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!

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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

When the scales are not kind to you!

So, from 1 January I have been trying to shift a stone in weight, which I had put on last year.

I decided, as well as getting back fully into my healthy eating, I would also do dry January. Anyone who knows me, will know that I love my wine. Especially Slim Wine, and in particular their sparkling wine!

So when I suggested I would do dry January, everyone laughed, and said there was no way I would do it! Now if you know me, you never say things like that to me, because if you do, I will make sure I prove you wrong!

27 days into January, I am still going strong. Even an opened bottle of fizz in my fridge has not bothered me!

I honestly thought that not drinking alcohol would really help me lose that stone quickly! The plan was that I could lose 3.5lbs per week for the 4 weeks of January.

I started again writing what I was eating each day in my journal. I ensured I planned every meal. I have completely stayed on plan every day. I am allowed 15 syns a day with Slimming World, but gave myself a 12 syn allowance each day. Most days I have had less that 3 syns a day!

Everything was in place for a fantastic month.

The first week I lost 3.5lbs Woo hoo. I then went down with the flu. This meant, that I went from planning to go to the gym 4 times a week and doing 17,000 steps a day, to doing only about 1500 steps!

On top of that, my asthma flared up! After a visit to the doctors, I was given steroids! That week I dreaded the scales, but was over the moon to see another 3.5lbs off! Happy days.

After 2 weeks off, I eventually returned to work. I had continued to eat so well, I was sure that now I had increased my walking, I would achieve the 3.5lb again if not more! I was so disappointed when the scales said only 1.5lbs!

I could easily have fallen off the wagon, but I didn’t. I have a goal in my head, and I want it more than anything.

When I started this journey, I measured myself. Today, I revisited those measurements. I may not have seen the scales moving in my favour, but the inches had. I was so pleased to see 1.75 inches off my bum and an inch off my waist.

Sometimes, you also need to look at the non scale victories to see how well you are doing.

I have 6 more days on dry January. I have 3 opportunities to go to the gym before month end!

I may not be at the target I want on 1 February, but I will certainly be closer to it than I was on 1 January.

So what ever you have to lose, whilst it is good to set yourself a goal, don’t give up if you don’t reach it when you planned to!

Our bodies are funny things! Sometimes, they take a bit longer to catch up with us.

I’m going to hit that target, I know I will. Why? Because I want it!

If you believe in yourself, anything is possible!

Watch my personal account of this week! https://youtu.be/UYYyPGo37kM

Week 2 with the flu!

So this week has been a really tough week, due to coming down with the worst flu I think I have ever had!

It’s my own fault in some way, because I had been gloating that I had managed to avoid it. My husband had it really bad before Christmas. Both my parents have had it, and colleagues at work. I was convinced that the flu jab had made me resistant to it!

So on Monday when my throat started feeling scratchy, I thought I may just have a sore throat. I had a headache, but nothing a few paracetamol didn’t cure.

On Tuesday, I felt worse. I’m suffer from asthma and could feel my chest tightening. I thought if I could just have a bit more of my inhaler I would be ok.

By Wednesday morning, that was it! I literally had zero energy, my throat felt like I have eaten a bag of razor blades, and my head felt like it was going to explode!

I reached for the one thing I know always helps! Day and Night Nurse!



These are usually miracle cures! On this occasion, although they helped me feel a little better, I was still struggling. Since Wednesday, all I have done is sleep, lay on the sofa feeling sorry for myself or had something to eat. That is literally all I have had the energy to do.

Even today, 4 days in, I feel absolutely awful. Bless my hubby, I had used my last Day and Night Nurse last night. He went out today on the hunt for a chemist still open after 12.00 noon to get me more (I didn’t wake up until late!)

It would have been so easy for me to have just eaten rubbish this week. With zero energy, I really didn’t have the motivation to cook, however there were 2 drivers in my head!

  1. Eating Healthy would help me recover quicker!
  2. I want to lose 14 lb in January!

Thankfully on Tuesday night, I was still planning to be well enough to go to work the rest of the week. I had put into the slow cooker all the ingredients to make a thick healthy soup. I had made enough to get me though the week! Phew! That slow cooker was my saviour for lunch!

Breakfast was also easy. I really needed stodge. Chocolate Orange Oats cooked in the microwave was quick and easy, and very filling. (Check out my website for the recipe).

In the evenings, because I had already planned what I was going to have in the week, all I had to do was put the food into the oven or pan to cook. Nothing I ate took very long, but it was all home made and healthy.

So what saved me? Planning! If I hadn’t had planned my meals for the week, I could easily have fallen off the wagon. I had my 2 drivers above, but if I had had to put a lot of effort into eating, I am not sure I would have been able to stick to it.

This was last nights dinner! Packed with goodness and very quick and easy to make! It helped that hubby chopped all the vegetables for me too!

Chilli packed with speed food

As with last night it helped having hubby chopping some of the vegetables in the evenings, but breakfast and lunch would have been such a challenge, I could just have eaten rubbish.

I got on the scales today. I haven’t done hardly any activity this week. Not sure you can call walking up and down the stairs activity! I am very happy with what I saw! I have lost almost 6lb in 12 days!

If I can do that with how I have felt this week, there is no excuse for the weeks ahead.

I’m still on target for Dry January! I have been tempted to have a hot toddy a few times, but I am not going to give in on that either! I have a bet with hubby that I intend to win!

So if you are on a weight loss journey, don’t let anything stop you achieving what you want. If you want something badly enough you can still achieve it.

Good luck for the week ahead!

Gammon on a bed of roasted root vegetables and kale, topped with mushrooms and cheese.
Salmon on a bed of saute vegetables and broccoli
Lemon Chicken with cabbage and broccoli

First week in!

So, today is the 6th day of my 2019 Slimming world Journey. As weeks go, it has gone really well.

I decided, as well as healthy eating, I would also embark on Dry January. I think my hubby has finally stopped laughing at that one. I know its only the 6th day, but weekends are when I would usually have my Slimline wine. I’ve really missed it, but I’m determined to go the full 31 days without touching a drop.

I know Slimline wine is low calorie, but it isn’t really about the wine. It is about giving myself a good detox and reducing my total syn intake to maximise my weight loss.

During the week, its easier as I never touched it, but come Friday, I was missing the taste. I don’t think it was about the wine itself, but the habit of it. I decided, to make sure I don’t fail, I would buy some alcohol free wine. I called in at my local Sainsbury’s hoping to buy a couple of bottle of Eisberg sparkling, non alcoholic fizz. I’d had it before and it is really nice. Sadly they didn’t have it, so I opted for a bottle of Eisberg flat white and another one, both non alcoholic. I have to say, neither of them did it for me, and at 3 syns for 250 ml, I didn’t think they were worth it.

What I did pick up also though, was a bottle of Winter Spice Ribena. I know from my Slimming World group that it was supposed to taste like mulled wine. I thought I would give it a go. It is actually gorgeous. The first one I made was too strong, but after that, I’m hooked. As it has been so cold recently, it is perfect. And it is syn free!

I have also been so good with my meals and syns. During the week, I struggled to have more than a couple of syns. Even at the weekend, with my non alcoholic wine, I was well within my syn value.

I’m allowed 5-15 syns on Slimming World, but I have set myself a personal target of a maximum of 12 syns. That way, I should hopefully have a better weight loss!

Below is an idea of some of some of my daily meals:

Breakfast

Omelette with Ham, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Cheese
Overnight Oats
Egg Muffins with Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Peppers
Smoked Salmon, Eggs and Wholemeal Toast
A Slimming World Full English. Wholemeal toast with light cheese spread, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans and eggs

Lunch

Dinners

Sirloin Steak, Potato Wedges & Peas
Chicken Breast cooking in chopped tomatoes and Chorizo, served with mushrooms, tomatoes and potato wedges
Chilli with Rice
Cheesy Pasta Bake

In addition, I also had a beautiful pork medallion, topped with Stilton Cheese from my HEA, served with a selection of vegetables.

I know I probably could have had more speed vegetables, but I hadn’t done my shopping for some of the meals, so it was what was in the fridge!

All the meals were completely on plan.

For snacks, I would have fruit, bananas, satsumas, apples and grapes, Baby Bell Light (you can have 3 as part of your HEA), Muller Light (1 Syn each) or a slice of ham.

I haven’t been tempted to have any sweets, even though they would have been in my syn allowance!

Every day, I have managed to get my 10,000 steps in, if not more, and I have also done 30 minutes of sit-ups, while watching the TV!

I don’t have my official SW weigh in until Wednesday, but according to my scales, I have lost 2.5 lbs already since 1 January, so I am very happy with that.

Tonight, I am still going to have my roast beef dinner. I haven’t had any syns today, so I will have Yorkshire Pudding, but I will make mini ones, with frylight which will only be about 2 syns each! I will make everything else, including my gravy syn free!

I’ll let you know what my SW weigh in is on Wednesday!

Have a good week

Here are the links to a couple of the recipes above

Follow me on YouTube https://youtu.be/0_-AScYkZVg

Dairy- why it’s good for us!

This week Slimming World announced that it was going to be increasing its Healthy Extra A (HEA) portions.

For those not on Slimming World, HEA is a diary product, such as milk or cheese.  Currently, you can only have 1 portion a day.  This will also depend on what you are having, as to how much of it you can have.  For example, you could have 30 g of full fat cheese, or 175 ml of full fat milk each day, but not both.

Under the new changes, we will be able to have 2 portions of HEA per day.

We all know that dairy products are a good source of calcium.  This is particularly important for women and children.

A single glass of milk can contain a third of your recommended intake of calcium each day.

Calcium is needed in young children to help their bones grow strong.  In adults, there are conflicting reports on the benefits.  Human’s are the only adults that drink milk in adulthood.

Dairy products are supposed to help increase your metabolism due to them containing calcium and protein, however there is a warning here!  Most dairy products contain high levels of fat, so if you eat too many full fat dairy products, you could increase your weight.  Aim for fat free or low fat alternatives.

Calcium is needed to build strong bones in childhood and adolescence and helps maintain bone strength in adults, to prevent osteoporosis. Although 50 per cent of the adult skeleton is formed during the teenage years, but its not only children and teenagers who need calcium. We lose it from our bodies every day, so it needs to be replaced on a daily basis. Milk and dairy products are the main sources of calcium in the British diet although later on, I will explain that it isn’t the only way of getting it.

Teeth need calcium too.  Did you know, cheese can be particularly good for teeth when eaten after a meal, as the calcium and protein it contains helps to neutralise acids in the mouth.  My dentist told me to eat it after things like grapes, tomatoes, fizzy drinks etc.  Again, you need to be careful how much you eat as you could add the calories up very quickly!

Dairy products are also said to reduce blood pressure, risk of colon cancer, heart disease and strokes.

I have to admit, I am absolutely rubbish at making sure I eat food rich in calcium.  I had a dairy intolerance many years ago.   It developed after a failed pregnancy.  For 10 years, I suffered terribly if I ate anything with dairy in it!  Thankfully its reversed itself, however it will flare up if I eat it in any volumes.

I no longer can eat things like butter or cream, and struggle with milk.  Cheese and yoghurts are really the only things dairy I now have, and in moderation.

Some people become Lactose intolerant.  This is completely different from dairy free!

The main carbohydrate in dairy is lactose, a milk sugar composed of the two simple sugars, glucose and galactose.

As an infant, your body produced a digestive enzyme called lactase, which broke down lactose from your mother’s milk. However, many people lose the ability to break down lactose in adulthood. This is known as lactose intolerance.  About 75% of the worlds population is reported to suffer from it.  Although that said, it is rare in North America, Europe and Australia, but very common in Africa, Asia and South America.

People who are lactose intolerant have digestive symptoms when they consume dairy products. This includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and related symptoms.

Good Sources of Calcium

You don’t have to drink a pint of milk a day to get your allowance of calcium.  There are so many other food items that will do the job as well.  So how can you get your recommended daily allowance?

  • Milk and milk productsMilk, yoghurt, cheese and buttermilk. One cup of milk, a 200 g tub of yoghurt or 200 ml of calcium-fortified soy milk provides around 300 mg calcium. Calcium-fortified milks can provide larger amounts of calcium in a smaller volume of milk – ranging from 280 mg to 400 mg per 200 ml milk.
  • Leafy green vegetablesBroccoli, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and spinach. One cup of cooked spinach contains 100 mg, although only five per cent of this may be absorbed. This is due to the high concentration of oxalate, a compound in spinach that reduces calcium absorption. By contrast, one cup of cooked broccoli contains about 45 mg of calcium, but the absorption from broccoli is much higher at around 50–60 per cent.
  • Soy and tofuTofu (depending on type) or tempeh and calcium fortified soy drinks
  • FishSardines and salmon (with bones).   Even canned salmon!  Half a cup of  contains 402 mg of calcium
  • Nuts and seedsBrazil nuts (milk chocolate coated ones don’t add to it!), almonds and sesame seed paste (tahini).  Fifteen almonds contain about 40 mg of calcium.
  • Calcium-fortified foods
    This include breakfast cereals (watch out for sugar content though),  fruit juices and bread.  One cup of calcium-fortified breakfast cereal (40 g) contains up to 200 mg of calcium. ½ cup of calcium-fortified orange juice (100 ml) contains up to 80 mg of calcium, and two slices of bread (30 g) provides 200 mg of calcium.

How much calcium you need varies too.  According to the Better Health Channel the following is the RDI:-

Babies 0–6 months approx. 210 mg (if breastfed)

approx. 350 mg (if formula fed)

Babies 7–12 months 270 mg
Children 1–3 years 500 mg
Children 4–8 years 700 mg
Children 9–11 years 1,000 mg
Adolescents 12–18 years (including pregnant and breastfeeding young women) 1,300 mg
Women 19–50 (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) 1,000 mg
Women 51–70 1,300 mg
Men 19–70 1,000 mg
Adults over 70 1,300 mg

As with everything, its all about variety and moderation.

If you eat a well balanced diet you should be absolutely fine!

When the clocks go back!

So this weekend sees the clocks going back!   That means one thing for me!  Shorter days!

It’s not my favourite time of year.  Ok, the sunny autumn days are beautiful.  The red and gold tones of the leaves against a clear blue sky, are a photographers dream.   None of this takes away the fact that I am now going to be leaving home in the dark, and coming home in the dark!

The temperature is dropping, so more layers, hats and gloves are coming out of the wardrobe!

The route I take for my dogs, when I am on my own, now has to change, as I don’t feel comfortable going down the alley in the dark!

The other big thing that changes, is my food!  Those light salads no longer do it for me!  I might get away with them for lunch after the gym, but after a walk in the cold or wet with the dogs, I’m going to be craving hot, stodgy food and snacks.  These are my danger zones for weight loss.

If I plan, I can actually have all my favourite foods without gaining the pounds.  So what do I go for?

Breakfast

Overnight oats are still a firm favourite.  I enjoy them all seasons, as they are filling and tasty.

If I’m looking for something hot, it has to be an omelette, topped with baked beans.  For work, I will do it in a mug the night before and just warm it up in the microwave when I’m in the office.  This is my recipe.

https://slimminginspirations4u.godaddysites.com/recipes-1/f/mugomelette

If you are at home, then you can easily make it in your omelette maker, or in a non stick frying pan.  See how I make mine.

Lunch

Again the omelettes are a great choice, but if you have had them for breakfast, you will want something a little bit different!

Pasta is a very quick and easy dish to make, and you can make a few portions up at a time, and leave in fridge.

For my basic recipe, I will just cook wholemeal pasta, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, chopped peppers, mushrooms and onion.

I will then separate that into separate air tight containers.  Rather than having the exact same every day for 3 or 4 days, I vary what I then add to it.  Some days it will be chopped ham, another boiled eggs, another tuna or mixed beans!  Top off with a bit of grated cheese just before you microwave it and you have a hot, healthy lunch.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a microwave as it is delicious cold too!

Have you ever melted Dairylee Light triangles into pasta with mushrooms?  Delicious and so so quick and easy.  Add a bit of ham for extra protein!

Rice salads can be done just the same.

Don’t forget last nights left overs warmed up too!  Perfect the next day, and I think some meals such as lasagne and curry taste better the next day!

Jacket potatoes with baked beans, chilli or dairylee triangles are a good hearty lunch.  Bake them in over the night before with your evening meal, then reheat the next day!

Dinner

My slow cooker is my absolute best friend during the whole year, but this time of year, it is even more valuable.  You can literally throw anything into it, put it on low before you go to work, and then you walk in to a ready dinner.

Mexican chicken is a real favourite.  You can make it as hot and spicy as you like, or mild for the kids.

Lemon chicken is perfect for week days and weekends.  Imagine walking in after a nice autumn Sunday afternoon walk to the smell of this dish.  Just add potatoes and veg and you have a perfect Sunday dinner!

https://slimminginspirations4u.godaddysites.com/recipes-1/f/lemon-chicken

Don’t forget the family favourite – Lasagne.  This is perfect to bulk cook, divide into containers and freeze.  You can then take it out when you are in a rush.  Its also good to take to work for your lunch!

Keeping it Healthy

It is so easy during the winter months to hit the chips!  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to lose weight, you can still enjoy a trip to the chip shop, but it must be factored in.  Normal fish and chips from the chippie for 220g serving is around 14 syns, 100g is only 6.5 syns.  If you take the batter off, the fish becomes free!  Even if you don’t take the batter off, with 15 syns a day you can still have them!  And don’t forget that mushy peas are free food too!

One of the great things about this time of year, is the increased number of vegetables on offer!  Pumpkin, sprouts, parsnips and many many more root vegetables.  You can make great tasty meals quickly and easily.

If you chop a selection of root vegetables up and place in a slow cooker, with a tin of tomatoes or passata, add a few herbs and spices, you have a great base for soups, casseroles and sauces.

If I have vegetables coming to the end of their life, this is a perfect way to use them up!  Its perfect to freeze too!  I can then defrost it and add any left over cooked meat from the night before, to make a quick and easy meal.

Tinned of mixed beans with tinned tomatoes, chilli powder and less than 5% beef mince, in the slow cooker is quick and easy.  Serve with rice or over jacket potatoes!  Yummy.

Winter can be a really great time to experiment in the kitchen.  Don’t be afraid to play around.  I’m always making up different recipes from left overs, or whatever is in the fridge.

I even do this when friends come to dinner.  This was quick, easy and perfect for a light lunch this time of year or as a starter, as I used it.

For other ideas and recipes, visit my website http://www.slimminginspirations4u.com or my Youtube channel.