Friday, July 31, 2009

Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else

Oh, Judy.

Wednesday was my final booty camp session and I have to say that I felt a ton of emotions in that last 60 minute class and have spent the last 24 hours trying to convey those emotions into a blog post. Here it goes:

I am really proud of myself for signing up and going to every single session, rain or shine. It took me 13 months, but I did it. I can blame scheduling for part of the delay but I think part of me was afraid.

Afraid to try something new.
Afraid to challenge myself.
Afraid that I would fail.


I have proven myself wrong entirely because I did something new, challenged myself and was able to do everything Susan threw at us. I can now do 60-75 push ups on my toes. I can hold a plank for 60 seconds + and side planks for 30 seconds +.


I am proud of the changes in my body. Over the last 8 weeks, I have lost a total of 5 inches (biggest change was the 2 inches lost from my hips) and have gone from 27.0% body fat to 21.8%. I can see muscles that I've never seen before. I feel stronger, leaner and more toned.


Booty Camp (and other classes I've been doing) has inspired me to join a gym. I know that I've said repeatedly that I'm "not a gym person", but I realize that I am a class person and I'm joining a gym so that I will have oodles of classes at my fingertips. I am excited to continue with ZUMBA (post of that to come soon!) and try things like BodyPUMP, spinning and aquafit.

After class on Wednesday, Joey reminded me that this is just the beginning and that I have accomplished a lot in just 8 weeks. He's absolutely right!! I am so happy that I took the plunge and just did it. I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of.

I have to say a big thank you to all of the other girls in class for being great motivators and total inspirations each week. I also want to say thank you to Susan, our fearless leader for kicking my butt every week, checking in with me and really pushing me to reach my full potential. I also want to say thank you to all of you!! I have appreciated your feedback and comments on my boot camp posts so much. You've really be integral in my motivation over the last two months and for that I am grateful.

If you want to share your July activity chart with my readers, please be sure to drop me an email (wwleaderashley@gmail.com) with a picture and description this weekend. I'll be sharing my highlights as well!

And if you haven't already, be sure to check out my giveaway.

Have an amazing long weekend xo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

As promised...

Book reviews!
(plus a great giveaway!)


Here are some books that I've been reading lately as a part of my summer reading list

Meals That Heal Inflammation

I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Daniluk at the Total Health Show back in April and her book, Meals that Heal Inflammation has been a wonderful resource. Julie lays out the foundation of causes for inflammation, information on allergies/sensitivities, and provides the reader with a ton of recipes that align with the information presented.

You've already seen some of these recipes sneaking into my menus: raw key lime pie, amaranth porridge, baked pears and quinoa porridge. I love her breakfast recipes - they are so yummy! I also appreciate that they generally make two servings, which is enough for me on two days or enough to share with Joey. All of the recipes are simple, with easy to follow instructions, accessible ingredients and can be enjoyed by anyone whether they have inflammation concerns or not. I'm not a huge fan of the pictures in the book, but I'm not docking any points for that! I really enjoyed meeting Julie and am excited to experiment with more of her recipes.

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-free Living

I had been wanting to read this book for awhile and was incredibly pleased when I "won" a copy in Ange's Bid for a Cause. It is a fantastic resource for vegans, lactose intolerant or those looking for more information on removing dairy from their diet. Alicia has created a comprehensive resource full of essential information and a ton of recipes which will leave the reader wondering why they ever needed dairy in the first place!

She provides great information on reasons we cut dairy out, where dairy can be hidden as well as tips on dining out, travelling and milk alternatives. So far I've made a dairy free pesto (which turned out more like a pate, but was still good) and an eggplant cannelloni (filled with faux ricotta) which was delightful. I look forward to trying more recipes and using this book as a reference in the future. If you're looking to cut dairy out (or already have!) I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book. Alisa also has a great site with lots of information, resources and recipes.

Writing Diet

I love Julia Cameron.

Most people are familiar with her book "The Artist's Way" and I know countless actor/creative friends of mine who have gotten into the ritual of writing the morning pages. In her years of helping others, she noticed a strange phenomenon among participants in her programs: they were losing weight. By unleashing their creativity and finding their inner artist, participants were shedding pounds left, right and center. The Writing Diet discusses strategies for losing weight by unleashing our inner creative being.

I feel like this book would have been more useful to me when I was still actively trying to lose weight. While I enjoyed her "tools" (morning pages, journal, walking, the 4 questions, culinary artist dates, and the body buddy) and found them to be useful, much of the other information included seemed redundant with other things I've personally read/studied.

Julia is not an expert in weight loss (nor does she claim to be). While the information was relevant, I didn't find any of it to be groundbreaking or innovative. That being said, I think there's a lot of good stuff in here for people in the beginning stages of their journey or people who find journalling to be a helpful tool. I enjoyed that the book focused on the "emotional side" of weight loss, which also providing some tips on the eating and exercise elements and I know that there are people out there who would benefit from reading it.

Bitter Is The New Black

I told you how funny "Such A Pretty Fat" was
and this book did not disappoint. It cracked me up. If you're looking for a great book to read on the subway or at the cottage, this is the book for you. (It will help clear your head from the other "serious" books you might be reading!!)

Giveaway time!
(Didn't see that one coming, did you??)

Because I want to share the book love, I'm giving away my copy of "The Writing Diet".

To win - leave me a comment telling me about your favourite book or cookbook of all time. Blogging about this giveaway will give you another entry (just leave me a comment to let me know that you've done this)

Comments must be received by Wednesday August 5th at 9:00pm EST.

I will pick one winner via random number generator. Contest open to Canadian & US Residents.

Good luck & Happy reading!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Aw, August already?

Yes my lovely readers, August is just around the corner. Every August I get that weird feeling that I need to go back to school, which is strange because I've been out of school for a few years now. I feel a strong urge to find a store and pick up some school supplies and a new Lisa Frank notebook or something.

[source]

Like I said yesterday, summer hasn't really shown up here in Toronto, but I'm remaining optimistic that August will be AMAZING! Speaking of amazing, what are you going to do this month to reach your activity goals and make this month count?

August

I've change the format a little bit so that you can write in your goals AND your results.

Speaking of results, if you completed the July activity chart and want to share your accomplishments with me and my readers, please send me an email (wwleaderashley@gmail.com) by Saturday August 1st with a picture of your activity chart and a description of what you did this month (perhaps activities you did, your minutes logged, challenges you faced, goals or accomplishments etc. You can check out last month's post for inspiration)

I can't wait to read about your results and I'll be posting mine as well!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rain, rain go away

Seriously, could someone tell me where to find summer? It appears to be missing and I'm starting to be concerned.Despite the lack of sunshine, I had a lot of fun this week! It was great to keep up with the Fruit & Veggie Challenge and fill my plate with lots of fruit/veggie goodness!!

On Sunday, Joey & I BBQ'd and it was delightful. I had a veggie burger, with asparagus and a salad with house dressing (I made it with half the oil and it was still amazing!) from the reFresh cookbook.

For dessert we chomped on a plate of watermelon, which was juicy and ripe and lovely.

On Monday I made pork chops with beans and salad after Booty Camp before heading to a Broadway dance class - what a busy night!

Luckily this was a super easy dinner to prepare and I had everything ready to go. It provided me with enough fuel to make it through the night. I really enjoyed both classes.

We also had (my favourite) kale & asparagus stir fry with rice and cucumber slices. So yummy!


This week I discovered the joys of quinoa porridge (inspired by Meals that Heal Inflammation). It was so easy to make and I loved the extras that were included (sometimes spices with almonds, cranberries and apple, another day it was banana) and it kept me full until lunch.

On Thursday I went out for dinner with Alicia and Vanessa to celebrate Alicia's 25th birthday. We went for Greek (as we often do) I had the grilled veggie souvlaki with mixed veggies, rice and a greek salad without feta (not shown)

It was a yummy meal and we really enjoyed ourselves chatting and catching up. Vanessa is heading to law school in September and Alicia is prepping to do her thesis so she can head to teacher's college next year. I am really proud of both of them!

Friday morning started off with some scrambled tofu.

I can't tell you how much I enjoy this. I think next time I will add more veggies. I think this would be awesome with mushrooms and peppers.

I decided to take a little adventure to the Annex for lunch. It started raining as soon as I got on the streetcar which really bummed me out. I got off at Bloor and headed into Trove to scope out some dresses and accessories. When I came out (empty handed) the sun was shining! I was suitably impressed with the sudden change of events! On my adventure I went to BMV and scored used copies of Fresh at Home and La Dolce Vegan for $8.99 each!! I felt so excited and lucky. I am such a big fan of reFresh and my other cookbook by Sarah Kramer so this was just awesome. I can't tell you how many of my cookbooks I have bought at BMV.

I used to visit Kensington Natural Bakery when I was going to musical theatre school years ago. They offer a variety vegetarian food options as well as a ton of gluten free and wheat free baked goods. I brought my lunch back to the office. Rice noodles with peas & cashews and mixed veggies.

It was just okay. I wasn't particularly impressed and the tofu kind of scared me. (It looked like it had pores) I did pick up a gluten free cookie which was crunchy and yummy and it made up for the lacklustre lunch.

On Friday night we went to Lori's house for a little housewarming/jazz fest goodness.

Check out all the food!!
I spent the night enjoying her homemade guacamole and salsa with corn chips and a ton of veggies. I brought some of my carob cherry cookies and once Lori had told everyone how good they were everyone started digging in!! I had a really fun night chatting with Lori and her friends over fantastic food.

On Saturday night I headed to a going away party from my friend Jessie.

She is like a little sister to me. I "adopted" her in high school and we became very close. She is one of the sweetest, kindest, most intelligent people I know and while I'm sad that she's moving (to England to teach at an arts school!!) I am excited for her to have this amazing opportunity. Plus, it leaves me with a reason to go to England!

What a busy week!!! Up next week- last two boot camp sessions (with new measurements!), more bellydancing and zumba, some book reviews and the latest challenge for fruits and veggies - try a new fruit or vegetable!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

And how's your behind?

How many of you can say you've been asked that question in the last 24 hours?

This is a fairly normal question for me to answer when I'm visiting my gastroenterologist. (Were you thinking I was talking about something else??? Naughty readers...) Today I went for a check in with my gastro and it went fairly normally.

Gastro: So how are you feeling?
Me: Great

Gastro: Are you experiencing any pain?
Me: No. I told you I was seeing a naturopath? With her guidance, I've cut out gluten and dairy and I've been feeling so much better. No pain at all.

Gastro: I see. Did you cut them out at the same time?
Me: Yes.

Gastro: Have you thought about bringing either back?
Me: No, I'm feeling good so I don't really want to change anything.

Gastro: I see. Well the dairy makes sense. Lots of people who have IBD have problems with dairy. And with the gluten, we know you don't have Celiac, but there are people who don't have Celiac who have an intolerance to gluten. It just seems really restrictive.
Me: No, not really. I enjoy cooking and have an interest in nutrition so it's all good.

Then came the questions about bowel movements and blood which I won't get into (except that everything is okay back there!!) And then came the question about my behind. I've come to realize, that when you have IBD, you have to lose your shame when it comes to your bum and other related topics. You have to talk about these things, (in detail) and you have to feel comfortable with people asking you questions as well as prodding you. (I was really glad that we didn't have to go into the examination room)

He then went through my file and decided I hadn't had bloodwork done in a few months so he gave me a form to go down the hall, gave me a refill for my Pentasa and told me that I can come back in 6 months unless there are any problems.

I don't talk about my Crohn's very often (minus how I'm feeling as a result of being gluten and dairy free) but that's because I'm feeling really good. Since my diagnosis last November, I've really been working to figure out what I need to do to promote healing in my body. There have been some bumps along the road, but I am so happy that the pain and other symptoms I was suffering from during 2007 and 2008 are gone. I am so grateful that I didn't just sit back and listen to my gastro telling me to "eat a healthy well-balanced diet, you'll figure out what works for you". Seeing my naturopath changed my perspective on my Disease and my life. While some of the changes she suggested seemed challenging at the time, the results have changed my life. The courage of bloggers I have been in contact with like Meghan and Lauren, who have been proactive and actively seeking healing, continues to inspire me to do the same. I am blessed to have such beautiful friends and family around me, whose support and love helps me to keep going.

Could things change tomorrow?
Sure. But I know that I'm doing everything I can TODAY to prevent that and take an active role in my life.

Guys, I can't say this enough - I don't care who you are or how old you are - if you're not feeling well DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! Do not sit back and have a pity party. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and take charge of your life. This is your life to live and there is no reason for you to be in pain and suffering. This is applies whether you are in physical pain like I was or emotional pain or want to lose weight or start a new career or just do that one thing that makes you happy.

We must look for ways to be an active force in our own lives. We must take charge of our own destines, design a life of substance and truly begin to live our dreams
- Les Brown
Make it happen. I believe in you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yoga, goals and other goodness

On Sunday I went to Yoga Meltdown, which was part of the Festival of India.

The event was originally supposed to take place on the island, but due to the city's (seemingly never-ending) garbage strike, it was relocated to Queen's Quay.

The events of the festival included a free Indian feast, various vendors, cooking demonstrations, plus a schedule of performances including beautiful music, dance and drama.

I attended the 2:00 yoga class, facilitated by Vani Devi of Jivamukti Yoga. It was incredible to be in a kind of unfamiliar part of Toronto, with a view of the lake surrounded by people with a passion for yoga.


The class was lovely and challenging and I really appreciated a lot of what Vani Devi was talking about. At one point she said "flexibility and strength are not goals" and went on to say that you need to look further than that and dream bigger, and that those two things are steps in achieving bigger goals. I love that! It really aligned with the goal talk I had given on Saturday. Wishy washy goals get you nowhere. Your goals need to be positive, specific, juicy and a good fit for your life.

Here are some goals that I'm currently working on:
  • I would like to move to intermediate bellydance by the end of the year. I would also like to perform in another show (either gala or hafla). I will work to accomplish this by attending my weekly classes, practicing at home and keeping notes in my bellydance journal. Getting to the next level will feel amazing!! It will be the first time I will have been in ANY sort of intermediate dance class, which will feel INCREDIBLE!!
  • I want to attend nutrition school in September 2010! I have already started to put aside money from each pay cheque to cover my tuition and in the meantime I will continue to network and absorb as much as I possibly can.
  • I want to win the Booty Camp "New You" Challenge. I have been working hard at boot camp, doing my DVD on the weekends, doing a variety of classes outside of boot camp and eating well. I will continue to work hard over the next two weeks, write a kick ass essay and submit my pictures within the deadline. (Whether I win or not, I am going to be so proud of myself for sticking with it and making some amazing changes in my physical activity routine. I look forward to continuing with this "new me" long after booty camp is over)
I was given a free pass to check out the Jivamukti Yoga studio and I plan to do so in the coming weeks. On the pamphlet I was given it describes Jivamukti Yoga as "a method where the student is constantly reminded that their True Self is none other than happiness and Love itself".

Yoga is an incredible gift. I'm so happy that this year I have practiced more regularly. I really need to do it more often because when I do I feel light, refreshed, energized and filled with passion.

Events like Yoga Meltdown make me incredibly thankful to live in such an amazing, diverse (albeit smelly) city. The summer brings so many festivals, events and parties to Toronto and I was very happy that I attended this one. I look forward to the event's third annual event next year! Hopefully it will only get bigger and better from here. Until then I will just have to enjoy things like the Canadian National Exhibition and Taste of the Danforth.

How do you feel when you do yoga? I know that a lot of you have been thinking about goals this week (as a result of my meetings and/or Amy's 15 week challenge) - what are you currently working towards?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The cause of the bitter taste in my mouth

Earlier this week I commented to Joey that I had a weird bitter taste in my mouth. It started on Friday afternoon while I was eating lunch and then I really noticed it when I was eating my stir fry at dinner. Lo and behold, Joey was experiencing the same thing! We figured it would just go away, but thought it was a strange coincidence that we were both feeling this way.

Over the weekend we began checking in with one another to see whether we were still tasting the bitterness. Mine sort of started to go away today, but came back as soon as we were eating dinner. Joey was starting to get concerned so we went ahead and googled it, fully knowing that we could be on our way to discovering that this mysterious symptom was the first sign of impending death. He googled "bitter taste in my mouth while eating" and after reading a few forums and blogs we discovered the cause:

Pine nuts.

Remember how I was raving about that eggplant cannelloni I made last week? The faux ricotta in the eggplant shells contained pine nuts. And it turns out that some pine nuts (apparently many from China) can leave those who eat them with a bitter aftertaste in their mouths. I don't know where my pine nuts came from because I just scooped them out of a bin at the bulk store.

It's been dubbed "Pine Mouth" and the symptoms of the bitter, sometimes metallic aftertaste can appear up to three days after a person has consumed the nuts in question and can last up to four weeks!! We read tonnes of stories and comments of people who had experienced the exact same thing mere days after eating pine nuts. A botanist in the UK wrote a blog about it and links to a paper written about it in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Sigh.

I like pine nuts and that eggplant dish was phenomenal so I'm a little sad right now. It's bittersweet because at least I know that I'm not crazy or dying.

Has anyone else experienced pine mouth? Anyone know any cures or have any suggestions on how to get rid of it? I really don't want things to taste this bad for a whole month!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

At the end of the rainbow you'll find...

a salad recipe?

It was so much fun to hear about everyone's experiences getting in more colour this week via my meetings this morning as well as on your blogs! I think you rose to the challenge nicely and I'm going to reward you by giving you a salad recipe I created this week.

There's probably a million versions of this salad out there, but I loved the combination of colours and flavors.

Ashley's Colourful Salad

2 cups corn (thawed if frozen)
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 peppers, chopped (I used red & orange)
1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
juice of 1 lime

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until everything is evenly distributed. Makes roughly six servings at 2 Points each.

We enjoyed it with some raw tacos in dehydrated shells.

I screwed up the raw tacos and accidentally used double cumin instead of cumin & coriander. Oops. Joey was not a fan, but I still enjoyed them the next day for lunch.

The taco shells were my second experiment in the dehydrator. I enjoyed them, but I'm not sure that I would make them again. I found them to be a little tedious (especially since you make them in one large sheet and have to cut the circles out individually) and I don't mind enjoying my raw tacos in jumbo lettuce leaves or rice paper wraps.

Some of my other colourful meals this week included a yummy fruit salad with banana, kiwi and cherries

A veggie burger with cauliflower, broccoli, blueberries & cherries

Eggplant Cannelloni with "ricotta" and tomato sauce (from Go Dairy Free - review coming soon!)

This was so delicious, I can't even begin to describe it. I also made baked pears for dessert (from Meals that Heal Inflammation)

This week I also made a trip to the Farmers Market and picked up some yellow beans, asparagus, cauliflower, romaine, cherries, and strawberries plus some apple butter and cinnamon honey (the new love of my life!)


And lastly (but unrelated to colour, except for the brightness of my belt) I saw the new Harry Potter movie on Tuesday night.

I LOVED it. I thought they really captured the essence of the franchise and I think the kids are really great little actors. I also loved Jim Broadbent (aka Harold Zidler) as Slughorn. I'm really looking forward to the next one!!

This week's challenge for 4 Weeks to 5 Servings is to fill half your plate with veggies and fruits.

Just like we talked about in the meeting today, it's a great strategy for everyday eating, but especially when you are travelling or on vacation! It helps to get your portions in check and make better choices overall. I can't wait to see how it goes!

I also just wanted to tell you guys how much I enjoyed reading your responses and hearing your feedback regarding my last post. It was interesting to hear what you wish you would have learned earlier. I'm also glad that I could share that part of my journey with you! I know that many of you only met me once I got to goal or had started to change my eating, but please know that it was (and still can be) tough for me to transition and make these changes in my life. Thank you for being such lovely readers!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Never Say Never

I deleted my Myspace this week. I'm actually surprised that I've held on to it for so long! It's been months since I had logged on so I thought I might as well just delete it. Before I did away with the whole thing I read through my "blog" entries that I had written and had to laugh out loud. Here's my favourite (with my comments written in purple) from September 2006:

In this moment I'm pretty happy. Everything is going relatively well and I'm happy that it's fall and I love fall clothes, shoes, wearing good jackets and lululemon hoodies.(Still love my lulu hoodies...)

(Berlin - June 2006)

I've started a new show (On a Clear Day) and despite the crazy rehearsal schedule, I'm loving the show and my part in the show and everything to do with that.

If you're close with me you'll know that I've been a little weight-obsessed lately. It started just before I went away to Europe when I wasn't feeling the greatest about myself and considering that Europe was all about indulgence, I felt even worse when I returned.

I did a "detox" (I followed Dr. Joshi's Holistic Diet) with Mel when I came back which made me feel good for awhile but I wanted more results than that and I knew that I couldn't go on not eating wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, fruit, meat etc. forever. People do it, and they're very brave, but that just wouldn't suit my life or make me happy. (ahahahahahahahahahahahaha, boy how things have changed!)

I started weight watchers 5 weeks ago and so far Ive lost 4.4 lbs or something like that. I feel like 4.4 lbs is a great achievement and I'm really proud of myself. It's been tough at times and giving up my favourite indulgences has not been easy. But I totally want to do it to make a lifestyle change and feel better about myself on the outside and feel better on the inside. (yay for positive thoughts creeping in!)

Last night I had a bit of a meltdown after Weight Watchers. (I think I've told this story in my meetings) It was prompted by a lot of things (the fact that Ive been hungry for two days, my period is coming, I was up 0.8 lbs on the scale etc.) I had a good cry on Charles Street with Mel and just vented. There have been so many positive things about weight watchers but last night it was all about the negative ones - that all I wanted was cookies, that I was hungry, that I was constantly worrying about my weight and my eating, that I haven't been going to the gym very much, that I should be going to the gym more, that I don't have time to do anything, and most of all that I obsess over this whole thing a lot more than I ever did.

Today is a new day.

I'm really proud of my 4.4 lbs that I've lost and I really want to continue on that track. I think that as always, I've set very high expectations for myself and I want instant results - don't we all?? I want this and I want it right now. This very second. Not tomorrow, but today. But really I'm realizing that weight loss isn't going to be instant and it's definitely going to be a bumpy road. So for now I will celebrate my achievement thus far with some umm fat-free yogurt?

PS -- Thanks to Melly for the hugs and the pep talk and the encouragement, thanks to Ali for putting up with me not want to go out (love my girlfriends) and to Joey for his positive, encouraging and empowering talk the other night.

(awwww, we had only been dating for over a month and he was already so incredibly supportive of me <3)
Wow!

Have you ever gone back and re-read your diary from junior high or high school? That's how this feels for me. It's so strange for me to read, but it really shows how far I've come in the last three years.

Lessons Learned

  • Attitude is everything. Even amongst the negative comments in my writing, I was still able to keep a positive attitude. I stuck with WW even though I had gained two weeks in a row (gasp!) and was able to focus on what was working and the fact that I had still lost weight over all.
  • The term "detox" is overused and can be misused. I haven't re-read Dr Joshi's book, but what I did during that "detox" for 3 weeks was basically eat whole, real, unprocessed foods - what a concept!! At the time I thought it was intense, because my eating was HORRIBLE but in reality, I wasn't ready to change my eating so drastically. My beginnings in WW really helped me to focus on the foods I was eating and my portions which was a better fit for me at the time, which were baby steps to help me get where I am today.
  • You need to be ready to change. I've said it once and I'm sure I'll say it again (and reading this passage really proves to me how right I am): If you had told that Ashley that she would be eating gluten, dairy, casein & refined sugar free all the time, she would have laughed in your face. Many things have changed since then (achieved weight loss goal, WW Leader, Crohn's) and I've learned a lot. I am so happy eating the way that I do now, but I know that I needed to get to where I am now in order to feel that way. The changes I was making in 2006 were baby steps to help me get to where I am now.
  • Never say never. As we go through life, we change and grow as people - this is part of what makes each of us unique. While I'm still the same old Ashley (who loves life, dresses and the colour pink), I've changed a lot over the years and (for the most part I think) in ways that have been incredibly positive. In 2006 I never could have pictured myself where I am today - eating the way I do, being interested in the things I love, surrounded by the people I am so blessed to know.
I already look back at some of my older blog entries and see how far I've come. I can't judge myself for doing those things/eating that way/making the choices that I did - because I just wasn't ready/didn't want to change, nor did I possess the knowledge to do so which is perfectly okay!

You need to do what's best for you where you're at right now.

What's important is that you're doing what works for you to the best of your ability and learning from your previous experiences. That's it! Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself and really see just how far you've come. Heck, there was another blog with my recipe for jello shooters!!! (I refrained from posting that one because I felt there was less to learn from that one...) It was neat to look back and really helped me to see how much I've learned, and how much I've changed in three years.

What can you learn from a "past you"? Is there anything in life that you wish you would have figured out sooner?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ron Popeil taught me well

When I was a kid, I loved watching infomercials. My parents thought I was nutty, but I really enjoyed watching Ron Popeil promote various kitchen gadgets (or spray on hair) to the masses. My absolute favourite was the food dehydrator. I realistically knew that my family was never going to buy one, but I was intrigued by the "fruit roll ups" and jerky nonetheless. So you can imagine my excitement when I got this...

My very own dehydrator!
(Eric making good use of the box)
I opted for an Excalibur dehydrator (purchased from the lovely folks at Upaya Naturals) in the "apartment sized" 4 tray model. I had a credit (from my doomed Sun Warrior purchase) and I thought it would be a cool gadget to have. I've been experimenting more and more with Raw Food and I decided the dehydrator would open up my options!

My first experiment was Raw carob-cherry cookies from The Complete Book of Raw Food (you'll remember that this is the book Joey got me for my birthday)

They were delicious!! I was happy to find a new use for carob. Dried cherries are delightful and the centers are made from fresh cherries and honey. I also love that they have ZUCCHINI in them!! They were really easy to make and incredibly delicious. Joey really enjoyed them too.

As you can imagine, dehydrating takes time. Things don't "cook" very quickly at 105 degrees, so you need to plan ahead. That's fine by me!! I know that I'm going to learn more about the nuances of my dehydrator as I use it more, but overall I'm really happy that I got it. Next project: Corn taco shells.

Since we're talking colour this week, I thought I would share yesterday's colourful eats with you.

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu with spinach, 1/2 an avocado & orange juice
I've never "scrambled" tofu before, but this was delicious!! It's basically tofu with onion, garlic, a bit of oil, curry powder and salt. You break up the tofu into chunks, sautee for a little bit and voila! I usually go for sweet breakfasts rather than savory, so this was a nice change. It didn't take much time to make and it kept me full for HOURS!! I will definitely be making this a staple in my breakfast rotation.

Lunch: Cauliflower, broccoli, & veggie burger with cherries & blueberries

Dinner: Wild Rice soup with sweet potato croutons, cauliflower, cucumber slices and walnut crackers (recipe from Meghan's class)

The soup wasn't what we expected, but it was a good meal nonetheless. Joey and I decided that the cauliflower was probably some of the best we've ever tasted!! Yay for the Farmers Market - I can't wait to go again this week!

How are you doing with colour this week? Any good dehydrator recipes/books to share?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Look to the rainbow

Over the next couple weeks, we're going to be talking A LOT about the amazing benefits of fruits and vegetables in the meeting room and working towards getting in a minimum of 5 servings a day - are you up for the challenge??

Fruits and veggies are like mini superheroes packed with goodness! The antioxidants (like vitamin E, C & beta carotene) contained in fruits and veggies help your body to stave off various diseases and fight the free radicals. You can read more about the benefits of fruits & veggies here or in Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health or 10 Steps to Healthy Eating. If you need a little more inspiration be sure to check out this post and if you are a visual person and want to track your progress in this challenge, be sure to check out Heather's chart.

This week we are focusing on COLOUR so I thought I would show you how I incorporated colour in my meals the last 2 weeks:

My yummy steamed greens from Fresh before the Fresh screening.

My favourite salad that you see all the time! This time with corn, salsa, avocado, cucumbers and marinated tofu. (I ate this like three times last week)

Red-lentil cauliflower curry (from Veganomican) with some kale chips and tortilla chips. This curry is AWESOME!! It has so much flavor and the ingredients are simple. Absolutely delicious and incredibly filling (and yellow!)

My beautiful produce from the farmers market on Thursday morning

I was bouncing around my office all day. I was so excited about everything I bought and couldn't wait to go home and make brown rice pasta with basil pesto, asparagus & baby zucchinis (in green and yellow)

Lemon lentil soup (with broccoli, kale, parsley, lemons, carrots and celery)

Leftover pasta with green beans, squash and tempeh.

A yummy snack of mango, banana & kiwi

Banana soft serve with agave mixed with cocoa powder. (Please tell me you've tried this because it's amazing!)

And a slice of my first homemade raw dessert - raw key lime pie!

Such a great recipe from Meals that Heal Inflammation (review coming this month!) It was really easy to make and absolutely delish!

What is your favourite way to add COLOUR to your meals and snacks?