My Mum decided not to go to university because she had had enough of exams. She has a number of stories related to her hatred of exams but one that has always stuck with me goes a little something like this.
When studying for her A-levels she was so nervous that she completely lost her appetite. She literally couldn’t look at a plate of food without feeling physically sick and so instead spent the whole time grazing on small bowls of fruit and nuts. Her parents were convinced she was anorexic. She lost so much weight they had her clothes taken in, despite my Mum’s protests saying it was just exam nerves. But, her parents, as worried as they were, decided once exams were over she should go and stay with an aunty who would hopefully feed her up and knock her out of this “anorexic” stage with plenty of steamed puddings and stews. Funnily enough my Mum had just been nervous and within weeks of finishing her exams she’s piled back on all of the weight and more. Her old clothes were now useless!
The reason this story mesmerises me so much, is that, I just can’t imagine feeling so nervous I can’t eat! When I came to take MY A-levels, I found it impossible to concentrate without a big bowl of salted Doritos or popcorn by my side. There must be something about salt that aids the revision process – it’s a weird craving but I figure there must be some science in there somewhere.
Needless to say I went the opposite to my Mum and didn’t fit in any of my clothes once exams were over for all of the wrong reasons! Every summer for me the pattern has been the same, but this year I was determined to break the cycle, and I’m proud to say that for once I managed to buck the trend! I didn’t quite go to the extremes that my Mum did but by watching my revision snacking and eating healthily I’ve actually managed to loose weight. Though it wasn’t easy I must admit.
For anyone who is trying to lose weight cooking from scratch really is the key, that way you can really make sure you know exactly how much fat is going into what you eat, and by making a few sensible substitutes you can have your favourite foods for half the calories.
One of my favourite substitutes is mince. Instead of beef/lamb, I use turkey mince! It is a much, much leaner mince but tastes equally delicious!
Here are a couple of example of healthy turkey mince recipes I’ve cooked in the past:
This recipe is a little bit different, here the turkey mince isn’t a direct substitute for beef/lamb, but makes a dish in its own right, Turkey Mince Ragu with Pasta. The texture is more dry than a spaghetti bolognaise and has an extra kick with the chilli which makes it a lovely dish for a warm summers eve.
- Turkey mince (one large handful per person)
- 1 red chilli
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 small red onion
- Half a small courgette
- Yellow pepper
- 4 florettes of broccoli
- 2 plum tomatoes
- Handful of cherry tomatoes
- Handful of pasta
- Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry off the finely chopped chilli and crushed garlic. (Alternatively try an infused oil). One the flavours have infused, add the turkey mince and fry off until lightly browned. As turkey is such a lean meat if you find that it is sticking add a little water to loosen it from the bottom of the pan rather than adding more oil.
- Next add in the chopped pepper and broccoli. When these have begun to soften add in the chopped plum tomatoes and allow the tomatoes to breakdown. Next add the cherry tomatoes to the centre of the pan and allow them to cook for 10mins until they took have burst their juices. While this is cooking place your pasta in a hot pan and cook until tender.
- Grate in the courgette, cook for a further 10mins (adding a little water to make a thin sauce) and simmer.