Category Archives: food

It’s hard, but it’s quick – The Cleanse

I love food.

I love baked Camembert and steak pie and Magnums and rum cocktails.

I’m active but I’m greedy. If there’s a packet of Oreos in front of me, I’ll hoover half of them and don’t even get me started on Kettle Chips…

Last Wednesday I got a fright. My jeans had been feeling a bit tight, so I booked into a spin class and thought I’d jump on the scales in the gym.

I nearly burst into tears right there next to the kettle bells.

I was 2.5kg (5.5lb) over my maximum weight. I have a 2kg(4.4lb) plus or minus range I try to stay within – and here I was miles over. How had this happened? I realised it was pretty simple. I’d been eating like a pig.

Send help

So after blasting that spin class, I did what any woman does. I got straight on Whatsapp and wailed to my girls.

“Do you want my help?” Dionne – the London-based nutritionist and personal trainer – asked.

“YES!” I shouted.

Being the wonderful supportive friend she is, she immediately sent me details of the cleanse* she normally charges a lot of money for.

“It has to start with your gut health,” she explained. “You need to clear out all the crap, get on top of the cravings and change your eating habits for good.”

Christ. I read through that pack with growing dread.

On the list of foods to enjoy, I was pleased to see:

eggs

walnuts

oats

steak and chicken

peppermint tea

most vegetables

coconut

On the list of foods to avoid were – well – everything else.

“I can cut out everything but coffee,” I texted back, but she was adamant. I was desperate. I said I’d do it.

The headache

Oh dear lord the headache. It started later on Wednesday and I swear it didn’t shift until Saturday morning. It was so bad that I called Dionne on Friday night and said I wasn’t sure I could carry on. She was sympathetic and said I could adapt it as long as I stuck to the golden rules:

8 glasses of water a day

no processed foods

no carbs after 2pm

no sugar

Thank god I woke up without that headache on Saturday or I would have probably quit in a spectacular orgy of Cadburys and Costa. As it was I drank my peppermint tea, gave myself a pep talk and carried on.

The turning point

Sunday was a huge challenge because we went to a family barbecue. My mother-in-law is a spectacular cook and hostess, all my favourite things were on the table in front of me – tortilla chips, Desperados beer, big floury rolls, ice cream… But I abstained. Ok, I had four tortilla chips. FINE it was eight. But old me would have scoffed the bag and washed it all down with beer, so I’m still calling it a win.

I woke up on Monday and I didn’t crave coffee. I was astonished, then smug. I posted it on Instagram and everything.

Last night I went out for dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen for ages – I drove, I drank a virgin Mojito (apple juice, lime juice naughty) and I had steak and salad for dinner. I had one small glass of red wine and savoured every sip. The next day was the weigh-in, I gave myself the wine for making it that far.

The weigh in

So this morning I headed to the gym and those scales. I told myself not to hope too much. 1kg would be great, a sixth of my goal weight loss before our summer holiday. I stepped on and held my breath. Oh. I’d lost 500g. No, wait – what’s that first number? I actually gasped.

I’d lost 2.5kg. That’s five and a half pounds. In a week.

I’ve lost a third of my goal weight loss in one week.

I am so damn proud of myself.

So what’s next?

Well – I have created some good habits and I’m going to Spain in seven weeks, so I’ll be damned if I stop now. Dionne (who was super proud) said I could reintroduce fruit a week today. One portion a day – and berries are my friend. Meantime I’m happy to avoid the coffee and I can stay on the wagon. I may introduce a sandwich at lunchtime – but I can do without carbs at dinner time. I think I’ll bring yoghurts back for my afternoon snack. Oh – and I’d better do my measurements for a truer reflection of my transformation.

Bonus features

Genuinely – I feel fantastic. I feel in balance – neither full nor hungry. I’m so proud of this willpower I’ve discovered in myself. I feel strong. I’m totally motivated – this works and I have a holiday at the end of it. If I do have a wee cheat, I enjoy every morsel of it. It’s a good lesson for life. You should try it.

*The Cleanse is tailored to each client – Dionne knows my medical history so could confidently recommend it. She’s a nutritionist, not a dietician, so always has a consultation with the client before suggesting any programmes.

 

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Googlyfruit to the rescue*

I have a poorly peep at home today.

He’s been coughing constantly, feeling very sorry for himself. I’ve been by his side with the laptop, trying to work and look after him at the same time.

Then we got a package delivered…

 

 

Finally he’s eaten something – pureed fruit. Three packets of it!

Thank you Googlyfruit – you’ve won a fan!

*with very many thanks to the team at Googlyfruit for sending us such an amazing goody box of free samples!

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Monkey business

Usually it’s the Wee Man behaving like a chimpanzee in confined public places… but looks like all the bad press I’ve been giving him has resulted in a cabinet reshuffle. KD is now King of the Apes.

From 5.30 this morning he has been stamping around, making demands and throwing his weight about. I lost him three separate times in the playground for god’s sake.

My optimist trumped my pragmatist when one of the mums suggested coffee and cake at the local cafe – I should never have let him loose in the wild.

He helped himself to smoothies from the fridge, locked another child in the play area and sat on every seat at the table, pronouncing each one dissatisfactory.

When the waitress brought the cakes out for the display I had to dive Klinsman-style to stop his sticky little fingers digging straight in, then physically restrain him from swapping a chunk with his wee pal Willow for an Oreo. By throwing it at her.

The final straw was Innocent – yep, I sat down on the carton, spraying pink liquid all over my white trousers.

As the other mums tried valiantly to suppress their guffaws and supply tissues I pronounced I was leaving. KD, of course, took that as a cue to toddle happily into the play area and start making cups of tea at the play kitchen. I turned to say goodbye to my pals and he shot past me, out the door, into the street and off down the hill.

Me and my pink arse lumbered after him, holding him squirming and throwing a tenner at the poor waitress as he yelled “MY CAKE! MY NOT FINISHED!”.

I am now sitting in the parking lot for B&M stores, taking deep breaths while he snores in his car seat. A nap at 10.40. I don’t even care. We’re going to a special event at the zoo tonight from 6-9pm so he’d never last without it. They have a splendid chimp enclosure….

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The Kitchen Cafe radio appearance

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the radio – yet I was nearly on twice today.

Kitchen Cafe radio

If I’d known we were going to take quite so many pictures I would have done something with my hair. IT’S RADIO!

I was just parking outside the New Town Cook School when an unknown number flashed up.

“Hi this is Leslie from BBC Radio Scotland…”

“Hi, I’m just parking I’ll be two minutes!”

“Oh, I was calling to see if you were free to comment on a show at 11.45…”

I mean how weird is that? Has someone been doing some secret SEO on my blog? Why have I suddenly become a spokesmum? Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted – today was so much fun!

For a start I was recording an episode of The Kitchen Cafe, which is a really cool cookery show on BBC Radio Scotland – and I love to cook. For another thing I was doing it with my pal Lisa, over at Palompo PR and – perhaps the best bit – I got to meet Gill Sims, the genius behind Peter and Jane, the blogger who makes me laugh out loud each evening with her Facebook updates.

Kitchen Cafe radio

Neil and Gill

The subject of this show was ‘back to school’ – transmission is August 17th at 1.30pm. Chef Neil Forbes was showing us quick and easy meals for those days the kids come crashing in from school demanding food NOW.

He was kind enough to make the first one gluten free – as both the Wee Man and Rod can’t digest it. The second was spaghetti with pancetta fried in garlic oil and parsley. “I’ll sell that as Shrek spaghetti,” I announced, which wasn’t as weird as it sounds considering Lisa had just told us she needs to call quesadillas “Daddy sandwiches” if she’s going to get her kids to touch them.

The format of the show is really conversational, with chef Neil doing that amazing multi-tasking of cooking, questioning and keeping the show on track. The producer Phil was brilliant – as it was pre-recorded he would stop us occasionally and remind us to describe what we were seeing and smelling.

kitchen cafe radio

Chick peas with red onion, red pepper, courgette, tinned tomatoes, chorizo and paprika

Kitchen cafe radio

garlic oil and pasta simmering

I think some of my favourite lines were ,”I can’t put soft fruit like strawberries inside my son’s lunchbox as he uses it as a football” from Gill.

“My children would have spaghetti bolognese for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I’d let them,” from Lisa and “Of course, there is a rumour a child went to school with egg and chips in their lunchbox. Not my child, I promise,” from Neil.

I’m definitely going to use the tips in my kitchen and change up the Wee Man’s gluten free lunchbox a bit too. Also, I’m pleased how well the conversation flowed and that we didn’t all talk at once. Three women in a kitchen could have been noisy – but Neil kept us on track and threw in our names pretty frequently to avoid confusion.

I think it’s going to be a fun show to listen to, once Phil has worked his magic in the editing suite. Make sure you listen –  August 17th, 1.30pm, BBC Radio Scotland 🙂

Kitchen Cafe radio

What’s cooking good looking?

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Day 5: Enough’s enough

Getting out of my bed is hard when there is no coffee waiting. Breakfast is almost impossible if you’ve forgotten to soak your oats overnight. Lunchtime, when your kids have been fighting all morning, and there’s no food in the house except questionable Quorn which has eggs in it anyway, is just too much.

I scrambled some eggs. In butter. Then I put cheese on top.

I managed four and a half days of being vegan. My children are the reason I failed so early. My greed is the reason I didn’t get back onto that rickety wagon.

Tonight I ordered a plain cheese pizza. It was f***ing delicious.

Tomorrow’s dinner is this:

Oh the relief!

I felt bad for as long as it took to leave my lovely Mags of The Newbie Vegan a voicemail apologising – then I felt set free. Coffee! Cheese! A big ass steak! Nothing was beyond me now!

In all seriousness, I’ve actually learned a lot this week.

1 I eat too much crap for snacks when I genuinely love cucumber, carrot and celery sticks

2 Tofu is delicious stir-fried and much cheaper than meat (£2.50 per packet)

3 I drink too much coffee

4 I don’t drink enough water

5 I need to be more organised when it comes to food generally

6 As with most things in my life, being a working mum really constrains me. When mums say “I don’t have time”, they genuinely mean it. Neither can I pop to the supermarket to buy specialist ingredients because that involves taking two small rutting stags and shoehorning them into a trolley so they don’t run off while I search the shelves.

7 I need to be extra careful about where my food comes from. I already order my milk direct from a farm – it gets left on my doorstep at 5am – and I try to always buy Scottish meat.

8 I need to eat more fish and make less stuff with mince

So although I technically failed the Vegan Challenge (let’s just see how many of my goals I achieved here. Oh. One) I still think it was worthwhile.

 

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Day 4: God this is tough

Another morning coffee avoided. Another morning of weird breakfast because I forgot about my overnight oats. Dragging a reluctant six year old around Tesco trying to work out which aisle the bloody tins of chickpeas live in was a low point. But I’m hanging on in there.

I think, given my conversation with the farmer yesterday, the only reason I’m continuing with this challenge is for re-education purposes. I’ve gotten into bad habits and I want to reset. I’m enjoying eating lots of fruit and veg, particularly cucumber and carrot sticks, I’m feeling the benefit of not drinking coffee four times a day and I’m relishing the challenge of creating tasty evening meals using new ingredients. I mean, I had never bought tofu before this week.

Today I also bought quorn. I figured if I enjoyed my stir fry that much, I should just repeat that meal with other meat substitutes. These are the habits which are likely to stick. I cannot wait to use milk again and I am definitely going to bake myself a camembert when this challenge is over. Mmmmmmmm camembert…

Oh. I’ve just checked the label and Quorn contains egg whites. Crap.

Well, dinner was delicious. More stir fried tofu, this time with spring onions, beansprouts, carrots and courgettes.

tofu stirfry

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Tin of mandarins, fresh orange juice

Snack: Cucumber and carrot sticks, red pepper humous, water

Lunch: Vegetable soup, a banana, water

Snack: I didn’t have time for a snack today

Dinner: Stir fried tofu, spring onion, courgette, carrot, beansprouts, rice, Prosecco (don’t worry, I checked, no animal products were used)

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, food, Going Vegan, health, Uncategorized

Vegan Challenge Day 3: The Farmer Speaks

I was skunnered this morning when Rod handed me a coffee, forgetting I was off the milk. I’d forgotten to soak my oats and was running around trying to get kids ready so ended up comforting myself with a trip to the local inconvenience store.

Yep, breakfast was two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and balsamic. Nutritious? I think not. I was racing to finish writing a press release before my nail appointment, so my snack was 20 Pringles. Not a good morning.

My fortnightly nail appointment is always a highlight. I travel halfway across Edinburgh to see this woman because she is excellent. She is also a character – obsessed with 195os style, owner of a gorgeous bulldog called Rose who smiles at me from her dog basket and, I found out today, she used to be the head bouncer at a notorious Glasgow nightclub called Archaos. She also grew up on a farm and spent five years at agricultural college, so I should have known better than to mention my vegan challenge.

Her rant lasted through the soak off and the first two coats of the new colour, but she made some excellent, and heartfelt points. The main one was: “The thought that farmers, whose livelihood depends on the animals they look after, don’t care and don’t look after their cows and pigs, is actually offensive. And I don’t use that term vey often cos people get too offended these days.”

She explained how strict the regulations are in the UK. There are actually laws about how much daylight, space and stimulation animals must have as a bare minimum. The picture of the sow separated from her piglets in a small pen that does the rounds on Facebook got her particularly riled up.

“Do you know how much a sow weighs? They’re twice the size of a coffee table and have about 20 piglets, if she rolls over she’s going to squash them and kill them. She goes in the farrowing pen for the piglets’ safety. They feed, they’re observed to make sure everyone gets enough, then the sow gets her own pen so she can move about safely – and can still snuffle her children through the barrier.”

Organic farming was another passionate subject for her – she derided the practice of depriving a cow who cuts itself on a fence from receiving antibiotics because lavender cream allows the farmer to claim organic status – meanwhile the cow suffers. She also pointed out the joy of UK farmers at leaving the EU because the regulations are ridiculously complex and actually prevent them from farming properly.

I won’t go on. She made some very interesting, and informed, points and given that I was still in mourning over my morning coffee, really struck a chord.

I was all set to give up on this challenge, but tofu turned my head. It’s delicious! Stir fried in soy sauce with a tonne of veg and some gluten free noodles? YUM.

I shall fight another day. Day 3 complete. And aren’t my nails gorgeous?

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and Balsamic vinegar; pint of cucumber water

Snack: Pringles

Lunch: Vegetable soup, Bourneville chocolate bar, pint of cucumber water

Snack: Raisins

Dinner: Stir fried tofu with veg and rice noodles; glass of red wine

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Filed under Edinburgh, food, Going Vegan, health