Make bread from… plantains?

plantain-bread

Here’s another recipe that flipped my idea of the need of table sugar in baked goods upside down. It’s a paleo recipe for an avocado and bacon sandwich but it’s the bread that will be the focus of this blog post.

At the time when I found this recipe (about this time last year), I was looking to bake my own wheat free bread. I was intrigued by how simple it was to make this “bread”. Peel a plantain and put it in a blender with two whole eggs. Pour the batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet (with coconut oil or else the paleo police will come after you) and place said baking sheet in the oven (350 degrees) for approximately 25 minutes. That’s it!

plantain-bread-1

plantain-bread-2

The plantain makes it a little sweet to eat but it sure makes a tasty sweet snack on it’s own (despite my photos above). And nutritious – lots of protein from the eggs, vitamins and fibre from the plantain (and other goodies) and the benefits of coconut oil.

In fact, there’s another super quick and tasty sweet snack you can make with plantains:

1. Peel and chop a plantain
2.Place into a pan with coconut oil
3. Set stove to medium
4. Fry until golden brown.

The more ripe the plantain, the sweeter and ooey gooey the recipe will turn out! The less ripe the plantain, the drier it gets. Not very pleasant. You also save a bit on electricity when cooking with coconut oil as it has a low smoke point.

Up for giving this recipe a try? Let me know what you think!

Regular exercise is good for your brain

illo-3

I’ve recently come to learn about a cool service called Buffer. It let’s you schedule your social media posts at times it calculates as the most ideal. The reason I bring this up is because to my surprise and delight, their blog talks about exercise! I love it when my interests collide.

Anyhoo, the Buffer blog talked about exercising’s affect on the brain. Spoiler alert: it triggers happiness. In a nutshell: our stress levels go up when we exercise so our brains release endorphins to do something about it. One of the side effects of endorphins is it helps with our memory and acts like a reset switch which then causes us to feel happy.  The pain of exercise is then blocked leaving us feeling great. The article explains it better. But you get my drift. Exercise makes us feel happy. 

The article goes on to explain how much exercise is needed to reach that happiness level. Turns out that it’s a mere 20 minutes.

Being an avid bodybuilder (not that kind of bodybuilder. A body builder. One who builds his muscles but not to monster proportions.), I’ve always read how shorter workouts are optimal. Coupled with this happiness factor, this can be a great motivator in getting started with a routine. “All I need is 20 minutes”. The key is to keep consistent. And as the article explains, you need to do this every day.

And if you’re having trouble getting started, begin with 5 minutes. Then increase. What a great idea. For me, one of my challenges was to get into bodyweight workouts. For some reason, I just can’t keep consistent with them. I’m a veteran with barbells and pull up bars which makes it easier for me to keep motivated and consistent. With bodyweight workouts, I’m a novice with too many choices. So I’m going to give this build-up-to-20-minutes trick a try.

Especially now that my physio is complete and I can go back into the weight room and lift. More on that next time. But for now, how did you go about starting a routine?

How to talk yourself into caving to a sugar craving

I walked into a gas station a couple of weeks back and noticed a 2 and a half pound (or was is a half pound?) Reese’s peanut butter cups. Actually, it as a marketed as a puck (it had the NHL logo on it, after all). It was a pretty large little box – yes, box – and I really wanted to sink my teeth into it.

But I was strong. I kept in mind that it was mostly high fructose corn syrup and who knows what other nasty chemicals that would do my body no good in the long term.

Instead, I purchased it as a thank you gift for a colleague at work.

Ok, maybe I’m a hypocrite. But remember, my goal isn’t to become “that guy”. That guy who preaches about his diet. No, I’ve become that guy who cheats on his diet.

I’m not going to confess or whine or say “o woe is me”. I chose the go down the wrong path and it’s my fault, my doing, I’m the only one to blame. Instead, I’m going to share with you the inner dialogue I had with myself as I drove home tonight. I mention a Patty. That is the pseudonym I chose for my colleague.

“Quite a stressful couple of weeks this way but we finished that project like a boss! Oh, I need to put in some gas. Hey, the gas station has that Reese’s Pieces puck. Maybe I could… NO! It’s full of sugar – especially corn syrup – and nasty stuff. Stay strong. I am strong. I don’t need that garbage. Besides, Patty felt a little sick after eating it and I will, too. Sinking my teeth into it will be so tasty. NO! Just this once. I can eat half of it today and half of it tomorrow. I’m going back to the gym tomorrow! NO! Why bollix things up even more? You haven’t exercised in 4 months, your health is shot and who knows what kind of crazy blood sugar levels you have. Well, Lent starts next week. I can be strong then. NO!”

Oh yeah, this went on. Temptation isn’t fun. Then another idea came in my head and that was it.

“If I buy it, I could BLOG ABOUT IT. Hey, I have an idea – I can write a post about this inner dialogue!”

So I pulled into the gas station.

“This is stupid. I’m deliberately cheating myself. But it would make a great blog post! Lent starts next week.”

I go to pay for gas and… they no longer sell the hockey puck of doom.

reese

Yeah, I was THAT weak. “Hey, this could make the blog post even funnier. I ended up buying the regular version. Oh look, there’s a king size. That’s hilarious!”.

Hilarious. What’s worse is…

reese-and-bounty

I didn’t stop at one. “This one has coconut!”

I took a look at the ingredients when I got home. The peanut butter cups were about 40g of sugar EACH. The Bounty had a lot less (if I remember correctly, it was about half) and hardly any nasty chemicals. Not even high fructose corn syrup. I ate both packages in pretty much 10 minutes. Of course I felt sick. My stomach still hurts after 2 hours. Of course I feel bad now for caving. Not sure what happened to my discipline but I can’t wait until I get back into the gym and take advantage of Lent to really get back in the game. More on the two in a future post.

Do you have any future dates you can use as goals?

Simple spinach and strawberry salad that’s super delicious!

spinach

Spinach is chock full of many great nutrients and vitamins and such. As Popeye can attest, they help build muscles and make you strong. And with all that fibre, why leave spinach from your diet? Just like all greens. But salad is boring right? Nope! Throw in some blueberries, strawberries and blackberries and you don’t even need salad dressing. Yes, you can eat spinach straight. Just as long as you eat other stuff with it :) This is my goto salad when I brown bag it at work. Sometimes I just don’t feel like salad dressing.

But salad dressing is important to have because the fat from it will help your body absorb the vitamins from the salad’s ingredients. So I sometimes also add avocado to the mix.

One thing to note: eating spinach makes your teeth appear yellow! Know what strawberries do? They whiten your teeth! I’m not saying eating the two will cancel each other out. Just saying not to eat spinach on a day of important meetings or dates :)

I also like to throw in some nuts into the salad. Perhaps walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds – whatever I happen to have lying around and didn’t forget to pick up when grocery shopping. More protein, more healthy fats.

You know what also goes great with spinach? Blue cheese! I can’t get enough of the stuff. But like everything in life, I try to keep things in moderation. As the saying goes, you can’t.

Are you like Popeye and can’t get enough of spinach or can’t stand the stuff?

What you should know about honey

Ever wonder how honey is made? And how they get it out of the bees’ clutches and into the jars on the store shelves or in farmer’s markets? The short video above will explain the whole process.

Some items to note:

A little after the 2:50 mark, the narrator mentions that we can eat the honeycomb. I can attest that it’s delicious. My cousin in Italy once told me that he chews on a piece of honeycomb whenever he feels a cold coming on. Honeycombs contain propolis which is good for our immune system. Plus, you can chew it like bubble gum!

Don’t you want to sink your teeth into this golden honeycomb?

Around the 3:30 mark, the narrator mentions the honey being heated so it can be poured into bottles. I’ve read in a few places that this process kills some of the nutrients in honey. If this bothers you, you can check out raw honey. As the name implies, it’s the honey straight out of the honeycomb and into the jars.

So what is honey good for?

Of course I’m going to link to an infographic about honey. And another one (though a little hard to read). In a nutshell, honey contains a lot of healing qualities.  In fact, it has been used medicinally since ancient times:

  • As a natural disinfectant, honey can placed on cuts for healing. I’ve seen cuts disappear quite fast when I use honey.
  • Honey can soothe a painful sore throat
  • Many times over the years, I’ve read how honey can help with bodybuilding. I remember reading once that Muhammad Ali regularly ate eat bee pollen and never got sick.
  • Honey can regulate blood sugar (this has something to do with the balance of fructose and glucose in the honey molecule)

So thank God for inventing bees and having the sense of humour of having them barf out such a useful and healthy by-product of sneezing flowers!

Do you like honey? Share your favourite uses/additions to your meals/recipes.

Sugar free yet still sweet tasting chocolate chip cookies

coconut-cookies

This was one of the first recipes I tried last year when I started getting into the paleo diet. It was through checking out paleo recipes on Pinterest where I discovered that you don’t need to use sugar in baking. There are alternatives out there which are healthier. For instance, coconut flour. It’s sweet and you don’t need a lot of it. What I like about paelo recipes is they are pretty much guilt-free. The ingredients are easily traced back to nature and are chocked full of nutrients.

This chocolate chip recipe was one of the first paelo (well, sort of) recipes I tried. And it was delicious! And very simple to make. All you need is:

2 eggs
2 tbsp Honey
1/3 cup Chocolate chips
1/2 cup Coconut flour
1 Sprinkle Sea salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/3 cup Coconut oil

I won’t go into detail of how to make it since this website already does a thorough job. It also offers how to make it pure paleo.

I’m not a fantastic baker so my cookies came out a little dry. And almost got stuck in my throat. So I added some applesauce into the batter to make it a little more moist. No applesauce? Dunk ’em in milk. Not big on milk? Dunk ’em in coconut milk then.

No chocolate chips? Add blueberries! Or whatever tickles your fancy.

I also made a batch and brought them to work. Success! Everyone loved them despite looking like something that fell off the side of a bridge.

Up for giving this recipe a try? If so, let me know what you think!

3 signs that you’re emotionally eating and 5 ways to stop it

I know I’m late to the game but I’ve very recently started watching The Big Bang Theory. Unfortunately, reruns are on twice a night and repeating throughout the day. An additional new episode is available Thursdays.

Added to the mix is the fact that it had been quite a dark, cold, really cold, really frigidly cold, really frigidly what-am-I-doing-living-in-Canada cold winter this time around. Along with taking a leave of absence from the gym for a number of months due to injuries, I’ve found myself falling into the emotional eating trap. Infographic, if you please.

Emotional eating happens when you eat for reasons other than hunger. For me it’s when I sit in front of the TV. Before discovering The Big Bang Theory reruns, I watched very little TV. When I regularly lifted weights, I got into a very good habit of not even wanting to eat in front of the TV. Now, I’ve fallen off the wagon. 

Fortunately, I can get right back up!

After all, we’re only human and we’re given the change to make things right. So in the spirit of this blog, I’d like to talk a bit about what else triggers emotional eating and what we can do about it.

1. Tuning out in front of the TV

Back when I was a child growing up in the 1980s, I’ve heard many times how sitting in front of the TV entices you to eat even when you’re not hungry. Whether you see a specific food item on the family sitcom or in a tv commercial, you are most likely going to get up during the commercial break and grab a snack from the kitchen.

This time around, I noticed that I’ve built a habit of having to eat something while I watch TV. I tried to fight it only to cave in. Sheesh, what happened to the mentally tough version of me from 2013? What’s worse is if the show hasn’t ended yet, I’ll find something else to eat to fill time.

2. Being bored

When I watch TV, it’s in my spare time. Mostly after dinner on weeknights, during lunch on Saturdays and during (and sadly, after) dinner on Sundays. After a long day of work and a long, fury-inducing drive in traffic, I just want to plop myself on the couch and be entertained. Not good after having spent yet another workday sitting in front of a computer!

3. Looking for comfort

Watching TV – or watching a movie or reading a book – takes me away to another land and into another life of someone else’s misadventures and hijinks. Who needs reality after a hard day’s work when you can escape to brighter, sunnier days?

After spending three absolute frigid months indoors and away from my gym, boy did I need comfort!

What’s wrong with a little comfort?

Nothing. It’s the underlying issues that’s causing emotional eating in the first place. The last thing you want to do is fill yourself up with junk food while you’re brain is getting lazy from sitting there and watching TV. You’re sad and this triggers many things in your mind, body and mood. Besides, The Big Bang Theory isn’t always a good TV show. It has it’s golden episodes and for whatever reason, it has it’s stinker of a non-story. In fact, I feel terrible after watching a pretty bad episode. What a waste of my time.

So the outcome ends up being quite simply: you’re eating more than you need. And it’s most likely “comfort food” (a.k.a. junk).

Now how to get back into the swing of things?

Easy! But it may be difficult at first but well worth the effort. I did this last year, too:

1. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry

Since most of my TV watching is done in front of the TV at night, this is a simple answer. No, I am not hungry. I just ate dinner! But oh, I need something sweet to sink my teeth into. How about some dates? They are healthy and full of fibre… While that’s a topic for another post, I’m still feeding my emotional eating habit. Perhaps I can eat the dates at the dinner table before I put the dishes away.

2. Don’t skip meals

And don’t shop while you’re hungry either. You’ll end up buying things on impulse then you’ll gain the issue of spending too much money. Skipping meals will guarantee a nice big, shovelling bingefest. Another topic for a future post.

3. Keep junk food out of the house

I’ve had junk food cravings throughout 2013 but never caved in because I’ve never had any junk food in the house. It’s amazing how quickly the cravings go away when you can’t fulfill them. And thank goodness I’m too lazy to jump in the car and go satisfy that itch!

4. Keep healthy replacements in the house

Ok, so you’d rather keep sweets and junk food in the home. Know what I’ve found to be an irresistible treat while watching TV? Frozen cherries. Or frozen raspberries. Or frozen grapes. This only works in the summer. Not really in the frigid wintry days. But you get my drift. If you want sugar, might as well eat it when it comes with fibre, vitamins and minerals.

5. Exercise regularly

Yet another topic for a future post but trust me on this one, having a regular exercise routine keeps you in top healthy eating and mental toughness form. This bit of advice wasn’t on the above mentioned infographic but I certainly found it to have played a huge, influential role in making it too easy for me to stick to my goals. Exercising kept me in a great mood, I was never bored and I didn’t crave sugar.

Physio can’t finish soon enough!

Have you been emotionally eating? What are you doing to stop yourself?