Monthly Archives: November 2011

Little Update

I just want to make a brief reference to the weekend’s vlog experiment. My friend, Ellie (whose ever-eloquent, intelligent and insightful blog you can read here) said to me on Saturday night: “I watched the videos on your blog. It was kind of like just watching someone go completely insane,” which, I think sums it all up perfectly. I also take this entirely as a compliment.

So instead of my weekly visual food diary – which I haven’t done for reasons that will later be outlined – I thought that I’d just post a few little updates as to the culinary treats I’ve been keeping myself busy with in addition to the ones documented in the videos.

On Monday night I made pizza with spinach and caramelised onion. Which I’ve eaten now so uh, no pictures. Also, Tommy left his camera at home so now I will have to make do with borrowing his iPhone instead of his swanky camera… like that’s a hardship compared to my total lack of camera/smartphone…

I made way too much dough. So then I made garlic flatbread and a few dough-balls with the aforementioned garlic butter to keep in the fridge until I fancy them. Had the dough balls with an avocado salad, with enough dough left for garlic bread to have with some baked cod tomorrow night ! Divine.

I used Jamie Oliver’s dough recipe, subbed the white flour for wholemeal and with all quantities halved… then halved again. This was still a COLOSSAL amount of dough. I recommend halving again ! Although his recipe was for 6… maybe I should get some more friends…

I also made oat cookies (with cinnamon, figs and dark chocolate) which I ended up taking to an impromptu Christmas gathering at my friends’ house (the ones who own the guinea pig !).

What was freaky about this was that in the space of about an hour I got the spontaneous urge to bake, stumbled almost immediately across a low-cal oat cookie recipe for which I already had all the ingredients (whose link I have already lost), and no sooner had I put the cookies in the oven did Will from over the road call to invite us over later for sherry and mulled wine. Great, because it means I won’t eat them ALL (despite having a cold and not being able to taste one lousy bite when I had a sneaky sample. Ultimate disappointment. Tommy and Priya said they were good, but they can hardly say otherwise, can they … ?).

In other news, I’m trying so very hard to stop calorie-counting. I know in the long run it makes me miserable, but not knowing exactly how much I’ve ingested each day makes me incredibly nervous. In a horrible way that I’ve never before experienced, I’m sort of dreading the Christmas period and how I choose to handle it; will I gorge myself and feel insanely guilty and depressed for a long time afterwards ? Or will I restrict and deny myself throughout and end up ruining my and everybody else’s good time ? I can already feel the temptation, nay, expectation for me to stuff my face “because it’s Christmas” creeping closer and closer; my mother posted my chocolate advent calendar to me the other day, parties and meals are being planned, all the shelves in all the shops are full to bursting with chocolate and everywhere I look there are adverts for low-price festive food and drink.

I know a lot of people gain weight over the holiday and that’s fine. But I just don’t know if I can handle the guilt and self-loathing that will inevitably come when I step on that scale on January 1st 2012. Just don’t weigh yourself ? you say. But I will.

I am a total hypocrite, I know (see Alarming Thoughts and Love and Advice) but it’s just the way I think and I can’t help that. Giving other people the nutritional advice that I have stumbled across during my rocky relationship with food makes me feel good, but it clearly doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily follow it myself. It is certainly very tricky, although hopefully if I deal with the obsession in the right way, it will gradually get better with time and positive thinking, and ultimately I will learn to not be so uptight…

This is why I haven’t drawn a food diary. I think, whilst cute and fun in small doses, that my keeping such a close eye on what I’m eating is becoming just a little bit damaging. So I deleted my food diary/calorie counts from my computer so that I couldn’t look at them and made myself forget exactly what I did eat last week, so therefore am unable to draw a food diary today. I hope to be able to do one next week though !

So plans for this week:

1. I bought a bit of goat’s cheese to have in a bagel with my fig jam… I do hope this cold clears up so that I can taste by the time I decide to dig in !
2. I may have to make some kind of potato gratin-esque dish (although I will obviously have to substitute something for the cream… no no no) because I have leftover mozz from the pizza I made and some potatoes that are about to spoil. I’m sure I’ll make something up.
3. For my birthday in October, Tommy bought me a set of posh jams, of which I have polished off the raspberry. This week, I start the marmalade. I am excited.

And lastly, prepare for a spot of relief from my greasy-haired, baggy-trouser-ed hippie vegetarian culinary escapades in the form of my bouncy blonde, full-face-o-makeup, clean-shaven nubile sister, Meg. She is also a wise cooking owl and has been baking for many years; she will be making Christmas cupcakes as an Amy Eats guest. Watch this space !

Ciao for now, my pets.

Amy x

Too Lazy to Type Pt. 2

Continuation of  the Home Alone Vlog Experiment:

1. Breakfast and beginning to bake the baguettes

 

2. More baking (and coffee)

 

3. Garlic bread and soup

Too Lazy to Type Pt. 1

Change of scenery… here’s my FACE.

Banana “ice-cream”

Baked apple (Lentil Pastry post)

I should probably get a life…

When the Snack Monster rears its ugly head…

… snack !

I’ve been asked to write a post about snacking, because what happens when you skip breakfast ahead of a day at work or school, run around like a mad thing all day and eat lunch on the go without really thinking about it ? You get hungry at 3pm. It’s not lunchtime anymore. It is not yet dinnertime. Your mind wanders dangerously close to the biscuit tin, and 9 times out of 10 your hand follows.

This is an example of an eating pattern that I am WHOLLY AND UTTERLY against.

So before I begin my righteous healthy snack post, I will say this, please, just indulge me…

How to snack less in the first place

1. Eat a proper breakfast before you start your day. I’ve always been brought up to understand that breakfast is important, so much so that it slots into my morning routine as easily as cleaning my teeth; the same as most people would never consider leaving the house without doing so, I will NEVER consider doing ANYTHING except shower before I have my breakfast. I am hungry in the morning, and who can blame me, I haven’t eaten for 7 hours ! I don’t understand people who say they can’t stomach food in the morning (although there is rarely a time when I can’t stomach food; if there is, you know the hangover is bad and should probably leave me alone for at least a day). So try and eat something before you start your busy, busy day; get up 15 minutes earlier, that’s all it takes. It won’t take long before your metabolism adapts to the change and your body will begin to reward you by actually wanting breakfast when you wake up ! (Life hacking, I’m a pro.)

Incorporate some protein (eggs, bacon, nuts, yoghurt) as well as some fruit and a little slow-release carbohydrate; this should keep your change in your pocket and out of the vending machine until at least lunch. “Slow-release” carbs (bananas, porridge, Weetabix are good examples) release their energies into your body slowly, so you retain your full feeling for longer. The opposite – too sugary a breakfast – will cause an insulin spike and subsequent blood sugar dip, which causes sugar cravings (vicious cycle, hey ?) and ultimately pre-lunch cake.

2. Savour your lunch. Continue in much the same manner as breakfast – wholewheat carbohydrates, protein; fill up on vegetables and fruit if you’re still hungry. Often I find grabbing lunch in the midst of a hectic schedule can mean you don’t spend enough time making sure your brain has actually registered that you’ve fed yourself, leading to mindless snacking later on in the day because your mind has tricked your stomach into not believing it is full, even if it is. So take your time and choose wisely (not being starving because you skipped breakfast will help you make informed choices, instead of rushing headlong into a giant plate of chips).

3. Eat enough in your meals. I’m guilty of this when I’m trying to lose weight (a few Christmas/Birthday pounds here and there, for example); in that I purposefully cut back my meal portions because I think this will cut back on calories. Obviously it does, but it just leaves me feeling unfulfilled, hungry, and I (or a combination of my ultimately under-fed brain and stomach) end up making up the calories I saved skipping the second slice of toast by gorging later on in the day.

4. Know how to tell the difference between being bored and being hungry. I am SUCH a sucker for eating when I’m bored. I think it’s because a second rarely passes when I’m not thinking about eating, so when my mind wanders from the task at hand, it immediately jumps to its background runner: food. If you feel the urge to snack, have some water or a cup of tea. Failing that, go for a walk. If you still want to eat, chances are you’re probably genuinely hungry and should eat one of the delicious but nutritious snacks outlined below. Plus you’ve had a walk, so it’s fine !

Healthy snacks

If you get a combination of good carbohydrates (that’s wholewheat starch, fruit or veg) and protein the snack will serve to tide your energy and hunger levels over until the next meal. I tend to follow this daily pattern: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, where the main meals are not big and the snacks are not small. This keeps your energy levels up throughout the day, as opposed to your blood sugar spiking and dipping (this not only leads to sugar cravings, but can also cause mood swings, and nobody wants that).

Any fruit, dried or fresh. My personal favourites include bananas, apples, plums and cherries. Or pick the hardest fruit to eat that you can find, for example, a pomegranate. Picking the seeds out will ensure you take your time over it and keep you entertained for a while.

Nuts. Our good friend, protein, to the rescue again ! Half a handful will do.

Peanut butter. Put it on a piece of wholewheat toast or dip some apple slices in 1-2 tablespoons.

Seeds. Work in much the same way as nuts.

Natural yoghurt. By which I mean unsweetened, unflavoured, plain yoghurt. It may seem a little sour at first if you’ve never had it before, but it’s absolutely perfect on a sliced banana with a little honey.

(This is a good one for boredom snacking; I find that it helps to make a meal, for want of a better phrase, of your snack. Not literally; I mean choose a snack that takes a little time to prepare. Chop up your fruit and make a fruit salad, for example. Do the baked apple, or the frozen banana thing. Taking time over any food allows your brain to feel satisfied, as well as your stomach.)

Invest in a weekly or bi-monthly Graze box. And use this code – 7N1PQH2 – on sign up for your first box free and your second half price ! (Graze should totally pay me for this, but sadly they don’t… but I get £1 off one of my boxes if you do this, so do it.) Their website speaks for itself…

Bake the apple oat bread-cake. But don’t eat it all at once.

Olives. For monounsaturated (healthy) fat (like the stuff in avocados !). Aim for about 10.

Hummus. Dip some carrot sticks, cucumber, pepper or a toasted wholemeal pitta in 1-2 tablespoons of the stuff. Beautiful.

Low-fat cream cheese. Again, dip vegetables or bread sticks, or spread on 2-3 oatcakes/ricecakes.

2 squares of dark chocolate. 70% cocoa and above. Satisfies your chocolate craving, but because it’s stronger than milk, you shouldn’t really feel like gorging on it.

A hard-boiled egg. Crack some black pepper on that bad boy.

Edamame beans. If you can get them in their pods, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over before literally popping them out into your mouth. They’re so fun and satisfying !

Glass of milk. Soy or semi-skimmed.

Wasabi peas. Low calorie but high flavour, so you won’t need to eat loads anyway. Great instead of crisps due to their salty-spiciness and crunchy texture.

Hope this helps. I’m off to bake an apple in the microwave…

Next time we speak I will have baked MUFFINS !

Amy x

(This is for Lizi x)

Veggie Quiche with Lentil Freakin’ Pastry

This post is by far my most anticipated ever since I started this blog, and definitely worth the addition of the word “freakin’” in the title (although I could not be persuaded to omit the apostrophe; I may be down with the kids but practising good punctuation skills will always remain important to me).

A while ago I wanted to make quiche, but remained wary as pastry is so high in fat. Add in the sheer amount of egg and cheese that makes up any quiche filling, and you’ve got this health-conscious calorie-phobe’s worst nightmare. I remained, however, determined to satisfy my quiche-craving without enraging my arteries; to “have my quiche and eat it too” so to speak, so I typed “healthy alternatives to pastry” into Google. Good old Internet, you are indeed ripe with all the secrets of the universe, always ready and waiting for when I so often turn my hand to purging the baking world of all its saturated fat, sugar and calories (oh alright, I’ll leave some).

It’s pastry. Made with LENTILS. I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to try this ! (See, they use the word “freak” too ! Must be a lentil thing…)

By making the crust with lentils instead of using traditional pastry, you not only drastically reduce the calorie and fat levels, but get a whole load of extra protein into the bargain (which promotes post-meal satiety, meaning no biscuit-cravings !). And I promise you it’s tasty too !

So tonight I made vegetarian quiche with caramelized onion, spinach, mushroom, red pepper and tomatoes. You can put in pretty much anything you want once you’ve made the filling; for example, chop up sausages or bacon to fry with the onions, or substitute the cheddar for goat’s cheese (I almost did this). Just some ideas…

I got really nervous making this for some reason. I think it was because I’ve never heard of making pie crust out of lentils before; I had no idea how it was going to turn out and had kind of amalgamated several recipes together, as well as my own basic quiche-knowledge, and I guess I just really, really wanted it to work. Basically this is a long-winded way of excusing my sub-par photography skills tonight (apart from the ones that Tom took).

Anyway, here’s what I did through the blurry lens of my over-zealous photography attempts:

Lentil Freakin’ Pastry

You’ll need:

125g of orange lentils

50g of porridge oats

1 tbsp of tomato puree

Salt/pepper/herbs

340ml of (soy*) milk

3-5 eggs

½ a red onion

60g of grated cheddar cheese

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Handful of fresh basil (if you have it)

What to do:

First, start to caramelise the onion in olive oil. Place in a saucepan on a fairly low heat and cover. Stir occasionally to avoid too much blackening and stickiness.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a flan/quiche dish, or line it with foil and grease that instead. I don’t have a flan dish but I do have 2 slightly smaller bendy plastic cake ‘tins,’ I foiled one and left the other as an experiment and hoped for the best (ie. not a repetition of the cake-biscuit incident).

For the crust:

Boil the lentils in twice their volume of water for about 10 minutes. I have no idea how this is worked out – baking FAIL ! Best to start with not enough water and add more than to have too much, I thought, and I did have to keep putting tiny splashes in every now and then to keep it moist enough. If the mixture does end up too watery you can always add more oats.

Stir, mash, pound, grind (and any other dubious adjectives that come to mind) the lentils continuously as they boil to form a thick paste, then add the oats, tomato puree and seasoning (salt, pepper and a bit of oregano for me).

It should form a sticky  (yet un-kneadable) ‘dough.’ I had to mash at it with my spoon for AAAGES before it became pulpy enough to transfer to the dish.

Press into quiche dish and cook at about 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes, just until it starts to firm.

For the filling:

While you are waiting for the crust to get crusty, beat the eggs and milk together and season with salt, pepper and whatever else you like (I tore up some basil, natch, and added some cayenne pepper).

Take the crust out of the oven. The onions should be just about done (they should be soft and, well, caramelised).

Add the garlic to the onions and a splash of balsamic vinegar for extra flavour and cook for a few more minutes before you take them off the heat, makes ‘em zingeeh !

Distribute the onions and sprinkle the cheese over the top. This would be a good point to also add anything else you’re planning on putting in your quiche.

Pour over the egg and milk mixture and return to oven to bake for about 45 minutes at 200 degrees, making sure the filling is cooked through by gently pressing the top and making sure it is springy (no runny egg left schlepping around).

BAM.

I just made pie base out of lentils. Okay, so you can’t see the ‘crust’ as the mixture wouldn’t hold its own enough for me to line the sides with it, but luckily I ended up using about 5 million eggs which allowed the filling to stand up all on its own ! The base was still very moist when I got it out of the dish, but no stick-age !

I now have a MOTHER-LOAD of quiche to get through this week.

1/6 of this quiche (or 2 small quiches in my case) if you don’t count the vegetables contains 154 calories. It’s okay, you can thank me later (when you’ve finished gorging on guilt-free vegetable-plenty pastry-void quiche).

So, uh… I’m having a third of this for dinner. DON’T JUDGE ME.

I also made this for afters.

Microwave-baked apple with figs and honey

I do spoil myself sometimes…

Lots of love,

Amy x

*The reason I use soy milk is not because I’m a vegan. I’m not (if you hadn’t already noticed, what with the amount of time I spend raving about cheese and eggs). I went through a non-dairy spell due to some skin-related issues, and have never quite been able to return to real milk. I just prefer soy, plus its lower cal, higher protein than dairy milk, and doesn’t taste like you’re putting cheese on your cereal. Just ma opinion.

What I ate last week pt. 4

Before we take a look at the food diary, children, let me regale you with a story…

The other evening while having tea and chats with my friends, Hannah and Jamie, I made quite a shocking discovery about the nature of my person. We all attempted at first to reconsider our conclusion, slightly repulsed by the reality of it, but alas our efforts were in vain and we were eventually forced to accept that it is inescapably true that I am… I’m not quite sure how to tell you this… it took me a little while to assimilate the news… I’m sorry to be the one to have to break it to you… take a deep breath now…

I am a hippie. And this is why:

I’m a vegetarian
I don’t wash my hair
I enjoy the taste of lentils, avocados, porridge, and green tea (although not all mixed together)
I’m a student
I play the cello
I do yoga
I abstain from regular hair removal practices (on my legs and underarms only, let’s be sensible now)
I buy my clothes from second-hand shops
I don’t wear makeup (in the day)
I shop at farmer’s markets
I’m an artist
I earn my money by teaching the cello, also by sponging off the government
I play the guitar and write my own songs
I walk 3 miles to uni instead of getting public transport/driving
I live in Brighton

There. I’ve said it. Now let’s all calmly get on with our lives and never speak of this fact again.

Now that that’s out of my system I can get on with the matter in hand:

Here’s what I ate this week, in all its glory.

I lost count of the number of cups of tea and coffee I drank...

Amy x

Feeling Low

(Apologies in advance for the no pictures, whiny-young-girl-talking-about-herself blog post. I promise you vegetarian quiche with lentil freakin’ pastry on Sunday !)

I’ve been feeling a bit… I don’t know… rubbish lately. I know that makes me sound pretty pathetic and attention-seeking but it’s just the truth. Washed out, drained, listless, negative, hopeless, irritable. Don’t want to go out; bored staying in. I let myself get back into calorie restricting, and I’m getting a little more obsessive than I generally prefer, like if I eat 2 plums in a day where I had originally planned to eat 1, I get panicky that I’ve ‘given in’ to temptation. Let alone chocolate/cake/biscuits… y’know, happy food and all that.

I think it all began when last week I wrote out a whole menu WITH calorie values for the entire week.

For example:

Tuesday
Breakfast: banana, beetroot and ginger smoothie with soy yoghurt (162 cal)
Lunch: 2x brown bread, ½ tin of tuna, low-fat cream cheese, rocket (302 cal)
Dinner: baked potato, 20g cheddar cheese, sweetcorn, rocket, tomatoes (228 cal)
Snacks: apple, plum (104 cal), Graze (144 cal), 2 small glasses red wine (300 cal)

Why did I do this ?

It started out as an experiment to gauge how many calories I was actually eating in a week, as I have been decreasing slightly in mass recently. Not a drastic amount, but a little each week, and it’s been feeling kind of good seeing the number on the scale drop despite it not being necessary. So now I’m terrified to increase my calorie intake in case the numbers go up. I don’t want to go back to Summer Weight (heavier-than-usual drinking, holiday food, home comforts etc.). I’m strapped for cash now that I’m back at uni, so naturally have been snacking less and, albeit initially unintentionally, living on the bare minimum of food, but now that I’ve noticed the effect it’s had on my body I don’t want to go back and am therefore denying myself treats when offered and consequently making myself unhappy.

So this is what I did. I wrote my menu, added up my prospective calorie intake for the week, subtracted the calories I’d burn with exercise to get my final calorie intake, subtracted that from my maintenance calorie intake for my current weight and height to get my calorie deficit, then I divided the deficit by 3500, the minimum deficit for 1 pound of fat loss. If I stuck religiously to the calories I had set out for myself from the food and meals I had available in my kitchen, the calculation said I would lose 1 and a half pounds. That sounded nice.

Thus, I have become terrified to eat anything that isn’t predetermined on the list in case I don’t lose the 1.5 pounds that has been predicted and offered to me so tantalisingly, if I can just stick religiously to the The List, which is stupid because it isn’t and never will be guaranteed how much weight I will lost or gain and when, even if I seem to have foretold it. Nevertheless The List has become gospel. I have to check the list in excess of about 10 times a day, even though my daily food menu is pretty much already implanted into my mind from already having looked at The List so much. I have planned my food and calorie intake for this week, next week and the week after. I got so hungry today that my planned 80g of lentils and tomato vegetable sauce without cheese looked so pitiful that I relented and got a wrap out of the freezer. I looked at it for a few minutes while my lentils simmered, felt the guilt rise and subside, and rise again until I grabbed it and shoved it back into the freezer where it belonged, for a pre-planned, calorie-restricted meal for another day.

Ridiculous.

This needs to stop. It’s making me miserable. I’ve started doing that thing again where I analyse what I see other people (mainly girls) eating, thinking “how do they get away with eating so much junk and staying so slim ?” and subsequently feeling fed-up that I’m practically starving myself and am still bigger than they are.

Basically, a combination of my obsessive rule-making and the fairly small amount of food I’ve been allowing myself is to blame for my melancholy.

But enough is enough. I will not let myself sink back to the Alarming Thoughts level, wallowing in my own self-generated pity. I resolve to keep the menus that I’ve written for the next 2 weeks but NOT count the calories on them, or so severely control my snacking. I will pacify myself with a compromise: see the week’s experiment out until Sunday morning when I had originally scheduled to weigh myself, but NOT stress out if the number hasn’t gone down by the magic 1.5 pounds, or even if it has gone up. I am expecting to have retained a substantial amount of water due to it being ‘that time’ of the month; I really, really, really hope I can keep myself from spazzing out if the scale says I’ve gained. It’s NOT the end of the world. After this, whether I have gone up, down, or stayed the same, I will allow myself the odd cake or biscuit, glass of wine, extra 10g or so of cheddar on my pasta if I want it. I will continue to otherwise eat healthily, but will not go down the insane, self-regimented, fascist nutritional path that I yet again sway so dangerously towards.

Gah. Do you ever get like this ? I hope this helps if you do. I should probably read Love and Advice for myself…

On vocalising some of my concerns to my girlfriends over the road this evening, we decided that the best thing to do was to have a fun day of lunching and shopping in town next week wherein you must buy a new outfit for less than £5 to wear that evening. Then we will dance the night away in the most banging (gay) nightclub in all of Brighton.

Bring it on.

Happiness,

Amy x