Monthly Archives: February 2012

Poached salmon with ginger

Last night I prepared a lovely dinner! A dear friend was coming to visit and I wanted something new and special. I had the latest edition of the Australian Healthy Food Guide on the table and flicked through it while getting my shopping list together. One picture caught my eye: poached salmon atop peas and snowpeas in a bowl with broth and a wedge of lime. It looked so fresh and light! And finally, we have summer (only 2 months late). The last couple of days have been hot and clear.

I adapted the recipe a little. I bought some fresh shitake mushrooms which I knew would just be wonderful in this dish. I included asparagus as well to increase the variation with the vegetables. The result was a lovely combination of flavour and texture. While it was a little fiddly and hands on right to the end, which is not my preferred style of cooking when entertaining, it is something that I will definately make again.

The recipe below is written to serve two people, last night I served three (well three and a half). When cooking more salmon fillets you will need a larger saucepan to fit them all in at once, which means increasing the quantity of water, fish sauce, sugar and especially the ginger.

Poached Salmon with Ginger

1 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2x 150g skinless salmon fillets
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup water
100g shitake mushrooms, sliced
10 snowpeas
10 asparagus
1/2 cup frozen peas
coriander sprigs
lime wedges
1 cup cooked white rice

Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan. Add the spring onions and ginger and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar and water; bring to the boil and turn the heat down to low. Add the salmon. Cook for 3 minutes, turn the salmon over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove from the saucepan and keep somewhere warm.

Increase the heat under the saucepan. Add the mushrooms. Boil rapidly for five minutes. Add the asparagus, snowpeas and peas and cook for 2 minutes.

Pack 1/2 cup of cooked rice in a small ramekin, turn upside down onto a plate; the rice will come out and keep its shape. Prepare the rest of the rice in the same way on a second plate. Serve the vegetables on the plate next to the rice, top with salmon. Ladle some of the broth on top of the salmon. Garnish with coriander sprigs and lime wedges.

Nutritional information
total: 4139 kJ, 46.1 g fat, 76.8 g protein, 64.4 g carb, 8.9 g fibre
per serve: 2069 kJ, 23.1 g fat, 38.4 g protein, 32.2 g carb, 4.5 g fibre

the end of a busy week

It has been a busy week with a lot of little stress points. The result has been a lack of focus. My head is not quite in the right space and I have been a little relaxed about snacks.

I did not have the time till this morning when I got up early to go running to work out why my focus had faded. Once I started looking at the week I realised what had been going on, and that I have done very well despite all the varied stress.

– I had some sort of mild virus on Monday night. The symptoms (muscle soreness, tiredness, headache, back ache) only lasted for about 8 hours but it meant that things I was going to do needed to be put off.
– Our boy is transitioning from a cot to a bed and the novelty has worn off. Tuesday night he had a lot of trouble getting to sleep and then getting back to sleep through the night which meant that we did not sleep well.
– I was not able to get up early on Wednesday to go running and I missed it.
– My mum went in for emergency dental surgery on Wednesday. She is ok now, feeling better than she was. But I was worried and Dad did not call when he said he would so I spent Thursday morning quite distracted.
– I called the agent managing my unit and said I had decided to put it on the market. – Thursday night we were out at a friends place and I had more snacks than I usually would because I was still tired.
– And last night I was just hungry. I am not sure why (although I suspect hormones). So, I had some nuts, some more nuts and a hard boiled egg. And went to bed early.

So, lots of things on top of a busy work week and general home life. This is where having planned the meals for the week has really helped me. Last night we got home and dinner was easy and fast.

Today there is more to to. I decided not to go for the morning walk around the lake so I could do some cleaning. To get my run in I got up at 6 and did it early. It was a good run as well. My man and our boy have left and the house is quiet. I have done the meal plan and shopping list for the next week. I am about to put on another load of washing and start the cleaning. But it was nice to take 10 minutes out and reflect on last week and get my focus back. And to realise that even with everying going on, I did not overeat for comfort or stress relief. I ate a little more than normal on three evenings but it was not in excess.

Next week will also be busy and will have different stress points. That is ok. I know if I take the quiet time when I get it I will get through.

Jam

I am jamming again but this time I am doing it smart.

I am making spiced plum jam, the same as last week. The plums are Blood Plums and are from a tree at my boss’s house. I gave her a jar of last week’s batch and she offered me some more plums, the jam is that good. So, I am jamming again.

I make spiced plum jam by throwing in whole cloves, coriander seed, peppercorns, a couple bay leaves, a vanilla pod, a nutmeg, a cinnamon stick and some dried orange peel. Last week I threw all the spices into the pot with the fruit and then needed to get them out again before bottling. It was too hard to separate all the fruit from the spices (although I did try) so I ended up eating the fruit and spitting the spices out. Bad decision.

This week, all of the spices were tied up in some muslin and I could fish them out in one go. I also took out all of the plum stones before adding the sugar. It was much less appetising without the sugar!

The jam is almost ready for bottling. I know it is delicious, I have had maybe 2 teaspoons while checking to see if it has reached setting point. This is a huge difference to last week! I have several small jars and am giving some away to my colleagues. The rest I will keep to use throughout the year and to give away to friends when we visit or as thank you presents.

Hurrah for learning from past experiences! Hopefully I will remember next summer when I make spiced plum jam again.

Monday review

Another week is done in February! And I am happy with how the week went and what the number box said this morning.

This week’s stats:
Start weight (3/1/2011): 140.9kg (310 lbs)
Today’s weight: 95.4 kg (210 lbs)
Lost this week: 0.6kg (1.3 lbs)
Total lost: 45.5 kg (100 lbs)

There are many things I am happy about with this week.

My eating averaged out at 9330 kj a day, with some days over 9500 and some days at about 9000. There were a couple of special food things, we got takeaway last Tuesday night for Vday and it was nice to share a special meal with my man. On the not so good side, I made spicey plum jam last wednesday and ate alot of the fruit when I was trying to strain the spices out. It was wonderfully delicious but it was far too much sugar in one sitting for me. I need to start asking myself -how will I feel in 5 or 10 minutes?- before eating something. Apart from that, it was a highly successful week on the food front.

I exercised 5 times in the week, my 3 Up and Running workouts and 2 additional fast walks. And my 5K on Saturday! I am already up to 87km of running and walking in Feb!

I remembered my affirmation on most days. I tend to forget it on the weekend, I need to remember to say it then as well. I notice the difference when I do. Progress was made on the money front, too. I am getting organised and taking steps to make my financial situation better. Even taking small steps on this front is reducing my overall stress.

I am happy with the loss this week. I was hoping for more but I got back down to 100lbs and that makes me very excited.

This week I will stick with my target of 9500kJ a day and 5-6 workouts. This seems to be a good balance for me. I have already survived a work morning tea today and I did really well in sticking to my plan. I don’t know what else is happening but there will be things on the weekend, I am sure… I am starting to want to bake. I might need to investigate a cake option, and more importantly, cake disposal options.

It is almost the end of the month. This week I will start to think about my challange for next month. Still no chocolate for me so far!

Things are good. The upcoming week looks good. I am happy.

Spicy Chicken Curry

Tonight I followed a recipe. Well… read ‘followed’ loosely. I used a recipe as a base for what became dinner. But more than that, I worked out the nutritional info and I wrote it up to post here.

I wanted to do something with chicken. I wanted something that I could make in bulk and freeze. I wanted something that would be tasty and healthy. I started looking through cookbooks and a recipe called ‘Hot and Spicy Chicken Curry’ caught my eye. It seemed to fit all the criteria.

My small boy is not up to hot foods yet, but he does get spicy foods regularly. To adapt the recipe for him I left out the chilli powder. I did leave in the white pepper so it will be interesting to see what he thinks. I also cut down the amount of oil called for from 60mL to 10mL. I only used 1kg of chicken thigh fillets, the original called for 1.7kg. I did this because I had only bought 1kg of thigh fillets and I did not want to go back to the shops. I left the amount of the spice the same even with less chicken but cut back a little on the liquid. So, I did mean loosly followed 🙂

There are alot of spices used in this dish. We like spicy food and cook frequently, so we had all of these in the cupboard except for the fresh lemon grass and the curry leaves. These are both available in asian grocery stores and larger supermarkets in Australia.

I thought about swapping the coconut milk for light evaporated milk with coconut essence… but decided against it. I am not using much in the total dish and it will add to the taste and texture of the sauce. But you could swap the coconut milk for reduced fat greek yoghurt. That would give the curry a slightly different taste but it would work.

The curry serves 5-8 people, depending on how much chicken you want. My diet is higher in protein so for us the meal served 5 (ish). I had 8 thigh fillets in my kg of chicken, that gave me 16 pieces of chicken. I served up 3 pieces of chicken for each person. If you only had 1 thigh fillet each, the curry would serve 8.

There was alot of sauce, which I like and it made me think that the recipe would work with more chicken but not increasing the quantities of anything else. The flavours are gentle because there is no chilli but still complex. The chicken was fall-apart tender. I needed to add a little salt and the coriander was important. I really liked this dish. I am glad there are left overs to freeze. It is not too heavy for a cool summer evening and it would be a good winter dinner.

Spicy Chicken Curry
(adapted from Woman’s Weekly Cook It Freeze It)

2 tsp olive oil
1kg chicken thigh fillets, halved
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10 curry leaves
400g tin of diced tomatos
1/2 cup chicken stock
10cm piece of fresh lemon grass, bruised
80mL light coconut milk
coriander leaves to garnish

Spice blend – mix together the following:
1 tbs ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground cardomom
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Pre heat the oven to 160’C.

Heat the olive oil in a large flame proof casserole dish. Brown the chicken in batches, set aside.

In the same pan, cook the onion, stirring until soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a further minute. Add the spice blend and curry leaves, cook stirring for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock, tomato, lemon grass and the chicken, stir to coat. Bring to the boil.

Cover with a tightly fitting lid and place in the oven. Cook for 60 minutes, stir and return uncovered to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir to incorporate.

Serve with basmati rice, some steamed greens and garnished with coriander leaves.

Nutritional info (without the rice or the greens)
Total: 8110 kJ, 104.5 g fat, 190.1 g protein, 68.3 g carbohydrate, 8.7 g fiber
per serve (5 serves): 1622kJ, 20.9 g fat, 38.0 g protein, 13.7 g carbohydrate, 1.7g fibre.

5K run

Everything fell into place this morning 🙂

My eating has been good for the last 3 weeks, my exercise consistent. The weather was not too hot/not too cold and dry. I got up early enough for a light breakfast before I went out. I had a rest day yesterday. I am mid cycle (don’t actually know if it makes a difference but I felt good).

Today I did 5 min warmup walk, 1km warm up run, stretches, 5K run and a cool down walk. Total time 54 min. Total distance 6.96 km. My 5 km time wa 34.41 minutes with spilts of 6.58, 6.54, 6.51, 7.12, 6.46, giving me an average pace of 6.56. That is a PB by 90 seconds.

And separate to the times, I felt good in the first two km, was feeling the third km, had to push myself in the 4th km and then knew that I would finish in the 5th and managed to go up a gear. My breathing was controlled, my pace at the start was deliberately slow. And I got to the end and knew I had done well, even without knowing the times.

I am so proud of me!

unofficial weigh in

I jumped on the scales this morning after my workout.

I have lost more than 45kg. And I am half a pound away from 100lb loss.

Cracking big milestones is so exciting!

And eating that little bit more is helping to balance the exercise; I am not as tired and not as hungry.

Yay!