And of course it rained!

It’s so typical of the great British weather! It’s absolutely gorgeous all week. Come the weekend and the sun decides to take a break too!

This weekend was no different. All week it was beautiful. Friday I worked at home. Temperatures reached 25 degrees. Did I go outside and enjoy it? No! Why? Well firstly I had work to do, but secondly, I thought I’d have plenty of time in the sun at the weekend.

We had 4 friends coming to stay and had planned outdoor activities!

Firstly breakfast on the patio followed by a lovely walk around Stratford-upon-Avon. It was the river festival. Bands would be playing and a few little stalls selling a variety of goods. As it is held on the banks of the River Avon, it was going to be a lovely few hours relaxing!

Well that was the plan! What wasn’t planned was the rain! Not to be put off we all still ventured out to Stratford, after eating breakfast indoors !!

Dinner was going to be a braai! We had the biggest piece of meat to cook!

Just as we thought the rain was going to stop, it started up again! The Gazebo it was then. Rain was not going to stop 3 South African men from doing what they do best!

As we 3 ladies watched them through the lounge widows sipping our Gin and Tonic, you can’t help but laugh at the body language of the men!

One of them checks the heat of the fire using the hand test! Then another checks it! Wait for it, yep, the third one has to check it too! Just in case one of them got it wrong !

The meat was a big beast and a challenge to cook. The fire to hot, the outside would burn but the inside would be raw. The fire too low and it would never cook. So, as with the 3 bears, it has to be just right!

After a couple of hours it was done. Absolutely gorgeous!

Sadly we had to eat indoors again!

My ice cream cake was probably the only thing that was pleased about the change in weather!

You know, the weather may have not been in our favour but it didn’t matter. We still had fun!

It doesn’t matter how much you plan things in life, something always goes wrong! Take it as an opportunity not a disaster!

Don’t put things on hold. Adapt and have fun!

Here is the video to my weekend:

This week the weather is going to be unpredictable. Don’t let that stop you enjoying life! Embrace it!

Have a good week.

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Feeling hot hot hot !

Wow, what great weather we had this weekend! So who has a Braai? Ok BBQ? Yep it has the be done.

We went the whole hog and had 2! First one Friday night and another last night. You have to love eating outside.

Last nights Braai was all about using the leftovers. It’s amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination.

Saturday temperatures reached over 34 degrees for us! Not that I sat out in it myself! Oh no! We had friends round on the evening so first things first I needed to catch up on the housework! It has to be done especially with 2 malting dogs!

Talking of malting dogs, they do struggle when it’s so warm! Fido thankfully knows how to cool down. He stands in the shower waiting for someone to turn the taps in for him!!

Anyway, back to the friends coming for dinner. As it was going to be such a lovely day I decided the menu needed to reflect that.

Hubby offered to make his prawn soup! It’s light but very tasty. Perfect for a hot summer evening.

For main, I opted for pineapple and salmon kebabs with Jerk seasoning, with home grown new potatoes and a pomegranate and feta salad. As a salad dressing I made a Dijon mustard dressing. So far all free on Slimming World, but still tasty.

Now, this is where it got interesting. For dessert, I decided on an ice cream cake. Well why wouldn’t you!

The cake requires 2 layers of ice cream and a raspberry coulis, topped with a ginger biscuit layer! Sounds fab doesn’t it! And it was apparently (I made a syn free version for me).

The problem I had was the weather! I mean, when it’s over 34 degrees outside, how are you supposed to stop the layers melting while constructing them!

It was a case of moving very quickly and having a hubby on hand to open freezer doors for you!

I published a video of it here!

I had to laugh when I watched it back. I looked quite fresh at the start of it! By the end I was definitely wilting !!

The main thing is the food went down a treat! Note to myself though! Don’t try it again unless it’s about 10 degrees cooler!

I’m not complaining though! I love it when it’s hot hot hot !

Have a good day.

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!

More new products!

In my quest to add variety to our meals, this week I have 2 new companies to try!

The first one in fairness, I did order from a few weeks ago! Compared to the other online shops I’ve done, I found this one to be very slow in comparison. Over 2 weeks for my order to arrive compared to a couple of days! The say though that the best things in life are worth waiting for! So what is the product? Skinny sauces from The Skinny Company!

Since starting with Slimming World I’ve almost given up on sauces, opting for using my syns on other things.

After over 2 years, I felt the need to zing up my food so when I saw these on Facebook, I thought why not give them a try!

I decided to go for a big variety. With summer around the corner we will be having more salads and Braai’s, but also with the good old British weather I’ll be having roasts and baked dishes too.

I opted for honey & mustard, thousand island, bbq, mayonnaise, and a few more! At zero syns it would be rude not to! Check out my video to see the whole haul!

I’ve also bought the chocolate sauce. What amazed me was that for 100g it is equivalent to under 4 cubes of sugar. This compares with other brands like Nutella which are around 57 cubes! That is a staggering saving!

I’m looking forward to getting creative with that product!

Last night I decided to try my first bottle!

At the weekend I also visited a spring fair locally where I bought my second new product! Heck chicken burgers! At 1 syn a burger I had to try them!

Wow the zingy chicken was lovely . With a splash of honey and mustard sauce, it was like going out for a full fat burger.

I’m looking forward to trying the bbq one out tonight now!

It’s amazing how much of a routine we can get into with our food! By just changing a few items in your shopping back, you can reignite your taste buds!

So what’s new in your basket this week?

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!