I love eggs, but I’ve always found peeling hard-boiled eggs to be a pain. No matter how I try it it’s always a messy operation. This video shows you how to peel a hard-boiled egg quickly and easily, as well as a few other tricks that might save you time:
Dieting isn’t just about what you eat, but also about your overall lifestyle. I’ll be the first one to admit that there are a number of aspects of my own lifestyle that are detrimental to my weight. I know that I need to sleep more (on average) and that I need to get more exercise.
So when you’re talking about equipment for dieting it’s not just about tracking what you eat, but also tracking other aspects of your life, as well as cooking decent wholesome food.
It’s fairly common these days to see people using activity trackers like the Fitbit. They’re not expensive especially when you realise that investing a little in your personal wellbeing is usually a lot cheaper than a trip to the doctor! I obviously track my movement with the Fitbit, but the other thing that I really keep a close eye on is my sleep. I’m trying to get a bit more sleep every night as I know that lack of sleep has a negative impact on weight loss as you tend to eat badly when you’re tired plus sleep is needed to keep your body healthy.
As I’ve mentioned before, I use MyFitnessPal as my “hub”. It’s not the only show in town, but it works well for my purposes. The key thing is you’ll need something to track your macros as accurately as possible. Using an app like MyFitnessPal, LoseIt or any of the other popular apps and services on the market means that you can leverage their extensive databases of food. You’ll probably find that none of them are 100% accurate and that sometimes you’ll need to choose a “generic” option, but as long as you track your intake fairly closely you should be fine.
A lot of my friends who have lost weight recommend taking a few photos of yourself at various stages of your diet, so that you can have a visual record of your progress. Not essential obviously, but it can help motivate you. You won’t need anything more complicated than your mobile phone for that one. I’ve taken a couple of shots of myself and I plan to take a photo about once every week or two as I go along. It’ll be interesting to see whether the changes are noticeable or not.
But what about actual equipment?
You’ll need a weighing scales. Personally I like the Withings, as it’s able to automatically record my weight and a few other metrics directly to MyFitnessPal. If you don’t feel like forking out for a wireless weighing scales you don’t have to. Just make sure you’ve got an accurate scales with reasonable graduations so you can easily see your progress and keep track of it. Personally I like digital scales as there’s zero ambiguity about what they’ve captured.
Tip: make sure that the scales is on an even surface or you can easily end up with inaccurate readings.
If you’re serious about going on a diet you’ll need to stop eating processed foods and start cooking. You don’t need to be a Jamie Oliver in the kitchen to cook for yourself. A lot of cooking comes from the quality of the ingredients you use and you’ll also find that cooking and preparing your own food works out a lot cheaper than eating out or buying prepared foods. How far you want to take it will depend on your confidence in the kitchen and how much time you want to spend on it. Personally I find cooking to be quite calming 🙂
However, no matter how good or bad a cook you are you will need one key piece of equipment – a kitchen scales. I’d recommend a digital one, but any scales that can clearly show you grams and goes up as far a kg or two should be fine. I’m currently using a Salter electronic scales that I picked up for about €10. It works fine and doesn’t take up much space when it’s not in use (though that’s rare!)
As for the rest of your kitchen equipment – that’ll be up to you and how much you want to spend on it and what kind of food you like cooking. You will need things like a decent measuring jug and to preserve your sanity measuring spoons and cups. A lot of recipes, particularly American ones, refer to “cups” or “1/2 cups” of various ingredients and unless you want to spend your life calculating what those measurements mean in grams etc., the measuring spoons and cups will save you a lot of time and frustration.
A few items I find that make things easier or better:
- a food processor – very handy for making quick work of pancake batter or making sauces and many other things.
- nutribullet – if you want to make smoothies the nutribullet is king
Apart from the above the most important things you’ll need are patience and a strong will.
I don’t like wasting food. If there’s food in the cupboard it needs to be eaten at some point by somebody. However if you’re following a low carb diet you quickly discover that a lot of the food in the cupboard simply is not compatible.
Flour? Not unless it’s almond or coconut.
Pasta? Not a hope.
Sugar? No way.
Alpen muesli? Nope. The dried fruit is high in carbs no matter whether you choose the “no added sugar” version or not.
And the list goes on….
This weekend is a bank holiday here in Ireland, so I’m visiting family. So guess who gets to “inherit” all my carbs?
So between Thursday evening and Friday morning I went through the kitchen cupboards and did a purge. Within a few minutes I’d managed to fill two reusable shopping bags with pasta, rice, flour, breakfast cereal and other carb-heavy foods.
Taking the entire lot to my mother and sister means I know that they’ll get used and that is a lot better than having them sitting in my kitchen cupboards.
I also think it’s a good idea to not have things hanging around that I simply won’t be eating. If they’re in the cupboards then they’re temptation at some level. If they’re simply not there then there’s no issue. Also there’s the practical issue of space. Getting rid of all this stuff freed up quite a bit of space in the cupboards, so I’ll have more space for the kind of food I’m eating at the moment. And while many of the things like pasta have quite long dates they do go off eventually.
So when I get a delivery of ham, chorizo and other tasty keto compatible foods I’ll have space in the cupboards to store any of the tinned food, like the tuna in olive oil.
While I enjoy cooking it’s usually at the weekend that I’m able to set aside the time to do something a little bit more elaborate or time-consuming.
This weekend was no different and I picked up a bit of leg of lamb on Friday evening planing to cook it either Saturday evening or this evening, Sunday.
As things turned out I ended up leaving it until this evening.
I’ve done lamb roasts several times in the past. I usually slice up some garlic and put slivers of garlic into the meat and then brush mustard and herbs over it.
However I was a bit inspired after watching this video on using a mortar and pestle from Jamie Oliver, so I decided I’d try to do a marinade based on one of his recipes.
So I dusted off my mortar and pestle (literally!) and got to work.
The marinade I made used some fresh rosemary, a couple of cloves of garlic with their skin, some lemon rind and olive oil.
I’ll admit that Jamie Oliver makes it look a lot easier than it is, but like everything I guess it’s a matter of practice.
After some pounding and grinding with the mortar and pestle I got a fairly nice consistency and kept adding oil until it had enough volume to be of use. I then proceeded to coat the meat in it. For smaller cuts of meat it’d be quite easy to make up enough to let the meat soak in it for a while, but with a roast that wasn’t going to be an option.
I also decided to try and flavour the meat using some coarse sea salt and black pepper. The simplest way to do that is to put the salt directly onto your board or work surface and roll the meat in it. Doing it the other way around really doesn’t work!
To accompany the meat I had some baby potatoes and nice fresh carrots. The potatoes didn’t need any prep, so I just popped them in the roasting dish. The carrots I peeled and sliced up, so that they’d cook properly.
Here’s the entire thing before I put it in the pre-heated oven:
I let the entire thing cook for about an hour or so and then checked to see how the meat was coming along. Personally I prefer my meat to rare or medium rare if it’s beef. For lamb I like it to be bêlant ie. still quite red where possible.
Why bêlant? Over 20 years ago when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant in France one of my clients requested his lamb “bêlant” and the term has stuck with me ever since. The term comes from the French verb bêler, which means “to bleat”.
After a further 25 – 30 minutes both the meat and vegetables were done nicely and were thus ready to serve:
Plated up it was a very tasty dinner!
So was the mortar and pestle worth the effort?
Based on my experience with the marinade for this dish, most definitely. I can’t see myself using it every single day, but I’ll definitely be trying to use it more frequently in my cooking, as it does help with the flavour of the herbs and other ingredients.
As a child we didn’t eat rabbit that often. I do, however, remember having it one time and getting a mouthful of buckshot! At least I knew the rabbit was freshly hunted!
Over the last few years, however, I have eaten rabbit several times in restaurants in France and Belgium. Getting rabbit on a restaurant menu in Ireland, however, doesn’t seem to be that common. You can get rabbit to cook at home, but to do so you either have to rely on friends who hunt rabbits or shops that stock imported rabbits. Yes, we actually import rabbits from other parts of Europe, as there currently aren’t any commercial rabbit farms in Ireland. Some butchers do stock wild rabbit meat, but most don’t.
In my case one of my staff was able to get me a wild rabbit.
Luckily for me they’d already skinned it and chopped it up a bit.
I like Italian style cooking so I made a “cacciatore” style dish with mine using a combination of Elise Bauer’s recipe and Antonio Carluccio’s “Coniglio alla Cacciatora”. I wasn’t sure which recipe to go with so I ended up combining them, as I’d already bought (or acquired) the ingredients for both.
You start by dusting the rabbit meat with flour
Then you fry it in olive oil to seal the meat
I love cooking with fresh herbs so I was delighted to get a nice big bunch of fresh rosemary from a friend’s garden, which combined with a few cloves of garlic add plenty of deep flavour to the meat.
The rich aroma of rosemary and garlic filled the kitchen, which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much. Sure, I enjoy eating the food, but I really love the deep aroma as the food cooks.
Now to make it all the more interesting, and isn’t that what cooking is all about, I added about 2/3 of a bottle of dry white wine, as well as some tomatoes, some bay leaves, peppers and mushrooms into the pan and let it all cook for about an hour.
As an aside, I don’t usually drink white wine, but it would have been rude to ignore the glass or two of wine that was left in the bottle, so I obviously drank it ..
If you’re not a white wine drinker this guide is handy for helping select the right kind of wine for cooking.
I use a very big and quite heavy pan with a tightly fitting lid for a lot of my day to day cooking, as it’s very good at doing these kind of stew type things. Sure, I could cheat and use a pressure cooker, but for something like this I thought the extra investment of time in the cooking was worth it.
And here’s a really short video showing it cooking away:
A few minutes before serving I added a few black and green olives into the stew which adds a bit of colour and even more flavour.
After about an hour the rabbit was ready and I served it with some boiled new potatoes. There was enough left over for a second evening’s dinner, which saved cooking!
Overall I was very happy with how it turned out.
A few things I learnt, however, rabbit is a bit like chicken, in that there are some parts which are quite bulky but don’t have much meat. You’ll get most of the meat from the legs.
The meat is pretty tasty and quite similar to chicken, though a lot more “gamey’.
I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to get my hands on a rabbit again, but I’ll definitely cook it again if I can.
I bought an Actifry several years ago. It’s a nice device and solves a problem for me: chips without using a deep fat fryer. I’ve never liked deep fat friers. Unless you change the oil regularly they are really disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy fries, but I try to avoid cooking with vegetable oil entirely. I generally do most of my cooking with olive oil and even then I don’t like the idea of using large quantities of oil for anything.
Every now and again I get an overwhelming desire to eat chips. Maybe with a steak, maybe with a burger or maybe with something else. Sure, they’re not the healthiest food out there by a long shot, but there’s no point in being miserable all the time either. I’d also rationalise that cooking my own unhealthy food is better than taking a shortcut and going to a local chipper.
I buy my meat mostly from a small local butcher, which means that they often cut the steak directly in front of me. 99% of the meat I eat at home is grilled on my George Foreman. (Getting one with removable plates has made cleaning up so much easier!)
So this week I’ve succumbed to my desire for chips a couple of times. I don’t use frozen chips – I prefer to make my own. So I’ll buy potatoes, peel them and slice them before cooking them in the actifry.
Why am I even writing about this? Well I guess it’s partially my way of dealing with my own “guilt”. I’m currently not travelling, so I’m able to cook my own meals and control what I eat and drink. While I know I’ll buy some fresh kale later today, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, I also feel that I need to be realistic. I don’t eat 100% healthy food 100% of the time, but when I’m cooking it myself I do my best to use good quality ingredients.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be making lots of fresh soups, stews and salads. But I will still have a nice steak from time to time.
Lamb is one of my favourite meats. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s so tasty that I do indulge from time to time. However, as I live alone, I don’t bother doing roast lamb unless I have guest(s). So the Easter weekend was a good excuse to do some roast lamb. The local SuperValu supermarket in Midleton has a pretty good selection of meat, so I picked up a nice piece of leg.
Roasting isn’t complicated, but you can definitely make it more interesting by adding something to the meat before you pop it in the oven.
Personally I like to slice up a couple of cloves of garlic and then insert slivers of garlic into the meat. Adding some French mustard and mixed herbs on the outside gave the meat an extra little “kick” of flavour.
The only downside with lamb is that more often than not there’s quite a bit of bone. But there’s still plenty of really good meat
I like lamb to be quite rare – why on earth would you want it overcooked?
Served with some roast vegetables and broccoli the end result was really good! (Washed down with a glass of red wine!)
Some mint sauce, if you have it, goes well with lamb. We had enough left for a small dollop each (not shown in photo).
I’ve no idea how many calories is in that, but good home cooked food is worth the indulgence from time to time!