Monday, April 25, 2016

Reducing Personal Food Waste

"Kiwi consumers are throwing hundreds of dollars worth of food away every year because they 
buy too much, do not store it properly and do not use it well"

Guilty!  As part of my getting organised mission, I've decided that I need to do something about my 'more is more' style of food shopping.

Most of my issue stems from busyness. If I haven't pre-organised myself, I'll probably buy something easy cook on my way home, rather than try to mentally recall what is already in the fridge. But also, I just overbuy

Perhaps it's a personal issue that I need to introspect about.  I feel secure when my fridge and cupboards are stuffed, even though most nights there are only two of us to feed. As a result, in spite of the Sunday ritual, our green bin and compost heap are often full of last week's good intentions.

No more! I've done my shop for the week, and my fridge and fruit bowl look like this:

There are also things in the freezer and cupboards, but mostly it's fresh fruit and veg that go to waste.

This week I bought far less than usual, and I'm determined to actually use as close to all of it as possible. This should also save me some money, which would be a damn fine thing as I've got a few expensive things coming up.. such as a Fitgenes training workshop, and visit from Kerryn (yayyyy!).

I'll let you know how this worked out next weekend. Speaking of weekend, this was my breakfast this morning. It's oats with a somewhat clunky swirl of chocolate and pureed pumpkin. Autumn is here, and that means, pumpkin everything. :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Product Review - Active Naturals Pea Protein Powder


**this is not a sponsored post**

I actually do have a policy for products that I promote on Fit to Blog and it is this:

If I feature a product on Fit to Blog, it means two things:

a) I use and genuinely like the product and

b) I personally know the person that manufactures and sells the product, and believe them to be a top bloke, or bloke-ess. 

And, when I say 'personally know', I mean, in person. As in, if I saw them on the street, we would hug, catch up about our actual lives and talk smack about people we don't like.

So.. a week or so ago I was out doing some nutritiony stuff at Scorpion supplements, and picked up some of their Active Naturals Pea Protein, which is 'Vanilla Chai' Flavoured.

I've been enjoying the dairy free life, but as mentioned in my previous post, want to increase my protein intake. I have experimented with plant proteins (mostly rice protein) and found them gritty, but as I had heard about the blood, sweat and tears that went into this particular product, I gave it a go and was really impressed.

The protein content is about the same as Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), and they've used the novel sweetener thaumatin, which is a rising star in the world of natural sweeteners. It does not have the aftertaste issues of stevia.

The flavour is, in my opinion, more vanilla than chai, and it's not gritty! There is just a nice hint of cinnamon, but it's not intensely spicy. I found that it worked well with anything else I threw in there: berries, greens, maca, cacao... you know, 'smoothie stuff'. 

The amino acid breakdown is in the table below. The WPC values are there as a comparison and you'll see that it's pretty good in terms of what you'd look for in a protein. I'd say it's the best profile that I've seen in a plant protein. The only thing that I like less in the pea protein than the whey is the arginine/lysine ratio.  This can be a problem if you have a latent herpes situation, particularly the coldsore virus. There's a good discussion about that here, and some science here.

It's not a problem for me, but if you are prone to coldsores and get an outbreak when using plant proteins, you may need to increase your lysine intake.

And then I had to do a photo shoot....

I don't know if it's noticeable, but I've been upskilling my photog skills lately. I've even stopped using the 'auto' mode of my camera, which was exactly like stepping off a cliff into an uncertain void. I'm slowly getting there, shutter speed, aperture, exposure, different lenses.

Negative space, rule of thirds, 45 degree, straight up and down. The one below was supposed to from directly above, and I didn't notice until the editing phase that I was off-centre.


Depth of field, props.

And sometimes, less really is more.

Here's a link to the Active Naturals Vege Protein

and, of course, if you want regular whey protein, you can find it here.

I'll be back next weekend with ... something.  I'm also looking for some instagram accounts to follow that are about food and/or photography. Can you recommend any?


Saturday, April 02, 2016

ITP Update

I've got a stack of emails in my inbox asking how I'm doing on my ITP-busting mission. There aren't many things people email me about, but that is one of them, and it's always nice to hear from others that are on the ITP rollercoaster. Hello!

So, how am I doing? Have I managed to 'healthy live' myself into a drug-free remission?

Not really. But, I'm doing ok.

It's been nearly four years since I found out I have ITP. At first I thought I contracted it after suffering glandular fever in 2009, but in talking with family, I now think that I may have had it since childhood.

I particularly remember at times my legs and forearms being covered with bruises and people asking me if I'd fallen off my horse. I remember being inexplicably fatigued, unable to keep up in cross-country runs, falling asleep in high-school. So.. who knows?

The only normal platelet test I have on record is from 2003, and that was 173,000. The normal range for platelets is 150,000-450,000, so, 173,000 is low-normal. In 2009 my platelets were at 100,000, and at the end of 2012 they were also 100,000, rising to 107,000 a few months later. Since then, it's been mostly downhill. My most recent tests (approximately every 3-4 weeks) have been 57,000, 54,000, 67,000, 57,000. Since August 2014 all counts have been between 54,000 and 85,000.

However, over the years, I have seen a few trends, things that 'possibly' correlate with either lower or higher platelet counts. As you can imagine, I've tried quite a few things over the past four years, nearly everything that anyone suggested might help platelet count or immune system modulation. 

Things that seem to help:

* Vitamin C intake at about 5g a day
* Probiotics, particularly lactobacillus rhamnosis
* Turmeric
* Gluten-free diet
* Consistent strength exercise and (especially) yoga. The count of 173,000 in 2003 was when I was training for a bodybuilding competition. I was very, very fit.
* Lower body fat levels
* Minimal intake of caffeine and alcohol
* Maca powder
* The 'happiness factor'. I'm going to elaborate on that later in this post

Things I'm on the fence about (i.e. seemed to help at first, but the effect was not sustained, or I didn't keep it up):

* High dose vitamin D (first count after starting it was 95,000, next was 75,000)
* Vitamin E supplementation
* Intake of dairy products. Whey protein does seem to increase my counts: at my highest counts I was was drinking it every day, and I have a personal theory (i.e. I've seen no science on this) about the immunoglobulins in it. These can confuse the immune system temporarily (this is how an IVIG infusion works) and I'm not sure if that's a good thing for someone trying to reduce a particular antibody.  I've been off dairy for about two years now, but it's filed in my brain as something to investigate further.
* Grape seed extract and green tea (this was part of a diet designed to influence the Th1/Th2 balance, but I did not continue with it as it didn't seem to be working, and was really complicated)
* Boswellia (I want to try this again, but was using a product sample and ran out)
* Vitamin A (I'm trying this now)
* Alcohol and caffeine abstinence (no difference between complete abstinence and a 'now and then' approach although counts trend higher when I'm not addicted to caffeine)
* Digestive Enzymes
* No added salt (hated it, didn't keep it up)
* Higher protein intake (generally higher counts, but I've also had a few high counts on a lower protein diet. Consistently higher counts have been with higher protein intake.)
* Eating shellfish (mussels, oysters)
* Exotic mushroom extracts (Reishi, Shitake)
* Fermented foods (When I'm drinking a lot of kefir and kombucha counts trend lower, but it might be coincidence)
* Plant-based/vegan diet (my lowest counts happened when I started a plant-based diet, but I've also had a couple of unexpected spikes into the 80's)
* High dose K2 (I think this has no effect, but I've only been on it for two months)
* Low fat diet
* Intermittent fasting (This had a slight positive effect, but it triggered some binge eating after a few months).

Things I think had no effect:

* Paleo Autoimmune diet (however, this was super useful as it removed suspicion from everything excluded: all grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy and eggs)
* All other strict exclusion diets, with the possible exception of gluten
* Omega 3 supplementation
* Papaya leaf extract (had high hopes for this effect)
* Sesame seed oil
* Mastic gum
* Juicing and smoothies

Things which I'm pretty sure lower my count:

* L-lysine supplementation (have tried it a few times, counts dropped each time)
* Regular gluten consumption
* Complete alcohol abstinence (yes, weirdly, but I've also had a few spikes while alcohol-free. I think alcohol abstinence has coincided with times when I've been trying to adhere to a diet as pure as what a monk on a mountain would eat. That is: making myself miserable)
* Melatonin 
* Ketogenic diet
* Low protein diet (?)

And the one thing which I know lowers my count:

* Stress! It's so bad for you!

As for symptoms, there are two things that seem to affect my symptoms without affecting my platelet count (i.e. they affect function of the platelets I do have), and those are:

* Green vege intake (vitamin K1 intake, I'd say). More = fewer bruises and bleeds
* Alcohol.

A combination of stress and too many wines in the evenings can be relied on to see me wake up one day looking like this:

Forearms, elbows, knees and hips are my bruisy places, and sometimes the tops of my hands. I used to hide them but now I don't care. All my friends know what its about.

Keep in mind that we are dealing with three things here: platelet destruction by the immune system, platelet production by bone marrow and platelet function. As I cannot get an antibody or platelet function test every week ($$$), it is impossible to really know which aspect of ITP is being affected by anything!

Lastly, as I only test every 3-4 weeks, I could just be catching some random ups and downs. In other words, as regards all of the above:


There is one other thing that I feel confident about, and that's the previously mentioned 'happiness factor'. I keep pretty good journals, and it's clear that higher platelet counts have correlated closely with times of my life when things were going well, and I was feeling happy, optimistic and relaxed. These were times when I'd say I felt most like the 'me that I want to be' and had things to look forward to.

A few things happened between highest and lowest counts. For a start I injured my shoulder, which stopped my daily yoga practice, then I injured my back, which stopped all exercise for a while.  Then I came under some stress with my university research project, said 'yes' to too many volunteer activities, experienced unrelenting time pressure and had that feeling where life is squishing the joy out of your soul.

I also realise in retrospect that I created stress for myself by trying to micromanage my nutrition.  At times it has seemed that the harder I try, the more I restrict my diet, the lower my counts get. I don't think that's because of what I was eating, or not eating per se, but because I was getting tizzy three times a day about food. I was going down the deep dark rabbit hole of trying to find a food trigger for ITP: 'omg, it's gluten! no, it's PUFA's! maybe it's nuts and seeds! maybe it's eggs! it could be grains! it could be red meat! starches? sugars! plant toxins! etc etc... etfreakingcetera'. It was much better to eat delicious meals with fresh ingredients and just chill out about it all.

Ok, what now?

What I'm doing at the moment is just getting myself back into a generally healthy low-stress lifestyle and mindset. Nothing complicated.

* Healthy nutrition, mostly plant-based, whole foods, things I like
* Reduced alcohol and caffeine to 'now and then' (alcohol is no problem, caffeine is a  WIP as I'm currently very addicted (yes, again... you may judge me harshly for this, I deserve it)).
* Exercise (2-3 days weights, 2-3 days yoga)
* Time management and time out
* Sleep 8-9 hours a night
* Positive self-talk (sounds very new-agey doesn't it? Works for me though)
* Fun and relaxation
* Avoiding stressful interactions, including online (Facebook groups... ugh... why do I do it to myself?).

I'm also going to try a few things that I think raised my platelet count, but in a more coordinated manner, starting with the vitamin C (5-10g a day) and lactobacillus rhamnosus. I'll continue that April to July, see if anything changes and get back to you.

That's it, apologies for the novel, but there's a lot to say! If you are an ITPer, please comment me below, let me know how you are doing, and if you've found anything that helps / doesn't help.

Next weekend I think it's time for a recipe. :) I'll write another ITP post at the beginning of July.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Quit Sugar Snickery Bars

Well, you know I feel bad for missing my Sunday post, so to make up for it, here are some pics I just took of Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar Snickery Caramel Bars.

I have a friend that is a fan of IQS, and it was her birthday so I gave them a go.

I have to say, this was a quite fiddly recipe and also quite full of sugar, but never mind. It's a present.
Also, I must be becoming a photographer because it is really, really annoying me that the cut piece on the left above is not quite in focus.

I'll probably have to replace that photo later, or I won't sleep.

I couldn't get the caramel to set, but this could be because I used coconut butter instead of butter butter. I also managed to burn the first lot of caramel, so watch out for that.

I can't fault the taste though, they are delicious. Quite a lot like a snickers bar, but less sweet.

I hope you enjoy these indulgent pictures and have some awesome plans for the long weekend.

I've started work on an ITP update post which will be up on Sunday :)


Friday, March 11, 2016

Plum Chutney

Every year my plum tree delivers a massive load, and every year I say to myself "I must make some chutney, or jam, or sauce, or something"...

Then, three weeks later, most of those plums end up in the compost. But not this year! All it took was a phonecall to my Grandma and then some complicated mathematics converting her recipe from lb's to kg's, and reducing the amounts to what seems reasonable in 2016.

This recipe made five jars. I'm not sure what I would have done with 20, per the original recipe! No wonder Grandma's jam pan is the size of a small pool.

Plum Chutney

1.5kg of plum pieces
900g sugar
400g onions
~40g pickling spices
2 tsp salt

Remove the stones from your plums before weighing them. This is the most time consuming part. I just used a knife and cut around the stone. Obviously you remove any bird poo or bugs at the same time. :)

Put the plums, onions, sugar and salt in a wide pan and add enough vinegar to almost cover them. I used apple cider vinegar.

Add the pickling spices. The correct method is to tie them in a muslin bag, however I discovered a lack of muslin in my house and therefore just added the spices to the other ingredients and carefully removed the cinnamon sticks later.

The spices I added were:
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp cloves
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp allspice
pinch of cardamom powder

Then you cover the chutney and let it boil for four hours. I adjusted the heat so that it was bubbling but not boiling over.

After four hours you have decisions to make. At this point you can strain off some of the liquid for plum sauce, or you can take the lid off and let it simmer for another hour or two until it thickens. That's what I did.

I sterilised my jars using a short hot wash in the dishwasher, let the chutney cool a little then filled the jars and lidded them. You are supposed to seal the jars with wax or use a special preserving lid in order to prevent spoilage. However, I don't think this chutney will be around long enough to worry about that.

This really is a delicious chutney, sweet enough to be a jam. When the peaches come along in a few weeks, I will try a lower sugar version, using some leaves from our stevia plant. I'm not too concerned with the sugar content of this chutney, after all you don't eat it by the cupful, but I think it will be a fun experiment in food chemistry to make a 'diabetic friendly' version.

I hope you have a wonderful week, and if you have any ideas for preserves that involve peaches, grapes or elderberries, please link it up in the comments. Our garden is small, but has a short prolific phase of everything-at-once and I'm determined to make the most of it this year!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Self Monitoring for Weight Loss

Self-regulation theory states that:

Self monitoring leads to self-evaluation and self-reinforcement for progress made so far toward a goal. An ongoing process of self-monitoring creates motivation to continue behaviours that help us achieve a goal.

When it comes to weight management it is practically a given that you'll be tracking your progress in some way. You may be tracking your food, weighing yourself, monitoring your emotional eating, or triumphantly recording PB's in the gym.  But, does it work? Is it even helpful?

This weekend I pulled an interesting paper from my 'read sometime' file. It's a 2011 systematic review (1) of the evidence base for the effectiveness of self-monitoring in weight loss. The review looked at 22 studies which investigated food monitoring, exercise monitoring, weight monitoring or some combination of these.  Eight of the studies were Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT's). 

Food Monitoring

Fifteen of the reviewed studies focused on dietary self-monitoring and six of those were RCT's which utilised some form of food diary.

All of these studies found a significant association between keeping a food diary and weight loss, whether the method was a paper or electronic diary, or a combination of the two.

There is some disagreement as to whether paper diaries or apps are more effective, with some studies reporting no difference between them and other studies reporting increased compliance with digital diaries. One study reported that participants found a phone app to be more socially acceptable for food tracking.

Degree of food diary completeness was also associated with degree of weight loss. In studies that reported it, weekly weight loss was higher on weeks that participants were more engaged with their food diaries.

Timing of self-monitoring for eating was also important, with immediate monitoring being more effective for weight loss than relying on memory recall.

Exercise Monitoring

Disappointingly, although five trials included exercise self-monitoring, only one of the trials (it was a small RCT) reported the impact of exercise monitoring as a separate outcome.

This study found that more consistent self-monitoring was associated with more exercise, fewer difficulties with exercise and greater weight loss.

Weight Monitoring

Six studies focused on self-weighing and two of these were RCT's. In general the self-weighing studies were large with excellent retention rates.

A weight gain prevention trial for overweight individuals found that daily weighing was associated with weight loss (which was not a goal of the intervention), but that any frequency less than that was associated with weight gain. Even weekly weigh ins were associated with slight weight gain over time. Another trial showed that increased daily weighing after weightloss was associated with less weight regain.  

For weight loss, again more frequent weighing was associated with larger losses over time, although unlike the weight maintenance trial, a weight loss effect was seen with daily, weekly and monthly weigh ins. The general consensus was to weigh 'at least weekly'.

One of the trials suggested that weight self-monitoring may become more important over time, showing similar weight loss at 20 weeks between a group that weighed daily throughout the trial, and one that did not weigh at all until the 11th week. At week 20, as with the other trials, frequency of weighing was associated with weight loss, no matter when the participants started weighing themselves. 

A more recent review and meta-analysis suggested that daily or weekly self-weighing is an effective adjunct to a behavioural weight loss program, but that self-weighing is not an effective stand-alone strategy (4).


Self-monitoring was associated with weight loss success. It seems that the critical factor is compliance and completeness, rather than method of monitoring, although that is not the whole story: one study increased compliance by changing from a paper diary to a simplified checklist, which increased compliance but did not increase results. Perhaps a degree of personal engagement is necessary?

I went looking for more info on the effectiveness of apps vs. paper and found a pilot RCT (2) which tested a self-monitoring app for weight loss (goal setting, diet, activity and feedback via text message) against a web-based or paper-based version. That study found greater retention and adherence in the smartphone app (40 of 43 participants completed the study, average 92 days of recording) compared to the website (19/42, 35 days) or paper diary (20/43, 29 days). Another study (3) evaluated apps and suggested that there is a need for evidence-based apps that include behavioural strategies such as stress reduction, problem solving and social networking. 

The review did have a few limitations. The 22 studies reviewed were chosen for their quality of evidence from more than 90 possible studies, however, in spite of the stringent inclusion criteria, the trials were predominantly focused on white women and were inconsistent in design. In particular there was no consistent method for recording adherence to, or completeness of, self-monitoring. And of course, with all forms of self-report there is problem of accidental or deliberate inaccuracies. A particularly sneaky study used a paper diary with a sensor that relayed back to researchers exactly when the diary was opened. This study found such things as back-filling, and submitting of data for days when the diary was not opened at all. In general though, the evidence in favour of self-monitoring while losing weight, and maintaining weight loss, is very strong. Most reviews will at least mention studies that contradict their findings, but in this case, there really weren't any.

Personally, I have found self-monitoring to be a crucial part of maintaining a 20kg weight loss over nearly 20 years now. It hasn't always been tracking the things mentioned above. At times I have tracked weight, exercise and food. and at other times I put that aside and self-monitored other things like how food makes me feel, my emotions, my body image or turned my attention to hunger and fullness signals or level of daily activity.

I still move between the two, having times when I track and weigh things, or keep a food journal and times when I just make healthy choices and don't think about it too hard. I don't think it's healthy to be shackled to your scales or the cronometer app, but when you are just starting out, or getting back on track, self-monitoring can help you see where you are at and what actions lead toward your goals.

Let me know what you think! What type of self-monitoring, if any, do you use for keeping your health (or your life) moving along in the right direction? Do you think it helps, or is it just one more annoying task in your already busy life?


1. Burke, L. E., Wang, J., & Sevick, M. A. (2011). Self-Monitoring in Weight Loss: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(1), 92-102.

2. Carter, M. C., Burley, V. J., Nykjaer, C., & Cade, J. E. (2013). Adherence to a Smartphone Application for Weight Loss Compared to Website and Paper Diary: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(4).

3.Pagoto, S., Schneider, K., Jojic, M., DeBiasse, M., & Mann, D. (2013). Evidence-Based Strategies in Weight-Loss Mobile Apps. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(5), 576-582.

4.Madigan, C. D., Daley, A. J., Lewis, A. L., Aveyard, P., & Jolly, K. (2015). Is self-weighing an effective tool for weight loss: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Emergency Readiness Tips - Updated Version

Since mid-February the shaky little city in which I live (Christchurch, NZ) has been going through an especially wiggly phase. 

Some of these quakes have made it onto 'the peak ground acceleration list', so they are not weeny. We had one last night that rudely woke the city at 3.30 am. Flight or fight response is not conducive to drifting back to sleep, nor is it a good way to start a productive working day. Oh.. so tired.

We've been living with random quakes for five years now, since the 2011 one that flattened Christchurch and the whole country has become, I think, somewhat resilient.  However, familiarity should not equal complacency. I feel like it's time for a reminder on how to equip yourself for something I hope you'll never experience.

It only takes a few things to be ready, and believe me, in a natural disaster being prepared turns you from helpless into helpful. You become part of the answer to what is probably a huge problem.

The Quake

- Stay as calm as possible. Quakes are loud and scary but most people survive them, and in modern cities, most houses do not collapse. There is a high chance you'll be fine. Try to avoid being hit by stuff falling over (see next point).

- Secure things which might fall over.  Bedside lamps, bookcases, TV's, dressers. All of these things can injure you. Bluetack works for small things. For larger ones, there are ways to secure them to the walls - chains, brackets.

- Quakes can happen at night and the power will probably go out! Stash a few sturdy torches around your house, and have one somewhere close to your bed that you could find in the dark and that is of a shape that won't roll away. Schedule battery checks!

- Clothes and shoes. Don't be naked in the street with cut feet from broken glass! I have sandals, tracky pants and a sweatshirt just tucked in my bedside table.

- As regards what to do, I say it depends where you are. Be aware that outside is not necessarily safer as things fall off buildings (brickwork, chimneys). Getting under something sturdy like a table or doorway is still good advice, although, personally, I head for an open space outside as soon as possible. It's like a primal instinct I can't repress.

Disaster kit

- The Californians have been doing earthquakes rather well for a long time. Click here for their 
recommendations of what you should have. A few things I found essential:

- Water is the #1 thing. We have 20L stored in glass bottles (drinking water) and 40L stored in plastic bladders (washing etc, drinking if necessary). These need to be refreshed now and then.

- Panadol. After each quake I came down with a massive headache. As a habitual coffee drinker, I get the panadol with caffeine in it. 

- Wipes and sanitising gel. Water may be scarce and it's good to keep yourself stink-free with wet-wipes and so on. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser (that evaporates) is also a must for avoiding sickness from eating with grubby hands.

- Paper towels. Dishclothes and so on quickly get stanky if you can't wash them.

- Battery powered radio + spare batteries. It may be your only connection to the outside world.

- Fresh socks and undies.

- Catfood! You do not need the added pain of whining felines.

- Smokers should have cigarettes stockpiled. Although I disagree with smoking (pew!), post EQ is no time to turn over a new leaf.

- First Aid Kit, including the usual (bandages, antiseptic creams, gauze, alcohol wipes, saline etc.) and any essential medications.


- Canned food and other non-perishable food. Try to get low-salt versions so that they don't make you thirsty. Dried food is good too, but again, you need to stay hydrated. Remember to cater for special needs (gluten free etc) and for children.

- Don't forget the chocolate ... ;)   

- Although it's good to have a freezer full, you can't rely on it completely because of the possibility of a lengthy power cut.

Other considerations

- Workplaces should also be prepared. It may not be possible for people to get home.

- Cash. Electronic cash systems may fail. A change jar should do the trick. Small denomination notes and coins are much appreciated by retailers.

- Gas in your car! Not only may the car be your source of information (car radio) but if it's cold, you can get the heater going in there. Perhaps treat the midline as 'empty'. The queues and fights at gas stations after the major quakes in Christchurch were alarming.

- A gas barbeque or gas cooker - with a full gas bottle.

- I like to store some things outside (actually, in the garage, just inside the door) and some inside. I always thought that if the house became unsafe, we would still need to be able to get to our essential things.

- It's good to have some clothes made of natural fibres. They do not get rank if you have to wear them for a few days, or even weeks, without washing. This goes doubly for socks.

I hope that gives you some ideas, and unlike all of my other posts, I hope this one remains completely useless to you for the rest of your life!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Busy Times + Applesauce

I don't like to whine about being busy because, who isn't these days?

However, the last couple of weeks have outdone themselves.  There have been work and study things with deadlines, Jase's birthday, valentines day, my cat Razzy had surgery (then managed to pull out all his stitches, gah!), both of my Grandparents have had scary health issues, and I also had some ITP problems and a scan in hospital. Nothing serious, but all of these things took up time and the stress level did peak.. a little. 

I have noticed though that the new level of organisation helps a lot. Especially having everything online, I can reschedule around unplanned events and keep up with team members from, for example, the vet clinic waiting room. I'm behind on my emails, so if I owe you one, hang in there. I should clear that inbox this week.

There have also been fun times! On Friday Jase and I went into town to an event called 'Food Trucks'. Haha. Most Fridays, a bunch of mobile foodie venues park up in Cathedral Square. It's an effort to attract people into a city that lacks for nightlife since 2011's quakes. After the rice paper rolls and stuffed courgettes, we went to 'The Institution', a trendy little bar on New Regent Street. This older part of Christchurch has been completely rebuilt in the original style. There was a pianist in the street, trams rumbling past, it was just like living in a functioning city!

Then today, we took in Cirque du Soliel 'Quidam' with my Aunty. What can I say about that? Nothing adequately descriptive. If you want proof that some humans can fly and have bones made of rubber, go. It was out-of-this world incredible.

I've put pics from Friday and today in this video below. There is no music, just piccies.


Yesterday, I needed to clean out the fruit bowl and found that my apple fetish has kicked in. I decided to make some applesauce, chunky version. 

As some of the skins were looking a bit wrinkly, I peeled the apples. Then I de-cored them, cut them up, boiled them into submission using just a little water, and used the masher. If I'd wanted really smooth applesauce (or apple butter), I would have used the processor.

The trick to keeping your applesauce good is to add an antioxidant. I have seen recipes that add lemon juice or lemon slices, but I use plain old Ascorbic Acid.

Gratuitous product placement shot. Ooo la la, look at that amazing stuff. ;)

It worked out at just over a tsp for about 15 apples.

For the freezer-destined applesauce, I left it like that, but for the rest I added some rapadura sugar. For a Nutritionist, you may find me surprisingly unsugarphobic. New word.

The plastic container went into the freezer and the jar is in my fridge.

 ..well, most of it. A large dollop found its way onto my morning oats.

I hope you all had a wonderful week. Did any of you get to see Cirque du Soliel? Their next show is based on the movie Avatar. I'll set a reminder to buy tickets two seconds after they go on sale. Three seconds may be too late...

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Vegan Applesauce Muffins

Monday, February 15, 2016

Are you *really* unbiased?

Firstly, sorry this post is a day late! Yesterday went all kindzzzz of crazy. 

And now I'm hearing the Hodge Twins in my head, and that's a little disturbing.

As you should all know by now, I'm heading into a exciting project in the area of obesity research. While doing my background reading, I kept stumbling across the IAT's or Implicit Association Tests. 

Along with the Everyday Discrimination Scale, the Harvard IAT's are frequently used in obesity research to evaluate weight stigma and stigmatising experiences. 

What is interesting about the IAT's is that they are designed to evaluate implicit attitudes, that is, attitudes that you are unaware you possess.  Although not the only scale used in this way, the fat-thin IAT is also used to evaluate self-stigma, or obese individuals' own attitudes toward obese people. Perhaps surprisingly, people with obesity have a high degree of hidden anti-fat attitudes, and this contributes to their reduced wellbeing. 

So, if you are in the mood to find out if you're fattist, racist, sexist or some other 'ist, click here and take a test. There are a few questions about American politics at the end, which are a bit perplexing to non-Americans, but the test apparently works even if you skip those.

Let me know if you give it a burl. I won't ask you to reveal your score, although of course you may brag if you discover an unbiased and enlightened being inside your subconscious. ;)

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sauerkraut: The Movie


Making videos for Youtube is something I've had on on the Trello 'to do' for a while, and I've been slowly learning things and having fun with cat videos, the gardens video, and a wedding video for friends.

This week I finally took a stab at something for Fit to Blog, and to keep it simple, I've focused on something I know well: making sauerkraut.

The most challenging part was doing the narration, and I feel sososososo self-conscious about it. I feel like my nervousness resounds in every syllable. 

I've still got heaps to learn, but here's my little creative exercise. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think and if you have any tips on any aspect of video making I would love to hear them!



My other posts about Sauerkraut

A great site for all things Sauerkraut

An excellent article on how fermentation length affects the brew