The 1953 Vintage Diet: Day Four

Yesterday was my fourth day on the vintage diet, and as it was my deadline day, it was hectic from start to finish.

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As usual, I didn’t cook anything for breakfast beyond toast, and decided to morph the bacon into ham, and throw in some tomatoes to make a massive salad for lunch. The only veggies I had suitable for a salad were carrots (most of my veg is frozen – so much cheaper, easier and sometimes healthier than fresh!), so I cut ribbons out of them using a vegetable peeler, and added them to my bowl along with romaine lettuce, ham, tomatoes, some cheese, a tsp of olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

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I didn’t drink the orange juice, the soup, or eat the grapefruit or the plums (or pears!), and by the time I got to dinner, I was in a pretty bad mood so I decided that you could interpret green beans as chips and went to the chip shop. Luckily, they only had a child’s portion of chips left (but it was still large enough to share and have some leftovers, eh?) so we had it with our Spanish omelette. Actually, really nice! Of course I didn’t take any photos – you think I’m going to totally incriminate myself on the internet? Look at that salad up there, that’s my online dieting legacy (seriously, though, it was really nice!).

Because of the ravenous anti-dieting monster I became yesterday, I didn’t do a calorie count, but if I did the numbers would have read XXX, as in TOXIC! I’m a lot less stressed today, and although I ate a breakfast biscuit instead of toast (REBEL, REBEL!), I’m going to try stick to the plan again – or rather, my mixed up, 2013 version of the plan, which involves moving everything around and messing all up.

Welcome to the future, it’s just total anarchy!

The 1953 Vintage Diet: Day Three

Yesterday was the third day of the vintage diet, and I was actually on the day that’s written on the sheet! I had to skip Wednesday because the lamb I bought had to be eaten, so here’s what was on the plan:

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As usual, I took this as more of a guideline, and had my usual toast and Flora in the morning (146 calories), saving the haddock for lunch. Cooking anything for breakfast is a bit of a nightmare, in my opinion, but I can just about manage toast. It did mean that lunch was pretty darn tasty, though – a bed of spinach, topped with a poached egg and some poached haddock, plus the fruit salad (only 300 calories)!

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Dinner was an eccentric proposal to say the least – endive and watercress salad with lamb cutlets? I couldn’t face the prospect of not having anything with that, so I cheated and added some wild rice. This is a pretty big cheat in all honesty, because the idea seems to be no carbs in the evening, but I definitely didn’t have enough lamb to make up for the lack of carbs…

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This meal (including the rhubarb, which I bought in a tin) came to about 500 calories, so the day wasn’t too bad at all… Except… Well, let’s just say, I broke down slightly at about half ten, when I was still working on my deadline and feeling pretty sorry for myself, so I ate a packet of Poppets. There may have been some white mice involved too. Either way, I pretty much nixed my calories for the day. But, the only way to be successful at something if you don’t get it right first time is to try again, right? The absolute worst thing you can do on a diet is to give up after a little hiccup. So… ONWARD!

The 1953 Vintage Diet: Day Two

My second day on the 1953 diet continued in a very similar vein to the first – namely, swapping things around! Here’s what I was scheduled to eat today, and when:

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I don’t know about you, but making cauliflower and braised onions at lunch isn’t my idea of a relaxing break… I ended up dispensing with the orange for breakfast, and the sliced lamb for lunch (no idea where to get deli lamb from, in all honesty…). I then moved the cauliflower to dinner, and the cheese and biscuits to lunch. Are you keeping up? It’s getting a little bit complicated round these parts!

I very clumsily worked out the original calories of this plan as 287 for breakfast, 343 for lunch, and 421 for dinner – but that was before I worked out how to make the braised cauliflower and onions, so the end result for me ended up being higher even after I ditched the lamb and orange. (The end total was around 1050 calories.)

So, for breakfast, I had a scrambled egg on toast with tea, which was 247 calories. Lunch was three cream crackers, a slice of mature cheese, and a pear (delicious lunch, actually, I enjoyed that – shame it wasn’t all that filling), with a snack of vegetable cup-a-soup around mid afternoon. I was honestly so ravenous by then that I couldn’t give two figs whether it technically counted as ‘broth’ or not – the instructions specifically tell you not to eat thick soups, and this one had CROUTONS in it. Croutons. So that took me to a calorie count of around 318.

Dinner was about 463 calories, technically – although I did steal one of my husband’s potato croquettes which was 87 calories. Wow. (A potato waffle is only 100 or so!) I didn’t steam the fish, I fried it with some olive oil spray. Together with the peas and the braised cauliflower and onions, it was actually pretty tasty!

The braised cauliflower was awesome. I had only a vague idea about how you would go about making this dish, so I Googled it and adapted this recipe. I ended up sauteeing one small onion in a teaspoon of olive oil and 10g of butter until golden, then adding 400g of frozen cauliflower and 10g more butter, and frying until coloured in patches. Then, I added half a beef stock cube and water up to the halfway point of the veggies, and I simmered until the liquid was practically gone and the cauliflower was soft – and tasty! This serves two, by the way, but you can easily reheat it for another dinner. It ends up being around 185 calories a portion, because of the butter, which is terrible really (the cauliflower is only 50 calories for 200g!), but I imagine this is how it would have been made around the time the diet plan was created. Butter definitely plays a role in most of the diet plans I’ve seen from the ’50s. Hardship, right?

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I am aware that this looks utterly replusive, but I assure you, it tasted delicious.

All in all, with my teas and coffees, today was just under 1300 calories. Usually I’d make sure to be doing plenty of exercise along with this, but unfortunately, my work schedule is nuts this week – and to be honest, I’d rather blog. Ha. With calorie counts like these, I’d imagine that there would be a weight loss of around 1lb in a week. I haven’t dared weigh myself since Christmas, to be honest – which isn’t helpful for measuring results, but I think the alternative would actually be soul destroying at this point. Maybe I should try to fit in some of these great little retro exercises I found in The Book of The Home II (1956). Do you think I could do them and type at the same time if I cheated a little on the arm movements…?

A useful exercise for general reducing...

The 1953 diet previously posted at the Tuppence Ha’penny blog.

Hush Big Sloppy Jumper Review

I’ve waited patiently since last month for my Big Sloppy Jumper to arrive from Hush – but it finally got here on Monday!

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It’s super comfy, with lovely fabric, and is pretty flattering, and in a great, on-trend colour.

Sloppy Jumper from Hush

The down side is that you have to hand wash it, and it’s fairly pricey (£65, more than I’d usually pay for a jumper). However, I decided that it’s time to start investing in basics properly instead of dropping wads of cash on things I’ll only ever wear once or twice! It makes more sense to buy something comfy that I can lounge around in, considering I spend most of my time in my home working, rather than strutting around in fancy frocks! This definitely fits the bill, and the fabrics used (80% cotton, 10% cashmere, 10% silk) somewhat justify the tag. Hopefully I’ll be wearing this for years to come.

The Big Sloppy Jumper is available in bordeaux (pictured), grey marl, charcoal and navy, at Hush, for £65.

Hello Fresh: 3 Meal Box Review (4 Dec)

Another week, another box from Hello Fresh!
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I was really looking forward to this week’s recipes, and I have to say, they didn’t disappoint! First up was chicken fajita – a fairly simple recipe flavoured only with chilli and cumin. But there were plenty of accompaniments (no sour cream or cheese though…), and the end result was delicious!
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The dish I was most excited to try was duck ragu, because I’d never made something like that before – you slow cook the duck legs in tomatoes, veggies and herbs. I thought the dish could have used a lot more cooking, to be honest, because the meat was difficult to get off the bone (especially when piping hot!), but it was still fairly tender in the dish itself.

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Very filling – huge portions this week!

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Finally, a good old classic – bangers and mash. The red onion gravy was delicious – I don’t very often make this dish, but this recipe was so easy and gave such great results, I’ll be doing it again. The mash was made with roasted garlic, and tasted gorgeous. Again, another mammoth portion.

All of the calorie counts were much higher this week, but then this was hearty fayre. Hello Fresh isn’t really for those on a diet, but I hope in the future they’ll consider introducing a dieter’s box, because I’d sign up regularly. This will be the last Hello Fresh box from me for a while, because the holidays make dinners very unpredictable – but if you’d like to sign up, use the code FOODFASHFIT, for £10 off your first order at Hello Fresh!

Sweet treats for your Royal buffet

Victoria sponge cake

Image via Wikipedia

CLASSIC BRITISH TREATS

Victoria sponge

A beautifully simple, light cake – classically British, of course – dusted with icing sugar and filled with jam would make the perfect addition to your table. Add whipped cream and fresh fruit to make it even more indulgent!

Gin and Tonic jelly

A great Nigella Lawson recipe – a grown up version of a party staple, and what better way to toast in the newly weds than with some gin and tonic!

Sweet vanilla cream and dulce de leche butterfly cakes

My own recipe for ridiculously delicious caramel and cream butterfly cakes. Forget cupcakes!

Scones with clotted cream and jam

You could make your own scones with this excellent recipe, but, equally, I’m sure no one will mind if you buy it in…

Lemongrass and raspberry trifle

Another Nigella recipe – and if you fancy a classic version, there are tonnes out there for sherry trifle!

Eton Mess

Legend has it this was invented at at Eton College – which is where Prince William was educated, of course, making this the perfect dish to serve on the big day. Just remember to mix it just before serving, because the meringues will melt otherwise! This is Delia’s recipe, but you can also add a splash of Pimm’s at the last minute to transform it into an ever more celebrationary dish!

What drinks to serve at a royal wedding watching party

Pimms anyone

Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

You’ve got a host of people over to watch Will and Kate tie the knot – but what the heck do you give them to drink, apart from good, old fashioned tea, of course? Check out this handy list of the best British tipples for your thirsty guests!

DRINKS

Fruit Cup

Pimms isn’t the only fruit cup you can make – check out this awesome blog for reviews of some other great fruit cup liquers! What could be better than a long glass of a fruit-studded cocktail on such a great day?

Buck’s Fizz / Mimosa

In the UK, we mostly have Buck’s Fizz, but whether you call it that or a Mimosa, there’s no denying this classic glass of bubbly and fruit juice is a right Royal winner!

Ginger Beer

You can buy your own, but you could try this great recipe for lashings of the stuff – the appropriate quantity for such a feast…

Lemonade

For your drivers and sober types, you need something without alcohol, lest you fall asleep before the vows are over… Making your own lemonade is easy, just combine lemon juice, water and sugar to taste.

Rhubarb, ginger and apple cocktail

Make use of some very British ingredients for this cool cocktail.

Royal Wedding Cocktail

Gin, Dubonnet, lemonade and pomegranate juice make this symbolic cocktail, especially formulated for Wills and Kate.

Make your own almond milk

Making Fresh Almond Milk

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

I’m no health nut, and I’m definitely not a vegan, but I love soya, almond, coconut and rice milk. I recently bought Jillian Michaels’ excellent Master Your Metabolism Cookbook, and she asks you to replace your diary with other products – specifically not soy, for various reasons. So, I purchased a litre of coconut milk and one of almond milk (and then had to carry them home four miles from the shop, but that’s a whole other story!) and discovered how delicious almond milk was in porridge and banana smoothies. I’d never had it before, and realised precisely why this was when I got to the health food shop – firstly, it’s quite hard to find (only in health food shops and Waitrose, it seems!) and secondly, it’s a whopping £3.00 a litre… Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a lot for me, so I was pretty pleased to discover that it’s really easy to make your own almond milk at home! I’m not saying it tastes better than shop bought – I think the shop bought stuff is sweeter, but at home it gets a bit worrying to continually add honey to your mix, so I stopped after three teaspoons! However, it’s definitely cheaper, as once you’ve bought yourself a nut milk bag, you end up paying about £1.60 or so for every litre – basically, the cost of your almonds.

So, the recipe!

EQUIPMENT

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag (buy these on eBay if you find them hard to track down)
  • Bowl
  • Jug

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g almonds
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 litre water, to make milk (4 cups)
  • Vanilla extract, optional
  • Honey or other natural sweetner, optional

METHOD

  • Cover your almonds with water (I like to rinse mine first as well) and leave to stand overnight, for at least 8 hours, and up to 12.
  • Drain away the soaking water (I rinse here again) and add the nuts to a blender.
  • Pour in your four cups / 1 litre water, then blend well. Add in the vanilla extract and sweetner to taste, if using.
  • Pour the mixture into a nut bag over a bowl or wide jug, and strain. You’ll have to help the process along by squeezing the bag to get the excess moisture out.
  • Your nut milk is ready! Keep in the fridge, covered, for up to four days.

The leftover almond meal is great for adding fibre to porridge, cereal, etc!

I’m in Cake Stand Heaven!

If there’s one thing your royal wedding watching party (or afternoon tea) should be, it’s stylish. Think sundappled table settings, gorgeous china sets, dainty cakes and even dantier sandwiches. If you’re like me, you probably only dream of owning a proper tea set, and one look at retailers like John Lewis, where they sell aforementioned ‘proper’ tea services, will probably push that dream even further away. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find really nice tea sets (unless you have mega bucks, in which case EVERYTHING’S easy) as I discovered once I started actually looking for some. But then, I found it… Cake Stand Heaven

Green and Yellow Art Deco Tea Set

This gorgeous website specialises in selling really beautiful china sets in quirky colour schemes and styles. Last year, I inherited a pretty partial set of glade green china from my nan, and was at a bit of a loss to know what to do with it, until I saw this, a beautiful set of gold and green mismatched china which pulls together the gilt and green elements of my nan’s beautiful set. Alas, that one has already been sold, but here’s a similar one:

Vintage Mixed China Tea Set with Lustreware Teapot

By simply picking a couple of colours out of your favourite china trio, you could built up your own – or purchase one ready made at the reasonable price of around £95 for the entire set.

Whoever styles these and puts them together is my new guru of the art of afternoon tea. Check out this amazing Mad Hatter’s Tea Party set:

Mad Tea Party Vintage Mixed Tea Set

I just love their range of quirky cake stands which come topped with cups, milk jugs and even teapots!

Pale Blue and Gold Vintage Tiered Cake Stand

Can you imagine that top cup filled with some pretty country cottage flowers to compliment the colour scheme? I certainly can…

Cake Stand Heaven even offers a bespoke service to find products in your colour scheme, but there’s so many delightful sets on their site you’ll probably more than enough to browse through… And, if you check out their site and follow them on Facebook, you could even win your own cake stand! Now, that’s pretty neat!

www.cakestandheaven.com

End of summer: Crispy Panzanella

Grape tomatoes.

Image via Wikipedia

Well, it’s officially nearing the end of the summer, and that means that it’s our last chance to make use of some seasonal produce before… well, let’s not kid ourselves – pretty much everything from the summer is still available all winter round, albeit at a price. But my late summer favourites are strawberries, tomatoes and corn on the cob, and it’s now that these babies come into their own. All of these are on sale at supermarkets, but if you get yourself to a farmers’ market, you can get them even cheaper. Punnets of strawberries for a couple of quid, tubs of cherry tomatoes for 70p, I even bought five ears of corn for a pound a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s a great recipe I found in a foodie magazine ages back, for a crispy crouton and spicy tomato salad. Although it’s called Panzanella in my recipe folder, panzanella is usually made with bread that’s a bit soggier than the stuff you’ll find here. This recipe gives you fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, drizzled with a spicy, garlicy dressing, and pepped up with crunchy, crispy croutons. It’s one of my favourites, and you can make it all year round thanks to the supermarkets. But why not make it now, when everything’s at its cheapest and best?

Recipe for Crispy Panzanella

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • One red chilli
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 200ml olive oil
  • Small red onion
  • 450g tomatoes
  • Black olives
  • Half a cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 very small loaf, torn into small chunks
  • Handful of basil leaves

METHOD

  • Turn the oven onto medium heat and drizzle some of the olive oil over your bread chunks. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and bake in the oven until crunchy and golden brown.
  • Cut your salad ingredients (pepper, cucumber, tomato, onion).
  • Crush the garlic and chilli together in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt until you get a pungent paste.
  • Mix the vinegar, sugar and olive oil together, and whisk in your chili, garlic and sea salt.
  • Mix together the dressing with the vegetables, and allow them to sit for around an hour.
  • Wait until just before serving to pour the veggies and sauce over your croutons, to keep them crispy and fresh. Tear over the basil leaves and serve.