Batch Cooking!

Step 1 of Planning!

As I said yesterday, my biggest downfall is when I am not organised and I don’t have food ready to go. So today I have cooked tonights dinner – chicken Dopiaza (from an old Slimming World recipe leaflet I have), and a new dish from the Supervalu website – Mexican Leek and Black Bean Chilli for my batch cooked food to have to freeze and in the fridge for when I’m hungry.

I have been making this Three Bean Chilli from the Supervalu website over the past while and have been eating it topped with a small bit of cheese, and it doesn’t need a side like rice as it is so filling. And it is delicious. After the first time I started to add my own ingredients as to whatever I had in the fridge, and also I found I needed to probably triple the amount of spices that I put in – I like strong flavours!

Both of them are vegetarian and actually both from The Happy Pear, it is just that I got them from the Supervalu website. One of the things that I want to do is to make new healthy recipes, so that I don’t get bored with the same meals all the time, even though I’m actually ok with eating the same food over and over again lol.

Delighted to have some food batch cooked now, and my lunch ready to go as well. I found that I was picking at chocolate non stop while cooking the dinners so this means I will be able to get my dinner first and then cook for everyone else without picking.

Healthy Habits – plan to start!

I have been listening to loads of podcasts recently, and generally they have been health and wellness type ones. I have noticed a lot of reoccuring topics (possibly as the people I am listening to are interviewing like minded people!) but there seem to be some simple enough things that can make a big difference in helping you live a healthy life.

I have been listening to Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and he has a book about the 4 Pillars of Health – being Food, Movement, Sleep and Relaxation, and the importance of all four of these in contributing to your health. I like this because it is nice and simple. It also gives you a chance to just say yes I’m doing ok on one or two aspects, lets focus on another aspect. He also has a five minute kitchen workout on Youtube which is so easy to start as a base starting place, as he shows you how to do it as a very beginner and how to advance it.

There have also been plenty of other guests and podcasts that add to these and have more aspects, including gut health, clutter in the home, financial health, etc. I have listened to so many of the podcasts that I have a lot of information rattling around in my head, as I listen mainly when walking so don’t have chance to write notes.

There are certain things that I want to bring in to our home as healthy habits to help me and to help the kids for the rest of their lives, as well as just while they are growing up.

For myself, this week I want to implement these as my basic habits:

  1. Healthy Food and Snacks
  2. 2L Water or more
  3. Exercise – both treadmill and 5 minute kitchen workout
  4. Bed in time – definitely before 11pm, earlier would be better

I want to start to plan healthy habits for the kids too, and find a way to set it up and implement it in a sustainable way. Things are just so busy that I don’t want to set myself up to fail, so I will work out what my starting point with the kids and how to start in the next few days!

Day 21 of My Month of Gratitude

This week has been a week for looking for ideas for different food options and trying new recipes, hence todays addition to the list!

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends
  7. My Home
  8. Our Utilities
  9. Our Health
  10. Education
  11. Coffee
  12. Technology
  13. Being Alive
  14. Baby Smiles and Laughs
  15. Special Occasions
  16. Healthcare
  17. Being Irish
  18. Being a SAHM
  19. Chocolate
  20. Books
  21. Online Recipes

I love cook books. There is something about flicking through the pages, looking at the pictures, maybe reading the little description by the author, that is just lovely. However even though I have loads of lovely cookbooks, and tried and tested cookbooks that I would have used years ago, when it comes to looking for a new recipe to try, I tend to go online.

I suppose it is the fact that you can search a type of meal and be given a list of twenty options, with reviews and sometimes pictures of people having tried to make their own version from the recipe, and you get to choose which you want to try. The problem of course is that there is too much choice and no quality control necessarily. Sure I’m not a chef or experienced food blogger or anything and yet I have posted recipes on here that I have tried. I know that I have made some recipes from blogs and I have not been impressed at all – but I have also found some absolutely delicious recipes too!

Just this week I wanted to find a recipe that I had made for a lentil curry a few years back and I remember it was quite nice. I had actually posted it on here (along with my complete failure of using split peas instead of lentils, duh!) and so then I was able to find the post and the link to the original recipe and make it again.

It is amazing to have such a wealth of different selections and experiences of recipes at our fingertips online, and I am really grateful for that!

Day 19 of My Month of Gratitude

Just realised that this one isn’t on my list, and I really thought it would be up on the top of it lol!

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends
  7. My Home
  8. Our Utilities
  9. Our Health
  10. Education
  11. Coffee
  12. Technology
  13. Being Alive
  14. Baby Smiles and Laughs
  15. Special Occasions
  16. Healthcare
  17. Being Irish
  18. Being a SAHM
  19. Chocolate

So, I love chocolate! And I often think about the fact that I am so lucky to have such free access to it. Yes my head does actually think like that. I sometimes think about war times, or floods or other crazy situations which hopefully will never happen to me, that would mean there was no access to the things we take for granted. And coffee and chocolate are both up there!!

I’m really trying to lose weight at the moment, and I am so motivated about it at the moment (less than two weeks until the first of our occasions of this year) and I am happily sticking to healthy eating at the moment. But I factor in having a little bar of chocolate with a cup of tea in the afternoon after the school run every day. (Actually I haven’t even had my after school bar in the past week because we have just been so so busy, that we are not even coming home in a proper routine after school!)

I want to lose weight in a sustainable and maintainable way, and I am never going to give up chocolate so I’m not going to do it for a while and then crumble altogether a little bit down the line. I also have mini bars of 85% cocoa dark chocolate bars, and I can pick at half of one of them when I’m struggling between meals, and I feel like it helps with the chocolate hit.

I love chocolate and I am grateful for the joy that eating a bar of chocolate can bring me! And I think when something can bring you happiness like that, it is important to be grateful for it!

Pancake Tuesday 2019!

Yum yum yum, I just love pancakes, and Pancake Tuesday is like a day made for me!

The rule in this house is Pancakes for Breakfast, Pancakes for Lunch, Pancakes for Dinner and Pancakes for Dessert!

This year I’m being very focused on trying to lose weight and I didn’t go mad with eating pancakes as I normally would – however I still did overindulge!

I made what I thought was a giant batch on Monday night, so it would be ready for Tuesday morning. My eldest girl got up and started making pancakes. I hadn’t planned on having any but she brought me one up in bed with sugar and lemon on it. Yum. I just had the one and refused any more. However the kids must have kept eating downstairs because the giant batch was very much reduced when I came down the stairs!

I sent them into school with the shop bought little mini fluffy pancakes along with their lunches.

For dinner then I made a savoury sauce for the pancakes. Myself and the hubby had it with mushrooms and chicken in the sauce, the older two kids had it with just chicken in it, and the 5 year old had plain chicken and grated cheese on hers. I used the sauce from this website here and instead of continuing and adding the green beans and fried onions, I just made it into the pancake sauce. (And by the way, the full green bean casserole is delicious, it is a very looked forward to addition to our Thanksgiving Dinner!).

For dessert then, there was a selection of different sweet pancakes chosen from butter and sugar, chocolate spread, chocolate spread and marshmallows, chocolate spread and marshmallows and icecream, chocolate spread and bananas and icecream (this one is lovely with some chopped nuts on it too, and also a spoonful of Baileys is delish!) and of course the hard to beat, and probably my favourite, the lemon, butter and sugar pancake!

I definitely wasn’t as on track yesterday as I should have been, but I definitely didn’t eat as many pancakes as I would normally. And now this morning I drew a line under it and we’re moving forward back on track!

The recipe that we use for pancakes is this one here from the Delia Smith website. We just multiply out the recipe a few times, at least 3 times the recipe if we all want to have some. And for yesterday, I made two batches and think 7 times the original recipe in total!

 

Fell off the wagon last week, again

So, I was doing great last week. Monday and Tuesday were great days, foodwise and exercise. Wednesday started the birthday celebrations for my daughter, with my mum bringing cake and goodies but still I managed to just have a small bit of cake, and stay within calories.

Thursday started the birthday party prep, and was all go, and I didn’t get exercise or regular meals (it also was the first day of the kids midterm so there was no routine at all!) but still was reasonably ok with my eating. Then Friday was party day, and that was that. I ate all around me. I picked at food, I picked at cake. No exercise either. And was so tired from all the preparation and planning, that we got a Chinese for dinner. Then yesterday (Saturday) was another cake party for family this time, and again I didn’t have a stop-eating switch, and then finished the day up with a chippers. And a promise to myself that that was the end. Back on track this morning.

For some reason that didn’t happen. Possibly because I started the day with coco-pops (we never have them, they’re a birthday treat) or possibly because I didn’t have a proper lunch, or a proper dinner plan… but whatever happened, it got to a certain stage of the day and I started eating chocolate and sugar, and I couldn’t stop. I ate everything I could find. And that’s not an exaggeration. Unfortunately. I was almost inhaling chocolate and biscuits, and it was as though I couldn’t stop myself. I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t, that I didn’t need it, that I’d regret it, but it made no difference, I just kept eating and trying to find the next thing to eat. Until my husband got home, and we put on some food (he had a plan of some snack type bits he had bought in the shop today which is why I was waiting for him).

Of course I’m annoyed with myself now. Well disgusted really. But let’s say annoyed.

But it is done now. All I can do is do better moving forward. I need to get back on track (AGAIN) tomorrow. I need to start exercising properly again. I need to plan my lunches and dinners. I need to make sure I don’t get hungry. I need to be more organised. I need to put myself first, making sure I have healthy food first, and then feed everyone else if that is what happens.

Planning is key here, it shows. Plan my meals and my exercise. And make sure to prioritise them, for myself. And get myself back on track, again. Roll on tomorrow, back on track day 1, again.

Weight Loss

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned weight loss here, except in passing. But it is a huge part of my life at the moment.

The baby is a year old. When I got pregnant with her I had just joined Slimming World to try lose weight, I was at my heaviest. 15st 6lbs I think. I found out I was pregnant, and stopped Slimming World. After I had the baby I was 15st 9lbs. So I had barely put on any weight during the pregnancy, which I was delighted at. I had tried to be good during the pregnancy.

However instead of starting to lose weight then, I managed to put on weight, even though I was so conscious of it and wanted to lose weight. Instead I gained a stone more. At the end of August 2018, I was weighing at 16stone 6.75lbs (230.75lbs).

I decided I had better do something, and I got my head in the game, and started tracking my calories in myfitnesspal and trying to get more steps in. I cut out mindless eating, and planned to have my treats. I’m never going to give up chocolate, so I allowed a little bar or two a day. And I controlled my eating, and I lost weight.

By Christmas, I was down almost a stone and a half. I didn’t go crazy over Christmas and I didn’t put on too much weight, just a few pounds up. So then mid-January I got my head back in the game, and I had had my surgery on my leg then too and I HAVE to do three little walks a day. So for the last month I have done great, I lost a bit more (I did feel it should have been more because I thought I was doing really well but was barely losing) but I went past the stone and a half mark lost.

Then last week I fell off the wagon. I ate a full packet of mini-Kinder bars. Almost a 1000 calories, in an hour. And then I just kept going. The next day was Valentines Day and I ate buns and bread and loads of nice things. And basically the rest of the week wasn’t great, eating wise. And worse for walking. I literally didn’t go on the treadmill all week, and I only walked up to get my pre-schooler one day. So my steps are down loads.

And this morning I weighed. Its not my official weigh day. But I wanted to see. And I was up. Up 4lbs. In 5 days. I am gutted.

I had a stone and a half lost, but I still have three and a half stone to go, to even be in a “healthy weight” bracket. So I need to keep at it. I need to keep motivated, and I need to keep losing. Gaining is not ok.

Also it is less than 6wks now until my eldest daughters Confirmation, and I want to feel nice at it, in a nice dress.

So today is back on track. And this week is going to be a good one. I am going to get my walks and my steps in, I’m going to drink my water and I am going to eat healthily.

 

Pumpkin Picking!

pumpkin 1

Pumpkin Patches are a relatively new idea in Ireland (as far as I know anyway!). We had planned to go to one last year but couldn’t for some reason, so this year I was adamant we were going to go.

The one we chose to go to was one that we didn’t need tickets for, and no entry fee. You could go and pick your pumpkins, potatoes and corn and pay for what you got. This took off the pressure of paying in advance – although we paid for it because of the giant pumpkins our kids chose!!!

We all got our wellies and waterproofs on and headed through the “haunted” corn maze to the pumpkin field. The kids had great fun running around the field looking at all the different sizes, colours and shapes of the pumpkins. Then they decided that they wanted to get the biggest possible pumpkins – which was an idea we should have knocked on the head, but we didn’t! We’ll know better for future. We did manage to talk two of them down to looking for nicer looking shape and colour ones instead of just the size being the priority. They stood over their chosen pumpkin until we arrived with the wheelbarrow.

pumpkin-2.jpg

You can see the size of the two giant ones, particularly when you notice the size of the wheel or even the “large” pumpkin underneath the two giant ones!

We got a little shock when it came to paying, but they did a bit of a deal for us. And we did end up with 5 big pumpkins in our “trolley”. The farmer was over talking to us, about the amount of eating we had in the wheelbarrow – and even though we only wanted them  mainly for carving, we are going to do our best to use as much of them as possible. I’ve been searching for recipes and ideas, and what is best way of freezing the flesh or the purees. You might be seeing some posts of any successes coming up in the next few weeks!

Pancakes… yum

So I know Pancake Tuesday isn’t until next week – but for pretty much all of February my kids request pancakes, on a pretty much daily basis.

I have two types of pancakes I make, one is the little round “American Style” pancakes, and then these, the bigger thinner ones.

I found this recipe on the Delia Smith website and it makes perfect pancakes, always!

For our family of two adults and three kids, and whoever happens to be here, I always make a triple batch. It also keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (for the triple batch):

  • 330g plain flour
  • big pinch of salt
  • 600ml milk and 225ml water
  • 6 eggs
  • a big spoon of butter (over 50g)

On her website, she has the proper method outlined for mixing this. I just throw the first four ingredients into a bowl and whizz up with a hand food mixer. Then on the pancake pan I melt the butter and pour a small bit into the batter, but most into a bowl to use on the pan between each pancake. So they all get the buttery goodness!

I also think that my pancake pan and ladle are big parts of the success of the pancakes. I bought the flat pan in lidl about 2 years ago, to replace the one I had bought years before that. It was definitely less than 20euro and it came with a ladle. I was in a fancy pants pots and pans shop at the weekend and saw a pancake pan on sale for 65euro. My pan is perfect so keep an eye out for when they come into your local Lidl!

When it comes to frying the pancakes, rub the melted butter (on a piece of kitchen roll) onto the hot pan, pour on a ladle full of pancake (depending on how thick you like them – experiment!!) and roll it around to cover the pan fully. When the edges start to curl up off the pan, it means the bottom of the pan is starting to cook. After another minute, turn the pancake and cook the second side too.

Depending on who the pancake is for and what they want on it, I sometimes put a bit of butter on the cooked side of the pancake after I turn it, and when its melted I’ll put a spoon of sugar on while still on the pan so it melts into the butter a bit. Yum! And then the lemon when it comes off the pan.

The kids love golden syrup or chocolate spread (my homemade one, so at least it feels healthier!). I’ve tried savoury pancakes but they don’t go down very well here. If you’ve any ideas for easy toppings that could become family favourites, please let me know! 🙂

 

Taco Fries

Tonights dinner is one of our favourite here in this house. Homemade Taco Fries.

I love making homemade fries, and often used to use the deep fat fryer. Then in January I finally splashed out on a Tefal Actifry, after lusting after one for about 2 years! And I love it. I use it at least once or twice a week. It does take a good bit longer to cook the chips – but just means we have to be more organised!

The Taco spice mix is a blend that I found when doing Slimming World. I love the fact that Slimming World teaches people to cook from scratch using herbs and spices. I have always done most things from scratch but I used to use a taco spice mix that I bought. Now I always use this recipe.

What I did a few weeks ago was to mix a larger quantity – same proportions but just about 10 times as much so that I could have the spices premixed to make the prep even quicker. I now have that sitting up on my shelf in a jar and can just use a few spoons of that (to taste) when cooking the taco mince.

  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne chilli powser
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweetner (I use sugar because I hate artificial sweetner)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

I add the spice mix into the mince, and vegetable that are already cooked, along with two tins of tomatoes, and leave simmer for about 20 minutes. I use onions, garlic, peppers, celery (finely chopped) and mushrooms. You could add as much vegetables in here as you wanted. I am also going to try this with lentils and red kidney beans as a vegetarian version.

And then for serving we use a shop bought taco sauce and grated cheese.

Each of us in the house has a different way they want their taco fries served. I am traditional with the fries, mince, cheese, taco sauce. The hubby likes his taco sauce and mince mixed together first, and then put on his chips and doesn’t mind whether there’s any cheese or not. The boy is mince, then fries, cheese, taco sauce. Miss Q likes her mince topped with cheese and taco sauce on one side and fries on the other. And Little Miss Z likes her chips on a plate with some taco sauce to dip in – no mince or cheese!