New year, new post

Wow, it’s been a while – didn’t realise it had been quite so long.  Hello, happy (belated) new year.

When I started this blog last year it wasn’t focussed on anything in particular, but soon became dating tales interspersed with cooking and other randomness.

I was aiming last year to lose a bit of weight (to buy a fabulous dress) and find a boyfriend in time for a Christmas Eve wedding.   Well, the wedding was cancelled, and there’s still not bloke permanently on the scene (I may bore you with the details another day) but I did manage to lose some weight (hurrah!) and also got a couple of lovely frocks.  So two out of three’s not bad…..

Anyway, post Christmas and New Year over-indulgence, I realised a few of the banished pounds have found their way back home.  I am determined to get rid of them again, and a few more besides.  A new wedding invitation has arrived for the summer, so that’s another incentive.

I have been following with interest the almost-hysteria currently in the UK press about the Sirtfood diet.  The press have jumped on to this because it allows dark chocolate, red wine and coffee among other, perhaps less surprising, food stuffs.

The authors of The Health Delusion have now written The Sirtfood Diet, which they claim is more about health and well-being than dieting.  Although it does say “diet” in the title….

They devised the eating programme and then trialled it on a number of clients at the gym in London where they work as consultants.  The trial of a eating regime high in sirt-rich foods was meant to aid cellular repair and rejuvenation – but also had the side effect of those on the trial losing an average of 7 lbs in a week and feeling far more energised. 

Their trial included meals being provided for those involved and cost £1,500.  Ouch.  However they’ve now published the book – £8 on amazon or £5 for the kindle version – which outlines the research and science behind it, and shares a 7 day detox and then a maintenance plan.  (The detox definitely restricts calories so there should be an element of weight loss anyway.)

The eating plan is high in “sirt-rich foods” which activate proteins called sirtuins in the body.  Sirtuins regulate biological processes such as aging, cellular death, inflammation and metabolism and protect cells from dying when they are under stress.  According to the research, sirtfoods mimic the effects of fasting and exercise, can speed up weight loss and counterbalance the effects of junk food.

The book lists 20 sirtfoods, which include blueberries, parsley, turmeric, walnuts, rocket, soy, green tea, celery, chilli, kale, apples, buckwheat, capers, extra virgin olive oil, turmeric and red onion.  I haven’t actually got the book yet (debating hard copy vs kindle) but have been googling like mad about it and reading lots of reviews.  I do like the science behind it, and I actually like a lot of the foodstuffs that are sirt-rich, and as you can use the foodstuffs to compliment an existing healthy eating regime, I thought it might actually be achievable; although I’m not expecting to lose half a stone in the first week.

The detox week includes, alongside proper meals, “green juices” which include all kinds of healthy options, and require a juicer.  As I saw Aldi were doing a special on slow juicers (better to get juice from kale, rocket and other leafy stuff than ordinary juicers) I decided to buy one.  It was the last one in the shop so was clearly meant to be….. 🙂


I shall spend the weekend reading the book,  buying healthy food stuffs and juicing anything I can get my hands on (don’t worry, the cat’s safe).

Wish me luck – I’ll let you know how I get on…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloumi myself and I

After a busy weekend (those leftovers in my freezer were really useful) I finally got round to making the last of this time’s HelloFresh recipes.

This time it was lentil and charred vegetable halloumi salad.  This was a dish of extremes for me, including things I don’t like much at all (lentils, courgettes and peppers) and things I adore (halloumi and rocket).

This was really easy to make, not much chopping – just the courgette and pepper.  A little bit of pan cooking – the courgette, pepper and halloumi – and whipping up a quick vinaigrette.  The vegetables, lentils, rocket and vinaigrette are mixed together and the cooked halloumi put on top – after being coated in a small amount of oil and lemon zest.

I’m still not a fan of lentils, but I did like this salad.  The lemon juice and thyme in the vinaigrette helped add a bit of flavour to the lentils and the different textures of the charred vegetables and halloumi really worked.

This is how it looked

and the professional version

Cashew!

After a night off last night (had the second portion of the steak stir fry; just as tasty as the first night) I was back slaving over a chopping board again tonight.  I plumped for the chicken with cashew nuts and yellow bean sauce.

This is one of my favourite dishes if I have a chinese meal so was keen to see how easy it was to make my own.  I have to admit I groaned a little when I saw how many ingredients this had – but actually it was really easy to make with minimal chopping required.  Hurrah!

I had toast the cashews, slice the chicken, quickly fry it off, then cook egg noodles and tenderstem broccoli together.  After that it was just a case of throwing chopped spring onions, garlic and ginger in the pan, with a bit of sesame oil.  I made the yellow bean sauce – which also had rice vinegar, soy sauce and water – and then added to the pan with the cooked chicken, broccoli and noodles.  Warmed it all together and voilà!

To serve I just added the toasted cashews and spring onion.  It was really delicious – actually nicer that the one I bought from the takeaway last weekend.  Much less fatty and the broccoli added a really good crunch.

This is how it looked

and the professional version:

Tarragon of virtue

Day three, and it’s pan-fried chicken with new potatoes and tarragon sauce (apologies for the title pun).

Another easy to make dish, with very few ingredients – and again was delicious.  You get to butterfly chicken breasts and then bash them with a rolling pin – great for relieving the stresses of the day.

The new potatoes are roasted in a tbsp of olive oil, green beans steamed and the chicken cooked with a sauce of creme fraiche, dijon mustard and tarragon.

Really simple and nice to have a break from lots of chopping too!  The tarragon sauce is really good and I’ll definitely make that to go with all sorts of other dishes.

Here’s how it looked:

 
and the professional version:

 

Stacking Mexicans

Second night of HelloFresh week, and I chose to make Mexican Tortilla Stack with Homemade Guacamole and Black Bean Salsa.

This included both black beans (dreaded pulses) and yellow pepper – both things I’m not usually that keen on.  It was delicious!  Really easy to make – lots of chopping again – and then you bung most of it in saucepan for a while.

There’s a really easy to make guacamole – mash up an avocado, add some coriander and lime juice and it’s good to go.

It makes loads, so this would easily feed three, and I have lots of left over salsa and guacamole in my fridge now.  Looking forward to having the second helping of this one – and I’d definitely make it again.  Particularly as there is no meat in it, the cat left me to cook in peace!

It tastes great and the different textures – the smooth guacamole, the warm tomato and blackbean salsa, soft tortillas finished with crunchy cold black bean, pepper and coriander topping – work really well.  It’s not the easiest thing to eat – definitely not an early dating dish – but worth the salsa spillage.

Here’s how it looked

 
and what it should have looked like

  

Roaming Rooster

I bit the bullet and got a second Hello Fresh box – and this time I went a bit outside my comfort zone.  I tend to be a bit “safe” when ordering in restaurants a lot of the time, or buying food for myself, and I’d been waiting for a week’s worth of recipes from HelloFresh that I thought I’d like.

I’ve probably said before that I’m not a massive fan of pulses or rice, and I tend to avoid really hot/spicy food too.  I’m not a fan of green beans or peppers either, so clearly I decided to cook a dish that included most of those this evening!

It was billed as Speedy Vietnamese Lemongrass Stir Fry with Roaming Roosters Steak.  It’s beef flank cooked with peppers, green beans, spring onion, chilli, garlic, soy sauce, white vine vinegar and, of course, lemongrass and served on basmati rice.  It was fairly speedy – just required a lot of chopping then a fair bit of frying.  I have no idea why it’s called “roaming rooster” but the steak was very tasty.  Pretty tender considering I probably didn’t slice it quite as thinly as i was supposed to and then had to spend a bit longer waiting for it to brown off.  I was a bit cautious with the chilli, but having tasted it I could definitely have put more in.

I’ve not cooked with the hard bit of lemongrass before; the recipe did say that you needed to hit it with something hard and then keep chopping to release the flavour – and I don’t think I did this enough.  I couldn’t really taste the lemongrass.  It was very nice though, and I would cook it again.  Just as well as i have enough portion in the freezer to eat another night!

Here’s what my creation looked like:  

and compared to the professionals:  

One down, four more to go.  It’s good to be cooking again, and made me leave work at a sensible time to get home to my chopping board!

Hello (Fresh) Again

I realise I’ve been shockingly remiss at posting.  I will have to catch up with some things I missed, including arty bits & some dating updates.

However for now I shall be food blogging again; I got another HelloFresh box delivered last night and so shall be sharing my foodie exploits/creations this week.

This is what arrived: 
And the cat seemed quite impressed too….

There seems less bulk than last time, but the vegetable drawer in the fridge is very full.
More later!