Banana & Date Smoothie

I know a lot of people usually struggle to eat Suhoor (pre dawn meal during Ramadan) so here is a recipe that although is quite high in syns. it is still within the recommended daily syns allowance. I like to use unsweetened almond milk for this recipe for a nutty flavour but you can use any other milk of your choice. Just remember to check what the health extra allowance is for the milk you’re using. Top tip: try to use the ripest banana you have as this will make the smoothie even sweeter without having to add any extra syns for sweetening the smoothie.

Banana & Date Smoothie

Banana & Date Smoothie

 

Serves: 1

Syns: 13 syns plus part of healthy extra A choice

Time Taken: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, chopped
  • 3 Medjool dates
  • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Method

Remove the pit from the dates and mix all the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

The Chocolate Hub

I was sent some chocolate from the lovely people at The Chocolate Hub a couple of weeks ago to try and review on my Instagram page and thought I might as well do a blog post!

The Chocolate Hub make luxurious handmade chocolate slabs and circles. All of their chocolate slabs are 160 calories or less which make them the perfect treat to indulge in whilst on any weight loss plan. That’s 8 syns or less if you are following Slimming World! They weren’t kidding on their website that they are nearly as good as Hotel Chocolat and Lindt! The chocolates were truly delicious and would make a perfect gift for anyone who isn’t following any weight loss plan too.

I got sent the selection pictured below and put the syn values on there. There are so many different types of chocolate slabs as well as circles to choose from, head over to their website to check out the options, prices, etc. https://chocolatehub.co.uk/

Most of the chocolates are suitable for vegetarians, but you can check for any other allergens and full ingredients list on their website too.

My favourite one was the white chocolate circle with the jammie dodger, I don’t usually opt for white chocolate but this combination was amazing. The little stars were also really nice on their own or you could put them into your breakfast for a little indulgence. I didn’t get a chance to eat the Flower Power Milk Chocolate slab as my hubby nabbed that one and he loved it too! All the choccies were a great hit with all of us at home.

Porridge with white chocolate jammie dodger circle

Porridge with white chocolate jammie dodger circle

If you are thinking of placing an order, The Chocolate Hub have kindly given a discount code for all my followers. Use code ‘Rahema’ for 20% off any purchases. I have seen some really nice combinations on the website that I really want to try so will be placing an order soon.

Let me know what you think of them, hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I am x

The Chocolate Hub chocolate

The Chocolate Hub chocolate

Syn Values

Crushed digestive white chocolate slab – 7.5 syns

White button milk chocolate circles – 2.5 syns each

Jammie dodger white chocolate circle – 3 syns each

Flower power milk chocolate slab – 8 syns

Crushed oreo milk chocolate stars – 1.5 syns each

 

Slimming World – The Basics

Please note: This post has been edited to reflect the changes SW has announced this week.

One of the questions I get asked often is how does Slimming World (SW) work? So I’m going to give you an overview of the plan. It is a very easy and simple plan to follow. If you’ve ever tried any diets in an effort to lose weight before and maybe were not as successful as you’d hoped or just want to give SW a go, please be open minded! You may be surprised at how generous the eating plan is, but it all works perfectly well together when you follow the simple 3 steps bellows.

Step 1 Free Foods

Most of the food you will be eating from will come from a list of foods called Free Foods. These are called Free Foods because they are unlimited – you can have as much or as little of these foods as you like without weighing or measuring a single thing! Sounds great, right? So what exactly are these Free Foods you may be wondering? These are foods that are naturally lower in calories and high in satiety (that means appetite satisfaction). You can fill up on these foods whenever you like as long as they’ve been cooked without any fat or oil. You will be able to find the full list of the hundreds of Free Foods available to choose from in the Food Optimising book you receive when you join a SW group. The following is just a summary of what is included:

  • Fruit – only when fresh or frozen whole (cooked, canned, dried & pureed fruits are NOT free foods)
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Meat & Poultry (including some vegetable proteins)
  • Dairy products – fat free natural yogurts, low fat plain cottage cheese, quark
  • Eggs
  • Rice, pasta & grains
  • Beans, peas & lentils

Enjoy filling up on these foods any time, day or night, without any limits! Free Foods will keep you feeling fuller longer than other foods – especially protein rich foods such as lentils, eggs, meat and poultry.

To ensure a healthy balance of food, SW recommend you fill at least 1/3 of your plate with Speed Free Foods where you can and make them your first choice between meals. Speed Free Foods are even lower in calories which means it will help you lose even more weight. In your food optimising book, these food will be marked with an S. These will include fresh or frozen fruit and fresh, frozen, canned or pickled vegetables.

One main point to remember with fruit is that fruit is only a Free Food when it is fresh or frozen and whole. That means cooked, canned, dried or pureed fruit will not be a Free Food when consumed in those forms.

On top of all these Free Foods, you will also be able to use some store cupboard staples freely to add flavour and variety to your meals. Things such as herbs and spices, stock pots and cubes, soy sauce, tomato purees, fat free dressings (vinaigrette, Italian or French style dressings, must be 50kcals or less per 100ml to be Free), low calorie cooking spray (must be 1 calorie or less per spray to be Free), Marmite, Tabasco & Worcestershire sauce.

Drinks that are included in the Free Foods list include:

  • Water – still or sparkling!
  • Coffee
  • Tea (including herbal teas)
  • Sugar free/ diet fizzy drinks
  • No added sugar cordial

Swap sugar for sweetener tablets in your drinks! Any milk used in your hot drinks is not a Free Food but comes under Step 2 Healthy Extra s below.

Step 2 Healthy Extras

In addition to all the Free Foods, you can choose 2 options from the Healthy Extra choices to ensure you are getting enough calcium and fibre in your diet. You can make two choices a day from the Healthy Extras A choice and one choice a day from the Healthy Extra B choice. Again, you will find a full list of these choices in your food optimising book or the SW app.

Healthy Extra A choices are dairy foods that are a good source of calcium. These include the following:

  • 350ml skimmed milk
  • 250ml semi skimmed milk
  • 400ml unsweetened calcium-enriched plain soya drink
  • 40g reduced fat Cheddar/Emmental
  • 30g Cheddar/Double Gloucester/Red Leicester/Gouda/Emmental
  • 50g Mozzarella
  • 35g Halloumi
  • 3 Mini Babybel Light cheeses
  • 2 Laughing Cow Original Triangles

Healthy Extra B choices are foods that contain a good source of fibre. These will include many high fibre wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, crispbreads, cereal bars, nuts & seeds, dried, canned & cooked fruit. Below are some options you can chose from:

  • 40g unflavoured porridge oats
  • 45b Bran Flakes
  • 40g Weetabix Crispy Minis (Banana/Chocolate Chip/Fruit & Nut
  • 2 Weetabix (including flavoured varieties)
  • 2 SW Hifi Bars/Alpen Light bars
  • 4 Ryvita Dark Rye/Original
  • 60g any wholemeal bread
  • 16 almonds
  • 35 pistachio nuts
  • 2 level tbsp. sunflower seeds

You must ensure that your healthy extra choices are weighed and measured accurately. Please do not guess or estimate!

Step 3 Syns

On top of all the Free Foods and the Healthy Extra choices, you can choose ‘Syns‘ – these allow you to enjoy the foods that many diets ban! All food that isn’t Free has a Syn Value. You can enjoy between 5-15 Syns a day (your consultant will be able to help you decide the number of Syns to aim for each day). You will find Syn Values at the back of your food optimising book or on the SW app (a fab tool available for all SW members).

So now you’ve got an overview of the SW food optimising plan you can see that it is not that difficult! It is a simple, easy to follow plan that is suitable for everyone. You will get a lot more in depth information when you join a group and receive support from a knowledgeable and supportive consultant and of course great motivation and ideas from fellow slimmer’s. Remember, this additional support occurs during Image Therapy, so always aim to stay in group until the end of the session.

Hope you find this useful, if you have questions or need me to clarify anything, please comment below.

 

 

Mary Berry’s Cornflake Cookies

My daughter made these cookies over the weekend following one of Mary Berry’s recipe (all credit to Mary Berry for this amazing recipe). The recipe stated you could get 34 cookies but she made them slightly bigger and only got 18 cookies out of the mixture. The whole recipe is 135 syns (using light margarine, more syns if you use regular margarine), if you make more or less cookies then you can adjust the syns accordingly (divide the total syns value by the amount of cookies made to find out individual syn value).

These cookies were absolutely delicious – crunchy on the outside and a soft cake like texture in the middle. I am so glad I took the time to work out the syns, I honestly thought these would work out at much higher syn value! And the size she made them were just perfect and one was enough, even for me who has the worst sweet tooth ever! Not sure if I would have eaten more if I had not been fasting that day but I think if they were smaller I could have easily had a few more in one sitting.

If you do make these and make 34 out of the mixture then each cookie is only 4 syns which is not bad at all for homemade cookies.

Someone on Instagram suggested using Crunchy Nut Cornflakes instead of regular, which sounds absolutely divine and I thought the syns would be higher but it is not! So if you replace cornflakes with crunchy nut cornflakes let me know how they turn out please. I haven’t bought crunchy nut cornflakes in years, it used to be one of my fave cereals. I could easily just eat bowlfuls of them pre SW.

These cookies will be a fab addition to our Eid bakes this year, they’re perfect to give as gifts to friends and neighbours too. Everyone loves home baked goodies and these are super easy to make.

Feel free to let me know how your cookies turn out and tag me on your bakes. Happy baking!

Mary Berry's Cornflakes Cookies

Mary Berry’s Cornflakes Cookies

 

Ingredients

  • 225g light margarine
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 275g self raising flour
  • 50g cornflakes, lightly crushed

Method

Pre heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease or line a baking sheet.

Beat the margarine and sugar together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy then add the egg.

Slowly mix in the flour until combined. If the mixture is too soft to handle, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Wet your hands lightly and roll the mixture into balls. Coat with cornflakes. Arrange on the baking sheet with enough space to flatten slightly with your hand (the cookies will slightly spread during baking).

Bake for around 20 minutes until browned around the edges. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. The cookies will get crunchier as they cool.

Chickpea & Paneer Curry

Paneer is one of my favourite foods! I don’t cook it often as it is quite high in syns so making it in Ramadan is perfect for me as I don’t tend to use syns like I normally would. There just isn’t enough time to eat any snacks!

25g of paneer is 4.5 syns, I used 150g in this recipe for 3 of us but there was enough to feed 4 people. I guess we just don’t eat as much as we normally would in Ramadan! If your serving is for more or less people then adjust the syns accordingly. We had this served with a pea pilau & salad.

Chickpea & Paneer Curry

Chickpea & Paneer Curry

 

Serves: 4

Syns: 7 syns

Time Taken: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 150g paneer, cubed
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1/2 tbsp bassar (or any curry powder of your choice)
  • 2 Maggie seasoning cubes (or salt to taste)

Method

Spray a pan with low cal spray and fry the paneer till its lightly golden and set aside.

Fry the onions with the chilli flakes and cumin seeds till golden. Add water if the onions are starting to stick to the pan. Add the ginger/garlic paste, tomatoes, seasoning cubes and bassar. Cook for around 5-8 minutes (adding a bit of water if needed) till the tomatoes have soften. I then blitz this with a hand blender so that there aren’t any lumps in the sauce. You don’t have to this, it is completely optional but we prefer it this way.

Add the tinned chickpeas without draining the water, cook for a few minutes till the sauce reduces and then add the fried paneer.

Ramadan Meal Planner v.2018

One of the best ways to be successful at food optimising during Ramadan is to plan, plan and plan. Planning is the key to success.

I already have a 7 day planner I did last year. Please click HERE to see the 2017 version of the planner. That page also has a lot of information on how to food optimise during Ramadan. I will be tweaking the planner slightly so it fits into my routine this Ramadan.

As the days are so long and the time we can eat & drink in is really really short (approx. 9pm to 2.30am), I intend on planning my days from iftar to suhoor.

So, fasting starts this Thursday. For me personally I’m changing my view of the ‘day’ – the time in which you can eat. I’ll try to explain:

The suhoor meal I will have on Thursday I will be counting the syns/healthy extras on Wednesday. That means everything I eat from iftar on Thursday night till suhoor very early on Friday morning will be counted as the same day.

You don’t have to follow my logic if it doesn’t make sense to you. Ramadan Mubarak!!!

Ramadan 2018 Meal Planner

Nadiya’s Samosa Hack!

I thought I’d try Nadiya’s samosa hack from her latest TV show and give it a Slimming World friendly twist!

If you don’t know who Nadiya is, she was the winner of the Great British Bake Off in 2016! A well deserved winner too, all her bakes looked absolutely delicious.

I used potatoes and peas for the filling but you can be more adventurous or just stick to regular samosa fillings such as kheema. Just remember to syn accordingly.

I used mini tortilla wraps from Aldi which are 4.5 syns for each wrap and you can get two samosas out of one wrap, making it only around 2.5 syns each samosa! (See picture below).

Aldi Wrap

Aldi Wrap

You can if you prefer (and can get hold of!) use the Weight Watchers white wraps that can be used as a healthy extra B choice. Your samosas will be slightly bigger though, I prefer using the mini wraps as you can batch cook them and freeze.

If you use any other brand of wrap, please remember to check syns as not all similar products have the same syn values.

Let me know if you’ve come across a lower syn alternative to making samosas!

Adjust spice levels to how spicy you prefer, I made mine quite mild as they were for a taster session in group. Enjoy and let me know what you think! Feel free to tag me in your posts when you’ve made them.

 

Samosa

Samosa

Makes: 16 samosas

Syns: 2.5 syns each

Time Taken: 45-60 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Aldi mini tortilla wraps
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled
  • handful of frozen peas, cooked
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilies
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

Make samosa filling by boiling the potatoes first. Once the potatoes are boiled and cooled, slightly mash them or you can chop the potatoes in little cubes and boil them if you prefer your potatoes quite chunky rather than mashed.

Mix in cooked peas, ginger/garlic paste, cumin seeds, salt, chilli and garam masala.

Cut each wrap in half so you get a semi-circle shape.

Shape each wrap half into a triangle shape and fill it with your filling. Use the beaten egg to seal all around the edges and egg wash the top of the samosa.

Once all the samosas are filled and egg washed, bake them in a pre heated oven at gas mark 6 for around 12-15 minutes or until they are nice and golden.

You can freeze them once the samosas are cooked and cooled.

Tip: Watch the video here on how to fill the samosas.

Smoothies!

Smoothies are not something I usually have, if ever. I made one the other day as my daughter really wanted one for Suhoor (pre dawn meal in Ramadan) and thought I would do myself one too. To be fair I don’t think I would make them again for a couple of reasons: 1) it took me a while to work out syn values for all the fruit I was going to use! I wanted to keep it as low as syns as possible. Fruits are a Free Food if you follow Slimming World but only when eaten whole, so if blending you have to count the syns accordingly. 2) It did not fill me up, I need proper food! Smoothies are fine as a drink but I would personally rather use my syns on something other than blended fruit and I am quite happy drinking Free drinks.

But if you are partial to smoothies, why not give this one a go and let me know what you think! If you make any other low syn smoothies do share what you have.

Serves: 1

Syns: 5

Time Taken: less than 5 minutes, if you don’t include time taken working out syn values!

Difficulty: Easy

Smoothie

Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 200ml Alpro Unsweetened Almond milk
  • 50g fresh strawberries
  • 50g frozen blueberries
  • 50g banana
  • 1 tsp sweetener

Method

Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz! Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Mithai!

Mithai an Indian Subcontinent Sweet

Mithai

One of the most common syn value questions I get asked quite often from both my members and other people is the syn values for Mithai and related products. These delicious treats originating from the Indian Subcontinent are often eaten at special occasions like weddings and Eid. Well you can eat (and buy them) them all year round if you wish but be careful of over consuming these lovely delicacies as they are extremely high in sugar and fat content!

To get accurate syn values for mithai is not an easy task. Mithai vary from shop to shop, there are many variations in recipes, different sizes and unfortunately they never come with nutritional information on the boxes.

I have done some research and tried to work out average syn values for common mithai so my members can have an idea on how many syns roughly to count for them. I hope this is useful especially with Ramadan coming up, the Eid celebrations straight after and then particularly the summer Wedding season. Please bear in mind that these are average syns values, not exact figures so please use your best judgement and adjust syn values accordingly. If you are still not sure of syn values, it is better to over estimate rather than under estimate to protect your weight loss.

The values are per one standard ‘shop bought’ piece unless specified.

I have to admit I was so shocked with the syn value for Halwa Puri with Chana. It is crazy how high it is!

Balushai – 6.5 syns

Barfi – 6.5 syns

Bessan Ladoo- 7 syns

Boondi- 13.5 syns

Jalebi – a single piece weighing on average 25g is 4.5 syns

Gajar Halwa – 13.5 syns

Gulab Jamun – 7.5 syns

Habshi Halwa – 41 syns

Halwa Puri with Chana – 60 syns

Kaju Katli – 3 syns

Kheer – 1/2 cup serving 14 syns

Ladoo – 12.5 syns

Patissa – 7.5 syns

Rasgulla – 9.5 syns

Shakarpara – 6.5 syns

White Cham Cham – 9 syns