HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

Welcome to the Year of the Rooster!

Like most celebrations, Chinese New year includes lots of food! Remember the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Well, the truth is, you could have replaced GREEK with virtually any nationality ; – Celebration = Let’s Eat!

Looking at the picture below, from Chinahighlights.com, you can see it does not have to be a diet disaster to celebrate CNY in style. Whilst 2017 has, for me has so far been virtually carb free, especially no rice or bread, it seems I don’t have to change the rules, but choose carefully. Yesterday we spent a happy New Year’s eve with dear friends, and partook of a very sociable and delicious hotpot. The broth is light and tasty; poached fish and seafood and an array of vegetables, even an egg, all  – no problem. I avoided noodles and wonton skins made of wheat, in favour of those made of tofu sheet. Scrumptious!

King Hei Fat Choi!

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Three weeks into the year…

Dear all,

Thank you for the great feedback I have been receiving. I have had a ghastly bout of flu – although no complaints because it did help with weight loss!

Three weeks into the year – I have now lost 4kg – or in my units – SIXTEEN links on my 96 link chain. Nothing is as motivating to carry on as having lost the first few units.

Here are a few of the tricks that have been supportive.

  1. Eating a hearty breakfast every day. I have consumed more eggs than ever before – and as a non-egg lover, this has been hard. I serve with a few slices with avocado, smoked salmon or goats cheese – and it certainly keeps me going till lunchtime!
  2. Taking a packed lunch instead of relying on food available in the environment. Making up a salad each evening has been fun, and challenging to find new and original ingredients. But as I chop up the different vegetables and flavour with fresh herbs – tomorrows lunch seems exciting!
  3. DRINKING loads of water – but not just any water – Fresh lemon and ginger to be precise. No sugar or syrup or sweetener of any kind needed – I start off with hot water at the beginning of the day and keep topping up with cold all day.
  4. Dry January – This has been tricky – especially at the weekends – but not drinking alcohol also allows better focus what food is selected to eat. Being in control is key.
  5. Minimising carbs – bread, toast and pasta have been out since the new year – and ensuring delicious food is available means they have not been missed.

 

So onward and downward! Catch you in a few days!

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Food for the soul.

It had to happen, I work in an environment where people travel all over the place, and unwittingly bring back with them germs.

So I have a nasty bout of ‘flu which has kept me in bed, feeling very sorry for myself. Throbbing head, aching limbs, blocked nose…..you know the kind of thing.

Luckily I make my own chicken soup, the way my mother showed me, and keep it in the freezer so it is available anytime I need – and never is there a time more than now.screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-50-23-pm

Take a whole chicken, and simmer with carrots, leeks, celery and onions. I also add bay leaves, parsley and thyme plus salt and pepper. Simmer until the meat is fall-off-the-bone-tender, then remove the chicken. having taken off the meat, I return the bones to the stock pot and cook on for at least another hour – making the soup richer. Finally. strain the stock – (leave to cool first to make the process easier) and add the chicken meat back,

I have, however been reading up about the making if soup and getting the best nutrients out of the bones, and some interesting ideas which I might try are:

  1. Using chicken’s feet – ok, so I have always baulked at the thought of these as a dish in a Chinese restaurant, but  it does make sense for the stock pot, as they are full of gelatine.
  2. Roasted bones leech many more minerals so after a roast chicken dinner – keep the bones for the stockpot.
  3. A vinegar pre-soak before applying heat ensures that minerals will be pulled out of the bones and into the stock.  Without it, the stock will need to cook for much longer for the same result. Soak cold bones with vinegar (2 Tbs vinegar to 1 gallon of water for chicken or a half-cup vinegar to one gallon for beef) before applying any heat.  If the bones are hot, the pores are closed and the vinegar can’t get in to work its magic.  Soak cold bones for one hour before turning on the heat.

 

Delicious – Back to sleep!

I am crackers about these!

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I make these in batches and they keep for several weeks – – – that is, if you and the family can keep off them!! They are nutty and delicious – and can be eaten alone, or spread with toppings – cheese and smoked salmon, olive tapenade etc….

  1. Mix 110 grams each of pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds.
  2. Add 60grams each of chia and poppy seeds.
  3. Add 150g of rolled oats
  4. Add 350ml cold water and 50ml o liquid coconut oil
  5. Adjust with your choice of flavouring  – go savoury with spices – a teaspoon of ground cumin /dried rosemary or some chilli flakes, or naturally sweet with chopped dried apricots – or christmassy with dried cranberries. Go wild!
  6. Mix everything together and roll out between two slices of greaseproof paper until thin. Remove top layer of paper, and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 mins. Turn over and remove paper, then cook for another 20 mins.

I like the crackers broken randomly into freeform pieces. the edges tend to crumble but I keep these bits too. “Glued together with some creamy goats cheese – just yummy.

 

Week two weigh in day tomorrow…..!

 

 

 

Avoid the Saboteur!

Now we are one week into the year – and I am still feeling strong! Best of all I have lost a kilo! Or in MY terms – I have lost 4 links from the weighty chain!

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Weigh schedule.

I am going to allow myself a pat on the back for avoiding the temptations of TWO big parties this weekend. I stuck to water, avoided all the carbs and still had fun.

Many people weigh themselves on Monday morning  starting the week full of good intentions. The weekdays are the easiest to stay in control, so there may be some weight loss between Mon and Fri. Feeling buoyed by having been good, you may be tempted to relax a bit over the weekend. This negates the week’s effort and your net movement appears static – which is demotivating.

 Tip ; If you weigh yourself once a week—make it first thing on a Friday morning. that way, you’ll see your weekly trend, and you’ll be motivated to behave yourself over the weekend!

 

What is a Saboteur?

To Tell or Not to Tell?

I have started many diets before and so I would fully understand anyone I told reacting “Again?!” Most of our socialising is based around food. Psychologists term it “social facilitation of eating.”

Going out with friends and asking for mineral water and steamed veg is putting yourself out there! Choices need to be made. Your close friends will be supportive and understanding. They will accommodate their plans to help and support you.

Others may not.

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and author of The Way to Eat, says sooner or later, you may find yourself in a toxic nutritional environment — almost all dieters do. Some things that people might say or do to throw you off course: 

  • “Fear” for your health. “What’s the matter — you are wasting away. Are you sure you aren’t losing too much too fast?” Or: “Are you sure that diet won’t raise your cholesterol?” 
  • Acting insulted. “You don’t like my pot roast all of a sudden? You’re too good for my cheesecake?” 
  • Mixing up food with love. “You don’t come to dinner — you don’t love me anymore.” 
  • Making you an outsider. Katz says this sometimes happens among co-workers. “You can’t eat Mexican because of your diet, so we will see you after we go out.” 
  • Leaving food around. The big candy dish on the receptionist’s desk in an office of dieters. Or: “Here, one doughnut left, want it?” The leftovers from the office party. Or the spouse who keeps dragging half the chips in the store into the house. 
  • Making up special holiday rules. “It’s your birthday — one piece of cake won’t hurt!” 
  • Volunteering amateur psychoanalysis. “You know, you don’t seem to be as funny since you lost weight.” 
  • Negative information. “You know most people who diet put it all back on – and more”

 

WHY WOULD FRIENDS SABOTAGE? 

For some a dieter represents a reflection on themselves and what perhaps they might think about doing. You force a guilt complex onto them which they need to assuage. Your success is their threat.

You friend starts the diet with you and falls off – your success heightens their feeling of failure.

There is always an excuse not to be on a diet – each celebration – birthday, promotion, exam results, marriage, Friday(!) is a reason to celebrate – but remember – Someone else’s birthday is their celebration – being with them, sharing the occasion does not need to you have cake or champagne to have celebrated.

People who cook measure and associate their food with love. Rejection of food can be a rejection of love.

 

WHAT IS THE ANSWER?!

Practice positive self-talk. Think about the support you offer a friend – do you give yourself that much kindness?! You wouldn’t tell your friend who’s struggling with weight, “You just don’t have the willpower,- you’ll just be fat for the rest of your life!” So, why say negative things to yourself? Practice talking nicely to yourself. Instead of “This is too hard!” think, “I can do this!”

 

Keep going and good luck in week 2!

Give us this day our daily…lettuce!

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Bread has often been a go-to for a meal on the run. breakfast toast, lunch sandwich and a cute roll on the side plate at dinner time.

Not any more!

I am munching away on ICEBERG LETTUCE!

Iceberg lettuce is sweet and crunchy – probably due to its extremely high water content. But best of all – there are so few calories in it that you don’t need to count them! It is also full of fiber so it can be guzzled liberally. I have started to wrap everything in it – scrambled egg at breakfast, tuna and salad at lunch and thinly sliced smoked salmon – or whatever the family might be having in the evening. Because of its firm rounded leaves, it looks huge on the plate and psychologically you have had a huge meal, when in fact, the portion size is very much reduced.

Taking the words of warning very seriously from the article below, it is still a win-win in my book!

This is an extract from “Pros and Cons of Iceberg Lettuce” by Ben Greenfield from his blog Superhuman Food Pyramid 2013.

Fibre facilitates cleansing of the digestive tract as well and so eating iceberg lettuce and other high-fibre salad greens like romaine lettuce helps protect against colorectal cancer. Fibre provides natural protection against cardiovascular diseases, too, because of its inherent capability to bind with bile acids in the digestive tract. Bile acids, which are predominantly made from cholesterol, assist in the body’s fat storage process. When you eat iceberg lettuce, its fibre sticks with bile acids and both get excreted via the bowels. Because bile acid levels decreased as a result of the elimination, more of these will have to be made by the liver by taking from the existing cholesterol reserves, resulting in the overall lowering of the latter’s levels in the body.

 

Iceberg lettuce was one of the subjects of a Spain-based study. It was found that this leaf vegetable contains measurable amounts of phenolic compounds that serve as antioxidants in the body. Aside from phenolic compounds, iceberg lettuce contains hydro-alcohols that have anxiolytic properties, too. In an India-based study, mice were made to go through numerous behavioral tests. Those given hydro-alcohols from iceberg lettuce exhibited less biological and physical manifestations of panic and anxiety, and so this unassuming leaf vegetable may just provide alternative treatment approaches to managing stress.

 

Iceberg Lettuce’s Risks:

Iceberg lettuce is one of the fifty fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue, this according to the Environmental Working Group. Among the harmful petrochemicals identified are perchlorate and nitrate, as well as pharmaceutical and personal care products residue,  which stay well in the leaf tissues of the contaminated iceberg lettuce. Unsafe farming and handling methods result in E. coli- or Salmonella-contaminated iceberg lettuce, too. In an effort to minimize the risk of foodborne diseases, irradiation of this leaf vegetable was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Iceberg lettuce was discovered to have similar allergens like those present in carrots well and individuals with food-related symptoms like atopic dermatitis may want to steer clear of this salad greens.

 

Iceberg Lettuce’s Practical Uses:

Minimizing exposure to harmful petrochemical residue is of utmost importance and so opt for organically grown iceberg lettuce whenever you can. Organic farms are required to use sufficiently composted animal manure as fertilizer, too, and so when you choose produce from these farms, your exposure to E. coli and Salmonella may be lessened as well. Washing iceberg lettuce thoroughly under running water must be done as well so that you don’t contract foodborne diseases.

 

For a satisfying cold salad, mix shredded carrots and iceberg lettuce, diced cucumber, thinly sliced radishes, and chopped mint leaves in a glass bowl of cooked and cooled rice noodles. Toss with dressing made from lemon juice, ginger juice, minced garlic, fish sauce and chopped cilantro, and sprinkle your choice of coarsely chopped raw nuts.

 

Think IN the box!

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I work too far away from shops, cafes and restaurants to be able to nip out in a one hour lunch break. However in the building there is a contract company-serviced canteen.  I have eaten there so many times, simply because of need. Frankly the food is ghastly, and it is true to say that my colleagues and I could count one hand the decent meals each year.

Enough!

The 2017 Happy Diet means I am putting in the effort to take a lunch box each day. 

The key to this is all about planning. I need to ensure that my shopping, fridge and freezer supply are geared to cater for this.

I intend to prep the lunch – as much as possible, the evening before and only need to add last minute salad items in the already busy morning schedule. – Grab and go.

I can keep a small bottle of olive oil with balsamic vinegar at the office.

Here is today’s lunch! – Fresh grilled tuna on a pile of raddish, tomato, cucumber red pepper and dill. YUM!

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-11-43-41-amI love the irony of this 1914 Punch cartoon! It also underlines the theory of relativity! The goal for 2017 is to care as much about the weight as about the health. Instead of rushing to the scales every morning, I want to be able to tick a box in my conscience that I have eaten and exercised well. Bring it on!