25 Jan 2011

TLC

I must apologise for the lack of posts lately - turns out living alone makes me a lazy cook! I've been eating my main meals in work as the canteen there is great, and I've been having lunches in the evenings, which haven't been worth sharing. I thought it would also help save money but actually I'm spending more and struggling to resist the Starbucks and cakes also available in work.
So, when I was contacted about the Activia TLC plan I thought it might give me some good meal ideas and get me out of my lazy habits.

You can find out all about the plan here. It's a 14 day plan and before you start you are asked some basic lifestyle questions, is your day spent mostly working, looking after kids, do you eat meat, do you exercise, do you cook etc. Each day you log in there's a 'how do you feel?' and then you are offered fitness and lifestyle tips to suit your mood. The plan gives 3 meal suggestions, 2 snacks and some fitness and lifestyle suggestions each day and allows you to choose whether you want to keep each option or swap for something else. You can also choose to start the plan between 1 and 7 days from when you sign up allowing plenty of time to plan food shopping. I have chosen to start 2 days from now.

For Day 1 my suggestions are:
Banana and raspberry 'thickie' with 2 slices of toast and jam. The thickie is a smoothie made with raspberries, banana, apple juice and Activia pouring yogurt - I haven't tried the pouring yogurt but picked up a carton today with my Activia vouchers, I often have granola for breakfast with yogurt thinned down with a little milk so I'm looking forward to trying this. To be honest I'd probably skip the toast or have it later as a snack if I need it.
Cream cheese and cucumber bagel with a bowl of soup, an apple and 8 unsalted almonds - I'll save the apple and almonds for a snack in the afternoon
Beef noodle stir fry
Healthy Flapjack - this sounds great for a snack, recipe is pretty simple, I'll post when I make them
Activia Snackpot with walnuts and blueberries

That all sounds great and is just the sort of food I like to eat - it does seem like quite a lot, but I have my weight loss head on and this plan is about "feeling better from the inside out".

Because I said I was feeling stressed today I've also been told to have a giggle as a stress reliever! There's also a Piltes video for some exercise and a nutrition tip for the day:

You'll find it much easier to enjoy eating a healthy, balanced diet if you start thinking positively about it. So stop thinking about the foods you should eat fewer of, like crisps and biscuits, and instead focus on those you can eat plenty of such as fruit and veg, and more low-fat dairy products (like yogurt) and wholegrains. Then start using words to describe them that make them sound delicious, for example, a juicy apple, sweet strawberries or a satisfying slice of wholegrain bread.


I think the plan seems good after just a quick look, sensible advice, good food suggestions and a little exercise is encouraged each day (this may differ depending on the options selected at the beginning, I selected that I like to avoid exercise because I really haven't been in the mood for it lately). I don't think I'll stick to the plan religiously as there's so much variety I think it would be quite costly and I'd have a lot of waste so I will repeat and alter some of the suggestions - though having a lot of variety is certainly no bad thing!


I was fortunate enough to receive some Activia vouchers and have purchased the following:


tensely Creamy yogurts in Mango and Raspberry, Vanilla Pouring Yogurt and a large tub of Natural yogurt. I also bought some of the regular Activia Raspberry yogurts. I haven't eaten fruit flavoured yogurts for a long time, I usually prefer plain yogurt with fresh or dried fruits added, but there's are really tasty, I probably wont bother with the regular fruit yogurts again now that I've got the natural yogurt, but I will get some more of the Intensely Creamy, they make a nice wee treat!

11 Jan 2011

Nuts!

I just had to share these! I saw them in Sainsbury's last night - Roasted Pecans and Cashews in Balsamic and Oregano Seasoning. They were to die for! I ate half the pack on my walk back from the shop - I only live round the corner from it! They are by Passion Shed and you can also get Cashews in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt or Honey Roasted Macadamias and Almonds. If you see them I highly recommend giving them a try - though pour yourself a portion, don't just dive right into the bag! I want to try the other flavours but I'm too scared I'll eat the entire bag in one go again!

2 Jan 2011

Duck Wellington

I saw this in a Sainsbury's magazine a while ago and thought it sounded like the perfect meal for my boyfriend and I, but it also looked really complicated, time consuming and difficult to make. So I put if off about a thousand times and finally got round to actually attempting it last night. I was surprised by how easy it was! It was delicious too. The duck was perfectly pink in the middle, the butternut squash was just the right amount of sweetness and so buttery and smooth, and most importantly, the pastry was still crisp!

Appologies for the poor photo, I was in too much of a hurry to serve and eat!

Basically this is a duck breast topped with mashed butternut squash, flavoured with sweet jam, a layer of spinach and all wrapped in puff pastry. Sounds simple enough really, but the instructions took almost a full page in small print so I assumed it would be complicated and fiddly!

The original recipe is to serve 8 with 1 duck breast per serving. I made just 2 portions using 1 giant duck breast. It can be frozen so when I make it again I will make extras to freeze. If you are using 1 duck breast per person the recipe is exactly the same but each duck breast has it's own parcel.

Serves 2
Ingredients:
200g butternut squash, peeled/chopped into small cubes
2 regular or 1 large duck breast
2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
Oil of your choice for frying
10g butter
1/2 tbsp jam - I used lingonberry but recipe suggests damson or plum
100g baby spinach
250g puff pastry
flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
sea salt and black pepper


Method:
Lightly score the duck breast(s) on either side and rub in some sea salt and Chinese 5 spice powder
Heat a little oil and fry the duck on medium-high for around 2 minutes each side
Remove from heat and set aside to cool

Add the butter to a pan, once melted add the butternut squash - use a pan large enough to allow for a single layer of the squash
Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes
Add a little water, just about 25ml - I used 35ml (had a pub measure to hand!) and the squash came out a little too wet
Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the squahs us soft enough to mash and the water has been absorbed
Remove from the heat and stir in the jam
Mash with a fork or potato masher
Season and leave to cool

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
Add spinach then remove right away, drain and place in ice cold water
Squeeze the cooled leaves in your hands to remove excess water

Roll out your pastry to around 3mm thick - one or two rectangles depending on number of duck breasts
Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg
Place a duck breast in the centre of the pastry, top with butternut squash mix then the spinach
Lift over the edges of the pastry to make into a parcel and seal the egdes
Brush all over with the egg

You can freeze the parcels - freeze on non-stick trays wrapped loosely in cling film. When you want to use them de-frost for 2-3 hours at room temperature.

To cook, pre-heat oven to 200C, 180C fan, gas 6
Bake for 20-25 minutes



There is also a sauce but I wasn't too impressed by it and the texture was horrible. Next time I'll be using Delia Smith's Cherry Sauce which is perfect with duck, or ham actually.


  • 75g dried sour cherries (Sainsbury’s)
  • 200ml red wine
  • 250g morello cherry conserve (Waitrose own or Tiptree)
  • fresh watercress, to garnish
Start off by soaking the dried cherries in the red wine for 15 minutes, then combine the conserve with the soaked cherries and red wine in a saucepan, and simmer gently without a lid for 20 minutes. Yes, it really is that simple.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday! I certainly did, I had Christmas, my Birthday and New Year to celebrate!

I have eaten a LOT and I'm just going to quickly share some of the Christmas highlights, Birthday afternoon tea and New Years Day dinner and recipes coming up. Meals didn't quite go as planned as we just weren't a hungry (greedy?) this year as we were in previous years, and we bought far to much cheese, meat and pate for out cheeseboard and have been picking at it almost daily since the 23rd!





















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