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Monthly Summary: April

Sunday, 28 April 2013

You might have noticed a distinct lack of Sunday Summaries lately. To be honest, we're all busy people and sometimes we find it hard to update every week, particularly if we're out and about on a Sunday.  So we've decided to switch to monthly, not weekly updates. We'll still be posting regularly on here of course, and if you ever want to know specifically how we are doing, just give us a shout on Twitter!

We've got lots of stuff coming up in May which we hope you'll like, but if there's anything you'd like to see more or, give us a shout in the comments. We're also always looking for bloggers to guest post their personal stories about diet, exercise and health and whatnot, so get in touch!

Sarah V - April has been a great month for me. I've lost over a stone and a half now and hit my 10% target at Weight Watchers. In the last week or two, I've suddenly noticed the change in my body - clothes are fitting better and I can really see how much smaller my waist and my pot belly have become. I feel a lot better in myself, and am so much more active - I find myself planning ways to incorporate extra walking into my routine which I would never have done a few months ago. In May, I want to get to two stone. I'm 5.5lbs off it at the moment which sounds fairly obtainable, so I'm going to step up the exercise so that I can get there by the time June starts. I still have more I want to lose, but I do really feel like I'm getting there which is a fantastic feeling.

Gem -I really struggled to get back on track once I started full time work and switched to online only Weight Watchers. I found a class that fitted in with my work schedule but I hated it and really didn't want to go back but I didn't give up. I found a local class on a Saturday morning with a brand new leader and all new members. It feels like we are all starting the plan together and everyone is super supportive there. I had my first weigh in back this week and I lost 3lbs. I'm so happy and feel like I can finally work towards my -100lbs goal. I'm currently 5 stone 4lbs down from my start weight and I'm aiming to be -6 stone by the end of June. I have a trip to Amsterdam and London in the way but it's a realistic goal.

Rosie - I've missed a few Sunday Summaries not only because I've been busy but also because I've been conscious of not having anything to share.  In December last year I shared that I'd hit my 10 week pledge target and managed to beat it by getting down to 127 lbs.  Now, five months later, I am.... 129 lbs.  I'm not worried about having put a couple of pounds on but I have felt that having not lost any weight for a few months means I don't really have anything to contribute to Where Are My Knees.  I hope that that's wrong however, because although I've plateaued and struggled to go beyond the weight loss I saw at the end of last year, I've also maintained.  And for the first time in a long, long time, I have moments where I look in the mirror and feel happy with my weight.  I hope that what I can bring to Where Are My Knees from now on is reflections on how to maintain weight after a loss, healthy eating tips (because I have completely changed my eating habits) and more on exercise, particularly running.  I've got back into running again over the last couple of weeks and it's an amazing feeling - being able to run 10ks at the weekends makes me really happy and feels like such an achievement.  This month I'm going to Greece in the second week and my goal to feel happy and confident in a bikini.  That would be a phenomenal gain for me.

Sarah - I have given up at this moment in time :(  I just cannot focus on weight loss with all the house stress going on around me.  I had no idea it would be so stressful and all consuming.  I don't even want to tell you the kind of crap I have been eating my body weight in.  Rather embarrassing that I haven't managed to get to the point where I can control my food intake regardless of what is going on around me.  Since my last update I have managed to gain 7lbs.  Yep you read that right, a whole half stone.  Knowing how hard this was to lose and how easily I have gained it really annoys me and come two weeks when I finally move into my new home I am going to kick it's ass and get back on track.  I will be going back on The Harcombe Diet as the clean eating/low carbing plan really suited me and I found it relatively easy to stick to.  I did dabble with the 5:2 plan earlier this week but after one day on 500 calories know it's not the plan for me.  There is no way I can cope with feeling so weak and dizzy and ending up with a massive headache twice a week, just isn't worth it.

How's April been for you?

Four Cheese Gnocchi Bake

Friday, 26 April 2013

Three of the four cheeses

Over Easter, I slipped on Weight Watchers a bit. I went out for a few meals, I missed my meeting (as it was on the bank holiday Monday) and generally slacked. After being in the habit of being good, I reset myself slightly and getting back into the WW mindset was kind of hard. Somehow I managed to get away with it and stayed the same after Easter, but I knew I needed to do something to snap myself back to being on-plan.

What really helped me when I started WW was to make lots of new recipes – I love trying new things and it was actually a good way of learning the basic rules of the plan quite quickly. Sharing them on here is a good way of forcing myself to keep things fresh, rather than going back to the same recipes again and again. I do repeat them, but I’ll always try something new at least every fortnight.

This recipe is actually perfect for when you’re feeling a bit fed up with following a diet plan, because it’s rich and luxurious and downright naughty. It has four different types of cheese in it! FOUR! I got this off the WW app, but then doctored it a bit to make it more exciting. The original recipe has more gnocchi, but I find gnocchi really filling so I cut it down (also it's 400g in a pack). It also does not have the low fat cheese on top, but if I can find a way to shoehorn more cheese into a recipe, you’d better believe I will do it. You are looking at the girl who adds cheese to reheated lasagne. Hey – as long as you point it, it’s fine!

Four Cheese Gnocchi Bake
400 g Broccoli, raw, broken into small florets
1/2 pack of Mushrooms
3 cloves Garlic
2 Leeks
200 g Cheese, soft, low fat 8pp
100 ml Milk, Semi Skimmed 1pp
50 g Cheese, Stilton, chopped 6pp
1 g Black pepper
400 g Gnocchi, Fresh 16pp
20 g Cheese, Parmesan 2pp
100g Low Fat Cheese - 8PP
= 41PP / 10PP per person

To reduce points: You do not need all this cheese. Of course you do not need all this cheese. But do you want all this cheese? I bet you do.

Top tip: To avoid having lots of different types of cheese in the fridge to 'use up' (uh oh), go to the cheese counter and ask the nice man to give you a small quantity of cheese. 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Lift the broccoli from the saucepan with a draining spoon into a colander, saving the water in the saucepan.
3. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms and leeks in a non-stick pan or wok with FryLight or a little water and the garlic cloves (crushed).
4. Stir in the soft cheese and add the milk. Stir until both are combined and smooth.
5. Add the Stilton and stir through - it should melt pretty quickly as it's only a small amount. Season the sauce with black pepper and any other spices you fancy.
6. Cook the gnocchi in the same water as the broccoli, according to pack instructions. Drain well.
5. Mix the gnocchi and broccoli with the cheese mixture and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Scatter the Parmesan cheese and low fat cheese over the surface and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Nutribox Review

Monday, 22 April 2013

I’m always looking for healthy things to snack on at my desk when the 3pm munchies kick in and so I was pleased to be sent a NutriBox to review – a bit more exciting than just fruit which is what I normally have!

The box comes through the post and you can get it delivered to work, and every box contains a different selection of gluten-free healthy treats. In my box were:

Choc-Free fruit & nut mix
Tropical mix
Hot cross bun mix
Apple & Pear Braw Bar
Miss Wallflower Candy Raw Food Cookies
Pulsin Energy Bomb
Cashew & Pecan Bounce Bar
Probiot Dark chocolate Ombar
Cranberry & Mandarin dark chocolate Ombar

There’s a huge selection of snacks in the box and I actually ended up sharing it with my team at work. I loved the fruit and nut mixes but actually had to avoid some of the snacks because they were surprisingly high in Weight Watchers points.

Now, obviously there are different kinds of healthy eating and you often can’t combine two diets together and expect results. Some healthy eating plans recommend snacking on nuts and houmous, others tell you to avoid them because of the fat content. I think this is the same situation, the NutriBox is great if you are trying to make healthier choices all round, but if you are part of a set diet plan it may not be for you. The same would also probably apply for similar snack boxes though.

So overall, I think the box is great with a huge selection of products but is not really suitable for someone on Weight Watchers but if you have a gluten allergy and are struggling to find snacks you can eat, this is a great bet.

The NutriBox costs from £9.71 per box and you can find out more info here.

Melting Middle Pork & Apple burgers

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sorry, my WW recipes have slipped over the past couple of weeks. I had a huge backlog when I started posting them so scheduled loads and it took me by surprise when they ran out! I'm back now, promise. With loads more!

Anyway, I've been really fancying two things since starting Weight Watchers - chips, and burgers. Not necessarily together, but definitely both. The thing is that when I'm eating out, I know that neither option is going to be WW-friendly and it's rare for me to have either at home. In the end though, that was how I gave in - I found out a few weeks ago that the fresh chips from M&S are just 4PP per 1/2 pack. They were SO tasty and completely satisfied my craving for PROPER chips! But this post isn't about the chips, it's about the burger.

It's a Saturday night tradition now for my best friend Sha and I to experiment with a Weight Watchers recipe (whilst gossiping in front of the telly, of course). We found this pork burger recipe on the Weight Watchers website here, but ended up changing it into something entirely different - including adding a melting cheese centre for only 1 extra propoint!

This recipe makes 4 servings - we actually only made 3 burgers with the ingredients as there were only 3 of us there. But they were HUGE, as you can see. We didn't even need a side course!

Melting Middle Pork & Apple burgers
500g Extra Lean Pork Mince (5% fat), raw - 19PP
1 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce - 1PP
1 egg - 2PP
4 Ciabatta Rolls - 24PP
4 Babybel Light - 4PP
120g Low Fat Cheese - 8PP
4 tbsp Caramelised Onion Chutney - 4PP
4 tsp Mayonnaise - 4PP
1 tsp Mixed Herbs - 0PP
1 tsp Cumin - 0PP
1/2 Onion - 0PP
1 Cooking Apple - 0PP
Salt & Pepper to season - 0PP
Salad, to serve
= 42PP (11PP per Serving - 14PP if you make 3)

To reduce points: Use lower PP bread or miss out the bread, leave out the mayo or onion chutney, don't have cheese on top.

1 - Finely chop or grate the onion and cooking apple into a large bowl
2 - Add the minced pork, egg, cumin, herbs, sweet chilli and salt & pepper, and mix together (using your hands is the most effective way, messy!). Use plenty of seasoning - you can't test these obviously until they are cooked, but as they are quite thick they risk being under salt so be relatively liberal.
3 - Split the mince mixture equally into 4.
4 - Unwrap the Babybels and shape each portion of the mince mixture into a burger around each Babybel
5 - Oven cook the burgers on a baking tray at 190c for about 30 minutes or until you're satisfied they're done. Warning - they're quite oozy, so you might not want to use a flat baking tray!
6 - Add 30g of low fat cheese to the top of each burger and pop back in the oven until melted.
7 - Serve in your Ciabatta rolls with the mayo, caramelised onion and salad. SO TASTY.

Babybel in the middle of burgers was genius! It holds together really well, but still melts in the middle. We really enjoyed these, but we feel like we could fine tune them and improve them in the future. I've also found a recipe for 0PP caramelised onion chutney so am definitely going to cook up a batch of that soon! I also think these would be amazing with apple sauce. Watch this space for more burger attempts!

Weight Loss Update: Sarah V

Thursday, 18 April 2013

I wanted to share these two photos with you as to be honest I am really pleased with myself! I hit my second major target at Weight Watchers this week and got my 10% keyring, which means I have lost 10% of my starting bodyweight, yay! I've lost over a stone and a half now since January, and while I would love it to be faster, it's been steadily coming off which suits me.

I tend to wear dresses most of the time and a lot of the stretchier ones have stayed fitting me throughout my weight gain and loss so it's sometimes hard to actually SEE the weight loss. All I've really noticed in myself is that my watch is looser, but there are still some clothes that don't fit me yet. I went back through my personal blog on the hunt for a 'Before' picture. I thought this pic was okay at the time but I can really see the difference now, especially in my face.

It's not just a numbers game though - I am eating a lot better, far less processed food plus I have more energy and just generally feel better in myself. As much as it's easy to focus on the scales going down I have been trying to make better choices and think about this as a lifestyle change, not as a diet.

I'd like to lose at least another stone but I'm taking each day as it comes. Focusing on making yummy, healthy food and trying to be active where I can is helping me slip into good habits, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can keep them up.

Review - Nakd Bars

When I started doing 'clean eating' last year, one of the major things I immediately missed was my treat of a sweet snack in the afternoon.  No more Fudge bars, no more bags of Haribo and no more biscuits from the tin in the staff room.  On the plus side, I wasn't falling asleep at my desk at 4pm.  On the down side, my stomach would growl mid-afternoon and my cup of tea started feeling a little bit lonely.

I have always been hugely jealous of people who love fruit.  My boyfriend Tom would choose a fruit salad over any dessert on the menu and I have friends who will savour every bite of their afternoon apple and find it infinitely more satisfying than a chocolate digestive.  Personally, I am a sugar fiend.  And not eating all of those processed treats that were the foundation of my afternoons (and, my waistline, prior to starting clean eating) was tough.  At that time I was getting guidance from my personal trainer, Charis, who directed me towards Nakd bars.  Luckily they are not a suspicious sounding nightspot but instead they are a snack bar made from all natural ingredients like fruit and nuts, and they're also wheat, dairy and gluten free.  Most excitingly they come in a range of amazing flavours, like Ginger Breat below, also Cocoa Orange, Rhubarb and Custard, Cashew Cookie and Apple Pie amongst others.  They feel like such a treat and are absolutely delicious - they really stave off my sugary snack craving.

pack of 18 nakd bars* - £13.99
Nakd bars are available in supermarkets in packs or individually, or you can buy them in bulk at Natural Balance Foods.  The pack of 18 bars of Ginger Bread above costs £13.99, which is a bit of a bargain if you consider that they're about 75p individually.  Natural Balance Foods is a great website if you're looking to pick up healthy snacks and they also sell a range of Protein Bars as well as the Nakd bars.

I love all of the flavours of Nakd bars but the Ginger Bread is amazing, it really tastes like Gingerbread cake and has a really Christmassy feel, probably due to the ginger, cloves and cinnamon.  Its other ingredients are dates, almonds and pecans and that's it - no added sugar and nothing artificial.

I believe that the Nakd bars vary in terms of their ProPoints if you're on Weight Watchers.  The Banana Bread flavour is 2pp, Cocoa Mint is 3pp and Cocoa Orange is 4pp.  I think that for people on Slimming World they vary between 7-11.5 syns because of the natural fruit sugars.  So they might still be viewed as a treat depending on what diet you're following, but you can take comfort in knowing you're not putting anything artificial or processed into your body.  Have you tried Nakd bars?

Popchips Healthy Snacking Tips and giveaway

Monday, 8 April 2013

Never fried and never baked, popchips are popped just like popcorn. They have all the flavour but half the fat of fried crisps and less than 100 calories per serving. Sounds good right? Where Are My Knees have one case of 24 mixed flavours to give away. 

The Where Are My Knees team have tried them (our favourites are the barbeque and thai sweet chilli) and they make a super tasty and guilt free snack. The Popchips pledge is: 'no fake colours, no fake flavours, no preservatives, no fluorescent orange fingertips, and no wiping your greasy chip hand on your jeans' so swapping your regular bag of crisps for a bag of popchips would be a smart move.

Consultant Nutritionist & Registered
Azmina Govindji RD MBDA has the following snacking advice:

  1.  Regular meals and healthy snacks help you to stay energised and avoid binge eating. 
  2. A cup of hot soup or diet hot choc works wonders  - great, filling comfort food! 
  3. When you’re on the go, make sure you have lower fat treats in the car or in your bag. Planning ahead can reduce those unhealthy impulse buys. Pack some popchips, a packet of nuts and raisins or some dried fruit the night before… 
  4. A colourful array of fruits and veggies gives you essential nutrients that help your energy levels and immune system.  
  5. Sometimes you’re not hungry but just need something to crunch. Keep a snack attack box in your fridge – e.g. carrot sticks, olives, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes, radishes, pickled onions.  

    Alternatively, try distracting yourself by doing something completely different like making a phone call or going for a walk
    – taking your mind off food will help to curb your craving.
Snack Swaps 

Instead of 
Regular crisps 
Neither baked nor fried! Choosing popchips makes sure you’re getting around half the fat. 
Regular hot chocolate with cream 
Diet hot choc made with skimmed milk, sprinkle on a little cocoa powder 
Skimmed milk is 0% fat yet in a hot drink it still adds creaminess, colour and flavour. Using a diet choc powder helps you cut down on sugar too. 
Chocolate bar 
Jaffa cakes 
Jaffa cakes are lighter than regular chocolate. 
Sugar-rich breakfast cereal 
Bowl of porridge made with semi skimmed milk and dash of honey 
Oats can help reduce your blood cholesterol and a little honey is likely to give you far less sugar than many breakfast cereals.  

If you want to win the case of Popchips just leave a comment with your contact details below. For an extra entry you can follow @WhereAreMyKnees on twitter and let us know that you have done this in a comment on this post. The giveaway will end on the 18th of April at 9pm.