22 Jul

Food Blog Friday: Cool as a Cucumber Salad

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It’s Food Blog Friday!

I know, I know, it’s been a while since the last one but I’ve been cooking and baking old favourites or reverting back to the cookbooks on my shelf for recipes lately.

This week’s recipe comes from Allie at Live Laugh Eat. I like reading Allie’s blog for her cute, quirky personality, and her great attitude (maybe that’s ‘cause coolest job ever: working at Great Harvest. Dream!) but I have yet to make one of her recipes. For this Food Blog Friday, I was inspired by this inferno of a heat wave + too many cucumbers in my fridge and I whipped up Allie’s Cool as a Cucumber Salad.

I didn’t have rice wine vinegar so I subbed in apple cider vinegar instead. Everything else was straight from the recipe. This recipe is great post workout nosh if you’re like me and you crave something refreshing and salty after a sweat session.

I found the dressing to be a bit on the salty side but I liked it that way. I’m accustomed to eating cucumbers straight up with (a bit too much) salt, so this salad definitely met the needs of my taste buds.

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Cool as a Cucumber Salad

from Live Laugh Eat

Ingredients

  • 2 large cucumbers, chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 T Sesame seeds

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together vinegar, oil, salt, and sugar for the dressing. Add in the chopped cucumbers and toss until fully dressed. Allow to sit for 10-15 min. to marinade. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve cold.

The only change I would make to this salad would be to add slightly less sugar (maybe 1/4 t instead of 1/2 t) because I thought it was a bit on the sweet side but otherwise I would definitely make this salad again. So I give it. . .

2 Spoons!


Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect.

See Other Food Blog Friday Recipe Reviews here.

19 Jul

Why hating your body is futile

woman in mirror

I’d venture to say that most of us overweight women are not happy with our bodies. Images of glamorous women praised for their ability to hide behind a matchstick are unavoidable. As are the advertisements for weight loss regimes and rapid weight loss schemes. I’m not thin enough! I get it. Enough already.

We’re suffering from some serious anxiety issues. No wonder we’re all on prozac or self-medicating with pints of Haagen Dazs and retracting to unhealthy lifestyles. We’ll never be good enough anyway.

But what if you learn to accept who you are and what you’re capable of? What if you learned what triggers your eating and how to deal with it? What if you started to believe that you were beautiful? Would it help you become a healthier person?

Researchers at the Technical University of Lisbon say yes.

So there’s this study that they did says that hating your body is futile.

Well, okay, so it doesn’t say that exactly but that’s what it implies. If you’re a large and in charge woman you’d best be putting down them diet books and swapping ‘em for some body love mantras because that’ll get you to shed more pounds.

Overweight women were enrolled in a weight loss program for a year.The control group was given “general health information about good nutrition, stress management, and the importance of looking after yourself,” while the treatment group attended “30 weekly group sessions where issues such as exercise, emotional eating, improving body image and the recognition of, and how to overcome, personal barriers to weight loss and lapses from the diet were discussed.”

The study found the women on the body love plan lost more weight over the year than the control group– 7% compared to 2% of their start weight.

woman in the mirror(source: etsy)

The results aren’t that surprising though.

I mean, we’re overweight women, we’re not ignorami. We don’t sit down to a meal of potato chips, deep fried chicken, and a pint of ice cream and think we’re eating healthy. We don’t binge in the middle of the night when there’s no one around because we think it’ll help us shed a few pounds.

It takes a lot more work to recognize why I want to eat yet another cookie than it does to list off nutritional information about why it’s bad for me. Maybe I want the cookie because I’m bored, or maybe because my body is craving sugar, or maybe it’s because I think I look like shit anyway, so I might as well indulge in something that will make me happy.

I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. I know when my behaviours and eating habits aren’t healthy but I often don’t really understand why I am doing them.

So maybe we should shelve our diet books for good and start learning more about ourselves than what’s on our plate. …maybe we’ll end up looking better in the end anyway.

18 Jul

Tarka Dal Recipe

These are shallots:

Shallots(source)

Not to be confused with scallions which look like this:

scallions(source)

Although the two are actually from the same plant genus.
If you want to get really confused, down under the Aussies actually call scallions “shallots” instead. You follow? I think my head is spinning.

Anyway, I try to always call scallions “green onions” because I will inevitably get scallions confused with shallots and completely f’ up a recipe as a result.

Okay, maybe not completely f’ it up. They are essentially 2 different versions of the same thing after all, but there definitely is a noticeable taste and texture difference between the two.

On Saturday night I was pretty hell bent on making dinner with what we had at home which, given the slim pickin’s in the fridge, meant one of two dishes: pasta with tuna or tuna sandwiches. Matt, on the other hand was pretty hell bent on eating something entirely different.

So I conceded defeat and let him go to Zehrs to pick up the ingredients that we needed to make the Indian dish Tarka Dal, which is stewed lentils with shallots and cumin.

Tarka Dal

When he got back from the grocery store I started unloading the groceries.

“Matt, what are the green onions for?”

“Shiiiiiiiiiit”

As soon as I said ‘green onions’ he knew he f’d up. So I made the Tarka Dal with scallions instead. . . I guess it wouldn’t have been a problem if we were living in Aus.

In spite of the screw up I thought this dish was awesome. Bye bye Chana Masala, this is my new favourite Indian dish.

I think if I were to make this again I would probably include both scallions and shallots for extra flavour so I included them in the recipe below even though they weren’t in my dinner on Saturday night.

Tarka Dal (vegan)

Tarka Dal (2)

Lentils with Cumin and Shallots (or Scallions, or both!)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 c. red lentils
3 1/2 c. water
1 t. salt, or to taste
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. brown mustard seeds
1 t. cumin seeds
4 shallots, finely chopped
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper (for the heat)
1 t. ground turmeric
1 t. ground cumin
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
cooked brown rice to serve

Directions:

Combine lentils and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and skim off the froth then let the lentils cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and cook the lentils covered for 40 minutes. Stir them every now and then so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once cooked, the lentils will be smooth with a consistency almost like a puree.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done cooking, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and stir for about a minute.

Add the shallots, green onions, and hot pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

Add the ground turmeric and cumin. Stir to combine.

Add the tomatoes. Stir another 30 seconds then remove the pan from the heat.

Fold the green onion and spice mixture into the cooked lentils. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.

Serve on top of brown rice.

Tarka Dal

14 Jul

Cable Tricep Extensions–Tip

Cable Tricep Extension Pro Tip:

For more leverage and to help ground yourself while performing cable tricep extensions, lean a 45lb weight plate against the cable machine’s weight stack and place your rear foot on the plate.

There’s this guy at my gym that likes to tell people how to do things. He’s clearly always watching people as they train because likes to “make suggestions” on how they can improve their form. . . it’s really annoying.

Granted, the guy is middle aged and looks like he is made of steel so he probably knows what he’s talking about. But still. Annoying.

Today I was lifting some serious poundage for my overhead cable tricep extensions.

tricep extensions

(source)

When you add a tonne of weight it can be really difficult to keep your feet planted on the ground. You feel like the cable is going to sweep you right off the ground like a Mary Poppins umbrella. This can strain your lower back and make it difficult to actually lift the amount of weight that your triceps are capable of.

So anyway, Mr. Man of Steel must have been watching my feet float off the ground as I was lifting and when I finished my set he asked me if I wanted a plate to put my back foot on.

“I can show you!” he said.

I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about so I said “No, that’s okay”.

He took the rejection really personally. The look on his face was a mixture of sadness and disappointment. So I backtracked with, “. . . okay, if you really want to.”

So he rushed over to grab me a big 45lb weight plate, leaned it up against the weight stack, and showed me to push my whole rear foot onto the plate for more leverage.

It looked sorta like this . . . (okay, it’s a pathetic picture, I know, but use your imagination)

tricep extensions 2

Success! It was so helpful! I was able to pump out 2 more reps with the stability on my feet and I didn’t feel like I was going to float away.

So, I guess next time I might be a little more open to Mr. Man of Steel’s weight training tips.


I finished 5 weeks of my supersets routine and I’ve changed my routine up again.

Now I’m back to 4 sets of 6-8 reps at a heavy weight. I’m doing my favourite routine: 4 Day Upper / Lower Body Split #2.

You can see my weekly workouts in “Samantha’s Workouts This Week” in the right sidebar as well. I’ll try to updated ever Monday and change it as I go along during the week.

12 Jul

Three Year Anniversary

Being married doesn’t suck.

Actually, it has lots of perks like…

– saving on the cost of living

– using your husband/wife as an automatic excuse to get out of doing shit you don’t want to do

– benefits from your spouse’s employer (ie. reaping all the rewards without actually working)

– having another person to delegate tedious chores to, like vacuuming or taking out the garbage (I imagine this benefit will multiply when children enter the picture)

– being able to fold fitted sheets. Have you ever tried folding fitted sheets by yourself? It’s impossible.

– having an awesome vegetarian dinner waiting for you after you come home from weight lifting the gym

– having another person to do fun things with!

. . .which can also be viewed as. . .

– forcing another person to do things with you so you don’t have to look like a loser doing them alone!

– company. . . even when you’re in different parts of the house doing completely different things

As of today Matt and I have been married for three years.

It’s our three year anniversary, part II. Part I was July 5th, the anniversary of our civil wedding ceremony at city hall here in Windsor. Part II is today, July 12th; the anniversary of our church wedding in Domegge di Cadore in Northern Italy.

(I wrote about our wedding a bit last year too. . . you can read about it here)

domegge

I was really excited to drive to the church . . . which was only about 100m away from my uncle-in-law’s place. But, seriously, I actually was really excited to hear all the church bells ringing.

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My dad and I outside of the 800 year old St. George’s Parish pre-ceremony.

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The main event. True story, our wedding was broadcast on local radio. (Domegge is a really small town)

So many things went wrong in our ceremony it was hilarious. . . but I guess that’s what you get when you spend about 30 minutes planning your wedding.

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Hitched!

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Vicki, my sister/Maid of Honour.

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Sister; Brother-in-Law; Self; Husband; Nonna; Dad

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Funny face pics at the mess hall where our wedding meal went on for, like, 6 hours . . . but was one of the most delicious meals I had ever tasted

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Most hideous, yet delicious, rum wedding cake. Please don’t submit this photo to cake wrecks… I might cry.

wedding cake

We followed up our wedding with 3 glorious weeks of European honeymooning in Switzerland, France, and Belgium. Most amazing time of my life.

Oh yeah. . . I guess that’s another perk of being married—a honeymoon.

10 Jul

Chatham Ribfest 2011

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This weekend Matt and I ventured to the lovely town of Chatham Ontario (pop 59,000) for the annual celebration of culinary hedonism known as the Rib Fest.

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This is Heather. She’s the Chatham native who graciously hosted Matt and I for our first ever ribfest. She’s adorable. And dainty. Look how she eats ribs with the very tips of her fingers… she’s moments away from asking for a fork and knife.

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This is Kyle, Heather’s boyfriend. Sauce boss. Protein fiend. Paleo. Kyle just fuckin’ wants ribs, man. And to massacre serviettes with his epically sauced fingers. Respect it.

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Together Kyle and Heather are serious when it comes to food. (After all, they were the power couple responsible for the gastronomic monstrosity also known as Fast Food Lasagna.)

Kyle and Heather navigated newbies Matt and I through the strategies for attacking the ribfest at full force and efficiency. Divide and conquer.

We divided up and each of us waited in line for a full rack of pork ribs from a separate rib vendor. The lines took about 20 minutes to get through which was well worth it. There were 6 ribbers competing for the title of best ribs. Since there were 4 of us, we tried 4 different ribbers.

My favourite were actually the hometown heroes, Blazin’ Barbeque from Chatham, they were the meatiest and ribs and the most flavourful.

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A festival of ribs is possibly the most amazing idea ever.

Before:

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After:

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I devoured 6 ribs (weak, I know). Heather had 4 (weaker). And the rest of the 38 or so ribs were divided among the carnivorous males.

Kyle was aiming to eat 52 ribs on his own. He seriously failed that mission. KP, I expected more from you, my friend.

Before:

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After:

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Food coma? Practically. But nothing that can’t be cured with a giant pickle and and a ride on a plastic steer (for good measure).

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Chatham Ribfest, I’ll be back next year.

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06 Jul

flour girl: Whole Wheat Santa Lucia Buns

I’d prefer to call these `S` buns. I’m ‘S’; they’re ‘S’. They’re my buns.

Kinda like ‘S’ cookies that I loved as a kid (and that I still love now because they are amazing with coffee or tea). I deemed them mine and mine alone because they bore my initial.

s_sbiscuits

These buns have a soft crust and crumb that makes them great for sandwiches and they`re good toasted after a few days as well. The flavour is hearty and slightly sweet, but more subdued than sprouted grain bread.

Santa Lucia Buns

Whole Wheat Santa Lucia Buns

From the book Whole Grain Breads

Soaker

1 3/4c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. soy milk

Day 1:
In a bowl stir together the soaker ingredients until they form a ball of dough. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Starter

1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 t. quick rise yeast
1/2 c. water
1 egg, beaten

Day 1:
Combine all the starter ingredients together in a bowl. Knead the starter dough by hand for a few minutes. Place the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before needed for the final dough.

Final Dough

starter
soaker
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 t. (one packet) instant yeast
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 egg white, beaten with 1 T. water (for egg wash) and 1 t. honey
raisins for topping

Day 2:

Chop the starter up into 8-10 pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all the remaining dough ingredients to the bowl.

Stir the ingredients together with a spoon until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Add extra flour as needed so the dough is firm and a bit tacky.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then continue kneading for another few minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test so you know the gluten is developed.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at warm room temperature until almost doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down the dough. Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough balls rest for 10 minutes. Roll each ball out into a 10” long snake.

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Shape each snake into an ‘S’ by rolling the ends in toward each other on the same side, then flip one spiral over to get an ‘S’.

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Place the shaped buns on a foiled lined baking sheet. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature again until 1.5x original size (~1 hour).

Brush the buns with the egg wash and place a raisin in the centre of each coil.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes rotating the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes until it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom and/or has an internal temperature of 195 degrees fahrenheit.

Cool on a rack before serving.

Santa Lucia Buns

Submitted to Yeastspotting

05 Jul

Meeting New People

I never have impromptu parties with my girl friends. I’m lucky if I can get them to actually show up to a coffee date I’ve planned weeks in advance. I also only have about one friend so, there’s that.

But when you have a husband who has loads of friends you are bound to be surprised with an impromptu midweek dude party with beers and booming voices and the sound effects of video games.

And it’s bound to happen while you’re in the middle of your yoga practice.

And your husband is bound to give his friends a tour of your house.

During which, he’s bound to show off your spare bedroom – aka the yoga room.

And, of course, because you’re practicing yoga in said yoga room, his new-to-you friend is bound to meet you for the first time when you’re in the most compromising pose ever: plow pose.

hala-asana

(source)

I can’t imagine a more awkward way to meet someone than ass first. Except maybe bare-ass first. So, on the bright side, I was wearing shorts. And, on the bright side, I can pull off a rather elegant plow pose these days with my legs straight and my toes touching the ground (not quite the “squashed bug” look of my early yoga days). And, on the bright side, I have a decent looking derriere.

But it was still an awkward situation nonetheless. And now I’m hiding in the basement writing about it.

I’ll forgive my husband for exposing me. . . but only because it’s part 1 of our 3 year anniversary.

Sam & Matt

I tried to find a picture from our civil wedding ceremony but couldn’t. So here’s a picture from Sunday afternoon.

04 Jul

Barefoot Run with Intervals

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I wore my vibrams out running for the first time today in months. And, by extension, it’s one of the few times that I’ve worn my vibrams in months. There aren’t exactly a lot of occasions where footwear that emphasizes your evolutionary history (ie. makes you look like you have ape feet) is appropriate. You’re pretty much limited to wearing vibrams while:

– running
– mountain climbing (if you’re a badass)
– water sports
– yoga
– wearing an ape or sasquatch costume

I had been wearing them for yoga classes, especially the sweaty types of yoga (which, for a sweaty beast like myself is any type of yoga). I like that they prevent my feet from slipping so that I can actually hold my poses without ending up in the splits unintentionally.

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I hadn’t worn my vibrams to run since before training for my solo marathon. Suffice to say that my calves are killing me right now.

I bought my vibrams last year to see what the whole barefoot running movement is about. Wearing them feels just like running barefoot but with the added bonus of a a thin rubber sole to protect your feet from twigs and pebbles and such. The shoes force you to hit the ground with a midfoot strike because hitting the ground with your heels would be painful.

More info about barefoot running.

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Tonight`s run was 3.25 miles:

Mile 0 – 1: Steady Speed – 9:30

Mile 1 – 2.25: Intervals of 1 min speed and 1 minute recovery – 11:00

Mile 2.25 – 3.25: Steady Speed – 9:48

Total 3.25 miles, 30:18

I`m nervous to see how my legs feel tomorrow seeing as I can hardly walk right now. Yikes!

Vibrams (7)

02 Jul

6 Tips to Get Motivated to Exercise

I’m guest posting at Get Healthy with Heather today:

I’m a bit of a workout junkie. I love how powerful I feel from strength training routine, how calm I feel from a yoga practice, and how energized I feel after a run or spinning workout. Exercises is my number one stress reliever and it is important to me that I get to fit it into my schedule regularly.

But, every so often I’ll find myself in a workout slump. I’ll skip exercising for a day, and then two, and then three. . . and then I find myself glued to the sofa with no energy and no motivation to get up and out.

Once you’ve taken a hiatus from exercising it can be tough to get back into the groove.

Here are some of the ways that I get myself motivated after a workout slump:

Read More. . .

If you’re looking for some good exercise ideas, here are some favourites:

– My Weightlifting Page has lots of great routines for the gym.
– Here’s a great playground circuit workout that you can do in a nearby park
– Looking for cardio? Try a skipping workout, tabata intervals, or treadmill HIIT

Now excuse me while I go and exercise 🙂