The Diet Diary Week 4

Tasty roast chicken with tomatoes a la Slimming World

Another week gone, and its almost like I’m wishing my life away!  Yes, I’m getting to that stage where I’m bored with not allowing myself to grab a lump of chocolate, or a few biscuits or even a simple doorstep of crusty bread with fresh butter generously spread all over it, or maybe a sneaky trip to the local Chinese takeaway for a portion of chicken chow mein and pork balls……..

It’s not because I’m particularly hungry, just that a lot of it comes with the need for comfort eating and to alleviate boredom.  Yes, shock! horror! I actually eat because I enjoy it, and not just because I’m getting wobbly with hunger.

But so far I have pretty much resisted, and the good news is that I continue to lose weight, with another 1 lb lost this week, 8 lbs in total since I started the starvation healthy program four weeks ago.

A lot of it is all in the head, my perception of hunger changes depending on whether I’m zoned in to dieting or not.

And sometimes, when I’m really focused on the things I can eat, rather than the things I can’t, the thought of eating the things I can’t eat actually puts me off eating!

Complicated isn’t it?

Simply put, you’re either in the mood or you’re not!  And at the moment I’m not.

Tasty roast chicken with tomatoes a la Slimming World

Plenty of leftovers for lunch next day!

Recipe of the week
Tasty chicken with mash and veg
Serves 4 ready in about 55 minutes

2lb/908g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks1 vegetable stock cube
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
4 skinless chicken thighs
4 skinless chicken drumsticks
2 tsp chicken Bovril
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
12oz/340g cherry tomatoes
9oz/255g fine green beans
9oz/255g young leaf spinach

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas 6.  Place the potatoes in a large pan of water with the stock cube and bring to the boil.  Then cover and simmer for 25 minutes, adding the cauliflower halfway through.

2. Make the incisions in the chicken and put on a roasting tray.  Drizzle over the Bovril and the herbs and rub into the chicken.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and scatter the cherry tomatoes on top.  Roast for a further 20 minutes.

3. Drain the potatoes and cauliflower, saving a cup of the cooking water.  Mash the vegetables, adding some of the saved cooking water to give a good, soft consistency.

4. Meanwhile, steam the green beans and spinach for 5 minutes and drain.  Serve the chicken and tomatoes with the mash and veg.

Syns per serving Extra Easy FREE

Another one from Slimming World, a lot of cooking to do, probably took nearer to an hour and a half, but actually well worth the work.  I’d never thought of spreading chicken Bovril over legs and thighs before (ooer missus), but it worked a treat!  And with a couple of extra legs thrown in, there was plenty over for lunch at work the next day.

9 out of 10.

NB: I am not endorsed by Slimming World in any way, I just copy their recipes!

The bloke from the council is poorly

Steve Evans

The man who inspires me and many others is poorly.  Not that you would know it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this amazing man is entering the final phase of his journey.

Back in August I wrote about Steve Evans, how I first came across this inspiring guy, who has been fighting the fight against the Big C, and, despite a few setbacks, winning each round on points!  A seemingly ordinary kind of bloke, now retired from the Council, loves fishing, part time entertainer and magician.  I followed him on Twitter, got chatting with him about our common chemotherapy experiences (those chemo pins and needles reach the places they shouldn’t normally reach!), and I was honoured to be invited to join Steve’s extended Facebook family and friends.

One of Steve’s targets through his recent treatment was to attend the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) convention in Buxton as compere, early in September.  Steve achieved his goal, and went down a storm by all accounts.  A couple of days later Steve was honoured with the coveted Associate of the Inner Magic Circle (AIMC) with a Silver Star award.

Shortly after the convention, Steve fell ill and was taken to hospital.  Friends waited anxiously for news of his condition.  We heard from his daughters, through Twitter and Facebook, that Steve’s condition had deteriorated, to the point where his tumour had grown and was bleeding, and the location of the tumour meant that he couldn’t eat.  Steve was very poorly indeed, and he readily admits that he thought his journey was about to reach its final destination.

But within a few days Steve’s condition had improved, the ‘genius of the NHS’, as Steve describes those dedicated people treating him, had managed to stop the bleeding, which in turn had allowed him to start eating again.  As he gained some strength, he received a visit from Richard Bacon, with whom Steve has become good friends, and he agreed to give an interview, recorded for Richard’s BBC Radio 5 Live show.  The link to that interview is here.  It’s a tough listen, but the words and the emotion explain everything; who Steve is, and what he is about.

This weekend, Steve appeared on the BBC Breakfast show, to discuss the story of the  extension of the Cancer Drugs Fund to 2016.  This is a very important development for cancer sufferers, and Steve explains here what it meant for him, or as he puts it “I simply stayed alive!”  He also tells us where he is on his journey at this time.

Knowing that he had been pretty poorly in hospital, and wasn’t able to eat for many days, I was concerned at how he might appear on the TV, but actually he looked amazing and was as chipper as ever!  As he says, he is relaxed and at peace with his condition, and will  enjoy a “better quality of life for as long as it is.”

His positivity shines through and he looks good on it!

Steve, you are truly an inspiration.  And I look forward to seeing you more in your new career as a TV personality!

Steve Evans

Steve Evans on Twitter @steveevans51



The Diet Diary Week 3

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara a la Slimming World

I’m on a roll! Another week gone by and I’m pleased to report that I have lost another pound, making a total weight loss of half a stone in three weeks.  Needless to say, I’m delighted!

This has also come as a pleasant surprise, considering that the diet went right out of the window during the week.  Having been invited to a posh event, with complementary bubbly on offer, my resolve was weakened after just one glass.  You know what it’s like, one glass leads to another, to another, and before you know it, you just don’t care!  And by that time, I was feeling a bit peckish too, so instead of doing the sensible thing and heading home for a banana and a fat free yogurt, I had my arm twisted (!) to go for a burger at Five Guys in Covent Garden.  I didn’t go mad, just the little hamburger, fries and a few peanuts!

One of the best things about this diet is that I am allowed threats like wine, burgers and chips.  A small 125ml glass of dry white wine is around 4 syns, so well within the 10 syns per day allowance.  Sadly, the standard takeaway burgers and chips might be a syn too far, but there are some great Slimming World alternatives!

But rather than give up and think What the Hell, and do the usual pig out for the rest of the week and “start the diet again on Monday”, I did the right thing and remembered a Slimming World philosophy I learned at one of the group sessions I used to attend.

There are 7 days in a week, 3 meals a day, 21 meals in total.  I’ve strayed on just one meal out of 21, it’s not the end of the world!  Consequently, I didn’t feel guilty about it and just carried on the next day, sticking to my plan.  I’ve been good ever since and trying more recipes from the stash Slimming World magazines I have collected:

Recipe of the week
Classic Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 4 ready in about 15 minutes

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara a la Slimming World

Could have done better with the presentation!

400g plain dried spaghetti
Fry Light
100g back bacon, all visible fat removed, cut into 2cm pieces
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
120g parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Tomato, cucumber and carrot salad

1. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.  Meanwhile, place a large frying pan sprayed with Fry Light over a medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then set aside.

2. Drain the spaghetti and add to the bacon mixture in the pan.  Add the eggs and half the parmesan, season and toss. (The heat from the spaghetti will partly cook the egg, but still leaving it moist.)

3. Divide the spaghetti carbonara between 4 bowls or plates.  Garnish with the parsley, sprinkle over the remaining  parmesan abd serve with the salad on the side.

Syns per serving Extra Easy FREE*
*Add 6 syns if not using the parmesan cheese as a Healthy Extra

This was the quickest and easiest recipe we have tried so far, and a real winner.  Cheated a bit by adding some Pizza Express House Light dressing to the salad, but hey, I need the odd treat!

A family favourite this one, 9 out of 10!

NB: I am not endorsed by Slimming World in any way, I’m just a fan!


Going to the dogs

Greyhound racing track side bookmaker

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium is the last remaining dog racing track in London, and one of a handful of tracks in the UK.  Is the sport literally going to the dogs?

They're off!

They’re off!

My husband likes a flutter, so we headed to the stadium in Plough Lane, as part of one of many regular Instameets organised by the London Instagram community.  This one organised by the queen of Instameets, Natalie.  We gained free entry and a printed sheet with the races and runners listed, using their Oyster Card offer, one of many packages on offer by the stadium, clearly doing all they can to get punters customers through the gates.  The stadium is past its best, a bit shabby around the edges, a posh venue this isn’t!  It’s all part of the charm and adds to the ambiance of a pastime that has seen better days.

As a small group of mobile, and other, photographers, we took a position near to the starting traps in the hope of capturing the dogs in full motion as they leaped out chasing after the toy bunny hurtling round the outside of the track.  Sadly, an iPhone is not an ideal camera in these conditions – the low light and the slower shutter speeds nowhere near good enough.  Any captures would be more by luck than judgement, although some of the group did get some great shots with their ‘big’ cameras.

But the lack of doggie photos meant there was more time for people watching, and what an interesting crowd!  From a lady celebrating her 90th birthday, old chain smoking guys with faces full of character, groups of younger people on the piss, families with children and couples just out together for the evening.  All life was here.

The unhappy punter

The unhappy punter

The girl from Trap 6

The girl from Trap 6








While I walked around attempting to take candid shots of some of the characters, my husband was busy placing a few bets.  As I said, he does loves a flutter, mainly on horse races it has to be said, so he did his usual bit of research with the Sporting Life, and came up with a few ‘naps‘.  He put his bets on all sorts of combinations, reverse forecasts, tricasts, even a straight bet to win.  Nothing!  You might as well bet on an interesting sounding name, that’s what Natalie did, and she came away with four winners!  But here’s the thing, out of 13 races, seven of the winners came from Trap 4. Coincidence?

The trackside bookie

The trackside bookie

Would I go again?  Might do, it’s not far from home so it’s convenient.  But for me, as someone who doesn’t really find betting (especially losing!) pleasurable, I’m not sure what else it has to offer.  Except great photo opportunities of course!

Checking out the form

Checking out the form



The happy punter

The happy punter