Monthly Archives

January 2015


Smoked Paprika Chicken Skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Smoked Paprika Chicken SkewersTonight was my first Cambridge Weight Plan evening home alone. With my other half working a late shift, I was unsure how my willpower would fare against a house full of food. Given that J is a great cook and I am what can generously be described as ‘learning’, I set myself the task of making something from scratch that a) was ‘on plan’ and b) didn’t kill me. I feel massively chuffed as what I ended up doing tasted great, didn’t kill me and involved actual cooking.

I’m going to make this for J next time I’m feeling nice :)

What goes in it?

  • 245g (max) skinless chicken breast
  • 1 pot of fat free natural yogurt
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika (hot)
  • A generous shake of chilli flakes
  • A generous shake of ground coriander
  • 50g chopped cucumber, deseeded
  • Bunch of chopped coriander
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of leaves

How do you make it?

  1. Add the spices to 2 tbsp of the low fat natural yogurt and mix.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into cubes and mix into the yogurt, ensuring each piece is well covered.
  3. Leave to marinade for at least 30 mins (I left it for just over an hour).
  4. Thread the chicken pieces onto wooden skewers (that have been pre-soaked).
  5. Heat under a hot grill until cooked, turning occasionally (for me this was about 10 mins).
  6. Whilst the chicken is cooking, add the cucumber, coriander and spring onion to the remaining yogurt and mix. Season if necessary.
  7. Service the chicken and the dip with some leaves.

Smoked Cod, Poached Egg & Asparagus

Smoked Cod and Poached EggAfter celebrating my first weigh in with a trip to LUSH, I was keen to continue pampering myself (without going off-plan). Wandering around the supermarket, I had a hankering for a breakfast fave – Smoked Haddock, Poached Egg & Asparagus.

Whilst we used Smoked Cod here (to cut down on costs) it was still a lovely dinner that I really relished. Joel just added some nice crusty bread to it for his non-Cambridge Weight Plan version.

What goes in it?

  • 135g smoked cod fillet
  • 1 large egg
  • A little skimmed milk – for poaching the fish (from milk allowance)
  • 80g asparagus spears

How do you make it?

  1. Poach the cod fillet in some skimmed milk until cooked, seasoned with some salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Steam asparagus spears
  3. Poach the egg
  4. Serve and – most of all – enjoy

Prawn, Cottage Cheese & Spring Onion Mix

Prawn MixOK. So this one is an emergency recipe. We were doing so well with the evening meal on Step 2 of the Cambridge Weight Plan – cooking meals that both me and the hubbie can enjoy (helped by the fact he’s a great cook!). But, this morning I had to tackle going off to a conference on my own and not falling off the CWP wagon  at the hotel. So, this recipe – whilst not particularly inspiring – was my attempt at packing in advance. Whilst it won’t win any culinary awards, it was pretty tasty and kept me away from hotel snacks.

What goes in it?

  • 190g cooked prawns
  • 75g reduced fat cottage cheese (less than 2% fat)
  • 1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
  • 40g spring onions, finely chopped
  • 40g watercress, rocket and spinach leaves

How do you make it?

  1. Mix the wholegrain mustard, chopped spring onions and cottage cheese.
  2. Add in the prawns and mix.
  3. Serve with the leaves.

Herbed Chicken Breast with Asparagus

Herbed ChickenThis chicken recipe is our third venture into the Cambridge Weight Diet world. Finding ways of cooking without fat, but still keeping the food nice and tasty is an interesting journey. My other half simply added sweet potato mash to his plate so we could eat the same food (and we both loved it).

What goes in it?

  • 240 chicken breast, skinless and boneless
  • For the marinade:
    • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 80g asparagus

How do you make it?

  1. Poke holes all over the chicken breast with a pointy knife.
  2. Mix the marinade and spread all over the chicken. Leave for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Sear both sides of the marinaded chicken in a non-stick pan with no oil.
  4. Place on a non-stick baking tray, cover with foil and place in the oven at 200C for about 25 minutes (until it’s cooked).
  5. Serve with steamed asparagus.

Tuna Steak & Baked Garlic Mushroom

Tuna Steak & Garlic MushroomWe ate this on Day 2 of the Cambridge Weight Plan (Step 2)

What goes in it?

  • 190g raw tuna steak
  • 1 large flat mushroom
  • Small bunch of watercress, rocket and spinach leaves
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Dried oregano
  • Ground coriander
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

How do you make it?

  1. Splash both side of the tuna steak with balsamic vinegar and dust with the coriander and shake a little oregano over it. Leave it to marinade for 20-30 minutes or so.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and rosemary. Sprinkle over the open mushroom and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Wrap the mushroom in foil, keeping the open side facing up. Place in a pre heated oven (around 200C). After 20 minutes, open the foil and place back in then oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. Heat a non stick frying pan on medium heat. Add the tuna steak and fry with oil, turning once or twice, until it’s only just no longer pink in the middle.
  5. Serve with the leaves. When my tuna is less than 190g I sometimes add a little reduced fat cottage cheese to the top of the mushroom. Mmm.
Losing Weight

Making A Choice – Starting on my weight loss journey

Bright SideI’m just a girl. I’m not particularly interesting or special (no more interesting or special than the rest of the world, at least). I’m certainly no diet/exercise/life guru. As I said, I’m just a girl. But, like many girls (and guys) my relationship with my body has been trashed by a combination of childhood trauma, unobtainable media images and a society that – confusingly – values both control and excess. Growing up overweight – eating in secret – I believed that my body wasn’t so much a temple as a dumping ground for all the overwhelm and confusion I felt. By the time I had my first psychiatric admission I was a size 22, by the end of it I weighed 25 stone and had accepted my fate as being enduringly ‘mentally ill’ and ‘fat’.

I’m now 37 (just!) and life looks very different. Whilst the first half of my 20s was littered with hospital admissions, day centres and enough medication to sedate an elephant, the second part saw me tentatively take steps back into the ‘real’ world. After a lot of soul searching, self-help, support from some amazing and inspirational people I entered my 30s as a fully fledged member of society. No longer needing medication to deal with the consequences of my past, I finally have a job that I love, a life that I feel lucky to live and a husband that I’m proud to walk beside.

But … and there’s always a but, isn’t there … as far as I’ve come, my relationship with my body is still somewhat strained. We grudgingly acknowledge each other’s existence, but I haven’t made that many strides into actually taking care of it and fully owning it as mine. Part of the legacy of trauma is that it’s so much easier to separate off from your body than fully feel what it’s trying to tell you.

Despite years of ‘on again – off again’ dieting, sporadic bursts of healthy activity and a husband who’s health can only be described as unbearably fit … I’m starting this part of my journey with a BMI of 40 (that’s just over 20 stone). I’ve lost about 5 stones since the hospital-years, but I’ve got a way to go.

Making a choice

Starting a new diet at the beginning of a new year is one of the biggest cliches I can think of. Blogging about it as if it’s going to go well, without any thought that I may end up – in a year – embarrassed and pretending that this blog isn’t mine and I have never heard of BrightSide (my pseudonym on here, to protect my anonymity as far as possible on the internet).

Action changes thingsThe thing is, I need to do this. I need to lose weight, but I need to do it in a way that feels healthy and helps me reclaim this thing I call ‘the body’ and make it mine again.  I’m 37 now and, if I ever want the chance of having a child with the man I love, I need to get my skates on. After all, my relationship with food was set in motion through events that I had no control over as a child. But, as an adult, if I want to have a child I am committed to ensuring my relationship with food and my body is as healthy as possible so I can pass on a positive body-image – not a bucket-load of issues and hang ups. This is my choice – and it’s one I’m glad to be making.

I’ve decided to follow the Cambridge Weight Plan (starting on Step 2) to help me lose weight, but also plan to combine it with plenty of body nurturing and healthy life choices. Described as a work-a-holic by too many people to ignore, I’m going to work on bringing the fun in and trying things that I’ve previously avoided (either due to my size or my fear). My goal is a BMI of 25 … so I’d best get started!

Typing to lose

This blog will enable me to chart my progress as I make some pretty significant changes in the way I deal with my body, food and life in general. I’m super-aware that taking my eye of the ball leads to diet-death, the fastest way back to the land of denial where the added pounds and stones don’t exist as long as I avoid the scales. So, ‘typing to lose’ is quite literally a way of me using words to keep my focus up on this pretty challenging journey.

I’m hoping this blog will be more than simply a personal diary, though (although if that is what it becomes I’ll be happy as long as it helps me keep on track). Losing weight, especially on the CWP, can be a lonely endeavour. When I was researching the Cambridge Weight Plan I really valued reading about real people who, like me, have struggled with their body image and food for years. To see others work so hard to find a new relationship with food gave me the inspiration I needed to commit to this myself. So, if anyone does read this – I hope it helps you find your own way to health and wellbeing (whatever size you are).

One final thought

WomanIn order to do this, I’m trying really hard to not see myself as ‘fat’ – but to see myself as a human being. The word ‘fat’ comes with so much negative baggage that it is so easy to feel laden down with it, so much so that the idea of making changes can feel impossible. My weight is unhealthy, I have no qualms about saying that, but in order to find my health I also need to chuck out some of the jibes and judgements I’ve carried around with me since childhood.

This journey isn’t my punishment for being overweight, it’s my treat to myself for being worthy of living a long, healthy and fulfilled life. This is something we are all worthy of – never let anyone tell you otherwise.


Zingy Prawn & Sweet Pepper Mix

Prawn and Peppers MixAs I’d spent the day drinking Cambridge Weight Plan shakes, this tasty and simple prawn recipe was a welcome change. It only took about 10 minutes to prepare and cook, and fits perfectly into the Step 2 dinner allowances. If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

What goes in?

  • 190g cooked prawns
  • 75g reduced fat cottage cheese (less than 2% fat)
  • 60g sweet pointed red pepper
  • 20g spinach, watercress and rocket
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Dried basil
  • Splash of white wine vinegar

How do you make it?

  1. Dry fry the pepper in a non stick plan on medium heat
  2. When you start to see black spots on the pepper, add a splash of water and cook until most of the water is gone
  3. Add a splash of white wine vinegar, the chilli, the smoked paprika and cook for one more minute then remove from the heat.
  4. Add the prawns and a shake of dried basil and stir up until everything is coated.
  5. Add a shake of dried basil to the cottage cheese and plate up, alongside a bed of the salad leaves.
  6. Finally, add your prawn and pepper mix on top of the salad and serve.