Saturday, 22 November 2008

aubergine pasta

ok - probably not "perfect" diet food - but very lovely, adapted from paul gayler's pure vegetarian book

it's adapted first by reducing his oil count from 5 tablespoons to 2 !!... and to avoid the aubergine soaking all that up I baked it first, I baked garlic too - much more than he suggests
all baked where he fries ..

then I threw in some extra liquid (rice wine and soy sauce) to add juice instead of oiliness .. but otherwise it's the same - and really good range of flavours and textures!

sesame oil
veg oil

chinese black beans (or kideny beans)

hoisin sauce
peanut butter
soy sauce
rice wine

spring onion

bake one large aubergine with 5 BIG clovesof garlic (still in skin) about 40 mins gas 6-7

when that's nearly ready put 5 oz of pasta to boil, and a side dish of green beans to steam ..

when aubergine is ready assemble the sauce:

fry 2 inches of finely chopped ginger in 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 tbs veg oil
squeeze baked garlic cloves out and mash
cut baked aubergine in to small dice
add these two to the sizzling ginger
stir and fry for a minute

add two tbsp chopped beans - he says dried chinese black beans, I used kidney beans!
1 finely chopped red chilli
stir and fry for a couple of minutes

add 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
two tbs hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp soy sauce

(if it is too thick, it'll take a drop of water at this point)

when it's all blended and gorgeous dress it with a few finely chopped spring onions and soem chopped coriander (or red onions and parsley)

add the drained pasta to it then eat it with the green beans and great pleasure!

Monday, 17 November 2008

hill cycling

This was a big weekend for me .. I decided it was time to try out some of the local routes from here and have a go with a few inclines. It was great.

We peddled down to the canal to start with, so no hills there, and then we took off from Endon up and down the hills from there to Rudyard Lake. We then did a bit more flat along the side of the lake and came back the same way. It's a round trip of a little over 20 miles (don't know exactly how far cos my odometer has gone missing). The lake looked beautiful with quite a few sailing on it, and despite the dreary weather forecast the sky was blue and sunny.

It is a sentimental route cos we first used to do it 17 /18 years ago before we were a "couple" and used to cycle together after work. Since B got her job in Cheshire we've literally never done it, so it has been a few years "off" and it was fun to go again.

In the olden days we used to call in on J and R, a couple we know, who used to live in Endon. We'd often stop there for a chat with J, my friend, and her hubbie R was sometimes there. We'd have a cup of tea on their veranda and then finish our journey to our separate homes from there.
When B and I announced ourselves as a couple, J told me she wasn't a bit surprised, because R had once said that it was obvious to him that B and I were in love with each other. Obvious to him, before it was obvious to us. Clever guy!

Then things moved on, J and R split up, she went to live on the south coast, and I heard recently that he was terminally ill with lung cancer.

So what is the dynamic that suddenly brought all four of us together again this weekend, literally yards from where they used to live. There was Brigid and I out on our bikes together on that route for the first time in years, and there was J back up here to drive her ex-husband around in his final weeks on trips to places they used to go.

It was amazing.

It was good for me to meet him and hear how he feels about being terminally ill, and it was good or me to tell him he hadn't been wrong about B and I. We must have been in love then, and we still are.

And the hills still enchant us.


Monday, 10 November 2008


this is a bit bland, but sort of creamy and comforting for a winter supper, it's based on a Nigel Slater recipe, but he's not writing diet food, so he has butter and frying of the garlic, rice and leeks, which I cut out
and much more cheese, like 4 oz of camembert

.. for extra flavour I've added saffron and used a little parmesan

boil two or three finely chopped leeks in a little stock (I use organic chicken but veggies wouldn't care for it!)
at the same time- start cooking 4-6 ounces of arborio (risotto) rice in a wok with three ladles of (more) stock
add three cloves finely chopped garlic and a good glug of white wine to the rice
stir occasionally as the stock incorporates
meanwhile put a generous pinch of saffron strands in an egg cup of hot water to release the aromas

when the leeks are tender fish them out of its stock and add to the rice
reserve the stock and use it to add to the rice
contiune to add the stock to the rice, as it absorbs the moisture ..

the finished dish should be slightly moist, but not at all soupy

takes up to 45 mins to cook the rice properly, keep testing it, and don't over-add stock towards the end.

Stir in the saffron and grate in an ounce of two of parmesan

serve with dark green salad (spinach, waercress, rocket) or tomato-based salad.


Good snack for on-toast with soup:

fry couple or more cloves of chopped garlic
add bag of spinach and wilt
squeeze in a tablespoon of tomatoe puree and blend well - cook for couple of minutes
stir in bag of rocket - wilt

Load the lush green mass onto nutty-bread-toast and enjoy ...

Monday, 3 November 2008

more seasonal soup

I used about 1/2 a squash to three or four peppers

put peeled chunks of the butternut squash in a roasting tin and sprinkle with a bit of walnut oil -- roast until tender and slightly caught at the edges .. about 40 mins on gas 6..

drain the brine off some bottled red peppers and rinse thoroughly (you could roast and peel fresh ones, but this is a bit tedious compared to the ease of using the bottled ones - and they work out quite cheap if you get them in Aldi!)

blend the roasted squash and peppers with some stock - add more stock till you get a thickness / taste you like, and reheat ..

this might also be nice with a few leaves of rosemary in it ..

very nice if served with B's walnut bread ...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

sunny cycling

ooh, I do love to go out in the Peaks - we just did 26 miles in the sunshine .. delightful ...

which I needed cos I've been snacking a bit this week and not managed to lose any weight this week :( on the other hand, snacking was my scan-week treat choice, with a burger and chips at Franky and Benny's ... which is not exaclty helath food!

Jan, this recipe for celeriac soup was great too

a big celeriac about 1 and 1/2 pounds

Chop the veg into quite small pieces,
boil up in 2 pints of chicken stock until really tender c,30 mins
then whizz up, reheat and serve
you can add a bitof cream /butter if you like, but it is surprisingly good for such a simple soup.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Tomato recipe

For Jan:
This is a lovely filling for jacket potatoes (or tortilla wraps if you're not on a gluten free diet!)
This is enough for two ppl, to fill a couple of jacket spuds, or 4 tortilla wraps

Bit of olive oil
One finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 yellow pepper, ditto
1 tsp smoked paprika (a marvellous ingredient, worth finding in a deli)
150g of sunblush tomatoes chopped a bit
4 fresh toms - chopped quite small

50 g grated cheddar

(if you're a meat eater a few cubes of chorizo sausage would harmonise well with this)

Fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes to soften
Add the peppers and paprika powder - soften the peppers
Add tomatoes, both types, and fry to warm through. You're not really aiming to "cook" the fresh tomatoes too much.

Add the cheese at the last minute and stir through to melt, then serve with the baked spud



another carrot soup recipe

How come a non-fan of carrots keeps on posting carrot soup recipes? Well B went to the organic farm shop and bought stuff, while I was simultaneously buying carrots at Sainsbo's -- so we are over-run with carrots

My latest idea on the carrot front is to add a few spices to the mix .. to counteract their relentless SWEETNESS!

I'm recommending:
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumon seeds
squash these three in a pestle and mortar

add a chopped garlic
thyme and oregano (fresh if you've got it) - a good dollop of each, say a tsp of dry and a few stalks of each, if using fresh

boil this lot with a litre or so or water, 1/2 kilo of carrots and one leek or onion and a celery stalk till all VERY tender

then cool a bit b4 whizzing with a blender.

The juice of 1/2 a lemon added at the end would also make it a bit more piquant ..



Saturday, 27 September 2008

Pleased with myself

Four months after my last operation and I am now a whole two stone lighter than I was then. This is GOOD NEWS.

It represents a pretty steady loss of about 2lbs a week, which is the ideal rate, and if I can keep it up it'll be enough by Christmas.

I've found the whole not drinking thing to be very easy, so I am happy about that, especially negotiating my birthday and return to work without taking a drink. I'm pretty sure this is the best way to keep my weight under control. That, and eating nothing much!

haha .. that's not true, I eat a LOT of stuff, never feel hungry, but it's mainly fruit and veg. so it takes an age to chew it all and you get a feeling of being full on less calories, basically.

Did a lovely chicken curry dish this week .. recipe here for JAN!

(adapted from

1 pinch saffron strands
3 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp Butter
3 Shallots sliced (I used 1 and 1/2 small onions)
3 cm piece of ginger, shredded
3 large garlic cloves, shredded
1 orange rind, strip pared with a vegetable peeler (see notes below)
1 red chilli (it could take more of this, it was a pretty mild curry mix, overall)
50g blanched almonds
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp cornflour (I think it would work fine without this, actually)
350ml Yogurt
150ml single cream (I omitted this and used extra yogurt instead)
8 Chicken thighs skins removed (I used four organic breasts, cubed - though having a few bones in would obviously enhance the flavour of the sauce)

Soak the saffron in warm water and set aside for an hour or so to develop

Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas 4.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan, and tip in the sliced shallots, ginger, garlic, strip of orange rind and split red chilli.

Cover and cook until the shallots have softened - about five minutes.

Add the almonds, turmeric and paprika and continue frying for another minute or two.

Remove the pan from the heat, cool slightly, and scrape the almond mixture into a liquidizer.

Pour in the yogurt, cream and cornflour and blitz everything until quite smooth.

Spoon the spiced almond yogurt over the chicken and leave to marinate for an hour or two.

Bake the chicken in a moderate oven for around 40 minutes, until tender, and the sauce has thickened. I cooked it for longer than 40 mins -- cos if you let it stand to marinade you;re starting from cold, and I'm not convinced this volume is really cooked in 40 minutes!)

Stir in the saffron and soaking liquid, and scatter with a few flaked almonds to serve.

Tasters Notes
Andy and B loved it, I thought it was perhaps a bit too much orange, but they reckoned that was great, so try it and see ...

It could stand a bit more chilli/paprika with so much yogurt. There is a LOT of sauce, ideal for serving with nan bread, really.


Monday, 25 August 2008

Still shrinking

Woo - despite lots of holidaying, visiting and eating out I am keeping off the booze and thus my calorie count is OK enough to keep losing weight. It is slow, but sure, now a total of 21lbs since the operation date (June 1st).

I feel strong and we are doing stretches and exercises most mornings, so my muscles are toning up again. I popped into Greens to talk about getting back to the gym - and they are supposed to call me .. hmm .. stony silence so far!

Never mind, I have mapped out a new route to work which involves travelling a bit further, but using the canal for most of the way. They have nearly finished the improvements on the tow path which are really good with wide paving or tarmac for the entire section I need to use. I think I'll be able to use it all the time, as my hours are shorter and therefore I should be able to travel in daylight even in the depths of winter. I have bought a new cycling coat (after collecting about a pint of water INSIDE the last one when we cycled in heavy rain!) and some proper cycle tops. I look like the veritable skin on a cumberland sausage, but what the heck, it's the right gear for the job!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Healthy Progress

Good news, the strict fruit and veg diet is workng well - innards are coping OK and I have lost a whole stone since the week of my operation .. which is good news ..

I am now seriously trying to eat the anti-cancer diet. I feel like I've been blessed with a second chance that hasn't been given to the friends I have made with advanced colon cancer who are still in treatment for secondaries. Now the treatments are fading into a memory I am committed to doing as much as I can to keep a re-currence at bay ..

On the other hand, I feel quite strongly that it's a kind of health facism to talk about life-style as though it is all your own fault if you get a serious illness, "you've had too much of this, too little of that" type of thing. I feel I was never any worse in my habits than most ppl I know of my age .. we all drink too much! And for many years I have been a lot "better" than many in terms of always riding my bike, eating a low meat and high fibre diet and taking my spiritual and mental health seriously ... .. but all of this wasn't enough to stop my cancer ...

That's not an argument for not trying to sustain those "good" things, and to keep up my life-long battle with my weight, and tackling my on-off love affair with cocktails! It is just a statement of frustration with the blame mentality which you met in every magazine article and public discussion about cancer and healthy living that you see each day.

It's not our fault we get cancer, OK?

Sunday, 6 July 2008


Having an ileostomy reversal opens up the world of fibre eating again .. and I have decided to let the newly re-connected colon know who is in charge round here, and get it used to a healthy diet right from the start, while it is learning everything else ..

I guess this was a bit of a gamble, some ppl recommend a low-residue diet, but since my innards showed signs of settling down I thought I would risk it, and I am getting on great with a really full-on fruit and veg diet plan.

It's the one in the Super Foods book that B and I really like, and which we did in the Summer two years ago. Of course it couldn't cure the massive tumour, then, but it did make me very healthy in other ways before the treatment programme started ... and I am feeling great on it now ..

I am hoping to start up a bit more exercise again toot sweet .. so hopefully things will work and I wont have to fork out more and more on even bigger clothes!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Pink Bike

Pink bike out on the trail! snug-fit leggings cunningly concealled!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

1/2 term

Am starting to get over the sore back / hip / shoulder pain trauma .. and getting mobile again - tho my weight is now through the roof -- or through the floor with the pull of gravity on such a MASS!

Even when I was hardly eating anything during the chemo regime nausea my weight kept creeping up ~ my body is programmed to retain every calorie, obvisously, so regaining my appetite but not my mobility is taking immediate effect ..

Anyway, I have proudly BEEN SWIMMING a couple of times, once at Deganwy Quays Hotel and once @ my onw gym - Greens. Have also been to a Step class before the holiday and got out on my bike this weekend. I climbed the Great Orme while we were in Llandudno, so I feel I am getting back on the right track ...

no photos tho, new camera can't take the pounds off me, and these cycle leggings are cosy fit!