Category: Food

Could a Japanese diet help you lose weight?

I’ve heard a rumour that Japan recommends 17 servings of fruit and vegetables every day – 13 portions of veggies and 4 portions of fruit. As I don’t always reach the UK’s recommended target of 5-a-day, I now feel a little pathetic on hearing their goal. So, I’ve challenged myself to up my fruit and veg intake and here’s how I’m getting on…

My experience of eating 17-a-day

Poo
Who needs Pootea when you’re eating this much fruit and veg! TMI – I’ve never been so regular! However, the initial increase was maybe a bit of a shock to my system and I did have a slight stomach ache after a few days – thankfully the discomfort didn’t last too long. Note to all, increase portions gradually.

Energy
I’ve felt so much better for eating more fruit and veg. I’ve always known they’re good for you, but the difference as been pretty incredible (after having a few weeks of not consuming as many as I would normally). I’m sure my skin has improved already, too.

Creative cooking
Given a target so high has made me more creative with how I prepare my portions of fruit and veg. Before my challenge I’d have an apple, banana and veg sticks. Now, I’m including more fruit and veg at every meal. Breakfast in particular has been a tasty eye-opener – I’ve enjoyed a mash up of onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and some kind of green veg, piled on top of a slice of toast with eggs. Lunch and dinnertime meals have been more filling with the addition of extra cooked veg and fruit has been great to snack on or treat as a ‘pudding’, thanks to the natural sugar in the stuff.

More full and less sugar
The increase has left me feeling more satisfied after my meals and less prone to snacking and craving sweet things. I’m not saying my sweet tooth has disappeared but come the evening I’ve realised I’ve gone all day without reaching for my usual chocolate fix. I then eat some chocolate!

Let’s go Japanese!
Whatever the number, there’s no doubting that fruit and veg in your diet is a positive thing for good health and weight loss – if that’s your goal. I’ve enjoyed the self-challenge to eat more of the stuff and will let you know on what the scales reveal next week!

What my healthy day looks like

I’ve shared a lot of details about my eating habits when I’m off plan (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate) but maybe not enough about what I eat when on I’m track. So here is a typical healthy day for me, and all of this adds up to my Weight Watchers allowance of 30 SmartPoints.

Breakfast: Porridge made with a banana, water and a splash of skimmed milk. Plus a coffee with skimmed milk.

Lunch: Chicken salad with a brown sandwich thin toasted and torn up to become ‘croutons’. Finished with 150g of strawberry Skyr yogurt, some fruit and vegetable crudités.

Dinner: Two lean Heck pork sausages with potato mash, butternut squash waffles (finally got my hands on some of these), broccoli, gravy and baked beans. Plus a Weight Watchers chocolate bar.

Snacks: Fruit, Veg, tea/coffee, cereal bar

Workout: On this particular day I also managed a 20 minute buggy run with my little one (now I’m just showing off).

Voila, there you have it.

What do you think of my healthy day?
I would love to hear your thoughts on my healthy day and what does a healthy day look like to you? Leave a comment below or leave a message on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page.

Chloe x

A Bootea (Pootea) Review

Despite my slightly ‘anti-detox’ blog last week, I’ve always been intrigued by popular ‘teatoxes’ and their promise that drinking a herbal tea will help you lose weight and feel great. Bootea is probably one of the leading detox teas around and so I gave in to my curiosity and embarked on Bootea’s 14 day teatox – here’s how I got on.

What’s involved?
For 14 days you drink a cup of Bootea every morning (or when you remember). Within those 14 days you also drink a second Bootea every other night before bed. Doing so is meant to help you feel energised and lose weight.

Initial thoughts of Bootea
“What a pretty box!” was my first thought! My second observation – there’s not a lot of information given on how the tea actually helps you achieve those goals, so I assumed that the all natural ingredients would maybe suppress your appetite, or contain properties that would encourage fat burning. I was wrong. This tea will make you poop, and I guess we’ve all had big dumps where we felt energised and lighter afterwards!

What does Bootea taste like?
The tea is fairly enjoyable to drink. The morning tea is quite refreshing and it has a strong taste of dandelion and fennel. The bedtime tea is a little earthier in its flavour, but has a pleasant peppermint aftertaste. Both teas took a tiny while to get used to, but they are by no means unlikeable to drink.

What happened after I drank Bootea
I wonder if it’s an inside joke to call this tea ‘Boo’ as it rhymes with poo, and that really is what you’ll end up doing – or I did anyway. I would describe this tea as a colon cleanse. For me, the need to go was surprisingly quick after drinking the morning tea. The bedtime tea worked through the night so that you may feel the need to go first thing in the morning. The urge to poo in the first few days was er, very regular. After the first week, this settled and I didn’t particularly notice the need to go as being an inconvenient (aka, I didn’t sh#t the bed).

How did I feel after my Bootea teatox?
I’m prone to constipation, wow bet you’re glad you read this blog, and the tea definitely helped to solve that issue! It has also made me feel less bloated and having to drink the herbal concoction everyday I think helped me cut down on my coffee intake – which always has a habit of creeping up. I can’t honestly say that I have felt more energised from the tea, but perhaps I would be able to tell better once more time as passed since finishing my Bootea pack – and if next time I tried the 28 day teatox.

Bootea and weight loss
I follow Weight Watchers, so I am purposefully trying to lose weight at the moment, but I don’t feel as though the tea has helped me lose anymore than I would usually. In fact, in my first week (and this is all me, not the tea) I actually put on 1lb and in the week that followed I lost 2lb. Losing 2lb a week with Weight Watchers is a healthy average, so I don’t think I can say that Bootea helped me to lose any more than I would of normally. Although, up until drinking the tea I was averaging a weight loss of 0.5lb a week – so perhaps the tea helped a smidgen more.

Would I recommend Bootea?
If you’re intrigued and prone to constipation than I would recommend it – just be warned that you’re going to poop! I would do this myself again, so perhaps that’s testament to the benefits you can experience following a teatox. Bootea also offer other natural products, designed to help aid weight loss and promote good health; because it’s so pretty and I can’t help but look into anything that suggests i’d lose weight, i’m sure I will try other Bootea products in the future and share a review!

P.S If anyone from Bootea read this, please know that I’d happily accept free Bootea products and share an honest review on them… worth asking eh! 🙂

www.bootea.com

Is a detox diet dangerous?

With December being such an indulgent time of year, it’s no surprise that January is a prime time for detoxing; but can a detox diet be dangerous?

Why I went on a detox
Last year I fell into the detox diet camp. I had overdosed on chocolate, carbs and alcohol. I had heard lots about ‘clean’ eating and the benefits of munching green leafy vegetables high in chlorophyll*, so I decided to cut out Dairy Milk, booze and carbs for a little bit. I embraced kale like you would never believe! I was either very unlucky, stupid (probably), or an example of how a detox diet can cause more harm than good.

*I didn’t actually know what chlorophyll was at the time but it seemed to be attached to lots of health benefits and weight loss. Here’s an article I found on why it’s meant to be so good for you! 10 amazing benefit of chlorophyll

My detox experience
I was half way through the first week of my detox diet when I became painfully sick. I had severe stomach cramps, which no joke reminded me of early labour, and spent 24 hours throwing up green gunge – nice. I had managed to drop my daughter off at nursery just before the spewing really kicked in and although she was just around the corner, I couldn’t get out of bed to pick her up; and so my husband had to leave work early to collect her (oops). I couldn’t believe how sick I was and I could only put it down to my ‘detox’. I longed for carbs to have lined my stomach and had horrible flashbacks of my superfood, leafy green kale stir-fry for dinner – with no noodles or rice!

Too much kale perhaps?
In hindsight it’s VERY possible I overdid the portion of kale in my meals and if paired with items from other food groups, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so sick; but I doubt I’m the only one who approaches detoxing in an all or nothing kind of way. Am I? With that experience behind me, I decided to never cut out a food group again. When I recovered from my detox attack I looked into what I had been eating a little more and the possible side effects. I came across loads of articles and accounts* from people who had experienced something similar and had seen the less glamorous side to kale eating.

Why kale made me sick
These articles detailed how Kale is high in fibre and contains a particular type of sugar which can make Kale really hard to break down and digest. Some articles also suggested how Kale could have a negative effect on those with an under-active thyroid, and/or could have a negative effect on the functioning of your thyroid. This struck a chord with me because my thyroid (since having a baby strangely), seems to be on the under-active side and at the time I was having several blood tests to find out what was going on with it. However, after reading more on this I realised you would have to eat A LOT of kale for your thyroid to be affected by the green stuff. Still, it didn’t sit well with me (literally).

Detoxing from booze and chocolate
I feel a detox from alcohol and chocolate can’t be grouped thought of as a ‘dangerous detox’. Studies show that reducing your alcohol intake can reduce the risk of developing cancer, liver or heart disease; lower your blood pressure; improve your sleep; lift your mood; improve your concentration; and help you lose weight.

Then there’s my old friend chocolate and it’s sugar content. Yes, certain sugars are good for you, but the type I’m talking about is high in ‘refined sugar’ with little nutritional value, and at the time of this detox I felt I had a little too much of this type of sugar through my intake of milky, delicious chocolate – and we all know that too much of this doesn’t help our waistlines or cholesterol.

What I learnt from my detox diet
Limiting foods that are high in refined sugars is beneficial for good health but cutting out foods groups or having too much of one thing is not so good – I know what you’re thinking, “wow this girl is a freaking genius!”

My new approach to healthy eating is to enjoy treats from time to time, include a wide of fruit and veg in my diet and work on portion control rather than banning myself from eating certain foods. I was so affected by this experience, that I actually made it my New Year’s resolution to not deprive myself of anything – including booze and chocolate (what a hypocrite), but I would cut down and have everything in moderation. I used to think that was such a boring saying but now I really want to embrace it as I never want to be that sick again!

Also an apology…
Sorry Kale for bad-mouthing you, in moderation I’m sure you’re ok and with some forward planning i’m sure lots of people have had successful detoxes! If you are one of those people, love kale, or if you have had a similar experience to me, I’d love to hear from you. Use the comment box below!

Footnotes
If you’re interested in the Kale articles I mentioned, here are a few links to what I read. 

www.high50.com/health/three-reasons-not-to-eat-kale
www.huffingtonpost.com/karin-kasdin/kale-haters_b_4171383.html
health.heraldtribune.com/2012/09/25/kale-good-nutrition-for-you-just-dont-overdo
www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/could-kale-cause-hypothyroidism
www.eatingwell.com/blogs/health_blog/is_kale_bad_for_my_thyroid_health

Snacking on soup & a lazy veg soup recipe

I’ve found a way to sneak another meal into my day and that meal is soup! I’ve never been so excited by soup before, but stay with me while I explain.

I’ve been trying to think of new snacks I can enjoy late afternoon that are filling but not too heavy, as dinner is just around the corner – and no, I can’t wait till dinner! My Weight Watchers allowance is very precious and every point counts, so I’m keen to ‘spend’ only 2 or so SmartPoints on a snack at this time. With the weather being a little cooler I suddenly felt the urge for something warm and cosy, and then I remembered people make soup – and I could make soup with all the 0 SmartPoints veg I have. So that’s what I did.

Before I continue, you should know that I’m a lazy cook and a huge fan of recipes that are super quick, or can be left in an oven with very little attention required (so that I can do other things) .

I have found a very speedy (lazy) way to make a delicious soup out of any veg – ok, maybe not any veg but the ones I’ve tried have turned out to be pretty tasty. You simply need to cook your chosen veg and blend it untill smooth (or nearly smooth) with a can of tinned tomatoes, then add it to a cooked onion, spices, and vegetable stock. Cooking the veg is the most time consuming part of this recipe and the rest of this method is quick – if it’s easier you could always cook the veg on a separate day or time to when you intend on having or making the soup…

Lazy Veggie Soup
Requires a blender…

Ingredients

  • Any veg you have! I’ve made soup with carrots, courgettes and frozen chunks of butternut squash (you can buy packs of these – butternut squash is so hard to cut!)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs (optional and you can use any you like – I’ve made soup with sage, mixed herbs and oregano of separate occasions)
  • Spices (also optional – a little curry powder or cayenne pepper gives this soup a nice kick)
  • Onion
  • Vegetable stock (I use a low salt vegetable stock cube with water)

Method

  • Roast, boil or steam your veg – however you like, just cook it and leave it to cool a little before blending.
    – If you roast your veg add in a chopped onion at the same time.
    – If you cook your veg in another way, you’ll need to fry up some diced onion.
  • While you’re veg is cooking make say 400-600ml of vegetable stock (this depends on how thick you like your soup and how much you want to make).
  • In a blender, mixed together your tinned tomatoes and veg (and roasted onion if you went down that route)
  • If you don’t roast an onion, fry a diced onion in a large pan then…
  • Add the blended mixture to your large big pan with your vegetable stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes… Or you can mix it altogether and heat in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy your soup (I did warn you I was lazy).

This makes a decent amount of soup if you wish to share it with everyone in your household or keep some in the fridge or freezer to enjoy on other days – speaking of which – I was recently given a tip that you can use those 1/2 pint milk cartons as soup containers in the freezer too! Just don’t pop it in the microwave – if you pull it out in the morning, it should be defrosted by late afternoon/evening. I really hope this recipe is easy for you to follow and you enjoy making this lazy soup!

As always, apologies to proper cooks out there!

A weight loss friendly peanut butter curry recipe – this is delicious!

I wanted to share a curry I’ve been making for a while that is absolutely delicious, full of healthy stuff and best of all does keep you feeling full! Warning: this recipe contains nuts (the clue is in the title, after-all).

Peanut Butter Curry
This little number is a popular West African curry and it was made a lot by my family when I was growing up – whether at my house, my auntie and uncles, or around family friends’ houses. Traditional West African or Caribbean curry recipes of this kind can include a few more spices, butters and oils than my version – which do taste great – but this version is super quick to make and (if you’re following Weight Watchers like myself) is lower in SmartPoints values than some versions of this curry.

Before I start – I apologise in advance to great cooks out there who may see this recipe and think “ahhh you’ve destroyed a beautiful dish you evil woman!” Recipe writing is also much harder than I’ve ever appreciated (shout out to all those I’ve worked with previously who have been responsible for writing top notch recipes). I’m a little nervous I’ve forgotten some key ingredients, as I’m so used to just chucking this curry together quickly after a long day.

I’ve included a rough guide of the quantities I use, but you can easily add more or less of everything and it will still work. For those on Weight Watchers, this recipe comes to around 8 SmartPoints values and is totally worth every single point – calculate the exact value of your version and track it too for weight loss success.

Be warned, this is moreish!

Peanut butter curry
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Pack of diced chicken
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Chopped onion
  • Crushed onion glove or 2
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (I use smooth)
  • Tablespoon of curry powder
  • Teaspoon or two of coriander
  • Teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional if you don’t like spice)
  • Coconut oil (or your usual cooking oil/oil sprayer)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Teaspoon of agave syrup, honey or brown sugar (I tend to use agave but this is also optional)

*If you want to add veg to this recipe, you could include peas, beans or sweet potato to this curry. Diced pepper or spinach just about works, but I like it plain or with beans and peas best.

* Serve with rice (I tend to have wholegrain in the cupboard, but it works great with whatever you usually eat or jollof rice).

Method

  • Fry the onions and garlic in your chosen oil
  • After a few minutes add the curry powder and coriander
  • Add the chicken and cook for 5 mins or so; or until you’ve browned all of the pieces – stir frequently
  • Add tinned tomatoes, peanut butter and cayenne pepper
  • Stir thoroughly, bring to boil then simmer for 15/20 mins or until the chicken is fully cooked
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Plate up with some rice and voila!

Enjoy and do post a comment below if you try this recipe and like it.

7 ways to stop stealing food from your baby

On far too many occasions I’ve found myself devouring food I’ve prepared especially for my daughter. If she’s too slow to gobble up a spoonful of food, it goes in my mouth. If she pauses for more than 10 seconds, it goes in my mouth; and if she turns her head just once, i’ll take that as a go ahead to eat everything left on her plate.

With that in mind I’ve pulled together a few tips for fellow baby-food-eating-parents like me who may also be on a weight loss journey and want to sort it out! These tips were compiled during a 15 minute window of feeling strong and in the persona of a mother who would never steal food from her baby’s mouth. Things later declined quite rapidly as you’ll find out but stay with me…

How to stop eating your baby’s food – 7 top tips!
(Aka a piggy’s guide on how to leave your baby’s food alone and let them eat!)

1. Prepare actual baby size portions
Don’t kid yourself by loading their plate up high and really thinking they will eat it all. You know that extra dollop has your name on it.

2. Eat your meals with your baby
If you feel as though you may be overeating at times, give yourself a separate plate and eat meals with your baby. That way you will be enjoying mealtimes together instead of feeling guilty about having the extra food you’ve consumed and literally stolen from your child’s mouth!

3. Add plenty of fruit and veg to your little ones dishes
That way it’ll never be that bad if you do finish their leftovers.

4. Save leftovers for another meal
Make life easy for yourself and keep those leftovers for another meal, like lunch the next day. Freeze it, don’t eat it!

5. Keep baby foods in a different cupboard
If you have specific items just for your baby, like Rusks (why are they so moreish), keep them in a separate cupboard from the ‘adult’ food, or in obvious baby Tupperware (I’ve got a few boxes with kittens on them!). For some reason this has helped me leave baby items alone for the majority of the day.

6. Opt for individually wrapped items
If you’re a cookie monster like me, it can also help to buy foods that are individually wrapped. You may have guessed that I find it very difficult to have Rusks in the house (poor child will never enjoy a full Rusk biscuit), however Ella’s Kitchen for example sell ‘grab me’ baby biscuits in a box and these are individually wrapped. I find it a lot less tempting to pick at these if I have to open a new packet to do so – although I have done this on a few occasions, but on those few occasions it tends to just be one biscuit instead of munching away the whole box!

Ironically when I got to number 5 in this list I found myself finishing off my daughter’s squished smoothie fruits pouch. After writing number 6 in the list I had one of the biggest binge eating episodes ever – what the hell! I’m sorry people, I promise that these tips do work but I guess number 7 in the list would be…

7. If all else fails, move on and don’t beat yourself up
You probably haven’t eaten that much – draw a line under it and start again. Eat healthy, enjoy meals with your baby, be a little more active and not only will you feel great, but if you do want to lose weight – this will happen as part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’m also delighted to share that after writing this post I attended my Weight Watchers meeting and I had lost 3lbs in a week! So, take that as my evidence that these tips can help!

5 summer snacks that are Weight Watchers friendly

I’m a huge snacker and so finding foods that are low in Weight Watchers SmartPoints that will either keep me full or satisfy my sweet tooth are a big must for me.

Here’s a little round up of the snacks I’ve been enjoying this summer.

Frozen grapes
Pop a box in the freezer and hey presto you’ve got yourself some nibbles! Frozen grapes are not only 0 SmartPoints they are also great for chewing or sucking on. I find I take a longer to eat a handful of frozen grapes than any other snack.

Popcorn
I love the sweet and salty variety and there are so many low calorie options in supermarkets and by the tills. They also make a good sharing alternative to a bag of crisps!

Banana ice cream
Freeze a loads of bananas and then blend them with vanilla extract and a drop of skimmed milk and there you have it – banana ice cream.

Hard boiled eggs
These little fellas are actually really filling. I like making a load at once and keeping them in the fridge. They’re great to have after a workout or before dinner (if you get peckish like me mid-afternoon).

Apple and almonds
A power plates instructor told that eating some almonds and an apple is a great post workout snack and you’re getting some good fats along with sugar to give you a boost. I’m paraphrasing and could be completely wrong but I like the idea of it!

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