Monday, 3 August 2015

Slimming World Friendly "Cauliflower Cheese" (SP)

A happy accident whilst making myself a SW friendly carbonara led me to come up with this recipe. I added broccoli spears, leeks and a tablespoon of mustard to a carbonara recipe from a friend at group and the taste reminded me of my mum's cauliflower cheese sauce - of course a full fat, high syn, roux-based sauce - so I knew it would work well as an adaptation of the comfort food classic. 
I'll apologise in advance for the pictures, but I am no photographer which is especially evident when it comes to food pictures!

Serves 1 as a full meal, 2 as part of a meal


3-4 frozen broccoli florets
3-4 frozen cauliflower florets
Small handful of peas
1 onion, chopped
1 handful of shredded cooked chicken or turkey (optional if serving 1 person as a whole meal)
300ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 handful spinach
2 eggs
1 tbsp Quark
30g grated cheddar


Boil broccoli, cauliflower and peas for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop and begin to fry onions in Frylight on a medium/high heat. Drain vegetables and set aside. Add shredded cooked meat to the frying pan if using and cook until onions are golden and softened.

Meanwhile, stir mustard into stock.

Add drained vegetables to frying pan, pour over stock and bring to the boil on a high heat, stirring regularly. Add spinach to pan when the stock has reduced by around half.

Mix together eggs and Quark and add seasoning.

Once spinach has wilted down and stock has almost completely reduced, remove the pan from the heat and pour over the egg and Quark mixture.

Add grated cheddar and stir in thoroughly. The residual heat of the vegetables and remaining stock will cook the egg mixture to a creamy, silky consistency.

Again, apologies for the poor photography skills (I'm trying to get better!) but here is the final dish, which I really loved!

 This dish would be easily adaptable to your preferred vegetables or whatever is in season.

This recipe is FREE and suitable for an SP menu. However, if you are not using the cheddar as your Healthy Extra A choice, you will need to syn it at 6 for the whole portion (so 3 if you share it!)

If you try it, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought :-D

Friday, 19 June 2015

Slow Cooker Scan Bran Chilli - Recipe

Getting back into this isn't going quite to plan. I got a new laptop with my redundancy money as my old one was so slow and so difficult to use this site on. However, my littlest has had other ideas and has been stealing it in the evenings. She used to sleep around 7pm - 7am with no issues, but lately has been waking at 8pm almost every evening, screaming and crying for a while. I'm doing my utmost to stick with controlled crying but I have had to give in and stick my laptop in there with this 'sleep video' on that does seem to work, but means that I don't get to do any writing!

Down to business.

We've been talking a lot in Group about using Scan Bran to increase fibre to speed up losses. Most people don't enjoy it enough or find it much too difficult to eat to have it as a snack or get through 5 for a hex B choice though (myself included) so we've been trying to come up with a few ways to get it into other things.
I'd heard that people scrunched it up and put it in soups to bulk them out so I thought there had to be a slow cooker recipe that I could incorporate them into, which is where I came up with the idea for this chilli, as it is my ultimate favourite slow cooker meal.

Serves 6


300g lean beef skirt, finely sliced or diced
3 rashers trimmed smoked back bacon, chopped
3 Scan Bran, smashed up in a pestle and mortar (3 syns - 1/2 syn per serving)
1 red & 1 white/brown onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large handful frozen sweetcorn
1 large handful finely chopped mushrooms
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans in chilli sauce
1 can baked beans
1 beef & 1 lamb stock cube
3 tbsp fajita spice mix
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ghost chilli powder (optional 1 syn for whole recipe)
2 tsp chilli powder
Salt & pepper


Simple. Place all ingredients into slow cooker pot and mix together with an extra can full of water. Cook for 1 hour on high and a further 5-6 hours on low.
Serve on a bed of plain boiled rice, topped with sliced jarred jalapeƱo chillies.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was absolutely no taste of the Scan Bran and no real change to the regular texture of the chilli that I usually make. The only difference I noticed was that I felt fuller after the meal. Next time I might think about using a few more Scan Bran to increase the fibre further.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Fakeaway Pizza - Recipe

I'm so terrible at this! I neglect this blog for ages and honestly, I'm not really sure why! The girls go to bad around 7pm and I usually have the entire evening to myself so really, I have no excuse!
Anyway, I'm back with a few recipe posts on the way, starting here with my "fakeaway" pizza. You might already know from my previous posts, but I am following the Slimming World plan so this is a Food Optimised recipe.


(per person)
2 Weight Watchers Love Fibre White & Wholemeal wraps (1 hexB + 4.5 syns or 9 syns) you could use just 1 for hexB or 4.5 syns
30g grated cheddar (hexA or 6 syns)
1.5tbsp tomato puree mixed with 1/4tsp garlic powder and 1/4tsp oregano (FREE)
Free toppings of your choice - I used red onion, mushroom, roasted red pepper (FREE S)

1 medium potato cut into 8 wedges (FREE)
Low cal spray (FREE)
Salt & pepper
Onion granules
Garlic granules

4 leaves Round Lettuce, shredded (FREE S)
1 spring onion, fineley sliced (FREE S)
1 jarred roasted red pepper, sliced (FREE S)
4 sliced pickled gherkins, halved (FREE S)
6 sliced pickled jalapenos (FREE S)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (FREE S)
1 tbsp extra light mayo (0.5 syns)


Toss potato wedges in low cal spray and seasonings to taste, spread on a mesh baking sheet and bake for around 30 mins on 200 degrees celsius.
Spread half of the tomato puree on each wrap and sandwich together, tomato sides up. Add toppings and coat with grated cheddar. Place directly onto oven shelf and bake for around 10-12 minutes, until cheese has melted well and wrap edges have begun to crisp.
Arrange salad ingredients and drizzle over mayo just before pizza and wedges are ready to be served.

This dish was requested by my partner as he had garlic tortilla bread from Chiquito's recently, which is made with 2 tortillas and the idea for the Food Optimised version came from discovering the WW wrap as hexB and a member of our group using one to make a pizza. My partner even said, and I quote "this might just be my new favourite thing, you can make this again".

I'm a big fan of pizza and this really satisfied my craving for it without sacrificing my plan. I'm sure it will make regular appearances on our weekly menu!

Total syns (using hexA and hexB) = 5 syns (without hex = 15.5)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A New Journey

Since this is my first post since the birth of my second daughter, there's a bit of new information to share:

Chloe Marie Sparks was born at 37+4 weeks on 25th October at 10:17am, weighing in at a healthy 8lb 6oz (can you imagine if she'd gone to her due date?!) and is now pushing 11lb at 7.5 weeks old! She will be 2 months on Christmas Day which is nice.

It's been pretty busy since she arrived, since she's not snapped into sleeping through the night as quickly as her big sister did! I've also committed myself to handmade gifts for Christmas this year as money is extremely tight, so I've been trying to fit that in between feeds and everything else that needs doing! In fact she's waking up right now for a feed so I'm hoping that I don't lose my flow mid-post!

Back to the topic in hand; before I got pregnant with Chloe I had definitely let myself go after having Kady and I wasn't happy with my body. When I was weighed at my midwife booking appointment my bmi was worked out to be 30.5 (overweight) so I knew something needed to be done after Chloe arrived. My Mum was on her way to becoming a target member at Slimming World, losing over 3st in total and said that she would pay half towards my membership (once she became a target member no longer having to pay) if I wanted to join. Of course I did having seen the effects of the plan (Mum is now a target member) and having tried it loosely using mum's old literature in the past. I discovered that I could be referred by the GP or a health visitor at a Sure Start centre to get my first 12 weeks for free, so I visited a drop-in clinic at the local Sure Start, got my referral sorted and attended my first group two weeks ago.

Attending the group is definitely better than just following the plan at home. The members are so friendly but I definitely feel a sense of not wanting to shame myself in front of them by falling off the wagon and resulting in a gain, even though I know they wouldn't make me feel bad about it at all and would support me in fixing the problem!

At my first two weigh-ins I've lost a total of 4.5lbs which has already put me in a new stone number! I'm finding the Extra Easy plan so easy to follow and I've not found it as hard as I thought to cut the crap - in fact, I've done some baking and truffle-making for a Text Santa fundraiser and Christmas gifts and managed not to eat the final products or lick the bowl as I would've done before!

Every now and again I come up with a great idea for an Extra Easy meal so I'll be sharing some of those here, starting today with a delicious breakfast that includes Free, Super free and Healthy Extra foods.

Mushroom and Spinach Omelette with Tomatoes.

1. Fry off mushrooms in low calorie cooking spray for a few minutes on a medium heat - I added a dash of boiled water and covered the pan with a lid to stop the mushrooms going too dry and catching on the bottom of the pan - then add a ball of frozen spinach and cook through.
2. Whisk up 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper and add to the pan. There is no need for butter or milk in an omelette in my opinion, even if I weren't doing Slimming World!
3. Measure out cheese to use. I used 15g cheddar as half of my Healthy Extra A choice so I could save the other 15g to use on crackers or salad later today. This makes this meal Free.
4. Top the omelette with cheese just before it is cooked through and put the pan under a high grill.
5. Serve with a generous helping of tinned, chopped tomatoes heated in the microwave while the omelette is made!

Half Free foods, half Super free plus half a Healthy Extra A portion in one filling breakfast! :-)

Monday, 22 September 2014

NOTD - Reverse French with Stars

This is my first NOTD post and I didn't plan it ahead so unfortunately I didn't take any step-by-step pictures, but that is a lesson learned for future posts. Now that I've managed to stop biting my nails, I'm loving being able to do more interesting designs, especially now that I'm on maternity leave and I don't have to wait for my holiday weeks to actually be allowed colours and designs! I've also ordered some new supplies and practise wheels from eBay so I can't wait for them to arrive and try some new things! I enjoy browsing Pinterest for inspiration and coming up with my own designs, although actually doing it can be quite frustrating when you keep dropping tiny decals or gems and getting them stuck to your shirt...

I used the following products for this manicure:
Avon Nail Experts Gel Strength Base Coat
Barry M Nail Paint in Black
Avon Nail Experts Star Nail Decals
Avon Nail Experts Platinum Top Coat

I started with the gel strength base coat as I always do. Once the base coat was dry, I then painted French Tips in the black, without guides as I'd run out, which was really difficult and I won't be doing again! I have ordered a pack which has 3 different guide shapes, so that should be interesting. I then stuck star shaped decals on each nail down one side, black stars on the natural colour and silver stars on the black tips. Finally I sealed them with two coats of platinum top coat, which has a subtle shimmer that I love!

You can see a few of my earlier designs on my Instagram @thatsjustherx

I do hope it lasts a decent amount of time as it did take me quite a while given that I kept dropping and losing the decals!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Unexpected Bargain Make-up Find! Product Review - NYC Mousse Foundation

I recently pretty much ran out both my tubes of MUA foundation and took a trip to the local Superdrug with the aim of trying something new for my fussy face. I even decided NOT to put anything other than my favourite MUA primer on my skin in order to get the best idea of which foundation and which colour worked for me. A brave move, you will appreciate, given that I have pretty terrible skin already, only exacerbated by pregnancy hormones!

I walked the length of the cosmetics wall looking for gel or mousse foundations as I knew I wanted to move away from my usual liquid formulations. I tested all of the brands I was familiar with, from Rimmel to Max Factor, Maybelline to MUA, all with no luck, before I backtracked to the NYC section. I've never bought anything from NYC before but I'd heard that it was a pretty good budget brand so I thought - hey, why not give it a try?

I spotted the mousse foundation and scanned the testers for the closest shade to what I thought was correct for me. I tried both 701 Natural beige and 702 Natural rose. The 701 was immediately too dark but the 702 was ideal - a healthy colour, not too pale, not too dark and with a pinky touch. Unfortunately, probably due to being open in the tester case for a while, the mousse was a little dry and cakey compared with the 701 tester. However, as the 701 tester felt really light and soft, I had a good idea of how it might turn out and I decided to go ahead and buy it and for just £3.99, I could not have got a better deal!

The day after my shopping trip, I used the foundation on my whole face for the first time, on top of my MUA primer. I used a fairly small amount - one finger tip full on each cheek and a little less spread over the forehead and down the nose. I spread the mousse out with my fingers as my foundation brush was drying after being cleaned, but this allowed me to ensure that all of the product was left on my skin instead of caked into the brush fibres! I usually use my bulb-shaped sponge to dab away excessive shine or blend brush-marks left in my MUA liquid foundation, but I didn't need to with the NYC mousse. My skin was completely covered and blended well into the neck, my old acne scars blurred and new blemishes fairly well hidden (I've given up on ever completely masking my flaws) and there were no brush marks or shiny patches - just a simple matte finish - I didn't even need to use my usual translucent powder to set the base! All in all, a fantastic base and for such a cheap price! I'll definitely be going back to NYC to try a few more of their products.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Statement Necklace

A statement necklace is a killer piece to have in your accessory collection. It can pull together an outfit made up of basics and up the glamour credentials of the simplest LBD. It's also the easiest way to inject glamour into an everyday ensemble.

I usually keep my eye out when passing the accessory stands in high street shops, hoping that a piece might stand out from the plethora of triangular pendants and inch-thick chains, to no avail. However today, I was pleasantly surprised to come across this gorgeous gold leaf-design beauty in Peacocks, when I was actually in the market for summer shoes for Kady! It was the last of its kind and had obviously been returned as it was missing its original packaging, but was a steal at just £6, so I couldn't say no. I can't wait to glam up a simple jeans and tee combination or add interest to my plain black maxi dress.

Peacocks gold leaf statement necklace

Next on my wish list is a pair of maternity (or just adaptable) cropped jeans or denim shorts.