Sunday, March 24, 2019

Yummy Spiced Fruit Loaf Recipe

Hello, and Happy Sunday!

I have been baking. Not a frequent pastime these days as the end products are too tempting for one determined to lose weight. But the man about the house takes a packed lunch to work every day and needs plenty of calories to sustain him during a long physically demanding day (or so he tells me).  Often he takes a few breakfast biscuits for snacking but I've decided that they contain too many chemicals (and can be rather expensive). Which is why this light spiced fruit loaf is now resting on my worktop.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Four Cheap and Healthy Student Meals With Beef Mince Base

I think that this recipe is ideal for young people living away from home for the first time and just learning to cook on a budget. It's cheaper, healthier, and possibly quicker, than popping out to buy a takeaway meal.  No need to buy larger quantities of vegetables than are needed - baking potatoes, carrots, and onions can all be purchased as single items from the veg counter in many supermarkets, from market stalls, or from greengrocers shops.

Once the basic recipe has been prepared any leftovers can be refrigerated for a couple of days. Here's how to ring the changes with  400g of minced beef to make four meal's.

The first meal feeds two people (for those hoping to find a way to somebody’s heart via the stomach) and the remaining mixture makes two single meals.  You could add more vegetables, if desired, to make the mince stretch further.

Day I - a variation of spaghetti bolognaise - 

  • Make the traditional Italian Holy Trinity by dicing onion, celery and carrots in the proportions 2:1.1 (One onion is sufficient for 400 g mince) Note - cooks who are short of time or enthusiasm for chopping can buy this mixture in some supermarkets. It's in a pack labelled 'Sofritto'.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Egg, Chorizo, Kalettes, Parmentier Potatoes and Tomato in a Sunday Brunch Hash

The tiny leaves of kalettes are a fairly recent hybrid of kale and Brussels sprouts. High in vitamins K and C (but not as high as kale)


Chorizo - a staple in my fridge. Intense flavour. A little goes a long way.

 I adapted a recipe from the March issue of Waitrose Food magazine to incorporate the kalettes and the chorizo, substituting them for the specified kale and bacon lardons.

The result got a thumbs up from the man about the house so I'm sharing a link to the recipe -

 Bacon, egg and kale oven hash

Saturday, March 09, 2019

How to Have a Healthy and Happy Old Age -Book Recommendations

The Port at Hydra
By Herbert Ortner, Vienna, Austria - own image, scan from a slide, CC-BY 3.0

Sod 70! was recommended to me by my sister when I hit my 70th birthday. Although she herself is several years away from this momentous day interest in the book had been roused because she had worked with the author many years ago. He had gone on to become the Director of Public Health for England, and has, like me, now passed the seventy years milestone. So, from my point of view, there was clearly some merit in what he had to say on the subject.

A practical guide, with an emphasis on what Sir Muir describes as 'closing the fitness gap'. This man know what he is talking about -  he is one of England's most senior medical figures. His book is an engaging and easily readable little guide with lots of cartoon images. It has become a reference source for me, and I have given copies as birthday gifts to couple of friends.

This travelogue takes a more philosophical approach, distinguishing between early old age and late old age. The author, an American, went to Harvard College, where he was awarded a B.A. in philosophy. He had a brief career in television comedy before concentrating on writing in several genres, including humorous philosophy. In later life, contemplating how best to spend his remaining years, Klein took a sentimental journey back to the Greek island of Hydra to study how and why the local old men appear to be so contented. The book links his observations to the philosophical writings of Epicurus. His message, in summary, seems to be to go with the flow, accept the inevitable and have a relaxed time. And definitely, don't opt for teeth implants!

Friday, March 08, 2019

Easy Bread Making - A First Attempt

The cookery writer Elizabeth David said that every cook should know how to make soda bread. And now I do. I watched James Martin make it on Saturday Kitchen last week and have been itching to bake some ever since. It is so quick and easy - mixed and kneaded in a few minutes and no need to prove the dough. A loaf of bread warm from the oven in 45 minutes. Most recipes seem to include wholemeal flour but James Martin used brown flour, so that's what I did. Not bad for a first attempt. I should have kneaded it for a little longer and cut the traditional cross deeper since it disappeared during the baking. But nevertheless, it tastes great.Why not give it a go? Lots of recipes online. Try these James Martin
BBC Food
175 g brown self-raising flour
175 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
284 ml carton buttermilk plus milk to make the liquid up to 300 ml

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees fan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl Mix in the buttermilk and draw the mixture together
 Add a tad of milk if the mixture seems too dry ( but it must not be wet)
 Place on a floured surface and quickly knead
 Shape into two round loaves
Place on a floured baking tray and slash the top
Cook for  18-20 minutes

  • Ensure that the baking tray is adequately covered with flour or the dough has a tendency to stick to the tray
  • Half a teaspoon of salt was not quite enough for my taste. I will add a little more next time
  • Make a deep slash, or it will virtually disappear as the dough rises. 
  • Some flours absorb more liquid than others.                                                 

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Successful Healthy and Fast Weight Loss With my Low-Carb Diet Regime and Easy Exercise

Good news!

Following three months of poor results on a gym programme and around 1400 calories each day I changed my diet and exercise regime only a few days ago and the body analyzer scales at the gym indicate that am already getting results. How?

Here's where it all happens!

  • I am now using the fat burn programme on the treadmill for half an hour, five days a week. I was a bit skeptical at first because this means that I'm strolling in order to keep my heart rate at 104 (right for my age and weight), burning very few calories. Is it boring? A bit. But, in combination with an altered and improved diet, I am burning fat rather than stored glucose. Which is great, because the truth is that I am clinically obese with thirty-five percent body fat. Nobody but my doctor appears to believe this simply by looking at me - because much of the fat is hidden and lurking around my internal organs. I weigh more than my thirty-one-year-old son, who is six feet tall compared to my 5 feet 3 inches. My blood pressure has been controlled by medication for years and I recently had an extra pill added. Which was just too much. I want to live for another fifteen years or so - hopefully as fit as I can be and in good health. I had a wake-up call and summoned some determination. Hence the diet. 
  • I'm using my own adaptation of Michael Moseley's Blood Sugar Diet - although I am not diabetic (you may know that Michael, who has a medical background cured his diabetes with this diet). The reason I chose the diet is that it is based on trials conducted at Newcastle University and is proven to quickly get rid of the visceral fat  (the dangerous hidden fat) around the liver and to cleanse the pancreas. 
  • To summarize, the secret is higher protein consumption than I am accustomed to and plenty of vegetables. Fat is allowed (yes, that's right) so full-fat plain Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds are on the menu. What I am not eating is flour, bread, root vegetables (apart from an occasional carrot baton), and foods containing added sugar (though I do put half a teaspoon of sugar in my one daily cup of tea). The high high-sugar fruits that I previously consumed in large quantities are out, so I'm eating berries with an occasional apple or pear. 
  • For the time being ( I have around 17kg to lose to get down to my ideal healthy weight), I am restricting myself to 1000 calories on most days and on two days I consume only 800 calories. Honestly, I am never hungry! So far today I have eaten, for breakfast, a two-egg omelette, cooked in half a teaspoon of olive oil and half a teaspoon of butter, and filled with an ounce of jumbo prawns. Mid-morning I ate an apple (not because I was hungry but because I thought that I ought to) and drank 200 ml semi-skim milk. 
Here's me, on the beach, summer 2018, arthritic knee hurting and feeling very unfit  -

I will be posting the prints from the Body Analyzer scales during the next few days. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Not Giving up on the Weight Loss Programme

Losing excess weight becomes more difficult as we grow older. But I tell myself that it's not impossible and that it's essential if I want to live to a ripe old age (I'm seventy-one years of age). So, seriously overweight and unfit, I re-joined the gym in December. Three times each week, I brace myself to tackle the treadmill, the rower, resistance machines and free weights. Results have been mixed. I'm considerably fitter and have more energy and enthusiasm. On the other hand, I have lost hardly any weight. Disappointing. So I did the maths.

  • A deficit of 3500 calories in a week results in one pound of weight loss. That's 500 calories, on average, each day.
  • It's helpful to know your Basic Metabolic Rate to do the maths. That's the number of calories that you would burn if you simply laid in bed for 24 hours and did nothing, nada. Mine is 1391.
  •  To achieve a calorie deficit of 500 each day I need to either
  (1) reduce my calorie intake to 1391-500=891 - if I decide to stay in bed all day!  or

(2) be active for a period and intensity that burns 500 calories or

 (3) combine of calorie reduction with increased exercise
My Fitbit Charge wristwatch monitors my calorie input and output and the Tanita Body Analyzer Scales at the gym tell me my BMR.

 It became evident that I have been eating too much (1400 calories per day, approx) and not giving my trainers enough of a hard time.

 So I decided to

  •  increase my visits to the gym and walk for longer in fat burn mode on the treadmill
  •  tailor the Michael Moseley Blood Sugar Diet to my needs and for the past few days have been eating low carb meals. It's basically a Mediterranean style diet.  No sugar (or very restricted - life's too short not to have half a teaspoon of sugar in a mug of tea once a day!), no flour, no bread, no root veg. Between 800 and 1000 calories a day.  I'm pleased to report that, so far, I haven't once felt that I was about to faint due to hunger!
I don't pretend to totally understand the science of what, in effect, resembles a ketogenic diet. It's something to do with the fact that the body burns glucose before it burns fat, so if there is no glucose stored in the body it goes straight into fat burning mode. It seems to be working.

My meals have become more imaginative. I'm eating a lot of omelettes, often filled with spinach, and plenty of soups with lentils added for protein.

Prawn stir fry with chilli sauce and side salad.

Prawns, avocado, salad veg, lime juice, olive oil, chilli flakes

All delicious food that I look forward to enjoying. 


Come back later if you want to find out how this new lifestyle is working out.