Greek chicken tray bake with lots of veg - busting the menopausal muffin top


Greek chicken tray bake with asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes and red onion

Husband has again left me on my own to visit his family. I took him to Heathrow earlier today and despite all my efforts to stay strong, I did burst into tears just a little bit as I watched him walk through to the security. And then I fairly hysterically bawled my eyes out in the ladies toilets where I always go to hysterically bawl my eyes out when he goes. This is the price we pay for the multicultural extra spice in our marriage. We visit our families together a lot also, but it just doesn't work every time. I know in the end the month will fly by, but now it seems like an eternity.

The other piece of upsetting news this week was that I'm not as fit as in my deluded mind I thought I was. We had these free health checks available at work evilly arranged by HR as a revenge to anyone who had dared to enjoy Christmas. I did mention to my HR business partner that I thought this was a particularly cruel thing to do to people right after Christmas. But since it wasn't mandatory, I can only blame myself.

So just to warn you good people, who actually are interested in the chicken recipe, this whole post is a completely self-absorbed piece of navel gazing. Literally. So feel free to just scroll directly to the recipe or bounce away to cheerier web content if hormone fluctuation induced belly fat production is not your thing.

I actually wasn't planning to do the stupid health check. On the day, we were in an all day meeting and just having our lunch. I was happily and succesfully ploughing my way through the delightful cheese and crackers platter. I think it's an awesome idea to have cheese and crackers in meetings. I also had a couple of breaded deep fried prawns and a mini pizza or two just to make sure that I kept my diet varied. Then my boss decided to "encourage" us all to go and get ourselves checked. He'd had his health check done in the morning and was bragging about his metabolic age (one of the results you got from the check) which was almost 10 years lower than his real age. He doesn't have a particularly streamlined contour, every time I see him eating lunch there is a pack of crisps and with the amount of cakes and biscuits he gets through in most of our meetings I don't see how he is not metabolically 85. Whereas I have had one biscuit in the entire time I have worked for this company. Nine months and one slim little chocolate finger. But there you go, life's not fair. So off I shuffled with a couple of equally or even more reluctant colleagues to get our healths checked.

The results were not great. The only positive result was my height which had stayed the same. My metabolic age was the same as my biological age, which was disappointing, I would have loved it to be 28 for instance. My blood pressure was within the limits, but a bit higher than I thought it was, because I have always had low blood pressure. But I blame that on the boss, who had engaged us all in "healthy" debates all morning which he does all the time and then forced me to undergo these experiments against my wishes. Which were to stay with the cheese platter.

Greek chicken tray bake with asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes and red onion

Most upsettingly I was heavier than I thought I was. And no, it wasn't muscle because my fat percentage was up there with the Arizona Quadruple Bypass Burger.  I must say I have been eyeing my midriff for the past 8-10 months wondering what exactly is going on there. I have never had a washboard stomach exactly, but not a proper muffin top either. I have been running like a maniac, or at least 3 decent runs a week for pretty much all of 2019, plus doing some gym work and the occasional slightly stiff and awkward yoga move. So I am pretty pissed off at this unwelcome buoyancy belt that has all of a sudden decided to materialise around my midsection.

I told husband about these unexpected results, obviously not scaring him with any actual numbers, but just generally sharing the unwelcome news that his wife actually was fatter than anyone would have thought.

Although maybe they do think. The last time I met with my ex-colleagues they were all wondering how my husband manages to stay so slim with my cooking (they see a lot of my culinary goings on on my FB page) but no one was particularity dumbfounded by my physique.

So anyway, loving and loyal as ever husband told me I have an amazing body and that he loves it. God bless him forever for that, because it was genuine and I know he absolutely means it.

So as always in a crisis situation I did a lot of research and found out that in peri-menopause because of the hormonal changes the female body inexplicably and not at all helpfully all of a sudden decides it's a good idea to form a bit of a Fleischkuechle underneath ze bellybutton. Why doesn't anyone warn us about this, we just smugly go about with our reasonably collaborative tummies, stupidly worrying about our bums, until one day, whoosh, hello, the menopause belly or the menopot as it's affectionately known arrives.

Greek herby chicken tray bake with asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes and red onion

Now that I know what is going on I have told my uninvited little paunch and the accompanying free-of-charge side handles to start packing.  I have read a lot about diet, not dieting, but things that I can tweak in my daily food habits to particularly target the pot. And also what I can change in my exercise regime since my running doesn't seem to work anymore as well as it used to. I started yesterday with a gruelling but shortish high intensity interval exercise session, did another slightly longer one today and I mean to go on this way. Even though my thighs and buttocks are burning and I can barely sit down or get up and the fleischkuechle is snug and comfortable as ever.

Food-wise there will be no massive changes, I will continue to eat lots of high fibre veg, but I will make sure to eat more protein and maybe not just cheese, but fatty fish, eggs, lean meat and tofu. And then let's see who is the winner, me or the menopot.

Our Friday dinner was a good example of a healthy menopot busting meal, but the main reason I did it was because husband loves chicken and this was our last meal together until he returns. This is an easy Greek inspired chicken and veg tray bake. Feel free to add other veg or cut down the amount of potatoes or leave them out completely if you want to further limit your carbs.

Greek chicken and vegetable tray bake

8 pieces of chicken, thighs and drumsticks with bones and skin on
2 cloves of garlic
2 small red onions
Small bag of baby or new potatoes
Juice and zest of a lemon
4 tsp of dried greek herb mix (or 2 tsp dried thyme and 2 tsp of dried oregano)
Olive oil
Asparagus spears
Small vine tomatoes
70 g feta (optional)
Fresh herbs and lemon slices to for garnish

Place the chicken pieces or a large oven tray. Grate the garlic and quarter the onions and add to the tray. Add the potatoes, juice and zest of a lemon, herbs, salt, pepper and a good splash of olive oil. Mix everything, rubbing the herbs and seasoning well into the chicken pieces. Make sure everything in spread evenly on the tray and bake in 200C oven for 30 minutes

Add the asparagus, tomatoes, olives and cubed feta and bake another 10-15 minutes until the asparagus is done but still a bit al dente and the chicken is done. Check by cutting into a piece of chicken at the thickest part. If the juices run clear the meat is done. If you want you can sprinkle some fresh herbs on top and add a few lemon slices or wedges onto the tray.

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