Just saying………..

I feel that I should blog something, but some days it isn’t easy. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or share but sometimes I wonder if anyone is going to find what I do blog remotely interesting.

We are just back from holiday, so I guess I am still missing the relaxing, warm sunny days spent in Sicily, where we had a terrace almost to ourselves. We sat there most days after breakfast just looking out to sea and the view along the coast to Giardini Naxos. We went there one day in search of the archeological site that the brochure said was on the headland. It wasn’t that simple. We used TomTom (so glad I took it with us, would have been lost without it) and got to most places, except the rather well hidden ancient ruins at Giardini Naxos.

We stopped near some policeman and I got out of the car to ask for directions, in my best night school Italian! It was only when I got back in the car, with full directions, that it hit me that they had been fairly heavily armed! They were just standing there, laughing and talking in the narrow street when we drove past them, perhaps it was their lunch break!

I really enjoyed the food while we were away, I think the mediterranean diet is fantastic. Olives, tomatoes, crusty bread, fish soup, red wine…….I’m not sure that it totally fits in with my healthy eating plan and it isn’t the same without the sunshine.

We came home and the election still hadn’t been resolved, much to my OH’s delight as he couldn’t watch any tv whilst away, we only had CNN and the coverage was awful. So I watched the show unfold from Westminster while everyone waited for Nick Clegg to make up his mind. I had to smile at some of the reports coming in of a Rainbow Alliance and a Celtic Revival; then Gordon Brown catching them all on the hop by going off to see the Queen to tender his resignation. “The Likely Lads” then had to rush to get their act together before David Cameron could go and “kiss hands” with the monarch and accept her invitation to form a new government.

I don’t envy them their task when they have to relay to us the horrors they find when George Osbourne turns the key and opens the Treasury’s equivalent of Pandora’s Box!

I leave you with a couple of photos from my holiday, some wonderful Sicilian lemons which I found in the hotel bar and a view across towards Mount Etna which still had quite a bit of snow on the top. Ciao!


Know your beans!!

I am trying to follow a health eating plan in an attempt to lower my cholesterol. I have swapped any meat with visible fat for a leaner meat such as chicken or turkey, which hasn’t been at all difficulty really. I have also included more oily fish in my diet, but have avoided mackerel as I find it too strong. I have coupled this with also being careful about how many carbs I eat as bread could be my downfall, especially as it cries out for butter! So my eating plan goes something like this:

Breakfast – either porridge oats with skimmed milk, topped with berries, or granola mixed with low fat yoghurt instead of milk, coffee with skimmed milk and no sugar

Mid morning – handful of almonds and walnuts which are good at lowering cholesterol                                     

Lunch – salad sandwich with no butter or tuna salad, using tuna canned in brine, followed by a low fat yoghurt and a large glass of water

Mid afternoon – apple and a handful of my own dried fruit and nut mixture                    

Dinner – salmon and steamed vegetables, or chicken with a huge salad (no dressing just black pepper and a sqeeze of lemon juice) low fat yoghurt and occasionally a glass of wine.

I am also trying to drink more water than I did previously and I also take a good multivitamin tablet at lunchtime to make sure I am not missing anything. I have also been making a few stews using beans and lentils which are a healthy source of fibre and a rich source of protein.  I was amazed when I started finding out about eating more healthily, just how many beans there are.

There are black beans a favourite in Caribbean food; creamy coloured borlotti beans, used in many Italian stews and soups; cannellini beans lovely in a tuna salad; butter beans flat whitish beans with a great buttery flavour; pinto beans a bit like borlotti beans but darker, they are used a lot in Mexican cooking; flageolet beans pale green beans used a lot in French regional cooking; haricot beans used mainly in slow cooking, one-pot type dishes and are great added to soups –  and I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t come across yet.

Fish oils could be the “Elixir of Life”

During my search to find what’s best to eat while trying to lower my cholesterol, I find that apart from porridge oats, the omega-3 in fish oils can be another “super cholesterol reducer”

Not only that, it appears from recent research that an added bonus could be their anti-ageing properties too.  The report makes interesting reading and I shall certainly be increasing the amount of oily fish in my diet.

Read the report in the today’s ” Mail Online”  http://bit.ly/cm6Sg7

So….it’s porridge for me!

Since finding out that my cholesterol level is 8, not a good number to be, I have been reading up on what to do about getting it lower.

I have found out that porridge oats are an excellent thing to eat if you have high cholesterol, as the soluble fibre and beta-glucans helps get rid of the nasty cholesterol stuff in your blood stream.

In the course of trawling the internet, I came across this amazing site that tells you all you ever need to know about oats, how much is grown, how long we have been eating them and why you should add them to your diet.


So, I will now start each day with a bowl of porridge oats and see if they can help me get from a level of 8 to one of 5 which is much more healthy

How do I lower my cholesterol?

I have had a blood test recently to try and find out why I feel so tired all the time and have no engery.  The tests didn’t find anything other than I my cholesterol level is too high.  It is 5 which is not good evidently.  So I have set about trying to find out what I should do to get the level down.  It seems that we make cholesterol in our bodies anyway but it is only when it is high that it becomes a bad thing.

I have read lots of stuff on the internet, some of which is quite confusing, but there is evidence that you can reduce the level by changes in diet and exercise. So out go prawns, eggs, red meat, cakes. biscuits, pastries

 and in come porridge oats, walnuts, olive oil, blueberries, chicken, oily fish, turkey….

     hmm doesn’t seem too bad!      

I will also have to start doing some exercising as I have been quite lax of late.  Do I have to hit the gym or would swimming be OK? Anyone got any other tips, they would be gratefully received

Healthy eating with herbs

Parsley – is very rich in vitamin C, evidently a single serving of 30g provides more than half the recommended daily amount if this vitamin.  It is also a good source of beta-carotene which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamins A & C are also antioxidants, they protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals, which are the bad guys, involved in  a whole range of diseases from cancer to heart disease.

Garlic – this is just brilliant!  Allicin, the main ingredient of garlic, relaxes blood vessels so reducing blood pressure. It has also been clinically proven to help keep your arteries clear of nasty cholesterol.  Garlic also has powerful antibiotic properties and was a lifesaver when  used in traditional medicine, in the days before the discovery of penicillin.

Watercress this one packs a peppery but nutritional punch! Gram for gram it is higher in vitamin C than oranges and has a higher content of iron than spinach.  It too is packed with beta-carotene. 

Watercress omelette

  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 80g watercress chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil or spray

Either spray a non-stick pan with olive oil or add 1 tsp to the pan and gently fry the garlic for about 2-3 minutes

In a bowl, beat the eggs and add half of the watercress.  Once beaten, pour into the pan

Cook until the eggs have set

Now, add the remainder of the watercress and the grated cheese to the pan

When the top of the omelette is lightly set, fold it in half and cut into two pieces

Serve the omelette with a chunk of fresh, crusty french bread and a large green salad

Rosemary – the great news about this herb is that is may help slow the brain-ageing process (according to the scientists at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in the US and at Japan’s Iwake University). It too has properties that protect the brain from damage by those pesky free radicals.  Rosemary goes brilliantly with lamb:-

  • Melt some red currant jelly in a bowl in the microwave, usually takes about 10 seconds on high power in my micro
  • Chop up some fresh rosemary, you need about a level tablespoonful
  • Add the rosemary together with a crushed clove of garlic and about a tablespoonful of balsamic vinegar, to the melted jelly
  • Whisk together to form a marinade
  • Take two lamb chops or steaks and place in a dish. Pour the marinade over and leave for at least 30 mins.to let the full flavour develop
  • Cook the lamb under a medium grill for 5 – 6 minutes each side, depending on how thick the meat is and how you like your lamb
  • Serve with fresh carrots, broccoli and sliced green beans

Thyme  – this goes great with poultry, especially chicken, but thyme has been used for years in herbal medicine to treat chest compliants.  It has antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and evidently a study on rats found that supplementing their diet with thyme could help slow brain ageing! Thyme also contains antioxidants called flavonoids that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Herbs have been around for hundreds of years and have helped previous generations, long before the advent of modern medicine.  They are so undervalued, but they don’t just taste good they offer us great health benefits too.  So, off you go and stock up your store cupboard



Get off the scales!!

I have just been thinking about all the stuff in the news lately about weightloss and dieting and how funny it is that this subject strikes a such chord with us women!  Millions are continually being spent on trying to lose weight and yet,  I think we all accept. if we take in more calories than we use we will never lose weight. (Medical conditions excluded)

I know this is true, so why is it that I have found myself standing on one leg on the bathroom scales, in the hope that they will register two or three pounds less? What’s that all about?

I read somewhere that first thing in the morning, I will be the lightest that I will weigh all day. Another article told me not to weigh too often as my weight will fluctuate throughout the day, whether I eat or not! 

I try to eat healthily and take some exercise (the dog won’t go out if it’s raining) and of everything that I have tried I can honestly say that the thing that works for me is NO CARBS after 4pm.  I feel less bloated, more energetic and less bad tempered (significant other very happy on this)

So I have decided that instead of hopping on and off the scales like a demented grasshopper, I will now only weigh once a month, trouble is, is that a calendar month or every four weeks?  Help……………

Healthy Eating

After talking to friends and reading countless articles on the subject of losing weight, I have come to the conclusion, perhaps a bit late in the day, that only I can change MY lifestyle and I have to WANT to do it.

If you have excess weight and really want to get rid of it, the most important thing you can do is to understand why you put weight on in the first place. Think about your lifestyle, what you eat and the amount of exercise that you do each day. Once you do this, you will find the reasons for the excess weight and only then can you take the steps to make a change.

Deep down inside we all know what we should be doing, we don’t need expensive books and celebrities to tell us what to eat and which exercises to do. We are all individuals and as such have different needs, we can work out an eating and exercise plan for ourselves. I think we have been so brainwashed into believing that there is a “fast fix” for losing weight that common sense goes out of the window and we rush to spend our cash on anything that has the words “Diet” or “Fast Weight Loss” plastered all over it.

The truth is, if we take in more calories than we spend, we will always, always put weight on. Once you know and accept this as fact, you can start making changes straight away. Involve your friends and family; tell them what you are doing and they will be your support group.