30 Sep

I’m hungry

I mentioned in my last post that I was doing a Detox that, one-day-at-a-time, eliminates everything edible that isn’t a vegetable or fruit. I figured I’d give a brief update on how that’s going so far.

Here’s the breakdown of the elimination phases:

Ease in, Day 1 – Day 4: Cut back on sugar, caffeine, alcohol, meat, dairy, gluten
Day 5: Completely eliminate all of the above
Day 6: Eliminate all of the above + beans
Day 7: Eliminate all of the above + grains
Day 8: Eliminate all of the above + nuts & seeds (basically you’re just eating fruits and veggies)
Day 9: Liquids only. Fruit and veggie juices and smoothies
Day 10: Add back nuts & seeds
Day 11: Add back grains
Day 12: Add back beans
Ease out, Day 13 – 16: Slowly add back dairy and gluten but try to reduce consumption

I like to say that I don’t need for caffeine. I’m not one of those people who must have their a.m. fix . . . and yet on the first day of detoxing I felt sluggish without my morning tea and on day two I had a headache. I guess I’m eating my words.

I cheated a bit in the first 4 day transition-in. I distinctly recall snagging Reese’s Pieces from the quarter machines at the office. I might have done that twice, if we’re being honest.

Actually I cheated in the 8 day Detox too, but we’ll say I’m doing it my own way. Instead of eliminating beans and grains on days 6 and 7, instead I plan on cutting them out along with nuts and seeds on Day 8, ie. tomorrow. I did this for a couple reasons, but mostly because it is the weekend and it’s tough to avoid beans and grains when the weekend rolls around and there are dinner dates and family barbecues to be had.

And also, because I’m hungry.

I’m super active and this detox is not giving me enough calories, as far as I’m concerned. I spend most of the day hungry and basically I’ve just been eating my weight in nuts to compensate for my hunger.. Maybe it’s just poor planning on my part.

This morning I ran a 5K (the Run for the Cure, I’ll blog about it soon) and I had no idea what to eat for breakfast beforehand so I settled on a handful of cashews. And then another handful. Immediately after the run my stomach was growling with hunger and I wasn’t going to be able to eat for a few hours. When I finally did I had a nice big bowl of vegetarian chili (or two) which was satisfying, but a few hours later I was starving again so I ate more nuts.

So given my nut binges I figure that tomorrow (day 8) and Tuesday’s juice/smoothie fast are going to be the end of me.

25 Sep

Yellow Cardi

I managed to already cross one item off my Autumn Bucket list within only a couple of days.

And it only took me $40 and a cappuccino-fueled trip to two separate malls (I hate shopping, fyi). But at least I’m a quick shopper when I know exactly what I’m looking for, especially when that something is yellow and can be spotted from the store entrance.


Hello Yellow Cardigan!

(Definitely took this picture with the self-timer in my front yard, and felt like a tool doing it).

In other news, I’m currently in the process of doing the Fab Detox to help “reboot” the body and reduce toxins. I actually won it in a blog giveaway from nutritionist Meghan Telpner (which is the primary reason I’m doing it, TBH). It’s broken down into 3 phases:

4 day Transition in: eliminate dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, meat, fish, gluten
8 day Detox: eliminate beans, grains, nuts/seeds one day at a time culminating in a smoothie-only day before reintroducing the food eliminated foods

Today was day 1. So far, so good although there was a noticeable mid-afternoon slump, likely due to the elimination of my daily black tea.
I don’t think this detox is going to keep my energy levels high enough to do my weightlifting any favours, but maybe it will curb my sweet tooth?

Only time will tell.

21 Sep

Fall Bucket List


Apple Picking 2011

Do the Run for the Cure 5K (Check!)

Go Apple Picking (Check!)

Make a recipe from the Apple Cookbook my friend Tina bought me (Check!)

Buy a yellow cardigan (Check!)

Run the Hot Chocolate 15K (Check!)

Hand out full sized chocolate bars for Hallowe’en (Check!)

Bake a pumpkin cake (Check! Okay, so it was cupcakes. . . close enough )

Watch one of the Husband’s students’ football games (Check!)

Happy Autumn!


The Husband coaching last year’s team

Update: check out my re-evaluation of the bucket list here

18 Sep

I’m not training for anything. Really.

In the last two weeks, no less than 3 different people interrupted me in the middle of my weightlifting workout to ask if I was training for something.

“Are you a powerlifter? No? What are you training for?”

“You must be training for something.”

“You don’t see women lifting like that just for fun.”

No, really, I’m not training for anything.

I promise you that I’m doing this just because I like lifting heavy things. I know, it’s shocking, but just try to wrap your mind around that for a second and then let’s all get back to our workouts, mmmkay?

When I told these people (and others who have asked me in the past) that I was just training for fun they seemed a bit surprised and maybe a bit confused, but ultimately impressed, or at least mildly impressed.

It kind of makes me feel like maybe I’m just wasting my time. Maybe actually I should be using my skills and training for something specific.

But I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to train for.
And then, maybe, when up against other people I wouldn’t actually be any good.
Or maybe if I were competing then weightlifting would feel like a chore and wouldn’t be fun any more.

I guess I’m actually really happy just weightlifting for fun.

In any case, it’s flattering to be noticed at the gym, that’s for sure. I’m getting noticed for doing something different, which just goes to show how few women are lifting heavy weights. That should definitely change.

Weightlifting improves your confidence, your body composition, and (evidently) gets you noticed.

Here are some great inspirations for women and weightlifting.

Proof that Lifting Heavy Weights Will Not Make you Big and Bulky

The Girls Gone Strong Manifesto

The Danger of a Single Ideal Body

17 Sep

Bran Flakes Cookies

Branflakes Cookies (1)

Okay, I’m a little bit late to the Baking Partners challenge this month. It was supposed to be posted on Saturday. Woops.

I got caught up doing really important things this weekend like drinking enough wine to get me dancing to a live Bon Jovi cover band, sipping Starbucks as I waited in Canadian Tire for some terrible news about the state of my car’s suspension system, and (sort of, but not really) watching football. You know, important stuff.

Anyway, this month’s theme was cookies. There were three cookie recipes to choose from, or you could make all three. Given that I’m trying to whittle my middle I opted to only make one type, and I opted to try to healthify it.

The recipe in question is for Cornflake Cookies, supposedly (based on my comrades results) it is a crunchy cookie filled with coconut and raisins and crusted with crushed cornflakes. I made a few swaps to the recipe and I got an entirely different result. I think.

Substitution 1: Coconut

First off, the recipe calls for dessicated coconut. Earlier in the week I had cracked open a fresh coconut, shaved the insides into flakes with a vegetable peeler and toasted under the broiler. I figured it would be a shame to use store bought shredded coconut in these cookies, so I used these flakes instead.

Tip: Stick with shredded coconut, but toast it.

The toasted flavour was amazing in the cookies, but the large flakes didn’t really combine well into the dough. Next time around, I’ll used shredded coconut but I will toast it first to bring out the nutty flavour.

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Substitution 2: Sugar

In sticking with the coconut theme, I decided to substitute coconut sugar for granulated. This was among my free swag from Swanson and I wanted to give it a try in baking.

I thought this made a decent sub for regular sugar. It had a nutty taste and though it didn’t cream together with the butter as well as white sugar does, it didn’t affect the texture of the cookie, which is something I worry about when I sub different sweeteners during baking.

Coconut SugarCoconut Sugar

Butter creamed with coconut sugarButter Creamed with Coconut Sugar

Substitution 3: Raisins

This recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of raisins. I found this volume to be absurdly low so I amped it up a bit, to 1/4 cup. Still not enough. In the end I was lucky if I found a raisin in the cookie at all. I would definitely ramp up the raisin count next time.

Tip: Add 1/2 – 3/4 c raisins to the cookies. Even that will be a modest amount.

Substitution 4: Flour

Since I’m trying to steer clear of white carbs I swapped all purpose flour for whole wheat. This also ups the protein and fibre content of the dough which makes the cookies chewy since protein and fibre bind to water.

Tip: The fibre in whole wheat flour makes it absorb moisture more easily than all purpose flour, this could make the cookie dough a bit drier. If the dough is too dry to work with, try adding a tablespoon of milk.

Substitution 4: Cereal

While we’re talking fibre, I figured I’d up the fibre content even more by swapping out regular corn flakes for bran flakes. Now that’s a high fibre cookie.

Branflakes Cookies (9)Rolling the cookie dough in crushed bran flakes

Branflakes Cookies (10)Ready for the oven

Results

I baked the cookie for only 12 minutes instead of the 15-20 recommended and it yielded a very nutty flavoured cookie that was chewy but had a crunchy exterior from the bran flakes. In the end I really liked it.

The only changes I would make would be to add a lot more raisins and to use the shredded coconut called for in the recipe.

Branflakes Cookies (12)

Bran Flakes Cookies

adapted from Baking: Common Sense by Murdoch Books

Ingredients

125 grams softened butter
3/4 c (165grams) sugar coconut sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 t vanilla extract
2 T 1/2 c raisins
1-1/2 c (135grams) toasted shredded coconut
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
2 c (250grams) all purpose whole wheat flour
2 c crushed cornflakes bran flakes

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F, line two baking trays with baking paper.Sie ve the flour with baking soda and baking powder.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl,using electric beaters until they turns light and fluffy.

Gradually add the egg, beating thoroughly after each addition, add the vanilla and beat until combined.

Now add the raisins,coconut, give a stir. Fold the flour mixture with a metal spoon and stir until the mixture is almost smooth.

Put the crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish, then drop tablespoon of this cookie mixture onto the cornflakes and roll into balls.

Arrange on the trays, bake for 15-20minutes or until they turns golden.

Cool completely and arrange it in an air tightened box.

Branflakes Cookies (11)

Check out some of the other Baking Partners post at the link up here.

12 Sep

Fire Roasted Corn Chowder, again.

Fire Roasted Corn Chowder

I know, I know, I made this Fire Roasted Corn Chowder last year.

But it is SO good that I wanted to post about it again.

I made it on Saturday and as it was simmering I was hovering over the pot in anticipation and literally said to Matt, “I cannot wait to eat this soup!”

Such a phrase is generally only reserved for cakes and cookies, so the fact that it applies to this sweet corn soup loaded with smoky, roasted flavour is saying something.

And it’s still my favourite soup on the planet. I intend to keep making it until no more fresh corn is to be found.

For the recipe click here.

Fire Roasted Corn Chowder

12 Sep

Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel
(K or L): Kamut Brioche
(M, N, or O). Caramelized Onions

This month we focus on P, Q, or R. My ingredient of choice: Pomegranate

Pomegranate: Super healthy, super annoying to prepare

Pomegranates are native to Persia but now grow in many regions of the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, and North Africa. Right now, we’re at the very beginning of pomegranate season, and as the winter approaches you’ll be seeing them more and more in the grocery stores.

Pomegranates are really cool because you actually eat the seeds. They’re called arils and are surrounded by a delicious little bubble of sweet juiciness.

Pomegranate (2)

Unfortunately they are kinda a bitch to actually separate from the pomegranate rind. Some people do this in a bowl of water, but I find that a bit messy so usually I cut the pomegranate in half, then score the rind of each half with a knife a few times before holding the pomegranate half over a bowl and whacking the the rind with a back of a spoon until all the seeds come out. I guess this process is kind of messy too.

But once you do get the arils out they’re like pretty little rubies. Delicious little rubies.

I like to eat them with a spoon.

Pomegranate (6)

There has been a lot of hype about pomegranate’s ability to reduce heart disease risk factors but the efficacy hasn’t been proven through enough research to really say, one way or another.

But, they’re fruit so of course they’re healthy for you! They are really high in vitamin C and fibre. But only if you eat the whole seed (don’t be thinking you’ll get fibre from certain heavily marketed juices)

The Recipe

Pomegranate Eggplant (2)

And now that I’ve touted the benefits of eating the whole pomegranate aril for optimal healthiness I’m going to fail to take my own advice and offer up a recipe that uses Pomegranate Molasses instead.

Pomegranate Molasses is super concentrated pomegranate juice, boiled down until it makes a thick syrup with the consistency of molasses. It’s actually more tart than it is sweet with a really strong pomegranate flavour. It is used pretty heavily in Middle Eastern cooking (you can find it at your local Lebanese grocer. Probably next to the Date Molasses).

This recipe comes from the cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I bought the book not too long ago and all the recipes that I’ve made from it have been really good so far—simple to put together and very flavourful.

Here I used tofu instead of the tempeh that is called for. The dish works really well because the pomegranate molasses gives it a tart sweetness and the eggplant and sweet potato have a soft but slightly chewy texture and the feta cheese on top really brings the dish together.

Pomegranate Eggplant (3)

Pomegranate Glazed Eggplant

Ingredients

1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 c pomegranate molasses
1/3 c olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 1” cubes, (8oz)
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into 1” cubes
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1” cubes
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Smash the salt and garlic into a paste with a pestle and mortar or with the side of a knife plate. In a small bowl whisk this garlic paste together with the pepper flakes, pomegranate molasses, and oil.

Stir together the eggplant, tofu, and sweet potato on a baking sheet or in a baking dish large enough to arrange them in a single layer. Zest the lemon over top. Pour 3/4 of the the oil mixture all over the veggies, toss to combine, and spread into a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring halfway through baking, until the sweet potatoes soften.

Serve topped with the cilantro and feta and a drizzle of the remaining pomegranate glaze.



(Click for more info on Eating the Alphabet)


10 Sep

Detroit Lions Home Opener

My dad e-mailed me on Friday to ask if Matt and I wanted to go to the Detroit Lions home opener this weekend. While I have only a vague idea of how football is played, Matt is a huge fan and also a high school football coach so I figured he’d be all over a chance to watch the game live.

I was all over eating brunch first!

We headed to Small Plates in downtown Detroit, which is a small plates (obviously) restaurant near the Detroit Opera House. It’s got a really funky vibe and an interesting menu.

Small Plates

The drinks there were pretty impressive. They made a surprisingly mean cappucino (so good that I regret not asking what kind of coffee they used) and they even had a bloody mary bar where the bartender pours you top-shelf vodka and you dress it up with whatever you fancy. My dad really got into the mixology groove.

Dad playing bartender

The food was good: Matt and my dad’s ladyfriend Silvia particularly appreciated pretzel sliders whereas my dad and I favoured the crabcakes benedict. The atmosphere was great. I would love to go back some time.

Small PlatesMe, Matt, Silvia, Dad at Small Plates

Then we were off to the football game.

ComericaMe, Dad, Matt in front of Comerica Park

Ford FieldFord Field – Home of the Lions

The stadium was packed. Everyone was excited because the Lions actually had a decent season last year, were playing a “crappy” team (the Rams), and were finally given the chance to play a season opener at home.

We had good seats in the end zone, 12 rows from the field. The atmosphere was very exciting and the crowd was really enthusiastic (much more so than at the Tigers game).

I know just enough about the game to follow what’s going on (4 downs to run 10 yards) and I can determine the players positions based on their body type (the linemen are the big guys, the receivers have lean legs, and the quarterback is the tall skinny one). It helped a bit.

men in tight pants doing something athleticMen in tight pants doing something athletic

It’s about a hundred times more interesting to watch live than on TV, since every pass or play looks a lot more impressive when it’s happening right in front of you. But I honestly did get a bit bored by the 3rd quarter and I was starting to fall asleep.

The Lions defense was alright but their brutal passing and the fact that the Rams kept the score tied up for most of the game made it pretty nerve wracking to watch. Not for me, of course, but for my dad and Silvia and all the other Lions fanatics.

DSCF0898Judging by the reactions, something bad was happening at this point (and, frankly, most of the game). Probably an intercepted pass or something. I don’t know.

In the end though, the Lions won by scoring a touchdown in the last 10 seconds of the game to beat the Rams by 4.

Matt and I in Ford FieldMatt and I in Ford Field

It was a fun day, but I was just happy it didn’t go into overtime.

08 Sep

High Protein Breakfast

So my Waist Goal game plan has been going pretty well. I’ve been doing lots of good high intensity workouts and I’ve taken out the white carbs for the most part. On the down side I said I’d have one dessert a week but I’ve already had dessert twice this week (woops! There’s my weakness.).

Part of my Waist Goal game plan is to: Start the Day with High Protein Breakfast

My reasoning is 1) I don’t need the energy from carbs for my sedentary desk job, 2) to keep me full for most of the morning, and 3) so I can save my starchy foods for dinner time (which is also my post-workout meal).

This has been working out pretty well so far this week, aside from this morning when I ate 2 bowls of bran flakes which were a leftover ingredient from for this month’s baking partners recipe (but I exercised not long after so no harm, no foul).

Here are a few of my breakfasts this week:

Eggs– not pictured, because I ate them in a rush.

Eggs are exclusively for mornings when I wake up 10 minutes earlier than normal which, given the ever-shortening days, is not likely to happen much any time soon.

Smoothie
soy milk + whey protein powder + 1/2 banana + ice

I like this because I can drink it at work and since it takes me a while to finish the whole thing that I forget about having a morning snack

Smoothie

Protein Banana Ice Cream
Frozen Banana + 1 Scoop Cookies & Cream Protein Powder + 2 Tbsp Soy Milk whirred in the food processor until smooth

This also makes a good post-workout snack and it’s delicious! Like, really, surprisingly good! It probably depends on the protein powder you use.

Protein Banana Ice Cream

Cottage Cheese with Honey and Blueberries
dry cottage cheese + plain yoghurt + blueberries + honey + maca powder

Cottage cheese is really high in protein so it’s a good snack food. I noticed that all the cottage cheeses at my grocery store contained a bunch of weird ingredients except the dry cottage cheese (I use Western Creamery brand), so, PRO TIP: mix dry cottage cheese with a few spoonfuls of plain yoghurt to get the creamy cottage cheese consistency that you want.

Cottage Cheese

Also, I’ve been topping it with maca powder which I got for free(! I love free stuff!) from Swanson Vitamins. I had been taking it in a pill form as prescribed by my naturopath to increase energy and stimulate metabolism. It also, apparently, increases libido which I wrote about here.

Turns out though, powdered maca is not so tasty (it has a funny earthy flavour) so I can only take it in small doses. About a teaspoon (or half) on my cottage cheese or in a smoothie isn’t too bad.

Maca Powder

Know any other high protein breakfast ideas I could try?

06 Sep

Baking Partners

I’ve joined a new online blog hop group called “Baking Partners”. Every month the group will all bake the same recipe and we’ll compare outcomes and share things that we learned about the recipe as we baked it. Here are the deets:

Baking a home made Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group.

Main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic the procedure if there are ways to improve, and to eat a delicious food.

Rules are simple, we will choose one recipe and send it out to the group by 16th of every month and the reveal date will be 15th of the next month. On that day we will blog about it. A linky tool will be open during that time and each member can link their post.

First month we are going to do a recipe, 2nd and 3rd month will be a theme and the 4th month we will be back at a recipe. By doing in between recipes, we will able to learn more.

All enthusiastic bloggers interested in baking are welcome, please email Swathi  at favoriterecipes12@gmail.com.

We will appreciate the use of logo or worded link that will help to spread the word.  A bunch of thanks to Tina for designing this beautiful logo

If you want to make it a gluten or vegan free diet, you can do those modifications also.

Baking Partners are

1.    Reeni (Cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice)

2.    JulieErivumPuliyumm

3.    Tina  (PinayinTexasCookingCorner)

4.    Priya (PriyasVersatileRecipes) 

5.    Suja (KitchenCornerTryIt)

6.    Archana  (TangyMinds)

7.    Reshmi  (EasYCook)

8.    Prathibha (CookEzee)  

9.    Priya R (CookLikePriya)

10.  Sweatha (TastyCurryleaf)

11.  Vidhya (  APortiontoShare)

12.  Usha Rao (MySpicyKitchen)

13.  Divya Prakash(DivyasCulinaryJourney)

14.  Swasthi Blank (SwasthiTheHealthFreak)

15.  Sanoli Ghosh (SanolisKitchen)

16.  Pam Capone (LiveRanchDelux)

17.  Mirellie(GourmetGlobalCreations)

18.  Joythi(ThisandThatoffoodandlife)

19.  Reshwani(DailyCuppa)

20.  Peachy  (PeachKitchen)

21.  Aparna  Mis(S) adventuresof 3 cookies)

22.  Archana(ThemadscientistsKitchen)

23.  Gayathri  ( Gayathriscookspot)

24 Lorraine( JoysMisadventures)

25.  Jayasri(Samyalarai)

26.  Sowmya(Nivedhanam)

27.  Anuja (SimpleBaking)

28.  Janani(www.redchillycurry.com)

29.  Ivy (Kopipaste)

30  Janaki ( Janakidiary)

31 Samantha( SamanthaMenzies)

And

 32. Swathi (ZestySouthIndianKitchen)     Creator and Owner