Health

Quick Cook Lunch Recipe – Tuna Fish in Tomato sauce with Rice

Move over Jamie OliTuna Fish in Tomato Sauce Cookingver. There’s a new guy in town and he can rustle up a random yet tasty meal for lunch/ dinner in under 20 minutes.

They say that Necessity is the mother of all invention. It certainly was today. I was forced to be creative when making my lunch as I forgot to defrost the Turkey Breast quick cook steaks I usually have. It was actually a blessing in disguise as I am perpetually bored of eating the very same thing for lunch every single day.

I am currently on an exclusion diet as part of my effort to overcome and conquer my debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Diarrhoea (IBS-D). I was diagnosed with Lactose intolerance over 9 years ago and have been on a dairy free diet ever since, but I still suffer the ill effects of IBS-D on a daily basis. I have been on various exclusion diets and diet regimes before, all to no avail.

However, I persevered in my quest to eliminate any possible foods that may be continuing to inflame or cause my IBS-D and that is how I discovered the magic of cooking with coconut oil as a substitute for vegetable or seed oils (such as vegetable oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil). Using only coconut oil to cook the food I eat has really helped reduce my IBS-D symptoms and has also had the side effect of helping me lose over 1 1/2 stone of weight.KTC_Coconut_oil I still need to do more research around coconut oil as there seem to be many health benefits but it is also high in saturated fat, which increases cholesterol in the body, which can lead to heart attacks! I try not to use too much though.

So this is the place I started from this afternoon, when I realised I had the choice between eating a sandwich which would make me ill or trying to conjure up a suitable Free From lunch. I am currently excluding all dairy, wheat, gluten, high fibre (onions, mushrooms, spinach, all nuts, the skins and seeds of all vegetables and fruits such as potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes/ zucchini, cucumbers) and vegetable/ seed oil ingredients from my diet. I am only using coconut oil to cook with, although I can still use salt, pepper, ground coriander, ground paprika and ginger in my meals, but not garlic or any chilli power!

Having so many restrictions on what I can eat and cook with is very limiting, but it forces you to be creative. All I had in my kitchen was some Tuna Fish cans (in spring water as opposed to sunflower oil – the tuna in sunflower oil cans used to inflame my IBS-D a lot, because of the oil), rice, tomato passata, dried herbs, salt, ground pepper, ground coriander, ground paprika and a jar of ginger paste. This is what i came up with. My low fibre, dairy free, wheat free, vegetable/ seed oil free, IBS friendly Tuna Fish in Tomato sauce with rice quick cook lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Tuna Fish in Spring Water
  • 250g Tomato Passata (no skins or seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tablespoon of dried basil
  • 1/2 carrot – peeled
  • 1/2 courgette – peeled
  • 160g of cooked basmati rice

Serves: 1 or 2 people depending on hunger!

Time to cook: Less than 20 minutes. The rice takes 16 minutes to cook in our 1000 watt microwave. The actual Tuna in Tomato sauce takes only 10-13 minutes to cook, depending on how hard or soft you like your vegetables. A low fibre diet recommends cooking vegetables thoroughly and not eating raw vegetables.

Instructions:

  • Make the rice. I just made the rice in the way I usually do, which is to put 1 cup of dried rice into a corning-ware dish, wash the rice to remove the starch, add 2 cups of water, then microwave the rice for 8 minutes uncovered on medium power, then put a microwave cover over the corning-ware dish and heat for another 8 minutes on medium power. This cooks enough rice for 4 people. You can just cook the rice as you usually do or even substitute in Gluten Free Pasta (if you want the recipe to be wheat and gluten free). I don’t use ready-made Microwave rice such as Uncle Ben’s (the one’s that cook in just 2 minutes) as they have sunflower oil in them.
  • While the rice is cooking in the microwave:
    • Peel the carrot and cut it into small chunks and put it to one side.
    • Peel the courgette and cut that into small pieces and put with the carrot pieces.
    • Turn on the hob, to medium heat, and put the saucepan on it. It needs to be a little bit hot for the coconut oil (which is solid in the jar) to melt.
    • Put the 1 tbsp of Coconut oil, the salt, pepper, coriander, paprika, and ginger paste into the saucepan and mix together.
    • After about 30 seconds add the Tuna Fish (drained of it’s spring water form the can) into the saucepan. Stir the oil/ spice mix and tuna together.
    • After another 30 seconds add the cut up pieces of carrot and courgette to the tuna fish and pieces mix in the saucepan.
    • After 1 minute add the Tomato passata to the saucepan and stir all the ingredients together.
    • Let the mix fry for about another 1 minute.
    • Then turn down the heat to low so that the sauce in the pan is just simmering.
    • Add the Dried mixed herbs and dried basil to the sauce and stir in.
    • Cover the saucepan and let the sauce cook on low heat for around 10-13 minutes.
    • After the Tuna Tomato sauce has cooked you can just add it to the cooked rice and you have what is hopefully a tasty Free From lunch full of proteins and carbs that is suitable for people with Lactose, Wheat an gluten intolerances or people on Low Fibre or other exclusion diets.

This is what the finished meal should look like. Apologies for the photo being very basic and lacking style, it was a quick smart phone moment.

 

Free From Tuna Tomato Rice

Free From Tuna Tomato Rice

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality Doctor Who

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

I’m supposed to be watching this PHP Web Development course. It is part of the exciting journey that I’m on, teaching myself computer programming and building my own private social network website. However its hard to concentrate when your 5 ¾ year old daughter and her 2 hyper-active school friends are downstairs screaming, dancing loudly to you tube videos on the Apple TV and crying every 5 minutes as they injure themselves on doors, floors, tables and each other. I thought removing all the non-foam toy swords from the lounge would help. I thought wrong. At least they won’t bend my Darth Vader toy Light Saber. It’s safely hidden in the loft.

So being surrounded by distractions, I thought I’d do what I haven’t done in a while. Take a break from coding and update my blog.

I haven’t posted much recently. This is not for want of things to say, or lack of things happening to me. On the contrary, far too much has happened in my life recently. Most of it has been unpleasant. Extremely thought provoking and insightful? Yes.  Sowing the seeds of emotional maturity and growth? Maybe. Painful and depressing? Definitely. Do I want to blog about it? It might help me, but I think not. My marital, financial and emotional wellbeing are pretty fragile at the moment. However, on the plus side, I have come across some cool things that distracted me, in a pleasant way, and I feel are worth sharing in the blogosphere.

1) On Writing:

I read this somewhere the other day. “A writer is anyone who has something to say and a burning desire to say it”. That’s me, except without the talent.

Creative writing has always been the main outlet for processing my thoughts and experiences. This is because my childhood home wasn’t somewhere where you were allowed to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. You were free to feel and say what you wanted, as long as it was exactly what my parents wanted you to feel and think. They were like this with each other, and fought violently all the time. It was a really tense and volatile atmosphere of fear, abuse and neglect, but the most important thing drilled into me was not to tell anyone about it. Especially not them. They are not good listeners, and are much better talkers, or lecturers to be frank. They overwhelmed me with years of constant verbal bombardments on how I should live my life (essentially for them) and why everything I seemed to think and feel was wrong.

They didn’t have blogs or even the World Web Web when I was growing up. The closest I got to the internet was the 1983 film WarGames. Watching Matthew Broderick connect to a noisy old school modem and take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon was surfing for my generation. I did have pencils and paper though, courtesy of my dad’s stationary cupboard at work. I poured all my frustrations and dreams of escape and freedom into stories. I found creative writing more natural than writing a dairy or thought journal. I loved making up fictional protagonists, who had the same troubles as me, but ways of overcoming them unavailable to me. If only I was a super-hero with mind reading powers and a winning lottery ticket, then I could put all my plans to overcome my difficulties into action. In many ways I am still the same. I still love to write, but have no time to do it. I barely have enough time to fix the leaking garage roof or broken gutters pouring green moss filled rain into my rotting garage door.

There I go again, going off on a tangent. My blog posts are too long. I need to keep them short. It’s not easy when you have so much to say and no–one to say it to.

2) On Dr. Who:

Patrick Troughton is the most fantastic Dr. Who I have come across so far. I have still yet to watch any Dr. Who episodes with the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) or 6th Doctor (Colin Baker), and I’m a big Matt Smith fan. However, having spent the last few weeks watching classic black and white Doctor Who episodes form the late 1960’s,with Patrick Troughton as the 2nd doctor, I have to say I am entranced. He has a much wider range of character traits and facets than William Hartnell’s 1st Doctor, much as I loved him. He brings to the role an eclectic mix of tomfoolery, eccentricity, humour, wit, genius, child-like curiosity, hand wringing and funny walks, which all suddenly collapse when he gets angry and show’s how much depth, courage and feeling he truly has. I’ve even grown to like his companion Jamie, whose lack of genius highlights the doctor’s superior cerebral powers, but who is at least loyal and caring. I’m not so convinced about wearing a kilt in Ice Age Britain or on a moon base though.

It’s a real shame many of the Troughton Who episodes are missing. The Enemy of the World, a serial previously missing for decades, and recently re-discovered and re-mastered, was amazing. His Mexican accent may have left a little to be desired, but Patrick Troughton’s slimy, smooth, evil genius dictator wannabe Salamander was a great performance, especially in contrast to the raggedy man, dishevelled doctor. Thanks to the marvellous Apple TV for enabling me to sit back and watch episode after episode without buying DVD boxsets I have no space for. And thanks again to my good friends Paul and James for starting their wonderful Cricket and Doctor Who podcast show last year. I’m still not a fan of cricket (I don’t have enough time to get into that too) but they have helped me rediscover my inner geek and find something legal that stimulates my neurons in an exciting way.

3) On Virtual reality:

Virtual reality may finally be coming to a home near you. I grew up on 1990’s sci-fi, from Star Trek The Next Generation’s Holodeck, to the virtual reality games machines used by Lister in classic British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. The closest I ever got to VR was watching a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan ponce about unconvincingly in The Lawnmower Man film, when my parents finally got cable TV. I was sold on the idea of Virtual Reality (especially as I hate mowing the lawn)and I’ve been waiting ever since.

Given what I mentioned above, about my inability to experience much freedom in real life, the idea of escaping in to a fantasy world of alien planets or tropical jungles all through the power of immersive virtual reality really appeals to me.

I’m not much of a computer gamer. I lack the time, fancy consoles or attention span. Even my daughter understands Lego StarWars on the Wii better than me. However hope may be at hand. I came across an article talking about something called the Oculus Rift. It is a virtual reality headset that was showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. It looks amazing. I want one. Maybe someone can develop a Dr. Who virtual reality game where me and my friends board the Tardis and are whisked away by Patrick Troughton’s 2nd doctor, to fight hissing Ice Warriors from Mars using only his recorder (he didn’t have a sonic screwdriver in the serial, although I recently got a key-ring 11th doctor one if that would help).

4) On Twitter:

Life would be much simpler if I wasn’t interested in so many things, although it would be duller. Posting my Follow Fridays on Twitter today made me realise that I follow too many people and media outlets. The problem is who to cull? My main issue is that I am interested in far too many things. From science to history, art to socialism, music to comic books, virtual reality to web development, Dr. who to psychology, economics to the local traffic updates, food intolerance diets to computer programming, Irritable Bowel syndrome to Woody Allen Movies, my life is full of noise. Well that’s what my wife keeps calling it these days. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The problem is that too much noise can, and often does, overwhelm you. I can’t read everything I want to read. I’d love to explore and research all the random questions that pop up in my head, but I’m not in a financial position to do so. Anyway, the point is that the world is full of so much intellectual and cultural richness, even if I’m too poor to be able to devote my life to swimming in this pool of knowledge and ideas. If I could plug my brain directly into my twitter stream I am sure I’d never get bored or feel deflated. And I don’t even follow Justin Bieber.

You are what you eat

A more cheery post than the last one for a surprisingly warm and sunny Monday morning here in south-west London.

A lot has been happening in my life recently, from my battles with the foxes who have made our garden their home to my detective work trying to find a long lost family member, but one area of my life has been a constant thorn in my side, or front. My gut.

Happy Gut Mascot

My gut is too big (I’m around 2 1/2 stone overweight) and is constantly bloated, making me look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body double from his ill-fated movie Junior (without the muscles or riches) – i.e. pregnant (Schwarzenegger jokes may be lost on the new generation). In addition to being too large my gut also doesn’t work properly, and hasn’t really done for the last 2o years or so. You see I have IBS-D (Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diarrhoea), which is as yucky as its sounds. Nothing has really helped me overcome my IBS, although the intensity of the symptoms vary, and when I have bad flare ups things get really bad and it’s hard to leave the house or do much. I’ve spent a long time having various tests and trying out various remedies and therapies. I was diagnosed as Lactose Intolerant, which was hard to take as I love pizza and milkshakes, but even without any Dairy in my diet my IBS was still making life difficult. It’s not easy going out, commuting to jobs using public transport or playing sports when you constantly need the loo.

Anyway, I recently saw a TV programme called The Food Hospital, where they try to tackle peoples various health problems by changing their diet. One lady had bad IBS like me and she was sent to Kings College University Hospital in London to go on their trials of the FODMAP diet.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and monosaccharides that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, including fructans, galactans, fructose and polyols. The term is an acronym, deriving from “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”.
The restriction of FODMAPs from the diet has been found to have a beneficial effect for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gut disorders. The low FODMAP diet was developed at Monash University in Melbourne.

The idea is to eliminate certain foods from your diet (food high in FODMAPs) for aorudn 8 weeks, and then hopefully you’re gut and IBS has calmed down and you can re-introduce each food type into your diet, in a controlled way, to test which food inflames or causes your IBS. So after 8 weeks of eating a diet with no wheat, no dairy, no soya, nothing with onions, nothing with garlic, no apples, broccoli or mushrooms, and lots more food you can’t eat on the diet, the idea is you test which food aggravates your condition the most. In week I will be re-introducing wheat into my diet, slowly, by eating bread on the first day once, then more on the second day, and if the bread doesn’t cause a flare up of my symptoms I can keep eating bread and move onto introducing another high FODMAP food into my diet. If the bread does give me problems, I have to eliminate form y diet again and then go back to a Low FODMAP diet for the next few days before re-introducing another high FODMAP food into my diet to test that.

Sounds complicated right? Well it is, but I’ve actually got far more used to tracking what I eat over the last few years than I ever would have hoped to when I was a fast food junkie during my university years. I started tracking what I eat when I went on a different elimination diet in 2005 and also when I went on WeightWatchers in 2009. I’m using a note taking app on my iPhone (Awesome Note) to track what I eat and my IBS-D symptoms, and then correlating all this data in Excel. I aim to develop my own tracking iPhone and web based app as part of my journey into the world of programming, but I need to finish my private social network application and programming courses first. Monash University also have a new FODMAP iPhone app out, which I will have to download and try out. There is also a great WeightWatchers app, but more about that later on.

So every time I eat something, I make a note of it on my iPhone app, and I have to ensure I don’t eat any food with high FODMAPs. That is pretty hard as most food I eat has garlic, onions, dairy, wheat or soya in it, especially processed food and food made in restaurants. The only thing helping me out is the fact I am working and studying from home, so I can eat 3 home-made/ cooked meals a day. My favourite Pret-a-Manger club sandwiches are out for lunch, my new lunch menu contains 2 grilled turkey steaks, fresh baby spinach, Olive Oil, Bird’s Eye Wheat/ Gluten free Potato Waffles or boiled new potatoes if I have the time to cook them, and some ketchup and mayonnaise that er both wheat/ gluten and dairy free. It’s actually quite a nice lunch, and I have been eating this as lunch for at least the last 13 weeks. You see I started the FODMAP diet on my own, after a really bad flare up in my IBS, around 13 weeks ago. I did it for 6 weeks, noticed that the number of really bad IBS days were less than usual but my IBS was still similar to what it was before, or at least I thought so. the I went to my best friend’s wedding reception so I stopped the FODMAP diet for that week, to try and see if it had made a difference, and also to allow me to eat some tasty wedding food and drink at the free bar. Suffice to say that by the end of week 7, the first week back on food high in FODMAPs, I was really ill again. So even though it hadn’t cured me or transformed my life, the low FODMAP diet did seem to clam my IBS. I just needed to give it more time. I booked an appointment with a dietician at St. Georges Hospital, through my GP, and I am back on the low FODMAP diet, this time on week 6. My IBS has gone from being really bad, to just bad but better.

It’s still not good enough in terms of me being comfortable going out, but maybe the bacteria in my gut need more time to get healthy again. I saw the dietician 3 weeks ago, so I have 5 more weeks of just low FODMAP food, then i can start re-introducing food.

Hopefully by then my IBS will have calmed down to a place I can start re-introducting food as the good news that promoted this blog post (and my intense discussion of my gut and FODMAP) was the fact I booked our summer holiday trip for this year!

No it’s not Las Vegas or New York. It’s not even the Costa Del Sol. Yet it’s better than just another trip tot the local park. It’s sunny Bournemouth. I’ve never been to Bournemouth, in Dorset on the south coast of England, but it has a sandy beach, is by the sea, and isn’t that far to travel (consider all the IBS posting above). So it fits the bill. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to afford to go here, as holidays in the UK are pretty expensive, even though you don’t need to fly anywhere, yet I got a good deal on a decent looking hotel for 3 nights in last August.

The fact we’re now going to a seaside holiday in August means one thing. I need to lose weight, more specifically I need to trim and tone down my pregnant looking swollen gut. That means sticking to the low FODMAP diet to reduce the bloating (high FODMAP food cause bloating and gas in the gut), but it also means I need to go back onto the WeightWatchers diet that helped me loose 2/12 stone way back in 2009 (yes I wasn’t always fat!). I don’t want to wander aorudn the sandy beaches of the English Channel looking like an extra for the British Gangster movie Sexy Beast.

Everyone needs goals in life, and this new goal, our trip in 7 weeks, will hopefully focus my attention on sticking to the low FODMAP and WeightWatchers 53 point a day super diet (all food on the weight watchers diet have a points value, determined by the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre in the food). It won’t be easy.

Tracking what you eat is one thing, tracking how much you eat of it is even harder. I’ve found my WeightWatchers weighing scales (to weight the food I eat and cook) and I have started creating the ultimate weekly food and meal planner in Microsoft word. I plan to have a 3 week cycle where I know exactly what I am going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. the total food intake will add up to no more than 53 Weight Watchers Pro-Points a day, and so hopefully, if I stick to the eating plan, I’ll avoid high FODMAP foods and also loose 2lbs of body weight per week.

I’ll have to fix the broken foot strap on my static exercise bike at home and get back to exercising. At least I’m playing squash once a week again (although lugging my weight aorudn a squash court isn’t easy). I am feeling very positive and focussed though.

The biggest challenge is eating out and socialising. Maintaining a low FODMAP diet is really hard if you eat out a lot. The food in most restaurants contains a mixture of ingredients that inevitably will have garlic, onions, wheat or other high FODMAP foods. This is certainly true of Indian/ Pakistani and Italian restaurants. I love Chinese and Thai food, but they use garlic too.

The only place I really now is great for low FODMAP food is Nando’s, conveniently one of my favourite restaurants (and my 5 year old daughter’s favourite restaurant). The chips are wheat/ gluten free and I love eating a grilled half chicken. I avoid the sauces, as they have garlic, and don’t have a very hot or spicy marinade on the chicken. Cutting down caffeine is also pretty tough for me, but I’ve been persisting. Besides Nando’s all I can think of is steak and chips in terms of good low FODMAP restaurant food. Any other suggestion would be more than welcome.

Anyway wish me luck. Hopefully I’ll lose weight, overcome my IBS-D and be able to swim in the English Channel with pride.