New Favorite Song and Old Favorite Shoes April 28, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Uncategorized, Running, General Exercise.
Tags: running, Athletic shoe, Physical exercise, Footwear, quads, vastus medialis
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I’ve had a few really good runs lately. There have been some real nut-busters on the treadmill, but also an eye-opening run around Seward Park. Why am I such a monster all of a sudden?
1) New favorite running song. Icona Pop, I Love It. And I’m not (too) embarrassed to admit it.
2) Same old kicks. Despite my earnest belief in replacing running shoes on a regular basis, a combination of laziness and reluctance to spend money has kept me in the same pair for a couple of years. That same reluctance to spend money means I’m sporting the absolute cheapest running shoes I could find that fit. I feel much better about my tatty old shoes after reading this article in New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/. If I’m ruining my feet with shoes, at least I’m not over-paying for the privilege.
3) Quad-strengthening exercises, particularly targeting the vastus medialis. That’s the quad muscle (there are actually four quadriceps muscles, that’s why they call it that) right over the kneecap, on the inner part of the thigh. You may have observed this muscle is particularly protrude-y on runners, soccer players, bicyclers, etc. Because of the female body structure (we have hips, you know), the knees tend to drift toward each other. Running in a knock-kneed fashion is not good for one’s knees, regardless of gender, but the ladies have to be especially vigilant. My chiropractor gave me some exercises to get my knees straight over my ankles, and I have to say, they’ve been a big help. Now when I see women run, I look at their knees. When I see women running with their knees practically pointing towards each other, I wince. Strengthen up that vastus medialis, ladies!
4) Map My Run. I had been using Map My Run to track walks and dragon boat practices, but only on my laptop. I would get home from practice or a walk, and I would log my workout, guesstimating my route and duration. Then I downloaded the app to my phone, and it changed some things for me. Most amazingly, I realized that I actually run a lot faster outside than on the treadmill, to the tune of two minutes per mile faster. Now I know why running outside has always been so much harder than the treadmill.
There are probably other contributing factors. I just got a Vitamix, so I’m all full of smoothies. That can’t hurt, right?
Push-ups: You’re Doing Them Wrong April 21, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in General Exercise.
Tags: yoga, Push-up, push ups
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Every now and then my yoga instructor says something that completely turns my world upside down. It’s usually something ridiculously simple that has me smacking my forehead and yelling “Son of a triptych!” (pardon my construction dust; I’m trying to clean up my language) for not realizing it myself a whole lot sooner.
This time, she made a comment about push-ups going in the wrong direction.
Son of a soap dish, she’s right! In what position does one generally begin a push-up? Plank. And what’s the first direction we go in? Not up. It’s called a freakin push-up, people, but we start by going down. So basically, the first thing we do is fail. We haven’t gone up, like the name suggests we should, right? So…FAIL. Rubber. Plucker. I hate failing.
Try this instead:
- Start by laying on the ground on your tummy, forehead on the ground, arms along your sides, palms up, and the tops of your feet on the floor.
- Turn your toes under, and bring your knees up off the floor by engaging your quads and hamstrings. *
- Bring your hands directly under your shoulders, palms to the ground, all five fingers pointing forward.
- Aim your heels toward the wall behind you, aim your tailbone at your heels, and engage your core.
- Raise yourself directly up into a plank position, keeping your legs, butt and back in the same line the whole way up.
Congratulations, non-failers! You just did a push up.
* If you are building toward strength, or you have a sensitive low back, you can do this push-up on your knees. Just keep those knees on the ground.
Gadget Envy April 14, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Running, Recipes and Food, MIgraine.
Tags: migraine-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soup, Vitamix, Juicer, Smoothie, Beet, KitchenAid, Rice cooker
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Dear Santa: I want a Vitamix, a mandolin,a cold press juicer, an ice cream maker, a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, a rice cooker, a stick blender, and a puppy.
Here’s what I would concoct if I had these things:
Vitamixes are for smoothies. I would make an orange-less orange smoothie with golden beet, carrot, ginger, mango, and a dash of turmeric for color. The green smoothie: spinach and/or kale, honeydew, zucchini, mint, fava greens (when they are in season). Purple smoothie: beets, red grapes, strawberries, blueberries and purple cauliflower. I also hear that Vitamixes make great soups. I think a spicy cauliflower, sunchoke and celery root soup, using a home-made beef gelatin broth, would be awesome.
Chips! Beet chips, sunchoke chips, squash chips. Chips chips chips. And I would bake them. They would be chippy. A chip off the ol’…chip.
Cold Press Juicer
I would juice fruits and vegetables. Duh. Favorite combination: carrot, apple, ginger.
Ice Cream Maker
Sorbet. See aforementioned juices.
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Meringue. Marshmallow. Sausage. Not at the same time. Allow me to explain:
I love meringues and marshmallows. They are the bomb, dairy-free, gluten-free, headache safe, an excellent source of sugar and a rockin’ vehicle for any flavor you choose. It takes a long time to beat the egg whites into submission, however, so I don’t make these very often because I’m lazy and impatient.
Also, I hear these Kitchen Aid things have attachments for making sausage. Sausage is one of the best foods on the planet, but it’s hard to find a sausage that I know for absolutely sure is safe for me to eat. And I’m pretty sure you can make sausage out of anything (maybe even meringues and marshmallows).
I think the Kitchen Aid also has an attachment for making ice cream, but why have one device when I could have two? And what if I want to make sausage and ice cream at the same time?
Not sure. The rice button on my microwave works pretty well. I’ve just always felt deprived because everyone else has one. Gotta keep up with the Joneses, bitches.
Again, soups. There are some soups that have to start out on the stove, and then get blended. If I can avoid transferring a hot soup into another receptacle, I’m fine with that. Also, sauces. Purees. Oh, yeah. I would use a stick blender every day.
I really want a dog to go running with. I want to run outside more, but I”m paranoid about my safety. I don’t like running outside when I’m alone. I’m also slow (and proud of it) so I don’t want to slow down a human companion. But I figure any human would be slowing down any dog (except maybe a pomeranian – even I could outrun a pomeranian), so I’d better get a doberman.
Gefrishte Oatmeal March 31, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food, MIgraine.
Tags: migraine-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, Passover, Breakfast, Matzo, pancake, oats
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Cooking for Passover is hard. No bread, no grains. Thank god for the Internet. It is chock full of ideas for creative uses of matzo. Today I found a total winner of a recipe for a No-Bake Matzo Chocolate Cake that makes the two biggest banes of Jewish cuisine palatable: matzo and kiddush wine.
Sometimes, the oldies really are the goodies, though. One of my all-time favorite preparations of matzo is fried matzo, aka matzo brei, aka gefrishte matzo.
To make fried matzo, you soak the matzo in hot water, break it up, mix it up with egg and fry it. It’s so simple, but so good. I used to eat it all year round (sometimes for dinner), not just on Passover. Then of course I gave up wheat and no more gefrishte matzo for me!
Poor petite moi, now I’m jonesing to fry something in egg. Oh, sure, you can order gluten-free matzo off the internet, and if you’re lucky you might find a local store that carries it. I happen to be entirely too impatient and lazy for that. Plus, have you ever read the ingredients and nutritional info for gluten-free products? Just because it doesn’t have gluten does NOT mean it’s good for you.
The Internet tells me that gluten free matzo is often made from oats so I figured I could just skip the middlemen (that would be the Rabbis and all those other people who know what they’re doing) and decided that my gluten-free oats would do.
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/3 cup uncooked, gluten free oats
pinch kosher salt
drop vanilla extract
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 tbsp maple syrup
Beat egg and egg white thoroughly (this will help you resolve any lingering negativity from that rotten week you had). Stir in oats, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Let oat and egg mixture sit for 5 – 10 minutes, or as long as you can stand before going psycho waiting to fry up your breakfast. While popping sprogs because you are impatient, lazy, and hate to wait for anything, heat up your pan with a spritz of cooking spray, wash and slice your strawberries. It’s good to stay busy.
Finally, after waiting about a century, pour half of your oat/egg mix into the hot pan. I like to spread it around and get a thin pancake. Cook til it’s solid around the edges, and just getting brown on the bottom and flip. You’ll know when it’s done on the other side, you’re no dummy. I mean, you’ve cooked eggs before, right?
I ended up eating my first pancake by rolling up the strawberries in it like a soft taco and eating it with my hands. Rude, yes, but no one was watching. I had a teeny bit more self control for the second one, and sprinkled the strawberries on top of the pancake and drizzled maple syrup on top. I ate that one with a fork. Both the syrup and the fork were totally not necessary, by the way. I preferred it as a taco.
Total Fat 7.5 g
Cholesterol 186.0 mg
Sodium 360.9 mg
Potassium 364.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 42.8 g
Dietary Fiber 6.3 g
Protein 14.1 g
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in a Dragon Boat March 24, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Uncategorized, Dragon Boat, General Exercise.
Tags: dragon boat, Water Sports
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As any dragon boat paddler will tell you, dragon boat racing is the ultimate team sport. We count on each other to show up and give 100%, both physically and mentally. The mental part of our sport is just as important as the physical part. If you get your head straight on the boat, chances are you’ll have your head straight in life, too.
Focus in the Boat
Some dragon boat races are bigger than others. At the biggest festivals, there can be as many as 8 or 9 dragon boats lining up at the start. There are tillers and callers on all the other boats, and they will be loud, and maybe wearing funny hats. There may be drunken morons nearby doing donuts in speed boats, and there will likely be race officials shouting nonsense at your tiller through a megaphone.
Whatever you do, don’t be distracted by the spectacle going on around you. You’re there to race. You don’t want to be like the dog in Up (Squirrel!). You want to be more like the seagulls in Finding Nemo, and the finish line is “Mine!”
Life Lesson: There are a billion idiots with megaphones out there. Stay focused on what matters.
Race Our Race
We say this a lot at races. There are likely a lot of boats that will be faster than us. But there’s no point in comparing ourselves to the other boats. If we’re looking up to see where the other boats are, we lose timing and cohesion on our boat. All that does is slow us down.
Off the water, I rarely compare myself to others. Sure, most people are faster, prettier, skinnier and smarter than me, but comparing myself to them certainly won’t make me any faster, prettier, skinnier or smarter…or happier.
Life Lesson: If you’re busy comparing yourself to others, you’re just slowing yourself down and missing out on your own potential.
You can paddle at a thousand and crazy percent, but if you’re not pulling heavy water, you’re not contributing any power to the boat. The farther back you sit in the boat, the harder it is to pull heavy water. By bench 10, the water is literally rushing past you. It’s altogether too easy to just let inertia take over, and dip your paddle in at the same time as everyone else. But what are you contributing?
To pull heavy water on the dragon boat, you have to very mindfully flex your core and intentionally create resistance between your foot and the blade (there just happens to be a boat and some water in between your foot and the blade). Make every nano-movement count to maximize the amount of water on your blade. You have to get that blade fully buried in the water BEFORE you pull back, and you have to do it all very quickly, and in time with the rest of the boat. That’s very hard to do. But you have to try.
To pull heavy water in life, you have to find those places where you feel resistance, and make a decision to channel that resistance into something constructive. Also very hard to do. But, you have to try.
Life Lesson: Don’t sit on a doily and lily-dip through life. Contribute something worthwhile, even if it’s hard.
Leave it on the Water
This is what we say when we want to make sure no one is going to save any energy for later. Every drop of power should be used up in every stroke. You should feel like jelly, physically exhausted, when you get off the boat. This is especially important in practices. Unless you’re giving 100% at practices, how will you know what you’re truly capable of in a race?
Unless you continually challenge yourself, how will you know what you’re capable of in life?
Life Lesson: Being a bad ass takes practice. Don’t save up your best effort for later.
Watch Your Leads (or, Eyes Up for Timing)
Dragon Boat racing is a team sport. Timing is the most important factor in team performance. If everyone is entering the water at different times, we’re just slowing each other down. Want to go fast? Paddle in time! Want to paddle in time? Watch your leads!
The lead strokes sit in bench one, and they set the rate for the rest of the boat. But it’s not about the leads being large and in charge, and everyone meekly following along. The caller, bench one, and bench two are in constant communication. If the leads are out of sync, we call each other on it. If bench two is fast or slow, we let them know. The caller watches us, and we watch the caller. If things are getting out of hand, someone will yell “Watch the rate!” And we constantly ask for feedback from the entire team. Too fast? Too slow? We seem to have better results when we work together to figure out the optimal race rate for our whole boat.
You get better results when you collaborate with others. Pay attention. Listen to people. Put their needs ahead of your own, sometimes.
Life Lesson: Don’t be a self-absorbed asshole.
It’s a Water Sport
Inevitably, we get wet. Sometimes someone will launch a typhoon at the person in front of them, and flood their butt crack with cold lake water. There’s always laughter, and the one who splashed will say “Sorry!” The appropriate response here: “It’s a water sport.”
We knew we were signing up for a water sport when we got in the boat. You can’t set yourself up to get wet and then complain when you get wet. It’s a water sport. We get wet. Duh.
Life Lesson: Take responsibility for the consequences of your choices. Duh.
Celebrating Saintyday the Jewish Way March 17, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Running, Recipes and Food.
Tags: migraine-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, running, low fat, low calorie, walking, wogging, wog, Kugel
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Normally, I poo-poo holidays named after saints. They’re not my holidays, after all. Was St. Patrick a Jew? I think not.
But this year, instead of closing the drapes, hiding in my living room, and watching the Science Channel all day, I signed up to do the St. Pat’s Dash. Not because I want to dress in sparkly green clothes or drink beer, but because my company is a sponsor and I wanted to show some support. Plus, I won a free registration.
I was not excited about the Dash when I woke up today. I paddled yesterday for the first time in weeks (I’m such a dope) and woke up with a very sore back. Also, it was cold, and when I looked up the weather it said it would be in the upper 30s and raining all morning. And I don’t like crowds. When they say 15,000 people sign up for this thing, they aren’t kidding. And anyway, it’s not even my holiday!
But I dragged my sore and scroogey ass over to Seattle Center anyway, and the universe rewarded me for the effort. The sun came out, and it turned out to be a pretty good run. I liked it better than the Magnuson series and the Seattle Marathon 5Ks. Oh, and people dress up in some wild costumes which is quite entertaining. I only saw one Pope,though. I suppose it would be pretty awkward to run in that hat, although the guys dressed as cans of Guinness didn’t seem to have a problem.
I finished ahead of the 6 pack of Guinness, by the way, so even though I wogged it, I’m feeling pretty good about myself.
Directions for a successful wog:
- Load up your trusty Nano with your favorite running songs.
- Run for a song.
- Walk for a song.
- Rinse and repeat for almost four miles.
- Go home and ice your knees.
Meh. I guess I still poo-poo the saintydays, but I figure since I Dashed in the morning, I might as well dine appropriately in the evening, all in the spirit and whatnot. But I can’t do most of the traditional foods and beverages one would expect on this day. Guinness, whiskey, corned beef – all migraine triggers.
Never mind the corned beef. I’m taking it back. Yes, I’m taking back March 17 for the Jews (and migraine sufferers). I made green kugel.
Green Lokshen Kugel
Servings: 9 (makes 18 kugels)
1 12 oz package Tinkyada Spinach Spaghetti style brown rice pasta
2 cups baby kale (packed, about 1/2 of a 5 oz package)
1.5 cups chopped red grapes
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Dash of fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins with a generous application of non-stick spray.
Break dry spaghetti into thirds and cook pasta according to package directions. Add kale for last few minutes of cooking. Drain. Do not rinse, but allow to cool (I am impatient and spread the pasta/kale mixture on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the fridge for about 10 minutes).
Beat eggs, add spices, grapes, pasta and kale. Fill muffin tins evenly. Spray tops with non-stick spray, and sprinkle with some additional kosher salt, if desired (I did).
Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool only as much as you have to before devouring.
Figuring two kugels per serving, that’s a mere 5 Weight Watcher’s PPV. Yenta go braugh!
Chicken Mustardos March 10, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
Tags: dinner, migraine-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, low calorie
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3/16 Update – This makes a huge amount of food and could easily feed 6. Also, my husband reported that it needed more curry (What? There’s 2.5 tbsp in there already!) and could use some lemon. The sauce was thicker than I anticipated. Next time I’m going to try leaving out or reducing the amount of potato, which was really intended to be a thickener, and give him a lemon wedge on the side that he can sprinkle over the top. StEx
Many years ago, my husband introduced me to his favorite (maybe only?) family recipe, Chicken Mustard. Family lore tells of a happy accident where his mother messed up a recipe for Chicken Divan, apparently by forgetting the cheese and adding a whole jar of curry powder. Oops, it slipped.
If you’re familiar at all with Chicken Divan (or my mother-in-law), then you can probably guess most of the ingredients in Chicken Mustard: chicken, broccoli, disgusting amounts of mayo, several cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a jar of curry powder, all baked up in a casserole and served over white minute rice.
It should be noted that unless there’s mustard powder in the curry, there’s no actual mustard in Chicken Mustard. It just looks like mustard. My husband comes from a very visual family.
It should also be noted that Chicken Mustard is DELICIOUS. It is sick and wrong and one of the tastiest meals on the planet. Unfortunately (or fortunately for our waistlines and general well-being), I discovered that mayo and cream of mushroom soup are both headache triggers, and so we haven’t had Chicken Mustard in years. (It’s probably just coincidence that I’ve lost 50 lbs since the last time I made Chicken Mustard. Really.)
Well, bitches, I’ve been pondering a way to make Chicken Mustard headache-safe. All the usual healthy substitutions for the mayo and creamy soup are still migraine triggers. Coconut milk? Can’t do it. Yogurt? Migraine city.
This will not come as a surprise to any of you, but once again I find myself reminded that I am in fact a genius. Yes, it’s true. I have figured out how to make a delicious, healthy, headache free Chicken Mustard. Below is my version of Chicken Mustard, which is really a version of Chicken Divan. Actually, the version of Chicken Divan my MIL was attempting was a quick version, utilizing canned soup and jarred mayo. So this is really a bastardization of a bastardization of a bastardization of Chicken Divan. Enjoy.
I give you: Chicken Mustardos.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes
1- 2 head(s) broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower
1 medium sweet potato
2.5 tbsp curry powder (make sure you get a blend that doesn’t include msg or any migraine triggers like dehydrated onion)
Preheat oven to 350.
Place cauliflower in covered microwave safe dish with 1/4 cup water and nuke til soft. Remove from microwave and nuke sweet potato til soft.
Saute chicken in batches, if necessary, in non-stick pan with a little dash of canola oil. The chicken should be a bit brown, but doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through.
Gently steam the broccoli for about three minutes. Place the broccoli and chicken in a 9×13 casserole.
Put cauliflower and it’s cooking water, the sweet potato (no skin), and the curry powder in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Mix puree into casserole with broccoli and chicken.
Bake, covered with foil, for about 30 – 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve as-is or over rice.
Total Fat 4.6 g
Cholesterol 73.1 mg
Sodium 153.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.6 g
Dietary Fiber 10.4 g
Protein 35.2 g
If It’s Orange, I’ll Eat It. February 21, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food, MIgraine.
Tags: migraine-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, carrots, Soups and Stews
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Unless, of course, it’s an orange. Citrus of all kinds is a potential migraine trigger. But that still leaves a lot of orange ground to cover. I have more to say on the subject of orange food than you might think possible (particularly carrots) but if you make it to the end of this post I promise there’s a really delicious soup recipe that involves chicken balls.
My favorite (migraine-free) orange foods:
- Garnet or Jewel Yams (I think these are technically varieties of sweet potato, but whatevs, they’re tasty)
- Golden beets
- Hubbard Squash
- Kabocha Squash
- Delicata Squash
- Butternut Squash
I am specific regarding my winter squash preferences, because IMHO, certain other squashes can take a flying leap, including pumpkin. I once tried a pumpkin oatmeal recipe. Grossest. Thing. Ever. And don’t even get me started on Acorn squash. (I do like spaghetti squash, but technically it’s yellow and so not listed here for the purposes of this post).
But let’s take on a happier topic than pumpkin (shudder). Let’s talk about carrots. The myth around carrots is that they’re good for your eyes. It’s true, but there’s more to them than that. Carrots are high in both alpha- and beta-carotenes, which transforms into Vitamin A in the body. They also have a lot of fiber and phytonutrients, a goodly amount of potassium and a bit of calcium and magnesium. These are all good things.
Oh, but now we need to address the elephant in the room: baby carrots. Or to be more specific, “baby-cut” carrots. These nasty little nuggets are big carrots that are cut down and shaped to look like baby carrots. True baby carrots are actually just tiny carrots. Baby-cut carrots are an abomination. Don’t eat them.
I used to buy bags of so-called baby carrots because I felt like I should, but they were so sour and awful that they would rot, uneaten and forgotten, in the fridge. Just thinking about baby carrots makes me wish I could throw up every one I’ve ever forced myself to eat. Oh, unless they’re used as a vehicle for hummus. Then they’re ok.
Listen here: go to the store, buy a bag of regular, full-sized, organic carrots. Wash, peel and eat. Have a nice day.
This week, I had an abundance of orange food that I need to use up. I also had an eggplant and some kale in my fridge that needed a new home. As usual, it all went into the soup, but this time I roasted the vegetables first.
Chicken Ball and Roasted Veggie Soup
13.3 oz ground chicken breast
1 tbsp oat bran
1 egg white
1/4 tsp fennel and salt
1 medium eggplant, peel on, cubed
1 large garnet yam or sweet potato, cubed
2 cups cubed winter squash
3/4 lb carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
5 oz uncooked baby kale
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Pre-heat oven to 375. Cover two baking sheets with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Lay vegetables (except kale) on sheets in single layer and roast for 40 – 50 minutes.
Mix ground chicken, oat bran, egg white, and fennel & salt together. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up the mixture.
Heat up dutch oven over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Form chicken mixture into small balls just a bit larger than the tip of your thumb. Brown the chicken balls on all sides.
Add stock and roasted vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the kale, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
I got 9 generous 1.5 cup servings out of this, but I could see getting anywhere from 8 to 10 servings, depending on how much liquid cooks off and if you have big veggies.
You may have noticed that this recipe is extremely, how do you say…lightly seasoned. I’m good with that, because I enjoy the flavor of vegetables and the chicken balls did not get overly assertive, but others might enjoy more seasoning.
It should also be noted that I used home-made chicken stock, which included some pan drippings (fat removed) from roasted chicken. As a result, there was lots of garlic, paprika, bay leaf and gelatin involved in the construction of that stock. So, a touch of fennel and salt was really all I needed. BTW, in case you’re not familiar with it, this is fennel and salt.
One final note: I added the egg white and oat bran to the chicken balls with the theory that they would help hold them together, but I have no evidence that these ingredients are in any way necessary. Feel free to experiment.
I don’t have nutritional info on this one, but the Weight Watcher’s Points Plus Value per serving is 4.
Eat Like a Canadian January 26, 2013Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food, MIgraine.
Tags: gluten-free, dairy-free, migraine, low fat, Breakfast, Oatmeal, portion control, portion size, migraine trigger
When I went to Victoria, BC with my dragon boat team over the summer for the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, I bought a bag of oatmeal for the hotel suite. I am an obsessive label-reader from way back, so of course I noticed that the recommended serving size was 1/3 cup uncooked oats.
It was a popular brand of oats, the same brand I buy at home, and I’ve been using 1/2 cup for my serving size all this time. Did the American oats call for a bigger portion size, or had I been eating too much oatmeal due to user error?
When I got home, I rushed to the kitchen to check, and sure enough, my US-purchased oats recommended 1/2 cup portion size. I did some quick guesstimation (I don’t really do math) and concluded that the actual nutritional info for the US oats and the Canada oats are similar. Canadians just have a smaller portion size. Why? WHY, bitches?
This has been troubling me for months. We already have major issues with portion distortion, why are we, in the US, encouraged to start with a larger portion size to begin with?(Click here for some handy ways to judge portion size visually.)
And what’s the result? Are Canadians skinnier than Americans?
Why yes, yes they are. Obesity is an epidemic across the developed world, and Canada is no exception. However, current statistics (as of Q4 2012) show that while the US tops the list of obesity rates in first-world countries, Canada is at #6.
I decided to run an experiment. For one week, I ate a slightly smaller portion of oatmeal every morning. Instead of measuring out 1/2 cup, I only took 1/3 cup. You will never believe what happened: absolutely nothing. Not only did I not starve to a slow, horrendous death, I didn’t even feel more hungry than usual.
I started my oatmeal experiment about two weeks before the holidays. Coincidentally, we had a huge yoga class that morning. We did a very basic sun salutation series set to some very lovely (but generic) background music. Going into savasana, we reflected on the crowded room, the quieter than normal music, the less complex vinyasa flow; yet we could still claim our space on our mats and feel the sweat on our skin. Our teacher’s exact words were “Notice how little you actually need.” That’s good advice, especially when we’re surrounded by spectacle and excess.
I have also recently discovered PB2. If you’ve never had it, look it up. You used to only be able to get it online, but I’ve been seeing it in stores lately. It’s powdered peanut butter, and they’ve removed a ton of the fat and calories as part of the process, but you still get a nice hit of protein. There’s a chocolate flavor, but it’s not super chocolately or super peanut buttery. I didn’t love the chocolate. My advice is to stick with the regular PB2. And of course, if peanuts are a migraine trigger for you, skip it entirely. I find I can have it once or twice a week, especially if I stick to a half portion (and avoiding any other potential triggers, and assuming the weather holds, it’s not that time of the month, I’ve gotten plenty of sleep and fluids, and well, you know the drill), without any repercussions.
PB2 Cherry Oatmeal
1/3 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp PB2 powder (that’s 1/2 serving)
1/3 cup frozen dark, pitted, unsweetened cherries
dash of cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 cap full of vanilla extract (optional)
2/3 cup water, plus more if needed
Combine ingredients in large bowl. Nuke for three minutes. Stir, add more water if needed. Enjoy.