Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Homemade Dips: Garlic & Herb, Houmous and Tomato & Basil Mayo

After making the BRILLIANT discovery that average breadsticks are just 1 syn each, I was overjoyed and decided to make some syn free/low syn dips and sauces to keep in the fridge for when I'm feeling a snack-attack coming on! They're so healthy and quick to make.. your friends will love them too! Perfect for having on the table over the festive season. Anyone who reads this blog should know by now that I'm a pretty big fan of the Kilner jar too.. they just make everything look pretty and so much more appealing! (However covering a bowl with clingfilm to keep in the fridge will do the same trick!)

Garlic & Herb:
* 3 crushed garlic cloves
* Chives
* 1/4 teaspoon english mustard
* 100g quark
* 100g fat free fromage frais

Mix or blend them all together in a bowl. The mustard can be a bit overpowering so make sure it's only 1/4 of the LITTLE spoon! Add more fromage frais or quark to make it less tangy. Sprinkle some more chopped chives on top!

Red Pepper Houmous:
* 1 red pepper
* 400g can chickpeas
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 1tbsp lemon juice
* 20ml water
* Salt & pepper
* Frylight

De-seed the pepper (optional) and dice it into small chunks. Roast in the oven for 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, drain chickpeas and rinse. Pop them in a bowl alongside the crushed garlic, lemon juice, water and a sprinkle of salt. Add the peppers and use a food processor or hand blender until you reach your preferred consistency. Pour into a jar (or bowl, etc) and sprinkle with pepper.

Tomato & Basil Mayonnaise:
* 75ml passata with onion & garlic
* 100g virtually/fat free cottage cheese
* 1tbsp sweet chilli sauce
* 2tbsp extra light mayonnaise
* Fresh basil leaves

In a bowl, mix together the passata (if you can't find one with onion & garlic a plain tomato passata will be fine - You could always add onion and garlic granules if you wanted!), fat free cottage cheese, chilli sauce and extra light mayonnaise (Hellmann's Lighter than Light is only 0.5 syns per tbsp) and a large handful of basil leaves. Use a food processor or hand blender, again, until you reach a consistency you're happy with!

Pop 'em in the fridge and that's it, done!
Simple as that.

I hope these quick & easy dip recipes (I found them on the Slimming World website!) help you to tackle your snacking and sauce cravings. I know I'm a sucker for breadsticks, cheese twists etc over Christmas and I'll definitely be taking these jars to my parent's house! It feels great to be prepared and to try new recipes!

TIP: Average breadsticks are 1 syn each (fab!) however,
the Ferro, Mini Low Fat Breadsticks are 0.5 syns per 2.
An average savoury cheese twist amounts to 2 syns each,
but they are a little less at 1.5 syns from Morrison's.

Also, if you don't fancy making your own, make sure you look up syn values for any pre-made dips you might buy!

For example, the syn values for Doritos dips are:
Mild/Hot Salsa, 2 level tbsp = 0.5 syns
Cool Sour Cream & Chive, 1 level tbsp = 2 syns
Nacho Cheese, 1 level tbsp = 1.5 syns

(I'm a very big fan of the Dorito salsa dip, and I was actually pleasantly surprised at the syn value so it'll be a treat but I'll try not to give in to it too much..)
Join me, and try to be as Syn-Savvy as possible this Christmas!
It'll be a challenge but we can do this! Let's stay on track and still find ways to enjoy the festivities!

Enjoy & Share!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Quick & Easy: Microwave Minute Muffin!

Just a quick one!
This is FANTASTIC if you want to use porridge oats as your healthy extra B choice as it's virtually syn free!

* 1 egg
* Fresh Blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries
* Sweetener
* Cinnamon (optional)
* Fat free fromage frais to serve
* 1/4 cup plain porridge oats (you can have up to 35g for your B Choice)

How to:
Mix oats, egg, a handful of blueberries and 1tsp of sweetener together in a mug.

Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Keep an eye on it because it might pop up and out of the cup! (Larger mugs work best)

Feel the top of the "cake" for firmness. Re-heat for another 30 seconds if you like.

Turn the mug upside down and tip on to a small plate. Pour some fat free fromage frais over it and top with fresh raspberries or any other fruit you fancy. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top and you're done!

It looks really nice and it makes me feel like i've had something naughty for dessert. Sure, it doesn't taste like fluffy cake but it's something! I love it!

TIP: This is bloody LOVELY with a banana & custard flavour muller light poured over the top instead. A looovely hot pudding!

This is practically syn free (unless you're not using oats as your B choice) but I would allow 1 or 2 because of the fruit that's heated up in the microwave! I don't know why, but it's best to be on the safer side isn't it? ;)

Enjoy & share!

PS. Apologies for my lack of posting, my laptop charger is currently broken so I can't get online properly until a new one arrives next week. I have loads of really exciting news but I'm going to wait until I have more time! (I'm currently using my boyfriend's dad's iMac while he's at work! Cheeky!
Have a fantastic week! xo

Friday, 22 November 2013

Recipe: SYN FREE Banana Pancakes


I previously posted this saying it was syn free but have made a mistake because the banana is both mashed up AND cooked! Woopsie!
The syn value of a cooked banana is 5 syns unfortunately so these are NOT syn free but 5 syns for all of them (per banana). I am so, so sorry! They are still totally worth it, though.

(I would change the post title but the link wouldn't work anymore! Please make sure people know these aren't syn free, I don't want to be damaging or slowing down someone's weight loss!)

I was practically jumping around with joy (does that count towards my 'body magic'? Haha!) when I found out about this recipe. I've really missed pancakes and although I was a little sceptical at first, these do not dissapoint!

You will need:
* Frylight spray
* 1 or 2 ripe bananas
* 2 eggs

For the topping:
* Sweetener
* Fat free fromage frais (or yoghurt)
* Fruit of your choice - get some more superfree in there!

Step 1: Mash up the banana, beat the eggs and mix together. Add in a bit of sweetener if you wish.

Step 2: Spray pan with Frylight, pour in some of the mixture. (The mix should make about 3 medium pancakes) and leave on a moderate heat. Flip after 25-30 seconds.

Step 3: Repeat until you have used up all your mixture and serve. I sprinkled sweetener on top of mine and topped with fat free fromage frais, blueberries, raspberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

I had them for breakfast and they were SO yummy!
I hope you're as pleasantly surprised as I was.
This will also make a really nice dessert and I'm sure kids, partners etc will love them too. My boyfriend was drooling over them this morning! (If you fancy it, I'm sure you could add syrup or even mix in some chocolate spread as long as you syn it!)

(This is what they look like without the topping! Still pretty nice, eh?)

Feel free to share my blog around - this recipe is definitely going to be a new regular favourite of mine!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Homemade burger & chips!

I've had a real craving for takeaway burger & chips all week so I thought i'd be a good girl and make my own! Unfortunately I already had my Healthy Extra B Choice for the day otherwise I would have had a 60g wholemeal roll!

Serves 1: Free on Extra Easy.

* 1/2 450g pack of extra lean beef mince
* 3 or 4 medium Potatoes
* Frylight
* Schwartz Perfect Shake 'Classic BBQ'
* Salt & Pepper
* 1 large Courgette
* 1 large Red Onion
* Baby corn
* Crispy Salad
* Worcestershire Sauce
* 60g Wholemeal Roll (optional)
* Low fat cheese slices

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c or between gas mark 4 and 5.

1. Cut the potatoes in to chips/wedges (whichever you prefer, I also like to leave the skins on) and boil them in a saucepan along with the baby corn until potatoes are almost soft.

2. Thinly slice the courgette lengthways and chop the red onion in to quarters. Peel apart each layer and place them together in a roasting dish with the courgette and baby corn. Spray generously with FryLight. Set to one side.

3. Place chips/wedges in another roasting dish/tray and also spray generously with frylight. Season with salt & pepper and pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes, turn the chips over and spray again with frylight. Also put the vegetables in the oven. Cook for a further 20-25 minutes or until crispy and golden.

5. Meanwhile, break up the beef mince in a mixing bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Season with Schwartz 'Perfect Shake Classic BBQ' and mix together. Shape them in to burgers and fry them slowly in a shallow pan until sealed and brown. They won't take long so do this at the last minute! Feel free to add a low fat cheese slice to melt on top towards the end (but syn it or use them as your healthy extra A Choice!)

6. Finally: Serve the chips, veggies and burgers with a crispy side salad to make sure you get as much superfree food as possible! You can have one 60g wholemeal roll as a healthy extra B choice option, too!



Friday, 8 November 2013

Free Download: Food Planner and Handy Healthy Extras!

From my own experience, keeping organised is the key to a good week. It helps if you can spend half an hour at most to plan your meals (and snacks!). Even if it's just a rough guide! It's also good to jot down meals you'll be eating out or parties you'll be going to - this way, you can see how it will affect your food intake for the day or week and you can do your best to work around it. I print out one of these every week, fill it in and pop it on my fridge as a reminder not to sway away from my planned meals! Another good reason for planning your week is that you can write out a shopping list of all the ingredients and food you'll need - this will hopefully stop you from buying treats you don't need and filling your trolley with food that will get wasted!

I've had a few people asking me for a print-out version of the planner chart that I use.

So, here it is!

Click on the photo to open it up. Right-Click and save it to your computer. Then, print it off and fill it in! Sorry if it comes out a little grey.
Alternatively, Click here to download the original file to print off. It will be much clearer!

Another thing I use which you may find helpful is a list of current 'Healthy Extras'. I made a list of all of the A and B choices that interested me. It's most of the list, but not the full one (sorry, they took so long to write out!) Go to your Food Diary on the Slimming World website
to take a look at the complete list of options available.

If you fancy it, take a look and print it out on A5 (or A4 - I keep one sellotaped on the inside one of my kitchen cupboard doors!)

Or make a list of your own! I keep this A5 list handy in my bag for when I do my food shop. It's good if there are deals on or you're interested in trying new foods etc.

Click here to download the Healthy Extras list.

I hope you find these tools helpful - I'll do another blog post very soon as I have some VERY exciting news!
Bye for now,

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How do you motivate yourself?

Lacking motivation? We've all been there.
Here are some of my top tips for keeping yourself motivated and staying on track!

Get organised! Planning:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry:
At the start of the week, sit down and give yourself half an hour to write out a food plan... and do your best to follow it! I like using the SW online food diary when I have time but I much prefer writing things down in pen.
It can also be a good idea to write out a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need so you don't buy lots of food that will get wasted (or naughty snacks!).
If you do buy snacks, try and plan those out too.
Use your healthy extra B choice allowance on tasty cereal bars or research some low-syn chocolate/sweet options so you can stay within in your syn-limit!
ALWAYS try not to buy anything unless you have a good idea of how many syns are in it. Never guess, eat, and look it up later! Bad move!

Keep your food plan and any awards you have in plain sight!
It will be a good reminder every time you go to open the cupboard or fridge (aimlessly..we all do it) and it will hopefully stop you from picking and snacking! I know somebody who used to keep a "fat photo" of herself on her fridge for this very reason.
An interesting method..not for me, but might work for you!

Keep yourself hydrated:
Hungry? Have a drink first! More often than not, we think we're hungry when we're actually dehydrated. A big glass of water will make us feel fuller in between meals. If you're still feeling hungry, then try and opt for a free or superfree snack. If this fails and you are still hungry after an hour, think about having a filling meal!

If you bite it, write it!:
Keep a food diary or at least try to log down any syns you've had as soon as possible, sometimes it's easy to forget everything you've eaten throughout the day! I keep a little notebook handy, but it's just as easy to log it down in your phone and pop it in the food diary later!

Get inspired:
Give yourself some alone time to read through the Slimming World magazine, browse the internet for new recipes or read some success stories on the SW website. Write down any good tips!
If you haven't used Pinterest before, I recommend giving it a try!
You can save any photos, links to articles or recipes from all over the internet to one place - on your own personal online 'inspiration board'.
I have one for Slimming recipes which you can see here:

Set yourself little goals!:
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”
― Margaret Lee Runbeck

Reaching target weight isn't the only thing you should be looking forward to. It can make your journey seem never-ending, especially if you have a lot to lose.
Sometimes it feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel!
You can feel confident and happy in yourself even if you aren't a target member.
I think people presume they're going to feel instant happiness when they get to their end goal, but I believe you actually collect little sparks of encouragement and confidence with every smaller achievement along the way.

Make a list of the things you'd like to achieve on your slimming journey.
For example; fit a certain item of clothing better, drop a dress size, wear a bikini on holiday, feel confident at a friend's birthday party etc! Tick these off as you go along, remember to celebrate and recognise every achievement. It will make you feel good about yourself and the direction you are heading in!

Be adventurous: TRY NEW RECIPES!
Don't be scared to try out new meals. Variety is the spice of life!
Keep your menu interesting and you will look forward to your meals more.
Try using a new vegetable or spice you've never had before! You might like it!
I highly recommend browsing online
at for new recipe ideas!

Be PROUD of your meals:
Buy a nice plate and bowl set. Make your food look appetising - presentation is key! I always try and take a picture of my food, even if I don't share it with anyone. I like to keep a folder of all the new recipes I've tried and sometimes I post it on here with the recipe if someone in group has seen the photo online or heard me talking about it at club. Trust me, it does work!

Before and after photos:
Sometimes it can be encouraging (no matter how daunting!) to take a photo of yourself at every milestone you reach. Half a stone, stone etc.. it will be great to look back on your progress and see the difference in yourself!
It can also be incredibly motivating to see before and after photos of people who have lost weight on the same plan as you. It gives us hope when everything seems impossible! We all have to start somewhere!

Left: Probably me at my biggest, just before I started losing weight. It was this photo which was the final straw for me - this is when I knew it was time to start dieting. Right: A recent photo taken when I reached my 4 stone award.

I used to hate having my picture taken. Before I started dieting, I would cry for hours and delete every single photo of myself. I would keep myself logged in to Facebook constantly just incase someone tagged me in a photo I didn't like, so I would instantly be able to ask them to remove it before anyone else could see it. Now, 4 stone lighter, I feel so much more confident in front of a camera. More often than not, I'll try and get in to group photos with my family and friends when we go out instead of hiding behind someone or insisting that I don't want my photo taken. It's so much nicer to feel involved!

PICTURE yourself slimmer.:
Okay, so, to some people, this might seem a
little bit ridiculous but honestly it works!
We all have some sort of 'ideal body' in mind
when we start our slimming journey, don't we?
Along with the health benefits and other things,
Let's face it, our main reason for slimming is really for the body confidence!
Whether you want a figure like Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss,
Scarlett Johansson (my personal goal), the Special K advert lady,
how you looked 10 years ago, your next-door-neighbour's dog walker..
we all have to be able to imagine ourselves in this way to keep the determined!

You could print off a few photos of celebrities or people with 'the ideal figure' and make an inspiration board. You could pop the photographs on the fridge to remind you where you want to be and how you want to look.
Or, you could go on to and literally paste your face on to other people's bodies. It can be hilarious and really motivating!

Here's my face on the body of Lady Gaga. I was pleasantly surprised!

Retail therapy: Clear out your wardrobe!:
When you drop a dress size, have a good rummage! You'll realise that your old clothes are fitting you differently - some things will drown you! It's very easy to feel attached to clothes but it can be quite motivating to spend the day sorting through your wardrobe and assessing which garments don't fit you anymore. Pass your bigger clothes on to friends, family, charity shops or sell them on eBay! Why are you keeping them if they don't fit anymore? And DO NOT use the "what if I put weight on again" excuse ;) That mindset won't get you anywhere! Make room for prettier, smaller clothes! Plus, it gives you a great excuse to save up and treat yourself - who doesn't love shopping? There's nothing more satisfying than discovering you have dropped a size! I am still terrified of buying jeans, but I'm sure the day will come where I don't cry in the dressing-room mirror, faced with the image of myself in these denim demons. I wait for that day eagerly, and it shall be glorious.

I do, however, recommend keeping one item of clothing from when you started your weight loss journey. When you have reached target, try it on and you will really notice the difference! It'll make for a great photograph.

Group support: attend your local club!:
I cannot stress enough just how essential the support at my Slimming World group has been to my weight loss. I really don't understand these "weigh and go" people. I honestly look forward to the one hour a week where I get to completely surround myself with other people who are following the plan. Outside of group, I do feel like I talk about it a lot with friends who probably aren't interested, but it does take over your life a bit and it's okay to be enthusiastic! But on a Monday evening I get to feel normal and I remember that I'm not doing this alone. I've made so many friends, we have a good laugh and share loads of great recipes and ideas. It's also good to stay to group especially if you've had a bad week, because you know everyone else has been in the same position at least once and they are all so supportive about it. No one judges you, everyone is in the same boat. It really puts me back on track and kicks me up the backside when I need it the most!

Last but not least: DON'T PANIC! Remember how far you've come:

Whether you've just started your journey or you're almost at target,
try not to let a bad day turn in to a bad week..
which can turn in to a bad fortnight or even a bad month!
It's very easy to put the weight back on but before you fall in to the trap of the downward spiral, think back to how you felt on your first weigh in and how far you've come since then. You made the brave decision to face the music, start a healthy eating plan and change the way you think about food forever. It's quite the commitment! You know it works, you know it's worth all the effort you put in to it because you've seen the results. It's easier to draw a line under a bad day and start a fresh tomorrow. Don't panic, don't be too hard on yourself and don't dwell on the slip-ups or the amount of syns you've had that day.
Do get back on track and go back to basics! We all feel deprived and go on a little binge every now and again. It's only human! But only you have the power to turn things around.

It can be a good idea to have a visual reminder of your progress.
For example, I have this chalkboard on my wall which acts as a bit of a 'countdown to target' and really keeps me in check. When I'm feeling low, deprived or like I am falling in to bad habits, I always look over at the board and the numbers make me feel really proud. It restores my faith in the plan and keeps me going!

If you've made it this far down, thank you so much for reading this massive post!
I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to share my blog or leave a comment - I would love to talk to some more fellow SW members! There are so many of us around the world, it's kind of like being part of a community isn't it?

Apologies for not posting for a while, but I really did have a major set back and instead of writing a long 'sorry I've been in a rut' post, I thought I'd share some motivation tips with you! Now I'm back on track again and there's no looking back. I would very much like to be at target for Christmas! (but wouldn't we all?!)

Slow progress is better than no progress.
Nothing is impossible.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Creamy Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Creamy, Chunky Chicken Soup with Leek, Mushroom & Winter Vegetables.

Serves: 4 people
Approximate Cooking Time: 30 minutes
SYNS: 3.5 on extra easy plan for the lot! Probably 1 syn per portion.

* 1 x Knorr Chicken Stock Pot
* 1 x Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot
* 2 x White Onions
* 1/2 x Washed Leeks
* 400g pack Diced Chicken (Skinless)
* Handful of Mushrooms (optional)
* Original Smash
* 600g pack Sainsbury's Winter Vegetable Soup Mix.
(Or similar - frozen stewing vegetables will work fine too!)
* Alternatively, prepare fresh winter vegetables; carrot, turnip, swede.
* 800ml boiling water
* 1tbsp Double Cream
* 60g any wholemeal roll
or bread from your Healthy Extra B Choice allowance
*Salt and Pepper


Spray a large saucepan with frylight and cook chicken until sealed. Add in leeks, diced onions and winter vegetables. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve both the chicken and vegetable stock pots in around 800ml of boiling water and then add in to the saucepan. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

(If using mushrooms) In another pan, lightly fry a handful of whole mushrooms. I used mini portobello ones but any will do - (Feel free to chop them up instead if you wish) and then pop them in to the saucepan.

Mix in 1 tbsp of double cream. I got a little pot in Sainsbury's for 60p. An average tbsp of double cream is 3 and 1/2 syns so make sure you remember this if you use more!

To thicken, mix in about a handful of original smash. Add more depending on how thick you like your soups!
Stir for another 5-10 minutes on a low heat.

To serve, toast a wholemeal roll or use bread from your healthy extra B choice allowance. I only had Weight Watchers White Danish so I had 2 slices (2.5 syns each) and 'synned' them.

(Freeze the rest or pop in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Dinner for two: Lamb Shanks in Minted Gravy

Just a quick one!
I've been quite poorly this week and I've been trying really hard not to have syns.
I've had a real craving for hot meals and I remember my mum telling me about syn free lamb shanks from Iceland!

'Extra Large Lamb Shanks in Minted Gravy twin pack' from the chilled section (BEWARE, not the frozen ones!)
Just £6 from Iceland. They're completely syn free on extra easy and really really lovely!

They come in two separate pouches which you can either boil (I didn't have a saucepan big enough!) or microwave for 8 minutes each on full power.
I popped them in the microwave and then popped them in a roasting dish together for 10 minutes.

I also cooked spinach, peas and boiled potatoes, sprinkled with mixed herbs.


More low or syn-free Lamb Shanks (on Extra Easy):

* Co-op: Lamb Shanks in Minted Gravy, twin pack: FREE

* Morrisons: Signature Lamb Shanks with Redcurrant Gravy & Roasted Vegetables, twin pack: FREE

* Iceland: Extra Large Lamb Shanks in a Redcurrant & Rosemary Sauce, twin pack: FREE

* Iceland: Extra Large Lamb Shanks in a Mint Gravy Tendercooked, twin pack, frozen: 4.5 syns each

* Asda: Extra Special Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in a Redcurrant & Port Sauce, 740g pack, chilled: 5.5 syns each

* Asda: Extra Special Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Garlic & Rosemary Gravy, 740g pack, chilled: FREE

* Asda: Chosen by You Lamb Shank in Minted Gravy, chilled: FREE

* Sainsbury's: TTD Bistro Lamb Shanks with Roasted Carrots & Parsnips, chilled: 3.5 syns (per 575g sevring)

* Sainsbury's: Just Cook Lamb Shanks with a Red Onion & Thyme Gravy, chilled: FREE

* Aldi Stores: Oakhurst Signature Lamb Shanks in Rosemary & Mint Sauce, twin pack, frozen: 3.5 syns each

* Tesco: Finest Restaurant Collection Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks & Roasted Vegetables: 4 syns per seving

Always check syn values before buying - especially frozen foods!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Recipe: Pasta 'n' Sauce Quiche!

That's right.
A quiche made with Batchelor's Pasta 'n' Sauce!
And boy, was it delicious.
Thank you to my mother for the recipe!
It seems only on Slimming World would we try something like this!


* 1 x Packet Batchelor's Cheese & Broccoli flavour Pasta 'n' Sauce
* FryLight Sunflower Oil Spray
* 3 beaten eggs
* Bacon (visible fat trimmed off)
* 3 leeks, washed and sliced.
* Diced onions
* 300g tub Low Fat (or fat free, but i haven't found any yet!) cottage cheese
* Reduced fat grated cheddar
* A few slices of tomato and salad to serve.

Before you do anything, pre-heat your oven to 180°c (Gas Mark 4)

Slice and dice 3 medium/large leeks and a couple of white onions. Fry in a saucepan on a low heat and spray with FryLight Sunflower Oil until soft.

Add 400ml of boiling water and the sachet of Pasta 'n' Sauce in to the saucepan with the leeks and onions. Mix in and stir for 10 minutes. Simmer on a low heat.

Meanwhile, mix 3 beaten eggs with the tub of cottage cheese in a bowl. Whisk them together until the consistency is as smooth as possible (basically try to mix out the lumpy bits!)

After 10 minutes of cooking the leeks (although it will look a bit watery) add in the egg/cheese mixture. Mix together in the saucepan on a low heat, stirring occasionally.

Line your quiche dish with as much bacon as you like but make sure you trim off all visible fats first!

Spoon the mixture from the saucepan in to your dish. Try not to fill it exactly to the top because the quiche will bubble a bit and overflow in your oven. There was actually so much mixture that I ended up needing to use a second dish!

Sprinkle with reduced fat cheddar or any other cheese you wish.
Note that one average portion will be from your Healthy Extra allowance. So try to allow for syns depending on how much cheese you use! (You can find the cheese allowance list in your Food Optimising book or in the Slimming World Online Food Diary)

I decorated the top with a few slices of tomato before popping in the oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

I will leave my larger quiche to cool and pop in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch!
However, we were so hungry we decided to have a portion of the second quiche fresh from the oven for dinner (after cooling a litt1e!). Served with salad so there's even more Superfree on my plate!

There are a few different SW quiche recipes on the internet but this one was really yummy. Thanks mum!


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Restaurant Review: Harvester Inns

As we all know, trying to find a Slimming World friendly restaurant is never easy.
Eating out with friends or family can sometimes feel more daunting than exciting.
Personally, if I've been having a great week so far and I'm eager to stick to the plan as much as possible then browsing through the menu only seems to concern me. I'll be constantly thinking; "How much oil is that cooked in?" ... "In a cream sauce? What a shame!" ... "I wonder if they'll cut the fat off that?" ...

And you know what? It's okay to ask those things. It's okay to be conscious of what you're eating. After all, we're just eating healthily. It's not like we're asking for the world!

Earlier this week my family planned that we should go out for a meal as my sister was moving to Leeds University on the Friday and it's the last time we'll all be together until Christmas.

My parents had visited a Harvester Inn (The Old Castle in Salisbury) before and my mum said it was great. It's not the classiest place in the world and sure, it's a cheap, family restaurant. However, it was so easy to put a meal together without feeling too guilty on the SW Extra Easy plan!

This is the way the Harvester menu works:
You chose a meat (or a vegetarian or pasta dish)
The meat is usually served with a certain vegetable.
Then you pick from a side - For example, Jacket Potatoes, New Potatoes or Fries.

Extra Easy! See what I did there? ;)

I chose 'Simply Chicken' which is a skinless flame grilled chicken breast. On the menu it's served with green beans (but I hate those so I asked for peas instead!) and I had new potatoes for my side.
I double checked with the waiter that the chicken breast was skinless and definitely not cooked in oil. I also asked that I could have my potatoes and peas without the butter.

Harvester are famous for their unlimited salad bar and boy, I can tell you, it was a godsend!
I went up and got a bowl of superfree delights: lettuce, peppers, sweetcorn, red onion and even some cous cous!
This really bulked out my meal which did look a little on the sparce side when it came out but I suppose that's why they offer the pick 'n' mix style salad!

All in all, I was really impressed with Harvester.
My meal was pretty much syn-free (which is outstanding for a restaurant!) and I felt like I could enjoy my meal without feeling guilty. It was great to feel involved and as normal as everybody else. It does help that my mum and sisters are following SW too so we all supported each other and didn't get too tempted!
The staff were great and very accommodating. The food was cooked like we asked and there wasn't a drop of butter in sight!

No desert for any of us but to be honest I didn't even want one after having such a filling, healthy meal. I left feeling bloated but really good about what I'd eaten.

Harvester, you've got my seal of approval!
The whole meal being a cheap and cheerful £5.99 (I think.. it might have even been £4.99!) I can positively say it's great value for money!
Highly recommended. Will definitely go there again.

Some SW tips for eating out at Harvester:

What to choose from?

Main Meal:

* Flame-grilled chicken breast (keep it a free food by removing the skin)
* Rump/sirloin/rib eye/fillet steak
* Lamb steak
* Gammon steak
* Flame-grilled salmon steak
* Grilled sea bass fillets

Side Orders:

* Jacket potato
* Pilau rice
* Baby potatoes – ask for them with no butter (or butter on the side) so you control the Syns
* Corn on the cob – again ask for no butter
* Roasted flat mushrooms

Stock up on SuperFree food from the salad bar to bulk up your plate:

* Lettuce
* Tomatoes
* Red and green peppers
* Onions
* Cucumber
* Beetroot
* Grated carrot

Free Food favourites from the salad bar:

* Sweetcorn
* Cous Cous

Low Syn options:

* Chickpea salad
* Pasta salad

Click here for Slimming World's Food Optimising Guide to eating at Harvester.

Click here to see the Harvester Menu.

Tomato & Basil Chicken Mug Shot Lunch!

Just a quick blog post about my super quick, super yummy lunch!

Tomato & Herb Pasta Mug Shot.
Make as directed in a mug and leave it to thicken while stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, dice a handful of mushrooms, onion (I used spring onions) and any other veg you might fancy.
Tear up some ready cooked chicken pieces and chuck it all in a frying pan.
Spray with FryLight and cook until chicken is slightly brown.

Squeeze about a tablespoon of tomato puree in with your Mug Shot and stir.
Empty Mug Shot in to a bowl and season with Basil or Mixed Herbs.
Stir in your chicken & veg.
Unfortunately we didn't have any rocket or salad but I halved a handful of cherry tomatoes to pop on top - just making sure I get as much superfree food as possible with my meal as the Mug Shot is technically processed even though it's syn free.


Absolutely delicious.


Saturday, 31 August 2013

Woman Of The Year: My Gorgeous Mum!

I can honestly say that this week has been absolutely manic. More so than usual! I've been meaning to write a blog post for days and days now but this is the first bit of spare time that I've had to myself long enough to focus on it!

Last time I updated you all it was Sunday night. Day before weigh in! I only lost 1 lb last week but it's still a loss so I'm pretty happy. To be honest, I have just lost 11 lbs in 3 weeks so I know I can't complain too much!
I'm aiming to lose 3 lb this week to make it 1 stone in a month - wouldn't that be great? However not being at home and a mixture of manic plans and scheduling means I haven't been able to totally focus as well as I'd like to. We'll see!

Last week at group the winner of our Woman Of The Year was revealed.. it was my mum!
I'm so proud of her. She really does deserve it!
She's in close reach of her target having lost almost 6 stone in just a year!
I'll be honest, she is looking more beautiful than ever.
It really does give me the kick up the backside I need sometimes to keep me motivated, I can tell you!

I remember back when we started Slimming World and her motivation (as well as looking great and being healthy) was the fact she's always longed for a sash! It seems silly to some but it's what she wanted! I know she's going to be put forward to the regionals and then hopefully have a chance of perhaps being in the magazine one day. I think that would be fantastic!

However, all three women who were nominated deserved to win. They're all gorgeous, lovely ladies who are an inspiration to us all! The trouble with our SW group is that we're all doing so well it's hard to only nominate a few people! That surely can't be a bad thing though, can it? ;)

We've been through so much as a family and I can't describe in words how much I appreciate my mum and all she does for us. However, it's about time my mum stopped worrying about us all so much and started focusing on herself. She is one of my closest friends and a genuine, caring woman who deserves to be rewarded for how much support and inspiration she gives to others. She is absolutely beautiful inside and out.

Who knows, one day I might earn a nice SW title myself!

So much has happened this week (like my sister moving to Leeds for University!) that I haven't really photographed my food or tried anything too different. It's mostly been fruit, yoghurts and chicken meals. Lots of salad and veg as always!
For lunch today I've had a lovely ham salad with rocket, cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions. I've been walking more and drinking a lot more water than usual, too.

So I've got today, tomorrow and Monday daytime to be extra good until weigh in.
Hope you've all been having a great week!


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Noodle / Pasta Dinners & Before And After Photos!

I've had a lot going on the last few days!
My friend's 21st birthday was great. I didn't even have a drop of alcohol (probably a good thing after my wild Thursday night out) but I still had a fabulous night.
I also bumped in to some old friends and had loads of compliments too which made me feel great and motivated!

Yesterday I went out and found myself a new outfit that I feel really lovely in!

I decided it was about time I looked back and compared some recent photos of myself to old ones.
I actually found it very difficult to find a full-length photo of myself because I used to lack so much confidence I would delete or crop all photos of me that didn't just have my head and shoulders in!

The photo on the left was taken on holiday in Portugal when I'd just started dieting. I think I'd lost half a stone already. I loved that red dress but looking back I wish I never wore it outside!!! It drowns me now and I had to give it away!

The photo on the right is a photo of me yesterday trying on my new outfit!
Just under 4 stone lighter and feeling so much more confident. I can't wait to get to target!

Yesterday I grabbed an Alpen Light bar for breakfast and I didn't eat in town so by the time I got home at 6pm I was quite hungry! I didn't have much time to cook as I needed to get ready to go out so I made one of my favourite quick & easy dinners.

I love making a syn free version of chicken chow mein. Sometimes I prefer it to the chinese takeaway!
There are a lot of variations you could experiment with but this is what I had last night:

Egg noodles, boiled and set to the side.
Diced chicken, chesnut mushrooms and onions lightly fried in Fry Light.
When the chicken is cooked, add the egg noodles to the frying pan and pour dark soy sauce over everything.
Fry for 5 minutes and stir it all together so the noodles and chicken are coated.

Sprinkle 'Chinese Five Spice' Perfect Shake seasoning by Schwartz and fry for another few minutes.
Stir and serve! Simple!
I also love to add courgettes and peppers - beansprouts are perfect for filling out a meal too if you're making dinner for two or more! It's also a great recipe for chinese style stir fry if you don't fancy the noodles.

Today I had work at 11am and wasn't majorly hungry this morning. However, I knew I needed something that was somewhat substantial so I wouldn't eat biscuits at work!
I went for 2 weetabix with a little bit of milk with raspberries and blueberries on top for brekkie.

When I got home from work today I knew my boyfriend was joining me for dinner but he had to be somewhere in the evening so I chose to make one of our other favourite quick & easy dishes!

This is very similar to the chow mein recipe.
In a small saucepan, boil 3 baby leeks (sliced)
In another, boil a good handful of tagliatelle pasta.
Meanwhile, fry chicken, diced onion and mushrooms in Fry Light and sprinkled with some Chargrilled Chicken flavour Perfect Shake from Schwartz. I use a lot of their seasonings - I couldn't live without them!
When ready, drain the pasta and pop it back into the saucepan.
Add the chicken, onions and mushroom in with the pasta and also drain the leeks and add them into the saucepan with everything too.
Mix in a good portion of low fat soft cheese (Lighter Philadelphia is great!) but remember to syn it or use your healthy extra allowance.

Serve with a sprinkle of pepper on top and add some salad if you fancy it.

So, weigh in day tomorrow.
Not exactly sure what I'm expecting! I know I've had a couple of treats this week and I haven't been as strict as I could have been but fingers crossed!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Flexible Syns & Jacket Potato

Ooft I've been feeling a little bit fragile today!

My sister is moving to Leeds (200 miles away!) next week for university so last night we decided to have one last girly night out with each other before she goes.

We had a brilliant time but only because I allowed myself to have flexible syns. I would have felt so lost and guilty this morning if I didn't keep control by giving myself an allowance last night. I gave myself a maximum of 40 syns (a lot, I know!) but because I limited myself I actually didn't use it all up and I had a great night even though I was syn counting.
I think I made some good choices. I kept it easy by not mixing drinks and I know a single pub measure of vodka is 4 syns so I always have a single vodka and diet coke. Overall I only ended up drinking 5 measures of vodka (20 syns!) and I rejected the offer for food at the inevitable 3am trip to the burger van (classy!)

Instead, I had a few ryvita biscuits and some fruit when I got home. I felt so in control and quite proud of myself if I'm honest! I didn't feel deprived or like I wasn't as "involved" as I could have been - it does help that I don't drink very often so I'm a bit of a lightweight. It also helps that my sister is following the Slimming World plan too!

However this morning I felt pretty rubbish and I needed to get a train at 1pm. So feeling a little worse-for-wear, we wandered in to town to find something to eat as my fridge was unfortunately quite empty!
We ended up in Subway and I normally choose a salad but it wasn't going to fill me up or soak up the fluid feeling I had in my stomach! I had turkey breast & ham on the new flatbread with no sauce but loads of free salad.
Unfortunately the syn value for the Subway flatbread isn't on the online database, but after looking at the nutritional values and entering them in to the Slimming World Online Syns Calculator it says it should only come to 3 and 1/2 syns!

I'm not entirely sure how right this is so I allowed up to 10 syns for it and didn't have any more for the rest of the day! Plus let's face it, we were going to get a fry up from a cafe which would have been cooked in oil and they probably wouldn't have cut the fat off .. also there's a lack of salad and high syn sausages! So all in all I think we made a decent enough choice.

I knew I would be busy all day today and coming home late so I took a Mugshot with me to have later on in the day. I also snacked on some fruit and a mullerlight yoghurt throughout the late afternoon when I got peckish.

After a long day I finally got back home around 9pm so I put a ready baked Frozen McCain Jacket Potato in the microwave and topped it with Heinz BBQ Beans, red onion and chesnut mushrooms (fried in Fry Light) with tomato and cucumber on the side. I've got a bit of a little obsession with smoked paprika at the moment for some reason so I sprinkled that on top too!

SO filling and full of flavour!

I have a friend's 21st birthday party to go to tomorrow so I may struggle a little but I think I will allow myself a couple of drinks if I feel like it so I don't feel deprived but I'm not going to drink because I feel like I have to!
I need to stay focused and in control - even if I do drink a bit, at least I won't go overboard and I know it won't be as bad as if I wasn't on the plan!

I'm not entirely sure whether I'm going to have a loss this week but I'm having a great time and I'm going to carry on being strict with my food choices until weigh in on Monday evening.

Wish me luck! Hope you're all having a lovely weekend.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Fried breakfast, leftover loaf & a new syn free favourite!

'ello 'ello!
First of all, can I just thank all of you that have read my blog posts so far.
According to my 'stats' it says this page has had over 500 views which is great!
I'm glad you find it interesting - I hope some of it is helpful or inspiring!

On Wednesday I had nothing to do but relax all day which was lovely. So, in the spirit of a true lazy British morning breakfast, I decided to whip up a fry-up!

I got the idea in my head that I wanted the full works so I was a bit disappointed when I discovered there were no eggs, tomatoes or much salad (which I always try to have on the side)
So I did what I could and ended up with a very yummy and filling brekkie anyway!

All fried in Sunflower Fry Light Spray, I had;
3 x Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself Cumberland Sausages at 1/2 a syn each.
2 rashers of bacon with all visible fat cut off.
A big handful of chesnut mushrooms.
1/2 can of Heinz BBQ Beans.
And I felt like I didn't have enough veg so I chopped up the remainder of a cucumber I found in the fridge.. looked a little bit odd but it was really nice!

That night I ended up staying at my boyfriend's house which is often a bad move and he's ALWAYS snacking on chocolate and lovely sweet things.
I decided to arrive prepared so I packed a portion of my leftover chickpea dhal loaf with a big bag of salad and tomatoes!
I had it all cold with a drizzle of low fat salad cream and a few extra sprinkles of smoked paprika to add flavour.
In the end, I think he was jealous of my dinner instead of the other way around!
I snacked on a couple of satsumas and a big medley of melon that I bought in Sainsbury's on my way over.

I woke up early to catch the bus home and I had work at 1pm so I had a slice of the original ryvita with some marmite on it for breakfast.
I had an Alpen Light bar in my bag which I had half way through the day.

I've just got home and I don't feel hungry enough to want to cook a big main meal so I threw some pineapple, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in a bowl with my new favourite syn free treat!

I've recently discovered Marks & Spencer's fat free yoghurts from their 'count on us' range. Most, if not all of them are syn free and they come in really interesting flavours! I've just poured the raspberry panna cotta one all over my fruit salad - yum!

What are your favourite syn-free treats?


PS. While I was sat here writing this blog post, my boyfriend just walked in my front door presenting me with a bottle of champagne because he's so proud of how much weight I've lost! What a sweetheart!
If only that was syn free!!!!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Wonderful Weigh-In & Chickpea Dhal Loaf!


Weigh in Monday night was a success again with a surprising 4lb weight loss!
This means I got my 3 and 1/2 stone award (since my journey began) and my 1 stone certificate since rejoining my local SW group again!
I even won Slimmer Of The Week - what a massive confidence boost!

I honestly didn't know if I would lose, gain or maintain this week after my champagne & cheesecake Friday night but it just goes to show if you're good all week you can reign it in! Flexible syns really do work!
Fingers crossed I can stay strict, focused and motivated enough to lose this week too.

This means I am now only 4lbs away from getting my 4 stone award and 10lbs away from my target goal!
(However I am going to see how I feel at this target and re-assess the situation!)
I'm really pleased and feeling great!
The more I lose the more determined I seem to get.

This morning I went in to town to have brunch with my boyfriend's family which was nice.
His auntie was visiting from France so it was really lovely to see her again!
I decided to go for what I fancied so I had eggs benedict with spinach and ham instead of bacon (I was scared they would leave the fat on and cook it in oil!)
I didn't need to syn the poached egg, ham or spinach but I looked up the syns for an average white breakfast muffin which came to around 8 and 1/2. I also only had a few tablespoons of hollandaise sauce which I thought would be awful but according to the syns online database it's only 1 and 1/2 per tbsp! It's always tough knowing exactly how many syns are in something when you're at a restaurant because some recipes will vary but I decided to allow myself 6 syns for the sauce.

I really enjoyed myself and I feel like I've had a treat which I was in control of. Don't feel like it was a set back as I've allowed for it and I know i'll be strict with myself for the rest of the week!

Last night I got into 'experimental mode' and decided to try a recipe that was mentioned in group a while ago.
This is a chickpea dhal loaf (thanks to Diana from my SW group who posted the recipe)
I was originally going to try making them in to muffins to snack on but realised I didn't have a muffin tray (Doh!)
Sorry the photo isn't great!

The original recipe for chickpea dhal muffins (or loaf)


1 x 400g can chick pea dahl
(The brand 'Mazadar' which you can buy in Morrison's is syn free!)
1 packet savoury rice (chicken flavour is supposed to be nice)
1 onion
An assortment of vegetables - I used mushrooms and courgettes
3 eggs, beaten.

Make up rice as instructed, set to the side to cool.
Finely dice your onion and vegetables.
Place the dhal, veg, cooled rice and beaten egg in to a bowl and mix throughly.
Place into silcon muffins moulds or in a loaf tin!
Bake at 180 for 30 mins or until crispy and golden brown on top.

I left it to cool last night and then popped it in the fridge overnight.
After my brunch I only fancied a little dinner so I've just had a slice of my dhal loaf on a small plate with salad, tomatoes and fat free vinaigrette dressing.
Planning not to have any more syns today (and minimal syns for the rest of the week!)
I'll have a nice fruit salad with a bit of fat free yoghurt later on.

The loaf was nice but a little bland - I only had plain rice in the cupboard so maybe if I used a syn free flavoured one it might have been better? Still lovely though! I think I will add some curry powder and paprika next time too. Oh and red peppers! I definitely think it's one of those recipes you can adapt, change and experiment with until you absolutely love it.

I hope you're all inspired and motivated this week - stay focused, you can do it!