Thursday, 18 February 2010

Low carb lifestyle, here I come

The time has come to do something. To do something about the extra two tires around my middle, my third chin and the fact I can no longer get into backless dresses without horrible shame (or in fact anything even remotely resembling a size I'd be happy to admit to in public). I guess all this cooking has come at a cost...

Part of the wake up call came on our recent trip to The Gambia - not to be harsh, but the majority of the tourists in our hotel were seriously obese and it made me think that if I didn't get to grips with them I could be there too in a year or two's time.

So, I've decided to follow the only diet that I can feel even remotely comfortable with and understand how it works - Atkins. For the uninitiated, this is a high-fat, medium-protein and very low-carb regime (visit the website if you're interested or can't see how this would possibly work). My joy in it is that it's a diet where I will probably reliably lose weight fairly quickly week by week, and I get to eat most veg, all meat, poultry and fish, and liberal helpings of eggs, butter, cream and cheese. I have to wave goodbye to all sugar and processed carbs like pasta, bread and mash. It's a fair trade. Some Atkins friendly recipes coming up... all serve one but can of course be doubled/quadrupled up for more people.

Marinated prawns (nice lunch recipe)

Generous handful of cooked prawns
Glug olive oil
Juice of half a lime
1/4 red onion or equivalent spring onions
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsps freshly chopped coriander
Some chopped olives if liked (I skip this bit)

Serve over 1/2 a chopped avocado and some salad leaves with salt and pepper after chilling in the fridge for the morning (this is perfect for work if you make it, take it, stash it in the fridge and unleash for lunch). Recipe courtesy of my friend Anne.

Comforting chicken, mushroom and veg for dinner

1/2 chicken breast cut into 1" dice
6 mushrooms, roughly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter

4 spears asparagus
Small handful mangetout
6 broccoli florets

1 small tub of M&S or similar hollandaise (if you're feeling virtuous, try Delia for a proper recipe... I was home from work and hungry!)

In a frying pan, gently fry off the diced chicken with the olive oil and a pinch of mixed herbs. Saute gently until mostly cooked through.

Meanwhile, set up a saucepan with a fan steamer inside and 1 - 2" of boiling water over a high heat. Place your green veg inside and place a lid firmly on top.

In a third, small, pan, put 1/4 - 1/3 (depending on taste) of the tub of hollandaise over a very low heat to warm through.

In the frying pan, your chicken should be looking mostly cooked and a little brown around the edges. Add the butter, when it's melted add the mushrooms and garlic and stir to avoid burning or over browning.

After 5 mins or a little less, everything should be ready: on a large dinner plate, arrange the veg to one side; cover with the hollandaise, and add the chicken and garlicky mushroom mix to the other side of the plate.

Who said dieting had to be miserable?

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