Friday, 25 April 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooked Ratatouille with Chicken

Slow Cooked Ratatouille with Chicken (serves 4, approx. 487 kcal per serving)

I only discovered this recipe the other day but have fallen in love with it. As someone who isn't a massive veg fan I thought I would struggle with this but it was delightful! (The picture above doesn't do it justice I'm afraid) Its super filling but really low in calories. It freezes well, I had another portion for lunch today. As it was slow cooked it came out a little bit soupy as you need very little water when slow cooking and the ingredients seem to release their own moisture. You might chose to reduce the stock or leave it out completely if you want it a little thicker.

It was taken from a book called 'One Pot' by Igloo Books and the original recipe wasn't using a slow cooker, however the recipe here is exactly how I made it.


  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, sliced
  • 2 courgettes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped


  1. Prepare the ingredients as detailed above and add them to the slow cooker. Give it a good stir to mix everything well together.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve!

Recipe: Chicken & Potato Curry

Chicken & Potato Curry (serves 2 (or 2 and a little one) Approx. 416kcal per serving)

I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers app the last time I was trying that particular diet. That diet may have ended but this recipe stuck with me. Its a really tasty and filling alternative to regular curry and rice and low in calories. Its another one my son loves to have as well.


  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 400g potatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • A good handful of frozen peas
  • A good handful of sweetcorn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp curry paste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200ml chicken stock (+ a little extra for frying)


  1. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes then set aside.
  2. Fry the onions for a couple of minutes to soften on a medium heat. If the pan becomes a bit dry, use a splash of the stock to moisten.
  3. Add the chicken, the garlic and the curry paste and fry for another 8-10 minutes, again using a bit of the stock if the pan becomes dry.
  4. Add the carrots, sweetcorn, potato and peas and stir until all are coated with paste.
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are fully softened.

Battling Onward!

Still fighting towards that finish line!

I was reading through my previous blog posts last night as I've been feeling like a bit of a failure recently. I beat myself up too much I think as I haven't failed, I've lost over 2st now! I hit that milestone last week. 2st 1lb to be exact, in 4 months. The last time I lost a significant amount of weight it took me about a year to lose 1st. That is certainly not a failure. 

Yes, I've been finding exercising hard recently and I have cut it back, but I've not given up. On that score I've almost completed week 9 of couch to 5k and am now running for the majority of 30 minutes, 3 times a week. That is also not a failure.

I am only doing zumba once a week now but with more umph than ever before. I'm finding the routines easier and enjoying them so much more as a result. I can push myself harder now and feel a real sense of achievement from doing so.

Yoga is falling a bit more by the wayside, I'm managing once a week on and off. But when I do kick my butt into gear I can really feel how much more flexible and stronger I've become. It really is great for the mind as well as I do feel more peaceful, positive and happier once I've done a session.

I also read last night that when I hit my 30th birthday goal I set myself the following goals - 

"As of Wednesday I'm back on the diet wagon and heading off to my next set of goals. I want to be comfortably in those size 14 clothes within a month. I'm running the Race For Life in May and want to be jogging the 5k in about 30mins by then. I'm going on holiday in June and plan to lose as much weight as possible by then and hopefully be somewhere close to my 10st goal. I'm even looking forward to fitting in my running on holiday by running down the beach near where we're staying. I love the beach and I'm actually looking forward to it - to exercising on holiday!!"

Well, I'm in those size 14's comfortably. I've been in them for a few weeks so I forgot about this goal but its now been a month since then and I've definitely achieved that. I'm on track to run the Race For Life. It might not be in 30 mins, at the moment if you include warm up and cool down I'm doing approximately 5.2k in 40mins. But I've still got 3 weeks to go, thats a minimum of another 9 runs, so I might be able to tighten it up a bit. Even if I don't though, I will still run the majority of it and thats good enough for me, its better than previous years where I didn't run any of it! 

Also, since that big milestone I've lost just short of half a stone. I'm 11st 12lbs so just short of 2st off my 10st goal. I'm still on track for those runs down the beach on holiday which is about 2 months away.

Another big achievement for me is that I've set up a Facebook group to try and provide a space for people to discuss their diet issues where myself and others can help and offer suggestions. Its still new and I need to build it up a bit but I'm proud its there. I've purposely kept it private so peoples posts aren't broadcast all over facebook and only members of the group can read whats posted, but if you would like an invite we'd be more than happy for you to join us!

My husband has also directed me to a free learning site where I can learn more about health and nutrition as it has become a big passion of mine. It would also mean I would actually be qualified to talk about all this and offer proper help and suggestions. I need to find time but once I do I'm really looking forward to that. 

I think sometimes we all need to remind ourselves how far we've come and what we've actually achieved. It can be a bit easy sometimes to tell ourselves we're doing something wrong or we're not up to scratch. I have heard people out there beating themselves up because they don't eat right all the time or they're not managing to get their 5 a day, or they don't exercise as much as they'd like. Sometimes it will be like that, but it doesn't mean you've failed. There's nothing wrong with a treat or a break now and again, just so long as you don't go too far with it - remember everything in moderation. You've only really failed if you stop doing all the hard work you've put in and let your old habits take over again.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Running On Empty

‘If it is important, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse’ - unknown

I’ve been going through a tough patch over the last few weeks. It probably started after my birthday. I think, like having reached the end of a 100m sprint, I had hit the target of my birthday and needed a rest. I had gone all out for 3 months and I think my reserves were slightly depleted.

Party Time!
March in my family is always ‘party season’. The amount of births and marriages mean there are more celebrations than in any other month of the year. I’d managed to battle through until my birthday but then I seemed to run out of steam. I’d managed to mostly keep up the diet and exercise, until I hit one particularly party-heavy weekend where there were events both the Friday and the Saturday. I hadn’t planned to indulge, I kept telling myself and anyone who’d listen that I’d only have a couple of drinks. However, at the Friday party in particular, there was a great atmosphere coupled with lovely generous people buying my drinks – who could resist?! I did calm things down the following night and then did only have a couple of drinks. If you didn’t count the alcohol, I had managed to stick to my calorie allowance (bar one slice of pizza!) so on that score I shouldn’t have done too much damage.

Exercise however was a totally different matter. I hadn’t gone to the extreme where I was hungover or vomiting everywhere, but I was feeling a general malaise on the days following and couldn’t get motivated. It may have even been the late nights that wiped me out more than the drinking as I was in bed past midnight both nights. As a mum of a toddler I’m usually tucked up by 10pm!
I did my last run on the Thursday but no amount of talking to myself could get me back in gear until the following Tuesday. I went for a run and afterwards broke down in tears. I felt like I didn’t have anything more to give and I was finding it too hard. I had found the previous week of my couch to 5k plan harder than I had expected anyway, but this particular week nearly finished me off completely. I was frustrated, disappointed and drained. 

I knew I had to repeat that week of my plan and I found out that other people have also had to repeat weeks, which did give me a bit of a boost, but I had to have a good talk with myself. Was this really all worth it? Or was I going to stop here and say ‘I gave it a try but this is as far as I could go’? I had already done better than I ever expected and was at a comfortable stage now, despite not being at my final goal. I knew I would look like a failure in the eyes of some, but who cared what they thought if I was happy?

I knew I didn’t want to stop here unless I really had to. I had set myself the goal of running the Race For Life, the 5k fun run for Cancer Research UK I was participating in with my family and friends, and it meant a lot for me to get to that point. I’d achieved great results so far, I obviously could do it, so why stop where I didn’t really want to? Of course it was hard, as the saying goes – nothing worth having comes easy. I wasn’t doing this because it was easy, I was doing it because I was getting results. 

The next day I weighed myself and I had put on about half a pound. Well, I said to myself, time to make a decision now. The weight was starting to go back on so I had to sort myself out. I had decided I wasn’t going to give up but maybe I needed to take it a bit easier on myself for a little while until I got back on track. I could do this though, I told myself, I’m stronger than I think. I went to work and spent the day talking myself into going for run to see how it went. I got through it having to push myself a fair bit but I didn’t break down in tears this time and started to feel more positive. 

Yoga Progress
My head was still not in the right place however and I really needed something to get me back on track. I decided to have a go at a bit of yoga as I had been progressing really well with that and it is well documented that it is supposed to be good for the mind as well as the body. It did turn out to be just the thing I needed – for the first time I managed to get my head on my knees in a seated forward bend and was centimetres off doing the same in a standing forward bend. It really gave me a boost to see the progress I had made and I did feel more like I could do the same with my running.

From then on I gradually pushed myself more and managed to complete that week of couch to 5k ending with running for 25 minutes without stopping. I wasn’t quite as exhilarated as when I had completed the 20 minute run 2 weeks earlier, but I did feel better and that I could do this, just at a slower pace.

I’m currently on week 7 of the couch to 5k plan which is 3 runs of 25 minutes without stopping. I’ve had to repeat it a second time as I was really struggling getting through the runs without walking and I don’t want to move on until I’m doing it a bit more comfortably. I’m feeling more positive but it is still a struggle for me. I’m persevering though as I know the results are worth it and the feeling of letting myself down if I did stop is not worth stopping. I've just completed the 2nd run of the week for the second time and I have definitely noticed it is getting easier. I can now run for pretty much 25 minutes without stopping. I did trip on tree root and fall flat on my face today, luckily there was no one to see it, but even that didn't stop me for long. I also lost another 2lbs this week which does hammer home the point about doing it for results. When I got back on the exercise wagon, the weight came off again. 

I will end with a little motivational picture I found which really spoke to me when I was finding it hard – the person you really are is a lot stronger than you think if you push yourself.