Losing Weight: Who Knew Salmon Was Such A Traitor?

I was listening to a podcast with Clare Bowditch on Conversations this morning (about her book Your Own Kind Of Girl) and it made me question exactly why I’ve started another diet. Like her, I came to the conclusion a while ago that weight is unimportant (as long as it is within a healthy range and not affecting your health); that it’s what’s on the inside that counts; and that society needs to bloody well grow up and accept that most healthy women do not fit the skinny model stereotype promoted by magazines – hence the popularity of Celeste Barber.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash.com

In general, I manage to maintain my Reubenesque figure by compensating for my food and alcohol over-indulgences by working my butt off on walks and runs. However, the toll from Christmas this year has been grim and I’ve been sucked into a diet by the vanity of the old man who says he feels uncomfortable being overweight.

Imagine that?

Neither of us wants to get down to the sort of unrealistic weight that means that you start rocking in a corner when you think about a Magnum, but we’d like to lose the weight we’ve gained over the last two years – to avoid the slippery slope of unfair weight distribution that happens to so many people in middle age.

I blame our Christmas visitors for the last few kilos I’ve gained – skinny visitors who ate as much as us, exercised less, and still manage to remain thin. Also, any host knows how impossible it is to eat mindfully when you have guests in the house and you have to show off the enviable lifestyle of Australia (bushfires excluded). And in Sydney the food is as spectacular as the beaches. The day only starts after one of THE BEST BREAKFASTS in the world, followed by – as a result of our wonderfully diverse population – a veritable smorgasbord of international feasting to choose from over the rest of the day.

Worse, when you have guests (particularly at Christmas), any rules around drinking fly out the window. – so even though we weren’t officially on holiday, we were happy to use the rellies as an excuse for extra bevvies.

Hence, I find myself fitting a little too snugly into my size 14 clothes, and albeit that left to my own devices I would probably have continued to ignore the extra tire around my middle and hoped for the best once I get back into some sort of routine – When? – I am sadly married to a man obsessed with his weight.

So we’ve hooked up to an app called Easy diet diary which is basically a calorie counting tool that works like this: You put in your weight, height etc and tell it how much weight you want to lose and in how much time, and then it suggests a daily calorie intake to achieve your goal. Each day, you add in every morsel you eat, every drop of liquid you drink, and every kilometre you sweat – although I’m not counting calories burnt during exercise as that me permission to drink more.

It is unhealthily competitive and we are learning to be cunningly strategic – which is the only fun aspect of a diet – but it has given us something to talk about over the past few days i.e. like how f…ing hungry we are. And on a more serious note, we have started to think about what we put in my mouths, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. You can imagine my pain one morning when I had to put a large slice of watermelon back in the fridge because it meant I would have to forego a glass of wine that night.

And talking of wine, basically what feels like a mouthful of wine (100mls) equates to around 80cals, so on drinking days you really have to be careful about how many food calories you consume or switch to spirits which are generally kinder.

It’s amazing what you discover. I won’t bore you with the calorific content of every food faux-ami – i.e. foods we thought were healthy but turn out to be wickedly calorific – That’s right SALMON, I’m talking about you – but who knew that trail mix, coffee, and chocolate were so bloody fattening? Or that a shot of Cointreau is a whopping 91 calories?

Where the fun really comes in is seeing how much yoghurt or muesli you can squeeze into a quarter of a cup; or how many units of alcohol you can fit in without starving; and what you can eat with those precious six calories left at the end of the day – suffice it to say, I’m still trying to work out the value of a single M&M.

The experience has certainly been an education – one I won’t be repeating as soon as I get down to a svelte size 12 over the next week or so.

Cooking For A Family Of Dietary Heathens

Anyone who is responsible for cooking the evening meal knows what a mindfuck it is. It takes a lot of preparation – you have to remember to defrost, to check you have all the ingredients and that there will be enough food to go around, and if you have kids like mine, one of the fuckers will tell you at the last minute that they are going out.

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Worse, if you’re a pushover like me you end up cooking an assortment of customized variations of the same meal to keep everyone happy. Add to that the issue of staying abreast of current dietary recommendations – which seem to change as quickly as Facebook privacy regulations – and it can make the responsibility an exhausting process.

I like to think I cook healthily and creatively but there are some food trends that not even I can contemplate. Take the green smoothie. As Generation Xer, hence brought up on bacon and eggs for breakfast, I am afraid that green sludge is that step too far for me. I maintain the cynicism of my toddler years when it comes to anything green, which is that it is not to be trusted.

Last weekend, I went on a girls weekend to celebrate my sister’s fortieth birthday, for which we hired a lovely apartment for two nights. As we planned to eat out in the evenings and self-cater for breakfast and lunch, our first stop on the weekend’s agenda was to the local supermarket for a communal shop for necessities.

In hindsight, four mums on a food shop had the potential to end the weekend prematurely. As each of us manages our own homes and have, understandably, our own ideas when it comes to food, our interpretation of what constitutes ‘healthy’ was surprisingly different. My sister and the other two mums are still in the young children zone of parenting and as such are used to checking the ingredients and small print on all packaging with a fine toothcomb, hence we spent half an hour in the green juice section. While each of them Googled which was the grossest healthiest juice, I waited patiently and prayed that the one with the odd kiwi or apple thrown in for good measure would be enough to  pass their rigorous checks. Eventually, as it was my sister’s birthday, we let her choose the pond green juice, which contained something called Spirulina and smelled of poo.

If you believe everything you read, Spirulina is a blue-green alga and a super-food with loads of inspiring for health benefits, particularly for more senior folks like me because it can help lower our cholesterol,  prevent cancer, increase weight loss and reduce blood pressure without even trying. Which means, I suppose, that if my health anxiety gets a say, I will end up eating something that tastes like shit for the rest of my life.

Because, when it comes to the taste of this superfood – look online, where there are more articles about how to make it taste good than articles about its value to our body’s microbiome – it really does taste of shit. I imagine that it might be edible in a Vindaloo or Jungle Curry, but the general recommendation is that the best way to take it is in powder form – I suggest, up your nose.

Anyway, the following morning, I put on a brave face as I peered into our communal fridge in spite of the hangover from hell, silently cursing whoever ate the last piece of cheese and secretly praying that KFC had dropped a food parcel or something vaguely unhealthy to quell nausea and an unsettled stomach from the foot long Kransky sausage with all the trimmings that we devoured like animals the evening before, when our dietary concerns were compromised by alcohol.

Surprisingly, Spirulina did not meet my need-for-immediate-comfort brief, nor had it quenched the thirsts of my housemates if the line of green around the sink was anything to go by.

Healthy eating is not as straightforward as it looks when you cohabit with other people and I know this because I live with a couple of die-hard, meat-and-two-veg men. I am continually having to compromise my idealism when it comes to nutrition, and although I had thought that I had changed the three-year-old mentality of the old man when it comes to food, the other day he asked me when I was going to cook something nice after I had presented him with a plate of fresh, pan-fried Barramundi and roasted sweet potatoes in a Balsamic glaze.

I realize that the fight about how much red meat we have in our diets, or indeed what we eat, is an embarrassing first world problem to have, yet I fear it is a battle I am losing at home. Although dieticians have proved again and again that red meat is the devil’s food, I know that my son and husband would die happily (and quickly) if I rotated spag bol, Chilli Con Carne, and Shepherd’s pie through the week, and as a natural carnivore, my own willpower disappears as soon as those red juices begin to call to me from the pan. It appears that I can only keep my cavewoman/canine impulses that see me drooling in the face of a rare steak in check, as long as I don’t have to cook it or watch someone eat it in front of me.

 

So, do I?

Give in, and continue to clog their arteries slowly for a quiet life?

Endure the looks of disappointment and criticism leveled at me that forced me to add secret ingredients of Spirulina and dog food to the Chilli last Thursday?

Or, tell them to fuck off?

Eating And Drinking Healthily In Middle Age To Maintain Your Body Weight

I’ve written a lot of posts about this topic in the past because let’s face it, girls, on a scale of stuff that still turns us on in middle age, (where sex with our husbands/partners is at one), food has to be at least a ten. The struggle is real. And to my horror, I recently discovered that there is sugar in fruit and wine – which is a bit rude, frankly – and a fact that has made rather a mockery of just about everything I have aspired to achieve over the past few years in my war on the muffin top.

 

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Sugar in fruit? Like, WTF!

 

The good news (this week) is that two glasses of red wine before bedtime is now good for us, according to the fat-busting scientists, which must mean that for those that are partial to a few more than two (due to mental health issues, say), that makes them virtually Roger Federer.

 

I gave up on traditional diets a long time ago, mainly because they don’t work, I can’t stick to them and they make me very dull and bad-tempered with a hunger only seen in Labradors and an irrational fixation on the breadbasket.

 

Fortunately, I am a moderation kind of girl, (Kettle Chips and cheese excluded – OBVS) and although I don’t deny myself any food groups really – except octopus because WTF and legs – I like to think that I choose wisely and healthily. I also try to balance my out my diet using a cutting-edge, self-developed point system that I stole from Weightwatchers designed for myself, that seems to work for me… sometimes – as in I don’t get the kind of hunger where all I can think about is eating other people’s leftovers in cafes and I can maintain focus on a sensible health target at this stage of my life – to maintain my drinking goals and weight at the same time.

 

Here are some of my tips:

 

If I have yogurt for brekkie, I won’t touch dairy for the rest of the day until my Snickers smoothie at bedtime.

 

If I blow out seriously on carbs, I limit myself to less than a bottle of wine that evening.

 

If I’ve starved myself with a steak and blue cheese salad for lunch, denied myself my morning tea toast and my afternoon snack of crackers and hummus, I allow myself an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink week.

 

I only eat carbs when I’m hormonal, pre-menstrual, peri-menopausal, feeling fat, feeling unloved, feeling hungry, the kids hate me, or with wine.

 

You see – all pretty straightforward really. But let’s be honest, we all have those really shitty years when there’s been nothing on telly but sport for months, you’re fifty-two and still getting acne or your local restaurants decide to allow babies, and it’s hard to be virtuous all the time. Those days when all you want to do is crawl into bed with Pods on toast and an Amaretto on ice. And on those occasions – because remember, I said it’s about balance – I increase my exercise by searching out the furthest pub on Google maps and walking there AND BACK.

Versatile Muesli Cookies

Very occasionally, I like to remind myself (and everyone who reads this blog), that I am not perfect and that we can’t all be good at everything. It has been a while since I posted one of my epic cooking fails, but this one is a real gem that provided me with the invaluable life lesson that more free time does not a good cook maketh. 

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After Superglue

 

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Before Superglue

You see, now that I’m working from home full-time and the kids are older – although sadly, not any less demanding – sometimes I get this longing to be a ‘fifties meets modern woman’, who can earn a decent crust at the same time as knocking up a batch of something yummy during her coffee break. I must reiterate that this window of opportunity has only come about since the kids grew up and I can callously refuse to enable their Millennial bleats for help. Which means that aside from my 24hr nagging service (which is reinforced by my ‘when are you leaving home’ ringtone), basically I ignore them. Oh, and the cleaning.

 

Anyway, three factors brought on this strange desire to make my own muesli cookies last week:

 

  1. I am always hungry – a common complaint among those of us who work from home and find themselves within 24hr snacking distance from the kitchen. So when I discovered the recipe online, and the cookies looked kind of healthy, (because oats and fruit…) and I ignored the glaring fact that they are meals between meals with calories you don’t need, it seemed like a good idea.
  2. I got sick of paying $5 for them in cafes.
  3. They looked quick and easy, which meant I could slip them in between Facebook sessions.

 

I trust the TASTE online recipes implicitly, nevertheless, once a cheater always a cheater so as soon as I printed the recipe from the Internet I looked for shortcuts. I’m sure you can imagine my hilarity when I discovered that one of the four ingredients listed was ‘homemade muesli’, a requirement that catapulted me to Coles as fast as a two-for-one sale on Tena pads in search of the muesli-fail that looked as close to something I’d knocked up myself. And I found it, by paying a week’s rent for a European version – for which I’ve no doubt some poor migrant scaled the mountains of Switzerland for and was paid the minimum wage.

 

Another minor cheat was that I really couldn’t be arsed to weigh the butter (because then I’d have to wash up the scales) and at this stage in my Masterchef career, I think I know what 100g looks like. In hindsight, it was an interesting decision after flourless cake-gate last week, when somehow I forgot to add the butter completely – one of only four ingredients. Anyway, my generosity with the butter on this occasion was probably what contributed to the versatility of my cookies’, because as soon as they emerged from the oven I sensed they were special and came with a range of extra functions, meaning they could be used as a muesli breakfast cereal, drizzled over salad, used as a sweet version of dukkha (because be honest, no-one really likes the savoury version), drunk as a smoothie or added to houseplants as fertiliser.

 

That’s right, with the consistency of course sand, I needed a trowel to move them from the baking tray to my cake stand, so I can only assume that the egg and flour must have been having an RDO.

 

Perhaps I should have listened more closely to the sage advice of George Colombaris’ to one of the new guinea pigs on Masterchef this week, when he warned her not to go too far off piste in her cooking as she cried into her ice cream soup.

 

So weigh the fucking butter.

 

I’ve given you the recipe below and I’m one hundred percent confident that in the right hands, it will work.

 

Versatile Muesli Cookies 

Calories: Who The Fuck Cares

Ingredients:

3 Cups Supermarket Toasted Muesli (or 3 cups homemade if you’re ‘one of those‘)

100g Butter, melted and cooled

1 Egg lightly beaten

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1/3 cup honey

Superglue (if necessary)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees

WEIGH butter, then whisk with honey and egg.

Combine muesli and flour together then add butter mixture. Leave to sit for 15 minutes. Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays.

Bake for ten minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before moving (very important)

 

(Warning: When all the ingredients are combined, the mixture does feel really gross in your hands – kind of like when you find something soft and sticky down the back of the sofa. But the more you compact and flatten these fuckers, the more likely you are to get something hat resembles a cookie.)

 

 

Whatever Floats Off Your Boat

Like many people I suspect, whenever I’m under pressure to perform or create an impression, I fuck up badly. tree-trunk-in-the-water-1254566_1280

 

Last weekend we were invited onto the boat of some of the old man’s work friends. For normal people, the idea of jet-setting around on a yacht in the clear, emerald-green waters of the Hawkesbury on what was forecast to be a beautiful Saturday night, with dinner in a stunning restaurant at the water’s edge afterwards, is a dream come true. I was naturally fearful.

 

Boating and skiing fall into the same category of “extreme sports” in my world, which is shaped by anxiety, and means that I see anything and everything as out to get me. For this reason, I only dip my toe into risky activities when I have to, even though there are elements of faking the life of the rich and famous that I could become rather accustomed to.

 

Unfortunately, work commitments meant that the old man and I couldn’t sail into the bay with the rest of our party that afternoon and so we were whisked onto our floating bedroom for the night just prior to appetisers and pre-dinner drinks. The setting and forecast couldn’t have been better as I tripped over a guide wire upon embarkation, which I managed to laugh off in spite of my insides doing a reverse dive with a half somersault and we spent a gloriously magical evening with extremely generous hosts and new friends.

 

One aspect of boating life that has always terrified me is the toilet arrangements. In fact, sod tweezers, food and music, top of my list of desert island must-haves would be a WC. ‘Pee off the side’, had been the old man’s helpful suggestion when I voiced my concerns before we left civilisation, which did little to sway my fear, but luckily we struck gold on this occasion when we found that our cabin was within spitting distance of the boat’s manual toilet. And in spite of the Titanic theme tune that refused to stop playing over and over again in my head, I relaxed after dinner and slept like a baby.

 

However, come the morning and after a night where I probably consumed more food than I would typically in a whole week, I had to go number twos.

 

Now some might find that situation awkward but I wasn’t concerned, because by now I was a pro at the process of filling and emptying the manual toilet. So it was with a new-found confidence that I slipped discreetly into the tiny cubicle while the rest of my new boating friends enjoyed their coffee in the morning sun, and careful not to over-use the paper, be efficient and quick, I was satisfied that no-one would ever know that I had dumped my load.

 

When I first pulled on the pump and nothing happened my anxiety meds kicked in reliably with their reassuring ‘it’ll be fine’ fervour, common in the first few seconds of one of my crises, even though the sight of the bulging culprit smirking evilly at me from the bottom of the bowl did little to assuage my sense of impending doom.

 

‘Breathe,’ I reminded myself as I tried to remain calm and began to pump furiously.

 

I pumped some more, aware that by now the Skipper must realize that we had a problem, but some guffaws from the cockpit reassured me that no-one knew, then I heard the engine go on and felt the boat begin to move, so I took full advantage of the noise and pumped with renewed vigour, silently praying that my nightmare hadn’t been detected.

 

But it was no use. The meanest-looking turd eventually went down with a helping hand, but that still left some persistent little critters floating around the surface, and finally I made the decision that breaking the toilet outweighed my shame and went and had a quiet word with the Skipper’s wife.

 

It was only when the old man told me that the whole boat had witnessed the product of my healthy bowel movements float past them over breakfast that it sunk in what a truly wonderful first impression I’d made with this new group of friends. There was no prize for the healthy buoyancy of my excrement, which the kayakers amongst our group were forced to dodge as they entered the water.

 

And I thought it was only me who considered “boating” such an extreme sport.

 

On a scale of “funny to the deepest shame”, the experience was more awkward than when my chicken fillet flew out of my bra and directly  into the face of my best friend’s husband when ‘Dancing Queen” came on at a party once, and slightly less shameful than when I was interviewed by Sydney University and was asked what I thought NC would gain from her time there and I responded ‘a high tolerance to alcohol.’

 

 

Dining Out When You’re Trying To Eat Healthily

I’ve learned a lot about those sneaky hidden calories with my latest healthy-eating plan, and while I can manage to restrain myself – most of the time – on home territory, (apart from when it comes to homemade banana bread, which tests me on every level), it can be a very different story, when I eat out.

 

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Fig and Gorgonzola Starter

A perfect example was Saturday night, when this fig and Gorgonzola starter, followed by Italian Bread and Butter Pudding were the latest nails in the coffin of my current healthy eating plan – crazy bitch behaviour, because I really only fell at the last hurdle, having gritted my teeth through my fish and salad main course while I watched my friends devour what was basically an overdose of cheese on a pizza base in front of me.

 

It’s easily done, and SHOULD be done now and then, just not every weekend, otherwise you become caught up in that vicious circle of losing weight during the week and piling it all back on (and more) at the weekend. 

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Bread and Butter Pudding

 

But self-discipline is really tricky when you eat out because you don’t want to be the party pooper on salad and then you have to watch your friends gorge on the yummy stuff as well as contend with the psychological warfare that tries to convince you that there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and again, even though you know that healthy eating has to be a permanent lifestyle change to work.

 

And this is where that knowledge/obsession with the hidden calories in food really comes in useful, because BEWARE, fellow foodies, there are ingredient faux amis out there, just waiting to help you fail.

 

I’m talking about you, boiled rice!

 

It’s fairly obvious that foods like pizza aren’t the best choice, but I’d always assumed that Asian food was a safer bet. Unfortunately, it all depends on the dish you choose, because when it comes to ingredients dressed up to sound healthy, Asian food has a ton of hidden wickedness.

 

For a start, forget any dish with rice in it, bread on the side, coconut milk in the sauce or if it has been deep-fried. A cup of boring, boiled rice has 250 calories, so you can imagine the additional calorie wastage when it’s fried – especially when those extra, precious calories could give you two glasses of wine, a light starter, or my personal favourite, a scoop of Green Tea ice cream at my local Japanese.

 

The safest bet if you like Indian food is to go with the vegetarian options or a Tandoori chicken and salad. A simple chicken or veggie stir-fry is the safest option with Thai.

 

So much of Asian food is deep-fried – which means goodbye to old friends such as spring rolls, money-bags and tempura. Even dumplings and Gyoza can be quite deceptive unless you can stick to four as your main course…which is obviously humanly impossible.

 

Vietnamese food, on the other hand, which is vegetable and herb based is a much healthier choice, although you still need to watch out for those sneaky little peanuts and sticky sauces.

 

Italian is obviously not the best, but if you can stick to one course, avoid the bread and order either a traditional meat or fish (unbreaded) dish or vegetarian dish such as a tomato-based pasta with the teeniest teaser of Parmesan on the top, it’s not so bad.

 

And thankfully, pub food is moving with the times and gone are the days when there is only a pie (my ultimate hangover food) on offer.

 

This is the pie they serve at our local, so you can see my problem.

 

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Yes, that is a pastry crust and tender beef nesting on top of a bed of mashed potatoes!

 

These days, my healthy choice at the pub has to be more along the lines of a Caesar Salad (sob!) with grilled chicken (if I’ve got any chance of getting into a cocktail dress in May) – WITH DRESSING ON THE SIDE AND IGNORE THE CROUTONS… ONCE YOU’VE CHECKED THEY’RE OK, OBVIOUSLY – maybe a salmon and salad or a stuffed chicken dish.

I’ve even spotted Quinoa at our local, which must seriously piss off the Parmi Army.

The Scoop On Soup and How To Get Through Winter

I hate winter with a passion. In fact I hate winter more than sex.

The Scoop On Soup and How To Get Through Winter
Feel by Natalie Shuttleworth found on Flickr.com

Without wanting to sound too Monty Pythonesque, you have no idea how tough it was growing up in the UK climate, in the days before helicopter mums to drive us to school in their SUVs, or Uber at our disposal. In fact, I blame much of my current anxiety issues on the trials of surviving the UK winters.

We had ‘frost’, too.

Let me educate you southern hemisphere lucksters about ‘frost’. Jack Frost is a bitch to deal with in the morning when you’re already running late. I could never have coped with it myself as a mother. There’s that whole laborious process of scraping and pouring hot water on the windscreen – while keeping the engine running to avoid more frost forming – followed by that eery and potentially lethal drive to your destination, which is usually done blind due to the build-up of condensation on the inside of your window screen.

And that’s before you’ve even started your day.

I realize that perhaps it is the most embarrassing of first-world problems to moan about the Australian winter, when temperatures in Sydney only get as low as a finger-numbing eleven or twelve degrees in its depths, but it boils down to a question of acclimatisation. Twelve degrees with a chill breeze from the Harbour blowing right in your fucking face is probably akin to 3 degrees in the UK.

Whenever I’m asked if I’ll go back to the UK, my answer is a resounding ‘no,’ and I admit that my decision is based solely on the shallow reason of ‘climate’. Because although my family, my oldest friends, my heart and my history all still reside in Blighty, my body (and hence my mental well-being) like it here, in what is (save a few months) a beautifully temperate climate.

I’ve always despised the cold. At boarding school, groups of us girls would literally sit on the radiators while we listened to the radio and matron rant on and on about the risk of piles. I’d rather have piles than be cold, I remember thinking at the time… until I got piles when I was pregnant.

English: A carrot soup. Español: Una crema de ...
English: A carrot soup. Español: Una crema de zanahoria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I truly believe I am one of those SAD people because I open up and blossom in the heat and my world becomes full of endless possibilities with the sun on my skin. Whereas my body shuts down in the winter. I’m not some stupid sun-worshipper, though – I slip, slop and slap all over, and the old man and I have become THAT middle-aged couple among the beautiful people on the beach, to reside permanently under our umbrella. Like a cat in front of the fire, I crave warmth at all times.

And I suffer from Cabin Fever, too, as winter drawers closer. With that first chill in the air, I can feel the symptoms of my body withdrawing from life begin to twitch, feel unsettled and become tetchy about my loss of freedom.

They would call me a ‘wuss’ in the UK if they knew how pathetic I’ve become. They build them tough over there and there is an endearing ‘we survived two wars’ approach to the harshness of the climate. When I visited at Easter, shoppers were drinking Champagne and eating Oysters in the streets around Chelsea Food Market, while I was trying to regain circulation in my fingers and toes. The Brits don’t understand the appeal of a warmer climate because they don’t know any different, and in fairness, there is nothing more beautiful than sitting in the garden of a British pub in the country on a sunny afternoon. The problem is, those blue-sky days are too few to count and when they do eventually turn up, no-one can cope.

So, the only great news about winter is ‘soup’.

Making and consuming vast quantities of soup gets me through these shorter, torturously grey days. I’m no cook, (as you know), but even I can knock up a decent soup, and what’s more, soup is not only a comforting tonic during the cooler evenings, but it’s healthy for all sorts of fascinating reasons: For starters, it’s a liquid, so you can eat lashings of it without feeling guilty or gaining weight because, being effectively a drink like water, it probably has no calories; you can also disguise all sorts of fugly, green veggie matter in soup, that you and the kids would probably never normally touch without gagging; and you can also make a week’s worth in one go, eliminating hours of brain-death family cooking time, too.

So as I leave Sydney for a week’s torture at the snow, (because the old man didn’t think that winter in the city was enough of an endurance test), here’s my winter gift to you – three wonderful soup recipes from Taste.com.au that I’ve tried, tested and successfully liquidized to near-perfection to get you through this most cursed of seasons.

Asian Chicken Soup

Broccoli and Potato Soup

(Tip from the Master Soup Maker: I add some celery and cheese for extra flavor)

Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea Soup

You’re welcome…