Friday, 28 September 2012

Before/after - baggy trousers!

Look at those trousers! I was rummaging through my wardrobe last week and came across my first pair of work trousers, from when I first started my job back in 2009. They are a size 16, and they use to fit me perfectly! And of course, I tried them on to see the difference between then and now, and just.. wow! Couldn't believe how big they were! They drop to my ankles if I don't hold them up myself. I am now size 8-10 (in the majority of shops). Just crazy. I thought I'd share this with you all! I love comparing my photos and clothes from before and now - you never quite realise how much different you look until it's in front of you.

If anyone has any before/after photos, I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


I found this is my 'Healthy Food Guide' magazine (page 60-61, September 2012 issue). This recipe is so simple and quick to make and tastes absolutely gorgeous! It's a lovely little dish, great to have at lunchtime, as a starter or as a biggish cheeky snack. It's fresh, light and filling - a very summery dish. The magazine gives you 1 basic bruschetta recipe with 9 different ideas to chop and change this recipe up to suit you.

Here's the basic recipe (serves 4, approx. 177kcal per serving):

- 4 salad tomatoes, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- small bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices of bread, such as ciabatta or sourdough

1. Preheat the grill to high. In a medium bowl, combine the tomato, red onion, basil, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Season with black pepper.
2. Put the bread slices under the grill and toast until crisp and browned. Top each with the tomato mixture and serve.

See - as simple as that! Absolutely delicious!

Here's the variations that I chose to do from the suggestions when making this recipe:

Avacado: Add 1 diced medium avocado to the mix, then spoon over the toasted bread (246kcal per serving using only this change).
Tangy lemon: Replace the olive oil and vinegar in the tomato mix with 1-2 tbsp lemon juice. Sprinkle over a little lemon zest before serving (148kcal per serving using only this change).

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Baked banana and raisin oatmeal.

Always remember to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast! People (especially dieters) tend to skip their breakfast in the hope they'll lose weight, or to save calories.. This doesn't tend to work - if anything, skipping breakfast will aid weight-gain, rather than weight-loss. This is because your metabolism slows down whilst you're sleeping and doesn't speed back up again until you eat.. So if you eat breakfast, your metabolism will start up sooner than if you left it until lunchtime to eat, which means you'll burn calories faster! There is loads of research and evidence that can be found online that supports this. So please don't skip breakfast. It really is the most important meal of the day!

I found this yummy baked oatmeal recipe on Mr Breakfast - a whole website dedicated to breakfast! I have adapted the recipe a tiny bit to make it contain a little less calories.. But if I were to make it again, I would definitely cut it up into 8/9 squares, instead of 6 -making each square even less calories than it says below!

This recipe serves 6 people and is 296kcal per serving.

- 2 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 3 cups/210g rolled oats
- 1.5 cups/330ml unsweetened almond milk
- 0.25 cups/g seedless raisins
- 0.25 cups/55ml oil
- 6 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to medium-high temp.
2. In a  large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and egg white. Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined. Now leave the mixture to set for 10 minutes, to allow the oats to absorb up some liquid.
3. Stir the mixture once more, before pouring it into a baking pan (make sure the baking pan in generously covered with a spray-oil, such as "Fry Light").
4. Leave to bake for 35 minutes.
5. Once finished, cut the oatmeal into 6 pieces and serve warm. You could serve it with a little golden syrup drizzled on top (this step is optional) - yum!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Quorn spaghetti bolognese.

I would say that spaghetti bolognese is one of the most popular dishes to have at home - we have it about once a week in our house! It's filling, tasty and can be made to suit you. Some like it cheesy, some like it chunky and some even like throwing in some meatballs to the mix! You can customise it pretty much to however you want. Weirdly enough, before I was a "vegetarian" (yes, I know I eat fish, but I completely avoid meat), I never use to like spaghetti bolognese. But when I found the meat substitute, "Quorn", I actually started to like it. Just because you're a vegetarian doesn't mean you have to miss out on a meal as amazing as this! Just replace the beef mince with Quorn mince, or the meatballs with Quorn meatballs and you can enjoy it too! In my opinion Quorn is far more tasty than meat anyway.. And a lot healthier too! So here it is, homemade Quorn spaghetti:

This little dish was actually something my sister put together (I did ask if it was okay to put it on my blog - she said yeah), but I really want to share it with you guys! It was so nice that I couldn't help but tuck into it a little before taking a photograph.. Oops!

This recipe serves 4 and has approx. 415kcal per serving (without any cheese).

- 300g dried spaghetti pasta
- 300g Quorn mince
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 400g passata
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 15g HP brown sauce
- 1.5 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1.5 tsp dried onion granules
- 1.5 tsp dried chopped garlic
- low-fat cheese, grated (optional)

1. Fill a large saucepan, about three-quarters full, with water and a tiny pinch of salt and place on a high heat. Bring it to a fierce boil. Once boiling, add in the dried spaghetti pasta. Leave the pasta to cook (approx. 10-15 minutes), but remember to stir it occasionally so it doesn't all stick together.
2. Meanwhile, in another medium-large saucepan, placed on a medium heat, add in the Quorn mince, passata, chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Cook for a minute or two, continually stirring. Then add in the HP brown sauce, vegetable stock cube, salt, pepper, onion granules and chopped garlic. Give it a good stir so it's all mixed together nicely. Then turn the heat down a little and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until it reduces and thickens to your preferred consistency.
4. Once you think the pasta is cooked (either taste a bit to check or get a piece of the spaghetti and throw it at a wall - sounds bonkers, I know.. If the spaghetti sticks to the wall it's supposedly cooked) take it off the heat and use a colander to drain it. Evenly dish out the cooked spaghetti pasta between 4 plates. Then take the Quorn/tomato mixture off the heat and also dish it out evenly between the 4 plates.
5. If you like your spaghetti cheesy, grate about 10g of your preferred cheese on top of each dish. Make sure you do it straight away so the cheese melts! Use whichever cheese you like (although low-fat cheese is better for you calorie-wise)!

P.S. To jazz this recipe up a little, you could swap the Quorn mince for Quorn meatballs (adding them in at the same time you would the mince) or you could add in some chunky vegetables to give the dish a bit more texture, such as carrot, mushrooms, onion, whatever you fancy really (add these in at the same time as the sauce, stock & seasonings). Enjoy!

(Above: Quorn spaghetti bolognese, made with Quorn meatballs, instead of mince, and an extra 10g of low-fat cheddar cheese - approx. 514kcal).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Shapers meal deals!

I think I may have discovered the best food meal deal offer ever - "Shapers"! It's found in a store called Boots. Great for lunches - they have the biggest choice of foods I've ever seen; sandwiches; wraps; salads; fruit salads; crisps; chocolate bars; popcorn; juice drinks; energy drinks; soft drinks; etc. etc. For £3.29 you can pick up 1 main, 1 snack and 1 drink. They're tasty, filling, quite cheap and - best of all - they're low-kcal (all Shapers combinations are supposedly under 500kcal). Also if you own a Boots advantage card you can collect points too - bonus! ;) I've only just found out about these meal deals and I've already tried 4 different combinations, and I will definitely be having many more!

Here are 3 of them to show you (I don't have a photo of the 4th one..):

My Shapers meal deal #1 - £3.29 - total calories: 219.
In this meal deal, I enjoyed an 'Around the World' Latino style roasted vegetable & rice salad with salsa (170kcal) and a melon & mango fruit pot (29kcal). I also had a can of Relentless - Libertus energy drink (20kcal) (not photographed), as I had a very very long day at work, but I didn't actually like the drink and ended up throwing half of it away anyway. Other than that, this meal deal was lovely! Lots of exciting flavours in the rice salad and the salsa was lovely! The fruit pot was nice and tasted fresh, but I wish it had a more even ratio. You'd expect melon 50:50 mango, but it was more melon 80:20 mango..

My Shapers meal deal #2 - £3.29 - total calories: 289.
In this meal deal, I enjoyed an 'Around the World' Thai style vegetable jungle wrap (250kcal), a pineapple fruit pot (36kcal) and a sparkling cream soda drink (3kcal). The wrap was sooo good! The spices were strong and very tasty and very well wrapped (normally I find most wraps fall apart and more filling ends up on the floor than actually in your mouth)! The pineapple was delicious! The drink was strange, but I really liked it! I had never tried "cream soda" before so I thought I should give it a bash, and it was actually surprisingly nice - very sweet! I will probably buy this drink again.

My Shapers meal deal #3 - £3.29 - total calories: 316.
In this meal deal, I enjoyed an 'Around the World' Oriental style king prawn, mango & sweet fire chilli wrap (267kcal), a crunchy & juicy grape snack bag (48kcal) and a bottle of Diet Coke (1kcal). The wrap was lovely! A crazy combination of flavours! The mango and chilli sauce is very tangy, but very tasty! The apple and grape snack bag was okay.. The apple was lovely and had a great taste to it, but the grapes were a little off and squishy in my opinion - I'll probably avoid this snack option next time.. And Diet Coke is just awesome anyways - yummm!

I would recommend these meal deals to anyone! Find your nearest Boots store and please give them a go! You won't be disappointed - there's something there for everyone! :)

(EDIT - 4 more meal deals that I've had since making this post):

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Graze day! Top tip & get your first Graze box FREE!

Today is what I call a "Graze Day" - I received my fortnightly Graze box through the post this morning! I was pleasantly surprised with the punnets I received. I LOVE seeds and Graze's flapjacks, so I can't wait to dig into them (although they are both pretty calorific compared to most other punnets..)! And I have never tried the fig and cherry one before, so it'll be nice to try something new. The dipping punnets are great to take to work to munch on, on my tea-breaks, as they're quick to eat and not too messy! I love having my snacks when I'm peckish throughout the day (mainly between lunchtime and teatime and sometimes before I go to bed). They're quite filling and very tasty - yum yum!

In my Graze box I also received a little leaflet, and in there it's saying about their new treat coming out soon - "Healthy Popping Corn"! I cannot wait until this comes out! I love popcorn! And at a bonus, each flavour popping corn, that Graze are bringing out, are under 100 calories - yay! They are going to be microwavable, so they'll also be nice and hot - how I think popcorn should be enjoyed! :)

TOP TIP: Graze always supply the nutritional information and use by date for each snack you receive, but it's written inside the little leaflet and it's not actual written anywhere on the punnet itself.. So - for all you calorie counters - as soon as you receive your Graze box, just get out a permanent marker and write the calorie content and use by date of each yummy snack straight onto the film lid of the punnet. That way you will never forget how many calories it contains or when it goes out of date, plus you won't have to carry the information around with you separately at the risk of losing it.

Here's a little treat for all of you! Enjoy your first Graze box for FREE! Just go to Graze's website and enter the code:


Don't forget to rate/slate the punnets, so you don't end up receiving something you already know you won't like. Also use the "send soon" tick-box for things you want to try asap. You'll probably be asked to enter your card details, but this is just incase you want to continue receiving Graze boxes in the future for a cheap cost (I've been enjoying my Graze boxes since January 2012). But if you don't, once you receive your first free Graze box, you can go back to their website and cancel all future boxes - it's a very trustworthy site and it's very easy to cancel/postpone your boxes.

Enjoy! :)