Rich Red Wine Meatballs with Vegetable Pasta

There is nothing better on a chilly day that a warming rich bowl of something tasty and satisfying. Try this low carb version of meatballs and pasta. I use ready made meatballs from a reputable source.

Serves 4

16 large meatballs (4 per serving) baked for about 30 minutes (180 fan oven)

Rich Red Wine Sauce

1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. of garlic flavoured oil

1 red onion sliced

2 small glasses of red wine

1/2 small glass of port

1 tsp italien herbs or bouquet garni

1 beef oxo cube

salt and pepper

Fry the onion in the oil and butter until starting to caramelise, add herbs. Pour in red wine and port, oxo cube and seasoning. allow to reduce until it is starting to thicken. this will take about 30 minutes, but is well worth the wait!

Vegetable Pasta

1 good sized butternut squash peeled and spirallized

4-5 large carrots peeled and spirallized

1/2 savoy cabbage finely sliced

1 Pack of Pepperoni (or you could use bacon if you prefer)

1/3 pint of vegetable stock

salt and pepper

Place the spirallized butternut squash and carrots in the lidded wok and pour over the vegetable stock, put the lid on and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Meanwhile fry the pepperoni until beginning to crisp and add the finely sliced cabbage stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, but do not allow it to burn. Tip the cabbage into the spirallized vegetables, remove the lid and allow the remaining stock to evaporate off.


Divide the vegetable pasta between 4 serving bowls with 4 meatballs per person. Pour over the red wine sauce and serve.





‘Healthy’ British Fry-Up

A healthy fry-up? Despite the apparent oxymoron for low-carbers this one works pretty well. For me it covers all the areas that a good fry-up requires. It is very satisfying and it is my ultimate savory comfort food – so much so that occasionally we have it for tea (evening meal/dinner). I guess that would almost make it a mixed grill in theory? Either way it is one of my favourites – quick and satisfying, but impressive enough to serve to non-carbing breakfast/brunch guests.

Obviously the quantities depend on how many you are feeding…

Irish sausages (Clonakilty ones are the best, but Richmond are good too)

Rashers of bacon (for a traditional English/Irish breakfast this has to be back bacon)

Chestnut mushrooms (fried in butter)

Tinned Plum Tomatoes

Fresh free range eggs (I like Duck eggs for a treat)

Gallettes (makes 4 large gallettes) – 4 heaped tablespoons of oat bran; 3 tablespoons ground linseed; 1 beaten egg; 2-3 oz grated cheddar cheese; 1-2 tablespoons cream; salt and pepper.

Mix together all the ingredients for the gallettes– you should get quite a solid looking mixture. Fry tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture in some butter or coconut oil – both work well – for about 5 minutes until lightly browned then filp them to brown the other side.

While you wait for the gallettes to brown you can start to grill the bacon. I like it cooked until it’s nice and crispy (this takes about 20 minutes – I use the grill on my combi microwave, but you could easily use a conventional grill). Then put the sausages into a baking tin (use a deep tin if you have one) and bake them in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes – 200°C.

Once the gallettes are lightly browned you can pop them in the oven (on a low shelf) to finish off – give them about 10 minutes so they are completely cooked in the middle. I find these can be kept in the oven until you need them as the cheese just gets crispier, but I wouldn’t leave them more than 20 minutes without turning the heat down!

Tip the tinned plum tomatoes into a saucepan and heat them up.

Quarter the mushrooms and fry in butter and oil – it is essential to combine the butter with some oil to prevent the butter burning – I use rapeseed oil for this (for an even healthier option you can simmer them in a little vegetable stock if you prefer – the result is just as good).

Once all the elements are ready it is time to fry the eggs – I like them flipped (is that ‘over-easy’ in the States?), but cook them however you like them. If you prefer you could poach or scramble them.

With the gallettes at the bottom,  to soak up all those amazing flavours, pile up all those delicious cooked ingredients and tuck in!

Variations/additions: Try adding some slices of black or white pudding; pork chops or pork loin; fillet steak; or if you are feeling adventurous try lambs kidneys.






French Problems

I have reached the point where I am feeling less motivated about healthy eating –this is reflected in the large takeaway pizza box that has been hidden in the recycling box…

After Easter we went to a lovely little spa resort in Normandy, France. I knew that food-wise this would be, shall we say, problematic. Once I go into holiday mode it’s as though my logical brain switches off and the indulgence methodology sets firmly in. I had an amazing time and consumed croissants, French patisserie, baguettes, cheese and wine galore. I can’t say I regret it, but I do feel guilty that my immoderation caused me to gain half a stone (7lbs). I did have a wonderful time though.

So, two weeks later and the children are back at University, we’ve adjusted to being back in Ol’ Blighty and I’m back racing around school. In that time, I have almost managed to lose my French weight. I’m getting back into the fasting routine and because work is so busy I don’t have time to think about food; I start work at 7.30 and leave work at 4.30 – I usually work through break and lunch so I have less work to take home in the evenings; weekdays are working well. However, the thing I am having an issue with is the desire to treat myself at the weekend, which in my book starts the minute I leave work on Friday. I need to find healthy treats that feel indulgent, but that don’t damage all the hard work I am doing during the week, we’ll see how that goes.

This weekend – aside from the moment of pizza madness on Friday night – I’ve been pretty good, actually I’ve been very good overall, despite the urges to be more than a bit naughty. Next weekend we are celebrating my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, so I will need to be extra good this week to compensate. After that I should be in a fairly safe zone until the summer – fingers crossed!


What low carb/paleo treats work for you?

Moving forward

So, my fears of plateauing were fairly short lived – let’s just say the past month has been slow progress, but there has been movement. I’m now only 1lb away from my end of month target, which I didn’t think I’d manage to reach. That means that I am only 2lbs from having lost 2 stone (28lbs), admittedly about a stone of that came off in the first few weeks, but I’m pleased with the progress and for those of you who are undergoing a similar progress please don’t rely on the scales – I find that weekly measuring is key to not losing heart when the scales seem to be against you.

I found that when I was ‘stuck’ a few weeks back that I was still losing inches (it might only be 1/4 or 1/2 an inch but that is enough to help keep you motivated) and after a bit of research I discovered that your body can go through adjustment periods when it apparently holds onto water replace the lost fat, which it later expels when it realises it doesn’t need it. I don’t know if this is actually true but the idea really helped me get through those weeks of no movement on the scales. In addition, I found that a little bit of naughtiness can help you get back on the straight and narrow. I had a take away Balti with some rice and a chapati. I really enjoyed eating it, but I didn’t enjoy how I felt afterwards!! Within about an hour I felt sluggish, bloated and tired. I started overheating (this is something that I don’t get so much when I’m low-carbing) despite the weather being decidedly chilly. I decided then that eating carbs just wasn’t worth the awful feeling afterwards.

I’ve managed all this so far without adding exercise to the mix. I know this is something I need to make time for. I did think of giving you a list of excuses – I’m a genius at finding reasons for not doing it, but if I’m being entirely honest – I’m just too lazy. Eventually I will find the motivation and then I will be exercising everyday with a tendency to be just a little bit obsessive, but until then I’ll just stick to the lifestyle change/diet. (I’m trying really hard to see this way of eating as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet!)

It’s difficult to know for sure the full range of benefits healthier living will bring, but I definitely feel more energetic, much less uncomfortable, bloated and tired, and generally happier overall. Whether I reach my target weight by the end of the year will remain to be seen, but as long as I feel more confident, healthier and happier it will be worth the inevitable bumps and falls during the journey!

What about you? How do you keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

Plateau fear…

Five weeks into the diet and I think I may have overdone the cheese… I only weigh myself once a week and this week there has been little movement. Mind you, I have still lost the odd half inch here and there, so I haven’t succumbed to complete despair! It would be so easy to slip slowly sideways off the diet waggon, but this time I am resolved and determined not to give in!

Cheese could well be my nemesis. This week is the first week that I have not lost at least a pound or two and I have been here before. Last year I reached this stage after four weeks and I really struggled to persevere for the next four weeks; my efforts unfortunately did not pay off and I remained on the plateau until I gave up.

So, now is the time to really up the ante and start exercising. I’m going to take the plunge and join the local pool and gym, so I can build up my stamina and strength whilst burning off some of those calories. Finding the time will be difficult and I know it will take a few weeks to get back into the swing of going, especially after a long day teaching.

What about you? How have you motivated yourself to keep on track or get back into regular exercise?


A diet that works for me…

About a month ago I started my own adaptation of the Autoimmune Paleo/Atkins approach. I’m trying to think of it more of a lifestyle choice than a diet. I have autoimmune disease and have battled with my weight since my teens – and I mean I have battled. I have been on diet after diet and I’ve tried most of them, but the problem is I get stuck, really stuck. The weight comes off all well and good to start off with and then the problem starts. No matter what I do, how closely I follow the diet, how much exercise I do, I just I plateau and stay there. It is at this point, when I have followed the diet to the letter and remained stuck for a month or more, that my will-power quits. I challenge anyone to be able to maintain a diet when that happens. You lose the vision and motivation that got you started in the first place and you just don’t see the point anymore.

I discovered about 15 years ago a method that works for me. If I don’t eat during the day and just have my normal sized, low carb, evening meal around 6pm with no snacks I lose weight and it helps me to keep the weight off. However, the many scare stories about your body going into starvation mode, not getting enough nutrients and so on stopped me from doing it. I have thought about it a lot and it takes a lot of self-control to maintain in the early stages, but my theory is: if it was good enough for our ancestors, why would it be so bad for us? Our generation only eats 3-5 meals a day because we can afford to. I suppose it’s the ultimate fasting dieting – instead of days on and off you just eat once in 24 hours.

This time round, as well as only eating once a day, I have eliminated several things from my diet, which I will reintroduce later on, and I think it is helping me to stick to the plan without cheating. I have always been a huge fan of diet coke – huge, my favourite drink ever. However, I have given up sugar and sweeteners and four weeks in – I don’t like it anymore. I had one mouthful and hated it. I’ve also stopped drinking coffee and have changed to herbal teas. It’s funny, but since I stopped having sugar and sweeteners my taste buds have changed and I can now drink herbal tea without adding sugar. I also no longer crave sweet things.

So, low carb, no sugar or sweetener, no coffee, and only eating once a day. Four weeks in and I’ve lost almost a stone and a half. I’m pleased with that.

What diets work for you?

Follow me and see how I get on. Will I make it to my target weight?