Archive for the ‘healthy eating’ Category

Who wouldn't want to wake up to this?

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this?

I was browsing through instagram on the weekend when I found a slogan that really stuck with me. It was a meme, but the photo was of a countertop with 5 tupperware containers filled with fresh cut veggies. The slogan superimposed on top of the image said “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” This has really stuck with me since you know how lazy I am, and how I’ve been working to make healthy eating as effortless as possible. The hardest meal of the day to plan for is breakfast, and it is the meal where I’m most likely to sabotage myself. There’s nothing more disheartening than waking up full of good intentions, and then instantly shooting yourself in the foot with a high-calorie muffin, or a carby bagel.

My usual solution is to fall back to hemp hearts and almond yogurt, but really, there is nothing in the world like a hot meal. Especially when you live in a cold climate, and you are forced to get out of your warm, cozy bed to go do things like work. But I recently found a solution.

Last year for Christmas Santa Claus brought me a crock pot. I’d wanted one for a long time, and I was delighted when I tore the paper off the package and found it sitting inside waiting for me. I used it constantly last winter, for meat loaf and roasts, but since cutting meat and animal products from my diet back in the fall I haven’t had much use for it. But still, it was the kind of thing that I was really unwilling to give up, and while I search for some killer vegan slow cooker recipes I will share one recipe that has made my mornings easier, tastier and much healthier. That recipe is for slow-cooked apple cinnamon oatmeal.


4 cups milk (I prefer non-dairy)

4 cups water

1½ cups steel cut oats

3-4 tablespoons of cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons of nutmeg

2 gala apples (or other of your choice)

½ cup raisins

½ cup frozen cranberries

2/3 cup brown sugar

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

In the stoneware add milk, water, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, sliced apples, raisins, cranberries and 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Stir together so that all ingredients are mixed together uniformly. By this I mean that you don’t want to have “hot pockets” where all of the cinnamon is, but obviously you won’t be able to ensure that things are incorporated since it’s cooking so slowly.

Picture 179

Set your crock pot on the lowest setting, and leave it and go to bed. Wake up and stir in the remaining brown sugar, making sure that it is thoroughly incorporated in the now cooked mixture. Turn the crock pot off, and allow the oats to sit for 15 to 20 minutes while you make the bed, and get dressed, or do whatever you do in the morning.

Who wouldn't want to wake up to this?

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this?

Stir the oatmeal a few times, breathe in the tempting aroma, and serve.

Be careful, it will still be quite hot. But it is so tasty; the cranberries will pop tartly in your mouth, while the rest of the oatmeal will sweetly coat your mouth, and stick to your ribs, making you ready to take on the day.

The beauty of this recipe is that I am easily getting 6 servings out of each pot, and what’s great about oats is that you can store them in the fridge for a couple of days, and in the freezer for up to a week. They reheat beautifully, and will ultimately give you 6 healthy, filling meals. Also, you can now roll out of a nice, warm bed and find a fantastic hot meal waiting for you, that will also make your home smell delicious.

Bon appétit!


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The Rhone at Avignon.

My mother and I are planning a trip to Provence. I know, I’m so excited! I haven’t been on a trip since 2006, when mum and I went on a cruise of the Adriatic. This time we will cruise down the Rhone for something like 12 days, then we’ll send 3 days in Paris, then we’ll fly back to Toronto and collapse exhaustedly into our beds. Mum will rest, and I’ll have to get up and go to work, but there are worse fates.

The point is, when we booked this trip my mother made me promise that I would try to lose some weight. Our experience on the European cruise ship in 2006 told us that we were heavier than we should be, and, in fact, we were heavier than just about everyone else around us. Mum wants to make sure that we fit in. Maybe “fit in” is the wrong way of putting it, but she doesn’t want us to stand out either.

So I wish I could stand here today and tell you that I have been trying really hard, and then show you some fabulous before and after pictures of me and my fabulous new body. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Not because I’m not trying. I dutifully log onto my fitness pal every day: in fact it tells me that I’ve been logged on for 100 days in a row. I watch my food intake and try to balance it out with my energy output, but in spite of that I haven’t lost a pound. Not 1 pound in a 100 days. Not a goodwill pound, not an atta-girl pound. Nothing!

I have to stop giving into temptation and making these types of treats.

Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a mystery. I know why I’m not losing weight. For all the tracking and balancing that I’m doing, I’m still eating yummy things like cakes, cookies and homemade peanut butter cups, and that’s just my snacks. For lunch and dinner, I’m eating my greens, and my corn, as well as squash and tomato, but I’m doing it in veggie burgers and on pizzas.

Controlling my food intake has always been a challenge for me. When I was 16 my grandmother told me that I had the appetite of a man, and went on to say that she had never seen anything like it. Still, I was young, and healthy, and active, so it seemed to me that it was only normal that I should eat like a horse.

At 12 I lost a ton of weight, maybe as much as 30 or 50 pounds. I’m not sure, I didn’t have a scale. I just worked out in secret until all of the weight was gone. My eating habits were once again the topic of conversation, as my family, some friends, and their mothers all remarked that I had lost a ton of weight; they added that they hoped that I had the good sense to know when to stop.

What was I thinking when I made these?

My goal in life has never been about being stick thin, rather it was about reaching a healthy weight and then being able to maintain it. That way, I told myself, I wouldn’t have to have these humiliating and debasing conversations with well-intentioned people. Unfortunately, I once again find myself needing to lose weight, but this time I’m struggling to find exercise that won’t hurt my back, while also struggling to get the binge eating under control. As delicious as it all is, these treats are interfering with my life, and my goals. I’d like to go to France lighter and with more energy so that I can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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Deutsch: Ben & Jerrys Cherry Garcia

I often think about support systems. How we keep ourselves on track, and the people who are standing beside us, urging us on, are a big part of the success we experience. For most of us, we get the majority of our support from friends and family. Some of us might have the support of health care professionals, but at the end of the day, the decision to exercise, or to have that second bowl of ice cream, is between us, the voices in our heads, and often the reflection in the mirror. So I guess it’s not all that surprising that we often make the wrong decision.

I have been lucky enough to discover a new supporter. Back in March I walked into my local convenience store and picked up a bag of chips, a two-litre bottle of Dr. Pepper, and a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream. While I was waiting for the charges to clear my account I started chatting to the sales clerk. I told her that it was my first splurge in two weeks. She laughed and asked if I was on a diet. I laughed and said, well… yes, but also it’s about saving money, since junk food is expensive. Then we both laughed, because my three items had come to nearly twenty dollars. I took my “treasures” and went home to enjoy them.

A few weeks ago I had another series of cravings. I was in the store three more times, in as many days. On my second trip the sales clerk reminded me that I had given up junk food. I became defensive, and told her that I deserved some credit for not coming in before. She laughed and packed my treats into my Lulu Lemon bag.

I could make no such protestation when I arrived the next day with my Lulu Lemon bag in font of my face. She laughed as soon as she saw me slink into the store. Undeterred, I got my treats, said a few self loathing words to her, and turned to leave. In a pathetic attempt to salvage some dignity and pretend that I have willpower, I said “you won’t see me now for a long time.” “Good,” she said, “I’m here all the time.” And with that I left, knowing that I had lost my anonymity, but had gained a new supporter. And an important supporter at that; now that I know there is another set of eyes on me I think twice before spur of the moment over indulgencies.

It’s been two months since that last meeting, and my only interaction with this kind sales clerk is when I stop my dog walk to wave at her through the open door. It’s good to know that she’s keeping me on track.

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So here we are, the 100th post, and I need to have some progress to report.

The good news is that I was so productive in January that I am feeling awesome. In fact,  2  weeks ago I felt better than I had in a long time. I mean, I felt so good that I almost posted this at that time. I didn’t, obviously, but I did treat myself to a new lipstick to celebrate.

I’ve always been curious about lip stains, it seems like such a good idea. Disappointingly, I didn’t find that it lasted much longer than regular lipstick, so I think I will just go back to my nice neutral gloss. But I digress.

As I was saying, 2 weeks ago I was on top of the world, skating 2 to 3 times a week, 2 exercise classes a week. In hindsight I should have done my post at that time, because it’s funny what 2 weeks can bring. In my case it was an insane amount of stress, both personal and professional, which means the skating was cut out from my lunch time activities first, and then my after work class last Tuesday so that I could focus on getting caught up.

Staying on track when times are good is easy. Exercise and healthy food is just part of what we do. Staying on track when things are busy is much harder, that’s when we’re tempted to take short cuts to make the routine easier. Still I have a weight loss of between 2 to 5 Lbs. to report 2 weeks ago; it’s not much, but it’s something, and I think slow and steady is the way to go.

Stress doesn’t last forever, and I’ll soon be back to my routine, and back on track. On the plus side, I’ve gained things that far outweigh weight loss (no pun intended):

  • I feel so much stronger it’s not even funny.
  • I am happier, and I spend a lot less time sleeping or moping around the apartment. Instead I use my spare time to do blog posts, bake mini muffins, read books, answer emails, do some light sewing and rug hooking, and keep the house clean. I’ve also joined some clubs, and I have tons of ideas about how I’m going to spend the rest of the winter buzzing around like a social butterfly.
  • I can keep up with the dog (well, sort of). I mean I can’t catch her if she runs away, she’s just too fast, but at least I don’t feel like I’m running through concrete trying.
  • I am starting to see minor changes in the way my clothes fit (some good, some bad), but definitely headed in the right direction.
  • I have more confidence, and I know I can do it.

So, rather than focus on the fact that I have not accomplished my goal, strictly speaking, I am going to post this picture of me, and know that I will definitely make my next goal. A new dress for Easter…and maybe a new hat too ;D

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As I mentioned Friday, this weekend was the holiday ladies’ luncheon and Scrabble grudge match. I know it’s just a gaming afternoon, but I wanted to try to make it special for my guests. What I really wanted to do was make the game come alive, and I wanted to serve a healthy snack. So I created an hors d’oeuvre that seemed to leap right out of the box. I wanted to created a healthy snack that screamed SCRABBLE! So I started by lining my table with paper, then I figured out the ratio of the playing board (I know, I’m still glowing with pride over that little mathematical feat).

From there I ruled out the individual squares on the board by using a saltine. I had intended to do a realistic board, but drawing the board to scale was a big enough time investment. Really, I’m not good at math, and I spent a lot of time working on the ratio alone. I also decided that drawing in the points system would increase the amount of ink that my guests would eat, so I don’t think it really mattered that the squares were left blank. I gave myself lots of time for this one. I drew the board on Wednesday evening.

On Saturday I prepped the food. We started by washing and cutting the peppers. The second step is very important. You need to make sure that the peppers are nice and dry, and cut into medium small pieces. As you can see, I chose two different kinds of hummus, the regular and the avocado hummus; both were delicious, but the avocado was very light and fresh — if you can find it I recommend trying it. The saltines did not stand up well, so if I were to do this again, I would look for something like mini malba toast.

Penelope came over to help me spell out some words, which I’m really glad she did, because it was time consuming, but lots of fun. It definitely provided the wow factor I was looking for.

Planning a party around a board game provides a lot of “wow” opportunities. The classic games have such iconic visual identities, there’s always a ton of opportunities. For example, if you’re playing Trivial Pursuit, you could make everything look like a pie. If you’re playing Battleship, you can do what my mum used to do, and turn deviled eggs into  “egg boats” by adding a leaf of lettuce on a toothpick. Happy creating! Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the other special touch I added…it’s less healthy. Oh well?

So, looking at the first picture again, do you want to take a stab at guessing the words that Penelope and I spelled out?

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Logo used by CBC Television from 2001-2009. Pr...

Image via Wikipedia

I am one of the biggest CBC geeks in the country. My love for Canada’s national public broadcaster started with Fraggle Rock, deepened when I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea, matured with Kids in the Hall and finally was solidified with Being Erica.

I would never say that CBC can do no wrong, because we’ve all seen CBC programming go completely awry, but there is one thing CBC does better than any other broadcaster in the country: documentaries. In particular, CBC does some really entertaining prime time documentaries otherwise known as infotainment. The one that people might be most familiar with is The Week the Women Went, which documents the trials and tribulations that men in two small rural communities have to overcome while all the village’s women leave for a one-week vacation.

The newest primetime documentary is called Village on a Diet, and it follows the residents of Taylor, BC, Canada’s most obese community (according to the show’s website) as they try to lose 1 ton over the course of 10 weeks. Of course residents will have access to trainers, doctors, dietitians and psychologists  as they battle the bulge and aim for a healthier life. The jury’s still out for me, obviously I’ll need to see a couple of episodes before I can decide if I like it or not, but being on CBC I have high hopes that this show will present the challenges of weight loss in a more realistic, less sensational manner. It might not be as entertaining as something like the Biggest Loser, but I am hoping that it can be more sensitive and help motivate others to lose weight as well.

As I mentioned before the holidays I intend to take full advantage of every resource I have available to me, so I will be sure to be there every Wednesday night as the story unfolds.

If you want to read more about this show, or if you’d prefer to watch it on the web, you can check it out here:


If you end up checking it out I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

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This is the best time of year to try to lose weight. I know, it seems like the worst, but, in reality, there are tons of opportunities out there, and best of all you aren’t on your own, half the world is trying to lose weight following the holidays. So I am starting to lay the ground work for January, when I can take it up like 4 notches, and know that I’m not suffering alone.

I won’t get back to the gym until Thursday this week, and I am starting to feel really blobulous, but I’m also still feeling a little under the weather, so it’s best to stay out of the gym I think.

So, I’ll be amping the workouts back up, and I think I’ll be adding a weekend class to my routine. The biggest hurdle for me will be getting my eating under control. I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and just because (which is the best reason of all). So come January 1 I’m back to the food diary. It’s useful and helpful for denial eaters like me (come on, I don’t eat that much) plus it’s super cute–see you can even colour in each water bottle as you tick them off–plus this means that I still have a little over a week to psych myself up for it.

In other news, Cadie was a nightmare last night; she was jittery, walked like a sled dog, and wouldn’t settle down. I was beside myself. I couldn’t figure out what had gotten into her. Now as I sit at my desk, watching the big, round moon slide behind the horizon, I realize that it was a double whammy: the full moon and the incredibly rare Winter Solstice lunar eclipse. I can’t believe that I missed the first Winter Solstice lunar eclipse in 300 years. And we won’t see another one for 80 years. This is made worse by the fact that I was having trouble sleeping, and chose to watch Conan instead of taking a step outside. Oh well, it happens.

Happy first day of winter (Winter Solstice)–may the knowledge that day will be longer and night will be shorter tomorrow bring you comfort and warmth tonight.

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