Sunday, 4 November 2012

Objective 1: Lose a chin by Christmas

Ok so maybe I’m choosing the wrong time of year to do this – but it’s time to lose a bit of weight. My objective – to lose one of my chins by Christmas. I currently have three.

I’ve started doing a bit of the old exercise again, but of course that’s only part of the picture. I have to start eating better as well. For me, my main issue is eating rubbish during the working day. We have a tea lady in the office that comes around twice a day (aptly named ‘the angel with the trolley’), serving up everything that I shouldn’t be eating; chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks and homemade cakes (including ‘The Gloucester Drip’!).

It seems rude not to buy a little something from the tea lady – she works so hard and everything. However – it’s also making me fat. So, reluctantly, I’ve banned the tea lady. It hurts me deep – but it’s got to be done. Instead, I’ve started making a few homemade things that will hit the sweet spot without having to resort to a Yorkie. I would also like to take this opportunity to set a common 1980’s myth straight; a finger of fudge is certainly not enough.

The recipe below is a variation of one taken from Leon ‘Naturally Fast Food’.  It’s essentially a muesli bar – but for me they lacked a little sweetness and a little too ‘seedy’. In fact my colleague at work thought I was eating one of those ‘brill’ things you put in the garden for the birds. Not good. In response, I doubled the amount of honey (from 2 to 4 tablespoons) and reduced the seed content.  My favourite fruit and nut combination is chopped apricots and cranberries with crushed hazelnuts and flakes almonds – but go with whatever you fancy or as is often in my case – whatever you have left in the house!

Fruity, nutty, oaty bars
Makes 16 bars

270g dried fruit (e.g. apricots, cranberries, sultanas, cherries, pears, dates, figs)
40g nuts (e.g. cashews, hazelnuts, almonds)
Small handful seeds (e.g. sunflower, pumpkin)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100ml fruit juice (e.g. apple, grape)
4 tbsp honey
60 wholemeal flour
120g rolled oats

3x balls stem ginger in syrup, finely diced or half a tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 170C, 375F, gas mark 5.
2. If the dried fruit is whole or in large chunks, either place it in the food processor or finely chop by hand. Do the same with the nuts.
3. Warm the fruit juice and honey together in a pan large enough to eventually contain all of the ingredients until all of the honey is dissolved. Add the flour and oats, and stir in the fruit and nuts.
4. If adding stem ginger, add now and stir thoroughly through the mixture.
5. Smooth the mixture into a 25 x 30cm baking tray about 2.5cm deep. I find it useful to line the tray with baking parchment. Make sure you push the mixture firmly into the tray, right into the corners. This will make sure they can be cut into bars after baking.
6. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, longer if you like your bars more crispy and crunchy.
7. Allow to cool, and then cut into rectangular bars.  These little lovelies will last for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

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