Archive for November, 2011

Business Travel Bupkiss…. 2 Sleeps & I’m Home

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

I always laugh at people who marvel at others who have the privilege to travel on business. Ya, watch the blood vessel in my head bulge as I laugh so hard…..I was recently on a short jaunt to SmallVille, so I’m thinking it’d be relatively uneventful….NOT.

It starts out on rainy and windy day with cumulonimbus clouds dotting the sky, how storybook??!! As we’re making our ascension into the sky there was a rockin’, rollin’ and coochy-coo’in’ as the plane’s wings waved left and right. Are we part of an air show or something?? Let me out of this tin-can!! I mumbled a few Hail Mary’s and one Glory Be because I thought our ascension was going right to Heaven. Yes I’ve always wanted to meet Steve Jobs, but truly, I can wait, really I can.

I settle in to my guilty pleasure and find comedy to view on demand as the turbulence dies down. That’ll make my rumbly tumbly less bumbly, right!! Well yes, that and some tomato juice and some pretzels, 3, I think, I almost lost count. I spilt nary a drop.

Off the plane, I snagged my bag after a while on 1 carousel that appeared to be the only one handling all incoming flights. The taxi line up snaked and slithered slow and long on this cool, damp, dusk evening. I dawned a cab with a delightful driver who snaked further up and down 1 way streets thinking I wouldn’t notice. If I had a compass on hand it would be spinning, let me tell you.

Ahhh yes, then my arrival at this not-so-chic “doggie friendly” tired motel-like complex. I like “people friendly” places; perhaps I’m a little high maintenance. Hmmmm, how can I describe it, say army-barracks chic??!! I should have packed fatigues to fit in instead of business suits, good grief.

Aha, now I make my way into the kitchenette. My favourite part of my room. There is a mini wicker basket with packets of sugar, sweeteners, powdered creamers and EUREKA a high caffeine source for the morning – cupajo!! Yes, things are looking up. The package has an unrecognizable brand name, touting that it is indeed “gourmet coffee”. Well I’ll be the judge of that when I’m a sleepy-head and cranky-pants tomorrow morning. On the flip side of the package there are two pictorial instructional series of how to prepare this golden stuff, one for English and one for French. There were no words that went with either one… All I wanted to know is how much water to add….HELLO…

Below was a 1 -800 number with a line “your comments are always welcome” I hope the chic on the phone knows how much water to add. She did.

So it’s time to catch up on e-mails and such. Hmmmm I click on which network. Funny the picture on the home page must be from some other hotel because the man is smiling in the picture and the room looks lovely. The power of advertising. Oh well, at least my password worked, I can dive into my reading and distract myself until Finding Erica is on the tube……

Despite all of that “noise” the meetings went very well. After all, that’s what I went there for, right? And NO business travel isn’t this luxurious benefit for some. In fact, occasionally it’s quite the opposite.

Even though I left my ruby slippers at home I was clicking my heels at check-out time. Come hill or high water, rain or shine or mega turbulence, there really is no place like home….Ahhhhhhhhh

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Skewed Attitude

November 29th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I was doing some thinking about the challenge of losing weight and keeping it off, hmmmmmm. I have mentioned many times that we make about 200 decisions about food and eating every single day. And each year is chocked full with 365 days with all of the fun, work, commitments, challenges, roadblocks in our journey of life.

I got to thinking that there’s an awful lot of research on aspects of the diet and behaviour to keep us up reading for weeks. But what I think is the glue that holds our regimen together is our attitude about it all. Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of gal?? Are you a Debbie Downer who rains on everybody’s parade, seeing the negative in even the best of situations?

When I did the math of all of these decisions in the context of my life I scratched my head wondering how I hold it all together? As I always say there are at least a thousand ways to do the same thing right, and even more to screw it all up. Why make it so difficult by being Queen Krankypants? Whether it’s about eating and staying on track or keeping your life inside the proverbial rails, the same principles apply.

It’s a gald darn big world out there. Despite the economic downturn there is plenty of opportunity for many of us. We just need some ingenuity, commitment, imagination and diligence. With that there’s not a lot you can NOT NOT do. I think our attitude is part of the foundation of success in life, whatever your goal. We take our cars for a tune-up. How about we do the same with our attitude, shall we?

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Change-up of the Seasonal Shuffle

November 28th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I was meandering downtown the other day and was struck by a swarm of skaters. Not literally of course!! As Jack Frost blows in to town, so do many exercise plans go poof that don’t bend and stretch with the change of season. Some who emulate the likes of Smokey the Bear plan to hibernate with the winds of change this autumn – nay nay I say!!

Despite being born and raised in this great not-so-white-north, I still find it difficult to get used to the cold – brrrrrrrrr. A great antidote to that is getting yourself a warm coat, thick hat and gloves and you’re good to go outside and play. You might surprise yourself at how lovely this time of year can be.

Take the other day for example, I changed up the time I took my walk and was treated to dusk. As I rounded my neighbourhood loop people’s Christmas lights turned on as the sky light dimmed. What a warm sight the lights, the Frosty’s, the tinsel and the decorations are as they glimmer in the evening.

So folks, give your attitude a tune-up and your exercise routine a change-up and get outside and enjoy.

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Kids & Eating – Begging & Bargaining Backfire

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

Who would have thunk some of the little kiddies have so much control, especially when it comes to eating various foods. Well they do hold all of the cards whether we like to admit it or not in many aspects of life. Your controlling management ways might work at the office; however, these strategies rarely work where the little tykes are concerned.

Research shows that begging, bribing and bargaining often backfire. It’s so counterproductive that not only will they not want to eat what you’re pushing but will admit to not liking those foods in the long-run.

Do you get consternation every time you want to serve cauliflower to your kids?? Well, do a rethink of your approach to avoid a big stink. Try a new approach at mealtime – offer a variety of food with a calm atmosphere. Avoid the standing ovation by showing emotion if Little Johnny tries what you made or the big fuss if he refuses. React like it’s no big deal.

Some studies show that new foods need to be presented 10-20 times before a child is willing to try it. Try the ole birthday party trick and introduce some of these foods with some good eaters in attendance. Little Johnny might want to impress his party going peers giving everything a try.

Really folks, kids know how to press their parents buttons, that’s for sure. They’ve been doing it throughout the ages. Try to turn the emotional dial down at mealtime and you might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

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Food Revolution Easy Roast Beef

November 24th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Since attending that fab beefy workshop a few weeks back, Indy has been asking for a roast incessantly. Alright already!! I must admit I felt confident leaving the event with my artillery of information and tools to be a master roaster but my confidence fizzled a smidgen. So I made a date with my roasting pan, thermometer and carving knife last week, then went for it!!

Ingredients
1 kg (2 pound) sirloin tip roast

Ingredients for Rub
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp finely ground espresso coffee (regular fine found coffee will do)
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground pepper

Ingredients for Peppercorn Wine Sauce
2 Tbsp pan drippings
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup sodium reduced beef broth
1 cup red wine or Madeira

Instructions to Prepare Roast
Pat your roast dry with a paper towel. Combine the ingredients for the rub, then season the roast with it. Insert the thermometer into the centre of the roast (avoiding fat or bone). Place in a shallow roasting pan (without water and lid).

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes to sear the roast.

Reduce heat to 275 degrees F and roast until it reaches the desired doneness, removing it from the oven when it’s 5 degrees F below the finished temperature.

Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil to rest for 15-30 minutes.

We love it medium-rare so were aiming for 145 degrees F. If you prefer yours done medium to well aim for 160 degrees F.

Instructions to Prepare Peppercorn Wine Sauce
In 2 Tbsp of the fat drippings, heat the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp flour; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in broth, wine and cracked peppercorns. Cook, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk until sauce boils and thickens, about 4 minutes.

Commentary
Talk about getting a hero sandwich for undertaking something so cinchy!! I had enough leftovers to make a few hero sandwiches the days following too :-) These leftovers are so much better to use in sandwiches than the processed stuff, that’s for sure.

I feel keeping your eye on the thermometer is pretty much the key to your success here. I had one of these “weight and time” to doneness charts. My roast was somewhat flat. Even with my oven convection turned off my roast was done in an hour flat whereas the chart read 1 3/4 to 2 1/4. I was watching the thermometer, not necessarily the timer….thank goodness.

This sauce accompanied the roast swimmingly. Those nutty gravy commercials make you think you need a degree in culinary arts to make the stuff. Forget that, this recipe was perfect.

I must admit I felt a little sheepish not feeling confident about making a roast, only to realize my fears slow cooked away in no time!! Give this a try this American Thanksgiving or any dinner you plan to sit down with your bella familia. Mine is coming over to join in the meaty fun on Sunday. Chew on that Lady Gaga. Enjoy!!

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Slumberin’ to Slimmin’

November 23rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

For the love of a restful slumber! It got me thinking about the importance of getting enough sleep as part of your artillery to manage your weight. For many in this time-squeezed era, we try to burn the candle at both ends by working more as our To-Do lists grow. The last time I checked we’re not living on Jupiter where its revolution in 1 day is probably more than 24 hours. Here on planet Earth we still only have 24 hours in each day.

There are also some not-so-bright strategies to artificially jump-start our energy levels with the likes of caffeine. Whether we’re doubling up on coffee, caffeinated soda pop or energy drinks, an accumulation of too much of the caffeinated stuff can wreak havoc on our sleep as well, for adults and kids alike.

I find when I travel through different timezones while I’m adjusting to my new daily routine when drowsy I find my cues are hazy as I try to figure out what my body’s mumbling about – am I tired, am I hungry, am I thirsty or what’s the story?? It’s easy to simply fall in the snack trap, eat and assume that’s what your body is asking for.

If you’re having trouble losing weight while you’re not getting your zzzz’s, start counting your sheep and make getting enough a high priority.

Check out my Sunshine and Moonshine in the photo from many moons ago. I’ve been told the dude on the left now sports a beard!! It’s not Beard-ember Vince, it’s MO-vember…. always gotta be different :-)

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Trade-off Turnaround at the Food Court

November 22nd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I’m starting a series on the notion of trading off in the context of potential weight loss. If I’ve said this once I’ve said it a 1,000 times, there are a thousand ways (at least) to do the same thing right. Also, when people think of losing weight they think about a super restricted regimen without their favourite foods. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your diet regimen is what you make it. So for the next few months let’s look at a number of scenarios and how making changes can add up to a loss.

Here’s a food court, lunchtime scenario:

  • Let say you eat at the food court 5 days a week. You routinely order the double burger with cheese, large fries and large soda pop to wash it down. This adds up to 1,560 calories each sitting. Say WHAT??
  • Ok, so you’re willing to move your cheese a little and decide you’ll enjoy that mega meal every Friday, except you’ll have it with small fries and diet soda instead. This adds up to 960 calories each sitting. Still a LOT, but certainly better than before.
  • From Monday to Thursday you will try other filling alternatives such as chili, grilled chicken sandwich, veggie sub, pizza slice or even a Japanese stir-fry and wash it down with sugar free soda pop or mineral water. MmmMmm tasty morsels!!
  • You also decide you will only have a side order of small fries twice each week and will try a side salad or soup the other days instead. These meal combos add up to about ~500 calories/serving.
  • The current choice provides 7,800 calories/week.
  • The changed scenario provides 2,960 calories/week.
  • Doing this over an entire year can result in a 70-pound weight loss over that time! How great is that?? VERY!!

I have written that awareness is bliss in the food court and this example certainly demonstrates that in spades. There are many better choices out there that can still fill the void. Check the calorie details out on-line, begin trading off by having lower calorie choices more often. Every little bit adds up. After all, when you know better, you do better!

 

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Beyond Vitamins & Minerals – Polyphenols

November 21st, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

There is so much to know in the world of food and nutrition. Just when you think you’ve got it all down pat, other elements of the diet emerge. I was doing some reading today about the benefits of polyphenols. Research shows that those found in plants help limit the development of fat cells while it also breaks down lipids and fats. Well hello polyphenols!!

The basic blueberry is an excellent source of this fairy dust. Pomegranate, coffee are too. Polyphenols exist in in all plant foods and contribute to the beneficial health effects of veggies and fruit. Yes another reason why we need to try to get our 5-10 veggies & fruits every day.

I love reading about the bonanza benefits of blueberries, but I don’t believe in any one silver bullet to bludgeon the likes of obesity. Trust me, if I hear about a silver bullet you’ll be the first to know.

I love these tasty morsels whether blueberries or pomegranate pearls in salads to pump up the taste and add interest. Polyphenols, here I come!!

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Kids & Eating – Participation Payoff

November 20th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s a lot of talk about cooking being a lost art these days. There’s even more concern about funky food habits and kids; even food phobia. What gives? Well get this, studies show that when kids take part in age appropriate food preparation from a relatively young age, say 5 to 10 years, they are more likely to try and even like the food they make. Perhaps Jessica Seinfeld should give that a try, rather than sneaking veggies in her kids’ food…..

I think it’s great to get kids involved in all aspects of the “food supply chain” in the home, from planning the menu, to preparing a list to, grocery shopping, bringing in the groceries, to storage, prepping and cleaning up. You already know what I think about them making their own lunch :-)

If you can ease up on the control department and divvy up the food prep chores everybody will get full marks for participation and in life – having kids take part in food handling and preparation opens kids up to new food possibilities. How great is that?? Very!!

You can even take this a step further: It’s even better if you can take a trip to a farm, depending on where you live of course, to see where food comes from. Alternatively, you may consider planning to plant some veggies and herbs in your garden or on your balcony come spring. Just watch your kids’ excitement as the plants flourish.

I have many fond memories travelling to our family cottage when I was young. It was situated right beside Elmer’s farm, go figure! I reminisce about our drive when my Dad would lead in the singing “…and the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye!!” Also, part way there we’d pass a farm with “the Lazy Bull” that would be sleeping out in front, just being lazy and we’d see who in the car would remember first to shout “there’s the Lazy Bull!!”

Do you have some fond childhood memories around food? I’d love to know……

 

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Mama Mia! Mac & Cheese

November 18th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

My mind has been fixated on making home-made Mac & Cheese since being away on a bizz trip a few weeks ago. I was leafing through the Canadian Living Mag in the airport lounge and hit on this Dairy Farmers recipe so I had to give it a try. I KNOW you’ll agree, taste these lovin’ spoonfuls with a fire on as the temperatures dip and it’ll be in the cycle of fun-yummin’ dinner ideas until spring.

Ingredients
3 cups water
1 cup 10% half-and-half cream
3 cups (375 grams) elbow macaroni (or pasta of your choice)
salt
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Canadian old or extra-old Cheddar cheese

Instructions
In a large pot, heat water and cream over medium heat until steaming. Stir in macaroni with a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring often until the macaroni is almost tender

Whisk flour, mustard and pepper into the milk, then stir into the pot. Increase heat to medium; cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

Remove from heat then stir in cheese until oooooey gooey melted.

Commentary
One taste and you’ll be saying Mama Mia!! My Mother Dearest divulged she starts off this recipe with a sliced sautéed onion. I made this with skim milk and lower fat Cheddar which eased my dietitian’s conscience!! I used fun curly noodles to give it more character. I also heated the oven to 325 degrees F and put the completed mixture in a sprayed pan and baked until the top browned, just a few minutes. Definite food for the gods and goddesses in your life!!

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