Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preparing for the Christmas Season

Well, the holidays will soon be upon us, and one of the things I wanted/needed to get done was an advent calendar for my niece and nephew. I thought it would be a good idea to share this years advent calendar version now, in case anyone wanted to use the idea. I'm quite pleased with it. I've also got the pastry bug in my system, which is pleasing Phatdogg to no end. The trick I've found, and may have mentioned before, is to include any pastries in with my grain/veggie servings. Oh, and not to go overboard too. I highly recommend going to the various sites of the brands of ingredients you may have lying around, for example Robin Hood. I found a great oatmeal cookie recipe there that included wheat germ and a lot of other healthy ingredients.
So, the advent calendar is simple and if I do say so myself, ingenious. Doubtful I'm the first to think of it, but I didn't find anything like it on the web when I searched for ideas. I did find this idea and may do it in the future, if not for an advent calendar, maybe for Lent.
The Hershey Kisses rose bud has been around for a while, so I made up 24 and put a corresponding date on the leaf. I arranged them in a decorative plant holder, the chocolate for the 25th is underneath them all and a bit larger. The cello wrap for them is a Santa print, but a combination of red and green, or multi-colours would be great too. The best thing is, they also can look like led lights, so using pipe cleaners to attach them together and numbering the cello wrap would work well too I think.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Experiment will continue, not sure the Blog will...

In the beginning, finding topics to talk about was easy. I have found it difficult to come up with something to talk about, and Phatdogg is blogged out. I certainly do not wish to bore anyone with menial details. I could continue with updates on dishes and recipes I find and try out, but I don't feel that is necessarily connected to staying on CFG. We are committed to maintaining the dietary requirements of the food guide, but it's pretty much same-o same-o. I think that for now, I will leave the blog up, and if I come across those recipes or dishes that may interest you I will put up a post. I apologize that we won't be blogging more frequently, but I can assure everyone, I love following Canada's Food Guide, and have no desire to end it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chugging along...

Much like the trains that chug through our community we are chugging along with CFG. With the holidays behind us, we've worked our way back into a nice routine. Actually, the routine is kinda boring. Today is shopping day, and we will be loading up on fruits and veg, and I will try to find our source of meat servings for the week. Typically, I have been buying one large type of meat, be it a roast, a chicken etc. , which serves us for 3-4 days. (We supplement with meat alternatives for a few of our meals during the week too). The cost of meat can be quite outrageous, and as tasty as those steaks and fillets look, they would only offer us one serving. Last weeks roast beef, provided serving options of sandwiches, roast beef with veg and rice sides, and if I do say so myself, 3 truly amazing homemade beef & veggie pot pies. I took a photo of the pies after I made them from scatch, but no other photos, what was I thinking? So I will just have to make them again the next time roast beef is up for the week, and make sure I document the preparation etc. for your viewing pleasure.
What I find I am missing right now is the variety of fruit that we enjoyed over the summer. Now is the time for all the wonderful root veggies to grace our plates, but we do enjoy berries. Frozen are okay, but nothing beats fresh. This is also the time for soups, and I have a number of yummy soups in mind, ham and lentil, cauliflower with corn, broccoli with chicken. I will keep you posted on those as well.
For now, I think I may consider pulled pork for this week's meaty option. Mmmm, pulled pork.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting back into the Rhythm

As good as the holiday was, I am finding it challenging to maintain control on the not so good foods in our pantry. Besides having a selection of beer and wine left over from our Thanksgiving weekend, there were a number of tart fillings that needed to be addressed. Making up some tarts with the leftover mincemeat and pumpkin filling, and drinking my share of the beer and wine, I feel really bad?, don't know if that is quite the word. I enjoy following CFG, but I have not enjoyed my lack of will power when it has come to finishing of our treats. They are supposed to be a once a week thing. It has turned into a daily or almost daily thing. The good news, the treats are almost all gone, and we won't be bringing any more in. We will be able to go back to having something special once a week. I personally have always found it difficult to say no, when I know that there is some tasty morsel in the fridge or cupboard. That's why I rarely bring anything into the house. Some days, I do very well, some days not so much. I guess lots of people are like that. That all said, I know that this is something I will have to learn to deal with, and try to control. The only good news about Halloween is that I am not a fan of chocolate bars, and candy, (I'm more of a tarts, muffin, and pies kinda of a girl). So Princess won't have to worry that Mum will raid her treat stash.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finding the time

I have continued along the merry journey of this experiment, and I think that I really enjoy being the weight that I am, and the fitness level that I have. I sneak a couple more treats into the mix than Bella and Princess (when Bella and Princess aren't looking so as not to tempt them). I feel like it is a little bit of a bonus I get for being at a naturally healthy weight for my body.

I know that I am at a good weight (194-196). This is a good weight because it is in accordance with the BMI for my height and age. Also my weight hasn't really changed much in 2 months of this. Remember I lost 10 lbs or so near the beginning of September, well my weight hasn't changed since then.

I also know that I could increase my athleticism. I don't ride the bike anymore, or run or even really walk the dog (other than the family walks in the mornings ... which are sometimes not happening, and other times are an hour long). I also procrastinate about signing up Princess for ice skating and the early session has passed us by. We will have to try for the later one that starts in January.

I believe this diet is the best thing for our bodies, lets hope that this diet pays off in dividends further down the road.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Blinders and Leftovers

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, and now it’s time to reflect on how we managed it, and working with CFG. Our charts were ignored for the better parts of Sunday and Monday. Putting on the blinders would be one way of describing it, but I would like to say that we just allowed ourselves the option of eating what we wanted without concern over whether we had any grain, meat or veg servings accounted for. We have become quite accustomed to what is a serving size for most foods, and looking back; I don’t feel that any of us ate much more than what we would have been allowed.

We didn’t indulge in poor quality food, but with an abundance of fresh veggie appetizers, hummus, whole wheat crackers, oh yeah, and beer. Dinner consisted of ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and green salad. Dessert was a selection of tarts; pumpkin, mincemeat, and blueberry with a dollop of custard.

I tried to make our meal and appetizers, healthy and simple. By making tarts, I ensured everyone would have a chance to sample dessert, in an appropriate portion size. Not to mention that the kids like eating tarts. One family member jokingly commented that our refrigerator was just the type she liked; filled with desserts and beer.

The following day, we snacked on our veggies and hummus. What was I to do for dinner? I didn’t want to just reheat the same food, as we would probably be having more of the same for the next few days at lunch. So I looked at the mashed potatoes and came up with an idea for gnocchi with a tomato sauce. I looked up a simple gnocchi recipe and found one here; and proceeded to chop up a bit of veggies and ham to throw into the tomato sauce. It was delicious! A big enough hit that Phatdogg has requested that I make some more on Wednesday for him to take to work for lunch, and as the recipe is so simple, I haven’t a problem doing that, like I said, it was delicious. Below are the recipes for the gnocchi and sauce, and a couple of pics.

1 small can tomato sauce (or your homemade)
½ onion sliced thinly
1 cup chopped left over veggies
1 or 2 cups chopped ham (as much as you want)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic minced
Heat all above ingredients on low for 20 minutes or until the gnocchi is ready. Whichever comes first?

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup flour
1 egg
Whisk together egg with mashed potatoes, slowly fold in flour, making sure not to over mix the dough. Flour the surface of the counter top, cut off a portion of your dough, and roll it with your fingers. Cut out bite sized pieces and set aside on a lightly floured surface (a cookie sheet maybe?). Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Boil a pot half filled with water and a teaspoon of salt. Drop in the gnocchi about 10 at a time. Remove them after they float to the surface, which means they are done cooking. I placed mine in a strainer over a bowl until I had completed all of them. When the gnocchi are all done, portion out onto plates, spoon tomato sauce over top, and serve. Nothing beats freshly made gnocchi.

Friday, October 7, 2011

No Wane, Lotsa Gain

At the beginning of our journey, I was curious (and hoping) that following CFG and CPAG would not only improve our overall health, but aide in creating a slimmer body. Today I weigh 11 pounds less, and couldn't be more pleased with how things are going. Where Phatdogg has concerns about his interest waning, I am truly enjoying the freedom the guide gives me. Preparing meals, shopping for groceries, is much easier to plan when you have a chart that tells you what's best to eat, and how much of it to eat. The largest parts of our shops are fresh veggies and fruit. Last week, Princess requested that I put a mini cucumber in our basket. When I reminded her that she didn't like cucumber this summer (we tried it a few times), she put her hands up and said "can we just try it Mum". How could I say no to that! Surprise, she actually ate some of it later that night at dinner, declaring that she loved cucumber.

As a family we agreed on allowing ourselves a sometime treat a week. I find that makes my choices easier, as I would much rather share a treat at home with my family, than have a Halloween chocolate bar that was offered to me at work.

I've made an effort to increase my activity at home. Dancing with Princess is good play and a good heart thumper. We don't run a car, but have made transit a choice on occasion when we could have walked. We've trimmed that down as much as possible, in fact, the last two weeks on my way to work; I have got off two or three stops sooner so that I could enjoy a speedier, longer walk to work.

I really like what we're doing and have no plans to stop any time sooner or later. A fun fact, this Sunday is Thanksgiving, and I will be doling out the food to the whole family. I have tried to create a tasty, but simple menu (14 people in a 970 sq ft condo should be interesting), and will be saving up my treats for this week for the yummy tarts on Sunday. I will post some pictures of the Thanksgiving meal and their respective recipes (if everyone enjoys it).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Waning Enthusiasm

Sometimes I just want to eat McDonald's, or more usually Burger King.  I know that the food there is of questionable nutritional value and yet, I see people enjoying this food everywhere I go.  I see them on billboards and on tv, I hear about people enjoying the latest "the chicken is the bun" sandwich on the radio, even live at the malls and on the streets we are lining up for convenience food.  I don't know where my urge for this food comes from ... I wish it would stop, it is a very difficult temptation at times to not eat a bag of Doritos (which I did last weekend).

Foods goodness and badness seems to be a pretty black and white issue for me.  I can eat a hamburger but shouldn't eat a big mac.  I can have french fries but should have them baked.  Cola can be a limited once in a while thing on this diet.  I just hope that I am not losing discipline.  It takes a lot of self-discipline to do what we are attempting here.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Super Running Chestnut Exercise Walk

The sun is shining, and the horse chestnuts are falling. This morning we were all up earlier than usual, and this provided us a great opportunity to go a little further on our morning walk. We headed straight to the Big Park, and showed Phatdogg how we get our horse chestnuts.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are not edible (unless you are a squirrel), and they make great conkers (if you’re from the United Kingdom). I like them because they can provide a lovely autumn centerpiece, thrown all in a pretty jar or vase. Princess likes them because you have to squish the pod to get them out (later in the season, they pop out when the pods fall to the ground), and they’re pretty to look at. Last year, we engraved them, added a hook, and they were little ornament/key chains for the various family members, (for Christmas gifts from Princess).

Once that part of the walk was done, we headed home. With Princess leading the way home in our “super running chestnut exercise walk”. Those were her words exactly. That’s the kind of exercise I like. With the weather a bit cooler, I made a nice tomato based soup yesterday, and pleased to say Princess LOVED IT! I feel fortunate that she loves vegetables, and soup. I try to make sure she has a bit of all the food groups and portions of her servings at each meal time, but over the last few days, she has been saying that she is still hungry. At 4, the serving sizes go up by one for fruit/veg. and grain, so I have been giving her bit more in those two if she is hungry.

Below you will see a selection of the meals Princess has enjoyed. Whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce. -- 1 egg, 1/2 serving of cheese, crackers, and 1 serving of vegetables. -- Salad (1 serving of veg/fruit) with a 1/2 serving of mixed beans and cheese, 1/2 serving side of toasted tortilla. -- 1/2 serving of chicken, rice, and 1 serving each of strawberries and carrots, dips for veg and chicken.
Here are the chestnuts collected and Princess playing in the dirt. It's nice to play outside.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rain and Pizza

The rain has come, announcing autumns arrival. Our early morning walk was cut short today. With a wind warning in effect, Princess had a bit of a battle holding on to her umbrella, and it was too much to manage Outlaw, my umbrella and Princess' needs.  Seems to me that a solution (at least on the days when there is a wind warning on top of a rainy day), is for either I or Phatdogg to walk the dog solo, and for Princess and I to head out for some puddle jumping later in the day. I quite like the rain, as does she, so that shouldn't be a problem.

The pizza was on account of a weekend trip away for Phatdogg. He came home Sunday, famished and wanting to order in.  I originally said I would pass, but after a nice long walk with Princess and Outlaw, I decided to enjoy it as a treat. (not just for eating but for not preparing dinner too!)  I enjoyed the pizza, but felt a bit guilty eating it.  I did find it a bit heavy, but that didn't stop me from having some leftovers for lunch today too.  I worked in the grain, milk, meat and veg servings it would be onto our charts.  I feel like it's a bit of a waste of servings, having the pizza, because it takes up so many servings, but you only get a couple of pieces. I won't even comment on the oil or fat that it would contain. 

Now, we have made pizza at home, below is the recipe that we got from Mannie -thanks!


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 cup milk, I use 1 %
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Combine all ingredients, knead about 7 times, add a little extra dusting of flour if too tacky. Wrap in plastic wrap for about 30-45 mins to rest and rise a little, this makes it easier to stretch out on the pizza pan.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray pizza pan with a little cooking spray. Take your dough and plop it in the middle of your pan, with your hand, flatten it out and gently spread it towards the edges, going over the edge by about 1", this will allow you to put a ring of cheese if desired (try Monteray Jack) around then fold the crust over the cheese and seal it in, you can go just to the edge if you don't want the stuffed crust. Spread pizza sauce on the dough, or homemade salsa, sprinkle some cheese, put your toppings on and then more cheese.
Place pizza on middle rack in preheated oven for 30 mins.


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Vitamin Answer (sorry, honey)

Phatdogg here, with my thoughts on the whole vitamin thing.

I believe that vitamins are no good for you at all.  I think that our bodies have a natural regulatory system built in so that when we are in need of a specific vitamin or mineral we will have a craving for say tomato or broccoli.  I think that most people are out of touch with their bodies though; we don't eat properly, we don't get enough exercise.  These types of activities I believe lead to us feeling "heavy" and a whole host of other things (including being overweight, and having an impact on our emotional status).

I believe that having a vitamin supplement will just overload one vitamin at the expense of the other... for example perhaps an overload of Vitamin E will create a deficiency in Vitamin B.  Furthermore I think that if we keep taking vitamins for a long enough period of time we are likely to develop a physical dependency on them.  Meaning our bodies will not be able to use the natural version of the Vitamin as efficiently as it once did.

I believe that there is a lot of money floating around the vitamin and supplement market.  Because of this money there are lobbyists, and advertisers, and marketers and lawyers, and yes even government bodies making a killing in this sector ... so I don't expect it to go away.  The only thing we as consumers can do is educate ourselves and decide accordingly....whether or not you adhere to the governmental recommendations is up to you.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Vitamin Question

Do we need supplemental vitamins? Searching through the Health Canada website (, the only additional vitamin recommended was vitamin D.  However, there are guidelines for this vitamin.  Taken from the site:

What are Health Canada's Existing Recommendations?
All Canadians
Currently, the advice contained in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends that all Canadians over the age of two, including pregnant and lactating women, consume 500mL (two cups) of milk or fortified soy beverages every day.  These foods are fortified with vitamin D.
Adults over the age of fifty
Health Canada recommends that, in addition to following Canada's Food Guide, everyone over the age of 50 should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.
Health Canada recommends that all breastfed, healthy term babies receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. Supplementation of the vitamin should begin at birth and continue until one year of age. This recommendation is to help reduce the risk of rickets, a disease that affects bone growth in children. Infants who are formula fed receive adequate vitamin D from formula.
The pharmacy aisles are filled with whole sections dedicated to supplemental vitamins and minerals.  You can choose from one-a-day multivitamins, determined by use on your age and sex, to specific vitamins and minerals (i.e. D, E and C to name a few).  I can only presume that we as consumers have been led to believe that these vitamins and minerals are essential for our overall health.  But if we are following our countries dietary and physical guidelines, we should be receiving the adequate amounts already.  Also, where does that leave those people, who have a regimen of specific supplements, that they say has improved their quality of life? Is it because their diet is lacking in these vitamins and minerals on account that they are not following the CFG, or are they eating right, but still not receiving the benefit of the nutrition, which could mean a trip to the doctor to find out the reason why? What are your thoughts on this matter? Sounds like a good poll question to me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


So the diet feels like it is just part of the daily process these days.  Having said that Bella and I were afforded a couple of nights without Princess this weekend and we went straight away to our favorite burger shack and had the most impressive burgers that we can think of in close vicinity (Burger Heaven -  Looking at the burger we can see the veggies which is good; but there was a lot more oil than we are used to eating.  I think that given the opportunity we would do exactly the same thing again, even knowing that we will feel "weighted" by the additional fat.  Got to live a little I figure, it's just if you are eating burgers 3 - 4 times per week it might be a little overboard.

The weather here is starting to change, I am still hoping that we can continue our morning exercise walks with little disruption through the winter, but the weather is going to be outright miserable sooner or later.  The Outlaw will be so drenched it will make us unmotivated to take her.  Ah well, cross that bridge when we get there.  Today I did a max push up test and got to 27.  I am sure that number is higher than if I had just tried the same thing 2 weeks ago.  I qualify for the toughest level of the training now, and if I manage to stay there on track I am just 4 weeks away from doing more than 60 consecutive push ups... now that is starting to sound impressive.

I also had a couple of beers this week.  I hope that I don't let the diet slip so much that I ruin what we are working toward.

Catch up with ya soon, Phatdogg

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Be Active!

From the CFG; "Canada's Physical Activity Guide recommends 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity into daily life for adults and at least 90 minutes a day for children and youth."

For our family, we have incorporated a family 'exercise' dog walk in the morning.  20 minutes of walking with a purpose.  Good for the whole family and the dog.  During the rest of the day, our other activities vary for the individual.  Phatdogg has a physical job, and has begun a program that will see him eventually doing 100 push ups a day.  I have been increasing my walking (with Princess and Outlaw in tow, more often than not), and doing some low impact stretches/exercises at night.  On top of these things, we try to spend our free family time being active outside; Frisbee tossing is the family's (and Princess') current favourite activity (even Outlaw has proved to be a Frisbee dog!).

A good example of our increased walking came about yesterday.  Outlaw needed a new bag of dog food.  The store where we get it is a 45 min. walk away, when walking with a pre-schooler and dog.  Typically, Princess and I would grab a ride on the bus, and when the weather turns nasty, we will probably do so again.  However, summer is waning, and taking advantage of the ability to walk there just seemed like a great adventure, and an even better idea.  Walking through the park, provided additional adventure, as we walked passed 4 coyotes. Big ones too! We may live in an urban community, but nature is never too far away.  Needless to say, we took an alternate route home. 2 hours there and back, with a small banana/water break when we picked up the food.  Princess never complains about walking this long or far, is that typical? I don't know.

We also passed by one of the local middle schools and saw a class coming out to take a run around the track.  I would say they were 12 yr olds.  I was surprised to see 1/2 of them didn't even run around 1/3 of the track before walking the rest of the way.  On our way back, they were paired up and tossing Frisbees.  This cemented school coolness for Princess obviously.  My observation cemented the need for us to instill the ethic of physical activity in our household.  I would like Princess to be in the half running around the entire track.    Thanks, Bella

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Eating Well Budget

Our grocery budget is $150 pr week.  All meals fall under this category, including eating out and take aways.  Depending on where you live, you may pay more or less on groceries, so determining the ideal dollar amount for your family will take some research and trial and error.  We make it easy for ourselves by having two weeks' worth of grocery money in a jar, "as seen on TV."  It's a lot harder to go out to a restaurant or order in a pizza when you have to take that money out of a jar, and see what's left for shopping in a grocery store. 

Our food budget has always been manageable, but I see how much more food we are eating, and how we aren't spending any more money than before.  We even had a small ($10) surplus last week. Typically, we would spend $40 a week on meat or fish.  That has dropped to about $10-$15.  As our portions are that much smaller, a ham, or roast lasts days longer.

The majority of foods permitted on CFG are unprocessed.  Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season not only makes sense, but keeps money in your pocket as the prices for these will generally be lower.  We have been thoroughly enjoying the berries and fruit available right now, and are researching the best options come winter, when fresh won't be available.  You will find your trips to the grocery store will exclude (for the most part), the inside aisles.  Our province includes a tax on groceries, in the simplest terms, those groceries that are highly processed (i.e. chips, frozen foods).  My last two shops had zero tax on the bill.  We all love not paying tax!

CFG not only seems to create a healthy lifestyle in regards to diet, but a much healthier lifestyle for your budget.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

About the right weight

So I (Phatdogg) have been hovering around 194-196 for the last week.  With my size (6'4") it gives me a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is healthy.  I have not been feeling hungry lately, but haven't seen improvement in my sleeping habits (which I have struggled with for a long time).

So in conjunction with the Canadian Food Guide diet plan that we are on, I am trying to increase the amount of exercise I am performing.  I am only making this transition slowly; so I don't have anything to brag about yet, but I do hope to see some differences in my body over time (maybe 6 months).

I did get some beef jerky today ... I looked at the serving size (15g) and determined I would count that as a meat serving for the day.  Bella made some kick-butt meatloaf that I ate for my other two servings of meat today, and now I am practicing discipline in not eating the entire pack of beef jerky (85g) which would be easy for me to do, as I have done it a number of times before.  The frightening read was the amount of sodium from 1 serving....17% of daily allowance.

Things are moving forward, I feel positive about the changes that we have made, and we aren't treating ourselves as often as any of us would like, but about once a week.  This week is my mother's birthday (12th) and Bella and my 4th anniversary (8th) ... two very good reasons to eat poorly, but we are going to split it down the middle and allow ourselves 1 treat for the week on Sunday the 11th...and we are going to stop there.

Catch up with you all soon, Phatdogg

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eating Away from Home and Over-Indulging

Yesterday, we were invited over to a friend's home for a BBQ and good conversation.  Our newest challenge; how many servings of the four food groups were we about to eat or eating.  Not only was that foremost on our minds, but we enjoyed our fair share of libation, which is considered a sometime treat.

I (Bella) had made sure during the day, that I would go into the evening with at least 2 servings each of grain/and fruit-veggies.  (Phatdogg had the same idea).  Our friends presented a wonderful appetizer; a barbequed brie round on a cedar plank, with a tomato relish and crackers.  One word, Yummy!  The hardest part was stopping.  Over-indulging is easily the biggest challenge whenever one finds themselves eating away from home.  We are fortunate that these friends presented a healthy balance of food.  Dinner was barbeque pork, asparagus, raw veggies and salad.  Portioning out our plates was simple and without temptation as there were only nutritious options. 

As far as the libation was concerned, well, beer is good.  Especially when paired with good friends and good times.  Not much more to be said about that.  I believe the bigger part of this challenge will come when going out to a restaurant.  Control on serving size will be a matter of not eating everything that comes to the table,  choosing the right meal, and taking home leftovers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crying Household

In a matter of 10 minutes I have managed to make both Princess and Bella cry this morning.  I think that the prior post by Bella is a little too personal to be sharing over the internet.  Bella thinks the opposite.  I don't want this blog to turn into a 52 week journal about bowl movements (or lack there of) and other "personal" matters.  Bella believes that many people suffer from bowl movement problems based on diet and weight so the topic should be open for discussion ... my response is that a lot of female reproductive health is also based on diet, exercise and weight; but that I am not sharing intimate details of that side of our family life with the world.  Anyway, maybe there is a way to set up a vote, or poll or something.

Back to what I believe the posts should be about.

I have dropped about 7lbs in the week and a half that we have been following the food guide.  I am hoping that my weight will level off around 187lbs (yes, I am 6'4") which is my Body Mass Index (BMI) ideal weight.  I feel like I am wasting away a little.  Friends of mine keep offering me tasty treats like homemade cookies, and while I am ok to admit I am doing this anonymously online; I am not willing to tell my truck driving coworkers.

Short and sweet, that's it for now from me.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eating Right and Regularity

Warning, the following topic may gross some of you out, but I will be gentile in my phrasing.

I (Bella) have never had a problem with regularity.  I know that it is a problem for many people, and whole grains, fibre from fresh fruit and vegetables, should create a happy ending, so to speak.  After a week and a half my body has returned to normal movements.  It is something that I am not shy about talking about.  I have been dealing with more than my fair share of bodily functions for the last 3 1/2 years, thanks to Princess and Outlaw.  The increased fibre has it effects, and it took this week for my body to process the change and return my movements to a normal consistency.

Some members of my family have not always been as fortunate, Princess has on occasion been one of them.  Over the last week and a bit, she has endured a bout of constipation  Not much fun for her or us.  No one likes to see their child struggling to get a bowel movement out.  I don't really know if the dietary structure we are now following is the cause, or if it began with some innocently made homemade granola bars, or plain yoghurt which was a pro-biotic style (not recommended for a toddler, but seriously I could not find any plain yoghurt that wasn't).  We have introduced good ole fashion prune juice for Princess, and intend to provide her a 1/2 cup a day for the next week or so, fruit juice counts as a fruit/veggie serving, so I don't want to make it a regular part of her diet if I can avoid it.  We also applied some past winners in the fight against constipation, bicycle movements, belly massages, increased running and walking.

Hopefully, Princess will only deal with her constipation for a short while, and return to regular movements.  Please enjoy the granola bar recipe below, ( I found it online over a year ago, but I couldn't tell you where), it is quite good, but granola bars count as a sometimes treat in the CFG so we may not make them ourselves again until we have occasion to have a gathering of friends or family over for a visit.

½ cup butter                                      ½ cup peanut butter
1 cup honey                                       1 tsp vanilla
4 ½ cups rolled oats                         1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda                            
½ cup each dark chocolate chips, chopped mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.
¼ cup sesame seeds (for topping)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9x13 inch pan.  Combine butters, honey and vanilla first.  Then add all other ingredients.  Beat hard until combined.  Stir in add-ins, press mixture into pan, really jam it in there so the bars don’t fall apart (I use a sheet of plastic wrap on top, then press with my hands).  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes, and then cut into bars. Will make anywhere from 20 to 30 depending on the size of your bars.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the beginning

So, here we are.

I (Phatdogg) weighed in at 200 lbs, and 6'4" tall.  about a year and a half ago my weight would have been 240lbs but I took up cycling and dropped a bit of that weight.

Having said that what I am hoping for most from following the food guide is energy at the right times (during the day) and sleep at night.  I have been told by a psychologist that I demonstrate symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder; one of which is chronic insomnia.

I expect the biggest challenge for me will be limiting the sugars, fats and high-calorie snacks that I enjoy.

Anyway, here's hoping for a better life ... starting with my diet.

The Beginning

And we're off!  As we have been already observing Canada's Food Guide (CFG) for a week, our official start today was easy as pie. (Mmm, pie).

I must say I am most interested to see how this impacts my weight.  At 5ft 7in and 195 lbs to start, that puts me 45 lbs over my ideal weight.  Maintaining food guide recommendations (FGR) will give me a healthier body, will it also provide a slimmer one?

As I have stated previously, I believe we were eating healthily: we just had much larger portions.  (Okay, maybe we indulged in empty calorie foods occasionally).  Researchers have said that over the last 40 years, portion sizes have increased significantly,  I am looking forward to this new lifestyle, which feels very familiar.  I remember our family meals growing up.  My mother would plate our food, and everyone would receive a serving of meat, veg. and potato.  In the winter, we would have some soup to start, and regardless of the season, every meal ended with a salad.  Most Europeans eat this way.  I can see the portions now, with my parents having slightly larger ones.  When did that change for me?

Our activity levels are more a focus now too.  Princess would ask me many times in the past to run with her.  I would a little bit, but sit down presently and watch her do more.  Now, I make sure I keep going, even when I don't feel totally up to it.  For not only my own good, but to set the right example for her too!

Thanks, Bella

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gastronomy - the art or science of good eating

1 Day to go until we embark on our year long culinary journey.

We have actually been living by the guide for about 6 days now.  It does take some effort to plan meals, and servings and making a real effort to cut out the "naughty" foods like sugars, fats and oils.  One thing I notice really early on is that I eat smaller amounts more frequently.  I find it easier to deal with the serving sizes and how many of those servings I can have this way. 

So for breakfast I had too slices of toast with thin scraping of non-hydrogenated margarine and some peanut butter (2 Tbsp).  I also had an orange and a plum. (2 veggie-fruit, 2 grains, 1 meat)

Then on the way to the shop (we always need more fruits, and some of the time veggies too), Princess and I (Phatdogg) shared a banana and an apple; count as 1 fruit serving each. 

For lunch I had a ham (75g), cheese (block cheddar 50g), leaf lettuce (1/4 cup) and radish (1/4 cup) with a bit of grainy mustard on two slices of whole wheat bread with a single plum prune.   Also I had 4 and a half whole wheat crackers (I put some of the cheese and ham on them).
(1 veggie-fruit, 3 grains , 1 milk and alternative, 1 meat)

I find that I am eating more raw food, and also that I am left hungry feeling a lot of the time.  I fight this hunger with water (as we are supposed to have 8 cups of water a day anyway I figure I can`t have too much).  I see a few changes in the way I think about food... I would ordinarily not notice if I missed breakfast; however, because I am always thinking about following the guide spending time making and eating food seems really insignificant.  I hope as time moves on it will become more like blinking in that I don`t have to think about it ... it will just happen in the background.

Friday, August 26, 2011

T minus 2 days or Pancake Heartbreak

With the trial period nearing an end, I feel that we've been doing a great job.  Keeping track of the measurements, weights and size portions of our meals has not been as difficult as one may imagine.

Princess and I have managed to get a start on the food guide tracker poster board, which fit nicely on the side of the fridge. A few well chosen pictures of fruit and veggies from magazines will round out the piece.  We are also heading to the local community health office to see if they have any copies of the food guide as I don't want to wait the 4 weeks to have it mailed to us.

Now I will delve into the pancake heartbreak.  I typically make pancakes once sometimes twice a week, from scratch.  It is a simply great recipe, which I will include at the end of this post.  Princess' first words this morning upon waking were "pancakes, pancakes!" Now, a pancake serving is one small pancake.  That was the good news, because after weighing one of the pancakes I normally make, it matched the 30g total, (I make them small obviously). The heartbreak is the number of pancakes we can have. Princess normally would have had 3, I and Phatdogg, would have had 4-5. As each pancake is a serving of grain, that would have maxed Princess out first thing in the morning, and would have been more than half of ours.  Not knowing this ahead of time I erred on the side of caution and made a half batch of batter; this allowed us a more reasonable amount (3 each for Phatdogg and me, 1.5 for Princess), with no leftover pancakes. We complimented our pancakes with a small drizzle of maple syrup, and a full fruit serving of an apple.

I will be honest, I LOVE pancakes, and would have liked another 3, but I also am not willing to lose out on more grain servings later in the day. That is where the key lies I believe too. Not only do you put more thought into each meal, you must think ahead to your future meals as well.

Phatdogg will have to share with you his lunch exploits, as he must take not only his lunch to work, but dinner as well.

Thanks, Bella

Simple Homemade Pancakes

1 cup flour (any kind)
1 tbsp each baking powder and sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 egg (large)
1 tbsp oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Create a well in the center and pour in milk and egg. Whisk well. Add oil. At this point, you can add up to 1/4 cup more of milk or water, if you feel the batter is too thick.  It will depend on the type of flour you use and the size of the egg.  Heat up a skillet, making sure it is seasoned (an iron skillet works best when barely greased), or non stick pan. Keep the heat low, we have an electric stove and I put the heat at 4. Pan is ready when drops of water bounce on top.  Pour out 1/4 cup of the batter: wait for bubbles to form on top, than flip. The thicker the batter, the longer you should leave it on the skillet, but every stove, pan and batter are different, so it will take some time to determine which works for you. Be sure to put a small bit of butter on the pancake and some real maple syrup. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting things ready ...

Well, as you can see below, I spent part of the day creating our weekly food guide logs.  This will make it easier to mark the number of servings, per day, per person.  I'll get my craft on with Princess' help, and create a wall board to put these and a few other posters up.
Health Canada's website has all the information available for download, pdf and you can order it to be mailed to you too. 
What I found today is how important a kitchen scale will be. I'll be all over a digital one if we can swing it. We have a small scale, and for cheese and meats, it will be essential.  I believe that we have been eating healthy, (not counting the occasional bag of chips or home baked  goods), but eating larger portions then we should, as discovered today when I made sausage meatballs.
I'm excited for us, and hope our visitors to this blog enjoy what we can share with you.

T minus 6 days to following the Canadian Food Guide for 1 year

This post is being written by the man of the house.  How we got to this point is a bit of a story which we are hoping to tell over the next year and a bit.  We have started to incorporate the Food Guide into our lives with conscientious effort today.  We started the day with a bit of a walk for the dog (20 minutes exercise for myself (Phatdogg), my wife (Bella), my 3 1/2 year old (Princess) and our dog (Outlaw)).  Each of us had eaten various amounts of our breakfast by that time.  Anyway, maybe Bella will have an update for the night to see how our first "test" day went.