On 9th January we started on a new way of eating (WOE) we are following the 8 week Sugar Free Diet. This has been medically proven to help people with Type 2 Diabetes and various other life threatening conditions.
Neither of us have diabetes, however we are extremely bad with the high sugar diet and with ever increasing waistlines, it was time that we needed to change things, and this a great way of shifting excess weight to get you into a healthier way of living and eating.
The general principals of this diet:-
Minimise or avoid the ‘white stuff’ bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, processed cereals, all refined and starchy carbohydrates which rapidly turn to sugars in the blood.
Cut right down on sugar, sugary treats, drinks and desserts
Eat more veg
Include some fruit, but ideally not more than 1-2 portions daily
Include plenty of high-quality protein – 40-50 g per day
Enjoy your dairy products and eat more healthy fats and oils
Bring on the vinegar
All of this for the first 8 weeks and controlling the calories to 800 per day. Each person has their preferred way of consuming 800 calories per day, 1 meal, 2 meals or 3 meals per day, you should try not to snack as this can cause blood sugar spikes (insulin) and of course this is the reason for the types of foods that should be eaten and those not. In addition you should aim to drink a minimum of 2 ltrs of water per day, 3 ltrs if you can manage it, so get drinking.
The main book is here
and the recipe book, this has lots of nice recipes, although not are all completely suitable for the first 8 weeks, so my advice is to focus on the recipes in the first book for the first couple of weeks until you understand the principals then you will know what is good and whats not.
So on with our progress, Week 2 and we are feeling great. However we did have a little lapse at the end of week 1 as we had some friends round for aperos and there was a few food items that were just too tempting and of course some alcohol, although I did not have any, it was just too tempting for my hubby.
So we start the week with a drop for me and an increase for hubby.
My loss from week 1 = 1.9kg and for hubby 5kg, a great success as far as we were concerned.
Week 2 and we were raring to go.
This post has taken more time than I had planned to write as I have been looking to get as many references to help others as I can, which has hindered my progress with my writing, so I have decided to just get the details of our progress for this week and then come back to the reference and information. I will build the links as I go.
Monday morning we were back on the scales and it was 1.9 kg drop for me and 5kg drop for hubby, great progress in week 1. Breakfast was leftovers from the Aperos on sunday, although good leftovers, roasted tomatoes, crustless quiche and a couple of pork balls, all calculated at 141 calories, lunch was a nice piece of chicken breast with lime and coriander (I do love coriander) – 257 calories and evening meal was a quick prawn curry with cauliflower couscous 392 calories. The total for Monday was 790 calories. I real revelation is cauliflower and its uses on this diet.
Tuesday started well, no hunger and keeping up the water intake, really important on this diet, the recommendation is 2 ltrs per day, but if you can manage 3 then even better. So breakfast was scrambled eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes, delicious and only 176 calories, lunch was beef meatballs with a tomato ragu – 395 calories and dinner was mushroom bourgignon – 223 calories, with the total for Tuesday coming to 794, no complaints for this.
Wednesday and we enjoyed a couple of poached eggs with a half of avocado for breakfast, calorie count was 188, lunch was a tuna salad coming in at 239 calories and dinner was a Carbonara at 250 calories as this was with courgetti rather than pasta which makes all the difference. I don’t cook the courgetti as it is nice and thin and the heat off of the sauce is usually enough to soften it slightly, what you dont want is soggy courgetti. The total for Wednesday was 677 calories.
Thursday I realised that I needed to increase our fat content, I was being very careful with the fat numbers and was hindering our weight loss as you do need fat (good fat) to help you burn fat. So Thursday we started with a mushroom omelette 145 calories, lunch was butternut squash soup, with a healthy dollop of creme fraiche added – 238 calories and dinner was a chicken stir-fry, no noodles or rice so it came in at 260 calories. Total for Thursday was 640, still too low for our target of 800 calories per day.
Friday I decided that I was going to try a nice breakfast of Greek yogurt, a chopped apple and crushed hazelnuts, calorie count was 193 and it was delicious, I was really satisfied, didn’t feel hungry and enjoyed it. Not to say I hadn’t enjoyed any of the previous breakfast, but this was really yummy. Lunch was Chicken, butter bean and walnut salad, I got the recipe from one of the books, I was a bit wary of using the beans, but they are allowed on this diet as long as you have the calories, this came in at 260 calories for me, dinner was Pork & Parmesan, with lots of veggies, 280 calories, 740 for the day.
Saturday started with my yogurt and apple as for Friday and then we headed out shopping, we had some food shopping to do and also we were re-designing one of the showers in the bedrooms, so it was a trip to the diy store. A walk around the DIY store and then we spotted a new fruit and veg shop, so we went in there to see what they had. Their produce was lovely, some fantastic apples and the selection of vegetables was great, however the price of courgettes would make your eyes water . I had seen quite a lot of comments on the facebook page about courgettes and their limited availability. Seems there is a world wide shortage and if you can get them, then the prices are ridiculous, we decided to see if we could find any at a better price, closer to home. They also had some really nice nuts, so we bought some assorted nuts and that was our lunch in the car. Off to the Bio-coop to see if we could find some coconut butter although I had had some delivered from Amazon along with some coconut flour and psyllium husks, I had seen a recipe from Tom Kerridge that used them, so they are now in the cupboard waiting to be used.
I really wanted to find Hallumi cheese and cottage cheese, hence our visit to the Bio-coop, but no, nothing there either. Not easy to find them in France.
Then it was home and dinner was Cauliflower Crust Pizza and salad. An experiment that i wanted to try and it was a great success, both of us really enjoyed it and there was nothing about missing real bread for this. Definitely worth the effort, to be honest no more effort than making pizza dough from scratch. The pizza came in at 350 calories and then with the salad a little bit more.
Sunday was a nice day, the sun was shining and we decided to have a quite day at home and to take Margot our puppy out of a walk. It would be her first time out walking on a lead, that was going to be fun (ha ha). Breakfast was eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes, 390 calories and lunch was cold meat, cheese, pickles and salad 270 calories, then we headed out with Margot and home for Turkey dinner with some green veggies coming in at 260. Today was over the 800 calories – 920 to be exact and with some of the previous days being under, it was balanced out over the week. This was turning out to be easier than I had thought.
So the results for the week were variable, I managed to lose 1.5 kg, however there was only a 400g drop for hubby and he was not a happy chappy. I knew it was going to be a struggle keeping him on track for the next 6 weeks, if he is not seeing any benefits on the scales he will just though in the towel.
So results for the 2 weeks me – 3.4 kgs and hubby 5.4 kgs.
The food is great and there is no instances of feeling hungry, the issue for hubby is that he enjoys a glass of wine with his dinner, and of course this is not an option with only 800 calories per day. He has agreed to continue for another week to see if there is any progress, the one thing that did give him food for thought was that he went down another hole in his belt, so we are at number 4 now and he has not been there for a long time.
Although we didn’t know this little snippet of info before the end of week 2, ibuprofen causes you to retain water and hubby had slipped on the Sunday of week 1 and hurt his leg and back so he had been taking ibuprofen all week, therefore at least we had an answer to the lack of weight loss and a way forward.
I use MyFitnessFriend to build the recipes and calculate the calories for them, it has a very extensive library of foods. Its free and really useful.
Well this has been a revelation to me, using cauliflower as the crust for a pizza, ok, its not exactly the same as your typical bread dough crust, but when you are on a low carb diet/regime, it is more than acceptable.
Hubby asked me if it was more work, really no, there are are a few steps to making the base, however there is also a number of steps to making a bread dough from scratch as I would normally do, so the easy answer is NO.
It is filling and serving it with some salad is very satisfying, honest it really is worth a go.
Once the base is cooked, then you can add you toppings, pop it back in the oven for the cheese to melt and then its eating time.
Take a small to medium cauliflower, remove the leaves and the thick stock from the center.
Roughly chop the cauliflower and then place in a food processor and whizz until you have breadcrumb size. If you don’t have a food processer then you can use a grater, it does the same job.
Once you have breadcrumbs, place them into a bowl and place a lid on or plastic wrap and place into the microwave for 4 minutes, when the time is up, remove and give the mixture a stir then place back into the microwave for another 3-4 minutes, remove and leave on the side for another 5 minutes, this will help to steam the cauliflower.
Once it is cooked, tip the crumbs out onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool until it is cool enough to handle, you need to squeeze out the water, get as much water out as possible, it will help with dough.
When you have removed the water, then place the cauliflower back into the bowl add the eggs and seasoning and mix well together.
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a backing tray, and press the cauliflower mixture out to the size you want. Make sure it is nice and compact so that it forms a crust in the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes in a very high oven, and then remove and add your toppings, first the crushed tomatoes, then the cheese, little bits of ham and then the cherry tomatoes. Of course you can use which ever toppings you like.
Then it was back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese was bubbly and melted and then it was cut into slices and served with some salad leaves.
Nutritional Values for this dish
CAULIFLOWER CRUST, 1 serving(s)
Pizza topping , 1 serving(s)
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Low Carb cauliflower crust pizza, add your toppings and delicious meal.
Remove the leaves and center stock from the cauliflower and chop then blitz in a food processor until you have bread crumbs.
Place the cauliflower into a bowl with a lid (or plastic wrap) and place in the microwave for 4 minutes, Remove and give it a stir then place back in the microwave for another 4 minutes.
Remove from the microwave and leave the lid on for about 5 minutes, to complete the cooking/steaming process.
When ready, tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean tea towel and leave to cool until you can handle the cauliflower, you need to squeeze out as much water as possible.
Place the dry cauliflower back into the bowl and add the eggs and seasoning and mix through.
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray, I used a pizza tray for the shape, then tip the contents of the bowl out and press the mixture on the try, make sure it is nice and compact.
Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, this should be enough time to create a crust on the bottom of the cauliflower.
Tip the crushed tomatoes into a bowl and add the herbs, mix through.
Remove the cooked crust from the oven and add the toppings, first the tomatoes then the cheese, ham and sliced cherry tomatoes.
Place the pizza back into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted. This should be about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and slice, and set on a plate with your green salad.
Add any herbs and spices to the crust, it is softer than a typical bread dough, however it can be lifted like a slice of pizza and is delicious. We did not miss the bread dough.
2017 sees another significant birthday in our household, OH has a BIG birthday and we have a load of friends coming to celebrate at the end of February.
We decided that it was about time that we dealt with our ever growing waistlines and what better motivation is there than a big celebration.
We eat exceptional well and I usually do not pay any attention to portions, calories, ingredients, other than they need to be the best and we enjoy them.
So it was time to make some changes and I decided to research a number of diets, Atikins, Slimming World, Military Diet, Sugar Free, 5:2 Diet, Hay diet, Dr Unwin, you name it I have had a good look.
I initially opted for the 5:2 diet, with a combination of calorie control. I know it is all about 2 fasting days and then just eating normally the other 5 days, but when I looked at our food consumption and calorie intake, well lets just say I needed to consider lots of things. 2 days fasting (500-600 calories per day) and 5 days of eating a Mediterranean diet.
Plenty of help on the internet for the meals to eat on your fasting days (500 calories) however most of the info for the other days, just states “eat healthy”. More research ….
I usually do not take any notice of calories, but this time I decided I needed to take lots of things into consideration, if I am informed then I can make decisions (good or bad).
I found a great website www.myfitnesspal.com, you enter your recipes and it shows the nutritional details Calorie counter and also you can keep your food diary, so you can see your daily calories, fat, fibre, carbs etc. very handy. You need to signup for an account, but no costs and lots of info there, or you can build your own recipes or import from a link, great resource when you care counting calories.
The tv has been full of diet programs, we watched one last week ‘Save Money: Good Health’ on ITV, where it compared 6 different diets over 28 days and ranked them based on the weight loss and the cost of the food/programme. There was a good selection, Lighter Life, Diet Chef, 5:2 Diet, and 3 others that I can not remember at the moment.
I have since decided that we are going to follow ‘The 8 week Sugar Free Diet’, 8 week program with 800 calories per day. Its a Low Carb diet, removing the bad carbs :- starchy carbs, potatoes, parsnips etc and rice, pasta, bread, white flours etc.
So we are starting on the 8 Week Sugar Free Diet. This is an 8 week plan, lots of evidence on helping with Diabetes, neither of us have diabetes, however we really need to sort out our sugar intake, too many cakes and the like, but also from the hidden sugars, in bread, pasta, rice and some fruits and vegetables and is a good starter for the 5:2 diet which is a ‘Way-of-life’ diet and should be the next step when we are happy we have got our target weights and want to maintain our weight and healthy diet.
There is a great TheBloodSugarDiet that has lots of information and also books to help your decide on your options.
So Monday morning, we were up and ready to get started, scales were stepped on and weight recorded :-).
Eggs are a good starting point for breakfast, so mushroom omelette it was, we both enjoy omelette and mushrooms so no concern with this choice, then it was chicken salad at lunch with grated beetroot and apple, then pork and veggies for dinner. No treats but plenty of glasses of water and a few cups of decaf tea.
We both felt really good at the end of the day, many quick dashes to the loo, so the guess was things were working. We joked that maybe we would need to take a bucket upstairs.
Early start on Tuesday, should have taken the bucket upstairs (ha ha).
Another round of omelette, just a plain one for me and mushrooms again for OH.
Lunch was pork stir fry and evening meal was a couple of nice steaks with lots of roasted veg, obligatory water and tea of course. Again feeling good, no adverse affects, no hunger pangs, so far. In fact, I noticed that I was not tired at my usual time in the evening and was quite happy to watch the end of program that finished at 11pm, very unusual for me.
Wednesday started fine, not sure if it hit so quickly, however I did feel a little irritable and put it down to my body reacting to the new regime and especially the restricted calories.
We had carrot and coriander soup for lunch, really enjoyed it. However by 3pm I was starting to feel hungry and a bit tired, I opted for a cup of tea, without the biscuits or cake. I could not give in so quickly. Thai fish cakes were on the menu for the evening with a nice salad and more water. Really enjoyed our meal and was very satisfied.
Thursday morning started well, eggs as usual and we were both very pleased with our results on the scales. 1kg for me and 3 for OH, in 3 days that was great progress. Lunchtime was leftover Thai fish cakes and salad and our evening meal was Coriander and Lime Chicken breast and ‘cauliflower’ rice, a fantastic addition to the menu items. Again I felt great, more away than usual in the evening, and still managing to get to sleep when I went to bed.
Friday and again more eggs, this time I made scrambled eggs with fried mushrooms and tomatoes, really tasty and plenty on the plate, definitely satisfied us until lunchtime. Lunchtime was a delicious (even if I do say so myself) Prawn and Broccoli salad. Then in the evening we had oven roasted Salmon with roasted carrots and celeriac. Mood was good and energy levels up. Another good day.
Saturday we had to get moving as we had the yearly meeting at the Mairies office, all the local residents are invited to the meeting to see whats been going on in the last year and what they are planning for the year to come. We had breakfast and off we went with the plan to go shopping after the meeting. However the meeting ran on and we came home before heading of shopping we were both too hungry to do a long shop on an empty stomach and too temping to just grab something that we shouldn’t. I fried up more mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon, yes on a diet. Then we headed off shopping and when we came home, I made Kedgeree, not the calorie/sugar loaded variety with white rice, but with ‘cauliflower’ rice and some smoked haddock. Very nice and filling, certainly no need for dessert. Not that there is any on this diet. Although technically possible if you have been very good and have some calories available. I did note that I felt ‘fat’ in the evening and I suspect I had over eaten, although I did not have a huge portion on my plate, must be my stomach shrinking already.
Sunday, well it was going to be a challenging day, we had invited some friends around fro ‘Aperos’ so there would be alcohol and nibbles and I needed to make sure there was enough nibbles that we could eat as well as our guests. Breakfast was Portabella mushrooms with tomatoes a little feta cheese and poached eggs. Lunch was a nice ham salad and then on the table we had some very tasty Ham and egg cups, roasted tomatoes with meat balls, green olives, crust-less quiche on the other side of the table there was sandwiches, sausage rolls, pork pies, scones and chocolate brownies. We were good, however did struggle a little and gave in to the temptation, once everyone had left, I had a little scone, it was delicious, I really enjoyed it, although my stomach and innards did complain with niggling pains later, so wont be going there again for a long time.
So Monday has come around again (as it always does after Sunday , ha ha) and we were on the scales again. For me I lost a total of 1.9kg and OH 5kg. We are both very happy with the results and hope to keep the same level of progress this week, no get-togethers planned so should be in better control for the full week.
The quote of the week was from OH, on Saturday he mentioned that he knew he had lost 3+kg, but didn’t know where as he didnt feel any different. Then when he came downstairs for us to go out, he was fighting with his belt, bloody thing, I cant find the hole, can you see what is wrong……. yes you guessed it, there was no hole as he had lost inches, 3 inches lots. FANTASTIC……
Overall we have felt great throughout the week a couple of moments of feeling hungry, but nothing to be concerned about and less tired in the evenings and general energy levels up. So we will be continuing this week and will continue to chart our progress and menus.
We have started on a new regime for 2017, there is a significant birthday this year for my OH and we wanted to ensure that we dealt with our ever increasing waistlines and health. To be honest no real health issues, we just know that we should be eating healthier and this is a perfect time to start.
We are following the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet, it is a Low Carb diet, however it is also restricted calories – 800 per day, give or take a few on a daily basis, as it will balance out over the week.
This is a new way of eating and cooking, I need to consider all of the ingredients ensuring that we have healthy balanced meals with protein and carbs, but healthy carbs, yes you can use fat, however fat is calories so too much butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc all add to the daily total of calories and reduce the ingredients we can eat.
There are a number of great resources on the internet for recipes, calorie counting/calculating, tables with carb values of meats, vegetables and fruit so it is about finding the ones that are useful and stick to them.
I am currently using MyfitnessPal to load recipes and calculate calories. It has been helpful, quick and easy to use although you need to signup there is no charges, you can load recipes, get the nutritional information and also it has a food diary so I can see the calories I have used everyday.
This recipe is a great recipe for using all of the broccoli, even the stem, if you haven’t already got a spiralizer, then please consider investing in a sprializer, not expensive and quick and easy and we find we eat a lot more vegetables. There are loads on the market, have a look for the one that suits you and your budget, this is the one we use.
I started with preparing the broccoli, I used a 500g piece of broccoli and took the florets off the stem and then cutting them, not too small, I like to have a cut edge on the floret so this can get nice and crispy in the oven. I added the florets to a bowl, they weighed 230g (all for the calculation) then I drizzled with some olive oil and tossed the broccoli around, so that it was coated in the oil. I then seasoned with salt, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, gave it another toss and then layed it out onto a large oven tray. I like to make sure that there is a lot of space around the florets and that the oven is really high, it gets the cooking started quickly and you get that great charring on them. While they were in the oven, I turned to the stem, you need to clean it up a bit, just trim off any dirty bits. Then its about getting those spirals. I have found that if you place the end of the stem, where it has been cut from the ground, it is easier to work through the spiralizer, to be honest there is no right or wrong, it is just my preference.
We were also having prawns with this dish, it will work well with any protein, I cleaned the prawns and placed them in a bowl until I was ready with everything else.
I checked the broccoli in the oven, it was charring up nicely, they usually take about 15-20 minutes to get all nice and crispy, just keep an eye on them and toss them around on the baking tray so that you get some colour all over.
I finely sliced some baby gem lettuce, cucumber and red onion.
When the broccoli in the oven was just about there, I fried the spirals of broccoli stems, heated 1 tsp of olive oil in a frying pan and added the spirals, no real need to ‘cook’ them as such, just to warm them through 2-3 minutes will do the job.
Now it was all about assembling everything. I tossed the lettuce, cucumber and red onion in a bowl then I added the spirals of broccoli, I did cut them a bit as they do have a tendency to spring back together (a bit like a slinky) then dressed the plate with the salad, topped it with the prawns and then the roasted broccoli florets, a dollop of Greek yogurt on the side and dinner is served.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, yes we are following the Low Carb diet, but this is a delicious meal even if you are not following any diets.
Nutritional Values for this dish
Prawns with Broccoli Salad
Delicious dish with prawns and a warm salad, making the most of the broccoli stem and a spiralizer. Great low carb dish, perfect for lunch or main meal.
Pre-heat the oven to 240c conventional/220 fan/gas 9.
Cut the florets off of the broccoli and cut again, then place in a bowl and 1 tsp of olive oil, the zest of the lemon and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Toss them in a bowl and then tip out on to a large baking tray. Space the florets out so they have space to roast rather than steam.
Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, occasionally checking and tossing around to get good colour all over.
Clean the prawns, removing the shells and de-veining, place in a colander , rinse and leave to drain while you get the rest of the ingredients prepared.
Take the stem of the broccoli and clean off any dirty bits, then cut into 'spaghetti' using the spiralizer, I usually place the cut end (from the ground) onto the cutting blades, I find it easier for getting the most out of the stem. It worked out that I got 250g of broccoli-etti and 230g of the florets, really making the most of this delicious vegetable.
Cook the spirals for 2-3 minutes.
Clean and thinly slice the lettuce, cucumber and red onion and place them into a bowl. Toss them to mix through.
When the broccoli florets are nearly ready, add 1 tsp of olive oil to a frying pan and fry the broccoli spirals, I cut them a bit just to make it easier for tossing in the salad and splitting on the plates.
When the broccoli spirals are ready, toss them into the bowl with the other salad ingredients and mix through.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice and toss again.
When you are ready to plate up, split the salad between your plates, then add the prawns on top and then the broccoli florets.
Add 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt to each plate.
2016 was a mixed year, the same I guess for lots of people.
We had a good start to the year, although the weather was not great and to be honest it did have a major impact on the fruit in the orchard. Not a lot of frost but the winds came and of course that blew all the blossom off the trees and therefore no or very little fruit. We didn’t see the full extent of the weather until the summer, however we had no plums at all, and our orchard is full of plum trees, not one, not even a tiny one. Hopefully 2017 will be different.
The locals were not happy with the weather at the start of the year as there was no ‘cold’ snap, needed in these parts for the vines, so they were expecting a bad harvest.
Business was slow, between the weather and I suspect Brexit (I know a sweary word), had a lot to do with it and the attacks in France, no one wanted to come. I had to find something else to do.
June seen some really crazy weather (yes the weather again) with 2 storms within 4 days of each other, one that cause localised flooding, causing ‘catastrophe’ great french word, across the region, my OH went to the bakers in the morning for bread and they asked were we ok, “of course” was his reply, then they told him about the flooding in the village, houses completely flooded, cars completely underwater and having to be towed away. The firemen pumping the water out of peoples homes and white goods littering the small roads and avenues.
Then the tornado hit, bizarre (another great french word), we were wakened just before 1 in the morning, with the power going off. This is a major issue for us as OH needs a breathing machine to sleep as he has Sleep Apnea….. I came down to ensure that the animals were ok, Lizette our old french lady (dog) was very nervous so I had to sit with her for a bit, there was a lot of wind and lightning, but no thunder. I then had to go outside and recover the garden furniture that has been tossed around. I did head back to bed at 3 am and managed a few hours sleep, expecting to get up and the power restored, alas it was not.
You see in France, there seems to be a timeline for the power to be restored if it goes off which is not very often these days. Anyway, they do attempt to have the power on at key times, breakfast, lunch and evening meal, so if it is not restored by 9am, then don’t expect it on before 12, if it is not on before 12, then it will not be on before 2 (lunchtime, even the workers have to stop for lunch), and if it is not on before 6-6.30 then it will not be on until morning!!!!
Once I came downstairs and had a shower in the dark, had some tea, boiling the water in a pot etc then it was seeing who/where/what had been affected and was everyone ok, our friends that is.
I had some work that I needed to do, so I headed off to our other house 5 km away that had power and managed to get a couple of hours in. I returned to the house at 12 expecting that the power would have been restored, but oh no, so that was me back on my travels. This time I had to head to the local town and take up residence in the bar of the Hotel. They had had so many people in over the course of the day, it was then I realised that the power outage had in fact covered a very wide area and we were just 1 of many thousands of houses without power.
The power was finally restored around 6.30pm, I had just started gathering up the candles and torches to ensure that if we were to have another dark evening, then I knew where everything was. Cooking was not an issue as I have gas cookers, so not a problem. What a relief, a good night sleep was definitely in order. A number of our friends had been affected, from trees and power lines down, to land slides a very strange experience.
The end of June and we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and we took ourselves off to a very posh restaurant in La Fleche, Le Moulin des Quatre Saisons it was about 1.5 hrs drive. We had seen the website for the restaurant and the fantastic menu choices, so it had to be. The drive was fine, pretty uneventful, the weather was dry, was as much as I can say, unfortunately it was not warm enough to enjoy the fantastic terrace of the restaurant, it is set in the centre of the river, spectacular. The restaurant has a Michelin star and you know it as soon as you enter the restaurant, the service was outstanding, the menu had fantastic choices, we were celebrating and the fixed menu of 51€ per person certainly lived up to our hopes and expectations. We were amazed at the number of people in the restaurant for lunch, all ages and large groups/families, we were all made to feel like we were the only clients and when the chef came out to the table with each course to finish off the dishes and explain our choices, it made us feel very special.
July seen the start of the hot weather (yes weather again), it was nice to feel the heat building, although when it got to 60 degrees (yes Celsius) it was a bit too hot. We did have a few guests, some walkers and others just passing through, it is always great to meet new people, we were finally getting back into the swing of things.
August seen a significant birthday for me, the big one, it was great to have lots of friends around. The celebrating started a few days before my birthday as some friends landed a few days before, so we headed off up into Le Mans and had a walk around the fantastic food market, it is on every Friday and Sunday and it really is a place to spend a few hours. Of course after the walk around then it was off for lunch, a birthday treat for me. Fantastic restaurant in the old town, Stomachs full and it was back home to enjoy the sunshine in the garden and some bubbles. All good.
My party was great, I was well prepared, I had starting making my birthday cakes (yes plural) the weekend before and had frozen a couple and then it was a large buffet for everyone. Meats, vegetarian, salads, quiche, frittata, egg mayonaise, couscous, to name but a few. The cakes ok, we (I) had, carrot cake, victoria sponge, chocolate brownies, cherry bakewell, lemon slice and coffee and walnut cake, no there was not hundreds of people here, maybe 40, but it didn’t take long before the food and cakes disappeared, always a great sign.
Then September arrived and things went down hill from there, our beloved Lizette our old french lady (dog) took ill and after a very short time she passed away. I won’t go into the details, but it was very traumatic for all of us, including Lizette. She had been a very big part of our family for the last 5 years, she was 15 so not bad in dog years, but a huge shock and impact to us.
We really struggled from then and the next couple of months went by and we have just got on with things, we did go out to friends for meals and visited a couple of local restaurants for lunch, but nothing to make any memories with. The cats (Fred & Ginger) really missed Lizette, although she would never let them snuggle up with her, she did tolerate them on the same sofa as her. The house was very empty.
In December, I had seen lots of posts on FB about dogs looking for new homes and we had rescued Lizette from the vet, her previous owner had been to the supermarket and had an accident and was taken off to the hospital, Lizette was left in the car for 2 days before anyone realised she was there. Lizette was a wonderful lady, loved everyone that came to our home, friends, family and guests including other dogs, a perfect companion. How on earth could we fill the gaping whole she had left. It got me thinking, that maybe we could take on another beautiful soul that needed our love. So we started the hunt.
I started looking at the various Rescue center websites, looking to see if there was any dog that would suit our family, 2 adults and 2 cats and it would also need to be good with children in case we have any young guests. We spotted a few and went off to the Rescue center in Le Mans to look at Lolita, she was a beautiful 2 year old, 1 blue eye and 1 brown, she was shades of grey, so off we went with great expectations as to finding a suitable dog to sooth our hearts.
Lolita was a beautiful young lady, very gentle, long legs a good bit taller than Lizette, but that was not an issue. She came to the gate of her kennel and licked the back of my hand, then did the same to my OH. There were many many other dogs in the same unit as Lolita, they were all going crazy, barking and jumping and desperate for a new home. We went and spoke to the attendants and asked about Lolita, the first question they asked was did we have a 2 mtr high fence around the property, “no” we replied and they said, it was not possible to take her home, we were very surprised as she seemed a very gentle lady. Apparently that was all an act, she was a hunting dog and at the first sniff of an animal she would be off and running and in fact that was the reason she was there in the center, she had obviously run off from a hunt and they didn’t know who her owners were.
We took a walk around the other rooms/kennels in the center, it was heart breaking, the number of dogs was shocking and the various ages and breeds, quite incredible. There were a lot of old dogs, nobody wanted anymore but none were not suitable with cats, so they were off the list straight away. Then there were others that were not good with cats, other dogs, kids, etc. Some of them were in cages that had roofs on them to keep them in, so no point even considering them.
We came home rather deflated but positive in the knowledge that we had made the decision that we were going to bring another 4 legged friend into our home. I took to social media and put out a request to say that we had decided that we were going to bring a dog into our home in Lizette’s honour. So after a few messages and notifications, we decided on a beautiful little puppy called Margot, a french bulldog/boxer cross.
Margot was one of 4 puppies that had been taken into a rescue centre, taken away from her mother too early and was in a foster home in another department (3 hrs away), she was living with her 3 brothers and the only one still waiting for a “forever home”, we made arrangements to go and collect her on 18th December.
Off we went, with appropriate things in the car, bed, blankets, water, etc to collect our new addition, we arrived at the Rescue center at 2.15 or allotted time, as we entered, it was amazing to see a number of dogs wondering around, dog beds outside with dogs sleeping, some inside the office where the animals were coming and going and that included cats. Nothing like I have seen in the UK and did not reflect the rescue center that we had been to visit in Le Mans. Anyway it was very relaxed and the animals all seemed happy. As we entered the office there was a family at the desk, sorting out all their paperwork to collect their new pet, we soon realised that it was in fact the family who were there to collect one of Margot’s brothers, so they were all off together.
We did the necessary paperwork and collected our little lady, we took her to the car, settled her down and then off we headed home. However we only managed to get about 5 minutes on the road when we needed to find a stopping point, Margot was howling and yelping at the top of her voice, wanting company and attention.
We pulled into one of the Aires’s and shuffled seats and she traveled all the way home on OH’s knee, we could tell who was going to be ruling our home.
The next few days were exhausting, Margot had so much energy. We took her upstairs with us as we had a large cage in our bedroom and it was the safest all round, she slept until 5.30 on the first morning and that was acceptable, I am an early riser so not too big an issue.
Over the course of the next few days/nights she managed to run us both ragged and of course the cats, they were very wary of the new addition, she was very fast and would not leave them alone, so between keeping up with Margot and ensuring the cats still wanted to come home, it was chaotic to say the least. We managed 4 nights with Margot in the bedroom and decided enough was enough and she would need to sleep downstairs, 2 of the 4 nights was a 2.30 am wake-up call and that was just no good.
We had a large cage downstairs in the kitchen next to the fire, it had her bed and all the things she needed, so all was well. Margot settled into her new home, we got some sleep, the cats were not so scared of Margot and Christmas arrived.
We had a lovely Christmas with a group of friends that we had invited to our home. They all fell in love with Margot and she with them, there was not going to be an issue with strangers, as far as Margot is concerned it is more people to play with.
New years eve arrived and we had a very quite one, just us and the animals, very nice to be honest as we were not in the mood to party. I made a lovely meal, Prawn Cocktail, pan-fried Salmon with Lemon Risotto and a cheese pate, perfect end to a mixed year.
So we seen the old year out with my Scottish traditions, cleaning the house, emptying the bins, all the good traditions, a glass of bubbly and it was off to bed. It was 1.45 before I made it upstairs, very late for me, and as I just got into bed, I got a call on my ipad from my aunt and uncle in USA, they contacted me to wish me a Happy New Year, but it was not the prettiest of sites, me lying in bed, but it was very nice to have a chat.
2107 had arrived and it was time to get on with it.
As you are aware we (my hubby and I) love our food and sometimes we venture out into the big wild world to visit some local restaurants.
We are very lucky that we live in a beautiful part of the world and have a few places to chose from, albeit sometimes we need to venture a little further than you would expect, just for lunch.
This photo of La Chartre-sur-le-Loir is courtesy of TripAdvisor
We are very pleased to see a new little restaurant ‘La Cantine’ opening up in La Chartre sur Loir, just on the main square in the centre of the town, about 8 km away from our house. For lunch that really is far enough to drive unless it is for a special occasion, it has been known for us to travel 45 km for a ‘special occasion’.
We had been in town a few times over the last month and seen that one of the premises that had been up for sale for some time was having a bit of a face lift and was opening as a ‘restaurant’. My hubby noticed whom we believed to be the new owner and asked when would it be open and would it be ‘French’ food that they were serving. The reply was “soon and half/half”, they don’t really give much away in these here parts :-).
So we waited to see how long it would take before the face lift was complete and they were open for business.
I have found it a little strange here in that the french are not ones for shouting from the rooftops when they open a new business, there was no fanfare, no bunting, not even a sign to say when they were opening.
We just managed to find out through the grape-vine that they were open for business.
A couple of friends suggested we try it out after all, hopefully it would be good and if nothing else a change of venue.
The outside is not really something to write home about, not very inviting, but when you walk inside it is small, well presented with seats for 20 diners.
We took our seats at the window, all the other seats were occupied after all it was 12.30 and lunch begins at 12 in France.
There was a Carte at 26€ or the ‘Le Plat du Jour’ was 13€ , in France it is standard practice to opt for ‘Le Plat du Jour’ for lunch and maybe branch out to the ‘Carte’ for an evening meal, of course there is always the exception, however when we looked at what was on offer we all opted for ‘Le Plat du jour’, listed on the black board was 4 starters, 5 mains, dessert and 1/4 ltr of wine or coffee 13€.
It is quite normal in France to find lunches on offer at 12-13€ with wine and this was no different. What we did find different was the choice of dishes on the menu.
A very nice selection of starters, Chefs salad, Leek Tart, Italian Platter or Chicken liver salad.
I opted for the Chicken liver salad, 2 of the others opted for the Chefs salad and 1 for the Italian platter. When the food was ready, it was presented on very nice plates, not just your run of the mill white plates, setting off the food very well.
The dish I had was excellent, the chicken livers had been cooked in a little balsamic vinegar and had a very nice char on the outside, with the inside still a little pink and melt in the mouth. I was very pleased with my selection.
The mains too were great, Faux filet, White fish in tandoori spices, Andouillette Sausage, Filet Mignon and Chicken curry.
Again we had a selection between the 4 of us, my hubby is a meat man, he loves his steak and it needs to be ‘blu’ very, very rare, again when it arrived at the table the food was very well presented and delicious. A very good bottle of red wine to accompany the meal, with the half bottle to top up with dessert.
So I am guessing that you can tell from my post that we were all delighted with our choice of venue for our lunchtime treat on Friday. It is most definitely somewhere I would recommend for anyone coming to the area.
The only criticism I have is that there is only 20 seats, but being selfish it is a good thing as the food was excellent and the service was great. If there were many more seats/diners then maybe something would have to give.
They are open Tuesday-Saturday lunch time and evenings and it would really be worth you while taking the trip if you are in the area.
La Cantine, 11 PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE, 72340 LA CHARTRE SUR LE LOIR – Tél : 02 43 79 51 94