Category Archives: Food

Food sensitivity and weight loss

Picture of Fran Benson
Fran Benson

If you’ve been following these last few blog posts then you’ll know that I started a food sensitivity test a little while ago.  If you haven’t read about that then click on this link and work your way forward).

For a while I’ve felt that not all foods agree with me but I couldn’t work out which ones.  Also, bombarded with all the different messages from the media and research it’s so confusing to know what constitutes a healthy diet: no carb, low carb, low fat, high protein, vegetarian, paleo, avoid fruit and so on?

The list is endless and there is always a group of people to advocate each position.  I aim to eat a “clean” diet which means eating food as naturally as possible and avoiding refined carbohydrates, and even though I think this is healthy there is still this question in my mind – is this right for me? And is there anything I could be doing to eat better?

So I started this test with four objectives:

  1. To identify any foods that provoke a food sensitivity reaction
  2. To become more aware of how different foods make me feel
  3. To try some new foods and recipes & finally
  4. To lose the three or four pounds I’d put on during my summer of cream teas and pasties

Although I haven’t finished the test yet  I have already achieved all of the above.  But for today I’m going to talk about the fourth point: weight loss.

Weight Loss

I didn’t have high expectations in this area.  As I’ve mentioned I had put on just a few pounds during the summer months which was a combination of taking on a lot of writing work (which means sitting on my bottom a lot and not moving very much) and eating indulgently on holiday.

But my expectations were also low because since having children my weight settled for a long time around the ten and a half stone mark.  When I worked  out at an intense level with Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution programme I took off half a stone over 12 weeks to take me to 9 stone 13 lbs and when I did it the second time I went down to 9 stone 8 lbs.

However when I stopped working out so hard my weight crept back up to settle at 9 stone 12 lbs rising again during my summer of excess.

Now it’s important to understand that Julia’s programme changed my body shape (for the better) so actually I was happy at 9 stone 12lbs and that’s where I was aiming for, particularly as I was not going to be exercising at the same rate and I’d resigned myself to believing that my body gives up every ounce of weight grudgingly when I drop below ten stone – believe me it’s hard work.

So, I have now completed four weeks of testing and I have steadily been losing 2lbs a week.  I can’t say it’s been effortless because the first week was hellish.  However since then it’s been pretty easy – although I must admit that as I’ve tested and added in each new food it’s taken me closer to how I was eating before I started – with the exception of milk and those foods that I have yet to test.

I used to find that I could lose a couple of pounds and then overnight three pounds would appear out of nowhere.  I could never understand why that would happen.  Now I’m beginning to believe that maybe it was down to a food sensitivity – in this case milk and possibly other foods that I haven’t identified yet.

I started the test at 10 stone 2lbs and at the end of week 4 had dropped to 9 stone 6lbs – a weight I haven’t seen since my early twenties.

I’m shocked at how those pounds seem to have melted away without me undertaking lots of exercise (I have been running twice a week and doing a little yoga each morning).

I’ve still got a few weeks to go before I’ve tested all of the foods on the list in the book and can’t believe that I will lose any more weight – I certainly have no desire to but equally if I do, as long as it isn’t drastic, I don’t mind.  Well who would?

I’d be really interested to hear of anyone else’s experience in food sensitivity testing.  Have you tried it? Did you find that you were sensitive to any particular foods? Did you lose weight by eliminating them?

Leave me a comment below and let me know about your experience.  Or if you’re interested to find out more ask me a question.

 

 

 

 

Where I uncover a culprit in food sensitivity testing

Glass of milk and piece of broccoli
Two food stuffs tested this week

So this was an exciting week where I started to test different food stuffs to see if I had a reaction to them.

If you remember I spent the previous week on a very limited diet of just those foods that are considered not to cause sensitivities.  This was very dull but once the testing process started, even though you only get to add in two foods a day it’s amazing how much difference it made to how I felt about what I could cook for my dinner.

I was insanely excited to add broccoli back in on that first evening and not surprisingly I showed no reaction to it at all and have been eating it ever since.

Food Sensitivity Reactions

So how do I know if I’m having a reaction to a type of food or not?  Well, one of the things that I’ve had to do each day is weigh myself morning and evening (before breakfast and dinner respectively).

This was a bit of a chore and twice I forgot to do it in the evening.  However I still did enough to see a pattern; every day I gained between 0.5 and 1.5lbs and every night I lost between 1 and 1.75 lbs.

So the key thing to look out for is an increase during the day or night outside of that normal range.  On top of that there might be some other symptoms such as fatigue or headache.

So I kept on testing.  Here’s a breakdown of a couple of days to show you how it plays out:

Red pepper with my breakfast – gained 1lb 2oz during the day

Chicken with my dinner – lost 1lb 8oz over night

Tap water (yes I spent a week drinking only bottled water!) with my breakfast – gained 1lb during the day

Peppermint tea with my dinner – lost 1lb over night

The objective at this point is to introduce/test as many foods as possible.  If you discover a food that causes a reaction then you have to wait until the reaction is passed before you can test any more foods.

Finding the guilty culprit

So midway through the week I tested milk.  Dairy was on my hit list from the beginning – more from the perspective of greek yoghurt which I consume in large quantities.  However I have never liked milk.  I was the kid in school crying when they bought the bottles of milk in to be drunk.  I can’t tolerate it in porridge or smoothies and substitute water or oat milk in its place.  If I don’t it will leave me nauseous and with stomach cramps for a day. Having said that I can manage it in smaller quantities on cereal or in Yorkshire puddings.

I faced this test with some trepidation.  I poured a small amount into a cup and, holding my breath, knocked it back.

I thought I’d avoid the feelings of nausea with such a small amount but they kicked in within 20 minutes. By lunchtime I was feeling fuzzy headed, had stomach cramps and an upset stomach and I felt overwhelmed with tiredness.  Later in the day I noticed an acute pain in my knees as I came down the stairs and my lower back went as well – for no apparent reason.

I dragged myself through the afternoon and remembering to weigh myself was shocked to see my weight had increased by 2lbs 4ozs.  I know the book had said that there would be a weight increase (due to inflammation) but I was still surprised by this.

I didn’t feel bigger or bloated or anything that would indicate that I had gained weight. Just tired, nauseous and generally out of sorts.

The other thing I noticed was that I developed cravings to randomly eat during the afternoon.  It wasn’t hunger. It was just the desire to pick at carby foods.  If I ate biscuits and cakes I would gladly have tucked into them then.

What’s potentially really interesting about that is the fact that I get that craving feeling after I eat greek yoghurt.  I’ve always put it down to the fruit I mix into the yoghurt creating a spike in my blood sugar, but perhaps it’s the dairy element that’s to blame?

I’ll find out when I test greek yoghurt next week.

It took a couple of days for it all to settle down and then I carried on testing more foods.

So it looks like I’ll be looking to eliminate milk from my diet.  John Mansfield (the author) suggests that if you have a weight gain to a certain food that you can retest it a week or so later.  However he says that if you have a weight gain and other symptoms such as headache etc then it is almost certainly a food sensitivity for you so I am confident that this is the case for me.

I’ll wrap up there. I purposefully haven’t talked about weight loss…but I’m going to cover that one next week because that’s where it gets even more interesting.

1st week of food testing completed

Well I’ve made it to the end of the “setting up” week and I’ve eliminated everything from my diet that is most likely to cause a food sensitivity issue.

So how’s it been?

Well, it’s certainly been a long week.  I started off very enthusiastically but by mid-morning on the first day I wanted a cup of tea more than Alex Salmond wants independence for Scotland.

I felt mean and nasty and by lunch time I had a headache.  This progressed rapidly into a migraine and although I served up dinner for the children I couldn’t face eating and went straight to bed.

Fortunately the migraine was gone by morning and I was able to eat.  But I sorely missed those cups of tea.  They kick start my day and propel me through the morning jobs and as much as I love water it becomes dull when it’s the only choice.

The menu for the week was limited and I mostly ate fruit (apples or pears) for breakfast with cashew or macademia nuts for some extra energy.

Lunch quickly settled into a pattern of fish (haddock, cod or plaice) or turkey steak with roast sweet potato and green vegetables.

I’ve never bought turkey steaks before and they’ve been quite a revelation: lovely drizzled in olive oil and roasted.

I really didn’t fancy salad at all so alternated between courgette and green beans.  I’m not normally a fan of courgettes but a recent trip to one of Rick Stein’s eateries in Cornwall has converted me to them sautéed in olive oil (preferably with lots of garlic but I can’t try that until I’ve tested garlic which is coming up soon).

The biggest problems I encountered during the week were:

  • boredom – there really isn’t a huge lot of choice of things to eat (particularly if like me you have selective taste-buds)
  • feeling grotty and miserable during the first three or four days
  • adjusting to a lack of appetite – I just wasn’t hungry and at times felt like I couldn’t be bothered to eat and literally had to make myself as I was worried I wasn’t eating enough otherwise.

I was tired during the first few days but towards the end of the week felt a renewed surge of energy. I was sleeping really well and was waking up around 6am raring to go.

I feel lighter, actually I am lighter by around 2-3 lbs and am looking forward to adding back all the foods that I’ve taken out.  I get to test two foods a day.  One at breakfast and one in the evening.

Tonight I’m testing broccoli.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be eating a different vegetable.  Then tomorrow pepper and chicken.

After I try each new food I need to monitor whether I experience any reaction to it eg. headache, fatigue, weight gain.  If there is no reaction I can carry on eating it, but if there is then I am best to avoid it, or retest at a later date.

I’m excited about the week ahead and very curious to see whether any of the foodstuffs I’m most concerned about show any form of reaction.

There’s a part of me that is wondering whether I’ll go through this whole process with no form of response.  But we’ll see.

Next update will be next week.

Exploring food sensitivity

Apple and Pear
Fruit from the core list

It’s no secret that I strive to eat healthily.  Not all the time – let’s face it what would a week in Cornwall be without pasties and cream teas? Or a blow-out birthday meal? Or an eat-until-you-pop Christmas dinner?

But the rest of the time, the 80-90% part of normal life then I try to make sensible choices.  And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that certain foods affect me in different ways.

The difficulty is knowing exactly what it was that caused the problem.  And that’s what I’m trying to find out – what are the foods that fill me with energy and zest and what are the foods that make me feel lethargic, tired, dull, bloated, and low in mood?

I’ve got a good idea which the guilty culprits are but I want to find out in a scientific way rather than by guess work.  For example is bread ok or not?  And if my body doesn’t particularly like me to eat it, is it the wheat, the yeast or the sugar?

So I did some research and found a book that could help me on my quest:  The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss by Dr John Mansfield – a doctor who trained at Guy’s Hospital, London and has worked in the field of food sensitivity for nearly 40 years.

His book talks a lot about weight loss but it was the chapter on food sensitivity that really interested me.

The two key concepts that he explains are that food sensitivities stem from foods (generally newer ones to the human diet, eg. grain and dairy) that we tend to rely on too much in our diet and over time may create an adverse reaction within our body.  Secondly, if we become sensitive to a food we may not notice because in general, we will be eating that food regularly which creates a “masking” effect within the body.  This means that we feel better after we have eaten something we are sensitive to rather than worse (confusing huh?), unless we haven’t eaten that food for five days in which case the body will react to it.

He then outlines a plan which involves stripping the diet right back to a core list of foods that are generally accepted not to cause problems for anyone. After one week of this then you start to introduce one food at a time at breakfast and dinner and monitor the effects.

Perfect – a scientific approach to what I want to do.

Not so perfect is that the core list is only 40 foods – of which I like about 27 of them (turkey, cod, green beans, lentils, apples and pears to name a few).  So the first week is going to be tough – but I am going to do it.

After the first week I move into phase one, introducing foods that shouldn’t cause any problems but are slightly more prone to causing sensitivities than the core list so that includes broccoli, chicken, peppers and more.

I’m not expecting any problems with phase one, but phase two I think will be interesting.

The foods I’m really keen to see if I react to are:

Caffeine (coffee historically causes migraines so I tend to drink tea – strong and black)

Sugar – this has caused me so many problems in the past I would be surprised if I don’t react negatively

Wheat

Yeast

Dairy – particularly cream (which I love and crave) and greek yoghurt which I eat a lot of in the belief it is good for me (I hope I’m right)

Alcohol (wine)

How will I know if I’m having a negative reaction?

Well I’m going to have to get used to weighing myself on a regular basis: twice a day to see how my body reacts to the “safe” foods. In the first week I can expect to lose a little weight and although I might feel a bit rubbish for a few days, if I am sensitive to food, then I should feel amazing by the end of the week.

Then when I introduce each new food I have to see if my weight increases (probably due to an immediate inflammatory response in my body which should happen within a few hours) and/or I suddenly feel lethargic or experience some other negative response.

It’s a bit technical and I’m going to have to think hard to keep my menu as varied as I can given the constraints but I’m really keen to identify the best foods that work, or don’t work, for me.

I’ll be updating daily on twitter…you can follow me on @mumontherum and I’ll be using a hashtag of #foodsensitivity.

I’ll also be blogging again at the end of week one to let you know how I’m getting on.

The World’s Best Diet

Healthy Lunch
Healthy lunch

I settled down to watch this documentary on Channel 4 last night about which country had the best diet.

I was hoping that it was going to explore in depth some of the identified healthy diets from around the world.

Instead it was a top 50 rundown from The Marshall Islands (in the north Pacific Ocean) taking the 50th position with a pretty unhealthy diet of processed and tinned products shipped in from America.

Their diet took a turn for the worse after the American nuclear tests took place on the Bikini Atoll during the 1940s and 50s – up until that point they relied on home grown goods and they were pretty healthy.  Now they have one of the highest rates of diabetes and the most common operation in their hospitals is for amputation from diabetes.

Fast forwarding we discovered that the UK didn’t fare too well – not a big surprise really – with Scotland at 37, Northern Ireland at 36, Wales at 35 (with the most obese children in the UK) and the UK at 34.

Not surprisingly we were ahead of America (43) but very surprisingly (for me anyway) ahead of Mexico and Australia. In Mexico, 1/3 of children are obese and this is put down to imported processed goods from America along with an average consumption of 1/2 litre a day of soda and fizzy drinks.  On top of their obesity problems they also appear to have a high incidence of dental problems/decay too.

Australia was a bit of a shocker.  I really thought they lived on a healthy diet of meat. fruit and veg but it seems they too have succumbed to the fast food revolution.

Ethiopia came in at a mid point at 24.  Western food only appears in the cities and it was interesting to see that for most people the standard diet was made up of the teff seed.  A small seed which they grind to a flour to make pancakes which they serve with lentils or vegetables.

The South Koreans (13) have some of the lowest obesity rates in the world which is attributed to a diet of fresh fish, vegetables and fermented cabbage.

And the French, who love their cheeses and high fat foods but have lower rates of heart disease show that it’s not all fresh fish and veg.  But instead they like to eat three meals per day (as we did in the UK 50 years ago), some wine and no snacks between meals.

Not surprisingly the Mediterranean diet made it into the top 3 with Greece and Italy taking 3rd and 2nd place respectively. So, yay for legumes, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, fish and lots and lots of olive oil.

I wasn’t expecting Iceland to be no. 1 but they have low rates of strokes, heart disease and diabetes and they eat lots of fish, high quality meat and dairy and lots of natural whole foods.

There wasn’t much time spent on any one diet.  But the overwhelming message was that the healthiest diets were the ones that hadn’t changed much in the last 60 years and were reliant on natural foods rather than processed ones.

It didn’t seem to matter too much if you were an Innuit living on an all fat and protein diet of meat, a member of the Masai Tribe living on milk, meat and cow’s blood or a resident of Campodimele in Italy growing your own vegetables and killing your own chicken – the secret seems to be that as we progress and develop in all areas of our life, perhaps our diets should be best left alone to how they once were.

If you didn’t catch the programme, it is well worth a view – if only to see presenter Kate Quilton eat raw octopus which wriggles around as she eats it and attaches itself to her lip…I’m really not sure I could have done that – and can be seen again tonight on 4seven at 9pm or on the internet here.

 
Healthy lunch

Super 7 fruit and veg for kids

Jacket potato with chilli and saladIt’s impossible to pick up a newspaper without the latest advice on what we should or shouldn’t be eating and sometimes the research and advice is so contradictory it can be hard to know what to eat.

However I don’t think there’s any doubt that eating fruit and vegetables are a good thing to do to be healthy.

Just this week we’ve seen that we need to be eating more than the government recommended five a day.  Some research suggests eating seven portions can reduce the chance of an early death and some experts are even suggesting up to ten portions a day.

I must admit I was pleased to see these figures – my own personal experience tells me that the more “plant-based” food I eat, the healthier I feel.

And so it’s not surprising that I encourage my children to eat healthily too.  That’s not to say that they don’t eat cake and sweets but I try to keep them to a minimum and encourage them to fill up at meal times with fruit, salad and vegetables.

Back in January, in a bid to eat more of the green (red, yellow, orange and blue) stuff and less of the refined products (for that read sugar) we launched an initiative called Super 7 days.

This was two days a week where the children had to find seven different fruit and vegetables to eat during the course of the day.

The rules were simple – and discussed and agreed with them before hand so they bought into it from the concept:

1. Juice didn’t count

2. Dried fruit could only be counted once

3. Portion size wasn’t crucial but they couldn’t for example count just one blueberry it had to be a handful

4. There were no cakes, biscuits etc on Super 7 days.

The children were quite excited about this – they love a competition and they wanted to outdo each other – and I threw in a chart and stickers for the younger two which always seems to produce results.  So we were off to a good start.

I discovered some interesting things in this experiment.

1. The children didn’t moan or whine if they forgot the no sugar rule on these days.  If they asked for a biscuit I just said “no, it’s a super 7 day today,” and they were like “ok,” rather than the usual begging, pleading, cajoling routine.

2. They were keen to get more fruit or veg so they asked me to give them more.

3. Because their focus was on achieving the goal I was able to give them meals they hadn’t tried before without the usual: “What’s this? Do I like it?” instead if they could see that it had vegetables in they were more interested about how many vegetables it would give them towards their daily count and guess what – they just ate it.

4. It made me raise my game a bit.  Some times in the morning when I’m making the lunches it’s easy to throw in a bag of dried fruit and think that’ll do.  But because I wanted them to succeed I was chopping up cucumber, carrot sticks, washing blueberries, slicing apples etc

They didn’t always hit the magic seven.  sometimes they only got to five, but sometimes they got to eight.  However we celebrated them all, because at 5, 6 and 11 years old I think that looking for ways to eat more fruit and veg is something to be celebrated.

Unfortunately Super 7 took a bit of a hit over the last half term and never got properly reinstated.  Although habits certainly got changed and we are at five portions of fruit and veg a day on a regular basis.

However reading those newspaper articles this week has reminded me that we really do need to ensure we get more fruit and vegetables into our daily diet.  So with the Easter holidays upon us, the season of chocolate, it seems like a good time to start again.

The format may get changed a little, I’ll be consulting with the children later how they’d like to see it implemented and then we’ll get on it again.

When life gets in the way…

Common land on a sunny morning
Chapel Common

I’m feeling slightly confessional here today.  It’s three weeks since I last blogged – and I promised myself I’d do it at least weekly.

But I’ve had a lot of work on and I was under the weather – the usual things that can skupper the best laid plans.  And when life gets a little bit out of control in one area it tends to have a knock on effect in all the other areas too.

Take my food.  Normally I sit down on a Tuesday night and plan out all the meals that we are going to eat for the next seven days.  Then I check what we’ve got in stock and make a list of what we need and order it from Sainsburys.

Well I did most of that but, because I was busy, instead of checking to see what was in the cupboard – I guessed.  Which meant that I didn’t have all the ingredients to cook the food that I planned.

Then I wasn’t feeling well and all I wanted to eat was toast and Weetabix anyway.  Which is fine very occasionally but if I eat too much wheat it makes me feel tired.

Add into that a six hour powercut one day and we were all off to the café for scones followed by dinner in the pub.

Let’s face it none of us live perfect lives and there’s always something to juggle or obstacles to navigate.

And that’s the important thing to remember.  We shouldn’t be beating ourselves up when things don’t go perfectly.  We should just aim to do the best we can given the circumstances.

So instead I want to think about what went right last week:

I got up early and exercised before the children were up on four mornings.

I got all my work done in time.

I made myself go back to bed for rest when I wasn’t feeling well (something I find hard to do as there is always something else that I should be doing).

I dragged myself out with the children for a lovely walk across the common when the sun was actually shining – that’s the picture above and I was so glad I’d made the effort.

I cooked five pretty healthy meals for us all and ate plenty of fruit and vegetables.

I did more press-ups than I’ve ever done before.

I’m feeling much better today.  Deadlines have passed and my headachey coldy thing has gone.  I’m tired but I’m quietly plodding away and feel like I’m slotting back into my routine of healthy clean food and drinking lots of water.

It’s also the final week in Phase 1 of The Fat Burn Revolution and I want to give it an extra push this week before I start Phase 2.

I don’t feel like I’ve achieved quite what I wanted to in this phase because I wasn’t able to push myself last week as much as I would have liked.

But I’m fine with that.

I’m taking the long term view.  As someone once said, maybe about life or happiness but for me today it’s about healthy living: it’s a journey, not a destination.  And I for one am enjoying the ride.

 

The food that I eat

Ingredients for fruity greek yoghurt
Fruity greek yoghurt with cocoa

Since doing Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution last year I’ve made some changes to the food that I eat.  And as I regularly get asked: “What do you eat?” it seems to be something that people are interested in.

In truth it isn’t massively different to what I ate before.  I used to always eat protein at every meal, eat wholegrain foods rather than refined white carbs and eat lots of vegetables and a little fruit.

So I thought I’d talk about the changes that I made.  I believe that if you start to take things out of your diet it’s generally a good idea to replace what you take out with some other choices – albeit healthier ones – or you’ll start to feel deprived pretty quick.

So before TFBR my breakfasts were either: a bacon or sausage sandwich, greek yoghurt with fruit and almonds or sometimes a chicken stir-fry.

Because I was trying to cut down on processed carbohydrates, in this case the bread, I changed my bacon sandwich to either grilled bacon and chopped apple or bacon pan fried with cabbage, onion and mushroom.  The sausage sandwich became sausage with roast sweet potato wedges and broccoli and the yoghurt and stir-fry options didn’t change.  Occasionally I still have a sausage sandwich but I have to say that now it is more for convenience than for taste.

Lunches before were either homemade soup, left overs from dinner, a jacket potato with cheese or chilli or a sandwich.

I take the time now to make a lot more soups and that is my preferred lunch.  If I’ve got some interesting leftovers then I’ll heat them up with some veg.  I haven’t had a sandwich or jacket potato for lunch for quite some time.  Occasionally I’ll have yoghurt or salad but if I’m honest I’m not the biggest fan of salad and certainly not when the weather is cold so I stick to the things that I like.

Finally dinner.  Well I’ve never gone down the route of cooking something different for the children so I have to cook things that work for them as well as me.  But you know, this is really the simple bit.  We eat chilli, casseroles, roasts, curries, bolognese etc.  Along with the vegetables they eat them with pasta or rice or potatoes just like I used to do.  I have mine with extra vegetables, sometimes a bit of rice or a new potato, sometimes with some sweet potato or a portion of lentils or a pile of chopped cucumber, red onion and avocado.

I don’t go hungry – ever.  I love the food that I eat and I feel lighter in myself and I’m not talking about the weight that you measure on the scales but the feeling that my insides are cleaner just from putting cleaner foods through it.

I drink loads of water too.  I find that the healthier I eat the more water I need to drink and I regularly get through two to three litres a day.

Here’s a favourite breakfast, lunch and dinner that I thought I’d share:

Fruity yoghurt – ideal for breakfast, post-workout snack or even a dessert.

2 heaped tablespoons of full fat greek yoghurt (the picture above shows 0% fat but Sainsburys had sold out of the full fat version.  However because I like to eat fat I compensated by adding oil to the yoghurt – first olive oil and then progressing to coconut oil and it’s even yummier as a result).

2 heaped tablespoons of berries of choice (I use Sainsbury’s frozen blueberries and strawberries)

1 heaped teaspoon of cocoa

2 teaspoons of coconut oil

1 small handful of toasted flaked almonds

Blend everything (apart from the almonds) together with a stick blender until well mixed. Sprinkle the almonds on top. Eat and enjoy:)

The recipe has evolved over time.  I first started making it with fresh pineapple too as I liked it sweeter.  As my taste buds have changed I’ve dropped the pineapple.  I also started off with just a tiny bit of cocoa and the almonds are a more recent addition.  So feel free to experiment with it and see what you enjoy.

Tomato and lentil soup

250g red lentils

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 rashers streaky bacon (I preferred smoked)

1 large onion – chopped

1 garlic clove – chopped

1 celery stick – chopped

14 oz can tomatoes

1 green or red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

600ml stock – chicken or vegetable or even water is fine

salt and pepper

Place lentils in a jug and cover in cold water.  Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry bacon, onion, garlic and celery over a low heat until softened.  Drain the lentils and chuck in the pan with the tomatoes, chilli, paprika, cumin and stock and stir well and season.

Cover pan and simmer gently for 40 minutes.  It is quite a thick soup so if you prefer a little runnier just add more water/stock at the end.

Chicken Fajitas

Ok so this is fajitas without the wrap.  My children love the wrap, as does my husband, but I’m perfectly happy without.

So slice up some chicken breast, onion and peppers and grab a pack of Discovery Fajita Seasoning Mix (yes it’s probably possible to make this mix and if anyone has a recipe, please share, but for convenience this is what I use).

Mix the chicken with some oil and the spice mix and fry in a wok until nearly cooked through. Tip in the peppers and onions and fry for a further few minutes.

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and wraps.  Depending on how “clean” I want to eat will determine how much of the extras I eat but generally I’ll have a bit of cheese, cream and guacamole.

I also think that it is important to keep looking for new recipes and foods to try.  This week I’m buying the ingredients to make a minestrone soup that I’ve been recommended – this one uses quinoa instead of pasta so that will be interesting.  The other recipe is for a coco-nutty granola which is made with coconut flakes, coconut oil and lots of different types of nuts.

I might not like them although I’m already guessing the soup will be a winner.  But if I do, then I’ll have added a couple of new breakfasts and lunch to my repertoire to ring the changes.