The Pioneer Women – My current inspiration!

Do you ever read a magazine or see something on TV that gets your creative juices going? Over the years I have!

In previous years it’s been Jamie’s 15 minute meals, The Hairy Bikers and of course not forgetting, Ready Steady Cook.

My current favourite has to be The Pioneer Women. I’m totally hooked. I’ve even series linked all her episodes.

So who is The Pioneer Women? Ree Drummond! I love her nick name Ree. Her real name is Ann Marie. My own name is Maria but have always been known as Marie to my family. As a kid my nickname was Me Me. My nieces still call me it. Ree is such a great nickname for Marie!

Ree seems to have an amazing life, living on a ranch in Oklahoma in America. She is married to a real cowboy – Ladd – and has 4 children. How romantic does that sound?

Her cooking is every day cooking from dinners to desserts, to things that keep the kids happy!

She always starts the programme with the phrase ‘welcome to my frontier’.

Ree started off blogging about her time on the ranch back in 2006. Her blogs have even won awards.

In 2011 The Food Network awarded her her own Series called what else – The Pioneer Women!

She prepares every day meals from chicken pie, pork ribs, chicken dinner, pork chops to easy desserts and cakes in her lodge. I think she is now up to series 20!

What I love about her is that she showcases her food in such a way that you can easily transfer that to your own kitchen. She doesn’t use fancy gadgets, just everyday pots and pans like we have.

You have to sometimes translate some of the ingredients as we call some things a different name here in the UK.

I love sitting down in the evening and catching up on an episode. Last night she did a beef stroganoff. I haven’t done one for ages. It’s definitely something I’m planning for next week now.

Now when I say she inspires me, that is exactly what she does. I wouldn’t cook her meals exactly to her recipe as she uses ingredients I wouldn’t, because I’m on Slimming World. Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is amazing and my hubby would eat them just as they are. I just need to shift a few pounds as you know, so a tweak would be needed for me.

She uses cream, butter, oil and salt. All things I wouldn’t use. This is where the inspiration comes in! I look at what she makes and try to work out how I can do it for me on Slimming World. Most things can of course be changed. There are some things she makes though that you definately wouldn’t want to mess with, like her chocolate episode! Marshmallows covered in chocolate and cookie pieces! I think my nieces would have a great time making those.

On the whole though, her recipes easily transfer into syn free versions. This is what I love about cooking. Taking great ideas and making them your own.

I’d love to cook alongside Ree and create great meals together that taste good but work for Slimming World too. Obviously that isn’t her cooking style or requirement. I should image with the work they do on the ranch, they soon burn off any calories.

Ree is such a natural presenter. It’s like a friend showing you how they cooked dinner tonight. She is so easy to watch and I’m also loving following her life on the ranch. Watching her children growing up and going off to college!

If you haven’t seen her programme before, go along to The Food Network and check her out! Maybe she will inspire you to get into the kitchen too!

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When it’s not quite how you expected!

So today I’d planned the topic of my blog out! It was supposed to be titled ‘The Sun is out, the sky is blue!’. Well the sun is definitely not out and the sky is a grubby shade of grey!

The weather reports have been promising us a heatwave. Europe is steeped in temperatures in the 40’s. We were not going to get those type of temperatures, but in the 20’s is still good for me!

Yesterday was a horrible day. It did start off around 18 degrees and humid, but oh boy did it rain. I really considered not taking the dogs out, but then that wouldn’t be fair. Being Border Collies they have so much energy. If you don’t exercise them you know about it! Especially Lola who is currently going through the terrible 2’s!

So I popped on a pair of shorts and raincoat. Yes you heard right, shorts. I figured that wet legs would be more comfortable than wet trousers or jeans! And I was right!

By the time we got back the 3 of us were dripping wet. I was able to jump into the hot shower but the dogs had to settle for a rub-a-dub-dub! In normal speak, a towel dry!

The downside to wet dogs is that smell! Eek! Lots of Scentsy wax warmers were needed. I tried opening windows but the rain was just heavy!

Thankfully it finally stopped late afternoon, but not before it had dropped around 50mm of rain! I know that as I bought my hubby a weather station for Christmas. It’s great for keeping a check on what the weather really did in our area.

Working at home yesterday meant I had time to be creative in the kitchen last night. I do love having that extra hour our so. I’ve posted one of my videos from that session here:

Tomorrow I will publish my gorgeous breakfast cakes.

After an amazing dinner it was time to relax, in anticipation of the heatwave today!

I woke up all excited this morning. I dressed in shorts and a fleece!

As I stepped out of the house it dawned on me. Instead of sun it was raining. That was not forecast!

We had a drizzly walk. Quite cool too! I’m not loving this.

It’s nearly July and I can count on 1 hand the sunny days we have had this year! I’m so disappointed.

I’m praying now that this is just a blip! Tomorrow I’m going to be swamped in that heatwave.

Fingers crossed guys!

Be Inspired!

If you are a member of Slimming World you will know there are so many recipe books out there. I think I have most of them.

Every so often, if you buy a 12 week countdown you get one for free!

I must be honest, recently I’ve been a little bit negative about them producing another book. What else could they come up with. I mean, they have the BBQ, Soups, One Pot, Meals for One, meals using 5 ingredients, desserts, the list goes on!

The recent one is called SP Sensations. I received mine as part of a 12 week countdown a few weeks ago!

I took it home expecting it to go into my recipe book cupboard, never to see the light of day!

That evening as I ate dinner I flicked through. Suddenly I found myself leaving markers of things I liked! Oh wow, this book truly was different and amazing.

Suddenly I had an increased urge to be more creative in the kitchen. I got my groceries app out and started my weekly shopping list!

Turkey with Chorizo, Tuna Niscose are my first dishes. Hubby tasted them and was amazed at the flavours!

Another dish was cinnamon prawns! I think I actually got ‘you have excelled yourself’ from hubby on this one!

Even where I haven’t used the recipe exactly, it’s inspired other dishes.

The other night I made the Gong Bao Chicken. The recipe is for 4. As I only needed it for 2 I still made up the oyster sauce mix for 4, so I could use the left over to create a dish last night. Which I have to say was amazing. I will be posting that dish on my YouTube channel on Friday!

Suddenly dinner times are exciting again. I’m no longer tired or bored of having to think of meals every night to cook. I can’t wait to get home and produce something amazing.

When you have only 2 hours every evening to cook, prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day, eat and do everything else that you need to do before going to bed to start the day again the next day, it’s easy to get into a rut. This new book has completely reenergised me!

So if you are able, go get this book. If you can’t, then make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to see my creations, as I share them with you!

It’s time to try something new!

As with most things in life, if you do something long enough you can get into a rut!

I have been on Slimming World now for over 2 years, and food is no exception to that. Don’t get me wrong, just joining Slimming World opened up a whole new array of goods. Who knew about quark before Slimming World? I didn’t. And now I have it every day. I absolutely love it! It is fair to say, I think it has transformed my life. I use it for breakfast, sauces, desserts, dips etc. You name it, I’ve probably used it for something. Its also a free food on the plan. Bonus!

Another new food for me was Grapenuts. Great to add into yoghurts and are a HEB. That was 2 years ago, and I have since kept to the same sort of food groups. Don’t get me wrong, I am very good at making different recipes up, and being creative as my Youtube Channel will show, but as my weight has sort of settled down, I wanted to try and see if I could find other food items out there!

The best place to find new things is certainly by staying to group, but also social media is a good place to look.

The last 2 months, I decided to start pushing myself to try something new every few weeks.

The first one was by complete accident. My mum bought a health bar but didn’t want it, so gave it to me. It had been sitting in my bag for a few weeks! With SW you can have up to 15 syns a day, but I always try to avoid syns. The only time I really allow myself to have them is at the weekend for my @slimlinewine. At 3.5 syns for 125 ml, I can enjoy a good quality wine, and still protect my weight!

I had been looking at this bar in my bag but too nervous to eat it! It was going to be so high in syns wasn’t it! I was hungry one day at work, but was avoiding the biscuits and chocolate. I decided to have a look on the SW App to see the syns of this bar. It was 11 syns! I decided I should go for it. It sounded a lot, but it was in my syns so why not! I’m so glad I did, as it was absolutely delicious. Packed full of nuts, it really filled me up for the rest of the day until dinner!

It got me thinking about what other snacks were out there that would fill me up, but not break the syns bank. 11 syns is very high for me, but surely there must be other foods out there not so high that I could enjoy.

I was looking through Facebook the other day and came across an advert for Missfits. @Missfitsnutrition they sell protein snacks and shakes, which are also suitable for vegans. I decided to have a look on their site. They were formed in 2016 by a group of ladies who felt there wasn’t much out there for ladies looking for protein items.

They were offering a taster pack for £3 from £11.99. I thought this was too good an opportunity not to explore. I looked on the SW App for their syns, but couldn’t find them. I decided to buy them anyway. I could work out the syns when I get them!

Now I have to say, the service from start to finish has been absolutely excellent! When I put my order in, it wouldn’t allow me to put in my discount code (Taste3), so I was charged the full price. When I contacted them, they immediately refunded me the difference!

Their products have no refined sugar and all natural ingredients. Delivery was free and quick. The pack arrived yesterday and I was so excited to see what was in it.

I received:
2x Chocolate Vegan Protein Multitasker (25g), 
2x Vanilla Vegan Protein Multitasker (25g),
2 x Cacao Orange Protein Wonderballs (35g),
2 x Coconut Protein Wonderballs (35g)

I was so excited to try them, but first of all checked out the syn value on the SW Syn Calculator. The shakes were 4 syns whilst the coconut wonderballs 6 and orange 5. I was really impressed.

Obviously it would be rude not to sample both flavours of wonderballs wouldn’t it! Wow, they were both delicious.

The orange flavour is a cross between a truffle and a chocolate orange, while the coconut tastes like one of my favourite childhood sweets, coconut mushrooms! I had to finish the opened bag of coconut ones last night! I was tempted to finish the orange bag too, but decided they are just too good to rush!

I haven’t tried the shakes yet, but I will be very soon. I’m planning to have them after a gym session one day!

They help you overcome your sugar craving without breaking the syn bank. Because they are high in protein, they fill you up longer too!

I was absolutely blown away by this product. If you are in the market for protein or vegan snacks or shakes, you seriously have to visit this website:

All

I’m not vegan, but these are still high on my list of must haves. I’m going to be ordering more. I’m especially interested in trying the salted caramel and cocoa ones.

I’m looking forward to getting home this evening to enjoy my orange wonderballs! I doubt the other 2 packs will be around by the end of next week. I am certainly hiding them from hubby! They are too nice to share!

So guys, for 5-6 syns you could have a really healthy, delicious, nutritious, high protein snack. Why would you use your syns on chocolate when you can have a bag of Missfits?

Give them a go with their taster pack and don’t forget to use the code to buy them for £3. You won’t regret it, I promise!

Enjoy!

Rules of Ready Steady Lets Cook Slim

Well today, I have officially launched my Ready Steady Lets Cook Slim challenge.

Although I am a keen Slimming World member, and I will be looking to make dishes that fit that programme, I also want to be able to open it out to anyone who is looking to eat more healthily.

I’ve done Weight Watchers in the past, but don’t know how the points are done now. I anyone would like to send me anything to help me give them their points equivalent for Weight Watchers please to do so.

I want this challenge to be inclusive of everyone, whether you are vegetarian, vegan, dairy free etc also.

So what are the rules?

Each week, I will be inviting my followers on YouTube and my Blog to put forward virtual bags. Each virtual bag will have a maximum budget. I will pick at random each week 1 bag.

After I have chosen the virtual bag, I will go shopping for those ingredients. I will then create dishes based on those ingredients and store cupboard staples. So what will those store cupboard staples be?

Store Cupboard Staples

  1. Anything from the Spice Rack
  2. Vinegar – all varieties
  3. Salt & Pepper
  4. Stock cubes, bouillon powder or stock pots
  5. Mustard Powder
  6. Soy Sauce
  7. Oyster Sauce
  8. Tomato Puree
  9. Fat Free Dressings
  10. Sweetener
  11. Low Calorie Cooking Spray such as Frylight
  12. Gelatine
  13. Bovril
  14. Marmite
  15. Mint Sauce
  16. Thai Fish Sauce
  17. Tabasco
  18. Vecon
  19. Vegemite
  20. Worcester Sauce

All other ingredients will need to be part of the bag.

The Virtual Bags

  1. Budget Bag – Maximum Value £3.50
  2. Classic Bag – Maximum Value £5.00
  3. Bistro Bag – Maximum Value £7.50
  4. Gourmet Bag – Maximum Value £10.00

What can you put into the virtual bags

You can put anything you like in the bags as long as it can be bought at most supermarkets.

If the value of your items doesn’t reach the maximum value and you want some additional ideas, you can give me the remaining balance as a wild card. This wild card will allow me to spend the remaining budget on any other ingredients I feel may enhance the dish.

You may tell me if you have any special dietary requirements for the dishes. You can also say if you are looking for specific meal time ideas such as dinner, lunch or breakfast or a mixture!

I will cook the dishes and publish them each week on my YouTube channel. I will let you know how they were made, how many they serve and anything else you might need to know to help you replicate it yourself at home!

To ensure I provide you with the best food options possible and have the chance to go shopping, I will be looking for the virtual bags by 5.00 pm on the Tuesday each week.

I’m really looking forward to this challenge and I hope you are too.

So start thinking about your virtual bags and leave a comment on my YouTube video here.

See you next week for the results!!

Ready Steady Lets Cook Slim

Does anyone else remember the TV cooking programme ‘Ready Steady Cook’? I was absolutely obsessed with it. In fact, it would be true to say that this programme turned me into the cook I am today!

The programme was hosted initially by Fern Britton, and then later on by the chef Ainsley Harriott.

The first episode hit our screens in October 1994 and went on for many more years, with the last episode in February 2010. In total, there was a staggering 1859 episodes.

So what was the programme all about? As the name points to, it was about cooking! Two contestants would be paired up with a celebrity chef. One team called ‘Green Pepper, the other ‘Red Tomato’.

The contestants would have brought with them a bag of ingredients to the value of £5. This was called ‘The Classic Bag’. The chef for their team would then have 20 minutes to create a few dishes from the ingredients. They did have store cupboard staples to help them, but it certainly tested the chefs knowledge and skill.

At the end of the 20 minutes, their finished dishes were explained and tasted. The audience then got to vote for the best dishes. Was it green peppers or red tomatoes?

The winner received £100 with a runner up prize of a hamper, which contained many cooking items and ingredients.

In 2000 when Ainsely took over the show, the programme was extended to 40 minutes from 30, and a new section was introduced. At the end of the show, there was a final section called ‘Quickie Bag’. Here the chefs would get another bag of ingredients. They would have a little time to consider them before saying what they would make with them. Ainsley would then say which dish he preferred. The winning chef would have 10 minutes to produce that dish!

Each episode had different chefs. My favourites were obviously Ainsley (before he became the presenter), Gino D’Acampo, Brian Turner, Phil Vickery, Lesley Waters and not forgetting Anthony Worrall Thompson.

Other variations to the bags included:

Budget Bag – This was the same as the first bag above, except the budget was only £3.50!
Bistro Bag – The budget was increased to £7.50.
Gourmet Bag – The budget was a staggering £10! The chefs loved this one!
Doubling Up Bag – Both contestants would bring in identical ingredients. Fern or Ainsley would use a coin or dice with the green pepper or red tomato on it. The winning side got to say what they would do with the ingredients first. The other side which have to quickly change their ideas to do something different if they were thinking on the same lines!
Forfeit Bag – The chefs chose a card at random. The card contained an item from the store cupboard that they were not allowed to use!
Gamble Bag – The chefs were given 3 mystery ingredients. They can swap one of them for another mystery item. They don’t have to swap, but once they have seen the alternative ingredient, they have to swap it!
Lucky Dip – The chef is given a bag containing 10 items. They close their eyes and pick 5 items out. After 10 minutes of cooking, they get to pick another item which they have to incorporate into their dishes.

There was a lot of hype around the show. Everyone wanted an apron with either a red tomato or green pepper on it. Ok, maybe not everyone, but I did! When they launched their magazine, I was there!! I have volumes of the recipes from the show. You would buy the magazine every week or month (I can’t remember how often it was). Within that would be different types of recipes, that you divide and place in the lever arch folders that came with the magazines!

As I said above, this show really did make me into the cook I am today. I used to go to my fridge and pick out a variety of ingredients. I would then create dinner for that day. I continue to do this almost every day now!

Thinking about this programme today, gave me an idea! I know that a lot of people worry that being on Slimming World can be expensive. They also may run out of ideas to make different foods each week that are on plan. So how about I do a slot each week on my YouTube channel – Slimminginspirations4u where subscribers can send me virtual bags each week. Once a week, I will pick at random a virtual bag and create a dish or dishes from it!

To make it more interesting, even though we are potentially 25 years later, I won’t increase the budgets for the bags!

This Sunday, I am going to launch this idea. If you are interested in taking part, or seeing what I create, subscribe to my channel and hit notifications. You will then get to know the bag I have picked and the dish I produce.

So what are you waiting for? Hit Subscribe now!

https://bit.ly/2TgveXk

Ready Steady Slim!

Letter to my scales!

It is with deep regret that I find myself writing this letter!

We have been together for many years now! You have always been a trusted friend. We have seen some highs and lows. You have always been honest with me. You have never hidden the truth from me, regardless of how bad it has been!

You have ensured my clothes on a Wednesday don’t exceed 0.3kg! You have even made sure I have never exceeded my baggage allowance when I went on holiday!

We have fond memories of my puppies when we checked how much they were growing! It was lovely to see them grow week on week.

You have been such a huge part of my life.

It saddens me now that you have suddenly changed towards me! I don’t understand why! There seems to be no explanation!

I’m doing everything I can for you. I’m eating well, I’m going to the gym. I’ve even done dry January ! What more do you want from me!

I really don’t want us to part company but this attitude towards me has to change!

I hope this letter will clear the air between us.

I look forward to seeing the changes in you when I see you again soon!

Your ever hopeful friend

Xx