Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Cardiff Wednesday

That was a nice, relaxing wander around Cardiff with 2 of my favourite people in the world! We headed off bright and early, did lots of walking and very little shopping, chatted and relaxed... it was good! Mind you, it needed to be relaxing, I was talking to my Mum until 11 pm yesterday (about diet and weightloss - not that I'm obsessed or anything!) and then was awake by 4 am, up about 5:30 am... add that to lots of walking and fresh air, and I think you have the recipe for an early night!
Food today:
All bran with a nectarine, soya milk and a dollop of fromage frais

We went back to Wetherspoons and I had the 5 bean chilli again. Its made with quorn and bulgar wheat as well as beans, and I think its really quite tasty. No dessert this time! I walked out of there afterwards instead of waddling like the last time I went out with Mum and her OH!
The weather was nothing special and its hard for a city to look its best with grey skies so I didn't take a lot of photos. Couldn't resist this cheeky seagull getting way too personal with Aneurin Bevan (founder of the NHS) though! He looked a bit annoyed to me...

I did buy a couple of bits of food. This spicy peanut butter is for M, one of his favourite suppers is chicken satay skewers dipped into a sauce I make with peanut butter (crunchy or smooth works) mixed with hot water and hot sauce. It couldn't be more simple, but I use plenty of hot sauce and he likes the contrast between the creaminess of the sauce and the 'bite' of the spices! Hopefully this will have a similar effect!

For my experimentation with new recipes I've been looking for new vegetables and fruits. I can't find many in the supermarkets, but there's a stall in Cardiff Market with some more exciting goodies. I got (left to right) a cassava bulb, 2 eddoes and a kohlrabi. I haven't decided what to do with them, but I'm looking forward to having a play!

I finished off the walnut bread (with laughing cow) and the mushroom sesame tofu stew by adding it to miso broth again. For a bit of variety I also added some spinach for just long enough to wilt it:

I followed it with a very tiny bit of mango sorbet just because...
A protein bar, a bahlsen 'jaffa cake' biscuit, and a small handful of wasabi nuts from Cardiff Market. Plus some other interesting nibbles from the stall I bought the nuts at - the guy kept offering us samples in the hope we'd buy more. I only got the wasabi nuts because I hoped I'd only be able to eat one or two at a time, but it seems my tolerance for spice is better than I thought - sadly! He had chocolate coated fruits and nuts (my favourites are dates and brazil nuts so I steered well clear of those!) and spicy / honey coated nuts as well. I could have spent a fortune and bought 1000's of calories worth but I didn't dare!
Weight today: 10 st 3.1 lbs!!!! (143.1 lbs). Not sure if I'll keep that up (or down...) tomorrow given the nuts etc since I got home... we'll see! I have gone a little over the calories, but so long as I stop now I think I've been really restrained for a day out - and not for the lack of opportunities! I had a glass of wine with dinner, finished the bottle so now I'm going to flush it all out with plenty of water / herbal tea while watching Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall in Key Largo. Have a good evening!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


My mum and her OH are over this evening so I spent the first part of today swilling out the pigsty I allow myself to live in so that it would be fit for actual humans to spend some time in... I hate housework, there's something about spending that much time doing something that will need doing again in ten minutes that just BUGS me - especially as my greatest talents is walking around without falling over when my nose is stuck in a book so I can't even SEE the mess most of the time! I will admit that I like things better after its done, I just don't see why I should be the one doing it...
Food today:
All bran with strawberries
I used some of the leftovers from yesterday's mushroom sesame tofu stew (I'd made 3 portions) to make a rather tasty soup. I dissolved about a teaspoon of miso in some boiling water, let it simmer for a few minutes and then added the stew. And that was it. It was... nice. Not the best soup I ever made, but nice, and a good way to use up some stew, and my first attempt at cooking anything with miso. I had that with a slice of toasted walnut bread topped with goat's cheese and a tomato, and it was very filling.

A home-made black bean burger with a biiiig salad! I just defrosted it and heated it in a dry frying pan for a while, then topped it with hot pepper sauce and chomp chomp.
A chocolate flavoured protein bar before walking into town for some food shopping,

a protein smoothie, and a big fruit salad with fromage frais and a tiny dollop of creme fraiche (reduced fat of course). And just a sprinkle of cinnamon. Lots of fruits and veggies as usual!
Weight today: 10 st 3.5 lbs (143.5 lbs) - this would have me doing my happy dance, but its too big a drop to seem realistic so I'm not pinning too much hope to this one being accurate. I had 1.5 glasses of wine last night, so maybe I was a tiny bit dehydrated this morning? Although I did have a litre of water after the wine... anyway, we'll see how things look tomorrow before I get too excited about it!
Tomorrow we're all going to Cardiff for the day, so lots of walking on the horizon!

Monday, 28 September 2009


Last night I got about 3 hours sleep at best, so I did not want to get up when M's alarm went off! I forced myself, as a man from British Gas was due to arrive somewhere between 8 am and 12 noon to service the central heating boiler and gas fire for us. I had wanted to start the day with a walk into town to get my hair cut and go to the library, so I was hoping he'd arrive nearer to 8am. So of course he didn't. He got here about 10, and didn't leave for around 3/4 of an hour. By which time I didn't feel like walking anywhere as the weather had got grey and overcast, so I went for an elliptical walker workout instead. I managed 1 hr (not one of my best workouts because I was still tired, but I did feel better on the machine so I just kept going.) I then did about 5 mins weights with the arms just till my TV show finished. As I got up I realised I was absolutely knackered - slightly trembly, a bit light-headed... perhaps it would have been better not to go on for so long, especially as it pushed back lunch. Ah well, still glad I did it.
Then it was time for laundry - non-stop party around here!!!
Food today:
All bran with strawberries
Home-made veggie soup with a feta, mixed leaves, tomato and cucumber salad. The feta was a light sheep's milk cheese, my usual feta is cow's milk so it made a nice change. It seemed a bit crumblier to me, but they're both so salty its hard to pick up taste differences

Another new one -I've been getting bored cooking the same meals a lot (in case you hadn't guessed) so I pulled out some cookbooks to shake things up a little. I have loads of cookbooks, many of which I've never actually cooked from - this was one of those, until today. The Moosewoood Restaurant Low Fat favourites. I believe the Moosewood is a famous restaurant in the US? I never went there when I was out there, but a lot of US bloggers have mentioned their recipes so I thought I'd give it a try. Tonight's dinner was their Mushroom sesame tofu stew with their cucumbers vinaigrette to accompany it. It's not the most dazzling meal I've ever cooked aesthetically, but it was very tasty and I could tell it was healthy (not an insult...Free Emoticons)
The only problem I had was that it uses tahini, and mine had separated badly. I stirred it up but still ended up finding a big lump of sesame paste-fused mushrooms half way through! Still, I am enjoying trying new recipes!
Nakd banana bread bar, 2 slices fruit soda bread (after training snack so I didn't pass out while heating the soup up - or jump head first into the peanut butter jar! It was a close thing for a minute there!), massive protein fruit smoothie... and I tried something I've been meaning to try for a while - I grilled a nectarine in my health grill and served it with plain unsweetened fromage frais. It tasted good but I either didn't cook it enough or it wasn't really ripe, because it stayed quite firm.
Weight today: 10 st 5.1 lbs (145.1 lbs)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Honest Scrap

10 things about me

1) After thinking about it for about a year, I decided on impulse to get a navel piercing - 1 day before going on holiday. Then I spent the next 24 hours worrying about setting off the metal detectors and having to expose my stomach to the security staff in the middle of a crowded airport! Plus holiday overeating made my clothes press on it uncomfortably and I had to spend the whole holiday rinsing it with saline a few times a day. God I'm smart...Free Emoticons

2) I was born a brunette - my hair fell out within a couple of days. It grew back red - and then in my early thirties started to fade. Now the people who love me call me a blonde... and all without hair dye!

3) I have a GCSE in Archaeology, at the time one of only about 20 people in the UK who had the chance to study Archaeology at school.

4) I'm a world class procrastinator, even when it comes to things I want to do, I rarely do them without putting it off first - sometimes several times - and have a tendency to make lots of lists instead of actually doing the things that need doing. (I think sometimes I actually convince myself that by writing the lists, I've already done the deed!) I get totally bogged down in how much I don't want to do - well, pretty much anything - and it never changes however many times the job turns out dead easy and really quick in the end.

5) I'm a life-long Dr Who fan, and Jon Pertwee was the best Dr Who of all time for me (even though I only saw him in re-runs, and grew up with Tom Baker in the role)

6) I can't sing - I mean at all. I like to to relieve stress though, so I keep my singing for when I'm alone in the car, on a motorway and no-one can hear me. No-one. At all. Its my biggest contribution to the ongoing survival and prosperity of the human race.

7) Physically I'm a complete coward. When I was about 10 I started learning judo. (I was quite good - went to a yellow belt at my first grading. I was very wriggly and hard to pin down Free Emoticons) I quit and never looked back when they told me to do a break fall (kind of a forward roll with a hard slam into the floor, breaking the fall with the arms) over the back of a person who was standing up, bent at the waist, with her hands on her knees. I just knew I wouldn't make it over and would send us both flying, so I wouldn't even try, burst into tears, and never went back for another lesson...

8) I took 5 attempts to pass my driving test, over a 10 year period. Anything else I would've given up on by then, but its hard to be an IT contractor without your own car. If we could afford it even now I'd hire a chauffeur rather than drive myself (and a nice Jag for him to drive me in!)

9) I've considered hypnosis to help me with the binging but don't really believe it works, so haven't gone there.

10) I once had a dream in which I was recovering from breast cancer. In my dream, I was thin from chemo and had had a double mastectomy. Because I was on a diet, and I've always hated having big boobs, when I woke up I was actually happy just for a minute... so even in my dreams my brain doesn't quite work properly when it comes to weight and body image... (this is to tell you how screwed up my head is, not in any way to make fun of or belittle breast or any other kind of cancer. When I'm awake and sane the idea of any kind of cancer scares me rigid.)

Hope those didn't scare you off!!!

I couldn't come up with 10 amazing blogs to pass this onto because other bloggers already beat me to it. A few I love and couldn't see the award on already though I might have missed it:
Kate at fabulous at fifty;
Tully at You Would be Pretty if...;
Tony at 'I don't want to die of a heart attack when I'm 25';
Irene at Livin' Large and
Simone at in[FAT]uation. I would happily have passed this on to loads of my other favourites, but I don't think there's much point in just jumping on the bandwagon if its already been there!
Enjoy the award everyone! I believe you save the image as a picture then paste it into your blog... and hopefully give us a little list of 10 things we might not know about you!

Quiet Sunday

Bearfriend was kind enough to give me an Honest Scrap award! I'll have to think about recipients to pass it on to as so many great blogs have already received it - and I'll come up with my list of 10 things you (probably) didn't know about me as well.
Not much other news today - I did take a walk into town for some shopping, standard thing with very tired legs by the end of it.
I watched Keanu Reeves in The Day the World Stood Still this afternoon. I'm not a fan of his particularly but I enjoyed the movie - even though the environmental messages were piled high with an eco-friendly shovel, certainly no subtlety there!
The good news is that I didn't feel any urge to binge today - in fact I almost forgot to eat breakfast, then wasn't fussed about lunch, and had a real struggle to decide what to have for dinner!
Food today:
All bran with strawberries and soya milk
Home-made veggie soup with walnut bread spread with goat's cheese, with a mixed leaf salad with avocado, sweetfire beetroot, and a smidgen of cherry-almond balsamic vinegar.

Yum! 'South of the border Chicken stew' from the Volumetrics Cookbook, with asparagus and a Dr Karg Spelt Muesli crispbread.

A protein smoothie (sadly a little too liquid - more like soup in a bowl than pudding) topped with chia seeds and a little piece of a new fruity bar - a Pure Fruit Wallabybar - delicious! The flavour was good, the texture was nice and chewy, it was good both on the smoothie and on its own.

Fromage frais with some tinned peach and a fresh fig.

Weight today: 10 st 5.5 lbs (145.5 lbs)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Later post than usual

Because I got a new phone today, it can send and receive email and browse the net, and as I am a technophobe it has taken me nearly all day to work out how to make it do these things!!! I know, as a contractor working in IT I shouldn't be describing myself as a technophobe, but the truth will set you free...
Works now though, at least for sending mails, so here I am.
My exercise for today consisted on some walking - into town, carrying a heavy rucksack on the way and a heavier one on the way back. I was tired when I got here, so I guess it did me good and I burned lots of calories.
Food today:
All bran with tinned peaches and soya milk. No photo because you've seen it all before!
A big salad with quorn fillets (flavoured with cajun seasoning), grilled sweet potatoes and a mug of home-made vegetable soup. Plus a slice of walnut bread with some boursin cheese.

'Bolognese' made with quorn mince and bulgar wheat, served in courgette ' boats', with another big salad and some asparagus. (There was more bolognese sauce than pictured - the rest wouldn't fit in the courgettes so I made lettuce wraps and ate them while the stuffed courgettes were baking.)

Lots of snacks today (but still well within calories): protein fruit smoothie, protein ball, 1 fresh fig, some fromage frais mixed with unsalted totally natural peanut butter and plum jam...
Weight today: 10 st 5.1 lbs (141.1 lbs)

Friday, 25 September 2009


Breakfast on Thursday was a toasted ham & cheese sandwich at Costa Coffee

I then went to the brand new Moctezuma exhibit at the British Museum - and back to Whole Foods Market as well. I bought loads of goodies again - and very nearly all of them made it home with me! One thing I tried that was very impressive - at least theoretically - was the series of machines for making instant whole-nut nut butters - no added fat, sugar, or salt (except for one which was salted peanuts). They were literally just canisters of whole nuts, you put a tub underneath and switched it on, and out came ribbons of nut butter - I have never seen that anywhere else! I bought tiny quantities of pistachio, unsalted peanut, and cashew to try - I'm not sure how long they'll last with no preservatives so I didn't risk buying too much. I also bought some cheeses, some crackers, and a loaf of delicious walnut bread. Oh yes, and please note the tinned pumpkin - I know Whole Foods wouldn't let me down!!!

I then walked to Notting Hill Gate to catch the tube (never been there before - and I did wish I could have spared the time to look around) to Holborn, then walked to the British Museum. Before going in I had a snack - a tofu and prune dessert I'd bought in Whole Foods. It was nice - the tofu part was quite creamy and rich, but it avoided the sickliness I would have expected from a dairy based topping like a cheesecake for instance. Unfortunately I've no idea what its calories were.

I then went in and paid for the new exhibit. It wasn't too busy, but there were some annoying brats in there on a school project - they'd clearly been told to sketch lots of the artefacts and that had them crowding around the cases at times so that other people had trouble seeing the items. There were some amazing sculptures, especially the statues of the deities and a pair of warrior heads - a Jaguar Warrior and an Eagle Warrior - and some beautiful goldwork and greenstone jewellery. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it was over-priced though - £12 for an exhibit I viewed in 1 hr. I spent £14 to go into Hampton Court Palace and was there for hours, and the same goes for Windsor Castle - plus the entry fee at the Palace & Castle included an audio commentary while the BM wanted more money for that (I refused to pay on principle - maybe if I had I would have discovered extra layers of complexity in the show that I missed out on!) Sadly no photography was permitted inside the exhibit so I can't show you the artefacts.
I then left the Musuem and had my Whole Foods Market salad sitting outside the building before walking to Tottenham Court Road to get on the tube.

I'd agreed to meet M at his office at 4, and wasn't sure how long it would take me to get there, so I left plenty of time. It was about a 2 mile walk, which I welcomed as I hadn't had time to walk as much in town as normal. I stopped off along the way in a rather nice Country Park and added another couple of miles walking in there as well.

While in the Park I had a small Nakd bar, and that was it till we got home. Unfortunately we ate later than I like to and because I hadn't been around to prepare anything we ended up getting a Chinese takeaway - it was very nice, but not the return to healthy eating I would have liked.

As far as food goes I had 2 good days, one awful day, and one somewhere in between. I got so much exercise in that I'm just about in deficit still, but if I do that again (not planning to at the moment) I will need to tweak what I do again. I think the key changes I need to make are: have a healthy, hot, filling lunch - its my main meal of the day, and skimping calorifically there is not a good idea when burning so many calories. Including protein in breakfast and my snacks is important too; also I want to add more starchy carbs (which should make the other things easier as it means I can have sandwiches). Drink more liquids too. At home I drink A LOT of liquid, away I drink much less in an attempt to avoid the hourly bathroom breaks BUT I'm clearly not very good at distinguishing between hunger and thirst so I need to just accept the possible inconvenience. And I think I need my snacks to be a bit more calorific as well, again to fuel the exercise I'm doing but in a controlled and planned way. I might actually go as far as using sandwiches / wraps as snacks not just as meals, and also take protein bars with me.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Wednesday in Windsor

Sorry this is so late - the hotel internet died on Wednesday so I couldn't post.
Well, I knew I'd like Windsor as soon as I left the train station and saw this beautiful old pub over the road:

And then hit the Riverside Walk, to scenes like this:

I didn't know in advance that there was a mini 'London Eye' in Windsor, but once I spotted it I couldn't resist

After lunch I went into the castle. The only disappointment there was not being allowed to take pictures of the best stuff!

And a confession. I started the day well with another 3 mile jog, followed by a carrot bran muffin. I'd decided to go down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Soon after getting there I started feeling a bit wobbly, I figure because I had been under-fueling again. So I had a HUGE cooked breakfast with cereal and fruit juice as well. I left feeling uncomfortably full, and went to the station to catch the train to Windsor. I started off walking around Eton (feeling sorry for the boys, who seemed to be in disguise - as pin-striped penguins!) and the feeling dodgy came back. So I ate the cereal bar that was to be my mid-morning snack - and the granola bar that was to be my mid-afternoon snack, and felt a bit better. But by the time I got off the Wheel I was feeling peculiar again. Looking back I think it might have been dehydration. At the time it seemed a good idea to go into Starbucks for an Amerciano and some yoghurt & granola. Which brought along a friend in the form of a biscotti. All yummy, but I wish I hadn't...
I then had lunch as well, in the Wetherspoons across the road from the castle - I had 5 bean chilli, which came with rice and tortilla chips, neither of which I could finish. Hey, at least I didn't force it all down! No dessert either - more through incapability than self-control admittedly. After the castle, I was so hot I had some toffee-crunch ice-cream (that was so yummy I still don't regret that). For dinner I had a Turkey subway and a bag of crisps. Carbs through the roof. It didn't feel like a binge - there were gaps in the eating and I didn't have that desperate feeling - but OMG was it ever an over-eating day!

Eating aside, I loved Windsor - in fact I texted M to say I wanted to move there! This was after I went into a wonderful shop called Oil & Vinegar (guess what they sell???) They had a range of olive oils and balsamic vinegars laid out to taste, they were stored in big jars and when you found one you liked you picked a size of empty bottle you wanted and they filled it for you. I bought 2 vinegars - cherry almond and fig flavoured. They are stunning - even though I've always felt balsamic vinegar has such a pronounced flavour, it was genuinely possible to taste - and recognise - the flavourings individually. Fantastic!!! (That shop may be the main reason I decided it was the perfect place to live - despite the price tags on the houses!!!)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hampton Court Palace

What a great day! When I originally decided to come back to London this week one of the reasons was to go to see the Mousetrap, which has matinee performances on Tuesdays. Yesterday as I was in Leicester Square any way I was looking at the discount ticket offices and realised I wasn't in the mood - so instead I decided to visit Hampton Court Palace. My father visited it a few months ago and was so impressed I guess it rubbed off on me!
I started the day with a 3 mile run in the hotel gym - small but adequate - and a home-made carrot-bran muffin as post-training snack. I then went to subway for a breakfast sub - I got the Club in a lite 6" honey oat roll stuffed with salad and had a Costa coffee to ward off caffeine withdrawal headache.

The journey to Hampton Court Palace was straight forward (with a small sprint through Clapham Junction for my connecting train) and in I headed. Its a beautiful building, but I preferred the Tudor bits to the later additions.

I started with the tour of Henry VIII's kitchens (where else would a food obsessed blogger start???) and this was a fascinating tour - the scale of the cooking facilities, and the implied scale of the cooking, was amazing, and the audio tour of this section was excellent.

I then did a tour of Henry VIII's apartments. This was also very interesting, but there was no audio tour for this section so I didn't feel it was as easy to learn about these areas.

After this tour I went to lunch in the Tiltyard Cafe. I had what seemed like a very healthy main course - seared beef salad - and followed it with today's treat - a flourless chocolate brownie. The salad was expensive, the brownie was good value, both were tasty, and the brownie left me too full for my planned granola bar for mid-afternoon snack.

After lunch I went to the more modern wing of the Palace - William III's apartments and the Georgian apartments. I didn't like this section of the tour as much as the Tudor bits, so I skipped Mary II's apartments.

Next was the gardens, with some lovely vistas:

Then I hit my usual culture wall so I went out, wandered around Hampton Court itself for a while, stopping in an M&S Simply Food store for dinner - classic salad, lochmuir hot smoked salmon with potato salad & watercress packaged salad, and a melon medley for dessert. All in all, not a bad diet day, a bit less walking but plenty of sightseeing - and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! And tomorrow I'm off to Windsor for the day - unless my plans get tweaked again, but I can't think of anything else I particularly want to fit in before Thursday