Tag Archives: Food

Eat chicken pot pie soup review – Big Bold

Description: Gloopy chicken, pea, carrot, onion & potato soup topped with a light pastry crust.

Health: Not the healthiest Eat soup, this scores highly on salt and calories, but on the ‘big’ (as opposed to very big) front it is not too bad – 366 calories.

Taste: Just wow. Salty, tasty, chunky, creamy, meaty – its practically a stew most days, and its a better man than me that can forego the pastry garnish. Do you eat the topping first, with the soup, or save it till the end? That’s the question.

Full-o-meter: Meh. Not brilliant at keeping you full. Relatively low fibre content and calorie count to blame there. Recommend a very big portion if you have the calories to spare (think that weighs in around 660 cals).

Verdict: 5/5. As I said, my fave soup tied with Italian Ragu & Pasta (and possibly a new favourite, Texan Chilli Con Carne Soup – review coming soon!).

School dinners I liked

One of the ways I’m dealing with the diet is through reading a load of awesome food blogs. Window shopping, right? Serious Eats asks what school dinners (or cafeteria meals, ‘cos they’re American), we actually like.

I had a few that I look on fondly…

1) The full school fry-up. Individually, the components were weak – gristly, soggy bacon, crunchy fried bread, rubbery egg etc. But it was possible to create the ultimate breakfast butty – for me, two slices of toast, a slice of fried bread soaked in baked bean jus, fried egg & bacon… yum. Health on a plate.

2) Welsh rarebit. I don’t know why this veggie option appealed to me so much, but it was tasty as, even done by our school kitchen. Haven’t had it since I left school 11 years ago, though.

3) Chicken Kiev. Again, not great quality but nostalgia continues to make these a bit of a treat for me.

In contrast, three things school dinners have ensured I’ll never really want to eat again…

1) Toad in the hole. I don’t know why its called this, sausages in weird batter I guess is less catchy, but…

2) Eggs hollandaise. The concept makes no sense to me.

3) Frog’s legs. From the ill fated ‘French day’ at school.

My school wasn’t Jamie’s kitchen, needless to say. Any favourites from you guys out there?

Eat Italian ragu & pasta soup review – Very Big Bold

Description: Bits of light pasta suspended in a souped-up (i.e. watered down) beefy tomato ragu, topped with a smattering of delicious fresh parmesan.

Health: Weighing in at a modest 394 calories for the Very Big Bold portion, this is a pretty healthy soup to splash out on. Fat, etc., relatively low, but as with most Eat soups there’s a fair whack of salt in there, especially at the massive portion level.

Taste: This is one of my new indulgences. Having failed my driving test on Friday morning (BOO the DSA), I needed something to cheer me up before a busy client meeting and the rich tomatoey soup, tasty beef morsels and beautifully moreish parmesan are a fantastic tonic.

Full-o-meter: 32oz of soup would fill up most people, without need for bread or additional side. There have been occasions when I’ve struggled to get through it all (I tend to always find a way).

Verdict: 5/5. Tied first with the Eat Chicken Pot Pie soup for deliciousness (review pending, when its day comes up again). It is a good day when Eat serves up the Italian Ragu & Pasta soup.

Eat Hungarian goulash soup review – Big Bold

Description: Eat doesn’t provide food descriptions, so I’m just going to stick in a Googled recipe in each mini review. This is roughly what goes into a Hungarian goulash soup.

Health: Low cal, low-fat, non-dairy and relatively low salt by Eat standards, this is a pretty healthy soup. At only 284 calories for the Big Bold portion, its low even by the standards of my diet, so you’d probably want some bread to pad you out (I went for billtong – all about the protein).

Taste: Unfortunately, the lower salt content takes out some of the ‘boom’ tastiness from this soup and its a relatively bland, tomato-based beef and potato soup that’s left. The fresh chopped parsley garnish adds a pleasant fresh tang, but the potatoes are a bit flavourless and (in my portion) were slightly crunchy. But then, I’m not a mad keen potato eater.

Full-o-meter: It does fill you up – the soup is thick and textured from the tomatoes and the potatoes, so doesn’t feel insubstantial.

Verdict: 3/5. Not their finest work, but I’d probably have it again if the mood took me.

Eat Soup reviews

I love Eat Soup. It’s been a major part of helping me get through the last six months of dieting. Studies show that soup fills you up more, for the same amount of calories and I believe this to be true.

There are few other places that do as tasty, healthy soup in my neigbhourhood, and few reviews online to tell you if today’s “Big Bold” tastes of awesome or, erm, the other thing. So I thought I’d do some reviews, as I’m eating it in some form nearly every day.

First one will follow shortly – Eat’s Hungarian Ghoulash.

Incidentally, much as I love the soup, Eat themselves are a bit annoying. Big queues, occasionally surly staff and I’ve been ‘short souped’ there a number of times… I keep hoping that @eat_news on Twitter will notice, but they never do. Needless to say, I don’t eat there for free. *sigh*. Ah well, they’re nowhere nearly as bad as the Soup Nazi

Update – Eat got in touch today, apologised & offered me some vouchers to say sorry. Thanks guys, you rock! Will take a little extra satisfaction in the soups those vouchers get me, and will no doubt keep on reviewing…

Weight loss – how I’m doing it

I’m nearly down 13kg this year and hope to make it to my target of losing 21kg in another couple of months. People ask me what I’m doing in and inevitably I tell them at length in a tedious, unstructured manner. So here’s the latest on how I’m achieving this so far, and you can let me know what you think. I think this counts as ‘weight loss tips for geeks’ as it involves at least one technology, and a bit of random nerdiness, but hopefully you’ll like it.

NB this post follows on from my earlier post on Chivalry House that I apparently forgot to cross post here. So start there, or here… doesn’t really matter.

Track everything
I’m logging all food and exercise on DailyBurn.com (the nasty renaming of the friendly ‘Gyminee.com’ as it was). It’s a great way of keeping me honest. My weight loss is operating on the basic principle that if I eat less than I use on a normal day (i.e. not accounting for exercise), I will lose weight. So I’ve set (and maintained) a calorie target of 1,500 since about April. And I’ve been losing about 1kg per week, which I understand is about as well as you can hope to do. I also weigh myself daily (and am unbothered by occasional fluctuations, you can use a moving average if you want but weighing yourself at the same time daily gives some consistency). Dailyburn doesn’t yet have an iPhone app but it does have an iPhone optimised page which works pretty well.

Be aware of what you eat
My previous ‘values’ for food were determined by how much I like the taste of it, and I pretty much indulged in eating food I liked when I liked. Having an understanding of a) how many calories are in everything and b) how much it fills me up for that has changed the way I ‘value’ food. On 1,500 calories a day I’m pretty much always hungry so its necessary to eat cleverly to avoid the worst of it. Here’s my tips:

1) Avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, rice cakes etc). They digest too quickly, you don’t stay full and have a poor full up / consumption ratio.
2) Eat fresh, eat fibre – go for foods with more fibre content and tonnes of fresh vegetables to fill up.
3) Bulk-up with the good stuff – eat the vegetables etc., FIRST, before you eat the ‘tasty’ (for me, meat) portion of the meal.
4) Find healthy ‘treats’ in each category of food that are better for you – e.g. strawberries for sweets (7 calories each and delicious). I haven’t found a great savoury low-cal snack yet, but if anyone has any ideas…
5) Keep yourself honest – Make sure your food diary is kept on the side of caution – always estimate more rather than less so you don’t go over your calorie target
6) Drink tonnes of water to stay full, before or during a meal – NOT AFTER. After seems to swell your stomach and get you hungry again.
7) Don’t reward exercise with food. Never works, you’ll always bump the calorie count more than you think.
8) Do eat things you want sometimes – even if its bad for you. For me, it’s Hitting the Hut. Make sure you add it to DailyBurn anyway and keep within your weight loss or at least weight maintenance band.
9) Reverse the meat/carbs proportion of your meal. Western diets are generally oriented around eating a LOT more rice/potatoes/bread than meat, but we actually probably need more meat than carbs if we’re doing a weight loss/resistance training programme. Swap in more veg instead of potatoes or rice. Aubergine is a great bet and can be made pretty damn tasty.
10) Soup fills you up more than other things – see this article. Eat’s soup, which is unebelievably delicious and mostly healthy (a few in ‘Very Big Bold’ sizes to be avoided, worse than a baguette), has helped me get through many a tough day on the diet.

Resistance training
The reason most people give up on exercise regimens (including me) is because they require more time than we can gather the willpower to give. I’ve been working to one target – to increase my strength for press ups. This happens to be a good exercise that works a lot of other muscles as well (biceps, triceps, chest, core, etc), so works for me, but others might prefer squats or sit-ups. I’m doing the programme over at Hundred Pushups, which requires the princely time-commitment of 30 minutes PER WEEK. I’ve gone from a max of about 15 push-ups to my current limit, about 35-36, in 5 weeks. In another few weeks I hope to be pushing 60 before I make it to the 100 mark (the idea is to get to the point where you can do 100 in a single set). And I bought their iPhone app to keep me honest, if you want to do it the high-tech way.

Don’t. Most alochol is calorific as all that. On the occasions I’ve been out, I’ve had vodka shots alternating with pints of water. At 50 calories of carbs per shot its as efficient as you can get, but still not great for you over an evening. The pints of water are a great way of feeling involved in social drinking, preventing hangovers, and help reach your daily target for water intake.


…and I think that’s most of it. I’ve been rewarding myself with new clothes (necessary as trousers no longer fit and jackets and t-shirts etc., look baggy) – instead of food – which works well. And a real imperative is getting to my target weight before I get a suit tailored for the wedding in October (first fitting in a few weeks!). That maybe gives me more will power than most, but in honesty I’d just had enough of being a fatass. I’ve been gaining weight from 10 years of eating what I feel like, so losing it over 6 months of hunger is not a great deal to put up with… I’m going to carry on using Gyminee when the target’s met to prevent a resurgence, but I’m really, really looking forward to getting back to 2000 calories per day…

Any thoughts, feedback, further advice, or useful links appreciated. Thanks to all who’ve been encouraging & supportive through the proceedings, both online via Twitter and Facebook, and IRL.

Chicken curry 2.0

My love for Videojug continues – last night I made this:

How To Cook A Chicken Curry In Ten Minutes

…needless to say, it took a little more than ten minutes but worked out very satisfactorily.

If you’re curious — you can substitute milk (or Lactofree, if you’re me) for the cream and it is pretty tasty. I’d recommend using more than one chilli if you’re used to any kind of proper spice (or possibly some chilli powder), and maybe even tinned tomatoes or passata instead of tomato paste if you want to give it a bit more sauce.

Serve with fried roti canai (paratha), bought frozen at the Indian shop down the road. Nom nom nom…

Culinary weekend

Had an exciting weekend of cooking; roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic, honey glazed carrots, broccolli and red potato wedges, created with the help of Amanda and Sheila, followed by an Amanda special crumble, which was delicious (Amanda also made nutmeg-free currant buns in preparation for Easter, which are even more delicious). The roast turned out really well despite my near-complete inexperience roasting lamb, and again, I credit this to the wonder that is videojug:

How To Make Roast Leg Of Lamb

The mustard crust makes for a really crispy, tasty outer shell and the rosemary and garlic to a wonderful job of flavouring the meat. Sheila also gained additional entertainment by considering the possibility of garlic overdose (missing an embedded piece of garlic in a mouthful of lamb… mmm).

God bless the Internets.

Oh, and Spurs won too. Tasty and triumphant.