Meat at Christmas

I know that since it’s January 1 you are probably expecting some reflective post, but I figured there were enough of those and I would do something different.124

Just before Christmas I visited the St. Lawrence Market with my boyfriend and family. If you live in or around Toronto and have not gone to the St. Lawrence Market you are missing one of the absolute best things this city has to offer. Go early on a Saturday and you in for a treat. The main market is open as usual and across the street is a farmers market.

Things that you must do are:

  1. Go to the carousel bakery and order a peameal bacon sandwich (not any other type, just get the bun with peameal bacon on it). If you can’t handle gluten, like me, just eat the bacon inside. I don’t know what they do but its the best peameal I have ever had and I was devastated that I could no longer have the bun.
  2. Go downstairs and get some coffee in whatever flavour you can imagine and watch them roast it . It’s a great process and the shop smells amazing because of it.
  3. Go to the farmers market and find the chocolate guy, pictured below. Have a chat with him about how awesome everything he makes is… then realize he is even more awesome because he has a whole section of stuff that is gluten-free. Try the brownies, you will not be disappointed.

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The farmer’s market is great and here is where health and new years-y stuff comes into play. I believe in fresh locally grown food. No, I don’t always find time to get local meat and produce but when I do I always wind up thinking I should do it more often.

I have talked before about grass-fed beef and how eating meat that was raised the way it was intended to live is important here. While I was at the Market I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Rowe, owner of Rowe farms. He grows all his meat organically and the meat from his personal farm is finished only with grass. We spoke about how important it is to feed your body well and he pointed out a few things that I hadn’t thought about such as:

  • People are all excited about omega 3 eggs, where you feed the chickens flax-seed but no one thinks about the chicken meat. Why aren’t there omega 3 chickens? I know that a lot of people avoid the fatty parts of the chicken anyways, but what if the chicken had good fats like fish? Mr. Rowe explained that by feeding the chickens flax-seed, the fat became healthier and similar to what happens in grass-fed beef, the Omega 3 content is greatly improved. He has begun selling these types of chicken so if you are interested, check out one of his stores, or the St. Lawrence Market.
  • Cows that are raised using the conventional farming methods require a lot less work, but a lot more input. According to Mr. Rowe it requires approximately 20 calories of input to creat 1 calorie of beef (remember that calories are a measure of energy) using today’s methods. Using the olde timey method it takes only 1/2 a calorie to produce 1 calorie of beef. I don’t know how he obtained these numbers and am merely quoting them, but I have heard similar things before, which makes me feel better about repeating it. What it does require is way more work on human’s part. He also pointed out that right now in the world there is a limited amount of food, and not enough jobs… so why don’t we create more jobs and limit to quantity of food required to make other food?
  • when you take care of the animals, the animals take care of the earth. When you feed cows corn and things they can’t digest, they produce CO2 gas. But when cows have to graze on grass they actually improve the cycle and help to sequester the carbon instead of producing more… awesome.

So there you have it, more reasons to eat grass-fed or naturally raised meats!

Also, look at these beautiful veggies!

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Planning, banana bread and circuits

Wow I’ve been busy. Not quite accounting busy season busy just yet; but definitely, “I have very little time” kind of busy. Yesterday I got home at 8:30 ish after leaving work at 7:45 which is a long day on it’s own, but I had also gone to the gym that morning. I’m so glad I did, because there is no chance I would have gone at 8:30 at night!

I didn’t think I would be working that late so I made a classic error for those of us trying to live a healthy lifestyle… I didn’t pack enough food! I nearly fell prey to my hunger and bought a Kind bar (which are somewhat healthy but LOADED with sugar). But last second I put the bar down and decided that I had already been hungry for 3 hours, I could wait one more and stick to something good for me.

I have talked about the awesomeness that is bacon before… specifically peameal bacon in a healthy diet. Peameal bacon has saved my bacon this week (I’m so funny). Seriously, I have eaten in for Monday breakfast, this mornings breakfast AND last nights dinner. Why? 1) It’s one of the tastiest things ever and is one of few cuts of pork that cooks up super tender and juicy. 2) It cooks FAST. Like I’m starving and need something in my belly in less than 10 minutes kind of fast. Faster if your peameal isn’t cut super thick by your awesome butcher Marlon Pather of Marlon’s Meat…. but more on him later.

Wednesday’s breakfast

Tuesday’s Dinner

Monday’s Breakfast

I  have been eating peameal with a side of greens because I can pull it together in about 10 minutes. That’s key in the morning or when you have been ready to chew your arm off for over an hour already and the dark chocolate and granola you just bought are calling to you, telling you that they don’t even take 10 minutes… they are instant! Sidenote: I may have lost my mind and think that inanimate objects are communicating to me.

Seriously though, get some peameal bacon. You can’t beat a super quick cooking protein. It takes about the same time as eggs but packs more protein and less fat gram for gram.

Anyhoooooo, I have been a bad blogger and promised you guys some things and didn’t get around to it due to the aforementioned business (the 21DSD banana bread and my morning workout from yesterday via twitter).

Paleo/21DSD Banana Bread (based on this recipe from Civilized Caveman)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 bananas (unripe if you are doing the 21DSD like me)
  • 2 eggs plus ½ c. egg whites OR 4 eggs (I only had 2 eggs left)
  • ½ c. almond or other natural nut butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ c. coconut flour
  • ¼ c. almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine your bananas, eggs, egg whites, and nut butter, and butter in a food processor or blender or whatever you have that blends/chops things up real nice and transfer this to a bowl to mix the rest of the ingredients in
  3. Add in your coconut flour, almond meal, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt to the blended ingredients and mix well
  4. Grease a 9×5  loaf pan with a fat of your choice (I used butter)
  5. Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout (it will be pretty thick)
  6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (using a metal loaf pan with make the bread cook faster, a glass one will cook slower and your oven is definitely not the exact same as mine, so just use a toothpick to gauge)
  7. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
  8. Slice and serve with some salted butter or nut butters on top to add to the deliciousness

I had a pretty large portion of this for breakfast before my workout that I am about to share and was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get an cramps or other food related problems while running. Normally if I eat something too dense right before a workout I get a cramp during my run or I feel sick if I workout really hard… but that didn’t happen and it was definitely a hard workout.

Upper Body Circuit plus a some Tabata Sprints

Warm up: walk/jog for 5 mins on treadmill

Upper body circuit: Repeat 3 times with as little rest as possible (mostly just because I didn’t have much time). You will need access to a bench, plus a heavy, medium and light set of dumbbells… for me that means 30 lbs, 15 lbs, 10 lbs, for my friend that was 20 lbs, 12.5 lbs and 7.5 lbs. Choose what is right for you.

  • Lawnmowers (AKA one arm dumbbell rows) – heavy weight, 10 reps each arm
  • Pushups – no weight, 15 reps
  • Bicep curl to Arnold press (start with palms facing forward, curl, at the top of the curl rotate your arm so the palm is forward again, lift your arms straight overhead into a press and then reverse the whole motion) – medium weight, 10 reps
  • V sit-ups on the bench – no weight, 15 reps
  • Seated Rear Delt Flyes – medium OR light weight, 12 reps (I do these with 15 pounds, but the motion itself can be difficult and neuromuscularly hard to learn, you have to target you mid back and not use you trapezius to get through the movement, so if you are new to this exercise, use the light weight)
  • Pec flyes on bench – medium weight, 12 reps
  • Tricep bench dips – no weight, 15 reps
  • Side leg lifts off the bench (AKA side V sit-ups) – no weight, 12 reps each side

*** If you aren’t sure about any of these exercises, head over to Bodybuilding.com and look them up 🙂

HIITs: 2 sets of tabatas

  • Walk 1 minute at 2.5% incline; step off treadmill and increase speed to a sprint (for me it’s 9.0 mph)
  • Perform a sprint set of Tabata: 20 secs running, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Slow the treadmill down and walk for 1 minute: Step off the treadmill and increase incline to 12.5% and speed to a hard jog (for me this is 6 mph)
  • Perform a hill run set of Tabata: 20 secs running at a steep incline, 10 secs off the treadmill repeated 8 times
  • Cool down by walking for 2 minutes or until you can actually breath again 🙂

I loved this workout and I finished it off with a protein shake and an apple… no DOMS for me! Yay for modifications to the 21DSD.

Oh and just for randomness sake… crispy bacon is an awesome replacement for tortilla chips when trying to stuff your face with too good to be true guacamole.

Day 3 – 21 Day Sugar Detox

Day 3 of a detox is always the worst for me. My body hasn’t quite figured out what I’m doing yet and it’s pretty much out of steam from how I was eating before. My energy levels were all kinds of wacky today. I’d go from being super energized to completely lethargic within 30 minutes. I also over-ate AGAIN today. My body is really craving the quick energy of carbs, especially because I’m tired. So when I have a craving I eat something else. Unfortunately that something else tends to be nuts, nut butters or cheeses. I really need to start choosing veggies instead at least some of the time.

Part of the reason I hadn’t been choosing veggies is because I had very few of them in the house… but I went grocery shopping tonight and now have loads of veggies… seriously loads. I didn’t buy a single meat product, but my grocery bill came to the exact same as it does when I buy meat… and I normally buy a lot of meat. I think this had to do with a few new items I purchased 🙂

Items like these awesome nut butters. Ignore the cashew butter which I bought and then realized cashews are off limits… it will be for after the detox.

Also these pecans, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.

The day’s food went like this:

Breakfast – Banana, kale and coconut milk smoothie with 3 strips of bacon plus coffee and coconut milk

Lunch – Leftover Stew from Day 1

Snacks – 2 eggs, small chicken breast and 1 yellow bell pepper

Craving killers – walnuts, pecans and a couple chunks of cheese

Dinner – leftover pork, beets, and sautéed asparagus with bacon bits

Hopefully my body will sort itself out by tomorrow. For now I’m watching Brave and I’ll be going to sleep early.

BACON (and other food stuff)

 Have I mentioned that I love bacon? I don’t actually think I have… well I LOVE BACON! But not the crappy uber-salty processed crap from the grocery store, oh no. I’m talking pasture-raised danish style bacon with no nitrates of any kind and way less salt.I also have a deep and abiding affection for peameal/back/canadian bacon, but that was allowed on my contest diet because it’s an extremely lean source of protein… go canadian bacon! In case you didn’t know, canadian/back/peameal bacon is just the tenderloin cut of pork sliced thin to fry up. Things that are awesome about pork tenderloin:

  • Pork tenderloin is almost as lean as a chicken breast with 3 oz of chicken having 3 g of fat and the same pork servings having 4 g of fat!
  • Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of iron, phosphorous,  vitamin B12 and Niacin 
  • a 3 oz. serving contains HALF of your RDA of Thiamin – Without this key mineral, metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat would be significantly compromised. Animal protein is one of the best sources of this nutrient, and among the choices, pork is tops (source: http://www.realcanadianbacon.com/pork-tenderloin/low-fat-meat.htm)
  • It’s a great bioavailable source of protein with most people tolerating and digesting it well (things like lamb, rabbit, and game meats are sometimes hard to digest)

Most intense cheat meal EVER!

So if you are looking to liven up you breakfast and you are on a diet that doesn’t allow a lot of fat, go pick up some good quality back bacon. Also, if you live in Toronto and you can digest gluten, or are willing to brave a stomach ache, go to the St. Lawrence Market, find the Carousel Bakery on the upper floor and order their peameal bacon on a bun… just the plain one, do not get fancy, do not put anything on it. It is heavenly. Their peameal is cut thick and fried to perfection, then piled high (like 5 pieces) on a fresh-baked kaiser that is in and of itself, quite delectable (and I’m not a bread person). If you were previously unaware of this awesomeness… you’re welcome, if you’ve already experienced it, then you know what I’m talking about!

But back to the fatty stuff. Since I am not on a competition diet anymore, I can have danish style bacon again. This is the streaky stuff but is cut a little wider and generally has a better fat to meat ratio. I have been cooking with it. Specifically I have been cooking VEGETABLES with it… say what?! That sh*t cray! I know but seriously, it’s awesome. Also, I have not gone crazy and made the most intense cheat meal of all time (pictured left) but if you want to clog you’re arteries a bit, that is a bacon cheeseburger on a fried krispy kreme donut.

Zucchini, bok choy and bacon… mmmmm

 I have cooked asparagus, zucchini and bok choy now in a little bacon grease and then added back the cooked bacon bits. I have come to the conclusion that bacon makes everything better… everything!I feel like most people have already discovered this, but I was pretty happy with my forays into vegetable bacon bliss. I also just ate some for breakfast on occasion, but that’s relatively boring (delicious, but boring). My next venture will be brussel sprouts and bacon and baking this up in the oven instead of sauteing, because I actually don’t really like brussel sprouts; I find them too bitter, but they are really really good for you so I am going to try to make them delicious by adding bacon as a secret weapon, and maybe some pine nuts, because they are also awesome.

Bacon wrapped chicken with roasted veg

Other bacon awesomeness that happened this past week was cheddar-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, chicken breast. Literally 3 ingredients and it was knock-your-socks off delicious. I accompanied that dish with my mom’s recipe for roasted veggies and potatoes, but it didn’t turn out quite as nice as hers, I’ll have to do some experimenting to get it right before I post the instructions.

Oh and here is an update photo that I said I would post. I have filled out A LOT. my abs have softened and my legs don’t have the same definition as before… BUT look at the muscle! Seriously, I have gained like 8 pounds this week (not an exaggeration) but I think 7 of those went straight to my muscles because my arms and legs got HUGE post contest. Kind of awesome… kind of scary. I am cleaning up my diet and might be doing something more structure like the 21 Day Sugar Detox to try to clean out my system and get rid of sugar cravings that I have shamefully reacquired. It takes about 3 days for me to get back into eating sugar and wanting a sweet fix everyday, but takes at least 2 weeks to kick it… can you say unfair? But that’s life.

Some post-contest muscle for you

Nothing to it but to do it!

Confessions of a (former?) binge eater

Confession time people: I have been bingeing 😦 this is soooo bad. Like not as bad as I used to do, and not completely mindless shoving food in my face kind of thing, but definitely not “mindful eating”. In case you don’t know what that is, mindful eating is where you think about what you are eating, you savour your food and appreciate each bite. By doing this you are aware of how much you are eating, when you get full and whether you actually enjoyed your food. It’s both satisfying and effective to control portions.

In the last few days I have gone from portioning out my food super carefully, weighing and measuring everything, to plopping on the couch and eating ice cream straight from the tub. No I didn’t finish the tub in a sitting or anything crazy, but I don’t actually know how much I ate, nor was I doing my usual slow savouring of the ice cream. I also inhaled far too much Smartfood popcorn while watching a movie or 2 straight from the bag… noticing a theme?

Vice #1

When you don’t put things in a bowl or on a plate, you don’t give yourself a portion. You don’t give yourself that automatic stopping point where you have to think… do I really want more? Instead, you just mindlessly stick your hand back in the bag and shove your cheddar covered fingerfulls of glorious popcorn in your face. (I have a problem… I know).

I have been using the fact that I did the competition as an excuse to randomly add calorie laden things to food. I am putting cheese on things that don’t need cheese, sugar instead of sweetener and cream instead of milk in my coffee, I got whipped cream on my Starbucks, and I put an extra dollop of honey on my yogurt bowl in the morning. These things don’t add significant joy to my taste buds, they’re just me being crazy because I’m finally not restricted… this is not a healthy way to look at things! I wouldn’t have done those things before the contest prep, so why would I do them now?

Bad Rose! Very bad Rose! On the bright side… I am acknowledging it, and I’m stopping it. Instantly. Not tomorrow, not after the weekend… NOW! Because that is what you have to do. You cannot let yourself fall into the trap of “I’ll diet tomorrow” because then you (or at least I) will want to shove your pie-hole full of every calorie dense food you can get your hands on while you are still “allowed”.

After I had this realization last night I made a plan, because that’s what I do, I plan, and list and write things down, and then I don’t follow it, but it makes me feel better. ok?

This November is packed full of events on the weekends and a lot of people want to do dinner now that I’m out of hiding so to speak, so my general plan is:

  1. Get back to eating good high protein, low-ish carb meals and healthy fats 4-6 times per day
  2. Go to the gym 3-4 times per week focusing on heavy lifting and moderate amounts of cardio
  3. Limit alcohol to 2 times per week (preferably 1 time, but there is the wine and food show and my boyfriends birthday, so I’m being realistic)
  4. Choose healthy options at restaurants and don’t order dessert “just because”
  5. Don’t have treats at home, if I am going out to dinner or drinks with someone, that is fine, but no eating treats all by myself!

That’s it, nothing crazy, I’m not going back on a “diet” I’m just trying to remind myself to be good to my body. Make healthy choices and live my life in a healthy way.

Changing gears here: last night I made Red Snapper with Bacon tossed baby bok choy and zucchini. It was heavenly… bacon makes everything better. I cooked up some bacon first, drained off a little fat and put a little in another fry pan. I then cooked the snapper in the small amount of bacon grease, and sauteed the zucchini and bok choy in the pan the bacon was in. When the veggies were done, I added back the bacon all chopped up and tossed it all together. It was spectacularly flavourful.