Good intentions.

May 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

My day STARTED well yesterday.

Had a delicious, oat-ey brekkie, big green smoothie post run (frozen banana, kiwifruit, mandarine, spinach, kale & lemon) and created a yummy quinoa lunch.

Made some homemade guac, inspired by Han Eats. Mixed together the best part of an Avocado (literally the ‘best parts’ that weren’t an off-putting shade of brown), some diced cherry tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lemon juice & salt & pepper. Can’t go wrong.

Thought i’d almost pushed my love of big bowls consisting of random elements too far with this offering – Quinoa, sautéed corn & zucchini (in coconut oil), organic basil & garlic tomato sauce, hummus, home made guacomole, sunflower seeds, coriander & baby spinach, but turns out…it’s impossible to screw up with a tasty bed of quinoa!

I think Trinny & Suzannah would be proud – I dressed up this plain LBD of food, with some classy accessories!

I was totally rocking the tomato flavours, so for dinner I made a variation on my favourite vegan pizza, el Mexicano style.

Wholewheat pita base, with tomato paste & basil. Topped with baby spinach, mushrooms, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, corn and mixed beans. I then put the usual non-cheese cheeze sauce over top, with some dollops of basil & garlic tomato sauce and plenty of chilli!

There are no words to describe the deliciousness. May have also broken out the Tahini to drizzle over top.

So despite my huge pizza dinner, and complete satisfaction with the contents of my rapidly expanding belly, something about watching Eurovision at home on a saturday night (all my friends were busy, ok?!?!) demanded biscuits. No, not my own biscuits because I don’t keep them in the house. Worse still, stolen-from-flatmate arrowroot biscuits dunked in hot tea; a childhood favourite! I ate soooooo many. I genuinely wanted to be sick (not that my body would ever part with food so easily!) but it did not feel good. I’m not used to eating sugar, so I felt really funny and like i’d taken drugs or something. What a raver!

The moral: we all slip up. I tend to, in a big way. But you know what, it was fun at the time…before the protests of my stomach…and i’m going to laugh about it and move on. The little perfectionist inside me is furious, but I’m silencing her with a big inundation of green smoothie.

And back to uni work….eeeeeeeeeeeep.

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Ingredients of the week.

May 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Hi everyone! Hope your Saturday’s are going swimmingly! Mine certainly will be when I head out for a run a little later – downpour imminent. But i’ve decided the only way i’m ever going to stay fit and motivated during the winter months is to adopt a take-no-prisoners, gung-ho, blind stupidity approach and get out there rain, hail or cyclone (which is what the sensationalist weather reporters tell me is approaching Sydney – eeeek!). Before donning my runners and being sucked into a crazy weather vortex, I thought i’d share some foods/ingredients that have been featuring heavily in my eats for the week. I seem to get on benders of a certain food and refuse to let go!

Exhibit A:

Sweet potato fetish.

Ranga pride! A big beta-carotene smiley face.

My ingredients of choice this week include:

Fresh Ginger:

Why I love it.

Apart from the taste which is divine, I love the calming effect of this herb (yes! ginger is a herb, not a root as commonly believed) and the way it seems to keep my sensitive stomach under control when I drink it throughout the day.

How do you use it?

Lately whilst in hibernation, I’ve been cutting off a hunk (perhaps a couple of cm long), bruising it with the butt of a knife and simply adding to a mug of boiling water to make a warming, refreshing drink for winter. I also add it to rice/quinoa/or noodle dishes, as a ‘flavour base’. Ie, saute some along with onion, garlic & chili in coconut oil, then add chopped veggies & create a winning stir-fry. Ginger can also be eaten as a glacée delight, grated and added to cakes and muffins or pickled and used as a condiment. Versatile, yes!

Nutritional profile and healing properties.

Ginger is rich in antioxidants such as gingerols, shogaols & zingerones – Eastern medicine has traditionally harnessed the powers of the herb to treat digestive complaints, relieve nausea, bloating, diarrhea & morning sickness. It is also said to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown the benefits of ginger for people with osteoarthritis, with randomized studies showing reduced joint pain & inflammation in groups who consumed ginger extract. Other research points to the antioxidant 6-gingerol as helping to prevent, and reduce the size of cancerous tumours, and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagy (cells digesting themselves) in some forms of cancer.

Yeah, I think i’ll keep binge-drinking ginger tea.

Coriander:


Why I love it.

I’ve heard the taste described as similar to a dirty dish cloth. This is waaaay outta line – no one talks about coriander like that when i’m around! I happen to love the flavour, and it definitely adds interest to any dish that was previously bland or boring.

How do you use it?

Coriander pairs well with simple, fresh flavours, especially lemon & lime. I just toss a handful over a salad, and it’s instantly more appetising. (This is my packed work dinner last night – buckwheat pasta with a dressing of coriander, lemon, tahini, savoury yeast flakes, olive oil & salt & pepper w/ salad).

It was also born to lie down in bed with quinoa, tomato veggie salsa, seeds & hummus.

Interestingly, i’ve seen it in a lot of green smoothie recipes as well, but i’ve yet to try it out.

Nutritional profile/healing properties.

Coriander’s volatile oil is rich in phytonutrients – it also contains flavonoids and other phenolic acid compounds that have been shown to help fight cancer, diabetes & heart disease. It is also a source of magnesium, iron & manganese.

Woah, slow down coriander! Way to get all superfood on us.

It goes on:

Coriander helps stimulate the secretion of insulin & lowers blood sugar, great for people with diabetes. It has also been proven to lower cholesterol and enhance the digestive abilities of pancreatic enzymes. Lastly, a study concluded that coriander was twice as effective as a commonly used antibiotic in killing salmonella.

Heck yes, get over your dirty dishcloth phobia and embrace the wonder herb!

Tahini:

Why I love it.

Where to start? This is probably my favourite condiment, as you maaaay have guessed in my incessant references to it in the blog. I always think ‘acquired taste’ foods end up being far superior to regular, easily palatable ones, and in the case of Tahini, this is definitely the case. It tastes ‘grown up’ in the sense that it’s not blatantly sweet or salty, but has this creamy nutiness underscored by a subtle bitter tang that is just so damn tantalising!

FYI – Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. I buy the un-hulled variety which is made from whole sesame seeds & therefore possesses a more ass-kicking nutritional profile. I also think it has a more delectable, nutty flavour, so give it a try!

How do you use it?

Most people would be familiar with Tahini as a core ingredient in Hummus, but it’s applications are far broader in my humble (besotted) opinion.

I often add around a teaspoon to my oats – it makes them taste nutty & smooth, and if you’re careful and don’t add too much there is no bitter flavour, trust me!

Tahini drizzled over vegan pizza is unbelievable.

In dips, dressings & even desserts, this ingredient is indispensable.

Nutritional profile & benefits.

Because the sesame seeds are ground into a paste, this renders Tahini very easily digestible and nutrients are absorbed ASAP. Speaking of, Tahini has been described as a nutrirional powerhouse with vitamins E, F & T (have I ever even heard of these before?!) as well as many B vitamins & vitamin A. It is also high in protein (richer source than soybeans, nuts & milk) and is claimed to be one of the best sources of calcium there is (non muscous-forming like dairy, hurrah!). Who’da thunk it?

Not finished yet.

Tahini also contains an essential amino acid called methionine, as well as lectihin that reduced fat levels in the blood and reportedly protects against environmental toxins. Even though Tahini is high in oil (fat) it is unsaturated and will be absorbed by your happy body with alacrity!

PHEW. Glad I put my love for these foods out there. What are your favourites?

Off to take on the rain – yes, it’s started. Glad i’ve broadcast my intentions to exercise to the world to serve as motivation, because staying inside writing about food is looking pretty appealing right now!

Happy Saturday!



Do you practice intuitive eating?

May 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

Greetings!

I firstly have to give a massive shout out to the weather gods for giving us a brief respite from the downpour today. Oh em gee, I don’t like to be to be hatin’ on mother nature, but I absolutely can’t cope with this sudden onset of subzero temperatures, and a constant watery barrage from above! I’ve discovered an ingenious method for drying washing however, that involves wearing said item until the warmth of your body eventually takes the moisture out for you! It has come to that. I’m going mouldy! Do any of you enjoy this slippery, soppy season?

In other news, I’ve been pondering the concept of intuitive eating, which is precisely that – listening to your body’s signals as to when it is hungry, what it may need, and when to place your knife and fork calmly beside your plate. This my friends, is a theory of which I am embarrassingly unfamiliar.

…….

Sorry, had to take a snack break. Where was I? Oh! Gluttony!

I’ve always loved to eat myself silly, and as I was perusing my iPhoto library to give you all some hilarious photograpic examples, I discovered way too much evidence of my culinary greed to warrant such a display. The many and varied pictures of me making love to food are definitely not for public viewing.

Let’s just say, the food monster looks a little something like this:

Eyes blissfully staring into the distance, mouth crammed full of delicious treats.

In recent years, I feel like i’ve totally lost that innate ability that we all must start out with, of comprehending when I do and don’t need to eat. I’m sure I had it here somewhere! But fear that as soon as learnt about calories, engery expenditure, and even nutrition, I lost this important skill in a blizzard of dieting do’s and don’ts.

When I babysit, I can observe this amazing ability in action; the kids run screaming to the pantry when hungry, banging on the door and wailing until something they feel like eating is procured. Even if food is on offer, if it’s the wrong kind & they don’t feel like it, it’s straight on the (newly swept…grrrr!) floor.

Where did this knowledge go?

You know, half the time I think the difference between people who are happy with their weight, and those who aren’t, is simply being able to eat intuitively.

It’s such a shame that with meal planning, calorie counting and even the regimented mode in which we separate our culinary day into breakfast, lunch & dinner facilitates this loss of intuitive ability. But wait, there is hope! For I feel it’s also something we can re-learn.

For me, simply asking myself am I hungry? is enough to start the process of engaging with your body and it’s energy requirments, as opposed to rigidly adhering to some sort of plan, or ideal. It’s such a conflicting area of health because on the one hand, I think it can be beneficial to plan your meals in order to cover your nutritional requirments, and also help you psychologically form good eating habits (ie. not crazily over-eating, or devouring the wrong foods). But there comes a point where it is necessary to pose the question, hey! wait a minute! why would I deprive myself of such-and-such a meal just because it carries too many weight watchers points? or conversely, why am I still digging my spoon into this can of Milo EVEN THOUGH I had satisfied my cravings after the first mouthful?

Eating to fill an emotional gap, or out of boredom, is not a healthy habit. But eating what you want, when you want it, and until you are satisfied, is something we should all strive for.

So to recap: I’m now trying to consciously differentiate between ‘hungry’ and ‘bored-while-watching-tv’. Go easy on yourself, because it’s a lifetime of ingrained cultural norms, or previous dieting that we have to overcome. But if you allow yourself to act upon your true, internal signals, you may find it is a much more satisfying way to live.

To celebrate, I intuituvely ate this delectable cup of oatmeal for breakfast.

Why do things taste so much better out of giant, novelty crockery?! It was off the hook! Adding a teaspoon of Tahini makes the smoothest, creamiest porridge imaginable.

Also whipped up a batch of avocado pesto pasta dressing in the blender:

1/2 avo

handful baby spinach

fresh coriander

1 tbsp red onion, diced

juice of 1/4 lemon

salt & pepper

paprika

Throw over some buckwheat pasta, top with savoury yeast flakes and more coriander, and you’re good to go!

And my life wouldn’t be complete without a sweet potato, bean & hummus bonanza!

Boom. Good food, eaten when required!

Low sugar breakfast? No problem! And introducing…Roobios tea!

May 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

*OH OH OH I am editing this post to add a link to an article that was so thought provoking and has made me question a lot of the motivations we have in the pursuit of ‘perfect health’. It was written by Gena at Choosing Raw who is fabulously articulate and totally down with deconstructing body image and the seemingly constant preoccupation with our diets ——>PART ONE<——— ————>PART TWO<———— *

As you know, I recently made it my mission to desist with the lashings of Agave nectar (see my reasons for this here) and also cut out processed sugars altogether. Now, this means I can still eat fruit and sweeten with Stevia (natural, non-GI affecting, herb derived drops) and to tell you the truth, apart from a couple of social outings where i’ve had some cake or ice-cream, I’ve been able to stick to it really easily. It’s mainly breakfast that I crave something sugary, but i’ve devised a few porridge plans that still taste great!

PB & B, P

Translation – Peanut butter, & blueberry porridge!

1/3 c steel cut oats

2/3 c water

3 tsp chia seeds

1/3 c frozen blueberries

1/2 tsp cinnamon

rice milk (to add to mix while cooking as you might want a little more liquid, and also to splash on at the end)

1 generous tsp natural PB

1 tsp date paste (purely mangled dates)

1/2 diced organic apple

2-4 drops of Stevia to taste

METHOD:

  • cook oats on water in a saucepan for a couple of minutes, before adding chia seeds, frozen blueberries & cinnamon
  • mine still needed a little extra liquid, so I added 3-4 tablespoons of rice milk as I went until they were done (might take up to 8 minutes)
  • place in a bowl, and top with extra rice milk, chopped apple, PB, date paste & Stevia

EXTRA OPTIONS:

  • it makes it nice & sweet adding either frozen chunks of banana to the mix, or a mashed one.
  • similarly, can throw in some apples & raisins while cooking to sweeten it up, with cinnamon. Mmmmm!
  • adding carob powder, mashed banana & almond butter is off.the.chain.

See! No agave/maple syrup/refined sugar required! And I realise dates are quite high GI, however I’m happy so long as i’m not ingesting processed, high-fructose syrups like agave anymore :S

Now onto my continued quest for new and exciting hot beverages, to compliment my blue-rinse perm & bloomers.

I’ve been reading about Roobios tea which comes from a red bush in Africa, and it’s reported health benefits. Some sources claim that it has higher antioxidant levels than Green Tea! And without caffeine it’s great for nighttime, and is beneficial for things like our liver & skin which also don’t appreciate a big caffeine hit!

You can buy it, organic, within Australia here.

I bought mine at T2, but instantly realised it’s probably not organic. This concerns me because of the high pesticide levels used in the cultivation of tea, however I’m living on the cheap, and will invest in a ‘cleaner’ source next time round.

I also took the liberty of purchasing a massiffff new mug that pretty much dwarfs my head, because I can never get a big enough cup bucket of tea!

The flavour of the Roobios was great! Naturally sweet & refreshing. It’s a win for me! More info if you’re interested here.

Snacked on some raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds & brazil nuts, organic kiwifruit & half leftover brekky apple. See?! Already had about 50 million servings of fruit before lunch…must….curb…love…of sweet things.

Have a spectacular day!

Still here!

May 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yet another characteristic time-lapse where a week flies by unnoticed, sans blog! Hope you’re all well and keeping keen ‘n’ green!

Not in very much of a writing mood tonight as i’m completely STUFFED and am looking forward to an early night, in my bed of a thousand layers! Still freezing my proverbial mammaries off, however have embraced thermal underwear, thug-like beanies, and daggy comfort attire.

Here is my week in pictures:

One of my beautiful fat flat mates! Bahaha, I called them this the other day, due to their love of all things nutritionally terrible and they were quite offfended. Luckily they had their sweet biscuits to comfort them! No, I joke, these guys do a-ok, especially now that we all attend Wednesday night gym domination!

This is my other house wench, Chelsea. As you can see, we are equally matched in beauty and poise.

Eat the rainbow! A variety of glorious, simple, colourful foods on a plate like this makes me extremely happy.

I’ve been getting all masterchef on yo’ ass and concoting inventive, and often bizzare meals from whatever I can lay my hands on in the fridge/pantry. Please don’t lament the lack of recipes here – these mystery meals are nothing spectacular! I enjoy them though, with my strange vegan palette. This one featured quinoa as the base, some stir-fried veggies which I topped with homemade satay sauce (coconut oil, PB, tamari, dash of maple syrup, rice milk) organic tofu and coriander.

Discovered steel cut oats which are less ‘rolled’ than normal oats, and are therefore more crunchy, nutty and chewy. I was inspired in the extreme by my new favourite blog, The Edible Perspective. My god, the glorious food photography within will have your mouth watering like a fire hydrant! She raves about these oats, so of course, I had to aquire some for myself. NB: They take about double the time of regular ones to cook on the stove, and will still be a little toothsome even when done. I cooked mine with a combo of water & rice milk, chia seeds, mashed banana (stirred through), and topped with almond, brazil & cashew nut butter, diced organic apple, date paste, cinnamon & a couple of drops of stevia. YUMMO! I am in love with these gnarly little friends already!

Another big bowl o random.

Made another batch of Angela’s healthy spelt pancakes for one for BF the other morning, except this time I tried my hand at the famed PANCAKE SANDWICH. Lets just say, he ain’t leaving me anytime soon! I layered nut butter & banana slices in between to make a triple-decker-dream, then topped it off with some coconut oil & maple syrup.

Continuing to pack every meal due to the crazy amount i’m spending on groceries – but it’s also so much healthier and I know exactly what’s in the food i’m eating. Again, used a quinoa base & made a veggie stir-fry tomato-sauce thingy, served with grilled asparagus, coriander, a good dollop of hummus & lime. This was pretty tasty – quinoa rocks my socks.

Tonight I was RAVENOUS from working out at the gym in between classes today, so opted to make a dish that took AN AGE to bake in the freakin’ oven and even then it was still freakin’ undercooked. Sorry about that. But whyyyy do things take so long to bake I ask you!? Anyway, I decided to be clever and make a veggie lasagne-type stack with baked sweet potato & eggplant. I then made ‘tofu ricotta’ via this amazing recipe found at Happy Herbivore.

I then topped with organic basil & garlic tomato sauce that I found at the health food store, and some delicious greens. Again, a bit heavy on the soy this week cos I bought a block of tofu in a moment of craaaaaaving, however i’m sure a little bit is not going to make me spontaneously combust.

Check the proportions of this ridiculous apple my friends bought me yesterday! They thought it was hilarious to present me with the hugest, most epic piece of fruit they had ever encountered, and I’ve gotta say at first I had visions of living off this baby for a week! Or sitting down and attacking it on a plate with a knife and fork. However, i’ve decided that whatever went into this bohemeth should probably not be going into me. Really, what did they feed this thing? Live rats? Sheep? Roids?

It continues to sit on my desk and crack me up.

Lastly, I lasooed some articles that i’ve enjoyed over the last couple of days for your reading pleasure!

Happy reading fiends! xx

Organic, on the cheap.

May 19, 2010 § 3 Comments

Holla bloggies!

I’m sitting here munching on a mystery plate of raw nuts, goji berries, organic dried apricots & frozen berries. Hot beverage is also present in the form of boiling water poured over a knob of ginger – so simple, so delicious. At this time of year, all I can face is hot drinks seeing as my body has apparrently gone into hibernation and I am freezing ALL THE TIME. Ice Ice Baby has been removed from my iTunes. Yes, it was on there. Question: Is anyone else having this problem? I had to sleep in my tracksuit, with an Everest of miscellaneous towels & clothing items piled on top (ran out of blankets…) + slippers to be able to sleep last night. It was bizarre. Did I lose my thyroid?

Anyways, I mentioned earlier that I can’t afford to buy everything organic all the time, and I think it’s a common problem for people because let’s face it, wholesome non-toxic food is about double the price of the regular stuff. What makes it trickier is that you can’t physically see the pesticides on the fruit & vegetables – they don’t look any less appealing. Heck, the organic produce section always looks decidedly earthy, sometimes straggly and usually seems to comprise of what appears to be the RUNTS of the litter. Obviously, this is because they haven’t been amped up with chemical defense barries and instead are grown au naturale. But if you’re like me, the price often gets in the way.

This is why i’ve now tried to prioritise my purchases according to which items are generally less pesticide-ridden.

WORST OFFENDERS for pesticide levels (try to buy organic when possible):

  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries (see this great post)
  • Spinach/Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Capsicum
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Rasberries
  • Carrots

LEAST CONTAMINATED (can opt for regular versions):

  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Papaya
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Corn
  • Cauliflower

Tharrr ye go! If you can’t fork out for a 100% organic shopping experience (like most of us) you can at least use this list as a bit of a guide in order to prioritise.

Oh, and a reminder about why we don’t want to consume pesticide residue.

And here.

Ok, just one more.

Well, it’s Wednesday night gym fest for me! Love love love to work up a sweat in the public eye, it’s my favourite.

Have a great night whatever your antics! x

What I scoffed.

May 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hey there folks! Happy Monday! I actually really dig Monday’s because I’m at uni all day, thus canceling out the possibility of any real work/labour. No, I never do anything productive at uni. That’s for geeks. I utilise the free internet, socialise, and read the paper in between classes. When I actually attend a tut, I usually catch up on my emails, blog status & any other wholly unrelated activity far removed from what I’m actually paying to be there & do.

I am an irresponsible student, oh yes. BUT I’m highly anticipating my change of tack to alternative medicine, and feel I’ll be much more motivated to do something that I’m passionate about. Bring on July!

I started the happy Monday with a big mug of Dandelion tea. Yummeh!

To celebrate the birth of a new week, I thought i’d create my own food baby with these Spelt Pancakes that i’ve featured before – with added banana & cacao powder. Topped with berries, and sweetened with nothing but love & Stevia. Good girl! Still avoiding Agave full stop, and am recovering from sugar fuelled romp last weekend in Newcastle.

Oh and by the by, am completely convinced that RADISHES are the most skin-loving, incredible, nutrient-packed morsels of all time! After eating them for two days (three counting lunch today!) my skin is creepily soft and caressable. I keep touching my cheeks and going ‘aaaaaaaah!’ like I’ve just petted a cute, downey duckling or something. Really, truly, that’s the only thing I’ve added to my diet and I can see a difference in the texture of my skin. This is an amazing discovery!

This is what I packed for uni today; little divider container with a ripped up wholemeal spelt wrap, hummus for dipping, carrot sticks & salad (feat. Radish) with an apple. Ended up also drinking green tea & eating another apple in the afternoon before French class – was très peckish.

For dinner, I made a big lucky-dip bowl of Quinoa, chickpea & vegetable tomato sauce/salsa/spicy concoction, sunflower seeds, Chia & savoury yeast flakes. It was tasty, but it took a while to get used to eating the quinoa with tomato as I’ve never had it like that before. All in all, I was a happy chappy after my culinary exploits today!

If you hate Mondays, why not wake up a little earlier and make them pancake Monday! Now THERE’S something to look forward to!

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