A Farewell to Carbs

Doesn't the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Doesn’t the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Has something weird happened to time? It appears that I am now a mere nine days away from wedding bells and I am not entirely sure how that happened…

As is my wont, I set myself various ambitious goals at yon time when the wedding day seemed like an occasion far, far into the future. Most of them, in a purely shallow fashion, centred around being a size 6, sporting arms like Madonna and having come through the other side of the world’s harshest detox to guarantee skin so fresh, shiny and young-looking people mistook me for a 39-year-old instead of a… (er, ladylike modesty forbids me to reveal the truth dear reader).

Aye, all rather shallow hmm? So, what happened instead? There was wine, ladies and gentlemen. There were cakes and there was a lot of cheese. Yum! So, I’m now on Atkins*. Rumour has it that the 5.2 diet and the Cambridge diet are among those my guests are trying. Possibly I should contact said diet companies and ask for commission…?

So yes, Atkins, and carbs are now the mere daydream of mashed potatoes, or the enticing whiff of baked goods. To compensate for my carb-free life, I made millionaire’s shortbread today** to serve as favours for my wedding. I cut the normal sized-pieces into cute mini portions and I’ll be putting a couple of each into a china teacup and adding a hand-written note. Kitsch hmm?

I have to share the recipe for the shortbread as it’s one of the world’s nicest biscuits and three trillion times (at least) nicer home-made.

MILLIONAIRE’S SHORTBREAD (makes shed loads)

100g cornflour

250g plain flour

250g unsalted butter

110g golden caster sugar

2 tins condensed milk (397g each)

100g unsalted butter

100g dark brown soft sugar

150g plain chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease two 18cm/7-inch square tins (I find it’s easiest to use loose-bottomed cake tins – it makes removal of the finished shortbread much easier.)

Combine the flours and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Bring the whole lot together until it forms a bowl, divide in two and press into the bases of the two tins. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool, but do not remove from the tin.

Place the condensed milk, unsalted butter and dark brown soft sugar into a heavy based sauce pan and heat very gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time. Once it has boiled, turn down to a simmer and cook for five minutes. The mixture will turn a lovely fudgy colour. Pour half over one shortbread base, and half over the other. Leave to cool and set.

Melt the three chocolates separately (I favour 30-sec bursts in the microwave) and place spoonfuls of each kind over the cooled caramel and shortbread. Aim to roughly cover each surface in the three different kinds of chocolate and then lightly tap the tin on the surface so that the chocolates merge into one. Using a skewer or a knife tip, swirl the chocolates to create a marbled effect.

Leave to cool and cut into small squares. You’ll get roughly 40-45 squares from this, but mini ones look sweet. Tip – if you cut this up before the chocolate has fully set, the chocolate topping won’t crack.

*Atkins, for those of you for whom dieting is a blissfully unfamiliar habit, is a low-carbohydrate/ high protein diet. While unlimited eggs, bacon and steak sounds good in theory, without toast, chips and other starchy gloriousness it all gets rather tedious after a while. It does, however, produce results though if you do it and fall desperately ill, IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH MOI.

**Worry not, the said millionaire’s shortbread is currently residing in my freezer so it can be just-baked fresh on the day.

5:2 Sticking with the Eating/Starving Thing?

I’ve blogged a couple of times about the 5:2 diet… Being something of an internet research nerd (a fun way to pass a few hours when you’re bored), I’d noted mention of this diet online several weeks ago and investigated.

The basic premise is – for two, non-consecutive days a week, you eat a mere 500 calories a day (600 if you’re a bloke) and then eat normally for the rest of the week. Et voila – weight loss! Improved health! Decreased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s!

I could pretend I did it for the slightly nobler improved health, lowering the risk of contracting nasty illnesses reasons, but that would be a lie. The promise of weight loss lured me in and I tried the plan for three weeks.

Pluses – I lost five pounds and my stomach feels a lot flatter.

Minuses – those two days are MURDEROUSLY hard… Funnily enough, as the day goes on it seems to get easier, but first thing in the morning the thought of not eating very much all day feels like the most enormous hurdle to get over. And that is why I’m not doing it anymore.

Short term, I’ll probably try it again (shock news revelation, bride-to-be tries extreme diet ahead of wedding), but in the long term, I’m taking my chances with dementia and the Big C.

5 + 2 = Weight Loss?

I love the internet! The hours you can spend reading and researching (procrastinating on my part usually) jumping from link to link and seeing where it takes you… heaven!

Anyway, I have spent a considerable part of the weekend that has just passed researching the 5:2 diet, as I’m feeling a bit unhealthy and a wee bit bloated. (I fear too many of the lovely ‘C’ words in the form of chocolate, cheese and Cava have been in my life of late.) My BMI is fine, but I’d love to lose half a stone for my wedding.

Wee aside: do you think anyone ever achieves their perfect weight? Because we see so many images of skinny celebrities and our culture contains such strong messaging around the importance of appearance, can we ever feel slim enough? I’m horrified about the amount of time I spend thinking about my weight – it just feels so wasteful… But wasteful or not, back to today’s topic – a diet!

The 5:2 diet featured on a recent Horizon documentary* where a TV doctor followed the plan for a month – eating 600 calories on two non-consecutive days a week and eating normally (the recommendations for daily calorie intake for men and women, not pigging out obvs) for five days. The doctor lost a stone and also enjoyed additional health benefits, such as lowering his blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Other rumoured benefits include reduced risk of developing cancer and Alzheimer’s.

The idea does appeal to me – two hard days and the rest normal. A lot of people spoke about noticing losing weight off their middles, where my excess fat prefers to reside. So, I thought I might try it out, even if it is a fad and even if there are people lining up to condemn it. (Such is the power of anecdotal evidence over peer-reviewed clinical studies, hmm?!)

If anyone else has tried this diet and would like to share their experiences, please feel free to get in touch!

 

*This link doesn’t take you to the actual programme by the way, but you will find various extracts from the programme on YouTube.