Friday, January 21, 2011

Breakfast and a Walk

 Here I sit on this bitterly cold day with my Starbucks, "Venti, Sub Sf, Nonfat Caramel Macchiato" that was supposed to be used to kick start me into cleaning mode. But instead has me sitting here, writing for you and me... Mostly me.

 You know what I was exactly one minute away from today? A "Nacho Bell Grande". I mean I was on my way there. You know why? Because I was starving. I have come to realize that the level of hunger depends on the level of bad choice I will make for myself on any given day.

 So anyway, I wanted the nachos and I wanted a huge (full fat) Carmel Macchiato to help me clean the anal way that gives me so much pleasure when finished that a Carmel Macchiato always allows me to do. I don't even want to know what those two things put together would be in the way of calories, fat and sugar. Not to mention what an embarrassing choice it is to be writing, reading and soon to be posting.

 Then, this is where I know something has changed.... As I went to merge into the Nacho Bell Grande lane I thought, "no, no.... just go home and make yourself something right away and just eat it and be done with it. Just let it go." So I went to Starbucks and made another better decision, the "non non sub sfwymdb vanilla non non non caramel macchiato" and I didn't even feel dumb! I felt...... Responsible, I felt smart, I felt like a grown up.... I felt in control.

 I got home and got myself some granola, yogurt and and an apple. Drank a huge glass of water and here I sit.

 I know that the actual caloric intake of my breakfast was probably still not the best choice but it was a choice when in that particular space, I don't think I have ever made. I mean, I am outside of my usual "give up" range and in the exact place when it usually happens, and I made the better choice.

 After talking to one of my favourite people last week (you know who you are), I saw something new. I felt something new. Something clicked within me for the first time. I had my first "Aha Moment".

 Just start small. Wherever you are in your journey. Just start small. Be proud of the small. Because the small that lasts longer than the "huge short lived" actually does much more for you. Here's why:

 Like I said in my previous blog, I never ate breakfast, rarely ate lunch and got myself to a point of only eating when starving. When starving I would make the worst choices. When making the worst choices my body feels at it's worst and so does my heart. I felt tired and I felt guilty.

 When I decided to start small and be proud of  myself I realized, it's like a snowball effect. Feeling good about yourself and being proud of yourself just makes more good happen. For every morning I would wake up and eat breakfast (for the most part), I would also eat a good lunch, I would be more mindful of dinner and also of a snack later or find myself not wanting to interfere with the awesome day I had and not even eat the 8 to 10pm snack at all!

 I made a choice to walk every Sunday night or Monday morning depending on my schedule and only commit to that. I am only committing to those two things, breakfast and a walk. That's it. It's more than I did before and that's something to be proud of.

 No more feeling bad for how pathetic that seems, breakfast and a walk. No more beating myself up for one bad snack or meal. No more even thinking about weight or size or how long it will take if I lose this amount per month to be at my goal weight.

 Just breakfast and a walk.

 When that becomes a staple that I don't have to work on or think of, I will add something else but for right now I am basking in the pride.

 It's been 14 days and I am still here.

 Thank you friend. Thank you for being exactly who you are. It's exactly why I love you.

 Onto the 'Chef Salad Kebobs'. I made them for my daughters lunch and she "loved them". "Except for the egg and the cheese".... So here I am saying, "the egg is the protein! The cheese is the dairy! You didn't even have a balanced lunch!" (which Izzy has almost always eaten. From this blog you can probably get an idea of my reasons for being close to obsessed with her meals)... Anyway, I thought they were a great idea and something new and fun for lunch!

 Chef Salad Kebobs

 Deli Meat or Sausage or Ham
 Hard boiled eggs (at least 2)
 Toothpicks or kebob skewers

 Cut it all up into decent sizes and make your kebobs!

                                                       HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a Winter Wonderland... So I made Mexican Chopped Salad!

 So I've been living healthy a whole 5 days now, who wants to place bets on when I'll give up? I'll put $20 on 10 days. Any takers?

 Am I alone in this? What is your "wall", so to speak? Hopefully longer than mine. For some reason I always give up around 10 days, and then completely by 14. Why? Is it a predetermined number that I consciously and subconsciously always just give up?

 This problem actually transcends being healthy. It actually trickles over into projects, chores, school, and every other thing that has to do with a schedule that is up to me to keep. It's actually a wonder I am still writing this blog!

 I have a theory that it  has to do with how "big" I make things.

 For example, I want to lose... Let's call it...... 7 to 8 stones. That is a pretty daunting number, (even with the conversion to what is much easier on the eyes). So when I get going it's great. I psych myself up of how great I feel, I talk to everyone about it, I get a new master plan, I go to the extreme.

 Considering I don't even eat breakfast and rarely go a night without eating something after 8pm it's safe for me to say extreme is: eating a very healthy breakfast every day, very healthy lunch, and pay much more attention with portions and fats while making and eating dinner (dinner has never been difficult for me to keep healthy because it's the only meal of the day I make for everyone).  I drink lots of water and rarely drink anything other than it, I get plans of yoga, walks 3 times a week minimum, get P90X, say I'm going to stop drinking and other things.....

 Then something happens... It's hard to put my finger on exactly what. It could be a slip up, a bad meal, a bad snack, not following through with a work out I had planned, a unintentionally negative comment from someone or just my own underlying negative thoughts of what I am capable of.... and it's gone... For at least another 3 to 6 months when I can't take it anymore.. again..

 Does this sound remotely familiar to anyone else or is it just me?

 Well, here I am trying this again. I feel good. I feel more awake every morning. I don't feel like crashing at 2pm every day. I feel positive. I feel a little scared.

 I don't want to give up again. I don't want to be any heavier. I don't want to start having health problems. I don't want to be a bad example for my daughter. I want to stop stopping things. I want to follow through with one thing. Couldn't it just be this thing? This would be a great thing. I'm talking as if I am asking someone else. Like I don't have the control. I guess I have never really felt like I do have the control.

 One thing I have learned.. I think... Is to stop fantasizing. About a certain size, or look or life I will have with that look and size. That's dangerous. Because it takes time. For me it will take a lot of time. So I have to let go of all that because when it doesn't happen in a week, a month, a year it can be depressing. I don't even have a scale. It doesn't matter. A scale is pointless in what I am going for, it will only hurt me.

 I am trying to focus on the energy and attitude eating and living better is bringing me. That's the reward at this stage.... and maybe through it all.

 So I got this recipe from a Kraft magazine last summer. It called for Italian dressing and I thought that  made no sense with a 'Mexican Chopped Salad'. So seeing as I love Cilantro more than life itself and it is in Mexican cooking I decided to make a dressing out of it.

 I tried to copy a dip from one of my favourite spots to eat, Oishii and Chanosos. Its a dip for avocado egg rolls. The dip is so good, I could find a way to use it on everything. My version is not perfected but does do well as a dressing for this salad.

 Mexican Chopped Salad

1 19oz can of black beans rinsed
1 orange pepper chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes halved
1/2 red onion diced
2 avocados

My Dressing

Juice of 2 limes
1 tbs olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1 large Garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbs crushed pistachios
salt & pepper to taste

For the salad, add first 5 ingredients in storage container. Mix together to combine.

For dressing, combine all ingredients in food processor (I used a magic bullet just because of the smaller amount of dressing). Pulse until completely emulsified. Mine was a uniform green colour. Add honey, olive oil, pistachios, and honey to your taste specifications. As I said this dressing is a work in progress.

Add 3 tablespoons of dressing to salad and combine.

For each serving of salad cut up half an avocado on top of each serving and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing over each serving.

Tip: To get the most out of your limes, cut in half and bite. I saw it on Rachel Ray a few years ago and have been doing it ever since. Its a little weird, I know. But if you rinse your mouth and lips right away it's fine.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Ms. Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon... In my new cast iron pot!

For my first recipe in my new coveted cast iron pot, I decided it only fitting to attempt Julia Child's famous Boeuf Bourguignon.

This is the most complex recipe I have ever made. I realize this statement is either impressive or laughable, depending on who is reading it. The complexity is not so much in the difficulty, but rather in the time, the steps.

Be that as it may, between the steps, methods, separate cooking of everything and simply the amount of pots when everything was said and done; it was a task. A task that I loved every minute of.

I couldn't wait to get to the next step, the one that seemed even more "unconquered" than the last. It took 6 hours from start to finish and I would do it again tomorrow... If it could be a new recipe. Not because I didn't like this one, just because the "new" is what's fun for me.

This recipe made me realize that even out of my comfort zone I am still in love with cooking.

The end result was a good meal. Not what I was expecting.

 I have to say, I don't think anything would have been what I was expecting. Like I said, I have never made anything like this and because of it, was expecting the world.. Right there on a plate.

There were a couple of things I had no clue why I was doing. But then again, I have no place to question Ms. Child. I just assume it's the best method ever thought of, and follow along.

Well, I did it. I conquered it.

.... and you can too. I promise.



Servings: Serves 6
Kitchen Supplies:
  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
Boeuf Bourguignon:
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. 

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed. 

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.