Friday, 17 June 2016

Time for change update: 9 1/2 weeks

We've been really busy since our last weigh in so we decided to extend our next weigh in to just before our holiday. My original plan was to lose 20lbs before my holiday and I'm happy to say I already surpassed that the last time I was weighed. Since my last weigh in I have lost a further 5lbs which means in total I have lost 27lbs.

Since the last update I've had a few meals out and also tried a few dishes I'd never tried before. Here are my favourite meals from the last few weeks  


Ko Sai in Fenwick's food hall is great for Thai street food. These are mango, chilli and avocado (#teamavocado) summer rolls. 


I've decided to have one meat-free day each week, This is quorn tacos, I recently found out taco shells contain 200 calories each! I found a recipe that replaced taco shells with little gem lettuce leaves and this means you can have three or four of these tacos for the same calories as one normal taco.. 


As you probably know avocado is my favourite food at the minute. Although it is higher in calories that most other fruit/vegetables it is full of the kind of fats you need to be eating to have a healthy lifestyle. Here I used sliced avocado in place of soldiers when I had a boiled egg. 




This is another meat-free dish. Quorn chilli, you can find the recipe here, each portion was only around 350 calories and honestly I couldn't tell the difference between this and chilli made with beef mince.


On a recent trip to the Grainger Market in Newcastle I found a fruit and veg stall selling avocados 6 for £1! I was in avocado heaven as normally I would pay £2-£3 for 2 avocados in the supermarket.


Mrs Cool ordered us a Gousto box which is a meal box which includes the ingredients and recipes for 4 meals. This was the lamb Biryani. It was really easy to make, delicious and very filling.


They say necessity is the mother of invention and that was certainly the case for this dish. We were supposed to have scallop salad but only the scallop, chilli and spring onion turned up when our shopping was delivered. So I also used some garlic and ginger I already had in the store cupboard and stir fried all of the ingredients with some soy sauce. 


This was another Gousto Box dish. Miso-butter noodles with chicken and charred peppers and asparagus. I didn't think this meal looked very photogenic but when I put it on Instagram (you can follow me on Instagram here) it became my most liked photo ever, I think I'm getting the hang of this food photography malarky. 


Now this is quite high in calories from what I usually have but at 630 I don't think that is too bad for what is essentially burger and chips. This is cayenne chicken burger with oregano roast potatoes.


When it comes to breakfast eggs are king. I'd ran out of bread and crispbakes so have to improvise with some hash browns.

As well as eating well I've said before that I've started doing a lot more walking. I recently did one of my favourite walks from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland. The walk is about 4 miles there and back and has some stunning views of the north east coastline.



Now it's time for our holiday to Calella de Palafrugell in Spain. This is not going to be the start of me falling back into my old lifestyle and although I won't be quite as strict as I have been in the last 9 1/2 weeks I am still going to eat healthy and continue to have as many long walks as I can. I'll be posting some pictures when I come back and might even do a blog post about it.

Well, that's all for now.

S

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Child of the 80's: Television

As I child of the 80's I (rightly) consider the 80's to be the best decade for entertainment. The music was brilliant, the movies were amazing, the fashion was... err, well lets skip that. But the enduring memory I have of the 80's is the TV shows that entertained me and I thought I would take you on a trip down memory lane with some of my favourite cartoons and TV shows that I loved as a kid.

Cartoons

He-man and the Masters of the Universe

The battle between good and evil on the planet Eternia was my absolute favourite. The ultimate hero He-man and his friends like Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko battle the evil forces of Skeletor. What I remember most about He-Man is not just the show but that I had pretty much all of the action figures (they were NOT dolls despite what my Dad used to tell me). I would sit watching the show whilst acting out my own adventure with my toys. Looking back at it now it does seem that the show was a big advert for the toys with massive helping of homo-eroticism but when I watched a few episodes again recently it was still brilliant and brought back so many memories.


Thundercats

Another of my favourites was Thundercats, it is about of group of anthropomorphic cats lead by Lion-O who have to flee from the planet Thundera and arrive on a new planet called Third-Earth. When they arrive they find the evil Mumm-Ra and his minions are terrorising Third-Earth. I think the premise of Thundercats is brilliant, Lion-O has the mind of a child but in an adults body due to a malfunction of his suspension capsule when the Thundercats were travelling through space and has to learn how to be a leader. All of the characters are fantastic and Mumm-Ra has to be one of the best baddies of all time, also Thundercats has the best theme tune of any of the shows I used to watch.



Transformers

Transformers was another show I used to watch whilst playing with my toys, I would start with a car that looked a bit like a robot and somehow transform it into a robot that looks a bit like a car. Before Michael Bay got his hands on it and shoved Megan Fox and Shia Lebeuf down our throats I loved to watch the battle between he iconic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons lead by Megatron. In this show I always preferred the Decepticons, Soundwave had a cool voice and even cooler helpers in the form of Laserbeak and Ravage, Shockwave was a badass laser connon but Starscream was my favourite, the treacherous jet-fighter was always trying to usurp Megatrons position as leader of the Decepticons.



Honourable Mentions

Some of the other cartoons I watched included Visionaries, Dungeons and Dragons, Bravestarr, MASK and Centurions.


TV Shows

The A-Team

Action packed family fun. No one ever died, no one ever swore and the A-Team could knock up a tank with nothing more that a shopping trolly, some corrugated steel and motor powered by 2 AA batteries. Hannibal, Face, B.A. Baracus and Murdoch were a dream team of soldiers of fortune helping those in need whilst trying to clear their names.


Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff, a talking car and kick ass theme tune. Need I say more?



Knightmare

Part game show, part fantasy series. Three friends would guide a fourth sightless dungeoneer around a computer generated medieval world. I'll never forget the time I nearly killed my sister whilst playing Knightmare as I guided her (whilst blindfolded) around our house and I got her to jump down the stairs, ah good times!


Honourable Mentions

I also used to love Quantum Leap, V, ALF, Red Dwarf and The Young Ones.



What were your favourite shows when you were kid? Let me know your memories of 80's TV.

Well, that's all for now.

S

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Lane 7: Racing rig

Lane 7: Racing rig exterior


Lane 7 is boutique bowling alley with a difference in Newcastle city centre. It doubles as a bar and restaurant and has other activities on offer like pool tables, ping pong and karaoke. I've been a few times, the food is always great and on a recent work night out we booked the karaoke room and had a great night. Last night Me, Mrs Cool and a few of our friends were invited for a meal from the new menu and to try out the new Racing Rig.

Lane 7: Racing rig track

We arrived and confirmed our reservation and then had a drink at the bar while we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive. Once everyone had turned up we went to our table to have dinner. The food at Lane 7 is the type of food I love, chicken wings, BBQ ribs, burgers, pulled pork and grilled sandwiches. Mrs Cool had the pulled pork bun and I went for The Cuban Press which is essentially a ham and cheese toastie, but what a ham and cheese toastie it is! All of the mains come with either fries or sweet potato fries, we both opted for sweet potato fries.

Lane 7: Racing rig The Cuban Press
The Cuban Press with Sweet Potato Fries
Lane 7: Racing rig Pulled Pork Bun
Pulled Pork Bun with Sweet Potato Fries

After our meal we headed upstairs to the Racing Rig, this new attraction is a miniature racing track for up to 10 racers. When you first arrive your asked to make a race licence, this is to upload your details to the computer to track your laps and time your race.

Lane 7: Racing rig Race Licence

Once you're registered you can take your place in one of the drivers seats, scan your licence so your details are assigned to your car and wait for the race to begin.

Lane 7: Racing rig Cars

The race is so much fun, it took a few laps for me to get the hang of it as I kept over steering and the spinning around, as the cars speed around the track crashing into each other and the walls various racing and car themed songs play (starting with The Chain by Fleetwood Mac obviously) and there is a trackside commentator giving in-race updates. The winner is the first to complete 20 laps and although I finished 2nd in our race I was 8 laps behind the winner, this is probably because I spent a few laps either going backwards or round the track the wrong way. After the race you can get your picture taken on the podium (if you're good enough to finish in the top 3).

Lane 7: Racing rig winners podium

You can find more information about Lane 7 here. The racing rig cost £3 for one turn or £10 for four turns. You don't need to pre book but there might be a queue if its busy. It's recommended for ages 7+ but children under 18 have to leave by 7pm due to licensing.

Here is a video of our night that Mrs Cool did for her blog:



Well, that's all for now.

S


Monday, 30 May 2016

Meat Free Chilli Recipe

As you may or may not know I'm trying to lose weight. One of the things I have started to do is to eat meat free one day a week. This week I've decided to to adapt my own Chilli recipe and replaced the beef mince with quorn mince and removed some other high calorie ingredients. I cook this mainly in the slow cooker just because it makes it easier, this recipe will make 6 portions and will be around 350 calories per portion.

The Ingredients

1 onion
1 small bag of mushrooms
1 pepper
2 garlic cloves
300g Quorn mince
400g can of chopped tomatos
400g can of baked beans
400g can of kidney beans
400g can of cannellini beans
2 chillies (as hot as you like)
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
shake of mushroom ketchup
salt
freshly ground black pepper
bunch of coriander roughly chopped



The Method

Put the chopped tomato, baked beans and quorn straight in the slow cooker. Drain the kidney beans and cannellini beans and add them to the slow cooker as well. Chop the mushrooms, onion, pepper and chilli and crush the garlic.


Spray a frying pan with 1 calorie cooking spray and put on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for about 2 minutes, then add the peppers and chilli and fry for another few minutes.


Once everything has softened add them along with the mushrooms to the slow cooker and mix together then add the spices and mix again. 


Put the lid on and and leave it for as long as you like. As there is no meat all you need to wait for is the flavours to infuse to the point you like and add salt and black pepper to taste.


Serve in a bowl and sprinkle on some chopped coriander for garnish. I've served it here with some home made guacamole, if you want you can also have it with rice (or cauliflower rice).

Well, that's all for now.

S



Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Time for change update: Week 6


It's that time again! I really wasn't confident that I would lose that much weight this time around but I'm happy to say I've lost another 7lbs, which takes my total weight loss to 22lbs in just 6 weeks! I've already passed my target of losing 20lbs and I've still got 4 weeks left to go. Here's what I've been up to.

Me and Mrs Cool had night out recently (read about it here) and I tried a Bloody Mary for the 1st time. This drink is right up my street, I like cocktails but usually find them too sweet, a Bloody Mary is the complete opposite of any cocktail I have had before at at only 83 calories for a 150ml drink it is a healthy way to have a cheeky drink.

Bloody Mary 83 calories
The ingredients to this Bloody Mary are Tomato juice, Vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, Black Pepper and Basil (I don't like celery).

Latino Spiced Chicken with Tomato, Rocket and Avocado 490 calories

This is a simple meal to make, just sprinkle some latino spices on a Chicken breast and mix a salad of tomato, red pepper, rocket, avocado, radishes, spring onion and crushed brazil nuts


Scrambled Egg on a crispbake with Chorizo 172 calories

I've mentioned before that I love eggs for breakfast but I'm starting to run out of ideas for different dishes. This is a scrambled egg on a crispbake with chorizo.

Huevos Rancheros

I was runninng out of ideas when I came across Huevos Rancheros. You can find my recipe for it here. This is really filling and a super healthy breakfast at only 235 calories.


The only exercise I've been doing since I started this new lifestyle has been walking and in the last 2 weeks I've started to do a lot more. Me and the Wife decided to walk along the Whitley Bay coast from the Spanish City to St Mary's Lighthouse (you can read Mrs Cools blog about it here). This was about 4 miles there and back and made me really appreciate how lucky I am to live so close to the seaside. When we got to St Mary's Light house we even managed to see some seals basking in the sun.


After our walk we decided to stop at Elder and Wolf on Whitley Road (see here for more info). They serve amazing wood fired pizzas and flatbreads. I decided to go meat free for a few days so I had the roasted pepper and feta cheese pizza and I have to say it was probably the best pizza I have ever had.

Roasted Pepper and Feta Cheese Pizza

Continuing the meat free theme I decided to try Quorn for the 1st time. If I'm honest I found the Quorn quite flavourless on it's own so I think you can only really have it if your adding a lot of spices to it. Luckily I was making Tacos so there was plenty of spice going in. I recently found a recipe that replaced with taco shells with little gem lettuce leaves. This means you can have loads of tacos (enough to fill you up anyway) and it's hardly any calories, I also made my own guacamole (still can't get enough avocado). I had about 7 or 8 and for all of them it was only 430 calories!

Little Gem Quorn Tacos with homemade Guacamole


So thats the highlights of the last 2 weeks, I'll do another update in a fortnight but you can keep track of my meals on an (almost) daily basis on instagram here or on my facebook page here. You can also follow my progress on MyFitnessPal here.

Well, thats all for now

S

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Huevos Rancheros with homemade Guacamole Recipe

This recipe is for a portion for 1 person, I suggest just using it as a guide. You can add as much or as little of the ingredients as you like.

Ingredients:

1 Medium Egg
Chopped Tomato 200g
1/4 Red Pepper
1/2 Onion
1/2 Avocado
1/2 Red Chilli
The juice of 1/4 a lime
A few sprigs of Coriander
A pinch of Cayenne Pepper
A pinch of Paprika
Salt
Black Pepper
Low calorie cooking spray

Method:

Chop the onion into dices and fry on a medium heat with a spray of the low calorie cooking spray until soft and translucent (usually around 8 minutes). Chop the red pepper into slices and add to the onion with cayenne pepper and paprika and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix with the onion and pepper for another few minutes then add salt and black pepper to taste. Now make a well in the middle of the tomato, crack in the egg and cover, leave the egg to poach (which should only take around 4 minutes for a runny yolk).



Whilst the egg is poaching you can make the guacamole. Mash up the avocado, chop the red chilli into thin slices and finely chop half the coriander (including the stalks) and add to the mashed avocado. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix is all together and thats the guacamole done.

Roughly chop the rest of the coriander and sprinkle over the Huevos Rancheros and add a good scoop of guacamole. You can either serve it in the pan or dish it up onto a plate.


This is a delicious and filling breakfast that can really set you up for the day and at only 235 calories it is super healthy too.

Well, that's all for now

S

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A day and night in Newcastle

Me and Mrs Cool recently found ourselves with a whole day and night without our children. So we decided to have a day enjoying each others company. I love my kids and I miss them whenever they are not around but as a married couple you MUST have time every now and when when it's just the two of you.


We started the day by driving to Ouseburn and parking up, there is a free car park there so you can save a fortune on parking charges by choosing to park a little further out of town. We had a little wander around the Ouseburn farm. As we passed The Cluny we decided we needed to go there more often (we've only been a handful of times between us) as it has a reputation of excellent live music. We then went to The Cook House for lunch. Mrs Cool has wanted to go here for quite a while and we've never had the chance, The Cook House is a great little eatery made out of a converted shipping container. The menu is small but I think this is a great idea as all of the dishes are absolutely delicious. I had Pork Rillettes with a Courgette and Rocket salad and toasted soda bread and the wife had Salted Brisket, Dill Pesto and Rocket salad again with toast. Both dishes were amazing and the portions were more than generous, we then shared a Lemon Posset for dessert (I think this was made with lemon thyme as it definitely had a herby taste to it). The whole meal including 2 drinks was less than £20, Bargin!

Salted Brisket, Dill Pesto and Rocket Salad
Pork Rillette, Courgette and Rocket Salad and toasted Soda Bread
After lunch we had a walk along the Ouse and ended up at the Tyne Bar. This is a great bar situated where the Ouse meets the Tyne. The sun was shining so we sat in the beer garden right by the river, it reminded me of our trip to Amsterdam so I decided to have a pint of Amstel and Mrs Cool had a glass of Sauvingnon Blanc and we chatted about our plans for the future. As we enjoyed our drinks a bizarre scene unfolded when a boat carrying 3 seamen (stop laughing) sidled up the canal between the Tyne and the Ouse. This boat didn't look like a fishing boat so I decided they must have been smugglers and it seemed to have no engine as the 3 smugglers were taking turns to use a plank of wood like a gondeler would to push the boat up the river. It took them 20 minutes just to get about 10 meters along the river, how they managed to get up the Tyne I will never know.

Tyne Bar
After we finished off our drinks we walked up a hill and ended up at the Free Trade Inn. This was great bar that seemed to only serve craft beers and ciders which is right up my street. After asking the barman for a recommendation I decided on an IPA, whose name I can't remember right now, and the Mrs had another glass of wine. The beer garden had amazing views of the Tyne and as we sipped our refreshing beverages we overheard a conversation that left us gobsmacked. A woman was talking to her companion telling a story of how one of her clients had booked her for 4 hours but then when the time came the client said he couldn't go through with it as he was married with kids! Who knows what this, ahem, lady's profession was (I assume it was the oldest one). Anyway, after we were over the shock, we walked along the Tyne.

Free Trade Inn
The view from the Free Trade Inn Beer Garden
After a walk along the Tyne we stopped at the Pitcher and Piano for more drinks and we made plans for our holiday to Cuba next year. I can't wait to be riding around Havana in a Cadillac with a Rum in one hand and fat cigar in the other. We had booked a nights stay at MotelOne which is just off Grey's Street so when we finished out drinks we headed to our hotel. There is some amazing architecture in Newcastle and the walk from the Quayside to Grey's Street has some of the best.

Grey's Monument and Theatre Royal

The bar in MotelOne is a hidden treasure of Newcastle the staff are knowledgeable, the ambiance is relaxed and the drinks are phenomenal. The bar is open to non residents too so I would definitely recommend paying a visit if you are ever out for drinks in toon.

Drinks at MotelOne Bar

We went to our room to get changed and headed to Pleased To Meet You to meet up with our friends Chloe and Simon. We ordered some cocktails (which turned out to be quite expensive as we didn't realise happy hour had just ended) Mrs Cool ordered a espresso based cocktail and I ordered a Bloody Mary. I'd never had a Bloody Mary before and when I tried it my 1st thoughts were "where have you been all my life". Most cocktails are quite sweet but a Bloody Mary is the 1st drink I've had that I would call a Savoury Cocktail. They are an acquired taste though as Mrs Cool thought it was vile.

After we had all finished our drinks we headed to Osaka, which is aJapanese restaurant on Grey's Street. Me and Mrs Cool shared a starter of seared Sashimi which was delicious and then for our mains I had the Teriyaki Chicken Bento box and Mrs Cool has the Teriyaki Salmon Bento Box. If you are planning on having a Bento Box then you really shouldn't bother with a starter as the box comes with Miso Soup, a selection of Salmon Sashimi and Salmon Sushi, a Japanese salad as well as the Teriyaki chicken/Salmon and some rice. When we were finished we were all stuffed and decided it was time to head home.

Teriyaki Salmon Bento Box from Osaka

I've lived near Newcastle (Wallsend as a kid and Northumberland now) all my life and it really is my absolute favourite city. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, the people are always friendly, the atmosphere is fun and the night life is world renowned. If you are stuck for something to do on a date with your better half then you can't go wrong with a day and night in Newcastle.

Well, that's all for now.

S