When I first started my blog I never imagined anyone actually reading it. As time goes on I have been gaining more and more views and one of the most rewarding things is seeing pictures of the recipes some of you tried out. It makes all the effort I put into this page worthwhile!
Here's a selection of my favourite pics, scroll down to see the overall winner! Please keep them coming in as I genuinely LOVE to see them!
"In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." - Wikipedia
If you follow my Facebook page then you probably noticed I got 'trolled' this week. Someone made comments directly on my blog page- anonymously.
I shared these on Facebook and it provoked such a response from all of you, I was overwhelmed at all of the support. Something became really clear in the hundreds of comments posted. This wasn't the first time anyone had seen something like this happen. Trolling now seems to be a common, normal thing that we must get used to and deal with accordingly. Some suggested contacting the police, others suggested ignoring it and made assumptions about the sad life the anonymous poster has. It could be someone I know, but the likelihood is that it is a total stranger.
"Bullying" is a term that is over used nowadays, in my opinion. For pretty much my entire school life I was bullied. Kids can be so cruel, picking up on any slight difference and being as mean and vile as possible. I had a lazy eye, was slightly overweight, called Latoyah and liked to sing. This all sounds normal, but to the kids at school it was all the ammunition they needed- "La-toilet-seat" which quickly turned in "Latoyah pissed herself", that stuck forever. There was always the fat comments and "are you looking at me or looking over there, wonky eyes!". I had a small group of friends and when I moved up to secondary school I thought I could rely on them. Some of them actually turned against me and joined in with the crowd (something they have apologised for since) and at times I just felt so alone. As I got older it got worse and I experienced violence, but to me it was always the words that hurt more. I used to dread lunchtimes, and sometimes I locked myself in the toilet cubical on my own to eat my lunch, just to hide away. School was the most miserable time of my life, but that experience made me who I am today. I suffered in silence for a long time until one day I broke down and told my parents, they went to the school and things did eventually get better.
The worst part is that in adult life I have bumped into a few of the people who used to pick on me and challenged them on it- they didn't even remember. Something that is so prominent in my mind, and a massive part of my childhood that I will never be able to forget, means nothing to them - and why would it? It was just a bit of a laugh for them.
I can't imagine how bad my time at school would have been if social media was as big as it is now! The digital age has introduced a whole new platform for nastiness, and it was only a matter of time before I got some kind of negativity. The particular post that the comments were on had a before/during picture of my weight loss journey- something I debated long and hard about posting. It is something very personal and after much debating I decided that if it can inspire just 1 person, it would be worth it.
These comments did not upset me in any way. I didn't reply, I just deleted the comments and shared the screenshots on Facebook to laugh at the idiocy of it all. I am actually quite flattered that someone has taken the time to comment on something I wrote, not once, but twice. That's a few minutes of their life that they've spent on me that they can never get back! They also spent time checking my Facebook page, so they are pretty dedicated to their cause. I will not be reporting anything to the police, they have much better things to do with their time than go after everyone who has ever been nasty on the internet! If I spent less time worrying and feeling downtrodden about the bullies in school I would have enjoyed my time more. So what if someone thinks I am fat, ugly, stupid or anything else; it should have no affect on my life. My blog is my personal space and I won't let anyone be intentionally mean on it. If they have an issue with me then the least they could do is post using their real name- using anonymity really is cowardly. Life is too short to waste time being mean to people on the internet, or in real life and if someone has been mean to you, life is too short to spend time worrying about it.
I used to love having coffee shop iced frappuccinos, until I found out how many calories are in them! A large mocha frap with cream on top can set you back 35 syns!!! I really fancied one and used Choc Shot to make my own version, which if using milk as your healthy extra is only 4 syns!
Extra Easy Syn Value:- 4
Health Extras:- Some of your A milk allowance
You will need:-
Handful of ice cubes
1 mug of strong black coffee, made up and cooled
1 tbsp choc shot
100ml skimmed milk
1 tbsp sweetner
Low fat squirty cream
Mix everything together in a blender
Pour into a pint glass and top with 1 squirt of low fat squirt cream
About a year ago Nick and I first experienced Jamie's Italian in Bristol, and fell in love with it. Ever since we have always wished there was one a little closer, I even tweeted Jamie Oliver himself to recommend he opens a restaurant in Exeter- and here it is! In June 2008 Jamie launched Jamie's Italian, his first high-street business venture, in Oxford. The menu is devised with his close friend and fellow chef Gennaro Contaldo and as soon as news broke of the new restaurant opening in my home town I was over the moon!
When we arrived we were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our table upstairs. The restaurant has been decorated really well (in keeping with the other Jamie's Italian's we've visited) and there is a big open kitchen, typical Jamie Oliver! There is also a wide selection of products available to buy, and lots of meats hanging from the wall. As it was so busy we didn't see much of downstairs, so I've used some pictures from my friends at Eating Exeter's review to show some of the features (read their review in full here)
The menu has been developed with Gennaro to represent authentic, rustic Italian cuisine with a Jamie Oliver twist, and this really shines through. Some of the bread and nibbles include: Crispy Music Bread (with slices of pecorino sardo & little dots of chilli jam mostarda) and Pork Scratchings (with spiced fennel salt & orchard dipping sauce), The ‘Bruschetta and Antipasta’ returns to its Italian side with such things as Tuscan Style Chicken Liver Bruschetta (smooth Italian paté with pancetta, vin santo & Parmesan) and Sicilian Caponata Bruschetta (spiced aubergine, hard ricotta & pine nuts). For the first time in a really long time I have looked at the menu and genuinely didn't know what to pick!
Considering that the restaurant only opened 4 days prior to our visit it was absolutely packed. There was barely an empty table in the entire place! We were served promptly and after much deliberation placed out order. The waiter was really chirpy and took our requests without having to write anything down! We selected a starter each but also couldn't resist a selection of Italian breads. My starter and the breads arrived really quickly but Nick's order was nowhere to be seen. We waiting 10 mins and after asking 3 members of staff his order arrived, and mine was nearly cold! I can only put this down to teething problems, but it would have been nice if any of the staff we asked gave us a n update or told us it was on the way.
We ordered Classic homemade rosemary focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough, & grissini sticks. Served with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic & fantastic olive tapenade. The balsamic vinegar and olive oil was poured out by our waiter.This was a fab selection and each bread was fresh and delicious, as well as a little different from the normal.
There was one thing on the menu that really stood out to me - Italian Nachos. Crispy fried ravioli stuffed with three cheeses, served with arrabbiata & Parmesan. I cannot even put into words how delicious this was! Crispy ravioli with the cheesy filling- to die for! Because there was a delay with Nicks starter I did try and wait until his arrived before demolishing mine, but I just couldn't wait!
Nick, of course, went for crispy squid with crushed garlic mayo, chopped chilli & lemon. He said that it was cooked perfectly and he enjoyed the variety the different shapes and sizes, some whole baby squid, squid rings and tentacles. They were all cooked to perfection!
I really wanted to have the same meal that I had the last time I visited Jamie's, but consciously chose something different. Chicken al monte - free-range marinated chicken with a creamy wild mushroom sauce, lemony rocket, crostini & Parmesan. It was delicious! I really enjoyed it, my only criticism would be there there was so much green on top that you can't see how good it looks! The chicken had a really nice flavour and was really succulent, complemented perfectly with the mushroom sauce.
This picture doesn't really do Nicks steak justice! Their prime British steak is dry-aged for better flavour & tenderness, cooked to your liking & served with proper hand-cut & triple-cooked chips & roasted lemony portobello mushrooms. The steak was cooked perfectly, succulent, juicy and full of flavour. Sadly we didn't rate the chips served with it as they were soft and a little bland. If everything else hadn't been so amazing the chips would probably have been acceptable!
I ordered some polenta chips sprinkled with rosemary & parmisan
to go with my meal and they were perfect! Once you try them, you will find it hard to go back to normal potato based chips!
Overall we both really enjoyed our meal. Apart from Nick not getting his starter at first the service was great, atmosphere was buzzing and the food delicious. It was almost hard to believe that the restaurant only opened a few days earlier, and it is obviously how popular it is already! I can't wait to go back there again, it has taken the crown from Cote as the best food in Exeter!
Chicken Parmigiana is a chicken dish based on the Italian Parmigiana. It consists of a breaded chicken breast, or chicken schnitzel, covered with a tomato-based neapolitan sauce and cheese. A meal that you may not expect to be especially healthy, but using food optimisation and both your healthy extras this dish comes in at only 3 syns!
Extra easy syn value:- 3 per serving
Healthy Extras:- A & B
You will need:-
2 large, skinless chicken breasts, halved through the middle
2 eggs, beaten
120g wholemeal breadcrumbs
25g Parmesan, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carton passata
1 tsp sweetener sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
half a 125g ball of light mozzarella
low calorie cooking spray
1 beef tomato, sliced
Place the chicken breasts between cling film sheets and bash out with a rolling pin until they are the thickness of a £1 coin. Dip in the egg, then breadcrumbs, mixed with the grated Parmesan. Set aside on a plate in the fridge while you make the sauce.
Spray the low calorie cooking spray and fry off the garlic for 1 min, then tip in passata, sugar and oregano. Season and simmer for 5-10 mins.
Heat grill to High and cook the chicken for 5 mins each side, then remove. Pour the tomato sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and top with the chicken. Top with the tomato slices, Scatter over the mozzarella and grill for 3-4 mins until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Note:- I have adapted this original recipe to be SW friendly!
Following the Slimming World plan doesn't have to be time consuming (see 'how to prepare 7 Slimming World freezer meals in under an hour') I find the trickiest meal of the day to get sorted is lunch, especially if you work full time. It's almost impossible to find anything suitable while on the go so I usually try and cook a bit extra of my evening meals to take in as left overs, but that isn't always possible. I decided to dedicate some time to preparing a weeks worth of work lunches on my Sunday afternoon, and thought I would share the meals I came up with! You can mix and match everything together to maintain some variety throughout the week, I took a Muller light yoghurt for dessert too!
This is a great and filling lunch that's delicious hot or cold. Can be cut into 4 large, or 8 smaller slices and will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for over a week.
Extra Easy Syn Values:- Syn Free
Healthy Extras:- None
You will need:-
1 small onion, finely finelydiced
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
handful of sweet corn
handful of frozen peas
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper
Bacon with fat removed
salt & pepper to taste
low fat cooking spray
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp fat free fromage frais
Optional:- top with 40g of extra light cheese and use 2 syns per slice of quiche
Pre heat oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5
Spray some low fat cooking spray into a frying pan
Add the bacon, onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry off.
Add the rest if the veg and fry for 2 minutes
In a measuring jug, whisk together eggs, garlic, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and fromage frais
Spray some cooking oil around your quiche/pie dish and add veg
Add the egg mixture and mix everything around to make it even
Put in oven for 25 mins or until egg is baked, firm and golden, then enjoy!
After a sloppy week last week I had a relatively good one this week. I did have a few cheeky Yorkshire puddings yesterday though! I ordered a full monthly shop through Tescos that got delivered on Sunday, but the few days prior to that we had so little food in that I had to bodge some meals together with the small amount of stuff we had in! Here are some of the other meals I've eaten this week. I also feel I let myself down my not drinking enough water daily.