35 Before 35: Baking – Spiced Oat Cookies

I mentioned in my latest photo an hour post that I had been baking healthy biscuits (cookies), partly because I was intrigued by the idea of making biscuits with apple sauce to replace the sugar and partly because I’ve only baked 4 out of 10 types of biscuits for my 35 before 35 challenge so far! The recipe in question was a BBC Food one by Anthony Worrall Thompson, which you can currently find here (until the BBC takes it down…)

Supposedly each biscuit has 82 calories, although I used butter rather than his “baking spread” (which is later referred to as plain old “margarine” in the actual method!), so I’m not sure whether that makes a difference. Plus I used wholemeal spelt flour rather than normal wholemeal flour because that’s all Aldi had. Also, I doubled the recipe because 12 didn’t seem like very many biscuits. This was my first batch:

Not meatballs, honest!
Not meatballs, honest!

As you can see, there are 15 on that tray. The second tray then contained 20 (I placed them closer together because I couldn’t be bothered with a third batch – turns out that wasn’t a problem as they barely spread anyway!).

I flattened them “slightly” just like Anthony said (the photo above is pre-flattening) and the end result came out like this:

(Yeah, my food photography skills are non-existent.) NOT very biscuit/cookie like! Next time I’ll just squish ’em properly flat before putting them in the oven!

The end result was not as spicy as they smelled – although after a few days in an air-tight container the spice has come out much more – and more savoury than sweet. You don’t notice the apple sauce at all! Also, they’re not particularly hard/crunchy. The texture is actually almost cake like (think Yorkshire Parkin without the stickiness). They’re still surprisingly moreish though – I had to put them away on Saturday to stop us eating them all before dinner!

I probably will make them again, but next time I plan to add some nuts, seeds and dried fruit and call them “muesli biscuits”. Then count that as one more towards the challenge because that will be a totally different biscuit, right?

Also, in the process of making these, I discovered that mixed spice is not a thing in Switzerland, then when I tried to make my own I discovered that Allspice is not a thing either (or rather the only kind I could get was some gourmet version that cost about 15 francs… for Allspice! What the hell?!)

So, that’s half of my types of biscuits baked. Woo hoo! Next up will presumably be something Christmassy unless I try out my muesli biscuit idea before then… watch this space.

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July goals

I don’t usually do this kind of post, but this is supposed to be a place for me to gather my thoughts and what I’m thinking about right now is goals for the month πŸ˜‰ Also, our internet has been flaky since we got home, which has kind of thrown a spanner in the works of the Vienna posts. It’s difficult to upload photos when the browser keeps telling you it’s unable to connect!

  • Complete the 30 Day Squat Challenge! I had to restart because I didn’t do any squats in Austria. I’m now back to day 4 and this time I actually want to finish it.
  • Be more careful with my money. I did waaaay too much online shopping last month (mostly buying books and summer clothes), and when I checked my bank balance just before we went to Austria I nearly had a heart attack. Of course, it didn’t help that the TV licence people took their money, which doesn’t happen every month. In July, I need to budget better and actually have some money left when my brother comes to visit!
  • Lose 2 kg before my brother comes. That will put me 2 kg above what I weighed after I had my wisdom teeth out. I can’t believe I’ve actually put on 4 kg since then (almost back up to my original weight!) so I’m determined to get at least halfway back to that weight!
  • Complete the summer reading challenge. I should be able to read 2.5 books by the end of the month, right?
  • Eat fruit! I’m terrible at it because whenever I buy fruit it goes mouldy before I can consume any so I end up not bothering to buy any more. But this month I want to buy some and actually do something with it before it’s too late!

That’s all. Five things sounds like it should be doable. Especially since some of them I’ve already started anyway… I just need to actually stick with them this time!

 

Weigh-in Wednesday (The last time in my 20s!)

I know I’ve already posted today, but it is Wednesday and that means weigh-in time! You can just view the Goslar post as an added bonus…

chips
Naughty… but oh so gooood! (Photo credit: dangermain)

Well, I was doing really well with eating healthily and sticking to my calorie limit until yesterday, when I was just hungry all day! By the time I got to the pub for quiz night, there was no way I was going for the semi-healthy option of breaded chicken breast with salsa and salad. Nope… toasted sandwich and chips all the way! Despite that, my weight is down by 0.8 kg since last week and down 2.3 kg since I started using My Fitness Pal. So about 2 kg left to go until goal weight!

My body fat percentage has been up and down like a yoyo this week! This morning it was 29.6%, which is down on last week at least, although not exactly ideal. It was the chips that did it, obviously! πŸ˜‰

Just look at those fluctuations!
Just look at those fluctuations!

Since last Thursday, I’ve been consistently measuring a waistline of 77 cm! Woo hoo. If it stays that way until my birthday I shall be very happy.

In terms of exercise, I have to confess I’ve been doing extremely badly, partly because I’ve been coming home in the evening then switching the computer on to do more work, but mostly because it’s just been far too hot! I managed some sit ups on Sunday, but that was it. Sorry, but I just can’t bring myself to work out when it’s 38Β°C outside… It’s cooled down a bit now though after yesterday’s thunder storm (which I got soaked in!), so hopefully it will stay like this and I’ll be able to do a few work outs!

Next weigh in will be the day after my birthday, so we’ll see what damage a day of not caring what I eat and drink does for my progress πŸ˜‰

Weigh-in Wednesday: 30 minutes exercise not happening!

So, it’s Wednesday again (how did that happen?!), and that means it’s time for another weigh in.

Despite my plans to treat myself on Saturday, I actually ended up doing pretty well this weekend, mostly because I was so buy preparing for curry night I didn’t have the chance to eat anything else that day! In the end, I was only 10 calories over my daily limit despite the glasses of wine.

My weight has fluctuated a lot since last week, but it hasn’t gone back up to my starting weight at any point, which is good. Last week, I was 0.5 kg down from when I started… this week I’m at roughly the same, although I did record a weight that was 1 kg down from original weight. Only on one day though.

My body fat in percent also fluctuates quite a bit, but it’s only gone above last week’s measurement of 28.5% once. This morning’s result was 27.8%, down 0.7% on last week and 2.2% on my starting percentage. Here’s the graph from MyFitnessPal to show you how much it fluctuates. It’s generally around the 28% mark though… well, apart from that one day where it shot waaay up to 29%!

Fat

After getting stuck at 78 cm for what felt like years, my waistline measurement finally crept down by another half centimetre (yes, I count the halves!) and has been 77.5 cm for the last three mornings in a row. I did measure 77 cm once, but the next day it had gone back up again.

My plan for this week was to try and actually achieve my goal of 30 minutes exercise on 5 days a week. Sadly, this hasn’t happened once so far… since last Wednesday, the most I’ve managed is 15 minutes. It’s just too hot to exercise! And this week I also have far too much to do.

funny-pictures-hamster-worries-about-calories-...
Photo: zebedee.zebedee

On the calories front, I’ve been doing really well! Admittedly, I was 375 above my limit on Friday, but apart from that I’ve been sticking to it pretty well. The last couple of days I’ve felt really hungry and just wanted to eat everything in sight. On Monday I was good and managed to restrict myself to a single serving of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms and a small handfull of spelt snack things from the organic supermarket, but yesterday U was unable to resist the cheesy crisps and eded up around 300 calories over my daily limit. To compensate, I forced myself to jog on the spot past the point where I would normally have given up and managed to make it to a whole 5 minutes on both days. Quite an achievement for me! Not that it helped much… 5 minutes of jogging in place burns a mere 42 calories. *Sigh*

I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to keep up with the healthy eating thing while I’m in England, but I’ll do my best. We’ll see how well I fared in two weeks time…
Wish me luck!

Friday letters

I can’t believe it’s Friday again! This week seems to have both dragged and flown by. Dragged because I had so much work and all of it was on the same looooong translation. It gets a little repetetive after a while. But the time also seems to have flown by thanks to the same translation – I lost about four hours last week due to server issues so I’ve spent most of the week panicking that there was no way I could the translation done in time. So that was fun. (In case anyone’s wondering, I did actually get the translation done, but it took me about 8 hours longer than it was supposed to.) As you can probably guess, the weekend is very welcome this week…

A happy post box
A happy post box (Photo: shaggy359)

Dear sleep. I hope you’ll be around this weekend – you and I have some serious catching up to do!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for being so supportive of my healthy eating thing… and helping me log the calories when I couldn’t do the maths myself! (41% of 250 expressed as a decimal anyone? It’s beyond my capabilities!)

Dear England. This time next week I’ll be preparing to leave for the airport and catch a flight to you. Very, very excited (especially about the christening)!

Dear Deutsche Bahn. Air conditioning is all well and good, but does it really have to be freezing on my train in the morning? I know it’s hot outside, but that doesn’t mean it has to be like winter inside!

Dear readers. Please could you all sign this petition against the closure of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Salford University. Salford is one of the few UK universities that offers a Bachelor’s in translation, and too many institutions have already closed their language departments. The petition still needs 400 signatures, otherwise I wouldn’t ask you…

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Weigh-in Wednesday: The first week

I joined My Fitness Pal on the recommendation of The Pink Rachael. For the first week, I decided to carry on with what I have been doing anyway – eating as healthily as possible and trying to fit in some exercise between all my other commitments – and see what insights I could gain. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  • Star jumps (jumping jacks) don’t use up nearly as many calories as I expected. So why exactly have I been jumping around my kitchen like an idiot? πŸ˜‰
  • Pine nuts contain a surprising number of calories!
  • There is far too much sugar in my diet. Most of this comes from yoghurts.
  • I would be much better at sticking to my daily calorie limits if I didn’t have a social life πŸ˜‰
  • I am totally useless at judging correct portion sizes. If I don’t weigh out ingredients, I will automatically make too much!
  • I can currently only jog on the spot for 2 minutes before I have to stop.

All that said, I have been doing pretty well so far. I haven’t always been below the calorie limit that MFP specifies in order for me to achieve my goals, but every day so far I have been below the number of calories it says I would need to maintain my current weight. And now for the numbers…

– I didn’t tell you my original weight (and I’m not going to now ;-)), but this week it is down by 0.5 kg.
– My body fat is down from 30% to 28.5%
– My waist measurement is down from 80 cm to 78 cm (there is some fluctuation, but it tends to be 78 cm in the morning and 79 cm in the evening… the last 6 measurements have all been below 80!)

Here’s a graph showing my morning waist measurements since I started using My Fitness Pal:

waistline

All in all, the first week went pretty well. For next week, I want to try and meet my exercise goals (30 minutes a day on 5 days of the week) and actively plan some meals in advance based on the number of calories they contain – during the first week, I was making our “normal” (but healthy) meals and checking out how many calories they actually contain.Β I already know I will be treating myself on Saturday though… planning onΒ  having friends round for curry. And wine, of course πŸ˜‰

Turkey mince and vegetable pasta bake

I had planned to make vegetable enchiladas for last night’s tea, but when I went to Karstadt, I discovered that they had turkey mince in (something that has happened so few times I would only need the fingers of one hand to count!) so I decided to grab some while I could. At home, after a quick look at what I had in the cupboards/fridge, I decided to make a pasta bake with turkey and vegetables.

To make this, you will need:
Turkey mince (obviously) – 500g was what I had
An onion, chopped
Garlic – 1 or 2 cloves, depending on how big they are and how you like it
Any vegetables you fancy/want to use up – I had a courgette, 2 carrots and a small tin of peas
A tin of tomatoes or tomato passata (I would have preferred the tin of tomatoes, but it turned out I had none left…)
Pasta of your choice (small ones, like farfalle, will work best) – 300g went into mine to use up a packet

Garlic and onions
Garlic and onions

Start by frying the garlic and onion together in a frying pan, then add the mince and fry until it’s cooked through. In the meantime, boil some water for the pasta.

Add the vegetables to the pan, putting in those that take longest first (in my case, courgettes and carrots – peas went in after a few minutes). Also add the pasta to the water once it’s boiled.

Turkey mince and veg
Turkey mince and veg

When the vegetables are starting to get soft, pour in the tomatoes and stir everything in together. Continue cooking until the pasta is ready (you’ll want to cook the pasta for slightly less time than usual).

Place the pasta and turkey/vegetables mixture in an oven-proof dish and stir everything in together.

Almost ready for the oven...
Almost ready for the oven…

Now grate some cheese over the top of the pasta mixture – I’m trying to be healthy, so I used much less than I usually would. (Even better would have been to use low fat cheese, but the shop I went to didn’t have any so I stuck with ordinary Cheddar).

Cheeese! Now it's ready for the oven...
Cheeese! Now it’s ready for the oven…

Place the dish in the oven and leave it until the cheese is melted – roughly 20-30 minutes should do, depending on your oven.

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

And there you have it… a healthy and fairly simple meal. The amounts here were enough for Jan and I plus and extra portion for me to take to work today.
Apologies for the crapness of some of my photos by the way… there’s a reason this is not a recipe blog!