Thursday, 31 March 2016

Spring time musings - and a fine frittata recipe too!

Well, the clocks have sprung forwards and so have I.  The last few months have flown by, and now I'm looking forwards to the April school holidays, spending time in the garden and watching as everything green up and burst into life again.  I love this time of year!

Following on from my New Year post, I'm now not following Slimming World or any other diet for that matter.  I have to say that starting the year with SW (Slimming World) was a great boost for me in that the basics are healthy eating, lots of fruit and veg and restricting fat intake and alcohol.  It certainly works and I lost half a stone within a month, but have now stayed at a sensible weight and  have maintained that weight for about a month, without trying.  So I actually I don't mind that I haven't reached my 'target', I have got fitter, had a brilliant skiing holiday where I managed to ski every day and I've reminded myself of good eating habits.  So it's all good.
Feels like the top of the world. Valmorel, France.

Now that I am 50, I am determined that life should be about balance.  Exercise, sleep, yoga and eating healthy food but also being able to enjoy a glass of wine and some treats every now and then too.  So I have not become "Slimmer of the Year' but I'm quite happy with that.  The fact that I could get my 50 year old, middle aged body to ski as hard as it has ever done is something that I am very proud of :).  Even my kids said I was skiing well (and that's a big compliment as they have all skied since about age 3, whereas I started when I was 25!).  So now back to getting back in the saddle for the summer and enjoying my horse riding too.

Anyway, enough of the middle aged musing, and on with my latest yummy recipe.  I have made mini crustless quiches, breakfast frittatas before but this time wanted to try something light and spring like.

Last night I hosted our monthly book club get together and as my chickens are all laying lots of eggs at the moment, I decided to give these a go;

Pea, Mint & Feta Mini Frittatas - makes about a dozen

Ingredients;  One packet of greek feta cheese, a cup of frozen peas (defrosted), a handful of fresh mint, 10 eggs, black pepper, olive oil or olive oil cooking spray to grease a 12 hole yorkshire pudding or muffin tin.

Lovely Yellow Yolks! 

Method;  Grease the muffin tin.  Divide the peas, mint and feta equally into each of the pans.  Crack eggs into a large batter bowl/jug and beat until well mixed, season with pepper (I don't use salt as the feta cheese can be salty enough).  Then pour enough batter to fill the cover your pea mix, filling each pan about 3/4 full.  Finally bake in a hot oven for around 12 minutes (I checked mine after 10), probably about 180/200oC, but I put in the middle of the top oven in my Aga.

Once the frittatas have cooled for a few minutes, remove them from the tin to cool on a wire rack

These can then be served warm now, or reheated later.   Or even better cooled down and popped in the fridge to eat cold the next day.

The taste of the mint and peas is lovely and light, perfect with a glass of cold white wine and literary discussion!  Well, we always talk about the book before we get down to the serious business of catching up with everybody's news.

You can experiment with these with lots of different fillings and flavours.  My breakfast ones have bacon or ham and mushrooms in them.  Or for a more sophisticated drinks party maybe made with smoked salmon and broccoli.  They are so easy and very, delicious and a lovely way to use up a glut of eggs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Hello 2016, Hello New Healthy Me!

Happy New Year to all (if it's not too late to say that?).   Here in Aberdeenshire we have just survived the wettest December on record and the wettest January on record, and we are only half way through the month.  Thankfully our friends and neighbours have survived unscathed, although watching the reports from nearby Ballater and Braemar have been very scary indeed.   It seems very unusual to have had such wet and dull weather up here, having lived in Aberdeenshire since 1992 I have become used to cold but bright and sunny days.  Really hoping we get some soon, even our chickens are wondering about whether they should be ducks or not.
A soggy chicken garden
Anyway, weather aside the new year has prompted a swift kick up the backside to me, to get my act in gear and start getting fit and losing a bit of weight.  I had a nasty chest infection in November and since then have stopped exercising and quite honestly with a house full of food and drink over Christmas I have indulged heartily in eating cheese and cake (yum!).  However, now is the time to make some healthy changes.  Last week I amused myself by creating some healthy snacks, low fat yogurt and fruit combinations and also instead of eating crisps on a movie night I made some healthy popcorn, no butter but lots of spices in the form of a Dukkah mix (I did however partake of a couple of glasses of white wine too, not so healthy!).

But yesterday I took an even bigger step and joined Slimming World online.

Firstly here are the reasons, my best pal Audrey is a member has lost tons of weight but she (like me) is a huge foodie and loves being able to eat tasty meals, no funny meal replacements, counting systems or drinking lemon and maple syrup water for a week.  Secondly, I need to lose about a stone, my BMI is 27 which means I am at risk from over weight health issues.  Thirdly, this year is a BIG birthday year for me as I will turn 50 soon, time to get a bit of middle age spread under control or forever wear elastic waisted clothes!  Fourthly, we have a family skiing holiday in March, I have about 60 days to start exercising and get my legs as strong as possible as last year I only managed to ski for half the week (after my knee operation that year).  So there you go, there are some of my reasons for diving in.

My Moroccan Veggie SF soup
So what to expect with SW (Slimming World), well it seems to be quite straightforward and not really like a diet.  You get to eat unlimited amounts of 'Free' foods, a couple of healthy choices as well and then add in treats and extras (known as Syns) too.  Having a look at the recipes online and on Pinterest I have to say they look good, look delicious and don't involve having to buy any special 'diet' food or cooking products.  Well, so far so good I say and today I made a massive pot of Moroccan Veggie soup to eat as lunch over the week with enough to freeze for another time.  Here is the recipe.

Moroccan Veggie soup

1 onion chopped
2 celery sticks chopped
Fry light spray oil (6 sprays)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
pinch of dried chillies
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tin of chickpeas
1 green or red pepper chopped (or both or a chopped courgette!)
a handful chopped parsley or coriander
1 dollop (about a large teaspoon) of 0% Total greek yogurt to serve.

In a large soup pan, spray the Fry light and quickly fry off the onion and celery, once it has started to brown add a couple of tablespoonfuls of water to let it 'steam' until soft.  Now add the spices and garlic and stir around until everything is mixed in.  Now add the tinned tomatoes, squash, potatoes and chickpeas.  Season with some salt and pepper and then bring everything up to a boil and add enough water to cover the veg (I swill out the tomato can and chuck that in).

Let this all simmer away with the lid on for about 30 minutes, at which time add your extra veg, peppers or a courgette (I did this today as I didn't have any peppers).  Simmer for another 10 minutes, you want the root veg to be soft but the 'extra' veg to still have a bit of crunch.  Check your seasoning before you serve and add the chopped herbs.  Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt on top.  

This makes enough for at least 6 people to eat for a hearty lunch or for me to eat some now, and freeze the rest for later.

One final sad note before I go, yesterday the world lost an amazing human being, the enigmatic and wonderful David Bowie.  As a child in the 70s and a teenager in the 80s his music was the soundtrack to my life and it still is as we have shared his music with our children as they have grown.  I joined the rest of his fans around the world spending the day in tears for his loss.  Rest in Peace, David Bowie.  The stars look very different today.