Sunday, October 18, 2009

HoBOO Highlights: Montana Whoppers!

I'd seen these around the blogworld many, many times, but never quite got around to making them. But when I saw them on Megan's blog yesterday, I decided it had to be a sign!

I halved the recipe, as making it according to instructions would have:

a) left me completely buried in cookies; and
b) cleaned me out of pretty much all of my staples!

I also left out the mini M&Ms, which I think would have added a nice texture, because, in the spirit of HoBOO, I'm trying not to cook with ingredients I wouldn't be allowed to eat on their own!

These were delicious, and WILL be made again!

Monday, October 12, 2009

HoBOO: Phil gets into the HoBOO spirit

Well, lots of homemade goodness (well, yumminess) this weekend. We didn't make it a "home food only" weekend as we sometimes do, but we made sure all our "junk" was homemade.

It started with juicy pear bread on Thursday.

This was yum. Not quite a replacement for my favourite banana/date/walnut bread, but it will feature again, I believe. Thank you Fit Bride for pointing me to this recipe, and suggesting some mean substitutions.

On Friday night, we scoffed down some pasta at our favourite local Italian, then hurried home to watch Season 3 of How I Met Your Mother. AWESOME!

I took a break part way through to make Belgian Biscuits, using this recipe from Ever since seeing them on someone else's blog, I'd been craving them. Plus, I thought it would be fun to make roll out cookies instead of teaspoon-dollop cookies.

I don't know whether Belgian Biscuits are big in other countries. Certainly it seems as if they're a European/British treat, not a North American treat. Basically, a Belgian Biscuit is a spicy, gingerbread man-type, sandwich cookie, stuck together with raspberry jam and iced with simple white frosting and a dust of coloured sugar. The predominant spice is mixed spice, but they also have plenty of cinnamon. They're delicious!

I also had a great time making them, although I had to get creative with no rolling pin- and I didn't even have any empty wine bottles (what is the world coming to?) It's been far too long since I rolled out cookie dough over and over again, punching out shapes and re-rolling the edges. Love it!

My icing was yuck (butter not as fresh as it could have been) so we ended up eating them un-iced. I'll have to find something to do with the bag of coloured sugar in my cupboard....

Anyway, these were delicious, and have gotten spicier with each passing day. HoBOO win!

We really lifted our game on Sunday night. And by we, I mean Phil. No longer content with baked goods, he ventured into the realm of the ultimate junk food main. Yep, fish n chips!

Believe it or not, this was the first time I'd ever eaten homemade battered fish. Actually, we cheated a little and used sweet Fogdog beer batter mix, which we stumbled across while browsing the Auckland fish market for finds (we also came across a yellow tomato and bought that too).

Next time (well, next time AFTER we finish the packet), we'll have to make it truly from scratch.

Phil did the honours while I worked on some evidence.

...and before you could say Jack Robinson, I was served up a plate of juicy fish , tasty kumara and potato chips, and fresh organic asparagus. Spring meal WIN!

We rounded out our indulgent homemade Sunday night with Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake from the Healthy Food Guide. Again, 100% made by Phil and, again, 100% delicious. This one is definitely on the "entertaining" list!

What's on the menu for next week? Just you wait and see...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

HoBOO Week 1: Epic Photo Fail

Well, HoBOO week one is over and done, and baking for HoBOO week three has begun.

(That was an eniterely accidental wee rhyme, and I'm not going to take it any further).

Dessert in the weekend was molten chocolate marshmallow cake (see below) and it was To Die For. I used muffin pans instead of ramekins. Partly to keep the serving size down, and partly because I have no ramekins in my apartment!

The recipe was easy to follow, absolutely delicious, positively decadent, and not TOO bad on the calorie side either (by my calculations, our servings were 281 calories each). Definitely going in the "entertaining" file!

One of the best things about these cakes was that they needed no accompaniment. Of course, I'd have liked to dip into the dairy milk chip ice cream, but the gooey marshmallow totally made up for the lack of smooth, creamy ice cream.

No picture- we devoured them too fast. But pretend they look like this (but a lot messier, and with the marshmallows slightly too big for the muffin cups and exploding through the chocolate):

On Sunday evening I baked our snacks for the week. (Well, as it turned out, I baked our snacks for Monday - Wednesday! Baking doesn't last long in either of our houses!)... da da da DUM:

Banana Oatmeal (Walnut Raisin) Chocolate Chip Cookies!

These were great! I was a little disappointed at first, as I had in mind a flat, chewy cookie (yeah, despite the TWO teaspoons of baking powder in the recipe... smart I am) and these were more like the puffy "oaty" biscuits my mum used to make than a traditional oatmeal cookie. But Phil loved them, and once I accepted that they were not supposed to be what I expected them to be, I loved them too. Will definitely be made again!

On Wednesday, after eating all of my share, I emailed the husband to ask if he had any left so I could get a late picture. But sadly, he had scarfed his down too. Sad face.

I didn't have any HoBOO set backs. I had a near miss on Tuesday night, when I spied some leftover tinned pears and a Fresh n Fruity 100 cal chocolate mousse that EXPIRES DURING HoBOO. My chocolate wanting side and my waste-averse side teamed up to try to convince my HoBOO side to cave. But my HoBOO side won in the end and I had a cookie instead.

What's your favourite home-baked treat? Anything I should try in HoBOO week two??

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's HoBOO!

"What's HoBOO?" you ask

Well, it's Home Baked Only October.

Reading Holly's blog awhile back, I came across some key principles by Michael Pollan in a recent speech. Number (4) on Holly's list stuck out:

Eat all the junk food you want if you make it yourself.

Well- that's a challenge if I ever saw one!

Since Jenn and I have been baking more recently and trying to buy less junk, I knew I could count her in. And Phil's a sucker for a nutrition bandwagon, so he was a sure bet.

So, it's time for "no junk unless you made it yourself October". That didn't quite have the right ring to it, so we enlisted the help of facebook, and a helpful friend supplied us with Home Baked Only October, or HoBOO for short (that's right, the kids can call you HoBOO).

This means no candy, no chocolate (except in baking), no chippies, no hot chips, no bought biscuits, cakes, or icecream, well- basically no bought baking.

But to make it a little easier, we can have all the homemade brownies....



chocolate chip cookies...

banana bread...

and molten chocolate marshmallow cakes...

we want!

Let the baking begin!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wins of the Week

Ladies and gentlemen, I have for you today, not one, not two, but THREE great new food tries. Some are just new to me, and others are even new to New Zealand!

First up, Smoozes

We saw these at Nosh awhile ago, but they only had Pink Guava on special, and to be frank, it wasn't that tempting. But then we went back, and all of the flavours were on special. Hopefully that's not because no-one liked them, cos I hope these stay in stock! Frozen pineapple juice and coconut milk, they're like a teeny weeny pina colada in squeezy form, and for only 68 calories! Phil loved them too, and I'll even pay full price for them next time.

Next up: Pop Chips!

Having seen these on all the cool kids' food blogs, I just about had a heart attack when I saw them advertised in this month's Healthy Food Guide! Low fat potato based chippie substitute? Yes please! I couldn't see them in my local supermarket, so I found the website and begged them for details of suppliers (and free samples!) Unfortunately, the esteemed manufacturers of pop-chips must not have thought this blog, with its readership of 3, was quite the place to market their new product, and no sweet samples have been forthcoming.

But I did find them. It's hard to beat good old Victoria Park New World for new products, specialty goods and plain ol' variety. Even if I am still mad at you about the plastic bag thing.

The first flavour I tried was Ready Salted Romance, and they're bloody good. Crispy, crunchy and salty. More like Pringles than my favourite Bluebird chippies, but definitely better than the other "healthy" chip products on the market. And lower cal too- 528 kj for the serving.

The Saintly Salt and Vinegar (opened with Phil last night) are good too- they'd would be great with dip (that lovely Country Goodness one), but wouldn't replace bluebird for a chippy and cheese sandwich (oops... and you thought this was a healthy eating blog!). Not quite as awesome as the ready salted, but still a win.

I'm yet to try the Symphony of Sour Cream and Chives- but will let you know!

Lastly, good old mountain bread.

Not new to most people, but new to me. I used it in place of a whole wheat tortilla or a pita in my current go-to lunch (carrot, peanut and raisin salad with spinach and hummus). It wasn't bland, and the texture was lovely. A great weight-loss bread, but I probably need a bit more in my lunches at the moment!

So, there you go. Three great products we've tried recently. I'll try to make this a habit!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What’s the best thing about healthy eating? A ramble

Nutritionista has recently started a good wee series, Profile of a Healthy Eater.

Of course I sent off my submission. And I won't go through that unless it's published. If it's published :), but one of the questions did get me thinking, and I'm going to talk about that.

What’s the best thing about healthy eating?

I answered along the lines of, "the best thing for me about healthy eating is that it has encouraged me to be creative." I didn't even realise as I was writing that I was totally copying Ms Nutritionista herself, because it's Just So True. I don't know why, but trying to focus more on eating healthy, whole food has made me miles more creative with my meals. I've tried new ingredients, new combimnations, new methods.

This has led to (or is the result of) less waste. I'm less concerned about whether things "go", and am getting much better at dumping piles of random veges into salads, stews, sauces and stir fries, and thinking about creative ways to use what I have before buying more.

Anyway, I digress.

The other side effect of eating healthy and the resulting creativity, the one I want to talk about, is the mental satisfaction I get from creating something ("creating" in the sense of "building" rather than "inventing")- and the reason I want to write about it is that it led to a bit of a Eureka moment.

The time is 9-something on Monday night and I've just got home from work, bloody hungry, and struggling through the door with a heavy swimming bag, backpack full of running gear, handbug bulging with empty pottles and extra work, and two bags bursting under the weight of $50 worth of groceries (side note: $50?!! Seriously?!! I don't even eat meat!) I stumble in, cast my eyes around the messy house, think about my tasklist and take a deep, deep breath.

Then I pour myself a wine, whip up a "marinade" (really more of a gloss, or a rub),slice and draine tofu, chop fresh veges, empty the dishwasher, baste and bake tofu, stir fry veges in leftover sauce, make bircher for the morning, and whip up a batch of no-bake pb cookies. Phew!

And then, even though it was nearly 10pm, and my house was still a mess, and I was still looking at a pile of documents the size of my lounge, I felt in control, I felt relaxed, and I felt proud. Both the tofu* and the no-bake cookies were new things, and both worked out brilliantly.

This is probably more a story about me being a neurotic type A control freak than about eating healthy, but the realisation that for me it wasn't just the healthy meal that was worth the extra effort (I know, I know, baked tofu, brown rice and veges is hardly gourmet cuisine, but it's harder than a frozen meal or a grilled cheese!), it was the experience of creating itself. I think that little piece of inconsequential knowledge will help me through the next few months.

*I've eaten tofu plenty, and cooked it before, but I've never quite nailed it, and baking it was new.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Something new

This morning we tried quinoa flakes for breakfast for the first time!

We'd had breakfast quinoa before- red quinoa all cooked up with cinnamon, almonds and blueberries, but I have to say it was only a 6 out of 10 for me. And it takes more than a 6 to make it onto my highly competitive breakfast rotation!

But Phil's a grain nut, so when I saw quinoa flakes nestled among the baking grains, I decided to give them a go. Nothing like super food for the most important meal of the day!

We googled a bit for a how to, and followed the advice from this site. Basically, you cook them up like porridge and add, well, whatever the hang you want.

I put out a selection of toppings, including craisins, raisins, frozen blueberries, banana, zapped apple, cinnamon, AB, agave and raw almonds and we went nuts. I opted for apple, blueberry, cinnamon and AB (and agave) and Phil substituted almonds for the AB (word of advice- I won that battle).

It took a couple of mouthfuls to get used to the fact that it wasn't porridge, but once I got over that hurdle, it was bloody nice! Am tempted to try it with my other favourite porridge combos, like banana/walnut, date and AB, and pear and blueberry.

I'll also be on the lookout for ways to add the flakes to baking, and maybe to some homemade muesli (granola or bircher).

All in all- new food WIN!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jumping on a yummy bandwagon!

I finally jumped on the breakfast cookie bandwagon. Thank you fitnessista!

Here is my ugly but yummy first try:

It's pretty simple. OK, boring! Oats (I added extra as I ran twice yday), AB (mmm), milk, cinnamon, agave and craisins. Next time I think I'll add something with a bit of crunch, but I don't want to add more nuts with all that AB! What else goes crunch? Might also add some coconut.

Anyway, all in all I enjoyed my cookie. I don't think it'll ever really compete with my delicious bircher and porridge, but it will definitely feature in the rotation from time to time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why I don't diet (much)

Yesterday I was starving all day. I thought I'd eaten well, or well enough. Healthy high-fibre snacks, plenty of veges, pulses and protein and not too much cheese. But then after my after work run, I had a look at my spreadsheet, and roughly totted up the calories, and saw that without having had dinner, I was already at around 1500 for the day. Eek!

Somehow it ceased to matter that I'd swum over 3000m in the morning, and that I'd been out for a quick 3 mile run in the evening. Even though I focus on "net" calories and rationally I knew I wasn't too far off my ideal, the thought of having eaten 1500 calories without having had dinner completely upended me and instead of leaving work on a high, full of happy running vibes, and virtuous "getting my 12 hours of training in this week" thoughts, I felt flat and blue, and my mind was occupied with thoughts of "you're useless", "you'll be fat forever", "you could've at least done 45 minutes!", "WHY OH WHY did you have a pre-run snack?".

Then, when I was working my way to the supermarket counter, I remembered the english muffin that had somehow gone unrecorded. The memory hit my stomach like a stone: "You mean, I've eaten 1620 calories without having my dinner?" I scurried through the supermarket and made my way home, bargaining calories with myself and making promises I couldn't keep.

I've felt like this before. I cried in the car with Phil one Monday, not long after I started my nutritionist approved plan last year. I'd worked a full day, gone to swimming from 7-8pm, and the thought of whatever my allocated portion of pasta was at the time filled me with gloom, and an overwhelming feeling of failure. It no longer mattered that the extra banana I'd had before swimming filled me with energy, and I'd kicked some serious butt over a tough hour long workout. Instead, all that mattered to me was the fact that I couldn't stick to my nutritionist's guideline day to the letter.

THIS is why I don't diet. Why I don't want to count calories. It does help to know that I'm overdoing things a little even when I'm feeling good about my eating, and to be reminded that healthy food still contains energy, but it doesn't help when I'm left doubting myself, and trusting an arbitrary number instead of trusting my body.

Don't worry, the story ends happily.

Last night I finished my supermarket shopping, bought lots of fresh veges and fruit, and went home to make the divine white bean stew I'd been planning. I munched on a piece of wholemeal tortilla with a teeny bit of cheese, and picked at some carrot stick so I didn't faint while the rosemary and basil flavours worked their way through the eggplants, peppers and zucchini in the stew. I poured a splash of the delicious pinot gris I've been drinking for the past week or so, into the stew, and another splash into an empty glass. And I sat down with a novel, a healthy, hearty stew, and a splash of tasty white wine, and I remembered that while I should strive to take care of myself and my body, given the choice between weighing 65 kg, being healthy, having energy for my workouts, enjoying the odd splash of pinot gris, and not fainting while I cook dinner because I've worked out after work and it's 9pm, and being 59 kg and having washboard abs, I would choose the former. Every time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spring is sprung!

I can afford veges again! Well, kinda.

I just love this meal for a simple, semi-quick, meal for one. It's just sauteed veges (tomato, onion, zucchini) and a plain omelette, accompanied by a Villa Maria Pinot Gris that was on special (highly recommend it!. Last time I made the veges, they were lacking a certain something or other, so this time I splashed some balsamic in, and what do you know? They were divine. Plus, there were enough left to add to some leftover pasta and reinvent it for today's lunch. I had been looking forward to going out and trying a new lunch place in town, but I'll just have to indulge myself some other way :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Make it yourself!

I've had some loverly black beans in Mexican restaurants recently, so I decided to branch out and go for black beans rather than refried (which I actually have a love/hate relationship with) in for my last mexican feast (Mexican food gets a bad rap, but it is SO SO easy to do "healthy").

I wasn't sure if people used canned beans, or what, so I went to the supermarket and explored. No black beans in the Mexican section, so I grabbed a backup tin of refried and checked out the normal bean aisle. Loads of options there, mostly around $3 per can.

The next day I did a brief google to see what people were up to, and I took away a few hints from various sites (if only I had the foresight to take notes). When I got home, I got to play!

I cooked an onion with some garlic, then added beans, stock, cracked pepper, chilli powder, cumin and (because I'm lazy and it's awesome) some Old El Paso taco mix. Partially crushed the beans with a fork and let them cook!

They were just divine :)

I grabbed a w/w tortilla and made a quick quesadilla, and served it with a tasty mexi-salad.

I ate part of the quesdilla opened up and stuffed with salad. MMM!

The beans froze well, and I enjoyed 3-4 meals from that can. Will definitely be putting black beans on my list of staples. Any suggestions for making great beans onion free (hubs is mental and doesn't like onions... sigh)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Normal eating"

from Nutrition by Eve:

Definition of ‘Normal’ Eating

“Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.”

“In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, hour schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.”

Satter, E. (1987). How to Get Your Kids to Eat: But Not Too Much. Bull Publishing. ISBN 0915950839.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thank you blogosphere!

Thank you to:

Megan: for making this polenta bake and bringing it to my attention. My husband will love you forever!

Meghann: for reminding me of the delicious-ness of carrot and raisin salad.

Kath: for teaching me how delicious almond butter is in a bowl of porridge.

Gena: for showing me the awesomeness of dates.

And to so many others for day to day inspiration and recipe ideas!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Brunch: slow roasted tomatoes with feta and basil

We've started a "brunch group" with three other couples who are former Wellingtonians and now live in Auckland. We hosted in April, I think, and it took four months to arrange the next one!

F and N hosted yesterday, and the simple main course they served was so good I had to share it:

Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Feta and Basil:

Tomatoes (probably 1-2 per person)
Olive oil
Fresh Basil
Grain toast

Wake up early, slice tomatoes and spread in a single layer in a roasting dish. Slosh olive oil reasonably generously over the top, and add a couple of drops of balsamic to each tomato. Go back to bed, or out for your run, as you roast at a low temperature (I think 100 degrees c would do it) for 1-3 hours. Serve warm on grainy toast with plenty of chopped feta (don't skimp!) and fresh basil.

Simple, practical, delicious. Perfect brunch-time entertaining recipe!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No place like home

Even though home's not where it was a few months ago, and it may not be home forever, it's DAMN good to be back. After some heinous late nights at work (not over yet...), and a energy sapping bike ride yesterday, I decided "f*&K it!" and slept late this morning. I didn't get to work until 11am, but some rest and a 20 minute stroll in in the sun has brought me back to my old self.

My wonderful husband made lunch for today- salad with spinach, chickpeas, a little grated cheese and tomato, with a wholemeal pita bread and a spoonful of hummus. Simple, bordering on boring, but just perfect after last week's parade of toasted PB sandwiches! I have choir practice tonight (VERY exciting), and am looking forward to quickly whipping up pasta and veges before I go. You just cannot believe how much I am hankering for piles of fresh veges!

Anyway, inspired by all the wonderful food bloggers out there, Phil and I are now having a great time planning a healthy race weekend for next weekend. I am going to need to get some quality fuel into me to make sure I bring my A-game!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mermaid or whale?

An email fwd that made me smile:

Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:


A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern:

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans).. They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.

P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a coffee with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, Good gosh, look how smart I am.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Yoghurt is the friend of every healthy eater- yummy, versatile, full of protein and calcium and (depending on the type) low in fat and sugar. Perfect!

It's those parenthesised words that are the kicker!

One of my favourite changes over the past year or so has been the gradual, and nearly complete, transition from flavoured (by the manufacturer) yoghurt to flavoured (by me) yoghurt. Instead of buying pottles of sugary or fake-sugary yoghurt, I buy plain, unsweetened yoghurt (my absolute favourite is Naturlea, but "Slimmers Choice", Yoplait Lite Greek and De Winkels are also yum!), and then go nuts!

Today I've added frozen blueberries,cinnamon, honey and walnuts to my yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Sometimes a little banana, if I'm in need of some energy, or almonds (sliced or whole), or whatever's in the cupboard. It might work out a little more expensive (surprise, surprise- good quality fresh ingredients cost more than processed), and even a little higher calorie, but the yumminess factor and the control factor (very important to a type A like me) way outweigh those as far as I'm concerned!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another missed photo!

This morning's breakfast was definitely a missed photo opportunity. After oats and dates and a 1:30 run (sooo good- read all about it on my running blog!), we met friends for brunch at one of the best cafes in Wellington- the Maranui surf club.

I mulled over the menu for ages, before deciding to try the Victory Breakfast (vege big breakfast) for the first time- after all, I was feeling victorious after my run! It had perfectly poached eggs, grainy toast (I ate one egg on toast and had to give the rest to Phil), crushed avocado, grilled tomatoes with homemade almond pesto, wilted spinach, mushrooms (which I didn't eat, cos I don't like them) and some herbed potatoes (I ate one, but didn't want to waste space on potatoes!)

It was amazing- huge, but delicious and so SO much better than the standard big vege breakfast fare! So often it's just egg with a bit of sloppy tomato, a hash brown, and a couple of spinach leaves (if that)!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I wish I'd taken a photo of my breakfast this morning before I snaffled it down because it was AWESOME!

On Fridays, I often treat myself to a naughty coffee + baked good breakfast. I generally try to pick something healthy-ish, but it's definitely a "treat meal" for me. I love the feeling of indulgence you can get from a brown-bagged breakfast after a week of wholesome (and delicious, of course) oats and fruit!

So this morning, I decided to go to my favourite bagel place- it's only in Wellington and I really miss it- to see what they had on offer. What's particularly awesome is their $5 bagel + schmear + coffee deal. Last time I enjoyed a treat breakfast there, I had a delicious blueberry bagel with blueberry lemon cream cheese. YUM! They also make a to-die-for banana walnut bagel.

Sadly, there were no banana bagels today, and the blueberry-lemon schmear was not on the board. There were cinnamon raisin bagels, but none of the cream cheese flavours appealed, so I just grabbed a low-fat plain and headed back to the office.

But it felt like something was missing. Luckily, I had a bag of sliced almonds in my office, so I thought I'd add some of those. Then I remembered the honey in the kitchen, so I splurted a wee bit into the cream cheese and mixed it round. While I was stirring, I noticed some cinnamon I'd left in the office, so added a generous dash. BOY- these simple additions made all the difference. My bagel and pear were a perfect breakfast and I'm STILL full now, at noon!

This was a great reminder that we don't have to just stick to what's on offer when we choose our instant meals. Whether it's adding cottage cheese and spinach to frozen meals, adding extra fruit to packaged instant oatmeal (I never do this now- I prefer my own "packaged" version..) or spicing up the cream cheese, there's a lot we can do to make a regular meal into a healthier or yummier version!

Monday, July 13, 2009


I'm remembering now that it's never that hard to take care of yourself when things are running along smoothly. The point of building healthy habits is so that you can fall back on them when things start bumping.

This next fortnight is going to be a tough one. I'm working away from home, away from my gym, my bike and my swim squad, working long hours and, instead, of staying in a nice nearby hotel with a gym and a lap pool, I'm staying with family about a twenty minute drive away. Plus, I'm staying with people who have different nutritional priorities and tastes and preferences to me, and who keep different hours. Oh- and I don't have my nice, moderately well-stocked kitchen in my nice wee apartment!

So- what am I doing to make sure I don't lose sight of everything I've built up?
First- I'm going to do my best to re-jig my workouts to fit around everyone. If I can't rise early (it wakes the whole house, and I just don't think that's fair), I'll run into work, or I'll get up a little later, catch the bus in and run from work. I'm keeping it real though, and so is my coach. If I can't find a bike or get to the pool, I'm off the hook- just this once. And if I'm just working too hard to train, he knows it's better for me to take the training down a notch than to burn out trying to do it all.

Next, I've bought a stock of semi-staples to keep me going at work. Some oats, dried apricots and almonds for breakfast. Pitas, hummus and a big bag of salad greens for lunch. Couscous, frozen veges and tuna for dinner. A box of "super berry" cereal to give me something to look forward to at snack time and make me less likely to raid the vending machine!

Also, I've got a long list of pretty healthy places I'm just dying to eat at while I'm here- the wonderful bagel shop across the park, the pik n mix salad bar down the road, the myo salad/sandwich shop in the mall and the best goddamned sushi joint I've ever frequented.

Lastly, I'm promising myself a real treat for the end of the week to help me resist the temptation to have too many mini-indulgences during the week (day 1: epic fail). I'm going to keep Tuesday to Friday chocolate free, and then boy am I going to enjoy a cupcake from the wonderful Tempt!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My day in food.

Before my ride, I indulged in a decent-sized piece of Date/Banana/Walnut bread. This stuff is the shiz, seriously. SO GOOD. I savoured it sitting up in bed, along with a cup of Moccona instant, while reading a chapter of my book and getting ready to ride.

My ride was great!

Breakfast was a bowl of pretty boring bircher- 1/2 c oats, 1/4c apple juice, 1/4c plain acidophilus yoghurt (Naturlea) and a bit of cinnamon. I was out of almonds and didn't quite think walnuts would fit, so I packed some AB for a bit of extra protein at work.

At work, I was naughty and ate a couple of pieces of the Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar I bought yesterday, along with a cup of tea. The idea was that I'd eat four pieces this week, and save the rest, but I'm PMSing and have been feeling sorry for myself, and there's only one piece left now! Oops. Cheeky chocolate is one of my main Things to Watch, so am going to try to make sure this doesn't happen next week.

For morning tea, I had some dates with a teaspooon or so of almond butter. Yum! This is more of a "treat" than I'd usually have at morning tea time, but I ate my loaf this morning, and just needed a wee smackerel. I've been meaning to try AB for yonks, and it was only getting into reading food blogs that made me go for it. It's so good! Heinously expensive, but delicious- and I find it much easier not to overdo it, unlike PB. Also had a couple of carrots, which are great at the moment- so juicy.

Lunch was delicious. I've been trying to use up an avocado I couldn't resist and a jar of slightly old salsa, so there have been lots of wraps! Today was a gigundo salad, with baby spinach, a little grated colby, a spoonful of salsa, 1/2 of a green bell pepper, 1/2 a grated carrot and 1/4 of the avocado. I added some white beans I'd had out for last night's dinner- and it was lucky I did, as I forgot my pita bread and would have keeled over in Court had I not added the beans :)

I had a toaster waffle for afternoon tea- I was soooo hungry and needed more than my apple. I also picked up a banana on the way back from Court. Even with the beans, the salad wasn't quite enough for lunch.

Now I'm off home. I'm heating up some macaroni mince for tea, then making an Israeli couscous salad for a semi-potluck tomorrow. Yay!

Me and food.

I started exercising when I was about 15. I walked to school regularly, swam occasionally, and started going to the gym in my first year of university. I continued working out for sporadic bursts until I was 22.

But then, when I was 22, I started running. And since then, I've barely taken a week off regular exercise. There have been a few less regular periods, but every day, being active, enjoying the outdoors, training and working out become a more essential part of my life. I don't imagine that it'll be smooth sailing from here, as I travel, raise a family, and continue to work through the challenges of life, but the habits are there now, and every time it's easier to get back into it.

So, now's the time to do the same thing with food. It's time to move beyond the immediate and think about the future of me and my family.

I'm feeling more positive about improving my health than I have before. I think this is because the current (and, I hope, continuing) "trends" in food are so optimistic, so permissive, and so holistic. We've moved past the low fat/low carb, fake food, fake sugar, nutrient-optional crap that's dominated the last however-long, and every day there seems to be more about fresh food, socially and environmentally-aware eating, affordable food and, above all, REAL food.

I was reflecting on food yesterday, and sent my husband a list of some ways our eating has changed over the past few months. Now, we were reasonably healthy before, and we both moved past the excesses of uni-life years ago, but there was still a lot left to change. Now we are eating:

Far more whole wheat options (pasta, pitas, etc)
Less bread generally
Much more organic food
(nearly) NZ produce only- except bananas!
Free range eggs
Much less processed food (muesli bars etc)
Natural yoghurt
Dried fruit
Less meat
Less tuna
More chickpeas, white beans
Less PB, more plain nuts
Fewer empty but low fat white carbs (pretzels and so on)

So this blog will be dedicated to a new, all-round healthier, me!