Totally Edacious, Dude

Dictionary.com Word of the Day for March 31:

edacious \i-DAY-shus\,
adjective: Given to eating; voracious; devouring.

Yesterday I had an encounter with my old friend, the Marks and Spencer Caramel Shortcake. Yes, it was yet another Cake Day at work. And since it was good quality cakes, instead of those shithouse cakes-that-taste-like-sand from Morrisons that some people bring, I partaked in the cake. Partaked? Partook?

I really savoured that Caramel Shortcake. I took ten minutes to eat it, enjoying the shortbread perfection and the way the chocolate splinters when you bite, then burrows into the caramel. I’d take a bite, pause for some tea, take another bite, contemplate the meaning of life.

And then I chased it down with FIVE Marks and Spencer Extremely Chocolate Mini-Bites. Sure I only ate two of them whole – the others I just nibbled the chocolate off the outside and chucked away the innards as I really only wanted the chocolate. Damn you Mr Marks and Mr Spencer, and your delicious confections.

I went home and ‘fessed up to the Scottish Companion. He looked bemused and confused as always. The poor lad never passes judgement on what I eat yet is always being subjected to my verbal food diaries. Perhaps some church could have a special confessional box for food-related sins, and the priest will say, "Say three hail marys, tape your mouth shut and don’t nick the communion bread on your way out."

Not that I have SINNED, mind you. Caramel Shortcake is not bad. Caramel is the nectar of the gods! I refuse to divide food into good and bad. There’s just food to eat often, and food to eat not so often. Yesterday the not so often happened too often. So I put a stop to it quick then got back on track at dinnertime.

As you can see I am far from perfect. But if you asked me for the weight loss secret, there it is. It is just getting up after you fall down. Over and over again.

. . .

Thanks for being so cool about the Happiness entry. Sometimes you just need to put on your ranty pants and let it all out! I used to be terrifed of admitting I was happy or proud of myself, thinking that would somehow undo all my hard work or I’d be mowed down by a bus – pride cometh before a fall, etc etc. But in many respects happiness and success is a choice, or perhaps a reflection of your choices. So as long as I keep doing the good deeds and shuffle along in the a positive direction, I’ll be alright.

Spring Forward

Daylight saving has begun in the Northern Hemisphere!

Over here they have a phrase to help you remember which way to wind your clock – Spring Forward, Fall Back. I keep getting this mixed up. Firstly, it’s because I think of "springing back" after a setback. And even more so, I often Fall Forward. I am notoriously uncoordinated and can fall in any bloody direction.

Catchphrases aside, it didn’t get dark til after 7pm last night. The will to live is returning! Now I can’t wait for those wacky summer days where it’s still bright at 11pm.

. . .

Wednesday Weigh-In: 0.7 kg (1.5 lb) lost this week. Happy days. Lainey, I’m back with you in the 12 Stone Zone, woohoo!

. . .

Guess what, comrades? My size 14 trousers from Oz can now be put on without undoing the zip or buttons. There’s a good three inches of empty space when you pull them out from the waist in After Photo style. I am too stingy to buy new ones until they fall down, so I will just wear tighter tops to hold them up!

. . .

Let’s talk about happiness!

( * *  WARNING: Lengthy Rant Ahead! * * )

Over the past year or so I’ve received a few emails and comments that have touched on this subject. Some common sentiments from our correspondents:

  • I appear to be so happy and positive
  • They wish they could be like that.
  • I am so lucky. What’s my secret?

My first reaction, if channelling the Inner Fat Chick, was crushing guilt. I would feel the need to apologise for my apparent happiness. Then perhaps I’d pile on some self-deprecating comments and a bullet-point list of Unhappy Things happening in my life, just so noone thinks I am a pampered lady-of-lesiure.

But I am not going to do that anymore, because I’ve worked bloody hard to become happy!

First of all – my definition of happiness is: a general sense of well-being and contentment with ones life. Nothing to do with bank balances or the size of your thighs.

While I’d never say my life has been  harder or easier than average, many years have been dominated by various traumas/ dramas/ challenges, etcetera. And for many years these circumstances shaped my personality – the paranoia, self-doubt, anger, depression and burning self-hatred. Spend any time in the archives and you’ll find mentions of these dark and wacky times!

So when I started my fat busting journey, I wasn’t happy. I did not like myself. The journey began purely because I’d reached the lowest low — I was motivated by anger and disgust.

But the more I did things that were good for me – eating well, exercising, not trash-talking myself – the more I slowly began to feel positive.

None of this happened quickly. I now realise that my fat-busting has taken so long because changing my head takes even longer. Recently I’ve been re-reading the paper diary I kept in 2003, the year I moved to Scotland. It was unsettling to look back at how much fear, paranoia and pessimism still ruled my days. Moving to a new country was daunting – I struggled with weight, work, and social life. Reading back you can see the points where I was just about to crack up and run back to Oz!

Yet somewhere along the line I made a conscious decision to be happier. There wasn’t a particular event to trigger it, more like a resolve that grew stronger as my healthy "baby steps" accumulated over time. It was like that old adage, about faking it til it’s true. So acting like a happy, self assured person until you actually start to feel like one.

There was also a realisation that I’d wasted so much energy on unhappiness. I’d let it affect my relationships – whether that be friends, family or work. An example: my crushing self-doubt made me doubt other people’s sincerity and motives – I’ve been untrusting and paranoid. I’ve let friendships be ruined because I felt so crappy about myself — I just assumed everyone else felt the same. Being miserable was hard work and exhausting. And when your unhappiness isn’t just about you anymore, there’s even more reason to do something about it.

In summary: I just got fed up with my own mopey ass and decided to change my way of thinking.

People have also written to say my life seems "perfect". What?! Perhaps it’s because I write more about the good times rather than dwell on the bad? Or perhaps because I don’t fancy airing my dirty laundry on the net? But mostly it’s a conscious decision to be positive. I’ll talk about the lows of fat-busting, but the overall tone is optimistic, because that’s just how I want to live.

While there will always be bad times and obstacles in life, I feel better equipped to deal with them now. I cry or grieve or throw tantrums, but I bounce back more quickly. I guess after so many years living with depression and/or an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom, I want to make up for it by striving to be a cheesy cheery optimist, even when things are shitty. ESPECIALLY when things are shitty.

Finally, here’s a couple more messages I’ve received from visitors to this site:

  1. They wish they could get skinny so they could meet a man – like I did!
  2. The reason for my happiness and contentment is because I found a man.

No no no no. I was happy and content long before I met the Scottish Companion! I was also not skinny when we met. Dudes, I weighed over 100 kilos, still classified as obese in my tatty size 22 jeans. There was nothing particularly alluring about my physical appearance, so maybe I wooed him with quiet confidence or fart jokes? Who bloody knows.

In summary:

  1. My happiness is enhanced by knowing the good Doctor, but not dependent on him.
  2. Meeting a bloke wasn’t about the size of my arse.

What does happiness mean to you? I am bloody easy to please. For me happiness is sifting through the shitty bits of life and looking for the good things to latch onto. And always making sure you have something to look forward to, whether that’s a weekly choccie bar, an episode of The Avengers or an island holiday. Anything will do.

To anyone who has ever envied my so-called happiness, please remember I am just an ordinary moron muddling along like everyone else, with good days and bad. There’s no secret. I have to work as hard at staying happy as I do at getting to the gym or making sure my guts don’t explode out of my trousers. It’s a habit that I had to learn. You just have to work on it, every single day.

(Sorry this is so rambling. Thanks for letting me get this out of my system!)

Clickety Click

The only exercise I got yesterday was my bloody fingers, as I clickclickclicked the Radiohead website for over SEVEN HOURS, trying to buy concert tickets.

The tickets go on proper sale this Saturday, but at 12.00 PM yesterday they had a strictly limited Pre-Sale for diehard geeks like me who have nothing better to do than sit all day in front of a computer. Chaos ensued. There was so many stupid geeks all over the world trying purchase stupid tickets that the stupid website crashed over and over and over again. The tickets page would load, but then it would freeze. Or the buttons wouldn’t load. Or it would ask you for a password when noone has a password. Or it wouldn’t let you add tickets to the basket. Or it would just be a complete bastard. For over seven hours.

Would you believe I finally got through at 7.37 PM. And by then the shows I wanted were gone. There’s a show in Edinburgh in August, but we’ll be out of town then. So I was gunning for London. Cheap flights with BMI, crash at sisters house, beautiful. But by the time I got through, London was sold out! Plenty of tickets for Edinburgh though, d’oh!

So okay, I’ll go to Blackpool! Even though the cheapest train ticket I found to get there was £80. Sold out.

Okay then, Wolverhampton! I don’t even know where that it is! Sold out too.

I was this close to booking for Amsterdam or Copenhagen until sanity prevailed.

I was happy to see that lovely Jude got tickets out of that godawful process. It’s nice to see a real person with the goods, rather than those shonky fuckwits who are now selling them on eBay for five times the price.

Now I will go through this crazy trauma again on Saturday morning as I try my luck with Ticketmaster.

You may be wondering what’s the hullabullo? But there are few things I am truly passionate about in life that aren’t edible, and one of those is Radiohead.

In fact, last time I saw them in 2003, I was soooo hyperexcited that I forgot to eat all day long. Yes that’s right, me, Dietgirl, forgot to eat. And the outcome of that was that I actually passed out cold, a dead faint, right there in the middle of the mosh pit in Glasgow, knocking over two skinny chicks on my way to the floor. I am a dedicated fan, you see.

. . .

I lost 1.4 kilos this week, just under half of that pesky Lisbon Chocolate Binge blasted away. This week I am going to work on my portions issue. It ain’t half as healthy if you eat double, kids!

The Spectrum

When I am on top of the world and everything is cruising along with healthy eating and exercise, it seems impossible that I could ever I behave any other way. The idea of ever sitting down with a 100g block of chocolate and ploughing through the whole thing seems absurd. Who was that piggy in the window?

But when things are not cruising along, it seems impossible and hopeless that I could ever reach a point where I wasn’t out of control. I can’t remember ever not thinking about chocolate every waking second. Who is that stranger with the diet blog and the gym membership and the pile of jeans in diminishing sizes?

When you’re at one end of the spectrum, you just can’t believe that you could ever be at the opposite end.

The latter is how I felt after coming back from holiday last week. The successful Dietgirl seemed like some lofty stranger. But I am crawling my way back, the old baby steps routine. My exercise has been good, my eating has been healthy although my portions have been too big on some days. Och well, I’ll get there.

. . .

I was up til 3AM on Sunday watching the Commonwealth Games. Oh lordy, I love sport. What’s not to love? It’s competitive, it’s exciting, it’s emotional; it’s full of gorgeous bodies to perve on!

Although not exactly top drawer in the perving stakes, I particularly enjoyed watching the marathon. The women’s race was won by Aussie Kerryn McCann in a nailbiting finish. After running for 2.5 hours, it was neck and neck for the last 300 metres. I was screaming at the telly, GO AUSSIE WOO WOO WOO! And then she won! And then I shed a few wee tears.

The men’s race featured Errol Duncan, from the tiny Indian Ocean island of St Helena. This was his first marathon! From the Sydney Morning Herald:

"He immediately dropped behind, stumbled over a witch’s hat marker and almost missed the exit [of the stadium] as he acknowledged the cheers of the crowd."

He ended up finishing almost exactly an hour behind the winner.

Now this is the kind of thing I really love! It’s so refreshing a world where it seems sport has had the soul sapped out of it by commercial interests. And it’s so inspiring. People from all sorts of backgrounds overcoming all sorts of obstacles to compete. You don’t have to be a runner to be inspired by that. It’s just people wanting something, working their arses off for it then experiencing the pure joy of seeing that come to fruition.

. . .

I’ve seen a lot of people mention SparkPeople lately on their blogs. SP is a free website packed with weight loss tools. There’s a food diary, exercise planner, a thriving message board community and personal webpages.

I got an email from Grant from SP inviting me to check it out. I get random emails now and then from companies asking me to put up links to their crackpot diet drugs or whatnot in return for a link on their sites (wtf!?!) and this freaks me out no end. But since Grant writes a nice polite email and SP is a free, non-crackpot website, I was happy to take a look around. It looks like a great resource, I really like the goal setting bit. While I have my own lardbusting method down pat now, I think SP would be a great site particularly if you are still looking for tools to help you. There’s a lot of top advice on there and Free is a nice price!

. . .

Oooh there’s a thing come on the BBC just now about the obscenity trials in the 1960s over Lady Chatterly’s Lover. It promises Strong Language and Adult Scenes. Sounds good to me. Til next time, groovers.

Eating In The Modern Age

Is anyone else out there FREAKING OUT about food? It is bloody exhausting, all these things we're supposed to worry about at dinnertime. Everytime you pick up a magazine or flick on the telly, there's a new report about something else we should or should not be eating. We are all drowning in food information, scare stories and buzzwords. Antioxidants, superfoods, free range, fair trade, arrgh! A trip to the supermarket is now a stressful ordeal of label reading and moral dilemmas.

I dunno about you, but I'm conflicted and confused. Not only do I need to eat healthy foods to lose weight, I need to eat the really healthy foods, the ones they say can ward off heart disease, diabetes, crappy livers, dry skin, bad breath and cancer. I've banned the trans fat, cut down the sat fat, because I need to eat low fat, but I can't forget the good fat! Such as omega-3s. As seen in salmon and tuna. As long as they're not farmed or full of mercury or over-fished. I don't want to eat endangered fishes. I love sushi but every bite gives me guilty nightmares. I need more whole grains but they need to be real whole grains, not the Bullshit Whole Grains like Nestle are trying to convince me are contained in a box of Cheerios. I've subtracted additives. I'm avoiding corn syrup and all things partially inverted. Plus sucrose fructose maltrose dextrose pantyhose, anything ending with -ose. I'm don't eat any animals that were cooped up in small places. I avoid processed foods. Although I do eat Quorn sausages now and then. Is it more noble to eat a processed vegetarian sausage instead of a processed "meat" one consisting of ground-up snouts, trotters and rusk? Am I getting enough protein? I try to buy organic produce, but if it's organic and shipped from Peru, is the organic smugness cancelled out by all the air it pollutes en route to the UK? But if I don't buy the Peruvian organics, will the poor Peruvian economy suffer? Then again, what about my poor local farmer? Does one Buy Organic or Buy Local?! And chocolate. I know I should choose the antioxidantal 70% Organic Dark made from fairly-traded cocoa beans, but what if my body is screaming out for a shitey old Mars Bar? Will I be struck down by a bus in punishment?

Sometimes I feel like I can't even just simply unpeel a freaking banana these days before I've sent it a lab for nutritional analysis, traced its lineage for seven generations, then personally met the farmer who planted it. It's almost enough to put me off my food. Almost.

The Incredible Expanding Woman

Why does culture shock always translate to chocolate scoffin’ for me?

It happens on the first night of every holiday. My sister and I, cranky and confused, are wandering the streets of some strange city. We don’t know where’s good to eat and we lack the energy to find out. So we always wind up in a supermarket, grabbing whatever foil-covered package we recognize, and guzzling it with great relief. On our recent trip to Lisbon, my chocolate of choice was Ritter Sport Alpine Milk. Bless those Germans. Yum!

But it got better as the trip went on. We ate gorgeous breakfasts at the hotel buffet, with fresh orange juice, bacon, mango, and croissants galore. We bombed out on most of our restaurant choices, so my favourite meal was another supermarket feast – fresh bread with great hunks of local cheese and ham, followed by strawberries. Okay, and more chocolate.

Now today it’s back to reality after approximately two weeks of "relaxed" eating. I jumped on my old friend The Scales and it appears I’ve gained 3 kilos. That’s almost half a stone. In two weeks. THAT’S 6.5 POUNDS, PEOPLE!

The horror, the horror.

"You’re like a Marvel comic," said the Scottish Companion in awed tones, when I told him the result. "The Amazing Expanding and Contracting Woman!"

Mwahaha. She goes down! She goes up! Right before your very eyes! I can see why it’s wacky to him. Two weeks ago I was over the moon with a five pound loss, and now here I am up 6.5.

SC has always been completely bewildered by my ability to gain weight so quickly. Remember how I put on almost 7 kilos over Christmas 2004? Four kilos while in Australia? Nobody can stack it on as quick as I do, baby. I wish I could say it was a gift.

The poor dude was expecting me to have my usual nervous breakdown. He kept asking if I was okay, was I upset? He tip-toed around the flat, wondering when I’d turn hysterical. But I was calm and almost bemused. After all I was not surprised one bit. I’m all-too familiar with this kind of rapid gain, so much so that I didn’t even throw a hissy fit!

Let’s be honest, I’ve been eating far too much for two weeks. I had a good time. I had a lovely wedding anniversary and a tops holiday. But now the party’s over and I’m back to the usual healthy habits. I will bust off this gain in the coming weeks and just get on with it. Woo!

Something I’ve been pondering these last few days: I like travelling, and I like eating when travelling. Well to be honest, the eating is the best thing about the travelling. I am never going to go on holiday and NOT scoff into the local cuisine.

Rather than harbouring any delusions that next time will be different, I just accept that this is how things are with me. I’m not saying my vacations are just one long bingefest, but I am not going to hold back either. This is life happening! In exotic locales! Dude! I will never ask the waiter in floundering Portugese for my salad dressing on the side or could he please put half in a doggie bag. Nor will I pretend that I won’t reach for the chocolate if I am feeling bewildered and hungry in a foreign land. The key is not letting it go too far. It’s all about how quick you bounce back, how quick you throw your pudgy leg back over that horse and RIDE AGAIN!

There are two kinds of days, really. The Everyday Days when life is relatively quiet and you plan your meals and exercise and stick to your plan like clockwork. Then there are days when Things Happen and there’s strange new places and situations and things to eat. This is how it will always be. But as long as the Everyday Days are the majority of my days, I know I will be fine.

So it’s back to reality. I did my Cathe KickMax DVD on Sunday and felt all that energy and motivation zoom back. And my eating’s been good with lots of vegie-laden meals planned. HOWEVER! The real challenge is to ride out these horrible stinky bastard Chocolate Withdrawls. I’m the middle of it RIGHT NOW. All I can think of is a Terry’s Chocolate Orange bar and how I would like to have one for dinner. Maybe two. ARRRGH! It is alarming how quickly your body remembers its undying lust for sugar. Now I have to make it forget again. I must be calm! I must breathe!

EEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Okay, I will be back soon to tell you all about the shopping and the sunshine. Hope you are all well and happy!

Bom Dia

Greetings comrades!

I am off for a few days of sunshine and shopping with my dear sister. What better way to celebrate clocking up one year of lovely marriage by skipping the country without your husband?

My new jeans now in danger of strangling me because I ate like a pork all Anniversary Weekend long!

  • It all started on Friday lunchtime when I accompanied one of my work pals to the Salad Bar, where salad = drowned in mayo.
  • And then Friday night there was the most fan-freakin-tastic Anniversary Dinner in Edinburgh, gorgeous fresh Italian food. Including gorgeous olives, bread, cheese, wine and let’s not forget the creamy tiramisu.
  • And after that was a night a posh hotel, my surprise gift to the Scottish Companion. He thought we had to leg it home on the last train! (aka The Rocket Express, always full of drunks), but instead I bundled him into a taxi. "Where are you taking me?" he protests, "What’s going on?!". It was classic!) Anyway, that ended with a lovely hotel buffet breakfast on Saturday morning! There was a freaking huge fresh loaf of brioche with a KNIFE right beside, so of course I had to saw into the damn thing and a cut rather thick slice. Okay, two slices.
  • And after that, Saturday lunch with a couple of mates.
  • And after that, a brief respite for the stomach and a glorious two-hour workout on Sunday morning (kickboxing and leg drills followed by upper body weights)
  • BUT THEN, off to the in-laws for Sunday dinner. We had champagne! And salad and cheese and fruit and ice cream. And then lemon drizzle cake and after-dinner mints. I thought it was going to be an innocent wee dinner but it was bigger than Christmas!

Bloody hell.

It’s funny how you can go weeks and weeks of smooth sailing with no major Social Events, then along come seventeen at once. Yet I enjoyed it all, and haven’t slackened with my exercise so I know I’ll bounce back.

That said, I’m now away for five nights. Bloody hell! Temptation! Pray for me, people. But I have my exercise gear and some almonds in my handbag and will keep repeating my mantra, CHOCOLATE IS NOT A MEAL.

Take care groovers. I’ll be back on Monday!

Movement at the Station

Howdy troops! Thanks for your comments on the last entry. I wasn’t contemplating blogicide, especially not for this blog that I always enjoy writing. It was just one of those blue periods that crop up now and then.

Have you heard about Blog Depression? Perhaps you’re suffering yourself, or know someone who could be? This pamphlet may help, and is also the most hilarious thing I’ve seen on the internets for a very long time. Please, pretty please, have a read. You will never take yourself, or blogging, seriously ever again 🙂

. . .

I wrote something new for Cooking With Ginger, and guess what – I enjoyed doing it! It only took two hours to write, instead of my usual two weeks. Consider this progress, or a reflection of the crappy photos contained therein.  Anyway, So I Married A Vegetarian talks about my flesh-filled past and has an easy, delicious and healthy recipe for a Spinach and Pumpkin Frittata.

. . .

The scales finally moved today! 2.3 kilos gone (5lb)! As I whined last week, I’d been maintaining since February 1. So this lonely big loss more than makes up for that, and averages out quite noicely over the past month! Just goes to show, it pays not to panic when nothing’s happening, and instead to stay focused on all the good things you’re doing. I didn’t do anything radically different this week, just kept on keeping on with the exercise and good eatin’, while minimising the avocado toast. Mwahaha.

. . .

At lunchtime today I made the swiftest jeans purchase in the history of Jeans Purchasing. Five minutes round trip! I’d been bitching about my baggy jeans for weeks, and even the Scottish Companion conceded they were taking on that Shat Your Nappy look. I bought them in Australia last October, a size 14 for a bargain $30 (£13). I arrived back to the UK all excited about the size 14, so I rushed to the shops to try on UK jeans and trousers. Imagine my hysterics when I discovered that over here the size 14 would go no further than mid-thigh. I tried three different shops but had the same result. Bastards.

Fast forward five months to today. I’d been eyeing off some jeans in Monsoon for awhile, as they seemed to be the only ones on the high street that fit my criteria – dark denim, bootleg, not too stretchy, no light streaks down the front that make my thighs look huge, and no cat whiskers in the crotch that may as well be neon-signs screaming CHECK OUT MY FAT GUT. I’d never tried them on, just admired them from afar, biding my time.

This morning I caught sight of my saggy-arsed reflection and decided it was D-Day. I waltzed into the shop and grabbed the 14 jeans (US 12). And a size 16 and 18 too, in case Consolation Prizes were required. Then it was into the change rooms, dacks off, jeans on… they fit! Not too tight in the thighs, yet enough snugness to accommodate a little more weight loss. Plus nicely fitting in the bum. Wheeee!

I was dressed again and at the checkout in two minutes, credit card outstretched. Does anyone else do this? As soon as I find something that fits, I am out of there in a flash, coughing up my cash before the garment has a chance to un-fit.

The only downer is that the jeans cost £40, which isn’t bad until you realise that’s $94 back in my homeland! Oh, and because I ate homemade bean burrittos for dinner tonight, they probably won’t fit me tomorrow. Holy bloat, Batman!

So I Married A Vegetarian

This post was imported from my short-lived, now-defunct food blog, Cooking With Ginger.

Vegetarianism was once considered a crime in my family. Some parents worry about their child bringing home an undesirable boyfriend or a venereal disease, but the worst thing I could have done was saunter in with a bag of lentils or a Linda McCartney sausage. We raised sheep and cattle on our farm; pigs too until the late 80s when we sold off their pink unprofitable asses. Meat truly brought home the bacon for us. We only ate what had once roamed the fields. Our freezer was brimming with home grown roasts and mince and little plastic bags of lamb chops. And in the springtime my sister and I bottle-fed the abandoned baby lambs, fattening them up for market then pocketing the profits.

Our beef was chopped up by a proper butcher, but if we needed lamb my stepfather did the slaughtering himself. I don't think he enjoyed the task one bit, and was always as kind and merciful to the sheep as one can be in these situations. But I liked to imagine things were more ghoulish. He'd always tell us stay in the house, but I listened out for the telltale sound of the chosen sheep doing its final woolly twitch. It would always be at sunset and my stepdad would turn on the headlights of the truck to see better. I'd peer through the trees at this silhouetted scene, finding it all quite macabre and dramatic. The red sky, the dogs barking and straining against their chains, the unmistakable scratch scratch of the knife separating wool from flesh.

Today I would love to have access to what was essentially an endless bounty of free-roaming organic meat. But as a surly teen I resented the homegrown stuff. I envied my friends and their cheap Woolworths sausages on styrofoam trays. "Lamb chops AGAIN!?", I'd bitch at the dinner table, rolling my eyes in anticipation of the reminder that meat was our livelihood.

There was just no escaping meat. I even had a meaty weekend job, selling the Colonel's finest goods at KFC. I'd come home on a Saturday night reeking of chicken grease and secret herbs and spices, only to be greeted by a sheep carcass hanging on a hook in the laundry. On Sunday morning my precious slumber was disturbed by the sound of said sheep being buzzed to pieces with my stepfathers meat saw.

So it amuses me somewhat that after all that, I ended up marrying a vegetarian. I asked Gareth why he chose to abandon the flesh ten years ago, expecting it would be about economics, taste, or sympathy for the poor little lambies. But his main reason was because it makes a mess!

"Too many dishes," he said. While the lad likes good food, he hates cleaning, and vegetarian fare generally means less scrubbing afterwards.

When we got married and moved in together, he was adamant that I should cook and eat meat as much as I wanted. He is not one of those militant vegetarians. But I think perhaps I'd had my fill of red meat as a child. Since I moved to the UK I'd gone semi-vegetarian anyway, mostly due to budget restrictions. I've also found weight loss easier when I go meatless, although I still eat fish. But above all, I am a lazy bastard, and I don't miss the flesh enough to cook two different dishes.

So the past year has been an interesting challenge, coming up with repertoire of healthy vegetarian meals that are quick and easy, and address the following criteria: 

1. Not be too reliant on butter, eggs or cheese 
2. Not be too reliant on meat substitutes such as Quorn
3. Not make you fart all freaking night. 

Number three is often the biggest challenge. I cooked this Pumpkin and Spinach Frittata last night and there were no ill-effects. While it is heavy on the eggs, I am not one of those Egg Whites Only nutters. Divided by six is only an egg and a half each! It also has a smidgen of cheese, and I used Marks and Spencer Half Fat Mature Cheddar. Unlike super low fat cheeses, it doesn't taste like a monkey's rubbery armpit, but is far less calorific than the original.

I scrawled this one down from my sister's copy of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet in a godawful hurry, so excuse the sloppy instructions. And furthermore, please excuse the extremely ordinary photos here. I cooked this after a gruelling Spinning class, and I just needed to EAT, dammit!

frittata.jpg

As with everything I make, tastes better than it looks.


PUMPKIN AND SPINACH FRITTATA
 

Source: CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet 
Serves: 6 (or 4 gluttons) 

400g pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes (I used 600g of butternut squash)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce 
2 leeks, washed and sliced 
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely 
300g baby spinach (I only had a wee 180g bag) 
8 eggs 
400g low fat yogurt (I used 3 x 150g pots Total 0% Fat Greek Yogurt)
50g mature cheddar cheese 

Preheat oven to 170'C. Place pumpkin cubes on oven tray, toss with half the olive oil and soy sauce. Bake for 25 mins (I did 230'C because our oven is crap and I was impatient and hungry). While this is happening, sautee leeks for five minutes in remaining olive oil, then add garlic and spinach, cook until wilted. Tip mixture onto work surface and chop roughly (I didn't do that because I was lazy and hungry). Whisk eggs, yogurt and cheese. Tip in pumpkin and spinach mixture, stir to combine. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake 20 minutes until set. (I turned down the oven to 180'C and it took 20 minutes to set with a nice pale golden top) 

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The Ultra-Classy Sloppy Leftovers In A Chinese Takeaway Dish shot.

. . . Oooh lordy, this frittata was deliciously creamy and subtly cheesy. Creamy and cheesy are two things you don't get much on a diet, but it's all happening here, thanks to the magic of Total 0% Greek Yogurt! The spinach and pumpkin are fantastic together, but I can't wait to try it again with different vegies. Or with feta cheese. Or bacon.