As mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m experimenting with setting SMART goals over February – goals that must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Given that my weight hasn’t really changed since gaining half a stone last February, I decided that my first SMART goal will be to lose some. I’ve tried several times over the last year, but my goal has always been “lose some weight”, and as a result I’ve not really had a plan to work on or stick to. I also don’t know how to evaluate that goal – I mean, if I lose a pound over a month, that’s SOME weight.
So in my other blog post I decided that I would try to lose 4 lbs over the course of February. That goal has changed slightly, but only a little. I signed up for a new Dietbet – because I haven’t learnt my lesson yet, so my goal for that is to lose 4% of my bodyweight over the course of February. Given that my starting weight was recorded at 161 lbs, that means I’ll need to lose 6.44 lbs. So to break down my SMART February goal,
Specific – Lose between 4 and 6.44 lbs
Measurable – I am currently 161 lbs, so if I am between 154.56 and 157 at the end of February, I will have attained my goal.
Attainable – I will need to lose between 1 and 1.5 lbs per week, so I will need to burn 5250 calories more than I consume. Watch what I eat and do some exercise and that should be reachable!
Realistic – I’m not going to be able to lose more than 1.5 lbs per week. It wouldn’t be healthy either.
Timely – I’ve got four weeks to complete this goal.
The last time I achieved something like this was nearly three years ago. I’m going to have to be much stricter on myself with regards to sticking to food and exercise plans if I want to see some results this month.
Speaking of food plans, I decided the best way to start February would be with pre-cooked meals so that I’m not tempted to call for a takeaway for at least the first week. My go-to takeaway is usually Italian, because sometimes I’m just craving the comfort of a large bowl of pasta. Whilst I don’t normally care too much about the numbers, I knew that I’d need something comforting, filling, delicious, but still lower calories than a 800+ bowl of pasta. I eventually came up with:
Aubergine and Mince Bake, aka Pasta-free Lasagne, or Moussaka-ish
Per portion: 322 calories | 16g carbs | 18g fat | 25g protein | 3g fibre
You will need:
500g mince (I used 10% fat)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
Generous pinch mixed herbs
1 vegetable stock cube
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
100g greek yoghurt
70g mature cheddar, grated
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/355F.
The first thing to do is to get the mince sauce on. Add the olive oil to a large (lidded) pan, then finely chop the onions and garlic and add to the oil once it’s hot enough. Allow the onions and garlic to cook for a few minutes and soften before adding the mince.
As the mince is browning, finely chop the bell peppers and add to the mixture. Remember to stir every now and then to prevent sticking. Then add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, mixed herbs, stock cubes, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly and heat on high until boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on top (leaving a small crack for steam) and allow to cook down for about an hour and a half.
To be honest, longer is fine, as is slightly less. The sauce itself will be cooked in about 20-30 minutes, and will continue to cook once it’s in the oven. But the longer you cook it for, the more it will reduce and the stronger the flavours will get. This is a good thing to prepare earlier on in the day and keep simmering until you’re ready to use it in the evening. Remember to keep an eye on it and stir it every now and then.
Next, thinly slice your aubergine and courgette. I did this in the food processor, but using a knife works just as well. It just takes a little longer.
In a large casserole dish, begin to layer your bake. Start with a layer (half) of the mince sauce, then layer half of your aubergine and courgette on top. I did a layer of aubergine followed by a layer of courgette for the first vegetable row, but my second ended up being much more of a mix.
Add the remaining sauce to the next layer, followed by the rest of the aubergine and courgette. I did two layers of both sauce and vegetables for mine, but depending on the dimensions of your dish you may want to do more layers.
Finally, over the last layer of aubergine and courgette, dollop on 100g greek yoghurt and spread it around. You may get some of the mince sauce seeping out into the yoghurt layer but it doesn’t matter too much. Top with 70g grated mature cheddar cheese.
Then put in the oven and you’re ready to go! Bake at 180 degrees C (355F) for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and you can’t resist it anymore. Divide it into six and serve!
I’m happy with this being six meals worth of food, but they are modest portions. You could easily divide it into four instead (483 calories per serving), or serve it with a side of vegetables – broccoli, cabbage or kale would work really well, adding a freshness to cut through the warm, cheesy comfort of this dish.
The only downside is that the courgette does produce a lot of water as it’s cooking! This wasn’t too much of a problem for me – I don’t mind the sauce being a little wetter, but if you want to avoid this then feel free to either reduce your mince sauce down more initially, or replace the courgette with more aubergine.
Leave a comment and let me know how it works for you! I’m definitely looking forward to having it over the next few days, even if today’s portion has already gone and writing up this post has made me hungry. Until next time!