The answer to the question is very personal but should be informed. Managing weight loss long term is about making informed choices and understanding the consequences of a choice.
If chicken skin is a red line for you, a price too far, then go for it but also identify what you are willing to give up to balance it out. I personally love cooked chicken skin but not enough to make it my red line. I would rather have a nice pudding, a gin and tonic or the odd curly wurly.
However I have always wondered what was so bad about chicken skin. It is not like other meats where you can clearly see the fat and can cut it off before or after cooking. Despite this for the last three years I have always removed the skin, usually from chicken as I have done with the thighs in this picture.
The answer was recently shown to me after I followed a tip from my aunt, cooking the chicken thigh skins in the oven making a ‘treat’ for my dog. What was revealed after cooking made me realise that chicken skin would never been something I wanted so much that I was happy to consume the fat that comes with it.
When baked in the oven you get great the crispy skins you would expect but in the tray below is left a pool of fat. Now knowing there is still a layer of fat left on the still shiny skins you can see that even the skins , once cooked, carry their own fat count and must be a periodic treat for the dog rather than a regular one.
Even with some left on the skins look what was left behind and would have been part of your carefully planned meal. If you are watching your cholesterol, let alone trying to lose weight, is this a treat too far?
My previous post included a recipe for full fat and a lighter version of Limoncello Tiramisu. I have adjusted the recipe a little to make it even lighter but tastes just as good. For those doing SW it is now down to six syns per portion and feels like a full fat dessert.
You will need to refer to the main recipe shown in the desserts section but use these specific quantity changes for a two person portion. I also made the mistake of listing icing sugar in the recipe which I have amended to caster sugar (with a tusk tusk from Maggie at this point).
8 sponge fingers
20ml Limincello mixed with 20ml water (decant from a larger quantity mix if you are making a full fat version as well).
1 tbsp sweetener (granulated sugar) mixed with quark or no fat Fromage Frais.
The picture shows my two person portion in the smaller dish with a full fat version for everyone else.
I had a full on taste of this recently and then adapted the recipe for a more waistline friendly version and I can honestly say that if you hadn’t had the full on version you would be more than happy with the adapted one. However both are delicious and nothing like normal tiramisu. I forgot to photograph it so this picture is slightly different to the recipe below.
I made no attempt to replace the limoncello or the sponge fingers so a 100g portion comes out at 8 syns for those of you who are SW. This is 200 kc if that helps.
I am going to include the full on recipe and the adaptations next to it so that you can make both versions if you need/want. The recipe is also for a 6 portion version in one dish. You could probably reduced the hit even further if you make a portion in a glass and then just reduce the number of sponge fingers.
85g caster sugar (swap for 4 tbsp sweetener)
26Og marscapone cheese (swap for quark)
2 punnets strawberries
120ml cold water
200g savoiardi cookies ( swap for sponge fingers x 20)
Put eggs and sweetener in a bowl and whisk until thick and creamy (pale yellow).
Fold in quark.
Hull and dice half the strawberries, halve they remaining strawberries.
Combine water and limoncello in a bowl and dip sponge fingers in one at a time and lay half across serving dish.
If, like us, you have a rhubarb plant growing like mad at the moment you will be looking for things to do with it. This is an adapted BBC Food recipe for cordial that comes in at 1/2 a Syn per 25ml and that is rounded up. Best of all it takes no more than 30 minutes to make.
Use for a soft drink treat or maybe with gin for a Rhubarb G and T.
The only thing you will need that you might not have in is something like muslin to filter it through. I used the filter from my yoghurt maker.
400g chopped rhubarb
15 tbsp sweetener
Juice and zest of one orange
Juice and zest of one lemon
1cm on fresh ginger sliced
Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan.
Cook over a medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart.
Strain through a sieve lined with muslin (or an alternative).
Pour into sterilised jars/pots.
This should make at least 600ml of cordial (24 portions) and I have kept the cooked rhubarb to use on a dessert (minus ginger pieces).
I was meant to be having an SP (speed veg and protein) week this week but in group last week we discussed ways of using chickpeas and my taste buds got rumbling and so I fell off the SP wagon today.
However the recipe that caused this was a fantastically tasty one pot special that needed mostly standard chicken supplies. It would also have been really quick if I had not run out of Ras al Hanout. A quick google gave me a recipe to allow me to make some but my best tip is to always keep some in the cupboard or pantry.
Right enough waffling, time for a recipe
This is for two eating it as a stew and no couscous (it doesn’t need it). If you have couscous you might want to reduce the fish portion. If you are working you make the base in fifteen minutes the night before and then finish of in 20 minutes after work the next day.
4 small cod/pollock/haddock fish fillets
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can chick peas
3 roasted red peppers chopped
2 large dollops tomato puree
4 cloves garlic (chopped or crushed)
Small bunch of fresh coriander choppedl
1 1/2 tsp Ras al Hanout
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Good splash of lemon juice
Heat a lidded pan sprayed with oil.
Add garlic and cook for a minute (stirring).
Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, tomato purée and 1 Ras al Hanout , most of the coriander plus water if needed.
Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
At this point you can leave the sauce and come back to it later if that is what your life style needs.
Season fish fillets with remaining spices (sprinkle all over both sides).
Add fish fillets to the heated base. Make sure they are covered with some of the base but don’t stir them around.
Add lemon juice
Cook on a low heat for fifteen minutes.
Serve into a bowl and sprinkle with reminding corinander (onto couscous if you are having that or with your daily allowance of bread to mop up the sauce).
Lock down has made health and weight management a lot more challenging than usual and as a result I am having what Slimming World call an SP week. This means lots and of hard to digest veg with some protein and no carbs.
For pastry making (pie crust) this becomes very difficult. Added to this is the challenge of using what is in as the cupboard without recourse to a quick pop to the shop.
Root vegetables are often used as alternative to pastry (avoiding potatoes) but these were also in short supply as I had made a big vat of soup earlier in the day. Some might say better planning would have prevented this but even with plans I often go off in a new direction so this might still have been an issue.
The one thing working in my favour was my daily allowance of fibre rich food (which does include carbs) and my daily allowance of calcium rich (I have it as fat rich as I have plenty of calcium elsewhere in my diet) food. Today this would manifest itself as 40g of rolled oats and 30g of grated cheddar. However I am getting ahead of myself.
Half an hour of research gave me nothing that ticked the box for me either through ingredients available or that hard to measure ‘Mmmmmm’ factor. As a result I put my inventive head on and this was the thoroughly successful result.
Pie Topping Ingredients:
40g rolled oats
30g grated cheddar
4 balls frozen spinach defrosted
Mix together throughly.
Spread over the pie filling.
Bake in the oven for thirty minutes (in my case along side shortcrust topped pies for everyone else).
The results was a surprisingly firm pie crust that also tased delicious. The oats gave it a real pleasurable texture with spinach and cheese combing really well. My filling was chicken, leak and mushroom and was served with plenty of cabbage and mangetout. You can obviously change the filling and the side veg to suit yourself.
I will try it again but will also try blind baking a pie base (As you do with Pease Pudding Pastry – also detailed on this blog).
This is an adapted recipe from a Riverford Organic Farmers. My wife, Maggie, adapted it whilst making the given recipe for herself. It is quick easy and very tasty. As we have my late father-in-law’s rhubarb growing with real gusto in the garden, it was pleasing to find a real alternative use for it. I have also discovered eating rhubarb raw with bananas and yoghurt is a spot on breakfast.
The real game changer is that I preferred it to the regular recipe so it wasn’t even like a sad alternative. The flavour was fuller. The use of water instead of orange juice made the difference I think. The result is a tangier, less sweet final product.
This is the recipe for a small quantity seen in the picture. If you are going to store it or make it for more people then just multiply up your ingredients.
150g rhubarb, cut into small pieces
3 tbsps sweetener
Zest of one orange
1/2 onion, finely chopped
Chilli powder (1tsps for average fire and 2tsps for a bit more umph)
Put all the ingredients in a pan together.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally .
Add water if becoming too thick and cook for longer if too wet.
I ate mine with some sweet potato and chick pea felafel and also with a burger and it was grrrrrrrrrrreat (to quite Tony the Tiger).
My tastebuds were yearning a treat this morning without scuppering my food regime.
Banana Fritters/pancakes was the solution and these were delicious. This batch made five 3” pancakes and I am stuffed. Feel free to adjust for a full fat version.
40g rolled oats. (can be used as they are but I grind mine in a coffee grinder)
2 bananas (1 mashed and 1 sliced)
100 ml 0% fat yoghurt (natural for soft pancakes and Greek for firmer pancakes)
1 tsp sweetener
3 tbsp 0% sugar/fat pancake syrup (I used Walden Farms)
Mash the banana in a mixing bowl.
Add egg, oats, 50ml yoghurt and mix thoroughly.
Heat non stick frying pan and cook in batches. They will hold less well than regular pancakes so aim to cook fewer at a time to allow for smooth quick turns. Wait for bubbles coming through as you would do with American style pancakes.
Serve on a plate with sliced banana, the remaining yoghurt and the pancake syrup.
This recipe was the result of the good old BBC. When you have ingredients and fancy trying something new Google nearly always brings me to BBC Good Food. You have a link to the recipe I started with but of course I have amended it a little to be even more waistline friendly.
This recipe served two people with very generous portions. You can multiply up for larger numbers. The only exception to this is the dressing which made enough for four people , even in its reduced fat version. The bonus is it is really, really easy to make and was ready in about 30 minutes. For those in SW I synned my portion of dressing at 1.5 syns. The rest is free.
2 sea bass fillets
1 large baking potato sliced into thick slices
A wok full of spinach (piled high) with 2 tbsps water
Handful of cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
3 or 4 large mushrooms (sliced)
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
3 tsps capers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pre heat oven to 200 degree Celsius (Gas Mark 7).
Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Par boil potato slices for twenty minutes (skin on).
Mix lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, olive oil and mustard to make the dressing and put to one side.
Drain potatoes and put to one side.
Lay the fish fillets on the baking parchment skin side up. Spray with oil and season with salt flakes (I used a ground garlic and salt mix from the supermarket).
Put sliced tomatoes and mushrooms in a hot pan sprayed with fry light (I also added a chopped chilli for a little fire). Also season to your own taste. Add a splash of water to keep it moist whenever needed. Turn down to simmer after five minutes
Heat up the wok, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has cooked to a nice wilted pile. Turn down to low if finished before the fish,
Spray a frying with fry light and heat. Once hot lay slices of potatoes over the pan.
Put the fish in the middle of the oven for 7 minutes
Spray oil on the potatoes and turn them after four minutes (or when browned nicely on one side).
Just before the fish is ready plate up veg. I also sprinkled some lemon juice on the finished spinach and seasoned lightly.
Place the fish where you fancy, we all have our preference, and drizzle with dressing.
Today’s challenge was to make a Mother’s Day meal that was luscious, at least partly healthy, and using what was in rather than going down to the supermarket and buying more stuff and adding to the unnecessary shopping and hoarding going on. If you want the good stuff jump straight to the pudding at the end.
Now before I go into the meal you should ask what Maggie was doing at the same time. She was laying as a small patio area with Reuben in support. This left me free to get on with things in the kitchen.
With Maggie and Reuben in the garden and me in the kitchen we were also ensuring we were not out about and were maintaining our social isolation.
The main course was drawn from the Pinch of Nom cook book and the Slimming World Free Food A to Z. If you are not a Slimming World aficionado Free Food is food you can eat as much as you want until comfortably full (no weighing etc). It should include at least a third of those less calorific and harder to digest foods like leaf vegetables, carrots, onions etc. If you want to know more about Slimming World you would need to sign up. The Pinch of Nom book (and website) have list of healthy recipes well suited (but not affiliated to )to approaches like Slimming World. The pudding comes from Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking book. This is a brilliant book and easy to make healthy (apart from the puddings). Right enough spiel and let’s get down to food.
The main course included chicken tikka kebabs (the original recipe used tandoori spice mix but I only had a tikka spice mix in), Mediterranean vegetables and an upgrade couscous mix. I bit of a taste fusion made up of a little of what we like.
The chicken kebabs are made using a marinade using the following ingredients:
200g 0% fat greek yoghurt
4 tbsp chicken tikka spice mix
Garlic clove (crushed or grated)
2cm root ginger (grated)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 large chicken breasts cut into chunks (one per person)
Mix all the ingredients, other than the chicken, until you have a smooth paste.
Stir in the chicken and coat thoroughly.
Leave to marinade for as long as possible, ideally at least two hours.
Put onto skewers and cook under a hot grill, turning regularly (about thirty minutes) or bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
The Mediterranean vegetables were just a straight forward mix of what was in, in this case chopped chucks of peppers, onions, courgettes and cherry tomatoes , sprayed with fry light and baked in the oven for thirty minutes.
Now the couscous comes from a recipe with other ingredients, I have just lifted this component as it suited what I needed. It is called Mediterranean Couscous and my mix reflects what was in and what I fancied. You can also added chopped spring onions and chopped chillis but I left these off this time.
Ingredients ( all mixed together once your couscous has been prepared).
250g cooked chickpeas
1 carrot, grated
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
3 tbsp chopped mint
50g rocket, roughly chopped
Spice mix of 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon mixed with 2 tbsp lemon juice. This should also be stirred i into the couscous.
Finally we reach dessert and this one is not low calorie. Mary Berry calls it Indulgent Chocolate Surprise and I know a version of (from a Kiwi friend we knew in Malawi named Didge) called Self-Saucing chocolate Sponge. It is really easy, delicious and luscious. We had neither in but it would be served well with ice cream or custard but great on its own.
60g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
30g butter (melted) plus some extra for greasing the dish
Ingredients for the sauce:
100 muscovado sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
300ml water (MB said boiling, I missed this point but it worked fine with cold water)
Mix caster sugar, semolina, cocoa and baking powder in a large bowl.
Mix the melted butter and eggs, beating with a fork.
Pour into the dry mix and whisk gently until mixed to a smooth cake mix.
Spoon the sponge mix into the greased dish and gently smooth the top to an even level across the dish.
Mix all the sauce ingredients until smooth and pour over the sponge mix.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the spring is well risen and the sauce is bubbling underneath.