Saturday, March 1, 2014

Renewing recipes for better health

This year I'm on a mission to loose roughly ten per cent of my body weight. This is to make me healthier and to take the stress off my knees. I've made good progress having lost around five kilos since November but I still have a way to go.

During February I was mainly vegetarian. My daughter and her friends had heard about Feb Fast and wanted to know what it was like to go without something they liked. Olivia was very focused and stuck to her commitment until the end. I enjoyed the change too, and it definitely helped some more weight come off but I realized how limited my stock of recipes was.

I now have a couple of new cook books and I'll be trying out some new recipes each fortnight. This fortnight I'm trying bran muffins and learning to poach chicken.

It's not just about food its also about establishing better exercise routines so I'm hoping to use this blog a bit more to track my progress and some of my culinary successes.

I'd love to hear how you are going too, so if you have similar goals please let me know!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Deep, dark winter - the perfect time to start a plan

The tomatoes were delicious. They had a beautiful flavour that isn't usually there with shop bought varieties. Only two developed to maturity. Next spring I will aim for a more bountiful crop. The balcony garden is looking depleted now. Only a small succulent and a stunted rosemary plant have survived. A trip to the nursery is needed soon.

The improvement I made over the last two years with my health and fitness have slowly eroded away. A busy work schedule, family responsibilities and changing circumstances have taken up my time. My creative and  healthy living efforts have temporarily taken a back seat. Now in the deep, dark depths of winter its time to build a plan. This will help to get some more balance back into my life, so I can focus on the things that really matter.

I've recently developed some skills as a coach and a key part of the learning process was to be coached by fellow coaches during the program.  One of my goals is to increase my fitness so that I'm full of positive energy. This will help me to achieve my other goals.  Now I have my plan I can start developing some strategies and make some small but important changes that will carry me though this grey winter with a spring in my step towards the sun.

Now I'm heading out for a walk on this cold, rainy day. Tonight I'll be making a chocolate cake with my daughter to celebrate my birthday. Yes it will have cream.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spring into exercise

Having fun with the balcony garden but not with my weight or fitness levels at the moment. The carrots were a disaster, so I'm not sure what went wrong there. They are bonsai rainbow carrots. They have been in for weeks and ahve only grown to about 3 cm. Now an hungry caterpillar has eaten all of their leaves so they are looking sad and shorn. Any tips for next time? The spinach, mint and theyme are thriving and I've enjoyed them in salads. The hungry caterpillar has made soem inroads there as well.

I'm trying to grow a tomato plant, which has leaned over as I only used a small stake. Its looking healthy though so well see if it fruits fingers crossed.

TIme to get away from my PC and get some fresh air and sunshine while it lasts.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reflecting on earth hour

 This year I joined some friends to celebrate Earth Hour with a candle lit dinner. It was a very special evening with remarkable food and wine sourced locally and it gave me a lot to think about.

It reminded me of another night when everyone turned out the lights. That was Fire Cracker Night or Guy Fawkes Night. Everyone turned their lights off to see the fireworks better.  I think in a way that the ghost of that night has been transformed into Earth Hour. We love the magic of turing off the lights and the romance of candles or of  going outside to look up and contemplate the wonder of the universe above and around us.

The turing off of lights is powerful symbolically. Seeeing huge buildings go dark is an emotional experience. Maybe it's something wired into us or maybe its our expectations built around our experiences of the arts, culture and religion. In the dark we seek catharsis - something that will lift us up above our everyday experiences.

I really like the idea of building a celebration around sustainability. We are physically doing something - saving power in turning off the lights for an hour, or two or four but what that allows us is time to think about the future for a few moments and what the concept of sustainability is all about. Then we have the rest of the year to do something about it and to encourage those we care for to do the same.

It's also delightful to eat cake by candlight, and to enjoy the honeyed scent of candles that are made from the wax of local bees.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Extending the new year's resolutions

There is nothing like a health scare to remind you of your mortality and of how precious each day is. We all need to be making the most of our time, living well and bravely. In my case it was superficial venous thrombosis which has a tendency to travel quite far up my leg. It's the second occurence and it may never happen again. It's more of a nuisance than a risk unless it gets as far as your trunk and enters the deep venous system. One thing that may make a difference is my health and fitness so this New Year's Eve when I resolved to get fitter and lose some weight I meant it.

In fact I had already started to make some small changes. Over christmas I lost weight for the first time ever. It started off with a mild case of gastro, which I don't recommend as part of a diet or lifestyle change. Gastro is never a good thing. However my appetite was temporarily reduced so I became used to eating smaller portion sizes. This can be achieved without the unpleasant side effects of gastro by slowly reducing portion sizes over time. You can also buy slighly smaller plates but don't cheat and heap them up more! Once your body is used to eating less you feel full sooner and won't want or need to eat as much.

Wouldn't it be good if the modern office as well as being green had healthy living built into its design as well. Surely table tennis facilities, a gym, a pool or even a room for virtual sports play should be integral to any thinking modern office design? Until the modern office gets mobile a brisk walk in the park will have to do.

The other thing I did was to take a good, long summer break.

 I spent a couple of wonderful days in Merimbula which is on the sout coast of New South Wales in Australia. The caravan park at Short Point was a long walk from the town centre so I was able to enjoy a coffee and blood orange ice-cream without feeling guilty. I spent a blissful day strolling around Merimbula Lake and the local galleries.

I also travelled south again to my original home town Hobart, Tasmania where I enjoyed an array of music and art as part of the Mona Foma festival. This year it preceded the opening of the remarkable  Museum of Old and New Art. The vibe of the crowd at the opening weekend was similar to a vibe that I've only experienced before in Sydney during the Olympics.

Combining the regular discipline of writing with lots of walking, dancing, swimming and stair climbing helped, and I've returned jsut before Australia Day much healthier, happier and lighter than I was in 2010.

So my five top tips for keeping healthy and extending the new year's resolution are:

1. Eat what you really love but eat less of it.

2. Think about what you are eating, why you are eating it and how it will make you feel tommorrow.

3. Do the things you really love. If you make the most of every moment you have less time to think about food or to fall back into old habbits.

4. If you really love being on the computer get mobile about it or break it up with  physical exercise.

5. Don't be too hard on yourself. Allow some treats and modify your eating or your activity levels  accordingly to achieve the right balance.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Experimenting with artichokes

One of my favourite winter soups is jerusalem artichoke soup. It has an irresistable flavour that stands on its own. However tonight I experimented with another vegetable with amazing flavour - the globe artichoke. Although they have similar names the two plants are quite different. The jerusalem artichoke is a tuber and the globe artichoke is a thistle.  

It was the first time I've ever cooked a globe artichoke so I wasn't sure what to do. Luckily the internet is brimming over with useful tips for artichoke novices like me. There are videos for cleaning, cooking (chose your style) and even for eating them.

I chose the simple boiling method and served it on a bed of lemon and olive oil tossed fettucine with a tomato, almond,onion and mushroom sauce. The tomato sauce wasn't quite thick enough so I need to work on that but the flavours worked well.

At the start of week three my healthy change of diet is working well. I'm starting to lose some weight and I'm not craving those orange and poppy seed muffins. Spring is in the air so I'm starting to walk a bit more. It's amazing what difference a blue sky makes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Savoury breakfast recipe - Aromatic Porridge

For the first week of my new routine I cut out sugar and yeast. I'm cutting out yeast for a couple of weeks as I've had yeast intolerance in the past, so its just to give my body a break. For the second week, which starts tomorrow I'm cutting down on fat intake more strictly too. I can still eat some fresh fruit but no berries. This left me with the question what can I eat for breakfast?

This morning I decided to cook porridge. I usually sprinkle it with a little brown sugar however that is definitely off my list so I decided to experiment and go for a more savoury flavour. For the last minute of cooking my oats in low fat milk I added in a quarter of a teaspoon of garam masala powder. Then I added a handful of bran and some slices of fresh pear.  This made a really hearty very savoury breakfast. The recipe isn't perfect yet. There was an element of the garam masala I used that was a little dry. However I'm happily on the right track. Here is a yeast, sugar and low fat breakfast that is absolutely scrumptious.

For the first time all week my weight is down, but only very slightly. Fingers crossed the loss continues.