Drink of the Week: Caramel Rooisbos Infusion – 0SP

I am not paid for any of the reviews I write and products that I review are paid for with my own money. Read more on my disclaimer page.

I’m a big tea lover, and whilst Mr FFF often complains that I have too many boxes, pouches and packets of tea, my philosophy is the same as that which I apply to shoes and handbags – you can never have too many!

I used to drink buckets of English Breakfast Tea each day, but a few years ago I decided to reduce my consumption of caffeine. I substituted my usual brew with redbush/rooibos and, like with most things, I’m always keen to try new varieties.

I also love all things caramel so imagine my excitement when I came across these bad boys in Sainsbury’s: Rich & Indulgent Caramel Rooibos Infusions. Disregarding the likely inability to be able to fit them into the cupboard at home, I chucked them into the trolley hoping that the flavour would be as good as the promise – as experience has told me this is not always the case with flavoured teas.

I needn’t have worried. The cup of tea I enjoyed as soon as I’d put the shopping away more that delivered. It smelt of toffee popcorn and the taste didn’t disappoint either: it was sweet and creamy – almost like sucking a Werther’s Original. It was so sweet (though not sickeningly so) that I had to check the ingredients list to make sure there was no added sugar. As an added bonus, the teabags come individually wrapped so they’ll stay fresh while I enjoy all of my other tea varieties.

I can’t see maintaining freshness being too much of a problem though as this has quickly become a firm favourite of mine and is perfect for enjoying on a cosy, autumnal evening.

Throwback Thursday – Are You Being Nice to Yourself?

In one of my early posts, I wrote about rewarding myself for my weight loss achievements.

These days, I think about the idea of a ‘reward’ a little bit differently (more about that in a future post) but I still believe in the importance of treating yourself, be that with something simple like a fancy cup of tea and half an hour with a good book, or something more indulgent like a spa day.

Self care is so important to your mental health so make sure you take some time this week to treat yourself.

What are you favourite ways to treat yourself? let me know in the comments section; I’m always looking for new ideas.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Progress Report – October 2019

I’ve decided to approach my progress reports slightly differently for the time being for a couple of reasons:

  1. I was finding writing weekly reports a bit tricky to keep on top of
  2. It’s probably not that interesting for you to read each week whether or not I’ve lost weight

So I’ve decided to try monthly updates instead. I think it’s important for my obliger nature to have the external accountability of letting you know how I’m doing, but hopefully it’ll be more manageable for me and less boring for you!

So, how’s my month been?

Weight – altogether in October, I’ve lost 5.5lb bringing me to a total of 1st 4.5lbs lost so far.

Inch loss – 12 inches lost in total and I’m delighted to see that my collarbone is beginning to reappear. I haven’t seen that for years!

Exercise – I’ve continued to maintain my exercise schedule, even when I went to visit my mum for the weekend, and I’m definitely seeing my endurance and strength improving:

Exercise Starting Point Current Performance
Plank 3x 1 min 3x 1min 15sec
Side Plank 3x 1min each side
Deadlift 3x 20 reps 16kg 5x 20 reps 24kg
Lunges 3x 10 reps 10kg 5x 12 reps 10kg
Chest Press 3x 20 reps 12.5kg 5x 18 reps 20kg
Bicep Rows 3x 20 reps 15kg 5x 18 reps 20kg
Upright Row 3x 20 reps 10kg 60sec recovery 5x 20 reps 10kg 30sec recovery
Lateral Raise 3x 20 reps 3kg 3x 20 reps 4kg
Lateral Pulldown 3x 20 reps 20kg 5x 18 reps 25kg

I’m really not a fan of having my photograph taken but I was pleasantly surprised to see the difference in a photo taken this time last year to one taken now.

My biggest challenge this month was having a 2 week holiday from work with the temptation to sit around eating biscuits and chocolate all day that that brings. Although I did indulge in a couple of treats, I generally made healthy food choices and rigorously stuck to my training plan and even added in a couple of walks.

Speaking of food choices, although I have generally been making healthy choices, I haven’t been tracking what I eat so that’s something I want to focus on in November as it’s very true that we often eat mindlessly and forget what we have actually consumed.

November is sure to bring with it some challenges as the nights get darker, we get closer to Christmas and it’s also my birthday month, but I’m just going to keep on trying to make healthier choices for the benefit of my future self and with the shorter term aim of looking as good as I can by the time my Christmas holiday comes arounds.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Creamy Salmon Pasta with Garlic & Herbs- 9 Smart Points

This dish tastes more induglent than the Smart Points value would suggest and is a great wholesome option when you fancy some comfort food.

Servings: 2

Smart Points: 9 per serving

Time: 20-25 minutes

What you need:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 100g pasta – twists or congliche would be my choice
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • lemon
  • mixed herbs
  • small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 150g low fat soft cheese with garlic and herbs
  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach

What to do:

  1. Heat the oven to 150C. Put a large sheet of tinfoil onto a bakingctray. Place the salmon skin side down onto the foil. Scatter over the mixed herbs and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 the lemon.
  2. Wrap the foil around the salmon to make a parcel. Put the baking tray into the oven and bake for 20mins.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water for around 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Gently fry the onions until softened – about 5 mins. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the wine and increase the temperature slightly until the strong alcohol smell burns off.
  5. Add the spinach to the onions a handful at a time and stir until wilted.
  6. When the past is cooked, turn off the and drain, reserving some of the water.
  7. Add the soft cheese to the onions and spinach over a low heat, stirring until the cheese has melted. Add some of the pasta water to slacken the sauce to the desired consistency and season to taste.
  8. Stir the drained pasta into the sauce. Divide the pasta between two bowls and top each with a salmon fillet.
  9. Squeeze a bit of lemon over each dish and add some freshly cracked black pepper.

Snap Out Of It!

I wrote recently about the importance of working to make yourself happier and maintain a positive outlook. And whilst I definitely try to remain upbeat and optimistic, I am of course only human and am prone to a good ‘ole strop now and then,  as I’m sure my family would be only too keen to testify!

So finding ourselves in a bad mood is completely natural and happens to the best of us. We can’t change that. Things will happen in life which will wind us up. But what we can change is how we react when we find ourselves in a bad mood – we can choose stew on it or snap out of it.

Let’s take the first option: you can find yourself in a bad mood because the traffic was bad so you were late home from work, then you broke a nail and managed to superglue all of your fingers together which then made you even later for the gym than you had been before and you found yourself apoplectic with rage at the fact that you needed to hoover the stairs and landing because no one else was going to do it for you (true story). Choosing to stew on it tends to lead to you finding more things to become annoyed about and to you inevitably becoming even more annoyed. Before you know it, a minor irritation has become a full-force strop.

But what if we choose to snap out of it? Acknowledge that you’re feeling in a bad mood, for whatever reason, and do something to distract yourself from it – in much the same way as you would try to distract a toddler who was teetering on the edge of a tantrum.

Personally, I find doing something physical to be most effective: listening to upbeat music whilst doing housework is particularly effective for me (although, I’d avoid angry rap music as experience has taught me that this has the opposite of the intended effect) or doing some kind of exercise like going for a walk whilst listening to an entertaining podcast.

So the next time I find I’m late home from work, I’m going to get myself straight to the gym without ending up fuming about all of the household chores I’m going to need to do for the rest of my life. And I’m definitely going to leave the superglue alone.

 What strategies do you use to help yourself to snap out of it? Let me know in the comments section – I’m always looking for new strategies to try.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

Review: House, Leamington Spa

I am not paid for any of the reviews I write and products that I review are paid for with my own money. Read more on my disclaimer page.

I am lucky enough to live close to Leamington Spa, a gorgeous town known for its Regency architecture and broad boulevards. It is home to a good selection of shops including many quirky, independent stores and  a good selection of places to eat and drink. On a recent shopping trip there, Mr FFF and I inevitably found ourselves hungry and decided to check out a bar-restaurant called House which happened to be right next to the shop we’d been to.

On entering, we immediately liked the industrial vibe with pallet wood, retro posters and subway tiles. These elements were softened by the use of circular, studded-leather banquets which put me in mind of Chesterfield sofas, velvet armchairs and curtains, crystal cut glasses, test-tubes of baby’s breath on the tables and a green foliage wall with twinkling fairy lights. Of course, Mr FFF took very little notice of these elements as the Ruby World Cup was being show on a big screen! Despite the sporting excitement, the atmosphere was very much one of relaxed sophistication.

We didn’t have a reservation but were quickly seated in the restaurant, although food is also served in the bar area. The menu was wide-ranging with a number of interesting options without being overwhelming, with a good selection of starters/nibbles, pizzas, sandwiches and mains available. Several items caught my attention but I eventually settled on the Cuban Mojo Pork Salad (with mango, avocado, pickled cucumber, tomato, baby gem and ranch dressing) and a portion of skinny fries, whilst Mr FFF went for the Philly Steak & Cheese Sandwich. The restaurant was pretty full and there was only one member of staff serving so we braced ourselves for a bit of a wait. We needn’t have been concerned as our food arrived in about 20 minutes and was delicious. The salad in particular was divine with the ranch dressing in particular being the tastiest I’ve ever had. Mr FFF’s sandwich was enormous, filled with well-cooked steak and although messy, a real winner of a dish. As always, I did my best impression of a discrete meerkat when other diners were being served and can report that the pizzas and chunky chips looked delicious and will probably need to be sampled on our next visit.

We felt that the menu was pretty reasonably priced too at only £26 for the food and 3 diet cokes between us. Being a Sunday lunchtime, we unfortunately didn’t sample any of the fabulous sounding cocktails or wines, but we will definitely be paying a visit again in the future and will have to try them then in the name of ‘research’!

If you ever find yourself in Leamington Spa looking for a place to eat, I’d highly recommend giving House a try.

Thanks for reading,

FFF

This autumn I’ve been loving – baking

I love a sweet, baked treat. Unfortunately, in the past, I’ve been known to enjoy them rather more often than is probably good for me. In fact, I’m sure there have been times where cakes, biscuits and pastries have formed the staple of my diet!

I’ve noticed though that mass-produced, shop-bought goodies never taste as good as homemade versions do, and sometimes, don’t even taste very nice at all (not that that’s stopped me eating them!).

With this in mind, and inspired by this years’ series of the Great British Bake Off, I’ve broken out my rolling pin and substituted lots of shop bought ‘treats’ with occasional homemade ones.

I’m a believer in the legend that is Mary Berry’s philosophy when it comes to baking: don’t try to reduce the calories by cutting out fat or sugar; instead, reduce your portion size. To help me to do this, I’ve been sampling each of my bakes, enjoying one or maybe two portions over a couple of days, but giving the rest away to friends, family and colleagues.

I was originally only planning on baking whilst the GBBO series was on but I’ve really enjoyed trying new recipes and looking forward to my home-baked treats has helped me to resist the temptation to succumb in shop-bought items. So I’m looking forward to keeping my baking going over the next few months.

Have you got a favourite baked-treat recipe? I’m always looking for inspiration so please share your favourites in the comments section.

Thanks for reading,

FFF