Archive for January, 2011

Monitoring Moment – Of Paunch & Circumstance

January 31st, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Oh for the magic of monitoring. I find in the depths of these winter months we get shrouded behind our winter woollies. You know, an emerging double chin hidden in a thick turtle neck, our paunch under a downy parka and our thunder thighs in thick corduroy. What we don’t want with the spring thaw is the dawning of paunch and circumstance – nay nay I say.

The scale and tape measure don’t tell a lie folks, that’s for sure. Whether we want to believe it or not, they are our friend. Elasticized waistbands; however, can help you stretch the truth and keep you in a misty fog of doubt. Successful losers keep a keen eye on their dimensions and ensure they monitor the mannequin in the mirror from time to time. I wrote a post called Gut Check August 31 so give it a re-read.

I tend to use my ironside jeans as my gauge because I don’t have a scale in my house. Just like tobogganing, our weight can slide with a pound added here and another one there, here a pound, there a pound, everywhere a pound, pound…. If hibernating is how you handle winter you may be battling the bulge by spring. I’m a big believer that Awareness is Bliss, posted October 10 so give that a re-read as well. Drop your drawers and take a look at all angles in a full length mirror and let it all hang out.

I’ll confess, after New Year I gave myself a much needed proverbial bonk on the head and uped the ante of my exercise routine while keeping a closer look at my daily hoof in mouth eating. It’s only been a few weeks of doing my mat routine (posted April 28) along with a few minutes on my 2 machines and overall tightening the screws that I do feel a bit more toned and fit.

Monitoring is key folks. Better you check in to Hotel Reality now rather than wait until that paunch and circumstance takes over. You’ll be glad you did!!

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Miss Behavin', Successful Loser Logic | No Comments »

Motivational Moment

January 30th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I undertook my regular dentist checkup the other day. On my way out, I met the receptionist to make my next appointment – oh joy. She gave me an uggish – “oh we’re almost through January, but really February is the hardest month”. Hey lady, I’m the one here with the bleeding gums, having just had my jousting match with the poking and prodding of a blunt object. What are you complaining about? Hmmmm I thought, maybe it’s time for yet another motivational moment.

Rise up people, yes we’ve almost made it through January. If you’ve got a job, good friends, something to celebrate, food in your fridge and you’re not heading off to war any time soon – you certainly do have something to say Hooo HAAA over. Hmmm, let’s see, those of you who are loyal T & T followers know I’ll be “celebrating” my 50th this year. Now, if I spent my life wishing away all my January’s I’d have wished away over 4 years of my life by now. Add in all of the Mondays and that’s an additional 2,600 days. Days where you had your performance appraisal, parent teacher meetings, MD appointments (colourfully explained June 25), job interviews and the like, then add in another 1,000 or so days – give or take a week. Add all that up and that’s almost 14 years being wished away……

Hmmm wished away, as I stare 50 straight in the eyes it feels like time has whisked away. Can we slow down the gallop? It feels like it is only speeding up. As I was running some errands today I heard a lady telling another about the possibility of having her surgery by spring. When I called the pharmacy to renew my thyroid medication the lady wanted to know if I needed it delivered. Delivered?? I decided to suit up and walk there to get it, like Annie Get Your Gun, except I’m Franny!!

Notable milestones, for me, seem to be serving as a wake up call of sorts and reaching this 50 thing has turned the alarm bells on LOUD. I don’t wish to be any younger – been there done that. I am just reminding myself to continue living fully, that’s all. There are some 80 somethings I know who seem to be having a wake a week for goodness sake. I don’t wish Januarys to pass, rainy days to pass, clouds to pass, my weekdays to pass, Mondays to pass…..Bring it all on with gusto. I just want to hang on to this very moment digging in with my fingernails and stilettos and cherish each and every one to the fullest.

Hmmm, I think it’s time for my annual re-read of A New Earth.

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Funnies By a Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Business Travel Bupkiss – Annoyances & Confusions

January 27th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Ahh yes, yet another buz travel day. This time I was up before the crack of dawn on the Toronto to Ottawa flight, better know as the 45 minute roller coaster ride. When the temperature of these 2 cities differs by say 5 degrees or more on the same day you’ll find 2 weather fronts collide with some rockin’ and a rollin’ way up in the sky. Make sure that little white bag is in your seat pouch my friends because you just might need it. The last time I flew I found humour (on November 23). This time I’m just not feeling the love to find humour. My annoying alarm jolted me awake from a dream with shadows of Me and Oprah hanging out – and now I don’t know the ending – good grief….off to the airport…

Next stop is the beloved security check. I’m not in any mood to get up close and personal with anybody with rubber gloves this fine morning. I make sure all of the metal is removed from my person so put my belt in my computer bag, not wanting that dang buzzer to sound. I get through, buzzer free. But aha, the fellow looking at my bag through the x-ray machine finds a suspicious metal object. They rifle through my bag to find – yes you guessed it TA DA the belt I removed before walking through the scanner ….say what??

Ok, off to the gate, awaiting the boarding announcement. I always feel mystified by some of the logistics. They are sometimes so darn illogical. Why don’t they call the people sitting on the window seats first, cause it usually happens that the “aisle seaters” get in before the window seaters who need to get out to let in the……well you know the drill. Why is it that the folks with the weakest bladders seem to always sit by the window…I’m just sayin’.

Then the folks who don’t have any sense of their personal space board. Ya you know this person – Norton Napsack who swivels around to bonk you in the head when you least expect it. Good morning chump. He’s usually followed by Katie the Kaffeinator who not only has bags hanging off of each shoulder but a full cup of coffee in hand. Hmmmmm let me guess Katie you’re not from the planning department, because I don’t think you thought this thing through. If I don’t bounce up to intercept your cuppa-joe you’re gonna spill it on my perty little head….”Here let me help you”….before I get scalded, mumble, mumble, mumble. No I’m really not that nice, I’m just into self preservation before the sun rises.

The roller coast ride has begun. An announcement used to come on overhead “Hello this is Captain Cook speaking….blah blah blah, feel free to move freely about the cabin – blah blah blah”. Oh ya, let’s get up and do the 20 Minute Workout with all of the space we have – lunge baby lunge. There’s not enough space to change my mind let alone break into a set of jumping jacks. Who’s he kidding?? By the way, is it just me or is it a prerequisite for all pilots to have such nice voices…. Maybe they have a voice synthesizer like a karaoke machine so they all sound that good, hmmmmm. I digress….

And yes, this morning I have The Jolly Green Giant sitting in front of me who reclines his seat back only to find my nose being 8″ from the seat back in front of me – ho ho ho. I need air!! If my tray table was down when he reclined I’d have gotten it right in the gut. How about the heim-lick procedure when nothing’s stuck in your throat – UG?

So now we’re circling for a landing and they announce you’re only allowed to keep earbud earplugs in your ears. Okey-dokey. How’s Eddie the Earphone guy who’s finding serenity with his state of the art sound-blocker head set on gonna know what you just announced la la la la la …. Maybe they need a little electric buzzer to give him the heads up.

I’m seated 3 rows in front of Cat woman who brought Muffy the cat on board in a kitty bag meow meow meow meow. Did Muffy put it’s little paws up in the scanner before she boarded? Muffy did the meow meow meow before landing, perhaps her little ears were popping. Maybe she was wondering if the pilot forgot to put the wheels down like I was thinking, hmmmmm. Does Muffy have a furball to chew on to help her ears??

Ah yes, it’s our lucky day where we had a tailwind and we get to land early. I usually find 1 of 2 things in this circumstance – 1 Captain Cook touches down on the runway furtherest away from the airport, leaving a tropo longo taxi ride in OR the ground crew are on break at Tim Horton’s because they weren’t expecting us so soon….early shmirly….

So we’re at our destination. In some modern airports they have a super-fast walkway. I find all of the Type A’s scurry importantly on this master-mover. To their dismay they arrive at the baggage claim only to wait even longer if they took the regular walkway OR if they put one foot in front of the other and got there the old fashioned way….. Perhaps Ernie the Engineer who thought this contraption up should have thought this through a little better – yes someone else NOT from the planning department. Why not connect the ultra fast paced belt from the plane to the bag carousel so yes your bag will be ready FOR YOU when you reach it…….Now that’s using you noggin’.

Off to the meeting……

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Francy Rants, Funnies By a Foodie | No Comments »

Food Revolution Casual Calzones

January 26th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Now here’s a real winning recipe that everyone in your household will love. They work perfecting on one of those days you want to go meatless, just because. As usual, I make a double batch and freeze some for later to have for a lunch on the run or when you don’t feel like cooking, presto, they’re ready to warm up.

1 bag washed, boiled, drained, chopped spinach
125mL (half cup) marinated chopped artichokes
4-6 minced garlic cloves
500mL (2 cups) skim ricotta cheese
125mL (half cup) grated parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper for seasoning
2 ready made fresh bread doughs (preferably whole wheat)
shredded mozzarella or asiago cheese
tomato sauce for dipping (see December 8 post)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl add and combine all ingredients on the list up to and including the seasoning. On your clean flat, floured surface, roll out your dough one at a time. Using a sharp knife, cut into quarters using a big cross. Add a dollop of your cheese combination into each segment of dough. Then sprinkle with a handful of shredded mozzarella or asiago. Now pinch each closed like a turnover and place on your oiled cookie/pizza sheet. Repeat until you’ve used up all of your ingredients. Place in the heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool and serve warm.


I serve these with one of my side salads posted June 22 & 23 with a bowl of heated tomato sauce for dipping the calzones into. They never disappoint, that’s for sure. All I have to say about this is that it’s a perfect antedate to those store bought “pizza pockets” ….Eat your heart out!!

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Food Revolution Recipes | No Comments »

Of Root Causes & Grey Zone….

January 25th, 2011 No Comments

I had some downtime to mull over issues more deeply lately. I read yet another article on obesity and governments’ role in all of this. It got me soul searching more than usual. Hmmmm. I heard about Bob Greene’s new book called The Life You Want. Essentially he talks about creating your own vision for your life and following that path. Definitely easier said than done Bobby boy, but I was impressed with the purity in his approach.

We’re bombarded with finger pointing and accusations about “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” causing obesity in our world. One day it’s sugar, another it’s fast food, the next is all the junk, then it’s the soda pop, it’s the system without enough sidewalks, some say it’s food in schools. Stop the madness – what gives??!! Where will the evil eye of the spotlight turn to next…… Yes, each of these have a part to play but not on their own…

Well folks, I think that our society is sick and we’re pacifying ourselves with food to help take the pain away. There are many facets of medicine in my view that are very black and white. If you have a blocked artery, you get it fixed. If you have a bad knee or hip you get a new one. If you have a tumour, you get it removed. But the area of psychology in the realm of emotions is not so cut and dry, black and white. It’s grey – many shades of it. We live in a society ridden by stress, with lack of time, dysfunctional families, kids having issues, with mixed up priorities and more.

One of the things that stuck with me is Bob Greene saying that as humans we do all we can to avoid pain. How true. It got me thinking about how we pacify ourselves with continual stimuli… in our ears, eating food that provides instant gratification and building up schedules so we don’t stop long enough to realize the pain we’re actually in. Ouch! All of these actions have psychological undertones that don’t get better by simply removing junk food from vending machines or by paving more sidewalks in our neighbourhoods. They get better by shining the spotlight on them to make us aware what on earth we are doing.

One thing I’ve realized in life, is that working in the “grey zone” on complex issues never is easy. It’s very difficult. However, trying to cover a huge gash with a miniature bandaid doesn’t help either. I think this 2011 we need to get real already. What we’ve been doing hasn’t helped much, so let’s change our approach. Let’s get all jiggy with our emotions and maybe then, we’ll begin to make a difference on this epidemic. After all, it can’t hurt….

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Policy for the People | No Comments »

Who’s Zoomin’ Who – Eating Disorders in Kids

January 24th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I read in the LA Times the other day that eating disorders in kids under 12 is on the increase. I used to be a pediatric dietitian at an academic health science center some years ago and understand all too well the delicate balance of cause and effect with kids’ eating around attitudes and behaviour. I have written about food in schools on March 25 and October 12. I am adamant not to rock the boat too much as it might upset the entire proverbial applecart. I really hope this new stat isn’t the result of this.

Kids are quick as whips and pick up clues on what’s going on more than we mere adults realize. Kids learn about food and eating in the various environments they exist in – home, school, daycare and the like. They learn from various interactions they immerse themselves in – whether at the family table (written about September 1) or the fast food drive thru window, the school cafeteria, the class, the internet and more.

Diets and the notion of “good food versus bad food” runs rampant on TV, in homes, in schools, in press it’s gone mad. What worries me is the mixed signals and interpretations that could sink in to kids’ young minds when they try to make sense of all of this creates confusion and sometimes problems. When I meander through the grocery store I often see confused adults trying to make sense of it all. How on earth do kids make sense of it??

I think we need to study kids perceptions around the changes of food in schools that have been made these days, for example. Have they noticed? Were they part of the change? Do they venture out of the school to seek food that’s not immediately available? What has all of this change meant to them? Are they charged to do the opposite of what was intended?? There’s so much we need to know so we work on doing what will help them.

We need to find out why the rate of eating disorders in younger kids is rising? And we need to find out fast! Because if all of our well-meaning policies are creating unintended consequences than previously planned we all need to put the brakes on and rethink our approach. It’s difficult enough to be a kid these days, let’s not add another layer of confusion into the mix.

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Francy Rants, Miss Behavin', Nutrition News, Policy for the People, Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

Give Your Move-on A Move-on

January 23rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I read two studies hot of the press about activity levels of adults and kids. They tell us what we already know; however, that neither adults nor kids are active enough. They serve as a perfect reminder, though, for us to give our move-on a move-on!! I have done a lot of writing about this topic over the past year. You dedicated T & T followers know this already.

But if as a parent you want your kids to get the lead out, I think we’ll agree that getting outside for some fresh air and doing the hokey-pokey can surely do the job. For many, this cold time of year is a perfect excuse to want to hibernate. For me, those excuses are pretty tiresome. The experts recommend we move our booty for 150 minute per week or 30 minutes per day. Kids should double that. You don’t even have to do this all at once, but can break it down into smaller time intervals.

I wrote about doing “stealth” exercise on January 18 when I “Pioneered it”. I’m sure no one noticed or realized that was my exercise regimen. Take this morning for instance. I arose early, then the dark side of my mind started to make excuses suggesting I put off my walk until later, hmmmmmm. I was flooded with thoughts of how I would fill my time on this frigid morn. Good thing my brain’s Sense & Sensibility stepped in, got me to get bundled and vamoose out of the house before I could muster another “but”…..

Oh the games we mere mortals play. Well the jokes on you when you fall for the excuse train of thought. While on my walk I heard two chickadees calling each other with their characteristic whistle. When I was young I remember my Dad would make that sound when he came in the door from work. When I hear that sound it warms my heart. Further along I heard cardinals. How lovely. Before I knew it I rounded home and was back at my work with my personal goal checked off of my proverbial list.

This time of year we can try to get the lead out by overeating, by drinking too much coffee or tea, barley-sandwiches or wine, by hunkering down to watch hours of mindless TV ad-nausium. What really helps is getting moving – it helps the body, mind and soul and really helps with that junk in the trunk :-)

Tell me how you get yourself moving. We’d like to know…..

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Miss Behavin', Successful Loser Logic | No Comments »

Lou’s Roasted Tomato Soup

January 20th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , ,

Ahhh more soup glorious soup!! I do; however, feel like I’m swimming in it these days…. A steamy bowl of soup is so satisfying with lunch or dinner on a blustery winter’s days. My sister Lou from North Carolina sent me this recipe that I finally got around to making. I’m sure glad I did!! She kids me that they keep getting clippers from Canada to chill them out down there. I tell her they’re clippers from Alaska!! Yes, a cool breeze from Sarah Palin country…..

I served this up last week with company on a weeknight with calzones. How yummy is that??!! I happened to find some nice looking tomatoes at the grocery store and wanted to whip this up once and for all. I must say this will remain in my soup-repertoire from this day forward. Making this recipe of my sister’s is a nice way to connect over the miles….thanks Lou!!


4 pounds roma tomatoes, washed, halved, cored

6-7 garlic cloves, unpeeled

½ cup olive oil

½ tsp. oregano

1 onion, chopped

crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups chicken broth (can use veggie stock)

½ cup skim milk

shavings of parmigiano reggiano cheese

fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Place garlic cloves in foil and pour a dab of oil on them. Make a small purse. Place on baking sheet with tomatoes. Roast for 3 hours or until tomatoes are soft and slightly shrivelled (if using convection oven roast for 1-1 ½ hours).

Heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in heavy stockpot and add onion and red pepper flakes.  Cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until onion is soft about 5 minutes.  Add roasted tomatoes, peeled garlic, chicken stock and simmer, covered for 20 mins.

Puree soup with hand blender or food processor. Stir in milk and add more spices if needed.

Serve and garnish with parmesan shavings and chopped fresh basil.


It’s really great to “move your cheese” by trying something new in the kitchen. It helps keep me out of that rut that we sometimes get in, like a feedback loop of a bad movie!! I still have some in the freezer ready to enjoy when I’m ready to partake. As always, I made a bigger batch while making a mess.

By the way the roasted tomatoes will keep for a week if you like to roast them ahead of time. When done simply cover and refrigerate, then finish the rest of the recipe.

Also, this soup can be made up to the point of putting the milk in one day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Alternatively, it can be frozen for several weeks.

Do you have a soup recipe you’re sporting these days. We’d love to know…

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Food Revolution Recipes | No Comments »

Good to Great Principles Reapplied

January 19th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

If you haven’t yet read the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, I suggest you do. It’s been out for many years now, but is still relevant today. I got to thinking that the principles he brings up in the book apply to successful weight loss and management perfectly.

I read this book years ago and I remember my main take home message was that it didn’t take any 1 factor to emerge from good to great, it took a wide array of factors to rise to that designation.

If you have ever asked someone who lost weight successfully how they did it, they’d give you a laundry list of changes they made over time including changing their food intake, activity output, their attitude, their relationships and confidence, cooking, dining out, approach to dressing and attire and more. I got to thinking that to become the best you can be these same principles apply.

There are times when our diet-mojo fizzles out for a period. It’s times like those where you can focus on other aspects of your life aside from food and exercise. For example, I never get tired of paying special attention to detail on personal attire. Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a clothes horse….naaaaaay!! When you’re dressed to feel your best, as I’ve said before, you will probably eat better. If you’ve been doing the ho-humming not wanting to go out for your walk, when you feel great, you are more likely to go for the gusto and just get it done already.

Think about the opposite scenario – dressing like a schlepp. When you feel all ugg-ish and dowdy, you probably could care a less about how you eat or move. This has nothing to do with diet, except everything…..

So if you get a bit bored with your plan, focus on another behavioural pearl to help keep you in the game.

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Miss Behavin', Successful Loser Logic | No Comments »

Blue Monday? or New Monday!

January 18th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I woke up this past Monday morning to hear gobuldygoop on the radio about the notion of Blue Monday – baaaah!! It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day don’t you know?? Hearing some pearl sound-bites of his speeches filled me up with hope, inspiration and joy on that new day and week. The snow fluttered down, yet again, this time falling like icing sugar all round. How beautiful.

I thought to myself, what’s it gonna be – a Blue Monday or a New Monday?? I have a to-do list from work to keep me hopping, some home activities needing to be juggled and an A-HA moment on the weekend with a book idea – TA DA. I also feel excitement knowing that The Pittsburgh Steelers won on the weekend putting them into the semi-finals, yet again, aha, aha, uhu!! Really folks, can it get any better than that?? I don’t think so.

You may be getting tired of me writing about attitude, persistence, possibilities and motivation since the dawning of the New Year, but I can’t help it. It’s true. We all have so much potential inside of us all we need to do is harness it. Giddy-up already!! When you hear some bobble-headed blues-news caster blather away about Blue Monday, put a sock in it and pay no mind to the little voice in the black box. For today has a glistening blue sky up above. The colder temps have me dressing with another layer, helping me burn-baby-burn a few more calories than usual with the cold as I do my daily walk because I’m healthy enough to put one foot in front of the other.

On my trek I heard some birds chirping. They didn’t seem to mind this alleged Blue Monday toque-less with flimsy feathers, but embraced it like a New Monday. And that’s exactly how I chose to face it too. I’ll make the best of my “fresh slate”, put my head down and dig in and I hope you have too.

In honour of this symbolic Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, pick up a copy of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill if you haven’t already and read it. I’ll admit it wasn’t an easy read. But a necessary one. Peace on earth depends on it…..Have a dream……

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Francy Rants, Miss Behavin', Nutrition News | No Comments »