Turkey, Feta and Spinach Burgers

Turkey Burgers

This recipe is a classic in my house at the moment. We’ve had our ups and downs, but turkey burgers seasoned with spinach and feta have been a constant in my life for at least the past three years. I’ve written up the most recent version of the recipe, but I’ll also give you the no-food-processor method, which was my main method for many years!

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Date, Cashew and Coffee “Chocolates”

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How good do those look?

If your answer was “incredible” you’ll be pleased to know they taste EVEN BETTER than they look. If your answer was “meh, they’re OK”, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong, and you should have picked the first answer.

Unfortunately I did not come up with this amazing recipe, I learnt about it from a lady called Susanna K in the Blogilates Hot Body Challenge Dietbet. Whoever came up with the idea originally I have no clue, but massive kudos to them because these were delicious and I’m extremely sad that I ate the last three one today.

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Cheesy Low-Cal Aubergine and Mince Bake

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

(Serves 6)
Per portion: 322 calories | 16g carbs | 18g fat | 25g protein | 3g fibre

Aubergine and Mince Bake

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“Losing weight would be easy if it wasn’t so tasty”

Today I had the delightful opportunity to watch myself giving a presentation and then be critiqued by ten other people. Twice.

My ability to give a presentation aside (I improved vastly in the second – got rid of any nervous gestures with notes, was more open and expressive, etc..) – the camera doesn’t lie. “Where has Anna been for the last two weeks?” you might ask, also wondering about the non sequitur there. Well, quite frankly, I was busy gaining that double chin that I thought I’d got rid of but took pride of place in the video clip.

I exaggerate, obviously. I was paying far more attention to everything else about my presentation for the most part, since I’m spending two days learning how to improve my presentation skills. However I couldn’t ignore the chin, no matter how hard I tried. It seemed to appear every single time I opened my mouth.

There is no doubt as to the reasons for the appearance of a second chin. Over the last three weeks, I have gained weight. Whether that is actual weight or water weight remains to be seen, as I’ve not stepped on the scales in about a month. What was I doing in order to gain all this weight? Well, having a good time I suppose!

First of all came the winter holidays, the time that almost everyone I know puts on a few pounds. You can’t help it – there are days dedicated to eating a huge amount of food. In our family we don’t just have a huge Christmas dinner and then eat leftovers for a few days. First there’s a Christmas Eve buffet at my aunt’s house, in which my immediate family is notorious for turning up, being the first at the buffet and then leaving pretty soon after we’ve stopped eating. Christmas follows with a big fancy breakfast (usually smoked salmon and scrambled eggs), followed a couple of hours later by an enormous Christmas dinner and pudding (often more than one), then bits and bobs for dinner. That’s not including any chocolates that might have been opened during the afternoon.

Christmas is followed by Boxing Day, in which my family tend to have an EVEN BIGGER dinner. This is because Boxing Day is usually the day that our cousins visit. The dinner is very similar to Christmas dinner, but rather than just having one roast meat there is also the leftover meat from the day before added. More desserts, snacks and chocolates throughout the afternoon, and then a fairly large supper that evening whilst entertaining guests.

For the rest of the week that I spent with the family, I got into the awful habit of eating tonnes of chocolate just because it was there. This is the precise reason why I don’t keep it in my house. If I have it, I’ll eat it, even if I’m not hungry.

Then on the 2nd January I flew out to Toronto to visit one of my friends. In an extremely bizarre stroke of luck, when it came to buying my tickets economy seats were three times more expensive than business class for the flights I wanted, so I flew in relative luxury for the first time in my life! The first thing I got extremely excited about was the free food available in the airport lounge.

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As you can see from the picture, I started my holiday healthy with every intention to continue. After all the food I’d eaten over Christmas (and chocolate particularly) I was craving fruit and feeling fresh! However my enthusiasm for healthy eating quickly descended into a whirlwind romance with everything bad for me but delicious (see previous video).

It started on the plane. Three course meal to start – nothing unhealthy. Cheesy salad for starters, mushroom pasta for the main and a decadent chocolate and toffee pudding for dessert, followed by sandwiches and scones later on in the flight.

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Poutine topped with pierogis, sour cream and bacon quickly followed upon landing, as I was informed I couldn’t start a trip to Canada without trying their famous dish. What followed was a week of eating many, many delicious carbs. I had several pizzas, many dishes of pasta (usually with pesto), poutine twice more (once drizzled with truffle oil), quesadillas, shawarma, more fries, desserts, muffins, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed something out of that list.

On top of all that heavy food, we managed to watch nearly two entire seasons of Supernatural in a week. Rest assured, we definitely did get out and see the city, and I very much enjoyed visiting the ROM and the AGO. But when it’s -30C or snowing very heavily sometimes you’re just going to sit inside and watch TV.

So over the last three weeks I’ve eaten a lot more than usual, and foods that I wouldn’t normally consume in such large quantities. I also drank less water, definitely consumed more salt and did a lot less exercise. Is it any wonder I’ve gained weight? I think not.

But I’m back now and more in control of what I’m eating and how active I can be. I decided that rather than keep my goals vague – “I want to lose the weight I’ve gained”, I’m going to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So over the course of February I want to lose at least 4 lbs. It’s a small goal, but it’s a start. It means I need to lose just 1 lb per week. If I pay much more attention to what goes in my mouth and start doing more exercise again, that’s definitely doable. I will weight myself at the start of the month so we know exactly what I’m aiming for.

And since I’ve told you that I’m going to do it, I will be keeping myself accountable, and I hope you will too! Ask me about it, remind me, make me feel awful if I don’t at least work towards it! Check in with me throughout February to see how I’m getting on.

Now onwards to plan!

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Beautiful Breakfast Bars

Edited Cover

Well today we’re definitely learning the problems with leaving a post two weeks to write – my memory isn’t as good as it used to be! Or rather, should be, since just because I’ve had a birthday recently doesn’t mean that I’m old. I definitely feel it though – my parents threw a party last night and I went to bed before everyone had left! I just can’t stay up socialising until 2am anymore, I need my sleep! One thing that would have made this morning a lot, lot easier is if I’d had a box full of Beautiful Breakfast Bars available to eat. Alas, unfortunately I’m stuck with my parent’s larder to satisfy me, so we ended up with a piece of toast. Looking forward to getting back to my own fridge tomorrow!

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