[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you've got someone in mind you'd like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today's installment!]
It was almost 3 years ago that I first came across The Blissful Chef, aka Christy Morgan. I remember hearing quite a bit of buzz about this classically trained, macrobiotic-leaning vegan chef (who had received glowing reviews from her client, Alicia Silverstone!). Shortly thereafter, Christy and I somehow became friends on Facebook, and a dialogue began. I admired what she was doing and agreed to review one of her ebooks,Cooking with the Seasons: Summer. I recall being pleasantly surprised at how much the recipes focused on real, whole foods, unprocessed and without a lot of added oils or salt. I loved the dishes I tried and was happy to move on to a glowing review of Christy’s first cookbook, Blissful Bites,half a year later. That book remains one of my favorites to this day.
Today, I’m happy to share with you Christy’s latest venture: Wellness Reboot, a healthful, all-in-one online culinary and exercise program that will help you reboot your wellness goals. But Christy says it much better than I can, so take a gander at her answers to my questions, below! And don’t forget to check out the giveaway after the interview!
Q. Can you explain what Wellness Reboot is all about?
Wellness Reboot is a 28-day online wellness program. It’s an accumulation of all that I’ve learned both in culinary arts and in over 10 years in the health and wellness field. The program includes more than 15 videos on cooking techniques (stocking you kitchen and pantry, etc), a 28-day meal plan of delicious whole food plant-based recipes (no oil, no processed foods, no refined sugar, mostly gluten-free), a Getting Started Guide that explains everything one would need to know about eating healthfully and living a plant-based lifestyle, continual support from me through a private Facebook group, and bi-weekly conference calls. Not only does it have all of this, but I’ve partnered with an amazing vegan personal trainer, Chad Byers of Beyond Fit, to include a fitness element to the program, so you’ll get a workout that’s easy to do at home, along with workout videos. It’s unlike any other online program!
Q. Sounds very comprehensive, Christy! Who can benefit from taking this program?
This program is great for those who are ready to transition to a healthier way of eating and living. Whether you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, or maybe you have a health condition you would like to treat naturally, or maybe you recently switched to a plant-based diet but need guidance, this program is for you. I have a lot of people email me who have watched Forks Over Knives or another documentary and they are ready to change their diet to plant-based. This program will hold your hand and show you the healthy way to transition. Wellness Reboot is endorsed by Forks Over Knives, Dr. Neal Barnard (of PCRM.org) and many more people in the health and wellness community.
It’s also for those who have already made the switch to a vegan diet but need help in the kitchen. Wellness Reboot is being dubbed as a “cooking boot camp” from participants. If you aren’t good in the kitchen you will be after this program. So be prepared to cook your butt off (literally and figuratively). Even after one week, our Rebooters are losing weight, no longer having sugar cravings, and controlling health issues like IBS. The power of plant-based food combined with a fitness program are unbelievable!
Q.What prompted you to include the fitness element? And who inspires you to be more fit?
I’m a strong believer that we need to eat healthfully AND move our bodies on a regular basis for optimal health. Studies show that those who exercise have better physical and mental health, have stronger bones, a better sex life, less instances of disease or common illness, and live longer. But you can’t out exercise a bad diet. You need both. My boyfriend is a good example. He is a bodybuilder and ultramarathon runner. He looks about 10 years younger than he is and continues to excel post-40. He and my trainer (and fitness coach for Wellness Reboot), Chad Byers, inspire me to become more every day. I’ve signed up for a triathlon in September and I’m ready to take my training to the next level! [Congrats!]
[Carrot Hummus--oil-free and flavor-packed!]
Q. Can you tell us which are your three favorite recipes from the program?
[Indian Chickpea Wraps from the program]
Honestly I’m kind of in love with all the recipes. I feel like it’s some of my best work because they are all very easy recipes packed full of flavor using whole food ingredients. If I had to choose just a few it would be: 1. Breakfast: Maple Pumpkin Seed Cereal Parfait, 2. Lunch: Indian Chickpea Wraps, 3. Snack: Edamame Guacamole Dip, 4. Dinner: Polenta Pesto Pizza and 5. Dessert: Chocolate Coconut Pecan Bites.
Q. You mentioned that the recipes are oil-free. For those who don’t follow an oil-free diet, can they include healthy oils and still benefit from the program?
The program is kind of like a cleanse so it’s nice to eliminate oil so you start to enjoy the taste of whole foods. We have become addicted to fat, and while some fat is better than others, we leave out oil for this program. There is plenty of whole food fat like coconut, avocado, and some nut butters. It’s not about deprivation but retraining our palates and creating new healthy habits in the kitchen.
Q. If someone has time for just one form of exercise, what would you recommend as the best thing that can be done daily?
I think High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the way to go. I’ve been doing it for years and that is what the fitness program is based on. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a series of moves that use body weight (or other equipment) in fast, short bursts where you push yourself as hard as you can and take a small rest in-between each move. All the exercises in our program are shown in video and pdf form and we also have a LIVE workout class with our fitness coach, Chad Byers of Beyond Fit.
Thanks so much, Christy! I’ve really enjoyed learning more about this latest venture of yours.
And now. . . GIVEAWAY TIME!
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! We have a winner:
Congratulations, Jessica! Christy or I will contact you via email for more information.
Christy has also generously offered to give away a FREE spot in the next Wellness Reboot($350 value!) to one lucky winner! In addition, she’s offering FIVE spots in the program at a huge discount ($100 off) for the first 5 DDD readers to claim their places. All you need to do is contact Christy here if you’re interested in one of the five discounted spots–but remember, it’s first come, first served for the $100 discount!
(Note: This is NOT an affiliate product; I am receiving no monetary or other compensation for this review. I was, however, given access to the program materials and recipes so that I could review it for you all, and I thought it was a great program.).
Wellness Reboot is a comprehensive program that not only provides healthful recipes, but teaches you how to make them; and the video workout component is something I’ve not seen anywhere else.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me which aspect of the program you’re most interested in: cooking classes, recipes, or workout videos, or something else! You can also gain extra entries by doing any of the following (then come back and leave an additional comment telling me that you did):
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
This giveaway is open worldwide. You can enter until midnight EST on Wednesday, January 30th, after which I’ll choose a winner at random. Good luck, all!
Christy also shared this recipe for Carrot Hummus from the program, as well as one participant’s comment about it: “I took the Carrot Hummus to work and shared with a coworker. She *loved* it and the wrap I made with it today was awesome! It was the perfect portable lunch for work. I can’t believe how much my meat-eating husband is loving all the recipes too.” I have to say, the HH also enjoyed this hummus, and I gobbled up my serving. No need for oil in this one–totally delicious!
No-Fat Carrot Hummus
Reprinted with Permission from Christy Morgan.
Who says you have to use chickpeas to make a hummus dip?! You are going to flip for this white bean version that has added carrots for extra vitamins.
2 cups (480 ml) carrots, large dice
2 cups (480 ml or one 15 ounce can) cooked white beans
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast [I'm still avoiding nooch so used 1 Tbsp/15 ml light miso and it worked beautifully]
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari soy sauce [I used Braggs]
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) garlic powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) corianderBoil carrots until tender. Drain and place in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients. Blend until well combined and no chunks remain. Add more seasoning to taste. Makes 3-5 servings.
*Or, How About a Dickens Reference Other Than A Christmas Carol for a Change?
["Happy New Year, Mum! A saner approach to 2012 sounds good to me, too. Oh, and kudos on that atypical Dickens reference!"]
Happy 2012, everyone! Hope you all had a great time ringing in the new year. I’m incredibly excited to see what 2012 will bring! But before we get to that. . . . [Warning: long post ahead. Hopefully, it will still be 2012 by the time we're finished. To skip to the giveaway info, just go to the last section of this entry.]
I had actually intended this post to be part of Cheryl’s December Sanity Challenge, her blog event that exhorted us to “post on what you plan to do to make your holidays sane, happy and healthy.” (First pledge for 2012: get things done on time.). Clearly, I’m a little behind the curve on this one (sorry, Cheryl!). Well, since the holiday festivities have already passed and I haven’t quite achieved that elusive sanity as yet, I thought this would be as good a time as any to take stock of the past year, reflect on what worked or what didn’t, and formulate a plan to help increase the sanity quotient throughout the upcoming 365 days.
One of my proudest health victories in 2011 was reversing the previous year’s diagnosis of near-osteoporosis (with a T-score of -2.2, I landed at the top of the “osteopenia” spectrum). Although my (allopathic) family doctor assured me that there was no way to reverse osteopenia and warned that I would need to start taking prescription drugs to avert disaster, I convinced her to let me try a holistic approach for a year. My recent bone density test indicated that my numbers improved dramatically–up to -1.3–which means less than a 10% chance of fracture after a fall! Yippee!
Many of you asked how I did it. While I’m loath to provide specific details about supplements because (a) each of us is an individual, and should, therefore, acquire an individualized program from a certified health care provider; and (b) I am not qualified to provide this type of information to anyone else–this is my personal story only–I am happy to share what I did because it worked for me. However, I can’t stress enough that this is the plan I followed, but it may not work for you. Please contact your own health care provider before embarking on any kind of bone-building regimen, or any health-promoting regimen, period.
My year-long plan (which I’m still following, for the time being) involved increasing bone-building minerals and foods in my diet, and boosting the amount of weight-bearing exercise. Here’s what I did:
Based on my naturopath’s plan for me, I took all these daily supplements in addition to my other regular supplements (such as probiotics, Omega 3s, CoQ10, B12 and whatever else I’m on for candida and general health):
Apart from my “regular” diet (lots of veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, soy about once every 2 weeks, whole gluten-free grains, and a daily slurry of one teaspoon/5 ml spirulina (or other green food) combined with some almond, rice or soy milk and a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and chia seeds every single morning), I added a few more foods. Although I had been consuming a good amount of leafy greens (I adore kale and pretty much love all green leafys), I decided to amp up the green quotient nonetheless. I ate 2 servings of leafy greens at least 4 times a week, with a minimum of one serving on the other days.
I also increased my intake of beans and legumes, which offer a great array of minerals necessary for a healthy bone matrix. Seaweed contains a similarly broad range of nutrients, so I attempted to increase my intake of those as well. I ended up eating beans and legumes 5-6 times a week, with seaweeds (such as nori sheets, arame, wakame, etc.) just under once a week. My goal this year is to augment that amount as well.
Again, this past year was about building on established routines. (And please note, I am by NO MEANS what I’d call a “fitness buff”; exercise to me is mostly necessity, never something I love doing. I’m definitely moderate in my approach and don’t really care whether or not I build muscle as long as I’m within a healthy range.)
My pattern before 2011 had been to walk every day (30-40 minutes with The Girls, with an additional short walk on the treadmill most days) and to use weights 3-4 times a week. I determined to increase my walking time by at least 30 minutes a day and amp up my weight-based workouts to every second day (ie, 4 times a week), adding in a few muscle groups I hadn’t been targeting specifically with weights before that (such as the abductors and adductors). Overall, I ended up walking about 70 minutes total each day, and used the weight machines at my local gym daily, alternating between upper and lower body, six days a week.
I certainly understand that an hour’s walk each day may seem a tad much for some folks. . . at least, those who don’t own dogs. As for the alimentary changes, it’s not as difficult as you’d imagine to incorporate more greens and legumes: smoothies and salads are two obvious ways; I also tend to add chopped greens to soups and stews without thinking these days. As for beans, there are endless recipes to incorporate more of them in one’s diet. All it takes is a little determination, and remembering to include them in your menus!
Candida Update: Symptoms Holding Steady in 2011.
March of this year will mark 3 years since I began the ACD (holy jeepers! That’s 36 months. 156 weeks. Three seasons of American Idol. . . all without sugar or mold!). After some great progress in 2010, my symptoms continued to hold steady in 2011, spurring a shift from Stage 2 to Stage 3 (and even some maintenance) foods in 2011.
At this point, I’ve grown fairly accustomed to eating this way, and have managed to welcome back a few previously eschewed ingredients into my diet, such as the occasional drizzle of vinegar (if I’m in a restaurant and the dressing contains regular vinegar, I no longer ask them to serve the salad without) or apple cider vinegar (either permitted or not, depending on which version of the diet you follow); the occasional sweeter or dried fruit, particularly if I’m eating at a raw food restaurant; and low glycemic sweeteners other than stevia (coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave). If I’m moderate in my intake of these newer foods, they pose no problems and there are no symptom flare-ups. I can live with that.
II. The Worst of Times: What Didn’t Work, and Where I’m Going this Year
Weight Loss: Not Holding Steady in 2011.
If you’ve been a DDD reader since I first embarked on the ACD in March, 2009, you’ll recall that I lost a considerable amount of weight on the regimen, without a single day of “dieting.” Still, as someone who strives to be an “intuitive” eater, I’ve come to believe that intuition, shall we say, is not my forte.
["Mum, it's easy to be an intuitive eater! Just do what I do: eat anything that isn't moving--and that includes Elsie's ear!"]
Let me be clear: I haven’t veered at all from what is permitted on the diet. Nevertheless, I’ve seen my weight creep slowly back up as the past year unfolded.
Sure, the foods I consume are über-healthy and my diet would be considered draconian by the standards of many; but for me, one extra (sugar-free, gluten-free, ACD-friendly) cookie can easily morph into four cookies; in true Libra fashion, I tend to vacillate between feast and famine (figuratively speaking, of course, having never approached true famine in my life).
Recently I came across a fascinating article about why those of us who’ve lost (and gained, and lost, and gained, and lost) considerable amounts of weight find it so excruciatingly difficult to permanently inhabit the realm of “slim.”
According to a study undertaken at Columbia University in New York, the cellular makeup and chemistry of formerly zaftig bodies have been permanently changed, so that former dieters ”showed a bigger response in the parts of the brain associated with reward and a lower response in the areas associated with control. This suggests that the body, in order to get back to its pre-diet weight, induces cravings by making the person feel more excited about food and giving him or her less willpower to resist a high-calorie treat.” At the same time, “After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” [the study's author] says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.”
As someone who experiences this biochemical Catch-22 fairly frequently, it makes total sense to me that, once a dieter has achieved a desired weight, s/he will thereafter crave food more than a naturally slim person–while simultaneously possessing less willpower to limit the food eaten. The upshot, then, as David Kessler instructs us in The End of Overeating, is to be vigilant about planning and organizing what one will eat in order to steer clear of ”trigger” foods. Which leads me to. . . .
III. The Outlook for 2012: A Cleanse, Multiple Giveaways, and Other Events:
I’m kicking off the year with a whole-foods cleanse that will serve not only to further stymie the remaining dregs of candida in my system, but also reset my sweets cravings to a level somewhat below an elephant’s trumpet, which is where they’ve been residing lately. As those of you who’ve ditched sugar in the past undoubtedly know, once you eliminate the sweet stuff for long enough, the constant desire to seek it out abates as well. For me, that shift took a little longer than the norm (sugar cravings usually disappear within 10 days or so of cutting out sugar; in my case, they held their grip until somewhere around the six-month point on the ACD). [NOTE: while this is NOT specifically a sugar detox (that one, which I'll be offering with Andrea Nakayama, is coming up in March!), as a general, all-purpose healthy-eating plan, it will of course help to detox sugar--as well as other toxins in the body.]
There’s be nothing extreme about this detox, which is being offered online by my nutritionista friend Meghan Telpner: there are no special pills or potions–just real, whole, healthy foods that will help to chase away the ghosts of Christmas (and the rest of the year) past (okay, so I couldn’t resist that Christmas Carol reference, after all).
And guess what? For those who’d like to play along, Meghan is offering a free spot in the 16-day detox, which begins on January 6th. You’ll get an ebook filled with information and recipes, online coaching, a group tweetchat, live videos and more (check out all the details here). I’m going to be following along as well, so keep an eye out for more raw recipes on the blog!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to participate. The contest is open until NOON my time this Thursday, January 5th. I’ll announce a winner in my Wellness Weekend post on Thursday evening (January 5th), leaving plenty of time for you to receive your materials and join in the pre-cleanse conference call Friday at 4:00 PM.
[Full disclosure: I received a free spot in the detox in exchange for holding this giveaway. I was not required to say anything positive about the cleanse in this post--or anything at all, actually. I'm endorsing it based on the materials in the cleanse and my knowledge of Meghan's approach to healthy eating.]
The Balanced Platter Launches!
Yesterday marked the launch of The Balanced Platter, the new website founded by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake. TBP promises to be your “one-stop site for balanced, healthy gluten-free living. . . . .we’ll help you navigate the gluten-free, whole foods lifestyle. You’ll also learn easy and effective ways to give yourself and your family wholesome, allergy friendly food and tips for bringing balance to your life through food and lifestyle.” Well, how great does that sound?! They’re kicking off the site with a month-long event called “Balanced, Healthy and Gluten-Free,” with daily posts and a giveaway. Check their site for more info.
I’m thrilled to share that I’ll be one of the regular contributors to The Balanced Platter. Visit again tomorrow to see my first post!
I’ll share events in the days to come, but I think this post is already quite long enough, thank you! (In fact, it may just have taken first place as ”Longest Post of 2012″–yes, I know that already). ;) I’ll be taking one more glance backward with my next recipe (from our 2011 Christmas dinner) before springing full force into the new year.
Yep, I’d say there are definitely some Great Expectations ahead! (oops, there I go again. . . groan).
Dogs really are creatures of habit, aren’t they? I mean, every morning at precisely 7:02 AM (about 1-1/2 minutes after the HH slams off his alarm), Chaser bounds into our bedroom and lays a wet sloppy one on the HH’s ear (translation: “Dad, it’s time to get up! Get up, Dad, we need to go for our walk! C’mon, Dad! Let’s go! Just hop outa bed and take us! C’mon, what are you waiting for? C’mon—” etc.).
Then, at precisesly 1:15 PM every afternoon, Elsie saunters over to my desk and plants herself at my side, glaring (and if you’ve ever seen a Border Collie stare, you know the power of “the eye.”). If I continue to focus on the computer screen and tap away at the keyboard, she will tentatively and ever-so-gently poke me on the thigh with her moist, cold nose (more startling in summer when I’m wearing shorts, to be sure). Translation: “Mum, I feel I must inform you that the hour has arrived for our afternoon walk. Seriously, Mum, it appals me that you could forget this important hour of the day. After all, do we not go for a stroll each and every day of the week at this time? And are we not reliant upon you to take us? Now, please, offer us the courtesy of rising up from your chair and coming downstairs so that we may embark–right now.”
Yep, like I said, creatures of habit. Later, at precisely 4:53 PM every day, both Girls heave themselves off their respective pillows to pad into the office and station themselves on either side of me as I work, staring intently in a silent summons like bookmarked lawn gnomes. Translation: “Mum, it’s almost dinner time. Where the &%$!@ is our food?” (Okay, perhaps they weren’t as profane as that. But it’s always fun to imagine dogs cursing, isn’t it?).
Given that I was born in the Year of the Dog myself, it makes sense that I, too, am a creature of habit. Or, at least, I used to be. Before I met the HH.
Like South Park’s stance with Canada, I tend to blame the HH for my current shortcomings. Long before we met, in my twenties (also known as the Decade of Firsts, in which I first went to university, first lived on my own, and first met not one, but two true loves), I was incredibly organized and even followed an hour-by-hour schedule every day, permitting me to live through an entire university career without ever missing a deadline. Subsequently, during the Decade of the Dinner Party, I still managed a schedule jam-packed with socializing, full-time work, sewing my own clothes (!), and regular trips to and from Montreal.
Enter my 40s and the HH: not only did I meet my true love, but my lasting love. It was around that time–when the HH and I first moved in together–that chaos erupted. Okay, not chaos, exactly, but certainly the reorganizing of closets. And–even while continuing to throw dinner parties–going to bed without washing all the dishes first (gasp!). And being open to unplanned activities. And (and here’s where I blame the HH) the eschewing rigid schedules.
Well, despite his disdain for pre-planning or scheduling, the HH is his own uniquely habitual creature. Unlike me, he eats the same breakfast every day* (I prefer to rotate through 25 or so different options). The HH takes the dogs to the same park every morning (I switch it up between the park, the baseball field, the Mill Pond, and trail). The HH can listen to the same symphony over and over, sometimes for hours (I rarely listen to the same CD twice in a row–unless it’s a new, incredibly talented singer that I adore, of course).
Which brings me to today’s recipe (finally!). As you may recall, the HH and I used to keep a weekly date every Tuesday, wherein I’d meet him for a sushi lunch. But since the anti-candida regime I follow doesn’t permit sushi (no white rice, no vinegar, no sugar, blah blah blah), I’ve had to forgo our midday shared meal. Do I miss that sushi? You bet! (Well, and yes, I do also miss meeting the HH for lunch every week. . . but really, we do see each other every evening for dinner, and when we walk the dogs, and when we watch 30 Rock, and when we have brunch on Sundays, and when we tidy the house together before friends come over, and when we run errands on Saturdays, and when we. . . geez, maybe we’re overdoing this togetherness thing a bit, anyway).
I decided I’d whip up my favorite at-home sushi for lunch on my own. Since the original version wasn’t exactly ACD-friendly, I adapted; instead of the orignal sundried tomatoes (which are taboo on the ACD), I made my own semi-dried oven baked tomatoes. (Who says I can’t be flexible? No rigid recipes for this doglike gal!). Well, it worked beautifully. The rolls are (mostly) raw, grain-free, and reminiscent of salmon (in my memory, anyway). All I can say is, “domo arigato!” And it sure did feel great to get back to that old sushi habit, even if I shared it with The Girls instead of the HH.
“We enjoyed it, too, Mum. Thanks for sharing. But, um, didn’t I hear you say something about salmon?”
* A bowl of Raisin Bran with milk, if you’d like to know.
Raw Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger-Miso Paste
A great recipe for those avoiding grains or anyone seeking a delicious variation on sushi. If you’re not following an anti-candida regime, go ahead and make the original. The Miso paste can be enjoyed by anyone.
cut vegetables for filling: zucchini, cucumber, carrots, avocado, daikon, green onion, etc.
2 sheets nori (sushi wrappers)
Spicy Ginger-Miso Paste:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white miso
1/8-1/4 tsp (.5-1 ml) cayenne pepper, depending on desired heat
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the nori rolls:
Prepare the “Salmon” filling: Soak almonds in room temperature water for 8-12 hours. If you soak them longer, refresh the water after 12 hours and store in refrigerator for up to one more day. Drain and rinse before using.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes: preheat oven to 300F/150C (or, for a completely raw dish, heat to 115F/45C or use a dehydrator). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or grease with extra virgin olive oil. Cut each tomato in half and place cut side up on the baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 1-2 hours, checking every 20 minutes after the one-hour mark, until tomatoes exude most of their juice and begin to shrivel and brown slightly. (If using a dehydrator, dehydrate until shrivelled).
Place drained almonds, tomatoes, 2 tsp (10 ml) miso, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice, Bragg’s and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until almost smooth. Set aside.
Prepare the Paste: in a small bowl, mix together all ingredients with a spoon until well combined and smooth.
Assemble the rolls: Spread about half of the miso-ginger paste over the nori sheet, spreading to the edge on 3 sides, leaving about 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) empty on one edge. Top with about half the salmon spread. Place 3-4 rows of desired vegetables along the edge opposite the empty edge, like so:
Next, use a sushi mat or just your hands, roll tightly starting at the edge with the cut vegetables. When you reach the empty stripe at the end of the nori sheet, moisten it with a bit of water and then roll up, leaving the seam down (against the table). Cut into 5-8 pieces. Repeat with second nori sheet. Makes 2 servings.
Totally unrelated note: One of today’s Google searches leading to my blog read, “Die Dessert Dogs.” Is that a typo, or just a really ticked off blog reader?
[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]
Since today was the first Sunday following my Total Health course (and I promise–that’s the last time I’ll mention it!), I realized it was time to resume my regular Progress Tracker entries.
It’s been nine whole weeks since I had a regular Sunday weigh-in, so this morning, I donned my sweats and and finally returned to the workout club (Well, hi again, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! I’m back, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets! I actually missed you, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts!).
After completing various stretches and weights, I performed the official post-course, ritual weigh in. And the result? After NINE WEEKS of eating healthfully and stepping up my exercise routine (literally–I’ve doubled the amount of walking I do each day since the osteopenia diagnosis), I lost. . . . are you ready for it? Okay, here goes. . . . I lost. . . . FOUR POUNDS.
Yep, four. Quatre. 4. Vier. Quattro. IV. Tessera. FOUR!!!! In nine weeks.
Lovely, no? That’s just under half pound a week. Okay, I suppose that’s not awful considering that the goal of the course was not to lose weight so much as to learn about healthy eating and to undergo an attitude adjustment in that area. During the course, I consumed just as much (healthy) food as I wanted to and never deprived myself in any way (except during the cleanse week, obviously). What this means is that I am now exactlyback where I started when I began this blog–with 40 pounds to lose to reach my goal. And while I do feel better since taking the course, that’s simply not acceptable. Nope.
And so. . . I’ve decided to take up the challenge offered by Gizmar from Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who wrote in her recent comment: “Ok, I’m throwing down the gauntlet – I want to lose some weight – I challenge you to a slim down!!!” Giz, you’re on! Ah, but how much weight? And in what time period? I will contact you so we can work out the details. But for now, I’ve decided, it’s time to get serious! (Again). Watch out, excess avoirdupois! Take a hike, jiggly thighs! Run for the hills, cellulite! I am on a mission.
* Sigh. *
(Okay, end of weight rant. We now return to this week’s regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible.)
One thing I realized while on my cleanse week is that I don’t eat nearly as many legumes as I should. Sure, if you consider peanut butter and carob, I suppose there’s a regular intake, but in general, my diet is sorely lacking.
As a child, the only beans I was ever served were the canned variety. Heinz Baked Beans made a quick and yummy dinner, just on their own. (Of course, my mother bought the “in tomato sauce” flavor so she wouldn’t have to deal with that one pasty, white, slimy chunk of pork fat that always rose to the top of the can. A few years ago, the HH and I took a course called Mini Med School at the University of Toronto. One evening, we were led down winding, clandestine hallways through an unmarked door into the actual anatomy lab, where we examined formaldehyde-infused hunks of human limbs, their outer layers peeled away to expose the muscles and bones underneath. One thigh had a rectangular chunk of flesh carved out, the cutout placed neatly on the counter beside it like a rubber bathtub stopper. Well, that little cube of pork fat looked just like the rectangular hunk of thigh. Good move, Mom.)
When I moved into my very first apartment the summer before my Master’s program began, my father’s housewarming gift to me was a smoked ham. (Not so strange if you consider that he owned a butcher shop–what else would he give me?). With the help of my trusty Joy of Cooking, I ended up making split pea and ham soup (even then, I couldn’t stomach the idea of an entire piece of ham on its own). I had just started dating my first true love a couple of weeks earlier (hey, Spaghetti Ears! How’s tricks?) and he, along with his two room mates, kindly relieved me of any superfluous soup–which, as it turned out, was pretty much all of it.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy bean dishes, either. It’s just that I never really think to make them. In more recent years, I’ve amassed a fairly reliable roster of bean recipes that I use on a rotating basis. There’s hummus, of course, but also sundried tomato hummus and roasted garlic hummus. Oh, and I can’t forget white bean hummus or fava bean hummus or even no-bean hummus (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really belong in the “dishes with beans” category, does it?). The HH and I also enjoy lentil-spaghetti sauce about twice a year, as well as my version of Tuscan baked beans (with olive oil and sage) and a classic three-bean salad in the summertime. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much hummus all around.
Well, I decided it was time to create something new and interesting with legumes. In keeping with the focus on avocado, I naturally gravitated toward the green legumes–or, more correctly, “legume”: lentils. Besides being one of the quickest to cook (they’re done in only 25 minutes, with no soaking required), lentils also provide a substantial contribution to your daily mineral requirements. In addition, they’re extremely high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble, important for healthy cholesterol levels), and they’re known to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Oh, and they taste really good!
I seized the green theme and just ran with it (okay, I kind of “speed-walked” with it), throwing pistachios into the mix as well. In these patties, the avocado acts as an egg substitute, while the nuts and beans work in tandem to provide a complete protein. While they’re not overly “meaty” in texture (the outside is crispy while the inside remains soft), these burgers are great either baked or fried, and would probably make a tasty loaf as well. Just for fun (and because I’m weird that way), I baked half the recipe and browned the other half in a frypan. I have to say that I actually preferred the baked version, which also held its shape better.
These patties are a great way to subtly add more legumes to your diet. And if you happen to be watching your weight–well, as it turns out, they’re pretty low-cal, too (about 150 calories each patty). Shall we start with these for dinner, Giz?
Lentil Pistachio Patties
These substantial patties offer a full-bodied flavor with a wonderful protein content, courtesy of the lentils and pistachios. The trio of avocado, olive oil, and pistachio adds richness and a healthy dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
1/2 cup (60 g.) shelled natural pistachios
1 medium carrot, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2-1/4 (560 ml.) cups cooked green lentils (about 1 cup dry)
2 small ripe Hass avocados (300-320 g. unpeeled), peeled, pitted and cut into quarters
1/4 cup (60 ml.) ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) tamari soy sauce
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground coriander
1 tsp. (5 ml.) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) sea salt
2/3 cup (160 ml.) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
If you’ll be baking the patties rather than frying them, preheat oven to 375F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir the pistachios until coarsely chopped. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, and cooked lentils, and process until you have a fairly smooth purée. Add the remaining ingredients except for oats and process to combine well.
Turn the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the oats. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
If you’ll be frying the patties, preheat a nonstick frypan over medium heat.
Scoop about 1/3 cup (80 ml.) of the mixture per patty.
If frying: Place the patties in the frypan and flatten slightly. Cook 4-6 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. Gently remove to a platter or place in hamburger buns with desired toppings.
If baking: Place the patties on the baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes, until deep golden brown. If desired, flip the patties over about halfway through baking (though this isn’t absolutely necessary).
Serving suggestions: lettuce, tomato and hummus; sliced red onion, ketchup, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast; or lettuce, chutney and mustard.
Makes about 12 patties. These may be stored tightly wrapped in the fridge up to 4 days (they firm up even more after the first day). May be frozen up to 3 months.
Last week, we took Elsie for her annual checkup at the vet (a place she absolutely loves–go figure). At the end of the appointment, the vet pronounced her an ideal specimen of canine health. Not only that; Elsie had lost nine pounds since her previous visit. Nine pounds! That’s, like, 63 in dog pounds! She’s been hanging on to that excess weight for a couple of years, at least.
This was quite the contrast to our first vet appointment, back in 2002, when she was both underweight and unhealthy. We got Elsie from a Rescue Mission here in the city, because I was keen to save a little pup that would otherwise face certain death. But there was also a monetary consideration, as the mission charged only $200 versus the $1200 or so we’d have to dish out for a purebred pup.
I remember the event perfectly: it was a blustery, snow-swept Saturday in February (a day very much like most of last week, come to think of it–except THIS IS MID-MARCH), and we were assured that our little 12-week old fuzzball had received all the pertinent shots, was proclaimed worm-free, and had been given a clean bill of health by their vet.
As he shoved her into my eager embrace, the scuzzball “attendant” behind the counter drawled, “Waell, you just take her in to your vet on Monday morning, and if there’s any problem, you can bring her on back.” (Right. Quick inventory: cramped, smelly, fecal-encrusted and rusty cage in dingy, musty basement; approximately 50 clamoring, whining, unkempt pups crammed into it shoulder to shoulder; Elsie, sweet, reticent, timid, hovering in the back corner, eyes pleading as she silently implored me, “Please! You must help me! Get me out of here! Pleaaaassseeee. . . . “). Return her to that torment, under any circumstances? Um, I don’t think so.
Needless to say, when Monday morning rolled around and we made it to our regular vet, we were hit with this diagnosis: worms (yes, the scum-bag guy lied! Imagine that!), fleas, mange, parasites, broken tooth, and your garden-variety malnutrition. To look at her, you’d never have known; she was nonetheless alert, frisky, and exhibited a voracious appetite (which remains to this day). We embarked on a series of medications, unguents, and shots to rid her of all the vermin. Ultimately, we calculated, restoring Elsie’s health cost us about the same as if we’d purchased 2.7 purebred pups instead. Of course, by then we already loved her so much that there was no question–it was worth it.
[Elsie, pre-weight loss]
So, now that she’s svelte and healthy, how did Elsie achieve this amazing feat? The same one, I must admit, that’s been eluding me since I started this blog back in November? And, more important, what can I learn from this?
First and foremost, Elsie now has a new sibling to share her time and energy. Ever since little Chaser Doodle arrived on the scene, Elsie has spent most of her time warding off the “let’s play” advances of her baby sister. Chaser attempts any tack to entice Elsie to play: tug a little on the ear, nibble a little on the collar, poke a bit at the bum, taunt ceaselessly with the Nylabone, or nudge repeatedly with a paw. Sometimes, Elsie just gives in and plays. And play means exercise.
Human Counterpart: Seems I need a new baby or a new playmate. Hmmmn. Baby may pose a challenge, as both the HH and I have passed our best-before dates for procreation (together, we must be something like 4,732 in dog years). And a new “playmate?” Well, I’m not sure how the HH would like that one, either. But I do think a dieting buddy is a workable option; most of the women I know are watching their weight, too, so it would make sense to team up.
[The new, svelte girl]
Second, I’ve cut way back on the treats I offer The Girls, compared to the quantity Elsie received before Chaser’s arrival. Partly because current dog-training philosophy advises against treats, and partly because I no longer require treats to engage Elsie’s attention (since she’s got another dog to play with now), the number of daily biscuits has diminished by half at least. That’s like cutting out snacks during the evening, or reducing your meals by 25%. No wonder she’s lost weight!
Human Counterpart: Cut down snacks. I may need to establish nap-time between 2:00 and 3:00 (when my blood sugar crashes) for a while, but that, too, shall pass. And fewer snacks means fewer calories.
The Girls also spend a lot of time romping outdoors, running off leash for a minimum of 45 minutes per day. Before Chaser’s arrival, Elsie was walked for the same length of time each day, but never felt the urge to run (or even walk very fast). Obviously, having a playmate has made a difference.
Human Counterpart: Take a daily romp in the woods. Well, if I translate this into human terms, what I really need to do is more exercise. I’ve read that in order to lose weight, the average person must exercise ninety minutes a day. Ninety! And once women reach perimenopause (and after), they require an hour a day just to maintain weight. So if I tally up the hour or so I walk The Girls each day, plus whatever extra I add on with the treadmill or the workout club, I should realistically be able to reach that goal.
Why haven’t I incorporated any of these tricks yet? Maybe I needed Elsie as my inspiration. I know it’s worth a try. I mean, Elsie does look marvelous, and, even better, she seems to have more energy these days for frolicking and gamboling. And lord knows I could use more frolick and gambol.
“Yes, Mum, I’d highly recommend it. I do enjoy my frolicking. But now, can you do something about getting Chaser off my back?”
I hate winter. For someone who was born and grew up in Montreal, that is a heretical statement. But I’ve never been athletic, I get cold easily, I don’t have the greatest sense of balance (not exactly a plus when you’re navigating ice-laden sidewalks while holding the leash of a frisky, determined dog in each hand), and so winter makes me grumpy. Grumpy, and lazy.
During the snowy months, I have to be vigilant not to let my exercise routine slide somewhat. I mean, who wants to take the extra twenty minutes to pile on an additional pair of wooly socks, long underwear, scarf, insulated hat, dexterity-diminishing gloves, earmuffs and galoshes, drive through snow and sleet at 15 km./hour to unwrap for another twenty minutes on the other side before changing into workout gear, just to push some weights around for 40 minutes or so? Not I.
And so, I often end up missing my otherwise quite enjoyable workouts during this cold season (“So long, Septuagenarian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! Sorry to miss ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets! Catch you next time, Personal Trainer with the Gigantoid Biceps!). Feeling compelled to make it there this morning, however, (after all, how could I let down the legions of fans interested in my Progress Tracker?), I forced myself to go. And then, had a very lovely time. And was truly glad I went.
Keeping motivated can be problematic at any time of the year, but winter presents its own unique challenges. For me, a change in routine tends to help (as starting a new set of machines, for example, or a different activity entirely), but it’s still difficult to keep up that kind of momentum.
I recently came across an interesting article from Lifehack.org that provided some help in this area. The article is actually about tricks for making new habits stick, but I think many of these apply to the habit of exercise as well. One that struck a chord with me in particular was using a “but” statement. As in, “I’m no good at sewing, but if I work at it, I might get better.” There are seventeen other tips as well, including items such as “commit to 30 days” or “form a trigger” (something else you do right before the desired habit, to create a pattern).
For me, changes might include setting out my workout gear the night before I plan to go to the club (the trigger) or asking a friend to commit along with me so that we can be accountable to each other.
I may be having trouble keeping up with my workouts during the winter, BUT I’m working at it. And I guess that means it can only get easier. (And I think moving to Florida might help, too.)
(“Mum, we love the winter. It must be that Scottish heritage in us. So why not make walking US your trigger??”)
Well, I hope everyone out there had a Happy New Year. Ours would have been very pleasant and laid back–after all, we were guests at my friend’s 8000 square foot “cottage” (you read that right–were we lucky, or what??), we were in a pastoral wonderland of snow, lake, birch trees, rare birds and other wildlife prancing past the picture windows between the stone and wood walls, and we spent the time with two of my very favorite people in the world, Gemini I and Gemini II, as well as their families. Could it get any better?
In our pre-Chaser days, we used to go up there fairly frequently, and have spent many a lovely Thanksgiving or Christmas with the Gemini I family. This time, however, we discovered a tiny, heretofore unseen quirk in our (post-Chaser) Elsie Girl, something we’d never witnessed before: she has a newfound propensity to lunge at and–if permitted–eat any of the other dogs up there (Chaser excluded). What the–??
My beloved fur baby, the one I’ve adored since we got her from the pound back in 2002, the one who is consistently docile and sweet and gentle? The one I refer to variously as Sweet Face, Sweet Girl,Honey Girl, My Darling Girl, My Little Love, and innumerable other nausea-inducing, endearing sobriquets? The one who timorously permits Chaser to nibble endlessly on her ears like popcorn at the movies, who hangs her head in submission when I see her even walking toward the open garbage can, who lies at my feet silently here at the computer and reminds me, with a barely perceptible, feathery whisper of a touch with her nose, that it’s dinnertime?
Yes, that one. What on earth has gotten into her?
As a result of this sudden possession by the Dog Satan, we spent most of the time hovering over Elsie to ensure that she didn’t consume Gemini I’s new cat, or bundling up in our snow suits to accompany Elsie on the leash to do her “business” outside. How I wish Cesar Millan lived in Canada. Sniff.
I also realized, as soon as we were on the road and past the point where it would be feasible to turn back, that I’d forgotten my camera up north. Granted, it’s a cheap little unit (I must be the only blogger on the face of the planet who takes pictures with a camera she got for free using Air Miles), and also I have no photographic ability, but I am inordinately fond of the thing and it feels like traipsing around the house naked to post without photos of any kind.
The final rather unpleasant discovery to greet me after the weekend (well, actually, the last two weeks) is that it appears I have gained a couple of pounds (really? pigging out on baked goods and chocolate can do that to you?). As a result of all these events, I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened since we got back. Boo hoo.
Well, as Cesar himself would say, it’s the owner, not the dog, that needs training whenever there’s a problem. Don’t I know it: time to listen to The Great Emperor of Dog Training and get my ass in gear, literally and figuratively. Also, a perfect opportunity for some goal setting (notice I didn’t say, “resolutions”).
Every year around this time–sometimes right on the first of the year, sometimes not until April–I sit down and write out a “Five-Year Plan,” a set of goals to reach within 5 years, 2 years, one year, and the next six months. This is something I learned about from the original study at Harvard (I didn’t participate, just read about it) that confirmed how those people who actually write down their goals are more inclined to someday achieve them. Some years it works better, some years worse, but it always seems to help keep me on track and steer me toward my goals, even when I immediately put the list back in its desk drawer and promptly forget about it till the next year.
I’m also always amazed at the goals that eventually come to fruition even when I’ve literally forgotten about them in the interim. To wit, a couple of years ago one of the goals I wrote was “Work with a business coach for free.” Through a series of serendipitous events, I ended up with three full months of terrific coaching. Similarly, “guest appearance on TV morning show.” Or, “Adopt second dog.” At the time I wrote that, my HH’s response was a definite “no.” As the months rolled by, for some reason, he ultimately changed his mind, and eventually he succumbed. Now, he’s Chaser’s greatest fan, and the two of them are almost inseparable.(“Thanks for changing your mind, Dad! You’re so much fun to wrestle with. . .but wait a sec, Mum, if you’re not also my greatest fan, then whose fan are you–?“).
So, to that end, I am going to list my goals. I will say straight up that this isn’t the complete list, as there are still some things that I’ll keep private (goals related to relationship, family, etc.), but given the name of the blog, I think I should at least include all the food-related and health-related ones here.
Of course, everyone and their cousin is making resolutions about now, and to that end, there was a humorous send up of these kinds of lists in the Arts and Life section of the National Post today. Near the top of the list was this goal:
“Shed those unwanted pounds, or, if that’s too hard, spend some quality time with those pounds at a Wendy’s and make them feel wanted again.”
In that same spirit, I shall not berate myself for those “unwanted” two pounds, or the fairly unstable wagon off of which I’ve fallen. Instead, I’m going to set about outlining some goals for the next while.
Five Years Hence:
Post and Beam. My lifelong (okay, adult-long) dream is to own a post and beam, slightly north of the city, with my two dogs and HH (and in it, I’ll still be writing this blog, of course).
maintain normal, healthy weight and eating habits (continued since year one), following the plan I outlined, below, in the 6-month goal.
go swimming on a regular basis (something I used to love as a kid/teenager, and have been too embarrassed to do in public since the weight gain).
Have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga (or other easy-on-the-joints, meditative exercise) as a weekly part of my life.
continue to have an easy, healthy relationship with dessert, able to enjoy with moderation without being thrown into binge mode, as outlined below in the one-year goal.
have a healthy, effective method in place for dealing with stress (hey, may as well reach high once I’m setting goals, right?).
Two Years Hence:
maintain normal, healthy lifestyle and eating habits since year one (as outlined below, in the 6 month section).
maintain a healthy, normal relationship to dessert, as outlined below in the one year goal.
have meditation as a daily part of my life, yoga or similar type of exercise as weekly.
go swimming again–take lessons if necessary.
have healthy, effective method for dealing with stress in place and almost perfected.
One Year Hence:
reach normal, healthy weight (about 50 pounds from now)
achieve a sense of control around desserts–that is, the ability to eat them within reason, without breaking into a binge because of one chocolate bar, or brownie, or piece of cake
continue to create healthy, delicious desserts for fun and profit
complete an intro to yoga course, and continue throughout the year.
improve work on weights, to previous levels, working with trainer if necessary.
continue with regular exercise at least 6 days a week, as outlined below.
Six Months Hence:
down 25 pounds from now
eat a balanced, NAG-friendly diet. (I know from past experience that this will help me with the dessert goal, above, as I seem so much less inclined toward unhealthy foods when I regularly consume veggies, whole grains, and the like).
exercise regularly: weights/club at least 3x per week; treadmill at least 4x per week (I know this can be done, as I’ve done it before, for years at a time)
take intro to yoga or similar exercise course; begin meditation, with the help of a course if necessary.
I think these are realistic goals, especially since I know I’ve mastered some of them in the past. I’m also giving myself a fairly lengthy period to establish new habits (I’ve read that it takes about 6 weeks of repetition to establish a new habit, but have never found that to be true for me; even after 2 years of eating no sweeteners whatsoever, it didn’t take long to return to old habits once I allowed sugar back into my life).
Now, of course there are many other goals on the piece of paper written out here at home, such as those related to my writing career or travelling (basically, I’d like to do some). But for now, if I can focus on the physical health and psychological wellness, I think I’d have a great head start toward everything else.
(“You go for it, Mum! My goal this year is to earn more treats. Oh, and I suppose not to attempt ripping apart other dogs would be good, too.’)
I’ve never been much interested in team sports (but even if I were, being perennially chosen as the “anchor” in tug of war, being last–always–to be picked for any team in grade school, and having to wear those navy blue bloomers in gym class, beat every last trace of desire out of me). Instead, when it comes to exercise, I tend to prefer solitary pursuits, both cerebral and physical.
So when I decided to try to get back in shape, I knew that the best possible piece of exercise equipment I could buy would be a treadmill. Years ago, I joined a workout club in order to lift weights whenever I can (Hey there, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! How ya doin’, Septuagenarian Couple With the Matching T-Shirts! Nice to see you, Teenaged Girl with Spiky Blue Hair!), but really, for me, “exercise” means walking. And in winter months, when I can’t be taking my Girls for any serious length of time outdoors, it means walking on a treadmill.
Ever since we moved to this new house last month, the treadmill has been stationed in the TV room. Yes, this does make for a somewhat “eclectic” set of furniture (because the room is relatively small, all we can fit in it is the TV, 2 chairs, and the treadmill), but I love it nonetheless. We’re not the kind of people who watch TV when friends are over, and, in fact, I watch very little TV at all. With one glaring exception: my soap opera.
I am addicted to watching my soap opera every weekday. Yes, I know, a soap opera. Now, this fact would have been a carefully concealed, disgraceful little secret back in my days as a PhD student when all my academic cohorts held forth in the T.A. lounge and our classrooms, eagerly discussing Foucault, Bloom or Barthes, or the esoteric implications of various (the)rapist(s) with great bombast and flourish. It took me a long time to realize that, fundamentally, they were pretty much full of crap, and even though they tossed around a lot of big words, they didn’t actually understand any more about those theories than I did. (On a completely unrelated tangent, that reminds me of a list of self-referential grammar and language rules that circulated while I was a teaching assistant, especially this one: ”Never use a big word when a diminutive one will do”).
After surviving the trauma of being an underconfident PhD student, I am now unabashedly declaring my affection–nay, my complete adoration and undying fidelity to–soaps. Well, actually, just one soap: As The World Turns.
Shortly after we moved in here, I realized that I’d been avoiding my treadmill for months, despite rather enjoying the meditative whirring of the belt as it rolled beneath my feet, my mind barely awake and flitting aimlessy from fuzzy topic to fuzzy topic as I tried to gain focus for the day.
In the previous house, the treadmill was in the (unfinished) basement, so it meant trekking downstairs and walking by myself within the dismal grey concrete surroundings. I found I couldn’t muster up the energy to do it most mornings. Then, my brilliant idea: why not place the machine in the TV room, and watch my soap while I walked? After all, I watch my soap every day, anyway; why not combine it with something good for my health? In fact, it’s turned out to be quite the incentive for me.
Often, I won’t have time to watch in the evening (what with posting to Holidailies and everything), so I’ll save the tape (not technically a tape any more, as my HH keeps reminding me) for the following morning, and walk as I catch up with Lily, Holden, Carly, Jack, et al. There, at 6:30 AM as the gears spin and my feet flit over the woven belt, I fix my eyes to the screen and tread, tread, tread. Before I know it, the 44 minutes are up (perfect interval, I think, for a morning walk) and I’ve burned about 200 calories. Brilliant!
In fact, I’m going to propose this as my next healthy-lifestyle strategy: combine exercise with something else you enjoy.
I guess that for many of us, that combination would naturally entail walking our dogs. (“Very punny, Mum. We are naturally entailed, too, and we love to wag them when we go for a walk!”) For me, dog-walking hasn’t worked as an extra boost of exercise, mostly because I’ve been doing it regularly for so many years now so that my body has acclimatized and it doesn’t seem to make a difference, either to my weight or my general shape.
Are there any hobbies out there that require lifting heavy objects? (Sumo wrestling for fun and profit, anyone?). If so, I’d love to know. I’m sure many other weight-conscious blogs have covered this one, and will have suggestions. For me, it’s a fairly narrow range of choices: treadmill, or weight lifting (which I bizarrely happen to enjoy just on its own), or dancing to Motown or disco tunes (music of my adolescence) in my living room.
What do you all do?
(“Squirrels, Mum. Chasing squirrels is always a good one.”)
Well, since I didn’t make it to the gym today to record my weight, my HH and I decided to go out to brunch instead. (But of course!If you can’t exercise, may as well eat.)
We do this a lot, it seems.For me, the allure is the meal itself; breakfast foods have always trumped lunch or dinner in my mind. For my HH, it’s simply the act of going out to eat.(Apparently, at one point in his twenties, he lived in an apartment for 2 years and never once turned on the stove.).
Rather than bore you with the menu from today’s excursion, I thought I’d share a recipe for one of my favorite brunch foods, pancakes. So often, the ones you get in restaurants are heavy, wet, and shiny with griddle grease (how appetizing!).The recipe that follows, however, really does live up to its name.You’ll find these light, fluffy, and, as their eponymous title suggests, cake-like.
To avoid overdoing the maple syrup when I eat these, I prefer to pour syrup on the side and daintily dip my pieces of pancake one at a time into it (rather than slathering it over the top of the stack, as in the photo, below).This way, the pancakes don’t soak up too much of the syrup at one time (as they tend to do), and there’s no need to repeatedly re-pour when the pancakes start to appear dry on top.
Another way I like to eat these (perhaps while reading some Holidailies entries?) is topped with fruit-only jams–blackberry and mango are favorites–and forgo the syrup entirely.
For the omnivores out there, feel free to use regular milk instead of soy or rice milk, and replace the flax seeds with 2 eggs.
Fluffy Fruited Pancakes
These light and foolproof pancakes are great with berries, apples, pears, or bananas. Unlike most vegan versions, they provide a good amount of protein on their own, due to the protein powder added to the batter. You can use leftovers for another day’s breakfast or lunch: simply spread one pancake with your favorite nut butter and/or jam, then top with another pancake for a quick and delicious pancake “sandwich.”
1-3/4 cups soy or rice milk
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds or 1/2 cup silken tofu
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower or other mild tasting oil
1 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup
1-3/4cups whole spelt flour
2 Tbsp. unflavored protein powder (rice or soy are ideal); you may substitute soy or chickpea flour, sifted
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup berries or chopped apple, pear or banana
Measure the soy milk into a measuring cup and add the flax, vinegar, oil and agave, stirring well (if using silken tofu, blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth). Set aside while measuring remaining ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend (there should still be a few lumps here and there).Gently fold in the fruit.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (spray the pan with olive oil spray if desired). Using an ice-cream scoop or large spoon, measure out about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and spread slightly in the pan.
Cook each pancake about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffed up.Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for later use (may be defrosted in the toaster).Makes 10-12 pancakes.
[This recipe appears in my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, click here.]
It’s my obstreperous streak, probably. Today, barely the second day of Holidailies–during which I’ve pledged to write in this blog with unwavering regularity–and already I’ve decided I don’t want to adhere to my self-imposed schedule of writing topics.
Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s not the topic, so much, that I don’t like, as the results of focusing on the topic. For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Blogosphere to See. All right, perhaps I’m being a bit histrionic. Let me correct that: For today is the Day I Must Record My Weight for all of the Four People Who Read My Blog to See.
Despite snow drifts as high as my knees, I ventured to the workout club, as usual, this morning. Had a fairly good go at the machines and free weights among the early-AM regulars (Good morning, Septuagenarian Italian Couple with the Matching T-Shirts! How ya doin’, Elderly Gentleman Who Always Wears Black Knee Socks! Top o’ the Mornin’ to ya, Burly Guy Who Stares at Women’s Breasts Between Sets!). Still, I knew that last night’s dinner with my friend Deb (plus those two glasses of our latest favorite–and highly economical!–red wine) would waylay my otherwise descending weight.
It’s a burden to always be right, I tell you. Got on the scale with great trepidation to find my worst fears realized, with a weight gain of .5 pounds . So, rather than allow that disappointment to alter my mood and blow a black cloud over my otherwise cheery countenance, I started to reassess this idea of regular weigh-ins. Yes, after only five weeks of them.
A couple of months ago, in her regular column in a prominent women’s magazine, Geneen Roth talked about this issue. Why weigh yourself at all, she asked, even if you are trying to lose weight? It’s a lose-lose situation (except for the number on the scale, that is).
If the number goes up, you may have previously been feeling pretty self-satisfied, you may have been wearing your new Lululemon sweats like a banner-covered swimsuit at the Miss Universe Pageant, you may have been holding your head high feeling slim and taut and flat in all the right places–only to have that delusional euphoria instantly deflated, your mood for the day permanently altered by the fact that you’d gained 3/4 pound. Even if you’d had no idea before stepping on that scale.
If the number goes down, it will probably only reinforce what you already knew, anyway: you’ve been feeling better, lighter, lithe-r; your clothes are starting to loosen; and you’ve been walking just a little bit taller down those supermarket aisles. Do you really need a scale to tell you all this?
The upshot is this: if you gain weight, do you really want to know? And if you lose weight, don’t you already know? If the true goal is to focus on healthy eating and ultimate optimum body weight above all, can’t that be accomplished without the aid of a small, square, possibly incorrectly-calibrated mechanical object?
About three years ago, my older sister (let’s call her The Nurse) had a wicked crush on a coworker who didn’t happen to be her husband. And though nothing but a benign friendship ever came of it, she was consumed by guilt on a daily basis. I mean that literally: she basically stopped eating food most of the day, and her guilt apparently ate up up excess body weight, somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pounds over 5 months.
Did she use a scale to track this progress? No, of course not; she wasn’t even aware of trying to lose weight initially. Did she notice that the pounds had melted away? Of course she did; her clothes hung like tarpaulins on her newly slimmer frame, she was forced to go out and purchase new clothing, even down to her operating room scrubs; and everyone she’d ever met in the world commented on how great she looked (ironic, huh, since she felt like crap about the illicit crush thing going on).
In any case, here’s my point: if my quest is to become a “normal” eater, I need to behave like one. And all the normal eaters I know don’t weigh themselves compulsively on a weekly/daily/hourly basis, if at all. And as soon as I even write down that thought, I can feel the fear in the depth of my (all-too-expansive) stomach, conveying the message, “But if you don’t weigh yourself regularly, how will you put the kibosh on that rising number? Won’t you just spiral out of control and suddenly start bingeing recklessly and gaining more and more without end?” Uh, I hate to break it to you, stomach, but that’s what I seem to be doing, anyway, even with the weekly weigh-ins.
In the end, I’ve decided to keep up with the weekly Progress Tracker, mostly because I’ve set up the blog this way and have sworn to do so. And knowing that the four of you are reading on a semi-regular basis does help me, to some extent, feel accountable. (Though I’ve had friends on Weight Watchers tell me that the weekly weigh-in, in front of others, acts as motivation to keep them on track during the week, that’s never really seemed to work for me. Unfortunately, I’ve found that I need to tap into motivation from within myself, rather than from an exterior source, to stay on any kind of healthy eating plan).
So, I guess it’s back to an earlier principle, picking oneself right back up and starting all over again as if nothing has happened. And I do believe I’m going to tag that as my second “What Actually Works” strategy.
“Mum, we don’t care if your weight goes up. We will still love you anyway. And if you decide to finally stop eating those Banana Oat bars, we’ll help get rid of the leftovers, no problem!”