Sunday, 31 March 2013

Its Easter

I drank wine and ate (some) chcocolate today.


I have no other excuse

M and I went to a local vineyard for a tour & tasting this afternoon. It was great. There was no way to not 1) drink wine & 2) not buy more wine to take home.

They sell chocolate too

We didn't buy chocolate - WIN
We did try chocolate - FAIL  (and it was nice... v nice)

ALSO I sliced my finger open while chopping rosemary for turkey soup this morning - OMG its still throbbing now

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Busy Easter

So, we're looking for a new house again. Hoping to part exchange for a new build detached house. We found one today we like, so now we're waiting to figure out the deal and see if we can go ahead.
M has promised to do most of the work this time since I got near terminally stressed last time. Fingers crossed for us please...?

In the mean time I did have a carborific half pint of cider at lunchtime today. It was medium dry but tasted pretty sweet to me, I didn't enjoy it amazingly much and wasn't tempted to get any more, I also now have a headache and don't know if its over the top to blame the cider or whether its just because I'm still catching up on sleep (nearly 10 hrs last night - WOO HOO!!!!) We also ate lunch out - mushrooms & spinach with cream as a starter (it came on toast I didn't eat) and a rump steak with salad for the main course. The food I did enjoy!

I've removed an defrosted loads of the meat that was stacked up in my freezer but that's as far as I've got so far. There are chicken livers I planned to pate, pork's liver I planned to eat with balsamic vinegar and caramelised onions, a turkey leg I'm making into soup, an oxtail I slow cooked over night that is now chilling in the stock in the fridge to separate off the fat.... too much offal possibly, I may have gotten carried away... Anyhow I'm now rethinking the pate and considering making a soup with it intead.

Decisions, decisions... and the weekend's only half over!

BTW I keep thinking its Sunday today and its driving me nuts...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Using stuff up

So, you know how I said I needed to use up food, yeah? Yesterday we did our bit towards that by going out for dinner and completely ignoring the Chrissie food mountain... However, Mexican food was calling and it was calling louder than the groans of pain from the fridge and freezer, so there it was. I stuck to my low carb lifestyle by eating prawns followed by steak and salad (no dessert of any kind) and while I can't know the carbs in marinades and salad dressings nothing tasted sweet so I'm hopeful I did ok. Especially as M had cheesecake for dessert right in front of me... And I didn't even envy him!

I'm coming down with a(nother) cold at the moment, due to the germ-infested plague pit I work in. I've been sneezing and sniffling for 2 days now and I must admit I've let it put me off training for a couple of days. I do plan to walk a fair bit this long Easter weekend though, as I can do that while bunged up and sniffly. I'm also going to try to experiment with ways to turn the lumps of raw frozen meat in the freezer in edible frozen meals that hopefully don't need even more space so that they're easier to use in the evenings - one reason - ok, excuse - for not training enough after work is lack of time, and after two successive weekends spent actually having a life I've got very little in the way of homemade almost ready meals left in there. Plus I'm going to test some slow cooker recipes to add more variety without adding more effort and time. Today I slow cooked some pork chops in foil packets all day. They were simply seasoned with a seasoning salt and wrapped up with some olive oil & butter. I was hoping they might stay intact but juicy and flavourful, whilst being prepared for the possibility they might fall apart a la pulled pork. Which they did. Fall apart, I mean. Still delicious though, on a (small) bed of cabbage
I'm heavily using my beloved crockpot365 website for recipes and less specific inspiration as well as for the lower carb side of the equation (today's lunch was Lyn's sausage & kale soup made with cauliflower instead of potato - and very tasty too, plus it used up the Italian sausages I bought when in London making macarons as well as half a large bag of kale taking up valuable fridge real estate...)


I have to confess over-eating a bit today... Not outside the diet as I smacked on meat and cheese, but I can't say I was really hungry so much as bored. But still not bored enough for sugar (and I was given an Easter egg yesterday so I had the means...)

Post dinner walk today, yay!


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Wednesday, 27 March 2013


My brain was swimming in an ocean of coffee. I could feel it spinning and bouncing off the inside of my skull...
I hate insomnia. Also migraines, which come with the insomnia. And throwing up,though it helps sort out the migraine, because throwing up is always gross and often painful (if its bashing your brain into your skull and exploding your eyeballs). Now you know why I didn't post yesterday.
Ah well, I don't have the energy for more complaining right now... Oh yes I do, who am I kidding? So freaking cold here and its really getting me down. I know I should be glad I have electricity and my house isnt cut off from civilisation by 15 ft snow drifts, and really I am... But that doesn't mean I'm happy with sub zero temperatures just because it could be worse...
I've started weaning myself off my antidepressants, so it is possible that you might see a difference in my posting as a result. Though I admit I can whinge and whine for Britain even when I'm fully medicated so perhaps its just BAU... The abovementioned migraine - and the several others I've had over the past year - have led to this decision as this is a side effect they are known for (so is weight gain / difficulty losing - and I can't deny that figures too)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Attitude readjustment needed

I have a shopping problem.

No, I don't own enough pairs of shoes to rival Imelda Marcos (I hate shoe shopping!)

My wardrobes are crammed with clothes, but many of them are over 5 years old and none are still wearings tags. Though many are wearing labels with littler numbers on them than more recent purchases.

But. My freezer. And my fridge. They are physically unable to bulge (ooh, ooh, quick - someone invent an expandable freezer for me, go on, I'd rather have that than a time machine, and I'd LOVE a time machine!)

I cook and food shop fairly on impulse. I usually have a shopping list, I'm not just walking around with a basket picking up everything with a pretty label, but I'll bulk buy special offers without thinking about where I'll store them, I'll buy massive quantities of something to cook one meal just for me, I'll buy things and forget I did so, then buy another tub of cumin seeds / bottle of groundnut oil / bag of frozen green beans.... Etc etc.

When I decided to go low carb I was confident that I'd quickly get bored of meat + 2 veg (no potatoes) meals, so I decided to stave it off as long as possible by buying as much variety as possible (eg the notorious beef heart experiment). At the same time as I was cutting back on vegetable eating I was also continuing to buy loads of fresh veg. Now I have to prioritise on store cupboard cooking and supermarket avoidance until I make some room in my major kitchen appliances (hopefully at the same time as making room in my clothes). In London & Reading at the weekend I forgot this fact and bought more stuff. Having crammed some of it forcefully in the freezer, my need is now urgent....

I've had to resort to trying to plan meals based on how many things from my freezer I can cram into one pan / onto one plate. If my meal combos start to look strange, now you know why...

So tired...

My legs ache and I love it
While my brother was here we walked all over London in the unrelenting snow & arctic winds of Saturday...( I will add the odd photo but I'm once again making the mistake of blogging by iPad, if anyone knows how to persuade it to add photos that are on the iPad itself I would really appreciate some advice!)

...then walked all over Reading (admittedly not as energetic) in the freezing winds of Sunday. I stuck to the low carb diet the entire weekend despite some offered temptations (which once again I found easy to resist) through 2 meals out and one takeaway.

I also wasn't interested in the Krispy kremes that were brought into the office today... I would really like to believe that this will keep up, but I'm not relying on it, or testing the theory...

The only thing I wasn't good about was drinking enough fluids - I fell into the usual trap of not wanting to have to use public bathrooms around town so not wanting to drink very much, and basically waited to have a drink until I was actively thirsty. 
I'm now making up for that big time and am chasing backwards and forwards to the kitchen & the bathroom... And as I also barely slept all weekend, I'm far too tired for work, it really got in the way of much needed napping today.... Towards the end of the day I genuinely felt unwell through sleep deprivation. A very very early night is called for I feel...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Friday’s delayed post (written yesterday morning, finished today)

Yesterday was a genuinely good day in terms of having energy, doing things that are good for me, and feeling good about doing something positive. I think the good nights sleep I has Wednesday was the reason. Unfortunately I didn't sleep as well last night, and today my shoulders ache from the push ups - but I don't mind much, its a slight ache and a reminder of how good I felt yesterday morning (of course not so long ago push ups were a lot less effort, but lets ignore that fact shall we?)
My brother is arriving today and we have a table booked at the Hinds Head in Bray for dinner this evening. I've already been looking at the menu in an attempt to pick a good balance of delicious but not too carby food. I usually have pea and ham soup when we go there - best in the world - but its too high in carbs so I'm going to try something else today.


My poor brother was trapped in Friday afternoon traffic chaos for an extra hour on the journey – he arrived half an hour before we were due to leave for the Hind’s Head, when we were starting to wonder if we’d have to cancel the booking. Were we ever glad not to! I persuaded him to try the pea and ham soup – he’s still talking about it! I had a starter of soused mackerel with pickled lemon and horseradish cream (The fish is under the greenery, honest!)


Followed by a veal chop on a bed of creamed cabbage, to which I added a side salad of spinach and pine nuts with ‘Lord of the Hundreds’ Cheese – it was amazing.  (apologies for the rubbish phone camera photos)


More cheese for dessert (minus the oat cakes, bread and chutney that came with it) and I was stuffed without minding the absence of their excellent sour dough bread and world famous triple cooked chips. I tried to stick to a spirits based drink, but chose a Manhattan, which I’m sure was sweetened with something carby, but the rest of it I felt really good about.

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Don't faint from the shock... Are you sitting down? I did 20 push ups this morning. I slept really well last night! I feel like a new(ish) woman today! This evening I trained for 40 minutes on the mountain climber - I even went back to finish after my Tesco delivery came early! And, and, and the sun shone this morning. (for about 20 minutes) I know, amazing, right? It made such a nice change after the 29 month winter we seem to be having... Ok maybe not, but it feels like it to me and I am soooooo ready for it to be over now....
On Saturday I'm planning a trip into London with my brother. I've planned for some things we can do to get around without getting wet if it pours, but I'm really hoping we'll be able to walk all day. The forecast isn't bad so far, but we don't believe forecasters, do we...
Today's mystery meal was a slow cooker stew of beef heart. I have NEVER eaten heart before (or not knowingly anyway) and I only did it now because I got all adventurous and ordered some from Tesco when I first decided to turn more or less carnivorous. I'm really not one for 'organ meats' as they bill them these days, but I read a description of the heart that described it as ultra lean muscle meat, and went for it. I added some radishes, onion and carrots - very little carrot. I was hoping it would pretty much resemble any normal beef stew without any hint of offal-ness, and would get nicely tender to boot. Did it? Well... Not entirely. It was falling apart tender as I'd hoped, the gravy refused to thicken though I whisked cream into it, and the smell when I got home was a little offal-y (kind of like steak & kidney pie without the pastry) but it did taste a lot better than it looks, and as the meat was so cheap I don't doubt I'll make it again, possibly using almond flour or  xanthan gum as a thickener. And cutting the meat smaller wouldn't hurt either... Live and learn though - and my word, it was filling! Served on top of some kale.

I took a photo but I'm blogging on my iPad and can't figure out how to add a picture that's saved on the iPad itself. If I remember I'll try to come back and add it when I'm on a PROPER PC instead of this stupid annoying pain in the ass TOY (I like it really - at least for some things)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Branching out

My alternative lunches have been going much better the last couple of days. I made 2 portions of soup from chicken drumsticks (skin attached), radishes - really good addition - and small amounts of onion, carrot, cauliflower & green beans. I blended it up and it didn't look delicious (but then I think pureed chicken never looks delicious - just beige slurry really, hence the lack of photo) but it was simple, tasty, and definitely not a salad (apart from the radishes of course) and I enjoyed it so much I've made another low carb soup for the next few days. I'm not sure why I didn't do it sooner, but suspect its because I have always seen soup making as a way to cram masses of vegetables into a smaller volume, using meat as more of a condiment, and that doesn't really fit this low carb thing. The new soup I've made doesn't contain meat, but does contain 2 kinds of cheese and spinach - its based on a recipe from a novel, no less - Diane Mott Davidson's Dying for Chocolate, a murder mystery starring a caterer which includes recipes for a lot of her dishes. I used to make it a while ago with reduced fat cheeses (until I decided it had too many calories even with the low fat cheese) and now I've brought it back, and am looking forward to eating it for lunch tomorrow.

It's lower in protein than the salads and the chicken soup but certainly high enough in fat to fit with the new plan, and tastes rich and buttery. The original recipes uses flour as a thickener; I never bothered with that even when I wasn't low carb, but I do puree some of it to thicken the whole lot. If you're interested in the recipe, it's called Goldie's Gourmet Spinach Soup.
I'm trying something tomorrow that I've never cooked before - squeamish people and vegetarians may want to steer clear... more adventurous readers watch this space...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Yesterday was not overall a good day for me. I couldn't seem to stop being hungry and though it didn't trigger a binge (probably because I didn't touch the carbs) but I did end up eating what felt like half a pound of plain roasted nuts and full fat goats milk yoghurt at 10 pm (I usually don't eat after dinner at 6 pm) just so I could get to sleep. On the plus side I didn't sleep badly after that, but its not a habit I want to get into. Also good, I wasn't as hungry at breakfast time today and made do with a couple of hard boiled eggs and a little cold meat. And felt kind of stuffed after that, for most of the morning.
Less good, I'm still very very tired most of the time. I haven't trained at all since starting this new approach, or even walked much, and don't really feel like doing so. I know that Briffa says it can take up to 3 weeks to fully shift from burning carbs to burning fat and I'm now into week 3 so I'm hoping that's why, and like magic my energy levels will increase by the end of the week. Fingers crossed that is the case...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Eating out low carb

Saturday evening we went out for dinner - to a local Thai restaurant. As soon as I decided to go low carb one of the first things I did was figure put what I could eat at my favourite restaurants (I know you're probably thinking that eating out shouldn't be that much of a priority while trying to lose weight and of course you're right, but it helped me feel comfortable with my ability to sustain this) and I actually stuck with my plan! I had steamed mussels with lemongrass & chilli, followed by Whipping Tiger - chargrilled sirloin steak - and stir fried mushrooms with cashew nuts, and finished off with strawberries & cream. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and didn't feel bloated and stuffed afterwards due to avoiding prawn crackers, rice & noodles. Yum!
Apart from that though I must admit that my lunches are now officially boring as hell - salads with cold meats only go so far. So I want to start making soups that I can reheat at work, and that will help me mix it up a bit. At lunchtime today I found myself looking for something else to eat after finishing, even though I wasn't still hungry - though I was pleased to find that I still wasn't tempted to eat anything sweet. I was slow cooking some frozen chicken drumsticks while at work with the intention of eating them with my salads the next few days, but decided instead to turn some of them into my first low carb soup.

Friday, 15 March 2013


Last night was not good... I'm not sleeping well anyway (I know, I know, you've heard it all before) but for dinner yesterday I had a not excessive portion of cabbage and last night I was really uncomfortable, feeling windy and bloated and stomach achey. I had no idea my tolerance for fibre could fall so far so fast! I had the cabbage with a tiny quantity of cauliflower and some beef brisket (which was fantastic) and made up a cream sauce instead of gravy and it all tasted good at the time, but the aftereffects may have put me off cabbage for life... This morning the pain was gone but the bloated feelings were still there, and it made it very clear how much I haven't missed feeling bloated since cutting back on the carbs. I suppose that's not a bad reminder at day 14... 2 weeks without sugar, I can hardly believe it! And I haven't had any diet soda since Monday... which totally stuns me.
Anyway, with a typically measured, considered, understated reaction to last night I decided to go really low carb today. I had full fat Greek yoghurt sprinkled with strawberries, almonds, walnuts and a little hazelnut butter for breakfast, and for lunch I had a chicken breast, 2 hard boiled eggs and some cheddar. Followed by a massive chunk of cheese. a few tomatoes & nuts and a couple of celery sticks for dinner. Everything in moderation, as they say...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Day 12 without sugar

There were two office birthdays yesterday so of course one of the desks was covered with doughnuts, cookies and the other popular carby treats. On the fasting diet I would either have tried to ignore them (on a fast day) or possibly caved (on a food day) - either way I would at least have considered having something. And one something would probably have led to more than one, as it did for some of my colleagues.
Yesterday? Genuinely didn't even want one.
I could get to like feeling that way.... I strongly feel its unlikely to always be that easy (for a start I was helped by the fact that they were all shop bought gluten-y things rather than homemade)
I'm feeling remarkably close to cheerful at the moment. Barry Groves thinks excessive carbs are implicated in depression, I don't know if that's the case or not but its been 13 days now and I haven't wanted to kill myself once :-). That's not the only change I made then though; the same weekend that I started this experiment I also bought some pretty new underwear (no spanx in sight) and 2 new work skirts that fit me instead of constantly wearing / washing / wearing the same pair of trousers to work every day (they fit but the cut makes my hips look approximately the size of Texas) so I'm feeling happier at what I see in the mirror and more inclined to keep looking after myself as a result. Also I haven't had any booze since Monday, not that I'm a lush normally but it is a depressant after all....
I am sick of eggs for breakfast so this morning I had a change - 2 Portobello mushrooms topped with goat's cheese, streaky bacon & pine nuts, grilled. I did follow them with the standard strawberries & cream but it was a tasty change, especially as the goat's cheese was a good one bought at Salisbury market on Saturday. It was so ripe it was hard to slice - but would have been easy to spread if I hadn't given up bread. It was very tasty - but nowhere near as filling as the eggs, so I doubt I'll do that again (mushroom & goat's cheese omelet, though - that might be a different story...). I found myself snacking on almonds & cheese by 10 am, which I hadn't previously needed to do. And even then I was impatient for lunch... Ah well, it was worth trying. Back to eggs tomorrow!
After work I took a short walk across the fields... and brought most of them home with me!

Such a lovely evening...
Thanks for the info Deniz, ordered some ketostix on Amazon as I'm too wimpy to ask for them in person ;-)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

That diet stuff...

Having said that I'm not going to be obsessed with the diet stuff all the time, that IS why I'm here fundamentally, so here goes for that side - just a few brief(ish) words on it for now.
Every day for 10 days now my breakfast has been based around eggs, usually scrambled (I love soft poached eggs but without toast I feel like I'm losing all the nice runny yolk) and often with ham or streaky bacon.
Lunch is usually a salad with a portion of meat, often quite fatty in itself and dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette.
Dinner is a lot like lunch most of the time, though I'll need some variation to stop myself passing out with boredom. Yesterday it was Bolognese sauce on a bed of cabbage instead of pasta; tonight a duck breast cooked with balsamic vinegar and asparagus. As much as possible I'm avoiding snacking and when I do snack its usually on cheese - individual snack cheeses for easy portion control - and mugs of chicken or beef bouillon.
As this isn't the most visually exciting diet (as compared to what? My former daily photos of bowls of All Bran???) I'm not planning to go back to photographing every meal the way I used to, but if I particularly enjoy a meal - or get sick of the sight of page after page with nothing but text - I'll make an exception here and there.
And here’s one right away – because this was absolutely delicious! I bought two duck breasts at the market on Saturday, and used this recipe to cook them for dinner. Perfectly cooked duck, and a great recipe!
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Deniz, thanks for your comment on my post from yesterday. I bought the John Briffa book on my kindle as soon as I read it, and I'm already enjoying reading it. Whereabouts in Superdrug would I find the ketostix? Thanks again!
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Wot I did at the weekend…

Trying not to be the person obsessing over diet to the exclusion of all other subjects of conversation / blogging anymore so lets talk about the weekend - even though its almost a distant memory!
I went parent visiting this weekend, spending the day on Saturday with my mum to prematurely celebrate Mothers Day then spending the evening, night and part of Sunday morning at my dad's house.
On Saturday I drove through drizzle all the way and was starting to think we'd be stuck indoors all day again instead of going out in Salisbury as we had tentatively planned. Luckily soon after I got there the drizzle stopped and we decided to risk it. Its about an hour's drive over Salisbury Plain. I can't even imagine what it would be like to live up there - its so empty and bleak looking, kind of like living on the moon with grass. Every time we passed a 'Tank crossing' sign I had a look, and was really disappointed not to see a single one - or any other military vehicles. They obviously have things other than my entertainment in mind when planning training exercises, and can I just say, why do I pay taxes if I don't get to see a single tank - or young man in uniform???
It was market day in Salisbury and its a very good market - I spent a fortune on meat, game, cheeses & eggs. Then we had lunch at Wetherspoons and I forwent my usual habit of reading the nutritional info to pick the lowest calorie meal, instead having a mixed grill (1003 calories!) With salad instead of chips. It was a real treat, as I haven't done something like that for about a decade.
We then chatted all afternoon and I helped mum buy a new laptop before heading to my dad's for a nice dinner that was planned for the new diet and rather a lot of whisky... Spirits are carb free so I was taste testing his stash ;-)
Then Sunday it was home for a relaxed day with M involving mostly TV watching and sofa lying - just what I needed!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Is there life after sugar?

I doubt if there's anyone left put there, but if there is I hope you're not fed up of me reappearing periodically with a new diet plan I've decided to try...?
The fasting is on hold at the moment for reasons I'll get to shortly; I haven't lost faith in it, but I have decided to make going cold turkey on the sweet things a priority, and to that end, after a bit of research, I'm going low carb for a while. I'm basing what I'm doing on the diet defined in Barry Groves' books 'Natural Health & Weight loss' with some influence from Gary Taubes' 'Why we get fat & what to do about it'. I've now been doing this for almost 10 days - and that's 10 days without a binge, without breaking the plan, without wanting anything sweet, and without carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms (apart from a few hours on Friday afternoon / evening when I got a headache with accompanying nausea.) I have been a bit lacking in energy as my body faces up to trying to remember how to burn fat for energy instead of carbs, and that has led to a temporary hiatus in exercise and in fasting while I wait to adjust.
In the meantime, I'm eating much more meat, millions of eggs, full fat milk, cream & cheese... They weren't my favourite things to eat, but I'm enjoying them more with time and not minding eating less veg, no bread, pasta, sugar or potatoes. And I've been feeling less bloated, suffering less wind (excuse the TMI - and some more TMI - neither seriously constipated nor having diarrhea). I've also cut back considerably on diet sodas and flavoured waters to help reduce my sweet tooth.
And after months of maintaining I lost 1.5lbs last week (still not willing to name my weight - maybe at the weekend, as I'm now weighing weekly instead of daily)
But one downside to this cannot be denied... I can't drink beer! Crying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceWhat am I to do???