Monday, August 29, 2011

In The Spotlight : Chia Seeds

Why hello there!
I thought I'd try something different for this post and perhaps start a little something, a string of posts where I talk about products I love.
One of the things that I love is chia!! I pronounce it chee-ah, but I have heard them referred to as chai-ah. I think my pronunciation is right, but then again I always think I'm right.

So. Chia seeds are tiny little black or white seeds, only slightly larger than poppy seeds, which have become very popular in the last 6 months due to media coverage. Whilst we think of them as the new black, they were actually widely used by the Aztecs (who always seemed to be onto a good thing). A 500g packet will normally set you back a bit over $10.

Only in 2009 the European Union approved chia seeds as a 'novel food', which means a food that doesn't have a significant history of being consumed, or uses a production method previously unused.

Why I like chia seeds:
- They are so easy to use! Just sprinkle a good tablespoon or 2 onto your cereal or porridge and you get a great dose of the 'healthy' fats, protein, calcium, antioxidants and fibre.
- You can use them as an egg replacement in cooking - just mix one teaspoon of chia into 1/4 cup hot water and let sit for a few minutes, then stir into mixture.
- Putting chia seeds in your bircher muesli (or vegan overnight oats) gives it a really good texture in the morning.
- They are easy to disguise - and therefore hide in foods that kids will eat.

The only downside I can think of for chia seeds is that they get stuck in your teeth pretty easily, but I'm willing to risk it!

In other news, I got engaged!!!!!!!! So stay tuned as to how I plan on reaching my goal weight for the engagement party (just under 2 months away).


Monday, August 22, 2011

The All Elusive Wagon

Good Morning!
Today I thought I'd do another post on motivation, or getting back 'on the wagon'. It's just coming into spring (almost), and while maybe some people have been exercising and eating well all through winter (not me, unfortunately), others are dusting the cobwebs off their sneakers.

Time for me to confess. I went through about a 4 week slump and ate heaps and didn't go to the gym for 3 weeks. Enter a small amount of retail therapy (new workout top), and slightly higher number on the scales, and me going RIGHT, and getting my act together. I'm not saying we should be perfect, but there's a big difference when feeling good about yourself because you know you're going well, or feeling that little niggling guilt when you know you haven't done as much as you could.

Sometimes I like looking at pictures to get me motivated.

Other times it pays to have a motivation buddy - 'meet you at the gym!'. Turn exercise into something social as well.
Become knowledgeable and know why you should be giving up junk food. Not just because 'it makes me fat'. Next time you buy something processed, Google the numbers in the ingredient list, just to see what comes up. You probably won't like what you see.
I used to like McDonalds too. I'd eat it, know it was 'bad' and eat it anyway. Now it doesn't attract me at all. It makes me feel greasy.

I've just read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which I really recommend if you want an eye opener as to where your food comes from. I loved it.

Enjoy your food. For breakfast I just had rolled oats with chia seeds, coconut, rapadura sugar and calcium powder - healthy and yum!

You can do it!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Smoothies Revisited

This is the sequel post to Shake It Up Baby, my previous (and first) post about smoothies.

Smoothies (in the wild) possess extremely good adaptation skills, and can adapt to any environment. They can survive in the harshest of conditions, on the bare minimum, or can lead a life of richness when presented with an abundance of nutritious foods.

Okay enough with the crazy talk. It's been a few months since I last spoke with you about smoothies, and my smoothies have evolved a little since then. I still have a few of the same favourites, mainly spirulina - it's gonna take a while yet to kill that buzz! But I just wanted to share with you some new smoothalicious ideas I've been messing around with lately.

I just want to re-iterate that when thinking of what to put into your blender, first think of what you want to achieve through this smoothie. Weight loss? Nutrition? Alkalyse? Protein? A meal? All of the above? Then you can tailor it to suit your needs.

When I became vegan I gave away the several different whey protein based powders that were lying around in the cupboard and bought myself my new favourite protein powder. Behold!! Pea protein isolate!
This baby is 100% pure pea protein isolate, made from golden peas. It's protein is 88% bioavailable (meaning that's how much your body can use) and it has a great amino acid profile. If you get the vanilla flavour (like me) it smells like delicious honeycomb and tastes great, with no artificial sweeteners!

On a fruity note, bananas have been too expensive for long enough for me to have to get creative when it comes to really packing some flavour punch for my smoothies. Here are some things I've been known to just chuck in with everything else:
- natural peanut butter
- sulphur free dried apricots
- dessicated coconut
- rolled oats
- canned pineapple
- coconut milk
- applesauce
Basically whatever is lying around.

If you want to take your smoothies to the ultimate health pinnacle (until the next best thing comes along), add a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin seeds that have been soaked overnight and blend them in with everything else. They are really high in protein and especially high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, and we all know that serotonin makes us happy!

I'm trying to think what else is new in Smoothietown. Obviously I don't make mine with dairy milk anymore, I use mainly my home made almond milk but sometimes soy or rice. I'm toying with the idea of buying maca powder soon for another addition, but I'll blog that when I get to it.

I hope you're thinking about what to put in your smoothie tomorrow!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One Month Veganversary

Yesterday was my 1 month anniversary with not eating meat, eggs, dairy, gelatine or honey. I've been asked if I've missed it, especially cheese. The answer is no, not really. Of course I know that cheese is tasty, but at the moment, the pro's of being a vegan are outweighing the cons.

My very personalised list of pro's:
- Really enjoying cooking and experimenting with foods I wouldn't have tried before, and surprising people by cooking them great tasting vegan meals.
-Needing about an hour less sleep than pre-vegan me. This was something I noticed independently and then read about it on the net, apparently it's quite common.
- Being able to help customers a whole lot more than before. There's been quite a few instances in the last month where me being vegan and the knowledge of healthy cooking that comes with that has really helped me when talking with customers.
- I have a general peaceful feeling when it comes to 'doing my bit' for the environment and animal cruelty.
- Becoming vegan has inspired me so much to set up my own backyard fruit and veggie garden (already on the way) and really think about where my food comes from and who I'm supporting when I buy foods from giant supermarkets, smaller gourmet stores or stalls in the markets.
- I have a lot of energy. It wasn't like I was 'slumping' before I became vegan so it is hard to say whether that's what has caused it, but I've been feeling really good lately.

Cons of being vegan:
-The main thing I struggle with has been being difficult for other people when I am at their house, eating their food.

And that's about it! Now I've just realised I really have to get ready for work... oops!
Have a great day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who Dunnit? Muesli Bars and Their Accomplices

What do you snack on? 11am might come around and you find yourself feeling a bit peckish. Or maybe you're more of an afternoon snacker, say 3ish? Or I also know people who's snack time tends to be late into the night, say 10-11 (by which time I'm usually asleep, although probably dreaming about food).

These snack times can be a real killer for people trying to lose weight, especially because of certain marketing ploys that make you think some things are healthy when they're really not so good.

One of these supposedly healthy products is the muesli bar. A lot of muesli bars have great ingredients in that they're wholesome and nutritious, but can contain more calories than you would think.

Just say for afternoon tea you ate a Be Natural Apricot and Almond bar and a bottle of Nestle Lemon Iced Tea.

You wouldn't say that's a very unhealthy snack, right? Well those two items combined brings a total of 374 calories, or 1,564 kilojoules. You could have a whole can of traditional Heinz Baked Beans for that, with a calories to spare.

For healthy snacks, you can't go past fresh fruit or veggies, teamed with a herbal or green tea. I often go for small amounts of dried fruits and nuts as well, but that's easy for me because they are always at work and I can buy them whenever I want.

I just wanted to show how marketing can be a bit deceiving and you really need to be knowledgeable about what you're eating if you have a specific goal.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pavlov's Dog

This is my first post I'm writing whilst wearing my new reading glasses! So trendy. Even if I do look like I'm copying Josh now.

Every first Tuesday of the month at work we have a special discount day that gets really busy. This Super Tuesday (earlier this week) and the previous one, I put out samples of 'healthy' homemade chocolate that I wrote about here. I also wrote out the recipe for people to take. From a business perspective, I put them out because we sell most of the ingredients. It was a great success! Everyone said it was yummy, lots of people took recipes and a good handful of people bought all the ingredients for it.
Today at work a customer came in (who had come in on Super Tuesday and tasted the sample) and asked me where my chocolate was. I said it was all gone, and she said "I was looking forward to it, my mouth was salivating just walking in here". Then she went and bought all the ingredients to make it herself.
It was only after she left that I realised that was classic Pavlov's Dog, which I found pretty laughable. I'm such a marketer! Ha.

In other news, my copy of Veganomicon vegan cookbook came in the mail today (finally!), and there are so many recipes I want to try! All in good time.


Monday, August 1, 2011

CX30 and Pie Cookie

Over the weekend I tried this novel idea for a recipe - a pie cookie! And from such a great blog too. Let me tell you, it was delicious. Or should I say 'they' were delicious, because I may have made more than one in the space of 3 days. In fact, I made 3! One every day for 3 days. Oh dear. I made it first on Friday night and Josh and I loved it (I'll just add here that I halved the recipe), and on Saturday Josh asked me to make another one. This is how the conversation went:

Josh: 'Can you make me another pie cookie?'
Me: 'No because I'll just end up eating it!'
Josh: 'Just don't make it vegan friendly, make it with white chocolate.'

And because I'm so nice, I gave in. Then I went to a friends house for a catch up on Sunday night and decided to take another one with me, seeing as I was on a roll (or a cookie... hehe).


Also this morning I tried the new Les Mills CX30 group fitness class. It's a 30 minute, intense strength class. It uses resistance bands for one of the tracks as well, which is a bit of a change. It's a really good work out but I struggled with the vertical and side planks, they just don't work well for me yet. I'd definitely do it again - good to get out of the comfort zone!

That's all for now!


02.08.2011 UPDATE: My abs are sooooo sore!