Failure means you’re trying… right?

Well hello there, sorry about missing last month, let’s pretend that didn’t happen ūüôā

To be honest there was a project last month and it failed so spectacularly that I wasn’t even sure how to write about it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a complete baby. ¬†I still haven’t figure out how to see it in a good light, but I decided to write about it away.

Last month’s project was an attempt to go vegan for the month. ¬†I figured I was already in a diet changing mode and it has been on my list forever. ¬†Actually it’s probably been on my radar since that last time I tried to go vegan just about 10 years ago. ¬†However the first time I was a horrible vegan and got quite sick and nutrient depleted. ¬†Now I don’t blame that on the vegan diet in general, just what I chose to eat, which was little and less. ¬†Which of course didn’t work out that well for me. ¬†So this time around I wanted to do it well and I researched lots of awesome vegan recipes. ¬†It started off pretty well: I really liked all the food choices I had, I didn’t feel hungry or like I was missing out. ¬†However as the days went by it got harder and harder with each of these situations popping up:

I joined some friends out to eat and didn’t look at the menu ahead of time. ¬†There was actually nothing vegan at all… at all! ¬†It really sucks to be hungry and just have to sit there and watch everyone around you eat, and eat all the things you can’t have.l

¬†…yum ¬†ūüė¶

I loved all the food I prepared, but it was quite a lot of work for most of the meals. ¬†Also it required a lot of ingredients I don’t normally stock, which isn’t a big deal except it makes planning a necessity.

glass food container

Cooking and eating felt like it became a full-time job. ¬†Just to eat enough calories to keep training well I felt like I was eating veggies non-stop. ¬†When I wasn’t eating I was planning meals or chopping/ prepping for the next meal. ¬†I also began to think about food all the time – which was unnerving.

thinking-foods

and then I broke – almost 2.5 weeks in I had a full on tantrum while training. ¬†I literally lay on the floor whining until daniel agreed to go with me¬†to get a burger. ¬†I DON’T EVEN LIKE BURGERS!

tantrumdon’t mind me, I just need a minute… or 5

For the rest of the month I tried to be vegan three days a week, which I did… but I still feel like it was a massive fail. ¬†Maybe 2 months of playing with my diet is too much or maybe I’m just too much of a baby either way… FAIL!

Although it wasn’t all for naught. ¬†I did learn that not eating meat didn’t make my body feel better. ¬†In fact a small amount of meat usually resulted in better training sessions the next day. ¬†However dairy was another story. ¬†Dairy definitely made my allergies worse. ¬†After the first week without dairy I didn’t have a need to blow my nose or any phlegm in my throat. ¬†My reactions to our cat were also reduced, although not eliminated. ¬†Which sucks because I love cheese and cream in my coffee, but it’s good to know cause I also like to breathe ūüôā

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Even with small steps, you eventually get somewhere

no-sugar

This post feels worlds apart from my last one. ¬†Not that sugar doesn’t still tempt me, but it’s much less often and much less intense. ¬†Here are the techniques I used to keep sugar at bay.

1.)¬†Get as much of it out of the house as you can. ¬†My husband doesn’t like sweets at all, so this was an easy one for me to do. ¬†It was easier for me to resist a sugar craving when there was nothing in the house that could fix it.

2.) I ate more fruit.

lifeologiahowtoeatfruityum!  

3.) I recognized my craving patterns. ¬†The biggest one for me is after dinner. ¬†Almost like clockwork, even when I wasn’t thinking about sweets before, I always wanted a dessert after dinner. ¬†I switched up that pattern¬†by¬†always making a cup of tea or hot lemon water (I’m an old lady) right after dinner. ¬†It helped a lot.

4.) The small picture.  Taking things one day at a time instead of thinking of a future where I am never allowed to eat sugar again.

5.) Slowing down and focusing on what I am eating. ¬†I eat fast and I’m on the go a lot. ¬†By trying to slow down my eating and focusing on the flavors I’m more satisfied with what I am eating, and less preoccupied with what I’m missing.

And here are some things that I read about that didn’t help me at all:

1.)¬†Smell the dessert/ sweet that you are craving. ¬†This did not work for me. ¬†I have to say I only tried it once, but for me it dramatically increased my craving and it gave my craving a goal. ¬†I couldn’t stop thinking about the piece of chocolate until I eventually ate it. ¬†Plus¬†I don’t want to¬†be the weirdo smelling other people’s desserts in public.

2.) Just having one or two bites.  At least right now, one bite is not an option my brain understands.

Funny-cat-meme-Cake

I don’t think I am %100 sugar free, but I have cut down a lot and I am already craving it a lot less. ¬†It’s a little magical to me how easily I can taste sugar in places I couldn’t before, like bread and salad dressings.

**side note** ¬†WHY is there sugar in store made bread? ¬†I’ve made bread a lot and there is no need for sugar at all, what’s the point!! ¬†When you put sugar in bread it becomes cake.**

Lastly a word of advice for anyone who in interested in lessening their sugar consumption: ¬†be prepared for it to be hard. ¬†Sugar is addictive, a mood stimulant and it’s everywhere. ¬†But the¬†difficulty¬†begins to subside in as short as a week with little to no sugar. ¬† Forever without sugar sounds daunting and impossible,¬†but when you take it one day at a time… well then it’s as easy as apple pie (sugar free apple pie of course!) ūüôā

Miso soup

miso-soup

Miso soup is a Japanese staple and comfort food. ¬†I am having some right now to comfort me on doing so poorly on this month’s project. ¬†More wallowing later, now on to how to make delicious miso soup.

Ingredients:

3-4 Tablespoons Miso paste (depending on taste)

4 cups water

1 cup daikon*, julienned

2 teaspoons dashi powder*

1 package silken tofu (soft), diced

1 cup wakame seaweed*, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

—————————————————-

There are so many different variations to miso soup, but this recipe is how I was taught from our Japanese friends near Tokyo.

STEP 1.) Gather and prepare the ingredients.  Chop the green onions, julienne the daikon and cube the tofu.  This is like a sewing sampler for knife skills.  Soak the wakame (if using) in water for about 5 mins and then drain and chop into bite size pieces.

STEP 2.) Prepare the dashi.  The easiest way to make dashi is to use instant dashi.  It is readily available at most grocery stores and probably all Asian supermarkets.  Dashi is a type of stock made from bonito (fish) flakes and kombu seaweed.  Following your powdered dashi instructions make 4 cups of dashi.  For me that was 4 cups water + 2 teaspoons dashi powder.  Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  For more info about dashi scroll to the bottom of the recipe.

STEP 3.) Cooking.  Once your dashi is boiling add the daikon.  Let it cook for a couple minutes, then add the tofu and the wakame seaweed.  Turn the heat to very low and prepare your miso.

STEP 4.) ¬†Don’t kill the miso! ¬†Miso is fermented, which means there are awesome organisms living in it that your body will adore. ¬†You never want to boil your miso or else you will kill them and the health benefits that go along with them. ¬†Also it will be less tasty ūüôā ¬†So put your miso into a small bowl and ladle some of the warm, but no longer boiling dashi over it. ¬†Stir the dashi around with a fork or chopsticks until it is all dissolved. ¬†Pour back into the pot with everything else. ¬†Taste it to see if you want to add more miso. ¬†Add more miso in the same fashion if you do. ¬†The other way I have done it is to put the miso into a larger tea strainer… like one of these:

tea-ball[1] Tea_strainer_2

… and swirled it around until it all dissolved in the soup. ¬†To each their own!

 

STEP 5.)  Finishing touches.  If the soup has cooled down too much for your tastes, increase the heat to warm it up without it reaching a boil.  When ready ladle out your soup and sprinkle with the green onions.  Serve the soup and impress everyone with your worldly-ness!

 

ENJOY!

 

* Don’t let the names psych you out, Dashi, daikon and wakame are more widely available that you may think. ¬†If you can’t find them near you at all do not fear, wakame and/or daikon don’t have to be included just add another veggie instead or some chopped mushrooms. ¬†If you can’t find dashi you can try chicken broth, fish broth or just water. ¬†It will taste different, but different isn’t always bad…EXPERIMENT! ¬†Some types of miso even have dashi already mixed in, making it perfect for miso soup:

dashimiso

On the other end of the spectrum if you want to make your own dashi, check out one of these websites… it seems simple enough:

http://www.lafujimama.com/2010/01/how-to-make-dashi/

http://justonecookbook.com/blog/how-to/how-to-make-dashi-jiru/

 

A few notes about miso…

miso_img_large

Miso paste is readily available in most super markets.  Here are a few fun facts about it:

*  There are different types of miso, which of course have different tastes.  White miso is made from soy beans and rice, which are then fermented and create a lighter taste.  Red miso is made from soy beans, barley and other grains, which go through a longer fermenting process leading to a richer, saltier flavour.  Awase miso is a mix of the two types making it easier to use for all types of cooking.

*  It is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, some B vitamins, and protein.

*  It contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

* ¬†It’s origins can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC. ¬†Miso was introduced to Japan around the 7th century by Buddhist monks.

 

PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST… daikon looks like this:

daikon_16x9

how do you say “om nom nom” in Japanese?

Food in Japan is on another level. I don’t think I ate anything I normally eat at home, but I never once missed western food. Well, I did slightly panic when I found out that I was supposed to eat the crab in the middle of the picture below:

lilcrab

I found the tastes, quantities, and presentation perfect for myself and my well being. One of the foods that surprised me the most was the rice. I am not a rice fan, I usually avoid eating it and almost never make it. So of course at first I was a little nervous of what I would eat over there. Then I tried Japanese rice.

2005_12_20-rice-cooker

I think I ate rice at every meal and a rice ball for every snack. In fact my favorite thing to make in the mornings was avocado rice balls which where just: rice and avocado wrapped in seaweed. I took a few pictures, but they were so messy looking I can’t post them and maintain any self respect. Messy or not… they were delicious ūüôā We would also buy these togo rice balls often… and by often I mean almost everyday.

711

rice balls should be mandatory in all 7-11’s

Besides how great they tasted, they were filling, convenient, and reasonably healthy compared to what you can come out of a US 7-11 with. And maybe that’s what I loved most about the food in Japan, I always felt good after eating. I don’t have any allergies to any food that I know of, but it’s not uncommon for me to feel, ‚Äúuncomfortable‚ÄĚ after a meal even when I haven’t eaten a crazy amount. But with the food I was eating in Japan, even when I ate A LOT, I never had that same bloated/ upset stomach feeling. WHICH WAS AWESOME… and so was endless sushi:

SOMUCHSUSHI

Even at the festivals we always received a bento box for the day that would contain rice balls with different fish inside and sometimes inari (rice in a sweet bean curd) or tomago (egg). You may think bento boxes are just for kids, but they make amazing meals on the go for any age. I think they could convince anyone to eat their veggies.

20081210-yoshi-pica-bento calvin-and-hobbes-bento-box

matbento mushbento

Actually Bento seems popular for all age groups and served in restaurants as well as a way to prepare a meal togo. I love them, they are like mini buffet meals. I always want to taste little bits of lots of different things and bento makes that possible!

adultbento

Japan made it so easy to eat healthy on the go, compared with my attempt in August. If I had done that same trial in Japan it would have been a walk in the park! Where I could have coincidentally bought a baked sweet potato ūüôā

baked potatoes hand cart1

One last note… Royal Caribbean… this is NOT sushi:

RCCL sushi

To which Royal would probably respond, ” but it is free.”

Drowning in data

 

The amount of information out there is overwhelming. ¬†I feel like I’ve been reading about healthy eating for weeks and have very few conclusive results. ¬†Every time I read an article that I start to believe, it takes me about one google search to find 5 contradicting articles. Even when looking at the sources, how can you tell what’s the truth out there anymore?

For example, you might wander upon this site when wondering if dairy is at the cause of your allergies and asthma:

http://www.naturalnews.com/010443_cows_milk_asthma.html

and then you see this:

http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/

but then this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22349307/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/does-milk-really-do-body-good/#.UEY11I0gqSo

 

You can find equal arguments throwing around the same scientific studies each proving whatever the article is promoting. ¬†Ugh, it’s just so frustrating. ¬†So maybe read more books, or go speak with a nutritionist? ¬†Done that, and I’ve found both of these on opposite sides of the spectrum too.

 

So where does that leave me?  Confused, annoyed, and just wanting someone to have all the right answers?  Excuse me while I go throw a minor temper tantrum.

 

 

 

Ok back to being an adult. ¬†I guess if no one can just tell me what is best for the human body, I’ll have to figure out what works best for my body. ¬†It will be much more long-term than someone just giving me the answers, but at least it will be conclusive in my own mind.

 

I did find some great resources online this month that I would like to share:

http://www.snack-girl.com/¬† has an amazing resource of great, healthy, usually easy snacks. ¬†Plus she is fun to read ūüôā

http://eatawesome.ca/  has a really cheap ebook, with mouth-watering pictures.  This is more for meals though.

http://www.wholeliving.com/145336/recipes   They have recipe after recipe for everything from snacks to full meals

 

What did I learn?

Overall this month was very helpful, even though this last week left me feeling overwhelmed and drowning in information/ misinformation. ¬†I guess I got a little carried away anyway. ¬†The point of the month was to improve eating and snacking on the road and I got a bit bogged down with what was the best of the best of the best way to eat. ¬†¬†I’ve got to take a step back, try different things and see how they work for me. ¬†I know that planning ahead is key for snacking on the go, and for healthy meals at home too. ¬†I now have a huge list of snack food ideas, and also foods that mix and match together so I don’t have to waste a bunch of food at the end. ¬†So I would say mission accomplished! ¬†I’ll probably go back to food based challenges, but not for September! ¬†For September I am learning…

 

JAPANESE

 

 

 

 

End of Summer

My summer tour has come to an end, much quicker than I would have hoped. ¬†It’s back to Winnipeg for the next month, and almost time for a new focus, a new challenge. ¬†I still have one week of healthy eating while I’m at home, but it won’t really be on the go snacking type foods. ¬†Although having those snack on hand can be helpful even when you’re not constantly on the go. ¬†It makes healthy choices easier when it’s just as simple to reach for chips as it is to reach for carrots.

Since I do have a week left I think I will add-on the following:

*get rid of unhealthy packaged foods lying around

*read up on nutrition for athletes

*research more plant-based meal options

As for what I set out to accomplish, let’s see:

*Finding food that is healthy and fuels me for my shows

I did find a large list of snacking foods that I found to be healthy and kept me going.  My main issue to begin with was that I needed more of those foods than I thought!

*Pre-planning meals and snacks around my schedule to prevent crabbiness

I definitely noticed a difference when I ate before I got hungry, both in my crabbiness and my willingness to search out healthy food at all.  When I got too hungry I felt like the walking dead and I probably would have eaten anything in my path!

*Finding out if this is cheaper than eating out for all my meals on the road

I don’t have an exactly number tally yet, but I know for sure I spent less than I would have if I had eaten out for every single¬†meal. ¬†I also think I would have felt horrible.

*Planning for the right number of days so I don’t have excess I need to get rid of

This was easier than it has been in the past for me.  I actively choose foods that could be used in various combinations and I also took eating the food I had before buying other food more seriously.

So far, so good!

…and then, failure :(

evil bubble tea pushers ūüė¶

Sometimes my disconnected mind and taste buds can’t be out thought. ¬†Everything at the festival looks good, and I’ve been working hard right? ¬†I mean what’s wrong with having a …. whoa how did this bubble tea get in my mouth?

“Do I want a bite of your cookie? ¬†Well twist my rubber arm, sure I do”

“It’s chilly this morning, a coffee in my hand just feels right!”

“Everyone’s going out for pizza? ¬†I guess watching other people eat pizza sounds fun ūüė¶ “

Finding easily accessible healthy options on the go hasn’t been as hard as finding myself in the company of other people doing the same thing. ¬†I find it extremely hard to go against the group when it comes to social eating and drinking, but I’m not exactly sure how to combat this. ¬†Maybe by just doing it and eventually it won’t feel weird anymore, it will just be. ¬†I guess that’s kinda what I’m hoping to do with these monthly projects anyway… get the ball rolling so I’m not always wishing, wanting and waiting.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time” – Abraham Lincoln