Saturday, 25 June 2011

Signing Off...

...for the next while at least, and when I come back it'll be probably under a different vibe. I feel the blog was very much about my journey to finding a solution to my problems that I could live with everyday, and I'm there now, so the journey bit is done. Secondly, and more importantly, I no longer have time to blog. I'm studying for another undergrad (this time biological sciences) as well as working full time in an increasingly busy job. I'm trying to minimise commitments beyond the essential studying and earning, and blog writing will be a victim of the cull. I still have time to skim read lots of blogs most days, and try to comment when I can. I do love blogging and I really want to be out here in blogland contributing, but it's just not possible right now. Hopefully when I have a bit more of a grounding in the sciencey stuff I will come back to make a slightly more valuable contribution to all this discussion about optimum health.
Lots of love to all who have read here at any point:)
Eimear x

Monday, 6 June 2011

Diminishing cravings

It occurred to be in the last few days just how much my tendency to overeat and especially junk stuff (cake, ice-cream, chocolate. biscuits) has gone down and down over the last few weeks. While every now and again (especially if my blood sugar gets low) I do experience a hankering for something processed, most of the time now revulsion of factory food turns me away, and I've gotten better at finding healthier meals on the hoof- I now reach for a hard boiled egg, a banana, tinned (no salt) fish or a plain yogurt if I get really hungry, and most evening I don't even have dessert (I used to eat dessert pretty much every evening). The food I eat now is enjoyable enough and satisfying that I don't feel I need to eat chocolate just because it's there in case it's not tomorrow, if I don't get a bit, good. Eating whole foods, primal, ancestral, paleo, whatever you want to call it, has quietly chipped away at my tendencies to binge, crave and obsess over comfort food (not that they were very dominant tendencies, but it's good they've dropped off somewhat, and I don't turn to them for stress relief). It's like good food 'protects' me from poor choices. I have to say, though, although it may be a less rewarding diet a la Stephan Guyenet's current theorising over at Whole Health Source, it's more than tasty enough for me. In fact, the junk is kind of hyper tasty (or 'hyperpalatability, as Melissa McEwen has dubbed it) and while those foods do cause a tendency to eat more of them compared with more 'plain' fare, I definitely seem to find them sickening. Finally, enough knowledge about these things cultivates intellectual disgust strong enough to overcome the 'hardwired' cravings for energy as dense as possible (originally essential for survival, but now positively dangerous in our comfortable developed world). Just some thoughts, anyway.
Recent plates:

Lazy saturday morning: other half of friday night's sirloin steak, a bit of lip smacking cheddar and some chilli jelly

Two boiled eggs for breakfast, a bit of romaine that I was chopping for lunch. I got hungry two hours later and had a banana at work.

Tonight: beef stew- just browned off some braising steak, added into two roughly chopped onions, couple of sticks of celery, some lonely half used veg (half a green pepper and half a courgette) herbs de provence, a bit of sea salt, water (maybe 2 cups). Two hours in the oven= dinner for a wet evening, and no need for dessert.

Friday, 3 June 2011


I've been learning so much about the paleo diet/lifestyle recently, thanks mostly to Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser's podcasts, and some more blogs I've found. It's really encouraged me to stick to the diet because it's got the most solid arguments I've found in nutrition to date. Since I started doing paleo, I suppose for about only 2 months now, I've made a few tweaks- I started off eating nuts everyday but I've cut way way back on this. I've also learnt about being more choosy with my protein sources with better omega 6:3 ratios, so I'm going to be eating less poultry and mostly organic beef and oily fish. My meals are usually eggs and/or fish for breakfast, leftover dinner or a fish salad, maybe an avocado, for lunch, and usually some beef and veggies for dinner. I try to keep fruit to a minimum; berries, apple or banana every other day.
The only problem is, every few days I give into something non-paleo, almost always chocolate or ice-cream. Anyway, I'm working on it. I wish I'd more time to expand and the whys and a bit of more info on what I've learnt, maybe there'll be some time over the weekend.
Here's a selection of this week's meals:

Turkey breast and collard scramble (breakfast). Coffee in a cut mug my mum bought me:)

Turkey breast salad with avocado. Yum, finally I've come to love them.

More turkey, a salmon fishcake (homemade, with tinned salmon and some leftover boiled potato) and top of courgette ribbons in tomato sauce (onion, garlic, oregano, chilli powder and passata).

Half a sirloin steak, a big pile of butterhead lettuce with olive oil and balsamic, and a big spoon of Dijon mustard with herbs de provence.

And after that, I had this delicious concoction for dessert: two very ripe bananas mushed up and vanilla extract stirred into a tub of Fage yogurt and frozen.

So delicious, and satisfied my ice-cream cravings far better than any actual ice-cream, much creamier, tart and less sweet. I'm trying to keep dairy low, but this makes a nice treat and is healthier than regular ice-cream, which is by far my biggest weakness!

Oh, and before I go, a final piece of news- starting in the autumn, I'm starting another degree, this time in biology. It'll be by distance learning while I work, and I thought it would be the most enjoyable way to begin training for a career related to nutrition. I almost began a nutrition course a while ago, until I found out the organisation running it were quacks. I feel a strong scientific foundation will be the most insightful and give me a broad base and range of choices as to what direction to pursue after the course.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Sizzle

Thanks to Niall and Kelly at the lovely Belfast food blog Chilli and Chocolate, I won tickets to the May Bank holiday food festival in Botanic Gardens, called The Sizzle. We walk through Botanic going to and from work everyday so we decided to go to the festival straight after work. It was another weary week so cooking was not going to be on the agenda tonight anyway!
Unfortunately, it really wasn't a pleasant evening for sitting around outside, and consequently it was very quiet at the festival, but it was only the first evening, so hopefully it will get busier over the course of the weekend, because of the food was excellent. Rather selfish of me I know, but it was quite nice not having to queue for ages for the food and had our choice of seats so we kept out of the rain. We started at the Balloo House stand- I had pork and celeriac slaw 'bruschetta' and my boyfriend had the salmon and guacamole tortilla.

I then tried BBQ chicken with curry mayo and cucumber on pitta from The Lost Society and the Mr tried the halloumi and veggie skewer with bean salad from Uluru.

Dessert was a sugar feast of of butterscotch cupcake and ice-cream from The Loft in Moygashel (we used the last of our 'food vouchers' to take home a chocolate cupcake each), his was a delicious rhubarb and custard cheesecake from The Barking Dog- we also got a very nice 10% off voucher, so hopefully we'll get to go there again soon- it's always been really tasty.

We finished up with a hot drink (coffee for me, hot chocolate for him) as it was getting pretty chilly! We had a fun evening and for marquee found it was really delicious. It was actually sad to see such a small turnout because the chefs had obviously put a lot of thought into the food and I'd hoped more people would come out to support Northern Irish food producers and chefs, maybe over the rest of the weekend.

So if you're in Belfast over the weekend, grab a warm fleece, a raincoat and wellies and head to the The Sizzle!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Not Dead!

I've just been so busy this month, every time I had 'free' time I used it to work out, cook nice food or curl up with a book or in front of the TV. Yeh, I've been too busy living to blog, but I miss blogging:( I especially miss having time to comment on everyone's blogs, but I've been keeping up to date with a speed read while sipping my coffee and drying my hair in the am.
Workout wise, I'm walking an hour a day, running twice a week just to switch it up (about 3 miles at a go) and of course following My diet has remained paleo-style, but I've had more cheat meals/desserts this month, probably because I've been so stressed with work. It hasn't relly affected me too much, other than I skip the odd meal because I'm still full from the last dessert, and then end up a bit shakey because I didn't eat when I had time to eat. The last couple of days I've sorted it out by eating a healthy meat or eggs and veggies breakfast as soon as I get into work to keep me going through the first part of the day. A high protein breakfast keeps me going so long, sometimes I'm not even remotely hungry when lunchtime rolls round, but I eat anyway.

Here's a selection of recent eats:

Turkey, goat cheese, avocado and romaine lettuce salad

Pastrami, apple, olive and rocket salad with chilli aioli (eaten as a late saturday morning breakfast)

Sauteed peppers and collards with roast tomato chicken breast (chicken breast smeared with tomato paste, chilli powder and a little cheese before baking)

My current quick meal: ground meat (lamb this time, with za'atar) on a bed of greens. Topped with some grated hard goat cheese

Pastrami again: this time with romaine lettuce and some onion and pepper scramble and hot sauce

Smoked mackerel, mixed with a little natural yogurt, a heap of romaine, a few roasty potatoes and some grated organic double gloucester cheese

An unadulterated mackerel fillet and an egg- a fairly typical at home breakfast these days

Collards topped with ground pork and pepper chilli

Another pastrami and apple salad

More ground meat (beef this time, with onion, peppers and collards and herbs de provence)

The last of the above ground beef veggies mix, scrambled up with 2 beaten eggs and some grated very mature cheddar yum yum)

The best bits of this month's munching have been:
Apple in my salads
Paprika coated pastrami
Za'atar + lamb
Guilt free but admittedly gluttonous ice-cream consumption...!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Efficient cooking

This week I started off by roasting a big butternut squash, 'steamfrying' onion, a couple of red peppers and a massive bunch of collard greens. I then fried some steak pieces and stuck them in the oven covered in tomato passata for an hour, while I baked some salmon fillets spread with tomato paste in foil. The oven was on for about an hour, and I had a couple of meals good to go. I had one of the salmon fillets and some of the veggies for dinner that evening, along with some peeled, boiled and crushed potatoes (mash, but without anything added to the potatoes).

The next morning I had another salmon fillet for breakfast with the veggies and ate two small helpings with the tomatoey steak pieces and baked butternut for lunch and dinner. One evening, I had this little helping for supper:

Plain yogurt, frozen blueberries, a sprinkling of nuts and seeds and shredded coconut.

Yesterday evening I mixed some ground organic beef with spices and an egg and shaped into little meatballs, which I had with the squash for dinner last night, lunch today with salad, and reheated for an hour in the oven tonight with tomato passata and the last of the squash mashed up and spread on top, like a mini shepherds pie. And this morning I had the last of the collards and peppers in a breakfast scramble. Three days of meals from one hour's oven cooking has meant much short prep time (although without a microwave reheating in the oven takes a while, but with much less active cooking time and even better, less dishes).

Before the epic cooking session, I made a broth with leek and carrot and had it on top of chopped up baked chicken thighs.

Another bfast scramble: onion, red pepper, 2 eggs, topped with half an avocado and hot sauce.

It's been another hideously busy week in work, so I was glad I had the foresight to do a little prep on Monday. I must get into the habit more often:)

Oh, by the way, steamfrying is when I heat up a little oil in a skillet, add the veggies and then add a little hot water from the kettle (very small amount, at most about 1/3 cup).

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Morning Salads

I have recovered from my chocolate binge, with a little help from these beauties- morning salads (breakfast doesn't sound right?):

Turkey, walnut, green pepper and apple salad with a delicious drizzle of evoo. Nothing like protein+veggies to keep nasty carb cravings at bay.

Trout, leek and cheddar salad

Soft boiled egg and walnut salad- super hot sauce to boot, love it in the morning.

And a non salad morning meal of leftover roast beef in spinach 'flatbread' (steamed spinach blended with 2 eggs and herbes de provence and sauteed in coconut oil, then put in the oven)

Two fish suppers (in the UK, a fish supper is deep fried fish and chips, yuk);

Trout, tarragon and leeks (put in a foil parcel and baked in the oven for 25 mins), tomato passata, turnip mashed with rehydrated dessicated coconut, thai spice mix, cabbage, leek and smoked paprika.

Foil parcel cooked salmon with leek and tarragon, big pile of broccoli and a rooster potato. Mmm, love salmon. I cooked four salmon fillets so there was leftovers enough for the both of us for lunch today.

Evening treat- tablespoon of coconut cream (like super thick coconut milk) blended with a teaspoon of cocoa and a cup of hot water. 'Paleo' cocoa!

And a supper salad:

Chicken thigh fillets, orange, a little splodge of hummus (first bit in *months*), salad leaves (and a few carrot sticks)
The other two chicken thigh fillets will be brunch tomorrow with an avocado and an orange, I'm planning on one decent sized mid morning meal rather than breakfast and lunch to get myself really hungry for a big feast tomorrow night- I'm going away for the weekend with my family! So excited:)

Then my strict paleo challenge starts- in May I'll be completely cutting sugar (for me this will really mean no chocolate and ice-cream, as they're the only things I currently eat with sugar in 'em), salt, alcohol, dairy, grains and legumes. Grains and legumes won't be a challenge, at the moment I eat something with grain and pulses maybe once a month. I suppose the only real change I'll see there is making up my own hot sauce as the current one contains corn starch. Dairy might be tough, I currently eat yogurt and cheese a few times of week, but I intend to sub with coconut and avocado when I want something creamy. At the moment I'm looking forward to the month ahead as much as the weekend, but I'm sure there will be hard parts! Still, I need to break my attachment to the last unhealthy bits of my diet, with the intention of continuing to enjoy them in the future, but less frequently.