Monday, 27 January 2014

My best Slimming World recipe EVER! - Cheesy Meatball Pasta Bake

Since going back to Slimming World at the start of January I've been making an effort to try some new recipes and keep varying my food every day. Although there is an endless choice when it comes to what you 'can' eat with Slimming World, like anything it's all too easy to fall into a habit of eating the same things day in and day out. 

I have many SW cookbooks as well as a folder with lots of recipes that I've collected from the magazine over the years, I've actually made very few though!

Last week I decided to try a new one out, and I wish I'd made it sooner!

Cheesy Meatball Pasta Bake was a massive hit with the whole family and possibly one of the best main Slimming World meals I've ever made!

You need...

For the meatballs -
500g extra lean pork mince
6 finely chopped spring onions
Dried herbs ( I used about a teaspoon each of basil and oregano)
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree

For the sauce -
1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
50 ml chicken stock
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

120g grated cheddar
300g pasta

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together and shape into 20 balls.  Fry in frylight until browned all over.

Meanwhile in a large pan fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes before adding the remainder of the sauce ingredients.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes

Cook the pasta as directed on the packet, drain and return to the pan.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and add the meatballs,
Transfer to an overproof dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes - Enjoy!

Serves four and on 'Extra Easy' is free if you use the cheddar as your 'healthy extra' (otherwise count a portion as 6 syns)

Link up your recipe of the week

Monday, 20 January 2014

Kids Fun in Cyprus

Today I am playing host to Laura, a fellow Cyprus blogger, otherwise known as 'Izzy the Cypriot lizzard'

'Kids Have Fun in Cyprus' is written by a Mum of three kids, she started blogging due to her love of writing and travelling. They love to find new places to go, long walks, free playgrounds and spending as much time together having fun as they can.

She hates to see so many places deserted and uncared for and hopes that the people will try to create more places for the children and bring more creativity and arts for the adults of the future.

I'll hand you over...

Huge Kids Choices

We live in a period were we can make lots of choices regarding how to raise our kids. From the beginning we start programming our children’s life. Choosing a kindergarten, before they are born, then deciding about the school, the language they will study, the sports they will play, the places they will visit and most important the other kids they will see. We are present everyday from the start, making all the choices for them, from the beginning until they will be able to start asking... and then we will still be there explaining that our choices are better.

Is it simple at the beginning, I like pink, my little girl she will copy and says she likes pink. I like ballet she will see and say the same. We are there choosing from so many offers some of these more expensive then others. Going to football? Or trying karate? What to do?

I like to imagine that every parent has some good or bad experiences from their own childhood. I, for example I still remember that my mother did not let me go to gymnastic lessons saying they are very expensive. I still regret it.

So how we do it? Do we see an advertisement about some classes and if they met our schedule, our budget, and our proximity we will choose to go? Do we strongly believe they will help our kids developing in a certain way or we think they will need this in a certain time in their life?

It is impressive if we are just stopping for a second to imagine how our choices can change and influence our children’s life. There are kids which are ice skating since two years old, or playing the violin since three, so many kids guided by their parents choices. Are these good ones or bad?

Sometimes even we as parents are limited by our own small experience in sports or music and we do not think that it can be more. We can create an environment to help the kids choosing and building a life career out of these choices.

Maybe we should all think that there should be some important targets that every kid should meet. A target will keep them from going on the wrong direction when they will be teenagers. Like making a sport, learning a foreign language, playing an instrument, and being an artist. I believe that no child should miss any of these steps.

How to take the right decision?

We should expose our kids to them. No trying all of them! Just experience. We should take our children to the sports hall. Let them see what others are doing. How you can play volley, how you can ride a horse, how you can play cricket… so many thinks to see, to experience. Taking your child to a concert, show him the instruments, show him how other kids are learning to play at any instrument.

Expose your child to experiences.

It is the first most important step.

Let’s try giving them the right to choose from the true experience. Let’s give them a chance to be different… to choose to be something else then what everybody is! Their life is in our hands we should be able to give them the proper choices!

For lots of ideas and places to go, make sure you follow 'Kids Fun in Cyprus' blog and you can also find them on their facebook page. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Another sunrise

'Another sunrise photo?'

Yep, another sunrise, another stupidly early morning.

I do remember back in England, when Leo was a week or so old so in early June, feeding him in the early hours of the morning and it was just starting to get light and it looked like it would be a nice sunny day. I thought to myself it was lucky it was summer as it would have been so much more depressing in the middle of winter.

It's lucky then given how my both my boys are/ have been terrible sleepers and prone to get up VERY early EVERY day that we moved to Cyprus and most of the year I'm greeted by a lovely sunrise each morning.

I was also pleased to notice that it didn't feel that chilly when I went out in my dressing gown to get the photo, maybe a hint of spring on the way?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Flashback Friday - 15 months old

Guess who??

Aaron is always saying how similar the boys look but I struggle to see it, looking at Leo now with his short dark blonde hair it's easy to forget how different he looks now compared to his toddler days.

I know the photos are of Leo, but I do wonder if presented with a photo I'd never seen before could I be confused?  If you dressed Louka in one of Leo's old outfits I think I might be!

I'm always saying I'm glad I have my blog to look back on at things I've done, but I was quite surprised how little there was about Leo and I in the early days of blogging, what did make me smile though was looking back into the archives for a post written about Leo at the age that Louka is now (15 months) and all I came up with was 'What's the secret to Sleep?' 

Some things never change do they!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A visit to Thalassa Museum of Agia Napa

As much as I love the beach and pool you can have too much of a good thing, especially in the height of summer when the temperatures reach 40 plus degrees every day so I am always on the look out for alternative ways to occupy ourselves.

There are not a whole lot of options really but one I'd had in mind for a long time is the Thalassa Museum in Agia Napa. 

Last year was the first year I thought Leo might appreciate it so back in July my Dad and I took the boys for a look round.Worst way round I thought we'd all appreciate the air conditioning!

Leo was really impressed by the model sharks and other sea creatures and enjoyed looking at the main display - a replica of the 'Kyrenia II' a life size exact replica of the ancient vessel of the classical period (400 B.C)
Thalassa Museum Agia Napa

There are many glass panels in the floor which he found really interesting and a huge section where a reconstruction of the old shipwreck is displayed underneath.  There is also a documentary shown which was a bit too long for a fidgety four year old but Dad and I found the bit we saw interesting!

On the basement level is the Marine Life exhibition, and I was surprised to hear Leo pointing out several things in Greek so I assume they have covered a bit of this at school!  Full of stuffed fish, turtles and mammals of the Cypriot and Greek seas,  as well as exhibits of shells, barnacles, sea urchins, crabs, lobsters and much more,  plenty to see and explore.

Agia Napa Thalassa Museum

Leo was really interested in most of the displays, asking tons of questions  (as he does!) and listening with interest as we read the information to him. He was most fascinated by a skeleton displayed in a glass case under the floor, this has been the lasting memory for him and led to many conversations and more questions since!

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours and escape the heat in the middle of summer!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

KFC Slimming World Style 'Kentucky Fried Chicken'

One of the things I missed most when I first started Slimming World was my takeaways, Chinese was reasonably easy to adapt but McDonalds and KFC would something to be reserved for special occasions and 'off plan' days.   Eight years later though, and with a huge increase in information available online there are tons of 'fake away' recipes to choose from.

After the success of my 'Big Mac in a bowl' last year I decided to try the 'KFC style chicken' recipe I'd seen doing the rounds online.

It was a huge hit with the whole family, and although not exactly the same as the very moist and fatty pieces of chicken on the bone that you get in a Bargain bucket, it was very similar to the popcorn chicken and the fillets - certainly fills a 'KFC need'.

Slimming World Style kentucky fried chicken


4 small chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
3 tsp Chicken Bovril
2 eggs
2 slices wholemeal bread
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Mixed herbs
1 tsp Cajun spice
1 tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning

1) Preheat oven to 200 deg
2) Mix eggs with bovril and put chicken into the mix to marinate for 20 minutes
3) Make breadcrumbs from toasted bread
4) Add all the herbs to the breadcrumbs and mix well
5) Spray an oven tray with frylight
6) Remove chicken from the mix and roll in breadcrumbs
7) Place chicken on tray and spray with frylight
8) Cook for 20 minutes spraying chicken halfway through with frylight.

Only it's only 6 syns for the whole lot!

The recipe was given to me by a fellow SW member but when I came to make it I realised I didn't have most of the spices needed so I improvised, using BBQ seasoning rather than Jamaican Jerk (not sure if you can even get that here in Cyprus) and leaving out the Cajun spice altogether, it was still yummy though!

This has now made it onto the list of my favourite Slimming World meals!

Link up your recipe of the week

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Oh what a beautiful morning

Here in Cyprus Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th and it's a big bank holiday so today, January 7th was the first day back to 'normal' after the Christmas and New Year break.

Leo woke up refusing to go to school at first but soon got over it when I let him have breakfast in a proper bowl 'like Mummy'  He looked a little shy going in and looked blankly at his teacher when she spoke to him, I understood what she said and helped him out but I guess he's just been used to hearing only English for the last 2 weeks and was confused!

It felt strange coming home without him and Aaron went out just after I arrived, leaving Louka and I on our own for the first time in ages.

Although it was chilly indoors the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm outside, I hung the washing out, while Louka ran around the balcony and tried to play swing ball with a brush, then we headed inside and I did almost an hour of exercise dancing and cardio boxing on the Wii while Louka danced and laughed beside me!

After a lovely chat with my friend on the phone while Louka progressed from swing ball to knocking a ball around with the brush instead, I prepared my Slimming World lunch and then put Louka down for a nap.

Half hour of sweeping, mopping and cleaning the bathroom later I found myself sat on the balcony, cuppa (and phone obviously!) in hand looking at this beautiful sky.

What a fab start to normality in 2014!

mummy daddy me
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 4 January 2014

My little helper - 1/52

When I planned my weeks food yesterday (for the first time ever!) to help with get back on track with Slimming World, I knew there was one place I'd have to go today.

Deryneia has a farmers market every Saturday morning, I'd been meaning to go for weeks now but had never got round to it before, always ending up getting a couple of bits at the supermarket while Leo was at school.

I chickened out of taking Louka, leaving him at home with Aaron and instead I enlisted Leo as 'my little helper' 

Usually one to be a handful whilst shopping he loved our trip to the market, holding my list and reading out what we needed, then finding it on the stalls and choosing the produce. 

I gave him the money and he asked the stallholders how much it was and handed it over speaking in Greek to them.  He was given a huge strawberry by one lady so I think that's why he speaks in Greek, he knows they think it's cute and tends to be given things!

Maybe it was the responsibility or maybe it was the fresh air but it was a much more enjoyable experience than going to our usual supermarket. We even managed a quick shop there afterwards and he was still in a good mood!

mummy daddy me
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallLove All Blogs Better Photos Project

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 3 January 2014

Slimming World ups and downs and up again

It's hard to believe that it was 8 years ago this week that I first walked into my local Slimming World group. I had no idea how it was going to change my life but change it it did (You can read about it all on my Slimming World page if I've not told you it a million times already!)

After just over a year I had reached my target weight of 11 stone having lost just over 4 st, and I managed to stay there or thereabouts for well over a year.

I was a complete convert, I continued going to my group and it was reasonably easy to stay at target, days on and off plan balanced themselves out and I didn't feel deprived or like I was missing out on anything, in fact it was quite the opposite, for the first time I was wearing heels and skinny jeans and stopping dead in my tracks walking past shop windows as I didn't recognise myself!

Then I got pregnant and my initial thoughts of pretty much sticking to the plan throughout the pregnancy soon went flying out the window!

On the day I was induced at 42 weeks pregnant I jumped on the scales out of interest - I was still less than my original weight!

After the distractions and excuses of a small baby and a move to Cyprus it took me a while to get back on track. I found a group here in Cyprus and eventually got to my 'new' target of 11.5 stone the week before Leo's 2nd birthday.

This time I stopped going to group and my weight slowly began to creep up, Christmas was approaching and I made vague promises to myself to get back on track in January 2012, that is until I found out I was pregnant for the second time.

I decided I would enjoy the final excuse to eat what I liked and put off worrying about it until afterwards.

After Loukas was born I followed the plan at home losing almost a stone until I started to get 'stuck' at that weight. I knew what I had to do, and joined a new Slimming World group in January 2013.

I set a target of 12 stone, a cheats target really, using the reasoning that I'd had two babies and I wouldn't be able to get back to where I was before. That meant I'd have gained half a stone for each child.

I reached the target in June and then spent the rest of the year trying to stay in it!

My heart has not been in it at all since reaching my 'target' and I know it's because I can do better.

This year I am throwing myself back into it with a vengeance and I would like to reach my old target of 11.5 stone (post baby target, as I was happy there and all my old clothes should fit) by Loukas 2nd birthday in August.

This weekend I am writing a meal plan for next week, and visiting the local farmers market to stock up on fruit and veg. Monday I will walk back into my group after weeks and face the scales after my mad Christmas food intake!

Back in my original Slimming World year I lost nearly 4 stone from January to December, it wasn't easy but I was focused and determined to stick to it. I stuck to the plan like glue and I exercised my arse off - literally!

Once I partied like it was 1999, this year I will eat like it's 2006!

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