Tag Archives: tips
Well, so far so good. I havn’t measured the exact amount of calories yesterday and today, but they are around 500. Felt very hungry this morning but knowing you are only being very strict for 2 days makes it easier.
Back onto my usual diet tomorrow but it does make you feel like you don’t want to eat as much on the usual eating days, but time will tell, will weigh myself at the end of the first week, as if I weigh myself tomorrow it wont really be a true reading due to such low calories
Wish me luck!
In the past year I have been shocked by the amount of friends that have been ill, when I say ill one has had a heart attack, one has been diagnosed with diabetes after being hospitalised and one has had viral meningitis. That in itself is nothing shocking but we are all just 40!
My friend that had the heart attack is very slim, exercises and eats an average diet, although she is quite a stressed person. My friend with diabetes is under 9 stone and my friend with viral meningitis is a fitness instructor. After watching a programme on TV last night highlighting the benefits of the ADF Diet (Alternate-Day Fasting) I was keen to know more. The presenter of the programme embarked on the slightly easier version of 5 days eating regular food and 2 days fasting (eating just 400-50 calories) he managed to half the dangerous amounts of fat in his blood and was able to lose over a stone in 5 weeks. After testing his body and blood they were amazed by the results, he had certainly prolonged his life!
Although I am not massively over weight (around 2 stone to lose) but I am keen to lose weight and be healthier for the benefit of my son. I am not medically trained and I suggest before you try anything similar you see a doctor as fasting can be bad for some.
One thing I am a massive fan of is positive thinking, I think the health studies speak for themselves, I am the most positive and stress free person I know, so after shifting the weight I should live to be 140!
I have decided to write this blog to keep a record of my efforts, and if i’m honest I think it will keep me on track! This is how I plan to make this plan work:
Monday Regular Diet Tuesday Regular Diet Wednesday Fasting Diet of 400-500 Calories. Mostly Fruit & Soup Thursday Fasting Diet of 400-500 Calories, Mostly Fruit & Soup Friday Regular Diet Saturday Regular Diet Sunday Regular Diet
The TV programme showed the presenter enjoying burgers on his regular diet days, but I intend on eating as healthy as I can and consume a the average amount of calories for my height and weight
Why these days? The weekend is always a difficult one to be too strict, my son is off from nursery and I might have a social engagement. Tuesday is quite often a girls night with friends (food always involved) So quite simply, I think this gives me the best chance
Every day I will post a blog, starting from tomorrow, your encouragement is much appreciated, feel free to leave any comments. I will let you know what i’m eating and how hard or easy I find the plan
Wish me luck!!!!
Well, we might as well start with the obvious one because, frankly, if you haven’t got one of these then what have you got? Voted, fairly constantly, as the best ever kitchen gadget, it’s the only grater worth having. Once you’ve used one of these you can’t go back. Microplanes make light work of cheese, lemon zest, chocolate, you name it. And you can get a nifty little attachment for ginger and garlic so you don’t take your fingers off while you’re grating. Apparently, it was invented to smooth wood, until a Canadian woman discovered it was great for grating, as it were.
Average Cost: £16.95
Amboine Nutmeg Grinder
Regulars in the kitchen will know that Peugeot doesn’t just make cars, it also makes, for some reason, the best grinders and mills. And for anyone who’s scraped their fingers and knuckles and spent 10 minutes lying on the floor trying to relocate the nutmeg that just bounced off the mini grater, this is for you. A beautifully designed grinder that comes filled with seven nutmegs and will grind as much or as little as you require with a simple turn of the handle. It’s also worth mentioning that it has a similar gadget for dried chillies.
Usual Cost £37
Kycocera Ceramic Knife
A few months ago, I went for a cooking lesson, during the course of which I learnt how to make a lot of fancy things that I will never attempt to reproduce. However, I did pick up one piece of useful knowledge and that is the brilliance of the ceramic knife. It’s incredibly sharp, never blunts, never needs sharpening and makes light work of meat and vegetables. It’s lightweight, harder than any cutting tools except diamonds and stays sharp for ever. The only danger is that you might drop it. Once you’ve tried cutting with this you won’t go back to steel.
Average Cost £44
Remosaka Electric Cooker
A friend of mine was given one of these recently and it’s a brilliant bit of kit. It makes your oven practically redundant and uses hardly any electricity so it’s cheap to run. Invented before the Second World War, it sank into obscurity before two Czechs scraped together all the money they could find to buy the machinery in 1990. Roast chicken, toad-in-the-hole, toasted sandwiches, casseroles and frozen pizza. It will even make cakes and scones. And as it just plugs in, it’s totally portable.
Average Cost £88
Stainless Steel Rotary Grater
My grandmother had one of these and using it is my earliest cooking memory. I have no idea what we were making but just that it was immensely satisfying turning the handle and watching the cheese fall out into the bowl. One of these makes light work of recipes that call for large amounts of grated cheese and I seem to recall she used hers for parsley and some herbs as well. Good for getting small children interested, as it’s a safe gadget with quick results.
Average Cost £5.99
Kitchen Aid Artisan Food Mixer
It was designed 75 years ago and is still one of the best sellers on the market. In addition to that, it’s almost never on sale, which means it doesn’t need to be because people will always pay for it. If you need a mixer, save up and get this one; Good Housekeeping says it’s the best and it does know about that sort of thing. The pleasingly retro design now comes in 15 colours, too, including apple green, black, bronze and plum.
Average Cost £331
I am currently preparing ideas for a friends party. She wanted a garden party with a twist so we put some ideas together and have decided on a Moroccan themed party. All the guests will wear Moroccan style dress and the garden will be decorated in brightly coloured lanterns and tables and the food will too be inspired to compliment the night. If your planning a party this year I can recommend many of these tips and ideas to get you inspired
Think of a menu that most people will like, give it a theme but don’t stick too rigid to the theme or you may put people off attending. Say that the dress code is desired but no essential, some people really feel uncomfortable dressing up and will avoid attending the party
Don’t spend too much money on decoration, the local pound shop will have plenty of items to create that special atmosphere, if you do buy expensive items make sure they can be used again, and not left in the garage for the odd party
Get creative. If you like a cocktail or shot why not make it into a cake or cheesecake. I recently made a boozy Tequila and lime Cheesecake for a party, it went down a storm! But do warm people it contains alcohol before they dive in
Parties can be stressful to organise, maybe, like me you thrive off the challenge and enjoy putting together new ideas to try. If you hate the thought of organising ask everyone to bring something, we all have an item of food we like to prepare. Get everyone to tell you what they are making and form a menu around everyone else, you will still look like a great party organiser without actually doing too much
Enjoy your party! Don’t spend all night in the kitchen warming food, get organised so you can mingle and enjoy the evening.
How are you going to cool drinks? Do you need additional ice? I know a friend that always invites a couple of neighbours, that way she can use their fridge to store extra drinks and make additional ice. Very clever if you ask me
Remember the mess. once all the guest have left you will be left with glasses, plates and probably a very untidy house or garden, enlist people that are prepared to help clean up. The feeling of the big ‘clean up’ is enough t take the shine off the good memories of the night before
Music. Prepare the music ahead of the night and if possible have at least 6 hours of music that will suit most people. I have admittedly got very unusual taste in music and most people would not call it party music, i usually give someone the job of putting together the music for me..No red face when people cringe!
Why not try the Tequila & Lime Cheesecake for your next party?
Lazy Vanilla Cheesecake
This is a cake perfect for Sunday lunch, it takes no time to prepare and there is no cooking. You can decorate the cheesecake with any fresh fruit you fancy but strawberries drizzled with melted dark chocolate always give the wow factor!
You will need a 9” spring form tin, lined
- 4 x 200gram Full Fat Cream Cheese, at room temperature
- 300 gram of icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds only
- 10 x Digestive Biscuits – Crushed into small crumbs
- 125 grams melted butter
- 1 Punnet of Fresh Strawberries, halved
- A few squares of melted dark chocolate
- 4 Shots of Tequila (taste before adding to base, you may wish to add more)
- 2 Limes, zest and juice (again try once added as you may like more)
Melt the butter and pour over the crushed digestives in a large bowl. Mix together until the crumbs are damp and will push into a shape with the back of the spoon. If required add a little more melted butter. Spoon the mixture into the tin and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Place the cream cheese and all the remaining ingredients into a large clean bowl and gently work together, don’t over work or the cream cheese will become too runny. Spoon the cream cheese over the cheesecake base and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. Just before you are ready to serve run a knife round the edge of the cheesecake and release from the tin. Place on a cake stand and decorate with the zest of lime, finely grated
Looking to make something special for the new man in your life?
Its a daunting task trying to think of something to cook for the new man, memories are made of these early experineces, so no pressure!!
The temptation is to make homemade steak and chips, most men adore this, but consider the issues first
- Do you really want him to smell chip fat on your hair?
- Do you know how to cook a steak rare, medium or well done? Many people like their steak done a certain way
- Is it something you have perfected, nothing worse than a stressed cook to turn you off!
- Here I have put together some fool proof ideas that will help you relax and enjoy your evening:
- Make something you can prepare ahead, maybe a morrocan lamb casserole with couscous, or a steak and ale pie with creamy mash potato or if its summer a delicious salad with chicken and potaot salad. These are easy to make and can be prepared in advance so you can get yourself ready and enjoy the evening
- Ask if he dislikes or is allergic to anything in particular. I once spent a full afternoon preparing a seafood pasta only to discover my guest had an allergy to seafood! he spent the night eating bread and cheese, like I say memories are made of these meals
- Make a cake or some homemade cookies for your end of meal coffee, he will be impressed, and it gives the impression you are a real homemaker (even if your not)
- Clean the kitchen. Don’t let the kitchen be a mess when he arrives, clean up and let him know you are organised and in control
- Chill some wine. When he arrives you need to offer a drink, if you know he drinks wine then chill some, if not maybe put a couple of bottles of lager in the fridge, this will win you brownie points
- Don’t get drunk! oops I have heard so many friends share the horror stories of drinking while they prepared dinner, only to be drunk before the guest arrives, not a good look if you want to impress
- Enjoy! Make sure you plan ahead in order to enjoy your evening, after all this is meant to be enjoyable
Here are some recipes that I find easy to make, most can be made the day before and simply warmed through, allowing for some essential pampering. This will make enough for 4 people (always good to have extra) But if you want to make for 2 just halve the ingredients
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds • 3-4 small dried chillies • a small bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped • 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper • extra virgin olive oil • 4 smallish neck fillets of lamb • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch dice • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced • 12 ripe plum tomatoes, each cut into 8 pieces • 1 stick of cinnamon • 2 bay leaves • a handful of dried apricots • 285ml (½ pint) boiling water • 350g/12oz couscous • a little wine vinegar • 1 large bunch of fresh coriander • 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Pound up your cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with the dried chillies, rosemary, ginger and a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Smear half of this marinade over your lamb before you plait it. Rub and massage it in, then put the meat to one side while you mix the rest of the marinade in a bowl with the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic.
Brown your 4 marinaded pieces of meat on both sides in a pan with a little olive oil. Add the sweet potato mixture to the pan and remove the lamb to the empty bowl while you fry your veg for about 4 minutes until the onions are slightly soft. Add your tomatoes, give the pan a shake and place the meat on top. Add 3 wineglasses of water, the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and dried apricots, and braise in the preheated oven (I suggest you do this with the lid off to give it a little colour) for 1 hour 15 minutes. Now pour the boiling water over the couscous and allow it to be absorbed. Then fork the couscous through, season with salt, pepper, a lug of olive oil and a swig of wine vinegar, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for 5 minutes to steam.
Roughly chop the fresh coriander and stir it through the stew just before serving. Divide between 4 plates with the couscous and spoon over a good dollop of natural yoghurt
How about some cookies? You can even make them heart shaped to give the right message
- 500g butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 500g plain flour
Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 12 mins
I hope all goes well with your evening, if all else fails buy in a take away, chill some wine and confess you are a rubbish cook but good fun to be with, i’m sure he will admire your honesty
In the UK we are always optimistic that we will get the required sun to enjoy a full day in the sun, lets hope this weekend is as perfect as it can be
Here we are sharing some tips and ideas for the perfect BBQ menu and to keep the kids and adults happy
The first concern is cost, putting on a BBQ for friends and neighbours can be costly, ask your guests to bring something, even just a salad bowl or some wine will lighten the cost for yourself
Let the kids build their own burgers, set up a table with salad, burger buns, cheese and salsas to allow the kids to construct their own burgers, they will also eat more if they created the food themselves, obviously don’t let children near the BBQ but it will keep them happy for a while thinking of their next masterpiece
Ideas for the BBQ menu:
Homemade Beef Burgers
Homemade Lamb & Mint Burgers
Chicken Skewers with Satay Sauce
Mixed Baby Leaf Salad
Homemade Stuffed Jacket Potatoes
Assorted Homemade Cupcakes
Here are some tips to help the day be a success:
There’s a lot happening this summer, so you should have already sent out plenty of invitations. Print out plenty of our free invitations and send them out well in advance so guests can put the date in their diaries.
Plan some games to keep younger guests amused, but make sure they’re well away from the barbecue area. If space is limited, games like Swingball or Twister are ideal. If the weather’s warm, a small paddling pool should keep them amused
We’ve come up with some delicious recipes to make your barbecue menu special. Supplement the dishes you make yourself with ready-prepared barbecue food –from salsa to salads
WHAT IF IT RAINS?
Ensure one room is cleared out of excess furniture and clutter so you can decamp inside. Consider hiring or buying a gazebo to keep everyone dry, or at least ensure your cook and your barbecue are well covered.
Prep things like potato salad, coleslaw and marinades for meat the night before so you’ll have more time to spend with your guests at the BBQ. Chill the beers and wine in a big bucket or bin and make sure you’ve got enough ice.
DID YOU KNOW………..
- Brits love BBQs! The average number of BBQs held per UK family during the summer has risen from around 2.5 a decade ago to more than nine now.
- Language experts believe the word barbecue originated from barabicu, a word used by the Taino people of the Caribbean, which translates as ‘sacred fire pit’.
- Grilling duties are no longer just for the boys – 51% of men are in charge of the BBQ in their household, followed closely by 49% of women, according to a recent survey conducted for National BBQ Week.
We have been putting together some tips and ideas to help your parties go smoothly
The best bit of advice is to get as many people involved as possible, everyone can be given a task to lighten the load, don’t try to do everything yourself or you won’t enjoy the day
And most of all….. Enjoy!
- Have a back up plan, what if the weather forecast is not good? You need gazebo’s or tents to keep the food and drink dry, fingers crossed you wont need it but keep an eye on the forecast a few days before
- Keep the kids entertained. Although there will be much activity the kids can get easily bored, bouncy castles, clowns, painting and music will help to keep them happy. Maybe put together goodie bags with details of treasure hunts and games that will help
- Storage! As simple as it sounds you need storage for the prepared food, don’t be tempted to leave food out all day, he last thing you need is a street full of food poisoning! Check with neighbours that have large fridges and ask ahead if you can borrow some space. You will also need to store and cool drinks
- Preparation. Although this is a fun day, you can be over whelmed with the amount that needs doing, put together a list of people willing to help make sandwiches, its time consuming to make a hundred sandwiches, and a lonely task on your own
- Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. Make a list of everyone that wants to help and decide who does what
- Enjoy, the whole point of the day is to celebrate and have fun, if you feel stressed you wont have fun
- Make memories. Take lots of pictures and ask those attending if they would like a keepsake, you can produce a memory book for a few pounds online and everyone will have treasured memories of a fantastic day. Get everyone to contribute a few pounds and ask the creative person amongst you to produce a memento
- Promote your day. Make sure everyone is aware of start times and activities, you can print out a poster or simply put the details on facebook or a website and give everyone the information
- Who’s paying? Sometimes we volunteer our services and end up being massively out of pocket. If you are holding a street party work out the estimated costs and ask for contributions, don’t be out of pocket or you will resent everyone attending.
- Suncream, Ice, and Camera’s such simply things that can make the day run smoother. Burnt children, warm drinks and flat batteries can add extra stress
- The clean up team. Don’t forget the end of the day will result in lots of rubbish, empty bottles and furniture to put away. At the end of the day most people will be happy to go home and relax, cleaning up after an entire street party is no mean feat