Friday, 19 May 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: Hungry All The Time


I'm back, and this time I'm eating lunch. I mean, I always was before, but I'd got into a routine: either a jacket spud with cheese, a pasty, or beans on toast. Not too bad, but there wasn't much in the way of actual fruit and vegetables: I'm not saying you should make beans on toast and cover it in strawberries (or cucumber - I've seen that happen once before, and... there are no words) but I think there should be something. And that's what I've been lacking lately.

Another thing that happened to me in the last month is that I was diagnosed with CFS: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E. - something I'd been really hit hard by in the last year after experiencing a whole lot of fatigue and exhaustion. Imagine a bottle of Coke that's been shaken: all those bubbles rising to the surface and foaming up. Now imagine that fizzy feeling in the front of your forehead, all day, every day. The NHS website describes CFS as a tiredness like no other and they're completely right. As part of managing my condition, I've gently been encouraged to eat healthily in a bid to lose weight and to regain some energy. Now, normally by this point I'd be a bit miffed that someone has asked me to go on a diet. But this time, I'm completely on board. Instead of questioning "Why?!! Why would you do this to me?" I'm thinking, "Why not?" I love a good challenge, and I've been wanting to set another goal for myself since ditching sugary drinks for water.

I've only been doing this for three weeks now, and I quite like making the decisions on what to eat for lunch: aiming for variety, plenty of fruit and veg, a bit of fibre and dairy, and something filling. Something else that's been bugging me healthwise this year is my seriously increased appetite: nothing ever fills me up, and within even a few moments I can feel my stomach nagging at me for more. Being hungry all the time is not fun, it's miserable. So trying to stop the hunger is also important. But at the same time, as well as eating healthily, I also want to encourage everyone not to feel too guilty about having a treat every now again. I don't - I'm the girl who can't pass the bakery section of Lidl every week without picking up a double chocolate chip cookie. (Especially if they're still warm. God. Amazing.)

Each week I plan to share my midday meals, in the hope that it inspires anyone who has no idea what to eat for lunch (or tea, actually!) Every meal I have picked is easy to assemble and goes down really, really well. So... dig in!


Easy Chicken Noodles with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Slimming World SW friendly easy chicken and tomato noodles

This is the easiest lunch ever, which is why I've scheduled it for a Monday. As long as you have a kettle, a measuring jug and a microwave, you are good to go. Top marks also if you have a grill. I know it's just picking up a packet of instant noodles and serving it for lunch, but it doesn't matter: they are still filling, and they look really good in a bowl, served under a heap of roasted cherry tomatoes and a bit of pepper on top. Now tell me that's not comforting.

Chop four cherry tomatoes in half, and arrange on a tray. Switch the oven on to grill, whack the temperature right up, and shove the tray in the oven. Make up a packet of chicken instant noodles according to the packet instructions. Once the noodles are done, so are your tomatoes. Put the tomatoes on top of the noodles, twist a bit of pepper on the top, and serve.

Afterwards I ate a small fruit salad consisting of tinned pineapple and mandarin slices, fresh watermelon, and sliced green and red grapes.

Slimming World SW friendly easy chicken and tomato noodles


Smooshed Avocado and Egg Pitta

Healthy lunch idea - avocado on wholemeal pitta with egg salad

I tried making this last week after picking up an avocado for 49p in Aldi. (Please don't judge me for cheating on my one true love, which is another four-letter budget supermarket) In my excitement and lulled into a false sense of security, I believed my avocado was ripe, and I set to work putting it all together for my lunch. I should have known when the avocado didn't smoosh up and I burned a pitta bread. The whole blinking thing was bitter. Oh dear god. I made it halfway through before scraping the whole lot off and eating the pitta bread plain. Then there was an equally bitter piece of mixed leaf salad. I'm completely owning up to eating a Penguin bar in protest.

That said... please do not be put off by trying this recipe. Second time around, it was so much better - I think next time I'd like a stronger flavour to top the avocado. Like bacon. I mean, everything's better with bacon...

Hard boil an egg in the morning and let it cool. Discard the shell and slice up. Delicately cut up and scoop out the flesh of one avocado. Mash it up using a stick blender and a tiny splash of soya milk (or whatever milk you're able to drink). Once you've smooshed it all together, chop up four cherry tomatoes and place on a baking tray. On the same tray, add one wholemeal pitta bread. Grill in the oven, turning the pitta bread over halfway through. Arrange a small salad consisting of lettuce, cucumber and a few sliced olives (As you can see, I forgot to add the olives...) Once the pitta bread is hot, yet still soft, arrange on the plate, adding the tomato to the salad. Spoon the avocado onto the pitta bread, making marks with the fork so that it looks like all posh and hipster-y. Arrange the sliced egg on top of the pitta. Serve immediately.

As per Monday, I had fruit and then a cheeky bag of Wotsits afterwards.


Controversial Pitta Bread Pizza

Healthy SW lunch idea - pitta bread pizza

If this doesn't win Recipe Title Of The Year, then I don't know what will. Also, this should definitely be a thing. (Especially if there's a trophy involved.) There are people out there who don't like pineapple on their pizza - I don't know who these people are, but it's certainly not in our house. Even my brother likes pineapple on pizza. I also like pineapple in porridge, so... the truth is, warmed pineapple is delicious. I don't know what it is about warmed pineapple, or tomatoes, or indeed most fruits, but they always seem tastier that way. And pizza made with a pitta bread base is fab and takes a matter of minutes to throw together.

If you dislike pineapple on a pizza, you can change the topping if you like. I won't be too mad.

Toast one side of a wholemeal pitta bread for two minutes tops. Take it out and flip it over. Add a tablespoon of tomato sauce or puree and spread it over the pitta with a bread knife. Take a pinch (about 30g) of grated cheddar cheese and arrange on top of the pitta. Next, rip up half a slice of ham into small chunks, and slice three olives in half. Take one teaspoon's worth of tinned pineapple chunks (about three), halve them and drain away any juice. Arrange the ham, olives and pineapple on top of the pizza and grill in the oven until the cheese is brown in places and bubbling. While the pizza is in the oven, arrange a small side salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and olives. Eat it straight away.

There was a side of fruit afterwards, and it was good.


Pesto Pea Pasta

SW lunch idea for Slimming World - pesto pea pasta

I also bought a pot of pesto from Aldi last week, and the packaging was all sleek black and gold, a bit like a very expensive car, but it only cost 99p. It also screams out to be used in pasta, as well as a pizza base (which I think I'll be doing again, possibly next week), and paired with cheese and tomato in a pannini. As you can see by the recipes so far this week, bread doesn't feature much and if it does, it's very minimal. Anyways - back to the pasta. I made this on a whim last week when I shouldn't really have been cooking anything involving a hob (bad pain day), but somehow it was a success and I didn't burn the kitchen down. So I'm doing it again this week, because the pesto jar says I should use it as soon as possible. It doesn't talk to me, by the way. That would be weird. You just need a handful of frozen peas, pasta, tomatoes and a jar of pesto and you've got lunch. I bet it's really nice cold too.

Weigh out 100g of dried penne pasta per person and put in a pan of kettle-boiled water. Add one big handful of frozen peas to the mix and boil up the pasta. Chop four cherry tomatoes (always four for some reason - live on the side of danger and have five if you like), arrange on a tray and grill in the oven for at least five minutes near the end of the cooking time. When the pasta is cooked - and it will be both twice the size and really soft - and the peas look fantastic, drain the pasta in a sieve and remove any excess water. Transfer to a bowl and mix in a third of the jar of green pesto. Stir through until pasta is completely covered. Put a teeny sprinkle of cheese on top if desired. Add the tomatoes and eat ASAP.

I had more fruit and a toasted pitta with reduced fat hummus later on...

SW lunch idea for Slimming World - pesto pea pasta


Pea Soup with Tomato & Hummus Pitta

Slimming World-inspired pea soup with pitta bread and hummus

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with soup. On one hand, I really love it because it's easy to warm up and eat with a bit of bread on the side. On the other hand, my metabolism gets a bit angry because "I'm still hungry, Rach! And you've given up eating too much bread, woman!" - I don't mind your basic tomato soup in a tin, but sometimes it gets a bit sickly sweet. I quite like homemade soup, and I like peas. And this is so extremely simple you'll want to go and make it straight away, because I reckon you've got all the stuff you need to make it with. And to try and make things better for the ol' polyphagia (that's the medical term for increased appetite #wordoftheday), I teamed it with a tomato and hummus pitta. That's delicious too, by the way!

Arrange four sliced cherry tomatoes and a wholemeal pitta bread on a baking tray. Measure out 137g of frozen peas per person into a saucepan. Boil the kettle and measure 250ml water per person into a jug. Crumble in a vegetable stock cube and stir. Next, chop up a red onion into small pieces and add it to the saucepan along with the stock. Turn up the hob and cook the peas right through, stirring regularly. Once the peas are cooked (and it doesn't matter if they're too mushy), take the pan off the hob, resting it on a trivet. If the liquid is too reduced, add a splash of cold water to the mixture and boil some more. Use a stick blender to blitz the peas into a soup. Serve in a big bowl. Add pepper if you fancy.

While the soup's cooking, toast a wholemeal pitta bread on both sides along with the cherry tomatoes. Once hot, take it out and smother one side in reduced-fat hummus. Arrange the tomatoes on top. You can then eat it alongside your soup. And ooh, it's good. And yep, you guessed it, more fruit and a bag of Wotsits were enjoyed later on...

Did you make it this far? If so, I'm really chuffed and I hope you enjoyed this blog post - please let me know what you think in the comments! I'll be doing another one next week...

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