Curb your Cravings – Christmas Slimming Tips

Christmas Slimming Tips

SPOT THE SUGAR THIS CHRISTMAS!

Temptation lurks around every corner at this time of the year! Supermarket shelves groan with ‘goodies’, special offers abound, everything from Brussels sprouts to bread rolls are presented in larger than normal ‘value for money’ packs and we are often blindly-led to fill the cupboards, fridge and freezer with ‘just in case’ stocks of party nibbles, drinks and festive treats that we don’t even consider from January to November!

Sadly, this bombardment of ‘fabulous festive fayre’ has danger written all over it when it comes to waistline management so how do you get through it without packing on the pounds and having to face the gruelling thought of a super-strict diet just days after the New Year celebrations? Check below for my top list of Christmas Slimming Tips!

Christmas - Tree Baubles

KEEP AN EYE ON THE SUGAR!

Stress levels can reach an all time high in the run up to Christmas with ‘to do’ lists that never seem to get any shorter no matter how organised you are so you likely don’t need the added stress of analysing every morsel or sip that passes your lips but body swerving sugar (particularly ‘added’ sugars) wherever and whenever possible will pay huge dividends.

Here are some top tips:

Find alternatives to fizzy soft drinks. They are loaded with sugar and the ‘diet’ and ‘zero’ versions are no better as the brain regards the artificial sugars in the same way, prompts the pancreas to release insulin so the extra ‘sugars’ in the bloodstream are removed and guess where it generally ends up? In the fat cells! If you need a bit of ‘fizz’, go for 50:50 soda or sparkling water with fresh fruit juice.

Walk past the tin of sweets. Only at Christmas will you find a big tin of sweets or chocolates on the reception desk at hairdressers, nail parlours, banks, building societies, print shops etc. Nice festive thought but no thanks! Mindless eating experiments suggest that every time we ‘see‘ something that is tasty and tempting (particularly sweet things), our taste buds start to tingle and we are faced with the difficult yes/no decision. And, the more often we are faced with that decision, the more likely we are to fall prey to the “well, just this once” response. Solution? Distract yourself however you can and as fast as you can!

Parcel Baked Fish

Recycle ‘sweet‘ gifts. When people arrive at your door bearing gifts of the sugary kind, be effusive in your thanks but unless you are super-disciplined and confident that you can just occasionally have a ‘wee treat‘ before putting them back in the cupboard/fridge – DON’T OPEN THEM! Either get someone to hide them where you are unlikely to find them or give them to your granny, auntie or to charity! It’s not a case of being ungrateful, it’s more a case of self and waistline preservation!

Hone your label detective skills. Anything you buy in packs, cartons, tins etc has to reveal the amount of sugar involved. Look at the ingredients – these are always listed on a ‘most first‘ basis so if sugar, syrup, molasses or anything ending in -ose (glucose etc) or -ol (sorbitol etc) is near the top, put it back on the shelf or regard it as a very occasional addition to your shopping basket.

Look at the nutrition panel. Focus on the ‘per 100g‘ and ‘Carbohydrates – of which sugars‘ section. 10g is high, 2g is low so aim for no more than 4-5g.

Keep it simple on no-party days. The most frustrating thing about sugar is that the more we have the more we want and as the body adapts rather too quickly and eagerly to a sugar-laden diet it doesn’t take kindly to what it regards as ‘slim pickings’. This unhealthy, biochemical reality is largely why waistlines are increasing globally at such a pace and we are seeing such an alarming, annual increase in cases of type 2 diabetes. To stop the rot and ensure you don’t become a sugar-head or worse still, a case study, the kindest thing you can do for your body is have at least 4 sugar-free days a week. So, whilst some prefer to believe that every day is party time at this time of year, make a determined effort to eat ‘fresh and light’ all day when there are no social engagements in the diary or if possible simply graze on fresh fruits and vegetables and light fish or chicken broths and sip herb teas and water for 24 hours. Your liver will love you for it!

Don’t forget soup. It is no secret that I am a big soup fan and for good reason when it comes to keeping an eagle eye on sugar consumption. A good soup, bursting with vegetables, protein and a few herbs and spices seriously dulls cravings for sweet things and makes it a great deal easier to say “no” to the mince pies and other sweet pastries that appear in the office on an all-too-regular basis as we all get into the ‘Christmas spirit’. If you haven’t already got one, goad Santa into coming early and treat yourself to a wide-necked flask, make a batch of our light, delicious and immune-boosting Chinese Little Gem & Chicken/Tofu Soup and take it to the office or when you are out and about and need a bit of comfort and nourishment.

Roasted Vegetables

Deal with sugar snack attacks. When stress levels are high and time is not on your side, your body biochemistry gets skewed and sugar demands can spiral out of control. You probably know at which times of the day these mind-altering incidents are most likely to occur so plan ahead and ensure you have a few ‘saviours‘ in your handbag, briefcase, desk drawer or fridge and have a small snack before the sugar monster has a chance to wake up. A couple of pieces of fresh fruit, a small bag of fresh nuts and seeds, a selection of raw vegetable ‘sticks’, a few mini oatcakes, a small tub of hummus or cottage cheese, a small bar (35g) of dark, 70% cocoa solids chocolate, a cold boiled egg or a jar of Bovril to make a quick, nutritious and warming brew.

Eat before you party. You have likely read this piece of advice before but it bears repeating! Party time invariably involves alcohol, alcohol prompts the ‘munchies‘ and a lessening of resolve and before you know it you have hoovered your way through every delectable bite on offer (both savoury and sweet). It’s much like going to the supermarket when you are hungry – the ‘see food and want it’ scenario can all-too-easily predominate. Don’t risk it – have a protein-rich meal or snack before you go out or if time is really tight, have some sliced cold meat or poultry and a chunk of cheese or a slice of rye toast with peanut butter while you are getting ready.

And, while we’re on the subject of alcohol! Let’s not beat about the bush – alcohol provides very little in the way of nourishment and some ‘favourite combos’ are loaded with sugar. However, if we are in good health, don’t go totally overboard, remember to slurp plenty of water between drinks and have a good few days per week alcohol-free over the festive season, there is evidence that some alcoholic beverages offer good levels of heart-protective plant chemicals and a tipple or two may help to reduce stress which can seriously undermine our health over time. So, at this time of year a little of what we fancy may not do too much damage. Best choices to keep sugar consumption down are rich and fruity red wines, dry white wines, champagne, spirits on the rocks or with soda and/or fresh fruit juices and worst choices are anything with ‘mixers‘ (even the ‘diet‘ varieties), beers, ciders, sherry, port, liqueurs and the majority of cocktails unless they are super sharp and dry with no added sugar or syrups.

Cook ahead for Christmas Day. The main culprits on the sugar front in a fairly classic Christmas lunch or dinner when you buy ‘off the shelf’ are the gravy, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the bread sauce, the roasted root vegetables, the Christmas pudding, the brandy butter and the Christmas cake. Most ready-made products, other than those prepared by small companies, passionate about keeping their products as natural as possible are fairly high in sugar thanks to its amazing preservative qualities which means they have a longer shelf life. Most of the above can be made ahead of time and frozen and when you make them yourself you know just exactly how much sugar is involved!

Parsley Soup with Chicken Nuggets

Play clever with starches. It is vital to remember that starchy carbohydrates (bread, pasta, noodles, rice and other grains, beans, lentils, potatoes and root vegetables are mainly networks of ‘bound sugars‘ so when eaten, the digestive system breaks them down into single sugars before releasing them into the bloodstream to feed our hungry body cells and create energy. However, if your day is largely sedentary you may not need too many of these sugars and if they are not needed, they are stored for later use – as fat! So, to prevent this happening and allow you to keep a grip on overall sugar consumption, go low on the above unless your day is physically demanding and/or work to my ‘seesaw strategy‘ where you only include them in your diet every 4th day. Just make sure that your diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, protein and good fats which will provide plenty of energy and body swerve processed foods and sugar wherever possible.

What are your top tips for staying slim at Christmas? Or do you think it’s best to let your hair down as it’s only once a year? Leave me your thoughts!

Thanks for Reading,

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Drop a Dress Size For Christmas

Drop a Dress Size for Christmas

Drop a Dress Size for Christmas

If you’re looking to drop a dress size for Christmas – I’ve found the perfect plan for you! Nutritionist and author Fiona Kirk has created a 3 week party season diet (adapted from 2 Weeks in the Super Fast Lane diet book) which is an easy to adopt diet that makes light work of being able to drop a dress size and squeeze into that LBD ready for Christmas or New Years eve.

Parcel Baked Fish

Parcel Baked Fish

THE IMPORTANT STUFF!

Shop, cook and freeze ahead wherever possible
Have 2 or 3 good meals per day
Include vegetables or salad in at least 2 meals
Leave 5 hours between meals with no snacks other than fresh fruit or very dark chocolate
Stay hydrated but don’t drink with meals
Only include starchy carbohydrates every 4th day
Exercise for 20-30 minutes per day
Supplement your diet with L-Glutamine (optional)

DAYS 1, 2, 3 and 5, 6, 7

    First Meal of the Day

(anywhere between getting up and mid morning)

2 eggs, poached, boiled, fried or scrambled with 2 slices lean bacon, grilled, a large tomato halved and grilled and 6 mushrooms sauteed in butter

OR

Poached Egg Special (see recipe)

OR

Tofu Towers (see recipe)

OR

A large bowl or tub of freshly chopped, mixed fruit which you can graze on through the morning if you find eating early in the day a struggle

    Second and/or Third Meal of the Day

(no less than 5 hours after your last meal)

Large bowl of ‘bought’ soup (with poultry, meat, fish, shellfish or tofu but no pasta, grains, beans, lentils or potatoes) and a large, lightly dressed mixed salad

OR

If you have planned ahead – Parsley Soup with Chicken Nuggets or Spicy Meatball Soup with My Favourite Warm Salad (see recipes)

If you are eating out – grilled or sauteed lean beef or venison steak, pork fillet, lamb or veal chop, chicken breast/leg, whole fish or fish fillet with at least 3 types of steamed/roasted vegetables or a lightly dressed mixed salad (no pasta, grains, beans, lentils or potatoes)

OR

If you are at home or have cooking facilities – Salmon with Roasted Vegetables or Lemon Ginger Chicken or Parcel Baked Fish or Aromatic Beef/Lamb Stew (see recipes) with lots of steamed, stir fried or roasted vegetables or a lightly dressed mixed salad

OR

If you find 2 meals a day are sufficient and only wish a ‘light bite‘ either around lunchtime or later in the evening, have a colourful selection of raw, baby vegetables or vegetable ‘sticks‘ with a small tub of salsa, guacamole, taramasalata, tzatziki or cottage cheese

Parsley Soup with Chicken Nuggets

Parsley Soup with Chicken Nuggets

DAYS 4 and 8

    First Meal of the Day

(anywhere between getting up and mid morning)

Good-sized bowl of ‘bought’ muesli mix without sugar or dried fruit with semi-skimmed milk or milk alternatives (soya, almond, oat etc), topped with mixed nuts and seeds

OR

Nutty Bircher Muesli (see recipe)

OR

A bowl of porridge made with water and topped with a drizzle of runny honey and powdered cinnamon or nutmeg

OR

A large bowl or tub of freshly chopped, mixed fruit which you can graze on through the morning if you find eating early in the day a struggle

    Second and/or Third Meal of the Day

(no less than 5 hours after your last meal)

Large bowl of ‘bought’ soup (with poultry, meat, fish, shellfish or tofu PLUS pasta, grains, beans, lentils or potatoes) and a large, lightly dressed mixed salad

OR

If you have planned ahead – Light Chicken Broth or Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup (see recipes) with a warm or cold, lightly dressed mixed salad

OR

If you are eating out – grilled or sauteed lean beef or venison steak, pork fillet, lamb or veal chop, chicken breast/leg, whole fish or fish fillet PLUS a small portion of rice, beans, lentils or potatoes and at least 3 types of steamed/roasted vegetables or a lightly dressed mixed salad

OR

If you are at home or have cooking facilities – Crispy-Topped Baked Fish/Chicken/Tofu or Mince and Mash (see recipes) with lots of steamed, stir fried or roasted vegetables or a lightly dressed mixed salad

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

CRAVING A SNACK?

No problem!

No less than 1 hour before a meal or 3 hours after a meal have a couple of pieces of fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie (no yoghurt) or a small bar (35g) of dark 70% cocoa solids chocolate

RECOMMENDED DRINKS

Water (still and sparkling)
Coconut water
Dark, rich, black coffee (no milk or sugar)
Black, red, green, herb and fruit tea (no milk or sugar)
Red wine or dry white wine (max 2 small glasses per day)

Lemon Ginger Chicken

Lemon Ginger Chicken

RECIPES

Tofu Towers

(makes 1 serving)

I canʼt remember where the inspiration for this recipe came from but aubergine, tofu and spices are a great combination and the runny egg completes the dish beautifully.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 slices firm tofu (2-3cm thick)
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
½ level teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon soy sauce
2 thick slices aubergine
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 large eggs
2 large handfuls fresh spinach leaves

Method
• Toss the sesame seeds in a pan over a medium heat until toasted and set aside (donʼt take your
eye off them as they burn very quickly).
• Wrap the tofu slices in kitchen paper and press firmly to absorb most of the water.
• Mix the chilli sauce, ginger, coconut oil and soy sauce and paint both sides of the tofu slices then put them under a hot grill or on a griddle pan. Cook, turning regularly until they are nicely browned.
• Coat both sides of the aubergine slices with oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling or griddling as per the tofu. Turn regularly until cooked through and nut brown on both sides.
• Keep the aubergine and tofu warm while you poach the eggs.
• Quickly rinse the spinach leaves, microwave or steam until just wilting then dry the leaves in
plenty of kitchen paper.
• To serve, put the aubergine slices on a warmed plate followed by the tofu, the spinach, the
sesame seeds and finally the poached eggs.
• If you are merely peckish, one poached egg will suffice. If hungry, opt for two.

Thai Curry Sweet Potato Soup

(serves 4)

Chunky, sweet, savoury and creamy all in one spoonful – this is a soup that takes little time to prepare but offers a lot. One dieter decided to add the prawns, the chicken and the tofu and reports that the result was something rather special and has become a firm family favourite!

Ingredients
250g sweet potato peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 long, thin red pepper, de-seeded and cut into fine strips
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk (not ʻlow fatʼ as it is liable to ʻsplitʼ when heated)
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
3 teaspoons Thai Red Curry Paste
12 fresh prawns or 1 chicken breast cut into long, thin strips or chunks of tofu
50g fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn (also works well with baby spinach leaves)

Method
• Put the sweet potato, red pepper, coconut milk, stock and Thai Red Curry Paste into a large pot, stir well and bring slowly to the boil.
• Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender and just
beginning to fall apart, this will thicken the soup. You can thicken the soup further by mashing
the sweet potato gently.
• Add the protein of your choice and stir over a low heat to cook through. The prawns and tofu will only take a couple of minutes, the chicken slightly longer.
• Stir in the basil leaves and when just wilted, serve the soup.
• You can add more Thai Red Curry Paste before adding the protein if you like a bit more spice

Spicy Meatball Soup

(serves 4)

You can get very creative with the meatballs in this soup and use whatever meat/poultry is to hand. And, if you like a bit of heat, just up the chilli element. Alternatively, leave out the chilli powder and replace the fresh chilli with red pepper for a milder but still very tasty soup.

Ingredients
400g lean minced beef, lamb, chicken or turkey
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely chopped (parsley/oregano/thyme/marjoram)
½ teaspoon sea salt
A few good grindings of black pepper
Good pinch of chilli powder
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 large stalk celery, peeled and finely sliced
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large courgette, sliced or chopped
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
1 litre beef/lamb/chicken stock (depending on your choice of meat)
1 x 400g tinned, chopped tomatoes
100g curly kale/savoy cabbage, very finely sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good bunch fresh parsley chopped

Method
• Thoroughly mix the minced meat/poultry, egg, herbs, salt, pepper and chilli powder in a bowl
with a fork.
• Make around 16 bite-sized meatballs with your hands, lay them on a dish, cover and put in the
fridge while you make the soup.
• Heat the oil in a large soup pot, add the onion, carrot and celery and saute gently until the onion is soft and translucent and the carrots are slightly tender (donʼt let the onions brown).
• Add the chilli, garlic, courgette and tomato puree, stir well and saute for a further 5 minutes.
• Add the stock and tinned tomatoes, bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15
minutes or until the carrots are tender.
• Add the kale/cabbage and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
• Add the meatballs to the soup with a large spoon and simmer gently until they are cooked
through (around 8-10 minutes).
• Check the seasoning and serve; 4 meatballs to a bowl, topped with lots of fresh parsley.

Salmon with Roasted Vegetables

(makes 1 serving)

This works with any ʻmeatyʼ fish (salmon, monkfish, halibut, swordfish etc) and whichever
vegetables you have in stock. Be generous with the vegetables as they shrink while roasting and
any extras can be refrigerated and served cold with a salad or in a lettuce wrap.

Ingredients
A mix of vegetables, rinsed, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks (peppers, leeks,
asparagus, sugar snap peas and baby carrots work well together)
1 tablespoon coconut, avocado or olive oil
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper
250ml fish or vegetable stock
1 salmon steak or fillet (skinned)
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 bay leaf
A good handful of fresh herbs (dill, marjoram, oregano, lemon thyme)
Freshly ground black pepper
250ml fish or vegetable stock

Method
• Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
• Put the prepared vegetables in a bowl, add the oil, a pinch of salt and a good sprinkling of
cayenne pepper, mix well then spread evenly on a baking sheet.
• Place on a fairly high shelf in the oven and roast for 20 minutes before turning and giving them another 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and well-caramelised around the edges.
• Meanwhile, pour the stock into a shallow saute pan, add the onion, bay leaf, herbs, a pinch of
salt and a few good grindings of black pepper and bring slowly to the boil.
• Turn the heat to a gentle simmer, place the salmon on top, cover the pan with a lid or foil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking (cut it in half if you are not sure whether it is cooked right through or not – youʼre not on Masterchef and there are no cameras!)
• To serve, lift the salmon from the pan and serve on a bed of the roasted vegetables.
• You can sieve the delicious cooking liquor and keep it refrigerated for a couple of days for using with other fish dishes or the fish broth (or just sup it on its own whilst it is still hot – itʼs that good!)

Poached Egg Special

(makes 1 serving)

Thereʼs something about slicing through a perfectly-cooked poached egg that is hard to match on
the indulgence front. Make this combo once and you will be hooked!

Ingredients
½ tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1 large ʻbeefʼ mushroom, stem removed and top peeled
1 large free range egg
A handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
½ avocado, stone out, peeled and sliced
2 thin slices smoked ham or smoked salmon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
• Warm the oil in a shallow pan over a medium heat then saute the mushroom for around 5
minutes, turning regularly until well-browned and cooked through.
• Remove from the heat, turn the mushroom gill side up, lightly season, place the spinach leaves
on top and cover with a lid or foil to keep warm (this allows the spinach to wilt a little).
• Bring a small pan of water to the boil, turn it down to barely bubbling, give it a good swirl with a whisk then crack the egg into the middle of the vortex and cook for 3 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and placing it on a few sheets of kitchen towel to absorb excess water.
• Place the mushroom/spinach on a warmed serving plate followed by the sliced avocado, ham or
smoked salmon and finally the egg, season to taste and eat immediately.
• This also works well with scrambled egg if you find poaching eggs a bit of a hit or miss affair!

Parsley Soup with Chicken Nuggets

(makes 1 generous or 2 small servings)

This has become a great favourite with our soup fans. It is crazily-green, bursting with goodness and makes a great ʻto goʼ soup if you flask it. You can also top it with other grilled meats, tofu croutons or toasted nuts and seeds for a bit of variety.

Ingredients
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced/chopped
1 small courgette, cleaned and diced
1 x 28g pack parsley, washed, stalks separated and leaves roughly shredded
1 small clove garlic, peeled and sliced/crushed
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 small bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 small skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized nuggets

Method
• Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a soup pot, add the onion and courgette and gently saute until
tender but not coloured.
• Add the parsley stalks and garlic and continue to saute for a further 5 minutes.
• Add the stock and bay leaf, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the onions and
courgette are soft.
• Add the parsley leaves, bring back just to the boil then remove the pot from the heat.
• Transfer the soup to a blender and blitz until very smooth.
• If it is a little too thick for your liking, add more stock or boiling water.
• Strain into a clean pot, check the seasoning and keep on a low heat until ready to serve.
• Put the remaining tablespoon of oil, a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper in a bowl, add the chicken nuggets and stir until they are well-coated, transfer to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and grill under a medium heat, turning regularly until slightly crisp on the outside but still juicy inside.
• Drain on kitchen or greaseproof paper, ladle the soup into bowls and top generously with the
nuggets.

Parcel-Baked Fish

(makes 1 serving)

Fish was born to be baked in a parcel. All the juices meld together creating a delicious, quick and super-healthy meal. Get friendly with your local fishmonger, buy fish and vegetables in season and add herbs and spices to sharpen things up. This is one of my favourites.

Ingredients
1 white fish fillet of choice
1 generous handful of fresh spinach leaves
1 small onion, peeled and very finely sliced into rings
6 fresh asparagus tips
1 tomato, sliced
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or coriander leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
• Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
• Lay out one piece of aluminium foil about 12-14” square and place the spinach on it.
• Lay the fish fillet on the bed of spinach followed by the onion, asparagus, tomato, chilli (is using) and herbs.
• Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over and season lightly with salt and pepper.
• Fold the foil to create a parcel, leaving plenty of space around the contents, place on a baking sheet and bake for around 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the juices run clear.
• Timing will depend on the thickness of the fish fillet so take a peek after 25 minutes. Be careful when opening the foil as hot steam will escape.
• When cooked, lift the contents of the parcel onto a warmed plate and spoon over the delicious
juices. something about slicing through a perfectly-cooked poached egg that is hard to match on the indulgence front. Make this combo once and you will be hooked!

Nutty Bircher Muesli

(makes 1 generous or 2 smaller servings)

I learned how to make real authentic Bircher muesli whilst working as a waitress in the mountains of Switzerland in my early 20s. Since then, I have been playing around with the revered Dr Maximilian Bircher-Bennerʼs classic, restorative recipe and this is one that doesnʼt include fruit but still has a wonderfully sweet edge.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons oats
140ml coconut water
2 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted or un-toasted)
½ tablespoon Manuka honey
1 tablespoon 0% fat Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons lemon/lime juice
½ apple, peeled, cored and grated
4 fresh mint leaves, very finely chopped

Method
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix really well, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
Serve with a sprinkling of cinnamon powder or grated nutmeg on top.

Mince and Mash

(makes 2 servings)

Mince and potatoes canʼt be beat when it comes to comfort food and I may well be the first
nutritionist ever to recommend it in a super fast fat loss plan! But why not? Good quality protein, rich in iron and other health-giving nutrients, filling and satisfying, downright delicious and cooked this way, waistline-friendly – whatʼs not to love?

Ingredients
250g very lean beef or lamb mince
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons cornflour
250ml beef or lamb stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
500g mashing potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized chunks
25g of butter (optional)

Method
• Heat a non-stick pan over a high heat, add the mince and using a wooden fork or spatula,
brown the mince, separating all the mince morsels along the way.
• Add the onion and continue to stir over a high heat until everything has a nicely-browned edge, add the cornflour, mix in well then turn the heat down a little.
• Add the stock, stir until the liquid absorbs the cornflour, add the Worcestershire sauce, a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper, bring to the boil, stirring continuously then turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer, put the lid on and cook for 45 minutes.
• After 45 minutes, remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium and let the mince bubble away and
thicken.
• Meanwhile, put the potato chunks in a pot, pour boiling water over to just cover, add a good
pinch of salt, bring to the boil then turn the heat down, put a lid on and cook for around 20
minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart.
• When the potatoes are cooked, drain and cover with a tea towel for a few minutes to absorb
some of the steam before returning to the pan, adding the butter if using) and mashing furiously
until wonderfully-smooth and creamy.
• I like the mash on the bottom and the mince on top so the gravy seeps into the mash but feel free to do your own thing!

Light Chicken Broth

(makes 3 generous or 4 smaller servings)

There is not much I can say about this chicken soup other than that it feeds much, much more than the soul! My best friend and trusted soup guru, Jean threw this one together one evening when she had a few chicken thighs that were nearing their use-by date and the rest is now history. Trust me, you could live on this soup for 2 weeks and never get bored with it!

Ingredients
2 chicken thighs, skin on
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
2 stalks celery, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
600ml chicken stock
40g brown rice
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
A generous bunch of parsley, stalks removed and leaves very finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
• Roast the chicken pieces in a medium to hot oven until the skins are crisp and the flesh is
cooked through while you make the soup.
• Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the celery, onion and carrot and saute gently until the
vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes).
• Add the stock and bring slowly to the boil.
• Reduce the heat, add the rice and simmer, covered until the rice is cooked (around 20 minutes).
• Skin the chicken pieces and shred/chop the flesh before adding to the soup with the
horseradish sauce and parsley.
• Stir well and season to taste.
• As rice soaks up a lot of liquid, you will probably have to add more stock or water to achieve the light, brothy experience if you are not supping this soup immediately and have refrigerated/
frozen it for future use.

Lemon Ginger Chicken

(makes 1 serving)

This was an experiment that really worked! The cool, creamy avocado topping married with the
heat of the ginger and lemon grass and the sharpness of the lemon and vinegar takes the
succulent chicken fillets into a whole new place.

Ingredients
3 skinless mini chicken fillets
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 celery stick, finely sliced
2 large tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped or a small can (200ml)chopped tomatoes,
sieved to remove the liquid
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon lemon grass paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ ripe avocado, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
Chilli powder (hot or mild)

Method
• Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
• Place the chicken fillets on a piece of baking foil large enough to form a loose parcel, lightly season, add a good splash of oil, scrunch all the edges of the foil together, place in an ovenproof baking dish and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear then set aside, covered.
• Warm the oil in a small saute pan, add the onion and celery and cook gently until they are soft but not browned.
• Add the tomato, ginger, lemon grass and vinegar, stir well and continue to cook over a medium
heat until the vinegar starts to evaporate and the sauce becomes like a paste (around 5-7
minutes).
• Add the coriander, season to taste, mix well, turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan.
• In a small bowl, roughly mash the avocado with a fork, add the lime/lemon juice, lightly season and mix thoroughly.
• To serve, spoon the sauce onto a warmed plate, place the chicken fillets, finely sliced on top
and finally the avocado.
• Lightly dust with chilli powder.

Lemon Ginger Chicken

One of My Favourite Warm Salads

(makes 1 serving)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
½ red pepper, de-seeded and finely sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 skinless chicken breast, carved into bite-sized slices
Crunchy lettuce leaves
Baby spinach leaves
Cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and thinly sliced
Carrot, peeled and grated
Courgette, wiped and grated
Large tomato, sliced or quartered
½ avocado, stoned, peeled and sliced
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse grain or Dijon mustard
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Method
• Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden.
• Saute the peppers and spring onions in the oil until soft and slightly caramelised
around the edges then remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
• Add the chicken to the remaining oil and saute gently until cooked through but still
juicy.
• Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small pan or microwaveable dish and very gently
heat through.
• Meanwhile, load the lettuce, spinach, cucumber, grated carrot and coriander into a
salad bowl (be generous!)
• Top the salad with the hot onions and peppers followed by the hot chicken and finally
the tomato, avocado and pine nuts.
• Drizzle the warm dressing over the whole dish but don’t soak it, sit yourself down and
enjoy.

Crispy-Topped Baked Fish, Chicken or Tofu

(makes 1 serving)

How do you turn a dull dish into a tasty dish? Give it a topping! Get into the habit of making this topping (which can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen), put in a little more or less of any of the ingredients or experiment and you can sharpen up just about any meat, poultry, fish, shellfish or vegetarian dish.

Ingredients
1 white fish fillet or
1 slice of tofu (around 2cm thick) or
1 medium-sized skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon oats
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive or coconut oil
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 heaped teaspoons tomato puree
1 medium-sized tomato, sliced
15g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method
• Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 then in a small bowl, mix the oats, parsley and
lemon juice, lightly season and set aside. Warm the oil in a small saute pan and cook the spring
onions over a medium heat until soft then add the tomato puree and mix well.
• For fish or tofu: Place a sheet of baking foil in a small oven-proof dish, place the fish or tofu in the middle and pull up the sides of the foil so you create an open-topped parcel.
• Top the fish/tofu with the spring onion/tomato puree mix, arrange the tomato slices on top and
finally the oat mix (donʼt close the parcel) then place the dish on a middle shelf in the oven and bake until cooked through. Thin fish fillets and tofu will take around 5-6 minutes, thicker/denser fish fillets will take around 8-12 minutes. Have a peek and check that the fish flakes nicely and the juice is clear.
• Remove from the oven, turn the oven off and the grill on (to a medium heat), scatter the cheese on top, grill on the lowest shelf until the cheese melts and is just beginning to brown (around 5 minutes) then with a fish slice, lift the fish/tofu onto a warmed serving plate and spoon over the cooking juices.
• For the chicken: Place the chicken on the foil, lightly season, add a splash of oil, scrunch the foil so it creates a loose but sealed parcel and bake for 10 minutes then open up the parcel, top as per the fish/tofu and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through. Continue as before and serve.

Aromatic Lamb/Beef Stew

(makes 2 generous or 3 smaller servings)

It’s all about the long, slow cooking here. Even those who have an issue with ‘healthy’
alternatives love this stew and it’s even better if you leave it in the fridge for a day or freeze and bring it back to the table. Careful though, the temptation to mop up the juices with crusty bread can be hard to control!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
400g lean lamb or beef, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Lamb/beef stock
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 level tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon saffron
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Manuka honey (optional)

Method
• Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan, tossing until golden then set aside (watch
them as they burn very quickly).
• Put the meat in a medium-sized pan, barely cover with stock and add the onion, oil,
saffron, ginger, coriander and cinnamon.
• Stir well, bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer very gently until the meat is very
tender and the liquid has become a rich sauce (about 2 hours but check after an hour and
a half and add more stock if necessary).
• Season to taste, stir in the honey (if using) and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
• Cool and refrigerate/freeze at this stage if desired.
• Garnish with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

The 3 Week ‘Party Season’ diet is adapted from and champions the principles of the 2 Weeks in the Super Fast Lane diet by nutritionist and author Fiona Kirk. For more details see www.fatbustforever.com

Thanks for Reading,

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If you love baking check out my new book ‘How to Start a Successful Cake Business‘ – now available on Etsy and Amazon Kindle Store

Sponsored Post: Christmas Party with #Lidlsurprises

Christmas Party with Lidl

If you’re like me, now we’re approaching Christmas, there will be a lot of festive occasions to attend on your social calendar. Over this past weekend I’ve had both a 21st Birthday Party and Christmas get together and as I was nominated to cook for both occasions I decided to have a little fun with my guests and serve them (unknowingly) a top notch Christmas style buffet from none other than Lidl! Below are some of the photos from the two events with a festive flavour plus my guest’s reactions once they found out it was a #Lidlsurprises buffet. For more inspiration and Christmas Recipes head on over to the Lidl website.

Currently there is a wide range of Christmas foods available in store under the ‘Deluxe’ brand so it was much easier to hoax my guests as they cooed over the table of nibbles. My guest’s ages ranged from eight to seventy and anywhere in between so I needed to cater to all tastes and dietary requirements.

For savoury foods some hits from the Deluxe Chilled range included the British Cheese Board, Scottish Oatcakes, Scottish Biscuits for Cheese and Italian Prosciutto. Plus favourites from the Deluxe Treats range included Strawberry & Cream Mini Shortbreads, Luxury Fruit and Nut Mixes plus Baklava (seriously, buy two packs of these (or more!) – they were gone in seconds!)

For dessert we also enjoyed a Deluxe Frozen Tarte Aux Framboises which easily served more than our 11 eleven guests and was fab with a splash of cream.

Lidl Christmas Buffet

Lidl Vegetable Crisps

Lidl Buffet

One guest reaching for another Baklava!

Lidl Deluxe Chilled Desserts

Our delicious desserts – these went down a treat with all ages!

Tarte Aux Framboises

There were a lot of guesses of where the food was from and when I announced it was all from Lidl, people were so surprised (even dumbfounded in some cases!) with one person saying they’d “never guess it was from Lidl, it’s superb” and another saying “the quality is fantastic, I”ll be getting some more bits in before Christmas!”

You might recognise this Christmas ad below from TV. Just like my guests, these guests had a hard time guessing where their Christmas drinks were from!

n.b. Products are available until stocks last, all prices are correct at time of publication and prices may vary by store.

All in all, I myself was blown away by the quality of the Lidl products and especially loved the cured meats and chocolate nut selections and I think just maybe I’ll be leaving out a Deluxe Baklava instead of a mince pie on Christmas eve so that Father Christmas can have a #lidlSurprise of his own this Christmas!

What Christmas food from Lidl will you be trying this year?

Thanks for Reading,

Twitter | Facebook | Bloglovin’
If you love baking check out my new book ‘How to Start a Successful Cake Business‘ – now available on Etsy and Amazon Kindle Store