A Mixed Start to My New Healthy Lifestyle

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I wrote a post the other day about how much weight I have put on and realizing that I need to make some drastic changes to my eating habits and my lifestyle to lose weight and improve my health. (You can read it here if you missed it). So far, I have had a fairly mixed start in my efforts to do this.

In terms of my eating, I have done well. It is not the meals that I eat that are particularly unhealthy, nor the portion sizes as I have a relatively small appetite. My problem is the late night snacking that is encouraged by my partner buying me treats. My second problem is drink rather than food. I drink lots of coffee with sugar, fizzy soda drinks, and wine. 

I have done well with removing the snacks from my diet and my partner has been good about not buying chocolate and crisps. I have cut down on wine, replaced sodas with water, and started taking sweeteners in my coffee. I even ate some new potatoes with a ham salad the other day without drowning them in butter.

My problem has been my lack of exercise. The main plan was to start walking and swimming again. My first plan was that my mum would come on the school run with a few times a week. We would take the children to school in her car and she would then drive off to conduct her own business for the day, leaving me outside the school. It is a 2.5-mile walk back from school, and this is a pleasant distance to walk. It is particularly nice if the weather is good and I often walk along the coastal path, which has excellent views across the bay and estuary. 

I have already been thwarted in my plans to do this as my work deadlines have meant that I have needed to drive straight home from school to complete work for my clients. I am not disheartened, I have planned my workload better for next week to make sure that I get to do the walk home a few times. My best effort at walking so far has been when I went on a spa day with my sister and mum and we walked a few miles around the shops. Does shopping count as exercise?

My swimming plans have also fallen by the wayside. I bought a swimming costume while I was away ready to start doing lengths at the swimming pool. I tried to go swimming with my older son on Saturday. However, by the time I had found out the opening times and he had gone to ask his friend from down the road if he wanted to come along, it wouldn’t have been worth making the drive as the pool was due to close. 

I am just making excuses now and I hope to do a lot better this week. I am certainly not planning to give up. We hope to get married this year and that is motivation enough for anyone to lose weight and not become the center of attention for all the wrong reasons on their wedding day. 

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Introducing Pietro the Pasta Maker- The Fruity Tart’s New Assistant

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I am excited to introduce to you Pietro, my new pasta maker. In the style of Ainsley Harriet on ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’, I have decided to give it a name. For all of you who are not from the UK, ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ was a teatime cooking competition on TV that was presented by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriet. He would refer to the condiments as Susie Salt and Percy Pepper.

I am not entirely sure why I have decided to start naming my kitchen equipment. The only excuse I can make is that the children have been off school now for two weeks and I have had to look after them while still working from home and having building work done. Perhaps I am going a little deranged?

Anyway, you will now see Pietro appearing in quite a few blog posts now he has finally made it out of the cupboard. I actually got him as a gift from my mum for Christmas and I only got round to using him for the first time a few days ago. I made soft cheese and spinach ravioli with a garlic mushroom butter sauce and salad. Recipe coming soon!

You Know You’re a Foodie When…….

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You know you’re a foodie when…….. your presents are food and cooking related! Its Easter Sunday today and I got some rather unusual gifts from my Mum. My children got the traditional Easter eggs from her, a book and a T-shirt each. She gave my partner an Easter egg and a small bottle of lemon vodka (she has been experimenting with making different flavours of vodka recently). What did I get? A bag of organic pasta flour and a set of three chutneys- mango & pineapple, chilli jam, and jalapeno pepper chutney. 

This is not the first time my Mum has bought me cooking presents. She knows I am not that interested in clothes and my house is full of enough clutter. Cooking related items are the perfect gift for me. At Christmas, I received a new pasta maker and a wooden spaghetti hanging rack.

On my 30th birthday, she made one of my best presents ever. It was a hamper full of Indian spices, The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook, and some tableware for serving Indian food. These may seem like strange gifts to other people, but to me, they are perfect. 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook

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I am not one for using cookbooks too often. I use my own knowledge of food to create dishes and if I do need a recipe, I look it up on the Internet. However, the one cookbook that I do use on a fairly regular basis is ‘The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook’.

As the name suggests, this book was written by three sisters; Sereena, Alexa, and Priya Kaul. The reason I love this cookbook so much is that it is aimed at people who are novices in terms of cooking Indian cuisine.

While I have many years of experience in cooking, Indian cuisine is something that I am still learning and perfecting. While many dishes are simple, there are also many that are a complex balancing act of spices and flavours.

This book starts at the beginning by explaining how to make a spice box so that you have all the spices needed to make delicious Indian food. The three sisters then contribute various recipes to the cookbook as they each have their own areas of culinary expertise.

The book is divided into sensible chapters that make finding the dish you want to eat easy. It begins with little snacks and starters before moving on to main course dishes. These are divided into chicken, lamb, fish and prawns, and vegetable dishes. There is then a section devoted to rice, beans, and lentils followed by a chapter on how to make bread and chutney. The book concludes with recipes for desserts and drinks.

All the recipes are easy to follow and have beautiful photographs to show the end result. It is written in such a way that I find it easy to adapt the recipes to my own tastes. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the art of making flavoursome and authentic Indian dishes.

New Out-of Date Food Bumpy Label Trial

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Currently in the UK, foods are sold with ‘display until’ and ‘best before end’ labels. These are intended to advise consumers about when foods are no longer safe to eat. However, this system is not without fault. First, if foods are stored incorrectly, they may be unsafe to eat before the specified date. Second, many people rely on the dates provided on the labels and throw food away that is perfectly safe. This results in a lot of food wastage in the UK. There are now new plans to trail an entirely different system.

A high-tech food label has been designed that turns bumpy if a food is no longer safe to eat. Dairy products company Arla is trialling this new label. Their cheese, cream, and milk will have this new label to help consumers to definitively know if food is no longer safe.

The labels contain a gelatine-based gel that reacts to the temperature outside and the packaged food. The conditions cause a molecular breakdown and the labels are designed to deteriorate at the same rate as the food.  

The main aim of these labels is to prevent waste. The current labelling system errs on the side of caution and the new labels will provide a more accurate date for which the products are no longer safe. The new label is being backed by food waste campaigners as an effective solution to this problem.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/18/bumpy-labels-signal-food-has-gone-set-introduced-dairy-products/

Unnecessary Kitchen Gadgets

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Recently, I realized the number of completely unnecessary kitchen gadget there are available. This realization came to me as I was wandering down the seasonal offers aisle in Aldi and I spotted an omelette maker and genuinely couldn’t think of the benefit of owning one of these gadgets.

I am a big fan of buying things that make your life easier, save you time or improve a particular aspect of cooking. I mean, who can imagine life without a food processor? Even items that only come out of the cupboard once in a while have their advantages. For example, I don’t use my pasta maker often, but when I do, the pasta I make is definitely thinner and evener.

My issue with the omelette maker is that I can see absolutely no advantage to owning one. Omelettes are something that I probably cook about once a month, so the rest of the time it would sit gathering dust on a shelf or take up space in a cupboard.

This is one of the simplest and quickest meals you can make so I cannot imagine why anyone would need this gadget in their lives. You still need to create the omelette mixture, so it is saving no time or effort at all.

I have similar feelings of frustration towards egg slicer. How often do you want to slice a hard-boiled egg and how difficult of a task is this anyway? Another item on my list is electric can openers, although these are fantastic for people who struggle to use their hands, Beyond gadgets, I have equal levels of irritation about pre-sliced mushrooms. Why pay more to save one minute of time? 

Is this just me or do other people not see the use of these things?

Empty Shelves and Shocking Behaviour in Supermarkets Following Bad Weather

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During the snow storms of the past week, people have flocked to the supermarkets to panic buy in preparation for the bad weather. This has left many supermarkets with empty shelves. In turn, this has led to some shocking behaviour from customers in supermarkets.

There have been multiple reports of people complaining about the lack of food available and becoming abusive with members of staff. In some cases, the frustrations of shoppers have led to them fighting with other customers over the few remaining items on the shelves.

A local Plymouth newspaper reported that there were ‘apocalyptic’scenes in some stores as the customers took out their anger and frustrations on each other. This is a situation reflected right across the country. The stores have spent the weekend trying to restock their shelves for the week ahead. 

This news is not all that surprising as there are similar situations whenever the Brits experience a short spell of bad weather. There are countries across the globe that experience extreme weather on a regular basis and their residents barely raise an eyelid. In the UK, there is mass panic if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

It seems rather shocking that a few days of snow can bring out the worst in people’s personalities and lead to such appalling behaviour towards each other and the hardworking staff at the supermarkets.