Cutting the carbs

I’ve hit a decent weight plateau recently, actually I’ve been around the 200-205lbs mark for nearly a year now. Now, I don’t find that particularly worrying, I’ve been much heavier in he past…I think 240lbs was my heaviest, I’ve also been leaner and lighter at around 189lbs. 

In my mind around 210-215lbs would be my ideal weight, but lean, obviously. When I was hitting the 240lbs mark, one thing I definitely wasn’t was lean. 

In light of these musings on body weight, I needed to re-asses both my strength goals, and body image goals. I suppose I have the same issues that most people do, I want to achieve the impossible and gain strength whilst losing body weight and dropping my body fat percentage.

After re-writing my strength training programme (I try to do this every 3 months) I decided it would be a good time to change my diet up. In doing this I have stopped calorie counting, and cut carbohydrates from my breakfast and lunch 5 days a week. 

This change has seen me lose 5lbs in the 2 and a half weeks I’ve been doing the diet. Aside from breakfast and lunch, my main meals are the same as they always have been, healthy(ish) high protein and free from processed foods and white carbs (as far as possible) 

I haven’t set any firm rules, aside from cutting out the carbs in meals 1&2. I still have a few beers a couple of nights a week and still have sweet treats too. 

As far as my training goes, I still train primarily for strength, with a power building style programme. This also has the addition of 2 cardio workouts a week, generally at the fire station or a 30minuite swim.

Results….. well aside from the 5lbs, I generally feel better. I definitely feel less bloated, I don’t think I realised how bloated I was before. I’ve lost 1cm off my waist too, which isn’t much, but is welcome and I generally feel like I look slimmer. 

I’m never really an advocate of cutting a thing out completely. Food, drink or exercise wise. So for me cutting down the carbs has had a good effect on helping me get leaner. I don’t plan on using it forever, but do thin that it is a positive dietary change to implement when your body needs a shake up.

Training…. I was worried that my energy levels would drop off with less carbs early in the day, and in turn effect my output in the gym. This doesn’t appear to have happened yet, and despite losing some mass, all three of my lifts are still on course and have not dropped. Again, this has been over a short term, and I would have hoped they wouldn’t. But it is always reassuring to find that a negative change hasn’t occurred. 

I generally try and train around mid-afternoon, so I am still carb free when I hit the gym. I’ve found I feel lighter like this, noticeably so from a few weeks ago. In turn I feel like this has helped my deadlift and squat, no bloating and I don’t feel like I’m going to burst at the bottom of a squat…. which is good! The second thing I have noticed could be psychological, but as I feel lighter, I feel faster too. I’m finding pushing the prowler, jumping and pull-ups are feeling easier, although this could be in my head…..?

To sum up the low carb route I’ve taken, I’d say that I’m both happy and surprised with the diet. I can’t really think of a negative part of it to be honest, aside from the fact that I can’t eat pizza and drink beer for breakfast anymore. I’ll keep you posted on the progress, but until then here are some example days nutritionally and some easy recipe ideas to go with the low carb mornings.

Breakfast ideas:

Scrambled eggs, avocado, mushrooms & tomatoes. 


Skyr yoghurt & berries


No carb fry up – No bread/ hash brown etc.


Fruit and a protein shake.

Lunch ideas:

Ive been trying to use the combination of high protein mains with vegetables or salad on the side. For example:

Firehouse chilli with veg (steamed or oven cooked) 


Recipe here

Grilled steak or chicken & salad.


Chicken, tomato & veg blast


Recipe here

These of course are just examples, there are some more recipe ideas in the nutrition part of the website. 

As I said earlier, the last meal of the day is what you would have on a normal, healthy day. Carbs included.

TFC.x

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Burn easy calories

It’s always the one thing people are looking for, and it’s often right before your eyes. I’ve said before that there is no such thing as a quick fix, or cheat method to stripping off a few pounds, and this is true. However there are thing that you can do to help boost your metabolism and add a bit of extra exercise to your everyday routine.

I am a big proponent of trying to boost your every day activity level. Not just through training in the gym, but in your everyday life.

Gym time is precious, especially if you are on a tight schedule and need to smash that workout. The people I see at my gym come in for one hour sessions, mainly looking to get stronger. My philosophy is to spend time as effectively as possible and hit the weights and equipment you only get in the gym.

If you’re into running, cycling, rowing or using the cross trainer, then my gym isn’t for you, we want you to get stronger!

I’m not saying don’t do cardio, far from it actually. But if you are into running etc, then get out and about and do it. Add it into your commute to work or morning routine. Let’s keep those one hour PT sessions for the equipment we can only find in a gym.

Also by separating your sessions you may find that a evening jog or cycle actually speeds up muscular recovery times, meaning that you get less soreness.

On top of that, perhaps the simplest way to increase the amount of calories you burn is just to be more active. This doesn’t have to mean you train twice a day, but, as a minimum try and do more. Walk more, take the stairs. Even if it’s getting of the bus a stop earlier and walking the final trip to work.

When doing this, if you can track your steps and set targets it offers easy motivation and a way to track progress. Start with 5000 a day and work up! A good target is 10000 a day, but more movement equals more calories in the bank.

Ultimately increasing the amount you move will only help you. It’ll help you build fitness and strip off those extra pounds. It’s not a magic cure, or quick fix, but the benefits go far beyond what you may think.

TFC

TFC Protein Muffins: Chocolate, Nut & Vanilla

I’ve just trialled these muffins today and I think that they’re a good protein treat! They weigh in at 10g of protein and 199 calories per muffin, so a healthy, high protein alternative to a full fat muffin, which weighs in at least around the 450 calorie mark.

Ingredients (makes 9 muffins)

  • DRY STUFF
  • Vanilla isolate whey protein 50g
  • Plain flour112.5g
  • Coco powder 12.5g
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • WET STUFF
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 30g stevia sugar mix (I used Tate & Lyle)
  • 5-6 dried dates chopped finely
  • 50g brazil nuts (Save 10g for topping)
  • 100ml semi skimmed milk
  • 2tsp coconut oil
  • 60g dark chocolate (40g chopped, 20g to melt over top)

Method in the madness!

Preheat the oven to 160 (325) degrees or gas mark 3 and get a cup cake tin in there.

Separate the ingredients into wet and dry stuff, take all the dry ingredients and sift them all into a mixing bowl.

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Next take all of the wet ingredients and combine them in a separate bowl, once this well mixed add the dry ingredients and mix well.

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Once the mixture is completely combined, pour the mixture equally into some paper muffin cases and place in the oven to cook.

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Bake for around 20 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. Once the muffins have cooled melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle over the top, finally chop the remaining brazil nuts and sprinkle into the melted chocolate.

 

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TFC.x

 

The Wife Project. Ep03: Nutrition.

There has been a slight delay in the posting of this episode (apologies) as the lovely Erica has been away living it up in Ibiza on a girls holiday, and as so I’ve been waiting to see where we stood on her return. But now she’s back she’s more ready than ever to eat lean and train mean!

At the end of the last episode I said that this one would cover our nutrition plan, and we will, but there’s quite a lot of information to get through here, so bare with me….

Nutritional Approach

I don’t base any of my nutritional advice around “diets” especially not fad ones. The idea that I like to run with, with all my clients, is to change the way that they think about food and drink for ever, not just a four week summer slim down.

It’s not just about eating to lose weight here, we need to plan our food intake to keep us healthy, to reduce body fat, to increase lean muscle mass and most importantly to be healthy and fit. Food is our bodies fuel, if we put too much or too little in of the wrong stuff we’re going to encounter problems, both physically and mentally.

So, our plan for Erica is to get her lean, mean, healthy, fit, more alert, stronger and motivated. Easy, right?

This is how we do it!

We are going to work from a calculation of Erica’s BMR or basal metabolic rate. This calculation is called the Schofield equation and quite simply this is the amount of calories that you need to eat per day to maintain your current weight.

Once we’ve worked this figure out we can then take away a deficit amount of calories, and reach a figure where we can lose an estimated amount of weight per week, and design a food template around it…

Specifically for Erica this works out like this:

We take a pre-determined figure for her age range of 8.126 and times it by her weight in kg (78) then add a pre-determined figure of 845.6, this gives us 1479. Next there are levels of activity, and after evaluation Erica’s basic level is moderately low. This gives us a multiplier figure of 1.5. So 1479 x 1.5 = 2219. This is Erica’s current BMR. Obviously as we lose weight in Kg this will adjust and decrease.

Now we’ve got our BMR of 2219 we now need to set a deficit amount. There are 3500 calories in a pound, so if we divide this by 7 days in a week then we get 500. So to lose 1 pound a week we need to drop 500 cals off our 2219. To drop 1.5 lbs a week we need to cut 750. Easy.

We want Erica to lose the weight slowly and steadily, making life long changes to her diet, so 1.5lbs a week loss is our maximum. We have 1469 calories per day to play with, but we’ll round it up to 1500 for ease.

Nuts & Bolts

Our target weight is 140lbs, that’s a drop of 32lbs. Now we know the science behind the drop we can say that this should take us a maximum of 21 weeks. This will hopefully be less as we have not taken our exercise programming into account yet and the extra calorific burn and metabolic rate increase this will bring with it.

Now we know our daily intake we need to start monitoring it. Calorie tacker apps are everywhere now, and are easy to use. We are using My Net Diary for Erica and i’m very impressed with how it works and it’s database of foods. But if this is no good for you a pen and paper diary is good too!

Day-2-Day Breakdown:

We are trying to drop Erica’s body fat percentage and increase lean muscle mass with this programme, and so her protein intake has been increased slightly and carbohydrate has been reduced from what you might find on a average intake plan.

  • 45% of her intake needs to come from healthy, natural and wholegrain carbohydrate. This equates to 675 kcals.
  • 35% of her intake needs to come from good, lean protein sources. This equates to 525 kcals.
  • 20% of her intake needs to come from healthy fats. This equates to 300 kcals.

Each meal will consist of around 500 calories, although this is flexible between meals.

It works well if we don’t fluctuate hugely from meal to meal, as we will benefit from a steady energy release throughout the day if portions are balanced. Any leftover calories from meals through out the day can be eaten in snacks.

What Will We Eat!?

Within our calorie intake there are very few rules, the moto is simple: “Try and make good choices” we should all have a general grasp of what is healthy to eat, and there is always a choice available. If we try and make good choices around the following ideals, and we put what we eat into our diary, then we won’t go to far wrong.

We will try our best to avoid:

  • White, processed cardboydrate.
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed meats
  • Alcohol
  • Sweet treats! cake etc, etc, etc.
  • Carbonated non diet drinks

We will hunt out:

  • Lean, organic meat & fish
  • Wholewheat or natural carbohydrates
  • Veggies
  • Fruits & nuts
  • Beans & pulses
  • Natural sugars, oils & good fats
  • Water

The most important thing in this process is to be honest with yourself. If you have a weak moment and eat something you feel you shouldn’t, still record it and adjust your day accordingly. Each new day is a new start, and if you have a lot more good days than bad days then things will start to take shape – literally.

Next time up is the fun bit! WORKOUTS!

TFC.x

Chilli, lime & Ginger BBQ Chicken

Summer is definitely here now and the BBQ has been rolled out here at Fit Controller HQ!

So, here is a really simple, healthy BBQ chicken recipe. It’s as lean and mean as they come and nice and high in protein too.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs (lean, skinned and boned) 3 per serving.
  • Fat free natural yoghurt
  • Bunch coriander
  • Chilli
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger
  • Juice of half a lime

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Method to the madness: 

Stat off by finely chopping the chilli, garlic, and coriander. Next peel the ginger and slice into thin strips. Add all the above to a decent sized bowl and squeeze in the juice from the half of lime.

Next pour in the yoghurt and mix all the ingredients together.

Get the chicken in there and really cover all the meat both sides in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate in the bowl for as long as possible (preferably 24 hours) before hitting the BBQ.

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Finally get those bad boys on the grill and cook until the chicken is cooked through and nice and crispy on the outside!

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Looking for the perfect BBQ accompaniment? Try my Fit Controller burgers on the grill too! Click TFC lean, mean burgers.

TFC.x

Chicken, tomato & veg blast (41g protein)

Another healthy, all in one pan dish. It’s high in protein (41 grams per serving) and low on the carb front too. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken; I used a whole free range bird and took the legs, breasts and wings off raw. But you could equally use 3-4 breasts or 6-8 thighs.
  • Butter beans 400g (1 tin)
  • Tin of plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red onions
  • Sweet peppers 200g
  • 1 Chilli pepper (optional)
  • 1 carrot
  • 6-8 new potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Paprika
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze (or vinegar is fine)
  • Salt n Pepper
  • Rape seed oil

Method in the madness:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. (350f or Gas4/5)

Start off by taking your chicken and placing it in a bowl. Sprinkle over the paprika and season with salt and pepper, chop an onion and smash a couple of garlic cloves. Mix all this together with some thyme and  some rape seed oil and put in the fridge to chill out for an hour or so.

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grabbing a large oven proof pan and heat it up. We’re going to sizzle our chicken skin side down in the pan. Whilst this is going on slice and dice all the remaining veg into equal sized chunks. Flip the chicken so it gets about 5 minutes each side.

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Once the chicken has had 5 mins each side, remove it from the pan and add all the chopped veggies and fry them off for another 5 minutes. When they’re starting to soften add the beans and the tin of tomatoes, more thyme, a dash of balsamic vinegar (or glaze) and paprika to taste (around 1 tbsp), season with s’n’p and mix the lot together.

One its all mixed and bubbling nicely, place the chicken pieces on top of the mix and drizzle over some balsamic glaze. Then whack the whole lot in the oven for approximately an hour. Once this time has passed, you’re ready to serve.

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Just to finish things off, here’s the nutritional info for the dish:

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TFC.x

TFC 15g Protein Balls….Choc & Peanut.

I’ve tried to come up with several “at home” protein snacks over the last few months, some successful, some not so much. These small balls however I’m pretty happy with…. 15g of protein per ball and about 215 calories… Not too shabby for a little ball, I think they’re pretty tasty too.

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These particular ones are peanut butter and chocolate flavour, they’re a bit naughty too, I think great as a post workout hit when you need protein and your sugar levels are low.

Ingredients

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Method in the madness..

This is really simple… Add the oats, wheatgerm, dates, protein powder and honey to a food processor and give it a real good blast until the mixture is combined.

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Next put the mix into a bowl and add all of the peanut butter (don’t blend the peanut butter as we want to keep the chunks) Now combine (spoon or hands on is fine) the mix to a point where you’re struggling to get all the powder into the developing big ball.

Now’s the time to start adding water to combine the mix. It should make a tight ball. If it goes to sloppy add more protein powder (as you would with normal flour) When your ball is well mixed up and looks like this you’re ready to divide it up.

IMG_0358This amount of mixture should make 16 equal sized balls weighing around the 50g mark. I use a knife and keep dividing the mixture by two until I have 16 balls.

Once you have 16 equal portions, you can either roll them straight into balls, or now’s the time to add the chic chips. Just take a few and smudge them into the balls as you roll them into shape.

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Once your balls are all chocolatey and equal, stick them in the freezer for an hour, then keep in the fridge and consume as you see fit!

IMG_0362TFC.x

Sausage & Bean Casserole (45g Protein per serving)

This is my high protein, tasty and cheap to make sausage and bean casserole, I serve this up with brown rice, but it’s just as good with sweet potato wedges or a baked potato.

Each serving has a decent protein hit of 45g and comes in at around the 800 calorie mark. This would be less if you used low fat sausages of course, also it should be said that this ain’t no kiddies portion…..

OK, so here’s what you’ll need: (Serves 4 hungry peeps)

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  • 12 Sausages, I used 6 chorizo and 6 beef.
  • Rape seed oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 large peppers, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 chilli, chopped (optional)
  • 100g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can kidney (or other) beans
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 500ml passata
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • smoked paprika
  • chilli powder
  • dried mixed herbs
  • Worcestershire sauce

There’s method in the madness…..

Start by either frying off the sausages in a tbsp of oil in a big old pan, or if you want to up the health content whack them in a George Foreman grill (or similar)

Once they are nicely cooked, I like mine a little crispy on the edges, remove them from the pan and add the chopped onions, celery and peppers. Give these guys 5 minutes to soften, and when the onions start to go translucent add the garlic, chilli and mushrooms. Fry for another 5 mins and add the sausages back to the pan.

Next up add the chicken stock and passata and mix well. We can now get in the paprika, mixed herbs and chilli powder. I go for around 2 tsp of paprika and herbs, with 1 of chilli. However if you feel less or more is needed then go nuts.

The final touch is adding the Worcestershire sauce, add with care though as this can be over powering, a few dashes then taste… Finally season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook in the oven on a low heat 150ish for 1 hour, then finish on the hob while waiting for rice to cook.

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TFC.x

Lean, mean TFC burger recipe

It’s been a little while since I started my nutrition section with my firehouse chilli, so accordingly I thought I’d add a second recipe. This one’s real easy, and I know a lot of people make their own burgers, but here’s my kinda healthy take on it, just in time for the hot weather (I hope) So here we are: I can’t say that any burger is ever going to be really “clean” but here we’re trying our best to compromise with lean beef steak, wholemeal pitta breads for buns and lots of salad (with a little cheese for dairy too) Each burger has 26g of protein in it, and after that the rest is up to you. This is just a guide. (I know that a burger is a very personal thing)

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 Ingredients for 4 decent size burgers:

For the burgers:

500g lean steak mince

Half an onion

1 Chilli

large garlic clove

American Mustard

Worcester sauce

Salt n’ pepper to taste

The Rest:

Wholemeal pitta bread

Light mayo

Tomato

1/2 onion

Cheddar cheese

Rocket or other salad

Method

Start by finely chopping half an onion, the garlic and a chilli and placing in a mixing bowl. Add to this a decent squirt of the American mustard and about a tablespoon of worcester sauce.

Next add the meat and thoroughly mix it all up, adding salt and pepper to season. I found that it’s definitely worth spending a few minutes mixing everything up, so all the flavours are well mixed together.

When you’re happy with the mix, bring it together into a ball, ready for splitting into our burgers.

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I like to roll it into a ball as i find it’s easier to get even burgers this way. Just take a knife and cut the ball in two, then cut the two in half again and boom you’ve got your four burgers.

I should really mention at this time, that they are larger than the average 1/4 pounder, but they’re lean and big for a reason – because we want to be bigger and leaner too! mine looked like this on the scales:

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In each of the burgers we’re hitting a pretty decent 26g of protein content, so have two and fill you’re boots with a nice side salad or veggies.

Next up flatten out your balls…. so they’re nice and burger shape, and stick them in the fridge for an hour or so to stop them coming apart on the grill.

OK, now we’re ready to grill, I use the small skillet style pan you can see here. It drains the fat away and you can control the heat, but if you want to use a George Foreman or similar be my guest.

Rub the burgers with oil (whichever you choose is fine) I used olive. Get the pan/grill nice and hot and which them on. Once the burgers are on the grill, don’t touch those bad boys, just let the pan do it’s thang.

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I like fried onions on my dish, so stick them in too if you’re with me, flip the burgers when they’re cooked to your liking and leave them again on the second side.

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After the flippage, and the burgers are done to your preference set them to one side to rest while you toast the pitta breads and choose your toppings! I have light mayo, low salt ketchup, rocket, baby spinach, tomato and cheese on mine.

Enjoy.x

TFC

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42g of protein firehouse chilli

It’s never easy. The constant battle that radiates around my head when trying to consider what to eat for our evening meal. It’s a case of the classic battle between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The devil wants something dirty, always. And of course, the angel wants a grilled chicken salad.

I really don’t think it matters if you’re a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a athlete or a couch potato. We all crave delicious, satisfying food, education is barely even a consideration when it comes to desire.

I’ve always trained, always, and its always been consistent, good, progressive training. It has always been my nutrition that has escaped me. Not in any kind of extreme way admittedly, but my nutrition has always been the factor that has held me back goal wise. I’ve always been so close to being “there” to looking, lifting and training at my best (or perceived best anyway) and then; pizza, beer, wine, cheese boards, pasta, cake, etc, etc, etc.

So. As part of my new business and new personal training venture. And if nothing else my new found interest in the internet and all that it entails, I am going to try and share/devise some healthy, high protein meal choices that hopefully maintain the dirty edge that we all love , then share them with my new found client base……

My first choice is a bit of a “go to” dish. I used to sort out what we would eat at work, and generally on nights I used to supply a curry one night, and a chilli the second. (we work a 2 days, 2 nights, 4 off pattern) And so here we are, my (healthy version) firehouse chilli.

I think this is a great and versatile dish, at work we have it with rice, garlic bread, cheese, cheese nachos and cake (a big part of the problem)…… But at home I generally go for some sweet potato wedges (oven baked) and home made guacamole.

My version of chilli weighs in at 469 calories per serving and packs a massive 42g of protein. You should get 5 servings out of the amounts i’ve stated here. Remember this is just the chilli its self, so any wedges etc will be extra.

INGREDIENTS:

600g lean beef, I buy a roasting joint and dice it up. But diced beef is fine.
2 red onions
2 red peppers
200g chestnut mushrooms
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500g passata
1 chilli pepper (add more for extra heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 low salt beef stock cube & 500ml water OR 500ml good beef stock
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika
Chilli powder
Ground cumin
Ground ginger
Ground coriander
METHOD – Low & slow! 😉

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees (330f or gas mark 2). Dice the beef and fry off in a hot, deep dish with the olive oil, were gonna be cooking the whole thing in one pot so make it a big one.

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Nice. Once the meat is seared and brown, remove it from the pan and put to one side. Now, dice and add the onion, peppers, chilli and mushroom and soften for 10 mins, then add the chickpeas and kidney beans into the mix (after draining and washing)

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Give the mixture a stir and then add the garlic and return the beef to the pot. Cook these bad boys together for 5 minutes, and we’re ready to add the fluid to the mix.

Next add the tined tomato, passata and the stock and stir until combined. Now’s the time to season the pot so add your salt and pepper to taste.

Next up are the spices, now I’m never really sure how much of everything i use… I go by taste and feeling… I Know this is no help what so ever to the reader, so; start with 2 heaped tsp of paprika and cumin, 1 of chilli powder, ginger and coriander, and then you can adjust to taste.

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SHAKE & BAKE! Give the pot a good stir at this point and bring it up to a simmer, stick the lid on and bash it in the oven for 2-3 hours (depending on how keen you are) We’re looking for it to thicken up nicely and the beef to just melt in the mouth (pulled pork style) when it’s there, it’s ready.

Give the pot a good stir and taste every so often, add seasoning and spices as you see fit. I’m no chef after all, but just try not to add anything too calorific. And there it is, a lush, dirty, high protein and healthy meal.

TFC.x