Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The art of procrastination

I'm a champion procrastinator when I really don't want to do something. Because, you know, putting stuff off is really helpful....you don't want to do it in the first place, so you give yourself even less time and more pressure to get it done. Smart.

As I mentioned a while back, I'm doing the Mothers Day Classic fun run. When I signed up, I had six or seven weeks to train for a 4km run. I thought: Pfft, easy! I'll only have to do a couple of runs a week. I'll start off with some intervals, then add in some steady-state runs, increasing the distance each week. I've got this.

Ahem. I have done a few interval sessions, but up until yesterday, the longest continual run I'd done was a whole 6 minutes. Wow, impressive. I'd much rather ride my bike.

I seriously think I have exercise ADD...I start off on a cardio machine and within three or four minutes I'm bored out of my brain and looking for something else to do. Also? I don't like running very much. Of course, when I do it regularly and get better at it, I like it a lot better - but when you've completely ignored running for the better part of a year two years three years, the love really isn't likely to be there.

I had pushed it to the back of my mind, vaguely thinking when I was reminded of the MDC "Oh, I'll be right...how hard can it be?" Then on Saturday, Bike Boy asked me "How's the running going?" and I was all "Oh yeah. That" and I realised that the run was only two weeks away - yikes!

So I set myself the task of running on Sunday morning for a solid twenty minutes. I had no idea how I'd go, but was pretty sure it wouldn't kill me. I'm pretty fit, after all, even if I'm not run-specifically fit...

I was not thrilled to wake up to find that the nagging back ache that's plagued me for a week or two had decided to up the intensity. I immediately started to use it as an excuse - " Ooh, I'd better do something else, I don't want to aggravate my cranky back". Then I gave myself a mental smack over the head and told myself to harden up. It had to be done, no excuses. I'm not wimping out on the MDC and I will. not. walk. it.

Not being completely stupid, I gave myself a good ten-minute warm up of walking, and then stopped and stretched my tight calves and hamstrings before starting my run. I switched on my transverse abs and made sure I had my pelvis set to neutral and got started, keeping the pace slo-o-ow. The first two minutes or so saw the usual battle with myself, swatting away thoughts like "This sucks!" and "I have to stop". Then at the four-minute mark, I hit the magic point where I found my rhythm, had my breathing under control and felt like I could keep going forever. Hurrah! I haven't felt THAT in a long while.

So I did my twenty minutes, upping the speed a teensy bit every five minutes and in the final five, pushing it up quite a bit. It was pretty slow (I was only going at about 7:00 pace at the end), but I got it done. And I didn't die.

I've already scheduled in two runs a week for the next two weeks and will add a little time and/or speed to each. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it across that finish line after all.

Are you a procrastinator when it comes to fitness, or are you one of those "Plan it and then just get it done" kind of folks?


I'm participating in screen-free week, so I'm not really here (shh...). All of my posts this week have been written in advance and set to publish each day for your information and entertainment. ;o)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Going screen-free

This week, I have a daunting assignment to complete. As of today, I'm going screen-free for an entire week, joining in with thousands of others around the world for Screen Free Week. The idea is to turn off TVs, computers, game consoles and hand-held devices for the week and - as the organisers say - "turn on life".

It's all about connecting more with people in real life, enjoying nature and/or participating in some activities that don't involve staring at a glowing screen.

I have to admit to a fair amount of trepidation. After all, I'm online most of the time, via my computer, ipad and/or phone - even at work, I tend to check in on various sites during my breaks, thanks to the magic of mobile telecommunications systems. And I rely on my computerised devices to carry out a lot of my routine daily tasks. For example:

Catching up with friends and family
Scheduling appointments
Sending or RSVP-ing invitations
Selling unwanted crap
Sourcing recipes
Reading and research
Looking up stuff in the online versions of the encyclopaedia/dictionary/thesaurus

And of course, I rely completely on my little electronic friends to remind me when I have a medical appointment, social engagement, work deadline, or just to pick up the dry cleaning. I even use a shopping list app...

So this week I'm going old school. From 12:01am on Monday until midnight next Sunday, I will be absent from social media and most online services - and before you start wagging your fingers at me, this post was written yesterday and set to publish automatically today. :p

There are some exceptions. I'll still be checking my email and will reply to any business-related or important messages; I will most definitely be using my Kindle - after all, reading is what people do when there's no TV... and I have some more blog posts preset to publish later in the week, just so as you don't forget me completely.

But I won't be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (other than my automated blog-pimping tweets and FB posts). You won't see me commenting on other blogs. If I need a recipe, I'll grab one of my hundreds of cookbooks or food magazines. I may even have to resort to using my 1979 edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary if I'm lost for words.

I don't expect I'll die, but I do expect it to be a bit difficult to break my usual habits of being constantly plugged in. That's OK. Who knows, maybe at the end of the week, I'll have a sparkling clean house, organised linen cupboard, empty ironing basket, freezer full of pre-cooked meals and a weed-free garden? Stop laughing - it could happen.

How do you think you'd go if you had to forgo ALL screen-based activities for a week?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

ANZAC Day - Remembrance, RPM and Recipes

I had every intention of getting up just after 5:00am this morning and heading off to the local RSL for their dawn service. ANZAC Day always makes me reflect not only on the brave souls who gave up their lives in the various wars, but on how lucky I am to live in this country. It also just generally reminds me to be grateful for many things which I often take for granted. I've never been to a dawn service; don't really know why.

I would love to attend the service at the Shrine of Remembrance one year, but distance from the city, the lack of public transport or available parking at that time of day, plus the thought of battling through a crowd of 50,000 is all a little off-putting. So, I checked where the local services were and got my warm clothes all ready last night, to minimise delays in the morning.

However, my plans were upset by a terrible night's sleep, which saw me still awake at 2:00am. There was no way I was getting up after only three hours' sleep, so I reluctantly switched off my alarm and stayed in bed. I'm OK with it though - I've paid my respects to the fallen, the wounded and those who returned safely from wars in other ways today.

I hadn't actually planned to do an RPM class today; hadn't even checked the public holiday timetable. But do you know what happens when you add your RPM instructor as a Facebook friend? She can SEE when you're online, doing nothing much and throw out a little "Are you coming to my 10:30am class today, Kerryn?" So guess what I ended up doing for today's exercise? Bike Boy even came along as well.

I was pleased when Kerri began the class by asking us to observe a minute's silence - as the strains of The Last Post played through the sound system, I admit that I got a little teary. That music gets me every time. Then it was down to business. I put in a good, solid, sweaty effort and was very happy that I'd been guilted into going. Saved me putting any thought into training.... Yes, I am that lazy.

The rest of the day has been dedicated to kitchen experiments. I've been inspired to get into all kinds of funky things lately. First off, inspired by Sara, I'm exploring fermentation. I'm hoping that eating more fermented foods will help rebalance the bacteria in my irritable gut. I got the hang of coconut yoghurt ages ago, so it was time to move onto other stuff.

First cab off the rank was sauerkraut. After exploring the internet (and getting sooo confused at the different methods), I settled on this recipe. It was a piece of cake! Here's the result:

Pretty, as well as good for you!

I kept it simple and used caraway seeds to flavour mine. I quite like the sour, crunchy, salty taste - I'm pretty sure it's going to seriously grow on me until I just can't live without it. A spoonful with my salad or cooked veggies adds a bit of oomph.

I also have some water kefir grains in the fridge, courtesy of a lovely Facebook friend, who packed up some she had to spare and sent them via Australia Post from far north Queensland. Hurrah for the internet! I'm looking forward to trying that soon - and will be sure to blog the whole thing.

I'm also continuing my love affair with coconut. When Michelle from Healthy Helpings posted that making your own coconut butter was easy-peasy, OF COURSE I had to try it. So this afternoon, I threw three cups of shredded coconut (not dessicated; different thing, so don't make that mistake) into the old Jamie Oliver food processor, turned it on and after about ten-fifteen minutes, I had this:

So GOOD, that I am banishing all spoons from the house, so I'm not tempted
to just shovel it from the jar straight to my mouth.
One is supposed to store one's home made coconut butter in a quaint and photogenic vintage glass jar. Unfortunately, I don't own such a thing (bad food blogger!), so one of our Easiyo plastic containers had to do.

I made another batch of coconut milk too. The method I use is shown in this YouTube video. Easy doesn't begin to describe it.

My big experiment today though was again courtesy of Michelle, who pointed me towards this recipe from Chocolate Chilli Mango for ANZAC protein bars/biscuits. I was missing several vital ingredients, so headed off to the health food store this afternoon, with little hope of actually finding them. The outer suburbs are a health-food dead zone... To my surprise, my local had everything I needed for the recipe - rice protein, cocoa butter and coconut sugar, plus some pea protein I wanted for another recipe I have lined up. Yay! I also stocked up on extra shredded coconut while I was there.

I made a half-quantity of the recipe, as I didn't really want two dozen ANZAC bikkies sitting around my house, no matter how healthy and balanced they are. They worked out perfectly - except that they barely spread at all, so next time I'd flatten them a bit more before they go in the oven.

Great flavour with a protein boost, a lot less sugar and much healthier ingredients

A busy day in Kek's kitchen.... Oh, I forgot to mention that I started the day with pudding for breakfast. I made this choc-raspberry chia pudding yesterday, and this morning layered some in a dessert dish with sliced banana and sprinkled a couple of roughly chopped walnuts on top.

Dessert for breakfast - my favourite thing!
So that was my ANZAC day.... How was yours? What did you get up to?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The one where I prove (AGAIN) that healthy food is not boring

Thanks to Brand Meets Blog, I was lucky enough to score an invitation to an interactive cooking class and information evening run by the Heart Foundation last week. (And to digress a little, I thought it was sometimes difficult to explain blogging to people in my real life... imagine the poor girls over at BMB trying to explain to their friends and family what the heck a blogger outreach agency is... Oy.)

I'd had a particularly bad day at work, was stressed to the max and then got held up way out in the eastern suburbs. At 6:00pm I was just leaving work and was sure that I was going to be late arriving at the venue, the LG cooking school at South Melbourne Market. But for once, the traffic gods smiled upon me and I pushed open the door with a few minutes to spare. Phew. I also discovered that I had already met (or knew of) 80% of the other bloggers present. I felt instantly at home.

The evening turned out to be a lot of fun - guided by the chef, we all pitched in and helped prepare a magnificent meal, starting with beautiful fresh, healthy ingredients which became an absolute feast. And yes, of course we got to eat it! There was chatter about all things blogging, and every other topic under the sun too. And in between cooking, talking and eating, we listened to Dr Lynne Roberts, CEO of the Heart Foundation, who had a few key messages to deliver.

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women? Well, actually, I did - but I was surprised and concerned to learn that most people don't. Which is one of the reasons why women don't always recognise the symptoms of heart disease. 27 women in Australia die of heart disease every single day. Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer. Those are scary statistics.

So what can you do about it? Know the risks: this is no time to bury your head in the sand. Find out if you have any risk factors for heart disease here. I've been blogging about my high cholesterol recently, which is one of them, but there are a number of others, and almost all can be modified IF YOU'RE AWARE YOU HAVE THEM.

Alright. I'll stop shouting at you now and make with the pretty pictures. And there's a recipe too. But please go check out the Heart Foundation's website and make sure your cardio-vascular system is in good nick, OK? They have all sorts of awesome recipes over there as well, plus lots of other resources; well worth a visit.

I am there...hiding behind Emma of The Scoop on Nutrition and Kim of Working Women Australia 

Ooh look! There I am, all serious and acting like I know what I'm doing... 

...which, clearly, I don't. The recipe did not call for bits of fingers.

The menu

White bean mash with crudités and flatbread

Main course
Grilled fillet of mackerel with avocado
Mixed Moroccan style grain salad
Poached chicken with Vietnamese coleslaw

Poached pears in red wine

The mackerel was simple, but divine. The avocado was flavoured with chilli, lime and coriander.

The Moroccan grain salad had a mixture of burghul & quinoa. And that's "my" Vietnamese coleslaw on the right

I loved this: poached pears served with orange-honey yoghurt. 
I plan to share the recipes we cooked with you all over the next few weeks. For now, I'll start with the poached chicken and Vietnamese coleslaw, because I've already made that one myself.

Here's one I prepared earlier:

I used red cabbage, carrot and lettuce in this version, because that's what I had in the fridge.
Who says you have to follow the recipe precisely? Be creative and see what you can come up with.

One last thing: If you have kids, make sure you check out Mums United, another initiative of the Heart Foundation. There are recipes, tips and advice for us mums who want to feed our kids healthy food that they'll actually EAT.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I did get a delicious free meal, thanks to Brand Meets Blog and the Heart Foundation, plus a goodie bag to take home, but received no payment for this post. Opinions expressed here are my own. 

Thanks also to Brand Meets Blog for the photo of moi, which I totally stole from their Instagram feed. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Recipe alert! Eggplant Bolognese

I had eggplants sitting in the fridge last week and no idea about what to do with them. So of course, I asked the internet ....and found the inspiration for this warm parcel of deliciousness:

These keep perfectly in the fridge for a few days and reheat in the microwave, no problem at all, so I've been carting them off to work for my lunches. The sight and smell has elicited "Oohs" and "Aahs" from my colleagues, and not one "Oh, THAT looks healthy!" (accompanied by a grimace and/or an eye-roll). I've even been asked for the recipe...they may actually be beginning to believe my assertions that healthy food can actually taste good.

The recipe is over here.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Do what you love & love what you do

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- Confucius

The above quote is often trotted out as advice to those deciding on a career. But the same principle applies to many other things, including exercise. My advice to anyone just embarking on a fitness journey would be:

Choose an exercise activity you love, and it won't seem like hard work.

I've tried a number of things over the past almost ten years, and I quickly discovered that I loved lifting heavy things. However, when it came to cardio activities, I dabbled in this and that but never really found my "thing". Until my clever husband bought me my mountain bike late last year.

How could you not love the opportunity to be out in this glorious weather?
I love my spin bike and I love my weekly RPM class, but being out on a real bike, having the opportunity to be actually going somewhere is a whole other thing. I still have my road bike, but my fear of the completely mental drivers around here makes road riding an anxiety-filled experience. Something I plan to address in the future... but for now, I get to hoon around on traffic-free gravel paths, dirt tracks and do a little cross-country riding as well.

Our recent getaway in Bright gave me the opportunity to enjoy some pretty spectacular scenery. But the parkland on our doorstep isn't too shabby either. It's less than a five minute off-road ride to the main entrance to our little piece of paradise. I've posted plenty of kangaroo shots, pictures of the lakes and birdlife and so on in the past (see here and here) - BUT WAIT! There's more....

Looking down on the old homestead and its pretty garden from up high on a ridge

Views that can't be beaten. You'd never guess that suburbia is just a few hundred metres away
Yesterday's ride coincided with a small market in the front garden of our favourite local restaurant, so we finished our ride up there at 9:00am, when the stallholders were just setting up. We ordered coffee and grabbed a table on the verandah to watch things getting started.

Fresh produce, local olive oil, cupcakes and home made preserves  were on offer

Just what you need at the end of a ride

Ponies: apparently they're little girl magnets.
Bike Boy had thought ahead and grabbed his backpack before we left, so we were able to buy some beautiful heirloom carrots, rich-looking mushrooms, figs, stone fruit and the crispest, sweetest apples and pears you've ever tasted. Almost everything on sale was produced within a 10km radius - some of the fruit had travelled a bit further, but was still from Victoria. Truly fresh fruit doesn't even compare with the stuff on offer in supermarkets. The taste, the texture! I've had to restrain myself from scoffing a dozen pieces a day...

Those perfectly ripe figs ended up grilled, then served with ricotta and honey - they didn't need any fancy treatment.

I'm seriously enjoying our rides and although getting up hills is hard work, the ride down the other side is always exhilarating. It's fantastic fun 90% of the time, which I've never been able to say about any other activity I've tried. There's always something to see, somewhere to go and best of all? Bikes are portable, so we can easily throw them in the car when we travel and use them to explore new territory.

I'm sure there are other things I could learn to love; God knows, I've tried or contemplated quite a few. But I'm happy that I've found my "thing" for now.

How about you? Have you found the sport or activity that makes exercise fun for you?


Friday, April 19, 2013

How to make your wife feel better 101

I've had a very tedious week. Nothing seriously went wrong, it was just a run of days with a series of irritating and/or stressful events and somewhere along the way, I lost my smile.

On Wednesday things were at their worst. I was sleep-deprived, had a persistently achey lower back and grumbling gut pain that just would not quit. My day at work had been mildly horrible and then my drive home was rather worse than usual, with apparently suicidal drivers pulling out from side streets in front of me and road works or traffic jams on every street I tried.

That trip culminated in an attempt to refill my fuel tank, which really shouldn't be that hard. But when you drive a diesel-powered car, there's usually only one pump dispensing the precious liquid, and you can bet that someone will be using it to fill up with unleaded...in spite of there being seven other pumps not in use at the time. *sigh* I don't have a lot of choices of petrol stations on my way home, but given that I had an 18c per litre supermarket discount docket, I bypassed a few, made a slight detour and headed for one quite near home.

I pulled up behind a guy who OF COURSE was filling up with unleaded and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, he drove off and I moved forward to find that the freaking pump was out of order. O_o And by that time, the only working diesel hose on the other side of the bowser (on the wrong side for my fuel tank) was in use, so even if I could have manoeuvred the car between the pumps and other cars to get to it, I'd have to wait yet again.

So I left, which meant having to make a U-turn on the main road to get to the only other petrol station between there and home, and then repeat that performance once I was done. Needless to say, by the time I got home I was a little cranky...

Later that night, I was grumbling to Bike Boy about how crappy I felt. Bad day, shocker of a drive home, exhausted, the fuel fiasco, sore back, upset gut, blah, blah. He just looked at me, smiled and said "But you're pretty and you have nice hair".

Sometimes he knows just the right thing to say.


I'm still practising gratitude, by the way. This week in particular, I've made myself pause a number of times, take a deep breath and then count my arms and legs. In light of recent world events, I figure if I get to four, I'm not really having such a bad day.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Take THAT, cholesterol!

HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks.  HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.

As you would know, if you've been reading this blog for any time at all, I've been on a mission to achieve lower cholesterol through some simple strategies revolving around my nutrition and exercise.

Nutrition is important, but so is exercise. You might want to wear something more practical than Sophia, though. (Source)

It's only one measurement, but the importance of maintaining a healthy cholesterol level shouldn't be underestimated. It is linked to heart health, although it's not a simple correlation - there are many other factors that dictate whether your cardio-vascular system operates like a super-charged Formula 1 machine, or more like a rusty old clunker. There have been some recent changes in thinking about cholesterol too, but I'm not about to ignore a health marker that may have a bearing on how long and how well I live, when I can actually do something about it reasonably easily.

My family history put me on the back foot to begin with in this particular area, with both my mum and one of my sisters taking medication to control their high cholesterol. Me, I'm not much of a fan of the old statins and prefer to manage my health wherever possible by setting my lifestyle gauge a bit further towards the "healthy" side of the dial.

I'm not anti-medication, anti-traditional medicine or anything of that kind, but these particular drugs are really starting to reveal their nastier side... Besides, my test results didn't warrant prescription meds, particularly when I don't tick any of the other risk factor boxes for heart disease. When my test late last year came back with a score of 7.2, my doctor did make vague noises about considering medication, but I just pointed at something shiny and changed the subject told her I'd prefer not to go down that road at this point, to which she agreed.

So, as I've previously documented, I made some changes, upped my exercise, reduced some of the less helpful foods from my regular meals (yes, chocolate and alcohol, I'm looking at YOU) and added in more of the good stuff: veggies, fruit, soluble fibre, omega-3s, all that kind of thing. At the end of March, I took myself off to get another set of blood tests run.

The numbers came back and I'm very pleased to report that my cholesterol has reduced to 6.5. Obviously, that's still too high, but it's a pretty decent reduction in a short period of time. Am I feeling smug? You bet.

I'm not finished yet; there's still plenty of work to be done, but I'm confident I'm on the right track.

Stay tuned!

Sponsored Series by Nuffnang Australia
HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks. HeartActive is currently available in a 1L carton with an extended shelf life (45 days from production) compared to regular white milks with a shelf life of 14 days.

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion only and is not intended as medical advice. If you have high cholesterol or any other medical issue, please consult a qualified medical practitioner.


Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sharing the (food) love

After a lovely week off and a nice short break away, it's time to head back to the office tomorrow (boo!). One of the things I enjoy most about time off work is not having to do a lot of planning when it comes to meals. There's always something in the fridge or pantry that I can quickly turn into lunch, dinner or a tasty snack.

Of course, when you're away from home for ten hours out of twenty-four, you don't have that option - at least not if you want meals that are healthy, varied, taste great and that won't blow the budget. So, as many healthy living bloggers do, this weekend I set aside a couple of hours to do some food prep for the week. I'm pretty happy with what's on the menu for the next few days and just in case any of you are searching for ideas, I thought I'd share some of my choices - and some new discoveries - with you.

First up, I threw some cheap chuck steak and five other ingredients into the slow cooker yesterday to make an old favourite, Peposo. This tradition Tuscan beef stew only gets better after sitting in the fridge for a few days, so that's earmarked for Monday night's dinner. With some sweet potato mash and a couple of green veg on the side, dinner will be ready in no time.

Peposo: Don't let the simple recipe fool you - the flavour is sublime!
Bike Boy also grabbed a bag of chicken pieces out of the freezer and marinated them in a bought tandoori paste for tonight's dinner. That usually leaves us a couple of serves for lunches too, but all the boys are home tonight, so I'm not counting on it. If you've never tried making your own tandoori chicken (fish/prawns/lamb), WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Yes, sure you can make your own paste and we sometimes do, but in the interests of more time and less mess, that wasn't happening today.

For two of my lunches (I need four), I went for that old stand-by, grilled chicken breast. I'll mix it up with different accompaniments. I baked two sweet potatoes, so half of one of those makes a good side dish (you should try tarting it up by mashing it roughly and adding some mango chutney, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice - a favourite Jamie Oliver recipe). I also made a batch of pineapple salsa* and have one serve left...plus a fridge full of salad ingredients and fresh and frozen veg for steaming.

For the other two lunches, I've opted for an old favourite, Asian-style tuna and sweet potato patties. Just add veggies, and maybe a piece of fruit after.

I often just go for fruit for my snacks, but I came across these savoury breakfast muffins on Kalyn's Kitchen that use quinoa flakes and had to give them a go. They're really, really good. Just a word to the wise: if you're not a goat's cheese fan, don't use that goat's cheese feta you've had in the fridge for ages. Put your shoes on, comb your hair and go to the damn supermarket to buy some regular feta, OK? I don't know why I thought the strong flavour would be disguised...

During the week I was pondering what to do with quinoa flakes and had a flash of brilliance, which resulted in a small batch of healthy coconut-banana cookies. This is them before they went into the oven. I forgot to take a photo after. Oops:

The result was.... hmm...the flavour was pretty good and the texture alright, if a bit more cakey than biscuity ...I just think I can improve on them. Stay tuned for coconut-banana cookies Mk II.

One thing I tried that was a huge success though, was this protein fluff from the genius of Anna Sward, of Protein Pow(d)er! fame. This stuff is like magic - reminds me of the old-fashioned desserts Mum used to make when I was a kid - fluffs, fools and flummeries. I whipped up a batch in just a few minutes with some raspberries and blueberries I had in the freezer and WOW!

That bowl holds about 5 litres, so this is about 2.5L of pudding...and I ate the lot!
I used a mixture of blueberries and raspberries, vanilla whey and coconut milk. A quick bash with the hand blender, then into a big bowl and attack with the electric mixer for just a few minutes and watch it grow...and grow. You have to try this! Not only does it taste amazing and fill you up, but it has only 250-ish Calories in the whole batch, plus a whopping 35g of protein.

I also found dozens more recipes that I am so going to try...but there are only so many hours in a single weekend, you know. This coconut-quinoa-blueberry parfait is definitely on the cards though. I did have a go at a cauliflower pizza crust, which was really pretty successful - the amount of cheese in it bumped the calories up to scary levels though, so I think I'll be hunting for something a little leaner.

You'd never know a cauliflower had been anywhere near this pizza...

So there you go. A quick tour of Kek's kitchen and some recipes you might be inspired to try. What's on the menu at your place this week? Got any new recipes to share...?

*Pineapple salsa: Take one cup of diced fresh pineapple, 1/2 a cup of diced cucumber, 1/2 a cup of diced red capsicum, a small red chilli, finely chopped, about two tablespoons of finely chopped red onion and a tablespoon of chopped mint, mix together and squeeze fresh lime juice over. 


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Grateful in April

Today I'm pausing to reflect on a few things that I have reason to be grateful for. There seems to be a lot of whining about pretty minor stuff from a lot of people online lately - and yes, I can be guilty of that myself at times - so I'm making an effort to appreciate some of the good things in my generally fairly awesome life. :)

1. We've just returned from a short break away, and I'm grateful that we have the ability to take off for a few days more or less whenever we wish. A change of scenery, a break from the daily drudgery and some fresh country air are always good for the soul.

Roadtrip! This is not the country though...only 3kms from home.
2. While were were away, I got the chance to spend a lot more time in the saddle than normal - and I handled it like a pro! I can see huge improvements in my bike fitness - and I'm so happy to have found an exercise activity I love, one that doesn't even feel like work. Well, pedalling up a small mountain is certainly work, but you know what I mean... So I'm grateful not only for my mountain bike, but also for my steadily increasing fitness. And for my patient husband, who puts up with my occasional whinging, goes a lot slower than he'd like to, plays bike mechanic for me, and all with a minimum of laughing at some of my sillier moments.

This ride resulted in a spectacular fall, one bruised and lacerated elbow and a few tears...but was worth it!
3. The weather was perfect while we were away, and being on the bike or on foot meant that I really got to appreciate the beauty of the countryside around me. Everywhere you look, there are gorgeous vistas, amazing birds or something else interesting to look at. We're lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

A pause on the rail trail for some wine tasting (Bike Boy) and coffee (me) and to admire the view of Mt Buffalo
Raucous flocks of yellow-tailed black cockatoos. We don't see these at home.
How's the serenity?

I thought this was a species of rosella we don't get here - but it's just a juvenile crimson rosella.
4. I'm also feeling grateful for my own creativity when it comes to food. My ability to create tasty meals and new recipes, even when following a pretty restrictive nutrition plan, came in very handy these past few days. I cooked up a storm before we left and enjoyed pumpkin pancakes, tasty frittatas, all kinds of salads, some yummy mango salsa, and of course my super-smug super-food truffles. Getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to cooking is an interesting adventure. :) Of course, I'm grateful to have my vanilla whey and splash of milk back in my porridge today...

Sometimes simple is best - salmon, salad and a ripe peach for dessert.
5. Last, but not least, I'm grateful for my good health. Which leads me to this: I'm doing the 4km Mothers Day Classic this year, with Number One Son by my side (although he has made noises about me slowing him down, the cheeky bugger, so "by my side" may not be all that accurate...). In case you don't know, the event is a fundraiser for breast cancer research, and I'm running in memory of my dear friend Jose´, who lost the fight a few years back. If you'd like to sponsor me and contribute to a good cause - no pressure - you can do so over here.

If you're in one of our capital cities or even some regional centres, you can enter yourself. There are 4km and 8km runs, plus a walking event, and the atmosphere of this particular fun run is always great.

Now I'm off to the gym to lift things up and put them down. It's a late start today, as I enjoy the final couple of days of my short holiday.... Something else I'm grateful for, as it was only 5ºC earlier this morning.

What are you grateful for today, this week or in general?