Archive for May, 2010

Adjust Your Surroundings – Travel Tip

May 18th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You are aware that I was travelling in Leipzig Germany last week. It’s obvious that a well tuned home eating and exercise routine gets turned on it’s head while out on the road. Here’s what was sent to me as one man’s strategy for eating while travelling…

Travelling Tips from Gord - First thing, is to ask the hotel to empty the mini bar fridge of the evil carbs and alcohol. Then explore the streets (ask at front desk), looking for fruit/veggie stands, local cheese shops, ancient grains/rye bread (the “Bakker”), snag a few disposable utensils, and presto – stay-in breakfast options, light lunches which taste great and are good nutrient sources. Treat yourself for dinner, save some $$$, and get outside of the tour bus/conference setting like a local!

My Thoughts on This - We forget sometimes that hoteliers are in the service industry. Good thinking Gord. Don’t be shy to ask for some help if you don’t want a lot of the mini-bar noshes under your nose where they may temp you. Although Gord is extreme in his approach, I applaud him for his convictions. Kudos on the trade offs by laying low for breakfast and lunch saving for a dinner treat. Being able to see the world is surely a blessing, so ensure you partake in the cultural cuisine somehow. That’s an important part of the travelling experience.

Now about Gord’s comments on “the evil carbs and alcohol”, I must say I haven’t met a carb I didn’t like while the German wine is delightful – puts an UpPaPa in my step! I do believe that devilish apple strudel had a few carbs in it, a wondrous local treat. And those potatoes, I already told you about those – aviteze to that!!

Working in some walking tours is a great way to experience this historic town. Meandering the cobble stone streets is a perfect way to sight see and get some exercise in at the same time to help offset extra intake. Wherever you’re travelling ask at the front desk about the safe places to meander with your map as a guide. I did this on one occasion I was told to stay put and not go outside of the hotel grounds. You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy ……you don’t have to tell me twice!!

With a bit of planning and a little relaxing “your rules”, travelling doesn’t have to wreak total havoc on your regimen.

Ok on a different note who’s going to be voted off Idol this week? Has Jack Bauer killed a few too many people in the last few hours of 24 for your liking….maybe he needs some sleep? And those hockey playoffs, are they over yet?

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Getting Back on Track – Travel Tip

May 17th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s great to be able to travel, but even more terrific returning home. Time travel always amazes me. We left Germany at 6am and arrived home early afternoon yesterday. Re-entering our stratosphere gets you back on the treadmill of life in no time  - opening mail, doing laundry, catching up with family (in-laws and out-laws), prepping for work, getting back to walking, cooking, shopping, watering and that beloved mat routine – ab crunches here we come…..welcome home!!

It’s vital to get right back on track from the eating and drinking slips and slides while away. There were a lot of eating trade offs plus city walks – thank goodness. On the other hand there were those warm greetings from the lovely waitress with “guten morgen” at the breakfast buffet with so many choices plus pre-dinner snacks with crisp German Riesling. Dinners were a whole other story. Did I tell you how good the Germans prepare their potatoes?? Too good, that’s how!! My eating halo is NOT shining. I had the pleasure of sitting across from my mother-in-law (AKA “Mother Dearest”) having her fill of bacon and the like. Ok I might be ratting her out, but we’re both guilty as charged.

The first full day back to reality has me greeted with my morning espresso coffee with skim milk and Quaker oatmeal, made by yours truly. Instead of “guten morgan/good morning”, I feel like I’m in mourning :-( My tummy grumbling sounds like a whining child wanting more. I KNOW full well my stomach receptors have stretched and it’s up to me to get them un-stretched and back to normal lickity-split. Alas, I feel like I’ve laid down an inch of flab from my fill of those German potatoes and other foods I cannot pronounce. Sadly, calories still count when you’re not able to pronounce the name of the food in the mother tongue!!

It’s a transition time like this where you can arrive home on a slippery slope and gain 5-10 pounds in a heartbeat and keep sliding. Dig in your high heals and hold your ground – the over-eating party is now officially over and there’ll be no pity party for moi….

It was easy to get up early for my morning walk and pack a healthy lunch. It was back to the mat routine and leaner dinners from this point forward until I feel back to normal. Let’s hope Mother Dearest is experiencing bacon and Riesling withdrawal, cause you can’t keep that eating and drinking pace up for long!! As Dorothy says, “there’s no place like home” it’s good to get back to normal. Right Auntie Em?

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Anti-Boredom

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

There are many reasons why people eat. As I’ve said before, the main reason should be because you are hungry. I’ve had a reality check though to know that isn’t always the case. I wanted to focus on the perils of boredom.

As some say, an idle mind is the playground of the devil….and a food lovin’ one at that :-) If a fair amount of your time is too free, first of all, let me know and I’ll help keep you busy!! All kidding aside if this is an issue for you, I suggest you do more planning to fill and fulfill your day. This will ultimately fulfill your life. Ideas to get busy are starting a hobby, reading a book, getting out of the house if you can, volunteering, visiting a friend or neighbour, take a walk, learn a new sport…..the possibilities are absolutely endless.

For many, the hour or two before dinner is like the “witches hour”. It’s particularly important to get your eating game plan in order so you don’t end up nibbling your way to dinner time. Plan a snack mid afternoon to help take the edge off your appetite. Most days I grab a banana. On hungrier days I add that ole reliable tall glass of skim milk to get me through to dinner. Resistance to having a snack is futile!

Last week we celebrated my husband’s achievement of serving a 3-year term leading an international organization in his profession on a volunteer basis. In that time were a myriad of achievements that have had incredible impact to many with ripple effects for years to come. I may call him a lot of names in fun, but his hallmark is being Anti-Boredom. Not only does he keep busy, but he makes a difference while doing it. My heart is full of pride being able to witness these achievements first hand.

How fitting, May 14th’s Rev Run’s message was on “Service”  when I first drafted this post, and it read:

Good morning. You can get anything in the world that you want, if you help other people get what they want- Ziglar
God is Love
Rev Run

Right on Rev! Sometimes we sweat the small stuff. Rising above all that and holding out a helping hand to someone helps you in return by finding deeper meaning and perspective in life while making a difference. Doing this takes your focus off of yourself and trivial matters and onto others. We only get one chance at this game called life, so you may as well jump in with both feet and make a difference.

And oh by the way Anti-Boredom, that job jar is waiting for you on the kitchen counter!!

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Food Revolution Pizza Pie – Made for a King

May 14th, 2010 3 Comments Tags: , , , ,

Pizza gets a bad wrap. For me in my home it’s a nearly perfect food, once in a while. I whip this up and make sure I have plenty of leftovers. I cut and wrap it in individual pieces which are perfect to heat up and serve with a side salad after a long work day or for a convenient weekend lunch before a golf game.

I routinely make 2 kinds of pizza. Many ingredients are similar for both so it’s actually convenient to do. For me, when you’re making a mess, prepare extra and you don’t need to make it again until next season perhaps. You can make these toppings a day or so in advance. If you do, heat them up while you’re preparing your pans and dough.

Tomato Sauce Topping

3-4 crushed garlic cloves

1 onion sliced

7-10 mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)

4-5 chopped marinated artichokes pieces

sliced black olives (to suit your preference)

1 large can (28oz or 830mL) crushed plum tomatoes

4-5 chopped sundried tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

Spinach Topping

3-4 crushed garlic cloves

1 onion sliced

7-10 mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)

4-5 chopped marinated artichokes pieces

sliced black olives (to suit your preference)

1 bag spinach – washed, boiled, strained & chopped

salt & pepper to taste

Put a tablespoon of oil (olive or canola) in each pot with the heat on low. Add the garlic and onion and cook to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms to each pot with a sprinkle of salt to help the mushrooms weep and soften. Then add and combine remaining ingredients to each pot. The spinach topping needs to be cooked on medium low for 5-10 minutes. While the tomato sauce topping needs to simmer on medium for about an hour, stir occasionally. You can either cool each and refrigerate or use the same day to make pizza. Ensure you warm these up while prepping your dough.

Preparing the Plans

2 individual pizza doughs, 1 per oiled pan/cookie sheet (preferrably whole wheat, white will work)

Sprinkle each pan evenly with cornmeal (optional)

Few slices chopped, extra hot (piquant) salami (optional for tomato pizza topping)

Grated cheeses of your liking (mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, goat’s, mixed cheeses)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Preparing the Dough

On your clean dry counter sprinkle flour on it and your rolling pin so the dough doesn’t stick. With your clean dry hands knead the dough then roll out in different directions, to make it larger than the pans as they usually shrink. Carefully arrange the dough in each pan to cover the bottom. Repeat with the other dough and pan.

On each dough add some shredded mozzarella cheese spread evenly. Using a slotted spoon add each topping spreading evenly over the dough surface. Arrange the salami pieces evenly over tomato pizza. (I use extra hot (piquant) so I get maximal flavour needing less salami). Over the tomato pizza I add more shredded cheese (usually either mozzarella or a combination of shredded cheeses). Over the spinach I add shredded asiago (my favourite), crumbled feta also works well. I sprinkle some parmesan cheese on both pizzas.

Baking & Enjoying

The baking time is generally 20 minutes in total. But I bake them on separate racks in the oven and will shift the pans on different racks at the 10 minute cooking mark. The heating in every oven is different so keep an eye they don’t burn. When baked, place to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Loosen the sides of the pizzas with a spatula. Cut in pieces and serve with a side salad….and wine….. so delectable, you can hear angels sing!!!

These are so scrumptious I’m sure Gayle King (pizza lover extraordinaire) would fly up from New York to sample them. Give me some lead time Gayle and I would be ecstatic to make these for you!!

Reality Check

Ok folks, no these aren’t low in fat nor low sodium. But they are a home made tradition to enjoy in moderation. When you put a lot of lovin’ into the preparation, you are more likely to savour the eating experience rather than hoover down one delivered to your door.

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Eating Vortex Tumbleweed

May 13th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever started off the day on the wrong foot? Hmmmm well this morning as I scurried out of the house for work – gathering more recycling than I can carry (as usual), I picked up an “empty” bottle of diet root-beer up-sidedown and a splash of soda pop spilt down my coat and white trousers. Nice!! Actually I didn’t say “nice” I said something else. And I know it’s early to sport white….

The start of the proverbial tumbleweed  begins and it can build from there. Sometimes, all we need is a wrong move to set us off to say “forget it, I need to quell the savage beast inside by eating whatever I please”. Wooooo horsey, just a minute!! Keep in mind that some things are out of our control, like the spillage this morning. It doesn’t need to turn into a tumbleweed of an emotional meltdown, topped with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

What I’m talking about here is that internal voice “out clause” justifying why NOT to stick to your plan. Hey I’m a hot blooded Italian, sometimes my own wisdom doesn’t help during the most difficult situations, but let’s work toward the 80-20 rule, where most times we stop that voice within. Find another pacifier that isn’t food that’ll snap you into a better mode – nice music, seeing someone who needs help, taking a deep breath, saying a bad word (under your breath of course)….you know the drill.

Remember, life is full of choices. How we react to any situation is too. We ARE in the driver’s seat, so try not to sweat the small stuff and keep it all in perspective.

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Veggie Might, or Might Not

May 12th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Sandra Wrote about May 9th Post on my Veggie Solution:

I read your post about getting your RDA of fruits and veggies by combining salads that you purchase at the deli counter.  Aren’t you concerned about how much sodium etc they may contain, as they dont include an ingredient breakdown?

Francy’s Response:

Thanks Sandra!! I’m sure many people are wondering the same thing. In an ideal world we as adult consumers should try to watch fat, calories, sodium, etc. But I find most people make nutritional goals on a continuum – home made veggie salads at one end and say French fries with poutine from a fast food joint at the other. I know as a working woman I’m not going to buy all of those ingredients and make a number of salads on the weekend. No can do. So despite my solution’s imperfection, that’s what I’ve chosen currently. For me making this change was a few steps better than my previous lunch choice. As I like to call it “Dietary Snakes and Ladders”.

I think people feel they need to balance so many nutrition and health issues they drive themselves batty feeling guilt that they never do well enough. I try taking the 40 thousand foot view in the grand scheme of things and find perspective for that circumstance. For me in my household eating these salads was much better than sandwiches with deli meats, for example. Also, my husband’s more likely to eat some of these when he’s scrounging around in the fridge for a nibble of something. It’s one of those trading off exercises discussed on May 6th – You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Many of us health professionals deal in the ideal sense of “what people should do”. It would be much more helpful to people to assist them in evaluating where they are on the continuum and make one or 2 goals to improve just a few steps better. (see my post on May 4 – Build a Better Body – A Better You). I think people who are so far off “the ideal” diet end up throwing up their hands and saying “forget about it”. That’s the last thing we want. Stay in the game and take baby steps to improvement.

Also, we can rely on each other, because we’re all in this together, Through Thick and Thin :-)

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Eating Economics

May 11th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

With all the hype about our economy, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about fundamentals pertaining to the equation of losing, gaining and maintaining with a twist. How thrifty are you?? Let’s talk about “Club” shopping, no, not club hopping….

Have you ever strolled through the aisle of one of those “super-sized” stores with economy jumbo packs of anything and everything? I remember the first time I had the pleasure, I was with my sister from Winston-Salem. I felt like I was a character in Honey I Shrunk the Kids!! Everything was so jumbo sized, I felt like a dwarf in comparison. Even smaller than a Hobbit. I got into this economy stuff, after all, look at all the money I’m saving…..

It was a real eye opener the day I thought I bought a jumbo can of plum tomatoes to make a super sized pot of sougo (aka pasta sauce), when it was really tomato paste instead. Lordy!! I didn’t have  a cauldron big enough to whip a batch up that size. I’ll admit I used to load up on a wide array of this humungo packaged stuff. After a while though, after eating too much of it, or chucking it out because the expiry date has long passed it got me thinking. Hmmmmmm. How much am I really saving here??

Research shows that people eat a lot more from a jumbo sized package than a more regular sized one. On a different level of economics, you might have saved a bundle per measure of the food, but if you consumed, say 10-20% more, from a calorie standpoint, well, you just overdid it.

Onto the equation of “calories in” to “calories out” – meaning you maintain weight when you take in what you burn off, in that scenario, time to turn up the heat on the calorie usage side of the equation. You’ve gotta walk a country mile to burn off a few chocolate chip cookies. Keep that in mind the next time you’re finishing off a row of the jumbo pack of them.

It might be necessary for Mother Hubbard to load up on the mega packs, but if that’s not you, try to use the regular sized items and plan better with your weekly grocery lists.

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Drama, Saboteurs & Taking the High Road

May 10th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

D. Blocka

I don’t know about you, but these last few hours of the television show 24 has shown me enough drama, don’t you think? All this while the hockey playoff suspense is mounting (ya whatever). Now the players are biting each other. When was Mini Me hired as a playing coach? Plus Idol, will it be Lee or Crystal who wins, how about Michael? The most drama I’m willing to face is on the television and I can turn it off whenever I please.

The same doesn’t have to be true for your eating regimen. When you’re trying to look your best. I say, stay under the radar. We all know people who can sniff out we “good-diet-doers” honing in on what we’re eating. Those saboteurs who have infiltrated our lives. Cast your eyes downward ladies, because it can be “good night nelly” when you’re caught in their steely gaze.

You all know someone who schemes to throw you off your diet – your all admiring co-worker with the candy on her desk, the consummate bulimic baker at your client’s office who brings in delectable delights, the overweight friend who enjoys having you to nosh with and can’t stand the thought of your friendship focusing on non-food activities. Take the time to identify who these people are and develop strategies to keep yourself in control.

  • Avoid being hungry around these people as they can sniff out your weakness if your blood sugar’s low and will dive in for the kill.  Have a snack.
  • Practice your list of excuses ahead of time:  I’ll bring this home and will eat it with……My doctor advised me to…..I can’t really drink on an empty stomach because….I heard this is a specialty of this restaurant……

And the list goes on – what you’re doing here is planning on taking control when others try to take it from you. Your little white lies wont’ be bad enough to send you to hell, you may need to spend an extra week in Purgatory, but it’ll be worth it.

A colleague and friend Cara and I did a study polling “successful losers” and we asked about how they deal with saboteurs. Here are some gems of advice:

  • “Don’t be affraid of telling them what your going through. Don’t be affraid to say no.”
  • “I know it is me that will pay the price if I don’t listen to myself, so I just smile when they make a comment.”
  • “Family members sometimes don’t like you to change because they don’t know how to deal with a skinnier version of you! Just know that you are on the right track and don’t take what the say or do personally…it’s their issues not yours!”
  • “Don’t tell anyone what you’re doing. Just eat what you want, tell them it’s rude to look at other people’s food.”
  • “Take deep breathes and ignore them, they suck.”

Say what you mean ladies!! Get and stay in the drivers’ seat, like these gals. You’ll be happy you did.

What’s your favourite line to offset your saboteurs?? Do share!

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Five to Ten, Count ‘em Up Again

May 9th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

D. Blocka

It’s a good time to turn the spotlight onto fruits and vegetables, some of Mother Earth’s bounty. Yes it’s true we need all of the food groups on a consistent basis. Don’t ever forget that. But I’ll be honest with you, only a few short years ago I took a good hard look at my diet and found I was barely getting 5-a-day of fruits and vegetables, only once in a while. Just because I can say I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Like everybody else, it’s important to re-evaluate things. My diet was clearly falling short. With the side effects of peri-menopause taking hold I needed a few more tricks up my sleeve to help me.

It may seem like a daunting task to eat an equivalent of a basket of fruits/veg each day. What am I, some nanny goat?? I think I first experienced a primordial rejection of this notion because that’s what our Mother’s always told us “eat your veggies”. Once you rise above that (as an adult) and focus on how to get this done I realize how much I miss this part of my diet, especially when I travel and don’t have a fruit drawer nearby.

My Evaluation – My routine dictated before that I bring 1-2 fruits for lunch (plus whatever food I’d prepare, like a sandwich) and have a few veggies with dinner. On days when I’d be eating out I got much fewer. I am generally not a juice drinker. I prefer to eat my calories than drink them – except for wine :-) I’ll leave that for another post altogether. This realization left me scratching my head – how on earth am I going to eat all of that? I ended up restructuring my lunch to help make this happen.

What Changed – I’ve divulged that I bring my lunch to work. I now bring a tupperware container with a combination of salads purchased at the deli. Ok, please don’t gasp. I know I’m not going to make these on the weekend out of 15 different ingredients and more having a long “to do” list to boot. If you like to do that, good for you!! Here’s what I choose from:

  • I choose at least 1 bean salad (mixed bean, chic pea, etc.)
  • I choose 2-3 veggie salads such as beet vinaigrette salad, oriental salad, Greek salad, vinaigrette coleslaw, rapini with garlic (when I’m not meeting anyone), etc.

I mix 3-4 varieties of salad in a 250mL (8oz) sized tupperware container, I bring 2 fruits (always a variety to mix it up), 1 individual container of cottage cheese and 2 individual containers of yoghurt (I love 0% fat Activia because it’s so smooth and creamy). All this makes me so full I could burst, even if I feel I have a hollow leg. For me lunch is preplanned so I don’t even need to think about it. It takes me 2-4 minutes to prepare. Now a no brainer.

At the time when I did this re-evaluation of my diet I felt I was gaining some weight easily; my plumbing was slow and my tummy was sticking out like a marsupial with a pouch despite doing ab crunches. Once I changed my lunch around – poof, hello Draino, all systems are running just fine thank you very much (can you say “regularity” with a rolling “rrrrrr”). I feel I have a better handle on my weight. Now I get ~7-10 of fruits and veggies per day on a more consistent basis.

If you only have the will to change one thing in our diet (assuming your diet is balanced), work on getting your 5-10 of fruits and veggies per day. Let me know about how you get yours in so we can build an artillery of ideas together. Or if you need some help on this one.

By the way, if you haven’t watched the “Lunch” improve spot, visit April 26th post and enjoy!

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A Mother’s Influence

May 8th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Well it’s Mother’s Day. A day to pay homage to the one woman who brought us into this world. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world – riddled with work, guilt, wonder. Mothers are tied to their offspring long after the apron strings have been cut, sometimes never. Always thinking, wondering, hoping, praying did I do enough?

I did some reflecting on my Mom, like I’m sure you have on yours. I am the youngest sibling of four girls within five years of age (yes, that’s us in the picture posted on April 2nd wearing outfits she sewed us for Easter). Oy oy oy is an understatement! She mastered the art of homemaking as an at home mom.

One benefit of being the youngest was having extra one-on-one time together, just her and me. Whether we were doing chores, shopping or taking an afternoon nap over a movie (Three Faces of Eve) we always had fun together. I vividly remember us turning on Jack Lalane on our black and white TV and exercising along with him. At times we’d work out listening to Connie Francis swooning on our turntable. This was well before the fitness craze people. One other benefit of being the youngest is basking being in my fourty’s, when all of my sisters are in their fifties….that goes for hubby-boy and brothers in laws too. No matter how old I am, they are always older :-)

I am very thankful for many things, but now as an adult I’m most thankful for the things I didn’t much appreciate way back when – like her setting and keeping limits (yes, and don’t call me “her”), showing tough love, giving us regular age-appropriate chores like food preparation, making lunches, clean up and such. We had unspoken rules like eating breakfast and dinner together as often as possible. We learned other important things like the value of a dollar. This has come in handy in my life especially this week. I took my car in for it’s annual check up and it ended up also needing new brakes, tires and some other thing, leaving us eating meatless for a while. “Ricci and pauvre”‘s back on the menu honey (that’s Italian for a dish called “Rich and Poor” better know as Pasta Fagioli).

A few years back my food-luvin’ husband said to me “…you know at some point I thought you would have started to cook more like your Mom!” Hmmm really. Yes, and the job jar is waiting for you on the kitchen counter too….That is a compliment for you Mom!!

Take the time to show appreciation to your Mom – that one woman who gave you life, opportunity, potential. Not just on Mother’s Day but everyday of the year.

Thanks for everything Mom!! I love you.

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