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.


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  ♥

Diet not Working?

So you’ve decided to embark on a healthy eating plan.  It starts off quite well, you lose a few pounds and then suddenly you find it’s not working.

Why is it that your diet and exercise plans never seem to work?  Possibly because you’re unwittingly undoing all your best efforts.

The British Nutrition Foundation identified more than 100 factors that influence our weight.  Many of the tips they offered were fairly obvious, such as eating smaller portions or not eating ready-made meals.  Here’s a few habits that might actually surprise you…

What’s that in your shopping cart?

Cereal.  A U.S. study found breakfast cereal sweetened with sugar left overweight participants hungry before lunchtime and they consumed more calories a day than those given an egg as the protein kept them full.  Egg eaters also had significantly lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.

White bread.  Too many refined carbs such as white bread and white rice can lead to weight gain, particularly around the midriff, according to researchers at Tufts University in Boston.  Two groups ate roughly the same number of calories each day, but those who ate mostly refined carbs added a half inch on their waist per year compared with those eating unrefined ‘whole’ foods such as vegetables and wholegrain bread.

Fruit juice.  Fruit juices and other sugary drinks have a stronger impact on weight than calories from solid food.  Cutting out just one sugary drink a day resulted in a weight loss of more than one pound after six months.

Is working out, not working out?

Exercising at a steady pace.  Short sharp bursts are just as effective and less time consuming and you’re more likely to stick to it.  Canadian researchers compared the effects of cycling at a moderate pace for 90-120 minutes with a workout of 20-30 seconds of gut-busting pedalling followed by four minutes rest and repeated four to six times.  After two weeks, both groups had almost identical improvements in fitness despite the fact some had only worked out for six to nine minutes a week but others had put in five hours.

Eating after exercising.  When women exercised hard they ate almost enough calories afterwards to make up for the ones they just burned, according to a U.S. study.

Indoor workouts.  Most studies show that exercising in natural environments is associated with greater boosts to mood, decreased anxiety and an increased likelihood of sticking with the workouts.

Is life in general giving you more curves?

Overweight friends.  If your friends gain weight, chances are you will too.  Why?  A Dutch study found that we tend to mimic each other’s behavior when we eat out, taking a bite at the same time.

Not chewing enough.  The longer food remains in the mouth, the more chance the tongue has to send messages to the brain to release the necessary digestive juices.  Chewing and digesting solid food fills you up.

Getting some shut-eye.  A study published in the journal Sleep suggested too little encourages the genes that cause weight gain.  Longer sleep (nine hours) suppresses the action of these ‘obesity’ genes.

Being stressed.  Stress encourages the body to put on weight around you middle.  This is because it triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol.  Over time, raised cortisol levels cause belly fat to accumulate and also makes individual fat cells enlarge.

A large variety of foods.  Fewer food choices and instilling culinary boredom could be the key to successful weight loss.  Researchers reporting in the American Journal of clinical Nutrition found that when women were offered the same food over and over again, they tended to eat less overall.

It’s all your (body’s) fault.

You’re a woman.  Using brain scans, U.S. researchers have found overweight men could suppress cravings or what they called ‘the conscious desire to eat’ more successfully than women.  It’s thought hormone differences were involved.

You don’t have enough brown fat.  Thin people are known to have higher amounts of beneficial brown fat than the overweight.  Brown fat’s great appeal is that it burns calories faster, like a furnace.  A recent study found that a form of brown fat is turned on when people get cold.

It’s your age.  Basal metabolic rate, which accounts for about 50%-70% of your total energy expenditure is thought to decrease about 1%-2% per decade.  After age 20, daily energy expenditure decreases about 150 calories per decade.  The upshot is that you need to eat less as you get older.

You’re hardwired to yo-yo.  Scientists now think that soon after people lost weight, their metabolism shows and they experience hormonal changes that increase their appetites again.  These effects can be long term.  People who have lost weight need to remain vigilant and understand that once they have lost weight the battle is not over.

Your parents made you fat.  Whether you are fat or thin could be an inherited factor.  A UK study showed only 4% of girls with normal weight mothers were obese compared with 41% with fat mothers.  Research suggests a very strong link between mother and daughter and father and son obesity, but no link across gender divide.

All of us who have dieted know it’s not easy.  If it were, we’d all be fit and healthy….

♥  Terri  ♥

In memory of those who lost their lives 11 years ago…


How do you Like your Eggs in the Morning?

I thought I would give you myself a break from all the ‘bad’ food I’ve been making.  Being one who has low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) I have to have breakfast, and a proper one at that.  I admit I sway from having a proper breakfast on occasion and I do pay for it later on in the day.  I can become irritable, get internal shakes, lose concentration, get a headache, break out into a cold sweat…the list goes on and none of it is pleasant.

I get lazy sometimes and just don’t feel like cutting up veggies or preparing other foods to eat; usually because I’m so busy doing other things and I almost feel like I can’t be bothered to eat, but I know I must.  So what happens?  I eat the wrong things.  I might have a couple of crackers with some butter or peanut butter or perhaps a banana.  I might even grab a slice or two of ham from the fridge or eat a handful of nuts.  Now granted, none of this is absolutely terrible, but it’s not really a proper meal, nor do I eat this all at one time.  It’s usually over a period of about 2-3 hours but it’s still not a good meal.  I’m much better when I have a good breakfast consisting of eggs and veggies and grains or a bowl of porridge with fruit and nuts.  Either of these meals will hold me for a good 3-4 hours, although I will have a mid-morning snack.  There are times when I will even have leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

I just get tired of having eggs most mornings.

This morning I decided to see what I could find in my GI Recipes book.  Even though this has eggs, it sounded different and tasty.  This would suit Phase 2 on South Beach Diet…


Serves 1 (easily increased for any number of servings)

2-3 small tomatoes

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp honey

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

1-2 slices whole grain bread (wholewheat, granary, rye, etc.) (I used a wholewheat bagel)

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F.

Halve the tomatoes and arrange in a baking dish, cut side up.  Sprinkle over the cinnamon and drizzle with honey.  Season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes.

When the tomatoes are nearly cooked, put the eggs in a bowl, season and beat.  Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan until sizzling.  Reduce the heat, pour in the eggs and cook gently, stirring constantly until thick and creamy.

Toast the bread and place on plate.  Spoon on the eggs and pile tomatoes on top.  Spoon over any juices from the tomatoes, sprinkle with black pepper and serve.


♥ Terri  ♥♥

A Reply to a Comment from Canada

I enjoyed reading your blog and your goals for healthy weight release…I am making a long over due effort to nourish myself for good health ….years ago i had goodluck with Weight Watchers and remember the essence of how to do it so I am trying to just do it on my own….rather than spend money on the program…we will see….as i go along I intend to cook well for myself as I love cooking…money saved will go to arts pursuits as a reward….Tonight I made a veggie/minestrone soup so that should stave off hunger pangs…I will check in on your blog from time to time….best wishes from Canada!

I normally reply to comments on the comment page, but this one felt like it should get its own posting.  I usually check my mobile phone first thing in the morning to see if I’ve received any comments on my posts so that I can think about my reply before actually getting on the computer.  As the words went through my head, it seemed I was getting a bit long-winded for a reply, but felt it would be OK to do an open reply in a post…I hope ‘Canada’ doesn’t mind. Continue reading

Posh Porridge

Oatmeal.  Porridge.  Whatever you call it, it’s one of the better foods to have for breakfast in lieu of eggs or cereal.  Eating porridge for breakfast provides you with enough energy for the first half of the day, helping you to avoid those mid-morning snacks.  It stabilises blood sugar levels and by eating porridge on a regular basis, it can help reduce the risk of Type 2 (Adult onset) diabetes. 

Soluble fibre which is found in fruit, vegetables, peas, beans and of course, oats, helps reduce blood cholesterol. It’s a complex process but, put simply, think of rolled oats as tiny sponges in your body that soak up cholesterol.  A diet rich in fibre has been implicated in preventing heart disease. Many studies have found that those people who eat a lot of fibre rich foods are less likely to suffer from heart disease that those who eat very little. 

So on these chilly Autumn/Winter mornings, there’s nothing better than a warming bowl of porridge.  And when I say porridge, I mean PROPER porridge, not that measly stuff you get in paper packets, pour into your bowl and pour boiling water over.  I’m talking cook-your-own-on-the-stove porridge.  Yeah, it may take a bit longer to prepare, but it’s so well worth it.  However, I don’t consider having to cook something for less than 10 minutes laboring over a hot stove.

You can have it plain or make it with any additions to suit your taste.  My preference is adding nuts and dried fruit, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg.  You can even prep it the night before and that will save you a bit of time in the morning when you’re in a hurry.

The measurements on the additions (fruit, nuts, cinnamon, etc.) are approximate and you can use all or some of what I have listed and however much of them you want, although I wouldn’t use more than a tablespoon of any one of them.  I use a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part oats and that seems to work out just right, even with the additional ingredients.  I also add about a teaspoon each of oat bran and wheat bran, but that is up to you if you wish to use those also.


Serves 1

Use any combination of the following; up to a tablespoon of each, depending on taste.

Walnuts, chopped

Pecans, chopped

Slivered Almonds

Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, sultanas, figs, dates, apricots (chop the larger fruits)

Use the measurements listed or very close to them for the remaining items.

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch, nutmeg

1/4 tsp. butter (the fat helps slow the digestion of the carbs in the oats; the GOOD carbs)

1 C water

1/2 C rolled oats

1 tsp oat bran (optional)

1 tsp wheat bran (optional)



Start by putting all the nuts, fruits, spices and butter into a small pan and add the water.  Cover and bring to the boil.

I know that some people add the oats to the water first and then bring it to the boil.  I prefer doing it this way to allow the fruit to plump up a bit in the water without the hinderance of the oats.

While waiting for the water to boil, add the oat bran and wheat bran (if using) to a 1/2 cup measuring cup and top up with the oats.  If not using the brans, then just measure out 1/2 cup of oats.

When the water boils, add the oats, give it a good stir, turn down the heat to the lowest setting, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat, stir and let sit about 1 minute, covered.  Pour into your bowl and add milk and sweetener to taste.


Feel free to add any other ingredients you may like.  I’ve added banana before, but it does tend to disintegrate.  You get the flavor of the banana, just not the texture.  Try adding chopped apples, too.

What do you like in YOUR porridge?


Do YOU know the Muffin Man??


Good Day!  Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend so far.  I had the pleasure today, of doing a video call with my parents, brother A, sis-in-law J and niece. (who is the author of the blog RoadRagingFoodie – see my blog list below)  I haven’t seen or talked to A & J since we left London.

As we were chatting about different things, the subject of my blog came up and Dad asked what the muffins were that are shown in the main picture.  I told him what they were and he was asking me what was in them.  He then proceeded to ask if I ever put apples in them, or blueberries, or peaches, or bananas, etc. etc.

He wasn’t being serious however he was being his usual silly self.  I asked him how Mom has been able to put up with him for the past 55 years!  It must be love!  He may be crazy at times…well, most of the time…but I’ll say one thing…I wouldn’t want him any other way!  Love ya’ Dad! 😉

So, as he asked about the muffins, I thought I would share the recipe (and maybe Mom will make them for him…hint, hint).  The recipe is from The South Beach Diet Supercharged book, but I have tweaked it a bit to my liking.  Mainly, I’ve used Agave Nectar in place of the sugar substitute and I’ve added raisins and dried apricots.


225g/8oz  fat-free natural/plain yogurt
75g/2 1/2oz  porridge/rolled oats
140g/5oz  wholewheat flour
1 1/2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  baking soda
1/4 tsp  ground cinnamon (I use more…I love cinnamon)
1/4 tsp  salt
75g/2 1/2oz  chopped walnuts or pecans, or combination of both
2 Tbsp  raisins or dried apricots or dates, or a combination of these
5 Tbsp  Agave nectar or granulated sugar substitute
75ml/2 1/2fl.oz  rapeseed oil
1 large egg, beaten
5ml/1 tsp  vanilla extract/essence
2 Tbsp porridge oats

Preheat the oven to 220c/425f/Gas 7.  Coat a 12-muffin non-stick pan with cooking spray or line with paper or silicon cases.

In a small bowl, combine yogurt with 75g oats and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the next five ingredients, flour through salt.  Stir in the nuts and dried fruit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Agave, oil, egg and vanilla.  Stir in the oat/yogurt mixture.  Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin holes, filling then about 2/3 full.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp oats over the muffins.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins and transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Wholesome Oat Muffins

I usually leave two or three out and freeze the rest as I’m the only one eating them.  When I’ve eaten the the last one, I take out another two or three.  They taste just as fresh as the day they were made (once thawed!)  Feel free to
warm them a bit in the microwave before eating.  They go great with a nice cuppa!