Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The last supper

Day 23 - final day 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 204 pounds (14 stones 8 pounds) 
Lost: 16 pounds (1 stone 2 pounds) 

Our fridge contains one last vanilla yoghurt - ready for my breakfast on the way to the airport tomorrow morning. 

It's a fitting symbol for the end of this diet. These Fruyo greek yoghurts are far from diet-friendly. They may be "fat free", but they are full of sugar, not artificial sweeteners. Yet they are one of the reasons this diet has been a success: they are delicious and satisfying, and I like them now just as much as I did at the beginning. 

There hasn't been a day when I've been so hungry I've raided the chocolate box or have felt faint from lack of proper nutrition. Sure, we've been strict with ourselves:  no bread, pasta, flour or potatoes throughout;  very little alcohol and no fruit in the first two weeks; minimum of sugar and fats, high protein, only good carbs.  As a result, we've experimented with a range of satisfying new recipes, most of which are listed in this blog. We've followed the 5 basic rules I laid down at the beginning of April, which transformed themselves into 7 rules due to my inability to anticipate the effect of dinner parties with friends or the overwhelming desire for a beer when you've been gardening. 

In these 3 weeks I've gone from a BMI of 31.5 to 28, and lost 7.2% of my bodyweight. I feel lighter and have a spring in my step. I didn't feel out of breath when I ran to save my car from a parking warden this morning.
Baked salmon, asparagus, spinach, fresh mayonnaise

And this lightest of suppers, our last diet supper, very hurriedly put together in less than 10 minutes from opening the fridge door to plating up (which includes making the fresh mustard mayonnaise on top of the salmon*), has filled me up in a way that it never would have done just three weeks ago. Result.

*Salmon:  cut slit in skin, sprinkle in salt, coat with olive oil, black pepper.  Put skin side down in very hot pan for 3 minutes, then turn and pop into hot oven for 4-5 minutes;  Spinach: heat olive oil with 1 large clove garlic, halved lengthwise, throw in washed spinach, season and cook quickly for 2 minutes, strain through kitchen roll.  Place next to salmon with quickly cooked asparagus spears.  Mayonnaise: 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard with 1 egg yolk, whisked together, then very slowly start to pour in 125ml groundnut oil until the mixture emulsifies;  when about halfway through adding the oil, mix in 1 tsp lemon juice and less than 1 tsp white wine vinegar, with a pinch of salt and some ground white pepper.  Whisk in rest of oil.  Put one tbsp on top of baked salmon and throw rest away if, like me, you're going on holiday.  Because fresh mayonnaise only keeps for a day.  But it tastes divine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One more day

Day 22  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds) 
Now: 204 pounds (14 stone 8 pounds) 
Lost: 16 pounds (1 stone 2 pounds) 

There's now just one more day to the end of this diet. 

My target was to lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks.  I've more than achieved that: 16 pounds shed, and it seems to be holding firm, despite the wine of the Sunday lunch. 

In 48 hours we'll be on a plane to the wedding. Until then, I'm playing safe. This was my working lunch today: 

Working lunch

It was leftover chicken breasts from last night's meal, and some salad. Tomorrow, I'll be rushing around: I have to edit a programme, then come back to pack and do last minute preparations for the trip. 

I also have rows of potatoes to plant in the garden before we leave. Not that I have any plans to eat them: this diet has worked largely because of the lack of any bread, pasta or potatoes. But in August, when they are ready for harvesting, who knows how much I will weigh. And I wonder if the lure of homegrown baby potatoes, lifted straight from the ground and served dripping with butter, will get the better of me. I suspect so. 

Anyway, there's no pretending but the diet will be blown the moment we hit the plane on Wednesday morning. It's not just the airline food; it's the knowledge that we're about to indulged by my inlaws who will already have the red wine bottles opened ready for our arrival. But there'll be no guilt: one final light meal tomorrow and I'll be ready for anything California can throw at me.  In the meantime, one final weigh-in.  And the sweet smell of success.  Sugar free, of course.   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A big sunday lunch

Day 21 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 204 pounds (14 stones 8 pounds) 
Lost: 16 pounds (1 stone 2 pounds) 

Today we hosted Sunday lunch for our neighbours. They knew we were on a diet, so arrived expecting the worst. I think they were pleasantly surprised. 

It was a late lunch, so for breakfast I had fruyo vanilla yoghurt (boy am I hooked on that stuff) and cardboard. Cardboard is oatmeal (not porridge oats) cooked in water with pinch of salt, just a dessertspoon of milk, and a tiny squeeze of light agave syrup. Without the agave it tastes just like its nickname.

For lunch, we mostly had champagne and red wine. Quite a few glasses of both, because we were celebrating the arrival of Spring, two months late. 

But the food was very good too: 

Jo served a starter of tiny chinese lettuce cups. The little gem leaves were filled with little cubes of fillet steak, which she'd sauteed with finely chopped fresh ginger, garlic, red pepper, coriander, and a glug of ginger chili sauce to make it sticky and sweet at the end. She sprinkled them with fresh spring onion and smashed cashew nuts. 

The main course was chicken breasts, pounded flat, seasoned, and stuffed with a mixture of pesto, half fat sour cream and a little shredded mozzarella, then dipped in egg and a mix of spelt flour, parmesan and ground almonds. We could have used almond flour if we'd had any. They were baked for about half an hour till brown on top, and served with broccoli, sauteeed with chili and lemon. 

Finally, a treat for dessert: fresh berries. Yeah - fruit at last!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A hunk of halibut

Day 20 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 205 pounds (14 stones 9 pounds) 
Lost: 15 pounds (1 stone 1 pound) 

My fishmonger sold me a slice of halibut yesterday. 

No, not a slice, a slab. A hunk of halibut, enough for six people. 

There were three of us for lunch: Jo, me and Mum. Mum is a traditionalist: she likes halibut steaks cooked in sage butter with little new potatoes in butter and some nice green beans coated in butter. 

Mum doesn't understand why people go on diets. She thinks there's no point agonising over what we eat: we should eat what's good for us, and what's good for us is good, unprocessed, natural food, preferably cooked the way I generally do: in loads of butter. That philosophy doesn't exactly work for this diet. 

Of course there's no arguing with Mum; not just because she won't listen, but because you can't win. You can't win because the only argument to use against her is "it's better for you and you'll live longer".  And she has already disproved that theory.

Mum is 92. I don't know anyone who's lived longer than her;  I don't know anyone who looks as good as her over the age of 80 and yet by her own admission, she's been a pound or two over her "ideal" weight for the last 65 years. She lives on her own, is completely independent, fiercely opinionated, and only stopped driving when I put my foot down and threatened to tear up her licence. She is a phenomenon. And she likes the way I cook halibut with sage butter. 

Today, after helping me out in the garden, she stayed for lunch.  I thought she might have been less than impressed with our menu: halibut with a parsley and coriander paste crust, vegetable quinoa and baked kale with parmesan. Hippy food, I'd call it.  She was more polite;  she didn't comment or wince.  But then she tasted it. 

Halibut with chermoula crust

Jo had marinated the whole hunk in our new discovery: the chermoula paste Jo used in the vegetables yesterday, which is a Moroccan paste made from spicy coriander and parsley. Jo fried the fish skin side down for a few minutes, then turned it and seared the other side, then we turned it back, covered it with a chermoula crust, and popped it in a hot oven for a quarter of an hour. 

Vegetable quinoa

Before that, she'd baked some finely chopped kale (see April 7th 2013) but this time, instead of lemon, she sprinkled it with a little grated parmesan. She baked it in an oven at 170 degrees for about 20 minutes.  

Finally, she made an excellent and tasty quinoia, cooked in an organic garlic and herb vegetable stock, with some spring onions, coriander, parsley, sliced almonds and garlic. It was all delicious. 

It may not have been a traditional way of cooking this noble fish, but Mum pronounced the halibut quite the best she'd ever tasted.  

She was right: it was a triumph.  And Jo and I had both lost another pound this morning: that's 15 for me and 6 for Jo. Which, given that she is roughly half my weight, and in my view doesn't need to lose anything at all, is a real achievement for this diet.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

A new rule

Day 19  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 206 pounds (14 stones 10 pounds) 
Lost: 14 pounds (1 stone) 

Lunchtime today was a chicken caesar salad without the caesar dressing. I guess that made it a chicken salad. I added jalapenos for interest. Amazing what the humble chili pepper can do to liven up a dull plate. 

Then, from my favourite fishmonger I bought the freshest, deep red tuna. Jo transformed it into a fantastic supper: 

Marinated tuna with Chermoula vegetables

She marinaded the tuna in organic mirin, Japanese plum seasoning (not plum sauce - this is a salt replacement with class), chili flakes and a little chili oil - no salt or pepper.  Then Jo quickly seared the thing so it was red right through the middle. With a squeeze of lime: perfect.

The vegetables consisted of sauteed shallots, chopped courgettes, 1 chopped mild green chili, and 2 thinly sliced endive/chicory (1 red, 1 white), to which she added a new magic ingredient - a dessertspoonful of Moroccan Chermoula paste: 

This is a spicy fusion of coriander and parsley. Both unusual and delicious. Altogether a great diet meal.  

I celebrated with a glass of very good red wine. Yes, I'm in the third week - wine is back, a glass every other day.  Well, that's what I'm telling myself.  That's the joy of making up your own diet: nobody tells you what to do, so you can break your own rules - or just invent a new one:

Rule 8:  After the second week, if you've lost a stone, enjoy a glass of wine every other day.  But only if it's really good quality.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

6.4% of my body has disappeared!

Day 18  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 206 pounds (14 stones 10 pounds) 
Lost: 14 pounds (1 stone) 

In just 2 weeks I've lost 6.4% of my bodyweight. This despite several restaurant meals, two very evil dinners, and about 10 units of alcohol. And I don't feel hungry (often), or grumpy, and I haven't turned grey, unlike my pallid complexion when I was on the Dukan diet in 2010. 

But I am going to slow down the weight loss now. After losing roughly a pound a day, I'm going to add a little fruit into my diet, and some rather heavier carbs. Like oatmeal in the morning, and maybe a grapefruit at lunchtime. 

That's tomorrow, though. Today's lunch was yesterday's leftover turkey peppers. 

Tonight Jo produced another recipe she invented from an idea in Kalyn's Kitchen (she adapts because Kalyn uses processed foods like turkey sausage, and bottled sauces while we only make our own, and her food is rather bland - we like a little more sparkle to our dining): 

Hamburger frittata

Hamburger frittata. Which is basically Jo's normal frittata with added very lean minced beef (10% fat).  

She sauteed red onions while marinating the meat in Worcestershire sauce garlic powder, salt and pepper, adding about a  tablespoon of chopped jalapenos to give it bite. She browned the meat with the onions then put the mixture in a small frittata pan with the eggs and some chopped mushrooms.  After mixing it all up, she added low fat grated cheddar and popped it in an oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 12 minutes.  

She made a spicy ketchup topping with an organic low sugar ketchup mixed with spicy chili sauce, and brushed it on top during the last five minutes of cooking.  It all baked together and certainly worked - I had three portions (which is allowed -- it was virtually fat free, after all).  

Looking forward to the grapefruit tomorrow.  Or maybe porridge for breakfast?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A milestone gained is 14 pounds lost

Day 17  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds) 
Now: 206 pounds (14 stone 10 pounds) 
Lost: 14 pounds 

Well, there it is: a stone lost in 16 days. That's 14 pounds to my American readers. Result!

All helped by this kind of food, tonight cooked by my dear wife: 

Turkey peppers with grilled endive

Red and green peppers, stuffed with ground turkey, red onion, bits of pepper, a red chilli, some Worcestershire sauce for flavour, and baked with love. Oh, and cheese on the top. She says this recipe was inspired by Kalyn's Kitchen, which has lots of South Beach recipes: www.kalynskitchen.com.

I made some more grilled endive, like the other night. You cut them in half, brush the cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper, put them cut side down into an incredibly hot pan, for about 2 minutes till they're smoking, brush the uncut side with oil, salt and pepper, turn them over and pop them into the oven for 4 or 5 minutes till they're firm, but just starting to wilt at the edges. A great combination with the turkey peppers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Green Meal

Day 16  

Then: 200 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 207 pounds (14 stones 11 pounds) 
Lost: 13 pounds 

With the blip of Friday night's dinner party just a delicious, intoxicated, fading memory, we're back on target. 

Now I'm back at work daily after the Easter holiday break, lunchtimes are normally reduced to roast chicken on a bed of salad. Today I forgot to coordinate with Jo, so when I got home, there was more chicken - but it was a treat: 

Green Chicken and Green Beans
She'd made chicken breasts cut into small fillets, covered in fresh pesto (apparently the pecorino isn't too diet-unfriendly as it's a hard cheese) and then topped with parmesan and, less diet-friendly, a little mozzarella. This recipe came from Kalyn's Kitchen: www.kalynskitchen.com

with Green Salad
It was rather green, and so too were the green beans she made with toasted almonds, garlic and shallots, and the salad tossed in the lightest of dressings. But green is good, I can see my chin again, and various parts of my body that disappeared from view long ago.  

We celebrated with a small glass of very good red wine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Feeling Virtuous

Day 15 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 208 pounds (14 stones 12 pounds) 
Lost: 12 pounds 

Today was a difficult day: morning on a train with free food. Lunch in my club in London. Dinner with my son and his fiancee in a pub. 

Today I am allowed a little alcohol for the first time in two weeks. I know - I've broken that rule four times. But hey, I'm human. 

And right now I'm feeling very virtuous. Because here's what I could have eaten today: 
  • Breakfast on train (free) - full English, including 2 sausages, with extra toast, butter, marmalade and croissants, orange juice 
  • Lunch - the pasta with salmon and cream looked really good 
  • Early Supper (6pm) - my son had steak and chips, with extra ketchup, mayo and mustard. 
  • Late supper on Train (9pm - free)- Gin and tonic, with crisps followed by Steak and stout pie and creamy mashed potato of course, and sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and Creme Fraiche. 

Here's what I actually ate: 
  • Breakfast - porridge and black coffee 
  • Lunch -

    poached haddock on a bed of green beans with tiny brown prawns and a tomato, spring onion and olive oil dressing 
  • Supper - slices of rare roast beef with some salad. 

Here's a picture of me not eating the potatoes in the salad (there were more potatoes than salad:

  • Late supper on train (free) - I didn't actually need this, but I hate turning down freebies, so I had Fillet of sea bass and broccoli. No potatoes or caper and lemon butter. Aren't I good? No - I had a glass of white wine. But I turned down three others - they positively pour it down you on the East Coast line. And then they kept offering me cheese.  Don't they understand how hard it is to say no?
Let's hope the scales appreciate my efforts at tomorrow's weigh-in.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

13 pounds in 13 days

Day 14 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds)
Now: 207 pounds (14 stone 11 pounds) 
Lost: 13 pounds 

13 pounds lost in just 13 days. I was feeling so smug at weigh-in this morning.

However today, I risked undoing all the good with another fat-filled restaurant meal. 

I also had a beer, which I justified to myself only because I spent 2 hours watching Newcastle lose the local derby match to Sunderland by 3 goals to nil. That result rather took the edge off my diet euphoria to say the least. This whole city is now in depression.  As, doubtless will I be at tomorrow's weigh-in.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gardening with sole

Day 13  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 208 pounds (14 stones 12 pounds) 
Lost: 12 pounds 

So I held steady after the big dinner party. And today, back to the diet with a vengeance. Gardening all day with homemade turkey slices and salad for lunch, then this for supper: 

Baked (very fast, having quickly seared it) Dover sole with Jo's Chickpeas a la Diet: sautee chopped red, yellow and orange pepper (1/3rd of a pepper each) with 1 red onion and 1 chopped spicy red chili;  add 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, add chickpeas - cook till tasty.  Add a small handful of coriander leaves.  I think I put too many chickpeas on my plate, above, but I did do a lot of gardening.  And no beer or wine tonight.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The milestone approaches

Day 12 

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 208 pounds (14 stones 12 pounds) 
Lost: 12 pounds 

This North East diet has taken just 11 days to lose 12 pounds. The Dukan Diet took me 22 days to reach the same level. 

It's not just quick weight loss that makes our homemade North East diet twice as effective as the one that's made Dr Dukan a millionaire. It's the fact that, unlike last time, I've been allowed a wide variety of delicious and interesting recipes, including plenty of good carbs. 

I feel alive rather than permanently tired; I haven't turned green; and, most of all, I don't feel remotely hungry. Dukan made me exhausted, irritable, with constant cravings and by this stage Jo was really worried about the colour of my skin, an indication that his diet wasn't properly balanced. This one clearly is. 

So, for anyone who wants to lose a lot of weight very quickly, I really recommend you follow our recipes over the last 12 days. For those who've just joined this blog, spin down to April 1st 2013: that's when it all began. 

I'm carrying on at this rate for the next few days until I've lost a stone in total (14 pounds), then I shall be slowing down the rate of loss by adding a little fruit, more fat and perhaps some alcohol to the diet. I intended to reach 200 pounds (a loss of 20 pounds) by the end of the month - still a further two pounds a week. 

Then I shall stabilise at that level and eat relatively carefully through the summer. If I persevere, who knows where I shall end up. 

Today it was Fruyo for breakfast (I'm kind of hooked on this delicious Greek yoghurt: it comes in peach and vanilla) and slices of my delicious home-roasted turkey breast for lunch. 

However, last night we fell off the diet big time. We knew it was coming: another dinner party with friends that was arranged months ago. 

Our hosts served quite North East diet-friendly food: a light soup, and tuna with rice (which I left on the plate). But then a rhubarb trifle arrived. 

You can't ignore a rhubarb trifle, or any dessert at a dinner party thrown by people you really like. You certainly can't reject it: that would be too rude after they have gone to all that trouble. And you can't just have a spoonful and leave the rest, as you can in a restaurant, for they'd be sure you didn't like it, however much you protested that it was down to your diet. So there was nothing for it but to eat the lot. Jo did too, and pronounced it quite the nicest pudding she'd ever tried. 

Naturally, my generous host poured alcohol into my glass all night: from champagne when we arrived, fine white wine, dessert wine with the trifle, and armagnac. Jo drove home. This is going to be a disaster. 

Based on last Saturday's experience, I don't expect an immediate increase in weight, but I do expect a substantial increase in my appetite cravings - that's the effect of the alcohol and fruit and cream in the trifle. But at least I know that this diet can cope with the blip, as it did last week. Even if this blip was enormous, I am determined to stay strong.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Losing It

Day 11  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 210 pounds (15 stone) 
Lost: 10 pounds 

10 days - 10 pounds. This diet knocks Dukan out of the water. 

What's really good about the way we're eating is that the combination of low fat but varied meals, with plenty of good carbs, is really suppressing my appetite. 

So today I had no desire to nibble at one of Izzy's chocolate croissants, or have one of the lovely pink grapefruits that are lying unloved in the fruit bowl. 

Instead, breakfast was black coffee (I have at least two double espressos every morning, usually more), a peach fruyo yoghurt, and lunch was a pile of delicious smoked salmon - as much as I could fit in a sandwich of two large romaine lettuce leaves. 

I'm also continuing to drink lots of water (by lots, I mean around 2 litres a day). I only drink water when I'm thirsty, though, unlike some diets that force you to drink the stuff. This one makes you thirsty much of the day (I don't know if it's the fruyo, as I said before, or maybe just the change in my metabolism), so I'm happy to drink huge glasses, one of which can fill me up for an hour or so. 

One of the problems is snacking: the trick of this diet is to have small meals, so you need something to keep your brain going in between. Under Dukan, I went through packets of those chicken slices you get in supermarkets, which he encourages you to eat. But look on the packet: they're full of additives and preservatives.

So this afternoon Jo went to our local butcher and bought a huge (8 pound) turkey breast - the kind they sell to restaurants, piled I it with strips of bacon (yes, I wasn't going to eat it, but you need to keep turkey breast moist when you cook it), popped it in the oven for half an hour at 200 degrees, then covered it in foil and decreased the temperature to 180, for an hour and a half, then reduced further to 140 for another 30 minutes, then switched the oven off to let, and took it out three hours after I started.  Out came the most moist, additive-free snack food -- enough to last for the next week. 

I had a few turkey slices this evening before I went out to watch Newcastle being knocked out of the cup by Benfica. It was an exciting, tense match. I guess I'll have lost another pound just through football fan stress. And I confess I had a beer at half-time to calm my nerves. Newcastle so nearly won, but Benfica scored a goal in injury time and our Europa Cup hopes were dashed. 

When I got home it was well after 10pm - far too late for dinner. But I foolishly started cooking: soon the wonderful smell of the freshest swordfish permeated the house and Jo and I sat down to this just 10 minutes later: 

Grilled swordfish with mint, sweet cabbage and chili courgettes
 Swordfish marinated in just a little olive oil, squeeze of lemon, and chopped fresh mint, grilled on the hob in a ridged skillet, then popped in the oven for a few minutes. Baby courgettes sauteed in olive oil, chili flakes, lemon rind and a handful of chopped fresh mint, with seasoning. Sweet cabbage: made by sweating a shallot in a little olive oil, adding thinly sliced and washed (wet) white cabbage, two teaspoonfuls of cumin seeds, and a big splash (about 40ml) of Pernod, salt and pepper. Reduce till the smell of Pernod turns into a sweet, aromatic scent and the cabbage is cooked. 

A perfect light supper.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back on track

Day 10  

Then: 220 pounds (15 stones 10 pounds) 
Now: 211 pounds (15 stones 1 pound) 
Lost: 9 pounds 

Yes! Another 2 pounds lost, and the hunger has receded. Today I feel almost euphoric.

Jo is too, she came bouncing in this morning and announced that she has lost 4 pounds. Given that she is roughly half my size, it's an amazing result for both of us. Except we've only completed 9 days of this diet, and there are a lot of pounds to go.  Literally.  So, with renewed enthusiasm, we carry on. 

At lunchtime, we had artichoke salad and smoked trout. Then, this evening, Jo made a lightweight teriyaki chicken. Without most of the teriyaki - i.e. no sugar or mirin. 

It's quite similar to a Jamie Oliver recipe for salmon I like, except that his has gallons of honey. Jo seasoned the chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  She then prepared a marinade comprising a teaspoonful of agave syrup (which is as sweet as honey but rather more diet-friendly), some organic low-sodium soy sauce and juice from a piece of ginger pressed so that the juices flowed into the sauce. This she poured over the chicken and left to marinate for an hour or so. 

Seared in a skillet for 3 minutes each side, the chicken was then popped in the oven for 6 minutes. She served it with thinly sliced spring onion and red chili on top.  She said she would have added coriander leaves if we had any - we've rather hit the coriander plant over the last few days.  

She served it on a bed of lentils with some broccoli spears on the side. It was both light, tasty and filling.