Monday, 30 December 2013

#Challenge2013 - November

As predicted, coming towards the end of this challenge made this harder, especially with the ease of a chain Italian restaurant for an easy evening meal out.

November led me to seeking out new life and new frontiers, well new restaurants and new experiences. The highlight by far which I will share with you was Rodizo Rico in Notting Hill.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tuna-steak meatballs

Tuna steak is a meat which I love, but I often struggle with what the best way of cooking it is.  This dish is inspired by a recipe for a tuna burger, however I had udon noodles and vegetables to eat, not a burger bun, so as ever I adapted.

The main problem which I came across with this was the meat balls were not as well bound together as I had hoped, but this would probably be overcome by chopping the fish more finely next time.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Fruity lower calorie flapjacks

These treats were delicious, lower calorie than some traditional flapjacks, but I found did come with one downfall - they have to be eaten more quickly than flapjacks made with just sugar and syrup as by the fourth day of trying to eat them they had gone stale/ off.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

veg-tastic lasagne

Those who have scoured my recipes will have noticed trends in the basic dishes which I tend to make and adapt and a few staple ingredients which I tend to use.

This post is one of my recent attempts at making the lasagne a more healthy dish (other attempts to follow).  Firstly, this is FAR more delicious (in my opinion) than the carb-free quorn lasagne which I attempted once and only once earlier this year.

This recipe is fresh and easily adaptable to suit whichever vegetables are available at your time of shopping.  It is based on a recipe from BBC Good Food 'Healthy Meals' cook book.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

#challenge2013 - October

No, the absence of a September post was not indicative of my having given up on this.  It was more to do with party conference season taking hold and canap├ęs and wine taking over my September diet.  I am still working off the weight I am sure.

October however, was a return to form.  Sober October helped very much with my running - I did my 8.2 mile run in a respectable time and getting into my change4life course really helped too.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sampling Tesco Finest*

This evening I was invited to join a Tesco finest sampling evening.  I am not sure exactly what the criteria was to be chosen to attend, but a colleague of mine was and, knowing I am a foodie, she took me along to indulge.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Winter warmer #5 - Butternut Squash, Apple and Lentil Soup

It is that time of year again! The evenings are drawing in, the temperature is dropping and I don't get funny looks for making huge pots of healthy wintery soups!

Longer standing readers will know that in my book you cannot go wrong with either butternut squash or lentils. Here is a bit of information about why;

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Banana-oat cake made with yoghurt

After the success of making Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins with Yoghurt I went on the hunt for more favourites which I could make with Alpro Soya Yoghurt (which as an FYI I wouldn't recommend eating by itself, especially not the plain vanilla version).  This one is adapted from this Nigella recipe for 'best ever banana bread'

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Today, at the suggestion of a friend, we went to Vegfest.

Vegfest is one of Europe's biggest vegetarian events, with nearly 200 stalls, talks, demonstrations.  It used to be only in Bristol in the UK but has come to London for the first time this year.

First impressions
Whilst I was not sure what to expect from this, it wasn't quite 'it' (whatever 'it' is).  This is probably because the majority of conferences and exhibitions which I go to have some form of corporate sponsorship, glossy stalls or irritating PA system blasting out messages throughout.

Vegfest was far simpler.  It had a fantastic range of small and larger healthy foods to try (with various degrees of acceptance to my tastebuds).

Friday, 13 September 2013

Something for the Weekend: the Seething Trycyclingathon

Located in the heart of Surbiton is a creative, community minded group of people called the Friends of Seething Wells who put on the most fantastic range of events throughout the year for local people to participate in.

Their aim is simple - to bring the community together and have fun.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Something for the weekend: National Paralympic Day 2013

For me, one of the real legacies of the London Olympics is the change in attitudes towards disabled people which came about as a result of the Paralympic Games (and frankly some fantastic coverage by Channel 4).

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Mauritian-Style Chicken Thighs for an alternative Sunday Supper

Something rather shocking happened to me the other week. I was in the meat aisle in Waitrose and... they had run out of whole chickens.  I know, right?!

In reality, this should have been a sign that my plans to pinch a recipe from the August edition of Waitrose Magazine would not go according to plan.  I was visiting my parents and had volunteered to cook Sunday Lunch.  As I do not cook for my family very often, this (in my head at least) added an additional level of pressure as, I like to be good at things. Ok, I like to be the best.  And I view each time I cook as an opportunity to remind people that this is something I am good at (I am working on being the best).

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

#Challenge2013 - August

My foodie highlights in August this year mainly came in the form of food festivals. I have blogged about the Chilli Fiesta at West Dean College in my 'Something for the Weekend' series but my excitement about the Kingston Food Festival has, until now, been reserved for Twitter.

Falafel and Healthy Cakes at Kingston Food Festival 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Healthy lifestyle, healthy....

.... skin, actually!

Ok so this is a mildly self indulgent post (unlike all other blogging of course!!), one which was spurred by a fairly common compliment I am given.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Stuffed trout for a simple and delicious weekday supper

Fish is one thing which I have never really learned how to cook.  Beyond baking it with some lemon and black pepper I have always been quite tame, timid one could say (which is not a word people usually associate with me!).  So, as a part of my attempt to broaden my pallet a bit I thought I would try stuffing a fish.  Now I know this is not exactly on the Heston Blumenthal scale of experimenting, but given how poor I have been in the past at cooking fish it felt like a big deal.  So, here, behold, a rather delicious courgette and aubergine stuffed trout.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Myfitnesspal and a note on calorie counting

I apologise if this reads like an advert for myfitnesspal but I am always amazed by the number of people attempting a diet who have not discovered it.

Myfitnesspal is a FREE service available on web and as an app (iPhone/ iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone).

It comes with an easy to use screen which really helps you track your progress!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Moroccan-style roast vegetables

Inspired by my recent trip to Marrakech, I began to hunt out ways to make my veg more interesting. The need for variety was at the forefront of my mind, but I was in need of a way to cook, or dare I say it, flavour, some vegetables I am often more cautious about eating. I have always thought of roast vegetables as a fantastic means of incorporating more varied vegetbles into a healthy diet but the amount of oil some use to cook them in has put me off.

The fantastic thing about roasted vegetables is they make an easy and tasty side dish or mixed with some cous cous or pasta a healthy meal which will leave you feeling angelic and energised!

This recipe is based on one from Tesco online, but as ever given my healthy and hearty twist!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Something for the Weekend: Healthy Herefordshire

Tractors and Country living are frequently celebrated in Herefordshire at the numerous country and town shows

Whilst being in the countryside is not quite synonymous with a healthy weekend for me, it is fairly close. If nothing else, a slower pace of life and some really clear air do wonders for my health. Pair this with miles of stunning (and quite testing) walks literally on the doorstep, what more could you want? The ability to do canoeing or SAS-inspired activity weekends? Yep, we can do that too.

This post will focus on Herefordshire, one of the most sparsely populated counties in the UK and, I feel it is fair to say, often one of the more forgotten. I spent two years living in Hereford, working, making friends and exploring some truly stunning countryside. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Spiced yoghurt-marinaded chicken with cous-cous and salad

Yet another dish which has been made with slight adaptations from one I saw in Waitrose magazine.  This was mainly in how I cooked it, but I also omitted fennel seeds from the original recipe (mainly because I cannot stand them) and vegetable oil (I couldn't see the need).  For the rest of the spices I used slighly different quantities as in the recipe to give a different emphasis to suit my palette. I then added in spinach and lemon wedges to give the chicken a really citrusy taste.  Additionally, I used chicken breasts, not thighs and drumsticks as the meat is leaner (and I don't like skin...).


Friday, 9 August 2013

Something for the Weekend: A Chilli Fiesta in Rural Sussex

Situated just north of Chichester, beyond the village of Lavant is West Dean College and Gardens. Craft-based courses dominate the schedule for learning at the college but, three times a year they have foodie themed weekend festivals: chilli, tomato and apple.

This weekend, as you may be able to tell from the signs (and post title), is the Chilli Fiesta. It begins

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Skinny Lemon and Poppy seed Muffins

Usually, I am skeptical about recipes on product placement pieces in magazines.  I usually view them as something created to make you buy a product you wouldn't normally, to make something you wouldn't normally.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just breeds a sense of cynicism in me.  I don't know therefore if it is because I have an inherent trust of Waitrose that they would not put something awful in their magazine (and those who are not fans of Pippa Middleton, please refrain from commenting) or because these looked bloody yummy!  Either way I gave them a go, and my goodness they were fabulous.

Monday, 5 August 2013

#Challenge2013 - July

Being my birthday month, it would have been a surprise had I not been able to find an excuse or two to eat out in July.  I was looking forward to flexing my newly-bought tastecard but I am, as yet still to use it (and trust me, this is not for a lack of trying but more for a lack of my reading terms and conditions such as booking in advance).  Despite this, July is probably one of the less exciting updates to Challenge2013 as it did not really involve me branching out too much, which defeats the point somewhat of the challenge!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

My case for food labelling in restaurants

There has been a reasonable amount of discussion in the Health pages of the online news about suggestions the Government should legislate to oblige restaurants to provide the calorie content of their menus.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Love Kingston Run Challenge - Three Months to go

Last year I did the Great South Run, 10 miles running around Portsmouth on a Sunday morning.  It was not the easiest of things which I have ever done, but neither was it the hardest.  So I decided to set myself a further challenge; the Reading half marathon.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Chicken Harira with Spinach and Lemon

This recipe is inspired (heavily pillored but changed from) a recipe from the Waitrose Magazine. I have made it several times now, each slightly differently however I feel this is it's most successful incarnation.

A chicken harira is a middle-eastern style stew but which in some ways reminded me of a risotto. It was filling, nutritious and less than 500 calories for dinner! A real winner!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Something for the Weekend - inspire a generation.

This weekend marks one year since the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. An event which changed the atmosphere in London and which has changed the attitudes of many.

There were numerous things I adored about the Olympics. As I walked around London I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride in every step I took. Games makers everywhere we went were smiling and happy to help. People were flocking to London to see people participate in sometimes little known sports but be instantly hooked. Children were creating new heroes. Olympians dominated the New Years Honours list.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Something for the Weekend - keeping the Wimbledon spirit alive

The Wimbledon fortnight perfectly epitomises all that is fabulous about being British; hoping for success in a sport we invented but being beaten by the rest of the world, the tournament being interrupted by heavy rain, strawberries and cream and pimms. In fact I will be honest, over the last few years it has become my favourite sporting event of the year.  And this year if of course did not disappoint; not only was the mens final won for the first time in 77 years by a Brit (please note, commentators, there have been a number of British female singles champions over the years) but... rain only interrupted play on one day.  What a miracle.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

#Challenge2013 - June, a Moroccan adventure

I have been rather fortunate in my the travelling I have done this year and June merely added to it.  My foodie highlights from the West Country can be found in 'Something for the Weekend' posts from 14th June (Sherborne) and 21st June (Beer to Buscombe).  However, I wanted to reserve this post for one of the most fabulous mini-breaks I am ever likely to go on; my trip to Marrakech.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Granola to go

I am a HUGE fan of starting the day with a hearty bowl of porridge.  It has been one of the keys to losing weight over the last few years and the combinations you can have mean that this delicious and nutritious breakfast never gets dull.  However, with the current mini heat wave I was looking for something lighter (and colder) to

Friday, 21 June 2013

Something for the weekend: Beer to Buscombe

I am an honorary West Country lass at heart. Having spent some of my early twenties moving around the western counties I now relish nothing more than a weekend in the countryside. Especially if it involves a somewhat physically challenging walk and a new food discovery in the process.

Beer to Buscombe ticks all these boxes and you have some of the most gorgeous coastline I have ever seen. From someone who grew up on the Hampshire/ Sussex coast that is saying something.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Something for the Weekend: Sherborne - Dorset's foodie haven

Dorset is not a part of the UK I am particularly familiar with however, I recently made a trip down to stay with a friend and her parents. I had not until this visit fully appreciated how much of a healthy foodie haven Dorset was and quite how beautiful the countryside was either. The range of food on offer in Sherborne was exemplary, much of it available from independent butchers, cheesemongers, bakers, greengrocers etc. Most of the offerings were also locally sourced, seasonal foods.

Friday, 7 June 2013

#Challenge2013 - May

I have gained a number of new readers recently, so I feel it is a good opportunity to recap on what Challenge 2013 is.  It was my 'New Years Resolution' to force me to expand my pallet a bit; to never order the same meal out (dish) twice in a restaurant, pub or cafe in 2013.

In an attempt to counter some of the excesses of April, I spent a disproportionate amount of May at home, cooking, running and generally trying to stay in a bit more.

This did not however stop me from venturing across London to and find these Gems at Southbank Realfood Market:

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Something for the weekend - have a go at sailing on the thames

I apologise for a third week running of 'Something for the Weekend' which does not involve food, the primary focus of this blog.  The reason for my deviation this week is this rather fantastic looking event at Thames Sailing Club in Surbiton.

I love trying new sports and Thames Sailing Club is hosting a FREE have a go day which to me, looks like the perfect opportunity to try something new, or for some of you, rekindle an old passion.  You can find the details here

Friday, 31 May 2013

Something for the weekend - take the gym OUTSIDE

I saw this info-graphic on pintrest the other day and it pretty much summarised my attitude to the exercise (even though it is an advert).  I take it outside wherever possible - running, walking, cycling, skiing, swimming or even dragon boat racing!

I hope the weather is good for you so you can!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

How you YOU consume your calories?

This may seem like a simple question, but actually it is not quite as simple as it could be.  Now I am not one to weigh her food but I am aware of a number of mistakes people make.  Namely as in the past, I have made them too.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Healthy Snacking #2 - info graphic stylie!

I thought this on Pintrest gave some good and varied ideas...

... I may even use my graphic design skills to create one of my own some day :) suggestions for content welcome...!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Something for the weekend - Skating away a Sunday

A friend of mine has recently started taking ice skating lessons and desperate to get some extra practice in so last Sunday I pulled up my boots and trekked across West London to Queensway which hosts London's only skate and bowling arena (apparently)!

I must say I was really surprised; the rink was a decent size, the boots were supportive, the price was reasonable (£12.50 including skate hire but they do a discount on a Monday so including skate hire it is £8.50) and it was not overcrowded.

I am not the worlds most proficient skater but I  had a great time.  I was on the ice for two hours (approximately), managed not to fall over once (a small miracle), barely held onto the edge and... according to myfitnesspal burned about 500 calories (though I am not sure I believe this!!).  I have however developed a number of suspicious bruises on my arm since this but that is a small price for such a fun, exercised-filled afternoon.

You wont be surprised to hear it was nothing like the image on the side... I just thought that was cool as, like many twentysomething women, I love a good bit of vintage!

My only reservation about this venue, like many other leisure centres was the lack of healthy foods and snacks in the canteen.  My will power is good but I am unable to resist a treat after a two hour workout... especially when it is waffles and gelato and there is literally no healthy alternative.... I mean just look at it!!

So... if you're stuck for something to do this weekend.... get yourself along to Queensway!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mediterranean Style Turkey Pie

Late April marks my Grandmothers birthday and being lost for how to help her celebrate this year I decided to treat her to a homemade lunch.  She barely cooks anymore so to be honest anything more sophisticated than eggs or wurst is a luxury but this was even more of a hit than I had anticipated.  I originally was looking at a recipe in Good Food magazine for a Lamb pie with a wine and aubergine sauce but was then reminded by my mother that my grandmother neither drinks wine or can eat Lamb.  As a result I did some googling, some head scratching and came up with this.  There is no way of being modest about it.  It was fantastic.

500g Turkey Mince
4 Sheets Filo Pastry
50g Lurpak Lighter
2 sticks of Celery
2 Carrots
1 Courgette
2 Spring Onions
250ml Vegetable Stock
1 tbsp Mint
1 tbsp Ground Coriander
1 1/2 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tbsp Garlic Salt
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Fry the spring onions, carrots, courgettes and celery in the olive oil until softened then add the mince to brown it off.  Add the vegetable stock and seasoning.  Remove from the heat.

Use some of butter to grease the ovenproof dish, place one sheet of filo pastry and then rub some butter over the pastry and add another sheet of filo on top.  Pour in the mixture into the pastry and then top with one sheet of pastry, rub some butter on the layer and place another sheet on top.

I served this with the Greekilian Salad and followed it with a White Chocolate, Raspberry and Butternut Squash (fat free) cake.  A fantastic birthday meal!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

#challenge2013 - April

At the beginning of April I was fortunate enough to spend six days in Iceland.  In addition to having some of the most stunning landscape I have ever seen (and am ever likely to see unless travel to Mars is opened to the public in my lifetime) I also tried some truly amazing food and saw some amazing food (I was not brave enough to try it all!).

 See what I mean about the landscape?  They filmed Stardust on these beaches!

Anyway, enough boasting... the food.

A few more unusual foods which I tried (and remembered to photograph):

A wonderful smoked fish trilogy including whale (the dark red blop).  I am glad I tried whale but I really do not think I will be doing so again.  It had an incredibly strong flavour and quite a tough texture.
This is Skyr an Icelandic yoghurt-style pudding which is similar to strained non-fat yoghurt.  It is absolutely delicious.  A smooth but very light texture with a slightly creamy taste.  I came home wishing they did it in the UK.  Actually that was true of a number of treats which I tried or bought home to try (swiss chocolate with smarties in... strawberry chocolate chews?!)

The food I thought better of trying....

Pickled Herring.  This was served as an option for breakfast. After trying Kaviar from a tube in Stockholm last Easter for breakfast any Northern European fish-based breakfast dishes have not really appealed to me!

In fact to be totally honest I thought this was something which was taken from an episode of Star Trek when an alien was bought onto the Enterprise and they introduced their native food stuffs.

Icelandic fried breakfast: this consisted of the usual bacon and sausages but then added cheesy mushrooms and a bubble and squeak style dish which appeared to be cheesy vegetables left over from the night before.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Greekilian Salad

This is the first real 'guest recipe' which I will bring to Healthy and Hearty; a delicious and healthy meal, on this occasion dreamed up and made by my housemate.

My housemate is originally from Italy, and this year to mark her birthday she took us on a culinary tour of the Mediterranean which was simply splendid, however one dish stuck out for me in terms of its originality above all else.  I just loved the contrast of the feta cheese and the juicy orange topped with pepper.

 The quantity here varies according to the size of salad you are making, whether it is for a side dish or a main meal so I have not calculated exact quantities or calories.

Layer one:
Rocket, Black Olives, Feta Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar, a drizzle of Olive Oil

Layer two:
Rocket, Oranges, Fresh Black Pepper, Olive Oil.

Often in Sardinia they add Sardines or a similar fish to the first layer.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Mixed Bean Enchiladas

This recipe is based on one which I saw on BBC Good Food and I can quite safely say did more than slightly satisfy my craving for an Enchilada!  My hunger when these came out of the oven can be seen by the fact that I forgot to even photograph them cooked!

2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
Black Pepper
Fresh Basil leaves
1 White Onion
1 Sweet Red Pepper
2 Carrots (grated)
1 can Mixed Bean Salad
1 can Chopped Tomatos
1 small pot Yeo Valley Plain Fat Free Yoghurt
50g Reduced Fat Strong Cheddar
75g Reduced Fat Mozarella
Juice of half a lime
6 Wholemeal Tortillas

Heat the oil and fry the spices in the oil for 2-3 minutes then add the onion.

Once the onion has softened add the pepper and carrot then the mixed bean salad and half of the tin of tomatoes.

Simmer for 5 minutes.  Whilst this is simmering mix the yoghurt, cheeses and lime juice in a bowl.

Evenly distribute the mixture between six tortillas which you roll before placing in the baking dish.  Pour the other half of the tinned tomatoes over the enchiladas then spread the yoghurt sauce over the top.

Bake at 200oC for 20 minutes

Calories per torilla: 250 kCal (one portion is 2 tortillas so 500 kCal)

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Perfect Porridge

Personally, I can think of no better way to start my day than with a hearty bowl of porridge.  I have long been a fan of this as a breakfast choice, but the incarnation which I have eaten it in has changed.  From 'Oats so simple' for which I now hang my head in shame, to scotch oats with water and fruit compote, I really have tried it all.

Last week however, I struck gold.  After a pre-work run I went to chow down on some breakfast.  Aware I still had a 4.5 mile bike ride between me and the office I needed to ensure that I was consuming a meal which was as high in protein as possible and had natural sweeteners so as not to undo all my good work that morning.  I stumbled across this, and it has been a keeper ever since.  The Almond Milk contains more protein than cows milk, whilst still being low in calories (and tastes better than skimmed milk), Porridge is a slow energy release food and blueberries are sweet, in season and one of your five-a-day!

Starbucks and Pret may claim they make Perfect Porridge but they have a job rivaling this...

50g Essential Waitrose Porridge Oats with added wheatbran
200ml Almond Breeze unsweetened Almond Milk
40g Blueberries
1 tsp Cinnamon

Pour porridge and almond milk into a bowl and microwave on high for approximately four minutes.

Stir the porridge, add any water needed to make smoother then add blueberries and cinnamon.

Calories per portion: 230kCal

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

#challenge 2013 - March

To (over)-compensate for being somewhat of a hermit in February, I began March as I meant to continue; with a delicious lunch at a local eatery on the 1st.  I nearly double-ordered a dish this month but managed to make enough amendments to ensure it was sufficiently different.

March was also significant for me as I have finally been able to road-run again, but I am sure there will be more musings about that later.

Here are my 'eating out' highlights of March

Lunch at Harts Boatyard, Surbiton

Harts is a lovely venue on the riverfront in Surbiton.  It attracts a customer base from miles around due to its varied menu (including a fixed price and vegetarian option all of which change seasonally), competitive prices and stunning views.

Here I ordered the Prawn and Scallop Panciotti.  Essentially giant stuffed Raviolli, the filling was slightly creamy but also tangy which contrasted fantastically with the Mediterranean-style tomato sauce.

A fantastic light lunch which didn't come with too much guilt.

Good Friday Lunch at Wahaca, Wardour Street
Jumping to the other end of March and Good Friday.  This always presents me with some issues as I prefer not to eat meat or drink wine on Good Friday as a sign of respect.  In hindsight, Mexican Street Food was probably not the best move to keep this up but we managed.  With a selection of Sweet Potato-stuffed tortillas, bean tostadas and winter vegetable tacos, we not only managed but came out probably more stuffed than one should be on Good Friday.

This was my first visit to any of London's 4 (I think) Wahaca restaurants but I shall certainly be returning. There was a great atmosphere, I very much like an open kitchen and to top it all off, you get chilli plant seeds when you pay your bill!  Win.

Peanut Butter, Oatbran and Chocolate Chip giant muffins

These don't sound like the pinacle of good health I will admit, but these are a good example of how making your own can have significant benefits as well as being lower in calories than store-bought muffins.

I made these to take with me whilst travelling around Iceland.  I went for Peanut Butter-based muffins because of the high protein content as well as fibre contained in the spread.  Oats release energy slowly, over a number of hours and the ones I used have added bran so again, very high in fibre.  Organic skimmed milk is a good source of calcium whilst being low in fat and dark chocolate contains anti-oxidants and sweetens the muffins.

The other benefit? If you go for a muffin in say Costa coffee or Starbucks, you will be looking at 500kCal for a snack... these are delicious, have ingredients with proven health benefits and... less than 300kCal.

140g Plain Flour
100g Caster Sugar
50g Oats with added bran (I would recommend the 'Essential Waitrose' ones)
200ml Skimmed Milk
65g Peanut Butter
1 Egg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 tsp Baking Powder


Cream the peanut butter and sugar together then fold in the flour, oats, and baking powder.  Add the milk and egg and spices and mix until all combined.  Spoon into six giant muffin tins and bake at 175 degrees for approx 35 mins.

Calories per muffin: 290

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Carrot, Cinnamon and Sultana Cookies

It is once again cookie time on Healthy and Hearty.  This is a slightly more traditional cookie recipe than the one I posted before, just with some additions to help with the nutritional content.  This recipe is adapted from the 'Carrot Cookie' one in Sophie Wright's book 'Cook on a Shoestring'

85g Lurpak Lightest
130g Caster Sugar
90g Plain Flour
40g Ground Almonds
1 Carrot (grated)
30g Sultanas
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar together then fold in the other ingredients.  Once the ingredients have formed a dough separate into 12 cookies and place in a pre-heated oven (200oC for 15 minutes).

Calories per cookie - 142

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Healthy Snacking #1

Like many people who work in an office one of my downfalls is grazing at my desk- especially on a stressful day. The short walk to the shop across the road for a bar of dairy milk can be too hard to resist, especially on a stressful day so here are some of the lower calorie and healthy things I have tried to beat the purple bar...

1. Make Your Own Graze Box - essentially a mix of dried fruit, nuts and seeds- approx 200g. Mainly on the basis I find graze boxes a bit of a rip off. This is not always low calorie as I am keen on prunes and almonds but both these have fantastic health benefits so I think the calorie content is worth the punt!

2. Baked crisps - these tend to have 100kcal per packet and my goodness do they hit the spot. Plain Walkers I would give a miss but Sweet Chilli Sunbites or Salt and Vinegar Baked are ace.

3. Fruit and (low fat) peanut butter - apple or banana namely. PB again isn't low calorie but it is filling and delicious.

4. Nakd bars - I've tried a fair few of the selection of these now ... They are snack bars made of fruit and nuts mushed together. Cocoa one I would avoid but banana, cocoa orange and ginger are TO DIE for.

5. Fruity jelly cups- fresh fruit such as raspberries or redcurrants suspended in sugar free jelly: less than 100 kcal and a taste of childhood!

As I play more with snacking I will post more of my suggestions.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Firey, ginger ham joint

This is a simple and delicious way of adding a kick to a popular meat dish.

I got the inspiration for this from my mother; at Christmas she boils ham in ginger beer.  Wanting to avoid the sugar and calories gained through this, I looked for an alternative.  The great thing about this set of substitutions is the meat still comes with a kick, but you don't feel you will rot your teeth with it!

1 Bacon joint
2 litres water
3 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp golden caster sugar

Boil water and dissolve ginger paste and sugar into it.

Boil ham for 30mins per 500g.

Serve as required.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Carb-free (quorn) lasagne

This recipe is once again inspired by something which I saw on Pintrest.

I am a huge fan of lasagne, but the combination of pasta, meat and cheese sauce makes it a no-go for anyone trying to lose weight.  Not content with substituting the meat for Quorn, I also substituted the pasta sheets for thin strips of courgette, crafted with a potato peeler.

225g Quorn mince
1 Tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 Onion
1/2 Red pepper
1 tbsp Red pesto

20g Lurpak lightest
25g Plain flour
40g Cheddar cheese
200ml Skimmed Milk
125g Low Fat Mozarella

1 Courgette
1tbsp Olive Oil

Heat the oil in a pan and fry chopped onion and pepper then add the Quorn, tinned tomatoes and pesto.  Simmer until cooked through.

In a seperate pan heat the lurpak and then fold flour in.  Gradually add the milk, mixing continuously to ensure it thickens but doesn't boil.  Add the cheese gradually, again ensuring it doesn't curdle.

Layer the meat and white sauce, using courgette to seperate them.

Calories per portion (serves three): 420

#challenge2013 - February

A busy February with work has meant that I did not manage to eat out as much as some months, despite the evidence below which may look like the contrary!  This post is therefore not so much my highlights but the entirety of my eating out (well minus the slightly dirty burrito).

None of my eating out was particularly healthy this month; whilst it was the sum total of the unhealthy meals which I ate, reflecting on it has still left me feeling somewhat guilty (despite some epic bike-rides).

Groupon-fuelled dinner at Frankies
Frankies in South Kensington is a family-friendly Italian themed grill and bar which is located in a basement near the Science Museum.

I will be honest, we were on a set menu which was fine, but I would not have been impressed had I even paid full price for the set menu (groupon had a 2 for 1).  It was a simple three course menu which was on offer (with a glass of Prosecco).  I opted for Smoked Salmon starter which was dry but again, fine.  For the main I went for a rather unhealthy steak (rare but with no additional carbs) which was quite gristly and greasy and an Eton Mess for pudding.  The Eton Mess was by far the best part of this meal.

The decor of the restaurant was very cool but otherwise, I wont be returning to Frankies.

Going local for a post-work catch-up
The Surbiton Flyer is by far one of my favourite places to eat in Surbiton.  Simple pub-grub is cooked above and beyond the standard of most places and the menu is not a standard, chain pub one; it is devised by the local chef which is reflected in its quality.

On this trip to the flyer I opted for their signature dish; a chicken burger with chorizo and smoked cheese served on a sour dough roll.  Whilst this leaves me with more than slight pangs of guilt, it fills you up properly.  The smokey flavour of the chorizo perfectly complements the smoked cheese and really makes a traditional chicken burger far more tasty than usual.  One of the things I love about the flyer (apart from the atmosphere which is friendly and aimed at locals - something not always easy to find in a London suburb) is that their condiments are all homemade - even the tomato ketchup!

In summary, I would strongly recommend a trip to the Surbiton Flyer.

A traditional full-english brunch
Surbiton once again served up gold for me on this occasion, but this time in the form of Allegro.  Allegro is an independently owned cafe-restaurant located on Surbiton High Street.

For a 'greasy fry-up' this was surprisingly, well un-greasy.  All I know is this means I shall have to get more inventive, or healthy, when looking for breakfasts out in 2013!

A crepeaffaire in Wimbledon
CrepeAffaire is a coffee and crepe franchise, an outlet of which has opened recently in Wimbledon.  The menu offers a selection of sweet and savoury crepes and a selection of coffees.  I opted for a simple nutella-filled crepe.  This was light and delicious.  My criticism of CrepeAffaire comes not so much from the quality of the food but the lack of space to sit down in the cafe and the pricing.  Whilst delicious, £5 for a takeaway Crepe is not exactly a bargain!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Cycling to work

I am fortunate enough to live a flat, five miles from my office. I am also fortunate to live and work in Surrey; safe, cyclist friendly roads which can be a pain in the car during rush hour but are a dream on the bike.

I first took up cycling to work not for fitness but out of frustration at the cost and time using public transport or driving to get to work took. Soon the benefits could be seen: not only did I get to stay in bed marginally longer when cycling as it was actually the most time efficient way to get to work but between petrol, train fares, bus fares and gym memberships I was saving £120+ a month. Additionally, I am doing my bit to help reduce my carbon footprint and personal CO2 emissions, something which we should all be thinking about.

On top of all this I was gaining at least 250 calories a day, and benefitting from a (fractionally) faster metabolism which never goes amiss!

Then I looked up the quantified benefits; it is a long established fact that exercise which is part of a daily routine is by far the most effective. Regular cyclists on average live longer and have fitness and health levels of someone up to ten years younger.

The Parliamentary Health Select Committee found in May 2004 that cycling to work or school is so effective that: “If the Government were to achieve its target of trebling cycling in the period 2000-2010 … that might achieve more in the fight against obesity than any individual measure we recommend within this report.” In line with this thinking there has been a massive push from the government to invest in cycling infrastructure as well as many companies operating schemes to help employees buy a bike and running 'bike to work' weeks. Last year there were statistics published quantifying the difference in weight between those who cycled to work and those who did not. Again one of the reasons for this is routine; not having to find the time to exercise ensures it happens and becomes second nature.

In short, I cannot recommend cycling to school or work enough. For more information about getting started as a cyclist, visit this excellent NHS page

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Review: Waitrose 'Love Life' Blackcurrant and Raspberry frozen yoghurt

I will be honest, I was drawn to this when trying to resist the ice cream in Waitrose by the large characters which read 'only 75 calories per 1/5 tub'.

Second admission; I thought this would be flavourless yet I still bought it thinking 'don't knock it until you try it'.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only is this frozen yoghurt flavoursome, it's creamy taste made me forget I was eating a low fat pudding. The sharp taste of the raspberries really came through but was blunted slightly by the yoghurt base.

Additionally, being yoghurt and therefore protein-based it was very filling yet light.

In summary, I cannot recommend this enough to those watching their weight in need of a sweet treat or frankly just anyone looking for a new flavour of ice cream!

Fish, chips and mushy peas

This evening I needed a lazy, simple and healthy meal; it has been a busy period at work and my diet has not therefore been as disciplined as sometimes.

So, when my craving for comfort food came on this evening, instead of heading for the chippy, I got inventive with my staples and ended up with baked salmon caked in ginger paste (instead of batter) accompanied by a rather mean portion of my homemade chips and skinny mushy peas.

For the fish

1 salmon fillet
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp butter
Ground pepper
Pinch garlic salt

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Spread ginger paste over the top of the salmon, add butter on top and season with salt, pepper and paprika.

Cover the Salmon in tin foil and bake for 20 mins.

For the mushy peas

50g frozen peas
10ml Skimmed milk (or almond milk for a creamier texture)
1/2 tsp butter

Slightly over cook the peas then strain them. Add milk, butter and milk then mash or blend with a hand blender.

For the chips, use the chunky chips recipe.
Calories per meal: 650

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Winter Warmer #4 - Lamb, apricot and prune tagine

Mainly due to time constraints, I have been slightly slack in updating the #Winterwarmer series but this recipe more than makes up for it.

I had a craving for some Lamb last week when in Waitrose; I have a real weakness for middle-eastern food and any form of Lamb stew usually falls into this category.  This recipe draws inspiration from the 'BBC Good Food' website, with some improvising on the spice side and putting the dish in the oven for an hour which made the Lamb just melt in the mouth.

Ingredients (serves three):
350g diced lamb shoulder
1/2 Onion
6 dried apricots, cut in half
6 dried prunes, cut in half
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp garlic puree
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp tumeric
Black Pepper to taste
300ml vegetable stock.
2 tbsp sunflower oil

Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil and gently brown off the lamb then remove from pan and place in a separate dish.

Add second tbsp sunflower oil and fry onions with all seasoning then add prunes and apricots followed by vegetable stock and tomato puree.  Add the Lamb back into the pan.

Transfer mixture to a tagine dish (or failing that a casserole dish) and cook at 175oC for 45mins-1 hour.

Serve with 90g Cous-Cous per person.

Calories per serving: 526 (includes tagine and cous-cous)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

#Challenge2013 - January

Like most people, January for me has been less indulgent than the month before.  My biggest curse has been not only an attack of the winter lurgy but a torn ligament preventing me from running, neither of which are conducive to shedding the inevitable few pounds I gained over christmas.  I have however joined the gym and am working that stepper like nobody's business!

In terms of #challenge2013, January was inevitably the easiest month as, quite obviously it was the first month of the year eating out.  I managed to eat at a variety of restaurants; some large chain, some less so, additionally, in a somewhat mental month at work, I ended up having takeaway one evening (from my desk - boo) but as ever I managed to find the lowest calorie takeaway which Surbiton has to offer; Figo Chicken - a Nandos-style grilled chicken place where pitta and salad are also easy to come by!

Here are my January highlights:

New Years Brunch at 'The Breakfast Club'
Ok, so this was psychologically the last day of Christmas and not the first day of a detox so I trekked into Soho to enjoy brunch with some chums at 'The Breakfast Club'.

Firstly a hint; don't arrive here hungry as you will have to queue (we were inside over an hour and some people queued all this time).  This was my first visit, and frankly, within about thirty seconds, I could see why people were willing to queue.  A quirky restaurant with a delightfully varied menu and friendly staff, it really did tick all the boxes.

I opted for a 'Huevos Rancheros' which consisted of fried eggs, tortilla, refried beans, chorizo, salsa, sour cream, cheddar and guacamole - hardly healthy, I will be honest.  The entire breakfast was cooked to perfection and was a welcome change from a regular full english which is usually the hangover-cure supreme!

Cheap and cheerful mid-week Pizza.
One thing is true in contemporary dining, you can never go wrong with a good voucher code and Pizza Express really does provide one of the best value, simple and now with the addition of their 'legerra' Pizzas, there is a fantastic selection of low calorie treats too.

I opted for the 'Pollo Ad Astra' which is a ring of pizza with salad in the middle, like all in the legerra range with chicken, onion and low fat mozzarella to top it.  This was a light but satisfying weekday treat, and at 40% off with our voucher it really was the perfect accompaniment to a girly catch-up with one of my favourite people (whose blog can be found here).

A birthday at Inamo
Scallop Gunkan
Inamo is an Asian Fusion restaurant on Wardour Street (yep, Soho again) which is quite frankly, out of this world.  Well the starters, mains and cocktails are.  I was underwhealmed (to say the least) at the dessert and the wine (which at over £7 a glass even in central London I would expect to be very drinkable but for a dry wine was remarkably sweet).

I had sushi-inspired starters in the form of scallop gunkan, which consist of scallops marinated in a wasabi-miso sauce wrapped in nori with sushi rice and some chicken and lemongrass dumplings.  For my main I opted for the less healthy berkshire pork shoulder which was served with a confit of apple and a spicy chocolate sauce.  The pork here was perfectly tender and the sauce was divine; not too sweet but with a slight tang from the spice.  The pudding of macaroon with white chocolate mouse I certainly would not bother with again; I would instead try an additional small dish!

But the real gimmick and one of the coolest things about Inamo (apart from the cocktails, which I cannot recommend enough) was the interactive tables.  You ordered from the table, called the waiter, could view the kitchen, change the pattern or 'ambience' and play games. Yep, battleships and pairs.  Personally I am not a fan of the games as for me, going out for dinner is an opportunity to speak to people and catch up, but I can see if you did not know the people you were out with, a game of battleships would be a good icebreaker.

All in all I would totally recommend Inamo - a great experience and great food.

A tapas-full thank you
In my spare time (contrary to popular belief I do have some) I volunteer with Kingston Young Carers.  Young Carers are an organisation who really know how to look after their volunteers and twice a year take us out for a meal to say 'thank you'.  So, the last week in January we went to La Tasca in Kingston.  Even though I am not vegetarian I was disappointed that even the vegetable dishes were cooked in the same oil as meat, causing problems for the vegetarians with our group.

I have only eaten in the La Tasca chain once or twice, but as with most chain italian restaurants, I always find the food just 'fine', never outstanding but always perfectly edible.  Locally, if I am to go for tapas then Pincho in Twickenham will continue to win out in terms of menu selection, atmosphere and location.

And now, back to the kitchen!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cauliflower dough (carb free) pizza with half-fat cheese

Everyone on Pintrest seems to be raving about Cauilflower dough as a low calorie, low carb alternative to pizza dough so I thought I would give it a whirl and it was bloody marvelous!  This is my take on this craze, enjoy!

For the base:
1/4 cauliflower
1 Egg
30g low fat Mozzarella
Italian Seasoning

For the topping:
3 tbsp Tomato Puree
1/2 tsp Garlic Puree
1 tbsp Sundried tomato pesto
30g low fat Mozzarella
20g low fat cheddar

Grate the cauliflower into 'rice' and microwave for 7 mins.  Whisk in the egg and seasoning and stir in chopped mozzarella.

Line a baking sheet with grease-proof paper and spread dough out on it.  Bake for 15 mins.

Mix tomato puree, garlic puree and pesto together, spread on top of base once cooked and then top with chopped Mozzarella and grated cheddar.

Bake for a further 10 mins.

Calories per pizza: 360