Posts tagged menu
I’ve been following the Weight Watchers Pro Points plan for a week now. I have been doing my best to keep within my daily points allowance, keeping those weekly points for extra things like treats and eating out. It worked just about ok – even with a couple of meals out (when I really didn’t watch what I ate!) I didn’t go over the combined total of my daily and weekly Pro Points, in fact I had three left over.
In addition to that I earned 23 Activity Pro Points during the week – it was nice to have time to get out and about for some decent length walks up hills and along the beach.
And I lost 3lb.
I’m pretty happy with that. Actually I’m very happy. I know that the first week of a diet is the easiest – you are motivated, it’s a new challenge, changes in eating habits have more of an effect – but I’ll take 3lb. And that’s including scoffing (in a very ladylike manner) chicken burger and chips at a pub by the sea, and a generous helping of chicken korma, pilau rice, garlic naan and vegetable bhaji. Oh I love eating!
Having said that, and apart from those two meals out, the reason for my success is probably down to having the time and energy to cook properly. I tried three new-to-me recipes from the Weight Watchers cook book I was given when I agreed to be a Blog Ambassador, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I also had time to properly prepare nice lunches full of salad and fruit, and sit and eat them in the comfort of my own living room. My week was relaxed, I was happy, and healthy eating and exercise fitted in nicely to that.
This week will be different. I’m back at work, where I sit a desk in an office where there is always a plethora of sweets and cake to be tempted by. The building I’m in has gained a lovely coffee shop serving Starbucks coffee and locally made cupcakes over the Christmas break. And let’s face it, when I am at work sitting at my desk it’s so very easy to give into temptation and snack, snack, snack. I managed to avoid everything on offer yesterday except a small piece of Thornton’s Special Toffee which I made last ages. Today I haven’t been so good – it’s impossible when there is lemon curd Swiss roll on offer, even the pineapple chunks, apple, grapes and bolognaise leftovers for lunch couldn’t stop me. It was delicious.
This week’s Blogger Ambassador challenge is to start a once-a-week menu planning habit. Last week I mentioned that I had started to do that again, so I am one step ahead this time, and last night I sat down to plan out what we would be eating this week. Being back at work and actually with a very busy week ahead, I’ve not got time to labour over new recipes, butt I have planned week night meals that are pretty ok and should keep me on track. Having said that as I write this there are oven chips cooking for LincsGeek to have with his fish – one or two won’t hurt will they?! Ok I’ve totally planned to have a small number with my meal. Oh and of course going back to work means my time for achieving Activity Pro Points by walking miles and miles is very limited. I could cycle to work. Maybe another time.
I go on holiday on Sunday for a week so I am hereby announcing that I will be suspending my diet so I don’t have to think about (or track) my food intake whilst away. I am skiing so there will be plenty of exercise done, but even so it’s too miserable to be dieting when on holiday. I will stop tracking on Sunday and start again the following weekend, meaning there will two weeks before my next weigh in and therefore my next Weight Watchers post. I don’t intend to go nuts or anything, but I shan’t be replacing chips with salad every day. I assume other people suspend their diets when on holiday? Diets are for pre and post holidays right?!
Until then, though, I will be continuing to track my food and attempt to keep within the numbers of Pro Points. I need to find ways of getting into good habits at work; I have already discovered it’s going to take more than having lots of fruit ready to eat.
It’s 1st January 2013 and so the start of a brand new year. You already know my New Year’s resolution is about being true to myself. Part of that will absolutely be about being more healthy – eating better, exercising more, you know the sort of thing. So the fact that I’m a Weight Watchers Blog Ambassador starting this very day will come in quite handy!
As I mentioned in this post back in December, I have been given a three month subscription to the Weight Watchers website, including the iPhone/iPad app, so I can give the new approach to Pro Points a go. I have input all my details and have started tracking my weight and food. It should be interesting to say the least!!
Part of being a Weight Watchers Blog Ambassador involves weekly challenges that should help keep me motivated, and this week we have been asked to sort out our fridges. As soon as I got the email yesterday I opened my fridge and took a snap of what was inside… not bad I don’t think. There are apples and grapes, vegetables and salad, no sugar drinks, water, semi-skimmed milk, low fat bits and bobs, left over turkey and gammon (now all gone). It’s not exactly full – it is the end of Christmas week after all – but it could have been a lot worse. Phew.
Well, it’s not bad if you ignore the cheese – soft, goats, mature cheddar, Wensleydale; the Double Barrel Lincolnshire Poacher is particularly excellent. Mmmmm I love cheese. It is suggested that I put our cheese in an opaque container and hide them at the back of the fridge, but it’s ok, I can resist the temptation. I’m not the sort of person who will open the fridge and cut herself a lump of cheese just to nibble on. I might have some for lunch but I don’t just snack on it. And anyway, I’m not about to start hiding things – I know out of sight is out of mind and all that, and it certainly does help if you can’t see things – but I want to change my life and my habits not just temporarily forget them. So the cheese stays in the fridge door, I just have to learn to be good!
Apart from checking my fridge I’ve also been through all my food cupboards, chucked away anything that was out of date (which was an awful lot actually, shame on me), and so now I know exactly what I’ve got. I’ve made a shopping list full of healthy bits and bobs like yogurts and jellies and fruit, and worked out how many Pro Points there are in that stash of chocolate I have left over from Christmas… three chunks of Dairy Milk with Oreo is two points, I can work with that. Actually there is some help on the Weight Watchers website if you want to sort out your cupboards and fridge with healthier eating in mind – I’ve not been completely true to the list but it helped.
I’ve also planned my menu for the week. This is something I used to do all the time but laziness got in the way and I haven’t for a while now. I sat and looked through a Weight Watchers recipe book and picked out some things to try. Tonight I used up my slow cooked gammon in a risotto (no cream, no butter, lots of veg, I’ve worked it out as being worth 10 Pro Points per portion, mainly made up of the basmati rice). I am still planning on enjoying my food, especially the curry I shall eat on Saturday night, but I will track everything I eat and hopefully learn how to keep those calories down.
I should say that although I do need to lose a couple of stone to be my “ideal” weight, weight loss is not what this is all about. It’s about feeling good about myself, eating right and hopefully losing a couple of inches from my belly and butt. I have no intention of posting my weight here on my blog, but I will let you know how I’m getting on and post regularly with those challenges.
If you’re planning on sorting out your eating habits as one of your New Year resolutions then good luck!
After my post about my reliance on jars of sauce and being unable to find things to do with the ingredients I had in my cupboard, it seemed quite apt that I was invited to take part in the Campbell’s Capsule Cupboard Challenge.
Campbell’s Condensed Soup have partnered with renowned Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes to develop a “Capsule Cupboard” which, rather like a woman’s capsule wardrobe enables you to create many outfits from a small number of pieces, gives you opportunity to create dozens of meals using just twelve store cupboard ingredients along with a tin of condensed soup.
The essentials are:
Pasta | Rice | Potatoes | Onions | Peppers | Kidney Beans | Sweetcorn | Broccoli | Tuna | Chicken | Sausages | Cheese
Campbell’s sent me a couple of tins of their Low Fat Chicken Condensed Soup with which to create my own recipe. I am sharing it here but it will also appear on the Campbell’s website as my entry into their recipe competition. Let me know what you think!
Splodz’s Yellow and Green Pasta Bake
Taking just half an hour in total, I wanted to create something colourful and full of flavour as well as something very satisfying. This recipe (which I tried a couple of times) made plenty for two good sized portions as a mid-week meal straight from the oven, plus enough for a couple of lunches the following day (which can be eaten hot or cold).
- 150g (three handfuls) of Penne Pasta
- Head of Broccoli
- Bunch of Spring Onion
- Handful of Frozen Sweetcorn
- Yellow Pepper
- Two Chicken Breasts
- Tin of Campbell’s Low Fat Chicken Condensed Soup
- Handful of Mature Cheddar Cheese
Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Cook the pasta in boiling water with a little salt and oil for ten minutes, or until just cooked.
Dice the chicken breast fillets into small bite-sized pieces and fry in a little oil until cooked through.
Break the broccoli into small florets - you want to be left with a bit of bite but you don’t want to be using a knife to eat this dish with. Don’t keep much of the stalk as this doesn’t go soft when baked.
Dice the pepper and chop the spring onion into smallish pieces.
Drain the pasta and place into a bowl along with the cooked chicken and all the prepared vegetables.
Stir in the Campbell’s Low Fat Chicken Condensed Soup until everything is coated. Add around half a soup can of water to give the dish enough liquid, and stir through well.
Pour the soup-covered ingredients into an oven proof dish and cover with grated cheddar – mature cheese works particularly well as it has a bite to it.
Bake in the oven (uncovered) for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
Serve in warm bowls.
The jury (my husband and I!) gave my recipe the thumbs up. Using the soup to create the pasta bake sauce worked really well – it gave a good flavour to the dish, worked well with the vegetables I chose, and made everything creamy. Remember, don’t add any salt to your vegetables or chicken when preparing, there is some in the chicken soup, you don’t need any more.
A quick, easy, filling and colourful evening meal for busy days using foods I almost always have in my kitchen.
Let me know if you try it!
PS – My recipe has been included as one of seven on the Campbell’s website, where you can vote for your favourite. If you like my recipe I’d really appreciate a vote here; it’s the bottom on in the list. (Votes to be cast by 4th January 2013.) Thank you!!
It is finished. I completed my four week Jenny Craig free trial thanks to that blog competition. I will be honest and say I have definitely not been a model dieter. I’ve had days off, eaten starchy vegetables, had the odd slice of cake. But I have still found it very interesting and have learnt a lot about me and food and being healthy.
In the spirit of a proper experiment, this one being in willpower, there has to be results, conclusions, and a long list of things I’d do better if I did this again sometime. So here are some of the things I’ve found over the last 28 days.
- I love potato. It’s one of the things I really craved this month. Weird?! I know. Baked, mashed, chipped – I missed it. There was potato in some of the meals but it just wasn’t the same. I have learnt I don’t need as much though, I should choose smaller potatoes for me.
- I was right – my portion sizes are way too big. I probably eat twice as much at some meal times than I should, and that’s midweek. My appetite is massive because I’m used to eating so much; most of the time I’ve not been hungry doing this diet plan so I obviously don’t need the amount I’ve been consuming.
- I am most hungry when I am cold, low, tired or bored. If one of those things is obvious to me, I eat. Normally I reach for sweets, chocolate, cake, chips or similarly high in fat and sugar foods. I will try to reach for fruit but I can’t see that happening all the time. These are times when I am most vulnerable to overeating.
- I do enjoy my daily yoghurt. I always used to have them and forgot how much I enjoyed them. I have discovered Muller Greek Style Yogurt in coconut and lemon, very very nice and fat free too.
- I’ve also rediscovered fruit flavoured chewing gum. It’s perfect for a sweet fix with barely any calories (about 5 I think, so practically nothing).
- I need breakfast. On days where I’ve not bothered for one reason or another I have missed it. It doesn’t necessarily help me get through to lunch without snacking (that slogan “keeps hunger locked up til lunch” is rubbish!), but it does help with energy levels and helps suppress cravings for sugary foods in the mornings.
- I really enjoyed talking to a stranger about my eating habits. Rebecca, my Jenny Craig consultant, was fabulous. I was very dubious about having someone tell me over the phone what I should and shouldn’t be doing (and telling me off if I didn’t lose any weight), but it wasn’t at all like that. The consultancy part of the Jenny Craig plan is a really helpful element of it, Becca was motivating and knowledgable.
Ultimately, I wanted two things from this trial. One was to learn about portion control, which I have done. I still love my food and enjoy eating, but I will continue to try and keep my portions smaller. I will give the healthy plate idea a go – each meal should consist of half vegetables or salad, I love veg, that should be ok. The other thing I wanted was to lose a bit of weight to give me a bit of a kick start. And I did. Just shy of half a stone in four weeks will do me. And that’s even with all those days off.
It turns out that I do have will power. It’s just that most of the time I tend not to exercise it.
My Splodz Blogz review of the Jenny Craig diet plan? I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it has a lot going for it – the structure, the set menu, nutritious meals ready prepared, the consultancy calls that check up on your progress. But it is very expensive and makes life difficult if you still have to feed other members of your family. It is good as it works, but it is not for everyone. If you’re thinking of starting this programme then you have to really go for it – block out your diary, follow it properly, learn how to prepare loads of amazing vegetables, and make the most of every day (and every pound you are spending). You will absolutely get results, it works as a kick start, but your heart has to be in it.
An interesting experiment. One I don’t really want to repeat. But one that has done me some good.
It’s the end of week two of my Jenny Craig experiment and I am half happy to report that I’ve had a 1lb loss. Not brilliant. But a loss.
Halloween means there is massive temptation to eat sweets in the office as well as at home. I’ve not had as many as I would have done if I wasn’t on Jenny Craig (I do love sweets), but I shouldn’t have had any at all. It’s so hard not to have one of your favourite things, that’s deprivation, which just makes me miserable. So I had a few things here and there, and enjoyed them very much. Oops. I also went out for two meals, and had deserts both times, and haven’t done anywhere near as much exercise as I should have. I also gave into a slice of chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday on Wednesday too. So not great. Sorry!
Following my last post about this diet programme Jenny Craig got in touch about that lasagne. I will spare you a repeat of that photo but you can see it here. Like me, they thought it looked horrible and were keen to investigate what happened – the fact it was a sealed packet worried them too. So they’ve traced the batch number from their records and are looking into it for me; it is likely there was a teeny pin prick that broke the seal, which I wouldn’t have noticed but would have made the meal go mouldy. They also sent me a replacement lasagne to try, which I had that very evening (I ignored the recommendation not to mess the menus around) and enjoyed. Thanks Jenny Craig, I’m impressed with your customer service.
So here goes the third week of four and I really need to make this one count. I’ve been and stocked up on fresh vegetables and fruit again and have sorted out my meals so I know what I’ll be eating when. My diary is clear except lunch with some colleagues on Wednesday (fish finger sandwiches are ok, yes?), and so I hope for good things when it comes to my weigh in next Monday morning.
Last weekend I introduced you to the fact that I’m giving the Jenny Craig diet plan a go over the next few weeks thanks to a competition win. The night before I started the programme I had pretty much already decided that I’d failed, but that I was going to try my best to get a lot from this experience.
Yesterday morning I stepped on the scales in our bathroom not expecting a great deal. While I’d been good during the working week, I let it go somewhat on Saturday and Sunday. The verdict, though, was a 2lb loss. That’ll do. I’m actually not sure if that’s good or not (I’ll check with my consultant when I speak to her next), but I’ll take it.
One of my biggest worries was feeling hungry. In my mind dieting = seriously reducing your calorie intake. And while it is (I’m on the 1200 calorie plan – thats waaaaaay less than I would usual eat!), I have not felt hunger much in the first week. I’ve been ready for my meals, but haven’t been rushing around because I must eat immediately or anything. It’s probably to do with eating breakfast and snacking regularly during the day.
The week wasn’t plain sailing, though. On Tuesday I had an all day event where lunch was provided (and no facilities to eat my own – it’s a bit rude to eat a packed lunch when you are at something like that). So I did my best and was really good the rest of the day. Also, thanks to a birthday tradition in the office, there was a plethora of cakes to feast on – and I actually managed to resist. Just.
One evening I opened my Beef Lasagne (I love lasagne) to find much of it black, fur growing, and a really disgusting smell. Euwwwwwwww!
It was a sealed tray meal and so must have been contaminated when packaged – it really was rank. It sounds silly but it was quite upsetting (note I didn’t actually cry!) – I mean, I was really looking forward to it, I was very ready for my evening meal, and instead I had to settle for the left over lunch I’d not eaten on Tuesday due to that event. Unfortunately I didn’t take a note of the batch number or anything before I got rid of it (believe me, it went straight in the outside bin!), and so Jenny Craig can’t investigate; I hope I don’t find another one of those. Yuk.
I’m enjoying the food itself. Some of it, particularly the lunch time potato pots, looks like mashed up baby food, but once I’ve got over the looks of the meals they are quite tasty. There is lots of flavour, which is good as I do like my food to be interesting. The little snacks are nice too – cereal bars and crisps, they are nice with a cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon. And I have to say I’m liking the breakfasts too; instant porridge made with water was not something I was looking forward to, but it’s nice.
Something else I’m coming across is how much of a faff it is to cook two lots of meals. LincsGeek and I will normally sit and eat together, it’s an important time in the evening after a long day at work. Cooking is normally my responsibility, and I will prepare meals that we both enjoy. This month I am having to cook separate meals – more time, more preparation, more pans. It’s only short term, but I can see how this is going to get weary – it’s also very easy to be tempted with what LincsGeek is eating, although I’ve not stolen any of his dinner yet! I would suggest the Jenny Craig programme is definitely easier if you live on your own.
So here goes week two. I started it by going out for a very early birthday meal – and I thoroughly enjoyed my three course dinner without feeling guilty. Back to it now though, and kind of looking forward to following my menu and making the most of the little pouches of food I’ve been sent. The menu for the week looks a bit strange though – one day I have pasta salad for lunch and then pasta bolognese for dinner; not exactly the varied menu I was expecting. But I will continue to do my best and make the most of my competition win – I’m hoping for at least two more pounds lost next Monday morning.
Please feel free to comment with your tips and suggestions – I’ve got three weeks of this left and need all the help I can get!