Thursday, 6 December 2012

Weight Watchers Catch Up! Week Five - Weight Watchers Equipment

Apologies for my absence. Tumbleweed has been rolling through my blog for the last month while real life took over.

My final post for the Weigh Watchers Back2Best challenge spotlights some of the products available through the company to help you diet but also continue after you've lost your goal weight.

I lost my target weight quite quickly (perhaps too quickly for my flabby bits!) and I found what helped me the most wasn't the individual Weight Watchers branded foods but the equipment sent in my hamper that helped me the most.

If you are a habitual snacker then the WW products are a Godsend but I found myself eating cake bars, cakes and biscuits whereas I wouldn't actually do that normally but I was snacking on fruit constantly so I was pretty hungry for the first few weeks. What my downfall was, was incorrect eating patterns (skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch and eating a big dinner late at night) and portion control. I rarely eat pre-packed food so I was completely in control of my portion size.

The weight Watchers electronic scales helped me visualise what quantities of things that I should be eating like grains, pasta, pulses. The great thing about these scales as opposed to any other is that it counts the quantity weighed in points. It contains a huge database: Over 700 everyday items are pre-stored. It’s easy to select foods and to add new foods. A real kitchen essential, these are the only set of kitchen scales you’ll ever need for weighing and accurate portion control. Recipe-Builder: This unique function allows you to weigh out each ingredient from a recipe and automatically add up the ProPoints values as they go.


One thing I definitely couldn't cook without now is the Weight Watchers Oil Spray. I only use healthy oils but had gotten into the habit of lathering my food a bit too liberally with them. For things like salads, crostini, roasting it is far better to use a strong tasting oil and less of it than a weaker one and more of it.


I loved the Weight Watchers recipe book for when I was really stuck for inspiration. You can buy these products through the official Weight Watchers Website.

Overall, I enjoyed the diet as it made me look at how I was eating and what changes I needed to make. I lost my target weight and then some.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

#wwback2best Weight Watchers Recipes and Week 3 Update

BritMums - Back2best Challenge
Woohoo! I've lost four pounds this week. 

I mentioned in my previous post that I had been experimenting with Weight Watchers recipes. One of the ways that I have been using the recipes is by following the Weight Watchers recipe to the letter for myself and adding to that recipe to make it suitable for the rest of the family. Young children need more fat and energy for the whole purpose of growing and living than adults and certainly adults on a diet. Fats are vitally important to the brain, which is 70 percent fat. They are used for building the membranes around every cell in the body and also play a role in the formation of hormones. So last week I've cooked a variety of Weight Watchers low fat recipes that I've amended after removing my own portion to make them suitable for children. This week I cooked two zero ProPoints soups for lunch and made them kid friendly.


Mexican-Inspired Zero ProPoints Value Soup

Makes 12 servings
ProPoints® value | 0 per serving

Ingredients

  • 200g sugar snap beans, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 small courgettes, cubed
  • 120g tomatillos, chopped (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 25g green chilli
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 1440ml vegetable stock
  • 2 roasted peppers, 
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 25g fresh coriander, chopped

Instructions

  • Put sugar snap beans, garlic, courgettes, tomatillos, jalapeno, chopped tomatoes, green chilli, onion, green pepper, cumin, oregano and vegetable into a large soup pot. Puree roasted peppers with chipotle in adobo sauce in a blender or food processor, and add to soup. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes.

    Stir in salt, lime juice and coriander. Serve.


We eat a lot of Mexican dishes in this house but if you have none of the Mexican ingredients use red peppers and pickled jalapeños or smoked paprika. To this, for the kids I added grated cheese, kidney beans and chopped chorizo. They ate with with tortilla chips, sour cream and guacamole. 



Italian-Inspired Zero ProPoints Value Soup

Makes 12 servings
ProPoints® value | 0 per serving

Ingredients

  • 40g chicory, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 160g onions, chopped
  • 30g baby spinach
  • 2 small courgettes, cubed
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1440ml vegetable stock
  • 800g canned chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 25g fresh parsley, chopped
  • 25g fresh basil

Instructions

  • Put the chicory, garlic, onions, spinach, courgette, red pepper, fennel bulb, vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme and oregano into a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in salt, black pepper, parsley and basil. Serve.
Again I added pasta to this for the kids with parmesan and garlic bread. 





Monday, 15 October 2012

Happy Mondays - Giveaway Winners and Monday Half Term Mantra

Huge thanks to everyone who joined in with my latest giveaway. I hope you found the recipes inspiring. 

Chilli Papa's will be at the following Christmas Markets if you are around so you can scoop up some mixes while you're there and even check out their new Christmas Hampers!

10th November - Christmas Shopping Festival Glasgow
11th November - Christmas Shopping Festival Glasgow
15th November - Scottish Gas Edinburgh
29th November - North Queensferry Gala, Xmas Fayre
1st December - Sky Dunfermline
1st December - Pittencrieff Christmas Fayre
8th December - Christmas Shopping Festival - Edinburgh
9th December - Christmas Shopping Festival - Edinburgh
23rd December - Sky Dunfermline
24th December - Sky Dunfermline


Check out their Facebook page for updates and give them a like.

So...the winners of the Chilli Papa's Spice Mix Selections are...

Nelmilliken@...

KathleenHooper@...



Congratulations folks! I'll be in touch via email and Chilli Papa's will send you your goodies ASAP.

So here in Edinburgh it is officially half term. It kind of just crept up on us so we didn't make any plans to go away. 10 whole days with a two year old and a thirteen year old to occupy. Hmm...








Monday, 8 October 2012

Giveaway! National Curry Week. Low Fat and Utterly Delicious Curry!

Happy Ruby Murray week! 

Yes folks, it is National Curry Week this week so what better way to celebrate than to cook curry and enter my fabulous giveaway!



Regular readers of this blog (if there even is such a thing?!) may remember that I reviewed a delicious curry mix a while ago here on this blog made by a small Scottish company called Chilli Papas.

One of the things I really liked about the product when I last reviewed it was that it was a dry spice mix with no added fat and I am delighted that in light of my new Weight Watchers diet I have been given a brand new and exclusive spice mix from Chilli Papa's to taste test. Om...nom...nom! Chilli Papa's Mild Vindaloo!



This mix is not available to buy just yet and I cannot wait until I can buy it in the shops because it was absolutely delicious!

If you love the hot and sour taste of a vindaloo but could do without the heat then this is perfect for you. I will keep the review short as all of the Chilli Papas range has exactly the same cooking instructions and you can find my previous step by step reviews here and here. Oh my this was delicious! It had all of the punch of the previous Vindaloo but none of the heat. The vinegar that you add during cooking gave a sharp tang and the spice mix was incredibly aromatic. I added all of the ingredients and boiled the mixture so I had no need to add any oil to the pot. This method and using a dry spice mix instead of a sauce from a jar means that the flavour is soaked up by the meat which remains juicy and tender.

For all of you fellow Weight Watchers out there. What's more in addition to the (150g) curry I served this with raita (150g) that I made using 0% fat yoghurt, cucumber, cumin and lemon juice, lots of salad with lemon juice and no oil and 50grams of cooked basmati rice. (I kept away from the naan bread as I had had a big lunch) and my entire plate only amounted to 10 points! UNBELIEVABLE! It is easily amongst the best spice mixes I have ever tasted.


Now for the really exciting part...

Chilli Papas has teamed up with Oh Mammy! and we are offering two lucky readers the chance to win their choice of three spice mixes each! You can check out the mixes here on the website here

All you have to do to enter is to subscribe to this blog via email in the little box at the right hand side of this post. If you have already signed up for email updates then leave a comment and I will check that you're not telling porky pies. For additional entries you can pop over to my Facebook page to like me and post a comment or follow me on Twitter. Additional entries can be had for comments on this post or on any other post on my blog.

Competition closes at Midnight on Sunday the 14th of October 2013. Good luck!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

#wwback2best Week 1 Progress Update


I won't lie. I've found this week difficult. Difficult due to the fact that I have never dieted before and while in my original plan I had focused on the junk that I eat between meals, I hadn't really assessed what my overall diet was like. I also did my first before dieting photo of myself wearing my most revealing clothes. *Yes - Instagrammed it to soften the mental blow!



So this week I've being trying to get to grips with the whole points system. It's been a bit difficult to start with because other than the food I consume in cafes in restaurants, I make almost everything myself so the hours that I have spent this week calculating every single ingredient that goes into a breakfast, lunch and a dinner have been countless.

The app has been fantastic in helping me do this but I'm finding the information on it more suited to someone who eats prepacked food. It's great that I can save my recipes and meals but I do feel that looking back on my shopping receipt this week I have bought more prepackaged food because it makes counting simpler. One day this week where I had a big lunch (the serious hunger had set in) I found myself confined to a low point dinner. A dinner that really didn't have enough fat, protein and carbohydrates for this children so I bought frozen fish fingers and oven chips for the kids! Now I know I am not going to parenting jail for that but I felt bad and one of the things that we really enjoy is meal times and eating together. I found it a bit depressing sitting having different meals, an occasion usually only reserved for special occasions when their father and I are having something really, really scalding and spicy.

Over the week I have slowly gotten used to the Pro Points system and have been studying the app religiously checking out how good or bad my favourite items are. I'm still surprised by the high points value of some items like rice cakes (2 points per cake never mind a topping!) When you are restricted to 26 points in a day that is quite a lot. During a shopping trip this week I ate in a cafe and ordered a baked potato without butter with salad and a little cheese and was horrified to learn that I had used up 14 points during lunch!

I also didn't realise that I was eating an obscene amount of carbs! I love pasta, bread, crackers all of the things that accumulate the points easily. I nearly cried one day when I was allowed one slice of buttered toast for my breakfast! It tasted like ambrosia! I was all set for writing an ode to toast, the food of the Gods when I realised that diet maddness was setting in. I was allowed it on that particular day as I planned out the rest of the day and used a Weight Watchers recipe for dinner. This is what I'm finding it hard to cope with, not cutting out junk food. I will adjust, I suppose but really have no idea what I would do for a big chunk of sourdough bread with some oil and tapenade...

This hardship has been worth it though because in the space of seven days I lost 3 lbs! I'm still not very active as I'm recovering frustratingly slowly from a bad bout of Glandular fever.

                                           *Yes - that's my ACTUAL weight. This was what the app did when I inputted my weight. I felt like their should be at last a virtual thumbs up or something. Streamers. Applause...

What I'm really having fun with this week is following Weight Watchers recipes and then tweaking them to incorporate all of the fats and carbs and proteins that the children need. This allows us to eat at the same time and roughly the same meal. For example today I made a zero point soup for lunch but added after I had taken my portion out, chorizo, kidney beans, oil, cheese and bread to the meal for the kids.


Remember that if you would like to join me on my weight loss journey I have a special offer available to readers if you follow the following links. For only £1 you too can join in the Back 2 Best Challenge too and you can trial the brand new iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad app for free!

Silent Sunday - A New Hat! Present from Auntie in New Zealand.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Turning over a New Leaf. Weight Watchers Back 2 Best Challenge.

You may remember that in a previous post I was musing on how best to lose weight. I think that I may have found the answer. September is a great time to think about getting back to best – the indulgences of summer are over and there’s enough time to get in shape steadily and healthily for Christmas. So I am taking part in Weight Watchers Back 2 Best Challenge to lose weight and get fitter by Christmas. 



I have never dieted before and I have no idea how it will go. You can follow my journey on here on my blog, you can 'like' my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. Weight Watchers* have very kindly offered to support me through my challenge and I hope that you will find my posts interesting and helpful. Everyone is different and has a different set of circumstances to deal with. Just over a year ago we moved to a new area and since moving I have less opportunity for exercise. Also the kids are growing up and life is getting busier so this has had an impact too. Also a few months ago I was diagnosed with depression. I'm fighting it as hard as I can but that has had an impact on what I eat, how much I eat and what I cook. We all know how busy September can be and finding time to fit in healthy eating and exercise into the busy back to school/nursery routine can be a little bit of a nightmare, but with Weight Watchers you can make weight loss fit around your lifestyle, instead of the other way around.


I'm really hoping that I can keep this up. My research into the ProPoints plan indicates that it is adaptable to your lifestyle and fosters a common sense approach to eating rather than attaching guilt to eating and depriving yourself of food. 

The ProPoints plan is a weight loss system that allows you to eat what you like, when you like, until you reach your daily total. ProPoints values take into account the amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre in a given portion.

I've been very lucky that Weight Watchers are helping me along the way supporting my progress they have also linked me up with other bloggers out there so we can support each other. I'm overwhelmed that they have also created an offer for my readers to join in too! For only £1 you too can join in the Back 2 Best Challenge too and you can trial the brand new iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad app for free!

This award winning Weight Watchers app which makes it easier than ever before for members to track on the go. The app offers all the help you need to achieve your weight loss goals 24/7 – whether you attend weekly meetings, or follow the plan online. By empowering you with information about the ProPoints values of all your favourite meals and drinks; the app will really help you fit weight loss around your lifestyle, instead of the other way around.


The app has a database of over 30,000 foods and a selection of over 1,000 recipes, all listed in user friendly categories, and you can also track the Activity ProPoints you earn from exercise too.


Wish me luck!

*Weight Watchers have given me a six month membership to help me get back to my best. Thank you Weight Watchers!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sh*t my Toddler Says.

The more language that Boo acquires, the more I realise the ways in which the people around her are shaping her language.


Exhibit #1: Myself. (Since I am the author of this piece I shall, of course, paint myself in the best possible light.)




I am responsible for choice phrases like "that's really cool!"
"Hey!"
"Awesome!"
"You're looking very beautiful today."
"How wonderful!"

Exhibit #2: Her father.

Is responsible for her bossy side.


"Eat up your dinner!"
"Turn your computer off!"
"Right! That's it!"


Exhibit #3: Her Big Brother



"I don't know!"
"Jazz hands!"
"For God's sake!"
"Leave me alone!"
and all the words the infamous Sandwich Song



Exhibit #4: Grandma and Papa



"I'm Grandma's princess!"
"you're a little bugger!"
"Can I have a sweetie please?"

She is such a character!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

“It is not only what we do, but what we do not do, that we are held responsible.” ~Moliere

 The beautiful Italian actress Sophia Loren once remarked about her appearance 'all you see, I owe to spaghetti'. Lately, I have been thinking that everything I see, I owe to vast quantities of crisps, sports mix and a lack of exercise. Depression and ill health have not helped either. 

All attempts at joining a gym lately haven't worked out. Scheduling conflicts, offers of fried breakfasts have and general malaise have all gotten in the way of my good intentions. Well no more! The winds of change are coming and I'm feeling motivated. 

I've been pondering about how best to lose weight. I love food. I eat healthily but my big passion in life is cooking and feeding people. Very rarely do we eat anything in the house that has come from the take away or is a ready meal from a supermarket. I have the luxury of time to cook at home and so we hardly ever eat meals that have come from the freezer or a tin or can be pinged in the microwave. As a family most of our social engagements revolve around food. Special occasions are always celebrated with food. When Socrates said (as quoted by Plutarch in How a Young Man Should Listen to the Poets 21e) that bad men live to eat and drink, good men eat and drink to live, he was quite clearly a miserable sod!

I've known people who have dieted all of my life and I have always been horrified by their irrational guilt complex when it comes to food. Eating something and instantly regretting it quite frankly gets on my nerves. I have never embarked on a diet because of this. I'm looking for something that stops me eating something I shouldn't or perhaps will let me balance out my eating habits. The idea of starting a hate relationship with food terrifies me. 

I'm also struggling with gym time. The only time I have it at night when I'm far too tired to be bothered. I need to come up with a plan that is sustainable and works for our lifestyle and schedule. I'm setting myself a goal to be thinner and fitter by Christmas.



So watch this space...


Saturday, 1 September 2012

My Guide to Achieving a Saturday Morning Lie-in with a Toddler.


Bears Toddlers are curious, intelligent and potentially dangerous animals, but undue fear of bears toddlers can endanger both bears toddlers and people. Respecting bears toddlers and learning proper behavior in their territory will help so that if you encounter a bear toddler, neither of you will suffer needlessly from the experience.

If you see a bear toddler, avoid it if you can. Give the bear toddler every opportunity to avoid you. If you do encounter a bear toddler at close distance, remain calm. Attacks are rare. Chances are, you are not in danger. Most bears toddlers are interested only in protecting food, cubs cuddly toys or their "personal space." Once the threat is removed, they will move on.

Remember the following:

Identify Yourself 



Let the bear toddler know you are human. Talk to the bear toddler in a soothing voice. Wave your arms. Help the bear toddler recognize you. If a bear toddler cannot tell what you are, it may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear toddler is usually curious, not threatening.


You may try to back away slowly diagonally, but if the bear toddler follows, stop and hold your ground.

Don't Run 
You can't outrun a bear toddler. They have been clocked at speeds up to 35 mph, and like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals parents. Bears Toddlers often make bluff charges, sometimes to within 10 feet of their adversary, without making contact. Continue waving your arms and talking to the bear toddler. If the bear toddler gets too close, bang pots and pans. Use noisemakers. Never imitate bear toddler sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.


Surrender 
If a bear toddler actually touches you, fall to the ground and play dead. Lie flat on your stomach, or curl up in a ball with your hands behind your neck. Protect your vital organs. Typically a bear toddler will break off its attack once it feels the threat has been eliminated. Remain motionless for as long as possible. If you move, the bear toddler may return and renew its attack and you must again play dead.



*Thanks to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the safety information.


Friday, 31 August 2012

Silent Sunday - Silence is Golden (and rare).

Being a Blogger and Being Scottish. Cultural Cringe.

I've been pondering something lately but I am not firing on all cylinders so feel free to challenge me...

Why are there so few parenting blogs written by Scots and based in Scotland?




The more I thought about this, the more I recalled a book by Carol Craig called The Scots' Crisis of Confidence. While the book focuses on Scottish politics, industry and culture, its basic premise can be applied here to blogging and self expression by Scots in the media too. 


Craig says that the Scots' tradition of equality, a fine thing when it is equality of opportunity as it used to be, has become a lack of respect for individuality and a stultifying culture of conformity, which is inevitable when we redefine equality to mean "equality of outcome". We are ashamed of success or the lack of. The book is excellent and provides an in-depth analysis on how this cultural cringe affects areas of Scotland's enterprise, arts and culture, even the way we view our accents and our language as second rate. The things that we are most proud of are the things that we are also the most ashamed of. Take deep fried Mars bars, tartan hats, The Broons, Susan Boyle and Football for a small selection of examples. We produced these are so are inherently proud of these when another nation ridicules them. But we diminish our success or our opinions by drawing attention to our failings. 


Book review aside, the conclusion is this: that as a nation we have an inferiority complex. We feel the need to stifle our individual abilities. This will take time to change and me writing a blog post on it certainly isn't going to alter anything but it's glaringly obvious to me that in the face of a deluge of parent bloggers south of the border that this could possibly be something that affects Scottish bloggers. I think that a connection to this Scottish Cringe as she calls it, is why we aren't producing as many bloggers as our Southern friends. 

We have an inbuilt self deprecating switch that seems to me to be at odds with the amount of self promotion you have to do to survive as a parent blogger. We (or at least I think that we are) are a nation of sceptical thinkers. My Google Reader this week has been full of posts that say Well, I've never been a huge fan of these crisps but now that I have tasted the new flavour (read: now that I have been given ten free packets) I think they are the most wonderful crisps in the entire world. Or I always thought that [insert shoe brand here] was old fashioned but no longer as this new range is fantastically comfortable and fashionable. Written, I presume, whilst the blogger was breaking the shoes (free) inI inwardly cringe and go to my email inbox to turn down more PR requests for me to hawk their products. 


I occasionally dip my toe into networking and promoting my blog in what can only be described as a pathetically coy fashion. I hanging around staring at my shoes muttering, "psst! Here's a link to my blog, it would be lovely if you would read it." and then I run for the hills. As a nation we are ridiculously uncomfortable with self-promotion and for those of us who, albeit however temporarily, stick our heads out and shout our http address we are in fear of being regarded amongst our fellow compatriots as full of ourselves. 


One of the biggest stumbling blocks in my blogging career I have encountered is presentation and tone of my blog. I am, what would be considered in real life, one of the more experienced parents (my eldest is nearly 13, has special needs and I have a two year old toddler, and worked with children for five years). Parent bloggers usually start blogging about all the firsts we experience as parents and the tone of their blogs are inquisitive. Everything is all shiny and new and bit scary and quizzical at times. Then as the children grow and more are subsequently produced, the tone then becomes authoritative. Guides start to be produced about potty training, weaning and many other aspects of parenting. 


This is not an ego problem connected to the individual. As parents in real life, this assumed authority gets bred into us by health professionals and educationalists. Society seems to expect us to become experts after only one try. I remember two midwives being completely ignorant of my cries of "Yes, I've done all of this before but ELEVEN years ago! I've no idea what I'm doing!" Having done something once does not qualify you as an expert in anyway. That's something that I learned at a university conference in conversation with an eighty year old Classicist who still mused about all of the things about Greek history and language that he is yet to learn! Parent bloggers who dispense advice have to sound like they know what they're doing, like professional parents and that is not something that sits well with us Scots. 


This is a major hurdle when blogging in the genre of parent or even as mummy bloggers. A friend of mine asked me for advice recently and referred MY blog and I just about died of shame! Flapping my arms about in a panic, I was quick to reiterate that in no way was my own little corner of the blogosphere about how to parent! Jesus, no! I've no idea how to parent and I'm making it up as I go along with varying degrees of success. The test of time will be what they turn out like in the end. If and only when I am blessed with grandchildren, will I have then earned the right to dispense advice like a wise old owl. 


Self-confidence increasingly matters in the modern world and none more so than in a self-published on-line blog. The fact that the Scots collectively and individually lack confidence has enormous implications for economic growth, enterprise, physical and mental health, creativity, personal relationships and even, parenting skills.  It becomes a widespread ‘cannae do’ attitude.

Or perhaps it is just me...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Bruce Lee


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sh*t My Kids Say...

I thought that I would share some of this week's gems from out of the mouths of my babes...

Boo: "I want potato love!" (The curse of CBeebies!)

A: "Listen to this music mum, it's Nasty P!" (My subsequent joke about UTI's goes right over his head).

A: "My teacher said that puberty is an uncomfortable time so I thought it was going to hurt!" ( yeah...not literally, love!)

A (pointing to dark hairs on his shin): "Oh yeah! I feel like a maaaan!" (A finds a soul patch on his left shin)

Boo: "What's that dude called?" (The realisation that I watched far too many 90's films hits...)

Boo: "I've not got any boobs..." (Said whilst poking mine)

Most repeated phrase of the week by Boo: "I did a huuuuge peeeee!" (Potty training is going well.)

Most repeated phrase of the weekly A: "(siiigggghhhh) OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHY DO I HAVE TO DO IT?" (Kevin the Teenager is back)

Wordless Wednesday - Soggy Day Baking Session