Archive | March, 2009

Easy Breezy Breakfast

30 Mar

When E and I first started, I didn’t eat breakfast. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it now, but breakfast and I didn’t really jive outside of Sunday brunches, usually at IHOP. Never hungry right after waking up, I didn’t see the need. 3 months later, I’m a convert, and I’ve eaten breakfast every single day. One of E’s favourite breakfasts is oatmeal, but I could never get past the textural consistency – it was always too gloppy or too runny, and reminded me a fair amount of wallpaper paste. I really wanted to like oatmeal, since it’s such an inexpensive, filling breakfast. It’s healthy, too – over 40 studies worldwide have shown that eating oatmeal can both lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, and doctors are now noticing that it may reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers and lower your blood pressure, as well. Oatmeal can also help control weight due to its fiber content, and it’s a 100% natural food that can be found in 80% of American homes. Oats themselves are also a nutrition-rich food, and is a good source of protein, vitamin E, iron, zinc, selenium, and more. What more could you ask for to help start your day?

In walks in baked oatmeal. The lovechild of an oatmeal cookie and a bread, this is a really delicious alternative to that boring bowl of oats. Not only can it be prepped beforehand in no time, but it can be eaten hot or cold, on its own or in a bowl with some milk and brown sugar (should you desire).

For a change of pace, add in mashed banana, apple, berries, raisins, nuts or chocolate chips – the possibilities are endless! This is seriously good (and good for you!), as E and some of my fellow contestants can attest to. This does make 8 fairly large servings, so feel free to cut it into 16 pieces.

Baked Oatmeal
makes 8 servings
Note: if using sugar-free applesauce instead of apple butter, up the Splenda to 1 1/2 cups. This can also be prepped beforehand and refrigerated overnight, then baked.

  • 1 cup sugar-free apple butter
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 cups quick-cook oats
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt substitute
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups nonfat milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients in order listed.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned. Cool, cut into pieces, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information for per serving:
298.9 calories
7.2 g fat
307.2 mg sodium
336.8 mg potassium
51.2 g carbohydrates
6.8 g fiber
1.5 g sugar
12.8 g protein
22.8% calcium
19.4% iron
8% vitamin B-12

Gratitude

26 Mar

Sometimes, I’m at a loss for words.

Shocking, I know.

Not necessarily because of something good or something bad or something somewhere in between. Sometimes, there’s just nothing much to say. Sometimes, life just is.

This is where Gratitude posts come in handy. On days like today, when things just are, it’s nice to think of the good things. As a realist, I know how many bad things there can be, but today is for the good things. Just the good things.

note: this is not an exclusive list, nor will it include items like “my arms and legs and fingers and toes and eyes and ears and…” even though I totally am, because that goes without saying.

So, here are 5 things that I’m grateful for, right here and right now.

  • That E’s favorite part of the day is when he leaves work. Not because he goes home, but that he gets to come home to me.
  • I can walk to the gym and back, allowing me to work out on my own time and pace, and the only stores I pass on my way are a TCBY, a Subway and a Weight Watchers.
  • I’ve lost 27 pounds without using a crutch; not through a pill, doctor, procedure, starvation or exhaustion, just working my butt off and eating responsibly.
  • That 17 people choose to read my blog and care about what I have to say, no matter how dumb or illogical that may be.
  • That I’ve learned to let go – not every situation needs to become a conflict, and not every lesson has an answer.

The Canadian 100

24 Mar

Reading Kim‘s blog last week, I was thrilled to discover that someone had created a Canadian riff of the Omnivore’s 100.

As a proud Canadian, I decided to take the test myself. Like the original, the Canadian 100 has the following rules:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here linking to your results

100 Canadian Foods to Consume
compiled by Maple Syrup and Poutine

1. Arctic Char
2. Ketchup flavoured chips
3. Wild Rice Pilaf
4. Caribou Steak
5. Gourmet Poutine
6. Screech
7. Beaver Tails
8. Maple Baked Beans
9. Bison Burger
10. Bumbleberry pie
11. Nanaimo bar
12. Butter Tarts
13. Cedar Planked B.C. Salmon
14. Wild Blueberries
15. Pure Local Cranberry Juice
16. Chocolate from Ganong or Purdy’s
17. A cup of warm cider from your local orchard
18. Caesar
19. 4 of the following types of apples (Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Spartan, Greensleeves, Liberty, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Golden Russet, Idared, Gala)
20. Freshly foraged mushrooms
21. Dinner cooked by Michael Smith, Susur Lee or Rob Feenie
22. Fondue Chinoise
23. Dish created from a Canadian Living Magazine recipe
24. Peameal Bacon Sandwich from St. Lawrence Market in Toronto
25. Lobster bought directly from a boat in a Maritime harbour
26. Handmade perogies from your local church or market
27. Alberta Beef at an Alberta Steakhouse
28. Leamington Tomatoes
29. Roasted Pheasant
30. Wild Game hunted by someone you know
31. Ice Wine
32. Habitant Pea Soup – entire can
33. Any Canadian Artisinal Cheese
34. Bannock
35. Tourtiere
36. Flapper Pie
37. Jellied Moose Nose
38. Saskatoon Berries
39. Fish and Brewis
40. Screech Pie
41. Fiddleheads
42. Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
43. Flipper Pie
44. Montreal Bagels with Smoked Salmon
45. Toutins
46. Jam Busters
47. Bakeapple Pie
48. Bridge Mixture
49. Canadian Style Pizza (bacon, pepperoni. Mushrooms)
50. Shreddies
51. A cone from Cow’s Ice Cream
52. Lumberjack or Logger’s Breakfast
53. Jigg’s Dinner
54. Rappie Pie
55. Pemmican
56. Lake Erie Sturgeon Caviar
57. Belon Oysters
58. Brome Lake Duck
59. Beer from a stubby bottle.
60. A beer from Unibroue or Phillips Brewery.
61. Salt Spring Island Lamb
62. Fry’s Cocoa
63. A bag of Old Dutch Potato Chips
64. Every Flavour of Laura Secord Suckers
65. Chicken Dinner from St Hubert’s or Swiss Chalet
66. Hickory Sticks
67. An entire box of Kraft Dinner
68. Candy Apples (NOT caramel apples)
69. Corn from a roadside stand
70. A meal at Eigensenn Farm
71. Okanogan Peaches
72. Berkshire Pork
73. PEI Potatoes
74. Something cooked in Canola oil
75. Figgy Duff
76. Blueberry Grunt
77. High Tea at the Empress Hotel
78. Fresh maple syrup hardened on the snow
79. Oreilles de Christ
80. Nova Scotia Beer Warmer
81. A cheese plate containing Bleu Bénédictin, Friulano, St. Maure and Oka.
82. Black or red currant jam
83. Maple glazed Doughnut from Tim Horton’s with a Large “Double Double”
84. A glass of Mission Hill’s “Oculus”
85. Alberta Pure Vodka
86. Chokecherries
87. Canada Day Cake
88. Boulettes
89. Canadian Iced Tea
90. Mead
91. Fricot
92. Grandperes
93. Local honey
94. Creton on toast
95. Glen Breton Rare
96. A whole box of Smarties, where the empty box is then used as a kazoo
97. Grilled cheese made with Canadian Cheddar
98. A meal from Harvey’s
99. Lake Erie Perch
100. Red Rose Tea

With a score of 52%, I can definitely do better, but I’m still happy with my score. I’m keeping an open mind in terms of some of the list, but Jellied Moose Nose is definitely an unlikely item for me to try.

For you Canucks, what have you eaten here, and what wouldn’t you touch?
For everyone else, how did you do on the list? Any items that pique your curiosity?

Cutting down on costs (and chemicals!)

12 Mar

Between the “Eat Less, Move More” diet and the economy, we’re always looking for ways to cut costs (and calories). Meat isn’t big in our household, so I only buy chicken when it’s less than $2.50/lb. and bake or poach it, eliminating a lot of the fats and sodium in prepackaged meat. When I’m out, I’m out. As the meat-eater, I feel guilty spending tons of money on something that I can only eat, so doing this eases my conscience a little bit.

We do spend a lot of money on produce, which isn’t something we’re willing to cut back on, and hey, why should we? What’s better – spending more money on fresh, whole, nutritionally-packed fruits and veg or spending less on pre-packaged, HFCS-toting, chemically-made crap? We’re even going to try our hand at gardening this summer to see if that lightens the load a little bit. Seeing as we’re a (mostly) vegetarian family, we do buy a lot of frozen veg food, like Morningstar Grillers Prime and Gardenburger Riblets (our favourite). They’re certainly better for you than a hamburger or a McRib, and they’re delicious to boot, but they have one area that I’m just not satisfied with: the sodium. With Grillers Prime coming in at 360 mg per patty, that’s more than 10% of your daily requirement, 20% of it if you’re on a low-sodium diet.

As much as I enjoy them, I knew I could do better. Using a recipe from Self magazine’s February 2009 issue, I came up with a great burger that we both enjoyed. I’ll definitely be making a big batch of these again! They’re meaty, filling and quick, reheat well and pretty easy on the pocketbook. Even if you are not a vegetarian, I’d recommend you to at least try them once.

Bean & Portobello Burgers
adapted from Self magazine
makes 4 giant patties or 6 normal-sized patties

  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup Panko
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s Naturals makes a vegetarian version)
  • 1 Tbsp. pepper mustard (honey mustard is a good substitute)
    1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms and onion, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
    2. Add beans, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper. Cook, smashing beans with the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes more.
    3. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, mix in eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Panko. Form into patties.
    4. Wipe out skillet; heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat and cook burgers until brown and firm, 6 to 7 minutes per side.
    5. Place onto bun of choice with condiments of choice, and serve.

Nutritional Information for 1/4 recipe: 241.4 calories, 7.6 grams of fat, 203.5 mg of sodium, 30.5g of carbohydrates, 4.1g of sugar, 6.8g fiber, 11g of protein,

Yoga, yoga, yoga

11 Mar

Search “yoga” on Google, and in 20 seconds or less, you’ll come up with 103 million entries. To put that into a more classifiable figure, 103 million is the population of Mexico, the rough number of flu vaccine doses distributed throughout the U.S. in 2007, the amount Greg Norman’s ex-wife won in their divorce settlement and the number of Internet users in China at the end of 2004. Lesson learned: there’s a whole lot of stuff out there about yoga. And that Greg Norman needs a better lawyer the next time around.

But I digress.

Around since 900 B.C.E., yoga began for religious reasons. In Hinduism, yoga enriched the practitioner’s spiritual journey by allowing for a higher state of consciousness to be achieved during meditation, bridging together the physical and metaphysical. Yoga, or something similar to it, can also be found in Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Islam and Catholicism. Now a days, yoga is used as a way to relax, be more attuned to one’s body, regulate stress and increase flexibility. There are businesses using it for ergonomic seminars, magazines devoted to it, movies that mock or glorify it, and even shows like “Top Chef” have contestants who practice it.

One of the most appealing aspects to yoga is that it can be fit in at any point of the day, and can be practiced without a lot of expensive equipment. In essence, all you need is a mat. If you cannot afford to join a gym, find a class or know someone who can teach you the poses, there are sites like Yoga Journal, which have a wide range of poses, meditations and even vegetarian and vegan recipes to teach to and inspire you with.

Most everyone I know loves and adores yoga; E, in fact, is head over heels for it. Me? Not so much. I don’t find it relaxing, nor do I find it all that stress relieving. Will I keep taking it?

Yes.

If, for nothing else, than it’s a class that E and I can take together, and that added flexibility is never a bad thing.

And because Sabrina, my trainer, told me to.