Food and Fitness Tips

Happy Thursday All!  It’s Friday Eve!

Chef P has the day off tomorrow so we’re heading to Borough Market in London by train!  We were there just before Christmas last year, so at least I know what to expect and what I can get there!

I’ll talk about that in another post, but for today, I’m going to give you some food and fitness tips and just some general well-being tips; well probably more food tips, but it’s nice to throw something different in once in a while. :)

Stop-Smoking-Aids¤ Stop Smoking!  Probably the number one thing you really should do.  Women who stop smoking by the age of 30 reduce their risk of dying of tobacco-related diseases by 97%.  Quit by 40 and your risk is reduced by 90%.  Stop Smoking Day here in the UK is March 13….next week.  What a perfect time to give it up for good!

¤  Drink your H2O.  Water is a secret weight-loss weapon.  Dehydration slows your metabolism and stops fat burning.  But 10 minutes after drinking 500ml/17fl oz. of cold water, your rate of calorie burning rises by 30% and peaks after 30 minutes.  Nearly half of that comes from your body trying to heat the water.

¤ Enjoy your food.  Don’t just woof it down!  A recent paper published in Obesity found those who chewed their food properly, keeping it in their mouths for up to eight minutes(!) before swallowing, ate less.  Chewing properly also helps release nutrients from the food, so you don’t need to eat as much to absorb the right amounts.

pasta¤  Eat Pasta!  White pasta has an undeserved bad image:  The Mediterranean diet uses white pasta and is one of the healthiest diets in the world.  It proves you don’t have to give up your favorite foods to eat healthy.  Pasta is high carb, but low on the Glycemic Index, because the starch molecules are encapsulated in a unique way in the pasta dough.  However, don’t overcook it as this breaks down the structures, raising the GI.

¤ Keep a food diary.  Keeping a food diary can help you lose weight.  If you’ve had a bad week, you can go back and pinpoint where you screwed up it went wrong.

¤ Cut down on the saturated fats.  Yes, we’ve heard this before, but this is great for keeping your heart healthy.  Even though you cut out the saturated fats, your body still needs fat so you need to consume the good ones, in particular the oils found in avocados, nuts, sees and evening primrose oil.

¤ Try coconut oil.  Coconut oil is great in food and has so many benefits.  It doesn’t degrade at high cooking temps, unlike many other oils and you can even use it in smoothies.  It’s high in lauric acid – a good thing (a type of saturated fatty acid – also a good thing), which can speed up metabolism and great for your joints.  Go for an extra-virgin, raw, cold-pressed oil to really benefit your health.

nocake¤ Crave a dessert after dinner?  Brush your teeth after eating.  The taste of the toothpaste and the time it takes distracts you, so your craving goes away.  Pop a toothbrush in your bag if eating out.

¤  Avoid drinking water with dinner.  Too much fluid can dilute the digestive enzymes in your mouth and stomach, making them less effective.  Aim to drink 30 minutes either side of your meal.  An occasional glass of wine with dinner is fine, but sip it slowly to make the most of it.

sleepy_cat¤ Get some sleep!  Lack of sleep contributes to obesity as it affects the amount of calories we eat the next day.  Different hormones affect men and women after a poor night’s sleep.  The hormone ghrelin rises in men, increasing their appetite, and the satiety hormone GLP-I falls in women, so they don’t feel full after eating.

Terri’s Tuesday Tips ~ 26 Feb

sorry-im-lateYes, yes, I know….it’s Wednesday and I’m a day late.  Better late than never, they always say!

Without further adieu….

Φ  To stop a pan boiling over, insert a wooden toothpick between the pan and the lid.

TT:  Personally, I think this is a waste of a toothpick and also, there’s the possibility of the toothpick falling into the pan if you happen to forget that it’s there.  Or worse, if you have a gas stove as we do, it falls out and under the pan and starts a fire!  I usually just cock the lid up a bit when putting it on to allow some of the steam to escape.

Φ  It’s simple to stop cabbage smells while cooking ~ don’t overcook it and don’t cover the pot with a lid.

TT:  We cook a good bit of cabbage but never seem to have a problem with smells.  Perhaps because we usually add other flavorings to the pan so we smell the flavorings instead.  I always have the lid on too.

greenpotatoΦ  Cut any green parts of a potato away before cooking ~ the green part contains an unpleasant-tasting poison called solanine.  It won’t kill you, but you’re better off without it.

TT:  I ALWAYS do this!  Who wants to eat green potato anyway?  Unless you’re Dr. Seuss!  Oh wait, that was green eggs…. :)

Φ  When heating cream, use a heavy-based saucepan and a low gentle heat, allowing the cream to come to a simmer slowly.  Avoid boiling rapidly.

TT:  I don’t cook with cream very much except if I’m making a dessert.  However, I do follow this mantra and heat it up gently.

Φ  Clean a stainless steel sink by wiping with a bit of pasty toothpaste (gel won’t work).  Rub in then rinse well (for a sparkling sink with fresh breath!)

TT:  You can also use baking soda and get the same results.

FrostedFreezerΦ  Defrost your freezer when the layer of ice inside has reached a thickness of 1cm (1/3 inch).  Switch off the freezer, remove the food and thaw the freezer.  Run the freezer for 1/2 an hour before refilling.

TT:  I think it’s time for me to defrost the freezer….

Φ  When cooking pasta, use as big a pan as possible to prevent sticking as it needs room to move around freely.  Don’t add the pasta until the water is boiling rapidly.

TT:  I do this all the time.  Make sure you stir the pasta occasionally while cooking and add salt to the water before you add the pasta.

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So there you go, your kitchen tips for the week!

♥  Terri  ♥

Greek Sloppy Joes ~ South Beach Diet

“This is not military issue, airman. What sort of uniform is that?”

“Cretan camouflage sir. If you want to blend in with a bunch of drunken Greeks there’s nothing better.” ~ Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987

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Good Morning, World!

I’ve been cookin’ up a storm from my new SBD cookbook and the latest adventure was Greek Sloppy Joes.  It seemed fairly easy and I had all the ingredients, which of course, is always helpful.

It’s made with plenty of store cupboard ingredients that most of you should have on hand.  The only things you might need to go out and buy are feta cheese and spring onions/scallions.

To make it SBD friendly, instead of the traditional white flour burger bun, the recipe suggests serving it over whole-wheat orzo, but that’s not something I’ve ever seen in the states, let alone here in the UK.  I did have some other whole-wheat pasta, so just used that.  This recipe is for Phase 2, but for Phase 1, just leave out the pasta.

***Greek Sloppy Joes***

Makes 4 servings

5oz/142g/¾C whole-wheat pasta

4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

12oz/340g lean ground/minced sirloin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

14.5oz/400g can chopped/diced tomatoes

3 Tbsp tomato paste/puree

1/4 C/60ml water

4 Tbsp feta cheese (reduced fat, if possible)

1 spring onion/scallion, thinly sliced

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the beef and break up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until the beef is almost all browned but still a little pink.  Sprinkle with the oregano, cayenne and cinnamon.

Stir in the can of tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste and water.  Cover and let simmer until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 30 minutes.

While the meat mixture is cooking, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.  Drain well.

Divide the pasta evenly among 4 bowls and spoon the meat mixture evenly on top.

Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of feta and some spring onion.

Serve and enjoy!

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♥♥  Terri  ♥♥

What to do with…Tomatoes

tomatoMorning World!

Today we’re going to talk about the terrific TOMATO.

♣ Believed to benefit the heart along with other organs, they contain one of the most powerful, natural antioxidants, carotene lycopene, and has been found to help prevent prostate cancer, especially cooked tomatoes.  They are also good sources of vitamins A, C and E along with potassium.

♣ Botanically, the tomato is a fruit, but is considered a vegetable for most culinary uses.

♣ There are many varieties of tomato:

Standard ~ the ‘normal’ tomato, spherical in shape and around an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.

Beefsteak ~ a large version of the normal tomato. Because of their large size, these tomato varieties take longer to mature and ripen so really do not do well except in a greenhouse.

Cherry ~ just a small version of the normal tomato, often marble sized. Often from dwarf bush types.

Plum ~ the firm fleshed oval shaped fruit you find in Italian canned tomatoes. Tend to have been bred to store well as bottled or canned and they freeze well.

Baby Plum ~ another small version, but of the plum tomato.

♣ Tomatoes also come in a range of colors, varying from green to yellow to orange to deep red.

♣ As tomatoes are a sub-tropical fruit and dislike the cold, they should be stored at room temperature.  Remove any packaging and place in your fruit bowl.  Storing them in the fridge impairs natural ripening and flavor.  Over-ripe tomatoes will go soft even more quickly in the refrigerator.

A BEAUTY HINT: Tomato pulp is very good for the skin. It refreshes, tones and aids circulation and will restore acidity to the face after cleansing. To make a tomato face pack, make a paste by mixing tomato pulp with yoghurt. Apply to the face and leave for 10-15 minutes, then wash off.

♣ To ripen home-grown tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with a ripe tomato and keep at room temperature.

♣ Use under-ripe, green tomatoes for making chutney.  Use up over-ripe tomatoes to make soups or sauces which can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

♣ To skin tomatoes, score an ‘X’ on the bottom and place tomatoes into boiling water for 15-30 seconds.  Remove and let cool enough to handle them.  The skin should come off easily.

Sun Driwd Tomatoes♣ Make your own ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes by sprinkling equal amounts of superfine/caster sugar and salt over halved tomatoes. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet and cook in the oven on a low heat for two and a half hours or until most of the liquid has dried out.

♣ A squeeze of lemon will remove the metallic taste from canned tomatoes.

Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked, used in stews and sauces and made into puree and ketchup, just to name a few.

I often make a quick and tasty tomato salad.  Chop a tomato into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with a little dried basil and/or oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic and toss and eat.  Delicious!  Feel free to add some chopped cucumber also.  You can even put this mixture on top of toasted sliced Italian bread for some yummy bruschetta.

Want to make your own tomato sauce?  It’s easy and only takes 90 minutes of cooking time once it’s all thrown together.  You can find my recipe here on Food.com, (formerly Recipezaar) a recipe site I used to be on.  This sauce can be used on anything from pasta to pizza.

Canned tomatoes are an essential store cupboard staple in my book.  Add to chili, make a salsa or even a quick pasta sauce.  Braise chicken breasts in canned tomatoes with some onion and mushroom and seasonings.  Add to stews or make tomato soup!

There is so much that can be done with tomatoes.

Come on readers, what do you do with tomatoes?  Please share!

  Terri  

South Beach Diet ~ Here we go Again!

Good day, dear readers!

weight-loss-cartoonWell as we all know, a new year usually signals the time to get back to proper eating and for me, it’s no different.  As many of you know, I’m an avid follower of the South Beach Diet (SBD) and am the first one to promote its wonderful, healthy way of eating, but over the past few months several months year an a half, I’ve completely slipped off the wagon as if it were covered in grease.

When I was following it back in 2010, I managed to lose 28lbs.  I felt great, I dropped 3 sizes, I had more energy, my clothes weren’t tight and it wasn’t a struggle to bend over and tie my sneakers!  I hit a plateau in my weight…something I’m sure all of us who have ever dieted before knows all too well about.  After a while I slowly started to eat things I shouldn’t have and the weight has slowly crept back on to me and I managed to gain back 20 lbs….sigh.

DietscaleMost of last year I kept telling myself that I needed to get back to proper eating (I never refer to it as going on a ‘diet’) and would always say I would start on Monday.  Obviously, that never happened as Monday would roll around and I’d be repeating the same mantra again.  Each time I stepped on the scale; maybe once a month or so, my weight would increase by a pound or more.  Sometimes it would actually stay the same and I would be quite thankful.

As the recent holidays approached, I started psyching myself up that I was going back to SBD after the new year and I have kept that promise to myself.  I didn’t start exactly on Jan 1, but on Jan 5 as I wanted to make sure I had all the proper foods in the house and also to get rid of all the junk such as all the crackers, cheese, canapes and especially the chocolate.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lost nearly 5lbs. and even though it’s a slow start, at least the numbers on the scale are going down and not up!

Many of us try to lose weight in the new year, and even though I’m sure you’ve heard most of the following before, it’s always good to get a refresher as it becomes engrained in our brains and hopefully stays there!  Breaking old eating habits can be tough, but here’s a few tips to help you on the way and hopefully keep your (and my) motivation high…

* Get rid of everything that will tempt you into unhealthy eating.  This includes cakes, cookies/biscuits, pies, chips/crisps, chocolates, candies, sweets and any other junk food you might have sitting around.

*Have some healthy snacks handy.  An apple with a small amount of sugar-free peanut butter or low-fat cheese, some wholegrain crackers with low-fat cheese, a few spoonfuls of fat-free Greek yogurt with some berries and artificial sweetener.  Celery sticks with a small amount of low fat cream cheese.  A small handful of nuts; almonds and walnuts are great choices.  You get the idea.

*Try to find a friend who also wants to lose weight and you can do it together.  Going along with a friend will help you achieve your goal as you are there to push each other along.

*Start an exercise program if you haven’t already.  You don’t need to spend hours (or money!) at the gym.  Put on a pair of walking shoes and head outside.  Start slow if you’re not used to doing a great deal of walking.  Even 10-15 minutes of walking is better than sitting down in front of the TV.  Get yourself a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day and work your way up to that.  A 10-minute walk is around 1,000 steps. Remember, the more you move, the more calories you burn.  You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight.

*Be realistic.  Keep your ultimate goal at the back of your mind, but focus on the small bites that will help you get there, such as a certain amount of weight to lose each week.

*Keep focused and motivated by reminding yourself why you want to lose weight.  Whether it’s for health reasons or to fit into your wedding gown or swim suit this Summer, it’s easier to do something when you’re clear about why you’re doing it.

sugar1*Lower your sugar intake.  Many foods have hidden sugar such as ketchup, peanut butter, canned soup, bread and salad dressings.  Try to avoid ‘light’ products such as mayonnaise as they compensate for the lower fat by adding more sugar. Too much sugar can play havoc with your blood glucose levels and increase your risk for diabetes. It may also cause obesity, and increase your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. It has even been linked to cancer.

*Avoid white foods: potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.  A sweet potato is actually better than a white potato, swap white rice for brown or wild rice and go for whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads.  They all provide more fiber which is digested more slowly and doesn’t give you that sharp spike in glucose levels which leaves you feeling hungry.  You can also replace rice with grains such as whole wheat couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa or barley.  Oats are a great way to start your day, but avoid the instant oats.

*Try to limit your eating of the starchy vegetables such as green peas, parsnips, beets, corn, pumpkin, turnips and carrots as these all contain a higher level of carbohydrates than other veggies.

*You should also limit yourself on the following fruit for the same reason as the starchy veggies: canned fruit, all fruit juice, raisins, pineapple and watermelon.

So there you go.  There are so many more ideas and thoughts that go along with all of this, but I figured this is enough for now.

Maybe it’s time to go build a snowman….

♥  Terri  ♥

BBC Good Food Show ~ Was I Impressed?

Welcome to the Good Food Show!

As a subscriber to Good Food Magazine, I see ads throughout the year for the upcoming Good Food shows that are shown throughout the country: Birmingham, London and Glasgow were the main three for some time.  Then this year, they decided to add a new one at the Glow Theatre at Bluewater Shopping Mall near Greenhithe in Kent.  Woo hoo!  Finally, one near to us.

I booked the tickets at the end of February and made sure we got the Gold Seats for the MasterChef Live show.  As a subscriber, I got a great deal; not only a discount on the ticket price, but I also didn’t have to pay the booking fee.  So two tickets for the exhibition and the Live show was a mere £27.  I couldn’t wait and was counting down the days.

We took the train as it was much easier than driving there.  The train took us right to Ebbsfleet station and from there we were able to hop on a bus which took us directly to Bluewater.  We had to walk through Marks & Spencers and out into the main area of the mall to get to Glow.  We showed our tickets and went into the exhibition hall and started looking around.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt disappointed from the moment I stepped inside…call it a gut feeling.

There were too many stands selling wine/alcohol, cheeses, preserves or spices.  Now mind you, I have no problem with any of those foodie items but I would have liked to see some stands selling things like loose tea, coffee, herbs, honey, chocolates, game meats or other unusual meats, hot pepper sauces or quirky kitchen gadgets/signs, etc.  We did not see one stand selling any of those things :( although we did get to taste several samples :)

Here's where we got the 7 sausages for £10

We did buy some things.  Got seven different dried sausages for £10, five blocks of cheese with a free bottle of wine for £12 and three jars of condiments (1 horseradish cream, 1 beer mustard and 1 spiced honey mustard) for £6.50 and when you bought 3 jars or more, you got a free jute tote bag.

Our Purchases!

The MasterChef Live stage

The MasterChef Live show was at noon so we headed downstairs to that.  We were about 10 rows back as I had ordered the Gold seats.

We really enjoyed the show with John Torrode and Greg Wallace and they had a cook-off with the MasterChef champions from the past two years.

John and Greg on stage

(Sorry, I took some video of the show but I’m having trouble posting them on here.)

Also wish I knew about the book signing BEFORE I got there…would have brought my MasterChef Bible for John and Greg to sign!

Don’t get me wrong, the exhibition was enjoyable, just a tad disappointing.

Maybe next year will be better…if we decide to go again.

Tuna Casserole for South Beach Diet

This is a slightly tweaked recipe that I found on the SBD Message Boards.  I had to tweak as I didn’t have some of the ingredients so had to substitute.  For those of you in the UK, half & half is a pre-made mix of milk and cream.  As this is not available in the UK, I used semi-skimmed milk.

~~TUNA CASSEROLE for SOUTH BEACH DIET~~

* Serves 2-3 * Preheat oven to 180C/350F *

2 TBSP olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced

4 oz mushrooms, sliced

salt & pepper

1 TBSP whole wheat flour

1/2 C fat free half & half or semi-skimmed milk

1/2 C low fat cheese (I used a mixture of LF cheddar cheese and light cream cheese)

1/2 tsp chives

1/4 tsp dill

2 cans tuna in brine/water, drained

2 C whole wheat pasta, cooked in salted water

1/4 C peas, frozen

2 TBSP Parmesan, grated

2 TBSP whole wheat bread crumbs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and saute onions, carrots and mushrooms until tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add flour, stirring for 1 minute until blended.  Reduce heat to low.  Add milk, cheese and herbs and stir to combine.

Place tuna, pasta and in a lightly oiled baking dish and mix.  Pour veggie/cheese mix over and stir.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and bread crumbs.

Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Remove cover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until hot and bubbly.