Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sausage & Bean Soup - 5 WW Points

I have 2 soups on the go at the moment which I love for lunch, I would have more but my blender has broken so I can't blend my soups up and I refuse to buy canned soup.

Both are delicious and Weight Watcher friendly soups and that's a bonus. So if you are looking for a light meal or a soup to go with your lunch these are ideal without adding too many points. Both soups are fantastic even if you are not watching your weight.

First up is this hearty and warming Sausage and Bean soup, it is my favorite and doesn't need to be blended and lasts me 3 to 4 days depending on how big I like my serves

Sausage and Bean Soup

9oz (250g) Cherry tomatoes, halved
Cooking spray or 4 tbsp olive oil (if you're not on WW)
1 onion -finely chopped
2 chicken sausages(raw)* or other good quality pure-meat sausage, peeled and roughly crumbled (and if you're not on WW use 7oz/200g of good quality sausage)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed chilli flakes/red pepper flakes
14oz can Cannellini beans (white kidney beans) rinsed and drained
3 cups of chicken or veg stock
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley or basil chopped (optional)

Serves 3/4 - My WW kitchen Companion App points this soup up to be - WW points 6 per serve for 3 serves or 5 points per serve for 4 serves.

*chicken sausages I use are Trader Joe's Spinach, Fontina and Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausages and I use 2 per recipe (which is 7 WW points)
make sure you check the points on your sausages as the WW points may vary depending on the type and brand of sausage you use and adjust your points accordingly

1. Preheat oven to 350f (180c). Place tomatoes on a baking tray and spray with cooking spray (or drizzle with half the olive oil) sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, turn to coat well. Roast for about 15 minutes or until softened and slightly wilted, then remove from oven and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar
2. Meanwhile, spray a heavy bottomed pot over a medium heat (or use rest of the olive oil) add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
3. Stir in sausagemeat, garlic and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 5-10 mintues or until the onion is pale yellow.
4. Stir in the beans and stock, bring to a boil, adjust the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes and their juices and stir in half the parsley or basil (if using)
*see note below*
6. Ladle out a cupful of the beans and tomatoes without too much liquid, and process until smooth in a blender.
7. Stir back into the pot, then simmer the soup steadily for 10 minutes. If it is too thick, thin with a little hot stock or water.
8. Stir in the rest of the herbs and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, pepper, pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar to taste.

*as I have a non operational blender I do not follow steps 6&7, instead I allow my soup to simmer for a further 5 minutes after step 5, then I complete step 8.

Lovely Tomatoes ready for roasting
Sausages peeled and crumbled

This recipe is quick and easy to do - just make sure you peel the casings off your sausages.

Simmering away

I always look forward to this soup as it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and it's so hearty and warming and fills me up. I have this on it's own for lunch so I serve the bigger portion at 6 WW points.

Freshly ladled up

I can imagine this would be great made with a good quality Chorizo sausage and served with a lovely slice of french bread - too many points for me though.

Monday, 25 February 2013

WW Week 7

Week 7 - Weight loss -0.8kg/1.7lbs

I'm pleased to report another good week on WW,  I am over the moon with this loss, as I was aiming for another 0.5kg to get 0.8kg is great - go me.

I started the week dreading getting on the treadmill as the Couch to 5k program upped the running time (I was on week 4) and I was a bit nervous as to whether or not I could do it, by Tuesday I'd plucked up the courage to try. The regime was brisk 5 min walking warm up, 3 min Jog, walk for 90 secs, 5 min jog, walk 2.5 min, 3 min jog, walk 90 secs, 5 min jog. It was the 5 min jog I was nervous about as it's been a long time since I've jogged for 5 min. Anyway I.m pleased to report I did, I don't know why I was so nervous as it was pretty easy. I've upped my walking speed to 3.8 mph and my jogging speed to 4.2 mph.

I've been really good all week not exceeding my daily points and I use my exercise points for food too. I've been making a really good 0-1 Point soup which helps, fill me up at lunch time, full of lovely veggies.

I've changed my weigh in day to Saturday just to give me more freedom on a Saturday just means if we go out for breakfast or lunch or dinner or even order a takeaway in, I can join in guilt free.

Take this Saturday for instance I had my breakfast and lunch as normal but in the evening we had friends round and Mr C cooked this fantastic Jamie Oliver stuffed pork loin with homemade Banoffee Pie for dessert, and although I couldn't finish all my pie, I certainly enjoyed the meal, wine, company and evening guilt free. I didn't point the meal up I just didn't have the heart too, so although I'd like to lose 0.6kg this week I don't think that's going to happen but I will try.

It's nice once in a while to have a little blow out on those points, I was straight back on it on Sunday though.

Favourite Meal - Chicken Stirfry with rice noodles - 9 WW points (5 points without the noodles)

Favourite Snack - Siggi's Yoghurt - I have come across these delicious pots of gold, they are only 2 WW points for 150g of yoghurt - delicious and so pure too.

Now I know there are yoghurts out there that might be only 1 WW point per carton but these little babies do not have anything artificial/unnatural in them at all and in my book that's a great yoghurt, and believe me I have looked at the ingredient list of nearly every single brand of yoghurt know to man.

My favorite flavor is the Orange & Ginger take a look at the ingredients - Pasteurized Skim Milk, Agave Nectar, Candied Ginger Orange Extract, Live Active Cultures - told you they were good. I'd highly recommend them.

And lastly watch this space for some of my favorite recipes I'll be sharing with you soon.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Sew Crazy

Sew (ha ha) I promised myself this year I would complete a sewing project every fortnight and I'm pleased to say I am more than exceeding this goal, so far this year I have made 3 curtains, 2 skirts for the girls, 2 "quilts" for their favourite soft toys, 2 dresses and a kindle cover - phew I'm sew exhausted.

I'm particularly pleased with the dresses, which are basically a long sleeved T-shirt with a skirt attached, I'd first seen the idea in my Make It Perfect book - a great sewing book by the way, and bought the tops from Target in Sydney over 2 years ago, yes that is how long I've been meaning to make these, luckily my girls are small so the tops still fitted them, in the end I actually followed this tutorial, rather than the make it perfect one, purely because I was after the skirt being attached lower down and a non tiered look. I will say though I used more fabric for the skirt, than tutorial advised, for Tilly who is 4 I used 10" and Ruby 12" this includes seam allowance.

I love the fabric Ruby choose for her skirt part - it by an Australian Fabric Designer - Saffron Craig - I really love her fabrics and I love supporting Australian Designers.

I'm very pleased with everything I've made in the last couple of weeks, I've definitely gone sew crazy. 

Couple of cord skirts for the girls

 The baby "quilts" for their animals - especially useful when the animals have been to the vets.

One Kindle cover made for Mr C - fabric from Ikea and is a mini version of the cover I did for our Ipad.

In between all my craftiness, I am also hoping, fingers and toes crossed, that sometime this year I get chosen for this craft weekend , I really really want to go, it's looks like craft heaven.

And in between all this sewing I'm knitting a Gap-tastic Cowl for myself in a lovely red, and my next knitting project will be this little jumper I'm just deciding on the colour and yarn to use, I am so excited as this one will really test my knitting skills, oh and I'd like to knit a Kina for Ruby, but I'll get her to pick the yarn for that, after all she is the one who will be wearing it.

Gap-tastic Cowl nearly finished

And next up on the sewing front are some bids for this project Craft Hope - I thought this would be a good way to use up my stash of fabrics for a good cause - will any one be joining me? I'm going to be sew busy.....

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

WW Week 6

Week 6 - Weight Loss -0.5kg/1.1lb

I have some news this week, I have a pair of grey cords, I love these cords but haven't worn them for ages as I couldn't get into them, my news is, I can finally fit back into them comfortably as well, I love it.

This week I went on the treadmill 5 times, upping my walk speed to 3.7mph and my jogging speed to 4.1mph - I average about 200 extra calories burned per session and I am enjoying it.

I will admit I didn't have the best of weeks this week, I've been very busy with Ruby's school activities, helping out at the 100 days at school party, the valentines day party that I helped organize, I am a room parent and it's been a busy week, I've missed the odd breakfast, which is so unlike me, and I've had the one too many chocolate bars this week and a visit to Spencer's Jolly Posh Shop (an English & Irish food store) didn't help, although I was very restrained, I only got a small bag of Cadburys buttons and a packet of hula hoops but still, they are not WW point friendly.

Although I've been good with the exercise I wasn't expecting a great weight loss so I was very pleased with a 0.5 kg/1.1lb weight loss, and this loss takes me to and past my next goal of losing 7.5% of my body weight which equals 5.5kg/12lbs yeah for me I get a treat - a new top here I come.

What I learnt this week on weight watchers was - sometimes you just have to go with the flow and if you want that bar of chocolate have it, no point in depriving yourself, but on the other hand you can't expect a good weight loss - you are what you eat.

Back on it for week 7 - I'm going to be extra good as I'd really like to lose another 0.5kg as this will take me to under 67kg so this is what I'm going to aim for.

The couch to 5k program really ups the running time this week, I hope I'm up for it too.

Favourite Meal - Turkey Meatballs and spaghetti - 9 WW points - my homemade very delicious meatballs point up to be 2 points per ball, I had 3, plus 2oz of cooked whole wheat spaghetti - delicious

Favourite Treat - a small bag of Cadburys Buttons, oh and a dark chocolate Milky Way, ok whilst I am admitting it, I did also have 2 Jaffa Cakes (which I naughtily didn't point up) see I did admit I had one too many chocolate bars this week.  

Friday, 15 February 2013

Raspberry & White Chocolate Fudge Brownies

A couple of Sundays ago, I was in the mood for baking and looking in my fridge I had some raspberries and white chocolate, two foods I love and a combination together that I think is wonderful, so after a quick look on the internet I decided to make Raspberry and White Chocolate Fudge Brownies and they did not disappoint.

Raspberry & White Chocolate Fudge Brownies

6oz Good Quality White Chocolate
1 cup All Purpose Flour (plain flour)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup of white chocolate chips (or milk/dark if you prefer)
1 cup fresh/frozen raspberries (use frozen not defrosted)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter an 8 inch non stick square baking pan.
2. Stir the 6oz of white chocolate in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly
3. In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt and set aside
4. Beat together the sugar and butter in an electric mixer, to blend, add eggs, vanilla & almond extracts.
5. Mix in melted white chocolate.
6. Stir in flour mixture just until blended - do not over mix.
7. Gently fold in white chocolate chips and gently fold in raspberries just until evenly distributed.
8. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, spreading evenly.
9. Bake until top is golden brown and cake tester inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs attached - about 40 mins if using fresh raspberries and 45 mins if using frozen raspberries.
10. Cool in pan, once cooled, cut into 16 squares and enjoy

Ruby weighing out the Chocolate Chips for me

Ruby weighed out the White Chocolate chips for me as at first I was going to use these to melt, but we didn't quite have enough white ones - I told her how much I needed and she correctly weighed them out - talk about getting a little bit of Math learning in whilst we are baking.

Melting the white chocolate over a pan of simmering water
Flour salt mixture

 The chocolate melts quite quickly, I usually use a glass bowl, but any bowl will do

Gently folding in the flour mixture
Adding the supposed to be White Chocolate Chips to the mixture

You'll notice that the recipe calls for white chocolate chips to be added, and you'll also notice, in the photo of Ruby weighing out the chocolate chips, I did have plenty of white chocolate chips, that was until I walked over to my Kitchen aid, tripped and the whole bowl of white chocolate chips went belly up, I was so disappointed and I had no more white chocolate chips left and had to use milk chocolate ones instead.

Adding the raspberries to be gently folded in
Mixture in pan ready to bake

Even though I did, honestly, very gently fold in my raspberries, I still had a few that broke up and made my mixture look like I had spread jam on the top of it, oh well better mixing next time.

And whilst the brownie mixture was baking, I treated the girls to a hot chocolate at Karen's Cafe - not quite Max Brenner or the Lindt Cafe but they did enjoy the extra portion of chocolate chips on the side.

Enjoying Hot Chocolates at "Karen's Cafe"

Finally the 40 mins were up, the cake had cooled down, although this seemed to take an eternity as we were all eager to take the taste test.


Served with a nice cup of tea, these Raspberry and White Chocolate Fudge Brownies were deliciously delightful. A big big hit in our family.

And I can't wait to make this recipe again, but with white chocolate chips instead.

Recipe Source -

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

WeightWatchers Week 5

Week 5 - Weight Loss 0.5kg/1.1lbs

Having a good weight loss last week kept me motivated for week 5 - my goal was to lose at least 0.4kg to take me down to 68kg on the nose, of course anything more than this would be a bonus.

So I was very pleased to see I was down another 0.5kg/1.1lb loss when I got on the scales Sunday morning.

It's been a good week, I've been on the treadmill 5 times and I'm now at 3.6mph on the treadmill and I've just completed week 2 of the Couch to 5k plan - last weeks training was after a brisk walk warm up of 5 mins, is to jog for 90 secs (I up the treadmill to 4mph), walk for 2 mins, for a total of 20 mins, I do this then carry on with walking until I have done a total of 45 mins (just the length of an episode of Once Upon A Time - a series I am loving)

And apart from a gorgeous steak dinner with rocket (arugula) and balsamic mushrooms, cooked by Mr C, I have stuck to my daily points quite easily, even being able to enjoy a chocolate bar and a couple of glasses of wine.

So I can eat more, I choose my food wisely, snacking on fruit, most fruits are 0 points, I don't eat biscuits/cookies, cakes, muffins etc, I have filling breakfasts, usually porridge with fruit or eggs, lunch is usually soup and a sandwich, I have found these great flatbreads only 2 WW points as compared to most breads here that are 2 WW points per slice. The upside is I get to eat more and that's always a bonus when you are dieting.

My biggest tip to anyone losing weight is to menu plan, knowing what I am having every day and having the ingredients/foods in makes it easy for me to stick to WW, and less likely to make the wrong choices.

My weight loss motivation currently coincides with the new series of America's The Biggest Loser, which I am enjoying, what they go through through to lose the weight makes me shudder and glad I am not that overweight. I admire these people, what they go through and their sheer determination to lose the weight and their transformations are fantastic.

So I'm now starting week 6 and I expect to hit a plateau soon, but I hope not, this week sees me up the treadmill to 3.7 mph, and week 3 on the Couch to 5k - is a brisk 5 min walk warm up, then 2 repetitions of jog for 90 secs, walk for 90 secs, jog for 3 mins, walk for 3 mins

But also this week is Pancake Day on Tuesday and I love pancakes (the thin ones) with just lemon and sugar on them, and it's Valentines Day, for once I am hoping for no chocolates to keep me on track.

My favourite meal this week - homemade pea and ham soup - 9 WW points - quite high for a soup, but it is a good hearty meal, made with split peas.

Favourite Treat - I indulged in a Dark Chocolate Milky Way (which, here, are more like a Mars Bar, than what us UK/Aussies would call a Milky Way) - it was deliciously decadent and a real treat for me - bonus too was I didn't need to use up any extra points. Yay.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Lunch Box Treats - Anzac Biscuits/Cookies

Our favourite lunch box treat or anytime treat for that matter is the good old Anzac Biscuit/Cookie, we just find them a very tasty and nearly healthy treat, full of oats and coconut, ok so the butter, golden syrup and sugar might not be great, but these are a great tasting, quick to make treat and we love them.

In fact everyone here in America who has sampled one has loved them too - go the Aussies

And just for you here is the tried and very many times tested recipe - this recipe comes from a pre-school Little Ark, Ruby attended briefly and they got to make the Anzac Biscuits/Cookies at school and we got the pleasure of the recipe and we've used it ever since

Anzac Biscuits/Cookies

1&1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 desiccated coconut*
2 tablespoons golden syrup*
150g butter
1/2 tsp bi carb soda(baking soda)

*If you are making this recipe outside of Australia & the UK then the coconut in question is the dried type of coconut not the sweetened (wet type) coconut available at grocery stores - wholefoods or Trader Joe's are your best places to buy it and the best place to get golden syrup is world market, but you could use maple syrup or treacle at a push.

1. Preheat oven to 170c/350f
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar and coconut.
3. In a small saucepan place the butter and golden syrup and stir over a low heat until butter has fully melted.
4. Mix the bi-carb (baking soda) with 1&1/2 tablespoons of water and add to the butter mixture. It will bubble whilst you are stirring together so remove from heat.
5. Pour butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together until fully combined.
6. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on a baking tray, pressing down on the tops to flatten slightly.
7. Bake for 8-12 mins or until golden brown.

Enjoy with a cup of tea.

Because these are so easy and quick to make, I have often whipped up a batch on a morning to go into the lunch box that day.

Flour, Oats, sugar and Coconut mixed together
Melt butter and golden syrup together over a low heat

I love mixing the butter and golden syrup together, it smells so divine, make sure the butter is fully melted.

Bi- Carb/Baking Soada mixed with water
And added to the butter mixture

Make sure when you add the bi-carb (baking soda) mixture to the butter mixture you turn off the heat first, as it does bubble/froth up.

Adding butter mixture to dry ingredients
And mix thoroughly

After adding the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and giving it a good mix, you are now ready to make and bake these little beauties.

Roll mixture into balls
Flatten balls slightly before cooking

Once this step is complete it is time to bake these babies.

They only need about 8-12mins in the oven, best to keep an eye on them though as they can very quickly go from being slightly underdone (and chewy) to hard and crunchy, in a matter of minutes. But you may like yours crunchy, we like ours softer and chewy.

And enjoy with a nice cup of tea
A big big favorite in our home

And those of you that don't know where Anzac cookies came from here's a little history lesson. 

These iconic biscuits were originally made to send to the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serving in Gallipoli, during World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied. As there was no refrigeration and the food had to remain edible after periods in excess of two months, a body of woman came up with the answer - a biscuit with all the nutritional value possible. The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats.

The ingredients they used were, rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carb of soda (baking soda) and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. At first the biscuits were called Soldier's Biscuits, but after landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits.

A point of interest is the lack of eggs to bind the ANZAC biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many poultry farmers had joined the services, thus, eggs were scarce. The binding agent for the biscuits was the golden syrup or treacle.

As the war drew on, many groups like the CWA (Country Women's Association), church groups, schools, and other women's organisations devoted a great deal of time to the making of the ANZAC biscuit. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in used tins, such as Billy Tea tins.

And there you have it, how the good old ANZAC biscuit became a national hero and is still a very popular biscuit today.

Information source -
Recipe Source - Little Ark Preschool.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

WeightWatchers Week 3 & 4

Week 3 - Weight Loss 0.2kg/0.44lbs

Week 3 started off well, Mum & I are taking advantage of Mr C being away on a 10 work trip in Vancouver and are indulging in the meals, he's not too keen on, Stir fry with noodles being my favourite, I made a big wok full enough for both of us for 2 nights, it was delicious and packed full of veggies.

But week 3 did see us have a few more treats, plus a couple of lunches out too, mums first week here, Ruby was poorly, she had her first ever ear infections and needed antibiotics for the first time too, so Mum & I were pretty much housebound, luckily I had mum here, as it meant I could take Tilly off to preschool without disturbing Ruby.

By the weekend Ruby was better, and we got out more, Mum & I had some free time together, we spent it shopping, hunting out bargains and looking for birthday presents, and although I didn't use all my points for the week, I did use most of my extra and exercise points, it's a good job I managed the treadmill 5 times at 3.4mph.

So I wasn't expecting a great weight loss and I didn't get it, only 0.2kg/0.44lbs but a loss is a loss.

Favourite Meal - Homemade Slow Cooker Beef Stew WW points 9

Favourite Treat - Large Glass of Red Wine

Week 4 - Weight Loss 1.2kg/2.65lbs

My Mum (Nanna) left us on Sunday, back to the UK she went and we miss her so much. So with Mum gone I knew I had to pull my socks up this week and aim for a big weight loss, so with that in mind and armed with my zero point soup I went for it.

I was able to get on the treadmill 4 times and I have increased my intensity to 3.5mph plus I found an app which gets you from the couch to 5k, so I thought I'd give it a go, week 1 brisk 5 mins walk warm up, then jog for 60 secs, then walk for 90 secs for a total of 20 mins, then I continue with my walk to take me up to 45 mins - WW exercise points earned 3.

I love baking and I do a lot with the girls and for Ruby's packed lunch, and I normally like to eat what I bake too, so I'm pleased this week, despite making the most delicious looking sour cream chocolate chip muffins, that I didn't relent.

I've been super good at logging every point, pointing up my own recipes and sticking to my daily points, I love the iPad and iPhone WW apps.

Weight loss this week - 1.2kg/3.1lbs bringing my total weight loss to 4.5kg/10.2lbs I am very pleased, especially as it means I have lost over 5% of my total body weight and I get a treat whoopie, see here

Favourite Meals - General Tso Chicken - a very healthy version at only 5 WW points per serve (when recipe is halved) and the best ever WW BBQ Chicken Pizza at only 8 points - red wine optional.

BBQ Chicken Pizza WW Points 8

Favourite treat - 10 squares of Milka chocolate WW points 6 and I didn't even need to use my extra points for this treat.

Another great reason why I love WW is that I get to enjoy the occasional treat like chocolate and the odd glass of red wine too bonus.

Right I'm off to enjoy my treat.....