Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I heart cookbooks!

(I had hoped to add some images to the post, but Blogger isn't letting me upload them for some reason. Sorry!)

I am the kind of person who likes to flip through cookbooks when I am bored...and sometimes, sit down and read them as if they were novels! After the elliptical fiasco I decided to treat myself to a few new cookbooks and spent about an hour perusing the cookbook section at Chapters (where I'm sure the many employees walking by wondered what the heck was wrong with me).

My first choice was easy - after seeing so many great recipes on other blogs from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton, I couldn't resist buying it. I am so glad I did...all the recipes look phenomenal! I found the hummus section especially drool-worthy...I can't wait to try Peanut Sesame Hummus and Chipotle Lime Two Bean Hummus!

(One thing I don't get about this book - the weird greyish toned pictures of food at the beginning of each section. Anyone else find this odd? They're not very appetizing pictures!)

The second choice was a lot harder. So many cookbooks, so little money! I took a good long look at Veganomicon, and the Eat Clean Diet cookbook also caught my attention. In the end, however, I decided on Crazy Plates by Janet and Greta Podleski. My mom owns this cookbook and I've thumbed through her copy so many times that I figured I should buy my own. Cookbooks by the Podleski sisters are really awesome...full of great recipes, of course, but also lots of nutrition info, fun tidbits about food, and cute cartoons. Some of their recipes call for "low fat" ingredients that I'm not likely to use, but most of the time these can easily be substituted. I've made the Potato and Roasted Pepper Quiche (Quiche Me You Fool!) many times from this book, it's soooo delicious. I want to try the black bean soup recipe (Bean Me Up, Scotty) as soon as possible - it's blended smooth, so a good candidate to try out on the bf!

What are your favourite cookbooks? Let me know what I should look for the next time I treat myself at the bookstore!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's not always easy!

I've been a bad blogger, haven't I? It's partly because I've been fairly busy lately, and also because nothing too exciting has happened to write about - I've been getting stars on my calendar for exercise and making healthy meals for the most part, but nothing interesting enough to post.

I'm kind of grumpy today. A few days ago I bought an elliptical machine that was on sale at Canadian Tire. I was so excited to use it and to blog about it, but last night while putting it together, my bf discovered that one of the parts was not properly made and so it had to be returned. We had to put everything back in the box, lug it up the stairs, and cram it into the car (NOT an easy feat - it's a two-seater car with no trunk, essentially I was being crushed by the box in my lap). Then halfway to return it...the car stalled!!! It was the most ridiculous night. By the time we got the car going again and returned the elliptical I didn't bother exchanging it for another one - I didn't want to chance that there would be something wrong with the new one and have to go through all that again! I then came home and fixed myself a large drink - not good for my calorie count but I so didn't care at that point! I still really want an elliptical, so hopefully I will find another sale soon or possibly a used one.

As well, I went grocery shopping this morning and couldn't find any kale, and I had a bunch of meals revolving around kale planned. I did a quick meal plan change in my head though, picking up spinach instead of kale to use in some recipes and picking up chili ingredients to replace a soup with kale I had wanted to make. And on the plus side, the grocery store was not that busy for a Saturday, and I had my handy little grocery cart with me which I love (even if people laugh at me for having a granny cart). So all was not lost.

I guess I should look at this as a lesson to not drop being healthy just because something doesn't go my way. Just because I don't have an elliptical now doesn't mean I'm going to stop working out, and just because I couldn't find kale today doesn't mean I bought myself a cheesecake instead. Life goes on. (And we'll ignore that whole having a drink thing after the elliptical debacle right? haha)

I promise to make my next post more uplifting, and to make it come sooner rather than later!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quick Bites

- As you can see I'm back to tracking my exercise on a calendar! (Someday when I get a new printer, the calendars will be prettier, I promise). I'm proud of the active weekend I had (DD = Dirty Dancing, P = Pilates, S = 30 Day Shred). Hopefully I can keep it up and show you a calendar full of stars at the end of October!

- In this post I wrote about trying to stay away from wheat, dairy and refined sugar in an effort to help my skin. Well, I haven't eliminated any of these things from my diet, but I have cut way back on them - and what do you know, my skin is looking better than it has for a long time! I can't say for sure that it's the dietary changes that are improving my skin - could be the change in weather, could be less stress, could be exercising more - who knows! But cutting back on these foods certainly can't hurt so I'm going to try and keep it up...

...even though I had an epic FAIL tonight while making dinner. I was cooking up some brown rice pasta that I bought at Bulk Barn a few weeks ago - or so I thought. Once it was cooked, my BF tasted it and said, "I think you cooked some of my pasta by mistake..." and he was right! Plain, white, refined wheat pasta! Sigh. I was really hungry by that point and didn't want to waste what I had cooked, so I ate it. I'll live.

- Tomorrow night I'll be making spaghetti squash mexicana and hopefully that will go more smoothly!

- You should really read the following two blogs, for different reasons:

Escape from Obesity: My favourite weight loss blog, no question. This blog has no flashy details or fantastic photography - just moving, honest, incredibly-well written posts. The author, Lyn, struggles with her weight loss and does not have a "lost 100 pounds in a year" story like many weight loss bloggers, and yet I find her far more inspirational than any other blogger.

Daddy Likey - nothing to do with healthy living, but it is HILARIOUS - and laughter is healthy, right?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Your inner Homer Simpson will drool..."mmm, pork chops"

Now that I am eating meat again, I am discovering recipes in some of my favourite cookbooks that I previously ignored. While doing some menu planning I pulled 12 Best Foods by Dana Jacobi off the shelf. This book was a great resource when I was vegetarian, but this time a recipe for 'Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Gravy' immediately caught my eye.

Everything about this dish was amazing, particularly the sweet potato "gravy." Yes, the potatoes contained butter and cream, but it's a relatively small amount, and it's the only added fat in the recipe. Besides, the sweet potatoes provide a huge amount of health benefits (hence this recipe's inclusion in 12 Best Foods) which I would say makes up for a little bit of indulgence - especially since my notoriously veggie-phobe boyfriend loved it!

Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Gravy - adapted from 12 Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi

2 boneless center-cut pork chops
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp half and half
1/2 apple, peeled and grated (I used a Granny Smith, the recipe calls for Golden Delicious)
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 small onion, finely chopped (I used a bit of onion powder instead - see above re: veggie-phobe boyfriend)
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the sweet potatoes (the recipe calls for you to roast the sweet potatoes whole and unpeeled, then peel and mash them. Ever try to peel a cooked potato? Not fun. Next time I would peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, coat with a tiny bit of oil and then roast them). Reduce oven temperature to 35o F.
Remove 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potatoes. Combine the remaining potatoes with the butter and half and half. Spread the creamy potatoes over the bottom of a greased square baking dish.
For the stuffing, combine the 1/2 cup sweet potato with the apple, onion, breadcrumbs and pepper.
Make a large slit in the side of each pork chop. Pack the stuffing generously into the pockets. Combine the paprika, salt and onion powder in a small dish. Sprinkle each side of the pork chops with the spice mixture. Place on top of the sweet potatoes and cover the dish with foil. Bake covered for 35 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes.