Blog Archives

Things I Learned This Month – February 2010

  • It’s hard to blog after Canada kicks butt winning a record 14 gold medals aaaand beating out the US in the gold medal hockey game :D
  • Topping custard oats with a soft-fried egg, salsa and cheese is absolutely amazing.

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  • Sometimes I like resting my body on Sundays, mostly so I can torture it better throughout the week ;)
  • Showering at the gym almost every morning means I don’t have to scrub my bathtub as often.
  • Elvis might have been on to something. Bacon Peanut Butter is delicious on top of banana.

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  • As Danielle eloquently put it, “Consider fatty feb to be fatty forever.”
  • Protein powder is amazing when mixed with just a little water, whether eaten straight up as protein cookie dough or used as a spread on a peanut butter protein sandwich.

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  • Sometimes small steps forward turn into giant leaps. Moving from my cozy province to a giant city 14 hours away doesn’t scare me in the slightest. Finally, I’m EXCITED!!
  • Being who I truly am attracts the right kind of people into my life.
  • Even though Western Creamery is owned by my favourite yogurt brand, it just doesn’t live up to Liberte.

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  • Homemade granola is better than store-bought. Seriously.
  • Peanut butter puffins do not live up to the hype, but I will still munch the box away.

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  • There is nothing more healing than a wild weekend with my best girl friend.
  • I am perfectly content being on my own, but I miss living with other people.
  • I need to take more supplemental vitamins.

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  • But I also need to check the ingredient list of said vitamins before deciding to ingest them everyday.

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  • The expectations I place on myself are ridiculously high and unwarranted. Often the pressure I feel to succeed comes from within, and not from outside sources like I trick myself into thinking.
  • There is something wrong with me when, at the age of 24, I refer to university students as “kids.”
  • Treat Monday is possibly the greatest invention ever.

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  • But there is a reason why I’ve never tried blondies before. It’s hard to stop at just one!! (or, erm, two)
  • President’s Choice The Decadent semi-sweet chocolate chunks are superior to all forms of chocolate chip.

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  • Being well groomed is expensive. Hair straighteners, nail polish, fancy eye liner and hair goos, it all comes at a high cost.
  • I needn’t be scared to cook with high-fat foods like olive oil, butter, nuts, full-fat cheese and even egg yolks. My body craves them!
  • Sweet potatoes need to by slow-roasted. Go. Do it now.

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  • Actually, everything tastes better slow-roasted.

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  • And sometimes the only spices you need are salt and pepper. Why mask the flavour when you can enhance it?
  • Weight lifting makes me feel amazing. Cardio may burn the calories, but weight training has me waking up every morning feeling good about myself (and mega sore)
  • I need to be an active participant in my own life. It’s pointless to just let things happen when I can make every day in the meantime one worth remembering.

Question of the Day: What did you learn this month?

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

The Elusive Protein Powder

Helllooo! How is everyone doing? I had a very laid-back Saturday, my favourite kind :)

Started off at 7am (sleeping in!) with some egg-white french toast.

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I prefer french toast made with egg whites, but I still spread some almond butter on top for my fat ;)

Citrus on the side!

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I hung out in bed for a little bit, then went to BodyStep. Step class is probably the most fun I have working out all week. I don’t always feel motivated to work out on Saturdays after a long week, but I always look forward to that class, so it’s a good way to get me off my butt!

Came home mega sweaty and replenished with a protein smoothie.

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  • 1 scoop peach-mango whey protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 2 dates
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum

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This was soooo thick and creamy! Just like a thick milkshake – it was divine. Those gums are 100% worth the extra $$ if you like smoothies.

However, smoothies never stick with me for that long. Ninety minutes later I was hungry for lunch.

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Mini pizza off sorts – garlic tomato paste, Kirkland no-salt seasoning, sliced tomato, smoked mackerel, cheddar cheese on an english muffin.

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With carrots + salsa on the side. LOVE this combo! More than any other dipper for carrots. Try it if you haven’t yet!

I somehow found a spurt of energy today and cleaned a bunch and spent some time in the kitchen! First was a kitchen experiment that has been on my mind for a long time. I finally got the guts to do it, and boy am I glad I did!!

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Bacon Peanut Butter.

  • 1-2 cups dry roasted peanuts (I just dumped it in!)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • sprinkle kosher salt
  • 2-3 tbsp real bacon bits

I blended the peanuts until smooth first, then added the other ingredients. I had to try it immediately on some rye crackers.

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Okay, so I know this combo may weird some people out, but I promise you it’s REALLY good, and I would not purposely steer you wrong :P I didn’t add so much bacon that you can taste it. It just adds more depth to the salty peanut butter, and if you concentrate really hard you can taste a little smokiness.

I also whipped up another batch of Deb’s Protein Faux-nola.

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First, in a small saucepan, I brought to a low boil:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Once it boiled down a bit, I stirred in two scoops (60g) vanilla whey protein powder and one tablespoon cinnamon.

Then, I mixed it up in a big bowl with:

  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup Grape Nuts cereal
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Spread out onto a baking sheet and put into a 325 F oven. I have no idea how long it cooked for, but I took it out every 5 minutes or so to stir it around, until it was browned and getting crunchy. Some of the bigger pieces may not seem crunchy when you first take them out of the oven, but they will be when it cools down!

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The big chunks are my favourite ;) The Grape Nuts added to the crunchy texture too.

I also made a potato salad of sorts earlier in the day that I let chill in the fridge so it was nice and cold for supper.

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  • 4 baby red potatoes
  • 1 block herbed tofu
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • few shakes Kirkland no-salt seasoning (it’s a garlic/oregano/veggie-type seasoning)
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3 small pickles, chopped
  • 2 tbsp real bacon bits

I steamed the potatoes and tofu together first, then mixed everything together once they cooled.

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After tossing everything together, I felt that something was missing. So I channelled Mark, my mom’s boyfriend, who always says bacon makes anything taste better. I used up the rest of the bacon bits and he was right! Dee-licious! ;)

 

Q&A – The Elusive Protein Powder

 

Justine said:

What kind of protein powder do you use? I bought some chocolate Designer Whey to use for protein cookie dough, and it was hell of nasty.

simplypresent Said:

Question: I have heard mixed reviews about soy protein. What are your thoughts? – Em

I have a question for you.  I don’t really understand the whole protein powder thing.  I see so many recipes for Breakfast cookies and shakes that have protein powder in them.  I went to the local health food store and they have about 100 different ones to choose from.  (they are expensive as I am sure you have noticed…LOL)  What one(s) do you recommend?  Do you know the difference between Whey and Soy powders??  Do you recommend one over the other??
Help I am so confused…LOL.
thanks Stephanie
AKA
www.eatrunquilt.blogspot.com

 

It seems protein powder is a popular source of confusion :P I’m not sure if I’m the most informed person to give you the deal on protein powder, especially since I’m in Canada and have access to different brands. But I’ll give it a shot. Let’s call it a starting point, shall we? ;)

If you had told me two years ago that I would have to dedicate a whole cupboard to this:

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I wouldn’t have believed you :P

I thought protein powder and “Muscle Milk” were only consumed by jocks with no necks that grunt at the gym. Okay…douchebags.

But when I started lifting heavy weights, I did a lot of research that said protein can help muscle recovery. Back in those days I was a pescetarian and looking for more ways to get it in my diet. Specifically protein shakes, as they digest quickly and work to repair your muscles faster after a hard workout (remember! muscle is built during that recovery process!)

I went into GNC and was totally overwhelmed by the hundreds of expensive, giant canisters, so I instead went to Wal-Mart and bought the cheapest one I could find. Since then, I’ve tried to do a lot of experimenting to find what I like. For the most part, I prefer whey powder, which is a protein that comes from dairy. When searching for whey powders, you’ll likely find two kinds: whey isolate and whey concentrate. Isolate just contains more protein than concentrate, so it’s often more expensive. I either buy an isolate powder, or a mix of the two.

So I’ll show you what’s in my cupboard right now for protein powder. First is President’s Choice Whey Protein Isolate in chocolate flavour.

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When looking at the nutrition information, I always look at the serving size. I usually shoot for a powder that has 20-25g protein for 100-120 calories. This one may seem like a lot, but the serving size is 45g, when the standard is around 30g.

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The next one is from another Canadian company – PVL. I actually don’t care for their Whey Gourmet line, but the Naturelle vanilla bean flavour caught my eye because it’s sweetened with stevia. 

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The biggest downfall of flavoured protein powder is that they’re typically artificially sweetened (it’s how they keep the calories and carbohydrates low). This can be a problem if you’re trying to stay away from artificial sweeteners, or if things like sucralose give you stomach problems.

Finally, I have the source of today’s smoothie, Thermo-Lean Iso-Lean in Peach Mango flavour.

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I find the ISO Lean stuff to be a little too “fake sweet” for me, so this one has been in my cupboard for a while. Okay for a treat sometimes though!

Ironically, I don’t have any of my favourite powders on hand right now, but I’ll show them to you anyway. I always need to have a chocolate and vanilla on hand, and Iso Femme is a brand that is both tasty with good nutritionals.

This powder also makes the best breakfast cookies!

My other favourite kind is from PVL, the Whey Cooler.

This stuff is neat because you mix it with 32 oz water and tastes similar to kool-aid or gatorade.

It really is an awesome thirst quencher! And 20g protein for just 80 calories. 

Now, besides whey powder, I’ve only ever tried hemp protein and soy protein. Hemp is not so great, as it’s “earthy” tasting. But hey, some people dig that. Soy protein is actually not too bad. I’ve only ever bought Bob’s Red Mill unflavoured soy protein powder. I really liked it for cooking and baking, but not so much for smoothies. It was also a really fine powder, so it didn’t harden well in no-bake cookies and bars, it just got chalky.

I know protein powder seems like a lot of money at first, but just remember that it will last you weeks! Think of it like your car – the $30+ you spend on gas is like an investment because it keeps your car running for several days. Well protein powder is an investment that will keep your body running for several days!

Last but least, I feel like I should add protein powder will not make you gain weight!!! I helped my friend pick out protein powder last weekend and she was worried it would make her put on pounds when she is trying to lose some. But it’s just a matter of calories in, calories out. Replace the calories of something you’re already eating with the calories in a protein shake and it won’t make a difference.

Hope that helps!

Question of the Day: Do you use protein powder? What kind? Favourite thing to do with it?

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