Monday, 18 February 2013

Breakfast Smoothies

I really love a good homemade smoothie, a perfect way to smoosh as much fruit or veg into your body all at once. I say homemade as I have yet to find a store bought one I actually like. Much like the current horse-meat scandal I am never 100% sure what is in one of those cartons. Although it says its all natural, 2 of my 5 a day etc... I just don't quite believe it somehow. Plus from a Weight Watcher's perspective, bottles and cartons of smoothie tend to be quite pointy.

When I saw the Foodies 100 were working with Almond Breeze Almond Milk to find great breakfast smoothie ideas and recipes I jumped at the chance. I'd never actually tried almond milk but at only 2pp for up to 330ml it seemed like a great addition to smoothies for not a lot of points.

Tropical Green Smoothie
This smoothie is the perfect post workout, refreshing, Saturday morning smoothie for me. It was a little time consuming in terms of prep which is why its more of a weekend recipe for me, but I enjoyed a nice big glass after my zumba class and felt ready to take on the world.

print recipe
Tropical Green Monster Smoothie
Ingredients
  • About half Pineapple
  • 1 whole Mango
  • a good handful Spinach
  • 330ml Almond Milk
  • handful (6-8 cubes) Ice
  • Squeeze of Lime juice
Instructions
Bung it all in a blender and blend until smooth. My blender is very old and a little past its best so I pre-crushed my ice to help it along.

I do love adding a handful of spinach to smoothies, it makes it an almost alarming green colour and really doesn't taste of anything! Great way to sneak some extra iron into my diet.

Blended Coffee Smoothie
I decided to try a second recipe which would be better for a weekday morning. I am a big fan of blended coffee drinks from Starbucks, especially on a sunny spring day on my way to work. However, the sugary mixture they use does not appeal, and the cost is more than I would like.

So, I set about making my own version with Almond Breeze.

print recipe
Blended Coffee Smoothie
Ingredients
  • 120ml Brewed Coffee with one teaspoon of sugar added
  • Almond Milk 250ml
  • a dash Almond essence or syrup
  • a handful Crushed Ice
  • half a Banana
Instructions
Bung it all in a blender and blend until smooth.

My first attempt at this smoothie resulted in a weird combination of slushy ice and watery coffee, it just didn't seem to want to blend together! It reminded me of when you make butter and it suddenly splits!

I took to google to find out what I was doing wrong and discovered that my sad little blender was not powerful enough! Some tips to overcome this problem was to add sugar or something to thicken it. So I decided to add a teaspoon of sugar to my coffee and half a banana, and it worked a treat! The banana added a bit of weight to the drink, without it being overpowering. I will definitely be making this in the summer.

Do you enjoy a nice smoothie? What combinations do you like?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

5 Top Tips to Eating out on Special Occasions.

Valentines is upon us folks, this is no a drill. If you have forgotton to buy a card, go out now... I'll wait for you. *whistles*

Right, back to the post now.

Lots of your are probably planning meals out with loved ones. If you are not planning anything for Valentines, this post is just a relevant for birthdays, anniversary, Friday nights etc... Basically any special occasion where you are eating out and have zero control over the food.

You can handle this one of two ways, either say f**k it! is a special occasion and accept how that may be reflected on the scales, or try you best to eat well and use the tools available to you to make the best choices. I am personally a fan of both options and tend to settle for a mixture of the two. In January I went for a romantic meal out with the boyfriend, I had three courses, enjoyed every minute of it and still managed a loss on the scales that week.

Here are my 5 top tips for handling eating out without being a diet-bore.

1. Research the restaurant beforehand.
Most places have menus online nowadays or if it is a chain restaurant a lot of places are in the Weight Watchers database. I would highly recommend sending time checking out your options. I found being prepared made me feel a lot more in control as I had an idea of the points in each option and made an informed decision.
You didn't need to sit worrying or checking the online app when you should be conversing or making googly eyes at your loved one.

2. Don't arrive hungry
It is tempting to not eat much through the day to save your points for the meal out, in my experience this is not the best plan. Arriving at the restaurant ravenously hungry usually leads to me devouring the bread basket, wolfing down my food, and not actually enjoying what I am eating! I find that some zero point soup or fresh fruit in the afternoon is a good way to fill up before going out. I am not saying fill up completely but simply don't starve yourself all day.

3. Restaurant Hacks
My local Italian restaurant offers any pizza or pasta dish in a half portion, served with salad or chips. So you could still have our favourite pizza or guilty pleasure pasta for half the points! A little bit of what you love, with plenty of fresh salad on the side. So absolutely no need to sit and pick at what you think is the healthy option! I know other places offer starters as mains, or will be more than happy to double the veggies with your steak and omit the potato! Just be a bit cheeky, shy bairns get nowt!

4. Get moving
It is surprisingly easy to use your full 49pp weekly allowance on a night out, if you are having wine it is even easier! If I know I am having a heavy night out in a week I make a concerted effort to earn those activity points! Taking the stairs at work, walking to the next bus stop, hitting the gym, squeezing in an extra zumba class... Every little helps! Earn that extra glass of wine or sneaky pud.

5. Sharing is caring
Pudding, my weakness. I always seem to manage to choose the worst possible dessert, double chocolate, whipped cream, caramel, pastry... Yum! I know I could always opt for a coffee or go without but where is the fun in that, it is a special occasion after all. One option during a romantic meal for two is to share! That way you get a few bites of what you fancy! Plus if your dining partner is anything like mine, he will eat most of it.

So those are my top tips to handling special occasions and still having a good time. At the end of the day if you want to go wild and enjoy a nice meal at your favourite restaurant, go for it. Weight watchers is a lifestyle change not a quick fix. If you deprive yourself you are much more likely to not stick to the plan in the long term.

Feel free to share any of your tips below, and have a happy valentines day!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 11th February

Food-wise last week was really boring if I'm honest, although it may just be the inevitable comedown from my exciting trip to Groningen. I thought I'd use this post to show off a few photos of my trip. It really is a beautiful city and I would recommend visiting if you love food and culture. I was mostly working on my trip but I was lucky enough to eat in some fantastic restaurants and squeeze in a little sight seeing.

I was really taken by how relaxed and friendly it as in Groningen, I could really see myself living there. Maybe one day eh?

Anyway, back to the meal plan for this week. I am firmly back to weight watchers this week, I've been doing a lot of exercise recently and feel pretty 'in the zone'.

Monday
Breakfast: Fruit and Activia Yoghurt - 2pp
Lunch: Subway 6" Turkey on Wheat with all the salad and sweet onion sauce - 8pp
Dinner: Chicken thighs with sweet potato wedges and veggies - 14pp

Tuesday
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese - 5pp
Lunch: Avocado & Chicken Salad with french dressing - 10pp
Dinner: Healthy Carbonara with a cheeky mars ice cream for pud - 14pp

Wednesday
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese - 5pp
Lunch: Jacket Potato with light coleslaw and salad - 12pp
Dinner: Homemade Quorn cottage pie with sliced sweet potato topping - 10pp

Thursday
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese - 5pp
Lunch: leftover cottage pie - 8pp
Dinner: No quite decided, but something with chicken breast (Ideas welcome!) - 10-16pp

Friday
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese - 5pp
Lunch: veggie crudities and fruit - 0pp
Dinner: I am going to a Chinese supper club, so have no idea on he points.

My Zumba class isn't on this week so I will have to find other ways to get active, I am still toying with the C25K idea. Someone kick me up he bum and force me to do it please?

I will be tweeting and instagramming my meals using the #WWfooddiary hashtag, as will my fellow ambassadors, so if you need a bit of inspiration, check it out.

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Skinny Pancakes

Next Tuesday is pancake day, or for the more traditional among you; Shrove Tuesday. I think historically it came about so people could use up ingredients before starting lent fasting, but don't quote me on that. In my house everyday is pancake day, or at least I wish it was!

Pancakes are one of my favourite foods in the whole wide world, whether it be thick american style pancakes drowning in maple syrup with a side of bacon or the more traditional crepe style pancake with lemon and sugar. I am pretty sure I could live on pancakes alone.

I do still occasionally make traditional pancakes on weight watchers, and as long as you don't go wild with the sugar they aren't that bad! But like with most food I can't just eat one or two... (hence my need for weight watchers).

So, when I came across the idea for this recipe I was intrigued. It was actually a pin on pinterest with half a recipe written underneath. (btw I hate when people do this, the picture links to the source so you don't need to reproduce it verbatim on pinterest!) These pancakes had no flour and only egg whites which sounded like weight watchers heaven!

The recipe had no measurements so it was a bit of an experiment, I mean, I know a lot of pinterest recipe ideas tend to be wildly inaccurate or overstated - cauliflower mash anyone? *gag*.

Basically I just winged it and was pleasantly surprised! I simply chucked the ingredients into a blender until it resembled pancake batter and cooked it like I would regular pancakes...

print recipe
Skinny Pancakes
A great carb-free pancake recipe.
Ingredients
  • 40g Porridge Oats
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • half a Banana
  • a drop of Vanilla
Instructions
Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.Pour into heated frying pan, this mixture should make 2 medium sized pancakes (quite thick and filling) or 3 smaller ones.Once cooked I served mine with warm bananas, but you could top them with anything! fruit and yoghurt, nutella, sugar and lemon... What ever you fancy
Details
Total Propoints: 5

The batter was very thick so took some encouraging to pour but the end result was delicious!

I think on their own they might be a little dry, perhaps a splash of milk added to the batter would of helped. Although with a syrupy or yoghurty topping they work a treat!

So there you have it! A fantastic low carb and low propoint breakfast treat!

If you are looking for some other fantastic pancake ideas, check out thisgreat post from Sarah (Maison Cupcake) on Baby Centre. 13 fabulous pancake recipes from some great bloggers!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The most important meal of the day...

So Breakfast; the most important meal of the day and all that jazz. I was never much of a breakfast eater in the past, eating first thing in the morning always seemed to leave me ravenously hungry by 10am. Don't get me wrong, I love breakfast food, just not in the morning.

For the first 4-5 weeks of Weight Watchers I made a point of eating breakfast as they do say it helps kick start metabolism and mine needs all the help it can get!

On weekdays I tend to stick to porridge, working in an office with a limited kitchen and limited time to prepare anything Oat so simple sachets are a god send! Just 3pp for the sachet and 2pp for the milk.

I tend to spice things up a bit with toppings though, a vast array of fruit have turned a rather boring bowl of oats into a taste sensation I actually look forward to! My favourite combination so far has been peach and passion fruit.

On a weekend I tend to eat breakfast around 10:30-11:30, so it is more of a brunch really.
My latest obsession is a fried egg on toast, nothing in this world is more satisfying that spreading a runny yolk on warm buttered toast! And for just 7-8pp its a propoint bargain!

Although, if a little hungover or under the weather of a weekend I do like a nice green monster smoothie! which is basically any fruit you have handy, mixed with either milk or yoghurt, ice and handfuls of spinach! Surprisingly filling and tasty.

I do love my porridge and eggs but will be shaking things up in the coming weeks. I want to try and develop the perfect point-friendly pancakes, and quite fancy trying Weight Watchers bagels with a variety of toppings; smoked salmon and cream cheese anyone?

This is what I love about doing weight watchers, hardly anything is off limits because as long as you track it you can have it! There are some great weight watcher friendly recipes here.

What do you like for breakfast? Always looking for new recipes or ideas, feel free to post any of your breakfast blog posts below.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Move more, sit less.

Working in an office is not the most ideal environment for an active lifestyle. Sitting for long periods of time and being surrounded by temptations can be challenging. Those who work in offices will know that it always seems to be someone's birthday or celebration of some kind, which means I am never more than 20 paces from cake at any given time.

I feel so rude always saying no to cake, or the odd biscuit so to counter-act any (tracked and allowable) treat I have I try to up my activity levels.

When thinking about upping my activity levels I started researching various exercise classes, local gyms and ways to squeeze these things into my schedule. However, after talking to my fellow Weight Watchers blog ambassadors and the friendly folks of twitter I realised I could fit activity into my day on a seemingly smaller scale and it could still impact my weight loss.

I decided to try out my handy Weight Watchers Pedometer Plus, I'd always been put off pedometers as the idea of wearing a little pager-like device on my belt was hardly the fashion statement of the century. But, after reading the pamphlet which came with the pedometer I realised I could wear it in a pocket or (as I chose to) on my boot. (see picture)

So, the first day I simply walked my regular amount and earned around 3pp, which was OK but it wasn't long until my naturally competitive side kicked in and I started trying to better my number each day. By the end of the week I was earning 5-7pp a day just getting off the bus a stop or two early, taking stairs instead of the lift and taking a lunchtime walk!

The thing I like about the pedometer is you have tangible evidence of how far you have walked and how many points you have earned. I am inherently lazy at heart and when not wearing the pedometer I tend to hop on a bus for just two stops or grab the lift as opposed to the stairs (even for just one floor!). Wearing my pedometer is like having a little weight watchers robot spurring me on and keeping me on the straight and narrow.

After having a terrible off week last week due to a work trip I am pledging to earn 4pp a day this week through walking, lets hope it makes a difference to the scales! Wish me luck!

What do you do to help increase your activity levels? I am always looking for exercise suggestions or tips for someone as unfit as I am! I am also contemplating starting the C25K programme, anyone done it? Tips and advice always welcomed!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 4th February.

I had a wonderful week away last week in Groningen, although in terms of my diet it was dreadful... Dreadfully delicious. *guilt-face*

Back on the straight and narrow today though, and here is my plan for the upcoming week!

For breakfast and lunches I will be having porridge and fruit, and a selection of salads, soups and leftovers.

Monday
Dinner: Leftover Turkey Chilli Pasta Bake - 13pp

Tuesday
Dinner: Sausage and bean casserole - 11pp

Wednesday
Dinner: Leftover casserole with mash sweet potato - 12pp

Thursday
Dinner: Chicken Thighs with roast vegetables (and mash for Paul) - 14pp

Friday
Dinner: Quorn Cottage Pie - 13pp

I will be tweeting and instagramming my meals using the #WWfooddiary hashtag, as will my fellow ambassadors, so if you need a bit of inspiration, check it out.

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.

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