• Health & Fitness

    The Sugar Predicament

    I work in a care home. One of the perks of working in this particular care home is having a home-cooked meal and desert available to me every day at no cost. And when I say home-cooked I’m not exaggerating. The food is delicious and filled with flavour; the deserts made from scratch and decadent AF.

    But if I want to keep on track with my current healthy lifestyle I have to limit myself from accepting these meals more times than not. And sometime that is soooooo hard to do.

    This week, for instance, a ham boiled dinner was on the menu. For those who don’t know, a boiled dinner is the ULTIMATE comfort food for me. It was the meal I asked my mom to make me for my birthday every year and so it holds a very special place in my heart. I could NOT turn that meal down and even hugged our amazing cook after I had my share.

    That’s not so bad. A boiled dinner, though high in salt, is actually pretty nutritious and so I wasn’t concerned about making the decision to eat it instead of my usual whole food and lean meat type of meal. But where I went wrong was this weekend when I decided to eat a tiny piece of desert. This particular desert was some sort of square clearly made with loads of butter and sweetened condensed milk and it was AMAZING! I had no regrets.

    That was Friday. When Sunday rolled around some sort of orange creamy delight came about and this time I didn’t even hesitate to eat it which is a red-flag because if I’m not consciously aware of what I take in my body even just once a new cycle begins for me. And the cycle that began after consuming that piece of cake was daunting. So much so that I wasn’t able to fight what came after.

    Binge Fest 2019, to the most ultimate degree, started immediately after I got home last night. I ate two Pillsbury Pizza Pops. After that, I made a full box of KD and ate that. As if that wasn’t enough, I found a bag of croutons (my Kryptonite when chips aren’t in my cupboard) and ate the whole bag!!

    Needless to say, Sugar consumption, especially of the highly refined variety, makes me CRAVE carbs. And when I crave carbs I become a MONSTER that can’t stop eating!

    So why does this happen??

    According to Mbgfood (mindbodygreen.com) craving carbohydrates almost always means our body is searching for a serotonin boost. Seeing, smelling, and even thinking about indulging in certain foods triggers the release of the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter, dopamine, in your body, which has been stored in memories as past pleasure. What does that mean exactly? Well, basically, what we ate as kids and associated with happiness will be what we crave when we are emotionally drained and in need of a “happy boost.”

    But my issue isn’t just about searching for happiness. It’s about the chain of events that occurs the minute I get one taste of refined sugars in my system. It seems that sugar gives me a boost of dopamine and that high is what has me searching for more like a junkie searching for her next fix.

    For those who don’t know, Sugar is a carbohydrate too. 100 grams of refined sugar equals 100 grams of carbohydrates. So it’s safe to say that whether it’s a sweet desert, or a large serving of pasta, the results are the same. We want more!

    So what’s the solution?

    For me, yesterday was a lesson in learning to indulge in a conscious manor. Something I’m (very slowly) getting a grasp on. This video by Kerry Glassman at nutritiouslife.com has all the information and constructive pointers I need to help me make a better decision next time around. Because healthy eating isn’t a ride you get off after a while, it’s a rollercoaster that never ends and I’m completely okay with that.

  • Recipes

    Pesto to the Rescue!

    So it’s happened again. You buy packs of fresh herbs for a recipe, use the three pieces of leaves each it calls for, then stash the leftovers in the crisper drawer where you forget all about it till it shrivels up and inevitably goes bad. Such a waste of food AND money but, let’s be completely honest here, haven’t we all been there?

    There are a lot of options to save those packs of herbs from wasting away in your fridge but my go to favourite option, and probably the simplest options, is making a yummy pesto out of the leftovers.

    For this recipe, I used Sage and Cilantro, but you can use any leftover herb in any variation to make this work.

    You will need:

    • Fresh herbs
    • A food processor
    • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Salt & Pepper
    • 2 cloves of Garlic
    • 2 or 3 cloves Shallots
    • 1 Tbs. Parmesan Cheese

    Add herbs of your choice (remove stems), a clove or two of garlic, two or three cloves of shallots, salt and pepper to a food processor. process on low for a beat before adding oil as it continues to blend. Once it’s reached a pesto-like consistency, add parmesan and mix one last pulse before serving it on your favourite rice or pasta. Enjoy!

    note: Today I served mine on Jasmin rice and jumbo shrimp.

  • Crochet Patterns

    Adorable Tote Bag

    A few months back, when I first took on crocheting as a pastime, I wanted to make myself a tote bag. I ‘d searched high and low for patterns that were not only easy, but that would fit what I was looking for in a tote bag. When I didn’t find any specific pattern that would exactly fit, I decided to try to adjust and merge a few patterns I came across that I liked to make it what I was looking for. After a lot of trial and error, here is the final result which I’m exceptionally pleased with.

    Difficulty: Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy 

    Yarn: Approx. 400 yards of Bernat Softee Chunky #6 Super Bulky 

    Used aprox 200 yards of COLOR A (“grey”) and aprox 200 yards of COLOR B (“white”).

    Hook size: 8.0mm (L)

    You’ll also need: Yarn needle & stitch marker

    Terms and Abbreviations:

    MC (magic circle)
    ST/STS (stitch/stitches)

    SL ST (slip stitch)

    SK (skip)

    CH (chain)

    SC (single crochet)

    DC (double crochet)

    SC+DC (put a SC and a DC in the same stitch)

    Notes: This bag, including its handles, is worked in a continuous, seamless round. Do not join or turn unless specifically instructed. Use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of your rounds. 

    INSTRUCTIONS

    To Begin: COLOUR A, make a magic circle; CH1 (does not count as a stitch).

    Round 1: In magic circle: 1SC, 1HDC, 10DC. (12)

    Round 2: 2DC in each ST around. (24)

    Round 3: (2DC in next ST, DC in next ST) around. (36)

    Round 4: (2DC in next ST, DC in each of the next 2 STS) around. (48)

    Round 5: (2DC in next ST, DC in each of the next 3 STS) around. (60)

    Round 6: (2DC in next ST, DC in each of the next 4 STS) around. (72)

    Switch to COLOUR B ; Fasten off COLOUR A

    Rounds 7-19: (SC+DC in next ST, SK next ST) around. (72)

    Round 20: (SC+DC in next ST, SK next ST) 35 times; 2 STS remain. 2SC in next ST; SK final ST. (72)

    Round 21: SC in each ST around. (72)

    Switch to COLOUR A ; fasten off COLOUR B.

    Rounds 21-26: SC in each ST around. (72)

    Round 27 (creating the handles): CH70. SK 20 STS; SC in each of the next 16 STS. CH70. SK 20 STS; SC in each of the next 16 STS. (32SC + 180CH) 

    Switch to COLOUR B ; Fasten off COLOUR A

    Round 28: SC in each of the 70 chains. SC in each of the next 16 STS along the top. SC in each of the next 70 chains. SC in each of the next 16 STS along the top. (172)

    To finish: SL ST to the first SC of the final round. Fasten off and weave in ends.

    Edging the Handles

    (COLOUR B) We’re going to add a SC edging inside the handles to give the handles just a little bit more strength. With the bag as is (right side out) reattach yarn in the bottom left corner of one of the handles and CH1. SC in same ST, and continue to SC in each chain stitch going up and around the inside of the handle. Join with a SL ST to the first SC. Fasten off yarn, then repeat the process on the other handle. Fasten off and weave in ends.

  • Health & Fitness

    Binge Eating and Plateaus

    I love food. No, that’s too mild of a word. I adore food, I’m obsessed with food, I’m addicted to food. There. Addicted. That’s more like it. I’m addicted to food. Once upon a time I used to find that fact difficult to confess. After all, we live in a world where it’s perfectly acceptable to be a food addict. I mean, it’s frowned upon by ‘society’ but in the real world, it’s more acceptable than being addicted to alcohol or drugs. After all, every special occasion is surrounded by the most decadent versions of food out there.

    Comfort food. 

    Everyone knows what kind of food I’m talking about. The rich, carb-filled, fatty, and decadent meals our mothers made us when we had a bad day; or the ones served during a family gathering hosted by our grandmothers, or that special fast food place where our dads would take us after school. The worst foods for our bodies are the most magical ones for our brains. We’re wired that way, or at least I am. That’s why I’ve decided that in order for me to maintain my new healthy lifestyle, I have to plan to eat badly.  

    I know what you are thinking, isn’t that kind of counter intuitive? Planning to eat badly while on a “diet” seems like setting yourself up for failure. But for me, having a day put aside where I can freely eat whatever my heart desires helps me keep on track the other 6 days of the week. 

    Now that I’m at a place in this weight-loss journey where it’s basically not moving forward no matter how much calorie restrictions and macro tracking I put on myself, this method of maintaining is keeping my eye on the prize. It’s discouraging getting on the scale and seeing little change. On a logical level I understand that I’m building muscle mass and the numbers on the scale might not being showing my progress but there’s a much more emotional level of illogical thinking on my part about this lack of visible progression on the scale. I feel like I am failing and that feeling makes me want to eat. A lot. 

    And that’s where the “bad” day rule came into place. I’ll allow my cravings to happen but only on my terms and in moderation. Not that it works all the time. I’ve had my nights where I can’t wait for that set aside day and I just go crazy eating everything I can find till I feel fulfilled. And I’m going to be completely honest, I’m rarely every regretful. Which only goes to show that I need these “breaks” from time to time. After all, it’s a known fact that most people’s problems with food are psychological and that’s definitely the case for me. But let’s save that story for another day, shall we?

    Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

  • Recipes

    Healthy & Hearty Italian Wedding Soup

    My favourite soup in a can has always been Italian Wedding soup. Only problem is, I don’t actually like canned soups because not only does the sodium give me a huge headache, but there are too many other things in there that make me feel like crap after I’ve eaten them. Plus, the taste is, well, not like homemade. So, imagine my glee when I discovered a recipe for homemade Italian wedding soup on Facebook the other day

    Now, in order to make this as healthy (and as hearty) as possible I did make a few adjustments from the original recipe which can be found here at www.delish.com

    Over the last few months I’ve had a number of people ask me to share my recipe creations and adjustments with them which I’m more than happy to always do. But since I usually just wing my meals, and when I actually do follow a recipe I never write down the changes I make, it makes it hard to share my exact creations. But now, since I have this blog, I figured I’d consciously document my cooking ( at least some of the time ) so that anyone who wants them can easily access them.

    For this recipe I decided to make it in my instant pot because it’s my new toy and I love playing with it. But the original recipe is made in a regular pot so I’ll share those directions as well for anyone who wants to make this but hasn’t gotten themselves an instant pot just yet.

    Ingredients 

    for the meatballs:

    2 lbs. ground chicken

    1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs

    1/4 c. grated parmesan (I used Kraft 100% Parmesan Light)

    2 tsp. dried oregano

    2 tsp. dried Italian spices

    1 tsp. paprika

    1 tsp. dried rosemary

    cloves garlic, minced

    large egg

    Ground Himalayan salt

    Freshly ground black pepper

     

    for the soup:

    1 medium onion, diced

    2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

    1 stalk celery, diced

    a small bunch of freshly chopped cilantro & sage

    8 c. low-sodium chicken broth (I used Campbells)

    1/2 c. small dry pasta (I used Acini di Pepe)

     4 c. baby spinach; roughly chopped

     

    Directions

        1. In a large bowl, stir ground chicken, bread crumbs, Parmesan, dried spices, garlic, and egg until combined. Season with salt, pepper. Form into meatballs approximately 1/2″ in diameter to make about 30-ish meatballs.
        2. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and bake them at 325 F for 16 mins (turning them after 8 minutes so to cook evenly on both sides.
        3. Remove meatballs from over and put aside.
        4. In a 6 quart (minimum) instant pot add carrots, celery, onions, chicken broth, cilantro and sage. set to “soup” (high pressure) for 15 minutes. Once finished, quick release steam. *For a regular pot cook till tender and fragrant; about 10- 20 minutes depending on your element heat*
        5. Add meatballs and pasta. set to soup again (high pressure) for 10 minutes. Once finished, quick release steam. *for a regular pot bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 10 minutes* 
        6. Add spinach and replace cover, leaving it on “keep warm setting” for aprox 2-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted. *for a regular pot, leave it on simmer and add the spinach. Cover and continue to simmer till spinach is wilted*
        7. Add more salt and pepper to your own taste.
        8. Serve and enjoy!