Recipes

Soup soup! Autumn squash, pepper and lentil soup

It’s definitely soup season now and we still had some homegrown squashes to use so I thought I’d make a batch of warming autumn soup.

You can use squash, pumpkin or sweet potato (or a mix) and you can also be a bit free and loose with the quantities to be honest – as long as you keep an eye on the amount of liquid and add a bit more stock if needed.

I made a massive batch so I could have it for a few days and also freeze some, but you could easily halve this. This recipe serves up to ten good portions at 163 cals per portion!

You will need:

Approx 1,200g squash (this was 2 medium squashes)

3 Red peppers

2 onions

500g red lentils

4 cloves garlic

800g chopped tomatoes

1 litre vegetable stock (but you may need to add a little more as it cooks)

2 tbsp tomato purée

4 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp Chilli powder (or to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

To serve – fresh spinach and a dollop of greek yoghurt

Peel and de-seed the squash and then chop into small pieces.

Chop the onion and peppers and crush the garlic. Heat up a little oil in a pan and add the onions and crushed garlic, and allow to lightly brown.

Add the pumpkin and pepper, stir well and cook for 5 mins with the lid on (stirring occasionally). The squash will start to release some water and begin to soften a little.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Then add the lentils, vegetable stock, spices and tomato purée and stir.

Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for a few minutes with the lid off. Then reduce the heat further and put the lid on and allow to cook for at least 20 mins making sure you stir regularly so the lentils don’t stick. If it looks like it needs it then add a little more stock.

Season to taste and cook until the squash is tender and the lentils are cooked through. Remove from heat and at this point. If you like your soup chunky you can serve it now.

Alternatively you can blend it to a smooth consistency.

To serve stir through some fresh spinach and add a dollop of greek yoghurt!

Enjoy! 🙂

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Don’t weigh yourself daily

Tuesday Tip: Don’t weigh yourself daily 🤗

I tell clients not to weigh themselves too often, or worry about short-term weight fluctuations, but why? Your body is 60% water and it’s one of the first things you lose (or gain). Fat mass can’t change overnight so being 1-2kg heavier in a day won’t be fat. Average water loss/gain over 24hrs ranges from 0.5 – 2.5 kg. To lose a 1/2 kg fat in a day you’d need to burn approx 4,500 cals; a massive extra calorie burn for one day! Water however is lost (and gained) due to:

#1 Low-carb diets – when you cut carbs you lose water as the body uses glycogen for energy. It’s stored with water so using it releases water which you pee out.

#2 Increased protein – Protein breakdown creates urea and nitrogenous waste which need water to be removed from the body – the water flushes them out, so more water is lost.

#3 Salt – If your diet is high salt your body will retain water to dilute the excess sodium e.g. a particularly carb heavy, high salt meal will lead to greater water retention. In addition high salt results in high blood pressure which long term can cause cardiovascular damage.

#4 Caffeine – is a mild diuretic i.e causes water loss and increased urination. This is more pronounced if new to caffeine. If you regularly drink it the effect will be small, but a very heavy coffee day could impact your water weight.

#5 Alcohol – this prevents the release of vasopressin, a pituitary hormone that regulates water loss. Water loss (dehydration) is a side effect of alcohol (hence the hangover) so this will reduce your water weight too.

#6 Exercise – if you exercise intensely, or in hot weather, you will sweat more and lose water. Try it – weigh yourself pre and post a really intense session and see how much water you’ve lost.

So it’s normal for water-weight to fluctuate which is why weighing daily or multiple times a day is pointless (and leads to unnecessary upset). Long term weight changes result from changes in fat and lean muscle so if you’re seeing big losses in only a day or so then you know it’s water loss, and if you wake up a few kg’s heavier than the day before you know that’s not fat either!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Low carb diets aren’t magic

Tuesday Tip: Low carb diets aren’t magic 🌟

Low carb (or keto) diets are ALL the rage, and for some people they do seem to work….but not because they magically make you burn fat. Here’s what actually happens

#1 A reduced carb intake leads to almost immediate loss of water weight, hence sudden drops in weight at the start. It’s not fat. It will come back once you eat carbs again.

#2 They involve eating more protein, which is important for hunger control. So you’ll feel fuller and eat less calories overall, and be in calorie deficit. Calories, not carbs, dictate fat loss and gain.

#3 Protein also plays a vital role in muscle preservation, and has the highest thermic effect of any nutrient (i.e. takes the most cals to metabolise). So you’ll be burning slightly more cals each day, contributing to the deficit.

#4 They also mean more veggies. These are high in fibre and water making you feel fuller, slowing digestion and less likely to eat as many cals.

#5 More fats are also consumed, another key for staying fuller for longer and slowing digestion. So once again you’re far more likely eat less.

#6 They revolve around reducing the amount of carbs; the biggest portion of people’s diets. AND most calorie dense junk foods are carb-based so you’d be cutting those out. When you remove a food group you’re removing calories too, so you end up in a deficit.

SO how do these diets work? By getting you to do things that lead to consuming fewer calories, whilst telling you it’s nothing to do with calories and all about magic low carbs….

Does this mean you should do it? If it works for you then sure! Do I think it’s sustainable? Nope. Avoidance of food groups creates a poor relationship with food leading to binges or blow outs. It can also lead to fatigue, health risks of increased fat intake, regaining water weight when you go back to carbs, etc and of course it will only work if you have a high refined carb-based diet anyway.

My advice – everything in moderation. We need carbs as much as we need protein and fat. If you want a long term sustainable diet then just focus on reducing overall calories by whatever means works for your lifestyle.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday tip: Not so healthy health foods

Tuesday tip: Not so healthy health foods 🥗

With so many “healthy” foods out there, deciding what foods are healthy and low calorie can be a minefield. Here are a few prime suspects which are not as low cal as people imagine.

# Granola

it’s full of fab foods like oats, nuts, dried fruit etc but is also very high in sugar, and calories. Portion sizes are vital here; try weighing the amount you have to check if you’re actually over doing the calories on this one. Or make your own, but that doesn’t automatically make it healthy either!

# Energy/Protein bars

A great snack option but in terms of calories they’re usually no better (and often worse) than a choc bar, BUT they are a better choice to keep you fuller for longer. Just don’t assume that if it’s called a protein bar that its a free pass to eat loads.

# Nut butters

A great source of fats and proteins, BUT that comes at a cost; they’re calorie dense. They are also loaded with extra fat and sugar too. Check the labels, monitor the amount you’re having (I suggest actually weighing it).

# Smoothies

Fruit only ones are high in sugar, and low in fibre and protein, so won’t keep you full. If you’re gonna have one then have it as a meal, not with it, and ensure it’s got protein and fats in too and go easy on the fruit.

# Gluten-free/ dairy-free

Sorry but despite what people think this doesn’t make food healthy, again these options can be higher cal. Only go for these options if you need to (coeliac/lactose intolerance), not just because you think it will be lower calorie.

# Salad dressings

We often forget that they’re actually far more calorific than we realise and high in sugars and fats. Make your own with a little olive oil, dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, and include it in your calorie estimates.

# Vegetable Crisps

If you’re eating veggie crisps because you think they’re healthier than potato crisps you’re out of luck. If you like them – eat them, but otherwise stick to your favourite crisps if you’re going to have any! Better yet stick to real vegetables with your dips instead!

So make sure you read those labels guys, and don’t be sucked in by the hype!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

xx

Recipes

Veggie Sausage Casserole

This is a another easy weekday dinner option, perfect for the colder autumn and winter evenings. I like to cook up a batch of this up on a Sunday and then it’s a nice easy, warming dinner to heat up quickly during the week. You can obviously use any sausages you like but not only do the quorn ones taste fab, they’re also far lower in calories than ‘normal’ sausages! If you want to save time use a bag of frozen grilled veg, or use any veg you have in the fridge! Also it’s worth noting that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies so if you’re vegetarian then double check – Biona and other companies make one without the use of animal products and it’s widely available.

This serves 4 at about 226 cals per portion.

You will need:

6 quorn sausages

500g passata

300g mixed vegetables (either a pack or 1 onion, 1 pepper, 1 courgette, 1 small aubergine)

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp chilli powder (adjust for taste)

1 tsp mixed herbs

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 vegetable stock cube

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1/2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp of sugar

Salt and pepper

If using fresh veg then prepare it and chop it up. Heat a little oil in a pan, add onions first and allow to soften. Chop the sausages in to slices and add to the pan and allow to brown. Then add the pepper, courgette and aubergine (if using a pack then just throw it all in at once once the sausages have browned).

Cook for a couple of mins until the veg start to soften and then add the passata. Stir well and bring to a slow simmer. Add the stock cube, all the spices, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Add the sugar (this brings out a richer tomato flavour).

Bring to a simmer and allow to cook through for about 10-15 mins.

Serve with green veg and grains, with a jacket potato or just on its own!

enjoy 🙂

Xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday tip: How long to give a new plan?

Tuesday tip: How long to give a new plan? 📝

So you’re on a new health plan but how long should you keep on it if you’re not seeing the results you want? It differs for everyone, but there are some things that can help you decide.

# 1 Realistic?

Is your goal realistic? Losing 20kg in a month, or running a marathon in 3 weeks when you’ve never run 5k, are not realistic and likely to leave you feeling frustrated and ready to give up when you don’t manage it. Take a good look at your goal and make sure it’s doable. If you’re not sure then chat to an expert about it.

# 2 Are you sticking to it?

You may feel like you’re working really hard but are you sure you’re sticking to it? This isn’t about self-blame, but finding solutions e.g. are you logging your food accurately; weighing food, checking portions, tracking workouts etc. Then look at the issues; if stress or lack of time is causing you to de-rail then focus on strategies to de-stress, or time-saving hacks, rather than just feeling guilty and vowing to “try again tomorrow”.

# 3 Measuring

Often we think we aren’t getting results because we’re only focused on weight, but changing body composition may mean your weight changes less than you expect (due to increased muscle and fat loss). Try other means of measuring progress: tape measure, photos, using clothes etc. I always use measurements with clients, rather than weight, as the main focus.

#4 Tweaks

If you feel like you’ve stalled it doesn’t mean the plan isn’t working, you may just need to make some tweaks, especially if body composition has changed, or you’re getting fitter (burning less cals). Maybe you need to recalculate your daily calorie goal? or need to change your exercise routine?

#5 Enjoyment

Are you still enjoying it? You want this to last beyond your goal right? So experiment, have fun, keep trying new stuff and keep it fun. Enjoyment will keep you going – find food and activities you enjoy! If you loathe every second then yeah it’s time to change!

In general give any new plan up to 3 months and if you’re not seeing results and genuinely sticking to it, then try something that’s better suited to you and your goals.

Happy Tuesday 🤗

xx

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday tip: Tips to stay on track

Tuesday tip: Tips to stay on track 🤗

Here are some tips beyond just changing what you eat and how much you move, to help stay on track.

#1 No distractions

Are you multitasking whilst eating – on the phone or watching tv? This affects our ability to control what we eat. So when you eat – just eat. Focus on how it tastes, savour the meal and take your time, rather than having your phone in one hand and a fork in the other.

# No good or bad

Foods aren’t good or bad. “Bad” foods aren’t going to kill you with a few bites, the problem is when we eat too much of them. Instead, think of foods you can eat a lot of, and those you can only eat a little of. Then fit foods you love in your overall plan. e.g. 1 scoop of ice cream with a bowl of fruit, rather than 4 scoops!

# Add don’t cut

Focusing on what to cut from our diets makes us feel deprived and likely to binge later. Instead focus on adding; add MORE veg, if you fill your plate half full of veg you’re far less likely to eat loads of other stuff.  Celebrate the things you can eat and all the exciting new foods or recipes you can add to your diet.

# Brush your teeth

An easy and effective habit to help the post-dinner snacking or any time of day. Brushing your teeth after you eat removes the taste of food, and acts as a cue that the meal is over, so you’re less likely to eat more.

# Track why

Tracking not only what, how much and when you eat, but also how you’re feeling can help identify any patterns or emotional eating that you may not be aware of. Just being aware of the fact you’re eating because you’re bored can help you stop yourself doing that. And you can look at the overall pattern and think of other ways to address those emotions, without food.

# What are you NOT willing to do

As well as setting goals for why we want to lose weight, it helps to be clear on what you’re not willing to do. e.g. “I’m not willing to be unable to play sports with my kids” – whatever it is, write it down. Then when motivation is failing re-read it and it will help you choose that lower calorie option, avoid the junk, go for your workout. It will help you make decisions that get you to that goal.

Happy Tuesday! 🤗

xx