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.

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

A simple dish ready in minutes and it is great cold too. This is lovely topped with some feta cheese as part of your healthy extra A choice. I topped mine with green chillies and cherry tomatoes.

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

Cajun Chicken & Orzo

 

Serves: 2

Syns: FREE

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, diced in small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. tomato puree
  • Fresh parsley and coriander to taste, chopped
  • seasoning to taste
  • 250g orzo pasta

Method

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for around 9 minutes. Once cooked, drain the water (reserving some for later) and cool the pasta under cold water to stop it from sticking together whilst you cook the chicken.

Spray a pan with plenty of syn free spray oil of your choice and cook the onions for around 5 minutes till they start to golden. Add a little hot water if the onions start to stick to the pan. Add the garlic and the carrot and mix well. Cook until the carrot has softened slightly.

Add the diced chicken, Cajun seasoning, paprika, seasoning and chilli flakes (if using). Mix the chicken with the spices well.

Add the tomato puree, mix and let the chicken cook for around 15 minutes (cook for longer if your chicken pieces are bigger). Add some of the reserved water from the pasta to the chicken to stop it from drying out. Add the peppers in the last couple of minutes of cooking together with the parsley and coriander. Cook for another couple of minutes before adding the cooked pasta and mix it all well together.

2019 Resolutions

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I don’t normally do Resolutions but with so much that has happened over the last year or so, I thought I’d make a bigger effort this year to smash the goals I’ve wanted to set out but have been too afraid/lazy/not bothered in the past.

Blog more – I have a few go to recipes that I have shared on here but I would love to include a lot more content on this website that is not all necessarily food related or Slimming World. Let me know what you would like to read more of.

Stop comparing myself to others – that is one main issue that I struggle with. Social media is great to interact with others and see what others are up to but I have on so many occasions felt I was not doing enough after seeing other’s posts, feeling like I’m falling behind. I must stop this as it really affects not only my mental health but it affects the loved ones near me. I have seriously doubted myself in the past because I felt I was not as good a mother as I could be, I felt I didn’t have the right clothes or went out enough when compared to others. It was pretty stupid to be fair thinking about it now. I intend on taking more breaks from social media.

Running – I fell in love with a new passion towards the end of 2018. Running! Who knew I could enjoy it as much as I did. I must admit I am not exactly a marathon runner but the little jogging that I do makes me feel so good at the end of it. This year I am going to work on building the courage to go outside to run on my own. I love to run when I am with the running group but the days I don’t meet up with them I try to fit a run at home on the treadmill and it is just not the same! I almost went outside this morning, I opened the front door and was all set up to leave the house and backed out 🙁 I turned around and used the treadmill instead. Maybe if you are a runner you could give me some tips on how I can build my confidence to go out on my own?

Healthy lifestyle approach – lately old habits started to creep up back up again and my approach to diet is all or nothing! I need to get back to the mind set that this is a healthy lifestyle change and if I have a bad meal or bad day/days it doesn’t mean I’ve given up or lost my way – the long term plan is always to eat healthy and be healthy.

I can think of a few other resolutions but for now these are the ones I am going to concentrate on. I will review this in a few months and update you guys on where I am! Do you keep new year resolutions? If so, what are your resolutions for 2019? x

Ryvita

Hi lovelies, first of all apologies for the delay in writing this! I know many of you have been waiting for the syn values of the Ryvita goodies I was sent last week, so thank you for your patience. I have finally got around to finding them all out for you. I haven’t yet tried the whole range I was sent but I could not resist trying the new Sweet & Salted Rye Cakes – wow, they’re absolutely delicious! I had them plain and also had them topped with fruit and yogurt as well. I reckon these rye cakes would taste amazing with chocolate spread too, just remember to keep track of your syns! They’re currently available from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose only but I am pretty sure they will have them at other major supermarkets at some point too. Each rye cake is only 1 syn or you can enjoy 5 of these as your healthy extra (HE) B choice!

Ryvita

Ryvita

 

Thank you to the lovely Yessi from Ryvita for sending me all these goodies. I was not expecting such a beautiful range to try. I thought I was going to receive the new rye cakes only so when I opened the door for a huge delivery it was such a nice surprise! Thank you once again.

I will list the rest of the syn values below. Have you tried any of the Ryvita range? What’s your favourite? Comment below and feel free to share this with your fellow Slimming World friends.

  • Cheese crackerbread – 1 syn each
  • Cheddar & cracked black pepper thins – 1.5 syns each
  • Currants, seeds & oats crispbread – 2.5 syns each or 2 as HE
  • Multigrain crunchy rye bread – 1.5 syns each or 3 as HE
  • Rosemary & sea salt thins – 1.5 syns each
  • Caramelised onion thins – 1.5 syns each
  • Protein rye bread – Chia seed & buckwheat – 1.5 syns each or 3 as HE
  • Protein rye bread – Red quinoa & sesame – 1.5 syns each or 3 as HE
  • Protein rye bread – Linseed & nigella seed – 1.5 syns or 3 as HE
  • Cracked black pepper rye bread – 1.5 syns each or 4 as HE

Extra Easy SP

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

Picture this, a weekend spent going over your syns limit, some may be worth the extra syns, others not so much. Then you remember weigh day is looming so you’re in need of a quick fix, hands up who turns to Extra Easy SP for a miracle maintain or even a loss that week?

Well, let me tell you that this isn’t why this plan was designed! Extra Easy SP is not a quick fix to undo damage you have done, you might get lucky and maintain or even lose that week but realistically many of us do not. As a consultant I had a few disappointed members who after an over indulgent weekend or mid week event followed by the Extra Easy SP for a few days didn’t get the results they’d hoped for.

I can assure you that when followed 100% without tweaking the plan and definitely not after going over your maximum syns over a day or more, it will give you the results you want. The plan is designed to re-boot your motivation if you’re struggling a bit, it is perfect for those getting closer to target and are looking to shift those last few pesky lbs or for those that may have a special occasion looming and are in need of a weight loss boost.

If you are thinking of giving Extra Easy SP a go please bear in mind that this isn’t a plan suitable for everyone. It is recommended that if you are mum-to-be, breastfeeding mum, 16-17 year old member, Free2Go young member, or have diabetes or kidney problems, you are expected to continue to follow Extra Easy every day or Free2Go if applicable. Extra Easy SP is not suitable for you to follow.

If you’re a standard member and none of the above applies to you, then it is recommended that you follow Extra Easy SP for a week first. If you love the results you’re achieving, you can either:

  • continue Extra Easy SP days, building in some standard Extra Easy days to ensure you’re getting a well balanced diet

or

  • add another Healthy Extra ‘A’ choice each day to ensure you’re getting plenty of calcium. If you prefer not to add an extra Healthy Extra ‘A’ choice, you can have one regular size pot of yogurt instead

So how does Extra Easy SP work? It’s simple! Before I explain  I just want to point out that as a consultant I would only have recommended this plan for those members that had grasped Extra Easy fully, if you’re not familiar with the basics of the plan then you may find this one a bit too restrictive. You can read more about the basics here. If you are familiar with Extra Easy then this will be easy to understand.

When choosing to follow Extra Easy SP, you will be ensuring that all your food choices contain an S (speed) and P (protein) symbol only. You will need to look into your food optimising book and familiarise yourself with your fave S and P foods. Planning will also be key to ensure you get the results you want.

Omelette filled with cherry tomatoes, beans, spring onions & mushrooms

Omelette filled with cherry tomatoes, beans, spring onions & mushrooms

Step 1 – Free Foods (S and P Foods)

Speed foods are very low in energy density which means they have very few calories for their weight. You will need to fill at least half of your plate with Speed Free Foods. The more Speed foods you choose, the better the weight loss as you’ll be eating less calories! Look out for the Speed Free Foods in your food optimising book with the S symbol next to them on the fruit and veg pages.

Protein rich foods will satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling fuller for longer. The choices for P symbol foods include fish, lean meat and poultry, eggs, pulses and meat replacements. Look carefully over the pages 14-19 for those foods that contain the P symbol and aim to have half of your plate with these foods.

On top of all the S and P foods you can eat, you can also use all the store cupboard staples listed on page 21 of the book freely and enjoy the drinks listed on page 23.

Step 2 – Healthy Extras

You can choose:

  • two Healthy Extra ‘A’ choice

and

  • one Healthy Extra ‘B’ choices

To power up your weight loss even more, look out for Speed Healthy Extra choices with an ‘S’ symbol

Step 3 – Syns

Enjoy 5-10 syns as usual. These should not be used for foods that you’d have on Extra Easy. For example Pasta! We all know that plain, dried pasta is a free food but you can get varieties that contain syns (Pasta & Sauce packets or Mug Shots etc). Please don’t use your syns on those! When following Extra Easy SP 100% your food should contain S and P symbols only and your syns should not contain any other free food element. Hope this makes sense!

And that is all there is to the plan! You can get a food diary designed to help you when following Extra Easy SP from your consultant. I find the food diary is an essential tool as it will help you understand your eating pattern.

You can also get a 7 day Extra Easy SP menu from the Slimming World website to give you some ideas or use the recipe books and magazines available in group to find your own fave recipes that you can enjoy when following this plan.

 

 

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.

 

 

Lost Mojo

Hands up anyone who is struggling with their weight loss?

You started off so well on your journey but lately you have lost your focus, feeling like you cannot do it anymore. You know deep down that you still really want to lose weight but you’ve had days, weeks or even months when it felt harder to stay focused. Your willpower has gone, abandoned you. Maybe its the summer holidays, friends and family are over, your own kids have their needs and planning goes out of the window.

Perhaps some other life event or living life itself simply gets in the way and your commitment to slimming gets pushed to the back of the queue. That doesn’t mean we cannot regain focus or determination again.

The last few years have been tough for me, even more since the middle of last year. Although I tried my very best to food optimise as best as I could, most of the time I was failing. I was failing at the weight loss immensely. All my meals are picture perfect but behind closed doors I was (and still am) taking comfort in the food that I know I shouldn’t be eating. I stopped caring about myself a long time ago and I am now at a low point in my journey, it feels as if for every step I take forward I end up taking 2 backwards. I know it has to stop.

When I first joined Slimming World back in 2011, it took me just over a year to lose 4 stones. I was extremely determined at the time to lose weight to both feel and look better. Once I reached my goal I maintained my weight loss for a couple of years and thought that being a SW consultant would help me stay focused on my own weight loss journey. How wrong was I? I loved my role as a SW consultant (I did that for over 5 years) and seeing so many of my members of my groups lose weight with my help gave me such a wonderful feeling, but I was neglecting myself in the process.

It began slowly but I started to dislike the way I looked and I began to feel like a fraud standing in front of my members in group when I was failing myself. I know most of my members did not think any less of me but the few that commented on my weight did upset me. There is such an expectation from members and everybody else around me that I wonder if they even care about what others may be going through, including their own Consultants? There’s no support network for consultants that are struggling, that’s something that Slimming World should look into.

I know the answer to get back on track is to join a group. I’ve tried that a couple of times recently but repeatedly failed. I was not prepared to commit or make the right changes and those bad habits were still there. I know the SW plan inside out and know what I need to do so I thought I’d share what I will be doing to get myself back on track and hope this will help anyone else who may be struggling too.

Understanding emotional grooves

Most of us know that we don’t just eat when we are hungry – comfort eating, boredom eating, social eating, picking without thinking – they’re all common behaviours that some of us slip into at times. And that is okay! Knowing when your danger times are will help you understand your emotional grooves and you can then put plans in place to protect yourself from sabotage. Developing a fruit habit and filling the fridge with Speed food snacks will help turn a potentially dangerous time into something far more manageable.

Planning

Once you understand when your danger times are, you can set about planning your day/week. I like to spend a half hour with my favourite recipe books and food optimising book and then plan what I will be eating for the week. Some people don’t like to think that far ahead and that is okay, you can plan a couple of days in advance or even plan your food for the day. Planning is the key to success though! Knowing what you will be eating will give you a great sense of control. I like to plan in detail – I write down everything on a planner and try to stick to it as much as possible. On my planner I will have all my meals written down as well as snacks, syns and healthy extras. I tend to keep syns to 5-10 on my planner, and if for any reason I need to use extra then I am covered!

Meal Planner

Meal Planner

 

Food Diary

Alongside my planner, I will be using a food diary to keep track of the food actual eaten. You can buy food diaries online to keep track, but you don’t need anything fancy. You can just jot it all down in a notebook and that works fine. You just need to keep note of what you’re eating and should you need it in the future you can easily refer back to it.

Body Magic

I must admit that this is one the parts that I struggle with immensely but know that it can happen if I make the time! I am usually full of excuses as to why I don’t have the time to fit in any exercise but I am hoping that by planning in some sort of body magic in my planner, will help me ensure I actually do it! I am not a very active person, so for me personally body magic will come in the form of walking. I have a treadmill at home so no excuses for not getting any walking in if the weather is bad!

Be kind to myself

One of the main things that I need to concentrate on is being kind to myself. If I have a bad day or if I don’t make a good choice I will not beat myself up about it and will be kind to myself. Having a wobble doesn’t have to mean giving up on my weight loss.

Support network

I know that the best way to keep on track on my weight loss is to be a part of a support network in a SW group, and that is how I lost my weight originally. But this time, I will be going on this weight loss journey on my own. I find the support I get on social media is fab and am hoping that by documenting my own weight loss journey online will help me to get back to where I was before. If I struggle on my own, then I will bite the bullet and get myself back to a group!

Spice-N-Tice Meal Kits

I came across Spice-N-Tice when one of my lovely members and friend gave me a very thoughtful gift – Chilli Rocks! Some of you may know that I absolutely love chillies and spicy food, so when the lovely Halimah (@Halimah_official on Instagram, please check her out and give her a follow) gave me this, I was just over the moon.

The chilli rocks came in a pack of 6 different types of chilli pots ranging from an earthy, sweet and mild heat from Sweet Ancho to the world’s hottest chilli on record – Carolina Reaper! Perfect gift for chilli lovers like me and those who like it hot, hot, hot!

Chilli Rocks

Chilli Rocks

The fab people at Spice-N-Tice got in touch with me and kindly sent me some of their Meal Kits to try out . I was hoping to have tried a few of the kits by now but have been super busy with the summer break and have only tried one so far and it did not disappoint!

Spice-N-Tice Meal Kits

Spice-N-Tice Meal Kits

 

I tried the shawarma style Turkish Doner Kebab and even my fussy younger children loved that. All of the spice kits came with a shopping list and a very easy to follow cooking instructions. All of the meal kits I was sent were gluten free, vegan friendly and Slimming World friendly.

Shawarma Style Doner Kebab

Shawarma Style Doner Kebab

 

Keep an eye out for more about these spice kits on my instagram page – @Rahema_m

For a 20% discount code you can use the code RM20. Let me know in the comments which of the spice kits you have tried and is your favourite. Feel free to share the code with friends x

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