Disqus for Where Are My Knees

Guest Post - Rave dance class by Amy from (A) My Space

Saturday, 29 June 2013

By Amy Rowland - amylysette.blogspot.co.uk - @amylysette 

I hate gyms. Really hate them. Last year I took leave of my senses and ended up signing up for a years membership. I did one gym class and never went again. That gym class cost me £444. OUCH. 

Anyway, I've already lost 20lbs with Weight Watchers but need to lose another 20lbs before I reach my goal. And I'm not stupid. I know to do that I do need to do some exercise. And I'm not opposed to exercise. Just gyms. So when I saw an advert for Fitness Freak's dance rave class I signed up immediately. Now dancing is a form of exercise I love so much so I don't even realise it's exercise.

My friend Elaine and I arrived at the Vaults under Waterloo station and were handed glow sticks. So far, so rave. There was a real party atmosphere inside which made you forgot you were about to exercise at all. It was more like you were in a club with your mates. 

The rave kicked off and was led by instructor Loren and Fitness Freak founder Shara. The first song was I like to move it, move it and so we did. 

The class was a mix of cardio and conditioning exercise with a lot of glow stick waving in the area and free styling. Oh and of course lots of 'big fish, little fish, cardboard box.'

The class was SO enjoyable. Unlike a gym where you feel everyone is looking at you, the rooms as dark so it really didn't matter if you made a mistake, no one saw. The aim of the game was fun whilst burning up to 500 calories. It certainly did that. I was very sweaty and had very achey thighs the next day!

There is no doubt I'd do it again as it barely felt like exercise. And as for dancing with a glow stick? I may make this a regular thing…

What I Ate Wednesday: (A Day In The Life of Weight Watchers by Sarah V)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

I love Gem’s Day in the Life posts and it’s inspired me to do my own. I thought it might be interesting as I have a smaller points allowance than Gem (it’s allocated due to height, start weight etc). The lowest your points go down to is 26 and that's where I now am - I started on 28 points so it hasn't gone down TOO much, though.

My weigh-in is on a Monday night so during the week I normally try to stick strictly to my 26 points and then save my 49 for the weekend, unless I have a dinner out or something in the week.

This is an average day at work...

Fruit & Fibre with an apple chopped into it & a splash of milk = 4PP (inc milk)
(I always have a variety of breakfasts at work as I don't always want the same thing. Sometimes I have an OatsoSimple porridge sachet (5PP including milk) and sometimes I have two Alpen Light bars (3PP) but I always try to have something.)

½ Pot M&S Chicken, Mushroom & Rice Soup = 6PP
(I normally have soup for lunch but try to stick to filling ones that contain carbs such as rice, potato or beans. This soup is more like a stew or fricassee, as it has giant chunks of chicken and is full of rice! It's SO tasty.)

Homemade Spaghetti Bolognese = 9PP
30g Low Fat Cheese = 2PP
(I try to keep most of my dinners at around the 10PP mark - the ones that are over are usually the ones that already include cheese like my chorizo bake. Posting recipes on here regularly forces me to keep trying new things and ensures I don't get bored of eating healthily.)

Skips = 2PP
2 Finger KitKat = 3PP
(I make sure to always have WW-friendly snacks in my drawer at work so that if I fancy something I don’t just have what’s around as it’s never a healthy option in my office! All the regular KitKats (not the Chunky ones) are 1PP per finger and 3PP if you have 2 - meaning they are probably about 1.4PP per finger but points are always rounded up or down. Skips & Space Raiders are 2PP a bag which is the same as a WW bag of crisps.)

= 26PP exactly

I find 26PP more than enough – and could happily miss out on my snacks most days. Something about knowing they're there makes me less likely to crave them, which I never thought was how my mind worked! On weigh-in days I usually skip the snacks and then have a bigger dinner or a chocolate bar once I've dealt with the scales.

I don’t drink tea or coffee so don’t have to worry about a milk allowance each day – but I think I often end up putting that towards cheese on my dinner! I think I mention cheese in every WW post I do… I just really like cheese.

Thank god for you, Pizza Express.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Lovely bloggers Lily and Michelle!

When I am on following a diet, I develop a bit of a dread about eating out. So few places make allowances for diet plans and so a meal out usually means going seriously off the rails. I usually don’t even track my WW points because I know that I’ve probably eaten about four billion without even realising it. Nightmare.

There are a couple of restaurants that I will try and steer people to though as I know that they are diet-friendly and Pizza Express is top of that list. I can’t think of any other major restaurant chain that makes as much effort towards healthy eating. The thing is, when you go to Pizza Express, you want to eat PIZZA, and they get that. Their Leggera range completely scratches the pizza itch without the guilt (and their salads are awesome, too).

Their supermarket range is incredible, too, and for the longest time it frustrated me as they didn’t seem to shout about it (they do now though). Many of their pizzas like the Sloppy Guiseppe and Pollo Ad Astra are 500-600 calories for the whole thing, which is perfectly reasonable for dinner – and that’s not even counting their reduced fat range.

So – BEST EVENT EVER. Pizza Express invited myself and a few other bloggers to visit their Holborn store and find out about their new menu. They talked a lot about their efforts towards healthy living, not just for adults but for families as well (they do a lot of work with schools, teaching children about using fresh, healthy ingredients).

Then, awesomely, we got to make pizza. And not just adding toppings – we got to throw dough around and all sorts! So much fun.

Once we’d finished our masterpieces, they were taken away and popped in the oven before we all sat down for a lovely pizza dinner. As well as our own personalised pizzas, there were huge portions of the new Superfood Salad out which I am now a bit obsessed with (I even got it as takeaway for lunch the other day!). I always prefer not to order salad when I go out for dinner but now I can’t wait for my work lunch at Pizza Express next week because I need that salad in my life again!

This was a fantastic event, and I learnt a lot too. It completely backed up everything I’ve been banging on about for years about how great Pizza Express are (seriously, go back and read my early posts!) and it was so much fun. I know it probably sounds like I’m being sponsored by Pizza Express, but I promise I’m not – I genuinely think they’re amazing for considering healthy eating without compromising on taste. Even if you’re NOT on a diet, their pizzas are so much better for you than anyone else’s – and cutting down on your fat isn’t a bad thing for anyone to do. I love you, Pizza Express!

Wild Mushroom Lasagne

Monday, 10 June 2013

Confession time: I have a Food Network problem. My Freeview box is pretty much permanently tuned to Channel 48, and I could talk for hours about Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten. Any Barefoot Contessa fans in the house? I love her so much. I mean, she’s kind of awkward and her husband is a little bit creepy, but don’t you just wish she was your neighbour? Her food looks SO good. So good. If you have ever watched Barefoot Contessa, you’ll be wondering why I’m bringing her up in a diet blog. Ina Garten likes to cook with vast amounts of oil. But hey, she’s 65 and she really doesn’t look it. Maybe there is a lesson there. Gillian McKeith and Nigella Lawson are the same age, after all. I have a point though, I swear – the other day, she made this Wild Mushroom Lasagne which looked utterly heavenly, and I wondered if I could adapt it.

The original recipe (posted here, if you’re curious) has about 200g of butter and I think half a bottle of olive oil? Plus cheese and full fat milk. It’s a lot of fat, and it’s not really needed. I adapted this using my favourite Bechamel sauce substitute, Campbell’s Low Fat Mushroom Soup. Have I converted you yet?

Because much of the flavour depends on the mushrooms, I made the executive decision to leave the butter in. I know, it kind of terrified me too! But Lurpak Lighter is almost as flavourful, and 2 tablespoons only added an extra point each.

Wild Mushroom Lasagne
9 lasagne sheets – 17pp
2 cans Campbell's or Bachelor's Low Fat Mushroom Soup – 8pp
2 tablespoons Lurpak Lighter (30g) – 5pp
80g Parmesan cheese (grated) – 9pp
125g Light Mozzarella - 6PP
Fresh garlic cloves - 0PP
2 red onions - 0PP
200g Spinach - 0PP
Black pepper – 0PP
500g mushrooms – 0PP

45PP / 8PP

To reduce points - Use less cheese, use less soup, cut out the butter.

1 - Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
2 - Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick.
3 - Heat the butter in a large sautee pan (I used my wok). When the butter melts, a couple of garlic cloves then abotu a quarter of the mushrooms at a time. Sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices.
4 - If they become too dry, add a little water. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.
5 - Thinly chop up your red onions and cook until soft. Remove from wok, mix in with your mushrooms (you could also cook them together, to be honest).
6 - Steam your spinach by placing in the wok with the lid on for a couple of minutes until it wilts.
7 – To assemble the lasagne, place 3 of your lasagne sheets in the bottom of your baking dish.
8 – Add about half a can of soup, spreading until it evenly covers the pasta sheets
9 – Add half the mushrooms, then top with a third of parmesan.
10 – Add another layer of noodles, 1/2 can of soup, 1/2 mushrooms, 1/3 parmesan
11 – Top with a final layer of noodles, a whole can of soup and the remaining parmesan.
12 - Bake the lasagne for 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot.

This was really good, but I felt like it could have been better. It was a bit... wet. Which meant that the parmesan got kind of absorbed, which was a real waste. I think cutting out the oil made the mushrooms retain water, which seeped out in baking, and it was a very saucy dish. But the mushrooms cooked in butter and garlic tasted AMAZING and so I want to make this again because I think it could be SO much better!

Next time, I would assemble it more like my Butternut Squash Lasagne:
A layer of the mushrooms/onions/spinach mixture, a layer of strong grated cheese (more substantial than Parmesan), a layer of pasta sheets, another mushroom layer, a layer of pasta sheets, a layer of mushroom sauce and then top with cheese. I will let you know what it's like!

Olive & Feta Pasta

Monday, 3 June 2013

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while because I have fallen into a recipe rut. All I have cooked in the last couple of weeks is Butternut Squash Lasagne… yes, again – it’s just THAT GOOD! And Spaghetti Bolognese, which is also THAT GOOD because I put a whole lot of red wine in it.

Anyway, I had chorizo in the freezer and spinach in the fridge, and was pretty much ready to make my Creamy Chorizo Mushroom Bake again, when I realised that I was due to be away for a couple of days, the chorizo was still in the freezer and the spinach was probably going to go off if I didn’t cook it that very evening. It was quite a dilemma, I can tell you.

So, I invented something. Food inventing isn’t hard, you really just throw together lots of things that you think are nice, and chances are that if you put them all together, they will taste nice all together. It’s a bit of a secret though, so don’t let that on if you ever invent any food, and everyone will be SUPER impressed. Unless you mess it up. DON’T MESS IT UP. Anyway, I bought a block of feta, a jar of olives and a tub of Philadelphia and threw this together. It was bloomin’ tasty. You should make it! Unless you don’t like feta or olives, in which case, definitely don’t.

These pictures are a bit rubbish because I was chatting to my housemate and forgot to take any until I was almost done. Ooops.

Olive & Feta Pasta300g Pasta – 29pp
200g Tub of Philadelphia Light – 8pp
200g block of Feta – 15pp
1 jar of green or black olives (in brine, drained) – 3pp
1 jar of roasted peppers (in brine, drained) or a raw pepper or both – 0PP
Handful of mushrooms – 0PP
2 leeks – 0PP
200g Spinach – 0PP
Garlic – 0PP
= 55PP / 9PP per person (6 portions)

To reduce points - Try and stretch the sauce to more portions, use less feta.

1. Cook your pasta as per the package instructions
2. Chop up your raw veg (leeks, mushrooms, pepper) and fry in a big frying pan or a wok with either FryLight or a splash of water until soft
3. Add the olives and spinach and cook for 5 minutes until the spinach starts to wilt
4. Chop your feta into small cubes then put half of them in the pan. Stir well so everything is slightly coated in the feta and it’s pretty much dissolved. Yum.
5. Add the Philadelphia and stir it until it resembles a sauce. The vegetables should have given off a bit of water so you shouldn’t need milk to dilute it.
6. When the pasta is done, add to the pan and stir until everything is well combined and the sauce coats the pasta well.
7. Add the second half of your feta and stir well for a couple of minutes until everything is warm through but the last lot of feta is still in little blocks.
8. Serve!

This is so tasty. Adding the feta in two halves means that the sauce itself is very feta-y, but then you get little lumps of feta in with it too. SO MUCH FETA. It’s quite a salty dish with the olives and the feta, but it’s not overbearing. As always you can add as much or as little veg as you want. I made this initially using 40g of pasta per portion but it wasn’t quite filling enough so I have upped it to 50g a portion which is included in the recipe above. Because the dish is pretty saucy, it stretches quite far, which is awesome. You could even add more portions of pasta, but then I think you might go a bit far.

Monthly Summary: May

Hi everyone! How was your May?

Sarah V - May hasn't been the best month for me weight loss wise. The bank holidays threw me off track and I ate terribly! That said, I didn't actually gain any weight this month. I'm currently 4lbs down from the last monthly summary (based on hopping on my mum's scales yesterday!) but am still not QUITE at my two stone which is really frustrating! I've been at 'nearly' two stone for weeks now. I only have 1.5lbs to go though so I'm getting there and I do feel like I can see it on my stomach. This last week I have been tracking more carefully and have been cooking more again, and I have set myself a goal of losing a stone by my birthday which is 2 months away. June has the potential to be calorific (weddings and festivals!) so I really need to focus on being super good where I can and not going totally off the rails at special occasions. Half a stone by July 1st? Let's do it.

Gemma - May has been very good to me. I've been taking part in Gym for the Win since midway through the month and it's really made a difference for me. I'm feeling much more fit after just three weeks at the gym and I've really enjoyed having some time to myself in the evenings. I've lost about 5lbs this month and I've really not lost anything this year apart from my Christmas gain. I've also re-joined Weight Watchers classes after finding that online only subscription really wasn't working for me. It took me a while to find the right class but I now go on Saturday morning which is perfect for me. I can go a little mad on Saturday night and then have a whole week to make up for it before weigh in again.I hope I can keep up my new gym routine and Saturday morning class for the rest of the year and finally get to my -100lbs goal.

Sarah - I haven't been on track for the whole of May and as a result have gained over half a stone.  We lived on take outs and grabbed snacks in the week following the move and in the two weeks after whilst we were spending every second decorating.  I then went on holiday where I over indulged which is what holidays are for.  Everything is now out of the way and I have a clear month to get back on track and going to start The Harcombe Diet over.  I found it easy to stick to as it curbs my cravings which are usually my downfall.  Low carbing also gives me so much more energy and no sugar slumps.  You have to be 100% committed and plan in order to follow it so give me a kick if you see any naughties on my instagram feed!!  I'm going to aim for 7lbs this month too, lets go Sarah V!

Rosie - I went on holiday in the second week of May - the couple of weeks prior I was very focussed, running almost every day, using MyFitnessPal to track calories and nutritional content and banning sugar and eating out.  Nothing like the thought of being in a bikini to keep you on point! I must admit that since I returned I've been back in the three pound zone - at the moment I'm fluctuating between three different weights almost weekly - the good news is that I've not been heavier than the top weight this year, the bad news is I can't seem to get lower than the lowest weight no matter what I do, and I'd still like to lose a few lbs off it.  I'm off to France for almost the whole of June so I am envisaging lots of cheese and wine but I'll also be taking my running gear to try and counteract all the amazing French food!