Andalucia Steve the dream

I was a fat kidDespite being quite active and having elderly parents that ignored fast food, I was a fat kid. Looking back on it I spent most of my childhood playing football, cycling and exploring (I had a compass in the heel of my Wayfinder shoes and used to go on long hikes for no better reason than to find the source of a river). I don't recall snacking much, in fact I recall never having enough money to buy crisps and chocolate from the school tuck shop. So I don't know why I was a fat kid other than genetics.

At around age 14 I was running cross country, weight training, and representing my school in Rugby and athletics but the fat didn't come off. I messed around with dieting and eventually managed to loose some. I didn't know anything about Atkins at the time but what I did was to cut down on potatoes and have more salads everyday except Friday, when I would have shop-bought fish and chips with some crusty bread. By the time I was 18 I'd dropped several stone and looked pretty much like a regular person.

The weight stayed off most of my twenties. Then when I stopped playing football at about age thirty back it came. Not quickly but the odd pound here or there until in my mid to late thirties I hit my highest weight of 18.5 stone!

Little while ago I started the Slow Carb diet and now little over a year later I'm down to 14.5 stone. I find it pretty easy to stick to because the denial of one's favorite treats are alleviated on a once a week treat day when I can eat whatever I like. In fact I'm so comfortable now I don't think of myself being on a diet, instead it has become a way of life.




Smoked trout for dinner

One of the easiest tandoori favorites.

Bought a trout on Friday but haven't really had much time to do anything with it until Sunday evening. I fancied tandoori trout and fortunately the fish doesn't really need to marinade for any length of time, so I just knocked up a tandoori paste and got on with it.

Fish smokerBeing me, I lit the barbecue and dug out my fish smoking box. This is a stainless-steel box with two folded grill trays that stack on top of the other.

The trick is to put wood shaving in the bottom of the box soaked in water a few hours before using it. Then when you put the fish in and put the box on the BBQ, the shavings give off the smoke that flavours the meat.

I use Alder which gives off a sweet fruity sort of smoke. Olive works well too. To simulate the tandoori effect I cook  the fish in the smoker for about ten minutes which is enough to get the flavour going, then I whip it out of the smoking box and put it on foil directly on the BBQ grill. This gives it some intense heat and get the skins to blacken.

I'm afraid I got caught up in the moment and forgot to take any pictures of the trout while it was cooking. Here is the bag of wood chippings!

[Originally published 14 April 2013]



Chickpea Flatbread

Recipe for a flatbread using gram flour
Recipe for Chickpea flat bread.


2 ½ cups chickpea flour 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to grease pan and

2 tablespoons for the flat bread 

3 ½ cups of water (however, you can use more or less water depending on how thick or think you want the flat bread to be.

Some sea salt to taste. 

Chopped fresh Rosemary (as much or little as you like) 


So now you mix all the ingredients together. 

Pour chickpea flour into bowl

Add water. Stir until all bumps and knots are out and it’s smooth

Add olive oil Mix again.

Add salt

Add Rosemary

Grease the pan both on the bottom and at the sides with the one tablespoon of olive oil.

Pour chickpea mixture into pan.

Heat up the oven to about 350 degrees and once it’s there…

Put the future flat bread into the oven and let bake for about forty minutes.

When you take it out the oven, let sit for five minutes, and then cut into slices. 


A year on slow carb

Analysis and breakdown of the figures of one year's low carb dieting

Some people find it easy to stay trim - eat and drink as much as they like and never put on a pound. I'm not one of those people!

A year on slow carbInspired by the Tim Ferris book, 'The Four Hour Body' I decided to give the low carb diet a try. A year later, here is the result. I'm very pleased to have lost thirty pounds and also that the trend has been to loose it steadily over the year. The biggest loss was during the first eight to ten weeks where I was pretty much doing the slow carb diet 100% according to the book, then I start to tinker with it and introduce variations to meals etc. Then things went into a bit of a plataux, and I put on a few pounds over christmas.

I like a drink, but up until week thirty I only drank wine on a Saturday night. Week thirty was when I separated from my partner and I started to have a drink every day. Interestingly though this did not reduce the weight loss.

 Another significant change in week thrity five I stopped eating breakfast. I never have much of an apetite until about midday so I combined breakfast and lunch, which has obviously reduced my calorie intake.

In case you are not familiar with the slow carb diet it's really easy to follow. You avoid carbs and diary similar to the Atkins diet. But one day each week you get a treat day when you can eat and drink whatever you like. This has probably been key in my ability to stay on the diet, as if I ever feel a craving for a greasy burger I can say to myself 'right I'll have one of those on Saturday with cheese and ketchup'. The craving turns itself into something I can look forward to and knowing Saturday will soon come round, I have the will power to stick to the diet through the rest of the week.

Another thing that has helped is the simple metric of recording my weight every week, and keeping a food diary. Seeing the graph form over time helps keep just a little bit of focus that I need to keep eating largely according to the rules. I'm really comfortable with it now to the point where I can go off the diet, for a social occasion say, and get back on it again, knowing what effect that wil have.

Another thing that has played apart in my success is that I've walked a lot. I've stopped using the car to go shopping. As I can't so easily do a weekly big shop without the car, I tend to walk to the shops whenever I need something which is most days. Because Olvera is so hilly, walking is super effective as a form of excercise!

I've just started a new page in the spreadsheet for year two data. I'm going to keep on the diet indefinately and I expect to reach my ideal weight in two years.

[Originally published 18 October 2013 ]

Well that worked!!

Low-carb pizza recipe works a treat.

This recipe is one I saw on the internet a while ago, but I didn't get around to trying it today, possibly a year later. What a mistake!! I wish I'd been eating it much sooner!

Low carb pizza

The basic idea is that instead of using a flour based bread pizza base, you use white beans held together with egg. There is no cheese on the pizza so you use the low carb toppings like bacon, spinach etc then cover it with a beaten egg. The result is something resembling a pizza in look, and the taste is largely governed by the toppings. The base has a slightly different taste but because the taste of the base is so much weaker that the taste of the toppings you hardly notice the difference.

Using an eight inch pizza dish, here is what you need. I bought a small jar of white beans in the local supermarket which constitutes about 250 ml or a cup and a bit. Fry this off with some salt and olive oil, using a spatula to crush the beans. After a few minutes you have a mush. At that point stir in an egg, and when that is mixed in, spread the mush onto you pizza dish. Put it into a hot oven (370 degs or thereabouts) and leave the base to solidify for a few minutes. When the base is suffiently hardened that it can support your toppings (test this with you finger), whip it out of the oven and start building your pizza. I used crushed garlic, four slices of tomato, onion rings, a cup of spinach and a few slices of bacon. Season with oregano, basil, salt and freshly milled black pepper. Then whisk up another egg and pour it all over the toppings. Then pop back into a high over for about ten minutes.

I found that the only snag with the recipe is that if you try to serve it straight away, the egg in the base tends to stick and it breaks up. Best is to leave it to rest for a couple of minutes so that the base stabilises and then you can lift it with a spatula without it breaking. To me this is magic - a pizza with almost zero carbs!!


[Originally posted 21 November 2013]

Solved - how not to put on weight this christmas

Sticking to the slow carb diet during the holidays

A finding my fitness holiday feastThis is great! I've been doing the slow carb diet for over a year now (see the results here) and I would be half a stone lighter were it not for my holiday season relapse. The lure of sugary mulled wine and sweet puddings was such that I just said "stuff the diet" for a  whole week. Not a long time in the grand scheme of things but enough to put on seven pounds.

Well christmas is coming up again but this year I have discovered a secret weapon. From Jason Jacobs at the finding my fitness website comes the solution to all my problems. 'A finding my fitness holiday feast' is an eBook crammed full of holiday season recipes that are fully low carb/paleo compliant.

The information is not limited to recipes. The instructions on how to cook a turkey are detailed yet simple to follow. The recipes too are very well written and easy to follow. I'm particularly looking forward to trying the breadless stuffing and the cranberry sauce recipes. There are a range of vegetable dishes and desserts. Best of all there is a low carb version of mulled wine!

I'm menu planning in my mind already!

If you want to enjoy the holiday season without putting on a few pounds, look no further than this brilliant eBook. You can buy buy it here


[Originally published 27 November 2013]

Another low carb dish

Exploring eggs - the frittata

First go at frittataI'd never made a frittata until five minutes ago. Despite owning a number of cookery books it had never been something I'd really come across. Nobody I knew made them and I'd never had one in a restaurant.

Then I came across a recipe for one on a low carb website. The deal with a frittata is that it's an egg dish, similar to an omelette, but with more filling, open faced and finished off under the grill. The idea is to end up with something quite thick and sturdy that be sliced, rather like a quiche without the pastry.

I pretty much followed the recipe. I fried of some veg, onion, garlic, spinach, parsley, bacon and added a few herbs, and while that was on the go, I started to whisk three eggs and a few tablespoons of milk. Once the veg were nearly done I poured over the beaten egg and left on a fairly low setting for five minutes after which I added a light sprinkling of grated cheese and finished off under the grill.

The result was surprisingly tasty with the melted cheese and sprigs of crispy bacon really tickling my taste buds. Will definitely add this to my list of low-carb favourites.

[Originally 27 November 2013 published ]

The ultimate secreto iberico

How to prepare one of the most tasty cuts of meat in Spain

Iberico Secreto 141227 AWThe cut of meat on the left is called Secreto Iberico, or the Spanish secret. The secret is, that although this meat derives from humble cuts of the Iberican pig, it contains the most delicate marbling of fat.

In Spain the Iberican pig is a black breed that comes in various grades, mostly depending on how long it has grazed on acorns.

The cut know as Secreto Iberico either comes from the front of the leg or behind the shoulder. Both cuts have a similar type of fat that has a low melting temperature that almost melts in the mouth. The trick then in cooking this cut is to make sure the fat and meat juices stay inside the meat.

Because of this the meat is best cooked quickly at a high temperature. Unlike a beef stake however, if the cut is thick, and a quick cooking method is employed, Secreto Iberico that is not reasonably well cooked inside is not particularly tasty - rather than being full of tasty meat juices, what you would get is a running fat which is rather unpleasant. Because of this I generally slice a thick cut of secreto into thinner slices, so that none are more than one centimeter thick.

Season with salt and pepper then get the pan really hot, then fry off the meat, in a good layer of olive oil no more than 60 seconds per side before turning. After a few turns, when the meat starts to sear, strain off the meat and excess oil.

Keeping the heat on at a medium, add about a tablespoon of HP sauce then a couple of measures of whiskey - stir together and when they come to the boil, reduce the heat, add back the meat and cover. This can sit for several minutes until ready to serve. This is a simple dish that goes well with french fries and seasonal vegetables.