31 Aug

Why I Exercise

(source)

The more I exercise, the more I realize that exercise won’t make me skinnier.

It’s true.

I’ve been weightlifting, and running consistently for 6 years (and going yoga even longer). Sometimes I push myself hard to make improvements and then sometimes I take time off from working out all together. My fitness levels may fluctuate with my workout patterns, but my weight never does.

When I train for endurance then my running improves. When I train for strength then my weightlifting improves.

(source)

But I can’t train for slim in the gym. Slim training starts in the kitchen.

Aside from a 20lb weight loss after initially joining the gym, now my weight doesn’t fluctuate by much at all. When it does, it’s entirely based on my eating patterns. If I eat crappy foods I feel crappy and look crappy. I can’t exercise it away.

I truly believe that you can’t exercise away a bad diet.

So, why bother right?

Well, I do it because I love it. It keeps me challenging myself. I get more excited about improvements in my running speed or my bench press than I do about improvements on the bathroom scale.

It’s a hobby that keeps me strong and healthy. Without exercise my energy levels wouldn’t be as high as they are, my resting heart rate wouldn’t be under 50bpm, and I wouldn’t be able to squat 200lbs.

I’m proud of my level of fitness regardless of my level of slimness.



P.S.  If you liked my Rosemary Sea Salt Bikini Bar Recipe guest posted on the Making Love in the Kitchen blog, then vote for my recipe at this link as your favourite summer recipe!


30 Aug

bread weekend

Sometimes you wake up on a Saturday morning craving pancakes. . .

But instead you wind up eating French toast with peach jam. . .

. . .because your pancake dreams made you forget about the cinnamon raisin bread that you baked the night before for the BBA Challenge.

Sometimes you wake up on a Saturday morning and want to take off and start the day.

But then you end up crawling back to your room for a cozy breakfast in bed. . .

. . . and conserve your energy for 4 hours of rooftop yoga an pilates with your sister.

Sometimes you intend to spend a Sunday afternoon cleaning the house.

But then you end up at the beach enjoying the last of summer with your one and only. . .

. . . sharing even more homemade BBA Challenge bread (Potato Rosemary buns)

Sometimes you intend to just have an okay weekend.

But then it turns out to be fantastic.

27 Aug

Sprouted Quinoa Bread

I bake bread. A lot.

I probably bake one loaf a week, sometimes two. Bread can be quite complicated to perfect, but what I love about baking it is that even if I don’t get it just right, even if there is something I think I can improve on, my bread is always a hit. Always. Because, really, who doesn’t like homemade bread?

That’s what I thought.

I promise to show you all more pictures of the bread that I bake, because it is the ultimate in food porn. In the meantime, check out these recipes that I’ve already posted

and some other breads that I just photographed: Greek Celebration Bread, Anadama Bread, Ciabatta, and Sourdough.

And head over to Kenzie’s blog, A Healthy Purpose, to see my guest post recipe for deliciously protein-rich sprouted quinoa bread.



Hello to all Healthy Purpose readers! I’m Samantha and I blog over at Bikini Birthday. I’d like to thank Kenzie for letting me guest post about something that I can’t live without.


Bread. The textures of the crust and crumb, the variety of flavours, the delicious aroma, bread can be as sophisticated as fine wines when it comes to its complexity of flavours.

Read more…

24 Aug

Zucchini Bread

When you have a shit tonne of zucchini from your cousin-in-law’s garden, you have to get creative in the kitchen. It’s not like the sweet tomatoes that I’ve been eating with my hands like a savage (a savage with access to Italian sea salt, mind you). No, with zucchini I much prefer them cooked.

There are lots of things I could have made with my zucchini.

I could have made a raw zucchini and carrot slaw with cashew dressing like I did when I was cleansing.

I could have made zucchini latkes like these ones that I saw on Smitten Kitchen:

Or the zucchini latkes I spottes at Yumventures, Chicho’s Kitchen, and Closet Cooking.
I could have made Pasta with Creamy Zucchini Sauce like this beauty from Pink of Perfection:
… or actually not, because dairy gives me acne. Although this dish looks like it would be worth applying copious amounts of concealer for.
I could have made more zucchini focaccia which was a huge hit at my Birthday Beach Party.


But I didn’t do any of those things. Instead I made the least creative, most obvious thing that you make with zucchini: Zucchini Bread
In my defense, it was my contribution to a Tupperware party so I figured Zucchini Bread would be a safe bet. Since I’ve never been to one of these things before I figured I’d play it safe. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not the Tupperware party type. In fact, most of my friends were shocked when I said that I’d be late coming to the bar because I had a Tupperware party to attend. But I went for the party portion of the evening. I arrived early after walking an hour to get there, toting my hot zucchini bread in my backpack, and hoping it wouldn’t be smushed in transit (I guess that would be one reason to own Tupperware). The party basically involved me stuffing my face with munchies, flipping aimlessly through the catalogue, and contemplating the purpose of a $60 “Hot Dog Keeper” (wtf?) . I had a brief argument with the saleslady about plastic. Now, I’m no polymer expert but I’m pretty sure plastic is made out of chemicals, chemicals that degrade when exposed to too much heat. (I’m pretty cautious when it comes to microwaving plastic). Here’s how the conversation went down.
Lady (super happy and smiley): “There’s no chemicals in it”
Me (jaded and condescending): “It’s Plastic, what do you think it’s made of?
Lady: “It’s made of the same stuff as airplane window glass!” (apparently this is something to get excited about)
Me: “I don’t eat off of airplane windows.”
She proceeded to make a cake in the microwave with a box of Betty Crocker, some eggs, and an airplane windshield. It might have taken only 12 minutes, but it wasn’t as good as this zucchini bread.
This recipe makes one 9×5 loaf. I used an 8×4 loaf and I had extra batter so I made two mini loaves. I put some chocolate chips in the mini loaves and reserved them for my husband. He gets as excited as a five year old when I mention that I’m making zucchini bread. He’s also willing to go to the grocery store at 10pm to buy chocolate chips to bake into it.

Spiced Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 c cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pkg chocolate chips (optional – I prefer it without)
Directions
Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, cloves and cardamom. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine sugar, zucchini, cooking oil, and egg. Add dry mixture to wet mixture & stir until just moistened.
Leave the batter to rest in the fridge overnight. (optional)
Grease bottom and sides of 9×5 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350*F
Spoon into pan and bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Cool on a wire rack.
21 Aug

Peach Jam

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m up to my ears in local produce and loving every minute of it. I’m particularly fond of the soft, juicy and sweet Essex County peaches.

Between the basket I bought at the farmer’s market and a bag full that my dad brought me on the weekend, I have more peaches than I could possibly eat.

No, that’s a lie. They’re sitting on my kitchen counter, tempting me with their fragrance. It’s almost too tempting. I know I could eat them all in one sitting, but to avoid a peach belly ache I struggle to refrain. I wish I could save the peaches for a rainy winter day. Oh wait, I CAN.



Let’s Jam.

This recipe for spiced peach jam is phenomenal

Bread is for suckers. I could eat this shit with a spoon. In fact, that’s how I prefer it (although Christina has other ideas: a crostata or a frangipane tart, perhaps? )

Spiced Peach Jam (adapted from Form V Artisan to make enough for the winter)

Sterilize Your Jars for Canning

Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water.

Place five 250mL canning jars in a boiling water canner (or large pot). Add enough water so that the jars are submerged 1/2″ deep. Boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars and reserve the water in the canner for processing the filled jars.

Ingredients

  • 3lb whole fresh peaches, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 18 oz granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 c. + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a large saucepan stir together peaches and sugar. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring frequently, until sugar is mostly dissolved in the juices.

Add spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 10 minutes.

Add lemon juice and break down peaches with a potato masher. Cook another 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 220*F on a thermometer.

Canning

Add the jam to your sterilized canning jars while it’s still hot (if you’re not canning, then let the jam cool completely before refrigerating in glass jars or airtight containers).

Wipe the rims and the outside of the jars with a wet paper towel. Tighten the lids onto the tops of the jars.

Place the jars in boiling water in the canner for 5 minutes. Let cool on a rack or dish towel.

After the jars have cooled, remove the screw bands and test the seal by press the middle of the lid. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed. (Unsealed jars must be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within 2-3 weeks)

Properly sealed jars can be kept in a cool, dry place for up to a year and will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge once opened.


19 Aug

Bikini Confidence: Kate

Kate’s Body is Just Asking for a Bikini

The next guest blogger is my favourite writer on the web right now, so you can imagine I was pretty elated when she agreed to do a guest post for the Bikini Confidence Series. (Seriously, I jump on her blog immediately every time new content pops up on my reader.) Kate blogs at Eat the Damn Cake where she evaluates the relationship between women and their appearance, remarks something that she loves about herself with her Un-roasts, and collects photos of women eating cake (like mine) in her cake gallery. Her bikini story reflects on how she reverted from insecurity about her body back to the positive self-image she held as a young girl.


A Brief History of My Relationship With Bikinis:

Samantha’s relationship with bikinis is inspiring. They should make a movie about her journey. And, as a result, more women should go out and buy the bikinis they feel like they shouldn’t wear.

The whole idea that only some people “can” wear something, and everyone else is not allowed to is really obnoxious. It’s pretty clear that a lot of clothing is designed for a single body type (you know the one. Tall, graceful, malnourished, possibly on the brink of death. Or at least tall and slender). And it’s also pretty clear that bodies look all different. And lastly, I think we can all agree that pretty much everyone is wearing skinny jeans anyway. So we’re breaking the rules constantly. Except for me, because I still can’t figure out how to get the jeans past my ankles. They’re way too skinny.

But bikinis, on the other hand, seemed at first to be made for my body. I got my first one when I was ten or so. It was black, and I thought it was really sexy. Until I saw my best friend Emily’s bikini, which was plaid, and even smaller. It looked much more grownup. We traded, in what I thought was the coup of the century. I cackled evilly to myself, hid the bikini in the bottom drawer of my dresser, and never wore it. It was too scandalous. I knew my mother wouldn’t approve. She might take it away. And the bikini was too precious to risk losing.

By the time I was fourteen, I was wearing bikinis, rather than hiding them, and I was sure every boy who saw me in one fell immediately in love. Or lust. Either one was fine. I had no breasts to speak of, and a long torso, and one-pieces didn’t really fit right, but bikinis made me feel free.

I looked forward to summer. Thinking back on it, it wasn’t that I’d determined that, objectively, I had the ideal body for a bikini, it was that I was just proud of my body, and a bikini showed much more of what I was proud of than regular clothes. There wasn’t anything about my body in particular that was exceptional—I just liked it a lot. And I liked knowing that I liked it, and knowing that I looked comfortable.

Because I was an unschooler, and didn’t spend a lot of time in a crowd of my peers, I didn’t have a lot of other female bodies my age to compare myself to, and I wasn’t exposed to the judgment of a bunch of boys. I didn’t know where I ranked, and it didn’t occur to me that I had to rank at all.

Now that attitude seems almost impossible to have maintained, and I’m a little shocked by my past self, for being both so unaware and so fantastically healthy.

During college, I realized that in order to wear a bikini, one had to be more than just thin and confident. There were a certain kind of breasts that were involved in the look. A certain kind of butt. A certain silhouette (mastered by that girl who posed for all the mud flaps). Legs with specific measurements. The list went on and on. At the beach, I was tugging self-consciously at the wet cloth, trying to cover more of myself. I grabbed a towel.

I bought shorts for the bottom half, and a padded top. I tried to keep my clothes on for as long as possible. My body wasn’t something to be shown off anymore. The only bodies for showing off were the perfect ones. My body needed a lot of work. It needed to be carefully defended and protected. If it was set free it might run around humiliating me.

And it only got worse. I gained weight. My stomach stuck out for the first time.

This past March my fiancé and I went on a vacation that included a beach. I had to dig up an old bikini for the occasion. I hadn’t worn it in ages. It was black. And tiny. And unpadded. It was a hand-me-down from a friend whose breasts it was unable to contain. I was not looking forward to wearing it. I was thinking about what I might wrap around myself, over the bikini.

And then there I was, in the ocean, naked except for a few shreds of black cloth, in all my awkwardness and imperfection. We were jumping over waves. It was a little like being ten again. And the boy beside me, obviously he had fallen madly in love (and lust) with me.

When we got out I didn’t pull the towel over myself right away. Instead, we went for a walk. I couldn’t undo the years of lessons I’d learned so well about the many ways in which I don’t look gorgeous, but I could begin to remember a different way of experiencing myself. I felt a familiar hint of pride at having this body, not because of any one thing about it, but because it was mine, and I liked myself. I liked the way I fit together. And it seemed a little absurd that I had ever begun to compare myself to every other woman. As though I could ever be anyone but myself! As though anyone could ever wear a bikini quite like me.

*  *  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love my long torso. It’s just asking for a bikini.


This post is part of the Bikini Confidence Series. If you missed them, check out the other guest posters:

And, of course, my own Bikini Birthday post!

If you have a story to share about your own struggles with body image or your opinion on how women’s body image is affected by media or society please feel free to e-mail me your idea at samanthaamenzies@gmail.com.
18 Aug

Spot me

I’m all over the web lately, on some of my favourite blogs!

See this picture of me eating cake here over at Kate’s blog Eat the Damn Cake. Send over a picture of yourself eating cake and she’ll post it in her cake gallery. I really wanted to send in a picture of me eating my 25th birthday cake. Remember this beauty that my sister made for me?

The coconut birthday cake that was the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. And I’ve eaten A LOT of cake in my day, so that’s saying something.

Unfortunately (yet pleasurably) I devoured the whole thing before I remembered to take a picture for the cake gallery. When I woke up the morning after the beach party I jumped out of bed and into my gym clothes with the best intentions of an AM workout. When I opened the fridge to grab my water bottle, there was leftover cake staring me in the face. So I sat in the kitchen, in my gym clothes, eating birthday cake for breakfast. What a picture that would have made, eh?

Oh well, instead I sent in this beauty from my cousin’s first birthday:


Once you’ve thoroughly check out Kate’s blog, find me over a No More Dirty Looks sporting a No ‘Poo Do (I’m #59).

This was part of their No More Dirty Looks Summer Hair Challenge which involved sending in a picture of your natural hair with the following rules: shower, use only natural shampoo and conditioner (I used none), comb it, and let it dry.

The reason for the challenge, according to their website:  We all wage war with our hair on a semiregular basis, and we want to see what happens when we switch to nontoxic, nonstripping products, and then leave our manes alone. We already did the challenge—those are our pics up top—and we want you all with us. One day! Please?


Finally, check out my recipe for Rosemary Sea Salt Bikini Bars on Meghan Telpner’s blog, Making Love in the Kitchen. I posted this recipe here on Bikini Birthday and now it’s making it’s way across the blog world 😀

If you’re not an avid reader of Meghan’s blog, you should be. You probably recall Meghan from her guest post here in the Bikini Confidence series. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to guest post at Making Love in the Kitchen!

16 Aug

Essex County Showcase: Summer Produce.

August brings about the absolute best produce in Essex County. Every year, I can’t wait until late summer rolls around so I can get my fill of local peaches, blueberries, zucchini, and my favourite, tomatoes.

This picture is not of the tomatoes that I’ve been eating. Those actually came straight from Matt’s cousin’s garden. Those I actually devoured with sea salt faster than you can say heirloom.  I might have eaten 10 tomatoes in 3 days. . . but who’s counting?

The tomatoes in that picture were crying out to be photographed on Saturday morning at the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market. The market has been open since June but it’s the first time that I made it there this season (better late than never right?).

I had only one thing in mind when I headed there. Peaches. Why? Jam.

Sweet, delicious Ontario peaches.

I’ve been dying to make jam for a few weeks now, but when I saw a recipe for Spiced Peach Jam on Christina’s blog, my fate was sealed. Saturday afternoon I was confined to the kitchen with my morning market purchase for some jamming and some canning (but more on that later this week).

Of course, peaches weren’t the only thing I purchased. With so much fresh produce around I could hardly refrain from giving up my wallet to each vendor. I also bought some eggplant, potatoes, hot peppers, and yellow plums.

Another of my favourite Essex County summer crops is blueberries. A couple of weekends ago, my sister and I went  Klassen Blueberries in Colchester to pick our own. Every year I look forward to heading out to Colchester to sit around a blueberry bush and gossip like a teenager while picking a big bucket of delicious bloobs. I usually pick about 5lb of them and this year I actually managed to freeze some before I inhaled them all from the giant bowl I set out on my kitchen countertop.

Vicki picking blueberries
Me picking blueberries
I don’t think 5lbs was enough so I’m thinking of heading back to Klassen’s sometime soon to pick some more before the season is over. I thought about making jam with the blueberries too, but I much prefer to eat blueberries straight from the bush!
Of course, my favourite Essex County crop is ice wine (that`s a crop, right?). Luckily I can buy ice wine year round, and my fridge is always fully stocked with the stuff!
What`s your favourite summer crop?
13 Aug

you really CAN be too thin

Jezebel recently published the ad from the makers of Pretzel Crisps and people are outraged.


At first I couldn’t put my finger on why this ad bothered me so much. I don’t get worked up about anorexic runway models, or photoshopped magazine images, and yet this ad really got under my skin. Maybe because it’s so blatant. Images of thin models may subconsciously set the standard that thinness should be coveted, but this ad actually spells it out: You can never be too thin.  In other words: You will always be too fat.

The ad is a play on the phrase “You can never be too rich or too thin” which is no longer a credo reserved for the affluent socialites and seen as tongue-in-cheek by the masses. No, this maxim has become as fundamental to the American dream as the white picket fence. And the American dream is turning into a nightmare of depression, debt, and negative body image.

This advertisement further perpetuates the notion that thinness equates to beauty. But when you see images like this:

or like this:

. . .you realize, yes, you really CAN be too thin.

One Jezebel reader commented on the ad’s maxim saying:

Yeah, I tried telling that to my treatment team, as they forced the feeding tube up my nose and down my throat. My anorexic-self wouldn’t have made it past my 21st birthday, according to my physician. Fuck you, pretzel company.

Societal pressures to be skinny, propagated by such advertisements, are forcing women into a damaging relationship with their food and their body. True, not all women are driven to extremes of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or binge exercising, but many women have negative self image that is, in itself, physically and psychologically destructive.

Things need to change. It’s about time we talk about beauty. It’s about time we talk about health. It’s about time we talk about being joyful. Let’s empower ourselves and change the mantra “You can never be too rich or too thin” to

You can never be too happy or too healthy

After backlash from the media, the insensitive assholes people of Pretzel Crisps changed their advertisement to this:

Apparently, we have got a hell of a lot of work to do.


If this ad pisses you off too, you can e-mail the people of Pretzel Crisps at info@pretzelcrisps.com and tell them what you really think.

11 Aug

Bikini Confidence: Super G

Super G has Super Legs

Today’s guest blogger in the Bikini Confidence series is Super G who writes about her delicious eats, healthy lifestyle, and sweet tooth at Me2Writes. I’m happy she wanted to share her story of how she shattered her negative body image, broke through her comfort zone, and headed to the beach to give a little leg in an oh- so-sexy bikini.

Hello everyone!

Super G here from Me2Writes.  I want to thank Samantha for giving me this opportunity! I love the idea behind Bikini Confidence Series.

Growing up, I was very skinny but with low self confidence.  Always wondering about my body image… Throughout high school, I was teased for being too skinny, or too short… And of course, I let all those negativities grow on me.  I became very self conscious about how my legs looked! Yup! of all things! Dreaming up the day when I’ll have non-crooked, scar-free, lean and long legs!

Then I went off to college. Like many other college students, I had packed some extra weight by the time graduation had come around.  Between classes, exams, finding a job, I didn’t have time to really focus on what went in my body.  And it showed… Still obsessed about my non- supermodel legs, I tossed my shorts and kissed my bikini goodbye!
Once I got out of school and started living and working in the Real World, I decided that it was time for a change! A change in the way I see myself. It was time to accept myself for who I am and how I look.  I am me!

In order to do so, I decided that it was time to focus on what went in my body. A healthy mind needs a healthy lifestyle. I focused on food and not counting calories.  Food is fuel and should be enjoyed!  I managed to lose weight in the process and feel comfortable in my own skin.
This year, for the first time in almost 5 yrs, I decided to face my fears; Showing my legs!


S7002487.JPG

I put on my two pieced yellow bikini and embraced my body. I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw!
I saw a confident lady no longer worrying about how her legs look, only grateful that she can stand on them!

This post is part of the Bikini Confidence Series. If you missed them, check out the other guest posters:

And don’t forget my own Bikini Birthday post!

If you have a story to share about your own struggles with body image or your opinion on how women’s body image is affected by media or society please feel free to e-mail me your idea at samanthaamenzies@gmail.com.