Slimming World from a sarcastic stressed-out Mummy's point of view!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Recipe - Syn Free Chinese Chicken Curry

There has been a bit of a hoo-haa in the Slimming Community lately. Iceland stock a range of Slimming World meals, meats, sauces and soups and they released a new, chip-shop curry style sauce. Queue people loading their trolleys with tubs and tubs of the stuff, and emptying the freezers literally the minute the stores opened. I wouldn't even be surprised if there was fisticuffs. Us slimmers are a greedy bunch. Anyway, most normal people (I.e. those not willing to loose a tooth in a fight for it) couldn't get any for love nor money, but Slimming World, either being naive or extremely clever, print the recipes for the meals on the boxes with the idea being you buy it once and then make it yourself the next time. So, I got hold of a pic of the recipe from a lovely lady in my group and had a go at making it myself. I adjusted the recipe slightly, added chicken and peas, and while it was runnier than I would have liked, it was good! This recipe easily serves two greedy adults, and let's face it, if we weren't greedy we wouldn't be here, would we...

To make Syn Free Chinese Chicken Curry for two people you will need:

  • one large onion or two small ones
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp chinese five spice
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 3 tbsp fat free natural Greek yogurt
Dice the chicken and brown in a pan. Roughly chop half the onion and blend in a food processor with the garlic and a couple of tablespoons of water until you get a smooth paste. Chop the other half of the onion and add to the chicken with the peas and onion paste. Cook for a few minutes then add the spices. Stir it all together and chuck in the soy, seasoning and water, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Take off the heat for a few minutes before stirring in the yogurt and serve straight away.

I served mine with half rice and half cauliflower rice to get my speed in, and it was really tasty. I'm going to make it again, and try to get it thicker next time so I will update this post if I manage it. But it was tasty as it was, and mixed with the rice and cauliflower the sauce was absorbed. The original recipe suggest sweetener, but I left that out as we're now supposed to syn it, and it really didn't need it at all. You could SP it up by substituting yogurt for quark, and serving with just the cauli rice.

Any ideas for thickening it up? I'm not keen on adding smash as I don't feel like it does anything for the flavour. I could always syn a bit of cornflour I suppose!


Monday, 17 October 2016

Recipe - Syn Free One Pot Chilli Beef Bake

This recipe was a revelation to me. Who doesn't love a one pot recipe, yummy comforting food with only one pan to wash up after? Call me lazy but why use two pots when one will do? And I am seriously crappy at cooking rice, so bunging it all in the pot to cook together is a perfect option for me. If you don't have a pan that will go from hob to oven, get one. It's worth it, think of all the fairy liquid you'll save only washing one pot! This is the one I have, and it's big enough for stews and casseroles, boiling a chicken carcass to make stock and batch cooking huge vats of soup and bolognese for freezing.

To make Syn Free One Pot Chilli Beef Bake for 4 people you will need:

  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 80g reduced fat cheddar (1/2 HEA per portion)
  • frylight
Frylight your pan and brown the mince and onion. Add all of the other ingredients apart from the cheese and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is tender. Don't be tempted to stir too much as the rice will go stodgy but do check the liquid - it should all absorb but if it goes before the rice is cooked add a splash more water from a recently boiled kettle. Sprinkle the cheese on top and pop into the oven at 200/gas mark 6 until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Warning, this was volcanically hot so you might wish to let it cool for a few before serving. It made a huge pot and was really comforting. I mixed some yogurt in to cool it down for the kids, but it really wasn't overly spicy either. It was a bit of an experiment, but sometimes the chuck it all in and see what happens method pays off. Who says being lazy is bad for you?


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Recipe - Syn Free Chicken Supreme

Quark is a funny old thing, really. It's cheese, but not really cheesy. It's spreadable, but you wouldn't really want to spread it on your ryvita like you would with philly. It's not very tasty, to be honest, unless you tart it up wit a bit of garlic or some chilli like I have here. If you don't like it, or can't find it in the shops (most supermarkets now do their own version, even Aldi and Lidl have jumped on the Quark bandwagon) then when it's used to make a sauce like I have here it's perfectly interchangable with fromage frais or natural yogurt, just add it at the end so it doesn't split. If you want to stuff a chicken breast, or mix in some chocolate powder and pretend it's a mousse, only Quark will do. And you can eat it to your hearts content on an SP day, if that's the way you swing. Technically the mustard in this recipe is 1 syn, but since it's split between 4 it's negligible. If you want to be holier-than-thou, use mustard powder instead, which is free.

To make Syn Free Chicken Supreme for 4 people you will need:

  • 2 large or 4 small chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • tsp garlic powder
  • 4 lean bacon medallions, chopped
  • 300g mushrooms, halved
  • 100g Quark
  • 100ml chicken stock (I used half a cube)
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • frylight
In a large frylighted pan, soften your sliced onion with the garlic powder for about 5 minutes, before adding the chicken and bacon. Once the chicken is sealed, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more. In a bowl, mix the quark, stock, mustard, parsley and salt and pepper and whisk with a fork to combine (if using fromage frais or yogurt, leave this out and mix in at the end). Add the sauce mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice (or cauli rice for sadists SP followers) and speed veg of your choice.

I'm not a great lover of creamy sauces, I prefer tomato but, you guessed it, Mr MGAMT disagrees. But the mustard in this adds just enough of an edge for me. And of course, quark is a lot lighter than cream. If you use yogurt or fromage frais and it splits, don't worry, it will look like vomit but it's perfectly edible if you shut your eyes. If you want to make this veggie, I see no reason why quorn wouldn't work, just skip the sealing part and throw the sauce in with the quorn and leave out the bacon. Quark and quorn. Quackers.


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Recipe - Apple Pie Baked Oats

Ah, baked oats. My Non-cake, cakey friend. Really, baked oats are the closest I've come to an edible Slimming World "cake". Let's call a spade a spade because SW cakes are basically just sweet omelettes, aka eggy abominations. I'm not a fan. These baked oats are still oats and egg but seem less horrendous in terms of taste, maybe the texture of the oats adds something, I don't know. If you're a Slimming World purist, you should syn the apple as it's cooked, but Slimming World make it so blimming difficult to work out the syns for cooked fruit. The syn values on the website (as far as I can tell) are for the fruit once it's been cooked, so 100g or cooked eating apple is 2 1/2 syns. But for this recipe I used I small eating apple raw, then baked it with my oat mixture. So how the eff am I meant to work out the syns for that? It was definitely less than 100g, probably about 70g raw by the time I'd peeled and cored it, but then how much would that weigh once cooked? More, less, the same? Whoooo knows, who cares? If you're a Slimming World saddo purist, allow a couple of syns. If you, like me, couldn't give a rat's backside, enjoy your cooked apple!

To make one portion of Apple Pie Baked Oats you will need:

  • 35g oats (HEB)
  • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • cinnamon
  • 1 toffee mullerlight, or 125g fat free yogurt of your choice
  • 1 egg
  • sweetener to taste
Put your apple chunks into the bottom of a small oven proof dish and sprinkle with some cinnamon (just a sprinkle will do, or it's like eating christmassy sawdust). In a bowl mix the oats, egg, sweetener (about a tablespoon), a pinch more cinnamon and 90g of the yogurt. Pour on top of your apples and bake at 200/gas 6 for around 20-30 minutes, until golden on top. Serve with the rest of your yog and pretend you're eating cake.

I weighed in this morning, and over the last two weeks (with a very wobbly week thanks to illness and birthdays, and my new strategy of eating more for lunch) I lost 4lbs. Pretty pleased with that, hoping for 2 next week for my next award and shiny sticker to go on my book. I'd prefer an all you can eat chinese buffet as a reward but hey ho. It's the little things.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Recipe - King Prawn Carbonara

You know the saying, if it swims it slims (just don't tell Mr MGAMT or he'll get ideas) so I like to have fish a couple of times a week. Prawns are a great source of protein, very low fat and so handy to have in the freezer, and I was planning to have these with a ratatouille type sauce and pasta, until I dropped the passata and the carton exploded all over me, the kitchen and the baby. That was fun to clean up. So I had to think quick and came up with this instead, creamy yummy spaghetti and prawns all for 1 syn per serving.

 To make King Prawn Carbonara for 2 people you will need:

  • 200g raw king prawns, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 big clove garlic, crushed
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp fat free fromage frais or quark
  • black pepper
Cook the spaghetti for 10 minutes in boiling salted water. When the pasta's about halfway done, fry the prawns with the garlic until they're pink. Mix together the eggs, fromage frais or quark and parmesan until smooth and season with plenty of pepper. Drain the spaghetti, reserving a little of the cooking water and return to the pan but make sure the heat is off. Add the prawns to the spaghetti and then the egg mixture, stirring until cooked. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg and you'll be left with a smooth silky sauce - don't be tempted to turn the heat back on or you'll get scrambled egg. If you like the sauce a little looser add a splash of the pasta water. Serve with extra parmesan to sprinkle on top - 1 syn per 1/2 tablespoon.

Although I'm still finding orange splashes of passata in unusual places, I'm calling it a fortuitous accident because discovering this sauce works with prawns has been a revelation. You could also add peppers, courgette, onion or mushrooms when cooking the prawns to get your speed food in. I was too fed up by then thanks to the explosion!


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Recipe - Tandoori Chicken Kebabs with red onion pickle and yogurt mint sauce

I'm going to say this straight up and get it out of the way - this recipe contains a little cheat. I say that, it might not, but I'm not sure of the reasoning behind why pitta bread is not allowed as a Healthy B choice. If it's just because pittas are generally too big to be counted as a HEB, then as long as you syn the extra (as I did), it's fine. If it's because wholemeal pittas don't contain enough fibre, then you probably shouldn't do it, at least not too regularly. So, Slimming World Purists look away now, and please don't call the tweak police on me...

So, I have to say this dinner was bloody lovely. I'm not really one for a fakeaway as such, but I really enjoyed this, and even Mr MGAMT only said one negative thing about it, which makes a change. It uses your Healthy B choice, although technically it doesn't. Let me explain. I used a large wholemeal pitta to stuff my meat into, which isn't counted as a HEB. BUT my Slimming World bible says you can have 60g of any bread as your Healthy Extra B, which equates to 6 syns. So, as my Tesco Large Wholemeal Pitta comes in at 9 syns, I took off 6 and had a Tandoori kebab for 3 syns and a Healthy B. I hope that makes sense. If you want to make it simpler, use a B-Free wrap, Kingsmill sandwich thin or normal bread instead of the pitta, or save your HEB and just have chicken and salad, and maybe some Slimming World chips or summat. It's still just as good.

To make Tandoori Chicken Kebabs for two people you will need:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thigh filets
  • 4 tbsp fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tandoori masala powder
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • zest and juice of one lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 2 wholemeal pittas (check syns and take off 6 to use as your Healthy B)
  • iceberg lettuce
  • cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • salt
For the yogurt mint sauce
  • 2 tbsp fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp syn free mint sauce (I used Colemans Garden Mint Sauce, check syns on others)
  • salt
In a bowl mix the yogurt, tandoori masala, garlic, lemon zest and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Remove all visible fat from the chicken and add to the bowl with the spice mix, and marinade for as long as you can. I left it for the afternoon, but half an hour is good if that's all you've got. Preheat your grill as igh as it will go, and lay the chicken out as flat as it will go. grill on high for 5-7 minutes each side - don't be scared to let the edges catch a little and go all charred and yummy. Meanwhile, slice your onion as thinly as you can (use a mandolin if you have one - carefully!) and put in a bowl with the rest of the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. This will create a sort of pickle and it absolutely delicious! Shred the lettuce and thinly slice the cucumber. Mix the ingredients for the yogurt mint sauce in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Pop your pittas in the toaster for a minute or two, before slicing open and stuffing with salad, and the chunked up chicken once it's cooked. Serve with the yogurt sauce and lemon wedges. You could even wrap it all in a plastic bag for a few minutes before serving, if you like that sweaty kebab shop authenticity!

Seriously, so so good. I don't actually like the chicken kebabs from my local late night kebab empire, give me a dirty donner any day, but this I could eat over and over again. It will definitely be a regular in my meal plans. In fact, if I don't post anything for a while it's just because I'm eating this over and over again.

Slimming World Purists, you can syn the whole thing if you don't want to "cheat" with your HEB. But surely a little cheat is better than reaching for takeaway menu...


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Recipe - Syn Free Bacon, Onion and Potato Hash

I have been making an effort this week to eat more at lunchtime in a vague attempt to stave off the 4pm munchies. Lunch is difficult for me because I often don't eat breakfast until around 10am after school run and general headless chickening in the morning, and the baby has her breakfast at around noon so I'm not always terribly hungry by then. So I have something light (generally avoiding the potato/rice/pasta free foods) and then once I've picked the boys up from school I'm starving. This is when the picking starts. I'll start off with an apple, which is fine. But that's not enough so I'll grab one of the boiled eggs in the fridge, then half a pack of crab sticks, then syn a couple of ryvita with some cottage cheese, then have a mugshot and the other half of the crab sticks before diving headfirst into the biscuit tin. You get the picture. Anyway, this week I've been having a bigger lunch and it's not been quite so bad. This was one of the things I came up with and it was lovely and filling, and I didn't feel like I was looking for something else to have straight after.

To make Bacon, Onion and Potato Hash for one person you will need:

  • 1 baking potato
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 rashers lean bacon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • frylight
  • speed veg of your choice, to serve
Cube your potato into rough 1-2cm cubes (no need to peel). Pop them on a plate and microwave for about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, slice your onion and chop the bacon. Spray a frying pan with frylight and get it nice and hot. Chuck the potato in, season well and stir fry until they start to brown. Add the onion and then the bacon and continue to stir fry until cooked. You may need to add more frylight if things start sticking. Just before the hash is done, cook an egg to your liking (poached or fried with a runny yolk is my favourite), and serve the hash with your speed veg and the egg on top.

This was a great quick lunch, hot and filling and the baby had some too (without the salt) so it meant I didn't have to make two different meals. I might add peppers and mushrooms next time too. You could use chicken instead of bacon, or find a low syn sausage that doesn't taste like cardboard and disappointment. Hopefully my strategy of eating a bigger lunch will pa off at the scales next week, we shall see!

What are your lunchtime favourites?


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Recipe - Fajita Chicken Lettuce Wraps, with home made low syn fajita spice mix

Well hi there, it's been a while. I am so sick. Like, almost dead. I even skipped weigh in today so I didn't infect the whole of my group with the lurgy. It's not even the good kind of lurgy where you go off your food, all I want is creamy soup and bread and cheese and chocolate and bad stuff. Urgh. Kids and their germs, why can't they keep it to themselves? The baby had it last week and has been using me as a human hanky so it was inevitable that I would come down with it sooner or later. URGH! Don't have kids. Oh how I wish that had been my mantra 10 years ago...the eldest turned 9 yesterday so now I'm ill and old. How did that happen? How am I old enough to have a 9 year old kid? Not possible. It's going to be even worse when he's 10 next year...

Anyway, did you know that the average tortilla wrap is 9 syns? For ONE measly wrap! There are some gluten free ones you can have as a Healthy B choice, but you only get one (or two on an SP day) and they're not the same. When I made this meal Mr MGAMT had his wraps and I can honestly say I didn't miss them one bit. Using big iceberg lettuce leaves gives you crunch and flavour, and they were no less filling than using a flour tortilla would have been. I was utterly stuffed after three wraps and completely satisfied. Seriously, I am not twisting your melons here, I tell it how it is and these were good. Messy to eat but good. I even made my own fajita mix as a packet of that is usually about 4 syns, but this one contains just 1 for the spoon of sugar. 3 juicy, tasty, crunchy chicken fajitas, packed with LOADS of speed food, for just half a syn? I'll take it.

To make Fajita Chicken Lettuce Wraps for two people you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • half each of a red, yellow/orange and green pepper, sliced
  • 6 iceberg lettuce leaves (or use little gem and eat them more like the tortilla boats you can get)
  • 1/2 tub quark
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • frylight
For the fajita mix:

  • 2 tsps chilli powder (I used hot, which was a little too hot for me, so adjust to taste. I will either use mild or use less next time!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
Frylight a wok and stir fry your chicken until browned and then add the veg. Cook for a minute or two before combining all the seasoning ingredients and adding to the pan. Continue to stir fry until the chicken is cooked. In a bowl mix the quark and lemon juice to make a sour cream. Serve with the lettuce leaves and quark and plenty of napkins because it's a juicy one!

When I told Mr MGAMT that I was making my own Slimming World fajita mix he pulled a face, like he does whenever I do a Slimming World "version" of something, but he said if anything it was better than the usual packet I use. You could even make more and save it for next time, if you're that way inclined. I really think the sugar makes a difference here, and sweetener wouldn't do in this instance. Feel free to try it and let me know though, but really it's only half a syn per portion and that's what your syns are there for! Well, there's wine of course, but you don't get much of that for half a syn...

Let me know if you try this, I promise it was delicious!


Friday, 23 September 2016

Recipe- Syn Free Beef Kheema and Bombay Veg

This recipe is adapted from a Slimming World recipe book. I'm a sucker for a recipe book, I have to admit, although this time around I've managed to avoid temptation. The problem with Slimming World recipes I find is that if you made each thing to the letter you'll end up spending a fortune. Everything seems to need the most expensive cut of meat and lots of it. When using mince you need to choose one that has 5% fat or less for it to be syn free, which of course is so much more expensive than normal mince. You'd think that since they were taking something out it would cost less, surely? Ok, I know that's not how it works, but it's a nice thought. Maybe we wouldn't be such a nation of fatties if it were true. Anyway, I like to try and keep costs down by bulking it out with veg and adding flavour with spice. I would have never thought of using mince in a curry before, but this has become a family favourite.

To make Syn Free Beef Kheema and Bombay Veg for four you will need:

  • 500g lean mince (5% fat or less)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 300ml hot beef or veg stock
  • 300g frozen peas or finely chopped carrots
  • half a white cabbage
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • frylight
Spray a large pan with frylight and cook your mince until browned. Add the sliced onion and cook for a few more minutes before adding the curry powder, tomatoes, garlic and stock. Stir in the peas or carrots and simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the shredded cabbage and broccoli florets in boiling water for about 5 minutes and then drain well. Spray another pan and add the mustard seeds, chilli powder and turmeric, and toast for a minute. Add the drained veg and stir to coat in the spices. Cook for a few more minutes and serve with the kheema mince.

I adapted this to fit with SP, but you could serve with rice or even add boiled potato to the cabbage and broccoli if you're not an SP fan. Adjust the spices to your taste too (this is not hot at all), just don't add too much turmeric or it will taste like a commuters armpit after an hour's journey on the Northern Line in August. I once did this to couscous and was not impressed. Mix up the veg too, cauliflower, spinach or mushrooms would all work well.

Will this make it onto your next curry night menu?


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Recipe- Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

Who doesn't love a sausage? Well, I have to admit, the sausages I used for this recipe left something to be desired, unless you happen to like sausages that taste like cat litter. They sat languishing in my freezer and so I decided to use them up by putting them in a casserole to try and make them a little bit less cardboard-esque and then vow never to buy them again. You can use whatever sausages you like for this, just check the syns. The Slimming World sausages from Iceland aren't too awful, and would work well in this, and they're syn-free. The ones I used were Asda reduced fat sausages, at half a syn for 2, and trust me, they're not worth it. Add plenty of flavour in a stew, just don't put them in your fry up.

To make Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole for four you will need:

  • 8 sausages (remember to check the syns)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin baked beans
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper
Brown your sausages under the grill. If you don't do this they end up looking like flaccid willies and are very unappealing. Chop your onion and mushrooms while they're browning. Once they're brown all over throw everything into your slow cooker, crumbling the stock cube, with a shake of Worcester sauce and salt and pepper, and cook on low for around 6 hours (or do it in the oven in a casserole dish at around gas 4/180 for an hour and a half). Serve with some green veg like broccoli, cabbage or kale.

Flavourless sausages, saved. My search for a decent banger continues...


Monday, 19 September 2016

Recipe- Slimming World Classic Overnight Oats

In my world, a Healthy A choice is meant for cheese. If you think differently, you're wrong. On the odd occasion where I've had milk for my HEA I've regretted it instantly and been grumpy for the whole of my cheeseless day. But that means I'm limited for breakfast choices as cereal with water does not float my boat. Usually that's ok with me, as I'm not a huge cereal fan but sometimes a bowl of porridge is just what I want after the school run, and that's where overnight oats come in. It uses your Healthy B in the form of porridge oats, yogurt and fruit and it's so easy to make.

To make Slimming World Classic Overnight Oats for one person you will need:

  • 35g porridge oats (HEB)
  • syn-free yogurt of your choice (I used an Aldi greek style vanilla and coconut)
  • fruit - berries (fresh or frozen), banana, apple, pear, peach - whatever you have/like just make sure some of it is speed
  • depending on your yogurt you may also want sweetener and a splash of water
Mix the oats and yogurt (add sweetener if it's too sharp, and a splash of water if you think it's too thick). In a suitable receptacle (doesn't have to be fancy, a clean jam jar does the job just as well) layer your fruit and yogurty oats until you've used them all up - I did a layer of blueberries, yogurt/oats, layer of raspberries, yogurt/oats, layer of strawberries, yogurt/oats topped with a layer of banana. Pop a lid on and leave in the fridge overnight (or for an hour or so, at least. I sometimes make it up before I take the kids to school so it's ready when I get back) and enjoy a convenient breakfast in the morning.

You might want to experiment a little with this - some people like to mix their layers before refrigerating so the juices from the fruit soften the oats a bit more, but I like a bit of texture in it. Also, different fruit with give you different levels of moistness (mmm, moist), especially frozen fruits, so see what works for you. If you're leaving it overnight and using frozen fruits, there's no need to defrost them first as they will do their thing in the jar. If breakfast is something you struggle with, give it a go!


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Recipe- Syn Free Cheesy Bolognese and Potato Bake

I quite often have leftover bolognese, which usually gets whacked in the freezer until it's so freezer burned that it's unidentifiable, and then chucked away when I need the space. Well this week, my friends, I took control of that bolognese and created this cheesy masterpiece! It uses your HEA of cheese, and the rest is syn free on an ordinary EE day. If you're punishing yourself on SP you could swap your potatoes for cauliflower, butternut squash or any other firm speed veg that you can roast.

To make Syn Free Cheesy Bolognese and Potato Bake for two people you will need:

  • two portions of leftover bolognese - use your favourite recipe or try my turkey bolognese
  • 40g reduced fat cheddar (1xHEA)
  • 50g mozzarella (1xHEA)
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • Frylight
  • Salt and pepper
Dice your potatoes nice and small, stick them on a frylighted baking tray, season, spray with more frylight and bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so, turning once. When the potatoes are nearly done re-heat the bolognese either on the hob or in the microwave until it's nice and hot. Tip the potatoes into a roasting dish and top with the bolognese and cheese, and bake for 10 minutes until melted and bubbly. Dish it up and get stuck in!

You may notice there's no speed food on my plate here, and that's because I got my salad out of the fridge to find it had turned to mush. There were plenty of veg in the bolognese, and I had snacked on fruit all day, so I wont beat myself up over it. Slimming World do say to make up a third of your plate with speed food where possible, and this time it just wasn't possible. Slap my wrist and move on!

What are your favourite ways to use up leftovers? Or do you leave it languishing in the fridge like me?


Friday, 16 September 2016

Recipe- Syn Free Slow Cooker Chicken Chasseur

It's those skinless, boneless (fnar) chicken thighs again. This week I made them into a chicken chasseur in my slow cooker for 2 reasons: 1 - it was literally pissing it down, I got soaked on the school run twice and I wanted comfort food and 2 - Mr MGAMT isn't keen on anything that comes out of the slow cooker and he was being mean to me so I wanted to piss him off. Never annoy the person who cooks your food. Anyway, my mum used to make this a lot (with a packet mix, for shame) but I wanted to create a syn-free version and I think I got quite close. I served with a little rice and a lot of broccoli - speed food a-plenty.

To make Syn Free Slow Cooker Chicken Chasseur for 4 people you will need:

  • 500g pack skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 200g mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
Chop your onion, mince your garlic, slice your carrots and quarter your mushrooms. Throw everything into a slow cooker (or oven dish if you don't have one) and season to taste. Cook on low for 8 hours (or in a low oven for 2 hours). That's it, done! 

This recipe would be good to make one of those "dump bags" with if you're an annoyingly organised person - just throw everything into a freezer bag, freeze, and then just defrost and "dump" into the slow cooker when you want it. A word on slow cookers - if you don't have one, you need one! They are so handy for soups, stews, chilli, ratatouille, curry, and great for using up what's in the bottom of the fridge. I have a Morphy Richards Sear and Stew with a metal pot which means you can brown your meat in the pot then stick the whole lot straight into the slow cooker - less washing up! Genius, and it's lighter than a ceramic pot so it doesn't make my bingo wings flap. The chicken is so tender cooking it this way, it will just fall apart - so even if you don't use the boneless thighs the meat falls off the bone anyway. 

Although it's been positively roasting here this week (34 degrees in mid-September!) it's time to face up to the fact that Autumn is coming, and so it'll be less salad, more stodge as the hunter-gatherer instinct make us want to lay down our winter fat stores, you can look forward to more SW stews and casseroles you lucky lucky buggers!

Ohh and if you're of the Pinterest persuasion, you can now pin me to your heart's content! 


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Slimming World Classic - Crustless Quiche

When I did Slimming World for the first time around 7 years ago, in between offspring numbers one and two, this was a favourite recipe of mine. It's so versatile, easy to make and handy to have in the fridge that it still appears on my plate virtually weekly. You can chuck any old gumpf in it, make individual ones, add your HEA of cheese on top, throw it all in the oven  and 30-40 minutes later have something that doesn't even slightly resemble a quiche, but is pretty tasty anyway. Today I made pea, ham and tomato, which is SP friendly too, and enjoyed it with a big salad for lunch. The rest will go in the fridge for those moments when I need something a bit more substantial than another bloody apple to snack on. They're good cold too, so packed lunches, taster night and picnics are go.

To make Pea, Ham and Tomato Crustless Quiche for four you will need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 150g fat free cottage cheese
  • 5 slices wafer thin lean ham
  • 2 tomatoes
  • half a cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
Beat the eggs with the cottage cheese and season well. Chop the ham and tomatoes and add to the egg mix with the peas, and stir to combine. Slop it all into a flan dish (I use a silicon one so it slides out easily) and bake at 200/gas 6 for 30-40 minutes until set. Don't leave it too long, it goes a bit rubbery if overcooked. Serve with a big salad for a perfect SP lunch, or add some Slimming World chips if you're not into the SP life. SP Army represent! OK, I'm having a few SP days because I ate too much cake last week...I'll be back to bananas, chips and mullerlights after weigh in...

Other favourite combos to use are leftover roast veg, bacon, onion and mushroom (fried off first or the mushrooms go a bit watery), or onion and potato for a spanish style tortilla but really anything goes. I've seen it made with rice or pasta in (obviously avoid if you're following SP) and I tried it once with tuna and grated carrot, although I wasn't keen. Oh, and if you don't like cottage cheese, you can use the same amount of quark instead. I didn't realise that you could have peas on an SP day until yesterday - they're a P not an S, and I bloody love peas so they might just be going in everything from now on!

What are your favourite crustless quiche fillings? Let me know!


Monday, 12 September 2016

Recipe- Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo

I often buy skinless and boneless chicken thighs in my weekly shop, and then usually turn them into a curry or some kind of traybake, but when it came to the end of the week and thicken thighs were staring mournfully at me because I'd left them till last I felt like something different. A bit of a google about and I came across a Jamie Oliver recipe that I'd normally just skim past because he is notorious for using gallons of olive oil, mountains of cheese, being a bit poncy and is far too cheerful about it all. Also, chorizo is by no means syn free and I generally keep my meals as low syn as possible. But on closer inspection I thought I could give it a Slimming World twist - the recipe only called for 50g of chorizo which isn't too bad and the only olive oil in the recipe could easily be replaced by your favourite spray oil. So here it is, my slimmed-down version of Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo at 1 1/2 syns per serving. Jamie, eat your heart out!

To make Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo for four you will need:

  • 250g wholemeal rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 50g chorizo (6 syns - so 1.5 syns per portion)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 500g pack skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 500ml passata
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemon
  • frylight, or spray oil of choice
Spray a heatproof casserole dish with frylight and add the onion, garlic, pepper, chorizo and paprika, stirring until they start to soften. Add the rice and stir to coat in all the chorizo oil. Add the passata and stock, and zest and juice of the lemon. Put the chicken thighs in, and make sure they're submerged in the sauce before bringing to the boil. Pop the lid on your casserole dish and stick in the oven at 180/gas 4 for around 45 minutes to an hour - you want the rice to be "tender" according to Jamie, and the chicken cooked. If the sauce thickens too much, add a splash of boiling water. Serve with salad or steamed veg of your choice to get your 1/3 speed food in and enjoy.

I took out some of the poncy bits (sorry Jamie) but this really is a one-pot wonder. The kids ate it (although I did have to say the chorizo was pepperami), Mr MGAMT ate it and there was only one pot to wash after. Chicken thighs, done.


Friday, 9 September 2016

Recipe- Syn Free Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese

Good morning! I'm full of the joys today as I actually got a full night's sleep! Well 11.30pm-5.50am but that counts as a full night when you have a 10 month old! I'm coffee'd up and ready to go so I thought I'd crack on with posting what we had for dinner last night because it was yummy. I've seen recipes and videos on Buzzfeed etc where people used butternut squash or cauliflower to make a creamy sauce, but as seems usual with Buzzfeed recipes they were usually packed full of cream and cheese and oil so any health benefits of taking out the flour and butter in a cheese sauce were immediately wiped out by whacking in a load of fat instead. I googled a couple of recipes and kind of bodged some together to come up with my own version suitable for slimming. It uses your HEA of cheese, or 6 syns if you don't want to use your healthy extra. But come on, a Healthy A is meant for cheese and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

To make Syn Free Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese for four you will need:

  • half a butternut squash (cut one lengthways, and save the other half for my Moroccan chickpea tagine, coming soon!)
  • 320g macaroni pasta (I used penne because I'm a rebel and that's all I had, but use what you like)
  • 400ml chicken or veg stock, from a cube is fine
  • half an onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1.2 tsp paprika
  • 4 lean bacon medallions
  • 160g grated reduced fat cheddar, or 120g full fat cheddar - pick and nice strong one (4 x HEA)
Scrape out the seeds from your butternut squash and spray the cut side with frylight/spray oil, before roasting for about 45 minutes. You can do this earlier in the day to save time, or you can chop it up and boil it but roasting saves you having to wrestle it get it peeled. When you're ready to cook get the pasta going in a large pan of salted boiling water. Soften the onion and garlic in a large frylighted pan for a few minutes before scooping out the flesh from the squash and adding it to the pan. Break up a little with the back of your spoon before adding your stock and bringing to the boil for a few minutes. Pop your bacon under the grill to go nice and crispy while you blend the sauce. You can either use a stick blender (so so cheap if you don't have one, and they're a kitchen essential!) or a food processor like mine (which I love). Get it nice and smooth and creamy before returning to the pan and adding the paprika. Throw in your cheese, reserving one HEA's worth (30g if full fat or 40g if reduced fat) to sprinkle on top. Stir until melted and when your pasta is cooked to your liking drain and add it to the sauce. Reserve a little of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick, and add a splash to thin it down a little. Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the reserved cheese, before crumbling your crispy bacon over the top. Delicious!

Mr MGAMT said the sauce tasted like cheesy soup, but I don't think that's a bad thing. He's a veggie dodger though, so I didn't tell him it was made of butternut squash, or I'd have got scalped. The little ones ate it without complaint too. And butternut squash is a great speed food, so you don't even have to add salad on the side to get your 1/3 in. Leave the bacon off if you want it veggie. I love anything cheesy, and while this is nothing like the creamy, gooey, drool worthy mac and cheese I'm dreaming of, it does the job!


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Slimming World Classic - Curry Loaf

Curry loaf. Curry loaf? What in the world is curry loaf?! Slimming World members come up with some very unusual combinations of free food just so they can stuff their faces. Sometimes, just sometimes, they're actually ingenious and worth trying. I have no idea how curry loaf came about, but I'm glad it did because it's a great lunchtime option, portable for picnics and packed lunches and good to have in the fridge when you need to shove something in your face before you fall head first into the crisp cupboard (I can't be the only one who has those days - can !?) Serve it with salad and potato wedges for a really filling meal. Just be prepared for the, um, shall we say breeze afterwards. You can also cook in little muffin trays (reduce the cooking time slightly) and take them along to a taster night. Taster night isn't the same without curry loaf!

To make Slimming World Classic Curry Loaf you will need:

  • 1 400g tin of low syn chickpea or lentil dhal (see below for some different options), or 400g home made lentil/chickpea curry - I used leftovers from my Veggie Dhal
  • 1 packet Batchelors curry flavour rice - you can use any savoury rice but the Batchelors curry one is the only one currently syn free
  • 3 eggs
Cook the rice according to packet instructions (I usually do 325ml of water and 10 mins in the microwave). Once the rice is cooked add the dahl and eggs and mix it all up. At this point you can add more veg if you have it or curry powder if you like it hotter. Pour it all into a generously frylight-ed 2lb loaf tin (or use this silicone one and watch your loaf slide out like wet soap) and pop it in the oven at 200/gas 6 for around 40 minutes until set. Serve, and delight in it's curryness and loafyness.

The syns in this really depend on the dahl you use. I always used to use a tin of Asda chickpea dhal but they reformulated it and it's gone from being free to 2 syns a can. Some options are-

  • Aldi Bilash Chickpea Dhal, 1.5 syns per 400g can
  • Asda Chosen by you Chickpea Dhal, 2 syns per 400g can
  • Tesco Chickpea Dhal, 1.5 syns per 400g can
  • Mazadar Chickpea Dhal, 400g Can, Free (available from Morrisons and Home Bargains)
  • Heinz Dhal Curry Lentils or Chickpea Tagine, both Free
Just make sure you check syns as things don't always stay free! Or you could be absolutely sure and protect your losses by making your own. It's easy! Another option is to use baked beans and add veg and curry powder, but I found it far too sweet when I did this.

Have you tried curry loaf? What other Slimming World classics do you recommend?


Monday, 5 September 2016

Recipe- Syn Free Lasagne

Usually whenever I come across a recipe for a favourite meal that says syn-free I scroll right past that mofo faster than a rat up a drain pipe. They're not usually any good, most of them contain the dreaded quark or mullerlight in place of the good stuff and I'd rather use my syns and have the real thing. Maybe it's just me, but trying to fake something with eggs and sweetener just exacerbates my craving for the real thing. But there are some notable exceptions and this lasagne is one of them. It uses cottage cheese in place of the white sauce and half a HEA of cheese per portion (or if you don't want to use your HEA it's 3 syns) and is so yummy you won't even know you're dieting. Until the rest of the family have giant chunks of garlic bread with it and you don't. Bitter, moi?

To make Syn Free Lasagne for four people you will need:

  • 500g extra lean beef mince
  • 6 lasagne sheets
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 1 500g carton passata
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced
  • Mixed Italian herbs
  • Garlic powder
  • A shake of Worcestershire sauce
  • A small 300g tub of fat free plain cottage cheese
  • 80g reduced fat mature cheddar (2 x HEA - so 1/2 a HEA per portion)
  • Pepper
  • F-f-f-frylight
In a large pan saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in some frylight until softened (5ish minutes). Add the mince and break up with your spoon, continuing to cook until browned. Add your passata, then half fill the tub with water from a recently boiled kettle and add that too along with the stock cube. Stir in the mushrooms, herbs, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce and simmer it all together for as long as you can - 45 minutes is ideal but if you've only got 30, or forget about it for an hour, it wont hurt. Now it's time to layer it up! Start with a layer of mince - I only do 2 layers so use half but that will depend on your dish (I use one like this). After the mince add half the lasagne sheets then spread half of the cottage cheese on that and season with pepper. Add the rest of the mince, lasagne and cottage cheese for your second layer, then top with the grated cheddar. Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes and serve with a big salad to get the speed foods in. Proper lasagne, no syns. What's even better is that my fussy family ate celery without complaint. #mumwin

I snapchatted the making of this, which was a lot of fun, so if you'd like to see more of my messy kitchen via the power of snap follow me @hellyboobear!

Any other syn-free version recipe haters? Or syn free recipes that you simply love? Let me know :)


Friday, 2 September 2016

Recipe- End of the week Veggie Dhal

Picture the scene - it's the end of the week, the fridge is looking bare, and you don't have the energy to drag the kids around the supermarket, the only things in the cupboard are a few tins of pulses that you've had in there since the millennium bug threatened the end of the world and the wrinkly carrots in the veg rack are begging to be put out of their misery. Plus, payday is still 2 days away and you're already watering down the gin to make it last. Throw together a veggie curry, use up those last bits and relish in how tasty and healthy it is. I used to be a vegetarian (but I'm alright now) as a student and curries were a staple - the chick peas and lentils are a cheap source of protein and you can make a huge batch for around £3. Can't say fairer than that.

To make a massive cauldron of End of the week Veggie Dhal you will need:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder of your choice (I use medium and adjust for the kids with yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 1 can of chick peas
  • 1 can of green lentils
  • plus whatever veg you have lurking in the fridge or freezer - I used half a sad butternut squash, a wrinkly leek, two forgotten carrots, and about 4 lumps of frozen spinach. I would have used half a cauliflower as well, but it was just too far gone. RIP little choux-fleur.
  • frylight, or your favourite oil-spray
Sweat off your onions in a generous spray of frylight for a few minutes before adding the garlic for a minute more. Add the spices and toast for about 30 seconds before adding a splash of cold water - this cools the pan and stops the spices from burning. Add the rest of your veg chunked up any old way you like and stir to coat in all the spices. Add the tomatoes, then fill the can with water from a recently boiled kettle and add that too, with the stock cube. Drain and rinse the lentils and chick peas, and throw them in then cover and bring to the boil. Once it's boiling turn it down to a gentle simmer and leave it alone for at least half an hour, but the longer the better. You could chuck it all in a slow cooker and come home to your kitchen smelling like a delicious armpit if that's your thing. I jest, it doesn't smell much like an armpit, but I promise it's tasty and makes enough easily to serve 6 adults depending on how much of a veg hoarder you are (I hold my hands up). Some other good veg to use up would be courgette, squash, peppers, sweet potato, mushrooms (but add these at the end), baby corn, green beans, fresh tomatoes - anything you need to use up really. And it's perfect for SP as long as you don't add potato, parsnip or sweetcorn, yogurt at the end, or serve it with rice. Freezable too, so fill your boots!


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Recipe- Breakfast Stuffed Peppers

Howdy, it's been a while! Life got busy for a bit; the baby started crawling so I've been on constant is-she-eating-catfood-again watch, then she cut a tooth, then she decided sleep is for the weak. Plus the boys are off school for a few more days so I've been made to go Pokemon hunting every waking hour of the day. They're back on Monday and me being me I've left all of the school uniform buying to the absolute last minute so my weekend will be spent crying in a corner in Clarkes. Fun times! On the bright side, I did get my Club 10 last week (meaning I lost 10% of my starting weight) and lost another 2lbs this week, so all that Pikachu hunting paid off.

Today's recipe is a breakfast favourite of mine; despite being fairly small it packs a punch and is really filling. The cheese is either 1/4 of your Healthy A, or 1 and a half syns, or if you want to be really saintly leave it out altogether (but don't, it's worth it). I think the pepper and mushrooms should cover your 1/3 speed, but if you want chuck some cherry toms in to roast with it. SP friendly too.

To make a Breakfast Stuffed Pepper for one person you will need:

  • one good-sized red or yellow pepper
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 2 lean bacon medallions
  • 1 big tablespoon baked beans
  • 10g reduced fat cheddar
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper

Carefully take the top off your pepper and remove the seeds and membrane-y bits. If your pepper wont stand up, carefully slice the bottom so it's flat (If you accidentally cut a hole through the pepper, use the bit you cut off to plug it up or your filling will leak out). Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes to soften. Meanwhile chop your mushrooms and bacon, and once the pepper is done nuke that for 2 minutes too. Season the inside of your pepper and put the cooked mushrooms and bacon in the bottom. Top that with the beans, then the cheese, making sure you have room to crack your egg on top. Season again and pop in the oven at about 200/Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes until the egg is cooked to your liking - but if you can get a runny yolk you're a better woman than me!

These really make a great breakfast, and for fairly little effort. For even less effort, forget the pepper and just layer up the fillings in a ramekin (to be fair, that's what I usually do, but I was feeling fancy). You can experiment with different fillings too; onions, tomatoes, cooked sausages, ham - anything goes I guess. Just don't over fill them or you'll end up with spillage akin to a Ben and Holly jelly flood. If you don't get that reference, you obviously don't have kids (or at least not young ones) you lucky lucky bastard. I'm off to get ready for the weekend, wish me luck and pass the prozac!


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Recipe- Chicken Tikka-ish

Being a Mum you sometime (aka always) have to be sneaky creative when getting your kids to eat decent food. My eldest boy will eat pretty much everything, so I know if he tells me he doesn't like something he really means it. However the middle child is a fusspot. I have to bribe, coerce, force feed and use one of those funnel things they fatten up geese for foie gras with to get him to eat. He eats fruit and veg fine, he's one of those kids who skips to the dinner table singing "I can smell broccoli" in delight, but dish up a lovely spag bol, pasta bake or hearty stew and the funnel has to come out. And for God's sake don't give him a baked bean. After Bean-gate 2014 (I made him try one and he immediately vomited all over his plate) even the sight of a baked bean has him heaving. But, one thing he will eat is curry thanks to a trip to Costco last year. We were hungry and broke, and so headed to Costco in the hopes we could go round a few times and get enough samples to class as lunch. They had lentil curry being dished out in tiny cups by a woman whose make-up was as orange as the turmeric in the curry, so we took a cup each. It was actually pretty good, and surprisingly Master J agreed. I recreated the curry a few weeks later and again, eaten with gusto and "mental curry" was ranked as a favourite. Now, everytime I make a curry we tell him it's mental curry and most of the time he eats it. It's tikka-ish I'm not sure the sauce is a tikka sauce, but I like it saucy *winkwinknodnod*. This recipe can be adjusted to suit your tastes and how spicy you like it, I usually fling a bit more yogurt and a squirt of ketchup in at the end for the kids, and another SW friendly meal the whole family will eat. Hashtag winning.

To make Chicken Tikka-ish for 4 people you will need:

  • 500g skinless and boneless chicken thighs - or use breast if you prefer
  • 4 big tablespoons of fat free natural yogurt
  • squirt of lemon or lime juice (I use a bottle of lime juice and just shake in a dash or two, probably half a fruit's worth)
  • 4 tablespoons tikka spice mix
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry powder (or whatever curry powder you like, just have tp in the fridge if necessary)
  • small pack baby corn
  • extra yogurt to serve
  • don't forget the frylight!
Chop your chook into cubes and fling in a bowl with the yogurt, tikka powder and lime juice and stir it all around. Leave in the fridge for as long as you can but if you're pressed for time half an hour will do. When you're ready to cook, spray a deep frying pan or wok with oil spray and get it nice and hot, before putting the chicken and yogurt in and cooking it through. Set aside, and in the same pan soften the onion and garlic. Now, I blend the sauce the get it nice and smooth so just roughly chopped the onion and garlic and threw it in, but if you don't have a blender or cba to wash it up after chop as fine as you can. Once softened add the curry powder and cook a few minutes more before throwing the tinned tomatoes in and bringing it all to the boil. If you're going to blend transfer it to the blender or use one of those stick things and blend blend blend until it's nice and smooth, before returning it to the pan. I microwaved the baby corn for a minute or two to soften them up but you don't have to, you can just throw them in the pan at this point along with the yogurty chicken and cook for a few minutes more. Serve with a boob of rice, a drizzle more yogurt and extra speed veg if you wish. Chicken Tikka-ish. Done.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Recipe- 5-a-day Turkey Bolognese

Now while this recipe alone wont give you your five a day in one meal, it contains 6 different veg so it'll get you on your way. It's healthy, tasty, something the whole family can eat, and it's cheap. I quite often think that Slimming World think we're made of money - if you were to follow one of their weekly eating plans from the mag or website you'd either need to remortgage or sell a kidney. And I'm quite fond of my kidneys. It makes a big old pan of hearty bolognese for around a fiver, can't say fairer than that. Ok, so it doesn't contain the 3 tins of caviar, 17 lobsters and half a lamb that you may be accustomed to if you like a SW recipe, but I guarantee it's a lot more tasty. And I couldn't get my kids to eat lobster anyway...

To make Recipe- 5-a-day Turkey Bolognese for 6-8 people (depending on how much you eat yourself while it's cooking...) you will need (count the veggies with me! Can you tell I'm a mum?!):

  • 500g turkey mince (less than 5% fat)
  • 1 large onion (1)
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 courgette (2)
  • a big pepper, or couple of handfulls of frozen peppers (3)
  • 1 big carrot or a couple of small ones (4)
  • around 8 mushrooms (5)
  • 500g carton of passata (6)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • dash of worcestershire sauce
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • dried Italian herbs - I used basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper
Throw your mince into a large pan and break up with a wooden spoon. While the mince is browning chop your onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and soften, before adding the tomato puree and cooking a few minutes more. Grate your courgette and carrot straight into the pan and combine it all together. At this point chuck everything else in - and fill the passata carton half full with water, swill it around to get every last bit, and add that too. Season with plenty of pepper, but check the salt - you might not need it as the stock cube and worcestershire sauce are quite salty. Let it all simmer for around half an hour and serve with your choice of pasta or, if you must, courgetti *shudders*

This makes a huge pan - plenty to feed my brood plus enough for 2 adult lunches the next day. It's a good job too because I came downstairs after settling the baby for the twelfth time this evening to find the cat helping herself to my plate. I'm not fussy usually, but she licks her arse and I've seen what comes out of it. Anyway, you can use the bolognese for lasagne too - use fat free cottage cheese for the white sauce and your healthy a of what ever cheese you like on top. Yum!


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Recipe- Fish pie-cakes

Everyone loves a fish pie, don't they? Well apart from my kids, they'd only eat it if it came in a red cardboard box with a pair of golden arches emblazoned across it. But, fish pie isn't exactly slimming friendly with its creamy sauce and ton of cheese on top. Of course you could make a slimming version, probably using quark and a toffee mullerlight or something (they always use a toffee mullerlight), but it's never quite the same is it? It's like the infamous slimming world cheeseburger in a bowl - it's just mince and salad at the end of the day. Just have a proper burger! I digress, these fishcakes use a fish pie mix, which makes them full of fish pie flavour, but without the syns. And my kids will eat them. Bonus!

To make 8 big Fish pie-cakes you will need:

  • 350g pack of fish pie mix,
  • 4 large baking potatoes,
  • 1 tsp salt,
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • plenty of pepper
  • frylight, or your preferred oil spray
  • one small egg (optional, see recipe!)
Peel and dice the potatoes so they're fairly small - the smaller they are the easier they are to mash! And they cook quicker too. Boil them in salted water until tender (ie forget about them until they're falling apart). While the potatoes are boiling, put your fish pie mix onto a plate and season well. Microwave for 4-5 minutes until it's just cooked. You don't want it tough and rubbery, especially as you'll be cooking again. Once the potatoes are boiled to death, drain them really well, add a tsp of salt and mash to within an inch of their lives. Because you're not adding any milk/butter/cream/cheese you want a really smooth mash. Add your cooked fish and the parsley to the mash and stir it through. The fish will break up while your stirring so don't break it up any smaller first. Check the seasoning - you shouldn't need more salt but a bit more pepper probably wont hurt! At this point you should be able to tell if your mash is going to hold together in a patty, or if it's too dry and crumbly. If it's the latter, chuck an egg in to bind. I used a large cookie cutter to shape my fish cakes, just by putting it on a chopping board and filling it up, but you could just shape using your hands. Leave the top a little rugged so you get crispy bits! At this point I chucked them in the freezer (on the chopping board) for half an hour to firm up, but you don't have to. Spray a baking tray with frylight/oil spray, pop on your fishcakes and then spray the top with more frylight. Bake at 200/gas 6 for 20-30 minutes until golden and crispy. Serve with salad or veggies, or whatever speed food tickles your pickle - ooh pickles!

These freeze well, in fact I made up half of the mix in large fishcakes for me and Mr MGAMT, made the rest into smaller ones for the offspring and froze half. Just increase the cooking time by 5 or 10 minutes if cooking from frozen. If you're a real heathen, you could even use *LeGasp* instant mash (check the SW website for a syn free version, if you're that bothered). Syn free on EE, and handy to have in the freezer, too. Tuck in.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

My Slimming World week in review #1

In case you were wondering-

What I've eaten:

Syns used:
  • 88 1/2

Exercise done:
  • 2k walk along the River Ouse in Bedford
Where I've shopped
  • Aldi
  • Tesco
Total Speed Foods eaten:
  • 21

And finally, weight lost:
  • 1 1/2 pounds
Bringing my total weight loss so far to:

  • 1 stone 8 1/2 pounds
  • 22 1/2 pounds
  • 10.2 kilos
  • two average house cats plus half a guinea pig
  • half a pound off 10% grrrrrrr!
How have you done this week?


Monday, 15 August 2016

Recipe- White Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oats

Yep, you read that right. Chocolate. You can eat chocolate on the Slimming World plan, that's what your syns are for! Some people use their syns on booze, some prefer crisps or takeaways, but I keep sane with a chocolatey treat most days. Now, that's not to say you can have a family sized bar of Galaxy and a tub of Roses every day, but there are a few low-syn chocolates that can be enjoyed guilt free. This includes some low calorie hot chocolate powders, and they come in lots of different flavours including white choc which just happens to be my weakness. It's surprisingly satisfying, too. Don't go mixing it into quark or microwaving it with an egg to try and make a cake, because all you're heading for there is powdery disappointment. But with a bit of planning you can make something actually edible, chocolatey and good for you. What more do you want? A half naked man to feed it to you? I'll see what I can do.

To make White Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oats for one you will need:

  • 35g of any old porridge oats (HEB)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g strawberries (1 1/2 syns since they will be cooked)
  • 1 sachet Options white hot chocolate powder (2 syns)
  • 90g vanilla mullerlight (about half a pot) or any syn-free vanilla yogurt you like
  • Tablespoon sweetener of your choice.
Whip the tops off the strawberries and chop up into smallish pieces - I cut each berry into 8. Combine all the ingredients and give them a good stir. Pop it all into a small oven proof dish and bake at 200/gas 6 for about half an hour, until the middle is set and it's golden on top. Serve with more strawberries and the rest of your yogurt, and pretend you're noshing on a Milkybar.

This isn't something I'd have everyday - at 3 1/2 syns it's quite indulgent for a breakfast, especially when you can have a full on Slimming World style fry up for free. If you're that bothered you can swap the strawberries for raspberries and save yourself a whole half a syn. 

Well, I'm off to find that half naked man to see if he fancies taking the bin out for me...


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Recipe- Lunchtime Feta Salad

I struggle with lunch sometimes. Somedays I'm ready to dive face first into the fridge by about 10.30, other days I'm not hungry until 3. I try to eat lunch with my little girl, but although she's not a fussy eater (yet) we can't always have the same thing. If I don't want to use my Healthy B a sandwich/something on toast is out of the question and anything else just requires more enthusiasm than I am prepared to give. I have a few staples that I batch cook and eat for a few days, and when it turns colder again I'll be whipping up some soups, but today I wanted something different therefore this salad was born! I made it while little Miss had her morning nap, which gave the veg time to get to room temperature and take on some of the flavours of the dressing, and served with Aldi tomato and garlic cous cous, which is half a syn for the whole packet and doesn't require anything more taxing than pouring hot water on it. If you're doing SP, just add some leaves and grass on the side.

To make Lunchtime Feta Salad for one you will need:

  • 45g feta cheese (Healthy Extra A choice - or if you buy a 'light' version you can have 65g)
  • 1-2 salad tomatoes, or a handful of cherry toms*,
  • a few inches of cucumber
  • a spring onion
  • a few fresh basil leaves, or dried oregano if you don't have fresh basil (dried oregano is nicer than dried basil, which resembles dandruff)
  • a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
Cube or crumble your feta into a bowl. Chop your tomatoes and cucumber into chunks and the spring onion into, um, smaller bits of spring onion. Chuck it into the bowl with the feta and grab a few fresh basil leave. Chop it, tear it, snip it, rip it up with your teeth, whatever you feel comfortable with, and throw it in with the rest of the stuff. I was sensible and snipped with scissors. If dried oregano is what you're gong with, about half a teaspoon should do. Add some salt and pepper (careful with the salt as the feta is quite salty, but the tomatoes need it) and the balsamic and give it a stir. Now taste it! If you want more basil, go for it. More balsamic, be my guest. Too much salt, don't say I didn't warn you. I probably left it about half an hour before serving, but you don't have to it just gives it a chance for the acid in the vinegar to get everything nice and tasty. If you've got syns to spare, and you want to waste them on olives, you can add 8 black olives for a syn.

I don't often use fresh herbs in my recipes, but I currently have a mint and basil plant sat on the side in my kitchen that I'm trying desperately not to kill, and they do taste good. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and didn't even miss the olive oil with the balsamic and crusty bread to mop up the left over dressing afterwards. Ok, maybe that's pushing it...


*If you're thinking hang on, she clarted on about being allergic to tomatoes the other day, I am. But big flavourless supermarket salad tomatoes affect me the least and I'll be paying for it with a sore tongue for a few days. Worth it.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Recipe- Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus, a taster night fave

Every now and then at most Slimming World groups they have what they call a taster night (or morning if you go to a morning group. Who doesn't love a bit of diet coke chicken at 10am?) Everyone (or those who can be bothered) makes a Slimming World friendly dish and brings it along for everyone to try, along with the recipe. Everyone is so hungry after starving themselves in anticipation of weigh in the food gets inhaled within seconds, and everyone declares how good it was. You then go home and try to recreate it, but find out it was only nice because you were so hungry and actually you'd rather have a ryvita. I don't always bring something along but since the biggest two offspring were staying at their Nan's a few days this week I had time to whip up some hummus in between sitting up the baby umpteen times because she gets onto her tummy and can't get back up again. Oh, my life is just go go go. Anyway, this hummus was actually bloody lovely, nothing like proper hummus but a good substitution and syn free so good to have in the fridge for when you just neeeed something. I've been looking for a good hummus recipe, and kind of mashed a couple together here and I was pretty happy with the result. I used cottage cheese because I've found in the past that yogurt or fromage frais it a little bit tart, cottage cheese gives the creaminess without the sourness. If you are of the opinion that hummus is just mashed chickpeas without tahini, I respect your opinion. Add a tablespoon of tahini paste for 4 1/2 syns.

To make Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus you will need:

  • 1 medium/large sweet potato
  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you're single)
  • 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese
  • salt and pepper
Roast the sweet potato in it's skin for about an hour and then leave to cool. Drain the chickpeas, but keep the water. Crush the garlic. Once it's cool enough the sweet potato skin should just slide off and you'll be left with the mushy flesh. Chuck everything except chickpea water in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. If you find the hummus is too thick, add a bit of the chickpea water until you get the consistency you like. I think I added about 6 tablespoons to mine. You can also add some fresh coriander if you like it, but I think it's foul so have a word with yourself. Serve with crudites (raw veg dear) or toast/pitta from your HEB. It also makes a great topping for a jacket spud, or is lovely in a sarnie with some warm roast veg.

I dished this up at a taster morning on Tuesday and everyone lapped it up (not literally, that would be a little bit inappropriate. I know us fatties can't control ourselves but we're usually ok in public) and said it was lovely. Maybe they were just being polite, but I liked it.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Recipe- Go-with-anything Roasted Veg


Roasted veg may be a bit of a no brainer but it's something I often over look in favour of yet another salad. I know Slimming World say you should have 1/3 of your plate with speed food, but sometimes you just want to chuck something in the oven and forget about it until the smoke alarm goes off (just me?) and not faff about with ricing a cauliflower or spiralising the contents of your veg rack. This is perfect for that. You can use pretty much any veg you like, cook a massive tray of it and save what you don't eat in the fridge, reheat or eat it cold and even use it in other dishes. Easy.

To make Go-with-anything Roasted Veg you will need:

  • Vegetables - I would suggest onion and peppers as a minimum but then you can add anything you like. I used a red onion, a big courgette, couple of handfuls of frozen peppers, half a butternut squash, and a few baby leeks because that was what I had sat wilting miserably in the bottom of the fridge but you could add aubergine, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower, parsnip, asparagus, baby corn, celeriac, fennel, marrow, mushrooms - if it's a vegetable throw it in and see what happens. 
  • Fry light or spray oil, or syn some olive oil.
  • Balsamic vinegar.
  • Dried oregano, basil, rosemary or thyme - or any other hard herb you like.
  • Salt and pepper
You can also chuck a few cloves of garlic in, but I find it makes it bitter. Not sure why, but I just can't get garlic right so I leave it out. 

Just chop all your veg so they're roughly all the same size. It's going to be impossible to get a cauliflower floret the same size as an asparagus spear so don't go whittling them down, just get them roughly similar. Chuck it all into an oven dish and add a splash of balsamic, a sprinkle of your herb of choice and salt and pepper. Then spray it all with fry light until your finger hurts. Give it a mix around and bung it in the oven for about half an hour-45 minutes, giving it a wiggle around halfway through.

I chucked a frozen fish filet on top about 10 minutes before the end for a light lunch (perfect for SP if you've not used sweet potato or parsnip), but you can serve it with whatever you like - chicken, pork chops, sausages, or mix it into some cous cous, chuck it in a crustless quiche or add some passata for a quick speed-packed pasta sauce.


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Recipe- Sticky Chicken

If you like your chicken sticky, you've come to the right place! This is a family favourite (although not for the baby, as it contains honey and babies under one can't have it) and it's worth a few syns for the honey - sometimes carcinogens aspartame just wont do. It's quick, easy and goes with pretty much anything - rice, chips, couscous, potatoes. You can add veg in to make it more like a stir fry or get your speed on the side. I served it here with green beans, cauliflower and a boob of rice (just put some rice in a wee ramekin and turned it out onto the plate, I'm fancy like that. And it helps with portion control). The recipe serves four and comes in at 2 syns per serving. It's good cold on salad too. Sold it enough? Better give you the recipe then...

To make Sticky Chicken for four you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (one per person),
  • 3 tablespoons of honey (1 tbsp is 2 1/2 syns, so 7 1/2 syns for the whole recipe. I rounded up to 2 syns a portion because I don't want you crying to me when you go over your syns and getting your jeans on turns into 30 minutes of cardio)
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
Chop your chook into cubes and fling them with joyful abandon into a receptacle. Put everything else in and give them a stir, then leave to marinade in the fridge for at least half an hour. Chuck the chicken and marinade into a hot pan sprayed with frylight and cook until the chicken is done and the marinade has reduced right down and it's sticky - 10ish minutes. Serve with whatever you fancy, you indulgent bugger you.

You can even thread the chicken onto skewers and barbecue them, basting with any remaining marinade as you go, if that's your thing. Winner winner chicken dinner, as my 6 year old would say.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Salad days

A couple of years ago, I developed an allergy to tomatoes, which, in my world, is devastating. I love and adore tomatoes, in all shapes and sizes and various forms. I was practically weaned on tomatoes and usually grow my own in the summer (although this year's monsoon weather put paid to that). Now, if I eat them, it makes my mouth really sore and my chest tight  which is just a bit scary.

To me, a salad isn't a salad without a tomato. Or it used to be. This recent allergy has made me look at the way I see salads. A salad is a dieter's friend, but it can soon get rather boring if you're eating lettuce, tomato and cucumber at every meal... So I've been coming up with some ways to spice up your salad.

Chose your leaves

Are you an iceberg fan, or do you favour a little gem? The leaf is usually the basis for a good salad, and there are so many available now there's no reason not to vary them. I like to buy bags of pre-washed salad leaves, for convenience mostly, but also because of the variety. Our favourite is a babyleaf salad, but you can try rocket, spinach, beetroot leaves, watercress. Whatever takes your fancy. A good old round lettuce can be a nice change from the more "exotic" too!

Once you've got your leaves, what goes on top. I often find myself piling everything remotely salad-like on top, but you really don't have to. Chose three or four "toppings", such as:

  • cucumber
  • tomato *sob*
  • peppers
  • carrot (grated, cubed, thinly sliced with a speed peeler or get the flipping spiraliser out if you must)
  • olives (8 for a syn)
  • herbs (I like basil or mint)
  • beetroot
  • mushrooms
  • radish
  • celery
  • onions
Know your onions

A good onion can add a sharp kick to your salad, but again you can vary them. Spring or salad onions are quick and convenient (snip them with scissors) but try red onion, spanish onion or even a couple of pickled onions for variety.

Pickle it

Talking of pickled onions, pickled beetroot, gherkins or cauliflower can also be a great addition to a salad. Add a blob of sweet pickle to turn your salad into a ploughmans (check the syns though).

Fruity twist

Still missing that tomato? I've been experimenting with adding fruit to my salad. Grapes, strawberries (great with balsamic dressing), melon, mango, apple or raisins will make a great addition to a good salad.

Protein power

Now you've got your basics, add the protein you need to make this a meal. Chicken salad will get boring really quick if you have it regularly, but combine it with bacon and a mustard dressing, or with mango and a curried mayonaise and it's a completely different meal. Other great protein sources for salad are:

  • lean ham
  • prawns
  • tuna
  • boiled eggs
  • cottage cheese
  • chorizo (quite fatty but a little goes a long way!)
  • lean bacon or turkey bacon
  • crab sticks
  • omlette
  • reduced fat cheese (try feta or mozzarella)
  • quiche (crustless quiche recipe coming soon!)

Dress it up

Now here's a stumbling block - the dressing. You don't want to add a load of calories at the last minute, so chose wisely. I like to use balsamic vinegar, but raspberry vinegar is nice too. If you're buying a shop bought dressing, go for one that contains less than 50 calories per 100mls or is marketed as a lighter choice (my current favourite is honey and mustard). If you're a fan of mayonnaise or salad cream, chose on that's "extra light" or "lighter than light" and try mixing it with fat free fromage frais to make it go further. Or water down some fat free natural yoghurt and add some finely chopped mint, for a dressing that feels really creamy and indulgent, without all the fat.

Things to avoid

This may sound obvious, but if you're trying to keep your salad healthy there are some things to avoid:

  • croutons
  • full fat cheese
  • crispy onions
  • crispy bacon
  • creamy or oily dressings
  • chips on the side!
And here's a bit of a contentious one - avocado and nuts. Both of which are insanely healthy (in moderation, I'm not talking about a giant pack of dry roasted) but are very high in syns, so use them wisely. To be honest, I'd avoid slimy green bastard avocado completely. Yuk.

I enjoy salads, and I always have, but it can get boring, very quickly. I hope I've given you some ideas and inspiration to spice up your salad! Let me know your suggestions too.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Wuh-wuh-wuh-weigh in!

Tuesday is my weigh in day, and as I go to a morning group the agony is usually over by 10am and I can have a coffee and some food before passing out. I used to weigh in of an evening and spend the day taking tiny bird-like sips of water and eating crumbs in a desperate bid to lose that extra half a pound by the time it came to stepping on the scales, but all that led to is dehydration and anger. But when you weigh in the morning you can skip your morning coffee, go to the toilet 15 times and wear your lightest outfit for an hour or two and then go back to normal for the rest of the day. So much easier.

Anyway, I probably wont update every Tuesday with what I've lost/gained etc, but I might make a separate tab documenting my weekly progress as a record, So far I've been on plan for 8 weeks and with today's 2 1/2 pound loss I have lost a grand total of 1 1/2 stone, 21 pounds, or 4 and a quarter chihuahuas*. Wow.

I just need to lose 2 pounds to have lost 10% of my starting weight, which apparently has huge health benefits and will make my doctor smile (good luck with that). Hopefully I'll get there this week...


*No chihuahuas were harmed in the writing of this blog post. But if you're a chihuahua owner, get a proper dog. Chihuahua.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Recipe- Speedy and Saintly Chicken Stir Fry

This meal is a bit of an unappetising looking bugger, but it is packed with flavour and amazingly saintly. It's also ready in just minutes which is great if your 8 year old has developed a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, your 6 year old has crapped himself 3 times, the baby had a meltdown because you wouldn't let her empty the bin and play with the contents or if it's generally just been a long day. AAAND it's 75% speed food, perfect for EE:SP if you're that way inclined (more on that another time), and so will definitely compensate for earlier when the spoon jumped into the nutella jar and straight into your mouth. Twice.

To make Speedy and Saintly Chicken Stir Fry you will need:

  • One chicken breast
  • One small onion
  • One garlic clove
  • One small courgette
  • One small carrot
  • Half a small cauliflower (or half a tub pre-prepared cauli rice)
  • Soy sauce
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you're brave and have toilet paper on standby in the fridge)
First of all, unless you've cheated and bought pre-prepared cauli rice, you're going to need to either blitz your cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles couscous, or grate it (messy, very messy!). Once that's done, spray a wok or large frying pan with frylight and get it hot while you slice your chicken and onion, and mince or finely chop the garlic. Once the wok is hot chuck in the chook until browned all over, then add the onion and garlic. Let that cook while you go at your courgette and carrot with a speed peeler to get nice long ribbons. You could use a spiraliser if you haven't lost it at the back of a cupboard somewhere like I definitely haven't done. Well, maybe I might have. Anyway, chuck the veg in the pan with a good glug of soy and a pinch of chilli, and stir fry until the chicken is done. Add your cauli rice and cook for 4 minutes more, serve and polish your halo.

The recipe serves one very generously, so just increase the quantities or add whatever veg you like to increase the volume. You could chuck in a stir fry pack, chop up some peppers, add beansprouts, mange tout, green beans, cabbage, brussels. Really fart it up.