husband knew exactly what he wanted and had looked forward to a calzone all day. I on the other hand am absolutely rubbish at choosing when there is so much on offer!

So, for starters I went for something I have never tried before and ordered Tempura Kind Prawns with a mayonnaise dip, my husband decided on the deep fried calamari- again something he doesn’t have that often. Both dishes came up on wooden boards with the fish served in mini fry baskets which both my husband and I loving that presentation. the prawns were delicious and I wouldn’t hesitating to order this again.

bella italia starter

For mains my husband ordered the Carne calzone, filled with pancetta, spicy meatballs, red onion, mozzarella and beef ragu. It took me a while to decide but I went for Pollo Formaggi al Forno which was chicken and crispy pancetta  in a four cheese sauce with giant shell pasta and a crumb topping. We both ordered a side salad but chose one of each , a mixed salad and a rocket and granello cheese one so we could share.

bella italia mains

As you can see both dishes came up well sized and mine was extremely filling to the point I couldn’t finish it. My husband was  very pleased with his calzone saying the only thing it needed was just an extra spoonful or two of sauce juice as that is how he likes it.

We were both quite full but thought it would be very rude not to try a dessert and they did the perfect option which was a choice of 3 of the 5 different dessert shots that included banoffee pie and strawberry cheesecake and a mini pannacotta to name just a couple. However, our luck wasn’t in that evening as our server apologised and told us there had been an accident in the kitchen and the desserts had fallen and there wasn’t any left. So we went for a 4 scoop sharing gelato bowl with a mixture of flavours and some chocolate beans on top ( although there are lots of toppings to choose from).

YES we did actually share it!
YES we did actually share it!

I can only speak about our experience on that evening in that particular branch, but we enjoyed the food, the service was good and the staff were friendly. Our meal didn’t feel rushed in any way but we also didn’t wait overly long for the courses to be cooked either. I can see this branch becoming popular as it is right next to the cinema and would make a great pre or post film dinner option. They also serve breakfasts and lunches too so there would be something for any part of the day depending on your plans and there is also lots of covered seating outside for when the weather warms up too. This would be a nice relaxed place to come with the girls for a good natter, a bit of wine drinking and lots of yummy food for a great night out. The night we were there we noticed couples like ourselves, families, groups of friends and even a couple ,one of which was using a mobility scooter, and the layout of the seating meant it was easy for her to have it beside her table and therefore she wasn’t excluded in any way.

From my experience that evening I would have no trouble recommending this restaurant to others and I know I will certainly go back there myself.

 

DISCLAIMER: my meal was complimentary in return for an honest review. All view are my own and I can only base that on the food and service we received at the branch we visited on that particular evening.

 

 

Ashford Eureka Park Beefeater review

I was recently asked to go along to this branch of Beefeater to review their menu ahead of Mother’s day and having not been down at this park before I was also interested to see what else was there.

We were booked into the restaurant for an earlyish meal around 6pm as a family of four before my eldest teen’s social like took priority and we became a party of three! When we arrived at Eureka Park it was clear to see the Beefeater was probably the main restaurant for the Premier Inn next to it and to be fair it seemed like it was one of the larger branches of the restaurant.

On entering it had a large bar area both with bar and table seating and seemed the perfect place for the people staying at the hotel to pop along in the evening and have a drink or some food. The reception area was a nice open space and we were greeted and seated straight away. Most of the seating in this branch is free standing tables and chairs however there is a diner style area of boothed seating adjacent to the open cooking/ serving area and that’s were we were seated.

This is looking onto the boothed seating back towards the reception area leading onto the bar.
This is looking onto the boothed seating back towards the reception area leading onto the bar.

My youngest teen had already decided what he was having before he got there as he absolutely loves their burgers ( the best burger he has ever had apparently- and he can be pretty fussy!). This time he took advantage of adding an extra burger patty for only 99p making his meal around £9 as he had ordered off the early menu before 6.30pm.

Double 1/4 lb burger with skinny fries and slaw from the early menu that finishes around 6.30pm
Double 1/4 lb burger with skinny fries and slaw from the early menu that finishes around 6.30pm

Normally from this sort of restaurant I would play safe and get something with chips but this time I decided to try something different, so I opted for the Liver and Bacon with mash and curly Kale. I adore liver when it has been cook properly as it is beautiful and tender, full of flavour and very good for you too. When it came up I was slightly disappointed at the size, just because I was very hungry and I thought it would come up served as a roast style dinner. However, I could not have been more wrong about the portion size- it was a very filling meal!

Curly kale not visable but is at the bottom, with creamy mash on top, several slices of bacon on top and then piled with crispy onions with gravy around the side.
Curly kale is not visible but is at the bottom, with creamy mash on top, several slices of bacon on top and then piled with crispy onions with gravy around the side.

Obviously liver can be a disaster when overcooked feeling like a bit of shoe leather and therefore, I was overjoyed to see it was cooked perfectly with the liver being gorgeously tender- so much so that my teen and mu husband (who hates liver!) gave it a try and actually liked it. I really must learn how to cook it properly myself as this was a beautiful dinner. The crispy onions were a really nice contrast to the soft creamy mash and believe me about 2/3’s of the way through I was getting pretty full. This dish came in at £13.99 and was definitely worth the money.

My husband also opted for a different choice and stayed clear of chips as he ordered the chilli. It came served in a little dish already on top of the rice with some separate flat breads and pots of sour cream and guacamole served on the side. Again the chilli pot did not look that big and my hubby has a good appetite so I was slightly worried he may have regretted his choice. I tried some of it myself and there was enough spice in the sauce for my taste but he opted to have the extra chilli pieces on top!!

The rice is not visible but is actually already under the sauce in the pot. The extra chillies and onions on top are optional and would depend on your taste.
The rice is not visible but is actually already under the sauce in the pot. The extra chillies and onions on top are optional and would depend on your taste.

The chilli is their signature slow cooked recipe and seemed a little thick in consistency and difficult to mix through the rice, however the flavour was perfect and the meat was super tender. Mixed with the sour cream and guacamole the texture then worked nicely and I would be tempted to have this myself next time I visit. The chilli is amazing value coming in at just £9.99 and although I thought my husband would still be hungry after it he said that with the flat breads on the side it was more filling than he expected it to be.

We are not really one’s to have starters usually as we enjoy having something sweet at the end, so we only ordered mains and then had a desert. We love traditional deserts do both of us ended up choosing the same thing which was their new Salted Toffee apple crumble and both of us opted for custard………….c’mon it has to be custard with crumble! You do have the choice though and we could have had either cream or ice cream if we had wanted.

Say nothing about the fact I tucked in before I remembered to take a photo!
Say nothing about the fact I tucked in before I remembered to take a photo!

This was seriously lush as a crumble lover and was only £4.99 which is very reasonable. My son just wanted plain ice cream as he is not a big ‘pudding’ eater and they were very obliging with that.

We were there on an early Friday evening so I would imagine this is one of the busier nights for them as staff. There was certainly plenty of people both in the restaurant part and in the bar area but that didn’t seem to impact on the service at all. I can only speak from our experience that evening, but there seemed to be plenty of staff serving and a regular turnover of meals at the kitchen service area.

Like I said earlier, it maybe has less of a cosy restaurant feel to it and more an open diner feel, and I could imagine a busy breakfast serving in there with all the people using it from the Premier Inn next door. In that respect it was definitely built for purpose and seemed to work fluidly in that way.

They also run a reward card where you get points for every pound you spend so if you have a branch near you then this would definitely be worth thinking about and if you were looking for somewhere different to go with family on Mother’s Day then there is something for every taste on this menu. It is also worth mentioning that soft drinks such as Coke/ Pepsi etc come as a refillable option which is great if you have kids as you pay just the one price but they can refill as much as they want ( my teen son loves this option!).

DISCLOSURE: I was given a voucher towards the meal cost in return for an honest review. All comments are my own and I can only comment on my experience that evening in that branch

The one hour Valentine

So I was on Twitter and Facebook for a while yesterday having a nosey at what everyone was getting up to on Valentines Day. We don’t really ‘do’ valentines after being married for almost 20 years! I prefer to have something planned on my anniversary instead.

Yesterday was no different and we just exchanged cards before OH went off to work. The kids were at school all day and OH wasn’t going to be in until almost 7pm. Instead of a relaxing Friday night my taxi duties started at around 5ish as I had to go and pick up my 13yr old from a friends house and drop him to his drama class. My eldest was cooked some food before he headed of to his club and was due to be picked up around 9.30pm.

As you all know the weather was horrendous so I spent much longer in the car on my journey’s than I had intended but I did manage to pop into a local Sainsbury’s and grab a £10 meal deal complete with wine!

So, after my youngest was home from drama and my OH had returned home I had the dinner ready as we had ONE WHOLE HOUR to eat and chill before the last club pick up. So not exactly a big extravaganza but at least I didn’t have to cook.

I did manage to clear half the table from the rubbish that gets piled on top of it and we did sit there for our food, and I even went to the trouble of lighting candles and everything LOL

DSC_0129

 

 

 

 

 

But we were not alone!!

Talk about being watched!
Talk about being watched!

Then our youngest decided he would have some too so he came and joined us as well. We had our yummy desert before my OH left on the last pick up but unfortunately I was so eager to tuck in I didn’t take a picture but I can assure you it was lush. My OH did partake in alcohol once he had finished driving and by then I was in bed …………… and not for the reason you would expect!!

So that was it, all thrown together in an hour but at least the sentiment was there.

How was your Valentines?

 

Best ‘Feel Good’ Chicken soup ever!

Well in my opinion obviously. In the winter I love soups, my boys don’t generally unless it’s tinned tomato and my OH generally is of the opinion soup is not a proper dinner!

However, I could live off the stuff and in the winter when everyone is more tired and run down they can be great immune system busters.

This chicken soup I have made lots recently and will have it at lunchtime on it’s own or for dinner with some crusty bread. It’s warming, filling and altogether yummy.

Ingredients

1x leek chopped

1x large carrot chopped

1x celery stalk chopped

1x medium potato chopped

1x sweet potato chopped / or a good handful of chopped swede

800ml chicken or vegetable stock ( I use 1 veg and 1 chicken cube in 800mls water)

2-3 chicken legs or thighs raw

some mixed herbs

salt and plenty of black cracked pepper

* Put all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour.

*Take out the chicken pieces and remove the meat from the bone, then put the meat back in the soup.

* Mix the chicken through and if you need to mash some of the veg against the side of the pot to thicken and add any extra salt and pepper to taste

LUSH, full of veg, all the goodness from the chicken……………….like I said ‘The Best Feel Good Chicken Soup Ever!

DSC_0121DSC_0122

Green Giant and eating your 5 a day!

Parents reveal the top tricks they still use to get their kids to eat their greens

Hiding veggies, bribing with dessert, and creating pictures still used by modern day parents

It’s an age old struggle for parents around the world. How do you get your kids to eat their vegetables instead of pushing them around their plates, hoping you’ll give up?

Well, according to a new poll out today, classic tricks and old fashioned subterfuge are still being used by parents, with number one on the list the simple camouflaging of veg within other foods and sauces.

Second on the list is the threat of no dessert if veggies aren’t eaten first, while third was telling children that vegetables would give them special powers such as the old ‘carrots will help you see in the dark’, or ‘spinach will give you muscles as big as Popeye’.

Further down the list were rewarding children for polishing off their greens with toys and stickers, making it into a competition between siblings and friends as to who can eat their veggies first, and telling their children their favourite superheroes or characters loves their vegetables.

And it’s no surprise parents are going to such lengths still to get vegetables into their children in any way they can, with only half of all children eating veggies willingly and one in ten actively avoiding them, according to the survey of more than 1,000 parents by Green Giant.

Four out of five parents admitted their children don’t get their advised five portions of fruit and veg a day, while one in five parents will allow their children to leave their veggies – sometimes just to avoid the stress that goes hand in hand with meal times when vegetables are involved. A number of parents stated that their children eat vegetables so rarely that they feel elated if they even eat a mouthful.  In turn, parents can spend on average up to two hours on top of mealtimes each week trying to prompt their children to eat their vegetables.

 

So how difficult is it for you to get your kids to eat what they should and what tactics do you use to get them into your children? Colin Jackson always ate his vegetables when he was a youngster and was told by his mum that if he did, he would grow up to be a World Champion athlete and Olympic Medalist…..and we know how that story ends!

 

Colin has joined with Green Giant to help parents come up with ways to educate their kids on healthy eating and even get them to grow to love their veggies.

I managed to get some questions put to Colin Jackson about getting involved with Green Giant’s initiative to help encourage parents to make sure their children are getting their 5 a day!!

How did you become involved with the Green Giant 5 a day initiative?

‘I’m heavily into my dieting so when they explained the whole concept it was an obvious choice for me- I felt I could be an ambassador’

So as a world class athlete, do you follow a healthy diet yourself?

‘Reasonably, your needs are different now. Now I’m not so exclusive and happy to have a little more pasta and a little more treats. But a lifetime of healthy eating has stayed with me.’

What do you think of mums and dads who disguise fruit and vegetables to encourage kids to get their 5 a day?

‘I think it’s a great idea-if it works-wonderful’.

What fruit and vegetables, do you now as an adult, still refuse to eat?

There’s no real fruit I don’t like and even vegetables……I even eat brussel sprouts! I’m not fearful of any fruit or veg’.

How did your mum encourage you to eat more fruit and vegetables as a child?

‘Putting me in front of the TV and saying- Look what Popeye is eating!! Also I’ve always wanted to visit the land of the Jolly Green Giant!’

 

One of my tricks is to blend fruit I know they would generally refuse to eat, raspberries being one of them, and mixing them into natural yogurt!! It works too and especially if I allow them to sprinkle on a little sugar!

So what tricks do you use on your children to get them to have their 5 a day?

For more information visit:  www.greengiant.co.uk

 

Bakestone Traditional Northern goods Review

Bakestone products are made with only the freshest ingredients and the company was started by baker Howard Hunter who has been in the baking industry for over 30 years and has a passion for bread and baked goods, he also still runs a family run company making and distributing bread.

I was lucky enough to be sent some of their goods to try out. but before I go any further I must confess:

* I am Irish and therefore have benn brought up on what I consider the best breads etc in the world!! ( OK may be slightly biased)

So here’s what we had the chance to try out:

 

Yum.........carbohydrate overload!! Love it

 

So as a bread and potato lover myself we went straight for the Potato Breads and had a very late breakfast!

Now as I said before as a true Irish girl at heart I had preconceptions of these being slightly under par in comparison to irish potato cakes!! But I must admit that it pains me to say that these really are on par with the irish ones…………………which is a huge compliment from me!

Second up was the scones:

Definitely my favourite!

 

Made in true Devon Tea style these were absolutely scrumptious with butter and jam and a pot of tea!! Not too overpowering with fruit but enough to taste and enjoy. I love anything that feels like a treat. These weren’t too floury ( some can be) and overall were beautiful with a cuppa on a cold afternoon!

 

I have been assured that the muffins were perfect for lunches both by my OH and the boys with thier packed lunches!! So much so I had to go and buy similar as the lunch boxes were coming back empty, for a change. This would have been something I would have overlooked on a bread shelf, but will actively by more of these if it means my boys will eat their lunches!

 

Lastly was the long wholemeal loaf. My boys would not touch it as they have to have wholemeal disguised like 50/50 or Best of Both!! I, however only eat wholemeal so this was left for me to review. I eat a lot of toast in one form or another ( normal toast/ toasted sandwiches/ tomatoes or beans on toast- you get the picture). I enjoyed the bread toasted but felt it was a bit dry to enjoy it in sandwich form.

But don’t take my word for it, take a look at their website to find out about the whole range of goods. See what you think.

http://www.bakestone.co.uk/index.php

 

Disclosure: all views are my own and the goods were sent free of charge in order for me to review.