Friday, 30 June 2017

Rach Eats Lunch: Fighting Through The Fog


Did you know, ever since I started eating healthily, I haven't lost or gained any weight? Nope, incredibly I have maintained. It's really bizarre, that. I swear the cookies haven't got anything to do with it. Speaking of cookies, there was none in Lidl at all this week. None. No freshly baked bread, no cheese (!!!), nothing. I'm wondering if it was because of the heatwave we had last week, which only lasted for about five days and then went away on Thursday. That was a welcome surprise, actually. Well, it was for the first half of the morning, and then I felt sad at the lack of sunshine. When it's sunny, I feel positive, I feel like the world has opened up and I can do anything. But when it's the total opposite, like rain and grey clouds, well. I always feel claustrophobic. Is it just me who feels like this?

The hot weather, however lovely it was, didn't do me the biggest favour with my fatigue though. After nights of barely sleeping due to the heat, when things eventually calmed down and the cooler nights crept in, I realised how tired I actually was. It's genuinely hit me hard - my head's all fizzy like a shaken can of Coke again, I'm dizzy, headachy, ridiculously clumsy, and I'm extremely, extremely tired. Oh, and I can't focus or even spell properly: call it brain fog, if you will. I have a feeling I'll be lying down later with a book as I'm unlikely to get into any major trouble reading, am I? The upsetting thing is, my fatigue never gets better with sleep. After feeling completely shockingly bad yesterday, my night's sleep has only improved things by about ten percent. I still feel all of those things I felt yesterday, just a tiny bit less. Somehow you've got to keep going through that brain fog until you reach a clear patch. Don't ask me how I'm going to do that, but I will...

Today I'm sitting here half-asleep as I gear up for another week of recipes. I've decided to have a few salads this week to see if I can lose rather than maintain. As always, these recipes are quick and easy and don't take too much to put together. Perfect for the foggiest of brain fog days. Give them a go and let me know what you think!


Baby Caprese Salad

SW Slimming World friendly budget recipe caprese salad

Today's recipe is so speedy, I don't know if you can even call it a recipe! But I am. Basically Insalata Caprese is a super popular Italian salad that only has about three or four ingredients. There's mozzarella, tomato, olive oil (or balsamic vinegar) and mint, and it's all laid out on the plate in a beautiful stripey red, white and green pattern. It's meant to represent the Italian flag, which is pretty cool if you ask me! Either way, mozzarella and tomato is blinking delicious together, and to bulk it out and boost the nutritional value further, I'm adding mixed leaves and teeny tiny little snack cucumbers to the mix. You could use one huge tomato, but since I have cherries in the fridge, I'll be using those instead. Also, to replace the mint and olive oil, I'm also making my own simple little dressing. Who likes pesto?

Add a huge handful of mixed salad leaves to a plate. Open the reduced-fat mozzarella ball packet and drain the liquid, then cut the cheese into thin, round slices. Next, either slice a large round tomato into slices, or chop a big handful of cherry tomatoes in half. Take one snack cucumber and remove the ends before cutting into thin slices. Now you can arrange it on the plate, alternating a slice of mozzerella, cherry tomato, and cucumber until you've made your pattern and potentionally covered the salad. Finally, take one teaspoon of green pesto and low fat soya yoghurt. Mix the two in a small bowl. Once it's fairly runny, drizzle it over the salad and add salt and pepper to taste if desired. Eat it immediately!


Vegetarian Bangers and Cheesy Sweet Mash

SW Slimming World friendly budget easy vegetarian bangers and mash

Once upon a time, I was a vegetarian. No, seriously, I was. It was back when I was a teenager and I was eating a slightly stringy chicken drumstick from KFC. I was sitting in the back of the car when I said, "I want to be a vegetarian!" to my Mum, which was probably not the most gracious response to being bought dinner. Either way, I was a vegetarian for about two years and I only gave it up because I missed eating bacon. That said, I really enjoy eating vegetarian food: I actually like vegetables more than meat, if we're being honest here! (I was never any trouble as a child when it came to eating my greens...) My absolute favourite new discovery is the Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages, they are so yummy and have the most delicious savoury taste to them. Yum. They're also brilliant if you're on Slimming World as they're syn free. Mine are the gorgeous Red Onion & Rosemary flavour, and to complement them, I've made a sweet potato cheesy mash to go with it. Ooh, potential dinner idea there, people - get straight on it for tonight's tea! (Also, I'm ridiculously proud of my food presentation skills today. Ridiculously proud.)

Peel two medium sweet potatoes and cut into cubes, then peel and finely chop one small red onion if desired. Wrap two vegetarian sausages into a foil package, adding the red onions to the bottom of the foil, and arrange on a baking tray. Bake at 180℃ for approximately twenty five to thirty minutes. At the same time of putting the sausages in the oven, drop the sweet potato chunks into a saucepan filled with boiling water. Once the sweet potato chunks are completely soft, drain the water and begin to mash the spuds with a potato masher. Add 30g of grated cheese and mix in with the sweet potato until it melts. Season with salt and pepper and add the mashed potato to the plate, making a space for the sausages to sit. Next, cook a bag of microwavable veggies and sprinkle around the mash. Remove the piping hot sausages from the oven, add the red onions to the mash first and then place the sausages on top. Serve straight away and enjoy.


Crunchy Chickpea and Chicken Salad Bowl

SW friendly Slimming World budget chicken chickpea salad

I'm always slightly aware of food trends, and there's been some interesting (and yummy) looking ones lately, like smoothie bowls: which is a smoothie soup blended with a bit of thick yoghurt and then topped with nuts, seeds and other fruits. To be honest, one that's caught my eye solely for the name is the Buddha Bowl. And after further investigation, it's an artfully arranged salad in a bowl. Can I be honest here, for a second? It's a salad, in a bowl, with a fancy name. That's it. That's all there is to it. And every single last component of the salad is organised section by section, which is pretty clever but must take some effort. I am terrible at getting ingredients to line up on a plate or in a bowl. In the end I just mix it all up and call it abstract art. As long as you're being healthy, eh? Anyways, this salad is a bit of a humdinger because there's roasted chickpeas in it, which taste incredible. They're a little bit like eating a bag of ready salted crisps but without all the calories. They're crispy with a squishy centre, and ooh, I love them already - they add such a great flavour to the salad, making it feel like summer is still going on outside your window. Even when it's not. I've decided to roast the whole tin of chickpeas so that I can snack on the leftovers later on. Oh, and did you know you can make a vegan chocolate mousse from the water that comes out of a tin of chickpeas? (Even more interestingly, it's called aquafaba) Well, you did now. Google it!

In a bowl, prepare a salad of mixed salad leaves and sliced snack cucumber. Next, drain a tin of chickpeas. In a sieve, rinse the chickpeas through with cold water to remove any of the yucky slimy stuff! Eww! Transfer them to a clean tea towel and gently rub dry. Next, add a piece of chicken breast and the cherry tomatoes to a baking tray. On another lined baking tray, add the dried chickpeas. Drizzle with olive oil or low calorie cooking spray and sprinkle the chickpeas with plenty of salt. Put both chickpeas, tomatoes and chicken in the oven at 180℃ for thirty minutes. However! It is absolutely important that you turn the chickpeas regularly to prevent any burning. You can do this with a fish slice. By the end, the chickpeas will be brown all over and crispy - they look just like oversized popcorn kernels! Once the chicken is piping hot, remove both chicken, tomatoes and chickpeas from the oven, slice up the chicken into strips and add half of the chickpeas to the salad. (Save the rest for a snack later...) Pop the chicken in the salad and eat immediately. Yum!

SW friendly Slimming World budget chicken chickpea salad


Nacho Paprika Wedges

SW Slimming World friendly easy Nacho Wedges

Sometimes, a properly random idea springs to mind and you think, "Oh well, may as well do it." This is definitely one of them. A healthy, filling version of nachos, but without the tortilla chips. Can I 'fess up? I've never had nachos before. Yep, really. I once saw a lady eat them on a boat trip in New York, which was no mean feat considering how choppy the water was! In this recipe you're going to make your own tomato salsa which gives it that I Made It Myself vibe, without actually having to do very much at all - the blender does it all for you. And when you're feeling groggy from another night's bad sleep and you're dizzy and disorientated because your CFS is driving you a bit nuts, simple is the key. There's a tiny hint of spice from the paprika, tangy tomatoes, and a huge helping of cheese. Oh, and did I mention there's some carbs in here? In the form of potatoes? There definitely is. You're going to love it, and you really should make it as soon as possible.

Cook one large microwave jacket potato and slice it in half and half again until you have a big portion of wedges. Put them onto a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil or low fat cooking spray, and sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper. If you can, swoosh the wedges in any leftover paprika left on the bottom of the tray so that both sides of the wedges are covered. Slice up a huge handful (about ten) of cherry tomatoes and add them to the baking tray. Put both wedges and tomatoes into the oven at 180℃ for thirty minutes, turning the wedges occasionally so that they crisp up. While you're waiting, make a huge salad of mixed salad leaves, tomato and cucumber in a bowl. I even added my leftover roasted chickpeas from yesterday to the salad, which made it even better. Next, remove the tomatoes and put in a blender. Pulse the tomatoes and grind them down into a lumpy, chunky sauce: tomato salsa. Don't go too far with pulsing the tomatoes at this stage, you don't want it to become too thin! Take the wedges out of the oven and add to the bowl, crowding the wedges together. Add 30g of grated cheese on the top and grill the bowl in the oven for about two to three minutes until it's melted and bubbling. Finally, pour over the tomato salsa sauce, add a few sliced olives on the top and eat straight away.


Rainbow Toast

SW Slimming World friendly easy rainbow toast

I think it was last week when I said I don't eat that much bread much any more. Sometimes you can make an exception! I was really struggling to decide upon a recipe for today, when all of a sudden it hit me. I'm going to colour co-ordinate my lunch. People who know me know I absolutely love rainbows, so it all makes absolute perfect sense to create a meal filled with colour. The toast fills you up while the veggies add a tasty crunch. I'm still after a perfect purple veg though... beetroot? Purple cabbage? Who knows, but I've found a perfect purple alternative... As an aside, and you know I love my asides... lettuce is the most annoying vegetable to prepare, ever. There's the peeling, the washing, the drying and the chopping. And it lasts forever, and you can't really let a lettuce last longer than a week, can you? I think this is the reason why I like my salad veggies readily prepared and in a bag so you can just pick it out and eat it straight away. Some might call it laziness, I just call it preventing food wastage!

Toast two pieces of wholemeal bread. While you're waiting, chop up five cherry tomatoes, a handful of purple grapes and finely grate a snack cucumber and a small carrot into strips. When the toast is done, smooth over dairy-free spread and Marmite if desired, add a slice of ham, and then add the tomato and carrot in stripes across each piece of toast. Next, sprinkle over 30g of grated cheese in stripes and then, finally, add the cucumber and grapes to the toast. Serve it with a salad and eat it straight away. Yum!

Rainbow toast

Woohoo, another week down! Come and join me on my hashtag, #RachEatsLunch if you've made any of my recipes, I'd love to see how you get on! I shall see you next week.

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