Apr
18

Ciao coffee & humpday links

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I have this niggling concern for things at the back of my mind. They aren’t pressing or urgent or overwhelmingly concerning, so they stay at the back of my mind until I get an opportunity to act on them or until something changes and I am suddenly overwhelmed.

Recently I had the opportunity to act on a concern. I’d been wanting to give up coffee for a while and what better time to do it than off the back of my sickness leaving Seattle? I was sick anyway, so I knew that the headaches I’d experience would just assimilate into the other awful things I was feeling and the ‘withdrawals’ wouldn’t seem so bad. Perfect.

When I think of giving up coffee, I think of those people who’ve told me not to drink it. Yes, Annaliese, my beautiful shiny white toothed naturopath, I’m looking at you. These non-coffee drinkers with their healthy hair, shiny white teeth, sparkling eyes, perfect skin and calming non-caffeinated energy – are they really onto something? Do they really feel awake and alive and energetic?

I’m on day 8 of no coffee and I feel fine so far. I haven’t even substituted it for something else, I’m like completely coffee and tea free. I have no idea how long I plan on doing this for. Coffee drinkers are addicts. I’m OK with this. I like the club. But I just wanted to see what life was like on the other side for a while. I like knowing that I can do this. It makes me feel in control of my body and my life and when I’m ready to drink coffee again, I will.

Other things of late:

  • Mika has perfected the art of climbing down stairs. We never taught her this, so naturally we are amazed.
  • It is 35 degrees between 9am and 6pm. It’s a good thing these houses are built like dungeons.
  • Did you catch the salad and muffin recipes I posted on Cruz Family Kitchen?
  • Did you see that they brought Tupac back from the dead?
  • Adele pointed out that this website is the least government-looking government website she’s ever seen. I’d have to agree, it made me pretty happy.
  • If you haven’t had your day made awesome by watching Cain’s Arcade yet, please do.
  • Wouldn’t this be an awesome job?!
  • I can’t wait to watch this documentary. If you’re in Canada, you can watch it on CBC’s website I think.
  • I loved this style guide from the Economist.
  • I found a delicious use for my buckwheat noodles!

3 Comments

Jan
17

Have you quit sugar? And an Indian Lentil Soup

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Are you one of the thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of people who are attempting to give up sugar? Have you bought the book and signed up to the Facebook page?

Even if you’re not – you probably should be. And don’t give me that ‘oh but I don’t eat much sugar’… because that’s what I said. Until I realised that I put raisins in my porridge and added a teaspoon of honey to my natural yoghurt. I also cooked sweet potato fries just so I could have a reason to eat ketchup, often ate a fruit salad as a snack and have been known to eat dates like they were candy. So bottom line…I used to consume a lot of sugar.

So where am I at now? I didn’t go cold turkey like some people might. I kinda mulled it over a bit. I stopped adding raisins to my porridge (easy) and put away the honey. I don’t really miss them and it’s been over 2 months. I haven’t touched ketchup either. My fruit intake has reduced to maybe a couple pieces a week – but for the next little while I’ll be trying to go without.

Curious as to what I’m eating? Sure you are.

Here’s day one:

Breakfast (around 9am): Sugar-free Coconut Granola with homemade nut milk.
Lunch (around 2pm): Indian Lentil Soup (recipe below) with a spinach/avocado salad
Dinner (around 6:30pm): Plain tuna mixed with half an avocado, tomato & juice from a lime + some left over soup.

Indian Lentil Soup (Very slightly adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)

This soup is delicious. Like seriously. I think it’s the curry powder. You won’t want to stop eating until it’s ALL GONE.

Ingredients

  • Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated/chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 3 potatoes, chopped really small
  • 2 carrots, chopped really small
  • 1 cup of lentils (I use brown because we can’t find red. Use either)
  • 4-5 cups of vege stock (preferably homemade)
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped

To make:

  1. Heat oil, add onion, garlic & ginger. Stir.
  2. Add spices – stir so you don’t burn them!
  3. Add potatoes and carrots. Stir to coat in the spices.
  4. Add lentils and stock.
  5. Simmer until lentils are cooked – about 30 minutes or so.
  6. If you are using firm lentils (like we do), then you can put half of the soup in a blender or use a stick blender to make the soup a little creamier. If you are using red lentils I think they will get mushy and delicious anyway.
  7. Serve with the chopped tomatoes. It’s also great with yoghurt and avocado!

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Nov
01

Sugar: My sweet opinion

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Disclaimer: You’re not gonna like me for this, especially after Halloween. Sorry.

I’m a sugar addict.

It all started when I was 7. My grandma had a special drawer for candy and instead of making it out of bounds, she happily showed it to me and suggested I snack from there when hungry.  It was all too much. The bright colours! The frosted sugar! The crazy flavours! And from there it spiralled out of control.

At age 8 I experienced the ultimate in independence – choosing my own lollies in the Pick ‘n’ Mix section of my local dairy (corner store). At 10, many sleep overs at friend’s houses meant videos and M&Ms and caramel corn. As a teenager during exam time I studied over Natural Confectionaries and Red Bull.  By the time I was nearing twenty I started getting serious about running and wanted to lose some weight so naturally the refined sugar intake reduced.

And now as an adult I think I’m pretty sugar savvy. I don’t eat cereal from a box. I don’t drink pop. I don’t buy biscuits. I don’t add sugar to my coffee.

But I do have a handful of raisins in my morning porridge. I do add honey to my unsweetened yoghurt. I do eat tomato sauce when I make hamburgers or homemade fries. I like balsamic vinegar in my salads. I eat at least 2 pieces of fruit each day, sometimes more. I love to bake with dates and bananas as a sweetener. Sunday morning pancakes with maple syrup are the best. I religiously complete each day with a small square of dark chocolate. I won’t pass up on home baking from a friend and sometimes at the movies I even indulge in the pick ‘n’ mix.

I had no idea how much sugar I was actually consuming until I read Sarah Wilson’s ebook ‘I Quit Sugar’. (Click here to buy it through my affiliate link if you like) Even on my seemingly healthy diet, sugar was popping up everywhere.

So why care? Well, if you hadn’t already heard – Sugar is killing us. This terrifying lecture by Robert Lustig happens to be terrifyingly long too – but if you can spare 90 minutes, it’s highly worth it. (If you need the condensed version then check out this instead. And if you’d rather read a more balanced review, this article by Gary Taubes takes it down a notch explaining that all this research is not conclusive…but should we still worry? His conclusion says yeah, yeah we should. Read it.)

So let’s break it down. Sugar comes in many forms, but these are the main three:

Glucose: The most common sugar, also known as dextrose. This is the type of sugar that our bodies can actually use as fuel. It is, as Robert Lustig puts it, the energy of life. We like this sugar.

Fructose: The sugar that sweetens fruits. Also the main component in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It’s sweeter than table sugar and our bodies actually cannot use it for fuel. Read: it gets turned to fat. Fructose is processed in the liver and when consumed in high doses (think fruit juice) can create all sorts of bad reactions. Poor liver. This is pretty much Lustig’s main point: Fructose is a poison. Check out about 1:23:00 into Lustig’s lecture. He thinks fructose should be banned by the FDA. This guy is serious.

Sucrose: This is the sugar you find in your kitchen. 50% fructose and 50% glucose. So you would assume it is better than consuming HFCS and you would be correct. But it still contains fructose. The poisonous fructose.

So as you can see, the main thing we should be worried about is fructose. In short, our bodies don’t actually recognise fructose as a fuel in the same way that glucose is recognised and used. It’s processed in the liver and the liver basically turns it into fat. Fructose is metabolised like fat.

“Eating fructose is like eating fat that your body can’t detect as fat…and makes us eat more fat.” – David Gillespie in Sweet Poison.

So (and these are just estimations from various sources around the interweb)

  • Table sugar = 50% fructose
  • One banana = more than 30% fructose
  • Honey = 40% fructose
  • Agave = 90% fructose

Are you saying that fruit is bad for me?

Well…not really. I dunno. This gets confusing. Fructose is bad in part because we can easily consume so much of it without being full.  Fruit has fructose in it but it also has some fibre in it (and some antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, minerals) so theoretically we should be able to feel full before too long. It also takes a lot longer for the fructose to get to your liver when consumed as fruit as opposed to the intense hit that the liver gets when we drink something high in fructose, which allows the liver to process it better. So don’t drink your fruit.

Fibre = good. Fibre will slow down the journey of the fructose to your liver and hence make it easier for your liver to process. Most processed foods don’t have fibre in them anymore because it reduces shelf life and doesn’t freeze well. In other words, fresher is better!

What about artificial sweeteners?

Think about that for a moment. If you (like me) are trying to eat natural and whole foods rather than processed ‘food’, you wouldn’t even be asking the question. If you like the idea of putting something artificial in your body then go right ahead. I used to drink diet coke like it was no-one’s business. Now I shudder at the thought.

Artificial sweeteners are just that: artificial. They’re additives. The main ones are saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame and sucralose. They’ve all had their time in the spotlight, most of them have at some point been linked to cancer in rats and some of them are banned in various countries. It’s even suggested that these no-calorie sweeteners will make you fat even faster than sugar. So do yourself a favour and just stay away.

Stevia?

Stevia is a plant, but not all plants are good for us! I’m sure that in some cases, Stevia can and has been used well. But in our culture we tend to look for miracle cures…so we’ll just replace the high level of sugar we consume with this new wonder plant. Uhhh.. not so.  This post sums it up nicely. If you are craving sugar, you’re probably better to eat a small piece of fruit. We need to stop looking for different sweeteners to curb our cravings and rather try to stop the cravings altogether!

So in summary, this is my stance on sugar and sweeteners:

  • Avoid refined sugars where possible(check out those food labels and you’ll be surprised).
  • Avoid natural sweeteners such as honey or agave,
  • Put down the fruit juice. Don’t drink sugar. Eat an apple instead and only drink milk or water.
  • Artificial sweeteners aren’t the answer.
  • Eat carbs with fibre only.
  • Rather than try to find a sugar replacement, try giving up sugar and you’ll find the cravings will stop and natural things will start to taste sweeter.

I have been one entire week now without adding honey to my yoghurt, forgoing dried fruits and steering clear of tomato sauce. It feels amazing. My tips:

  • Eat coconut. Coconut flakes in my yoghurt taste sweet.
  • Drink tea. I’ve started drinking 2 cups of green tea each day. Not sure why, but it makes me feel great.
  • Eat fat instead of sugar. I have an entire post about this, but for now just know this: your body can use fat. It can’t really use sugar. Therefore fat = energy for my body. Sugar = fat for my body.
  • Eat mayonaise (full fat) with your (homemade) fries instead of ketchup. There’s only a teeny teeny bit of sugar in it.
  • Gorge on vegetables. Hungry? Grab a vege.
  • Fruit isn’t awful for you, but just eat in moderation. 5+ a day doesn’t mean 5 pieces of fruit!

That’s it for now. Well done if you got this far! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you eat too much sugar? Do you eat too much fruit, honey, additives, agave, sauces? Have you tried to be sugar free before? What works for you? Do you love sugar too much? Do you have a bad reaction to sugar?

14 Comments

Oct
25

Let us live longer

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Grains will kill you or maybe they’ll make you live longer. Sugar will make you fat, but only a certain type of sugar. Soy is a good dairy alternative – but be careful because it can be dangerous for women. Coffee is a great natural stimulant – but it’s also an addictive drug. Eggs are bad for you – but no maybe they’re good for you. Olive oil is really good for you – but don’t cook with it because it becomes toxic. Eating meat is a great source of protein and fat – but it’s also murder. Dairy is a good source of calcium, fat and protein, but it’s also bad for the skin. Fruit has too much sugar so don’t eat too much – but the fibre and nutritional content is so great that you must eat it! If you want to lose weight you should cut out carbs. Or maybe you should snack all day. Or maybe you shouldn’t eat after 6pm. Or maybe you should just exercise more and eat what you like. You shouldn’t eat that food if you have that blood type and have you considered the acidity of the foods you eat?

Confused? Yeah, so am I. But is life too short to really give a shit about this stuff? Should I just eat and be merry? Probably. And to an extent, that’s what I do. But I also believe life is too short to not give a shit about this stuff. I don’t want to be hugely overweight by the time I’m 40. I don’t want to suffer the consequences that decades of mindless eating may bring in my old age.

So I’ve decided to write about my thoughts on food over the next few weeks. I’m no expert and please don’t take anything I say as gospel – but most things I talk about will be from my own experiences and where I am talking about the experiences of other people I will say so.

On the menu:

  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Raw
  • Alkaline & acidic foods
  • Fat
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner

To kick things off, here are a few rules that I try to live by.

1. Drink water. First thing in the morning (with lemon), between meals, with meals and with dinner. Green tea boosts metabolism so drink twice a day. Stay away from juice. Coffee black each morning, no sugar. Sometimes with full fat milk.

2. Avoid sugar. I’ll go into more depth as this is a big one for me. Sugar includes fruit and all things sweet (for now) but a piece of fruit each day is OK.

3. Limit grains. This includes all grains – rice, wheat, spelt, oats etc. Ideally I would cut them out of my diet completely, but for now I am allowing a few (mainly rye bread and occasionally some oats) because I am breastfeeding.

4. Eat more veges. Quite seriously, do you get 5+ servings of vegetables each day? My main goal right now is to aim for 7 servings of different vegetables every day.

5. Don’t fear fat. I’ll go into more depth on this, but fat is my friend. If this sounds strange to you, consider this: We have more ‘fat free’ foods in supermarkets than ever before but we’re still fatter than we’ve ever been as a society. Also consider this: what makes you feel fuller faster: juice or full-fat milk?

So I’ll be sharing recipes, menus, blogs and websites that I find interesting on each topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts, how you eat, what concerns you, what works for you etc. Everyone is different and I think eating is all about finding something that works for you, makes you feel great and will ensure you live a long life. More soon!

2 Comments

Sep
14

Detox Update

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When I was in high school, I ate special K cereal almost every single morning.

Between the ages of 16 and 22 I ate a can of tuna with crackers or bread pretty much every day for lunch. When I was 23 I was informed of the high mercury content of tuna and advised to eat no more than 1 can each week. This quickly reduced my tinned tuna intake.

So I’m pretty habitual when it comes to meal times. I get excited that I get to have breakfast every single morning for the rest of my life… so it’s even better if I know what’s coming.

This detox business throws me a bit. It’s weird. No bread? No milk? No oats? No meat? No coffee? No eggs? But what will I eat? Well, my friends, I am happy to tell you that I am currently on day 15 of no coffee. I’ve had one egg. And there were 2 days there where I kinda just went a bit wild. But the cool thing is that when I say ‘wild’ I mean that I ate some gluten, some meat and maybe had a dessert. The next day I was back on track. See, the cool thing about detoxes is that they reset the standard of what’s normal. My habits and routine get an audit and I can change things up. I’m pretty confident that the majority of this detox will become life changes for me.

The week so far:

Monday: Lemon with water. Buckwheat cereal with homemade nut milk. Apple. Lentil salad with pumpkin and spinach. Carrot sticks. 2 mandarins. Black bean soup with quinoa & chia corn muffins.

Tuesday: Quinoa breakfast with berries & mint. Buckwheat berrie smoothie (x2). Black bean soup with raw salad (x2). 2x mandarins.

Wednesday: Buckwheat cereal with homemade nut milk. Fresh beetroot juice. Carrot & Lentil Dahl (x2). Raw almonds & raisins.

Things I am learning:

- Homemade nut milk is forever in my diet now
- I can live without eggs & meat
- I can’t live without chocolate
- I feel AOK without coffee
- Sugar has an extremely noticeable bad effect on my body and energy levels
- Avocado and cucumber taste great in smoothies

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