Baked Sardines and Pine Nuts…in moderation

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I deconstructed Nigel Slater’s Baked Sardine and Pine Nut recipe more as an exercise…unless O’Mighty Tim has a damascan style conversion to fish this won’t be appearing for dinner in this house anytime soon. It’s not suitable for taking for lunch as it’s served hot/warm and I don’t have anything capable of keeping it hot for longer than 3 hours at the moment.

Sardines are meant to be a  healthy option being 25% protein, oodles of vitamin B, 9% fat and most of it poly unsaturated plus being good sources of vitamin D, calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids. 10 small sardines, according to FitDay comes out at at approximately 104 calories of which 5.7g are fat.

The whole dish however (serving 3-4 people) comes out at 1611 calories of which 131g are fat, 12.3g protein and 0% fat. In other words 70% fat, but most of that being poly or monounsaturated…so falling more into the “good fats” category.  A 3 person portion is 537 calories, if it serves 4 person then that drops to 402 calories.

If you want to make this less calorific then you could play around with the olive oil (accounts for 477 of the total dishes calories, 54g fat) or reduce the pine nuts…but perhaps not by too much as the pine nuts are part of the point of the dish. The 100g pine nuts accounts for 673 calories and 68g fat.  Reducing the olive oil to 2 tablespoons and the pine nuts to 80g will reduce a 4 person serving down to 309 calories…don’t know what that will do to the flavour as I’m not going to get a chance to try it…

I think what I’d probably do for this is to call a portion equal to 2 fish and serve it with either steamed veg or a citrus dressed salad… a 2 fish serving brings it down to 322 calories (18g fat)

I didn’t bother working out the cake…same rules apply to cake as they do to G&T the occasional one is fine…however for the cake to be equivalent in calories as a G&T you would need to divide it into about 24 slices…and only eat it on a day where you’d had no other fat !

 

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The Diet Doctors Inside and Out (a sort of review)

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I don’ believe in diets and I don’t as a rule EVER follow a particular diet supposedly guaranteed to drop inches off my measurements… not since 2001 as far as I can remember when I dutifully followed a 7 day juice detox (having worked out that if I froze the lunchtime juice and took it to work it was in perfect condition by lunchtime) and ended up feeling by day 4  completely shattered and with very spotty skin…no doubt it was because “all the toxins were forcing their way out of your body”…

Who knows, but I’ve not followed a known diet regime since then, even when I follow the Matt Roberts Fat loss programme I only do the exercise part and ignore the diet side.

It is surprising to discover that I do actually have several books about dieting lurking around the house including The Diet Doctors Inside and Out – The ultimate 12 week diet plan…I think my Mum found it in a charity shop and passed it on to try and distract me from what she describes as that “Boot Camp”…I haven’t managed to get past week 6 of Matt Roberts programme the last 2 times I’ve tried it as I end up injured !

The Diet Doctors Inside And Out: The 12-week plan to make you slim for l By Dr Samina Showghi

I had a flick through this when it entered the house and put it down quite quickly as it wanted you to do a quiz and then didn’t seem to do anything with the results… well the book resurfaced a couple of weeks ago in a house reorganisation and I discovered that the results are actually listed in the back…AND discovered that actually my diet was not as healthy as I thought…so I sat down and read the book.

It’s basic principles are in line with what I’ve been trying to do, namely  if you want to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you use.  They advocate achieving this in the following way

1. Move more

2. Eat more vegetables, less red meat and less carbohydrates, less fat

3. Portion Control…and don’t overeat

4. Cut out the junk and processed food – less sugary high fat food

5. But should not just be a one off 12 weeks “diet”. It is about adopting good food habits for life…you are slowly changing your habits over the 12 weeks so that they become part of your lifestyle.

Sounds sensible enough right ?

They divide what you eat into 5 groups. Most of your diet should be made up of fruit and vegetables and the group 2 foods of bread rice pasta and potatoes. What they don’t explain clearly is that both group 1 and group 2 foods are carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables are usually more carbohydrate than anything else, the Group 2 foods are carbohydrates with more starch in them than the group 1 and they advocate trying to eat less processed versions…in fact they say “we want you to drop white refined and processed versions of the group 2 foods”

…and it is here I have a bit of a problem because I have yet to meet a whole wheat pasta that I like and I find brown rice far too much like hard work. I’d rather just eat a small portion of the more processed types…wholegrain bread I don’t have too much of a problem with but good bread generally is hard to find when you don’t have lot of time to shop. It’s also not clear where pulses fall within their 5 food groups, I’m presuming it’s Group 1 or are classed as unrefined group 2 foods…

But anyway, I’m going to give it a go, 1 week at a time and see whether it helps the weight level to go down more than it is at the moment…at the moment my waist measurement is fairly static.

Waist measurement currently = 32 inches

The Perfect Gin and Tonic

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What’s this, alcohol ? I thought there was meant to be a change of direction here, I thought this was all about healthy eating…”

It is about healthy eating, but it is also about variety, moderation and balance and  it is about FUN.  A gin and tonic can be part of healthy eating…lots of G&T’s possibly not !

On friday’s husband and I gather at my parents for a chat and occasionally some food or a film (Spider had a thing about James Bond this year and we ended up working out way through most of the films on fridays). My Dad and I indulge in a G&T, well usually 2 G&T’s. Some time ago we decided to start trying and comparing Gin’s and over the next few weeks I will try and tell you about them…if I start writing down what we thought about each brand then I can at least pretend we are connoisseur and not alcoholics !

gin

There is however no such thing as a perfect G&T as it’s all a matter of personal taste, however what follows is how we make our G&T’s and it is how we have tested each of the various brands we have tried so far.

  1. Take a cut glass tumbler…you can use any old glass but I think the drinking experience is so much nicer when you drink out of good glass…besides we used to use the markings on ours to measure out the gin…these days we use a proper measure !
  2. Put four lumps of ice in the bottom of the glass  (if you add the ice first it starts cooling the glass down)
  3. Add a slice of lime… in most pubs in the UK you tend to get lemon…our family has just always preferred lime, so lime it is.  If it’s not a naturally juicy one then give it a quick squeeze to help it out…alternatively rub the lime round the top of the glass.
  4. Choose a decent brand of Gin – our standard for years was Gordon’s Export which wasn’t always easy to get and we were reliant on people going abroad to bring it back as duty free.  At some point after 1992 we switched to Tanqueray. Both of these are London Dry Gin’s and are actually owned by the same people (Diageo)
  5. Measure out 50ml of gin… as I mentioned we used to pour the gin to a particular point in the glass but about 3 years ago decided to act like responsible adults.  We use a measure that came as a lid to a bottle of tonic once, it was approximately the same amount of gin as the mark on the glass method…much much later one of us poured the measure into a measuring glass and worked out that our G&T’s were based on a double measure !
  6. Top up to taste with whatever brand of tonic water floats your boat.  For a long time for us it had to be Schweppes indian tonic water and it had to be the full fat version as the diet versions used artificial sweetners and just tasted plain nasty… however at some point Schweppes seems to have changed their reciepe  so we switched tonic. We now top up with Fevertree…and I don’t know how much tonic is involved but for us it tends to work out as 1.5 small bottles of tonic between the 2 glasses…again it’s all down to taste and how strong or weak you like your G&T
  7. Very important this last bit… give it a swizzle (stir) and…
  8. Enjoy

Calories: in ours  182 calories…  not all gins have the same calories, not all tonics have the same and presumably there are some nice low calorie versions out there, so if you want to reduce the calorie count then play around until you find something you like

September means Sweetcorn

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I have had a love affair with sweetcorn for a long long time. At the age of 7 if asked, I would answer that my favourite food was chicken and sweetcorn soup, but  I think it was probably the sweetcorn part that made the difference.

 One of my first cookbooks was Real Good Food:Nigel Slater and I remember reading again and again his description of how he barbecued sweetcorn on a BBQ made from an old flowerpot filled with pebbles and charcoal and then served with lashings of chilli butter…I longed to  have my own house and garden so that I could do this too…20 years on and I have had BBQ sweetcorn on many occasions but from much more unromantic “disposable grills”…but still as September comes round my stomach starts to rumble as I see the “Sweetcorn for sale” signs on the farm gates around Warwickshire…

 It is also one of the few vegetables that I can get Spider to eat without fuss which is why if a couple of cobs of sweetcorn appear in the weekly veg box, they usually end up heading his way instead of mine…but, because Husband, doesn’t eat it, it is not something that I generally end up buying…not even tinned.

 I have accidentally scored a tin of sweetcorn this week. Due to Spider absent mindedly leaving his bag in Husband’s car on Thursday night, the tin my Mum had put in his bag for the Harvest Festival on Friday (because  it’s a safe bet I would have forgotten) is now mine, Spider having taken a tin of mushroom soup  (schools prefer tinned food these days apparently – gone are the days of taking one of your Dad’s supersized marrows in)…

 Much as I adore the flavour of a freshly cooked sweetcorn…it is admittedly at it’s best just as you have picked it  (does anyone remember the bit in M*A*S*H where Sherman Potter is explaining how he will take a cooker and a pot of water out into the field and bend the stalk of corn over until the cob (still attached to the plant) meets the water)…and the chances of getting sweetcorn that fresh is slim… Almost as soon as it is picked the sugar starts turning to starch…

 Nutritionally Speaking

Sugar ? Starch ? Yes, that’s right Sweetcorn is a carbohydrate…as are most vegetables…however Sweetcorn does have quite a lot of good things going for it…for a start it is supposed to be high in anti oxidants and be good for eyesight… compared to an apple it has more vitamin C, more protein, slightly more carbohydrates (6% as compared to 4%) and slightly higher in dietary fibre. Also surprisingly, in that you can cook with corn oil, sweetcorn is relatively low in fat (1%, compared with an apple’s 0%) and those fats being mainly mono or poly unsaturated…

 The problem with sweetcorn tends to be what people do with it…slathering it with chilli butter is probably off the menu for me…but most of the other recipes I’ve looked at for inspiration are high in fats, oil or cream too…probably because the taste of sweetcorn is very delicate (most of its attraction being the crunch texture and the hit of sugar) so most people add flavours (and fat) to it…

So for the time being, as after all this is a tin of sweetcorn, I don’t HAVE to eat it now, I’ve parked it until I can think of something better to do with it than eating it raw in a salad…

photo to follow – still having camera issues

A new direction ?

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I have been meaning to give the blog a facelift for sometime…in fact I started to do so at the beginning of the year, but then caught the flu and for quite some time have had no real interest in food… But then it is difficult to sustain an interest in food when you are bombarded by media messages about how the developed world is heading for an obesity crisis and that we are all eating such bad bad things !

 It cannot be denied that we (me and Husband) are both overweight, we are both about a stone above where we are comfortable being and in truth really need to lose 2 stone each…and you are probably thinking “well what do you expect when you have a blog called “Appetite for Cake”. Surprisingly though it is not the cake that is to blame, I make a lot of cake but most of it I give away to cheer other people up. No, our downfall is cheese. Cheese, but also sausages, mash, gin and red wine…

And in this year of ups and downs and illness (never really recovered from the flu before being struck down by cold after cold) that there has been a lot of comfort eating…

 I don’t believe in diets though, or rather “dieting”. You follow a diet for a set time, loose weight and then go back to how you used to be, and the weight just all comes back…I also don’t believe in “good” and “bad” foods. Food is a source of energy, if you eat it you will live, however some foods you can eat more of without an adverse effect on your weight and some foods are probably best kept for treats ! (Supersize me demonstrates that quite well !).

 I also don’t believe in daily calorie limits…I don’t believe in beating yourself up on Monday because you pushed the boat out on Sunday…As long as what you eat is on average healthy and not heavily laden with fat and sugar then the occasional G&T is not a reason for abandoning any attempt at healthy living as doomed from the start!

 So the direction I’m going in is a slow and gentle tweaking of what the household eats.

Dieting with the fun left in means embracing healthy eating but still enjoying it…food and eating can be a pleasure, it should not be purely about refuelling.  Along the way there are a few other things I’d like to achieve like putting the fun back into packed lunches, finding food that I am happy cooking that my family will actually eat, cutting out waste, eating locally and seasonally (not because of my carbon footprint but because buying locally helps support my local community and strawberries do taste better in the sun in June than at Christmas)…

 And what about cookbooks ?  I have shelf after shelf of cook books…I read them…I dream of cooking from them, sometimes I actually do. But it cannot be denied that a lot of the recipes in these books are likely to assist with piling on the pounds…or at least the ones that leap off the page at you saying “cook me, cook me”…even the books where  you would assume the recipes will be good wholesome food, such as Nigel Slater’s Tender (it’s a book about vegetables, how can it not be good for you ?) turn out to be full of butter, cream, olive oil… Well, I’ll still be reading cookbooks, but mixing the high calorific food in with the less calorific…the key is moderation…and finding better ways of cooking the same thing

 Eating healthily will not be easy…I mean we know how to cook but…as a family we are time poor…also the majority of the family has an uneasy relationship with most vegetables apart from potatoes…

 And for those who are interested  this is a visual representation of how much weight we are aiming to shift… at least it will be when I can work out how to get the photo off the camera