My literal obsession with food and how I successfully lost over 4 stone in weight

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Hi I’m Sam, I have recently started a blog entitled Food Obsessed Sam, as I literally am obsessed with food.  My usual blog posts are about amazing restaurants I have visited.

I saw an opportunity to write about something different so my chosen topic is Health and Fitness and this is my post.

So how am I qualified to write about health and fitness? Well last year I successfully lost four and a half stone and it was all down to will power and determination.

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Before and after weight loss

I have always had a battle with my weight, I’m 5ft 11 and pre children my heaviest weight was 13 stone and a dress size 16.  My slimmest was 11 stone and dress size was between a 10 and 12.  When I was in my early twenties I joined weight watchers.  I was successfully losing weight every week, then I joint the gym.  I did become a bit of a gym bunny and went almost everyday and at one stage was running to the gym, attending two fitness sessions, going for a swim then running home! Obviously the weight fell off doing all this exercise and watching what I ate.

What was my motivation?
I had a holiday booked and wanted to look good, not self conscious like I had the previous year at 13 stone.  I got the body I wanted and after proudly displaying it in a bikini on holiday I lost motivation so the weight crept back on.  This was the cycle for the next few years.  It would seem that my weight was easiest to maintain at 12 stone.

In 2010 I had my first child, throughout my pregnancy I ate everything in sight, I literally was eating for two, two adults! After the birth of my son my wardrobe staple was a pair of leggings and a long top, yep I was comfy but I hadn’t realised I was putting on weight. Having a baby made me lazy, I was so tired that I couldn’t really be bothered to do anything, so lots of takeaways were being eaten, and lots of instant food was being snacked on including crisps and biscuits.  I’m not a person who can have just one biscuit, I can sit and eat the entire packet, dunking biscuits two at a time into my tea.

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Weight after my 1st child

When my son was about six months I decided to join weight watchers and my local gym.  I thought it would be easy like before but the weight was a lot harder to lose this time.  My husband was not very supportive, he still wanted to eat crap and so all my efforts failed and I gave up.  I didn’t bother to watch what I ate anymore or do any exercise.  I had my second child in May 2013.  We went on a family holiday in the summer and I remember catching a glimpse of my reflection.  I had really let myself go, I looked awful I just comfort ate and ignored my size.

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Weight after my 2nd child

The new year was approaching and my imminent return to work from maternity leave.  I now weighed sixteen and a half stone and a size 18 was a struggle to do up.   I decided I wanted to lose weight before I went back to work.  I’d set myself a goal of 2 lb per week so by April I wanted to lose 2 stone.

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At my heaviest

I wouldn’t say I went on a diet I actually changed my eating habits.  I tried to eat three meals a day with no snacking.  No processed foods, my husband and I always try to cook from scratch and rarely eat convenience foods anyway.  I measured portions of pasta according to the recommend size on the packet, which are almost half of what I was actually dishing up.  I tried to avoid sugar and used honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener on my breakfast.  For lunch I would usually eat a salad or a sandwich and dinner would just be what we’d normally eat but the correct portion size.  I did allow myself a treat day once a week so 6 out of the 7 days I would be good and then on the 7th I’d allow myself a treat like a piece of cake.  My husband and I do like to eat out so I’d use that restaurant visit as my treat day.

Where I live now is quite rural and the gyms are quite sparse, and expensive.  So I thought I may as well take advantage of my location, on top of a hill.  My son goes to the school at the bottom of the hill so I started waking home the long way, pushing my daughter in her buggy.  As the weeks passed I increased my route, as my fitness improved I began to jog.  I’m quite well known where I live now, people always comment “oh I saw you running past my window”.  I know some people feel quite conscious doing exercise in public but I’m proud.  I’ve got off my fat arse and done something about being overweight and everyone that has noticed me running about has been witness to my huge achievement.

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My tips for loosing weight

1. Know that you are ready to loose weight.  If there is no motivation then you will easily give up

2. Give yourself a sensible goal, the recommended weight to lose is 2lb per week

3. Record your progress.  I drew up a chart which I would complete each week including my weight, the amount I’d lost or gained and measurements of my chest, waist and hips

4. Watch what you eat, try to stick to three sensible meals a day and limit snacking.  Write a food diary so you can see exactly what you are eating.

5. Don’t deprive yourself, if its off bounds you will want it even more.  Allow a treat day once a week

6. Start exercising.  It costs nothing to go for a walk.

So what’s the moral of this blog post?  Well if you are READY to loose weight then you have to change your ATTITUDE.  Eat less and move more, it really is that simple.  My results are the proof.

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Good luck!

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The Ultimate Queensbury Kitchen experience 

Dining with friends, Non Michelin Restaurants

Red kite PR had invited me to attend an event at The Queensbury Kitchen, North West London, a two minute walk from Willesden Green tube station.  The restaurant has only been open for a couple of months but they certainly look to be doing ok.  The Queensbury Kitchen is a bar and grill offering grill favourites made with fresh, specially sourced British ingredients.  They serve cocktails as well as craft beers and are open for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer brunch at weekends.

 I was one of the first to arrive just after 6:00 the event started at 6:30, well I would have been even earlier if it wasn’t for me attending the wrong venue!  The Queensbury kitchen actually have a sister, The Queensbury gastropub.  Very nice indeed, although I only stayed a few minutes until I was told I was at the wrong place and meant to be down the road! Oh dear! Not the best start.  

So I walked two minutes down the road in the opposite direction to the correct venue.  This is what happens when I don’t use google maps!

I walked in, nervously introduced myself and clambered onto a stall up at a communal table and fellow food lovers began to join me.  I had a good spot, right next to the bar.  To kick off I ordered a QK signature cocktail.  I was here for the ultimate Queensbury kitchen experience so it seemed obvious to choose a drink with the same name.  


Slush puppy red served in a martini glass with a stawberry balanced on the rim. It tasted as good as it looked.  

A popular choice was the Mango Chilli Caipiroska.  This had a real kick.  It looked really pretty too with the bits of red chilli against the chunks of mango.  

My personal favourite – Evergreen Avocado, but not as you know it.  This was delicious so creamy and I thought it had a similar taste to a key lime pie. 

So I sipped and chatted and I felt really comfortable.  Everyone was friendly and asking each other questions I had relaxed and felt at ease.  

The room was full of eager food enthusiasts and the food arrived.   Mini burgers, chicken wings, ribs, paneer kebabs, salmon, macaroni cheese, onion rings, chips, sweet potato fries, beans, salad, this was a full on banquet! 

The food was incredible and I was sure to tell the chef, Wayne as he proudly looked on at everybody devouring his delicious food. 


The crispy chicken wings were fantastic, lovely crunch to the skin.  


The ribs were also amazing.  They fell off the bone, were succulent and the sauce was soooo good.  


The paneer kebabs were a lovely tasty surprise the tiny little kebab packed so much flavour.  


I loved the mini burgers too, perfectly cooked petit burgers that were pink in the middle just like they should be.  The burgers here are served pink unless otherwise requested.  


The sides were equally good, the sweet potato fries were crisp and the onion rings were yummy, you could tell they were home made.  I love the cute cups and buckets they’re served in. 


The food is such a high standard, it is all homemade and ingredients are sourced by head chef Wayne Bumfrey.  You can really taste and obviously see that it has been made with love.  

As the plates were cleared I popped to the toilet.  Being a mum I did notice a baby change facility, which is fantastic, a sign that families are welcome.  The Manager, Stephanie Peel has customer service as her top priority.  The community spirit that she has witnessed grow while managing the sister pub seems to have spilled into The Queensbury Kitchen as there was such a mix of people when I first arrived and it felt so welcoming and relaxed.  

As I arrived back to the table the desserts had arrived! OMG! There was chocolate brownie, cheesecake, ice cream sundaes, cinnamon sugar churros with chocolate sauce and a bread and butter pudding.  


I’d missed my opportunity to take pics of everything but I did get to sample it all.  My favourite was the lovely rich chocolate brownie and I loved how the ice cream sundaes were served in the traditional tall glass.  


I was lovely and full and our evening had come to an end.  I thanked everyone and said my goodbyes and felt quite proud that I had attended my first blogging event and it had been a success.  What’s great is that I genuinely loved the place and will definitely return.  The communal table in the middle where we sat is perfect for large groups.  I look forward to coming here with a group of friends and enjoying another evening of gorgeous cocktails and food.  I’d also consider coming here with my husband and my two young children.  They’d be fascinated with the light fixtures and it will be great to eat homemade comforting food rather than the frozen kind other grill restaurants offer.  

So I attended my first media event as a blogger and this is my blog post! 

VIP Treatment at The Square, Mayfair

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

My husband and I had the luxury of going out for dinner.  Our kids were staying at their grandparents for two nights over the half term so we decided to take full advantage of this and go to dinner after work.

My husband chose the two Michelin star restaurant The Square, Mayfair.  My husband and I are fans of the TV programme Great British Menu, it’s a cookery show in which Britain’s most incredible chefs compete against each other to cook in a themed banquet.  We had watched Phil Howard, chef and co owner of The Square, go from being a contestant to a judge.  So we were already fans of the Chef, and wanted to taste his food.
We arrived at The Square and were shown to our table.   The restaurant was far smaller than it looked from the outside and from what I had imagined.

We chose champagne as an apéritif and enjoyed some canapés.   There was foie gras in a cone, pork cheek and some (squid ink?) crackers.  I really need to start listening when they explain what’s been put on the table, but I’m so desperate to eat it!

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All the canapés were delicious but the pork cheek was an absolute show stopper! Wow! A tiny little morsel packed so much punch.  Amazing flavour.  The standard of canapés I’ve eaten lately is so high, it’s amazing how delicious just one purposely made mouthful of food can taste.  Hooray for canapés!

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So while sipping and nibbling and reading through the menus we decided to go for the tasting menu.  To be honest we always go for the tasting menus, because they showcase the best of what the restaurants have to offer.  We went for the paired wines too, we don’t know a great deal about wine, or pretend to, but an enjoyable part of our dining experience is engaging with the sommelier.  We like hearing the descriptions of where the wine has come from and what smells and tastes the sommelier suggests.

When asked if we were happy with the menu I expressed my dislike for Mackerel, unfortunately for me this was one of the first courses.  I cheekily suggested crab lasagne as a substitution.  Well if you don’t ask you don’t get!  Our server said he’d speak with the kitchen and see what he could do.

After a few moments we were given individual menus, to remind us of our dishes.  I took a sneak peak and to my delight my wish was their command, the makeral had disappeared and the crab lasagne had been added to my menu!

Our first courses arrived, for me smoked beetroot, and for my husband mackerel.  The sommelier brought out two separate wines.  As I had a different course in a different order to my husband this had been reflected in the wine pairings.

What a great start, cheese, pear and beetroot are always a winning combination I loved the smokiness too.

IMG_4105Salad of smoked white beetroot and salsify with organic curd, hazelnut praline, white balsamic and pear 

My next course for me was a signature dish of Dorset crab lasagne, my husband had the smoked beetroot.

IMG_4110Lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and champagne foam

Oh My Goodness, this dish was sooooooo good!  The crab was layered in a tiny lasagne and foamy gorgeousness was poured over the top.  Although he would never admit it there was serious food envy going on.

My husband and I were both in receipt of the same dishes now and next up were langoustine tails.
One of my favourite foods is langoustine.  This dish was incredible as anticipated.  I loved the tiny little deep fried shallot rings delicately balanced on top. The langoustines were so plump and juicy and a lovely shaving of truffle just made it perfection.

IMG_4114Sauté of Scottish Langoustine tails with parmesan gnocchi and an emulsion of potato and truffle

The next course was chicken wings, and no they were absolutely not how I had envisaged.  The bone was removed and it had been stuffed and served on top of pasta.  I eat a lot of dry pasta at home, it’s very quick and easy when you have a family, so eating fresh pasta is a dream.  Another delicious dish, such a fantastic and diverse menu so far.

IMG_4118Stuffed and glazed black foot chicken wings with egg yolk Campanelle, chanterelles and cauliflower

Now I don’t usually get excited over a fish dish but this was beautiful perfectly flaky soft cod, I loved all the components and presentation.

IMG_4121Roast Cornish cod with celeriac milk, Savoy cabbage, salsify and roasting juices

Onto the main event, 55 day aged rare breed pork.  It was served pink!  I know some people would be alarmed by the colour.  It was perfectly fine.  I was taking about it when my husband had left the table and it was explained that some breeds of pork, the higher quality ones, are fine to eat pink as the pigs are feed on a special diets which make a huge difference to the meat.  I was never concerned, I trust the restaurant and will always eat the meat the way the chef recommends anyway.  It was really tender, the tea smoked sausage was lovely and the pork crackling was fantastic, great crunch.  Fabulous dish and a first for me eating pink pork, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

IMG_4127Roast 55 day aged rare breed pork with creamed potato, Tokyo turnips, tea smoked sausage, apple, earl grey and prune

As our plates were cleared we were offered a tour of the kitchen.  My husband and I are very passionate and love to engage with the staff, so we accepted.  Unfortunately Phil Howard was not in the kitchen that night, its amazing how small restaurant kitchens are and how cool and calm the staff appear.  We were then shown the wine cellar which was also really small but very well organised.  Truly fascinating!

When we arrived back to our table our cheese course was ready and waiting.  I like it when a actual cheese course is created, and it was quite simply a  piece of cheese and some chutney.  There was a cheese trolley, but my husband and I tend to get a bit greedy so we stuck to the menu.

This was served with port, I find this drink very strong, it’s not a drink I enjoy.  So the sommelier adjusted my wine pairings.  He made his own judgement and I really appreciated this.

IMG_4129Winter Beaufort with pickled walnut and honeycomb

The first of the desserts was a rhubarb and vanilla fool served with a tiny little warm doughnut on the side, which reminded me of being at the seaside and eating a bag of hot sugared doughnuts, obviously this one was a lot less greasy!

IMG_4132Yorkshire rhubarb and vanilla fool

Time for the ultimate dessert, souffle.  I do love a souffle and you have to admire restaurants who are confident enough to have these on their menu.  The chef had nailed the souffle, text book perfection.  Light and airy with a great crunch from the salted toffee.

IMG_4135Medjool date soufflé with salustiana orange ice cream and salted toffee 

We had our coffees and petit fours and thanked all the staff for their fantastic welcoming service, we had been made to feel like VIPs with such incredibly attentive service and food to match.

The Square Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The insanely amazing Sketch lecture room and library 

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

We pulled back the curtain stepped over the hopscotch and checked in at the front of house.  As we waited for someone to collect us I sat and admired the art.  This was the first time I had visited sketch its such a fascinating place with so much art to get lost in.  The red rope was pulled back and we were shown up stairs.  We passed the toilets, which I must say are by far the most glamorous toilets that I have ever seen! Wow! 

We climbed the stairs “have you been here before” “no”we replied then the  double doors swung open and an amazing world opened up in front of our eyes.  What an entrance! I almost expected to walk into moulin rouge.  It was like the moment Willy Wonka opened the door to his magical room where everything was edible.  

We were dining in the lecture room and library, the room is absolutely beautiful.  Gorgeous reds and golds with sunlight pouring in through the window.  We took our seats and I gazed around the room absorbing the beauty of it.  


My husband had spotted chef Pierre Gagnaire, he was sat behind a wall scribbling away.  Being that the world famous head chef was here today we were anticipating great things.  As the dinners began to fill the room the chef made his way to the kitchen.   

To start we had a glass of Sanger champagne and the trolley was parked behind me, great photo opp!


The canapés were presented, and actually took up the whole table!


A dirty martini, hummous, foie gras and chocolate, squid ink sticks in olive oil and cheesy bites ( I couldn’t remember all the correct descriptions).  We were really excited, these were just the canapés!


We were going to the theatre this afternoon so we ate from the a la carte menu as we knew we didn’t have time for a tasting menu.  

Onto the starters.  

I chose the langoustine addressed five ways and my husband choose a starter titled winter.

Winter 

Foie gras ice cream with tandoori Duck consommé and turnips

As weird as it may sound, probably not if you’re a foodie, foie gras ice cream works because of its creamy texture, another thing I have learnt about foie gras is that it works great with sweet dessert wines too.

Flash smoked root vegetable cocotte, red beetroot jus with walnut oil Jurusalem artichoke consommé with black winter truffle

This dish was presented to him in a huge cassoulet/ BBQ type pot, the lid was taken off and the smoke rose out, this wasn’t put on the table, the dishes were prepared on a trolley parked in front of our table.  In my opinion anything with truffle tastes amazing 

Marinated artichokes lardo di colonnata red cabbage cubes

Sea urchin royale grilled hand dived scallops

Langoustines 

Pan fried langoustines with terre de sienne green put lentils apple enoki mushrooms 

Langoustine mousse perfumed with manzanilla 

Langoustines marinated in a shell jus and grilled a la plancha crunchy daikon

Langoustines slightly smoked carpaccio olive oil redcurrant coriander beeHot langoustines consommé horseradish Chantilly

I loved the way this was presented a bottle of beer was opened and drizzled onto the carpaccio, a very pretty dish. 

Plate after plate after plate were placed onto the table.  There were so many plates of food that the starters were actual served in two halves, like a football match.  


I love langoustines so I was in my absolute element with all these dishes.  

My husband was pleased with his choice too, he loves anything with foie gras and is a big fan of scallops.  

The food was exciting and we felt like royalty at a banquet being presented with all these plates of delicious food.  

Between courses I wanted a toilet break.  I was more desperate to see the actual toilet rather than use it.  I opened the door and walked through a curtain of crystal beads.  


There was unusual carousel/music box type music playing, the room was black and spider webs were studded onto the walls in crystals.  The toilet roll was sat on a crystal swing.  

These toilets were insane! I think sketch is famous for it’s quirky toilets, ive seen so many pictures of the pod toilets, but these were something else!  I took a few pics then made my way back up to the table.  

For the main I chose suckling lamb, hubby chose organic pork.  

Chef had requested my husbands piece of pork was brought out for my husband to witness before it was carved, then it was taken back to the kitchen. 

Organic pork

Pan fried rack of pork with sage Red cabbage marmalade with prunes

Black pudding ravioli fondue of romain salad

Pigs ear celeriac salsify black garlic

Suckling lamb 

Piece of suckling lamb roasted then sliced with oregano Raw and braised endives tamarind jus

Organic spelt crispy lamb sweetbreads golden raisin saffron

Braised shoulder a l orientale with dates served chilled


The food was amazing, this is a two michelin star restaurant, which is very obvious but personally I think it deserves a third.  I’ve been to all the three stars in the UK and I think this is up there with them.  But hey I’m not an inspector, but what a cool job though! 

We unfortunately had to dash off so didn’t have time for desserts, we were devastated about this.  But the silver lining was we had the incredible honour and privilege of meeting chef Pierre Gagnaire.  He signed our menu and drew a smiley face sunshine, he also took us into the kitchen for a picture.  

What a lovely lovely man he is.  My husband and I have quite a collection of signed menus and chef pictures now, we’re a bit geeky, like autograph hunters.  

So we went to the theatre, the show was ok, although the theatrics in the restaurant were more impressive to be honest.  Coincidentally we saw Charlie and the chocolate factory.   It was meant to be a pre theatre meal before an amazing show but turned out to be an anticlimax due to the orgasmic experience at Sketch.  This restaurant has had such an impact on me I was desperate to return even before I had left.   I want to come back for a table full of desserts, explore all the other rooms and of course get a picture of the toilet pods.   I will be back….. Hopefully very soon! 
sketch Lecture Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato