Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sauerkraut: The Movie

Hello! 

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!


x
Sara

Resources

My other posts about Sauerkraut
Here
Here

A great site for all things Sauerkraut
Makesauerkraut.com

An excellent article on how fermentation length affects the brew
http://www.makesauerkraut.com/how-long-to-ferment-sauerkraut/


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Getting Organised! Free Apps.

I have a confession. Change scares me and sometimes this holds me back.

For example, my quaint 'piles of paper, post-it notes, overloaded daily diary and reliance on memory' system for time management was failing hard, but I thought learning a new way would just cause more stress. Eventually, I got sick of my friends ordering me to try this or that app and gave it a go. Now I'm like: what took me so long? 

I still have a lot going on, but these days it's less like 'juggling balls' and more like 'ducks in a row'. I'm not saying the row is always completely straight, but..


...it's far less stress. And that's what it's all about.

It's been trial and error. The acid test for me is whether I actually keep using something. There are apps (e.g. Kanbanchi) that seemed excellent, but for some reason, didn't stick. The ones below have proven useful and useable. 

Google Calendar

This one needs no introduction. I use it for:
  • Daily scheduling and blocking out times for work, study and appointments
  • Setting up reminders for things like birthdays, upcoming deadlines, flights and conferences
  • Setting up recurring events (say, hairdresser every six weeks). The phone app likes to be cute about this:
  • Plonking something loosely into a day that is planned for that day, but not necessarily at a particular time. For today I have 'remove New Years message from Sana site' sitting as an 'all day event'. That's a bit clunky. There is a 'task' function that works more practically for this sort of thing - you set up a task and either tick it off that day or move it to a new day, BUT, 'tasks' does not work on the Android app (so frustrating!!). So, if I'm using my phone, I can't see tasks. I do use tasks but only for work things, as I can see them when I'm on any PC.
Our Groceries Shopping List

Grocery shopping used to involve a lot of timewasting steps: checking cupboards, writing down a list, wandering the aisles in search of a memory jolt, calling Jason to see what he needed and then having a 'gahhh!' moment late at night because I forgot the catfood.

No more.

This is a phone app that has the brilliant feature of being shareable. Both of us can enter things onto the list, as we run out. And, if the list is looking emptyish, I can just call Jase and ask him to populate the it from wherever he is while I drive to the supermarket. It's brilliant.




It also has the ability to record brand names and other details (under the 'i') and you can program in barcodes, so that entering packaged items doesn't need to involve any fingerwork at all. You just scan the barcode with your phone.

The paid version of this is about NZ$9.50, but I'm considering it, as a token of appreciation. Is there such a thing as 'free app' guilt?

Trello

Trello can function as a basic list keeper, or a Kanban system. I use it for the latter purpose and it fills the gaps for things that Google Calendar doesn't do.

Trello has some pretty nifty features that I haven't explored yet, such as linking to Google Docs and enabling voting for group projects, but for now it's a great way to break life down into manageable areas (boards), and then further refine things down to the one task (card) I'm doing right now in a particular area, while also keeping a 'park' of ideas to pull from for the next task.

My dashboard looks like this. These are the boards.


So, I've got my personal things, and then also there is a group board for a conference I'm on the organising committee for.

Within a board, say the Fit to Blog board, I have my ideas bank ('to-do') and the one thing I am doing right now ('doing'). I'll move that to the 'done' board later. Kanban hinges on the simple rule that there is only ever one thing in the 'doing' column.


If I need to put a task aside, I can move it back to the 'to do' board and add comments to it so that I don't lose touch with where I was at. And then, if necessary, I can put a reminder in Google Calendar for when I need to reconnect with that task. The goal is to free up mental space by having everything in its place and nothing rattling around in my brain causing headaches. 

I could just delete tasks once 'done', but I find that keeping track of completed tasks weekly helps me to see how much I can realistically achieve within certain timeframes. This is particularly important to planning out my work schedule and job quoting.

And last, but not least, and not an app....

Plan Old Fashioned Journals



I still love my journals. The brown one is for scribbling down random ideas, brainstorming, poems, doodling.. just anything. Some of that ends up on Trello later. It's a kind of 'wild dreams, goals and imaginings' book. No reality necessary.

The black one is a day-by-day planner. I have two hours screen-free time in the evening, and just before that, I peruse Trello and my calendar for the next day and transfer the relevant stuff to the planner. After that, I have a quick reality check of the day just been, perhaps journal a few thoughts / feelings before bed. In the morning, before I get my day started or turn on my devices, I have another check-in using both books. I might need to shuffle things around to fit the reality of the moment. You know.. the cat needs to see a vet, you woke up with a sore back, it's snowing.. I dunno, just stuff you can't plan for.

I'll often have other informal things in the planner like 'skype Jeremy' or a note about what workout I plan to do that day, or dinner plans. During the day, I tend to offload random thoughts, feelings, reactions, how my energy level is, or what ITP symptoms I have that day. I like to track how things affect me.  I mean, just once or twice, I'm not scribbling my feels all day long. The journal is also good for things that absolutely must be done ASAP. So, if I note we are out of Ascorbic Acid, I'll record 'order more Ascorbic Acid' in my day planner, and get it done within a few hours. Every day there'll be a few little things like that which 'just came up' and needed to be dealt with. So I just write them down and cross them off once complete.

I hope some ideas here are helpful to you. It's impossible to overstate how much timesaving and stress relief has been achieved through using these apps.

What's your system? Any tips on great apps that I need in my life?

Resources:

Bullet Journal (recommended by one of my friends. I haven't tried it yet)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Being Skinny is Not the Only Reason

Hello! I hope your weekend is weekendish.  It's a big couple of days for me. I'm finishing off, and submitting, my ethics application for my university research project. Therefore, this post is going to be a 'brain dump' piece of randomness. Luckily for you, there is something on my mind.

But first, check out this guy. When I left for work, Mog climbed in to my spot under the covers, and when I got home, he was still there, getting toasty. Cute huh? Cats sure know how to nap.


What I'm blogging about today is something that's been growing in my consciousness over the past few years. And it's this: I have realised that in order to be truly healthy, you have to stop focusing on the way you look as the main outcome.

It's not our fault that we use body size as an indicator that we are doing the right thing. You can't open a magazine or look on Facebook without being smacked in the eyeballs by some 'health advice' that is supposed to make you sleek. Health and skinnyness have become conflated to the degree that any move toward improving your nutrition or getting fitter is supposed to make you thinner. If it doesn't, it's not worth doing, right?

No. Really, it's time for this idea to dieeeee. It is fine to have an aesthetic goal when it comes to organising your lifestyle, but, in my experience, if looking a certain way is the primary goal, that can lead to misery.



This is me today, about 5 minutes ago. I am 5 ft 3, 58kg (~128lbs), 44 years old. I'd call that... 'normal'.  However, I'm 5kg heavier than a couple of years ago, because in Sept 2014 I stopped low-carbing. I started eating more plant foods and stopped stressing out. Seriously, that's all it took.

At first I was upset about the weight gain, but over a few months I realised that my main issue was other people's reactions, and my own perception that as a Nutritionist, I should be superthin. I considered tweaking my diet and exercise to lose the weight, but when in came down to it, I just couldn't find any good reasons to do more than I already am. 

I'm healthy*, I can maintain this weight eating something like 2500 calories a day (low carbing I was beginning to gain weight on 1500 calories and suspect I was slowly trashing my thyroid function, or perhaps losing the ability to add?), my friends still want to hang out, my partner still thinks I'm hot, my nieces and nephews think I'm cooler than I actually am, and the people that make comments (even "helpful" ones like: 'oh, I'm sure you'll lose it again') need a lesson in what matters. I feel at peace with food. If I'm hungry, I eat. Like, food, not bubbly water. If I'm not hungry, food doesn't cross my mind. I've lost 2kg naturally in the last 6 months, so perhaps I'll settle at a lower weight, but who knows? I actually have other things to think about.

Being physically and mentally healthy is more important than being a small size.  Note: I don't think there is anything wrong with tweaking your diet and exercise to lose a bit of jiggle, but losing weight shouldn't be your only motive to look after yourself. Your body is not a painting. It has to do stuff, now and in the future.

For example, one thing that's very motivating to me, is the realisation that one day we will all be old. If your reason for eating veges is to be young and pretty, what's going to keep you motivated when you have grey hair and wrinkles? Being a healthy old person requires a few things, including but not limited to:

* Strong bones
* A functioning brain
* Muscle tone
* Good endocrine health
* Cardiovascular health
* A sense of humour

All of these things require long-term adequate intake of nutrient-dense foods and consistent attention to some form of body movement. Don't go having a hip fracture in your 70's because you starved away your peak bone mass in your 20's. How silly would that make you feel? Happily, living a healthy life will keep the bod running, and likely also land you eventually in a weight range that looks, well, 'healthy'. 

Focusing on weight, being 'willing to do anything' to be thinner, can lead to unhealthy behaviours and food obsession. I'm sure everyone reading here has experienced that a singular focus on weight can lead to obsession and general food weirdness. Those of us that have worked as PT's, nutritionists or dietitians will know that most people want fast weightloss, and usually turn up practically begging to be issued a diet plan of boiled chicken and broccoli. The 'size before health' mindset can also show up in more subtle ways. One of my unhealthiest behaviours has, at times, been using alcohol as my 'carb source' at dinner (a Zone diet trick). Wine does not make me gain weight, BUT, nightly consumption of it does a number on my mood and ability to sleep well. Refining your eating down to things that make the scale move downward can result in some of the strangest habits.

Also, weirdly, aligning your identity too closely to the ups and downs of the scale can even lead to eventual weight gain. What you focus on, grows, right? Focus on healthy behaviours**. This might require a little attention to your diet, you might need to sort out some food sensitivities or get some help if you've gotten into a state (say, you are bingeing), but it really shouldn't be a stress. Just be healthy, have hobbies, live your life. The way you look is a side-effect of the way you live. I promise, if you are as healthy as you can be, your appearance, and the way you feel, will reflect that level of care.

**Peace Out**

* I do still have ITP. I I'll write about that soon.
** 'Healthy behaviours, not 'health''. That's an important discussion for another day. Some people aren't motivated by health at all, but might be healthy for the sake of, for example, their kids, or because their social group is mountain bikers. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Best Ever Mushroom Soup - Nut and Thickener-Free Version

A few weeks ago, Pinterest 'suggested' to me that I might like the Best Ever Mushroom Soup recipe from Pancake Warriors.

I'm not sure how Pinterest does this, but by some technological voodoo, its suggestions are scarily good. It seems to know me very well, so I gave the recipe a go, and, you know what?

This really is excellent. Quite possibly the Best Ever Mushroom Soup. I kid you not. Furthermore, it's not even complicated.



As usual, I made quite a few changes to the recipe and nearly tripled the volume, so I'll put my version below, but please pop over to Pancake Warriors and show the love. This really is a hug-in-a-bowl.

Ingredients
  • 3 large onions
  • Mushrooms! I have made this soup twice now. The first time I used 20 button mushrooms and 10 Shitake. Tonight's version contains 40 smallish button 'shrooms 
  • A large handful of fresh thyme on the stalk (or about a tbsp of fresh leaves)
  • 1 Litre of stock
  • 2 Tbsp of soy sauce
  • tsp of salt
  • Coconut milk. I used this instead of Pancake Warrior's Nut Milk and did not add it to the soup as it was cooking, but kept it as an optional stir-through.
Method

Cut your onions into slices and small chunks. 


I always wear my blue-blockers for onion cutting.  They work remarkably well for preventing the involuntary display of emotional tears.

Put a tbsp of water in the bottom of a saucepan, add the onions, lid the saucepan and let the onions sweat on a moderate heat for about 10 minutes.

Cut the mushrooms into various sizes and add them beside the onions. I added a little bit more water (say another Tbsp) to get things going.

Lid the pot and let them sweat on a moderate heat. I did my workout while this was happening, so that gave them 20 minutes. The 'shrooms will leak a lot of water. I believe that this step is essential to the great flavour of the soup.


Stir the mushrooms and onions together and add add the thyme leaves. They are easy enough to de-stalk by running your finger and thumb down the twiggy bit.

I used this much thyme but might have used more had my thyme bush been more abundant.


Let that all cook together for another 10 minutes or so, then add the soy sauce, salt and stock.

I used a stock cube today. This one. It's a chicken stock cube, but contains no animal products. I used one cube.


And then, you just let it simmer with the lid off for as long as you need. I left mine for an hour and the flavour intensified a lot.

Upon serving, I stirred through a tbsp of warmed coconut milk.

If you're a 'shroom fan like me, you will love this recipe. My adoration of mushrooms is profound. I can even remember the first time I ever tried them, fried in butter. I could hardly believe that something so delicious could be found for free growing on roadsides and the school athletics field. It was a life-affirming moment.

Mushrooms do seem to be something that you either love or hate though. My sister can't stand them, to the point of picking them off her pizza and making a pile on the side of her wild mushroom linguine. We are symbiotic eaters in this way. She gets my cheese and chips, I get her fungi. Well... that came out wrong :-/

What's your take on mushrooms? Are you a fan, or would you rather they just stay off your plate? I'm interested.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Vitamin N

Vitamin N! Nature! I'm a lifelong fan of it, and as I live in New Zealand, there is no good excuse for seeing as little of it as I do.

I have serious Vitamin N goals for 2016, including greening up my house, walking the Banks Peninsula track, and just getting out there on the weekends, indulging the biophilia. It requires so little around here to encounter some glorious nature, and delivers so much in the way of feeling groovy.

Last weekend we investigated the Botanic Gardens. I hadn't planned to make a video, and didn't have the right lens for it (a little jumpy in places, sorry), but here's a 3 minute snippet of our urban ecotherapy session.


It's not just my opinion that Vitamin N deficiency is harmful. Science agrees! For example:

1. A Swedish study showed that individuals experiencing higher levels of stress had less access to green spaces, but at the same time, showed a preference for outdoor leisure activities and green environments.

2. Physiological stress recovery as measured by skin conductance was faster in a group exposed to sounds of nature, rather than various environmental noises, after a stressful maths test.

3. People moving from a less-green to more-green urban area showed sustained improvements in mental health over time. However, the reverse was not true (moving to a less-green area did not make mental health worse in this sample).

4. Visitors to an urban park in Iran reported positive mood change after having been in a green environment and around water. They reported feeling refreshed, relaxed, calmer and more ready to cope with life's difficulties.

5. The European Commission reported that even small green areas (say, a backyard garden) can reduce the stress of living in an 'urban heat island'. Even a small garden may be 7 degrees (C) cooler than the surrounding non-green areas.

6. A Danish study showed that living in proximity to gardens and green spaces correlated with lower stress levels and less obesity.

7. Visitors to a park and forest in Switzerland reported recovery from stress and headaches and an improved sense of being well-balanced. Results were most impressive in those that had longer visits and that combined their visits with a more intense physical activity, rather than just walking or lazing around.

8. Even having a few plants and a view from your office window can improve job satisfaction.

9. Increased green spaces in deprived areas resulted in lower stress as measured by salivary cortisol.

10. Green spaces are just good for you. So says this review, though they can't really say why nature helps us, it just does. It's magic.

11. The presence of nature buffers the impact of life stress in rural children.

I was going to stop at 10, but the last study grabbed me. From the ages of 7 until 12 I lived in a very rural environment. Life was apparently stressful, with my parents divorcing and so on, but I still remember it as a lovely time of my life. In my memories I'm surrounded by animals and nature. I would like to live like that again(hashtag lifegoals).

If any of you have blogged about nature, or want to share that you also go crazy without regular doses of it, please comment below or link up any posts you have written. I'd love to see some pics of your local flavour of Vitamin N too, whether that's an expansive national park, or an aloe vera plant on your desk.

Resources

Nature Rx Youtube Channel (fun and funny!)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Simplifying, Minimising, Decluttering, Organising

Six months ago, I made a start on something that was long overdue: evicting a whole lot of junk and clutter from my house, my mind, my schedule and my digital spaces. 

I've always known that being organised and in a tidy environment helps me feel calm, focused and get stuff done, but over the last few years things really got out of hand. I seemingly had no time for anything, and when I did have time,  I felt immobilised. I'd aimlessly surf Facebook, feeling terrible about it, but feeling unable to tackle anything I was 'supposed' to be doing. 

My brain was always spinning but going nowhere. In the evenings I felt like I didn't deserve to relax and the days seemed overwhelming and exhausting. I was always losing things, forgetting things and feeling frustrated and resentful. It wasn't fun.

So I did some research on the science and art of getting one's shit together. Based on what I learned, I've slowly put some systems in place which address these areas of previous chaos:

- Time management and scheduling
- Documents (the paper war)
- Physical environment

It's the last one (environment) that I'm going to write about today. I need a neat, calming space in which to live and work.

I am heartily sick of this sort of thing. The office corner 'pile of crap'.


I'm currently still in phase one of recklessly throwing things out, which is one of those good-for-me things that I hate doing. I have to do it small bursts while singing the 'Frozen' song. 

We (my partner in crime is necessarily on board with this) are also putting in storage systems and just being less slob-like: 'don't put it down, put it away'. It's an ongoing process and I'm tackling one manageable area at a time, so look out for updates if this interests you.

So far, the major area of improvement is the kitchen, helped along by the drama of a full renovation. Obviously most people won't literally ditch everything and the kitchen sink, but in our case, it's been on the 'to do' for years. We just finally made it happen.

Old kitchen:


New kitchen (lights going in when this pic was taken)


You can't tell from the picture but the 'kitchen' part is about a metre longer, far more floor-area, storage and the lower bench gives it a feeling of space.

Within this new area is a tidy spot where I can relax and be musical. That corner needs a plant, don't you think?


A few months into my mission, I went YouTubing for 'minimalism' videos and found Aussie YouTuber Rachel Aust, who also has some impressively fad-free exercise and food videos. Of course, this being YouTube, I naturally encountered several minimalism videos that gave me pause. Ultimately, I'd probably prefer not to own three things and live in a van.

Apparently, it's not really, truly minimising (reducing your possessions to the bare necessities) that I'm doing, but reducing, simplifying and organising. 

Encouraged by Ms Aust's enthusiasm for quality over quantity, I've decided that the next daunting task is to audit my clothes.

I have clothes from sizes 4 to 14, and have a hoarding issue. I have two barrels like this, two rubbish bags and three boxes full of clothes. 


And, I can't close any of my drawers. It's a situation. I've decided to keep only what I currently fit and actually feel good in. 

I'm also randomly making a dent in the junk that has accumulated in our garage-slash-home gym. Never stash boxes in your garage 'until recycling day'. Four years later, your bin is still full every week, and so is the garage.


Ok, that's it from me! I hope you have a lovely week, and I'll have another post up next weekend.
Any other budding simplify-ists out there? Do you have any hot tips for me? Is clutter an issue in your life too?

Resources:

Marie Kendo The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Talks at Google

Friday, January 01, 2016

Crispy Baked Kumara Chips

Hello, and Happy New Year!  


The pending blog post about water kefir has sent me down a meandering probiotic kefir rabbit hole and at this point, I feel I know less than when I started. I'm going to take my time and get that right, but in the meantime blogging is set to recommence! 

My goal for 2016 is to blog weekly, usually on a Sunday. This seems like a blogging committment which fits snuggly around my other plans for the year, the big one of which is to finish my Masters degree.  How good will that feel, to hand in my research thesis?  Like peace on earth and the enlightenment of humanity. It will feel that good. At least.

Today I have for you a recipe that appears to be my new favourite, if dinnertime appearances are a good indicator. 


It's based on this recipe from Brand New Vegan, but I make it with kumara (sweet potato) instead of boring white spuds, and I don't use any flour, and I don't really use the recommended spices. I used  a little curry powder, crushed garlic, herbs and salt. I'm not good with doing what I'm told.

In fact, it's the method that impresses me here: par-boil, let dry, dust with your preferred spices and stir them through, bake until crispy. It's the only way I've ever achieved crispy oven chips. Yes, chips, not fries.

For this lot, I didn't use baking paper, but oiled the bottom of a roasting dish with coconut oil. I'm not as fat-phobic as Brand New Vegan, and the per chippie oil quotient would be practically nothing given how many chips I load on the tray.

I have found that different types of kumara behave differently. The gold ones (gold skin, yellow innards) do not really go crispy, in fact they leak and the whole lot turns a bit mushy. Those are best for mashing. The ones that work are the 'purple' kumara, in both the white flesh and purple flesh varieties. How that translates outside of New Zealand I have no idea.

Here's a close up. Let me know if you try this recipe and how it works out for you!


BTW, I'm now on Instagram. Are you? If so, comment below with your Instagram handle (or on FB) and I'll 'follow you' (digitally, not literally).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What a Nutritionist (Me) Ate in a Day

A few days ago an article started popping up repeatedly on my Facebook feed.  It's from the Australian Business Insider, and involves Dietitian and author Ruth Frechman bravely sharing her daily eats in an article titled "A Nutritionist Shares Pictures of Everything She Eats in a Day".

My first reaction to Ruth's example day was a predictable knee-jerk: No greens! Hydrating with hot chocolate?!  Chewing gum in the afternoon then curing her 'hunger and tiredness' (because.. undereating?) with M&M's? Measuring out her spongy carbs popcorn so she doesn't 'eat too much' ?! What?? Is this satire? Does she even nutrition??

Naturally, I proceeded to stalk her Facebook page and Amazon reviews and slowly climbed off my grass fed high horse. For sure, her approach is not like mine, but she's doing her thing, and she's been doing it for 20 years. Her book, 'Food is Your Friend' is co-authored by a comedian called Jackie Fabulous and is about losing weight and eating a more healthy diet than you were while maintaining friendly contact with your favourite food friends. It's about chilling out about food and yourself and I can see how that might work for some. In fact, now that I'm being less judgey, it's what worked for me way back when I had heaps of weight to lose, was riddled with food issues and wasn't in the headspace to stick to a wholefoods plan, or any plan that felt like a diet. It was a good transition point from which to learn the skills I needed to eat the way I do now.

Product placement aside, and ignoring for a moment my feelings about a lunch that leaves you hungry two hours later, I think the Business Insider article is an imperfect but authentic day's eating by one Nutritionist. Here's another. Please feel free to critique my style and substance. Try not to use the work 'oink'.

Breakfast


My habitual breakfast these days is some sort of porridge. I get up around 7.30 and start it cooking while I throw on some clothes and check my schedule. 

Today I had buckwheat porridge (half a cup dry weight) and while it was cooking I added some frozen berries. Once it was done, I added a large chopped banana, stirred through 2 tsp of ground flaxseed and poured a little maple syrup over the top. The milk is cashew that I made in the nutri ninja yesterday. That was eaten while catching up on essential Facebook happenings, checking email and getting sorted for the day.

Then I grabbed a cup of green tea and headed to my 'standing desk' home office to do uni work. I tend to top up my green tea all day, so that it gets weaker and by 5pm is basically warm water.

At about 11.45 I was getting a little hungry, plus I wanted to be at the office by 12.30, so had an early lunch.


Those are black bean burgers, left over from dinner last night, and they are huge but, I admit, not very picturesque.  The salad has a cashew dressing but you can't see it because I tipped it out of the storage container and so the dressing is mostly on the bottom.  

So, we have the burgers (these are plant-based/no animal products), salad with spinach, carrot, beet, almonds, cashews.. there's sauerkraut, horopito chutney and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I also had a shot of water kefir to check the fermentation progress of this batch. I've been off coffee for nearly 10 weeks, so it's nice to hold an espresso cup.


Then I headed in to the office and got busy on some supplement design work. At about 3pm I felt snacky and ate what happened to be in my bag...an apple, a couple of medjool dates and some dark chocolate. 


I have to say, when living a low-caff lifestyle that Green and Blacks 85% gives quite the kick. In the interests of science I logged everything in Cronometer today and to this point, I'm at about 1300 calories. Once upon a time, that was my calorie goal for the whole day. No wonder I had difficulty meeting it! One of the best things I did when recovering from binge eating was set a goal to have eaten at least 1000 calories once lunch was over, even though doing so scared me to death every day. It makes a huge difference to my mental state and hunger levels in the afternoon. 

I always eat a mid-afternoon snack, but almost never snack in the morning. Dinner for me is usually 7.30-8.00 pm or sometimes later, so a midway munch stops the crankies and the urge to raid the fridge if dinner is taking too long to cook. My snack is not usually as sugary as today, but sometimes it is, so let's just keep it real.

At around 4, I headed home and busted out a very short (~15 mins) core workout in my work clothes, then headed over to my mum's for a family dinner - my sister is visiting from Europe.


Here's where the one day example falls over.  That meal (beef stew on pasta with kumara, salad and wine, two glasses actually) contains three things that I hardly ever eat. Red meat - which I've eaten about three times in the last year, pasta - an 'almost never' food, and wine, which is a very rare thing these days.

I was tempted to fake this meal out with a picture from another day, but I knew that I couldn't keep a secret that big. One day I'd blurt out the truth and lose all my credibility.

The whole day came to about 2200 calories. 80g protein, 300g carbs, heaps of fibre, and due to the kumara, about 1500% the RDI for vitamin A. I didn't meet my targets for calcium, vitamin D and a couple of the B vitamins on this particular day, and that's why you need to take a broader view over a week or a month in order to get the full picture for nutrient intake.  

I'm keen to see some more 'What I Ate Today' posts. If you've done one, please link it up in the comments, or on Facebook and I'll add it to this post. Inspire me! And, what do you think about Ruth Frechman's day? A terrible example, or a fair call if you're just not ready to say ta-ta to the M&M's?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Recipe Roundup

Hello, hello! As requested, I am working on a few sciencey articles, buuut, these take longer than you'd expect, so here's a recipe roundup of things I've made from other people's brains.

In a manner of speaking.

Or that truly don't require a recipe.



I also made a plant-based version with no meat, just chickpeas

 A jar of stuff to take to work. Berries, yogurt, kumara slice

 Raw beetroot cake. I have not yet recorded the recipe for this, but it's quite similar to



 Cacaoweb's death by chocolate (gluten-free version)
Here's a fun video I made with my niece a few years ago when we made this cake (and a big mess)


 A chickpea and broccoli salad

 No added-oil cauliflower soup
(boiled cauliflower, couple of tsp curry powder, crushed garlic, chopped onion, salt - 
zipped in the Nutri Ninja)

Almond Milk Yogurt
Soaked, blanched almonds, pureed in the Ninja, then subjected to the same 
process as for making coconut  yogurt)

See you in a few days with an article about kefir - what's actually in it? Is it really good for you?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vegan Applesauce Muffins



I am having a chillout kind of a weekend, which feels ridiculous and wrong after the crazy of the last three months.  I have this vague 'I should be doing something' feeling and it's completely shocking to realise that.. actually, today I can do very little and there will be no consequences.

Last week I sat the final two exams of my Postgraduate Diploma, which also makes up the first year of the MSc. I've still got a whole heap of work in front of me (research and thesis), but the PGDip is important because it means I can start the process of becoming a Registered Nutritionist. In NZ, the body that registers degree qualified nutritionists is the Nutrition Society. 'Registered Nutritionist' is a protected term that denotes a Nutritionist with a university degree and a certain amount of experience plus interaction with a mentor (3 years experience for those with a bachelor degree, and 1 year for a postgrad). 

It's very nice to get to that point in my education, particularly since some issues with my research project meant that it took 1.5 years longer than it should have.  As they say, it's about the journey... yada, yada...

Anyway, while in recovery mode, I made a lot of apple sauce, then had to think of uses for it. I've been messing around with low-fat vegan muffins. Finally, I think I've cracked the code and come up with one that doesn't fall apart and isn't stuck together with coconut oil. It could be spruced up with berries, chocolate, a blob of jam in the middle... your imagination should be your guide.

Vegan Applesauce Muffins


Click Here for Printable Version

Ingredients: 

2 nicely ripe bananas 1 cup oatbran*
1 cup rice flour
1 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2-4 Tbsp sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Optional: 2 tbsp raisins:

* Oatbran is usually ok for people on gluten-free diets, however some people find they react to it, either because of wheat contamination or because they can’t handle avenin (the glutinous protein in oats). If you are concerned, contact the supplier to see if they have tested for gluten, or replace with whole psyllium husks (not husk powder!) or flour. Buckwheat or amaranth flours work quite well. If you are replacing with psyllium husks use half the amount.

Heat the oven to 180˚C

Mix the bananas, applesauce, vanilla and cider vinegar in a food processor

Add all dried ingredients and process until just mixed and batter-like. Don’t overdo it, or they won’t rise properly.

Let the batter sit for a minute or so. It will fizz up a bit.

Drop spoonfuls into a muffin tin. I used a bendy silicone one, but you could use muffin cups, or a greased regular pan.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until they are springy to touch.