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A healthier Valentines Day: some recipes and ideas

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yes, I'm cooking for Valentines Day - out of choice!!!!

I thought it would be romantic to decorate our table properly, light plenty of candles and serve something a bit more nutritious than we would probably enjoy at the restaurant.

I recently bought a book called 'natural wonderfoods' and it explains the health benefits of various foods and then also provides recipes that go with them. All the recipes (except dessert - that's not healthy at all!!) come from that book.

Here's the menu:

Starter: pineapple and cucumber salad (In a nutshell: pineapple is a good anti-inflamatory and provides anti-oxidants which is much needed in this Wintery weather. I thought a pineapple was a nice brightly coloured fruit, which would look colourful on a plate and also cheer us up a little)

The pineapple and cucumber are chopped up, chilled for two hours then mixed with mayonnaise and lemon juice and granished with mint leaves.

Main course: Chicken with pineapple and honey marinade served with asparagus and cauliflower provincale. (Lots of ingredients are repeated mainly for budget reasons - apologies to those cooks who disagree with that style!!)

The cauliflower is steamed and then added to a tomato sauce (tinned tomatoes with sliced courgettes, onions and garlic - garlic is fine if we're both eating it!!!!)(It helps the liver detoxify stuff)

The asparagus is served with a honey, mustard and garlic sauce(2tbs honey, 1tsp mustard, 2 garlic cloves)(An aphrodisiac - enough said!!!)

The marinade will be interesting!! Mix chopped up pineapple with honey (according to taste) and add a tsp of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves plus 2 crushed garlic cloves). i'll probably marinade it in the chicken overnight (again, that's personal choice, marinading for two hours before is fine too) and then pop it in the oven for twenty minutes or so in a roasting bag. (chicken is low fat, but also has tons of vitamins like B6, magensium and zinc)

Dessert: mocha cream hearts
This is not the healthy part - the healthy part was everything before hand!! This is because I thought it would be cute to serve a dessert shaped as a heart!! It's also a bit more complicated than the other recipes. I think it will turn out like a small chocolate eclair in a heart shape.)
Although, not healthy I know the portion will be small, which is where it becomes healthy - all things can be eaten in moderation and in small portions!!)

All of the food has been chosen because it's my husband's favourite. i haven't checked the calories yet - I'm not sure how hgh calorie honey is. That would be the only ingredient i would be concerned about (apart from the cream and chocolate in the dessert!!!)

We also love playing board games together, so i'm busy creating a board game for us that's based on our lives since we got married. I'll give that to him at the end of the meal with our tea.

What I'm wearing while serving dinner is still to be decided - and i'll probably keep to myself!!

I'm quite excited - it's been fun planning and in this cold weather I quite like the idea of having something at home. It's a great excuse to experiment with food and will also be a great excuse to go shopping for some decent tableware!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    What a wonderful menu and a romantic plan. You will make your man understand how lucky he is.

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ANATASHIKI 2/11/2012 2:26PM

    yum ! emoticon emoticon

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KAYEMARIE24 2/11/2012 1:53PM

  Sounds like a nice dinner! I love pineapple myself. Hope your evening is filled with much enjoyment emoticon

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JOANNA202 2/11/2012 1:44PM

    I've always thought doing something at home is the most romantic way to spend valentines day, not an expensive meal out with everyone else. Loving your choices - they're making my mouth wate ( and in my experience honey isn't too heavy on the cals). You're husband is lucky man to have your doing all this for him. Enjoy!

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What the exercise instructors teach me

Monday, February 06, 2012

I've just experienced Jillian Michaels for the first time and I'm impressed!!

Her training style of combining strength and cardio is not new to me. There is a similar class at my gym that I go to and really enjoy. What makes her special is what she says. All that encouragement to keep going and not to stop - it is so motivating and so very true. Consistency is the key to exercising and it was so wonderful to hear a trainer saying that - encouraging me to keep at it.

It led me to think about a visiting instructor that we had at the gym. She kept on saying 'power' (in that loud strident gym instructor way) while we were kicking and punching, and that little word made me get my muscles to work harder and realize that there was definitely more I could be doing in a class which has much the same routine every week. That trainer taught me just a little bit more about how I exercise and it's going to go a long way.

The other thing that is very useful for me is when they say - 'push your belly button in' - this still makes more sense to me than 'activate your core' (which I'm starting to get). I have a tendency to completely forget that i have to think about using the muscles in my belly and need reminding all the time!!

I guess there are little things that may seem like common sense to a seasoned athlete, but to beginners are pure pearls of wisdom, and, every so often we come across instructors who are able to say it in exactly the way we need to hear it so that the light bulb switches on.

Then, there are the times when they actually take you seriously. Years ago now I told a gym instructor that I wanted to learn how to jog. This was after I had taken his class with the big balls (i still don't remember what they are called) and spent more time rolling off them than staying on them. The next day he found me waiting for a class and gave me a photocopy of a 6 week training plan for learning how to jog in 30 minutes. At the time I thought the guy was insane - I didn't believe I could do it!!! But, I held onto that scrap of paper and every so often I'd have a go at it. It took me nearly five years to manage to run my first five km - but I did it - and I wish I could tell that trainer I did it and how much his thoughtfulness motivated me. He sparked the belief that it might be possible in me.

I guess that's what the good instructors do: get us believing that even in our current state of fitness we can do it. We can reach those goals, whatever they may be.

whilst in the shower, I realized something else my gym instructors were telling me: you have to be eating properly as well as exercising to lose weight. I was in total denial about that one, but, after losing all the weight I thought I'd never lose by beginning to count calories and think about what I'm eating, I believe them. Maybe I'm just a slow learner!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Great blog. I like the Jillian/Bob belief that, "Yes, there is an athlete inside of you just waiting to be discovered." You have found yours. Congratulations.

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MOMMASHUTT 2/7/2012 7:47AM

    I like when they say to "tuck your butt" I giggle everytime.

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JOANNA202 2/6/2012 5:38PM

    Good to hear you so upbeat and excited. I definitely think the best thing about this is the constant learning curve - learning what works, what doesn't, facts, figures, how our bodies work. Slowly but surely we'll become experts at this. Keep up the great work!

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    Thanks for sharing!

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BARBARASDIET 2/6/2012 2:47PM

    Like that about learning to jog! I want to be able to run--maybe I just need to give it more time.

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Carrot sticks - my new favourite life saving snack!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Life saving may be a bit of over kill here, i know, but, when it comes to 4pm snack time, things have been getting a bit desperate for me, and these little orange batons have provided me with a snack that has the sweetness of a cookie or chocolate and the chewiness of chips - and much fewer calories!!


I bought a packet of them with my grocery shop this week, but only got round to opening them up last night after a day that had been fraught with me wondering how on earth I'm going to curb my cravings. And, funnily enough, they did.

More than that, I started feeling better after eating them (because I was hungry, this wasn't emotional eating, I'm just used to snacking on a cookie at that time, and with recent stress, haven't had the will power to just have one or two and leave it at that.!!

Last night, as I was reflecting on this, it hit me once again how keeping healthy is a constant daily decision, and, it's not always easy to make the best decisions. But, (and here's another big but) seemingly little decisions in this health walk can really help to keep the ball rolling - decisions as small as adding carrot batons to my grocery list this week!! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHARON10002 2/3/2012 5:29PM

    Carrot batons? Baby carrots???

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    It is such a relief to find something that works for you isn't it? Keep up the search, there are a lot more that will be great for you too.

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    How are they different than carrot sticks? Or are they baby carrots?

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SUNSETBREEZE05 2/3/2012 2:33PM

    I agree with Chriskenandkids comments.

Good Luck reaching Your Goals!!

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    I've never heard of those before. What are they? What section of the store are they in? Sounds interesting!

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The first big maintenance stress test.....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

They say that the Chinese year of the Dragon is a year full of good luck, but it must also be the year of lighting fires under your backside to get you running because January has been anything but relaxing!

My ticker tells me that I am now in my 6th week of maintenance, which really feels unbelievable. I am still not quite at a balanced weight yet (and wondering if there is such a thing) but seem to be settling at about 4 pounds under my goal weight. I don't full feel in control of my food yet, but this could possibly be because I'm not feeling very much in control of my life this week!!

Last Thursday my husband arrived home with the news that he had lost his job. What has followed has been a bit of a whirlwind week, and a very quick turn around with him starting a new job on Monday - something we are relieved and grateful for.

This week has meant care and attention on my husband and a little voice in my head saying, 'it's ok, you need to take care of yourself too, have another cookie......' and me struggling to figure out what a healthy person has instead of the cookie. I thought exercise would be the answer, but it takes a whole lot more time than eating a cookie does, and most of my time has been invested in my husbands needs. Essentially what has happened is that nutrition and exercise took a back seat.

Now, of course, that is probably natural. Our mind screams emergency and reverts to what it has done in the past, but this time round I knew that the past habits were not the best habits and so I didn't quite know what to do instead.......

Now, I'm pretty good at making sure I eat within a calorie range, but my choices are still not as good as I would like them to be and I still have a lot to learn before the next stress test comes along. Mind you, i'm not completely over this one yet!!

I wonder if the answer is as simple as keeping healthier snacks close at hand. Dried fruit may be a good answer. If I had thought more about it I should also have suggested evening walks with my husband rather than sitting in the house playing games. It would have been spending time with him, but also getting a bit of exercise in. It might not be a jog, but it's something.

So, my 6th week of maintenance has been one with a bit of a real life emergency in it and I would say that I'm about half way there in terms of keeping healthy under pressure. Now that the fire is out I'm waiting for the good luck!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOANNA202 1/29/2012 6:18PM

    Halfway there sounds pretty good to me, especially when the right tools are not immediately to hand. Now you know what you need to consider (healthy snacks around, sociable ways to exercise) you can begin to learn the lessons. So sorry that your husband had to lose his job to find that out, but amazing that he got another one so quickly! Good luck de-stressing from this (with a few runs I assume?)

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NANT406 1/29/2012 3:52AM

    emoticon at keeping your weight maintenance. Try and stay positive. I know that you have some major stress going on but your idea of taking walks with your husband is great. It will probably help his stress too. Keep on sparking! emoticon

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    You're doing fine. I had one ounce of cashews today as a snack and it was awesome and definitely kept my hunger at bay. Also, greek yogurt does the trick. Just having healthy alternatives around is key. Just keep on going. :)

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THETURTLEBEAR 1/28/2012 9:01PM

    You are doing it! Life is never on an even keel, but you ARE doing it! WOO HOO! I am about two weeks ahead of you and we are in this together!!

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5% challenge: Habit #4

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The last two days have been so intense for me. in fact today has been an extreme roller coaster - one of those days where it ends and I find myself thinking, what just happened?

So I'm writing this in a bit of a frail state, and the 'replace chocolate with an apple' habit has fallen to the wayside, but I wanted to at least write about the one muscle that I have needed to use a lot this week, and is seriously out of shape:

Faith - that people will help me out when I ask for it
- that it's ok to step out and take risks
- that I won't gain back the weight that I've lost
- that although life is full of curve balls everything does work itself out in the end

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHELLYBABE2 1/23/2012 9:56AM

    emoticon blogs, take comfort in the fact that some of the healthy habits that you've picked up along the way are still with you and one or two bad habits that creep in now and again won't impact you that much and certainly won't make you gain all your weight back providing you ditch them as soon as you are able.

Be a little kinder to yourself, sometimes you just have to get through the challenging times any way you can!

Good luck and hope things settle down for you.

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THETURTLEBEAR 1/20/2012 7:54PM

    We are there for you!!

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SHARON10002 1/20/2012 4:15PM

    "Faith is building on what you know is here so you can reach what you know is there."
~ Cullen Hightower
If it's impossible for you to make it through a whole day, break your day into manageable steps - maybe morning, noon, and night. If that's too much take it further down to an hour at a time. . . Whatever you need to do. I invite you to read my blog, One Small Step.

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    Hang in there. There are always better days ahead. Hugs!

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    Faith keeps us going and gives us hope. Your friends will help you out when you ask but I often have a hard time asking and expect them to know what I need. Consistentcy will bring those new habits into the front of your mind and before you know it, they are your new second nature.

Sometimes you just have to write off a bad day as exactly that. A BAD DAY. Keep the faith sister.

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