17 Sep

A New Kitchen Gadget

In order to support the new “Eating Plan”(EP) I have acquired a new kitchen gadget.  I am now the proud owner of … a yogurt maker!

I tend to take my breakfast in to work with me as I get up early and don’t want to eat immediately.  One cup of black tea (gave up milk in it at the age of 19) and I’m on my way.  So breakfast needs not only to fit the EP but be portable and office friendly too.  Yogurt and fruit neatly fit these criteria and as I have a fridge in the office, I have somewhere to park it until I’m ready.

Lately I have been buying Rachel’s Organic Greek Style Yogurt which is beautifully creamy and has a great, set texture.  However, when you need a good several spoonfuls each day, the costs do mount up so I wondered about making my own as it’s rumoured to be pretty straightforward.

So on a recent trip to the Lake District, a certain kitchenware store was visited (yes, you’re right, it was Lakeland Ltd) and their own brand yogurt maker purchased.  Another, branded, type of yogurt maker was being promoted in store but from reading the blurb on the back, it appears that you have to buy their own “starter” sachets which means the yogurt works out at “no more than £3 per litre”, so not really a great saving.

According to the maker instruction leaflet, yogurt can be made from various types of milk including full fat, skimmed or semi-skimmed cow’s milk, UHT milk, sheep’s, goat’s or even tinned evaporated milk.  The disadvantage of using standard pasteurized cow’s milk is that it has to be heated to almost boiling point, then cooled down to a specific temperature before being put in the maker.  Anyway, the first attempt by my co-conspirator used full cream, pasteurized milk.  Which was allowed to boil over, necessitating a major clean of the hob.  Still, that’s one way of getting the housework moving.  Results-wise the end product was OK, although a bit thin and grainy.  But as we fancied greek style yoghurt, we strained it through a J-cloth (muslin being absent) and crystal clear whey drained off really quickly.  The final yogurt was perfectly acceptable if not quite as creamy and silkily textured as commercial products but, hey, it was only the first attempt.

Next time we plan to try it with some UHT milk which means not having to pre-heat it first.  Sounds quicker and easier but how will the results pan out?  Report to follow.

13 Sep

Post operative post

Well, I’ve now had the operation on my knee and am sitting here writing this blog with an ice pack on my leg.  It all seems to have gone well and my mobility is increasing.  I have to see Mr Consultant in 6 weeks by which time he’ll have the lab results from the tissue samples taken.  It would be nice to know why my knee has been swollen, misshapen and misbehaving for a while now.

It seems weird to be at home on a working day but yet not be on holiday.  Not sure I can get my head round this sickness absence lark!

I really hope I can get back to normal – whatever that may be – as I’m getting bored with having a pair of crutches as a fashion accessory.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

12 Sep

Introducing the Eating Plan

As I mentioned in the last post, the household is moving towards a new “Eating Plan” which incorporates a low (or mainly low) carbohydrate approach into a gluten free (GF) diet.  There is a hint of “Paleo” about it but not completely as we’re continuing to eat dairy, especially yogurt and cheese.  We are also continuing to eat grains but these are being reduced – oats (GF) in moderation are extremely useful so will stay in while we see how it goes.

Potato will still be allowed but will be reduced to occasional inclusion rather than being a staple at most evening meals.  After all we have a crop of home-grown blue potatoes (no ordinary tatties for us!) and don’t want them to go to waste.

Vegetables will feature highly as they are excellent sources of nutrients, are gluten free and low in carbohydrate and help to fill up the plate and the tummy.  Protein in various forms will also feature highly although we want to try to limit the intake of processed meats such as ham or bacon.

In an attempt to keep my tummy comfy, I’m taking probiotics in the form of small, specialist yogurt drinks and so far, have managed to remember to take them daily.  Even if one day the memory only kicked in once I was tucked up in bed!

And, of course, I’m hopeful that my waistline and other areas will benefit from the new plan.  In a reduced kind of way, that is.

8 Sep

Turning Gluten Free – the new Eating Plan (not a diet!)

I have had a bad knee now for going on 3 months and the MRI scans haven’t shown anything to account for it other than a lot of fluid around the joint.  Which, apparently, suggests inflammation, which in turns suggests an autoimmune disease.  Anyway, investigative surgery is scheduled for this week but meanwhile we’ve decided to cut out gluten as research has shown that this can be a major cause of inflammation.  I already suffer from diverticular disease so I’m hoping that cutting out the gluten will help my tummy feel more comfortable for more of the time.

And thus the move to the new “eating plan”.  We’re trying really hard not to call it a diet as that sounds too much like deprivation and the plan combines several approaches of which high protein/low carbohydrate and gluten free are the major contributors.

It’s definitely going to be tough for me as I’m rather fond of my bread (you’d never guess from the website title would you?) and there are so many easy and quick snacks or meals which come under the heading of “something on toast”.  So the challenge is to find meals which cut out the gluten, reduce the carbohydrate content and yet, at the same time, don’t leave you feeling hungry or hard done by and which don’t take all day to prepare.

So watch this space to see how I get on with giving up my beloved bread and bread related products (pain au raisin anyone?) and I’ll share my experiences with you.