The Shadow Of Doubt

Doubt. It is a terrible thing.

It can make a person reconsider a decision that could vastly improve their lives for ever, just because that person is afraid that something bad might happen. It clouds judgment, blinds you to new possibilities and prevents you from taking that leap of faith.

Sometimes it can be over something truly monuments, like getting married. I never had an ounce of doubt in my mind over getting married to my truly amazing husband, but I know a fair few who did feel a pang of “what the hell am I doing?!?” as they walk down the isle.

However it seems to be smaller, but still reasonably big decisions that cause me the most anxiety from doubting a decision once it has been made. Well, we are both feeling this level of doubt right now. We just bought a motor-home.

We have been wanting a motor-home for a while now, we currently have a caravan which is perfectly good but the car that we use to tow it is a total and utter money pit and hardly gets about 13 MPG. But that car was my husbands favorite toy, he would spend hours working on it, cursing at it and then grinning with pride when he finally got it to do what he wanted it to do.

But now it and the caravan has to go, and although we are gaining an added level of freedom in the form of this motor-home, we are taking a rather large financial risk.

We have no real way of knowing if this thing is any good. we know it has some faults and we managed to barter the salesman down by pointing out some obviously broken (but fixable) things. But there are still so many unknowns and now we are without the 4×4 car that has always been the workhorse in our lives.

It’s doubt over which one was the lesser of two evils. The financial drain of the car and caravan or the unknown of the motor-home.

Yes, this is a material issue and is not in any way intended to reflect against people going through much more serious situations. However to us, this is a big step and I have been going from nervous to excited to down-right nauseous just thinking about it. I’m still not sure if we have made the right decision over this particular one.

I guess we will have to wait and see …

Baby Steps

After the horrors of this last weeks fat-fueled convenience meals and takeaways, I promised myself I would start once again to try and make healthier meals for myself and my husband. I really do need to get a handle on things, especially portion sizes (I tend to over-fill plates) or we will be feeling the consequences. Even after a week or so of ‘binge eating’ I felt podgy and bloated for days afterwards.

One thing I am trying to do is get myself more readily organised. I already have lists of things I have in the freezer but as that list is on the freezer itself, I can’t make up meals while I am at work if I am struggling to think of what to cook. So, I have treated myself to a new zip-up A5 organizer which has the normal two ring binder rings in it (I find the specialist filofax 6 ring things to be too fussy to make my own inserts for) and I have spent some time developing a weekly meal plan and shopping list that fits what I want.

Now, while I am waiting for that to arrive I am also trying one other small thing on the road to healthier meals. Swapping out just one of the components to a healthier one. It’s a small change but it will hopefully help to get us on the right track.

Last nights meal consisted of, admittedly, one of the unhealthiest cuts of meat out there but also one of the nicest … pork belly. I have always found pork too dry to have normally, I like pork in casseroles but I am not a fan of a pork chop. Belly pork however is always very juicy and flavorful which all regretfully stems from it’s high fat content. But still … YUM!

I cooked the strips in the oven on a wire rack to avoid it sitting in it’s own juices but letting the melting fat baste the meat as it cooked. A good rub with some salt also meant a rather naughty treat of crackling for the Husband (I can’t stand the stuff myself). These were served up with (and here is the “healthy” part) some spicy vegetable couscous and a shredded salad comprised of various types of lettuce, cabbage and bell peppers.

The couscous works really well as an alternative to a potato product which I would normally put with pork, and it added much more in flavor too. It went down a storm and didn’t result in either of us feeling that we had over eaten. The carefully dissected pieces of solid fat piled neatly at thew side of my plate helped to ease my conscience over the fattiness of the cut at least a little bit.

That meal then formed a major part of my lunch today which is a very nice change. Normally I’m a white bread sandwich kind of girl but this time I made myself a little box of goodness.

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Leftover spicy vegetable couscous with lambs lettuce and pea shoots with a few mushrooms I kept back from my breakfast omelet. I added the mushrooms as I was worried it would be a bit bland without but to be honest it would be fine just as couscous and salad. The salad added just the right bite to it and lamb’s lettuce is my favorite leafy green to have. I feel like my lunch time hunger has been satisfied but not to the point of feeling too full.

I think we are heading in the right direction. To change the way we eat we need to take baby steps and work on one thing at a time otherwise we will fail just like last time.

A Loss Of Rythem

The saying goes that when one does not stick to a promise to better themselves in some way, they have “fallen off the wagon”. Normally this applies to people struggling with the incredibly difficult journey that is being a recovering alcoholic yet I apply this to the current state of mind and body that I have found myself in.

My body has been thrown off rhythm.

I feel tired and sluggish, I struggle to think clearly and I ache. I have felt like this for a couple of weeks and it has only been today that a light-bulb has gone off over my head and the answer has appeared to me.

I have fallen off of the wagon of even moderately healthy eating.

I have never been a massive health food nut but I do try and avoid snacks, limit the amount of fatty foods I intake and I try to eat as many vegetables as I can. For some reason I just do not enjoy eating fruit so I take vitamin pills to make up for it and focus on my veggies.

However, in the last couple of weeks I have well and truly gone on a un-health food binge! Last weekend alone I at twice at Mcdonald’s and once at KFC, the meals I have planned for this week comprised of burgers and pies and chips, all things from the freezer that while being healthy on my bank balance, not so much on my insides. Drinking has also crept up again as well resulting in indulging an a glass or two too many of red wine because it would go nicely with the meal I’m having.

I really need to kick this habit before it becomes a bigger problem. If I feel like crap during the day I’m more likely to make crap for tea too under the guise of comfort food. The stupidest thing is I have a ring binder full of wonderful recipes I’ve found online and I heave shelves full of cookbooks all with nutritious, healthy and delicious recipes in them yet day in, day out I reach into the freezer and pull out a piece of processed turkey shaped inexplicably (and unrecognizably) as a dinosaur, or a pack of chicken nuggets, or a beef burger and so on.

I lack motivation for anything right now and I know it is because the fuel I am putting into my body is not allowing it to run effectively meaning I’m trying to operate at a low rev (and yes, that is a car metaphor).

So, the burgers I had planned to use for tonight can stay in the freezer for now. I have some home made potato wedges in the fridge (leftovers from last night’s beef and onion pie and wedges)  so it is off to the supermarket over the road to pick up something a little bit better. A little less processed.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

I know I am not going to be the only one who has gone through an issue like this with food, where you get caught in a spiral of junk food is making you feel bad so you eat more junk food to cheer yourself up. I would be very interested to hear stories from anyone reading this who has had the same sort of journey themselves. *sits back and watches tumbleweed to pass by*

Accidental Success

Today I learned a lesson. Ribbon blade on the Spiralizer does not work on a wonky carrot! However, while I do not have carrot ribbons, I do have cute little carrot curls which will still taste just as nice after a quick stir-fry.

It’s too bad the rest of the meal is rather unhealthy. After a very trying few days at work and a bit of a bad week last week, we felt the need for some comfort food. Enter home made potato wedges (not overly un-healthy as I try not to use too much oil) and the food-of-the-gods that is Bernard Matthews Hamwiches!

Hyper-processed turkey ham, rubber cheese and breadcrumbs mixed into small triangles of goodness.

Everyone has their Achilles Heel. Be it burgers, chocolate or *checks for people listening in* Soda.

The good news is food went down a storm!

Little does husband know tomorrow’d tea is all-out health food 😉

New Favorite Kitchen Gadget

Note to self: Learn how to take better looking photos of food.

Trust me, this meal tasted a whole lot better than it looks!

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The Spiralizer I recently purchased is turning out to be a massive success! The most recent use of my new favorite kitchen gadget was for this. We had a lovely meal of whole-tail scampi and king prawns with chips and veg mix. Again, it tasted way better than it looks here!

For the veg I used the thin noodle blade on the Spiralizer on a carrot and the chunky stem of broccoli. I’d never before considered using the whole stem before and right now I shudder to think of the amount of perfectly good broccoli I just threw away! I also used a few floretts of the broccoli and put the whole lot in a wok with a little chili oil to give it a kick and some soy sauce (hence the dark colour of the veg.

A few minutes of stir frying for the veg to get an al-dente crunch to it and voila! The best thing is that cooking the veg this way retains all of the nutrients that would otherwise leech out when being boiled.

I think this sort of thing is going to become a theme at our house!

Vegetables Made Fun

Yesterday I finally received my much awaited Spiralizer! I am always one to get excited about new devices, especially kitchen gadgets, promising myself that each new thing will revolutionize how we live our lives. My gleaming white gadget was proudly sitting on our kitchen counter-top having been un-boxed and cleaned by my wonderful husband by the time I got home from work.

I instantly got to fiddling with it, checking out the different cutting blades and while I was rather disappointed with the somewhat useless instruction guide and lack of suggested recipes, I was thrilled with it!

Unfortunately it seems that due to a particularly bad growing season in Spain, the UK is currently facing a national courgette (Zucchini in ‘British’) shortage so I have been unable to source one to try out the now infamous Zoodles. The husband had quite a chuckle when I told him this and he asked if the shortage was due to so many people spiralizing them!

Still, I had a good selection of vegetables in the store cupboard to try out my new device. I started off with the ribbon cutter and reduced an unsuspecting carrot to a beautiful curl of bright orange and followed that up by using the fine noodle blade on an equally unsuspecting parsnip. After playing with the springy curls for a few minutes (OK, it ended up being quite a while but I’m an adult now, I’m allowed to play with my food!) I popped the lot in the oven while the rest of our evening meal was cooking.

The results, while not a good looking as those on some of the videos circling the internet, still tasted very good and looked quite appealing on the plate! They certainly went down well with both of us as not a crumb was left.

I have collected a multitude of recipe ideas for it from various food blogs and sites so I have a long list to be getting on with. There was also zero wastage as the off cuts went straight into the rabbit hutch!

Cooking For The Indecisive

My husband, bless his soul. must be one of the most indecisive men on this planet. Whenever we go out for the day he starts off by saying “I’ll take you for a pub lunch!” and then a bit later on “Do you just fancy a McDonalds or KFC?” and then … “Shall we see what they on offer at the supermarket?”. I like to try and have the weeknight meals all planned out before I do the weekly food shop yet we always end up going off list.

Hopefully this is something I can work on as part of my ‘kitchen streamlining’ program which started with food store clear-outs and compiling a full inventory of what food we have in the house. Below is what will hopefully form our meals for the week.

Sunday – Steak & onion pie with mash and veggies. – Sundays have always been the last treat day of the week for us. Yes, the meal isn’t the healthiest but it is hearty and is undoubtedly the comfort food I need before heading back to work on Monday morning.

Monday – Chicken pieces with home made potato wedges – All oven roasted to try and keep it a little healthier than it may otherwise have been. With a home made herb rub added for a bit of seasoning to the chicken and a corn cobette on the side. A lovely way to end the first working day of the week.

Tuesday – Pork belly with spicy vegetable couscous salad. I cook meat such as pork belly on my Gerorge Forman grill now to try and take away any excess fat yet the pork belly pieces still retain a lot of moisture and flavour and do not dry out. That evening I have a dance class that starts at 7:30 so plenty of time to get home, have a filling yet not too heavy meal and then head back out again.

Wednesday – Ham & cheese panini – On Wednesdays I have a dance class from 6 till 8 so it’s a bit late when I get home to be having a big meal. I used these small square panini rolls from the local bakery, fill them with ham and a reduced fat cheddar cheese and combine it with a nice side salad for a light yet satisfying meal for myself and my husband when I get home.

Thursday – Pasta bolognese – If my spiralizer is here on time I’m going to make this with a mix of tri-colour pasta and then some ‘zoodles’ to test the taste out a bit. I always add a ton of extra mushrooms to my beef bolognese sauce to build it up a bit too.

Friday – Takeaway or ‘Fakeaway’ night – depending on how we are feeling we will either have a takeout meal (Chinese, Indian, chip shop, kebab shop …) or we will buy a ‘fakeaway’ from the local supermarket to create our own Indian, Chinese or any other takeout meal we can recreate for a fraction of the price.

Saturday – Gammon & Chips – With a grilled pineapple slice, a fried egg and a heap of garden peas thrown in for good measure. This is a firm favorite in my household.

I will have to see how things go during the week if we stick to this plan or not …