Tag Archives: flat stomach

Quorn – brill for dieting and to keep weight off

When it comes to your new year diet or if you want to keep weight off, quorn is simply brilliant. Really versatile, it can be made into almost anything you would normally make with meat. And best of all it is really very low fat, low GI, high in fibre, high in protein, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, is fat burning and very low calorie. So all in all, a brilliant diet and weight maintenance food.

If you haven’t been converted yet, read on…..

What is quorn?
Quorn is a micro-protein, made by adding oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to a fungus called Fusarium venenatum which is described as being like mushrooms and truffles. Many quorn products also contain eggs. Quite disturbingly it was originally used to make material and animal feed! However it was quickly realised that because it has a good texture (some say its like it has been ‘knitted’) it is possible to shape it into various formats. By adding flavours it’s made into a meat-free alternative for everything from chicken fillets to fish fingers; from sliced deli-ham to a meat free pate.

What can you get…..
Quorn products which are great for slimming and watching weight include:

Need to be cooked:

  • Mince
  • Sausages
  • Chicken style pieces
  • Chicken style fillets
  • Beef strips
  • Swedish style and Italian style meatballs
  • Burgers
  • Pepper steaks
  • Lamb steaks.

Deli food ready to eat:

  • Sandwich meats – ham, chicken, beef, turkey
  • Fajita strips
  • Roasted fillets
  • Tikka fillets.

There are loads of other products too but not all are low fat or good for slimming. For example the bacon and Southern Style Burgers taste great but have more calories (though they are still relatively low calorie). And many of the ready meals or products can actually be quite calorific. So you need to check those carefully.

Really easy…..
Two great aspects of quorn which make it even easier to use are that it keeps quite well out of the fridge for a day or so if you are having food on the go. So I will often make a packed lunch/tea of deli products and a tub of salad.

Also you are OK to defrost and re-freeze. So even if I make a meal with frozen quorn I often re-freeze the cooked meal to have when I need something quick and easy.

Good on diets…..
Quorn should fit well with your diet. On Slimming World mince and pieces are superfree foods; on Weight Watchers  basic quorn products are low in Pro Points. It is also a low GI food so will fit with your low GI diet. Just check your particular diet for more details.

You do need to cook slightly differently though…
Believe me, if you slightly adapt how you cook quorn you can give it to unsuspecting meat eaters and they will often not know. The trick is to use more liquid than with meat and add in some additional flavours such as herbs and spices, marmite, Bisto, balsamic and other vinegars, Worcester sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, stock cubes or bullion etc.

A note of caution…..
However there is a note of caution with Quorn. Some people are violently allergic to quorn and it is thought this is linked to people who are allergic to certain fungi. I have a friend who will be really sick within hours of eating any quorn – tough for him as he is a mainly veggie! Although its believed the numbers of people allergic are relatively small, if you are new to quorn and you are ill after eating it (or if you get ill after eating a lot) then maybe you are one of those people.

So what are you waiting for? How about trying quorn soon in….
Bolognaise, curry, chilli, lasagne, stir fry, pasta sauce, with couscous or rice, sausage casseroles, cottage pie, roast dinner, fry-ups, steaks on their own with salsa and salad, meat loaf, paella, risotto, Thai curry….

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 3!

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 3:
Plan, plan, plan. Plan all your meals and food throughout the festive season, including the days after Christmas. Balance sugary, fatty high calorie food and drink with other low fat, high protein, high fibre fat burning meals.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Do a meal plan for the whole festive season, including after Christmas. Think about your meals across a day and week so that if you know you’ll be at parties and/or eating out and eating high-calorie, sugary, or fatty food you can balance these against other meals which are fat-burning and slow-release. You can download a Festive Season Meal Planner here.

Remember that not all calories are equal. Some foods turn to fat more quickly than others (such as refined, fatty, sugary and many processed foods) and should be avoided. But others, like low GI foods and fat-burning foods keep you feeling fuller for longer, help boost your metabolism or take more energy to digest. So you need to fill up with these foods and plan meals that include:

  • Loads of fruit and vegetables – try to fill over half your plate with vegetables.
  • Lean protein – lean meat or veggie alternatives such as soya, quorn, pulses and nuts.
  • High-fibre – go for brown over white. Avoid all refined carbs such as white pasta, rice, flour, bread etc and instead choose brown pasta, rice, bread etc. Use oats and oatmeal in food where you can – it’s often easy to swap flour for oatmeal.
  • Low-fat dairy – such as skimmed milk or fat-free yoghurt.
  • Use as little fat as you can – choose virgin olive or coconut oil when you need oil.

Planning your meals will also mean you’re less likely to end up having take-aways. It’s easy to think they are quicker, cheaper and easier, but in fact I don’t think they are any of those things. They are also more likely to make you put on weight. So when you plan your meals, plan a number of really quick easy meals for the times you can’t be bothered – such as stir-fry, pasta or quick rice dishes like chilli. Another good hint is to make extra when you do cook and freeze it, so all you need to do is pop into the microwave.

Manage your sugar rushes
Remember that when you have a lot of sugar it brings on sugar rushes which means you are more likely to crave more sugary food. So on Boxing Day and the days after Christmas, plan to eat as much slow-release Low GI and fat-burning food as possible. This will help you manage your blood sugar and help to reduce sugar cravings. Get Low GI and Fat Burning foods here.

Go to rule no 2 – Christmas is a social time.

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 2!

 

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 2:
Christmas is a social time – so think about how you will deal with people who you know find it hard when you are careful about your food and drink. Just because others are eating and drinking doesn’t mean you have to.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Unfortunately we all know someone who finds it hard to accept other people’s decisions about food and drink. For example people who want you to eat loads – like Mrs Doyle in Father Ted (Go on, go on, you will, you will, you will!) This can be really hard if you are staying with others over Christmas and you feel you have to follow their food and drink habits.

So remember that mostly, this is THEIR issue, not yours. Think about anyone in your life with whom, when you spend time with them, you find it hard to keep to your food and drink decisions. Have a think about why this is and try to talk to them BEFORE the holiday period about why you want to make certain food and drink choices, about how important this is to you, and ask them to help you keep to these decisions. Offer to sort out your own food if this will make it easier. How about asking for this as your Christmas present! Remember, just because other people eat or drink to excess this doesn’t mean you have to.

Go to rule no 1 – Christmas dinner is not the problem.

How to survive Christmas and keep weight off! Rule No 1.

Peg Alexander worried about XmasAre you dreaming of a Lite Christmas? How not to be the Christmas pudding!

Christmas is the hardest time of year for many when it comes to watching your weight or keeping weight off. And if you are dieting you may as well forget it! Putting it bluntly, many people will put on weight over the festive season (studies suggest an average of around 4lb with some saying up to 10lb!). So is it possible to still have a brilliant Christmas and New Year without becoming the Christmas pudding yourself? Can you indulge without the budge?

Of course it is!!!!
So how do you make sure you don’t become the Christmas pudding but don’t feel like you are missing out on everything? I recommend following my Five Golden Rules of Christmas….

You can hear a lighthearted short radio interview about the Five Golden Rules by clicking here.
You can also check out a more factual interview by clicking here.

So what are the Five Golden Rules of Christmas?

Well over the next few days I’ll be sharing a Golden Rule each day….. in writing and on video. So here goes.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 1:
Christmas dinner is not the problem – it’s all the parties, events, mince pies, chocolates, alcohol and extras that happen during the festive season.

Click here to watch the video.

In the weeks running up to Christmas and between Christmas and New Year it’s party time! But that means nibbles, buffet food, mince pies, cakes, sweets and chocolates – and loads of extra alcohol.

So you have to think about how are you going to deal with this. Staying at home is not an option. Instead work out which of these things you can’t do without, and then make deals with yourself about what – and how much – you’ll have. So for example I’m not bothered about crisps or buffet food but I find it hard to resist chocolate and cake. So I’ll allow myself one or two per party and not eat the stuff I don’t really want just because it’s there. And when I do have cakes and chocs, I really enjoy them!! And fill up with low fat food before you go to parties so you are less tempted to pick.

Are mince pies a problem for you?
If so, accept it and work round it. Many shop-bought mince pies have high levels of sugar and fat. Processed food is more likely to turn into fat on you than home-made. So if you love mince pies, make your own and take them with you to parties. Click here for a quick and scrummy no fat or sugar added recipe. Then you can still have them – but manage your weight. You might make yourself popular with your host as well!

You really need to watch alcohol intake
Alcohol represents empty calories. It has no nutritional value at all but contains plenty of calories. It’s very easy to drink too much over the festive period. So monitor how much you are drinking and think of ways to cut down. Alternate between alcohol and soft drinks – just watch out how much sugar there is in some fruit drinks.

Think about what else you will be eating
Try to fill up at breakfast with a bowl of home-cooked porridge with fruit and nuts (avoiding quick cooking oats). If you go to a lunch or tea-time party and there are loads of snacks but you know you’ll probably end up going out to eat that night, then avoid the snacks. And when you go out to eat, think carefully about what you choose. Click here to some advice about what to choose.

Don’t be scared to ask for your own version of the Christmas menu
If you go to a party with a set menu think carefully about what you choose, by using the eating-out guide. Even if you have to chose from a set Christmas menu don’t be afraid to ask for your meal to be adapted so its lower-fat. Choose a low fat option for your starter and pudding (or at least one of them, such as salad without dressing to start or fruit for pudding).

On average, people consume 4000 calories on Christmas day
On Christmas day we drink lots and eat endless snacks, sweets – plus the big dinner. Just a few small chocolates add up – there are between 40 and 60 calories in many individual chocolates, so keep a count of how many you munch; it’s just too easy to pop them in your mouth without thinking. I keep them out of reach, for example in a cupboard. That way you have to think about everyone single one you have.

Make your Christmas meal that bit kinder too
It will always help if think about the calories of your Christmas dinner and to try and reduce the impact of your Christmas meal. Some handy tips for stuffing the turkey, not you, include…..

  • Turkey is a fat-burning food. Avoid the skin and fill up your plate with turkey breast and veggies.
  • If you are vegetarian think about a low-fat alternative, such as quorn or soya. If you have nut roast, watch how much butter you put in and use wholemeal bread crumbs.
  • Think about mixing roast potatoes with lower GI boiled new potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can roast potatoes using low-fat spray. Always avoid potatoes cooked in goose fat.
  • Don’t put butter on your veggies even if everyone else is having them.
  • Cook some extra stuffing outside of the turkey so it’s not soaked with turkey fat.
  • Avoid sausage stuffing and also cut back on the sausages and pigs in blankets.
  • Make some low-fat gravy for yourself. Or if you have gravy made from the turkey juice, reduce the fat by putting it in the fridge and removing the fat.
  • Make your Christmas pudding lower fat – avoid beef suet and use extra fruit instead.
  • Think about the sauces you have on your pudding. Can you swap your normal custard for low-fat? Try yogurt rather than cream or ice-cream or only a small amount of brandy butter or even brandy custard.

And finally – remember just because there are certain foods and drinks around, it doesn’t mean you have to consume them!

Keep checking to see the other five Golden Rules.

A flat stomach with little effort? Trying out Slendertone

Is it possible to get a flat tummy without doing loads of exercises and starving yourself? In my endless quest for an easy answer to the lump that is my belly and midriff, I decided to try out a Slendertone machine.

So as we moved into summer, I started putting a very strange machine around my middle for between 20 and 30 mins a day to see if I could lose any inches and feel a bit better about my stomach.

The model I tried was the Slendertone Flex Abdominal Toner which is a small belt and cost me around £40.

Before my first session I took my measurements:
Midriff – 84cm; Waist – 79cm; Hips – 97cm.
I’d just come back from a short holiday so was hoping it might stop any post holiday tum showing on me.

What was it like?
It’s a strange machine. For a start it was a lot shorter than my tummy and midriff so I wondered if it would have enough ‘stretch’. But when turned it on, the movement could be so strong if I was brave enough to turn it up high that I’m sure the effects moved beyond the size of the belt itself. It’s certainly strong and you can definitely feel it; indeed if I turned it up too high it would, at times, feel very uncomfortable and occasionally verging on painful.

You are supposed to use it every day for at least 2 months, starting with 20 minute and sessions, moving to a maximum length of 30 minutes. Some marketing says you start to see results in 6 weeks if you do. I have to be honest and admit that I struggled to use it every day.

My habit was to use it when watching TV at night but I don’t get to sit down and watch a programme of over 30 minutes every night. So I probably managed every other day.

It’s also not very pleasant when you put the belt on. It sticks to your skin and is cold and feels wet at first. You also have to replace the pads; I’ve bought one set of replacements at a cost of around £10.

So has it worked?
Well I’m afraid to say it hasn’t worked for me. I did my measurements again this morning and there’s no much change; my midriff is a couple of cm smaller but my waist the same and I’ve put 1cm on my hips!!

I think the fact that I struggled to do it every day means it probably hasn’t had enough time to do its work and it’s more of a hassle than I thought it would be. However I also think I probably have too much spare belly for this work anyway. Given I used to be a size 22 and am now a size 10 there is no getting away from the fact that my tum is not flat and I don’t think, actually, without surgery I’ll ever get a flat tummy now. (Surgery is not something I am even willing to think about for a minute by the way). I’m sure the belt was stimulating muscles under my flab, and maybe if you are fairly slim to start with and you just need to tone up it could do the trick nicely. But not for me I’m afraid.

Maybe it’s just me and the fact I didn’t do it properly. Certainly other reviews on the net are positive. So let me know if you’ve tried one and how you got on. And if its worked, your tips for getting the most from it so I can maybe try again but properly this time…..