Tag Archive: Food


Starting with a plan

Last post I said I was starting over and I really meant it. To do that I had to come up with a plan, timeline, goal chart, whatever you want to call it but there had t be some sort of regimen that I needed to follow.
First part was to change the food intake. This is going to be the hardest part of the regimen as I love to cook and I love food, not that I am a glutton or anything like that but I enjoy various types of food; French, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Burmese, Latin American, and can cook them as well.
to change this I needed to incorporate more veggies into the diet and cut down the portions of meat and fish. my solution to this was a Vitamix Blender. This thing pulverizes anything that you place in it and makes getting the veggies easy as I just have a veggie smoothie. No peeling, no seeding, just cut into chunks and feed the thing add some flavourings such as honey, ginger lemon or herbs and presto it tastes pretty damn good. I do this now for 4 breakfasts and for all my lunches then have a regular dinner add two snacks during the day of some fruit and fiber and it has made me lose a couple of pounds a week. This is a much more controlled weight loss and fits right in with the timeline I set of 3 years.
The second part of the plan is to increase the mobility and ROM. I mentioned this last time and have stayed to it. Results are starting to show as my right shoulder is not hurting as much and when I raise my arm, it is actually getting almost equal to where my ear is pain free. Knees, hip flexors, hamstrings and ankles re going to take more time as I feel like a rust bucket when I do anything involving them.
The third part is going to be the challenge as I need to find a way to get in an increase in the volume of work needed to improve my work capacity. Right now it is not a big issue as working on the first two is the priority. Then with progress in those two areas I can really start looking at how to make changes in my work and personal schedule to make that happen.

Jet lag from grocery shopping

Yesterday could almost be listed as one of the best days I have had in the province of New Brunswick since I arrived here 10 years ago. All from a little store in Fredericton call Scoop and Save.

After years of searching and scouring this province for some of the food/grocery items that I sometimes need for making some of the so-called foreign dishes that I could normally make in any one of the big cities in Canada and coming up empty, I was told of this place because my wife was looking for a particular sugar for making authentic Liege Waffles.

When I moved here due to my boss coercing me (as a friend) I had no idea that trying to make simple Indian/Pakistani dishes would be so difficult. I literally had to go in the back of a store owned by an Indian and go through his closet to find some spices that I required. In Toronto I could just go next to my mothers’ house to the Indian Market to get them and no I am not Indian or any other ethnic national, it just so happens I like a variety of food and tastes.

This store had almost everything I could have thought of to make almost any dish. One aisle I was in South Africa with a lot of Dutch and Euro foods right beside them, next one over I was in the Kosher section, another aisle had gluten/wheat free products, while another had English and Mexican/South American foods. The variety of teas was surprising along with the staff who knew where everything was and did not miss a step when you asked if they had something. What a refreshing thing it was to ask a question and they either told you they did not carry it or took you to where it was in the store.

We spent almost 2.5 hours going through every inch of that store and by the time we left it felt as though I had jet lag from all the locations that I went to. Food does that, you can travel but you never see a country until you try a local dish made by a street vendor or someone who you have met invites you to a home cooked dinner at their house and that could be a one room location with a cooking element, a bed and depending what country a commode behind a curtain.

I have been lucky in that I have been able to sample some of this, but when you come back to your own country and want to make a dish from somewhere else it is like a scavenger hunt to get all the ingredients together. In New Brunswick it would be a miracle to get it locally and I had my brother and some friends send care packages to me so I get cook something with flavour.

After coming out of the store I was bushed and it felt like I went around the world from the time I walked in there to, the time I left. It was then I decided I needed another cookbook and Friday I was looking for a Vietnamese cookbook online as I wanted to make Pho. So off the bookstore to see what they had and I found an interesting book with recipes and stories from Vietnam as this person travelled from the North to the South of Vietnam and put together a wonderful book. His name is Luke Nguyen and he owns the Red Lantern restaurant in Sydney.

It will be an interesting next few weeks as I decide what will fit in to my new no wheat/gluten diet but so far not many recipes in the book have wheat or gluten in them, plus Scoop and Save has most of the ingredients I need for the recipes.

Ye s, it will be a good next few months.

Not much happening in the writing department the past week. This is the hardest part of deciding to write what is happening when you are trying to do anything. It is probably the same with someone who is writing about photography or poetry, you have only so much to say for a day and that’s it, then you need to regroup and hope that at some point you have a topic that someone wants to at least spend a few minutes with you.

I have had some minor successes with the diet so far and have lost weight for the two weeks that I have been on it. It is nice to have no real huge cravings for stuff and it has been easier to say no when people start dropping chips and other wheat items around your desk. Tomorrow’s weigh in should be interesting as after a weekend I never know what I will be on Monday as there is no set schedule for eating on a weekend.

A quick review of the week from a workout perspective and it is all good news. My shoulder seems to be holding up rather well as we start to increase the work load and when it does start to give that warning sign, I cut back until all is good again. The previous Friday and Saturday the City of Saint John held a “Lifestyles” exposition which revolved around health and wellness.

I was there to support our Crossfit Box and was recruited to do a fitness challenge against someone 20 years younger. The course was fairly simple as you don’t want people coming in to the expo and doing one challenge and not do any fitness ever again. The course was made up of an agility test (staggered tires, have not seen them since high school football), two 20″ high jumps, then under a 30″ high bar another jump, an agility ladder (too silly to explain), 10 burpees, 10 weighted ball squats, then back through the course and a tire flip (about a 1/4 or 1/3 the size we have at the gym). I did not win but the I was the only one person who did the challenge doing correct burpees and full squats (the guy only beat me by a couple tire flips) anyways it was fun and showed that if you stay in good shape you can surprise a lot of people.

The rest of the week was the usual stuff of crazy workouts and watching the food intake and on this weekend I went to the Farmers market in Fredericton to get some organic meat, ribs and veggies. What I found out was a former worker and friend of mine has a part-time BBQ smoker trailer business. I posted on Facebook where I was and he said to come over to a new Farmers Market as he is a vendor there. I must admit his ribs were pretty awesome and if you are in Fredericton New Brunswick on a weekend you should visit PorkysBBQ.

Well for someone who did not have much to say I sure used up enough space.

 

 

Pork Vindaloo

This recipe is for Stephanie D at work. She has been working really hard at losing some weight and getting in better shape (I know she means wants to “get fit” as she has a great figure) eventually I will get her to join Crossfit, I think she would love the challenge of it. Today was our weigh in day for the group at work that in a weight loss challenge. I am proud to say that I just edged Steph out for the weekly pot. The wheat/gluten-free diet was a success. I have also decided to enter work’s “Biggest Loser” 10 week challenge.

Stephanie asked me what I brought in to work the other day that smelled wonderful. I explained that it was Pork Vindaloo, a delicious recipe that has many variations depending on the person who is cooking it and the region, but the basics are the same. My friends from India provided me with one recipe and I have a slightly different version. Adjust some of the seasoning and make it your own way. That’s the beauty of cooking it yourself. Here is my take:

PORK VINDALOO

Ingredient List

1 kg Pork (deboned) cut into cubes

4 tbsp ghee or a good oil

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 onions

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp tomato paste

3 tomatoes chopped

3 tbsp wine or cider vinegar

salt and a pinch of crushed peppercorns (add more if desired)

1 tbsp of cilantro leaves

Vindaloo ingredients

The Pork and marinade/paste

The pork and marinade paste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPICE PASTE:

1 tsp cumin seeds

4 cardamom pods

4 cloves

1 inch piece of a cinnamon stick

5 black peppercorns

1 green chile, chopped (Steph this will not be hot with it in the mix)

1 inch piece of ginger root, chopped

4 garlic cloves

3 tbsp lemon juice

Spice Paste – Marinade

Spice paste – Marinade pounded in the mortar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

METHOD

Make spice paste – grind cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, and peppercorn to a fine powder if you have a clean coffee grinder that would be perfect – I use my stone mortar and just pound the crap out everything. Its good therapy 🙂 Blend all that with the green chili, ginger, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor to make a fine paste.

Mix the pork with the paste in a large bowl. Place in a ZipLock bag, take out the air, and let marinate for at least 1.5 hours in the fridge.

Heat the oil  in a very large frying pan/wok. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until they are golden, stirring occasionally. Add the turmeric, chili powder, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and vinegar and stir well.

Almost ready for the pork

Almost ready for the pork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the marinated pork and salt to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in one cup water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until pork is cooked through and the sauce is thick.

Looks like a mess – but tastes great – need to learn to take a picture better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the black pepper, then serve hot and garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves.

 

Day 2 – Wheat and Gluten Free

Saturday was day 1 and so far after two days of this challenge, I have not had any desire to kill or maim anyone except for my football team, the Buffalo Bills. They were ranked better than they have been in years and are getting smoked in the first game of the year. Oh well it is only one game there are 16 more to suffer through.

With the start of this challenge I needed to get rid of all the wheat and gluten food in the house and the food bank in our area is the winner? in that they will receive a big box of items that I am sure if they knew wheat and gluten could do to someones health they would call the police.

Now that a lot of food has left the building we needed to get started on making lunches and dinner for the week as we both have little time with the commute and workouts that we do 4 times a week. I have not had pork in while and wanted to do a different curry than the same old stuff. The winner was Pork Curry with Mango. I think I mentioned that I lived in India and travelled in SE Asia for while and during that time I tried lots of food. This is a combination of a few recipes and is a bit sour if you are not used to it. This curry will not look like a typical curry that north americans are used to seeing as it is not the usual colour. In Asia curries are similar to a north american stew.

Ingredient list – 1.5lbs/650 g of Pork Fillet/Tenderloin, 2 tbsp fish sauce(Nam Pla), 2 tsp Lime Juice, 6 shallots finely sliced, 5 tbsp of coconut oil, 1 small unripe mango peeled and Julienne, 1 tbsp Thick tamarind water salt and pepper, one 200 g can of sliced bamboo shoots.

Paste mix – 4 large garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp of shrimp paste, 2 tsp fresh ginger, 2 large red chillies seeded and finely chopped

Paste mix Pork Curry

Paste Mix for Pork Curry

Pork Curry with mango ingredients

 

What to do – FIRST – marinate pork in the mixture of fish sauce and lime juice for at least 20 minutes

The make the paste by crushing the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle until smooth.

Mortar and pestle

Pounding the paste

Heat the oil in a wok or fry pan. Then fry half the pork over a moderate heat for a few minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and repeat with the rest of the pork then remove the pork and set aside to drain on a paper towel.

There should be enough oil left over for the next step, if not add some. Heat the oil again over moderate heat then stir fry the shallots for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low add the paste from the mortar and stir 2-4 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups of hot water, stir and bring to a boil. Put in the tamarind water. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Then adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Return the pork to the wok and add the sliced bamboo shoots, stir to mix and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Serve with rice or side of salad.

Finished Pork Curry with Mango

Finished Pork Curry with Mango

Today was a beginning of a new adventure in food trials and tribulations. After reading “Wheat Belly” for the last week I decided to join my wife in the wheat free/gluten-free challenge. There are only a few changes to some of the usual foods that I know and love. For example using chick pea/garbanzo bean flour instead of wheat flour for baking and then adding some Xanthum gum to hold together some of the nut flours and it should work. My wife has a blueberry muffin idea she wants to do. If it works I will have to post the recipe.

The best part is that I am making my favourite foods, i.e. foods from India, Thailand and South East Asia. The foods from those regions use fresh foods in their cooking and look to add spices, herbs and fruits to add flavour. Once you have the basics down for a recipe you can amend and change it to what taste you like. There are no hard and fast rules in cooking for these countries so why should you follow any specific method.

The biggest reason for this change is that I have been stuck in the range of 215-220 lbs for the last 4 months. It did not help that I could not exercise for over 2 months with Achilles tendonitis and a dead arm with a wonky nerve but I only gained 10 pounds during that time which I think is a pretty good accomplishment for not being able to do anything. I am hoping that this will kick-start the weight drop. My initial goal was to get to 200 lbs but when I think about what would be good for me I feel that 180 would the number I should be at. It is reasonable to get there as I did weigh over 250lbs when I started Crossfit and then started eating better. That lead to researching new diets and understanding what fuel I put in my body for working out.

Now after close to two years of going regularly to gym I have hit a roadblock. It was disappointing at first finding out that I lost strength so quickly, but the good news is that I concentrated more on my form while I was off and it has helped with picking up some movements quicker than before. I found that I have less problems and with the added endurance training I am not a s winded during a workout.

I am also keeping a more detailed journal on what I am eating and what my key measurements are. Weight is only part of the picture, waist size, blood pressure and blood sugar are the others.

This should be an interesting few months. If all goes well I think it is reasonable to be at 180 by New Years Day.

I did not think it would last and I was right. The inexpensive food menu that my wife decided to embark on was doomed from the start. It involved prepared foods and cheap snacks and pretty much junk food. For the last year or so been trying to find ways to reduce the cost of daily living as the cost of petrol/gas has increased so has almost everything else except our wages (that is another story for another time).

I love cooking, baking and anything else that has to do with preparing food. I am not much of sugar fiend however that does not mean I don’t enjoy sweets, I just don’t eat them often. I do like making them though and for that my wife has a love/hate thing going on when I make Chocolate Mousse or an Apple Flan then eat one piece/ramekin and leave the rest.

I have cookbooks coming out the wazoo from many countries, in different languages (Thai/French/Indian/Mexican/English, etc.), different eras (middle ages/early 1800’s/modern), technical books, teaching books, magazines, diet books, if there was a book that had some great recipes I would get it. They are the only books I own while my wife has “normal” books in her library.

The reason I mention this is that, I think I said this earlier, I love to cook. My wife likes to eat my food and so do many other colleagues and friends. We have been so busy on Fridays lately baking for a new local store that we have drifted away from cooking REAL food. Now with the new wheat belly kick she is on that seems to be working for her she now is realizing that real food is the way to go. No more prepackaged food items, no more snacks, no more garbage.

I am now planning the bunch of menu’s with some curries and Thai food. This is making me a very happy camper but the selection I want to do is so large it may take a bit to narrow it down to a few recipes and I have only 24 hours to decide what to cook. I have narrowed it down to three main items: Shrimp, Pork and Chicken – now the issue is where to go to cook. Indonesia, Thailand and India have hit the list and just for refinement I will do a French recipe.

Cooking starts this weekend – I will be having a blast and will remember to take pics along the way this time.

For all my colleagues at the gym who are on the Paleo Diet Challenge here is a recipe that will get the day started off great, plus it makes a good all round meal for lunch or dinner if you add a salad.

Frittatas are essentially a quiche without the crust so they lend themselves perfectly to the diet and they can modified in a number ways by adding chicken, pork, beef, veal or any other meat, BACON!! you can think of. Don’t like meat, then add veggies. You can use just egg whites if you like and that makes the variations endless.  I figured if I added the word “bacon” it would grab their attention.

This recipe uses some little used and thought of foods and that is why I choose it.

Asparagus Tomato Frittata

Ingredient list:

8 large eggs (yes Erica N use the whole egg in this recipe)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
8 medium asparagus spears, cut in 1-inch lengths
1 cup artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (soaked in oil)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

How to put together and cook:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs, stir in two tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.

Over medium heat, sauté onions in one tablespoon olive oil using an oven-safe skillet until softened and slightly browned. Add the asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sauté another 3 minutes.

Pour in egg mixture and mix together. Cover at low to medium heat for 3 minutes.

Place pan in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove (using oven mitt!) from oven. Cool for five minutes then, using a spatula, release the frittata around the edges and under the bottom. Slice and serve.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs, stir in two tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.

Over medium heat, sauté onions in one tablespoon olive oil using an oven-safe skillet until softened and slightly browned. Add the asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sauté another 3 minutes.

Pour in egg mixture and mix together. Cover at low to medium heat for 3 minutes.

Remove cover and sprinkle Romano cheese over top. Place pan in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove (using oven mitt!) from oven. Cool for five minutes then, using a spatula, release the frittata around the edges and under the bottom. Slice and serve.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs, stir in two tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.

Over medium heat, sauté onions in one tablespoon olive oil using an oven-safe skillet until softened and slightly browned. Add the asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sauté another 3 minutes.

Pour in egg mixture and mix together. Cover at low to medium heat for 3 minutes.

Remove cover and sprinkle Romano cheese over top. Place pan in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove (using oven mitt!) from oven. Cool for five minutes then, using a spatula, release the frittata around the edges and under the bottom. Slice and serve.

From what I have just read in “Wheat Belly” it seems that I have found the culprit for many of my ills. At least that is what is being said in the book. My intake of wheat or gluten is what has caused me to gain weight, indulge in food binges, have trouble concentrating, lack of stamina, poor sleeping habits, have man boobs, etc., etc.

The information in this book scary in that studies have shown that wheat or gluten has the same effect on the brain as morphine and when eliminated has the same withdrawal effects of  some who is an addict. It is also an appetite stimulant. To study this a study was done at U of South Carolina with normal people, half given a medication that is opiate blocking and the other a placebo the ones taking the opiate blocker reduced their caloric intake by 400 calories per day. If this is case then we need to  rethink what we are harvesting and calling a “healthy” grain. The book does mention that having a sedentary lifestyle and eating fast food will not help.

What is really scary from reading it is the number of items in our regular diet that have wheat or gluten of some form included as an ingredient. Coloring for caramel flavouring used in any number of soft drinks, beer (of course), yoghurt, chips, dips, mustard, ketchup, filler in prescription drugs and vitamins, the list is enormous. Now you ask what can be done to avoid some of the most basic items we have in our fridges, cupboards and medicine cabinets? If you ask me, I would say, “I don’t know”. I guess what a person needs to do is be more conscious of what they put in their bodies and do the best you can.

It does make for some interesting reading. I would say read it and make your own assessment and if you feel ambitious eliminate wheat and gluten from your diet and see what happens. What have you got to lose, except your wheat belly.

My wife is starting to think about doing this elimination of wheat/gluten from our diet and I know at some point in the near future, probably this week, will be doing this. I have told her as I mentioned in the last post that I will start doing this once everything has been cleared out of the cupboards, freezer and fridge that has any gluten or wheat in it.

Yes, I admit it. Bread is my crack. I mean that literally as I love bread like an addict craves crack.

This month there a number of people at my gym that are embarking on a Paleo Challenge for 30 days. From September 1 -30 they will be divided in to two teams with the winners receiving a trophy and cash for a celebration night. I decided not the enter this as I had a number fo things to clear up before I was ready to take this on.

While doing some shopping at Costco for non food items(yes it can be done) I came across a book that I heard and read about, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis MD. In it, he states that we have changed wheat so much in the last 50 years that it has caused a number of health issues.

The genetically modified wheat of today bears no resemblance to the wheat of 10,000 years ago.  Back then it had 14 chromosomes and today with modifications it has over 42 and we have done all this modification without testing any of these changes to see how they will affect people or animals. This has led to dramatic increases Autism, diabetes, ADHD, and obesity.

I have been reading this book this weekend and some of the information sounds very much like the Paleo Diet but with some tweaks and modifications. There are some diary and alcohol items as long as they do not have wheat included and yes some diary does have wheat derivatives – check the ingredient labels if it says it has a starch of any type it more than likely is made from wheat.

I am going to do a bit more reading on this, but this might be worth a try once the fridge is emptied. That may take a week or two as no matter what anyone says I will not throw out good food just to go on experimental diet.

It will also give me time to perfect some recipes as I have all the ingredients to make bread substitutions, like flaxseed wraps or foccaccias.