Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My first green monster!

If you haven't heard about green monsters, you are clearly not a food blog addict. I've been intrigued by them for some time now but never seem to have time for smoothie making in the morning. After a very hot walk home from work I decided a nice cold smoothie would work just fine for part of dinner.

My green monster was tame by most standards:

A cup of spinach
1 (frozen) banana
A handful of frozen strawberries
Soymilk - I didn't measure but just added it as I needed it.

It wasn't as pretty as some of Angela's, but wow, was it good! First of all, I promise you cannot taste spinach. It just tastes fruity and creamy. At the same time, the spinach definitely adds something...I have made the same smoothie without the spinach and this was better by a long shot. A great way to get greens in your diet without even noticing them (once you get past the colour!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Raw...don't be afraid!

When I first started hearing about the raw food movement, I was, shall we say, skeptical about the whole thing (the phrase 'crazy people' may have uttered on more than one occasion). As a vegetarian who thought veganism was too restrictive, raw foodism seemed way too out there, not to mention unappetizing. Recently though, I've had to change my tune somewhat. While I still can't imagine following a strict raw diet, I've experienced firsthand how yummy raw food can be (Live anyone?) and lately I've seen a lot of really interesting ideas on raw food blogs, like this zucchini pasta from Choosing Raw. With a lovely zucchini and a julienne peeler from Pampered Chef on hand, I decided to give this a try tonight. I would have loved to try the cashew alfredo sauce used in the original recipe, but I am sadly lacking a food processor, so instead I tossed the zucchini, carrot and tomato with some store bought pesto.

Yum, I LOVED this!! It was so fresh tasting...a perfect meal for a hot day. I think the zucchini 'noodles' would work well with lots of different sauces and toppings. What a great way to get in veggies!

This recipe is a good example of why it's important to try veggies in a variety of ways. If you don't like a vegetable cooked, try it raw (or vice versa). Or if you've only had it cooked a certain way (say, boiling the heck out of it, a good way to ruin most veggies), try it roasted, stir fried, steamed... If you are close-minded about veggies you will miss out on some delicious possibilities - as I almost did!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Food for thought

I've mentioned that "healthy eating" is a big passion of mine but what does that mean exactly? For me it means trying to eat unprocessed food as much as possible, trying to get a good balance of protein, whole grains, and fruits and veggies, and trying to cut back on foods that I tend to overindulge in, namely cheese and sweets. Defining what "healthy" is to me is an ongoing process and though it's a process I enjoy, it can easily become complicated.

The other day I was talking food and cooking with one of my coworkers and he commented that he was impressed with how much thought I put into what I ate, and how he didn't really give much thought to food.

Sometimes I wish I could say the same. The problem with putting thought into what you eat is that there's so much to think about! I think about adding fruits and vegetables to every meal. I think about getting the right amount of protein, iron, vitamins. I think about ways to make quick healthy meals without pulling them out of a package. I think about avoiding certain foods and filling up on others. I think about all the food research out there and how one minute a food or food trend is good for you, the next minute is bad. It gets exhausting and I won't pretend there aren't days that I just put it all aside and eat whatever I want.

I think the important thing to realize is that ultimately I am the one who makes my own food choices. No one else is judging me for what I eat and analyzing everything I put into my mouth. If I eat a packaged meal or skimp on the veggies once awhile, the sky is not going to come crashing down and body is not going to fall apart either. I choose healthy food because I want to do something good for myself - AND because it's yummy! - not because I am imposing a strict regime on myself.

Tonight's food choices:

A salad made with broccoli, a Granny Smith apple, shredded carrots, and raisins, with a combo of mayo, apple cider vinegar, and sugar for a dressing.

Followed by....butter tart ice cream. Like I said, it's an ongoing process!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Even though the weather in Ottawa has caused me to question it lately, my tomato plant reminds me that it really is summer. I grew tomatoes last year as well but the fact that in a few weeks time I'll be able to walk into my backyard and pick a tomato to eat still amazes me. I can't wait - there are few better food experiences than eating a tomato you have grown and picked yourself.

Last year I had two huge tomato plants and the situation quickly got out of hand, with more ripe tomatoes than I knew what to do with. One plant, especially one this big, should more than suffice for this year! I hope to be more on top of things and make more batches of pasta sauce, soup, and salsa, although the first few ripe tomatoes are destined for one thing and one thing only - tomato sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Exercise - my biggest challenge

Eating healthy has been an easy and enjoyable thing for me to do for a long time. I cannot say the same about exercise. A lot of health/weight loss bloggers, regardless of the physical shape they are in now, talk about how they were active and athletic in high school or university. This was so not me. I remember in 6th grade gym having to run around the perimeter of a large soccer field and finding it pure torture. At the end of Grade 9 gym I celebrated because it meant I never had to take a gym class again! I did do some beginner yoga classes in high school and went to the gym occasionally in university but after graduating two years ago pretty much the only exercise I got was walking.

When I learned at my recent physical that I had gained 10 pounds since my last weigh-in a year before it was a wake-up call. 10 pounds on their own is not that big of a deal, but I knew if I didn't become more active that my weight would only go up more. I went to the gym for a few months but got tired of spending the money and the amount of time it took out of my day to bus to and from the gym so I started to exercise at home instead, starting with a dvd I had heard a lot about online, Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.

The first time I did Level 1 of the 30 Day Shred I had to stop several times to take a break and I was completely wiped out at the end. I remember still struggling to catch my breath even afterthe workout was over and I was in the shower! I was embarrassed at how hard it was for me but I think it made me realize how much I really do need to exercise and get in better shape.

I have kept up with 30 Day Shred although I have not done it every day for 30 days. Currently I try to do Level 1 3 or 4 times a week and Pilates the other days of the week. It is still very hard, and Pilates is not so easy either. I am very inflexible and I am frustrated sometimes at how little I can move into a stretch. But when I notice things like how my endurance is improving or how a stretch is a little bit easier, or how energized and happy I feel after a workout, it all seems worth it!