Thursday, 28 July 2011

Love One Another And You Will be Happy - Its as Simple And As Difficult As That...

Hi Guys!
I literally cant even begin to explain how sorry I am for being such a rubbish poster these past few days - I am in the midst of wedding chaos panic and so, despite waking up at 6.30 and going to bed at past midnight I still don't seem to have time to write a post... or even to update my Twitter.
Am I forgivable?
Pleaaaaase say yes and dont leave permanently!
Basically I get married next Thursday and then am off on a Honeymoon (which has yet to be booked!!) the Tuesday afterwards. We have tried to do a wedding as economically and also homely as possible - which I know will be AMAZING but means there is still an awful lot left to organise.
We are having a semi-destination wedding in that we are getting married in the English countryside and staying there until we go on Honeymoon.  Our Honeymoon intentions are Thailand and Laos or Vietnam but - as is probably obvious - we haven't actually formally booked our flights yet. Oh Lordy.
SO suffice to say I think I am going to have to take a little bloggy break and re-pick up when I return from Honeymoon. If I do have any time to post between then I totally will but, as Im guessing you've worked out, Im a tad frantic at the moment.
Also, entirely aside from the time problemos, I literally dont seem to be able to think of anything apart from wedding dramas. Therefore trying to think of interesting things to write posts about has been a challenge. I have these great ideas and then suddenly I'm like 'Oh no - we forgot to find out how to work the video camera' - and I'm off again! For any of you who want to marry but havent yet - I cant tell you what a treat you have in store... :) - For any of you who are already married, I hope you know what I mean. We have guests coming from around the world and I seem to spend most of my day emailing them details. When I'm not at work. Or doing my nutrition degree.
Anyway I do LOVE being busy and I also LOVE LOVE this blog. I honestly cant wait to re-pick it up again when Im back from Honeymoon and Im actually REALLY upset that I feel I have to stop for now. Anyway Im back on the 25th of February so please do check back in then. Im taking my journal with me on Honeymoon and I also look forward to doing lots of recaps and pictures when I return.
Please please do come back - its been so totally awesome getting to know you guys and I hope you ALL have an amazing couple of weeks - really hope to catch up with you all straight afterwards!
All my love! Emmy xox

The First Thing You Lose On A Diet Is Your Sense of Humour

Hiya! I’m so sorry not to have posted yesterday OR to have really upheld my ‘twitter feed’. My hen do was epic – both in terms of fun AND alcohol consumed so, suffice to say, I was feeling a little bit worse for wear yesterday. I had a lot of fun though and was incredibly touched by both the thoughtfulness and of my friends. I only have a couple of photos but once I get more from my friends I'll do a proper re-cap!
One thing I was really pleased with though was that I managed to uphold fairly healthy eating habits, even in the face of my blistering hangover. I ate A LOT – I always do when hungover, dehydration masking itself as endless hunger? – but most of my choices were super healthy. My best friend stayed over and we woke up middayish and headed out to get some snacks. She got stuff for a bacon sandwich whereas I got – get this- ingredients for the massive hummus salad I was craving. Say What? Of course I needed some hangover proper carbs, but I had them in the form of my leftover crackers from Friday night. I also ate some (2 in a row) of these delicious rice puddings with strawberries, plus some more crackers with peanut butter, plus some oatmeal with peanut butter and full fat milk, plus like 5 apples, plus… oh well you get the picture. I was a massive glutton, but I swear I feel better today as a result of being so healthy!
Now my hen do is over though I am realising just how soon my wedding is – help!! I’m really really looking forward to it but I can also feel my old dieting instincts getting more and more desperate to re-surface. I definitely had a few moments of -
‘maybe I could just lose 4 lbs before the wedding and then put them back on again, like if I only ate tuna salad twice a day and then oatmeal and hot water for breakfast I could totally lose 4lbs in 2 weeks and then I could put it back on if necessary so I wouldnt technically be doing anything wrong….’.
NO NO NO! Not only would that be super stupid because I dont actually need to lose any weight - it would also be stupid because mentally I find weight gain such a challenge. If you have my mentality putting on weight is actually harder than losing it.
I do want to look my best though - and there is nothing wrong with that. I just need to remember that looking my best equals looking my healthiest, not looking my most thin. In honour of that I've got to thinking about the steps I can take to ensure I look and feel my best. After years of analysing my response to just about everything I eat, as well as studying for a nutrition degree, I do have a pretty good idea of what works best for me. It's just following it that can sometimes be the challenge. Sometimes those ready meal pizzas look a lot more attractive than the raw salmon fillet! :).
However, this is a very special occasion and I think I can rise to the challenge. When I was thinking about pre-wedding diets I was also thinking about how these wedding photos are going to be something I keep forever - and hopefully show to my children as well. If I have daughters I dont want them to see photos of me maintaining a body weight that is too low for me - I want them to seephotos of me at my healthy weight, looking my best and feeling proud and happy to be me! I don't want them to have a warped idea of what women in my familys natural build is like.
So without further ado these are the health rules - rather than the diet rules! - that I will be trying my very hardest to stick to over the next 10 days. They are about getting my skin and body into the healthiest place possible and will be complimented by a commitment from me not to ever eat less than 1800 calories, or deny myself healthy food when I am hungry, however great the temptation may be.
Old habits may die hard, but at some point they have just got to go! :)
1. No Processed Foods - this shouldn't be too hard as I don't really eat many of them anyhow. But I'm going to throw store bought soups and baked beans - both of which I do eat occassionally - into the mix. I'll make a commitment not to eat anything with ingredient lists that include any additives; preservatives, flavourings, colouring and anything with added salt will all be out the window. This one is really important to me as I know processed foods are the worst things for making my face just look a little 'blah', and anything with added salt seems to activate little cellulite patches virtually immediately!
2. Fill up on Full Fat Milk - sounds a bit weird I know but I find milk to be so sustaining and filling, without ever leaving me bloated. It's also a wonderful post workout food particularly if you have tempermental blood sugar (like me!) - I'll only ever do long runs now if I can make sure I have milk within half an hour afterwards! Whenever I substitute some food for lots of milk I always feel slimmer and find it easier to build muscle, without running risks relating to my hormonal balance. It's a great way of feeling a bit more shapely without decreasing my calories or compromising my health.
3. Eat Oily Fish Every Other Day - have you heard of the face lift diet? I used to do it about once every two months, although I did a much more extreme version where I ate oatmeal and water for breakfast and dry baked salmon with steamed brocolli for both lunch and dinner. Yup, we're talking about 900 calories per day. I will however, admit that is was effective - I do think I looked younger virtually immediately! I now know I don't need or want to go crazy with the restriction, but I am going to try to eat salmon and green vegetables (with generous amounts of olive oil!) as often as my budget will permit it, over the next 10 days.
I will also be trying to pretty much eliminate all refined carbohydrates. I normally have bread a couple of times a week (not counting sprouted breads) and dessert a couple of times a week. I was going to make that one of my 'rules' but then I know what I'm like and I'm sure I would need to break that at least once in the ten days - but I'm okay with that. I'll just keep to fewer guidelines, but ones I know I can stick to. I'll also eating lots of olive oil!
Okay - I need to go get some more sleep – I’m still feeling a bit deprived! I’ll be back tomorrow with the Pad Thai recipe I was talking about before. Although I’m unlikely to have the time to cook it this week (plus I have detox-y style menu plan to live up to and its rather heavy on the salt) it is DELICIOUS and super healthy. If you are craving Thai food I couldn’t recommend it more. Speak soon! xox

Hollandaise I Heart YOU!!

So I'm off on my hen do tonight and I feel so un-prepared! A list of things I still have to do includes;
a) get out of bed :)
b) have some breakfast
c) go the gym for about half an hour and work off some of this nervous energy!
d) douse myself in fake tan, given that I'll be showing lots of skin to the world for the first time in 2011
e) go the hairdresser and get my crazy curls blow dried straight professionally (LOVE HAVING PRO BLOW DRY'S)
f) buy my outfit - 80's theme!
g) buy my wonderful bridesmaids some presents - I really want to give them frames with little photos of us, but I'm not sure where you get e photos printed...?
Yikes - even writing this list is making me nervous! However, since my friends are taking me for a surprise meal in town, which I am super looking forward to, it got me thinking how much freerer I now am with regards to the restaurants I eat in - and how totally emancipating this is. Lets have a quick talk about it!
When I said that me and Louis had made a new years resolution not to eat in chains any more that was partly because Louis is SUCH a foodie, but also partly the result of years of control freak abuse by me. When I was panicking about every little thing that went into my body chain restaurants were my refuge. You see I couldn't entertain the idea of eating out, unless I knew exactly what I was going to be eating so that I could factor it into my daily eating schedule. The idea of being confronted with an unexpected menu utterly horrified me! Plus, lots of chain restaurants now list calorie counts online and even those that don't, I had faith had to follow fairly strict guidelines about how they assembled the foods and you could generally find the information online. But if I'm honest the ones which listed the calorie counts were totally my favourites!
Now I'm all in favour of transparency with foods - and for people who actually NEED to lose weight these sort of things can be a godsend. But if you are just trying to maintain (let alone if you actually should be trying gain a bit!) it is really just a distraction. It wouldn't be so bad or so damaging if chain restaurants actually had a lot of things going for them, but they don't. Chain restaurants are the worst for using poor quality ingredients and they just about always rely on refined carbohydrates. Even ones that build themselves around health claims do -  you know that '9 Grain' bread of Subway's? Well the first ingredient isn't wholewheat at all, its just regular old flour. It is also extremely unlikely that chain restaurants are using fresh seasonal vegetables or fresh fruit. The thing fruit and vegetables are really famous for is their vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients all of which are dependent on them being fresh and grown in nutrient rich soil. I'm not saying Subway vegetables have no benefits, but they are minimal and incomparable to what you would get somewhere that sources food more locally.
Now, the place we are eating at this afternoon I have a no real idea about the menu, let alone the calorie content. I'm pretty sure it serves all day breakfasts and is a good quality restaurant - but that is all I know. However I do know now I'm excited (not worried!) about eating there! I've been informed they source their meat ethically which is a great start both in terms of me feeling okay about ordering it, and also it indicates that they care about the quality of their ingredients overall. This is so much more important for your health than knowing the exact calorific content! My basic strategy is to try and get balanced meal in terms of having a good amount of protein, some carbohydrates (ideally unrefined!) and some vegetables. I refuse to worry about the fat, provided I am eating somewhere I trust that I think uses non rancid oils or, ideally, butter! Today I am hoping to have Eggs Royale with Hollaindaise sauce. If they dont have that I'll do Eggs Benedict or anything with Hollandaise sauce! Either of these will obviously come on a white muffin, but thats a smaller part of the meal and there is plenty of healthy fat and protein in the eggs and salmon (if I get the Royale). If I'm feeling good I'll also get a salad ;)
Now if you have ever googled the average calorfic content of Hollandaise you probably thought there was some sort of misprint - but, no thats what happens when you combine butter and eggs yolks. However, it wouldn't have survived to be so popular if it didnt have something serious going for it in the taste stakes. I had my first bite of Hollandaise with Louis a few years ago - I had NOT googled the calorie content at that point yet :) - and it is safe to say we might not even be together today if that had not happened. I fell a bit in love with both of them at that point. It's just a massive shame I let it leave my life for a few years im-between.
Luckily though, it's back now! But this took time. I mean for years I would only have allowed myself to order Hollandaise about three times per year, in a restaurant I knew the exact calorie content of the servings. Or better still, out of a packet. Ugh. I would never allowed myself to order such a thing in a restuarant that didn't list the calorific breakdown and allowed its workers - God forbid - to eyeball ingredients and use their own chef sense. With a sauce averaging at 300 calories there is way to much room for disaster with that sort of maverick outlook ;)
Oh how dumb that was! People - the French - have been eating Hollandaise sauce for years without any tragic impact in terms of weight or health. Sure they don't eat it every day and its doubtless more of a weekend treat - but that's the same for all of us right? Also, most of the fat comes from eggs yolks and butter - healthy fats that help to manufacture sex hormones and give you strong hair and nails. Butter is also the most stable fat you can cook with. I actually feel a billion times better eating this now, than some low fat stir fry cooked in rancid oil. Yay!
Most importantly of all though, even if they don't have exactly what I want to eat at this Diner that is still totally cool. Because Im no longer limiting my eating enjoyment to the weekends, I don't have to worry so much that everything be perfect, both in terms of taste and nutrition. No need for tantrums any more!
If they don't have Eggs Benedict/ Eggs Royale I can just get another balanced - but treat :) - meal off the menu and even if its not perfect in terms of taste I will be having a great time with my friends, and fuelling myself up for a night of dancing. We need energy - it is not something to be afraid of or bargained with for endless perfection.
Well, reading that I guess I was feeling a bit pensive this morning - realising how nice it is to be free of all these pointless worries- and how important! Writing this blog has been such a good thing for reminding me of these small blessings ....but what was even more fun was the realisation that there is plenty of food out there that I have never even tasted, due to fear, and that is probably just amazing as well.
Heck, if I'm loving on some liver these days the world really is my oyster!! :)
Do you like eating places where you know the menu and the calorie count? Or have you always prioritised eating places you know you will enjoy the food?

And I Cant Cook Either...Not As Long As They Still Deliver Pizza

Thanks so much to both of you who gave comments on improving the blog yesterday – it’s much appreciated! I think I will carry on with the theme of de-bunking healthy foods and lifestyles and encouraging people to nourish themselves in a way that is sustaining and healthy… not low fat, low energy and ultimately depressing. The other really important part of what I want to do is help people find THEIR healthy BMI – for lots of us being under 20 is just not healthy or practical to maintain… and the cost of the obsession is far too great. Trust me.
Good thing the joy of breaking free is so much fun!
I really want to carry on with the food logging, but I will do that through my Twitter account. I’ll basically enter what I eat so people can an idea of the foods I consider to be helpful, and eat regularly … with the occasional blip of course . I’ve started a winenbutter account that is separate to any I have with my friends … so I should avoid overwhelming them with constant updates about me eating sardines!
Today’s post I'm keeping pretty simple though about what I’m having for dinner tonight and how I healthed up a traditional choice.
Tonight is going to be a super quiet one. Louis is still out of town so Im going to drink a teeny glass of wine and rest up in preparation of my hen night – yipppeee!
Now as healthy as I am during the week Friday is always my treat night. I LOVE watching movies on the sofa and nothing goes as well with movies as a pizza. Nothing. It’s also so easy to just shove in the oven – no washing up or preparation required. Even in my dieting years I was always a big pizza on a Friday kind of girl – you can get smaller pizzas that only have about 500 calories (trust me, I know) and I would then chop some fresh tomatoes on it, pour a small glass of wine and call it dinner. Nowadays Im more free about the type of pizza I chose - like I’ll go WILD and get the added ricotta and spinach one for example - but the tradition has remained. I just love pizza.
But then today, I got thinking about it. As much as I’m all in favour of having treat days and letting yourself have what you fancy – I’m also all in favour of making healthy substitutions wherever possible. Healthy subsitutions means fresher and more real – not lower calorie!  I definitely don’t consider pizza an awful product, but store bought pizza really isn’t a great choice. Its totally not fresh in any way and, as much as I love the good occasional dose of sugar, I actually far prefer whole grains to refined flour anyways. Generic pizza dough is not a treat and refined flour is just SUCH a nothing food.
So then I got thinking -  ‘Why don’t I ever health it up a bit?’ I don’t have to go as far as making my own crust or anything (waaaay too much work for a Friday night) I just have to take my favourite elements of the pizza and re-create them with healthier ingredients. By doing this I could even use organic ingredients! I got thinking and here is what I came up with, and bought in the supermarket near work at lunch.
Stuff I Like About Pizza
Cheese and carbohydrate combo!
Toppings – fresh tomatoes, anchovies, jalapenos..
The crunch
The ease of preparation!
Stuff I would improve
Whole grain base
Stronger flavours
More fresh vegetables
Get to eat BOTH goat cheese red onion and anchovy plus chilli and tomato– my two favourite kinds of pizza!
My Pizza Re-Vamp
Cheese and Pumpkin Seed Spelt Crackers – I LOVE the Amisa brand!
Full Fat Philly Cream Cheese– organic might have been ideal but it was on sale!
Full Fat Spreadable Goats Cheese
Fresh cherry tomatoes
Yellow Pepper
Red Onion
Red Onion Relish (already had some!)
Oh my goodness I am SO glad I reconsidered. The total cost of this was £7, but it will serve 2 people (that's me today, and me sunday night after recovering from my hen do!). That's 4 crackers per night - one bunch with cream cheese, tomatoes, peppers and hot mustard dressing - and one bunch with red onion relish goat cheese and some left over spinach. I was going to have a mix both nights but then I got confused half way through assembling and decided it was easier just to split between the nights. I'm a bit simple like that sometimes :)!
Anyway, although these werent a ready meal they took about 4 minutes to prepare. I used one chopping board and I shoved them all under the grill for a minute or two afterwards (weird thing to do with crackers but it worked). Call me strange but I actually prefer these to proper pizza - what can I say I'm obsessed with crunch!
A Pizza Express cook at home pizza costs £3.99 each. That’s a saving of £1 – plus I got some fresh veg servings and all the carbs are wholewheat. Massive result. The only possible downside is it wasnt hot, but sitting in a warm apartment and drinking wine, who cares! I think I will do this pretty much ALL the time from now on. Its weird isn’t it – how you can get so attached to your little unhealthy rituals that you never really even properly consider how you might actually prefer the healthier option
Anyways - this post has taken quite a while, on account of me not being TOTALLY familiar with the inner workings of my I-phone yet. I'm therefore going to leave you know, finish my mini glass of wine and get an early night. Hope to see you tomorrow!! xox

Without The Curry Boiled Rice Can Be Very Dull

Happy Thursday!
Wow - This week has gone by extremely quickly for me. Probably on account of the fact that I am actually willing time to go slower at the moment – I cant believe I get married in 2 weeks – ahhhhhhhh! We have most stuff sorted in terms of the wedding party (caterer booked, booze sorted, sounds system ok etc). The main problems are related to the actual wedding business – we still don’t have rings, Louis doesn’t have his suit, Louis URGENTLY needs a haircut etc etc. If you think I’m kidding I’m most definitely not – somehow we’re hoping it will all pull together – what can I say – we like to live on the edge!

All of this timing means Louis is off for his stag weekend tonight. They are all going on some barge trip through the Norfolk broads. The first night is a boys night out in Norwich, which will consist of beer, more beer and probably Spearmint Rhinos at a guess… ;). The second night one of my best friends (who is a boy so gets dragged on the stag do, instead of my hen do) will be cooking them all a gourmet meal. Since they are all male I’m guessing this will consist of steak, butter, potatoes and more butter. No matter how much of a butter convert I am these days I will never be able to enjoy it as much as Louis. He once used a whole stick (that’s 250g) to make a welsh rarebit sandwich for him and ONE other person. The downside of this story is they both got so ill they couldn’t go to the party they were meant to and had to stay put on the sofa. I kid you not.

Its also my Hen Do this Saturday – yippee!! My friends are doing a surprise thing, so I’m not really sure what to expect. The one thing I know is that me and my bridesmaids (shown above!) are starting at an all day breakfast joint in central London so I can kick off the evening with Eggs Royale and a Bloody Mary. I told you I was obsessed. Eggs are actually seriously one of my favourite foods – the only thing that really compares is Pad Thai and Goats Cheese Pizza, but neither of those feel like a very elegant thing to kick off a night with. Besides, ever since I’ve started making my own Pad Thai, cheap restaurant stuff hardly ever compares (how’s that for a brag!?). I make it loads healthier by increasing the egg and vegetables and using cabbage in place of the nutrient dead noodles – I am going to have to share the recipe soon.
For now though, I'm keeping it simple. As much as I love him, I do sometimes look forward to the nights Louis goes out of town. I can relax, cook what I want, watch what I want on telly and refuse to give a flying cr*p about the state of my hair, or the fact that I'm not wearing any make up or that my face has gone neon red from taking way too many liberties with the hot sauce.
Oh, who am I kidding ... I do all that anyway (Louis is a very lucky boy!). But I normally draw the line at dripping curry all down my top and not bothering to slurp up bits off my scarf deal with it responsibly until after Ive finished dinner.
The interesting though is that, although my solo table manners haven't improved any, over the past year my idea of the ideal 'for one' meal has changed considerably. I used to treat Louis going out as massive opportunity to just eat a low fat muffin and a gin and tonic for dinner. It was such freedom to be able to do that and not have Louis hanging over me saying 'You cant just have a muffin for dinner'. Now though - I just cant imagine doing it! For starters I really dont get how I would EVER have been full enough to sleep. Seriously - how did I ever do it!?
Don't get me wrong - I dont do anything too fancy when Louis goes out, even now. I do still like to keep it really simple and comforting cooking wise - but I just make sure Im eating something proper and not just thinly disguised sugar. On the other hand I also make sure I treat myself to more than the standard default egg or sardines meal.
Today I also felt the urgent need to get both some protein and some vegetables in my comfort food. I wasnt really intending to confess this, but all I ate at work today was 2 giant Nana's cookies and 2 pints of full fat milk... I have literally been the worst nutritionist ever! In my defence I was in and out of meetings and the cookies were all I had on hand. I also drank the ton of milk to keep my blood sugar regulated, keep me full (most importantly!), give me lots of easily utilised calcium and keep my general calorific levels in the normal range. It's weird how filling milk is! Anyways stuff like that happens sometimes, and I'm definitely not going to lose sleep over it - but I was determined to have a balanced comforting dinner - not just another full on carb binge! I also wanted something quick. After wandering round the supermarket for about 20 minutes I eventually decided on one of my other default, indulgent dinner - Green Curry.
I don't know about you but I love Green Curry. I have also found it to work really well with my body - its another thing I just feel good after eating! The Weston Price Foundation is very big on coconut milk. Apparently, the medium chain saturated fats found in coconut are only available in coconut and human breast milk and are considered to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities. The fats are also extremely easily assimilated by the body to be used as an energy source and are even considered by many to raise the bodies metabolism (in a similar way to how protein does!).
Now homemade curry is always best, but I couldnt quite face doing something that prescriptive or time consuming. I therefore picked up some of the sauce shown below and heated it up with a big bag of steamed broccoli florets and about 100g of cooked chicken. I added some chicken stock at the end, just to bulk it out a bit and served with some fresh parsley (I'm just starting to realise how amazingly healthy parsley is!), and a ton of hot sauce.
Above is a photo of the Lloyd Grossman sauce I used. The ingredients aren't the greatest in the world (too much sugar!) but at least they are pretty pure and by buying the chicken separately I got to make sure it was free range. I also got to add in more vegetables than I would have found in any pre-prepped soup. Now I didn't have any rice with this, since I was already pretty generous with the grainss today. (Having studied some stuff today about the oxolates in rice and the phyates in wheat inhibiting calcium absorption I decided maybe it was time to give myself a grain break with at least one meal today :) )
BUT I did use the whole jar, plus 100g of chicken and about 300g of vegetables - so the meal was not small by any standards. I cannot wait until I have my new phone so I can actually take pictures of this stuff! Suffice to say it filled 2 giant mugs and I am VERY full right now. Coconut milk is filling at the best of time and made into a mega serving soup it is really something! :) The only downside to all of this is I was going to have my own private dance party, with music I cant listen to when Louis is here... but I think I might need to stay put with a herbal tea and the telly for a while. At least I know I'll sleep well! :)
I feel a Sex and the City re-run session coming on....
Do any of you have default meals you go to when time is short? Have you got any that you find particularly comforting? And are you a green curry fan?

It May Be The Rooster That Crows... But Its The Hen That Lays The Eggs....

Edited to add; I adjusted the quote above a bit - first impression of blog titles and all that... ;)
Good Evening!
Wow. Although the previous posts took a bit more out of me in terms of organising what I was going to say, Im just feeling so glad I wrote them. A couple of you have written super sweet comments about them being helpful - and I also found writing them to be such pleasure! Writing is always such a cathartic activity and it also reminded me to be grateful for finding this new direction - and for sticking with it.
My key example is that last night Louis and I went out to a new American Diner style pub (how's that for an oxymoron!), which opened down our road. It's our New Years resolution to stop eating out in cheap chain restaurants, just because we are pressed for time, and to do almost ALL our cooking at home. We can then save up to go somewhere new exciting about 3 times per month. Obviously these new and exciting places won't always be particularly gourmet - we couldn't afford to to that! - but we want to make sure they are interesting places, or at least not large scale chains. It's also nice for us to do these meals midweek as sometimes, by the time Friday rolls around ,we are both so burnt we just want to collapse with a bowl of chunky soup and a glass of wine. In front of the telly.
So last night I was all stoked to be heading out - I've inserted a picture of the place we went to above. On the way there I realised I would never have been so open about heading somewhere fun on a Tuesday, even a year ago. I would have been scouring the menu to make sure they served salads, and would have had some meagre fat free sandwich for lunch before hand. It was so awesome not to be doing that! But then, even though Ive changed so much, writing that piece was a really good reminder, because I was just about to order my burger suddenly I wondered if I should just get the salad with a steak. Say what!?
Lord knows where that throwback even came from, but then I was like 'NO!' what am I thinking!? Sure, the bun might be refined carbohydrates and probably not even that good - but this is a burger joint. I am not going to be weird about this. So I ordered my burger, and I ate it ALL, and then I had a few bites of Louis Apple and Cinnamon Tart with vanilla ice cream and then I walked home very happy and absolutely nothing bad happened at all.
It was great! :).
Anyhoots, that was a digression.
The main aim of todays post is about quick fix dinners. Time and convenience are the biggest obstacles to eating well in my mind. (It is totally possible to eat well on a budget). This is particularly so if you are aiming to eat in the Weston Price style. Organ meats may well be cheap, but they are not very readily available - and cooking brown rice or other whole grains takes time! It's also difficult to get good quality meats at your average super market.
Enter Eggs. The perfect food.
Eggs are cheap, readily available and incredibly versatile. My supermarket stocks organic eggs ,but I don't think its even heard of free range chicken!. Eggs also happen to have the highest bio value protein of any whole food; isolated whey protein is the only better source. This means they have all 8 essential amino acids, and in proportions that are particularly beneficial for humans. Additionally, they are super rich in vitamin A,D & E (provided you eat the yolk!). Eggs are one of the only food sources of Vitamin D, which is essential for the proper absorption of calcium and hence strong bones and teeth. This is especially useful for anyone like me, who might have a few bone related woes :).
My absolute favourite winter go-to weeknight dinner is 3 soft boiled or lightly fried eggs, on top of a humungous bowl of steamed kale, tossed in a mustard, balsamic and olive oil dressing with a bunch of black pepper. I had it tonight and it just leaves me feeling so good! Kale is super widely available and one of the healthiest, and most filling, vegetables in town. Its also the highest in calcium. I particularly love the way it absorbs dressing - sort of like the way cooked cabbage absorbs wine and butter!
I've inserted a picture of my dinner just above here- please please excuse the appalling quality. Im getting a new I-Phone tomorrow (woop woop!) but until then I'm reliant on Louis to take photos and he had the nerve to go out tonight. This is off my laptop camera.. appetising no..?! ;)
Seriously though.
This dinner is great and it can come together in about 15 minutes flat - including washing up. All you do is steam the kale for about 10 minutes and meanwhile fry your eggs in about a tablespoon of butter and some smoked paprika, if you have it. (Smoked Paprika makes the eggs taste like bacon, a tip I got from here!). The key with frying the eggs is to keep the heat really low - you don't want the butter to burn, just to be sizzling a little. Eggs fried at the right temperature should take about 4 -5 minutes until they are done. And if you haven't had eggs fried in butter for a while, you are definitely in for a treat!
Once the kale is done dress it in a tablespoon or two of the dressing and slide the eggs on top. Finish with black pepper and you'd be very hard pushed to find a more nutritious, quick to pull together, meal!
(Even, getting off my nutritionist pedestal I also know that, on a personal levels, eggs just make me feel good - they are satisfying without being heavy and I actually love them so much that my death row meal would be Eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary.
Don't tell me you've never given that question a thought...?
I love it and its just such an improvement on the Subway Veggie Delite, that used to be my go-to meal).
Also if anybody has any additional good recommendation for nutritious meals that are readily available, if you havent done an organised shop I'd love to hear from you -  Im ALWAYS looking for new ideas!
Speak tomorrow! xox
NB -  there are one or two caveats to this being the perfect meal. Obviously; this is the nutrition world we are talking about here ;).
Pastured eggs, which are eggs reared from chickens who eat a grass diet, would always be the ideal. Unfortunately, most eggs you buy in a supermarket, regardless of whether they are organic or not, are industrially raised and hence grain fed. Eggs from grain fed chickens have higher level's of Omega 6's (on account of the Omega 6's in the grains they are fed) and you basically want to avoid consuming too many of them. Eating too many Omega 6's will offset your all important Omega 6/Omega 3 balance and can also lead to internal inflammation. The problem is that, faced with your average small scale supermarket, you don't really have many better choices! All grains are high in Omega 6's anyhow, and just about all the meat in any average supermarket will be from grain fed stock. Alternating your egg consumption with a salad made from tinned beans is one idea (tinned beans are a pretty healthy food, they are just a little dull sometimes), and eating decent amounts of fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and oily fish can also lower inflammatory load overall. Basically don't worry about it too much - just be aware that by eating industrial eggs you are not eating quite as healthy a food as a pastured egg would be, and make the effort to seek out pastured eggs as and when it is an option. :)
The kale is pretty much fail safe, although people with thyroid issues want to ensure it is cooked (which it is in this recipe!) and might also want to be careful around amounts..

Simple Pleasures Are Always the Last Refuge of The Complex

Hi There!
Time for Part 4. I hope I've given a pretty thorough summary of all the ways my life was being crippled by both my diet habits and my whole health outlook! If you want more information just let me know ;). The challenging part is that even though all this stuff was going on - even though I was making all these compromises - because I wasn't actually really underweight, and because so many of my habits co-incided with what people are told is healthy, I never really got the push to change. I just sort of carried on, aware that I wasn't my best in some ways, but convinced that being super thin made it all worth it. Besides how could a diet of oatmeal and salad be wrong? It's what all the celebrities eat after all!
It was only when I considered the following factors that I really started to change my habits... These things were the push (or neon flashing signs, if you will) that I needed...
I started realising how sick I was making myself;
Well I didn't get sick exactly, but I got my hormones way out of whack. At first I didn't worry about this too much. Annoyingly neither did most medical experts I spoke to. They just asked me if I'd lost weight recently, I said 'yeah a bit' and they just said they were sure it would sort itself out soon. This went on for about a year and a half! They then decided I must have PCOS, as there were signs of some cysts on my ovaries in some scans. This was despite the fact that I wasn't overweight, I didn't suffer from excess body hair, and I didn't get excruciating period pains or any of the other classic symptoms.
The PCOS theory meant they did scan after scan, and because some showed I had cysts (most women have cysts at some point in their lives), they re-iterated this must be the cause. The long and short of it is, because I wasn't technically under weight, no-one really considered the idea that my stupidly over the top health regime could be causing the problems. No-one even asked. It was only when I realised that my hormones seemed to sort themselves out a certain times of the year, usually around Christmas, and started doing some research into the Weston Price Foundation style of eating as well as reading books like 'The Diet Cure' that I began to accept what was actually happening. A combination of looking at the wrong people to be my body role models, and the wrong people to give me advice about what was healthy, had led me adopt a totally compromised eating style that was damaging me instead of helping me out.
The other health issue related to my bones. I really wanted to sort my hormones out, but the more I read about bone health the more that started freaking me out as well. Having low levels of estrogen is very dangerous and this is not a joke! At first I was a bit like 'osteoporosis/ schmosteoporosis' - my family history meant the only sickness that really concerned me was cancer. I was like 'So what - my bones will be a little weak'. Then I started reading more about it. Osteoporosis does not just leave you vulnerable to breaks - it is really painful pretty much all of the time. If you have ever suffered backache you know how crippling numb and constant pain can be. If you get osteoporosis when you are 60 that is NOT fun. Do you want to work hard all your life, only to be imprisoned and aching throughout your retirement? The answer is 'no, you do not'.
Unfortunately for me, even my short period of not treating my body properly, may have done some damage. I have the beginings of osteopenia in my spine and very slight levels in my hip and neck. Its really difficult to tell whether this is due to my diet or genetic inclination (if you are pale skinned and have a slight build you are more prone), but I know that I don't want to take any further chances.
I got bored;
Bored with worrying, bored with the understanding that I was wasting all my reading time hashing over the same facts, bored with the realisation that I could be learning a billion fascinating facts about the world (or at least stuff that would actually encourage good health) and instead I was just reading about low calorie breakfasts. Or stressing that I ate two servings of fat free cookies instead of one.
I started thinking about all the books I am desperate to read, but never seem to get the chance. (I'm a total bookworm at heart). I then realised if I wasn't re-reading some cr*p macrobitoic mannual I would actually have the time to read this stuff!
I also started thinking about how I would want to look back on my life and youth - what I would want to tell my kids I focussed my time on reading? What would I want to talk about with my boyfriend? Diet plans in glossy magazines or books about different times, different people, different cultures? This is the thing I love about the Weston A Price Foundation and also some of the stuff I learn from Bauman College; it is not just little facts about calories, its anthropology and it's real health. Putting the health side of it into action actually helps me to feel better and helps my mind to work better.
There is also so much of it, that I can learn new stuff all the time and not just re-memorise the amount of fat in a tin of tuna. That's the other great thing about focussing on health and real food studies- its so much wider and its of interest to so many more people. My fiancee will probably never care about juicing beetroot, but he might be interested to know why people in Japan live so long or the politics of fish and the history of fertilizer (okay, that sounds weird but its interesting I swear!). This is even stuff you could talk about on a first date without coming across like some weird version of Victoria Beckham .... which might happen if you start talking about the carbs in sushi. Being interesting is a billion times better, sexier and more of an achievement, than being thin!
I looked to the people I know who are happiest;
This was a big one. For way too long I equated being thin with being happy and confident. I thought if I stopped being so thin I would lose all my confidence. People commented on being thin so much that it became a really big part of my identity and I thought I would be lost without it. All celebrities are thin and aren't all celebrities happy? (The answer to the second part of that is a pretty obvious no, by the way).
Then I started looking around me at my friends, my colleagues, people I knew by association. Sure the ones who took care of themselves were happier on the whole - we live in a kind of shallow society and also being healthy and exercising raising your endorphins. I think being overweight can make happiness more challenging for a number of reasons - but being super thin? No way.
The people who I know who are the happiest seem to be those who build up good social networks, balance hanging out with other people with quieter times and treat other people well (though not the extent of being a dormat!).
Most of all though, they are the people with a good outlook on life. The phrase 'Life is 90% attitude, 10% circumstance' could not be more true. Happiness is a decision - and one that is far easier to make when your body has the nutrients it needs. Although I was always a pretty happy person I realised being thin wasnt making me happy. In fact it was making being happy harder.
(I was also, in my guise as a public sector worker, relieved to realise it wasn't my richest friends who were necessarily the happiest either!).
I started taking an interest in other aspects of my looks;
Okay, this is super shallow and I appreciate that in some way its just replacing one inane concern with another. But hear me out! When I was eating a lot more restrictively, that was my main focus looks wise. I concentrated my effort into being thin and wasn't very inventive (or dilligent) when it came to makeup and hair. I felt I always looked okay, because I always looked thin. Now I no longer have that default it has actually made me a more creative person when it comes to making the most of myself.
When you are very thin you do also feel all clothes look good. (They don't necessarily look good - you just look more like a typical emaciated model when you wear them). It can be hard transitioning from being able to wear literally anything to actually having to consider your body shape. But there is nothing wrong or scary about that! I don't feel comfortable wearing just leggings and skin tight vest tops out clubbing any more. However, I look a billion times better in anything that shows cleavage. I also look more feminine in dresses and it's nice finding things that work with my body shape and accentuate my better features.
Its also nice being able to eat normally when I go to restaurants in afore mentioned outfits.
I fell in love with food;
Yeah, this was the clincher if I'm honest. It started off with me falling in love with a guy who is in love with food, but it ended with me falling in love with food.
Don't get me wrong - I always loved healthy food. I had also eaten a low fat diet for so long, that salad without oil in the dressing actually tastes fine to me. I love frozen yogurt, fat free muffins and all those other diet foods. However, your life is pretty restrictive when you are aiming for under 1600 calories per day and there is only so much stuff you can enjoy. It took a few close together holidays, in places where there was great food everywhere that I loved, but a pretty meagre selection of low calorie delights, to realise life is too short to be on vigilant look out the whole time. To be totally honest though it also took the realisation that I could eat out and I could eat this food, and - so long as I ate plenty of protein and fat and was reasonable about my portions - nothing bad was going to happen. On most holidays I even lost a pound or two (once I reached a normal weight!)
Not only does being more open minded about what and how much you eat translate to more fun ordering in restaurants, it also makes evening cooking a do-able activity. There is something really fun about choosing a great recipe (make sure you use a recipe source whose health foundations you agree with!), putting on some music, opening a bottle of 'cooking wine' and creating your own masterpiece. Plus, if you use butter you wont make all your pans go gnarly! AND if its the weekend you can make a dessert too (just remember to offload the extras onto your friends!).
Wow, looking back at the list I've tried to make it sound so easy. In some ways this is misleading. Once I started the ball rolling it was easy, but I did have definitely have moments of reconsidering. I used to think that everybody would notice every kg I gained or lost (trust me, no-one else cares!) and so I did have a few freakout moments. Its also such an easy thing to revert to thinking about dieting before a special event. This is particularly peritent right now with my wedding coming up! AND there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your total best before a big event. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't going to change my eating habits in the week leading up to my little white dress moment. However, I wont be eating only steamed brocolli and chicken breast, OR doing maple syrup fasts. Instead I'll try to eliminate grains and definitely sugar, and eat plenty of protein and fat - including oily fish which always seems to have an awesome and immediate effect on my appearance.
If you have identified with anything I've said in the past, I really hope you can also identify with some of the tips I've given here. If you need any pointers regarding my favourite recipes to get you obsessed with foods tomorrow I'll give a quick list.
I'll close with the final recommendation that anyone who still needs a conversion to the idea of putting food pleasure first, who lives anywhere (I am talking like a 200 mile radius) near San Fransisco, MUST go to Tartine. It was there that I fell in love with a sandwich, the portrait of which you see below. I would happily look like Roseanne and live in perjury if I could eat that sandwich every day... That was when I knew I had changed :) xox