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On My Bookshelf

Happy Monday! I spent part of the weekend at yet another cottage.

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My family has three cottages among us. Two of which are in the countryside of the north shore of Nova Scotia just over an hour drive away.

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The other one is near Shediac, a small French beach town 20 minutes away.

It’s a hard life, I know.

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Shediac is a little more populated, a little more noisy. But it’s also closer and the beach is nicer. It’s where people eat lobster by the table-ful.

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Not our party by the way, but a pile of lobster that big is worthy of capturing on my iPhone!

These days, my cottage visits involve no parties. No trips to the crowded beach, or dips into the cold Bay of Fundy waters. Cottage visits for me are now all about rest, relaxation, fresh air, and maybe a long walk or two.

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Oh yes, and reading!! I have been doing lots and lots of reading since I stopped working 8 weeks ago. Not as much as I’d like, because I surprisingly don’t spend that much time alone (my family likes to sit and stare at me at various times throughout the day). But I wanted to share some of what I’ve been going through in case there’s anyone out there who can benefit from it.

What I’ve Read:

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This was the first book I read in the hospital after finding out I have cancer. You would think that I’d immediately be drawn to material about my disease. But what I really wanted was to hear about others like me who I could relate with and would hold my hand through those first few days with cancer. This book totally delivered. It features stories and accounts of young adults with various forms and experiences with cancer. My sisters have read this book too and both found it interesting even though they don’t have cancer. Be warned, it’s honest and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. My middle sister said it was hard to read at times. But that’s what I loved about it. It gave me a real life account of cancer when I needed to hear the truth the most.

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This book starts out describing some of the cellular make-up and causes of cancer, all of which I found very interesting. Then it goes into lifestyle changes one can make to prevent and manage cancer. I really enjoyed this book as it gave me a good base knowledge. I’d recommend it to people who don’t even have cancer, as the lifestyle advice in here should be taken on by everyone! I should also note that the book’s author recently passed away. He lived 19 years after his brain cancer diagnosis, which is a phenomenal thing.

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My sister gave me this book and I am SO glad she did!! If you know anyone with cancer, this would be a fantastic gift. If I had known better, I would have read this book first after my diagnosis. It goes through and describes all the tests and procedures, what to expect from chemo, side effects the doctors don’t talk about, and tons of other useful information. It’s edited so you can read bits at a time which was nice on days I had trouble focusing. My only pet peeve is that the writing was really dumbed down. I’m young adult, not uneducated.

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This is a book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in nutrition, cancer or not. It’s got great info about healthy and healing foods. A lot of which I already learned getting my nutritionist certification, but with an extra focus on how it relates to cancer (as opposed to sports nutrition). This book was also a nice kick in the butt to get me eating better when chemo tempts me to eat like crap.

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I knew about Kris Carr waaaay before the C-Word was ever uttered to me, but boy am I glad she’s around now! I’ve since re-watched her documentary with a new eye, and completely devoured this book. It’s a lot like the Planet Cancer book, written specifically for people going through cancer. It’s edited for easy reading and Kris makes cancer conversational. My cancer and Kris’ cancer are total opposites (mine is curable with treatment, hers is not), so I also appreciated that she brought in other women to talk about experiences that I could relate to better.

What I’m Reading Now

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This is kind of a beast of a book, so I’m taking my time with it. I’m about halfway through and so far absolutely love it. I have learned SO much about the disease thanks to this book. Especially about how treatment came to be. It’s a little dense at times, but the author still takes his time to develop an interesting narrative, and dare I say, is a page turner at times.

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A fiction book! The first one I’ve read in months! Madeline sent this to me because of our shared love for young adult fiction. The only thing I don’t like about it, is that I find the premise of the book disturbing. It’s about kids killing each other for game. It’s really fast paced, and instead of going through it all in one sitting, I find I need a break to catch my breath just after a few chapters!

What’s On My Reading List:

More fiction!

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I read everything Nick Hornby writes. He’s an easy to read, funny, entertaining British author. Most well known for dreaming up the story behind my favourite movie of all time – High Fidelity.

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This one was recommended by a blog reader and I downloaded it immediately on to my Kindle after reading the abstract. Dan Shapiro writes about his experience with lymphoma with a little pot humour thrown in for good measure.

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This has been on my reading list for a while, but now I feel like it’s got enough useful nutrition information that I should probably crack it open already!

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So that’s what’s on my bookshelf, what’s on yours? Fiction, non-fiction, give me book recommendations! I’ve got months of chemo left and nothing but time. Okay, in between sessions of my family worriedly staring at me.

Five Things You Should Probably Know – Round 2

1. I’m sick.

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Technically, I’ve been feeling under the weather since I landed back in Toronto. You know, headache, achey muscles. But last night I developed this gnarly chest cough. And today, I started burning up and getting lightheaded. Like all things in life, I am blaming this on Toronto’s public transportation system. However, I suspect the three-day bender I went on in New Brunswick may be the true culprit. Thus, I spent all day in bed.

 

2. There’s a giant candy bowl in my living room.

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I can thank my roommates for this one. Just as I come back to TO thinking “time to get back on the straight and narrow,” I’m met with this. A worthy opponent filled with Lindor Truffles and Icy Chocolate Squares. Touché.  

 

3. There’s a new workout plan on the block.

Back in the day, I used to share my daily workouts on the blog. But then I got lazy about typing them up. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of people comparing themselves with me. With that said, I do understand that people are curious about what sort of things I do in the gym! In September, I started a new plan consisting of my first ever split. It looked something like this:

Monday: Back/Biceps + 30 min elliptical
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Chest/Triceps + 30 min running
Thursday: Legs + 15 min spin bike + 15 min stair climber
Friday: Shoulders/Abs + 30 min elliptical
Saturday: 5-7 mile run
Sunday: Yoga

I really enjoyed weight lifting so many days a week, and the DOMS was great to boot. But it’s important to change it up and try out new things. In lieu of my Simply Switches, here’s what my new sked looks like:

2 days 45 min full-body weightlifting
2 days 60 min cardio
2 days 60-90 min yoga
1 day rest

As you can see, it’s a lot less intense. On purpose. One reason why has to do with my appetite. It’s been out of control since I started lifting all the time and despite the tough workouts, I was still taking in more calories than I was burning off. I know from past experience that my hunger levels drop significantly when I’m less active. So maybe I won’t always feel like I’m ready to eat my arm off!

 

4. I suck at crossword puzzles.

No, really. I’ve been doing the one in the newspaper every. single. day. for two months now and I have yet to fully complete one. It is so frustrating, yet I’m so stubbornly addicted.

 

5. I’m the last person to read this book.

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And I read it in three days. I loved it that much. I’m not sure what it says about me, but all of my most recent favourite books have been depressing ones about people dying. Ah well, at least my favourite show is still The Real World.

If you’re one of five people in the world who haven’t read this book yet speak up! I’ll send it to the first person who comments saying they want it :)

 

Question of the Day: What’s one thing in your life we should probably know? As my gal Holly says, sharing is caring!

Food Matters

Hello friends!! Hope everyone had a great start to the week! Mine has been pretty darn good. A full day of great training clients, then seeing one of my favourite chefs/authors in person!!

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Mark Bittman, first and foremost, is the author of several of my favourite Runner’s World columns. He’s also the man behind The Minimalist. Always my favourite food column in the New York Times.

Ohyeah, and he’s got a bunch of those things… books?? :P

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Tonight, he spoke mostly about the content in his Food Matters book to promote the new Food Matters Cookbook. It’s all about eating consciously. I’m actually more familiar with How To Cook Everything, which is one of his awesomely simple and easy to follow cookbooks.

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I went in armed with not only my camera and foodie excitement, but also my trusty notebook. I’m an old journalist after all, I can’t help but take notes! Here are some of my favourite points from the Q&A:

  • Americans spend only 7% of their income on food. A very low percentage representing how many are living off cheap processed food.
  • “Pay the farmer, not the hospital.”
  • Ideally, our diets would consist of 90% plants with 10% coming from everything else (meat, processed food, and “junk”). An alarming number of people take in the reverse percentages. Bittman says we don’t have to be perfect – we just need to “seesaw” to get those numbers closer together. i.e. More plants, less of everything else.
  • Bittman thinks veganism is the highest form of conscious eating, but admitted  he personally will never get there. Instead he does a vegan diet until 6pm every day, then might have animal products with dinner. He said it doesn’t matter if you are a vegan, so long as you take steps in that direction.
  • Drew several comparisons between cigarettes and processed foods. Mentioned that only a few people quit smoking when the surgeon general’s warning against it came out in 1964. It took mass coercion and enforcement to see a big change in the number of people smoking. He used this to demonstrate that warning about the health risks of processed foods may not be enough. Also pointed out that much like cigarettes are linked to cancer, some foods are linked to diabetes.
  • “Cooking is not a spectator sport.” Bittman is not a huge fan of the Food Network, saying, “People are too busy watching other people cook on television.” Touché.

Overall it was a fun Q&A! I raised my hand to ask him about how running changed his perception of food, but my hand was never picked. I will say he’s exactly how I pictured him. Brutally honest, funny, self-deprecating and personable all in one.

 

Now how about I start showing you some food!

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I’ve had a few stellar food combinations recently. Beginning with this bowl of spicy oats.

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1/2 cup rolled oats cooked with water, a pinch of salt, bacon, and a scoop of cream cheese. Topped with two soft-fried eggs and Frank’s hot sauce.

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The cream cheese made the oats just that – creamy and cheesy! Runny yolks on hot oats is something you must try if you’re in to that sort of thing. It’s dreamy!

I’ve also been mixing cream cheese into salsa.

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Makes it something a little reminiscent of that neon-orange Tostitos con queso dip and awesome with carrots!

I paired this combo with a ham + swiss sandwich. Except I added a little kick with fresh herbs.

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In this case, a oregano under the melted cheese. I remember Leah posting about keeping fresh herbs on hand so I’ve been giving it a go. Wow! They make everything taste a million times better!

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Just like that, with a little cream cheese and oregano, my dinner turned from blah to extraordinary :)

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Dessert lately hasn’t been too classy.

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Some days I crave the fancy dark 80-whatever chocolate. Other days I just want some old-school Jersey Milk.

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Hits the spot. Reminds me of childhood when I only ate milk chocolate.

 

Another childhood favourite is sloppy joes paired with corn. I don’t know why my mother always made this particular combo, but now every time I eat sloppy joes, corn needs to be had. I polished off the lentil-based Snobby Joes the way they were meant to be eaten… on a bun. 

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Much better warm on a bun as opposed to cold on a pita like I’d been eating it.

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With the corn and green beans! Perfection.

There happens to be a fruit and vegetable stand a block away from the running store I work at. Their baskets are brimming with local Ontario apples and I can’t help but snatch some up every time I pass!

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Including this GINORMOUS honeycrisp. I put it in front of this crappy DVD for size comparison, but I realize you’re not getting the width of it here, which was very respectable indeed.

I ate it all.

Last, but not least, I’ve been snacking on Scottish treats!

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And by “snack” I mean I came home tonight and completely demolished the rest of the traditional Scottish oatcakes. Left side topped with PB + fluff, right side with almond butter + chocolate chips. Too bad I don’t have any jam in the house – it would be perfect! Guess I’ll just have to make more ;)

 

**If you’ve got a few seconds**
 pleasepleaseplease click here to vote for my Taste of Scotland post for the Project Food Blog contest!

And thank you if you already have! I just worked out a really fun concept for the third dinner party challenge and I really want to share it!

 

Question of the Day: What famous chef would you like to meet? Obviously my pick here is Alton Brown. I <3 that man!

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