Saturday, 26 January 2013

Low-syn couscous loaf

Whilst I love the idea of a cake that fills you up and hits that sweet spot I don't enjoy the recipes that tell you to add low-fat, flavoured yogurts  sweeteners or low calorie hot chocolate powder so I had a go at replacing these ingredients with more natural, if slightly higher syn-ed ones. I enjoyed it but if you like your cakes sweet then you might want to switch to sweetener instead of honey or add more honey and more dried fruit, it depends how many syns you have to play with. Nuts would also be a nice addition

Note: Some Slimming Worlders claim that making a cake from couscous is 'Food Abuse' as it is using couscous as a substitute for flour but my interpretation of that rule is that it is only Abuse if ground and used in the same way as flour. If you think I'm wrong then don't follow the recipe, it's all good. However if you leave me a comment telling me I am wrong I WILL EAT YOU. 

You cannot see any dried fruit in this at all (25g is not much) but I promise there was some.


8fl oz/240ml semi skimmed milk (just under 1 HExa)
40z couscous (Free on EE or Green)
2 eggs (Free)
1tsp baking soda or powder (0.5 syn)
1 teaspoon  honey - or more if you can spare the syns (1 syn per tsp)
25g mixed dried fruit - or more if you like (3.5 syns)
4 tspn cinnamon (Free)
Pinch of salt (Free)

Whole loaf = 5 syns. Mine made 5 hefty slices so 1 syn per slice unless you add more fruit or honey.
If you don't use the milk as a HEXa add 4.5 Syns to the whole loaf.


Pre-heat oven to 190C
Gently warm the milk, stirring in the cinnamon and honey until it dissolves.
Put the couscous in a bowl and stir in the milk mixture to soak for 10 minutes
Whisk the eggs and the baking soda together and add this to the couscous once the 10 mins are up.
Also add the mixed dried fruit and salt and stir.
You should now have a fairly sloppy mixture that may be gently foaming due to the baking soda. Pour this into a lined or silicon loaf tin.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Check on it a few times and if the top is over-browning lay tinfoil or baking parchment over the top.

Turn out onto wire wrack to cool.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Bloody Brilliant Orange & Apricot Loaf (with a bit of drizzle)

I copied this out of one of my mother-in-law's books years ago and never got round to trying it so when @ralphmighty asked for a courgette cake naturally I decided to make this instead. I have no idea who the author of this recipe is but I give full credit to them. Whoever they were.

This is a  no-no on the Slimming World diet coz of all the deliciousness flour, sugar and dried & cooked fruit but I modified the recipe so it's not soooo bad.

Prep time: 15 mins  Baking time: 50-60 mins Mine took 50 mins
You need a 1.5 litre loaf tin or a 1.5 litre fluted ring mould. I used 2 x 1 pint loaf tins

250g ready to eat dried apricots
Zest of 1 Orange
250ml boiling water
75g butter I used Benecol, this cake will reduce my cholesterol!
125g soft brown sugar I only used 95g
2 eggs
250g plain white flour                } I actually used 50/50 plain self-raising white and plain wholemeal
50g wholemeal flour
1.5 teaspoon bicarb. of soda  Only used 1 teaspoon

For the topping:
Juice of 2 oranges
4 tablespoons caster sugar I used 2 tablespoons

1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line tin. Or if silicone has enhanced your life, spray your silicone tin(s)
2. Put apricots and zest into food processor. Do not be tempted to process them at this point, you will get splashed! Cover with the water & leave to steep for 10 mins
3. Add butter, brown sugar & eggs to the processor. Pulse for 10 secs until apricots are roughly chopped
4. Sieve flours and bicarb. into a separate bowl and mix well. Add the 2 mixtures together and mix until smooth. I'm unclear as to whether you add the fruit to the flour bowl or the other way round but I doubt it matters too much. 
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes & remove from oven
6. Mix juice & caster sugar together and drizzle over cake whilst it is still hot. Leave for 10 minutes and turn out onto rack.

Here is a terrible photo of the loaves. I will take a better one in the morning if there is any left!

It smells absolutely fantastic when it is hot, tastes like apricot-y marmalade and is the fluffiest and moistest cake I have ever made. 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Diet Orangina Pork (Sweet n Sour stylee)

Always one to continue prodding things with sticks long after everyone else has lost interest, I decided to invent a variation on the Diet Coke Chicken recipe from last week. I was expecting it to end up in the bin but it was bloody brilliant and I will definitely be cooking it again.

I can't tell you quantities because I do everything by eye and I don't think you can go too far wrong. 

  • Diet Orangina - I imagine Fanta or similar would also work, I just got sucked in by the dimpley bottle.
  • Lean pork, cut into chunks, any visible fat removed (Free on Red & Extra Easy100g (raw) as Healthy Extra B on Green or 1.5 syns per 11g (raw weight)
  • Pineapple chunks (once cooked = 1.5 syns per 28g for fresh, not sure about tinned) 
  • Mixed peppers, cut into chunks
  • Onion, cut into chunks
  • Passata
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt
In a saucepan fry off the pork with the peppers and onion, add at least half of the Orangina (if you add too much you can pour it off later) and pineapple, simmer for a few minutes.  Add the passata and soy sauce and continue to simmer until thickened and reduced. I baked mine in the oven for 10 minutes towards the end to improve the flavour. Sprinkle salt over to create the 'sour'.

Serve with salad on a red day or couscous, rice or potato wedges on Green or Extra Easy.

What's next - Dr Pepper Steak?  Coq au Vimto?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

"I've got a cross-trainer", "I'm not surprised he's angry, you never do any exercise!"

@RalphMighty is due back from camping in a field with a million children today. It's a race to see which will arrive first, him or my cross-trainer.

@RalphMighty doesn't know that we are getting a cross-trainer. He went camping last Friday evening and I ordered the cross-trainer on Monday morning.

I have been talking about getting one for at least 2 years and we've even been to look at some with a view to a purchase but whenever I get close to ordering @RalphMighty always rightly asks 'Where are you going to PUT it?' and he has a point. I would put it in the spare room but there's no room what with the piano, 3 keyboards, amp, accordion, guitar, and shelving unit full of records and sheet music, not to mention The CD Mountain... No, no, none of those things are mine.

I am now working on the hope that @RalphMighty will be more amenable to the idea of a large piece of exercise equipment in our bedroom if he sees it there first.

It comes from that last bastion of the 90's, Argos, so is arriving flat-packed. Which means that not only do I have to wait at the mercy of delivery men for it to be delivered but I also have to put it together before @RalphMighty gets home so that he can see it in all it's assembled glory and say "Wow! No matter that I can't open my wardrobe door or see out of the window any more - that is one fine cross-trainer". Of course a more likely scenario is that @RalphMighty will arrive home with a week's worth of camping equipment, dying for a bath and find me self-harming with an allen key on the bedroom floor surrounded by bits of metal.

So, as I continue my vigil at the window in the vain hope of seeing that longed-for blue van, please hum the Kinks 'Tired of Waiting' to yourselves and I will keep you updated on my self-assembly progress.
I'll start you off:
"I'm so tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you-oo-oo" ..........................

12:24 - Phone call from delivery man to say he will be here in an hour / hour and a half.

14:17 - Late, latidy-late! 
14: 36 - It's arrived!
14:50 - Polystyrene and metal everywhere! Here goes...
16:17 - The tension-wire is impossible to attach and I am tense (and bleeding!) but the wire is immune to it. 
16:55 - Spent an entire episode of Columbo and half an episode of Miss Marple trying to achieve this:

Tension is now achieved and a plaster applied. Phew!

19:50 - @RalphMighty phones to say he'll be back in about an hour. The race is on. I'm nearly done but the next bit involves wires, eep!

20:00 - Tis done! Tricky moment when it needed coaxing through the bedroom door but here it is, much smaller than I thought it would be, thankfully!

Right, I deserve a (non-alcoholic) beer

20:22 - @RalphMighty is back! I win!

Friday, 29 July 2011

It's a, It's a Syn!

If you are not familiar with the Slimming World diet then you might be wondering what Syns are. You can read Slimming World's own answer to this question here but basically they are a representation of how bad for the diet a food is; it works out at roughly 1 Syn per 20 calories but other things are taken into account such as omega-content, the benefits of which balance out the 'damage' done by the fat content. (This explains why smoked salmon is Free on a Red or Extra Easy day but smoked mackrel isn't, btw). We are encouraged to eat at least 5 Syns per day but can eat up to 15 a day, or 105 a week . Slimming World are trying to make not being able to eat things fun 'n' funky by coming up with a tenuous word ('synergy') that they can abbreviate to make our Nutella-topped Coco-Pops* sound a bit sexy and naughty rather than disgusting and pathetic. 

The system does work very well, you already have Healthy Extras which you are encouraged to eat to ensure that you get enough dairy and protein (e.g, a small amount of meat on a green/vegetarian day or a small amount of pasta on a red day when you cannot eat many pulses or much starch) and Syns let you add to this so you can have- oh, I don't know- a G&T (4 syns if using slimline tonic) of an evening or clotted cream on your strawberries (4.5 Syns per tbsp). 

It also allows you to harness the power of Neil Tennant to help you resist temptation. I find him rather effective:

*Where were you then, Neil?

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Diet Coke Chicken

I had read about this recipe in various forms, not least Nigella's Ham in Cola so, being home alone for a week whilst my other half (who will be known henceforth by his Twitter username, @RalphMighty) camped in a field with children *double shudder*, I decided to give it a go. This version has the benefit of being completely Syn-Free on an Extra Easy or Red day depending on what you serve with it. I chose couscous.

I used a recipe from the excellent blog Low Syn Life because others didn't include onion and @lowsynlife's recipes have never let me down yet. I substituted soy sauce for the Worcester Sauce because I had some of one and none of the other.

I'd love to be able to  bring you a tale of revolting, burnt, stickiness but I'm afraid the preparation went without incident. The Coke reduced just as it was supposed to and the chicken was cooked through. It looked OK,

and tasted OK. Too sweet for my taste but no worse than a lot of bought sauces or Chinese takeaways that I have had.

Whilst I 'm not overwhelmed by the taste you certainly wouldn't know that it was made from diet coke. Unless of course you have a  basic grasp of chemistry and realise that what goes into many store-bought and even restaurant-cooked sauces are essentially the same ingredients that go into soft drinks. It was incredibly easy to make but now that my curiosity is appeased I don't think I will be doing it again.

Another more fun thing to do with a chicken and a beverage if you are not on a diet:

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The story so far...

I've never bothered with a blog  before because, quite frankly, I didn't think that anyone would be interested in what I have to say. However, having recently have found several blogs from fellow Slimmers very supportive and useful to my efforts to survive on this diet (I say 'survive' but it's really not been that difficult!) I have decided to contribute to the junk currently cluttering up the bloggersphere. 

Clich├ęd though it is, everything said about 'Happy Weight Gain' is true, see 4 reasons You Gain Weight When You Meet Your Mate or any one of about a gazillion other articles on the subject. OK, so I was only a stone and a half overweight for my height but it still took me 4 years of 'outgrowing' clothes to twig. After going through denial ("I'm not fat!"), defensiveness ("So what if I'm a little overweight?") and despondency ("Oh god, I'm fat and ugly"), I eventually realised that I was spending so much time finding excuses for myself and being miserable about it that I might as well just go on a damn diet!

Several other factors contributed to my decision but I won't bore you with them. What follows will probably be mostly recipes and rants sporadically posted.

Next time... Diet Coke Chicken!

[End of first blog post]