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

Soup has never been easier!

If you have read my previous post, you will know that this week I have been suffering from the worst flu I have ever had!

Thankfully for me, I had planned my weekly meals.

One of these meals was lunch to take to work! Monday and Tuesday was a rice dish. The next 3 days was soup!

I find most shop bought soups don’t fill me up. I need my soup to be chunky and full of textures, so making my own is the perfect option.

On Tuesday evening, I had a Tesco delivery coming. With it was the key ingredient for my soup! Tesco does an amazing bag of chopped vegetable for soup. It is packed with chopped carrots, swedes, potatoes, onions and parsley. I know you can chop your own up, and it maybe slightly cheaper, but when you work full time, sometimes it’s worth taking a little shortcut.

The bag contains 720g, so makes 3 generous portions.

I pop this into my slow cooker along with a mug of dried red lentils, 1 pint vegetable stock, tin of chopped tomatoes and some ground pepper. I then leave it on low overnight. It is as simple as that!

If you like your soup smoother, just pop it into a blender. If you like it wetter, add more water ! It is really that easy!

Waking up Wednesday feeling as poorly as I did to such an easy tasty soup was heaven.

The plan was to spoon it into 3 microwaveable dishes for the week ahead, to put in my daily lunch boxes . Whilst I was no longer going to work, knowing I had 3 ready made, healthy lunches in my fridge, was a life saver!

This is one of the easiest, tastiest soups you will ever make. It took me seconds to throw it into the slow cooker, but will give me 3 days of lunches!

If that doesn’t get you running for your slow cooker how about the cost? This pot did 3 portions at around 60p a serving! The average chunky soup in a can costs from 75p to over £1!

Still not convinced? Ok! This is one of the easiest, tastiest soups you will ever make. How about it being totally free on Slimming World, compared to 5.5 syns and above for tinned chunky soups!

I read quite a lot that doing Slimming World is expensive. It doesn’t have to be! It also doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen!

Give it a try! Experiment with ingredients! You won’t regret it!

New Year, New Start

So 2018 is almost over! I still can’t believe how quickly this year has gone.

I am now like millions of other people! I’m sitting here planning what changes I am going to make for next year!

First one – lose weight! This year, I have really struggled to maintain my ideal weight. I think a big part was to do with my hubby, family and friends constantly telling me I was too thin! I decided that the odd pound on didn’t matter then! Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there!

Over Christmas, I feel I have just eaten rubbish. I am not having the balanced meals I would normally have. I am actually craving fruit and salad!

So from 1 January, I am back on Slimming World properly. I’m also going to put one of my temptations out of my way! I am going to do Dry January!

My hubby couldn’t stop laughing when I said this! Ok, I fully understand why. I mean, I do like to have a glass or 2 of wine at the weekend, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go without it too! Slimming World have dropped down the syns you can have daily. You can now only have 12 per day, so with Slimline Wine, that is only 3 small glasses. I know I could stick to this, but I want to be able maximise my weight loss by having the minimum of syns possible.

By not drinking, I can save my syns for other things like the odd piece of chocolate or hot chocolate!

I plan to get fitter too! Don’ get me wrong, I’m not unfit. I already do a lot of walking and go to the gym around 4 times a week, but this year, I want to see if I can start running again. If not running (I’m not sure my knees could stand it), power walking!

I’ve also stopped doing my 100 sit-ups a day. I used to have quite a toned stomach. I need to start making sure I do it every night while watching my soaps.

So what else to I plan to do? Well I’m going to keep telling the stories of Lola through my blog – The Adventures of Lola, as well as building on my website and Youtube channel. I’m still a novice on Youtube, but it has been fun doing it and trying to improve.

I’m also going to hit a certain birthday in 2019! I have a list of things I want to achieve during the year. I will share that list with you in a later blog!

The main thing for me is to be happy and healthy! Life is too short to waste it!

Whatever next year has ahead for you, make sure you enjoy it!

Feeling like a beached whale!

Is anyone else feeling like they have eaten and drunk far too much over the last few days?

I laid in bed last night and my stomach felt so heavy. I feel like I’ve eaten a months food in just a couple of days! The scales said the same this morning too!

I’m a bit surprised that I felt like that, as I didn’t think I’d been that bad! I know I have been running around so much prior to Christmas. I even had a few days where I never actually sat down, until bedtime. Surely that must have helped me? Exercise burns calories, right?

Christmas day and Boxing day, I had only a light breakfast, consisting of a roll from my HEB and a ‘free’ filling. So why do I feel like a beached whale?

Well, as today is my weigh in day, It’s a good time to be honest with myself! I might have made some really good choices, but portion control? Who can say honestly, they kept their portion of Christmas Dinner to a minimum? It’s so difficult. When you think about what you serve up, there is no way I had portion control.

I cooked the dinner this year, so I know how everything was cooked. We had roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, pigs in blankets, turkey, gammon, prunes wrapped in bacon, butternut squash, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts with bacon, carrots, parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, bread sauce and of course the cranberry sauce. I missed out the mashed potato and the 2 sauces, but the rest were all on my plate!! Even if I had on a spoonful of each veg, that is a lot of food!

Starter was healthy. A prawn cocktail with freshly made bread! Again, I made the bread so I knew what was in it! Ok, it might be healthy, but i’d already had my HEB for breakfast!

Dessert was a challenge too. Why is it, even though you are really full, you decide you can still manage a small pudding! This year the options were Christmas pudding (which I hate!), my mums homemade trifle and apple pie, chocolate Yule log and custard or cream. I opted for the yule log, but to be good I didn’t have the custard or cream!

Then of course, we had champagne. It’s Christmas after all!

Boxing day, I had a wholemeal roll with turkey and poached egg for breakfast. A good start!

I didn’t start finishing the 2 open bottles of wine in the fridge until the evening, so that was good. I wasn’t bothered about drinking last night, but as the wine was bubbles, it would have ended up being poured down the sink, which was a waste!

I have so much left over food, I decide to make a turkey and ham pie for dinner! I only had a pastry lid, to help keep the calories down! I didn’t have pudding.

I’m finally on the sofa relaxing, before I have to go to bed, as I have an early start tomorrow as I have to get up for work. Ooh look, some Galaxy chocolates. I’ve been good all day, so a couple won’t hurt!

So now I’m lying in bed feeling awful. I can’t even think about food or drink. I feel like a beached whale! I really don’t understand why!

WHO AM I KIDDING!!

I know exactly why I feel this way! Today, I’m back to work. It’s time to start again! Today is another day! I’m going to group tonight. I’m going to make a commitment to myself! I’m going to do this!

I know what I need to do, and I’m going to do it! I don’t need that chocolate! I don’t even really enjoy it! I have a goal, and I’m going to achieve it!

Thinking about those less fortunate!

Last week I got a text from a delivery company to say the wine I’d ordered from Slimline Wine was being delivered ! I was so excited ! As I left work I had a smile on my face.

As I started my walk to the train station, I passed my first homeless person!

I see many homeless everyday on my walk to and from the train station.  It is so sad to see so many of them.  Mostly men, but sometimes women too.

It goes through my mind every time I see them, why are they here?  Some, I know have mental health problems, other have fallen on hard times.  But what is the story for the others.

I’m going home to a lovely warm house, food on the table (well when I cook it there will be), and my latest wine order!  When did these people last have that?

As the temperature drops, I can’t believe they would choose this to a home indoors ? Who would, so why are they here?

I do try to support them as much as I can.  The odd £1 here, a sandwich or cup of tea there.  I do try to avoid giving money, as I know some would use it for drugs or alcohol, but not all.  If I am popping into a shop and I see one of them outside, I will add something extra to my shopping, to give them.

As I pass them each day, I wonder how many of them feel invisible?  How many people have walked past them that day and not even acknowledged them?

On this particular day, I’m rushing home to get my train.  Suddenly, I stop myself in my tracks.  I know, on my journey home, I am going to see some people who won’t have that luxury of a bottle of nice wine tonight.  They probably won’t even have a bed.  I feel very selfish.  I turn around and head to the local Tesco shop by where I work.

Inside I look around.  There are still a good amount of sandwiches available.  I decide to pick out a few packs.

On the way to the station, as I pass a homeless person I offer them a sandwich.  The first ones got a choice.  You can’t imagine the excitement of the first man, when he saw the tuna sandwich.  It made me feel so humble.

As I continued my journey, I passed out sandwiches.  As I reached the station I still had 1 pack left.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Then I saw a pile in a door way which obviously belonged to a homeless person.  I gently placed the last sandwich down on an old sleeping back.  It should be a nice surprise for when they return.

I appreciate that not everyone is able to do what I did.  I certainly couldn’t afford to do it every day.  There are far too many homeless people around to make an impact on my own.  What is important though, is that we do what we can.  It doesn’t have to cost us anything.  A simple hello or smile is free.

We might not realise it, but that simple acknowledgement could mean everything for that person.

I also try and give them items of warm clothing, hats and gloves.  Rather than put in a charity bags, I like to know I’m making a direct difference to someone.

If you are trying to lose weight and have chocolate or biscuits you don’t want, why not pass it on to them?  They would appreciate anything.  Everyone I have spoken to, or helped has been so grateful and polite.

A couple of years ago I got to know a lovely young man and his dog, who were homeless. He never wanted money, but was always so grateful for a cup of tea or something to eat.

He was partially blind. He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have an address !

One day, someone decided to set up a ‘Just Giving’ page for him. The aim was to get enough money together to get him a little place to live. People donated as much as they could afford . Others provided donations such as old plates etc. The smallest of donation all added up.

Very soon he was off the streets and safe!

Unfortunately, not everyone on the street is so lucky .

So the next time you see someone who is homeless, don’t put your head down and ignore them.  Say hello.  Give them a smile.

The small things in life can make a huge difference.

Costa……It certainly does!

I’ve recently had to spend time at my local hospital for various reasons, thankfully none to do with me directly.

I have been amazed and so disappointed in the food options available to visitors!

This is an NHS hospital. We hear so much about how much obesity is costing them, yet their choices for healthy eating are where ?

Now, before I go into my full rant, I have to say, they do have a cafe there. The food on offer may be very good. Unfortunately, I am unable to confirm that as every time I’ve been there, it is closed.

I’m not talking late at night. No! I’ve been there after 3 pm! At this time your food choices are vending machines and Costa!

I avoid vending machines straight off as there is too much temptation. So that leaves Costa.

My heading to the blog says it all! Not only is it very expensive, but it is also not great for the health conscious!

On my last trip, I went to get my dad a sandwich. He had just had a procedure so hadn’t eaten since breakfast!

My dads in his early 70’s and likes what I would call ‘normal’ sandwiches! Not your wraps or panini!

So first of all, I’m battling through what is on the shelf. There are many different types of wraps, sandwiches and rolls etc. All with very different fillings. I eventually find a cheese and ham sandwich. That is the only thing on the whole display that isn’t some creative filling.

Now, come on Costa! £3.95 for a boring ham and cheese sandwich! Really! It didn’t even have any lettuce on it !

This is an NHS hospital. Do they really think that everyone who goes there can afford to spend that on something so basic ?

Of course I bought it for Dad, but I did feel very ripped off!

Then it was time to look for Mum and I! Mum had said she had had some lunch, but for various reasons, I’d not eaten since breakfast. I knew I wouldn’t be home until after 8 pm, so needed something !

I’m very open to most things. The only thing for me is that it has to be healthy . So now I’m checking calories and fat content.

Again, for an NHS location, the healthy options are extremely limited. Well I say limited, but if you are on Slimming World, they don’t exist !

Let me show you what I mean ! Below are some of their low calorie options which they advertise:-

Fruit & Oat Biscuit – 7 Syns
Ginger Biscuit – 8 Syns
Egg Salad Sandwich – 17 Syns
Ham & Egg Sandwich – 19.5 Syns
Salmon Salad Sandwich (with cream cheese) – 18.5 Syns
Roast Chicken Salad Sandwich – 20 Syns

Did that surprise you?

I ended up finding a Mediterranean chicken roll, which was the best of a bad lot. I shared it with Mum to help reduce the syns further !

What happened to salad bowls or pots of fruit? Even protein pots with boiled eggs would have been great!  They do say they offer them on the Slimming World site, but I didn’t find 1 of them in cafe when I was in there.  If they had, I think I would have preferred one of the following options:

Chicken Salad – 6 Syns
Tuna Nicoise Salad – 4.5 Syns
Green Feta & Sun Dried Tomato Salad – 10 Syns
Fruit Salad – Free

If I had gone to another hospital locally, I would have had a choice of Subway, M&S, their cafe, or even a fruit and veg stand !

Why doesn’t the NHS have a policy that there has to be healthy affordable foods on offer to visitors to their hospitals. It doesn’t have you be all salads, but it should give people a choice!

Costa have a captive audience at this hospital, so can also charge what they like ! There isn’t anywhere else in the direct vicinity you could go to. By the time you have bought a drink and sandwich, you won’t get much change out of £10. And that’s a takeaway ! Never mind the extra inches on the waistline!

Whilst that’s ok for some, what about pensioners, or people of low incomes. It’s bad enough paying the large Parking charges. For some a trip to hospital is now  a very expensive experience!

It’s not always possible to pack a picnic before you go, like I did the first trip I took there!

So come on NHS. Think about what is being offered next time you tender for  a franchise!