Monday, 6 January 2014

January Joy - Make a Calendar, plan some clean eats & manage your time.

by Bex

Today's January Joy prompt is Make a Calendar.  I don't really use calendars or diaries any more as I was introduced to Google Calendar by Nik when we first started going out.  It makes life so much easier to organise as we share our calendars with each other.  It means I can see at a glance what shift he's on if we're invited somewhere or I want to plan something.  If I make an appointment, it goes straight on my phone calendar which syncs with Google so I should never forget an appointment, you can even set reminders so it will either email, text or set up a phone alert in advance - either a day or 30 mins, whatever you set.  I also love that you can colour code your calendars.

I use it to remind me to pay the credit card bill in time, for birthdays (it automatically repeats them yearly so I don't have to keep adding them every year), for work shifts and bank holidays, I can see which shifts Nik can and can't take off easily when planning holidays and have a separate calendar for all my IVF things - marking cycles and when to take which drugs etc. which I can also share with my Mum so she doesn't have to keep asking what's happening.  It is fantastic.  And also helps with Wednesday's #JanuaryJoy prompt - plan your time.  You can even make a task list down the side.  Which is just as well as I have lots of recipes to post before Amy gets mad at me ;)

Anyway, that's pretty boring really, I just love being organised!  Instead, the calendar I am going to 'make' this year is the food calendar.  I briefly talked about cooking in season when I received ingredients to make a seasonal soup.  This year I plan to make more of an effort to cook seasonally according to the food calendar.  I think it will be much easier this year due to my Good Food magazine subscription.  They always include a few suggestions of recipes for in season fruit & veg.  One of my favourite pastimes is going through my monthly magazine when it arrives and tearing out the recipes I want to make.  It means I don't just put the magazine away and forget what's in it.  I have a wee bundle of the recipes I really like and make the effort to cook them.

Eventually they will all be categorised in my own recipe filing system (yes I love organising that much!).  The advantages to cooking seasonally aren't as obvious these days when you can pretty much get anything year round but the in season stuff should be cheaper at the right times of year and of course help reduce the carbon footprint as we can buy locally grown food rather than imported.  It should also taste better, but to be honest, I haven't paid that much attention to what I'm cooking in the past, I often don't plan ahead and just pick up what I fancy or Nik gets something on his way home from work for us.

I'm sure most people have a few regular recipes they make.  Ours are chicken fajitas, spag bol, chilli, salad with chicken, various types of pasta with chicken & a jar sauce, steak & chips or mash, salmon & vegetables and when we don't fancy cooking - the always handy M&S fuller longer meals when they're on offer!  Obviously we do eat other things as well but these tend to be our fall back meals.  There are probably more but these are the ones that spring to mind.

This post really fits in with tomorrow's prompt as well - plan some clean eats.  To me, clean eats are (usually home-made) meals with fresh ingredients and no processed foods.  You know I've recently been trying to lose some weight and had a colonoscopy to deal with some symptoms I'd been having.  In case you don't follow me on Twitter, the prep for the colonoscopy was horrendous - I did not cope well with the clear fluid diet the day before (SO HUNGRY!) and the FOUR litres of vile laxative mixture I had to drink throughout the afternoon was very difficult despite all the tips & tricks & cheering on I got via Twitter (thanks for those, they definitely helped!).  The colonoscopy itself wasn't that bad.  I had sedation but I seem to remember everything, the only bit that was bad was towards the top end, I could feel a lot of pain and the nurses were all fantastic, the guy who held my hand when I was clearly in pain was very reassuring.  It didn't last long and the good news is they found a massive polyp and removed it.  It explains some of my symptoms and they didn't find any signs of inflammatory bowel disease which is a relief.  Obviously we need to wait to see what the biopsies say but I think most of my issues have been as a result of the 7cm(!) polyp.

Anyway, since I had been completely cleaned out by the prep diet and laxatives, it seemed like the perfect time to get back into my healthy eating post-Christmas!  Admittedly the first day (following fasting and sedation) I wasn't too fussed and just ate!  I did make a salad for dinner and have switched back to wholemeal bread but wasn't being too strict.

I'm looking forward to starting swimming and walking again on Monday and I can't wait to start trying some new seasonal recipes.  My favourites from this month's magazine are:

From the gluten free supplement:
Flourless chocolate & pear cake

Baked lemon & vanilla rice pudding
From the 'In Season' section:
Venison steaks with mushroom sauce (I've never been keen on venison in the past but have only had it in stews)
Five-spice, soy & lemon roast chicken
From the 'Healthy' Section:
Lamb with buckwheat noodles & tomato dressing

Poached fish with ginger & sesame broth
From the 'Weekend' section:
Chicken teriyaki skewers with lime & coconut rice
Cornish crab bisque with lemony croutons
Bloody Mary pepper prawns
From the 'Everyday' section:
Lemon chicken stir fry with sugar snap peas
Beef & Lentil cottage pie with cauliflower & potato topping
Braised bacon with colcannon cakes
Cider, mustard & herb chicken
Thai pesto prawn noodles

You can see how much value I get out of these magazines, these are just my favourites and I won't make them ALL this month and I'm not convinced they're all strictly seasonal but they're certainly going to be added to my repertoire at some stage, they all sound delish!

And as Becca reminded me in the comments below, I also bought the Covent Garden - A Soup for Every Day recipe book as it was reduced from £25 to £4!  Ideal for seasonal cooking :)


Becca said...

I've recently made some Thai noodle soup which made me feel very healthy and was super easy and then very satisfying and warming in this weather. Making the stock was a bit of a faff but it was more a case of faff at the beginning and then leave. Anyway...much less processed than the cube version.

We also have a soup a day recipe book which is great for (a) using up all of the vegetables and (b) for a bit of variety.

As for the polyp, I'm really pleased they have identified and issue which brings hope for 2014. Fingers crossed for you both.

Would love subscription to BBC Good Food. Is definitely the best magazine. Please do share recipes once you've done them!

x x x

Bex said...

Thanks for reminding me Becca, I bought that book before Christmas!

:) x

amy said...

Heehee, promise I'm not too mad! :)

Gwen - TheFoodieHistorian said...

I am also a Google Calendar convert – I do everything from meal planning to nagging J about things to do (I put things in his calendar!) on it. I’m also a massive fan of Wunderlist – I’ve got lists of everything from books to read, to recipes to try and things to do about the house. I think I mainly like a list because it’s a bit of panic prevention. If I find myself getting overly stressed or worried about having lots to do, I can tick a few things off and it helps the panic subside!

I had a three month trial to a magazine – can’t remember which one it was – Oliver perhaps? And although I really liked looking at the pictures, I never actually made any of the recipes. I think I made the mistake of looking at the nutritional values of them all and being horrified that everything contained so much salt, sugar and fat… Which does make me sound very boring, but as I don’t eat much dairy, it put me off. Maybe I should go for another trial of a different one –I could do with upadting my weeknight repetoire as well!

AnneeApple said...

Love the google calendar too! We use it in the office and the Mr and I share our calender too, it's fantastic! x

Rachie @ A Chi Chi Affair said...

Never thought I would be happy about a polyp ! But I am!! Hoping this is the start of some good news for you!

Really enjoyed this post - you are inspirational with your organisedness! Starting weightwatchers this week! xx

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