Thursday, 27 October 2011

Recipe of the Week - Fizzy Orange Chicken!

Yes, you read that right, today I made chicken marinated in orange pop! No, I haven't lost my (admittedly rather loose) marbles, and in fact I make a dish where the chicken is in diet coke too...but I'll save that one for another day! This dish is super easy, really yummy, and only 5 propoints per serving.

Fizzy Ornage Chicken - Serves 2 - 5 ProPoints per serving.

2 medium chicken breasts (4PP each)
1 cup (300ml) DIET fizzy orange (0PP)
100ml dark soy sauce (2PP)
1 onion or 3-4 spring onions (0PP)
chopped peppers (I use a big handful of frozen ones) (0PP)

Place the chicken breasts in a casserole dish and pour over the soy and fizzy orange. Leave to marinade for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge. Add the chopped onion and peppers and bake for an hour in a medium (190 degrees, gas 5) oven for an hour. Simples!

Serve with 0PP veg (maybe stir-fried), rice (30g dried 3PP) or noodles (30g dried egg nooles 3PP), or wedges of sweet potato (150g 4PP) or butternut squash (0PP). I had it this evening with rice, broccoli and baby corn.

Go on, be brave and try it! Make sure you use diet pop. It really doesn't taste very orangey at all, just savoury and yummy! And you definitely wont need any extra salt with all that soy. Use low-sodium soy sauce if high salt intake is a concern.


Couch to 5K

Hi everyone,

Last night I went on my first ever proper "run" completely on my own without having to stop every two seconds because someone needs their nose wiped or has fallen off their scooter (and I'm only taking about Mr F-G-S here, never mind the children...) I stumbled across the Couch to 5k plan though a facebook friend, googled it and downloaded the app and podcasts straight away.

Basically, the plan is designed to get you from being a non-runner (sounds like a dodgy car...) to being able to run comfortably for half an hour in 9 short weeks. You run three times a week with a rest day inbetween. Week one starts off with a brisk warm up walk for 5 minutes, and then intervals of running for 60 seconds, then walking for 90 seconds for 20 minutes total, and then a cool down walk for another 5 minutes. Each week the running interval will increase slightly and eventually you'll be running the whole way...

I downloaded a podcast to my phone, where the C25k plan's creator Robert Ullrey talks you through the plan, tells you when to run and walk, and plays some good running music, but there is also an app available that you can set to your own music - and you get a "beep" when it's time for the next interval. I used the podcast last night, but think when I go again over the weekend I'll use my own music and only use the podcasts for the first run of each week.

I found it surprisingly liberating running on my own, in the dark at my own pace, and the route I took was 1.6 miles - or about 3k. It'll be interesting to see if I get to the full 30 minutes (about 5k - hence the name) in the 9 weeks - but you can also repeat a week if you're not sure you can manage the next one. It's all about going at your own pace, which is great for me. Now as long as I get time to do it each week (Mr F-G-S works some evenings although I could do it with the pram) and don't end up injuring myself I think I could really get into it. We'll see! I'll also have to get myself some new trousers, as I spent my "running" intervals holding my joggers up so they wouldn't fall down!

You can read more about the plan here and download the podcasts here.

Have you tried this? What did you think?


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Operation Fit and Fabulous Update - Week 5

A quick update on Operation Fit and Fabulous!
Week 5's mission was to jazz it up food wise. We had to try something new and share a favourite recipe. I tried a new soup and stir fry, and shared the recipes with the rest of the team, and tried someone else's chorizo cassoulet - yummy! I've also been considering going vegetarian again - I was veggie for over 10 years until I fell pregnant and was terribly anaemic (and craved chicken chow mein...) and as I've been having lots of pulses and beans in my food this week I've found I don't miss meat when I don't have it. It's something to think about anyway. As far as the rest of the missions are concerned, I think I'm doing ok! Getting my water most days, exercise is 3ish hours a week, 5 a day check! Morning pages not so much... I get up when the children do which varies between 5am and 7am so I can't really set an alarm 15mins early for it. But when I'm not rushing around making packed lunches and finding lost socks and can devote a bit of time for it I find it clears my head and helps me set out what to do for the day.
This weeks mission, Attack is the best defence, is a good one for me. We have to target an area of our body that we are unhappy about, and basically do something about it! While there are many areas of my body that bother me (it'd be quicker to tell you which parts don't to be honest...) I have lost over 2 stone, but not in proportion and I feel like my stomach is still as big as it was before. Of course it isn't, but it's not shrinking as quickly as I'd like it to, and it's the only part of me that's making me uncomfortable now. Of course I have had two children, and I've always been a big girl, so it's never going to be a washboard. When you're pregnant your abs separate to allow your womb and growing baby through, and I don't think mine ever went back together as I have a vertical line down the middle of my tummy! I think it's pretty common, but I'm going to try this postnatal ab routine every day, even though the 'baby' is 15 months old now! I am also starting the couch to 5k running plan - I just have to find time to get out of the house and run three times a week...and somewhere safe to do it now the evenings are dark or my other half is going to make me wear one of his building site high vis jackets... More on that tomorrow!

Are there any areas of your body that bother you the most? How do you tackle them? Anyone experienced Postnatal Abdominal Seperation?


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tuesday Treat! - My Soap

I was lucky enough to win a Twitter comp a few weeks ago that was run by the lovely My Soap, a company making luxury handmade soaps using the traditional cold process method. They use all natural ingredients and their soaps contain no synthetic fragrances, SLS, detergents or commercially manufactured soap bases and are not tested on animals. Can't say fairer than that! The fact that these soaps are completely natural, packed with great ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil means they're great for the most sensitive of skins and I can honestly say they feel great. I like to use handmade soap rather than liquid soap for handwashing, but my skin (which is or the most part very well behaved and not normally dry) feels a little tight afterwards, but not after I'd used this. 

My Soap kindly sent me three slices of their marbled soap range.

L-R - Cool Fresh Aloe, Summer Citrus, Gobi Gold

I couldn't wait to get them open and smell them, but these soaps have very little fragrance - actually really nice! I do usually go for scent over anything else when choosing soap and bath products (having good skin helps as I don't have to take that into consideration) but sometimes when washing my hands or having a bath I don't want to be overpowered with scent the whole day. It also means I can also use them on my boys (who are 4 and 1) and as they're so gentle I don't have to worry about their skin either. The Gobi Gold (red) soap I tried first now has pride of place on my bathroom sink, and it's not drying my hands out when I wash them either.

My Soap launched their website last Monday, and though the marbled soaps I have are no longer available there are lots of other yummy sounding goodies to try. I'm loving the look of the Fresh Orange Butter and the Goat's Milk and Honey naked soap.

You can follow My Soap on Twitter here (they often run competitions and giveaways!) and their facebook is currently under construction! Well worth a look :) I know what's going on my Christmas list!

What will you treat yourself to this week?


Disclaimer: Product was received free as a competition win, but all opinions are 100% my own and honest. This is not a sponsored post.

Weekly Weight In - Out of the 1lb a week club!

Hooray! I lost 2 1/2lbs this week, thank WEYBI! I'd been plodding on at 1lb a week for about the last month, and although I'm happy to lose the weight slowly and steadily I'd just like it to not be as slow and steady, especially as I still have a lot to lose. If I carry on at 1lb a week it'd be over a year until I get to my goal but I'd be happier if I could lose 1-2lbs a week and be at goal or thereabouts sometime next summer.

My total loss now is 30 1/2lbs in 16 weeks, which also brings me under 200lbs :) I now weigh 197 1/2 pounds, or 14st 1 1/2lbs I still have a long way to go (60lbs at least) to get within the healthy BMI range for my miniscule height, but at least I can look at it now as I'm a third of the way there! AND if I can lose 1 1/12 pounds this week I will have lost 15% of my starting weight. Can't argue with that!

How have you done this week? Are you feeling positive?


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Recipe of the Week - Sweet Chilli Chicken Stir Fry

Hi lovelies,

Computer issues have prevented me from posting this week, but I have a scrummy recipe to make up for it, and it's only 7 ProPoints, super easy to do and really quick and tasty.

Sweet Chilli Chicken Stir Fry - 7 ProPoints per serving
Serves 2

2 medium chicken breasts (4PP each)
2 cloves garlic (0PP)
2 tbsp soy sauce (0PP)
1/4 tsp (or more to taste) dried chilli flakes (0PP)
stir fry veg (I used a pepper stir fry pack from tesco and added an extra onion and pepper) (0PP)
150g cooked brown rice (about 60g dried) (3PP each serving)
Large tin pineapple chunks in natural juice (0PP for the fruit, negligible for the amount of juice you'd use)
Fry light (0PP)
Slice the chicken breasts and marinade for as long as you have with the soy, crushed garlic and chilli. Could be done in the morning, an hour before or just while you prepare the veg.
Heat a wok or deep sided frying pan and spray with Fry light (about 5 sprays). Add the chicken in it’s marinade and stir fry until almost cooked through. Add the veg and rice, then the drained pineapple and a couple of teaspoons of the juice. Stir fry until the chicken is cooked, the veg is hot but still crunchy and the rice is properly reheated.
Quick, easy, and it’s not going to break the bank! Could substitute the chicken for prawns, pork, tofu or even cashew nuts. You could also use noodles instead of rice, but the PP will be higher and brown rice is more filling so this is a relatively small amount.
A really healthy dinner and  was absolutely stuffed when I'd finished. Chinese with no nasty MSG.

In other news, Mr F-G-S said tonight that he was absolutely sick of f***ing Weight Watchers food when I served him up a pumpkin and chickpea curry, so it looks like I'll be cooking two separate evening meals from now on. Fun times.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Weekly Update! 2 stone down...

Hi lovelies :)

Weigh in day this morning, and another pound gone :) Which equals two stone in total since I started Weight Watchers on the 28 June! I'm pleased, and I can really see a difference now, especially in odd places like my shoulders and back. Lots of people are complimenting me, which feels great, and not only do my old clothes fit me, but they're starting to get too big! Shame I'm utterly broke and can't afford new ones just yet...

I still have 4 1/2 stone to lose to get within the healthy BMI range for my height, which seems like a huge mountain to climb. but I know I can do it. In the almost 4 months I've been on the Weight Watchers plan I've only put on weight one week, and that was only half a pound. But if I keep losing a pound a week and carry on going in the right direction I'll get there eventually! Maybe this time next year I'll be reaching goal...

In the meantime, I only have 4 pounds to lose to have lost 15% of my starting weight, so I am going to put in a huge effort over the next two weeks and hopefully reach that. 1 pound a week seems like slow going, but I know there's more I can do to speed that up. So I am going to track everything I eat, stick religously to 30 points a day and up the exercise - wish me luck!

How have you done this week?


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Weekly Weigh In - not as bad as I thought it would be!

By some miracle I managed to lose another pound! I cannot believe it one bit, after the week I had last week. I will not get complacent about it though, and this week I'm going to attack it with renewed vigour. I only need to lose anther pound to reach 2 stone stince I started WW, and it will be mine this week!

I'll be back later with a Tuesday Treat and will update you on my Operation Fit and Fabulous progress later in the week.

How have you all done lately?


Monday, 10 October 2011

It's been a bad week...

I don't know what has gotten into me this week, but I just haven't been able to stop stuffing my face! Bread, sweets, biscuits, cheese - anything and everything. I've still been eating my healthy main meals, but having a slice of bread with it, or a sandwich mid afternoon, or a packet of crisps in the evening. THen once I've had one bad thing it's like I can't stop. Shocking behavior Helen! And not even any exercise to counteract it. I know I am going to have a gain tomorrow on the scales, let's just hope it's not a big one...

I seem to have righted myself again today, having had fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, then ran to the park and chased the kids around for a while before running back, and then having a nice big bowl of veg soup for lunch. Tuna salad planned for dinner and then maybe some Wii fit aswell to hopefully minimise the damage. Better late than never I suppose.

I'm attributing this funk to cutting down on the amount of diet coke I'm drinking. All I've had in the last 4 or 5 days in half a glass, whereas I could sometimes get through a litre or more in a day before. It's seriously addictive stuff! It's terrible but I get awful headaches sometimes, and the only thing that will sort it out is to drink a diet coke. I wont give it up completely, but I've pledged myself that I'll only drink it with meals, or in the evening, and only after I've drunk at least half of my 2l of water for the day. We'll see how that goes... I'm going cold turkey on the cheese too - one little blob of cottage cheese is like a gateway drug and a few hours later I'm onto the extra mature cheddar .

What do you do on days (or weeks!) like this? Any tips gratefully accepted!


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Recipe of the Week - Sausage and Butternut Squash Bake


Butternut Squash is a great vegetable, and has a ProPoints Value of 0. Can't argue with that! You can mash it, bake it, roast and stuff it, make it into soup or wedges instead of chips. I find it quite sweet so I like to pair it with very savoury or spicy flavours. This is a one pot dish (less washing up is always a bonus!) and is warm and comforting now the nights are drawing in and it's getting colder. Even my kids liked it - another plus!

I used Weight Watchers Cumberland sausages, which have a ProPoints value of 3 for two sausages, but if you can't get those any low fat sausage will do although the ProPoints value will be different. For example, Tesco Light Choices Cumberland sausages are 4 ProPoints for 2 sausages.

Serves 4
ProPoints per serving (when using WW sausages) 7

8 low fat sausages (I used Weight Watchers)
1 red onion
1 butternut squash
2 tsp dried sage
Calorie controlled cooking spray
800g potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste.

Chop and deseed the butternut squash - there is no need to peel it as once baked the skin is very thin and edible (and good for you!). You can peel it if you like - wrestling with it is good exercise! I chopped mine into wedges, although chunks will do too!

Chop the onion into wedges, and the potatoes into chunks (didn't peel these either!).

Spray a roasting tin with calorie controlled cooking spray (I used Fry Light) and put the veg in, with the sage and seasoning, spray again and roast in a 200 degree oven for 15 mins.

Turn the veg over and add the sausages to the pan. Roast for a further 20 minutes.

Serve with green veg such as brocolli, cabbage or mange tout.


Just a quick note about the calorie controlled cooking spray, as it isn't completely free of ProPoints. I use Fry Light 1 Calorie Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which, according to the Weight Watchers ProPoints online tracker doesn't contain ProPoints until you've used 19 sprays of it. I would usually use about 10 or so for a recipe such as this, and that's for 4 servings, so well within the limit before it starts costing points! Just be aware that if you're using it several times a day for more than one meal you might have to count a point or two.

You could add some red pepper to boost your veg intake and make it more filling too. You could also use chicken or pork chops in place of the sausages, or make a veggie version with more veg (courgettes and mushrooms might work well), chick peas and add some goats cheese or feta at the end.

What do you do with butternut squash? make the most of it while it's in season!


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Cheese, cheese is good for your heart...oh, wait...

Cheese. Much like biscuits and bread, cheese is one of the things I miss the most on the Weight Watchers plan. I quite often sit with a bunch of grapes, an apple, or a glass of water and think, you know what would go good with this? Cheese.

The problem is, cheese is high in Pro Points and isn't very filling. Tasty, yes but filling, no. Fatty too. And the low fat stuff, despite being only 1PP per 20g for half fat cheddar, just isn't the same. It doesn't melt as well, is a bit plasticky and grows penicillin quicker than normal cheese, meaning that if you eat tiny portions and don't use it quickly your fridge will soon be rivalling that of Alexander Fleming.

So how do you get your cheese fix? Here are a few suggestions:
  • use strong cheese, in smaller amounts. You'll get more flavour than from mild cheese so you wont need as much.
  • use the small side of the grater when grating cheese - you'll be amazed at how much further it goes!
  • grate your cheese and store it in a ziplock bag in the fridge, as often if you cut a chunk off then weigh it and it's more than you should have you'll be tempted to eat the extra (I know I am!). If it's ready grated you can just pop it back in the bag. You can freeze it once it's grated too, and use it straight from the freezer for most things. This solves the problem of it going off before you can use it all.
  • cottage cheese makes a good dip for vegetable crudities and apple or grapes. 60g of low fat cottage cheese equals 1PP
  • extra light cream cheese (such as Philadelphia) makes a good pasta sauce (like my Cheats Carbonara), base for risotto, and makes soup lovely and creamy if you stir a spoonful through. 50g of extra light is 1PP, or light is 30g per PP. You can get different flavours such as garlic and herb and roasted pepper. Stuff a medium chicken breast with some before baking for a diet friendly kiev for 5 PP.
  • adding a bit of mustard to a cheese sauce really enhances the cheese flavour, meaning you don't need as much cheese. 1tsp of mustard is free (any more than that and it has a points value) and can also be stirred into mash to make it taste creamier.
  • Have some cheese and biccies instead of a desert. Weight Watchers do crackers which are 1PP for a pack of three. They taste like cardboard but it's the cheese that counts!
I'll hold my hands up and admit it, cheese is a weakness of mine. But I can still enjoy it on this plan. 

What are your weaknesses?


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tuesday Treat! Lush goodies review

Hi! Tuesday treat on a Wednesday for you!

As part of Operation Fit and Fabulous I was sent some Lush goodies to review. I'm a huge Lush lover and love their bath bombs and bubble bars as an affordable treat every now and then. Even my boys love an Ickle Baby Bot bath fizzer, and Ollie always asks for a robot when we pass the shop. So you can imagine my delight when a package of three new products to try was handed to me by the postman last Tuesday.

The three things I was sent were a Phoenix Rising bath ballistic, a Rose Jam Bubbleroon and a Friends with Benefits massage bar.

Rose Jam Bubbleroon - £3.50 each

The first thing I chose to try out was the bubbleroon. Up until recently I've stuck to bath ballistics on my trips to Lush, but I got given a bubble bar for my birthday this year and haven't looked back! You crumble them under running water for an amazing bubbly bath that smells divine. Lush describes Bubbleroons as macaroon inspired bubble bars with a shea butter and coconut oil base and a coconut oil cream centre. Unfortunately mine arrived crumbly but it didn't matter as you crumble them into the water anyway, and if you were clever you could save half for another time ;)

I not usually a huge fan of rose or floral smells, but this wasn't overpowering at all, and actually made me feel really girly sitting there in a pink bath surrounded by 11tybillion bubbles smelling of roses!

I wouldn't say my skin felt overly moisturised, but it was by no means dry at all, unlike some bubble baths I've never found a Lush bubble bar drying on the skin.

Friends with Benefits massage bar - £6.50 for 65g
Getting a massage from my other half is about as likely as George Clooney landing his helicopter in my street, knocking on my door with a rose between his teeth, whisking me off to a 5 star Parisian hotel and having his wicked way with me, and then feeding me deep fried Mars bars in the morning. Ok, so that's an overly long analogy, but you get the picture! So, I had to resort to using the massage bar on myself.

Lush say it is a sexy massage bar with a chocolate orange scent for enjoying with your very best friends. The smell of tagetes, the essential oil from African marigolds, has notes of chocolate to it.  So here we blended it in a fragrance with cooca absolute, then put that in our lovely fair trade organic cocoa butter, which has its own strong chocolate notes too. 

The result is a massage bar with benefits: cocoa butter and shea butters to give your body a moisturised glow, tagetes to help sore, red or damaged skin and a posh chocolate fragrance that leaves you smelling irresistible to everyone around you. All you have to do is reap the rewards. 

The scent to me reminds me of those yoghurt coated raisins you get - sort of creamy but with a definite sharpness to it. I started by rubbing the bars on my thighs and as the bar warmed up it melted and glided over my skin, leaving a film of shea butter. It wasn't sticky at all but would be too much for everyday moisturising
- although perfect for it's intended use if your partner is more amenable than mine! I rubbed in the residue and my skin was left soft and hydrated, and I can (only) imagine how nice it would be when used for a proper massage.

Phoenix Rising Bath Ballistic - £2.95 for 100g

Bath Ballistics are my favourite of all the Lush goodies, my favourites being Mrs Whippy, Honey Bee, Butterball and Vanilla Fountain - if you know Lush you'll know these are all quite similar, creamy, vanillary scented bath bombs. So Phoenix Rising was quite different for me, as Lush says he'll release gentle shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil to leave your skin feather soft, and exotic essential oils of fruit and spices, which take your mind on a flight of fancy to distant shores where you are lying on a beach drinking spiced rum. I'm not usually a fan of spiced scents, but this is a very delicate spiciness, and it's so pretty! The outside of the bomb is a lovely purple colour, with gold lustre sparkles which float around in the bath making it look all potion like and mystical. Then when you get to the middle of the bathbomb it turns green, which turns the vivid purple murkier and somehow even more mythical. Every now and then the piece of cinnamon bark that was on top of the bomb emerges from the depths and it will be great for cold days when you need warming up! My only complaint was the colour it turned my bath afterwards...but I can live with that!

Overall, I would completely recommend these products, or any Lush goodies, to anyone who'll listen to me rambling on about them. My favourite was the Bubbleroon, and I'll be checking out the other "flavours" Green, and Yuzu & Cocoa next time I get to a Lush store. Go for Phoenix Rising if you're a fan of spice, or if you're not and want something different. The massage bar wasn't for me, at least until I trade the old man in for a newer model, but if your better half is more willing definitely give it a go. You can buy these online at now and in Lush stores from 15th October.

How will you be treating yourself this week?


PR sample provided for review. Opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Weekly Weigh in No. 15 and Operation Fit and fab Update


Weigh in day today and another pound down :) Bye bye! I'm super pleased with that, as it's been a difficult week food and exercise wise. I haven't been able to exercise as much as I usually do and I only actually managed 30 minutes on the Wii Fit in total. But we did have a mini walk and run around with the kids on Sunday, and I've done a crapton of housework this week (which is approximately half a crapton more than I usually do) and that works up a sweat.

Food wise I have been good for most of the week and slipped a little at the weekend, as usual. But for good reason as my eldest son turned four and we had two little family parties, one a barbeque and one a tea party. However, the rest of the week I was an exemplary Weight Watcher and didn't use all of my points any day. I've settled into a routine of porridge made with water and frozen berries for breakfast (3WW ProPoints for 30g oats), a WW bagel (4PP), or pitta (Tesco Value 3PP), or petite pains (WW 3PP) for lunch, filled with something worth around 1-2 PP and "padded out" with salad, vegetables, soup or ratatouille and then a reasonable dinner of around 10PP with a huge mound of veg on the side which leaves me with about 10PP to play with the rest of the time. Snacks include quavers or skips (2PP), WW crisps (most are 2PP), WW bars (most are 2PP), some cottage cheese and an apple (60g of cottage cheese for 1PP) or fruit and veg, like grapes, carrot sticks, cucumber, peppers, or anything I can find in the fridge! This suits me at the moment, and I'll carry on until I'm bored of it!

As for Operation Fit and Fabulous, I'm still going strong! I think the water is making a difference, and the support is fantastic. Added to the missions this week was to eat your 5 a day, which I don't have any problems with, and it was suggested we track what we eat and take a supplement, which I already do.

• Drink 2 litres of water a day - managed this most days - I promise for anyone thinking of trying this it does get easier!
• Dry skin brushing daily -
still no body brush :(
• Being good to yourself
- must try harder!
• Eating 5 a day
- check! Aim to make it a ratio of 3 veg to 2 fruit as it's probably more fruit heavy at the moment 
• Exercising for 1 hour 3 times a week
- big fat fail! Will run, swim and Zumba for an hour each this week at a minimum

• Getting enough sleep - better than last week as the baby is sleeping until 6 instead of 5, but still room for improvement. I need to go to bed earlier. I was up until 11.30pm icing cupcakes for my son to take to school for his friends last night...

So, still a mixed bag, but improving! I'll post later on in the week when we get our new missions! I can't wait!

How have you done this week?