lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms

I’m not going to lie, it feels good to cast off the shackles of Chinese week – I love Chinese food but see, it’s like when you get a takeaway – you feel great for about thirty minutes, then you just want more, end up eating all the straggly bits leftover and then spend the rest of the night clutching your belly as it distends with wind. Just me? Anyway, we’re still away, and because you’ve had an awful lot of long blog posts lately, just a quick post tonight. One thing we always struggle with on Slimming World is a tasty side dish but we’ve found an answer from Greece – sautéed mushrooms! Give them a go – this makes enough for two large portions.

sautéed mushrooms

sautéed mushrooms

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you will need:

  • 450g chestnut or button mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60ml water

top tips for greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms:

  • peppercorns will give a stronger flavour, but if you don’t have any 10 twists of a pepper grinder will do the job
  • mince that garlic in seconds without faffing on with a garlic press – get a Microplane grater and you’ll use it every day!
  • give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use

to make greek lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms you should:

  • remove the stems from all of the mushrooms
  • slice the lemon in half and juice one half of the lemon, and keep aside
  • rub each mushroom against the flesh of the other lemon half
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and put over a medium heat
  • add the mushrooms, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves and fry gently for 4-5 minutes
  • add the water and lemon juice to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are soft but not mushy
  • sprinkle over the dried parsley and serve

Hungry for more veggie options? We’ve got loads! Have a deeks at some of our favourites below:

Enjoy!

greek salad cheese toastie: syn-free snacking!

A greek salad cheese toastie? On a Friday? Good evening all! Just a quickie (ooh I say) for today as we’re off to a rave. No, seriously. I’m digging out my dummy and E’s especially for it. It’s a good job I’ve got a strong jaw. Years of practice, that.

But just because we’re out doesn’t mean that you miss out – oh no. We’ve got a treat for you with this one – a fantastic greek salad cheese toastie! I know that doesn’t sound like it should go but it really does and I demand you go make this immediately. You’ll feel like you’re in Mamma Mia. As always, this makes enough for four! Shall we?

greek salad cheese toastie

greek salad cheese toastie

to make a greek salad cheese toastie:

  • 4 wholemeal pitta breads (4x HeB)
  • 8 tbsp twochubbycubs’ houmous
  • 65g reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled (1x HeA)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • quarter of a cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced

top tips for a greek salad cheese toastie:

  • our houmous is the best you’ll ever have and it’s syn free! If you can’t be arsed you can use the shop-bought stuff, just remember to syn it. A tablespoon of reduced-fat stuff is 1½ syns)
  • make quick work of the veg with a Mandoline slicer!
  • we used pitta breads because they’re tasty but you could use your usual Healthy Extra B choice bread instead
  • we used an Optigrill to cook this, just because it’s easy and makes nice slices. You could put these under a normal grill or in a George Foreman instead
  • add olives if you want, I don’t care

to make a greek salad cheese toastie you should:

  • cut the pitta breads in half and microwave for 15 seconds to help open them up a bit
  • spread the inside of each pitta bread half with one tablespoon of the houmous, then add all the other ingredients
  • cook for a few minutes until nicely golden (see top tips above)
  • eat!

Love a good sandwich? So do we! Have a look at our other recipes below!

five spice chicken skewers: taster night or bust!

Taster night five spice chicken skewers – there’s a lot of love in Chubby Towers for these – but as it is Valentines Day tomorrow, we’re having a night off! So no blog post, just a wee bit of admin – first of all a message, then the recipe.

That’s right folks: try another new and lovely recipe! You might find it sticks in your throat at first, but just relax, you’ll be fine, and you’ll end up enjoying it! And now, a recipe…

five spice chicken skewers

five spice chicken skewers

to make tasty five spice chicken skewers you will need:

  • 400g chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
  • 250g pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 green pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp five spice
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 8-10 wooden skewers (soak in water to stop them from burning)

top tips for making tasty five spice chicken skewers:

  • want juicy breasts that won’t shrivel up? Order from our fantastic Muscle Food deals!
  • you can also cook these under the grill instead if you’d prefer, set it to medium-high and cook for ten minutes, turning frequently
  • yeah, technically you should syn the pineapple if you’re following the plan to the letter, but lets be honest – it’s not a huge amount of pineapple, it’s not getting mashed down or owt, no magical sugars are being created and frankly – life’s too short. We didn’t bother. You can if you like.
  • Fry Light is crap because it tastes crap and you get a pissy little stream. Get a mister instead – you’ll never look back!
  • metal skewers work fine too – just watch your hands!

to make tasty five spice chicken skewers you should:

  • mix together the five spice, garam masala, black pepper and soy sauce in a bowl and add the chicken
  • leave to marinade for as long as possible – overnight is best
  • preheat the oven to 180ºc
  • thread the chicken slices onto the skewers followed by the peppers, onion and a big chunk of pineapple
  • give a good spray with a bit of oil
  • place on a baking sheet and cook for twenty minutes
  • eat!

Want more Chinese style recipes? We’ve done a whole raft of them recently, see?

Enjoy!

J

chinese cherry coke chicken thighs – perfect for taster night

Cherry coke chicken thighs await you in a moment – and good news, this is just a quick post, but first…

cherry coke chicken

Aaargh! I don’t know why I inflict facebook groups on myself, you know. With pancake day approaching, the pages are awash with people suggesting they can make “delicious syn-free pancakes” from blending oats, frying them in frylight and mixing with yoghurt and sweetener. Why? yeah, you might save a few syns, but what price dignity? What price the crap that you’re putting into your body in the name of trying to get a syn-free dinner? I know it’s personal choice and that’s all well and good but I bet there’s the same amount of calories, or close, in the amount of oats you’ll use, plus oil, plus sweetener, then there is in a couple of proper pancakes. And even then, why not enjoy your food? You’ve got one body and you’re here only once – why not enjoy your food? Have good food and eat a bit less and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it all the more. 15 syns to spend on making the stuff you’re eating enjoyable, tasty and memorable.

Ah I dunno. I can’t get my head around the mentality of thinking spending syns on your dinner is a bad thing but sitting cramming a chocolate bar into your mouth “because you can” is the way forward? Frankenfood and nonsense is totally against Slimming World anyway, and let’s be fair, I’m hardly their most ‘anal’ fnar fnar follower. You need this to be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. When people lose all the weight will they be eating oat pancakes and “sausage rolls” made from wrapping a manky sausage in a wrap? No. Then what happens to that weight loss? But hey, what do I know? Follow SW’s rules, they know what they’re doing. Mostly.

Let’s do some cherry cola chinese chicken! The cherry cola adds a nice glaze and using chicken thighs keeps the meal cheap and easy. Let’s be honest: if there’s one thing you love, it’s some cheap and easy thighs. Right?

cherry coke chicken

to make chinese diet coke chicken you will need:

  • 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 150ml diet cherry coke
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes

top tips for chinese diet cherry coke

to make chinese diet cherry coke chicken you should:

  • in a jug mix together the coke, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chilli flakes
  • plop the chicken thighs into a bowl and pour over the marinade, turn the thighs over to make sure they get a good coating
  • leave in the fridge for about an hour, then remove from the marinade and pop onto a paper towl
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
  • add the chicken thighs and cook until browned, then turn
  • pour over the remaining marinade, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid
  • cook for five minutes, then remove the lid and cook for another five or until the marinade is nicely thickened
  • serve!

Still hungry? We’ve got plenty more chinese fakeaway recipes for you!

Yum!

J

rainbow beef: speedy and saucy

Saucy rainbow beef is today’s Chinese fakeaway recipe, and you’ll find it just below. Enjoy!

Thinking about my nephew’s birthday, and then having to choose from an absolutely bewildering amount of toys available in the shops, got me thinking about the toys I used to have. Now naturally, only my generation’s toys were any good and yours were rubbish, but bear with me.

Favourite toy of all time was a tatty teddy bear that was both a bumblebee and a lion. Of course: hence Bumblelion. Internet research suggests that Bumblelion was from a TV show called The Wuzzles but that means absolutely nothing to me – I think Bumblelion’s origin story was simply being stuck on a table at the Corbridge Boot Sale and being spotted by me and my sticky three year old hands. That teddy bear stayed with me for ages – losing its tail, fur, an eye, the nose, the stuffing over the years, but even now I’m fairly sure I could climb into our loft and find him again. My parents never bothered stitching the bits back on – they took a rather cavalier approach to safety: whilst everyone else went sledging on a proper wooden sledge for example, I was given a rinsed out giant plastic bag with ICI Chemicals printed on the side and sent hurtling towards a barbed wire fence at great speed.

I asked Paul what his favourite teddy bear was and he replied that I was. Once I’d finished vomiting into the toilet, he offered up an alternative. Apparently his parents went to the same ‘caring’ school as mine as he had an unfinished toy mouse without a tail, which by all accounts looked like a rudimentary fleshlight, given it had a huge hole with the stuffing leaking out at the rear end. Knowing Paul, that’s probably exactly what it was used for. He called it Mousey, showing an imagination that captivates an audience even now. I know for a fact where Mousey lives: somewhere in a landfill near Byker, as I accidentally threw him out in an overly-keen cleaning spree. Oops. Mousey was supplemented by all manner of tamagotchis that Paul was given to keep him quiet – I never had one and was furiously jealous of everyone else who had one. It’s probably for the best however – I was given my friend’s tamagotchi to look after and killed it for real within two hours by dropping it into the toilet.

We ended up choosing Lego for my nephew – partly because it’s the best gift you can give a young lad because it fires the imagination, partly because I know how much it will annoy my sister who now faces an eternity of stepping on Lego bricks in the dead of night. She can talk, she never used to clean away the Lego when we played at home. We used to build massive hamster runs and mazes out of Lego – it’s all good times until you forget about poor Snuffles working his way through the maze towards a carrot and go away on holiday. Poor little bugger*. I think all children should be given Lego at the earliest opportunity – not Duplo, that’s cheating, and not knock-off Lego that doesn’t quite fit together, but proper stuff. If I’m ever asked to step in and replace Theresa May on account that I have a soul and can smile without looking like I’m passing wind, I’ll make it mandatory that children are born into buckets of Lego that they then get to keep.

It wasn’t just Lego, of course – we had all manner of board games, all with nearly all the pieces included. It’s easy enough to play Pop-Up-Pirate without all of the swords but Buckaroo becomes a surprising challenge when you only have half of the donkey, and as for trying to solve a murder in Cluedo with only the Miss White card and 100 Lambert and Butler gratis points, well forget it. Paul’s favourite board-game was Screwball Scramble but because his mother was a shaved Hitler, he was only allowed to play it up to the bit where you had to smack the buttons and then stop, because the noise would ‘bring on one of her heads’. Even then he knew that her headaches were probably nicotine-poisoning. We want to join a local board game society up here in Newcastle but it all seems to be complicated games now – I want to play Monopoly with someone who doesn’t get in a huff when I buy Mayfair and then refuses to play when he starts losing: like Paul.

 

I’m obviously kidding about the hamster, by the way. All of our hamsters had luxurious, full lives, although we did lose one prematurely when it took an exciting and unexpected swerve on the hallway landing and went bouncing down the stairs in his little exercise ball. RIP Snowy.

Final highlight was a sit-on toy tractor that I could peddle around in the yard behind our house. I bloody loved that thing and used it until the brakes were worn, the wheels were shot and the whole thing was one more half-stone of my arse from falling to bits. It did almost kill me – I once went merrily shooting down our steep driveway and across two lanes of traffic before my mother remembered that she hadn’t shut the gate at the bottom. It’s alright, I survived (obviously) and there were only forty people injured in the resulting pile-up caused by the bus having to swerve around me into oncoming traffic.

The picture on this one doesn’t look amazing, but blame Paul: he forgot to take the pictures, so this is just a still from the video. Don’t worry, he’ll be getting a firm lashing later on.

UPDATE: Sorry – this isn’t syn free as it says in the photo, that’s a typo. It’s actually 1½ syns each! 

rainbow beef

rainbow beef

to make saucy rainbow beef you will need:

  • 500g beef stir-fry strips (or steak, sliced)
  • 1½ tsp cornflour (½ syn)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2½ syns)
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 8 shittake mushrooms
  • 3 peppers of different colours, sliced

top tips for saucy rainbow beef:

  • we used the beef strips from our excellent Big Meaty Package – if you want decent quality, cheap meat go check out our deals page!
  • mince the garlic and ginger in double-quick time with a Microplane grater – you can get one here!
  • shiitake mushrooms will give a nice, beefy taste but normal mushrooms will do fine
  • haven’t got rice wine vinegar? cider vinegar will be fine
  • this makes enough for two large bowls

to make saucy rainbow beef you should:

  • sprinkle the cornflour over the beef and give a good toss
  • pour over the tsp of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, one of the garlic cloves, sesame oil, salt and pepper and mix everything together
  • in a separate jug, stir the tbsp of rice wine vinegar and hoisin sauce and set aside
  • heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the beef to the pan and spread out as much as you can
  • let it cook for about a minute to crisp up, and then stir fry for another minute
  • slide the beef onto a plate and drain away any excess liquid
  • add the peppers to the pan along with the other garlic clove, ginger, chilli flakes and mushrooms and stir-fry for about 2 minutes
  • add the beef back to the pan and give another stir
  • pour over the hoisin sauce, cook for another 30 seconds, then serve

Did that get your minge tingling? Don’t forget we’ve got loooaddss of other Chinese fakeaway meals waiting for you! You’ll find some of our favourites below:

Mwah!

J

beef chop suey: saucy and syn-free

Right, let’s fire out a recipe for beef chop suey with no chitchat, as we’re all busy people. Take Me Out isn’t going to watch itself, you know.

Now come on, as if we’d watch Take Me Out. If I wanted to listen to thirty lasses screaming at an orange man, I’d go to a Trump protest. THERE. THERE’S SOME BITING POLITICAL ANALYSIS. I’m kidding, it’s my nephew’s birthday so we’re actually off to hand over gifts and cards in exchange for love and kindness. But we couldn’t leave you without something to smack your lips over, so here we are! Saucy beef chop suey.

beef chop suey

beef chop suey

to make saucy beef chop suey you will need:

  • 220g beef stir fry strips, sliced (or steak, sliced)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 8 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 60g mangetout, sliced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 300g dried noodles

top tips for making saucy beef chop suey:

to make saucy beef chop suey you should:

  • cook the noodles according to the instructions
  • heat a large saucepan over a high heat and spray ina . little oil
  • add the garlic and onions and stir around the pan for about a minute, then add the beef
  • cook for a few minutes and then add the carrots, red pepper and mushrooms and cook for another five minutes
  • add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, mangetout and spring onions to the pan and give a good stir
  • cook for another 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened
  • serve over the noodles

Feeling saucier? Check out some of our other recipes!

salt and pepper chips (no MSG, no sweetener)

Salt and pepper chips! I’m amazed that we have never posted this as a recipe, but here we are. Now, here’s some sad news: James is poorly. Not poorly with man-flu or feeling a bit dicky (story of his life) but full on snot pouring from every orifice, voice like Madge Bishop shouting down an telephone line and a face the colour of the dead. The long dead. I’m having to type and listen to his gasping and wailing and snotting and it’s really quite something – it sounds like he’s suffocating animals in the bedroom. To be clear: he isn’t, just before anyone phones the RSPCA, though fat lot of good they ever do. To his credit, although he does like to moan on that he’s dying every time he cuts his toenails a bit too short, he’s rarely actually ill, so to see him sweating and dripping like he’s mid-exorcism is quite something. I must tend to him, so let’s get the recipe done!

This makes enough for a big portion to serve four people!

salt and pepper chips

salt and pepper chips

to make salt and pepper chips you will need:

  • 1 kg potatoes, cut into chips
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
  • 1 red and 1 green chilli pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce (or tamari)
  • 2 tsp five spice
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes

There’s a couple of recipes out there which call for you to add MSG. Why? Totally unnecessary – you don’t need to add a ‘flavour-booster’ to your dinner if you cook with proper ingredients. Don’t be suckered into buying ingredients you don’t need just to make a few quid of commission for other blogs.

top tips for making salt and pepper chips:

  • an airfryer will make this one so much easier – if you haven’t got one yet check out our special review page to help you pick the right one for you
  • for nice, even chips try getting a chipper!
  • don’t be tempted to skip the sugar in this one – it’s definitely worth it
  • this one is a taste explosion even though it’s so simple – there’s no MSG! if you prefer it less spicy you can leave out the chilli flakes
  • get your chips nice and golden with a decent oil sprayer – we use this one
  • if you’re after the crinkle cut look, use one of these bad-boys 

to make salt and pepper chips you should:

  • cook the chips – if you’re using an Airfryer this is easy – just spray over a bit of oil and turn the machine on!
  • don’t forget to add the worcestershire sauce when you make your chips
  • if you’re cooking in the oven, spray with a bit of oil and bake for 30 minutes on 240°c
  • meanwhile, slice the chilli peppers and dice the onions
  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium0high heat
  • add the chilli peppers and onions to the pan and fry until the onion is a golden colour
  • add the salt, five-spice, chilli flakes and sugar to the pan and give a good stir
  • add the cooked chips to the frying pan and stir to coat well
  • serve!

We’ve done some amazing chips recipes over the years – have a look!

P

bacon and egg fried rice – perfect for breakfast!

Bacon and egg fried rice – for breakfast, to boot! This is the perfect recipe to keep in mind when you cook some of our recipes and have leftover rice, but for the love of good, make sure you heat leftover rice to within an inch of its life otherwise your weight loss will be from shitting out your intestines. I’m not kidding!

We’re away tonight so no nonsense – straight into the recipe! This kicks off our next theme of Chinese inspired meals, we hope you enjoy!

This makes enough bacon and egg fried rice for four people – if there’s just you, you know what to do.

bacon and egg fried rice

bacon and egg fried rice

to make bacon and egg fried rice you will need:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 6 bacon medallions, diced
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 500g cooked rice (doesn’t need to be exact)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • pepper

top tips for bacon and egg fried rice:

to make bacon and egg fried rice you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray with a little oil
  • pour in the beaten eggs and stir quickly to scramble, then remove and set aside
  • put the bacon in the pan and stir fry until nice and crispy
  • add the frozen peas to the pan and stir fry for just under a minute
  • add the rice and give a good stir
  • add the scrambled eggs back to the pan and give a good stir
  • add the soy sauce and a pinch of pepper, then serve straight away!

Good stuff right?

We’ve done a tonne of rice dishes – have a look!

J

lamb doner kebab burger: a gorgeous syn-free fakeaway

A lamb doner kebab burger. At this point, we might as well serve you our recipes with a pint of WKD and a quick fingerblast behind the bins. But the theme has been ‘late night fakeaways’ and well, you don’t get any more ‘I’ll regret this in the morning’ than a kebab, improperly stuffed or no. Now, as a naan bread is well out of the question on Slimming World, we’ve stuck it in a burger bun. Definitely not because we had a spare bun to use, oh no. This is the last fakeaway recipe for a bit, so fans of vitamins, nourishment and not sending an aspirin after your dinner can rejoice.

But first, a plea. Those of you who actually read the bawdy filth that prefaces the recipes may remember a post I did a while back imploring you not to be frightened of exercising in case someone looks at you or judges you. That point still stands: go out there and don’t give anyone a second thought. But since the New Year, I have become aware of a special breed of knobhead that has arisen – the ‘I was here first and I’m better than anyone who has just joined’ shitgibbon. For example, at the gym I go along to to breathlessly pant on all manner of machines, there’s two guys who sit at the machines and only actually move whenever they see someone looking at them. Then it’s full grunt, full lift, full raaar, and then dismissive looks at anyone else who is trying to lift or move or exist. You know the type: veins on their forehead that looks like roots of an oak tree, arms like condoms full of walnuts, fake tan applied unevenly and streakily leaving them looking like a distressed armoire. They’re the type of bloke who is so roided up that when they go for a slash they still manage to piss on their hands despite only gripping their shrunken badonkadonk with one finger. I don’t understand it: the posturing and the peacocking and the ‘look at me lifting some arbitrary amount of weight in front of a mirror in my best Jacamo buy one get two free shorts that my wife bought me to encourage me to go to the gym so she can have my brother around for wild sex’ posing.

Honestly, it’s all I can do to focus on Air Crash Investigation and not die on the treadmill. Here’s the top tip: ignore them. It’s quite honestly the worst thing you can do to them – they crave the attention of being ogled, whether you’re doing it aggressively or surreptitiously. Let them get more and more wound up until they stomp out and hopefully wrap their finance-deal-beamer into a tree.

To get away from that today I thought I’d try swimming, but sadly, the pool was also infected with this rot. That and children, though you have to allow the children their noisiness and rambunctiousness as it is a Saturday, I suppose. With Paul advising me that he wouldn’t be joining me in the pool as quite honestly he’s got enough verrucas to keep him going and that he didn’t fancy the inevitable naegleria fowleri infection from the communal showers (well, it is Ashington, you know), I was left alone. Fair enough. Get in, paddle about it a bit and then move into the slow lane to try and do some lengths. I’m not a great swimmer – I look like Artax dying in the Swamp of Sadness from The Neverending Story but with a hairier back – but I can tick along as a reasonable speed and with minimal gasping. I do enjoy watching the lifeguards fretting about having to pull me out of the water if I start flailing, however. So, I’m merrily tootling along with a rudimentary breaststroke, with a couple of blokes in front of me keeping pace, and all is well with the world. As well as it can be when you’ve got someone’s arse pistoning away in front of you, that is, though the chlorine burning my eyes dulled that image a little. All of a sudden there’s a great wave and some absolute fucking bellend goes rocketing past, forcing everyone to swim out of the way. He hits the wall, does that ‘oh look at me’ spin in the water, and sets away back for another length, again causing a wave of water for us poor slowpokes. This continued for a good few minutes before the lifeguard blew her whistle – the power – and told him that he was in the slow lane and if he wanted to swim at such a lick, he would need to move into the fast lane immediately to the left. His reply?

“I AM SWIMMING SLOWLY, THIS IS MY SLOW STROKE”, spat out with such venom I’m surprised the water around him didn’t start to bubble. What a pompous, entitled arse – it was clear he was going as quick as he could but by god he wanted everyone to feel that he could go that much bit quicker. Also, he seemed oblivious to the fact that it’s tricky to look intimidating when you’re wearing a tight, bright pink swimming cap that is pulling your eyebrows up to a permanently surprised look and have combined it with a nose-clip to turn your voice into a high-pitched whinny. Everyone in the immediate vicinity looked at him and the lifeguard made him move over, where he huffed and puffed down the fast lane whilst shooting shitty looks at anyone who went past him. There was no way I could keep up, of course, but you better believe that every time we drew parallel in the lanes, I was shouting the word cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu*nt under the water at him. That made me feel better, as I like to think there was at least a slight revenge. If God existed, he would have been sure to suck the drawstring of his swimming shorts into the filter on the bottom of the pool and kill the bastard off.

Everywhere I go, murder follows. Still: I managed twenty lengths overall, and that’s not bad at all for a bloke who is losing more and more of his buoyancy as the year progresses. Swimming doesn’t feel the same when you don’t immediately follow it up with a Kitkat Chunky and a packet of crisps from the vending machine, however. Paul rejoined me at the car and opened with the line “you know, I wish I was a woman: I’d never stop putting things up my fanny to see if it would fit” – and that’s where we’ll leave it for now.

The recipe, then. Lamb doner kebab burger, if you please. We’ve actually done this recipe before way back when but it looks so awful in the photograph, and frankly, didn’t taste that exciting, we thought we’d do it again but better. Here’s the thing: unless you’re getting your butcher to mince the lamb for you, you’re not going to find 5% lamb mince in the supermarket. You’re just not, and anyone who tells you that you are is a filthy lying bastard. So: buy lamb chunks and food process the hell out of it to make a ‘mince’ instead. It’s that easy! To the lamb doner kebab burger, then…

lamb doner kebab burger

lamb doner kebab burger

to make the lamb doner kebab burger you will need:

  • 4x wholemeal rolls (4x HeB)
  • 200g lamb steaks (see top tips below)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • sweet chilli sauce (0ptional) (remember to syn it, though)
  • any toppings you like (we used red cabbage, lettuce, rocket and onion)
  • 60g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp mint sauce

top tips for lamb doner kebab burger:

  • you don’t have to use lamb steaks – diced lamb would do the trick just as well, or mince (just mix by hand instead of in the food processor)
  • if you’re really not a fan of lamb you could use beef mince
  • a good food processor will make easy work of this. If you don’t have one though you could use lamb mince, just mix it all by hand instead
  • you could use pitta breads instead of rolls if you wanted a proper kebab!
  • any loaf tin will do, but a silicon one makes it so much easier! 
  • mince your garlic in seconds with one of these bad boys – it’s our favourite kitchen gadget!

to make the lamb doner kebab burger you should:

  • in a small bowl mix together the yoghurt, garlic and mint sauce, and put in the fridge
  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • chuck the lamb steaks, onion, coriander, garam masala, salt and pepper into the food processor and blitz until smooth
  • roll into a ball and tip into a medium-sized loaf tin, spreading it out so it’s nice and flat
  • cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes
  • remove from the oven, leave to cool for a bit, and then drain off any liquid
  • lift out onto a chopping board and slice thinly
  • assemble your burger to however you like it – don’t forget the yoghurt and mint sauce!

We love nothing more than a good fakeaway! Check out 10 of our most recent fakeaway recipes!

Enjoy!

J

syn-free chicken jalfrezi, and it’s time to talk

Syn-free chicken jalfrezi – our streak of ‘what you pick up after a night out’ (aside from undetectable chlamydia, hussy) meals continues without any sign of stopping! But before we get to it, an important message. Long time readers of the blog will probably have heard this before, but bear with me – it’s Time To Talk day.

What’s Time to Talk Day I hear you mutter, in that alley-cat hiss of yours. It’s really terribly simple: it’s a day put out there to encourage everyone to talk about mental health, to hopefully try and reduce the stigma and suffering of anyone out there with mental health issues. It’s about being open and honest and non-judgemental and it’s a day that shouldn’t be needed, but sadly is.

Some of you may know that I (James) have a mental health problem: I have health anxiety. Whilst in all honesty it hasn’t bothered me significantly for a good couple of years now, it’s only because I have built my own systems for keeping it in check. Health anxiety is when your brain becomes consumed with the idea that there is something fatally wrong with you: a headache is a brain tumour, pins and needles in your arm is the beginning of motor neurone disease. At my worst, I was convinced I was going deaf and blind because my vision was a bit shaky and I was struggling to hear. Even my ovaries ached at one point.

Health anxiety is an especially cruel beast because anxiety forces the body to react in a ‘fight or flight’ mode all the friggin’ time – so your muscles ache from sitting tensed up, your head hurts from your mind going a-mile-a-minute, your eyes are irritable because you’ve been up all night fretting – and then all of those aches and pains feed back into your worries and you become sure that you are actually suffering with an illness and it really can’t be all in your head and anyway, what do the doctors know because fuck it, I’ve found my disease on google. It’s an endless, cruel, feedback loop.

Only it isn’t endless, not at all. At my worst I thought that my life was over – even if I wasn’t actually physically ill, my mind would never rest again – I’d be alright until the next crisis and then back to wobbling and feeling like warmed through shit. You have no idea how exhausting it is dying every single day. However, right now, I barely worry. I barely give twinges and aches and pains the slightest thought, and if I do concentrate on them, it’s because they actually hurt and they’ll go away. Which, touchwood, they always do. I’m actually a very healthy young man who has been supremely lucky in his life not to be beset by something tragic. I concentrate on that now, rather than wishing my life away. Hell, I knew I had overcome the worst of my health anxiety when I went for a shite the other day, noticed it was almost bright red and, rather than sorting out my will and ringing for an ambulance because my bowels were turning into a cancer-soup, simply remembered I’d knocked back a whole jar of pickled beetroot the night before. See: now I’m just a fat fucker, as opposed to a dying one.

So what helped? It’s hard to actually say, because what helped me may not help you. That’s the way things are – no two minds are the same (plus my mind is probably riddled with prions turning it to crumpet thanks to my mother’s predilection for cheap beef in the 80s). But, put succinctly, I trained myself not to care. I took the view that if I had MS or Parkinsons or motor neurone disease or toxic shock syndrome or blood cancer or feline aids or mad cow disease or a club foot or rabies then sitting rocking in my chair in front of Jeremy Kyle and sobbing wasn’t going to fix a damn thing. I had all of those and that’s that. So, before my legs turned to playdoh and my mind became a mist of memories, better to get out and enjoy things again. And that’s what I did: I forced myself out. I forced myself to socialise, I forced myself to ring the doctors ‘tomorrow’, and then made sure that tomorrow never switched from future to present. I’d go a bit further and a bit longer before giving in.

Of course it was hard – at times impossible – but progress was made. If you’re convinced in your mind that you have leg weakness, for example, pick up a football and punt it as far as you can, preferably through a neighbour’s window so you have to leg it afterwards. If you think you can’t remember, pull up the best ever sex you’ve ever had from your wank-bank and visualise it in explicit, squelching detail. I guarantee you’ll remember some small detail, but don’t feel down on yourself, that’s just what God gave you. Test yourself not by thinking about what you can’t do but instead what you can. Positive reinforcement instead of negative. It sounds wank and like I say, may not work for you – but when I got to the end of a week without ringing the doctors I felt ten times better than the ‘relief’ I felt from hearing a doctor telling me for the nineteenth time that I wasn’t leaving the surgery in a body-bag. Try it.

The other factor that helped me was having a decent support network. I’m very lucky: I have a husband who would sit and be patient with my wailing and whingeing – he never rolled his eyes at me or told me I was being stupid. He never shook me like that hysterical woman from Airplane. He may have wanted to – I cringe when I think I used to wake him up in the dead of night because my heart was racing (from anxiety, not the heart disease I then suspected) but he was lovely and kind and patient and exactly the type of rock you need to build a stable future on. Plus he’s fat and squashy, which acted like a stress ball during the worst of it.

I told my mum what was happening at the time and, although more blunt and honest with me, she was also incredibly supportive. She reassured me it would pass, that my worries would ease and my mind would clear, and it did. Mums are always right. Nearly always. I told a few friends but not many – I’m far more private than my 2,000,000 words and counting personal blog suggests – and it was interesting how many of them also suffered with mental health or knew someone that did. It isn’t the ‘just me’ problem you may think it is, you know, and the more that we are honest and open and brave about discussing it, the less power it has. The less shame is felt. More people will talk about it rather than bottling it up thinking it is something to be ashamed about. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going out with a broken leg, unless someone wrote that you were a bellend on your cast. Why feel bad about a broken mind?

I’m rambling, which is probably a symptom of my early-onset dementia. But if you take anything from this nonsense, it’s this – if you’re unwell at the minute, open up to someone – a friend, family, a co-worker you can trust. Don’t have those? Look at websites like Time to Change for resources, or www.mind.co.uk, or talk to the doctors. Yes, it’s a bit of a crap-shoot at the moment with the NHS’s approach to mental health, but we know who to blame for that. But something is better than nothing. If you’re on the other side of the coin, feel good – and be prepared to listen. Don’t tut. Don’t roll your eyes. Be honest with the person pouring out their heart to you – you don’t need to patronise or say ‘there there’ (because what the fuck does that even mean?) but feel free to be candid (but not cruel). Never tell someone they’re worrying over nothing and to buck the fuck up, because that isn’t how it works – no-one chooses to be mentally unwell and there isn’t a switch.

But, to end on a ridiculously cheesy note: there’s always hope. It might be hidden under a pile of black, steamy turd, but it’ll be there, and it’ll come through. Recovery might take weeks, months, years or never, but you’ll cope. You always have so far.


CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN SWIM EVERY SEA! And to think you just came for a syn-free chicken jalfrezi. I am sorry, but that was important. Let’s do the recipe, shall we? It’s a piece of piss, no doubt about that. This is a recipe by Simon Rimmer so yes, unfortanately, that means you’ll be getting….RIMMER? I BARELY KNEW ‘ER. Eh? You having that? Hello?!

syn-free chicken jalfrezi

syn-free chicken jalfrezi

to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you’ll need:

  • one onion, peeled and chopped
  • one teaspoon of chilli powder
  • three teaspoons of tasty, tasty turmeric
  • a good pinch of salt
  • four big fat chicken breasts, the kind of dirtypillows yer mother would tell you off for, chopped into chunks
  • one tin of chopped tomatoes
  • one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (see my comment about your knob down below)
  • two cloves of freshly grated garlic
  • three teaspoons of cumin
  • three teaspoons of coriander
  • one big fat lemon
  • we served ours with chips – remember we have an easy guide to making your own here

top tips for a syn-free chicken jalfrezi:

  • if you’re using ginger, don’t keep buying fresh – buy a big knob and keep it in the freezer until you need it, then just use a microplane (no need to peel) to get what you need without even needing to defrost – we love our microplane, as well you know, and you can buy one here
  • the chicken from musclefood is consistently good – it doesn’t waste away to a watery epididymis unlike supermarket chicken – so buy yourself a massive pack at a decent price by clicking here and taking advantage of our unique deals
  • a good oil mister is perfect for this one – this is what we recommend
  • it might look like a lot of spices but these are all staples you should have in – remember, don’t buy in the spices aisle at Tesco, go find the world foods aisle and you’ll get so much more for the same price

to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you should:

  • spray a good decent heavy pan with some oil and gently sweat the onions and garlic off until the onions are golden
  • mix the chilli, turmeric and salt together in a bowl and then toss the chicken pieces in – make sure they get covered evenly
  • put the spicy chicken in the pan and cook through – a good ten to fifteen minutes
  • stir the tomatoes, ginger, cumin and coriander into the pan and reduce the heat until it’s bubbling nicely
  • cook with the lid on for about twenty minutes until it has reduced down and if it’s looking a bit too thick, add a splash of water
  • now: if you’re feeling decadent, you add butter at the end: 25g is nine syns, so between four that’s just over 2 syns each! Just stir it in before serving, together with the juice of a lemon
  • serve with chips, rice or panache

 

Easy and syn free! I mean, what more could you desire?

Want more curries? I’d be delighted to assist.

J