Leek, Mushroom & Pesto Soup

I haven’t been food shopping in a while and had some vegetables that need using up so improvised and created a new soup. As you can see, instead of bread, I dipped in some lettuce leaves which sounds depressing but was actually really good. But if that sounds a bit too healthy for you, you can always grab a toasted baguette or slice of bread.

I’ve put the ingredients and method below but if you want to add more or less of something or chuck in some other vegetables, go for it. Personally, I love garlic so added in a lot but if that doesn’t suit your taste then just skip that ingredient. Similarly, add more or less milk depending on how thick you like your soup.

Serves: 2     Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large leeks
  • 250g Mushrooms
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 4 tsp Green Pesto
  • Romaine Lettuce Hearts
  • 50ml Semi-Skimmed milk (Or whatever milk you like)

Method:

  1. Slice your leeks, mushrooms and garlic cloves and boil them in a pan for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain your vegetables and put them back in the pan. Add in the milk and blend until smooth. Add more milk until you achieve the consistency you desire.
  3. Once blended, simmer on a low heat and stir in your pesto.
  4. Serve with your lettuce leaves or bread and enjoy!

Let me know if you enjoy this recipe, I will hopefully be posting a few more in the future!

If you liked this post you may also like my recipe for a Turkey Bacon and Egg Loaf.

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My Clothes Were Making Me Fat

One of the best things about losing weight has been being able to walk into a shop, see something I like and buy it. At my biggest, I could only fit into a few certain shops and so I normally always avoided shopping because I knew it was pointless.

But one thing I have struggled to change is wearing baggy clothes. I never considered myself overly self-conscious even at my biggest – sure I didn’t like the way I looked but I didn’t let it stop me from doing anything. But looking back I suppose I was and still am to an extent because of how baggy my clothes were. I always thought having clothes that clung to my fat was horrible, yet when I think about it I was the same size regardless of whether my clothes clung or not.

I recently went through my wardrobe with the help of my friend and sister and threw out about 90% of my clothes, donating the good quality clothes to charity and binning the clothes that had seen better days. Even then I had very different opinions to my friend and sister about what was too big and what should be thrown away. But I’m slowly learning that wearing baggy clothes can actually make me look bigger than what I am and some clothes should be a tighter fit. When I go shopping I can still struggle to pick the right size and usually get a friend’s opinion to make sure it isn’t too tight or too baggy.

Hopefully I’ll continue to lose weight and learn over time what suits me! I thought I would finish this post with a small comparison of the size I used to be and a photo of myself and sisters at my sister’s graduation. I know the angles are slightly different and my sister’s robe hides me a bit but I am so pleased with the progress I have made so far!

 

Healthy Lifestyle Update #5

My weight has fluctuated this month which has been frustrating. Instead of having my usual cheat meal on a weekend before drinking, I have been having unhealthy weekends which are stunting my healthy efforts during the week. However even though my weight has been going up and down my total weight loss is now four stone and two pounds. Only losing two pounds this month isn’t great but reflecting and writing this update has given me the push to refocus.

Last week I went back to the gym and surprisingly my knee held up pretty well. I expected it to hurt a lot the next day but it was fine so I want to get back to going three of four times a week. Even though it has been a mixed bag for me month, I feel motivated to make progress at the gym and carry on losing weight. It has been nice to feel more confident and this weekend I bought some new clothes. Whilst I still don’t fit into everything in high street stores, it is nice to be able to walk into shops, see something I like and be able to buy it! It sounds silly but it really is refreshing!

I have three and a half months until I go back to university for my final year and I would quite like to lose another stone before I go back. It’s time to refocus and make the gym a habit and hopefully carry on making progress!

I have received some really nice comments from people in my personal life and other bloggers about how my updates have been helping and inspiring them to lose weight. I never thought that would happen and it is incredible to know my posts may be helping someone! I recently published a post discussing different healthy alternatives I have incorporated into my diet but thought I would give a few more general tips that may help anyone wanting to lose weight but not really knowing where to begin.

Track what you eat

You may be surprised at the nutritional content in foods advertised as healthy so keeping a diary of everything you eat can help you understand the science behind what you are putting into your body. Apps such as MyFitnessPal can be extremely helpful, allowing you to scan barcodes to quickly know the nutritional content of the foods you are eating. I tracked what I was eating for around two months using MyFitnessPal. Logging in each day was sometimes tedious but the app soon learns the food you eat regularly, speeding up the process. My iPhone also automatically synced my step count into the app which gave me a rough idea of how many calories I had burnt once I had entered my height and weight. You can also add in any other exercise you do and enter your weight at different points giving you a general idea of how you are getting on. Whilst apps can be helpful remember they aren’t 100% accurate so take the results with a pinch of salt!

It will take time

I remember seeing a picture years ago saying it takes one month for your friends to notice a difference in your weight loss, two months for your family and three months for yourself. This is surprisingly accurate as people who see you less will notice differences faster. We are always going to be harder on ourselves but remember changes won’t happen overnight but if you keep pushing forwards you will soon start to see progress!

Take photos to track your progress

When I look back at old photos I am shocked with how big I was. I have a long way to go but having old photos is a good reminder of how far I have come and can be really motivating to keep pushing on. Take photos at regular intervals so you can document how your body is changing, you will be surprised how quickly you start to notice differences.

Only weigh yourself once a week

It can be easy to become obsessed with the number on the scales particularly once you start to make progress. Your weight will fluctuate from day to day and know the number on the scales is not the be all and end all. Aim for feeling healthier and better within yourself and your weight loss should follow. However I do believe weighing yourself once a week can be a good guide to tangibly track your progress. I use the same scales each week when I wake up on a Saturday morning – make sure you weigh yourself on a flat, hard surface avoiding carpet. Keep a note of how much you weigh so you can track your progress over time!

Be realistic

Every person is different so finding the right diet and exercise balance for you will take time. I avoid carbs because it suits my low-energy job but others with more physically demanding jobs will need carbohydrates to keep them going throughout the day! Find what works for you and remember losing weight really is simple. Eat healthily and move a bit more and you should start to see progress! If you don’t feel like you want to go to the gym right away, start off with taking the dog for a walk or set yourself a goal of how many steps you want to do each day. Little changes will be easier to stick to and you can build up what you are doing over time. Also remember one unhealthy day won’t undo all your hard work so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Find out what works for you and stick at it, it will be worth it in the end! See you next month for another update!

Five Easy Healthy Alternatives

At the beginning of the year I set myself a resolution to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. So far I have lost four stone and have been discovering different alternatives to incorporate into my diet when trying to avoid unhealthy foods. Before I get into my recommendations, please can I point out I am not a nutritional expert by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone’s bodies are different so what works for me may not work for you! You should strive for a healthy balanced diet and remember everything is in moderation – it is okay to treat yourself!

Craving Pasta?
If you love pasta or noodles then you could consider swapping over to Bare Naked Noodles or Slim Pasta. These alternatives are high in fibre and low in calories and can be added to all different types of meals. The only downside is they are slightly more expensive than your normal pasta products but I have grown fond of them whilst pursuing a healthier lifestyle as they are filling and versatile.

Is Spaghetti Bolognese your favourite?
A lot of people enjoy a rich spaghetti bolognese or warm chilli con carne made with beef or pork mince but these meats can be high in fat. Try going for lean mince for a healthier meal! Another alternative is lean Turkey mince or Quorn. They can add a different flavour dynamic and are lower in fat and calories. Try different mince and see which is your favourite, you may be surprised!

Love a stir fry or a nice steak but trying to avoid oil?
It can be easy to forget that oil can add extra calories and fat content to your meals whilst adding very little to the flavour. If you’re cooking a steak you could try using Fry Light which boasts just one calorie per spray. However it does burn up quickly so you may find it easier to use when cooking at a low heat. Whilst Fry Light can be a lighter option I regularly use water as a replacement for oil. A small splash of water will stop most ingredients from sticking to the pan and can be great when mixing different herbs and spices. Whilst it may seem odd at first, try using water and see what you think!

Fancy something sweet?
I prefer savoury but everyone fancies something sweet once in a while. When craving chocolate or sweets I often reach for some sugar free jelly or Angel Delight with no added sugar. These low calorie options can be perfect for satisfying your sweet craving and with a number of flavours to try you can mix it up without getting bored!

Do you love bangers and mash?
Most people enjoy a sausage sandwich but sausages can be high in fat and full of unhealthy ingredients. I’ve recently tried vegetarian sausages and was surprised with how good they were! They cook very fast so can be perfect when wanting a quick and easy meal and are lower in calories and fat content than meat sausages. Whilst I wouldn’t have them all the time, every now and then they can make a nice, healthy change!

Do you have any healthy alternatives that you enjoy?
If you enjoyed this post you may like my Healthy Lifestyle Updates!

Healthy Lifestyle Update #4

April has a been a mixed month in terms of pursuing a healthier lifestyle and weight loss. It was my birthday so that meant I gave myself some time off and enjoyed meals and drinks with friends and family to celebrate my 21st. I have only recently got back on track so am currently still feeling slightly guilty for all the unhealthy food and drink I have eaten. However when I reflect on the month as a whole, I have eaten healthily and managed to continue the low carb diet. My total weight loss is now 4 stone exactly which meant I hit my fifth bag of sugar this month!

Five Bags Of Sugar Ben Redgell

This month I got bored of my diet, particularly with dinner. Cereal for breakfast doesn’t particularly bother me as I’m normally in a rush to get to work so grab a quick bowl then head out the door. Lunch always consists of salad which admittedly is really boring some days. Usually it consists of lettuce, baby spinach, tomatoes and cucumber – sometimes I will add chicken if I bother cooking it the night before but normally it is just the four main ingredients. Generally though I don’t struggle too much at work because I know I don’t have unhealthy options in my bag or in the cupboard that I can go grab, which removes the temptation.

Although dinner gives me the most options as I have the time to prepare what I like, I was preparing the same few meals most days which got a boring. I didn’t look forward to dinner, it was more something to get out of the way and to satisfy my hunger. Whilst my meals didn’t taste bad I was getting bored of having the same thing over and over again so I went out and bought a load of different herbs and spices which I have been using on a trial and error basis. My current favourite is paprika and garlic chicken or turkey steaks. My dad has also been helpful in trying to get a range of vegetables for me in an attempt to vary my diet. I have also been having fruit with yoghurt and a bit of granola chucked on top for pudding quite a lot which I’ve enjoyed.

Unfortunately I haven’t been back to the gym. I’ve wore my knee support for a few weeks and was icing my knee regularly and it has started to improve. But if I still overstretch it, bend it or put it in a slightly different angle it tells me off. I fell up the stairs the other day chasing my dog because I was going too fast and must have been at a funny angle and it gave way leaving me to faceplant.  It’s frustrating knowing I am paying for a gym membership which I’m not using but I don’t really want to go to the doctors because I feel like they will just tell me to rest it and ice it which I already know. If anyone has any good tips on how to get your knee back to normal that would be great! I think I need to stop being lazy and walk the dog more because at least then it will be moving and hopefully strengthen back up over time.

A mixed bag this month really. I still feel fat and its hard knowing there is a hell of a long way to go until I hit my goal but at the same time I know I am making steady and consistent progress and just need to persevere. I’m sure everyone gets days where they feel like this sometimes when trying to lose weight so I’m not worried. Some days I feel a lot slimmer and I loved being able to buy my shirt for my birthday in a 2XL rather than a 3XL. Oh well, onward and upwards!

See you next month for another update!

Healthy Lifestyle Update

In my New Years resolution post I mentioned that one of my goals was to be healthier, lose weight and drink more water. I know, how original! However I am pleased to announce it has gone really well and in a month I have lost 1 stone, 9 pounds (10kg for any American readers). I made a drastic change to my eating habits and started moving more and I am really pleased that I am making progress! (For anyone worrying, I know that seems like a crazy/worrying amount to lose in four weeks but I believe it is relative to my size and I am eating plenty of food and not crash dieting. It’s going to be a long process and I know my weight loss will slow down considerably very soon.)

I thought I would share with you all the changes I have made to my lifestyle that has led me to lose weight. In fact I want to share with you my weightloss secret.  Daily we see various diets claiming to be the next best thing or the quickest fix but the real secret is there is no secret. In my mind losing weight or feeling healthier is simple. Eat healthy food, drink more water and move a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, this can be daunting and just the idea can leave you exhausted, reaching for a cup of tea and biscuits. But if you are considering starting a healthier lifestyle, know you can do it, in your own time and at your own pace.

Food

Before I began this healthier lifestyle I used to eat very badly. I loved bread, in fact I still love bread. To me there was nothing more satisfying than a sandwich or bread with dinner. I also used to love mayonnaise and cheese which everyone knows isn’t the healthiest of options. When I was bored I would eat and my snacks were excessive pretty much verging on another meal. I also used to eat fast food and go to restaurants a lot (I’m worried KFC and McDonald’s will go out of business now I am being healthy).

So I decided to really try and make a drastic change to my diet for one month to see how I got on. I essentially have no carbohydrates after my cereal at breakfast. At first it was difficult but now I have easily adjusted and am used to eating other foods. I have included some examples of what I typically eat for dinner now.

As I have removed carbohydrates from my diet, I pile up my plate with loads of veg and meat to ensure I am still eating enough. On the left is a stir fry including chicken, courgette, broccoli and mushrooms and I ate pretty much the entire pan. To avoid using oil, I add a little water into the pan to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick and the veg can cook. I finished this off with garlic and soy sauce. On the left is a rare steak (cooked in coconut oil), courgetti and red cabbage. I try to avoid oil most of the time but went for coconut oil as I think it is the healthiest oil choice you can make.

Oddly enough, my friends and family have asked me if I struggle the most at work but I actually find it the easiest place to remain determined. It was a sad day when I had to tell Chicken Saladmy colleagues in the office that I was no longer going to be having McDonald’s breakfast Fridays but other than that I get through work with ease. I prepare a salad in the morning every day with loads of different fresh fruit and veg piled on top of baby spinach and iceberg lettuce! If I am organised enough, I also add some meat in that I prepared the night before. To the left is a sweet chilli chicken salad that I had the other day.

I also wanted to share a product I found that can be a really good replacement if I am craving carbohydrates.Barenaked Noodles I stumbled upon Barenaked Noodles the other day in Sainsbury’s and decided to try it as it boasts having only eight calories per 100g. For £2 a pack it is a little more expensive than your regular equivalent but there is enough for two meals. If someone had served me these noodles without telling me they were different I don’t think I would have noticed. The texture and taste is very similar to normal noodles and served with a sauce they are a great substitute to try. If you are trying to lose weight, give these a go!

Exercise

In the past I did very little exercise so I have set myself the target of doing 10,000 steps a day. On the Health App on my iPhone I looked through what I used to do and realised I didn’t walk very much. I thought beginning with 10,000 steps a day would be a good way of easing myself back into exercise but I know I will need to step it up in the near future if I want to continue to lose weight and get in better shape. Some days when it is cold, windy and raining it can be hard to motivate myself to get up and go for a walk but I have forced myself to go. I think my dog is loving all the extra walks he has been getting!

Water

I have been drinking more water but still have room to improve. I make myself drink at least a litre at work but its the evenings and weekends where I tail off. I love Diet Coke and still drink it a lot. I know it isn’t healthy but for now I consider it to be a treat for myself as I push forward with food and exercise. I know eventually if I truly want to be healthy I will need to drastically cut down but for now I’m letting it slip.

Whilst I have made good progress with my diet I don’t want anyone to feel pressure to follow a similar process. All of our bodies are different and we all have different lifestyles. My job requires me to sit at a desk all day so I feel like this diet suits my day to day life however someone in a far more active job would need more energy. I also want to make it clear that carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. Whilst I have cut the majority of mine out I will eventually re-introduce them and when I do I will try to choose the healthiest ones possible. We all know chips aren’t good for you but by all means grab a jacket potato or have sweet potato mash!

If any of you have any tips or advice I would love to hear them! If you are trying to be healthy, good luck! It is going to be a long road but I’m positive I will get there!