Archive for April, 2010

Food Revolution Chicken Fajitas

April 29th, 2010 1 Comment Tags: , , ,

On April 9th I did a post on Jaimie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Well, how better to start a revolution than to share ideas, tips and inspire each other. I started a “Food Revolution” category on this blog so we can share comments and build on strategies together. Join in!!

Well, as I may have mentioned, I’m a pretty “straight up, nothing fancy, always fast and easy” kind of cook. Here is one of my spring/summer favorite recipes my husband found in a Weber Grill cook book. Go figure…It’s griller time everybody!! Fire up and eat well.

Ingredients

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (marinate in the following ingredients combined for 4 hours, I do it the night before)

1/2 cup veg oil (I use canola)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup lime juice

1/4 onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 tsp each of sugar and dried oregano

1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and cumin

Before Cooking – Remove the chicken breasts and discard the marinade then grill (using proper handing techniques for poultry from start to finish). Serve with warm tortillas and accompaniments of chopped tomato, onion, avocado, salsa and low fat sour cream (I use 1-3%).

Enjoy – MmmmMmmmmmm…….Was it good.

What’s your favourite?? Do you have any Food Revolution tips? Do tell!!

By the way, if you haven’t already seen the Improv bits and want a chuckle, make sure you view them. They were posted on April 11 about Grocery Shopping and April 26 about Lunch :-)

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Reward Thyself

April 28th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I had one of those “mother of all days” today at work. Oh, am I happy it’s over. I don’t know about you but I’m a big believer in being good to myself and building in rewards.

Way back when, when I was working out my weight issues I built in a lot of behaviour modification strategies to help me through it and maintain it. Kind of like Through Thick and Thin thing, for myself!!

For many, weight loss is the main reward. I guess the corollary to that is a wardrobe to go with it. Call me Pavlov’s dog, but I like immediate rewards. Who wants to wait 6 months or a year through it all? Also, rewards can serve us another way to learn to be good to ourselves. I’ve been good and I want a treat now!! What’s wrong with that??

Often times for women it’s taboo to do something nice for yourself. If you’re waiting for someone else to do it for you, you might be waiting an awful long time girlfriend. I say down with martyrdom!! If you’re someone who routinely doesn’t make yourself a priority on your own “to do” list, take some stock in my suggestion of developing your reward list. Food cannot be on your list, as you might use food already as a reward subconsciously (time to remove it). Think of some of life’s simple pleasures: listening to music (YOUR music, not someone else’s favourites), polishing your finger nails, taking a bubble bath, having some quiet time, deferring something which is deferrable to tomorrow’s list, you get the idea? Make your own list, then put it into action.

The list doesn’t have to include things you buy either, unless it’s in your budget to do so – a small bunch of flowers, a new tube of lipstick, a much needed salon appointment. Listen, I’m a material girl and love stuff, but work in things you can afford and benefit from as immediately as possible.

So after my kooky day today, I have already worked in a few personal pleasures. Tell me what some of yours are so we can share them and learn from each other.

Time to turn on the “spa” channel and sooth my nerves….

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Strike a Pose – Bend & Stretch

April 28th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

When I think of an icon of physical strength and flexibility, I think of Madonna – that little minx! I used to work out watching MTV music videos and always marvelled at her limber flexibility. Although I work hard at being active all year long, a number of years ago it became evident to me how weak and inflexible I was physically. When I’d travel on business I could hardly lift my computer bag in the overhead bin on the plane and when I’d nail polish my toes I could barely reach them without bending my knees. Ug!

Like many of the goals I make I decided to commit to a few baby steps in my daily routine, this time to incorporate building strength and flexibility. I call it my “Mat Routine”. In all, it takes me 5-7 minutes to do and I work it in 3-5 times per week even when on the road. I have literally completed this routine while boiling water to make pasta. Here’s what it entails:

  • I start off with my feet apart doing stretches from side-to-side, then bends from toe-to-toe
  • Then I use a set of dumb-bells with 2 series of repetitions
  • Then I hit the deck and do 1 series of bent leg push ups and repeat this as my final exercise
  • From there I do a series of ab crunches

I must say this has made a world if difference for me with everyday living of lifting, pushing, bending and the like. My spaghetti arms still look like spaghetti arms, although they are definitely stronger. Visit the RealAge web-site to get ideas about branching out your routine a bit more to improve your strength and flexibility. This may not have any effect on your weight, but it will on your measurements, such as your waist circumference. It did for me.

Know your Limit….

Just like the advertisement says “know your limits and stay within it” stay within your physical abilities when establishing any physical activity routine. I have a sister who’s a workout maven. Holidaying with her was like being at an IronMan camp. I needed a few days of bed rest when I got home!! A few years ago I asked her to show me how to use one of those balance balls. Well, after almost cow-piling head first into the corner of her end table and doing myself in, I decided that wasn’t an exercise for me. Been there, done that, and am still alive to talk about it!! Be realistic about what you work in to your workout.

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Celebrating Lunch & All Meals

April 26th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Lunch, breakfast or dinner – all meals are worth celebrating and none should be neglected. Trends show that we’ve turned into grazers – mooooooo!! Our time stretched schedules are making a squeeze on the very sustenance which gives us our spark, energy and zest. I say we need to re-prioritize our priorities and ensure meal time makes the cut.

I have never met anyone who looks forward to any meal more than my husband – yes, the sticky fingered Ukranian. Also, I have never know any one person to be more productive than him. He can juggle more “balls in the air” than the 5 best circus clown jugglers combined. How can you think straight when you spend your morning grazing on jelly beans and floundering?? You can’t!! Use this nutrition nugget to your advantage.

It sounds so contrived to reiterate the importance of working in at least 3 of the food groups at each meal. But it’s true. This is a fundamental for success. A meal with protein, for example, gives you the drive (and blood sugar control) to chug your way through to your next meal. Staying power. For example, if you load up on too many carbs meal after meal your blood sugar will keep dropping too early, making you want to graze all day. It’s a negative cycle that needs fixing.

So, make the time to prepare your meals, sit down, taste and savour them. This truly is one of life’s simple pleasures – enjoy…and enjoy the video!!

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Doggie Bag – Anecdote to Portion Distortion

April 25th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s true the doggie bag is certainly an anecdote to portion distortion when dining out. I went out for dinner last evening and didn’t exactly follow my own advice from a pre-dining perspective. It was a busy Saturday, you know the drill, drive here, grocery shop there, fit in a walk, run as many errands as you can from the list. I fit in a small strategic lunch later in the afternoon to help save a few calories for extra indulgence at dinner.

Once I slowed down from my “to do” list ~5:30pm I was feeling famished and dinner reservations were at 8pm. You know that hollow leg feeling?? I thought, hmmmmm maybe I’ll have a little bit to eat to take the edge off. Lo and behold, there on the counter, calling out my name was a little box of Norman Love chocolates my devilish sister brought over. Oh Lordy, what food group do these fit into?? They’re pretty little so I decided to savour one. Talk about delectable – a chocolate explosion…..then I justified another and slammed shut the lid. MmmmMMmmm good, I made a pledge to pull some weeds tomorrow to counter balance the extras, knowing dinner was still pending.

Then my husband walks in the door after a work day of interviews with the food leftovers his mother made to put away. Talk about bad timing!! This was my anecdote to that hollow leg hunger, but it certainly wasn’t going to help out my “dining out” cause. Ug. The treats barely registered on my hunger scale so of course while we put the food away, I tried a cabbage roll here, a crepe there (not made with anything low fat) and a few other nibbles. I wish calories didn’t count standing up, alas…..

I did follow my “Dressing for Diet Success” rules though and wore a pair of my Ironsides jeans. We had a lovely dinner out at one of our favourite spots Trattoria Il Timone. Wine, fab bruschetta and delectable angel hair pasta with grilled shrimp with 2 spoons of parmesan cheese. Bello!! I did manage to bring home a doggie bag with a third of my serving of the pasta for another time as my personal peace offering.

Ok so what did I learn. First of all, not to feel guilty when indulging in one of life’s simple pleasures. There are more important things to worry about in life, eating a bit more than you should isn’t one of them. If it is for you, you’re simply not busy enough. Secondly, I guess in hindsight, I should have had a bigger lunch, but who knew how my afternoon would unfold. Next, I should have put that box of Norman Love chocolates out of sight and not leave them under my nose to sniff out when my blood sugar is low, my most vulnerable moment. You live and learn, note to self “try to plan better the next time”.

Now it’s time to pull some weeds!!

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Make a Date with Mother Nature

April 22nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

What is it about being in a place with natural beauty that makes you feel so connected with the harmony of life??Happy Earth Day, and how better to celebrate it than by being here!!  I’m in Kelowna, British Columbia right now where nature is “right in your face”. We have an outlook to Lake Okanagan that’s so serene and beautiful it’s indescribable any season. We’re steps away from a small mountain, Mount Knox that draws me to it whenever I’m here.

Is it the fresh air? Mother Nature’s innocent glow? The countryside with rows of fruit trees and vine yards? Carmelis’ Goat Farm with freshly made cheeses? Chef, Rod Butters’ magic with organic foods whether he’s dishing up a burger, poutine or oat encrusted arctic char? The mystery of OgoPogo lurking in The Lake?? All of this and more permeates a sense of connectedness and harmony with nature, life and food…not to mention the BC wine!!

Maybe this is what we all need, us city dwellers – a date with Mother Nature. We need to bring our Zen back on-line once our proverbial hard drive has crashed. Perhaps it’s the different pace that helps heighten the senses to enjoy the simple pleasures more.  I don’t know. Despite being out here for work, it feels more pleasurable. When the work-day is done it’s time to stroll up the mountain. After you do that your awareness of savouring all good elements in your body overcomes you – air, view, food. You become more mindful and get drawn to what’s natural, such as those nutrient rich foods I talked about earlier in the week.

It’s true, all city dwellers and country folk alike need to literally stop and smell the roses, tulips, daffodils, lilacs or whatever’s blooming on a more regular basis.You don’t need to travel far for your date with Mother Nature. Make a concerted effort and this harmonizing with nature is yours to discover. Find your own little corner of God’s country, to reboot, rejuvenate, refocus and reconnect. Every day should be Earth Day.

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Portion Distortion

April 22nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Many restaurants are now banning “food photography” – the act of taking a picture of your meal before you dive in. It seems that patrons are complaining about the  flashbulbs that are ruining their dining experience.

That didn’t stop me from photographing the meal my husband ordered at a recent visit to the US restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory. I quickly apologized to my fellow patrons for the flashy intrusion, and snapped a few photos for this blog. Why? This plate blew my mind — it’s such a good example of portion distortion.

If we follow the rule of thumb for portion control, protein should be the size of a deck of cards, carbs should be about a tennis ball, and vegetables should fill half of the plate. Have a good look at this meal. It truly has DOUBLE the portion of protein and mashed potatoes. This PLATTER of food was enough to feed both my husband and I. Naturally, since it was meant for just one person, my husband did finish about 95% of it (including the broccoli!) But I know that he would have been just as satifsied eating less food — about the amount he’d normally serve himself at home.

What made this restaurant decide to offer a double portion of fish and mashed potatoes? Was the second fillet and the second scoop really necessary? It can serve as a good reminder that restaurants have no idea how large or small your appetite is, and it’s a shame to let the faceless chef dictate how much you are going to eat by the amount s/he serves you. There’s a reason why the “doggie bag” exists – if you are faced with a platter of doubles, consider taking home a portion of your meal and having it as tomorrow’s lunch.

And despite the restaurant’s name and speciality, after a meal like that we had no room for dessert!. Unbelievable.

Cara Rosenbloom RD, Words to Eat By

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I Am Woman Watch Me Roar – Vortex of PMS

April 20th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. I’m a big believer in equality of the sexes, but we got the short end of the pepperoni on our monthly menses. Ya ya ya, I know all about biology; however, for many women this part of our cycle may make us feel bloaty, have cravings, be more hungry, fatigued and even get short tempered. If you think about this one for too long you may want to throw in the towel on the “weight management” game altogether. Take heart ladies, we can overcome!!

Got that Bloaty Feelin’ – I’m not a big believer in weighing yourself too often. The 2 weeks before your period’s going to start and within of a few days of it  starting do yourself a favour and stay away from anything that resembles a weigh scale. If you do monitor your weight do it once per month ~7 days after your period started. Successful losers monitor their weight either with a scale or by wearing a “certain piece of clothing” like your “Ironsides” jeans. I don’t own a scale but get weighed when I have my annual physical. I do have those trusty jeans that never lie. If tight I can’t say “oh the cleaners must have shrunk them!”.

Dealing with Cravings & The Munchies – Every woman experiences this differently from month to month, and also from year to year. My Mom used to use the line “oh I just need to get that taste out of my mouth” when she’d buy chocolate coconut balls. Sometimes it’s salt, sometimes it’s crunch, sometimes it’s a hamburger and sometimes it’s Hershey’s Kisses – really it’s a crap shoot. I’m a big believer in listening to what your body is telling you, to a certain point. Have a portion of what you’re craving and be done with it. If you try to fill the void with poor substitutes of the real thing, you’ll end up wanting whatever you’re craving even more. So the bottom line here, give in within limits, then get busy.

Low Energy Challenge – Search your soul and be honest on this one. If you’re really tired, take a day off of your exercise routine. Listen to your body, but make sure it’s not “pulling your leg”. Something that I try is making a deal with myself to head out on my walking route. If I’m dragging my butt, I can turn around and come home. I find getting some fresh air and hearing some birds singing does wonders to bring up my energy level AND my spirits so I keep going.

Handling that Roller Coaster of Emotions – Let’s face it we can all relate to the movies Sibyl or The Three Faces of Eve during “that time of the month”. I find being peri-menopausal my emotions swing more now than ever. Ah, my lucky husband! I try the strategy of counting back from 10, but on some days I’ve got count downs within the countdowns and I want to explode. If you can “take it to the street” my friend and burn some of that energy off with exercise that will serve you well in two ways. Simplify – do you have to do ALL of those things on your “To Do List”. Surely you can cut back on something. Try saying “no” to some of those obligations to help you take back some control. Can you take out your emotions on a messy closet, basement or sock drawer?? This is a trifecta of a strategy – it’ll channel your energy, burn off calories AND help you get organized. Now that’s a hat-trick that’s constructive.

When all is said and done avoid staying in inertia because of this fact of life for us gals. We’ve got the power, don’t we??!! We got the vote long ago, we’re getting into board rooms, so don’t let a little PMS’ing bring you down. We are women, watch us roar!!

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Naturally Easy – Nutrient Rich Food Index

April 19th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

These days there’s so much conflicting information on what to eat, it’s dizzying. It would appear that the more complicated and inconvenient a regimen is to follow the better it is for you. There are times I review these concepts and wonder where the science and Mother Nature went. If the regimen doesn’t allow you to follow it on Thanksgiving, throw it out the window!! If you’re anything like me, you’ll want your information straight forward, science-based and relatively easy to follow. The Nutrient Rich Food Index offers all of those features and more.

This index is based in science, evaluating various food so that consumers can incorporate these foods into their daily eating routine. The ratings aim is to guide you to get more nutrition from the calories you eat. In a nutshell, foods that score the highest have a lot of nutrients and are lower in calories. As my metabolism slows as I age, this nugget of information is golden. There is useful information about “what to include”, not a laundry list of “don’ts”, like you’re taking out an insurance policy.

For more information on this visit www.NutrientRichFoods.org – you’ll get recommendations about food to include that Mother Nature intended.

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Conquering Clutter – An Exercise in Itself

April 16th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

My definition of exercise is quite extensive and includes any activity I’m off my duff and moving around. When I was younger my definition was so narrow – the activity, the time, the duration. I moved up the expectations over time so when I couldn’t find an hour or 90 minutes that’d be my excuse not to even start. Don’t they say with age comes wisdom?? I don’t always like to admit it but it’s true. In my mind 15 minutes of doing something is better than 60 minutes of good intentions.

It’s springtime and my latest activity is de-cluttering. Besides tulips and daffodils popping up around the neighbourhood so are real estate “for sale” signs. It donned on me that I’ve been at my home since 1992 and we are staying here for good, God willing. That’s 18 great years of great memories and dusty accumulation. How better an activity to use up even the smallest amount of  idle time! Break it down and work it out people.

I’m a big believer in breaking anything down into manageable parts – be it a project at work or an item on my “to do” list at home – the same concept applies. Let’s face it, life is a work in progress so chunk it down and just get started. A few weekends ago when the weather was crummy I turned up the tunes for an hour or two and began tackling organizing a corner of my basement – not the whole thing, just part of it. Last weekend, it was the crawl-space, then my home office, then my closet. After separating out items to recycle, give away, send away and discard makes me realize how much stuff we don’t need, when often we think the opposite is true. How much of the stuff in your cupboards, closets, garage and shed do you actually use regularly?? Ok I don’t want to really admit it, but beginning my spring de-cluttering exercise makes me more mindful of this. And it makes me happy to put things into recycling (like old paint) or giving used clothes and housewares away that other people can use.

The de-cluttering guru Peter Walsh’s book Does this clutter make my butt look fat? has a lot of wisdom on this. Our stuff is a metaphor for our life. Your goal for conquering your clutter is one as well and is about taking charge, cleansing and feeling in control of your physical environment. Now each week I aim to remove at least one of those old dusty boxes from the basement. When it’s all said and done, the space would make an awesome exercise cum games room :-) Yes, there’s a method in my madness AND I’ve burned my share of calories in the process!!

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