bulgur wheat salad with superfree veg

Just a quick post tonight because, frankly, we’re pooped. James started screeching at half-one this morning about a plinky-plonky noise coming from the guttering and a bright light (it was either the thunderstorm outside or he was having a stroke) and I just couldn’t settle after that. To be fair, normally it’s me who keeps us awake with my excessive flatus or the fact I can’t sleep without pouring half of my fat over James like the world’s sweatiest blanket. He loves it.

So – just a quick ‘un and tonight it’s a rather nice summer delight – lots of bright colours and perfect for the hot weather. It’s also very filling and piss easy to make. Not going to lie, this only came about because the packet of bulgur wheat left over from the other week kept falling out of the cupboard and we were too lazy to transfer it into a Kilner jar.

This salad would be handy to take in for a working lunch (if you’re a working girl) (haha) as it keeps the flavour very well indeed, but, I think it would be best served alongside something with a bit of sauce – why not use it to mop up that “delicious” Slimming World curry that Iceland do? Anyway.

Here’s what to do:

bulgur wheat superfree

you’ll need this

  • 340g bulgur wheat (or quinoa if you’re a ponce, but we can’t get away with quinoa since James said they look like tiny bleached bumholes)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 carrot, chopped into tiny cubes
  • 1 red/orange pepper, chopped
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 100g mushrooms, chopped
  • salt

and you’ll need to do this:

  • rinse the bulgur wheat (or quinoa) in a sieve and add to a pan of cold water
  • bring to a boil, chuck in either a veg stock cube or a chicken stock cube, then cover and reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes (or until cooked)
  • in a separate pan gently cook the chopped onion in a little oil over a medium heat until slightly golden
  • add the ginger and stir gently for about thirty seconds
  • add the chopped mushroom to the pan and cook until softened
  • add the peas and carrots along with a pinch of salt, stirring frequently
  • add the peppers to the pan and continue to stir
  • once everything has softened add the drained bulgur wheat (or quinoa) and mix well
  • serve with some mint to garnish

Enjoy!

P

 

rainbow bulgur wheat salad with bacon and feta

Very quick post tonight as I’m going to work (hooray) to do overtime (hooray) and we’ve still got all of our boring, humdrum Sunday chores to do – such as watching Judge Rinder, playing Trivial Pursuit and ignoring our ironing. Slight moment of excitement when a police van came tearing into the cul-de-sac before, displaying a flagrant disregard for the neighbourhood SLOW CHILDREN sign, which I’ve always thought was a very apt description of the snotty-faced little life-leeches that occasionally visit. Of course everyone was immediately up out of their armchair peering through their nets to see what the deal was. Tsk. So nosy. I of course had to take that moment to immediately nip into the back garden and try to listen in hang out the washing. I didn’t hear anything and no-one was arrested.

Upon my return, Paul pointed out that I’d dashed into the back garden in such a rate of knots that I was still wearing my Spongebob Squarepants onesie from ASDA, plus it was drizzling so not exactly outside drying weather – hardly the most subtle of moves. Ah well. I’m too fat to be subtle. Here’s today’s recipe – it tasted amazing considering it’s such a simple mix of ingredients. It would package up nicely for an office lunch so why not make double and take a few extra portions in throughout the week? Urgh I sound like Delia Smith or something. Don’t worry, I awkwardly shoehorn in a reference to ejaculate in the recipe, so we’re alright.

You could easily omit the bacon  from this salad recipe and go veggie. But I mean, we’re not animals here.

rainbow salad

you’ll be needing these:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, cut into small 1cm cubes
  • a couple of drops of olive oil
  • 3 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 250g of bulgur wheat (substitute couscous if you prefer)
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans
  • handful of chopped coriander, but feel free to leave this out if like me you think it tastes of soapy balls
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • a bunch of spring onions – cut up the green part as well as the white
  • 6 bacon medallions
  • 65g of reduced fat feta (cut into tiny cubes)

and you’ll need to do this:

  • preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius
  • in a bowl mix together the potato cubes, 2 tsp paprika, cumin seeds and salt with a drop of olive oil (or Frylight if you prefer) and toss (the potatoes) until the potatoes are evenly coated
  • spread the potato cubes out onto a foil-lined baking tray in one layer and bake for twenty minutes – turning halfway
  • meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat
  • add a teaspoon of olive oil (or Frylight, if you prefer) and add the bulgur wheat
  • leave for a few minutes, stirring regularly until it starts to crackle just very slightly
  • add the lime zest and lime juice and 500ml water
  • bring to the boil and add a little salt to your taste
  • reduce the heat and cover the pan so the mixture simmers for about twenty minutes or until it’s cooked through
  • chuck your bacon medallions under the grill to cook, then slice into little strips
  • cut your feta into tiny cubes
  • drain the kidney beans and rinse well under running water, getting rid of all that gunky kidney-bean pre-cum you always get from tinned pulses
  • place the beans in a bowl and sprinkle with a teaspoon of paprika – mix until well coated
  • add the cooked sweet potato, sliced spring onions and bulgur wheat to the bowl and mix.
  • To put this all more succinctly: cook everything that needs to be cooked, prepare everything that needs to be chopped, mix in a bloody big bowl and you’re done.
  • We dressed this with a quick dressing made from natural yoghurt, minced garlic and lime juice – but actually, it stands on its own very easily.

J

rocket, pea and mint salad

Want to know something embarrassing?

The first MP3 I ever downloaded was The Boy Is Mine by Brandy and Monica. Good lord! I was a country boy growing up in a council house in BHS adult-sized trousers, I don’t think I was ready for all that ghettofabulousness. I’m surprised the download made it past all the porn, mind, though I don’t doubt it took twenty minutes to download. Kids these day don’t know how lucky they are. Could have been worse – one of the first CDs I owned by Doesn’t Really Matter by Janet Jackson. Argh, I really had a thing for a marimba and sass.

The reason I am rambling on about music is because it’s an integral part of writing this blog – I can’t write unless I have music playing and no distractions, and even then I’ll spend forty minutes trying to find something I want to listen to on Spotify. It’s very distressing – a whole world of music and I always end up coming back to the same twenty or so songs. Paul hates it, because I always end up singing along and my voice sounds like a cat being pushed through a mangle, plus I add new notes and words into the lyrics, so a simple beautiful verse becomes peppered with falling scales and swearwords. 

Anyway. I’m a bit pushed for time tonight so instead of words, I’m going to show you something. Something AWFUL. You may remember from my About Me page that it’s always been a hope and a dream of mine to get into the newspapers holding out my fat-bloke trousers after I’d lost so much weight? Well…when I was 18…

11159889_869300713143533_4904310876677890509_o

That hair though, seriously. I told you I used to have hair like Enya in her Orinocco Flow video. I’d give anything for a chance at that long hair again, though I wouldn’t have it quite such a sex-offender colour. Plus those trousers! 46″. Christ. Plus, white jeans. Never give a fat bloke white jeans, they’ll always have chocolate in their pockets and it’ll look like they’ve shit themselves when they stand up. What I didn’t mention in that article is how seething I was about losing out at the Slimmer of the Year finals to some black-footed leviathan who was too fat to get on an operating table. I didn’t have a sob story.

Ah well. It’s not like the haircuts ever got worse. Well, save for the Myra Hindley…

167229_124726924267586_5550719_n

And of course, the Bjorn Again:

183439_129647723775506_8042355_n

Aaah. Oh young James. You poor bastard. 

Anyway, enough of all that. Tonight’s recipe is a simple salad full of fresh tastes. Just like my hair, am I right?

11112870_880989368641334_772704179979224308_n

to make rocket, pea and mint salad you will need:

two chicken breasts, big old handful of rocket, couple of rashers of fat-free bacon, 200g frozen peas, small bag of new potatoes, mint, 0% fat-free natural yoghurt (make sure you pick up a syn-free version), lemon, fresh mint, four spring onions and rockets

to make rocket, pea and mint salad you should:

  • make the dressing: a few tablespoons of yoghurt, plus the juice of half a lemon and a few leaves mint chopped nice and fine – and set aside
  • grill the chicken breasts nice and plain and set it aside, and grill the bacon off and when cooked, cut into tiny slices
  • chop up your new potatoes into small chunks and boil them for a few minutes until they’re tender, adding the frozen peas into the boiling water for a couple of minutes too, then sieve the lot
  • chop up the spring onions into nice small slices
  • put a drop of oil into a frying pan, add the onion, potato, bacon and peas – I like to splash some lemon juice in;
  • after a few minutes, take it off the heat and add the rocket and a few sprigs of mint, and stir everything through
  • serve with the dressing and chicken, with some slices of radishes to garnish.

A simple, elegant evening meal. Yum!

J

ploughman’s lunch

Gosh! Remember yesterday I was blathering on about my lights being fixed in the bathroom? Well, excitedly, I drove home like I’d spilt acid in my lap just to get home and try them out – and they’re great! Perhaps a bit too bright – I tried to read Bill Bryson in the bath but the top of the book started smoking after ten minutes. I could open a Stand ‘n’ Tan, although I don’t want old orange women with necks like crinkle-cut crisps stubbing out their rollies on my nice carpet. Still, at least I can see where I’ve dropped the soap after I’ve been singing ‘Just Call Me Angel In The Morning’ into it to get Paul out of bed.

Anyway, I’m a terrible person – I have a new enemy, and he’s a Big Issue seller.. He’s not the same tramp who hustled me for a fiver a few months ago, but instead he’s a Big Issue seller and I find him absolutely revolting. I know that makes me an awful person with a lack of compassion but I can’t help it – humans take an instant dislike to each other sometimes. Anyway, I see him whenever I’m mincing to Marks and Spencers in Newcastle – he stands in the middle of the path with his magazines and annoying face and jabs you with the magazine, all the while saying the same thing over and over in a voice that cuts me like a knife – BIG ISSUE PLEASE. Except it’s BAAAAG ISSHOOO PLEEEURGHASE. He doesn’t say the words, he throttles the fucking life out of them. When he’s not smoking and thrusting a magazine at you, he’s coughing up big old balls of phlegm and spitting them on the pavement, second only to seeing people smoke near babies, is something I loathe. And the noises! He doesn’t so much bring up his phlegm as fucking mine it. I know I should be sympathetic but as I said, I’m dubious of his intent and let’s not pretend we are all holier than thou, anyway.

Anyway, my new phleghnemy aside, I gave into considerable temptation today. Well yesterday, but I couldn’t post yesterday as some people from work read the blog and I didn’t want to give away the surprise. Part of my job at work is to think of events and ideas that’ll make everyone else happy, and it was my idea to buy everyone a £1 mix-up. Because everyone loves sweeties, right? So, I picked up £165 worth of pic-n-mix and had to spend an afternoon decanting them into colourful little bags and adding even more sweets from the leftover bit of budget. I’m sorry, being surrounded by that many sweets, I couldn’t help myself and the diet was forgotten – to be honest, everyone ought to be grateful they didn’t find me rolling around on the floor covered in jazzies and cola cubes, laughing hysterically from all the sugar. This week’s diet aim has switched to MAINTAIN, as opposed to LOSE. Don’t they look pretty, though?

10446292_834866173253654_5502878135549381720_o

I know what you’re thinking, what a glamourous office! I know – every day it feels like I’m walking into Prada. No just jesting – I was having to hide in a back room to keep the secret. Anyway, the sweets were dispatched to everyone today and I can write this day off for bad. It’s going to happen, after all, and at least I didn’t completely derail and order a Dominos pizza, which was totally due to my self-control and not because I’d left my wallet at work. Honest guv. See, this is what we had for our evening meal…Ploughman’s Lunch!

10995287_834865046587100_3781680546246162137_o

Paul made the scotch eggs by boiling an egg and wrapping it in the meat (well, sawdust and sage) of a Linda McCartney rosemary and red onion sausage. Cook in the oven and honest, it’ll be just like a real scotch egg, only not at all. Still tastes nice! Potato salad was new potatoes, fat free fromage frais, mustard and spring onion. Cheese is your normal HEA amount with some pickled onions, ham was syn-free from Tesco (I took the crust off after the picture) and then salad for the superfree. A lovely ‘picky’ tea. The syns come from the pickle – 1 syn per level tbsp, but you could leave that off if you were being Captain Fussytits.

Enjoy, have a good Valentines tomorrow…

J

shaved sprout salad

Christ I wanted to give my recipe today a pretentious restaurant title and I think I’ve succeeded. For all those people, like me, who don’t like a fussy title, don’t worry, it’s essentially just cooked sweet potato, sundried tomatoes and bacon mixed with sliced brussel sprouts.

Before we get to the recipe, I need to make an announcement that I’m really a terrible grandson. I had plans to visit my nana today (she only lives 30 miles away and it’s a nice drive), but I didn’t get round to it because I got caught up gardening and playing on the Xbox. It will probably do my diet the world of good anyway, as whenever Paul and I go and visit we get the same questions…’would you like a bit of quiche / eight kitkats / mince pie / mince and potato pie / sandwich / lovely bit of tongue (steady) / a Ferrari Racket chocolate from ALDI etc…’ which, when met with polite refusal and cries of ‘but no, we’re on a diet’ results in a look like you’ve taken a shit on the carpet and woes of ‘It’ll never get eaten, it’s just me in this house’ and ‘a quarter inch thick layer of butter on your sandwich will do you no harm’. Honestly! And mind that’s even if she hears your refusal, she’s so tone deaf you could fell a tree in the living room behind her chair and she’d smile bemused at you and say EH.

My nana is amazing, mind, no doubt about that. She is totally accepting of the whole Paul and I being bummers situation, though she did once ask ‘which one was the woman’ which was slightly awkward, as I thought she meant which of us preferred an ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ – but she was actually meaning who did the ironing/cooking etc (remember she’s in her late eighties). Ha! So I’ll go visit her on Tuesday with my usual refrain of ‘I DIDN’T LIKE TO CHANCE LEAVING IT TOO LONG NANA, IN CASE I NEED TO GET MY FUNERAL SUIT DRY-CLEANED’. God, I love her to bits.

Anyway, enough about nana – my absence at her house through gardening was a nice link to me talking about the surfeit of brussel sprouts that we suddenly have thanks to my green-fingered neighbour. So, I got to thinking what I could do with them, and with Paul ‘being the woman’ (ie doing the ironing) (not my actual view I hasten to add), I decided on this fruity number.

Sprout salad

RIGHT, before we start with the details, let me say two things: if you’re not a fan of sprouts, please still give this a go. Sprouts in Britain seem to be served boiled within an inch of their life and will leave your whole house smelling like a condemned nursing home. This doesn’t need to be. Sliced very thinly and dressed well, they’re a crunchy, tasty wonder. Second – yes, this meal is synned – you could make it syn free by omitting the dressing but remember, you have the syns to use, and why not make your evening meal that bit nicer simply by making a dressing to go with the salad? Even then, four syns is still a very excessive estimate – I reckon it would come in at two syns if you omitted the cheese at the end. OK…

to make shaved sprout salad you will need: 

sprouts, an egg, bacon medallions (or bacon with fat cut off), sundried tomatoes (replace with fresh tomatoes grilled if you want to lower the syns), sweet potato, parmesan shavings. For the dressing, honey, olive oil and lemon juice.

to make shaved sprout salad you should:

right, the dressing first. 4 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of honey (1 syn), 1 tbsp of olive oil (2 syns), some salt, some pepper. Put it in a jamjar and shake, shake, shake! Double up if you need two servings. Then, cube up the sweet potato (leave the skin on) into 1cm chunks, add a tiny bit of olive oil and shake them around to get them coated, add a bit of salt, roast in the oven until soft. Also, stick your bacon on the grill or at the top of the oven to cook. Meanwhile, get your sprouts and take off the outer leaves if they’re a bit muddy or torn. Then the tricky bit – slice the sprouts as thin as you can. You can use a knife, yes, but honestly, get a mandolin. They’re a tenner from Lakeland and you’ll use it for all sorts – coleslaw, sliced potatoes, fruit salad, sprouts. Order one here and never look back. But BE CAREFUL. The sprouts are small and the blade is sharp – just take your time. I used about 30 sprouts in all.

After you’ve shaved your sprouts, get your fingers in and lightly toss them off (haha) so they separate, but you don’t need to go crazy – different textures are what makes this a good salad. Slice your tomatoes and add them in. Add in your cubed sweet potato (cooked) and bacon (now sliced). Arrange on a plate nice and dainty like. Poach your egg (lots of ways to do this, but I go old-school – pan of simmering water, create a whirlpool, drop the egg in from a little glass, poach and serve). Fish it out with a slotted spoon, put on top of the salad, cut the yolk and you’re done. I’ve added a bit of parmesan because why not – hence the four syns.

extra-easy: definitely – this is a fantastic meal because it’s nearly all superfree food, bar the dressing. Sprouts, tomatoes and sweet potato make up the meal, with a bit of bacon and dressing and egg on top. Yes, you can omit the dressing or replace it with a vinaigrette if you want to save the syns – and omit the cheese. But come on, live a little! Heh.

top tips: normally I say you can add all sorts to this salad, but don’t – keep it nice and simple. It’s an excellent new way of trying sprouts and I guarantee you’ll never look back. I’d love to know what people think! But DO get a mandolin. It’ll save those pretty fingers of yours.

FINALLY, my fortnightly call – if you’re enjoying this blog, please tell people on facebook and share it far and wide. I love new readers, comments, fuss – anything at all! I’d be very grateful and I’ll dance at your wedding if you do.

J

taboulleh salad

Firstly, let’s dispense with all the flimflam and get today’s recipe card out of the way – I’m in a rush because I’m clandestinely typing out this entry whilst sitting in one of the traps at work, and if anyone hears me waxing lyrical via my iPad I’ll get my fingers broken. Plus I’m typing quickly as I don’t want to be away from my desk for too long in case people suspect I’m voiding myself. Ah look! I’ve already fallen into the too much typing…

I decided to give this a whirl because I love couscous and needed an upgrade. Plus, everytime Paul asked me what I was making, I could turn dramatically and go ‘WHOOOOOA-OH, TABOULLEH-TABOULLEH-TABOULLEH-yadda-yaaa’ like Kate Bush pretty much did.

to make taboulleh salad, you’ll need:

taboulleh

This is absolutely bloody delicious – genuinely one of my favourite recipes that I’ve found so far. Simple enough – boil the bulger wheat for 30 mins in the stock, sieve and leave to dry out. Chop up everything else and chuck it into the bulger wheat. Add very finely chopped mint and leave it to sit so all the flavours absorb. It tastes fresh, you can add peppers and mushrooms (raw, finely diced, cooked wouldn’t be all that – it would look bad and smell of farts, like an embittered shut-in) to up your superfree intake, and as long as you use the reduced fat feta as your healthy extra B choice, you’re laughing.

This is perfect for a lunchtime meal to take into the office, as you can keep it at home in a big bowl and it’ll last two days, getting nicer the longer you leave it.

Now, as an aside, I get a lot of compliments on my lunchbox. I do! It’s shiny. See?

frozzypack2

It’s called a Frozzypack, and to be fair, I only bought it because it sounded like Prozzyfack, which in turn sounds like something you’d get behind a skip on an industrial estate in Middlesbrough. No, these lunchboxes (£20 or so) have a built in gel in the lid – you chuck the lid in the freezer and the gel sets solid, which, when you then put the lid on your salad, will keep it cool and crispy until you come to it at lunch. They come in all sorts of colours. In the interest of fairness and equality, you can buy cheap versions of these from Poundland or Wilkinsons or similar, but the Wilkinsons in Newcastle is dog-rough so I don’t bother. I’ve almost seen people coming to blows over a multipack of Bloo. Plus, it looks elegant and the hard shell design means it survives a good beating. Fnar.

Back to work. Can you believe I’m working overtime again. No wonder I’m losing weight, I’ve never got any fucking time to eat! BAH.

J

a simple salad

goodness me, that was a fancy title. I do apologise. This is what is for supper tonight.

After all that curry loaf and beans, Paul was worried that any more spice and excitement would result in us dutchovening ourselves to death tonight, so he made a simple salad for supper. By the way, we don’t normally call it supper, we’re not that posh, but I enjoyed the alliteration. The salad contains:

  • beetroot shavings;
  • pea shoots;
  • rocket;
  • cucumber;
  • tomatoes;
  • a grilled chicken breast;
  • reduced fat feta cheese (actually the ASDA knock off ‘Greek cheese’ haha)
  • an egg;
  • pickled onions;
  • sweetcorn; and
  • red onions.
Doesn’t it look inviting? Nice simple presentation and a good mix of flavours. Completely syn free as we are using the feta cheese as our healthy extra choice, of which we are allowed 45g of reduced fat feta.
top tip: add even more superfree foods in the form of shredded cabbage, gherkins, sliced peppers or mushrooms. Fill your plate!
warningkeep an eye on dressings. They can add a lot of syns, especially if they are creamy as opposed to vinegar dressings. It’s simple to remember, when tossing your salad, get to the vinegar strokes and stop right there. We used Hellman’s balsamic dressing at 0.5 syns per level tablespoon.
J