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Last week I finally made a decision – to lose some weight. For a while now I’ve been complaining about how over the past 5 years of so my weight has crept up and how yucky it’s making me feel. I’m not overweight, but at the moment I’m suffering from a seriously challenging wardrobe. I’ve also felt the difference in my horse-riding, with low energy levels and too tight jodhpurs. So the moment came when I felt strong enough to step away from the chocolate cookie and do something other than whine. In the past I’d heard about the Dukan Diet, but thought it was a bit too drastic for my few extra pounds. However, it’s summer (shorts, bikinis etc… you know) and generally I’m much better at following exact instructions than just “watching what I eat”, so I read his book. It makes so much sense! I found myself really interested in the theory and actually quite excited to start.

Well, I’m now 6 days into it. The initial excitement has somewhat evaporated, but my resolve has not. For those of you who know a bit about it, I’m now on the Cruise phase, so I’m eating pure protein one day, and protein plus vegetables the next. This is how it goes on now, with alternating days, until I reach my desired weight. I’ve no idea how long it’s going to take but I’m hoping it won’t be too long.

To be honest when I started last Monday, I was a bit worried that my blog was going to suffer. But looking into it a bit more has eased my mind, as there seem to be many interesting recipes that have been designed especially for this diet, as well as others that by chance suit it perfectly. Like this one! Chicken is one of the main foods of this diet, as it is a lean meat and has plenty of protein. Ok, ideally you should eat it grilled, so any fat drains away, but I think I can get away with cooking it in the slow cooker since you don’t need any oil to do so. In this recipe by Stephanie O’Dea (the CrockPot Queen in my opinion), the chicken and veg are cooked in balsamic vinegar and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. So simple and yet so flavourful. Vinegar is allowed, as are certain condiments in small quantities. So this seemed an ideal choice. I made a few adjustments to suit our taste and the result was really good, especially the vegetables which were absolutely gorgeous. The chicken was good too, and the vinegar even gave it a slight brown colour which was quite appealing. It was very tender and tasty. The remaining sauce was a bit bland, but that’s because vegetables release a lot of water so the stock was largely diluted. I didn’t have any of it because the meat and veggies were juicy enough and I was worried it might have a higher fat content since the chicken had cooked in it. For The Mister however I saved some of the liquid, brought it to a boil in the microwave, and stuck a teaspoon of gravy granules in. That did the trick and voila… a lovely sauce to go over his chicken and rice. I really enjoyed this dinner, even though I was eyeing The Mister’s rice with envy the whole time!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken with Summer Vegetables
Serves 3

What you need:
3 chicken legs, bone in (skin on or off, it’s up to you. I think the skin keeps the outer layer from drying out, but a lot of people don’t like the idea of the skin cooking in the slow cooker)
2 red peppers (I use a Greek type that’s a bit longer than bell pepper, but bell would be great)
1 green bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 large courgette (zucchini)
1 onion
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Rinse the chicken pieces, pat dry with kitchen paper, and put in the slow cooker.
  2. Chop the veggies into large pieces and put them in a bowl.
  3. Mix the balsamic vinegar with the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and pour over the veggies.
  4. Toss vegetables in the vinegar mix till they are well coated.
  5. Place the veggies on top of the chicken in the slow cooker and pour the vinegar mix over it all.
  6. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.
  7. Serve with rice, quinoa or mashed potatoes, or eat as is if you’re on the Dukan Diet.

Note: Feel free to experiment with the vegetables. You could also try aubergines (eggplant) or summer squash. Carrots would be nice but I’m not sure if they’d soften in time. If you try them maybe put them under the chicken and let me know how it turns out!