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Eating Disorders Awareness Week - Guest post by Welsh Girl Problems

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Gemma - I've wanted to write about my experiences on this topic myself but didn't know how to express myself or communicate how much of a struggle it is for me to maintain a healthy attitude towards food. I follow @ProblemauMerch on twitter and love her quips about Welsh life but her serious blog post 'That Bitch Bulimia' really struck a chord with me and I'm glad she has agreed to let me re-post it here. It took me over two years to admit I had a problem and to ask for help so my advice is to talk to someone if anything in this post applies to you.

When you suffer from an addiction which threatens your health, and you're lucky enough to be offered support, it is encouraged, that you cut out whatever it is you're addicted to.

It's very straight forward. 

An alcoholic is told to stop drinking. They are discouraged from visiting anywhere which might sell or promote the consumption of alcohol, at least until they are well enough to be in those kinda social environments. This can take months, or years. Sometimes they may never feel strong enough to visit a bar an order a lime soda, whilst their friends sip pints. And that can be ok, because there are other more suitable venues which might be safer for them, a coffee shop, or a cafe for example.

A drug abuser is offered medicine to help ease them down from their addiction. They too are encouraged to avoid situations which might lead to substance use, or trigger a re-lapse. 

A person looking to pack in the fags is encouraged to explore a wide variety of smoking alternatives. Patches, gums, e-cigarettes. All available from the NHS, or the high street.

There are hospitals and rehab centres across the country which work to protect and support patients dealing with addiction. Here, they are offered psychological support to treat the mental illness which goes with addiction. They are given advice about making positive lifestyle choices,and physical support as their bodies learn to deal with the change which comes from cutting out a once dependable substance. 

Most work on the common evidence, that it takes 21 days to break a habit.

Which is what made overcoming Bulimia, that bit more difficult for me.

For 6 years I was addicted to the binge, purge cycle. A common by-product of Bulimia.

I should note, I am not directly comparing an eating disorder to the enslavement of substance abuse, nor am I belittling the struggles of overcoming a life threatening addiction.

But what makes eating disorders more difficult to treat, is that when other addicts are given support to help cut our their addiction. Bulimics are offered support to get better, but told to continue eating, 3 times a day. 

Your body doesn't need alcohol or cigarettes to survive. But you must eat. Which is why, when I was incapable of doing so properly, I felt like such a failure. There was no way I could eat 3 meals a day and keep them down. Everything was done in excess. I couldn't imagine eating a bowl of cereal, without having a second, or third. I could never fathom eating a sandwich for lunch, without finishing the loaf. Come dinner time, I would be so hungry from already having purged twice, that I would overeat to compensate, and so the cycle began. I had no control over my eating habits.  

During the height of my illness, I felt more vulnerable and pathetic every day. I punished myself for feeling like this by continuing the binge, purge cycle. I was furious at myself. Why could I not do what newborn children do instinctively? Was I more incapable than an infant?

It was the punishment more than anything which kept me trapped in the cycle. That and the secrecy. I thrived (or what I thought thriving to be at the time) on the knowledge that I knew something no one else did, that I had a huge secret that nobody but me and my thoughts knew about. Power and control are commonly associated with eating disorders, and it was the lack of control around me which propelled me to want to control my Bulimia. Schedule, and routine where essential and helped me to feel organised and gave me a structure which I felt to be lacking in my everyday life. 

The illness started when I was at college and joined me through most of University, I acknowledge now that it was the struggle to adapt to change, which laid the foundations of the disease. Exhausted from a constant emptiness and midnight binge, purge cycles, I skipped classes and on the rare occasions I did attend lectures, I was so busy thinking about my next binge that I never really felt present. It threatened to ruin my academic career, something which I will regret for the rest of my life. 

Before the Bulimia I adored dressing myself. I took so much pride in my appearance. I explored the history of textiles, I scoured the art world for new outfit inspirations, rummaged through antique stalls for the finest jewels.

As a bulimic I wore black. Everyday. Nothing but. Occasionally a dark grey, but only on a good day. I draped myself in layers of cotton, linen and wool. nothing that would cling to me. Nothing which would even hint at my original form, or god forbid, my stomach. My stomach which was always so bloated from constantly throwing up. I had no social life to speak of - surrounded by the most fabulous friends and family, and I was folding into myself, unable to hold a conversation without my mind wondering off onto the subject of food. I would stand in front of the mirror for hours to find the latest flaw, it was my favourite past time.

I remember running my hands across my ribs as I sucked in my stomach, wishing I could stay this way, but I was only ever 'perfect' for as long as I could hold my breath for. As I exhaled out, my frame would returned to it's shabby self, so too did my bloated, round belly, stuffed above the perfect bones I knew were underneath. 

My nails could never be long, or they'd catch on my throat and I'd be coughing up bloody and nursing an already sore throat.

There was a constant imprint of my top teeth on the upside of my hand. A perfect copy. The scars of which are still faintly outlined on my knuckles.

My teeth, my teeth I'm still paying the price for. They're ruined. I'm so embarrassed to write that I've already lost 1 tooth because of it. Thankfully it's near the back.

Quite often blood vessels would burst in my eyes, which looked rank, obviously. They were always bloodshot and I struggled to keep them open. 

My skin was always dry and cracked, especially around my mouth. 

My heart used to beat like crazy, and it scared me to death. At night I was so dizzy that I never knew if I was passing out, fainting, or falling asleep.

The dehydration meant my face and neck were constantly swollen and puffy, as were my ankles, feet and hands. Everything was swollen. Which made me think I was fatter, which made me need to throw up, which meant the cycle continued.

Physically, it was the worst my body had ever looked. 

But it's not the physical alterations which I remember as being most life ruining, but rather the mental side effects, which accompanied the disease.

The depression mostly. The insomnia which was caused by the sugars in the food I binged on. (As sugar is consumed quickly through the gums, you could never get rid of it by being sick. After a binge your body is empty of food, but full of sugar which is what makes diabetes so common in bulimia sufferers) The paranoia, the fear that someone would catch me, the embarrassment I felt when leaving the bathroom. And the punishment. Never feeling deserving of anything. Health, wellness, affection, intimacy, coherence, confidence. Which was great, because as a Bulimic I was never able to have those feelings. 

I was engrossed by this. I calculated that 80% of my time awake was spend thinking about food, how to get it, and how to get rid of it. There was no room for anything else.

I was suffering a gut wrenching mental illness, which felt incurable. When someone breaks their leg you can wrap it up, give them antibiotics, and wait for the body to heal itself. A mental illness feels all consuming. You have the one tool capable of fixing yourself constantly to hand. Your brain. But it feels broken. There's a voice in there which tells you not to help yourself, persuades you into believing that you honestly couldn't help yourself. That you're not worthy of help. Learning to control these thoughts, is what makes the recovery of a mental illness so difficult. My secret was controlled by these thoughts.

But eventually, like all secrets, I was found out. My friend, my hero, walked me to my doctor, sat me down, held me hand, and told me to tell her everything.

Turns out she'd known for a while.

When I told my mother, she said. 'Do you feel better already, by saying it out loud? By acknowledging that it exists inside you?' 

And I did. I absolutely did. I suddenly felt like I'd stepped out of the darkness, that I was already on the road to recovery.

Just saying it, I am a Bulimic, and I need help. Felt like I was helping myself already. 

Talking to my family and friends made it easier for me to see how serious of an issue it was and with the incredible help support of my loved ones and my local GP, I was offered counselling and therapy to help me overcome my illness. 

Recovery really started to feel more and more like an option for me during one on one sessions with my ABA (Anorexics and Bulimics anonymous) Councillor. Talking positively about the illness, sort of slowly started to push out the negative. Talking really gave me the tools I needed to fix myself. She and I would meet for a coffee, and chat and walk for hours. She was an incredible woman whose story helped me feel less alone. I still walk everyday because I know just how beneficial it is for my mental health.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to call myself a recovered Bulimic. I don't know if anyone could. It's the type of disease which stays with your whole life I imagine, because you still have to eat, 3 times a day. 

But since beginning my journey, I've fallen back in love with food, with dressing, but more importantly, I've finally fallen back in love with myself. I feel like I've been reconnected with an old friend, which is great news for me, because I am fuckin, fab as hell.

It was never my intention to write such a personal blog here, but writing anonymously has given me the confidence to lay myself out, and writing it down feels a bit like counselling. I'm so proud to say that today, I feel physically and mentally as healthy as I ever have. And I eat, well, 3 times a day.

If even one person reads this, and feels ready to ask for help, then I want them to know you're not alone. If you're ready to take the step, then please, Go see your GP, they will help point you in the direction of local meetings and help set you up with a councillor. Or head over to b-eat to check out what help and support is available for you. 

Or email me. If you need someone to phone when you're struggling in the supermarket, or you just wannna grab a coffee and take a walk. Then please, drop me an email : welshgirlprobs@gmail.com 

How you can get involved with EDAW

There are ways you can get involved too by helping to raise awareness of eating disorders:
  • Share your own experience – contact your local media or give a talk in your community (or even post something like this!)
  • Keep up to date on Facebook by liking the b-eat page – www.facebook.com/beating.eating.disorders and follow them on Twitter @beatED.

M&S - Fish Provencal

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

M&S have put together 4 easy recipes for under 400 calorie meals. (These are particularly good for anyone doing the 5-2 diet) The recipe cards are available in store and I tried out the Fish Provencal.

Marks and Spencer use the Eat Well sunflower logo to make it easier for us to enjoy a balanced diet. All the recipes on the healthy recipe cards in store feature this logo.
Eat Well sunflower logo
The Eat Well sunflower logo, introduced in 2005, is based on the principles of the Eat Well Plate to help you achieve a balance of the nutrients your body needs from each of the different food groups. The logo can be found across their stores and helps to identify the better choice within each of the food groups, e.g. wholemeal bread, skinless chicken, skimmed and semi-skimmed milk and low fat yogurt.

This recipe serves 2 and counts towards 1 of your 5 a day.


- 1tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Pepper – finely sliced
- 2 Garlic cloves - crushed
- 2 Cod Fillets
- 400g Canned Cherry tomatoes
- 6 Olives
- 1 tbsp Parsley – finely chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan or wok and cook the fish, skin side up, for 3-4 minutes. Put on a plate.
  2. Add the peppers and garlic to the hot pan, stir fry 1-2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and olives and bring to a simmer.
  3. Tuck the fish fillets (skin side down), into the sauce, cover and cook gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish is tender and flakes easily. Scatter in the fresh herbs and season to taste.
  4. Serve the fish on a bed of sauce with steamed couscous (or pasta or potatoes).

This was such a tasty dish, I loved the cherry tomatoes which popped in my mouth and it really didn't take long to rustle up at all. This would make great mid week, guilt free treat and other than the fish most of the ingredients are basic store cupboard things so it won't cost a lot to make this either.

For more recipes like this head to the M&S Healthy Food pages.

*The meal was provided by Marks and Spencers, located in St David's.

Nākd survey - Diet saboteurs

Thursday, 13 February 2014

We are a big fan of Nākd bars here at Where Are My Knees and Rosie has reviewed them in an earlier post.
I'm a fan of the flavoured raisins and love that their products are made from all natural ingredients like fruit and nuts, and they're also wheat, dairy and gluten free. They feel like such a treat and are absolutely delicious but you don't feel as guilty after scoffing a bag of these as you would if you had eaten a bag of M&Ms. 

New research released by Nākd Wholefoods has found just how irritating we find our friends when they diet, with 1/3 of us deliberately avoiding those we know to be dieting and over a quarter (26%) even trying to sabotage their friends’ bids to lose weight.

Their stats found that people are most annoyed by those that:

- Talk about their diet too much (26%)
- Make them as non-dieters feel bad about themselves for not dieting (20%)
- Are grumpy and miserable (25%)
- Refuse to socialise (11%)
- Ban treats such as birthday cake (13%)

And that sabotage attempts include:

- Inviting the dieter out for dinner or a drink (19%)
- Deliberately tempting them with unhealthy treats (16%)
- Talking them into giving up their diet (7%)

'Oh, go on, try this cake...': One in four will sabotage a friend's diet because restricting food makes people so utterly boring
  • Some 25% of us deliberately avoid friends who are dieting
  • Say dieting friends aren't fun and make them feel bad about themselves
  • One in six try and tempt friend with unhealthy treats so they break diet
  • A fifth deliberately ask a dieting friend for dinner or drinks
  • Men are more likely than women to try and sabotage a friend's diet

    1. They feel guilty. You're losing weight and getting in shape. They're not. Tempting you to "fall off the fitness wagon" means you’re "normal" again, and they can feel good about themselves.
    2. They don’t understand. They’ve never had a weight problem and just don’t realize how hard you’ve worked to get where you are. They think it’s "silly" for you to worry about what you eat.
    3. They miss the old you. That is, the cookies you brought to work, the after-work "happy hours" spent in the company of high-fat potato skins, the luscious desserts you used to indulge in. Maybe you’re spending more time in the gym and have less free time for them. Maybe they’re afraid to lose you?

Don’t overreact, but don’t give up either! Try these strategies to stop your food foes:

Don’t assume the worst. Unless sabotage is blatantly deliberate, give saboteurs the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their motives. If a boyfriend gives you chocolates this Valentines day its because he wants to show you that he cares and not because he wants to fatten you up.

Set up your own support system.
  If your friends aren't being supportive join a group or chat to like minded peopled online. I would never have lost 6 stone without this blog.

Ask for help.  Be fair with those who share your home. They may be willing to make compromises, at least for shorter periods of time, about what foods are kept and cooked in the house. Colleagues might agree not to bring in cake and biscuits every day.

Be an adult. Remember that what you put in your mouth is your responsibility.

Brita Boost - Buzz

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

People often drink to get a buzz and BRITA provided me with an alternative activity to get the adrenaline pumping in the form of a skiing lesson. I've never been skiiing and rarely take part in any kind of sports so this was a really scary prospect for me and I knew it would get the adrenaline pumping. My boyfriend has been snowboarding and really enjoyed it so I invited him along with me so we could try something new together. 

I headed to Pontypool Ski Centre which boasts a 230 metre main slope, a novice/beginners area, a ski lift and mogul run. The Ski Centre runs its own Ski School which offers lessons for all standards of skiing and snowboarding from ‘novice to expert'. I had a beginners lesson on the slopes and even though I can't say I 100% enjoyed it, I definitely got a buzz. The look of terror on my face as I went down the slope must have been a funny sight.

Alcohol can have an impact on your fitness regime. Post-exercise drinks at home or down the pub can undo all the good work you've just put in. There's around 180 calories in a pint of lager and 159 calories in a large glass of white wine, so you could cancel out all your hard work in no time at all. A hangover may mean you don't work out as hard, it's no fun lifting weight or running if you have a headache or feel sick. The night before's alcohol leaves your body dehydrated, even before your session starts which means a less effective work out.

Saturday nights for me used to be spent with friends drinking and then Sunday would be a wasted day feeling sorry for myself and rustling up a tasty but unhealthy fry up to get rid of a hangover. A dry January means that Sundays were free for fun and I made sure I got outdoors as much as I could. I climbed Pen Y Fan in January which is the highest peak in the south of the UK.

There's no way I would have climbed this with a hangover on a Sunday and I would have missed out on the views and sense of achievement I felt when I reached the top. When you drink, it chemically alters your brain to release dopamine. When you exercise, the same chemical is released, which means you can get the same "buzz" from working out that you can get from a few glasses of wine. We all know which one is better for you.

I would like to say a big thank you to BRITA for inviting me to take part in the challenge. It was very enjoyable finding out alternatives to drinking and keeping hydrated with BRITA filtered water. I will post a round up about my Dry January experience with Brita in the next few days.
For more information on BRITA filter products, please check http://www.brita.co.uk/

Brita Boost - Confidence without alcohol - Guest post by Maggie

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

I wouldn't say I drink for confidence, but I know unfamiliar social situations do feel a little easier when lubricated with a glass of wine (or two). While I'm happy to stand up and present to a room full of people, I find one-to-one interaction with strangers difficult. So sitting in the upstairs bookshop of School of Life, nursing an elderflower cordial, I couldn't steal myself to approach anyone and say 'Hi' even if we were all there for the same reason. Luckily the course leader Jean-Paul began to mingle among us, breaking the ice and making it easier to talk to my neighbours, indulging in the usual small-talk about jobs and the (really tasty!) refreshments, as well as our reasons for being on the course that evening.

The downstairs room we were lead to for the course itself was beautiful. A 2D black and white mural runs across the walls, depicting overflowing bookcases, a half finished game of scrabble and etc. Two rows of seats facing a screen showed we would be presented to, conference style, but the clipboard on each chair made me think there would be a bit of interaction expected too. There was a good mix of both Jean-Paul talked us through what is meant by confidence and we did some improv and exercises with the person sitting next to us (more talking to strangers!).

There was a lot covered and I don't want to give it all away, but I'll mention the points that stuck with me most:

      Externalise your pessimistic thoughts if someone else was saying them to you how would you defend yourself? Really handy if you tend to get down on yourself and say things like I can't do this. Instead you flip things around and say You can't do this and you begin to feel like you want to prove that negative voice wrong
      I very much fall in to the trap of the fixed mindset it's a bit like the comfort zone where you know what you're good at and all your aiming for is success, even if it's same-old, same old. Instead I need to adopt a growth mindset; where I try new things, learn from failure and success is measured in growth.
      My favourite inspirational quote from the night (and there were loads) was Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn't mean that others can't do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training - Carol Dweck.

I found the whole event very useful if not just because I realised a lot of people struggle with the same lack of confidence, so I wasn't facing it alone. So next time I'm at a social event I'm going to shout down my inner pessimist and say hello to someone new with or without wine, honest!

*This installment of the Brita Boost Dry January series was brought to you by the very lovely Maggie. People chose to drink from some of these five reasons - taste, socialising, confidence booster, relaxing and for the buzz. This post focused on confidence and  you can read all the other posts in this series here.

Cheeseburger Casserole

Someone linked to this recipe on Twitter recently from the American blog SkinnyTaste (originally from a Bobby Deen cookbook) and I was intrigued by it. Cheeseburgers? In a casserole? With pasta? And not full of fat? DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Obviously I had to try it though, and try it I did. I am usually pretty faithful when it comes to following recipes, but I looked at all the weird American measurements and totally improvised this one. So not like me. I kind of based it on the quantities from other recipes I’ve done like a Spag Bol and a cheesy bake, and it was super yummy! It’s not QUITE as good as a cheeseburger (come on, NOTHING is) but it’s really hearty and filling and there’s cheese involved, and you know that I’m all about involving the cheese. I’ve modified it a bit, adding some extra flavouring and stuff, and a few more veggies.

Cheeseburger Casserole (originally from here)
500g extra lean mince 16pp
300g pasta 29pp
150g light cheddar cheese 12pp
3 tbsp Dijon Mustard 2pp
1 onion, finely chopped 0pp
1 red pepper, chopped 0pp
1 tsp salt 0pp
1 tsp black pepper 0pp
2 tbsp tomato puree 1pp
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed 0pp
1 carton/can chopped tomatoes 0pp
1 jar pickled gherkins 0pp*

60PP / 10PP
Serves 6.

To reduce points: drop the amount of cheese, make into 8 portions instead of 6, drop the amount of pasta (40g per person instead of 50g per person would be enough).

1. Preheat the oven to 150c.
2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain.
3. In a large frying pan or wok, add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add oil if you need to (but remember to account for it if you’re counting) or FryLight, but a smidge of water will also work to stop it sticking.
4. Stir in the garlic and the mince, and cook until browned.
5. Add the pepper, and any other vegetables you fancy.
6. Stir in the tomato puree, then add the salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, chopped tomatoes and the mustard. Let the mixture bubble slightly until it’s slightly thickened – a few minutes. Stir frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick.
7. Give it a taste and add any extra seasoning you think it needs, but if you’re happy, chuck the pasta in with the sauce and stir it together
8. Spread the meat and pasta mixture into the prepared dish, and top with your grated 150g of cheese.
9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and brown.
10. Sprinkle the chopped pickles over the top and serve – but if you’ve batch cooked this and are planning to freeze it, hold back on the pickles and only add them when the mixture is heated up and ready to eat.

*I’ve put 0pp on the pickles but it depends on what you buy. I bought a jar of pickled sweet gherkins and if I’d eaten the whole jar, it would have been a few points because of the sugar that was used to preserve them. However, allowing for a sixth of the jar was 0pp. So just make sure you check this – it’s not going to add a lot to the dish though. Also, if you’re not a fan of them, just leave them out!

SkinnyTaste also suggested adding sautéed mushrooms to the top which I did – I sautéed a whole punnet of chopped mushrooms in about 30g of Lurpak Lighter (5pp), a bit of salt and a couple of chopped garlic cloves which added an extra point per portion. I then put them on top of the bake when it was out of the oven so they retained their flavour. They were yummy, but I felt like the taste of the bake kind of drowned their buttery garlicky awesomeness. Next time, I’d just have them as a side.

Guest post - Getting a heel in the door - Caitlin

Monday, 3 February 2014

One of the things I’ve learnt on my journey is that fitness, like so many other things, is about getting a foot in the door. It’s really tough to get into the swing of things until you find that one activity that you actually enjoy doing.
When you find something you love you’ll stick at it, then you’ll start to get good at it and to see results. Then you’ll enter the cycle of results inspiring further work leading to more results and things take off from there. You’ll get more and more obsessed by fitness and start to love working out and cooking healthy meals and learning about nutrition. You’ll spend your free time finding different classes to try and researching new recipes and the momentum you’ve created will gradually make it easier and easier for you to stick to your programme. It’s getting that first foot in the door that’s the hard part.

For me, the activity that helped me get my foot (or six inch heel) in the door was pole dancing. In school I would have done anything to get out of PE. I was tiny and really weak, and I’m pretty badly co-ordinated which meant I was terrible at team sports.  I was also extremely shy so I avoided anything that I thought I’d be bad at in case I was right and it was embarrassing.
I first tried pole dancing the summer before my final year of university. Of course, I was hopeless at that for a long time too, but it was so much fun that I didn’t mind. I kept going back and built up some pretty impressive upper body and core strength without even realising it. In a few months I was able to lift my whole body up into an invert despite not actually consciously trying to get stronger.

Once I realised how much I liked being strong and how great exercising made me feel I joined a gym properly and now I train with my PT once a week. These days nothing makes me happier than lifting weights, doing hill sprints or cooking a new healthy dish!
It’s really important to remember that change is still a process and these things do taken time. Even after you find the thing you love doing the results will be gradual not instant, but believe me when I say that it gets so much easier from that point. My advice to anyone who’s been on fitness kicks before but didn’t stick to them is to keep at it – keep trying different things as you may not have found the one that’s going to work for you yet. It’s tough, but getting fit has honestly changed my life, and if anyone had told me how much better I’d feel as a result I would have done anything possible to make it happen sooner.

Good luck to everyone reading this, and if you ever need a motivational pep talk you can find me blogging about fitness and clean eating over here!

Brita Boost - Alcohol free dinner party with Foodelity

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hasn't January gone quickly?! I vowed to cut out alcohol for a month and that's exactly what I did. I had a little help from Brita along the way but I'm glad I accepted the challenge and there have been so many positives about giving up alcohol.  I will keep all of that and full round up for my final Brita Boost post in the week.

If you've been following the BRITA Boost Challenge posts you'll know that there are five main reasons why people drink and I've been given ways to overcome all of them:

Taste - Maggie went to a Mixology Masterclass to learn how to make alcohol free cocktails.

Relaxation - I had a wonderful full body massage to unwind without reaching for a glass of wine.

Confidence Booster - The lovely Maggie attended a Confidence class last week and will be reporting back soon.

Buzz - I'm going on a skiing lesson tomorrow as the final part of my challenge.

And finally

Social - I was treated to a Foodelity box filled with everything I needed for a alcohol free dinner party with some friends. This is how I got on...

After choosing the menu online for the 3 course meal, my box arrived with everything I needed for the dishes, in exact quantities, so there was no need to measure. They were all colour coded so I knew which items were each course.

The ingredients arrived with step-by-step recipe cards with pictures, which were easy so easy to follow. I'm a keen cook but I have to admit I'm no the best and stick to tried and tested recipes so I was excited to try this adventurous menu. I found all of this very easy to make and when I normally cook for friends I'm so stressed out trying to get all the timings right I feel like I need a glass of wine by the end of it.

There was even a timeline included so I knew when to prep and put things in the oven which meant more time chatting to my guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen. 

For my starter I chose pan seared king scallops with pea puree and balsamic vinegar reduction which I hope you agree looks pretty impressive. I felt like this was a fancy treat as I don't normally cook anything as extravagant as this at home.  

My main course was a very tasty roast poussin with sumac and red cabbage with minted potato. Presentation has never been my forte so I'm pleased with how this dish turned out. 

Dessert was probably my favourite course. I made my first tarte tatin and this pear one with lime and ginger had plenty of kick. Mmmmm!

There wasn't a single drop of wine to accompany the food and it really wasn't missed at all. My brother, his partner and I are all trying to shed a few lbs for our holiday later in the year and wine would have just added to the overall calorie total. I filled my Brita jug with some lemon and lime for the dinner party. The simple drink to accompany the meal meant that we could appreciate all the flavours in the food far more.

My boyfriend joined me for the meal too and he drives to visit me so can't ever drink when I cook for him. Nobody had any alcohol at all so this really helped those who drive and normally have to turn down alcohol feel a lot less left out.

Everyone had a lovely evening and it showed me that you can still have a hit dinner party without the alcohol. I highly recommend Foodelity to anyone wanting a special Valentines treat or a stress free way to host a dinner party. How do you think you would get on without alcohol at a dinner party?