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. 

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