peanut broccoli salad

Here for the peanut broccoli salad? Scroll down to the picture and start running your fingers under the words on the screen. Today’s post isn’t going to be played for laughs because something is on my mind. The NHS. Yes, today we’re not going to so much as wander off the path as set camp in the forest. See, I was driving home listening to Professional Chode Jeremy Hunt gabbling away in that smug, shit-eating way of his about reaching a deal with the junior doctors. I can’t abide the man. You know when someone is described as making your skin crawl? He makes me turn inside out like a salt-covered slug with shyness issues. I’m unapologetic in my view. He represents the very worst – perhaps second only to George Osborne, a man so smug that he probably has a Fleshlight designed in the vision of his own face delivering bad news – of what is wrong with who is running the country. But that’s another rant for another time.

See, I love the NHS. I truly do. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had previous bouts of health anxiety and whilst that’s under control, it’s also meant I’ve had many trips to the doctors in my time. I’ve also got a dicky ticker to boot. Every single time I’ve been into hospital I’ve been treated with the utmost respect by all of the staff, who wear their smiles wide and work hard to bring reassurance and comfort to all. I was in there this morning for physiotherapy on my Klicker-Klacker neck. The doctor who I saw was wonderful, knew about my anxiety, took the time to explain what the problem was (and more importantly, what it wasn’t!) and even had the good grace not to recoil when I took my shirt off. I wasn’t rushed, I wasn’t made to feel like I was inconveniencing them, and I was told just to call up if things got worse. 

I hasten to clarify something – I’ve only been into hospital when I’ve actually had something wrong – I’m not a timewaster (though I’ll say this – don’t dismiss anyone with health anxiety as being a timewaster – take a moment to ponder what it must actually be like worrying and fretting that they’re dying). I’ve never had a single bad experience with the NHS, and it breaks my heart (just what I need) to see the systematic dismantling of it coming in via the back door.

And listen – I normally love things coming in via the back door. Of course there could be improvements, but what massive organisation can’t stand to lose a little fat? Plus if I have to sit through one more ‘GO YOU’ video in the waiting room where positive messages are beamed at me by someone more tooth than human I’ll cut myself. Least I’ll be in the right place. I’m going to hand over the typing to Paul, who can put our feelings in much better terms. Over to you, Fatty.

All we ever really hear about the NHS is that it’s awful, things are going wrong, mistakes are happening – I can only disagree with that entirely both with my own experiences and those I’ve seen of others (as a spectator and a cog in the machine itself). 

It’s pretty amazing to think of this giant institution being there in the background which we all take for granted. Can you imagine having to dole out some cash every time you wanted to see the doctor? I had a taste of it when we last went to Florida and suffered from a simple perforated eardrum. It cost nearly £500 for ten minutes with a mardy quack and a Tiny-Tears bottle of ear drops. £500! James started clutching his heart until I reminded him we’d need to mortgage the house to pay for the defibrillator. We paid it because I needed it – I was in agony and due to fly back, and fortunately had some travel insurance to cover it, but to imagine having that sort of thing drop into my lap on a normal day beggars belief and needless to say would mean I’d probably have to self-medicate with whinging and attention-seeking, and probably some Ben & Jerry’s too. 

This whole idea of the value of the NHS hit me today just as I was sorting out our diary – I’ve got a few medical appointments coming up with my GP and at the hospital (we’re at that age, you know) that are for things that are all down to my fatness, and James had a quick rub-down by the physio today for his wonky neck. I did a quick bit of googling about the subject and to have all of these things without the NHS (i.e. like in America) would have cost nearly £3,000. Isn’t that astonishing? I know there’s insurance and various schemes but overall, what a mess. 

Isn’t it great that all these services are offered for nowt, all because of our NHS. Now, I know – I annoy myself with these things – all this treatment is entirely my own fault and completely avoidable, and I am a little ashamed to have to be using up the resources of the NHS on me being too greedy, but on the other hand what a fantastic public service it is – to know that all of us, whoever we are, where we come from, what we do, can have the most fundamental thing – our continued survival – at our disposal. And, what a thing it is that we can be so lucky to have something so grand and wonderful that we take it for granted.

So I made myself a commitment today – to look-up to the NHS and champion it, and also defend it. James will be rolling his eyes at this (he hates it when I get political) (James edit: no I don’t, I just find it hard to get it up when you wear your Thatcher wig and flat shoes) so I’ll maybe soften it a bit – but we ALL need to defend it from those that want to take it away. It is OURS and we must keep it OURS and so we must all do what we can to cherish it, use it, and make sure it’s there for others in the future. So, from today, I’ll continue my weight loss journey so that I can get healthy but also reduce the strain on the NHS in the future – today it’s a fatty liver but if I keep on at the rate I am there will be all sorts of obesity-related conditions that come knocking at my creaky door (and knees – and I need them for….things…), and make sure I do all I can to protect and defend the NHS when I can. Not just in a rabble-rousing way but also to defend the very essence of the NHS and the culture that comes with it, because god knows we’ll miss it when it’s gone. 

Phew. All better. 

Let’s do the recipe, then. This salad more than filled us up as a main meal – we served two paprika chicken breasts with it, the recipe for which you can find here – but it would do as a side too. Plenty of speed and more importantly, plenty of taste. This makes enough for four people as a big side dish.

peanut broccoli salad

to make peanut broccoli salad, you’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 large broccoli, cut into florets (or use 600g tenderstem/purple sprouting broccoli like we did)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter (8 syns)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • a drop of sesame oil (½ syn)

If you’re serving with chicken, use the Musclefood chicken. Not saying this to push the product because we get paid commission (although we do) – we forgot to defrost some chicken and had to buy a couple of breasts from the supermarket. They went in looking swell and tasty, they came out shrunken and dry as a dead dog’s dick. Musclefood’s chicken is tasty, doesn’t shrink and isn’t full of gristle that makes eating your dinner the equivalent of chewing on the ring of a condom. Click here to order our freezer filler which will get you loads of chicken!

And look – yes you use syns, but this dish works out as 11 syns for the lot. I’ve divided it into four at 3 syns each, so I’m actually being over-cautious there. Don’t sack it off because it uses syns, that’s what they are there for. 

Finally, the inspiration for this recipe came from gimmesomeoven – we’ve taken it and made it SW-friendly.

to make peanut broccoli salad, you should:

  • reheat the oven to 200°c
  • drain the chickpeas well and place on a single layer on a baking sheet and dribble Worcestershire sauce over them – give them a shake to get them coated
  • bake in the oven for about 30 minutes – you don’t want them at full teeth-shattering level but a bit of crunch is a good thing
  • meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil, loosen with a tablespoon of hot water if it’s too thick, until you reach your desired consistency
  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the broccoli
  • cook for a minute or two, or longer if you like it softer (amateur)
  • drain and place in cold water
  • when ready to serve, drain the broccoli and in a large bowl mix together with the peanut sauce
  • serve and sprinkle over the roasted chickpeas

Enjoy!

J

chicken chopped salad – and buying a bloody sofa

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a couple can do – well, that’s bullshit. Listen, we moved the entire contents of our flat to our new home in a Citreon C2. You’ve never lived until you’ve hurtled down the A1 with the threat of a chest of drawers tumbling off the roof of the car and littering the road with boxer shorts and buttplugs. Actually, moving was quite a charming experience, especially once we had a bonfire of all the old biddy furniture in the back garden – who would have thought that ulcer dressings and boxes upon boxes upon boxes of expired Solpadeine would go up like Piper Alpha? Not me!

No, moving house was easy. It’s decorating that’s really turning my teeth to dust as I grind them with impatience and anger. Today Paul and I went sofa shopping, see, and quite genuinely I’d rather spend the afternoon having various items of kitchenware roughly inserted into my anus in a display window in House of Fraser rather than repeat it. It was just awful, with each shop bringing a fresh horror.

We made the mistake of starting in DFS, where we were immediately accosted by someone fresh out of nappies and with more product in his hair than there is on our freshly plastered ceilings. I reckon he took longer on his hair that morning than I’ve spent cumulatively on mine my entire life. And I used to have long, luscious hair, like a fruity Meat Loaf. His opening gambit was ‘So are you thinking of buying a sofa?’. I resisted the urge to throw my hand to my mouth in mock surprise and go ‘Heavens no, I’ve come to have the car’s tyres realigned and my brake fluid changed, how DID I end up in here?’.

I can’t bear nonsense questions like that (and I’m never rude to shopworkers, mind, they’re just doing what they’re told) – I’m hardly going to be renting a sofa for a weekend, am I? We shuffled around the store until his Lynx Africa got too much for my sensitive nose and we bid him goodbye, promising to ‘come back later’. Honestly there’s more chance of Princess Diana ‘coming back later’ than me.

Next was Barker and Stonehouse, which is pretty much the antithesis of DFS in terms of ‘style’ but I found it ghastly, not least because I immediately felt incredibly out of place in my George jeans and painting hoodie. There are some beautiful pieces of furniture to be had, but it all felt a little bit overpriced, and the only assistance offered amounted to nothing more than such an angry glare from an bumptious oil-slick of a man that I actually thought I’d trod muck in on my shoes. Perhaps he was looking disdainfully at our B&M carrier bag full of hot chocolates, but what can I say, I like a bargain. I got a quick snipe in as I left that ‘perhaps if I was opening an upper-class brothel, I’d consider it’, but it fell a little flat.

The next shop was some ‘Sofa Warehouse’ or suchlike – the only thing I remember about it was that, when I enquired about leather sofas, he immediately showed us to this god-awful brown number that looked like the first turd after a bout of severe constipation…and had cupholders in it. I’m sorry but no, cupholders in a sofa is strictly the domain of people who put tomato ketchup on everything they eat and who breathe loudly through their mouth. I mean honestly, I don’t even have a tattoo of a loved one’s name in copperplate on my neck. I bet the same people who leave comments like ‘RESIPEE PLZ K THX HUN’ under my food pictures have cupholders. Is it so difficult to strain forward and pop your can of Monster down on a coffee table? We made our excuses there and then.

And so it went on. We visited almost ten different places and each one was absolutely rammed full of awful shapes, awful textures, awful colours and awful people. There was one settee that looked like it had been stitched together by Stevie Wonder at gunpoint – about eighty different textures and patterns all stretched horrendously over some cheap metal legs. It looked like a corrupted MPEG of a colonoscopy. Who buys stuff like that, seriously? I wouldn’t burn that in my garden.

We did eventually find a settee we like, but then being tight-arsed Geordies, we dashed home to see if we could find it cheaper online and via Quidco, which we’ve dutifully done, but no – it’s cheaper in store! So that means tomorrow we’re going to go back and haggle like we’ve never done before. The sales assistant looked hard-faced (although it was hard to tell under her fifteen inches of Max Factor – she sneezed at one point and I swear half her cheek fell onto her blazer) but I reckon I’ll be able to get £200 off the asking price and free delivery. That’s my goal.

Tell you what though, you couldn’t pay me to deal with the general public – we witnessed some appalling behaviour from families with children today, including one set of parents who let their litter tip a fucking settee over and ignored the somewhat plaintive cries of the poor assistant who clearly knew that a call to a claims solicitors was mere moments away. You also get arseholes coming in like me who fake-smile at you, take a free cup of coffee and then spend thirty minutes clumsily pawing their way through the fabric selection book before hurtling home to order it online and put a hammer in the nail of the coffin of your job security. In my defence: I’m always super-polite and I’m never, ever rude. Plus anyway, I’m going back tomorrow so she’ll be getting her commission.

Christ though, it’ll be ten weeks before delivery. Ten weeks! What are they doing, pulling it with their hair from Penzance? Bah! That leaves nearly no time at all for the cats to completely destroy it before Christmas comes and we have to host family. 

Anyway. That was my day. When we came back, we threw together whatever shite we could find in the fridge and the cupboard and fashioned together a ‘chicken chopped salad’ of sorts, made up of various bits of nonsense. It was tasty, but does it require a recipe? I’m not sure. I’ll give you a picture though, so be happy.

chicken chopped salad

 

our chicken chopped salad contains:

  • healthy extra amount of light mozzarella (65g each)
  • two chicken breasts, cooked on the grill and coated in lime juie
  • four boiled eggs, sliced
  • diced crunchy iceberg lettuce
  • two rashers of bacon which Paul dutifully turned into shoe-leather on the grill
  • sliced beef tomatoes
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • tin of sweetcorn
  • sliced red cabbage

You could make this veggie friendly by omitting the chicken and bacon and replacing it with peppers, mushrooms, sofa cushions, horse farts, anything. I don’t often cover salads but it did make for a nice photo and a quick dinner, so here we are. Enjoy! 

Oh dressing: we just mixed some fat free yoghurt with mint from the garden. Easy!

J

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…

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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…

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And of course, the Bjorn Again:

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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?

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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?

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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!

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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