Thursday, 19 November 2015

Slimming World Friendly Recipe:- BBQ Cheesy Chicken Casserole

This is a perfect winter warmer and is another variation of my popular BBQ Chicken Stacks. A rich BBQ sauce with bacon and plenty of speed veg gives a filling and super easy weeknight meal.

Serves 4

Extra easy Syn Value:- Free

Healthy Extras:- A

You will need:-

4 large chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
8 rashers of bacon- all visible fat removed
160g extra light cheddar cheese (40g per person)
10 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp mustard powder
2x 500g passata
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 tbsp sweetener
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 peppers, diced
mushrooms, chopped
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 a bag of frozen vegetables
200ml made up beef stock

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/Gas 3

Mix together Worcester sauce, mmustard powder, vinegar, garlic, sweetener, passata and smoked paprika to make the sauce.

Add all the other ingredients to a large casserole dish and mix.  Add the lid and cook in the oven for 2-2.5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and place back in the oven for a few mins until the cheese has melted.

Serve with salad and wedges

L x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review:- Tefal Optigrill & Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Recipe

I am starting to love a good kitchen gadget! I've gone from having barely any to having too many to fit in my cupbaords! Currently my 2 favourites are my slow cooker and my Tefal Actifry, both perfect when following a heath eating plan.

I have previously used an electric fat reducing grilling machine, but gave up using it after it was so hard to clean up!  When I was asked to review the new Tefal Optigrill I was SOOOOO excited to try it out and come up with a yummy recipe to use it for.

The Tefal OptiGrill is an electrically heated grill similar-similar to the George Foreman fat-reducing grilling machine.  Tefals offering is said to cook the perfect steak every time, cooked exactly to your liking  without needing to constantly check and worry about over or under cooking. The OptiGrill boasts automatic sensor cooking, so the grill can adapt its cooking temperature depending on the thickness of the meat, promising to cook evenly. This is coupled with an LED Cooking Level indicator that alerts when food is cooked to your request. It changes colour to indicate whether the meat is rare (Yellow), medium (Orange), and then well done (Red). The indicator beeps at every stage of the cooking process and if you are aiming to prepare something well done and forget about it, the grill moves into a warming stage and stops cooking!

The unit itself is actually quite large and in my small kitchen I could barely open it all the way due to my kitchen cupboards, but it was totally worth it. It's really simple to set up and just as simple to use. You start by selecting your meat from the options on the front, let it heat, add you meat, close the lid and let it do it's work!  I tested it out first with some chicken breasts and because it's large I could fit around 4 on the grill with room to spare, and despite being worried about letting it cook chicken for me, it cooked all 4 breasts until they were succulent and delicious.

I have used it multiple times since and it hasn't let me down yet.   The drip tray ensures all excess fat is collected, and the shape of the grill means it all sides straight in there.  The grill plates themselves are removable so really easy to keep clean, which is a major plus for me.  I would really recommend this grill, check out their website for more details.  Here's my favourite recipe for the Tefal OptiGrill!

Positives:- Cooks food perfectly, easy to clean, large enough to fit plenty on it, turns off when finished cooking, senses how to cook dependant on meat, tells you when it's finished cooking. 

Negatives:- Large and bulky, harder to store and is really tall when open

Review:- 5/5
This is every slimmers best friend!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken & Tex Mex Chips

You will need:- 

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
salt and pepper to taste
2 jalapenos, diced (if you like it spicy add more, if not add less!)
75g extra light cream cheese
2 tbsp fat free fromage frais
2 tbsp grated parmesan
8 slices bacon, all fat removed
1 garlic clove, chopped


Lay the chicken breasts out flat, ready for stuffing.   Ensure all the fat is trimmed off your bacon!

Mix the fromage frais, cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, salt, jalapenos together. 

Spoon half of the mixture into one side of the chicken breast, fold over to seal.  Wrap the bacon around the chicken to cover in full and make sure there are no gaps!

Select the chicken option, let the grill heat. Add the breasts and shut the lid, let the grill do the work!

L x

Exciting new restaurant launching Novemeber 2015 in Exeter!

It’s All About The Base + Barley !

I always love the inside scoop, especially when it comes tonew restaurants! Exeter’s foodie scene is growing as Base + Barley is set to serve sourdough pizza and craft beer with a hefty dose of style.

Freshly risen sourdough, clouds of flour in the air, a great range of craft beers, wines and cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere:  Base + Barley will disrupt Exeter’s foodie scene when it opens in late November.

The Base + Barley team have taken two old staples back to their roots – pizza and beer. Sourdough pizza will be made fresh and flavourful with carefully sourced toppings. It’s all about the base, as the sourdough is prepped the day before with finest grade 00 flour and baked to order.

Equally important is the beer. Featured beers are hand-brewed in small batches by local yeast gods who love their barley and hops.

The vibe at Base + Barley will be buzzing and busy, it will be a destination for families looking for a relaxed lunch, friends catching up over dinner and students starting a fun night out. The aim is to offer a simple but well crafted menu with very reasonable prices - the artisan pizzas will all cost £6.95 - £8.95. There will be no reservations, so anyone in the mood for good food and good times will be able to drop in for a great meal.

The restaurant will open on Longbrook Street in November 2015 and will seat 150 diners. The spacious unit will be decorated with contrasting wooden benches and neon lights, with hand drawn illustrations featured throughout the decor. The cool and casual bar will be distinct from the restaurant area, so people looking for a drink with friends will feel welcome even without ordering food.

This level of creativity and, some might say, obsession, wouldn’t come from just anyone. One of the founders of Base + Barley is local Devon boy Joe Hill. Joe already has a successful portfolio of Espresso and Wine Bars with Artigiano ( read my review of their amazing cocktail experiance here!!), which has five locations across England and Wales. The foodie entrepreneur has had great success with his day to night hybrid concept, and is hoping to stamp his personality on this beer and pizza venture with an ambitious national expansion plan.

Base + Barley Managing Director Joe Hill said:

“People care more than ever about how their food is made, and our pizzas could hold their own in the back yards of Napoli. I can’t wait to see Base + Barley full of life as diners embrace the laid back and stylish atmosphere. Exeter is becoming known as a foodie destination, and I am very excited to add something fresh and fun to what’s on offer.”

I am super excited to try it out, check back here for updates!

Monday, 2 November 2015

#5WeeksTo5k Week 2 Update

Read my original post here, and week 1 update here!

Week 2 programme:- Week 2 is all about assessing where you are at. Please do not compare with others, this is about you. Run 1 - how far can you move in 30 minutes, use a phone app, sports watch of map to measure. Run 2 - nonstop test, how long can you jog before you needed walk, 30 seconds? 2minutes? 5minutes? Slow right down to make it easier. Run 3 - time on your feet, stay out for as long as you feel happy with 45 minutes to an hour if you can. Good luck

I am now at the end of week 2 of my #5weeksTo5K challenge, and I can honestly say that I am actually starting to enjoy this now! This last week I have been on a 10-6 shift and the change of clocks has turned 6pm into pitch darkness, so running after work was out of the question! While I could have got up early, I actually prefer to have the extra time to myself in the mornings- it makes up for finishing at 6!

I decided that for all the above reasons I would go for a run on my lunch hour instead, that way it is done and dusted.  My first run was a bit of a tester, I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get out and back so it wasn't as far as usual. I actually found it really beneficial, I ran 2-2.5 miles so that I had enough time to get showered and ready again afterwards, and while it took up my whole hour of lunch I felt so empowered when I had finished, and had extra energy to see me through the rest of my shift.

I also started tracking my runs using the Nike Running App.  It tracks your route and times for you, and also gives you little records and achievements, giving something extra to aim for. This week I set and smashed a record! I managed to keep running for my longest time on run 2, nearly a whole mile,  and was so proud of myself!  I may not be fast paced, and I may have to have the odd 30 second walk but I am out there and doing it! Here are my runs and records:-

Run 1, Monday lunchtime  (couldn't get my app to work at first, I did longer than it says!)

Run 2- Wednesday Lunchtime 

 Run 3- Slightly hungover Sunday morning run! (My phone battery died on the way back so it cut off)

You can join the next program, which starts in January 2016, for just £25!  Read more here

#5weeksTo5K - Week 1 Update

If you follow my social media you may have noticed I am taking part in a special challenge, set by Julie from the Fat Girls Guide To Running. You can see my other post about this project here

In the Spring 2015 Julie appeared on ITV's This Morning and led 3 special ladies and the rest of the nation on a 5 weeks to 5k programme based on her best selling book of the same name. The ladies did incredibly well with all of them achieving thier 5k goal and all of them still enjoying a more active lifestyle as a result (One lady has just received news of her London Marathon ballot place)
Unlike other popular running programmes available this one deals not only with how to run but with the psychological issues new runners face when starting out, the barriers that stop us from getting out the door and it gets participants to face their fears and then do it anyway. It helps you Face your fears, establish a running habit, build in confidence, explore your environment and prepare for and succeed in finishing a 5K event.

So, how does it work?

By signing up to the program you are invited to join a closed Facebook group. You will receive a 5 week to 5k planner to stick to your fridge, so it is always in your conscience! You will get weekly motivational videos from Julie and will be set weekly and daily mindset and running challenges.
I have been in the group for 2 weeks now and I am already on week 2!  The group itself is really helpful and full of lovely ladies full of encouragement. There has been a few days where I really didn't want to go out, but seeing all the other members posting their runs, distances and times makes it much easier to do, and leaves me feeling way more empowered.  You are actively encouraged to post updates on your progress within the group, which I think is amazing.  It would be really easy to not do anything or skip a day, but knowing that everyone is in the same boat and probably feeling the same really helps me, plus it makes me feel like I would be letting everyone else down as well (giving extra motivation!)

So how have I found it?

 Week 1 was all about getting into the habit of going out 3 times, without pressures of distance or speed.  I took my dog out with me for extra support (if you can call it that?!) and got all my gear on. The first outing was for 20 mins, with the time increasing on each session.   Session 1 was a brisk walk, 2 was some walking and jogging and 3 was also walking and jogging.  So far so good!
Week 2 is about setting a standard, I'll update you again next week!

You can join the next program, which starts in January 2016, for just £25!  Read more here

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Slimming World Friendly Recipe :- Creamy Chicken Casserole

It's the end of October, the clocks have changed back and the nights are drawing in. This is the time I love to start eating winter warmer meals like casseroles, stews and pies. What's even better with meals like this is that you can chuck everything in a dish or slow cooker and let it do its work!

Serves 4

Extra easy syn value:- 2 per serving 

Healthy extra:- None

You will need:-

4 Medium Chicken Breasts
A few carrots, chopped
1 Large Onion, Diced
1 Small Leek, chopped
Mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
(as much veg and speed food as you can add really!) 
2 Chicken Oxo Cubes, made up in 2l water
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Italian herbs
1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
1/2  small tub extra light philly cheese


Put everything except the philly cheese into a casserole dish or slow cooker dish. 

Make sure there is enough stock to cover all the ingredients and cook in the oven at 160 degrees for 2 hours, stiring occasionally. If using a slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours

Stir the philly cheese just before serving until mixed in. If sauce needs thickening, add a few teaspoons of gravy granules (and syn accordingly)

L x

Monday, 26 October 2015

Slimming World Friendly Recipe:- Grilled Mexican Pork Medallions & Rice

This is a perfect midweek meal that's quick to make and delicious to eat.  I bought the pork medallians from Aldi and they were already pretty fat free.  I trimmed off any excess to make sure it was syn free.  Mixing al the flavourings together makes an amazing rub, just cover the meat entirely in the mix and you can guarentee amazing flavours!

Extra Easy Syn Value:- Syn free

Heathy Extras:- None

You will need:- 

2 teaspoon chili powder
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 pork medaliians, all fat removed
1 tsp mustard powder

2 cups of brown rice
1 cup sweetcorn
1 stock cube
1 tsp smoked pprika
salt & pepper
1 onion diced
1 red pepper diced
1 tbsp dried chillies


Fry off the pepper, onion and sweet corn with fry light in a pan. 

Add 2 cups of rice to 4 cups of water, I used a coffee cup. Bring to the boil and them simmer until all of the water is absorbed, which is usually around 20 minutes.  You’ll need to stir it regularly to prevent it from sticking.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium to medium high.
Mix together all the seasoning to make a rub, rub into each piece of pork to get an even coating

Place on a griddle pan, sprayed with fry light.  Turn occasionall until cooked through.

Serve with salad and rice

L x