Blue and orange

What a relief to wake up to sunshine and blue skies.  And not too much wind.  Always a consideration on a Tuesday as Tuesday is tennis day.

I bought some cheap strawberries yesterday which were only fit for blending so a smoothie was on the breakfast menu: 1 banana, 1/2 punnett of strawberries, 140 ml soya milk and 1 tbsp chocolate and hempseed spread.

My little breakfast buddy wanted some smoothie too, as well as his bowl of cereal so I was down to a half portion which wouldn’t sustain me until lunch time.  So I poured mine in to a bowl and added some granola.  I needed fuel for tennis.

Tennis was great fun as always.  Lucy and Emma joined today and there were 8 of us which is a good number for the session.  We did some new drills and I ran around more than usual so I felt exhausted when I got home.  Which is a good thing as it shows I was trying hard.  I had a coffee and an apple with almond nut butter on it because I felt peckish.

Do you ever get a really strong craving for something or go through a phase of wanting a particular taste?  I don’t mean chocolate or wine!

At the moment I keep wanting to eat blue cheese.  Today I really wanted a large green leafy salad with a blue cheese dressing.  Not a dressing from a bottle but a really strong-tasting blue cheese in a creamy runny sauce.  I looked up a few recipes and decided to go for one that had blue cheese, walnut oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

I changed the quantities from the recipe to reduce the fat and I didn’t have a lemon, which may have made a big difference.  But it was not what I was trying to achieve.  This dressing was a big fail so I am not going to share the recipe.  I will try again and publish a good recipe, if I come up with it.  The cheese was wrong.  It was too mild and creamy.  I should have bought a crumbly Stilton.  Cashel Blue is a lovely cheese to eat with some fruit or on a cracker but not for the dressing I was after.

If anyone has a good recipe for a strongly flavoured and creamy blue cheese dressing, please post it in the comments section.  Or tell us where to look it up.  Please.

The lettuce was fantastic.  I picked about 5 different types from the garden and they were very full of flavour.  The only other addition to my lunch plate was a plum tomato and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  Overall lunch was very edible, just not what I felt like today.

About an hour later I had a bag of crisps.  Oh no!!!  Why did I do that?  For some reason I really craved something salty.  I don’t often eat crisps but they hit the spot for some reason today.

I had a ridiculous mountain of ironing to tackle so I decided to iron and watch a film – Julie and Julia.  I read the book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it which is why I didn’t watch the film.  Good books rarely translate to good films.  But it was great.  A film about blogging and food – what’s not to like?

Shepherd’s pie for dinner.  Instead of a conventional potato topping, I use sweet potato and butternut squash.  They contain more nutrients than potato as they have beta -carotene which the body converts in to vitamin A.  Beta carotene is also an antioxidant which helps to prevent free-radical damage which can lead to cancer.  They also contribute vitamin C, potassium and fibre to your diet.

From a dieting perspective I like to use butternut squash because it is not so starchy as potato or sweet potato.  And both sweet potato and butternut squash can be mashed easily without adding any milk or butter so that saves some calories and fat.

Something else I do to reduce the fat in this dish is to drain the meat once I have fried it.  I tip the meat in to a colander and let it drain; it is surprising how much fat comes out of the meat, even when you buy lean mince.

Shepherd’s Pie with orange mash (serves 4)

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash
  • 250 g lean minced lamb
  • 250 g lean minced beef
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in to cubes
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • Lee & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • Frozen petit pois


  • Turn oven on to 180° C
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil
  • Peel sweet potato and butternut squash and cut in to chunks
  • Boil until just soft (takes about 15 minutes so less time than white potato)
  • Drain and mash
  • While the potato and squash are cooking, fry the lamb and beef until brown.  No need to add fat if using a non stick pan.
  • Drain fat from meat in colander
  • Put frying pan back on stove top and fry onion and carrots until nearly soft.  There should be enough fat coating the pan from the meat so do not add more
  • Put meat back in to pan with onion and carrots and mix well
  • Add 1 tbsp flour and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add stock and a good slug of Lee & Perrins.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes so stock thickens
  • Add salt and pepper if required
  • Cover baking dish with a single layer of petit pois (I use them direct from the freezer)
  • Pour meat, onion and carrot mixture on top of petit pois
  • Spread potato and squash mash over the meat mixture and smooth with the back of a spoon and then mark lines with a fork as in the picture above
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes

We eat it as is because you have all the main food groups plus 3 vegetables within the one dish.  I confess I eat mine with a spoonful of Branston Pickle.  Don’t knock it until you try it!

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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