Archive for January, 2013

Getting in the Cue…

January 30th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , ,

My routine around cooking and eating at home has flown off the rails lately. Between the holiday season, travelling then returning to a busy work routine my food prep repertoire has rusted. I’m coming clean here and now!

I took the plunge on both sides of the bella familia and made dinner dates at my place to get my mojo back in this department. I ventured to a neighbourhood store and brought home food treasures of naturally nutrient rich fare including a variety of cheeses, meats, eggs, veggies, fruits, fresh bread, nuts and more. Not a food package of any kind in my cart… except for my skim milk but what else would I bring it home in :-)

Off to the races prepping my famous caprese-type tomato salad adorned with red and yellow tomatoes that smelled fresh and tasted fab, bocconcini cheese, fresh herbs and spices and olive oil. Then making a mess of my other famous eggplant sauce I’ve been craving for weeks now. Over to the veal prep, then green salad toss with blueberries, goji berries and English cucumber. Then to table setting with special linen, family plates and cutlery, walnuts and pistachios in the shell, goodies and espresso cups.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. The simpler the better. A good excuse to rid the dust bunnies and hold up family tradition of getting together.

In no time the rust vanished as loving aromas of home-made fare filled home in time for company’s arrival, lighting candles and the fire, turning on the water wall and music ready to fill home with sounds of conversation usually ending in the retelling of old tales of years gone by, connecting together while breaking bread.

Yes hosting a family dinner is a perfect way to get the lead out after a long kitchen hiatus and a perfect way to catch up on a cold, windy, winters eve.

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Craving Explanations

January 27th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I did some pondering about food cravings lately. Ever wondered if these are a true sign of your body yearning for what it’s lacking, or your mind childishly playing tricks for what you don’t allow it, hmmmmm? I think both!

Body Calling – Large studies show that the majority of the population don’t meet their requirements for dairy products and fruits & vegetables. That’s two of the four food groups. Each provide a load of vitamins and minerals required for your body to function optimally which the masses are missing out on. If you can eat like a bottomless pit and still yearn for more cross check what you’re putting in your pie hole with Canada’s Food Guide to see if you’re falling short of these food groups on a consistent basis. Aim to fill that void and balance things out.

I’ve had cravings for a burger that time of the month sometimes. Is it a mere coincidence that beef is an excellent source of iron? I think not!

Brain Games – Other studies show that when we foster an attitude of not allowing certain coveted foods we crave them so much more then gorge on them when we get them. Not exactly a healthy relationship with food, is it? If this rings true for you consider making a paradigm shift in the right direction.

Read my Life with Pie post on January 20th and aim to shift your attitude about food to one that is more inclusive.

If you want to play it safe take a general multivitamin to cover you for any nutritional shortcomings you may experience as life ebbs and flows, sometimes off the rails. And for sure pop your daily Vitamin D especially during these dark days of winter.

The next time you experience one contemplate your craving to discover it’s deeper cause. Remember, your body is your temple, so treat it right.

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Weather or Not

January 25th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I arose early one morning with the intent to get a walk in first thing. As I sipped my coffee and noshed on my porridge bleary eyed the weather man droned on about the ultra low temperature and wind chill sounding alarm bells for those of us on the 44th parallel. What gives? Hmmm the weather is a story of drama and intrigue it would seem. It must a slow day in the newsroom as they go on about that and Beyonce lip synching the anthem at the inauguration….. dipping temperatures in January in Canada simply isn’t news.

For a fleeting moment I wanted to crawl back under the covers and emerge by spring. Then I stood at my kitchen window and admired the first glint of light glowing a purplish blue hue on the blanket of new snow. A beautiful sight.

I wrote about “frozen fat” on January 9th from those nutty poster boards seen off the LA freeway. My fat was about to freeze alright. I chuckled at the memory of those images, bundled up and got going.

Ahhh the crisp air and the sound of crunching snow underfoot as the sun rose as my speed picked up. The clip was faster than usual this frigid morn making my way around the neighbourhood loop. Sounds of birds were heard intermittently, albeit higher pitched.

In no time I rounded back home clocking in a walking PB (a personal best). Cold? Phooey! Raring to go to take on the day. I survived a meagre walk and headed out in the afternoon for round two for another loop after working at my computer for hours on end.

Excuses abound this time of year folks. Keep your head on straight, stick to your plan and don’t waver weather or not!

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No Mystery – Excess Calories & Weight Gain

January 23rd, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , ,

It’s easy to lose sight of the real cause of weight gain with all of the finger pointing going on in the media creating distractions on the matter. For decades sugar and fat have been demonized when the devil’s really in the details.

I recently read two systematic reviews: one on the effects of reducing total dietary fat on body weight and the other on dietary sugar and body weight. These were commissioned by the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group. Findings that’ll hush those who try to strike fear in the mind of consumers dissing one or the other or both. The findings were similar showing consuming more calories than needed by dietary fat or by sugar result in the same thing – increased weight gain. No mystery is lurking here.

People may overlook that our diets are comprised of three main macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrate. All three are necessary in a specific balance for a healthy diet. In addition we need all of the vitamins and minerals, fiber, water as well. But fat and sugar often get a bad rap despite the fact they are part of a healthy diet.

The trick is discovering what various foods contain these elements and to avoid excess. We have a blessed food label to assist our quest to find out what’s in packaged food. We need to dig deeper to find out what’s in restaurant food. Details worth discovering indeed if you’re concerned about your weight.

When it comes to weight gain and obesity consuming more calories than we spend is the culprit. Plain and simple. Learning more about this in the context of choosing food with optimal nutrition surely helps.

As Barry White sings “…too much of anything’s not good for you baby….” especially in the context of your diet. You got that right Barry…..

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Life with Pie

January 20th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about going to the movie Life of Pi and it got me thinking of one of the loves in my life – pie. MmmMmm talk about food lovin’ heaven with a home made crust fruit filled served hot with vanilla ice cream. Lovin’ spoonfuls that’s for sure.

You might be scratching your head wondering if I posted this by accident while writing secretly about this crusty love of my life. But no. You see I made peace with my food long ago allowing all foods to fit. It was a pivotal pact to a paradigm shift in my attitude about food and eating. When you allow yourself any kind of food you are no longer preoccupied with it, want it, crave it, yearn for it, get it and gorge on it, then feel guilty because of it.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had pie, maybe a few months ago perhaps, maybe longer. I can have it right now if I wanted, but I just had breakfast. I know if my eating mantra was dictated by the rule Life withOUT Pie I probably would have snuck some yesterday and I’d be plotting to get more today and the next. See the difference in approaches.

Oh the crazy do’s and don’ts some diets dictate make us crazy. Make your diet all inclusive and see what shift your attitude will take. I’m sure one for the better.

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Knowledge is Power

January 18th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I recently found myself travelling along the California coast. Ya those songs sure are true about California dreaming. That’s what I’m doing today…. Sign me up for surf lessons cause I’d love to spend some days riding the waves and taking it all in. Ahhhhh.

Ok so these south westerners might not have it totally right with the raw-vegan food thing written about December 31, but they sure have it right with posting calories in fast food restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised as I dashed in for a quick breakfast that lo and behold beside the price posted the food item’s calories. Plain as day. Plain and simple. And YES I used that information to shift my choice. Who would have thunk some of the offerings were sky high in the energy department? Not something I was seeking after purchasing new skinny jeans this bright new year.

Most jurisdictions do not have this information available in plain view for the patrons. Customers have to surf the net to get their facts straight leaving these nutrition nuggets of information a mystery for most. Many experts debate incessantly about making this info available, wanting more details posted, perhaps to use colour coding, and on and on the debate goes with no decisions in sight.

Let’s face it folks, knowledge is power. And on that fine day I chose an egg option that was modestly calorie dense, not a heavy weight. It doesn’t need to be that complicated. Let’s face it, we’re used to seeing nutritional information on food labels for years now on packaged food. Without any information about food served in these outlets how can consumers ever know which options are better?

Wise food for thought, that’s for sure.

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Core Fundamentals

January 15th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , ,

When people think about exercise, many think of cardio types, such as walking, jogging, running, spinning and the like. Basic strength training often gets overlooked yet is needed to keep your aging model in tip top shape.

If everyday living leaves your back going out more than you do, consider investing 10 minutes every second day to strengthen and tone. Forget the old adage “no pain no gain” cause that never did make any sense. Begin a basic repertoire of exercises that build strength and flexibility including some that tighten your core. It surely is fundamental!

I change my routine up from time to time. My current routine includes lunges, squats, stretches (standing and sitting), an arm weight series, push ups, ab crunches ending with a leg exercise series. It takes me a grand total of 16 minutes every second day. If you spend the evening in front of the tube surely you can hit the deck and work in a mini repertoire of your own. Within a month of doing this religiously you’ll notice the benefits enough to keep you motivated to continue the whole year through.

I can feel the benefits of this time investment as I take on my everyday activities. And no, my back doesn’t go out more than I do!

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Think Frozen

January 13th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , ,

I was thinking about frozen lately, my furnace stopped turning on and my abode got colder and colder, brrrrrrrr. Hmmmmm it got me thinking about other frozen stuff like frozen vegetables.

Some people worry about buying too much fresh produce that ends up getting wasted if your weekly plans change. Well worry no more and split the difference – buy fresh AND frozen. These puppies are picked at their peak and flash frozen so are chocked full of nutritional goodness, including great taste.

Mmmm give me frozen peas and give me corn, I love ‘em all. They double perfectly for a sprained ankle too. So as the days get colder outside (no longer inside) stock up on your favourite frozen veggies. Ready when you need them!

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If it seems too good to be true….

January 9th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

You need to have your wits about you this time of year. The quack product marketers are out in droves preying on your wish to take the easy way out and buy yourself skinny. Save your money!

Take the latest “walking machine” for instance. I had to chuckle when I saw this ad as I’m a religious walker in the great outdoors. This latest and greatest machine has buff bunnies doing on this device what you can do when you step out your door – walk! And for free too! Save your money, bundle up and get outside and play.

Playing on your conscience is that other commercial promising to make you lose weight by taking those green coffee bean powder pills. I turn green just thinking about the nerve they have to make such false promises. They claim that conventional diets don’t work, which is partially true but adds that this elixir will surely do the trick. Just what health officials have been waiting for to avert the global obesity epidemic. As if….

I was passing through LA recently and spotted poster boards promoting “freezing fat” to lose weight with a reliable looking doctor type in a gleaming white lab coat. Hmmmm. Why not freeze your fat in the dead of winter following my first suggestion – get your sorry butt outside everyday and move it.

Finally I heard on the news this week that a large beverage company is developing a line of drinks that will claim to give you a better complexion. Just what we need is more bevy’s with fancy claims. Now I’ve heard everything! Let me tell you, put your best face forward with a balanced diet and drinking enough water.

So folks in these early days of 2013 false hope to slim and beauty have never worked, especially when you feel desperate. A few months of making small positive changes will surely add up by the time spring rolls around. You’ll emerge from your winter’s cave as fresh and lovely as a spring daisy. So stay in the here and now and remember if it seems to good to be true, it probably is….

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Chic Logic & Age Defying Foods

January 7th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , ,

I find myself scratching my head with all of those so called “age defying” creams, potions and lotions. How many “shoe equivalents” of money have you spent on this topical stuff? I’m sure A LOT! Instead of working on the outside, why not work on the inside, that in time will positively affect your whole body. Listen UP!

Berry Good – Talk about special protection, berries top the charts more than any other plant, with antioxidants galore helping prevent disease and aiding memory. Make mine a double! Who needs Ginko Baloba when you can tantalize your tastebuds with these juicy jewels choosing fresh or frozen. Add them to salads, cereal, home made smoothies and special sauces having a cup, three times a week. Why not more?

Use Your Head – Of lettuce that is! Enjoying a salad a day using dark green leafy veggies adds a wide array of vitamins and minerals, as an award winning accompaniment. Adding colour, crunch and interest can help your heart, memory and vision by having 2 servings a day.

Go Nutty – These head the hit parade on key disease prevention fronts including cancer and heart disease. They lead in the taste and crunch department too as snacks in place of potato chips. Add to cereal, salads and stir fries.

Be UNrefined – Start a trend and make the grains you choose whole. Regularly adding whole grains helps in a wide array of ways from heart, to blood pressure, cancer even obesity. Why fight it, whole grains taste better too. Start a trend!

Get Cultured – Make yoghurt your go-to snack at least four times a week. Try a serving every day. Those Greek varieties are decadent. Chocked full of protein and active cultures, crowd out disease-causing bugs. Use it in smoothies, as a base for dips, to cream up salad dressings, as a topping for baked potatoes, in place of milk with cereal or as a snack.

How much time to do spend patching up your “outside” instead of focusing in on what’s important – making your whole body healthier and younger right from the inside where it matters most? Some wise food for thought to kick start your 2013.

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