Cooking

It’s been absolutely ages since I went out of my way to create something from scratch. Although I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, yesterday I actually made something from the packet of black turtle beans that I bought several months ago.

I’ve been seeing recipes for black bean burgers online for a while and they all look delicious, but they either contain synful binding agents or synful breadcrumbs, so I decided to create my own recipe and see how they hold up.

I cooked the beans in boiling water for an hour and ten minutes (they didn’t need soaking), prepared some quinoa, then I added sweetcorn, red onion, smoked paprika, garlic, chilli flakes and a generous splash of Henderson’s Relish. I decided to do away with any binding agent at all, even though I have egg replacer in the cupboard, just to see what would happen.

I mixed it all together and shaped them, and they were looking pretty good at this point, then I popped them into the fridge until it was time for dinner. They stayed in there for about an hour and a half in total.

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When it came to cooking them I fried them in a little fry light, and when turning them over they stayed together quite well but I could tell I’d have problems later.

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By the time I got them onto the plate they were falling apart, and as soon as I stuck a fork in them they just crumbled. If I was eating them in a burger bun I think they would have been absolutely fine, but just having them on the plate they definitely need something to hold them together. I’m still on the search for something syn free, so next time I might add sweet potato mash and see if that helps at all. I’ll keep trying though, because I only used a third of the pack of beans and that made 12 burgers, so I popped the rest into the freezer to have another time. The whole pack of beans was only £1.10, so it’s definitely a cheap dinner to have in my repertoire (if I can perfect the recipe that is!)

With some extra beans I had left over I also made some black bean and lime dip which was based on this recipe here, but I left out the olive oil to keep it free. I ate that today with a whole cucumber and it was lovely.

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The experimenting with new recipes has been fun, and I definitely want to do it more!

This week I only have two more nights left at work, and due to industrial action it’s quite possible that I’ll be off for the next three weeks. I have to be really careful during this period, as the last time I wasn’t at work I put on 11 lbs. I simply cannot view this as a food holiday.

As such I’m going to be going to bed early, getting up early and getting my butt out walking every single day, no matter what the weather. On Tuesday I’m walking to the hospital for my blood test, then Wednesday I’ll go to the local park (despite someone getting stabbed there the other day) and on Thursday I’m going to walk to a nearby high street. Because the area I live in is not so nice, it’s hard to go out walking just to see the sights – there aren’t many sights to be had. So I’m trying to go places where I have a proper destination in mind. Even if (in this case at least) it’s just to visit my nearest Oxfam! I’m also going to try to find the good/interesting in even the crappiest of places.

As if that wasn’t enough I’m also on a mission to save money as I’m absolutely determined not to go into my overdraft this month. Frugality is key! So I’m on the lookout for some excellent bargains. I think I might go to Debenhams and try on expensive dresses too!

I have a few ideas to be getting on with, and perhaps from time to time I’ll drive somewhere further afield. The only constraint I have is not wanting to leave Pea alone for too long, but she’s going to be spending more quality time with me anyway so every now and then won’t hurt.

The last time I was due to be off work I was already starting to feel inexplicably down in the leadup to it, but now although I don’t exactly feel ecstatic I have solid plans and I know I’m going to make the most of it. The fact that the industrial action could be called off at any point is also a huge motivator – I have to make the most of it in case I get sent back to work at short notice.

Speaking of work I suppose I’d better start getting prepared for my penultimate shift. Boo!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

Full of Beans

Today I am full of beans! I’m full of actual beans (pulses and legumes, too), coffee beans, and just the general beans of life!

Last night work was… OK. And that’s weird, because normally it just isn’t. The shift started off with us being given little tokens with our names on, to be put into one of two boxes. One for yes and one for no. And the question? Do we want on on-site gym. Of course I’d be voting yes anyway, because it’s a great idea, and in all the time I’ve worked there it’s the most positive and health-conscious suggestion that’s ever been put forward. But did I think I’d actually go to the work gym and exercise in front of my colleagues? Well, no. But I have a most excellent work friend who I think the world of, and we both confessed that we’d be too self-conscious. And that’s what’s great about friends, and being open and honest. Good things can come of it, because as we both feel the same way, we agreed that we would go together.

Then at 34 years old I did my first ever ‘pinky swear’, upon his insistence. When I was a young lass we didn’t have pinky swears (as far as I know) which I think must have come from our American cousins. But my friend is a mere whippersnapper at 23-years-old and has been exposed to much more Americanisms in his youth than I have. It is therefore a done deal, and if the gym does actually get built (I think it will because one of the top managers is really driving it forward) then I will from that point forward be a gym person with my very own gym buddy. I’m kind of excited, and also terrified, because there’s a chap at work who I think is simply a beautiful human being (and I’m not just talking physical attributes here, although he is a very unconventionally attractive person), and if he goes I will be mortified. But I won’t let it stop me, because even if I thought he would be vaguely interested in me I know he isn’t the right chap. Not that I even have to consider that eventuality! I’m actually grateful for that – I just want a simple life.

A couple of hours into my shift my manager sent a message asking for volunteers to go to another department, so I thought what the hell, let’s just do it. When I first started working there I was on said department permanently, and since there is an area with small, light items to be picked that’s where I went. I call it the girls’ area. The men were consigned to the area containing weights and flat pack furniture. But last night I ended up in the man area, which was probably an error on the manager’s part, but I decided to stick with it and see how I did. And it was an absolute breeze! I wouldn’t want to be doing it every day but I had no trouble with the heavy lifting at all! The last time I picked I probably spent about 40% of the shift in that area and then I had to ask to be moved because it was just too much. That was a few months ago, and I’m happy to find that I’m so much fitter and stronger than I was back then.

We also have to wear a pack around our waists that communicates with the servers and tells us where to go and what to do. For the last 8 years I have felt anxious every time I’m given a pack as I don’t know whether I can get one that will go around me. Some selfish people adjust it to their waists and cut off the excess. But I realised in the last year I haven’t had to do that. I can just pick up any pack and not have the humiliation of having to ask to change it if it doesn’t fit. Because they all do! In the eventuality I get one that doesn’t fit, I know it’s because a super slim person has had it before me, not because there’s anything wrong with me personally. That’s a liberating feeling.

Steps-wise being on a more physical department hasn’t had much of an impact, I’ve maybe done a couple of hundred more, but I think it will definitely have an impact on my calorie burn. I will know for sure after midnight.

When I woke up this afternoon I got out in the garden, with a bath towel over my camera, to take another picture of the giant thistle which is open even more today. I think the relentless rain is doing it the world of good, but I do miss the sunshine already. If the rain actually stops at any point I’ll be out there again taking macro shots of raindrops, but it’s not looking all that likely. I just didn’t have time to get a decent raindrop shot before I became soaked through. There’s always hope though!

Finally I will tell you about yesterday’s dinner and my attempt at a tofu bechamel sauce. It was a DISASTER. It was so bad that (you may want to sit down for this) I couldn’t finish my dinner. The actual main part of the dish though, the ragu with aubergine, fresh on-the-vine-tomatoes, soya mince, onions, and my new love – Henderson’s Relish – was absolutely delicious. Next time I will just syn some vegan cheese substitute to go on top or (and this could well turn out just as disastrous as the tofu) I’m thinking something with blended cauliflower? Hmm, this needs more thought and experimentation…

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Magical Disappearing Weekend

Seriously, where did the weekend go? I blinked and I missed it! And I think that’s one of the reasons I started the day off so grumpily. I weighed in this morning and was disappointed to see that I’ve ‘only’ lost 5lbs of my 11lb gain. Which when I think about it isn’t entirely true. There is a consistent difference between my scales and the Slimming World ones, plus I now weigh at a different time and blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses, excuses. Fact is, 5lbs is a good loss in anyone’s book, and I’m kidding myself if I think I can keep gaining and losing huge amounts of weight all the time. Get real, Hayley!

So I huffed off to bed, because it’s back to work tonight already. I slept for another hour and a half and boy did I feel better for it. That’s a total of 10.5 wonderful hours of rest, which means that the remainder of the day has been a blur of trying to get everything done that I need to before work, but at least I’m running on all cylinders. And I feel good about my loss now. I only need to lose another 4lbs and I’m back at my lowest weight. That’s nothing. In the big scheme of things it’s the tiniest little blip and certainly no reason for me to be losing my head. All I needed was a small dose of perspective. In any case, I know that this week on plan has meant good things for inside my body, because my Fitbit proves it. Whenever I go off plan my resting heart rate spikes dramatically, and yesterday it finally got back to normal. Which is very good to see!

I’m just back from my doctor’s appointment, with a nice new prescription for the pill which should help stabilise my moods and cravings. He said that the implant would most likely make my symptoms worse, and the injection would most likely make me gain weight. The pill it is then! I’m absolutely terrible at remembering to take pills of any description, but the fact is the more I lose weight the more screwy my monthlies get. So I need to take responsibility for myself and do everything I can to sort it out, because this weight loss attempt is the one. I’ve decided to take my pill when I get Pea her breakfast, as feeding her is literally the only consistent thing I do in my life! And since I’m not using the pill to stop me getting pregnant, it’s not as big a deal if I forget to take it from time to time.

I also have a blood test booked at the local hospital to check my iron levels. I’m giving blood on the 20th so I thought it would be a good idea to get it checked beforehand, so if my iron levels are low I can cancel my blood donation appointment and free up that slot for someone else. You can get blood tests done at my local surgery but that either involves waiting until September for an appointment or going to get a ticket at 8am, coming back at 10:30am when the blood tests actually start, then still having to wait for your turn to be seen.

I thought going to the hospital was a great idea, even though the minimum parking charge is £3. Since I’m not at work the night before and I got my hands on a morning appointment, I can walk there, save petrol, save money and get some good exercise. It’s a win-win situation!

Although I really haven’t done much at all this weekend I did still manage to take a couple of nice shots in the garden. Our honeysuckle finally came out and the light was perfect, my absolute favourite. The sky was grey and stormy but there was a tiny bit of golden-hour sun poking out in the just the right spot. Lovely!

Then this afternoon I noticed that our giant thistle is starting to make an appearance too, so I grabbed my macro lens for a nice close-up. I love all the purples, it reminds me of a marine sea creature.

Now I’m off to make a lasagne, and I’m very excited to see how it turns out. The bechamel-esque sauce is made out of tofu, which is syn free and a good source of iron (handy!) I also saw a recipe for a quick and easy ‘cheat’ way of making lasagne where you break up a few sheets and throw it in the pan, so you don’t have to waste all that precious time layering it nicely. The best thing of all is that since going veggie I really missed Worcestershire Sauce, but the wonderful vegans of Facebook put me onto Henderson’s Relish, which is a Yorkshire version that’s been around for donkey’s years, tastes just as good, and is one of those products that just happen to be vegan, completely accidentally.

The name also sounds really rude, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway my spag bol and lasagnes just haven’t been the same without Worcestershire Sauce, so they’ll be featuring regularly in my diet once more.

I’ll let you know whether it was a success or not!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A bottomless pit

I'm really not expecting a great result for weigh in tomorrow. I was hoping I'd follow the 'quick on, quick off' pattern but this time I just don't think it's going to pan out that way. I suppose that's fair enough. Although in general I despise this saying, it is what it is. What the hell, I'll follow it up with what will be, will be!

I've been on plan for 7 whole days now (go me!) but I'm still not feeling 100% right in myself. I'm definitely visibly bloated, but worst of all, I am experiencing a lot of genuine hunger. And I'm talking a belly-gurgling, no-food-seems-to-touch-the-sides feeling of complete tummy emptiness!

I had a really poor sleep last night, and I woke up at 6am to my tummy rumbling. I tried to get back to sleep but it wasn't happening so I had a Perkier bar (using my B choice) and eventually got back off.

After having breakfast then taking my mum to a morning appointment, I was famished again by the time we got home at 11am. So I had an early lunch of a large jacket potato with a tin of lentil curry, into which I added an entire cauliflower. But I was hungry again five minutes later, so eventually I relented and had an afternoon nap. I can't keep eating if I'm asleep, and tiredness can make us feel hungrier in itself!

Before dinner I made sure I ate an orange before I started cooking, to try to avoid 'my eyes are bigger than my belly' syndrome. Yeah… it didn't work!
On the plate we have half of a roasting butternut squash, two large potatoes, four Linda McCartney sausages (2 syns) and some salad bits. Which is a large meal in itself.

In the bowl, which is a fairly substantially-sized pasta bowl, is my current favourite Slimming World meal. It's a vegan alternative to tuna mayo made out of a tin of chickpeas, spring onions, gherkins, dill, sweetcorn and a tablespoon of Tesco Free From salad cream for 1.5 syns. It's my new go-to work lunch as it's incredibly cheap, healthy and filling.

Finally, I feel full! Well, I also feel faintly nauseous if I'm honest, but at least the craving for cake has gone away.

Although my weekend is fast disappearing and I don't seem to have made much use of it, I'm so tired that words are not coming easily today. I did however feel that I needed to get these thoughts onto the page before I face the scales tomorrow.

It's really encouraging to me that I've managed to listen to my body today. I was hungry, so I ate. I was tired, and I slept. AND I got my 10,000 steps in. Whatever the result tomorrow, it will be OK. I'll get there in the end!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

I GOT THIS

Oh June, I am SO ready for you. I just checked my most recent food diary, which I started on 11th April. Since then I’ve managed to keep off 1.5 lbs. Which is cool. Better than gaining it, right? But I can do better. I WILL do better. If you read my last post you can see that I wasn’t too sure about my short-term plans. WELL NOT ANY MORE!

I do struggle with the summer months, because I love the warm weather and sunshine. A lot of people find it harder to slim in the winter what with all the warming comfort food, but for me summer is more of a challenge – it immediately brings to mind ice cream and barbecues. Both fit in perfectly with Slimming World if you want them to, but I’ve been finding it really hard to maintain control. We had a barbecue a week or two ago and I had plenty of syn free stuff that I genuinely enjoy, but instead I ended up eating two packs of halloumi! I had corn-on-the-cobs in the fridge, which are one of my favourite barbecue foods of all time AND they are syn free. Yet I didn’t have any!

Until last year I really struggled with going to the cinema or even watching TV and films at home, because I seemed completely incapable of watching anything without having a snack to hand. But I managed to completely and utterly break that habit without really giving it too much thought. Now if I go to the cinema I take a healthy snack like fruit or an individual pack of popcorn, but 9 times out of 10 it stays in my bag, completely forgotten about.

If I can do that, I can make summer about syn-free iced Americanos and walks in the park. I’m already halfway there, I just need practice. If only it was summer all the time!

Until yesterday I’d been off work for two weeks, partly because of a strike and partly because I had holiday booked (hence the trip to Snowdon), and I only managed to stay on plan for the first few days. Whilst walking to the picket line instead of having my usual iced Americano I had a large, full fat, iced caramel latté. I didn’t even enjoy it that much, but I still got the same again on the way home. On the plus side I walked there and back, which was just lovely! I didn’t have any sun cream on and I got completely burnt to a crisp, but we won’t talk about that…

It got worse from then on, but the day after I got back from holiday I was food optimising 100% and managed to prevent one of my epic gains. This week I ‘only’ put on 4.5 lbs, and I’m absurdly happy with that. My goal for June is to be 100% on plan for the whole month, and to have a loss every single week. I am taking into account that our bodies don’t always play ball so if I have an unexpected gain or maintain that could be attributed to hormones, water retention, exercise etc then I’m not going to count that as a fail. As long as I stick to the plan I’ll get what I’m owed.

In typical fashion a few hours before work last night I started to feel a bit unwell, nothing I can really put a finger on as such, just generally not quite right. Then I noticed I have a hurty lump on the side of my neck which according to Mr Google is probably a swollen lymph node and my body is most likely fighting off an infection. Of course, me being me, I’m going to do nothing and see if it goes away on its own, even though it is pretty painful. According to the internets that’s pretty normal though. We’ll see how it goes!

Little Pea the parrotlet added to my worries by acting strangely just as I had to leave for work. She was flapping about in her cage when she’s usually fast asleep, and I was so worried about her I popped home during my lunchbreak at 2:30am to check she was OK! She was fine, I think she just likes to keep me on my toes. Silly bird. She had two whole weeks to mess with me, but no, she waits until I’m lacing up my work shoes…

As for today it’s been a good ‘un.

I had a nice little delivery of an enamel pin to mark my Snowdon trip. It’s from Auntie Mims’ Etsy shop, and isn’t it cute?

After obtaining a lime this morning (Tesco sent me a lemon by accident. I’m not sure how you can confuse the two personally but there you go) I made three salsas. The recipes are here, and also make sure you check out the rest of the blog because it’s marvellous. I’m going to eat some of them tomorrow because I needed time for the flavours to develop, but I did have a little taste and I’m very impressed so far.

How beautifully summery do they look? I would go into detail about what they are but you can find that out by following the link. As it is I am running desperately late and shouldn’t even be writing this blog. Shut up Hayley!

Thank you for reading, but now I really must be off.

Bye for now!

Super Sunday

Oh it’s been a great day today. I am tired and should be in bed (it’s an early start tomorrow for shopping with my sister) but I kind of need to get this blog out there in order to unwind. I need an empty head before I sleep so what better way than to pour all of my thoughts out onto this page.

I have been so busy today that the only time I’ve thought about food it was either in the context of ‘ooh, I can make a video/blog about that’ or ‘poo, I forgot to eat!’ And that’s the way I like it. Since I came home early from work Saturday night, early in this case meaning I was given a full night’s holiday before the shift even started, I used that time wisely by watching a film (the original Swedish version on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and eating the lunch I had prepared for work. It was all Free/Speed and also lovely. Then I got my customary (during the work week) five hours sleep. Which was enough in this case.

Notable events of the day were as follows:

  • I tried the new flavour of Alpro Go On, which was strawberry and raspberry. It was OK but tasted a wee bit synthetic. Plus it’s 1.5 syns, whereas my favourite blackcurrant flavour is only 1 syn. My nan used to make her own blackcurrant jam so that brings back loads of memories. Not of my nan because I didn’t care much for her, but of slice after slice of jam on toast. Yum!
  • I tried quail eggs for the first (and no doubt last) time. They tasted exactly like chickens eggs. I’m not sure what I was expecting but hey ho, at least they didn’t taste like duck eggs which in my opinion are simply icky.
  • I made THE BEST iced latté. I decided to use 1 litre of unsweetened almond milk as my A choice instead of my usual portion of cheddar cheese. It’s good to mix these things up a bit. Out of the 1 litre carton I had three delicious glasses of Havana Rum flavoured coffee. That’s definitely one for the summer! I used a jar of Little’s flavoured coffee so there’s so much more that can be done with this drink, so many different varieties. I can’t wait to try them ALL!
  • Now for an NSV. I bought the top in the picture to slim into. In March 2016. It took a while but I got there eventually! Plus I’m sticking my middle finger up to people I used to know who said adults shouldn’t wear band t-shirts. What nonsense.
  • Dinner was amazing and I’m finding more and more often that a vegetable is the star of the show in my meals. In this case it was some samphire which I sauteéd in a pan with some garlic. I could have eaten it ten times over, it was utterly delicious.
  • I ended the day on 13.5 syns and I feel fabulous.

The last thing is important so it deserves its own little paragraph. I went to the woods to photograph the bluebells but they haven’t fully flowered yet so despite thinking I was going to be too late, I was actually too early. In addition to that I need to go at sunrise not sunset, because their position on the hill means at sunset they’re in shadow. Or maybe I need to go midday when the sun is directly overhead but filtered out by the trees. I don’t know, I’ll have to experiment! I did get a couple of nice sunset pictures, one of which I definitely like, and the other I’m not sure of. I’ve played around with it and looked at it for too long so I need to step away and look again tomorrow. Here they are anyway:

Hmm. Still not convinced. But either way it was a beautiful evening and I got my steps up to over 18,000. That’s my best day for steps in a few weeks so I’m really happy with that.

Anyway it’s definitely bed time now because in half an hour it’s the start of a brand new week. I hope all of you out there have a fantastic one.

Hayley x

PS I’ll just leave this here…

Change It Up

A comment on a post I made on my group’s Facebook page has really got me thinking. It was something about me having a love affair with sausages – so I looked through my Instagram feed and it’s actually true. I eat some variety of vegetarian sausage nearly every single day! It’s not a problem – some varieties are syn free or very low syn, they cook from frozen and are done in 20 minutes or under. So they’re tasty, convenient, healthy… but it’s important not to get stuck in a rut and to change things up every once in a while.

Yesterday I made salt and chilli chips, like that kind you may or may not have had from a Chinese takeaway. It’s such an easy dinner to make too – just shove some Slimming World chips (or wedges in this case) onto a baking tray, add peppers, onions, salt, chilli and garlic, pop in the oven and cook until done. And since I was in an ‘Extra Easy’ mood, I served them up with three delicious Clarence Court fancy heritage breed eggs. I used to flip my eggs over and cook them on both sides but I have recently found the trick of cooking a Fry Light egg and not having the white all runny on top (and not burning the bottom). All you have to do is put a lid on the frying pan while it’s cooking. I mean, duh, how did I not learn that until now? I frighten myself sometimes…

img_4015Last night at work I went out to my car to eat lunch at 4am and wondered what all the fuss was about when it comes to this storm Doris. It wasn’t even that windy. Then when I went home at 6am I was nearly blown over! I doesn’t help that I don’t have as much fat to weigh me down these days, and once that thought had occurred to me I sent a text to my sister advising her to put rocks in her pockets before leaving the house. She’s so small she may just be blown away entirely. A friend of a friend on Facebook found a canoe in her garden, but so far nothing interesting has turned up in ours. In all seriousness though I hope you have all stayed safe! The internet tells me that it should have died down in my area by the time I have to leave for work, and in the meantime I’ve just been taking a couple of snaps through the window while my parrot shouts at things. We have heard a lot of sirens today and she absolutely hates the noise, plus she seems to hate the noise of the wind too. She has been angrily telling it off the whole day!

230217_1252When the sun did poke through the clouds for bit it lit up the little church on the hill quite nicely. If I was a real photographer I’d be out there taking candid snaps of people trying to stay upright in the wind but for one I’m not confident enough to take pictures of strangers then go up to them to ask if it’s OK to keep the shot (even though there’s no legal requirement to do so I think that’s only fair) and also I’m feeling much too lazy for that today!

230217_1254I haven’t been sitting on my bum completely though. I tried the tofu crustless quiches using egg replacer but didn’t follow the instructions properly so they were a bit, well, slimy. I will try again tomorrow and post a link to the recipe.

I did have success with another recipe though and made some scrummy houmous. It’s hard to go wrong with this one- it’s a can of chickpeas, one roasted red pepper, garlic and lemon juice. But don’t eat it if you need to kiss someone because the garlic is rather pungent!

Then I made the most delicious smoked tofu stir fry using 4 syns for hoi sin sauce. Smoked tofu is one of those things that I find it hard to get hold of but thankfully Ocado came to my rescue! I also used brown rice as I’m trying to be extra healthy and increase my whole grain intake… but in the same breath I’ve saved the rest of my syns for a Cadbury’s Creme Egg. Well, it’s all about balance!


Hayley x

Downtown

This morning I took a walk into town, which I had originally planned to do Sunday. However on Sunday I was completely knackered – so much so that I slept through several alarms and my mum coming in to check that I hadn’t died. I am determined at the moment to do what I need to do to stay on plan (and sane). Sometimes that might be giving myself a kick up the butt and pushing through the tiredness, but it’s important to recognise that sometimes the best thing for you is a 12-hour catch-up. After all you can’t go off plan if you’re unconscious!

I didn’t need 12 hours on this occasion and woke up early feeling refreshed. I was out the door at 10am and ready to face the delights of my local town centre. It’s really not a great place! I took my ‘personal attack alarm’ with me as I walked past the place where a lady was sexually attacked in broad daylight. It’s scarily common to see the police dogs over there hunting through the bushes for god-knows-what. Evidence? Criminals? I don’t know. After passing this point (which is still on a busy main road I might add) I had the choice of going through the park or sticking to the main roads. I went for the latter as the local newspaper recently discouraged people from walking alone around the park area. Someone was mugged just a couple of months ago, again in broad daylight.

As I got closer to town I was suddenly transported down memory lane when I came across this sculpture. It’s actually in the middle of a roundabout that my dad drove around hundreds, probably thousands of times when I was little, and I always wondered if you could get down there. And if so how? That answer came many years ago but I only just remembered the question. It’s weird how these memories suddenly re-emerge without warning.

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Miraculously I made it to town alive where I was relatively safe but had to endure people spitting on the floor and the pervasive stench of Lynx body spray. Despite that, it was an excellent trip! First stop was M&S to try on some extra high-impact sports bras. I tried the biggest size on a couple of months ago and it wasn’t even close, so I thought I’d have another go and see how I’m getting on. I was very pleased to find that I needed the next size down, but I didn’t end up purchasing one in the end. The label claimed it had ‘excellent bounce control’ but I tested it out by jumping up and down a few times and it is a lie. While I was there I took the opportunity to take a changing-room selfie, and I was pleasantly surprised! I was already feeling good wearing my size 20 jeans and Paddington coat, but I had no idea what I currently looked like as I don’t have a full-length mirror. When I got home I compared it to a picture taken in June or July. It was really hot that day but I was wearing what can only be described as a knitted smock- it hid me the most out of all of my clothes.

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Next on the list was Primark. One of my goals is to be able to buy cheap clothes in ‘normal’ shops, so I thought I’d pop in and see what sort of stuff is available. I haven’t been able to buy anything from Primark for years so I was stunned to find three things that actually fit me, including a pair of skinny jeans. I didn’t manage to find much in my size though, so I don’t see this goal as complete just yet.

I had a stroll around a few other shops but nothing caught my interest so I went into Evans to pick up some jeans which I’d ordered online. They do a pretty good selection of jeans for women who are too tall for their own good (in the picture above I’m wearing a standard-length pair as a cropped jean), and I managed to get a pair of 33 inchers in their sale for £15.

Finally I popped into Iceland (someone was stabbed outside of it just last year) for a couple of Slimming World bits. It was quite sunny but still very cold so I thought I’d be safe carrying the frozen bits back on a 30 minute walk. Annoyingly I bought the onion gravy but didn’t realise it had beef stock in it until I got home. I mean, beef stock is obviously tasty but there are very few vegetarian options in Iceland. Couldn’t they just let us have that one? I also bought the sweetcorn chowder and a couple of the potato salads to try. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the potato salad but I thought it was lovely. Some people complained there was too much mint, but I love mint and potatoes together so I was in heaven. I scoffed a packet with salad and a bowl of the ‘Heinz’ tomato soup (Free) for lunch as soon as I got in.

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Speaking of the fake Heinz soup, I heard about it years ago but never tried it as I assumed it couldn’t be as good as people said. I’m distrustful by nature. But when I cooked it for myself I actually said ‘holy sh*t!’ out loud because it really does taste like cream of tomato soup! It’s mental! The only ingredients are two tins of beans, two tins of chopped tomatoes, a tin of carrots (including the water) and a few pickled onions. That’s it!’

Yesterday was clearly a day for cooking as I also made one of the lentil recipes I’d bookmarked earlier in the week – Curried Lentils with Ginger. It’s so rare nowadays that I cook a proper recipe from scratch, but I’m so glad I did. From the beginning the kitchen was filled with the most amazing aromas as I toasted off and ground the herbs in my pestle and mortar. And very conveniently each stage of the recipe allows time to tidy away all of the previous spices and whatnot. I am a very messy cook and it’s good to keep on top of these things.

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It was delicious, and I’m looking forward to having the leftovers for dinner tonight. I used less lentils than the recipe suggested as it seemed like an awful lot, and switched full fat coconut milk for light. The whole lot was 4 syns in total and definitely worth it. I also increased the quantity of the lime pickle as I love the stuff, and decided against skinning the tomatoes. Mostly because I couldn’t be bothered, but it’s also extra fibre. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway…

Hayley x

Sweet Potato Toast

I came across this article about a month ago and I’ve been meaning to try a Slimming World version ever since. Now, they call it toast but it’s not really comparable to the real thing in my opinion. On the plus side after giving it a try I’ve found that it’s firm enough that you can pick it up with your hands so you can eat it like toast.

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The main reason I wanted to try it (except that it looks pretty!) is that I’m trying to use my Syns for healthier treats. I usually get a lot of cravings so I wanted to avoid that this time around. So far it seems to be working as I’ve had pretty consistent energy levels and haven’t felt like the need for chocolate or anything like that in over 6 weeks.

In my version of one of the recipes in the article, instead of using peanut butter I used a tbsp of powdered peanut butter (2.5 Syns) and I used half of a Berry and Seed Shot from Tesco (2 Syns). Oh and I added 1 tsp of honey (1 syn). I did have enough toppings left for another slice, but it didn’t fit on the plate so I left it out of the picture!

Next time I’m going to have an avocado topping. I love avocados and I think it’s well worth the syns, but I never want to spend the Syns on a whole one. For that reason I bought the frozen avocado halves from Tesco, which don’t taste nearly as nice but it’s better than throwing away half of a delicious avocado. Which is obviously sacrilege.

I suppose sweet potato could even be used as a burger bun alternative. I’ll have to give that a try…