Monthly Archives: February 2010

Oatmeal and Beauty for Dummies

Woowoo!! Tomorrow is Fridaaaay!!! I contemplated going home this weekend, but the weather is going to be nasty and I don’t want to take the bus. So next weekend it is. I have personal training material to study anyways!

Also loved reading your comments on my Single Lady post. Such a wide variety of people who are with their high school sweethearts, single and ready to settle down, married for decades, engaged, or in a brand new relationship. I definitely forgot to mention that a person’s happiness in or out of a relationship depends on the people in their lives. Duh. It takes two to tango!

So I fiiiinally get to answer another Q&A today. I’ve been waiting until I made oatmeal!

Susan –
I actually do have a question for you … do you think that at some point you could do an oatmeal for dummies post?  I see your oatmeal combinations and think they all look just stellar, but I don’t know the first thing about buying oats or cooking them.  I’m also really intrigued by these custard oats that you keep making, but since I don’t know about making regular oatmeal, I really don’t know when I’d mix the egg in!
Thanks – hope you’re doing well!
Amy

Thanks for the wonderful idea Amy!! Oatmeal does not actually have to be all that intimidating. First off, oats are just another grain, much like wheat, barley or buckwheat. Oatmeal is just the oat grain ground up for easier cooking and consumption.

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The different kind of oatmeals you see on the shelves are all just different kinds of cuts. Steel cut for example is the least processed of the bunch. They’re the whole grain “groat” just cut up into a few pieces. Rolled oats are the groats rolled out into a “flake.” Instant oatmeal is the same kind, just smaller and thinner so it cooks quickly. Oat bran is the outer layer of the grain, known mostly for its fibre content. The nutrition info varies slightly with cut, but overall is generally the same. Especially when you compare the volume after cooking.

Since today was a well-deserved rest day from the gym, I had time to make stove-top oats before work. I obviously opted for my new favourite combination – custard oats.

First, I put a small pot on the stove and set the burner on slightly below high.

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Yes, my oven is old. It’s got character ;)

I added 1/2 cup rolled oats to the pot. 

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Then dumped in 1 1/2 cups water.

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Once the water is in, I add one whole egg.

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And whisk!

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I keep an eye on it, whisking frequently, as within a couple minutes it starts to show signs of bubbling. 

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Then I immediately turn the heat down to medium/low.

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Keep whisking!!!

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You don’t want little clumps of egg whites popping up, so keep stirring, and keep the heat low so it doesn’t cook too quickly. The slow simmer is also necessary for optimal creaminess ;)

This is usually when I make my coffee or pack my lunch, or this morning I emptied my garbages :)   (Garbages is apparently not a word??)

After about 15 minutes, my oatmeal is looking good, but is missing a key ingredient – cinnamon!

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And depending on my toppings, I’ll add a little sweetener to the mix. Sometimes it’s brown sugar, maple syrup or molasses. Today’s was stevia.

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You may have noticed I also traded my whisk in for a spatula. Or rubber scraper. What the heck are these things called?

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It keeps it from sticking to the sides. Once the oatmeal starts to thicken, I start stirring with this puppy.

And just when it seems like it can’t get any thicker, I take the oatmeal off the heat and stir in a couple pours of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze.

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Oatmeal will continue to absorb liquids even after you remove it from the heat. I find stirring a little extra liquid in after cooking ups the creaminess ;)

Then pour the mixture into a bowl and top with whatever you’re in the mood for!

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Today I was in the mood for sliced banana, peanut butter and even more cinnamon (cause you can never have enough cinnamon).

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If you can cook rice, you can cook oatmeal. You don’t have to do the slow-simmer method like I do. On the mornings I’m a little more rushed, I opt for oat bran which is a finer cut. Takes about 5 minutes for it to cook up on the stove!

In other news, I joined the world of the professionally groomed today.

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New hair straightener!!! A Chi kind. I think it’s one inch? And the plates wobble. And it gets HOT. Everywhere I went told me it was a good one.

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That’s my polka-dot ironing board by the way. I don’t have a working outlet in my bathroom, so I have to groom in the hallway.

I washed then blow-dried my hair. Here’s what the rats nest looks like brushed after blow-drying.

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I think you may now see the problem here :P

I sprayed in some TRESemme no frizz mist before straightening. Not exactly the proper protector, but will do for now.

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After straightening, I put in my essential product – serum. In this case, John Frieda Frizz-Ease.

IMG_4288 The “after”:

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Hmmm…it was alright. My hair was still a little damp in places, and I didn’t have time to pin it up while ironing. So I didn’t quite get all the kinks out. Plus, my straight bangs were pissing me off, so further styling was required…

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I tried to get a shot of the back for you guys…

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And tried again…

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Success!!

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Definitely think I need to work on my technique. But hey, baby steps! My co-worker almost died the other day when I told her I only recently bought my first bottle of nail polish. Make-up is the only girly thing I ever got into, and that was because thick black eye-liner was a must as a teenage punk rocker :P

I didn’t think about supper at all while at work today (rare!) and didn’t feel like cooking when I came home. Thus, I had the classy meal of a peanut butter sandwich.

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PB+Protein to be exact, with one side of the bread spread with my protein powder/water goo. A gorgeous red delicious on the side, because apples and peanut butter sandwiches are made to be together.

 

Well that’s all folks! A pantry tour is coming soon, as well as my usual monthly wrap-up. Looking forward to writing posts over the next few days! Hope you all have a fabulous Friday and start to your weekend!! xoxo

 

Questions of the Day:

1. What’s your favourite cut of oatmeal? I’ll always be an old-fashioned rolled oats gal. I love the chewy creaminess of it :)

2. Beauty product you can’t live without? Mine’s concealer, mascara and that hair serum. I’ve even admitted to leaving my mascara on at night so it’s still on when I go to the gym in the morning!! :P

Single Ladies

I’m watching hockey again. Who am I?? :P It’s actually really exciting. Canada is dominating Russia. Pent up anger over the loss to the US I suppose…

Chugging right along.. I ran 10k today! According to my blog archives, I haven’t done this since December 27. I have a sneaking suspicion I snuck one in January somewhere, but regardless, it’s been a while! Longest distance I’ve done on the treadmill all winter, so it’s nice to know I could maintain it :) Here’s the speed breakdown:

Minutes Speed – MPH
0-5 3.5
5-10 5.6
10-15 5.8
15-20 6.0
20-25 5.8
25-30 6.0
30-35 6.2
35-40 6.0
40-45 6.2
45-50 6.4
55-60 6.2
60-65 6.4
65-70 6.6

I love this speed pattern because 1) it takes me almost exactly 60 minutes to do a 10k, and 2) the first half is “easy” and the second half is really challenging! A nice mix of both efforts. I increased the incline a tad from 1% to 1.5% and I could totally feel it. I need to challenge myself more with inclines. I don’t want to turn into a treadmill wuss :P

Now, I know it’s Waffle Wednesday and all, but I do not have a waffle iron at my office like some people. Actually, all we have is a dinky microwave and mini-fridge in the photocopy room. Both of which I put to use today. I had a hot breakfast!

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That does not look appetizing. Microwave oats never do. But it was quite tasty! It was one package of President’s Choice cinnamon multigrain oats, with 1 cup water, 1/2 cup egg whites, topped with a mix of 1 tbsp cashew butter and 1 tbsp molasses. The egg whites in the microwave were… interesting. Not creamy like on the stove. More like a cross between oats and a quiche. Not bad, just not custard oats. The topping was delish!

I had more oats for my mid-morning snack. Why mess with a good thing? ;)

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Homemade Apple Cinnamon Protein Bar. It’s love.

Lunch was another ginormous salad.

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Spinach and various veggies mixed with leftover salmon and quinoa stew. Mmm…this stew is just as good cold, and even better as a salad! I showed my giant tupperware who’s boss.

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Yumyum.

I spent my lunch break spending more money on beauty products. Gosh, looking good is expensive. I finally broke and bought a professional hair straightener. I’ll post about it tomorrow when I test it out. The girl who sold it to me laughed out loud when I told her my current straightener is a Conair from Walmart. Thanks lady.

Rushed home again for supper. This time with good reason – I had a movie date with the girls from work!

Was feeling something simple…

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Burgers and fries… kind of ;)

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Sol veggie burgers. They’re made with beans and soy. Kinda mushy, but I dig it! Topped with heaps of salsa.

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Sweet potatoes and carrot fries. Miraculously, I’m not orange yet.

I have to admit, dessert after the movie is the same thing I’ve had every night for a week!

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Protein cookie batter. I mix up 1 1/2 scoops chocolate whey powder with almond milk until it is a wonderfully thick goo, then top with PB, chocolate chips and sprinkles. It’s amazing. Kinda like a gooey fudge. Thanks to April for introducing me to it!

 

So the movie we went to tonight was Valentine’s Day. The type of cheesy chick flick I pretend to be too cool to like but secretly love. Anyways, it got me thinking about how happy I am to be single right now. I know, totally not what those types of movies are supposed to do :P But I see so many girls who whine about wanting to be in a relationship, while I am ecstatic to finally be on my own. I’m really excited to spend this next period of my life being selfish, getting to know myself, and making decisions that satisfy my own self-interests. I still dream of a boy, house and dog someday, but I know I won’t be happy with it until I spend more time with me. I’ve been feeling this odd contentment with my life lately, and I think that’s why :) I spent Valentine’s Day alone this year (well, with friends!) and I didn’t have one pang of loneliness, if anything my heart feels more full!

I also want to thank you for all the wonderful comments on my weight lifting post. I had a lot of fun reading them in between work assignments today :)

 

Question of the Day: Single? In a relationship? If so, how long? I’ve been in serious relationships since I was 17!! No wonder I’m happy to be single :P

The Age Old Weight & Rep Debate

Did everyone survive their Tuesday? Mine was looong. Well, the work part was long, the time after work always flies by!

Was up and at ‘em for a lifting workout this a.m. My goal was to do upper-body weights and to lift heavy. High weights, low reps, an extra set, and longer rests in-between. Sometimes it’s nice to change it up and challenge my muscles in a different way!

Warm-up: Sprint Intervals on Elliptical

Minutes Level
0-3 10
3-5 14
5-6 17 (sprint)
6-8 15
8-9 18 (sprint)
9-11 16
11-12 19 (sprint)
12-14 16
14-15 18 (sprint)
15-17 15
17-18 17 (sprint)
18-20 14

Straight Sets:

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
One arm dumbbell snatch  25 lbs 5 4
Romanian deadlift to row  60 lbs 5 4
Wide-grip lat pulldown  60 lbs 5 4
Incline dumbbell shoulder press  25 lbs ea 5 4
Incline dumbbell curl 10 lbs ea 12 3
Tricep pulldown 40 lbs 12 3
Swiss ball crunch  14 lbs 20 1
Russian twist  14 lbs 40 1
Prone jackknife  bodyweight 15 1
Plank up  bodyweight 16 1

Cool-down was stretching! It was neat to do all straight sets as well, as I normally alternate many of my moves. The plan is to do one upper-body workout a week at high weights/low reps like today’s. Then I’ll do a low weight/high rep workout (ie a DVD), and then a full-body workout that falls in between. That’s the thought process behind it all anyways :)

My desk-breakfast was less than stellar today. Boo.

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  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp homemade granola
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • handful frozen whole strawberries (defrosted overnight)

I dunno, I was just not into this. I think it was the flax. Too much. It wasn’t hearty enough for a breakfast either. And maybe missing nut butter. I’ll stop complaining :P

I forgot to pack an extra snack today, luckily there were some Mini Egg cookies left.

These were still the talk of the office today. A lot of people asked for the recipe. It’s pretty easy to make a delicious cookie though, all you need is butter and sugar. Ohheckyes.

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And big hunks of Mini Eggs ;) Please ignore my chipping nail polish, but do bring your attention to my talon-sized fingernails. Fatty February baby!!

For 130 calories, my mid-morning snack, while delicious, was not very filling. So I had a cuppa tea to help things along.

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Yogi Chai Rooibos. Think it’s my favourite flavour from my Bloggie Valentine stash.

My boss walked in while I was eating lunch and told me I eat the largest salads he’s ever seen.

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Leftover breaded chicken breast on spinach and other various veggies. Homemade salad dressing of 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice and dash of pepper and parmesan cheese. I’m finally starting to get the hang of making my own salad dressings. This one was quite tasty!

Rushed home for supper again. Tonight’s meal comes courtesy Leah at Leftovers for Lunch. Quinoa and Salmon Stew.

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Quinoa & Salmon w/ Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided cooking spray
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
small bulb of fennel grocery store didn’t have it!
2 cups water oops, totally missed this
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, undrained
1 pound salmon fillets, skin removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp dried dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 small lemon

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes (with liquid). Return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently over medium heat until quinoa is translucent and tender, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in salmon. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until salmon turns opaque and is cooked through, about 1 minute. (Check and cook an additional minute if needed.) Turn off heat. Stir in dill, lemon juice, and zest, plus remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt to taste, if needed.

I served it with a whack of frozen veggies. Was trying to use up the remnants of three different bags!

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Lovelovelove this stew!! For some reason, when I cook salmon I always want to pair it with maple, but dill is such a wonderful flavour with it! I also veggie-fied it a tad by adding carrots and green beans. And yes Leah, I am most definitely having stew leftovers for lunch tomorrow ;)

Dessert!

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Few pieces of the chocolate I also got in my Bloggie Valentine package! Very dark and rich, splendid.

And check out what I got in the mail!!

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A $10 gift certificate to the Running Room. Apparently they track your purchases and give you “points” based on how much you spend. I’ve spent enough for ten bucks! It was a verrrry pleasant surprise seeing as I had no idea they do this. But also unsettling to see how much I’ve spent at that store since last summer :\

 

So as I was coming off my heavy-duty weight workout today (for me anyways!) I saw Fit Bottomed Girls tweet about Tracy Anderson’s new reality show. For those of you who’ve never heard of her, Tracy Anderson is a personal trainer known for working with stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. Her “claim to fame” is telling women they should never lift anything over 3lbs and doing 40-60 reps. She also loves to isolate small muscles. Bah!

Now, I can understand doing low-weight training for endurance. But I’ve never been able to understand how doing ballet and pilates inspired moves can make a person physically longer andtoned.” Whenever people tell me they don’t want to “bulk up,” I respond by saying by say “muscle only grows one way.” What I mean is that, you’re either building muscle or you’re not. If you want your muscles to show (or look toned), you have to do what it takes to build that muscle. You need to strain it enough to tear the fibres, and then let it recover enough so those tears can repair and grow.

There’s nothing technically wrong with 60 leg lifts in a row, it can make you stronger. My point is, you need to put more strain on your muscles to see results. I just feel this Anderson chick is only perpetuating the “bulk up” myth that so many women are afraid of. I guess it depends on your ideal body composition anyways. I would rather look like this:

…than this:

 

Question of the Day: Thoughts?? Does Tracy Anderson make your blood boil too, or do you think she’s on to something?

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