An Irish mum who blogged her way to losing nine stone has said she was thrilled to be recognised by her idol Jamie Oliver.
Nicola Carolan (29) from Athy who launched her blog The Naked Blondie in a bid to share her creative healthy recipes was delighted when the famous chef stumbled across her recipes and congratulated her on her achievement.
“I’ve watched Jamie Oliver programmes since I was 13 or 14 and he really is one of my idols. I had a real fan girl moment when I noticed he commented on one of my recipes. I know he has complete control of all his social media so it was a great moment,” she said.
The mum-of-one was motivated to shed the pounds after welcoming her son Scott in September 2014 and admitted she was determined to give him the best life possible.
“I always struggled with my weight from when I was very small and all through school. Over the years I have joined and re-joined so many slimming clubs and tried hundreds of diets, taken pills, and wore the Bridget Jones knickers but nothing ever stuck.
“It wasn’t until I had my little boy Scott in September 2014 that I knew I had to make a change. Before I had him I was almost 22 stone. Because of my size I suffered from gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and I just knew that I didn’t want him to grow up unhealthy or battling the same issues I had all my life,” she said.
While Nicola admits that the first few months with her new baby should have been the happiest of her life, she felt overwhelmed by her weight and the fear that people would judge her for her size.
“After he was born I really struggled. It was the happiest point of my life but at times it was the lowest. I had a beautiful baby that I was afraid to even take out in his buggy because I was worried that people would judge me and my size. I was eating to comfort myself and the weight just continued to pile on. I was embarrassed about who I had become.
“It wasn’t until the following January that I knew something had to be done. I joined my local Slimming World in Athy and although I had tried before I approached it this time with a new determination. I think the reason it all clicked together for me this time was because I realised that this was not a diet. This was a lifestyle change and it was the way I’d have to eat for life, not just a quick fix,” she said.
The Kildare woman's blog The Naked Blondie was born after a friend suggested that her recipes would help others keep on track with their weight loss.
“I have always loved food, obviously, and it’s a big thing in my life so I began a blog which documented my reinvented recipes.
“I called myself The Naked Blondie and it was mad, I just began gathering followers. It’s been great and I’m nominated for two awards at this weekend’s Blog Awards in Dublin which is fantastic,” she said.
The Naked Blondie credits Snapchat for really giving her blog a platform and Nicola says the app’s success is down to the personal connection that can be developed with followers.
“Snapchat really helped push my blog forward. I think it allows to really show your true self with your followers. They see who you are, rather than Instagram, which just shows the best possible version of an experience. I have more followers on Snapchat (TheNakedBlondie) than anything else,” said Nicola.
The kitchen wiz revealed that her little boy Scott (1) gives her daily inspiration to keep up with her healthy lifestyle.
“I just wanted to be here for my son for as long as possible and I’m glad I finally made that change for all of us,” she said.
What The Naked Blondie eats in a day
“When I worked in television I was always so guilty of eating hot chicken rolls, takeawys and quick fixes. Now I try to be as prepared as possible. I still at all of my favourite foods, but now I just make healthy changes. For example when I’m making a lasagne now I use natural yoghurt instead of béchamel sauce,” she said.
“I would typically have 35g of porridge oats in the morning, a bit of fruit usually melon, apples or clementines which are all speed foods on Slimming World.”
For lunch I would have an wrap with two eggs, chicken and maybe salad. I would pair that with homemade soup which is a great filler I find at lunch time.
I love my Butternut Squash Curry it is gluten and dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly using some beautiful fresh ingredients along with some dried fragrant spices.
For the veg base.
○1/2 a medium pumpkin or 1 whole ○Butternut squash.
○6 large carrots.
○1 large onion.
○4 sticksof Celery.
○2 cloves of fresh Garlic.
○2 Chicken or veg Stock cubes.
○Enough just bolied water to cover veg. Approx 1 litre.
For the curry per 500ml portion.
●2 tbsp of mind curry powder. (I get mine in a small jar in lidl)
●1 tsp of ground garam masala spice blend. (I have a grinder with all the spices added) they include cumin seeds, coriander seeds, clove, fennel seed, Black peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, brown cardamom, nutmeg, and green cardamom. However, others can be used. This is just what is included in my spice blend.
●1 tsp of turmeric.
●Coconut oil or Low Cal Coconut oil cooking spray.
In a large soup pot or cauldron spray with low calorie cooking spray pr coconut oil and fry off the chopped onion, celery and leek.
Add all of the other chopped veg to the pot along with the 2 stock cubes of choice and cover with the just boiled water.
Leave to simmer for approx 45-50 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a smooth consistancy with a hand blender.
To turn the Veg base or soup into curry I spray my pan with Low Cal coconut oil cooking spray and add the spices to the pan to fry for less than half a minute. I add in 500ml of veg base and leave to simmer. More water can be added to find your perfect curry consistency.
This is great to make and freeze in batches or leave in a jug in the fridge for no less than 5 days and heat as you need it.
Below I fried off some extra lean skinless Chicken breast and onion, added the curry sauce along with some peas, simmered for 10 minutes and served with boiled rice and speedy veg.