Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Losing it...the post baby diaries...October 26

As promised...here is a look at my food diary for yesterday!

Organic steel cut oats (1/4 cup dry), 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp organic butter, tea with 1/2 cup organic 1% milk and an organic apple.

Approximately 341 calories, 10 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre

The dietitian in me thinks this is a pretty balance breakfast: fibre, protein and slowly released carbohydrates for sustained energy (thanks to steady blood sugars). For weight loss, I typically like to see a little more protein and energy; you could add 1/2 cup cottage cheese to accomplish this nicely.

1 egg, scrambled into 1 1/2 cups of leftover beans and rice stew topped with 1/4 cup light feta cheese

Approximately 440 calories, 28 grams of protein and 8 grams of fibre

This is a good lunch but a little bit light on the veggies...a super quick side salad of baby spinach and cherry tomatoes would bump up the veggie servings without adding much in the way of calories.

1 pear with tea with 1/2 cup organic 1% milk

Approximately 150 calories, 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre

Scrambled extra firm organic tofu with carrots, soy sauce and 1 cup of brown rice

Approximately 400 calories, 18 grams of protein and 5 grams of fibre

The dietitian in me says "not bad at all!" This is a good balance of grains, vegetarian protein and veggie servings.

My totals for the day: approximately 1331 calories, 60 grams of protein (18% of total calories) and 24 grams of fibre. This is a bit low for a lactating female...I did get 3 calcium servings and almost exactly met my daily goal for fibre. I also could have stood to bump up my fruit and veggie servings, as I only got 5 of my 7-10 for the day. More snacks could have helped with this (or the side salad at lunch). This is one of the biggest challenges I find being at home with a little one: I rarely think to snack and make lunch as quick as possible, so I am not always perfectly balanced in terms of nutrients. The good news is that this is a pretty healthy day overall...and I get a whole new chance to eat even better again today!

In good health,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Losing it...the post baby diaries...October 25

Image from www.tracyandersonmethod.com.au

My little one, E, is 3 months old today. I can hardly believe how the time has flown and feel lucky that I got to enjoy the first few months in the sun as now the rain is setting in and I know that I will be a bit more tied to the apartment for the next 5 months. 

I have also firmly entered plateauland. Why? Because I am having a hard time breaking 4 workouts a week (and I sit on my butt the rest of the day) and I have not gone any further with my diet. The reason for this was, if I am losing weight, why restrict myself further? 

Welcome to further. 

I have 9 more pounds of baby weight to go (and 5 additional pounds to get to my goal weight). Last week I did, as promised, start the Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio DVD. Wow. Wow. I tried the routine on Tuesday and my calves turned into ridiculously painful knots for the next 4 days from all the bouncing around. Walking across the apartment was a chore. Not quite the handi-rail incident of 2009, but there was a lot of hurt concentrated in a very small area.

There are 8 dance routines to learn and the learning part of the DVD takes about 45 minutes. On Tracy Anderson's website, she recommends careful attention to diet while you are still learning as you won't be getting much of a cardio workout. However, as it has been months since my last cardio, I was sweaty and breathless throughout the instruction so felt pretty pleased with the workout.

What is so different about this DVD is that the actual workout contains no instruction whatsoever. It is just you and Tracy dancing, full out, to the music..at breakneck speed. So she has also kindly included an instructional portion of the tape where she breaks down each of the 8 routines for you so you can learn them. Not having any dance experience and being generally uncoordinated at high speeds, learning the dances is going to be super tough. However, it is a lot more fun learning dance routines than running to nowhere on a treadmill. 

I am still committed to trying to get to 5 workouts a week. For now, I am going to do the mat workout three times a week and the dance cardio twice a week. I got up at 6:30 today, hoping to sneak in a work out...and then so did E. However, I did manage to get him back to bed so I could workout so I have to pat myself on the back for persevering. 

For my eating plan, I am simply going to start paying attention to portion and type of food (no more pizza when I am too tired to cook!). I will post my food diary tomorrow so you can see what that looks like. The goal is lots of protein, whole grains and produce. 

To your health, 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eat...just like old times...part two

One of my grandfather's four apple trees

My grandparents’ garden, where I spent many a summer reading books and eating raspberries, is still producing in October. There are 4 apple and pear trees, grafted so many times that they form unusual shapes, that bear 20 different varieties for which my grandfather cannot offer names. The simple greenhouse still houses pimento peppers and pickling cucumbers. Portuguese winter kale, paler and softer and sweeter than that which you find in the grocery store, is flourishing and there are still plump blackberries on the (unthinkably smooth) vines. Pumpkins are hiding in tall grass.

The pumpkins in question

When I was little, this garden was my hideaway. I was always a bit of a loner, preferring to spend the long summer days reading books and stuffing my face by myself. The garden was the perfect spot to pass the time: I could sit undisturbed and enjoy the sun and whenever the urge struck, I would just reach up a grab a snack. Cherries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries and green peas kept my belly full. I remember eating so many cherries that I would get a stomachache. I can also remember afternoons spent with my grandmother in the basement, fingers green from shelling peas to store in the freezer. I am not sure how many of my peas escaped my mouth, but I at least I though I had contributed.
 Pomace from wine making the week before my arrival is pungently fertilizing the resting soil. I am sorry I missed the crush. While many grandfathers make their own “two buck chuck” from commercial wine juice, my grandfather has grapes shipped here and actually crushes his own wine, which is then stored in oak barrels in the basement.

The seeds for this kale came directly from Portugal

Not that a touch of grandfatherly thrift isn’t present: instead of making wine from 17 cases of grapes, he learned that he can create it from fewer cases if he adds raisins. I just found this out. I had always wondered why it tastes like raisins…I guess my palette isn’t so useless after all. I remember as a child watching this process with an intensity befitting a future food geek. On tip toe, I would peek into the pungent barrels, frothy as the yeast did their business. When the barrels weren’t present, I would bound into the basement at speed. When it was winemaking time, some part of me expected that quiet and stealth were necessary so as not to disturb the alchemy at hand. The grapes are crushed via a small hand crank crush that sits on top of the barrels. I always wanted to try and crush the grapes myself and would attempt, each year, in vain to muster up the strength necessary to get the crank a full turn, always succeeding only when a strong hand came to my assistance. One turn, and my work was done. My little hands had made wine.

In this house, the next meal begins as soon as this one is done. Breakfast dishes cleared, one must set to marinating meat for dinner. There are ingredients to be defrosted. More food from the cold room brought up to be crammed, impossibly, into the overloaded fridge.

The basement in any Portuguese home is where the dirty work of feeding a family really happens. There is a second fridge, an area under the stairs that serves as a pantry, barrels for wine, a cold storage room, a deep freeze and of course, a bar where the men congregate to drink and gossip.

Taro...not just for poi...we fry it in the drippings left over from making linguica

In preparation for our arrival, linguiƧa, or Portuguese sausage, has been chopped, filled and cured in the basement. The cold room is filled with this fall’s harvest (and the surplus of shopping trips that could feed a small army). The a deep freeze is filled with blackberries, raspberries and rhubarb, beans and peas…but not cherries this year, as a late frost stunted the supply down to 15 pounds.

Having been a vegetarian for 14 years, my grandparents are still confounded by what I will eat. Not eating bacon (my childhood favourite) is suspicious. Actually, not eating meat at all is suspicious. The young me ate steak, bacon and chicken with vigor. My grandmother cannot reconcile that my tastes could have changed so dramatically. The first trip back to Terrace after changing my eating habits as a teenager, my grandmother was convinced that it was my mother who would not let me eat meat. She implored my mother at every meal to allow me to eat each dish, as it had once been a favourite.

My grandparents seem to be more accepting, or at least used to my unusual lifestyle choices. The first morning I was here, my grandfather took me to Save on Foods and instructed me to buy whatever I needed. At the checkout, the cashier saw my 82 year old grandfather and a basket full of tofu, plain yogurt, All Bran Buds, veggie burgers, sprouted grain bread and soy milk and astutely remarked that she didn’t think grandpa would be indulging in said delicacies.

This trip, I have initiated an even stranger habit: taking pictures and video of the everyday dishes that my grandmother has made for our family for years. I am actually shocked that she has allowed me to document her in the kitchen. Notoriously camera shy, I managed to convince her that I was not taking pictures of anything but the food and her hands (and if I caught a few of her in the process for my own memory books, no one needs to know).

Where my grandmother has been accommodating, my grandfather has been surprisingly enthusiastic. Each meal, he kept dreaming up new delicacies to document and stories from our food history to be shared. I wish I could document every last bit of this incredible knowledge because my grandmother famously refuses to write recipes. Hers is an expertise that doesn’t bother with such crude utility. For her, food is a living, breathing substance that needs to be expertly coaxed and crafted to perfection despite variations in weather, taste or texture. A recipe does not offer the subtlety required to produce such nourishing fare.

A few of said recipes are to come…stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eat...just like old times...part one

Tree Carvings on Ferry Island in Terrace BC

As I write, I am sitting in the house that formed my primary education in food. My mother is Portuguese by birth, having arrived on chilly Canadian soil as a child in 1959…and I am Portuguese by acculturation via these four walls. I grew up, for all intents and purposes, in my grandparent’s house here in Terrace. The small, simple house at the end of a quiet street, anchored by a giant old cherry tree and flanked by lovingly tended gardens. The house where there is always more food than its inhabitants (and neighbours, for that matter) could possibly eat. Where my grandmother does not greet you with a traditional “Hi” or “So good to see you” but “Did you eat?”

After 48 hours here, memories are flooding back and now in a more reflective state, induced no doubt by my recent foray into motherhood, I am starting to make myriad connections between who I am now as a dietitian, a cook and an eater and my formative food experiences which occurred right here.

Life in this house revolves around food and wine. Everyone who enters will either help themselves to whatever is on the kitchen counter - cake, boiled taro, fried broad beans – or will be lovingly force fed these and more upon taking a seat. If you don’t eat, my grandmother will offer more and different types of food until she finds one that you like and will eat. Not being hungry is unfathomable and therefore you are refusing because she has not correctly guessed what might be appetizing to you.

My culinary history is filled with a historically appropriate dichotomy of traditional and “modern”, simple and processed, home grown and store bought. Arriving in Canada without immediate access to the foods she knew and wanting to make a life in harmony with her new nation, as was common for immigrants of the time, my grandmother embraced Canadian foods with open arms. Mid century marvels such as Shake and Bake chicken, Jello molds, Cool Whip and Duncan Hines cake mixes shared pride of place alongside the familiar caldo verde, feijoa assado, massa sovada and arroz doce of our Azorean homeland. I remember as a child eating all of these traditional foods happily but still wanting the brand name treats I saw on the Saturday morning commercials. So I pleaded for my grandmother to buy Lucky Charms (from which I removed the toy and left in the cupboard, uneaten). I bought Chips Ahoy and Oreos instead of eating homemade meringues and butter cookies. But I sat down and ate every kind of vegetable imaginable (Brussels sprouts! Kale! Cabbage!) without complaint. And then I downed Pringles for dessert. Now that all of the grandkids are grown up, the processed foods feature somewhat less frequently than the foods of my grandparent's youth but the chips and candy are still hiding in the same spot…ready for snack attacks whenever they occur.

I spent my childhood watching my grandmother move deftly through the kitchen with admiration. A chair beside the counter was my prime vantage point. There were bowls to be licked (cake batter and cookie dough) and chicken to be shook and I didn't want to miss a minute of it. The turning point in my culinary education occurred one day when I was waiting to shake chicken. My grandmother had received a phone call before she could stuff the first piece in the bag, leaving me on the chair, staring at the chicken…dying to shake it. Patience was not one of my early virtues, sufficed to say. Pestering my grandmother as to when we could make the chicken, she simply stated, “you can do it yourself”. I could? This was serious business. I had not touched raw chicken before. It was slimy. And weird. But as my pulse quickened with the weight of the decision, my impatience finally outweighed my trepidation and so the fingers gingerly grabbed the chicken and placed it in the bag and shook away. Emboldened, I tried another piece, then another, until I proceeded to finish the entire batch.

Do you remember those commercials, the one where the little girl exclaims “It’s Shake and Bake…and I helped!” That day, I did...indeed.
My grandfather, as in many traditional European homes, dictates the menu by virtue of what he will and will not eat. This makes learning to cook in this house more difficult. One can assist my grandmother, but taking over the menu will leave you at the mercy of my grandfather’s critique, honed by years of exacting standards at my grandmother’s hands. My mother knew better than to try and take over the reigns until she had her own family to cook for. I, however, had to learn the hard way.

I remember getting permission as a child to make dinner with my friend, T, one summer vacation. We decided to make fajitas. My grandfather took us to the grocery store to gather our ingredients and once at home we set out creating chaos in the kitchen from which a fairly passable meal emerged. We were so excited to present the first “real” dinner we had ever made. I must have been 8 at the time but what I remember most vividly from that experience was that my grandfather informed us that we had sliced the steak incorrectly, going against the grain.
My grandfather had been a meat cutter when he first arrived in Canada.

Thankfully, he was not able to dampen my enthusiasm for cookery…but let’s just say that young child never again attempted to feed her grandfather. My husband, however, has fared far worse experiments and eats them without complaint. How times have changed...

More to come,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eat...like me!

There is nothing stronger than photographic proof...so time to share a day in the diet! This was my Wednesday...nothing too unusual going on, although I was trying to clear out my fridge before leaving tomorrow for 9 days away....

Breakfast was organic steel cut oats with unsweetened soy milk, hemp seeds, a fair trade banana and a bit of brown sugar....starting your day with a combination of high fibre whole grains plus the extra protein from the hemp and soy milk will help to keep you full.

Lunch was a 2 egg omelet (Rabbit River Farms Omega 3 Eggs) with a sliced organic potato, light feta and a chopped green pepper on top. The pepper provides 2 servings of veggies (although not the most nutrient dense option...) and perhaps a touch too much saturated fat from the egg and feta - but not too bad!

Every once in a while, I get a craving for one of their sugary concoctions...and then am always left unsatisfied. I had a decaf, half sweet toffee mocha. Not too bad...but not that exciting. Even half sweet, it is more sugar than I needed.

An afternoon snack  (which looks completely indistinguishable here!) was Liberte apple pie yogurt with a sprinkle of raw trail mix, All Bran buds and hemp seeds. Now this is a good sweet treat: probiotic yogurt, protein and the heart healthy soluble fibre that all of us need more of.

Yum! This is a riff on a Jamie Oliver recipe from the Cook with Jamie book. It is a raw beet, pear and feta salad to which I added chick peas for protein. And leave it to me to forget to take a picture of the bread...but there was bread too. Two slices of Terra green olive bread with butter. I love chopped salads to help you get a huge proportion of your fruit and veggie servings at one go but I never serve a main course salad without a protein: either beans, tofu or eggs. It's a must! 

See you in a week or so...I shall actually be without Internet access while I'm away!