Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The UnDiet...begins January 1st!

It's that time of year again....sitting on our couches feeling lethargic with the top button undone on our pants, that we swear off all excess. Starting January 1st, we say "No more!" and spend the rest of our vacations searching book stores and the internet putting together our own personal torture plan for the New Year. 

We vow that overnight we will abandon our bacon and chocolate chip ways in favour of broiled chicken and broccoli or raw food smoothies. Magically, we will overcome our sloth and get to the gym daily. And for the first couple of weeks, our previous excess motivates us through the pain and the deprivation but one day, long after the last taste of creme brulee is forgotten, we wake up and decide....just one brunch of waffles won't hurt. And it won't matter if I miss my yoga class to go....starting to sound achingly familiar? Still really want to do this again?

Why not swear off diets for good? Vow to get healthy for life...and join me for an UnDiet. Each week, starting January 1st, I will offer one simple lifestyle change. Try it faithfully for the week and if you like it, keep doing it. If not, just move on to the next change. 52 weeks...52 changes. The idea is that eventually all the new healthy  habits you acquire will crowd out the less healthy ones. And by building change gradually, it will be easy. Even if you take on half of the suggested changes permanently you will be well on your way to a healthier, slimmer you by New Year's Eve 2011. 

See you on New Year's Day 2011...enjoy the rest of your holiday season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eat....Monster Cookies are my mother-in-law's Monster taken with their Canon camera...still hoping I get a new one in my stocking!
It's almost Christmas and inevitably, we will all be eating some holiday treats, including me. (Yes, Virginia, dietitians do eat holiday treats!) Unfortunately, my little one, E, appears not to tolerate wheat in his breast milk so I have been eating fewer treats than I would normally enjoy over the holiday season. In my desire to have something festive to nibble on I have been making a ridiculous amount of Rice Krispie treats, even crafting a salted caramel variety, which I promise to share in a future post. Not the most thrilling of treats but a worthy substitute when everyone else is noshing.

My mother-in-law is a serious holiday baker. We are talking mountains of baking: one Christmas I assisted her for 8 hours straight of baking. So when my mother-in-law mentioned holiday baking and I sullenly replied...."but I can't eat wheat!" she triumphantly mentioned that her monster cookie recipe doesn't contain any flour. So of course I instantly thought - I need to share these with you!

Not for the dietetically faint of heart, these really are a monster of a cookie. Lots of eggs and good old fashioned sugar and fat for your holiday pleasure. However, they are not without their merits among lesser cookies. To their credit, monster cookies are 100% whole grain, contain a reasonable amount of protein and far less sugar then some other recipes. They are wheat free and can be gluten free if you ensure all your ingredients are gluten free, such as the chocolate chips. You could make these cookies dairy free with a switch of candies. And not that I would ever advocate cookies for breakfast but in a pinch one of these could keep you going if you have to scram out of the house because you still have Christmas presents to buy 5 days before Christmas (not that I am speaking from experience...). 

Recipe: Monster-in-Law (just kidding, I totally love my mother-in-law) Cookies

My mother-in-law got this recipe a couple of decades ago from a neighbour so I don't know if there is an original source I can attribute this recipe apologies!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream together the following ingredients in a really, really big bowl:

1 1/2 cups butter or vegan butter (3/4 pound)  Go for organic butter if you can afford it...
9 eggs Ditto on the organic eggs....
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 1/4 lb peanut butter (just over one kilogram)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp corn syrup
6 tsp baking soda

Then add the following to the creamed mixture and get your strongest armed family member to mix:

1/2 lb plain M&M candies
1/2 lb peanut M&M candies
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
13 1/2 cups oatmeal (yes, not a typo....that is thirteen and a half cups of regular quick cooking oats, not instant and not thick or steel cut oats)

Once mixed, drop by spoonful (about 1/4 cup batter) onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 - 15 minutes.

The recipe makes 8 - 10 dozen snack/meal sized cookies, depending on how big you make them. Perfect for bake sales, gifts and fattening up relatives you don't like too much.

Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eat...Winter Apple Parsnip Bake

One of the things I love most about my SPUD produce box (besides the fact that the groceries come to me and they use local and organic producers first) is that my cooking strategy changes from "what do I feel like making" to "how can I use the contents of my produce drawer?" It forces you to get a bit more creative which is good for your health and good for your taste buds. 

I have been staring down some parsnips for a while and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them. Parsnips, called "carrots with attitude" by Rachel Ray, are a local root veggie that have a sharp spiciness to them that lends well to a bit of time in the old oven. Even though they lack colour, parsnips aren't just nutritional filler: they are a source of fibre, heart loving potassium, bone building calcium and folate for a healthy nervous system. I figured I would sweeten them up a bit so my husband might like them. He thinks that this would be a nice side dish for some pork tenderloin but I served it, of course, as a vegetarian main course over organic quinoa. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can be a completely 100 mile meal with a few adjustments.

Here is what resulted...I had a photo but it turned out so badly I thought I wouldn't bother putting it up. I am hoping Santa will deliver a new camera. 

Recipe: Winter Apple Parsnip Bake

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

4 medium parsnips, cubed or sliced
2 medium apples, cubed or sliced
1 medium leek, sliced
2 cups canned or precooked chick peas, drained

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (substitute butter for a 100 mile recipe)
1/2 cup demerara sugar (substitute honey for a 100 mile recipe)
pinch salt

2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

In a 9x9 baking dish or a 9 inch pie plate, combine all ingredients except for butter and toss well. Then add butter on top. You could cube the parsnips and apples so they are uniform with the chick peas or slice them. 

Bake for 15 minutes, stir and bake for 15 more minutes or until parsnips are tender. I think this would also be tasty curried: Add 1-2 tbsp curry powder and reduce sugar by half and add 1/4 cup raisins if you like them. 

Serve over your favourite whole grain like quinoa, barley, brown rice or buckwheat.

Happy Holidays,

Friday, December 10, 2010

Losing it...the post baby diaries...December 10

E and me, looking super sleepy...getting out for a walk and a smoothie. Carrying a baby sure adds an extra punch to your afternoon stroll! it is. The last of my losing it posts. I can hardly believe it actually. E is 4 1/2 months old and I have actually lost the baby weight. I feel a little apologetic about it actually. Because despite my trials and tribulations, the weight came off pretty quickly. Pregnancy has definitely made a permanent shift to my body (Can I keep the chest?? Please?) but I have achieved my goal of getting down to my pre-baby weight.

So to what do I attribute my success? Here are some thoughts:

I was a healthy weight before getting pregnant. Not in the best shape at the time but not a complete couch potato and I was a healthy weight for my height before getting pregnant. I always tended to go through cycles of working out and not but I have been active for a decade. So if you are thinking of getting pregnant and aren't at your healthiest, now is the time to get into the gym and get that heart pumping. Important Note: if you are already pregnant, do not try to lose weight or avoid weight gain as it can put you and your baby at risk. 

I was a healthy eater before, during and after pregnancy. I like fruits and vegetables and eat them regularly as the foundation, not the accompaniment, of my meals. I eat beans and whole grains like quinoa and barley daily. I don't eat white bread, pastries or junk food or drink pop. I did eat a lot when I was pregnant...and more Sour Patch Kids and Haagen Dazs than I care to admit. But after giving birth, I went right back to healthy eating. Not a diet - I ate well to help me heal and nourish my little one.

I worked out as soon as I was able. I worked out 1-2 times per week when I was pregnant and as soon as I had the okay, I got back to working out 3-4 days a week. I credit the Tracy Anderson Method big time for being so freaking effective at reshaping my body. I am not an expert on this but I have a feeling that if I waited until 6 months to start working out it would have been ten times as hard to lose the weight. After giving birth, your body is still going through a lot of changes and I feel that working out during this time harnessed the capacity for change for good. Very unscientific but that is how it felt to me. In addition, breastfeeding takes a lot of energy so the combination of breastfeeding and moderate exercise allowed me not to have to reduce calories. I was able simply to focus on healthful eating. Important Note: Talk to your doctor if you want to start exercising while pregnant and you weren't active before pregnancy. Generally speaking, whatever you did for a work out before getting pregnant you can continue in pregnancy until your body tells you otherwise.

I tried a supportive girdle.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit this but I bought the ShrinkXHips. I remember when I was first pregnant and saw an ad for ShrinkXHips and was so indignant. "You just had a baby and the first thing you care about is your freaking hips?" I declared smugly. Then none of my pants fit at three months pregnant and I thought...that ShrinkXHips is looking kind of good. So I used it. Not constantly. I found that sleeping in it was easier than sitting in it all day because it shifted a lot. Did it help? I don't know for sure but my hips are back to their starting measurement. It would have been easier to determine if it didn't work...but it is harder to be sure it did. 

Do you have any tips and tricks you used for weight loss post-baby? Let me know!