Tag Archives: food

I’VE FOUND THE CURE FOR EVERYTHING!!!!

26 Jul

Well, okay, no. Maybe not for everything. But I think I may be on to something that can make all our lives better, so bear with me.

You know I am an alternative health nut with a healthy scepticism of alternative medicine. I love using herbal cures that have been proven to work, and that may even have a scientific explanation. I hold a completely irrational hate for homeopathic medicines, “superfoods”, and exotic plants pressed into pills that may mostly contain sawdust and toenail clippings.

Now comes the science:

You have probably heard that if you want to gain muscle, you should eat more protein. Do you know who else should eat more protein? Everybody with an immune system. Everybody with hair, and skin, and general human tissue.

Because – and that is what no one ever told you in quite these words – not just muscle is made of protein. Every single frigging cell in your body consists of different kinds of protein. And your body, marvellous as it may be, cannot make all the protein brands it needs on its own.

Is this an attempt to sell you some weird protein meal replacement stuff (that may also contain sawdust and toenail clippings)?

Gods, no!

Unless you have weird dietary restrictions or kidney problems – in these cases you should consult your medical expert, and keep on reading – the recommendation is that you should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of your target weight (which is your current weight, unless you want to gain or lose, of course). If you are physically active, you should aim for 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram target weight.

Maybe a year ago I started keeping track of my protein intake, and upping it considerably – to the point where I get at least 75 grams of protein, every day. This coincided with the discovery that too many carbs trigger nasty migraines, so basically I tilted my food pyramid and shook it a bit until my head did not hurt anymore.

I have not had the flu all winter.

My hair and nails grow like crazy, and they are less brittle.

My skin is the epitome of – ah well, I still look like a pale woman in her mid-thirties who does not care enough about her lotion regime. But I am under the impression that cuts and such heal better.

Let me guess – you are intrigued, and panically calculating the costs of all the steak and chicken you will have to eat, all while quietly crying about all the murder in your pantry. Don’t worry. I do love steak, and chicken, and things that can be ground up for sauces and pies. I also do have a limited budget and a crazy love for books and cocktails, so during the work week I spend maybe thirty bucks on food for my sorry self by mostly eating dairy-based meals. As I am lactose-intolerant (sorry, lactose!), the dairy products I use are slightly more expensive than the regulars, and I splurge on frozen raspberries and peanuts rosted without oil and salt and such. I also like eggs, which, when paired with potatoes, have an exceptionally useful protein composition.

Meal examples (mind you, I am still trying to lose some weight):

  • 150 g cottage cheese with 30 g dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts – combined with a cup of vegetable broth if I want some “more” (like, more taste or more warmth or … just “more”);
  • 250 g “Magerquark” (low-fat curd cheese/quark – most non-Germans are puzzled about this food, which is a special kind of very young cheese which we turn into dips and desserts and cakes … a US blogger compared the taste to that of US “sour cream”, which obviously is very different from our “saure Sahne” (literally translated as “sour cream”)) with 100 g berries or other fruit according to taste;
  • 150 g boiled potatoes with a boiled (or fried, I’m not a saint) egg and a giant heap of vegetables with a little dressing or, if they are oven-roasted vegetables, some freshly grated parmegiano cheese;
  • Beans and lentils in all varieties (stews, soups, salads, … );
  • A reasonable piece of chicken or (non-fried) fish with a heap of vegetables and maybe a little rice;
  • Steak strips on a huge salad;
  • Scrambled eggs with all the veggies you can find (spinach, mushrooms, onions, … );

If you are not trying to lose weight and have no carb-migraine war going on, never worry about the rest of your meals – as long as you get enough protein, that is. Maybe just try it and see how you feel after a month.

There is some more science going on with essential and non-essential amino acids (which make up proteins, which make up us) – essential amino acids are those your body cannot make on its own, so you have to get them from food sources, and they are mostly found in animal-based products – but if you eat a varied diet with different sources of protein, you should have them covered.

Isn’t that great? No expensive pills or syrups to buy, no difficult calculations – just make sure you eat the right things, and you should feel better in a matter of days.

(Disclaimer: If you have any kind of serious condition – or if you are not sure whether you have a serious condition – go and see a specialist. I am not a specialist. Okay, I am a food-intake specialist, as you could see from the numbers on my scale, but I have no medical training whatsoever and only a head full of weird ideas.)

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Imbolc cake

18 Feb

Torte

I wanted to have some Imbolc cake based on dairy products, light and sweet and full of promises for the coming season. Fortunately the internet is full of recipes, so in the end I decided to have some apple vanilla cake smothered in mascarpone cream. It’s not as pretty as it could have been, mostly since I had to improvise and spread the cream with my fingers. Apples fit well with this season, since they can be stored for the winter.

(In the end I was full of cream and sugar. I love baking.)

Upgrade at the Knusperhaus

12 Feb

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Finally, I made some new “bricks” and mortar for my witchy Knusperhaus. After weeks without any real baking or cooking lust, yesterday I had to use up some eggs and remembered a few of my favorite recipes:

Honey banana peanut butter muffins

Blueberry and buttermilk banana bread

Lemon curd

And I decided to confirm my suspicion that our blender is not strong enough to make date-based vegan truffles and then made the dough with a fork and my bare hands instead (it works!). My basic recipe, loosely adapted after several recipes I had read online:

Diandra’s Cursed Vegan Balls

5-6 Medjool dates (they are bigger and superior, you could use about 8 normal dates, I guess)

3 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (and I mean heaping! There is no such thing as too much peanut butter.)

about 1 cup of ground hazelnuts

200g dark chocolate

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1. Soak the pitted dates in some water for at least 10 minutes. Drain, put in a blender and curse because that stupid thing only squishes the dates in the corners.

2. Add peanut butter to see whether that improves the situation. Watch with horror as a solid mass forms in the corners below the blades.

3. Remove the would-be dough from the blender with a spoon, lots of patience and a bit of cursing (to taste). Mash the dates and peanut butter with a fork until a uniform paste forms.

4. Add ground hazelnuts and mix with your hands until a solid dough ball forms.

5. Make 18-20 dough balls and chill these for at least half an hour.

6. Chop chocolate, add coconut oil and heat (I used the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring between intervals and repeating until all chocolate was molten, maybe 3 minutes at best).

7. Dip balls in chocolate with help of a fork (honestly, I just threw a bunch of them into the chocolate, stirred and then removed them with the fork), tapping the excess chocolate at the edge of your chocolate bowl.

8. Chill balls once more on parchment paper until the chocolate is solid.

9. Eat remaining chocolate with a spoon, drizzle it over bread or cake or use it to make some real hot chocolate (with a pinch of chili).

Short update on health and such

18 Sep

After a few months I thought I should give you a quick update on the whole weight loss/health situation. Has she changed her mind again, I hear you asking – why yes, probably.

I have done a few things that might seem logical to you and were results of huge realizations for me. First, I got rid of everything that does not fit right now. It sits in our basement in big plastic sacs and waits. Lots of it will probably be donated. Then I went and bought a few new items, mostly office attire (and pajamas with a giraffe).

I got a membership at an inexpensive gym. Where I have not been in weeks due to time constraints. But I am working on a reasonable plan.

I have taken up running in earnest once more, but I did not register for next year’s Stronman Run – right now I do not want to add more pressure to my life as is, so no deadlines and running (or weight) goals.

My food has undergone serious scrutinizing. Right now I really struggle to add sufficient amounts of vegetables to my daily meal plan – I have taken to cooking a big pot of soup or stew on the weekend and freezing portions to be taken to the office for lunch, and in the evening I will eat whatever is at hand – protein shakes, more soup, pizza. Breakfast is my model meal at the moment, consisting of beans and/or eggs and/or nuts and/or vegetables. My current favorite is the pink detox smoothie, which I have had for every weekday breakfast in at least two weeks. Really, it is this delicious and filling. Sometimes I will also have a variation of a breakfast food for dinner, just because I love my breakfasts this much.

Then I went to see my physician for the semianual thyroid check. My thyroid is doing fine (and I am soooo grateful for the thyroid pills, wouldn’t know how else to get everything done in a day), BUT. Yes, of course there is a but. I have developed a gallstone. Same as my older sister. You know how siblings are – give one of them a new toy, and the others want the same. (Actually, I went to my doc and said, “… and among other things, I need to be checked for gallstones.” – “You are rather young for gallstones.” – “Just do the test.” – “Oh, I see you are right.” – “I like the sound of that sentence.” – “What does your boyfriend think of this?”) The concrement is too big to fall into the biliary ducts, but large enough to cause discomfort on occasion. He said there was medication to be tried, but most likely the process of passing the broken-up concrement would be painful and have to be repeated after a year or two, anyway. So I am to wait and see, and if it becomes too uncomfortable, there will be surgery. Of course first thing i did was check for natural remedies – not much to be done about gallstones, it seems, but some things promise relief, at least, and may delay further growth of my new little friend (I have named him Hans).

Oh, and my blood pressure was too high. Which was not too surprising, considering I had a run-in with our office’s IT “expert”. But still… high blood pressure and knee pain are signs I should ideally weigh less. So I am making sure I run at least three times a week and eat healthy, and try not to fall for the mad ideas I had the last time round.

Pretty boring, hu?

TL,DR: Eat healthy and exercise, you’re getting old. ^^

Sneaky eating

14 Jul

We all know we have to get at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables per day. One serving is about 150g or 5 ounces. Now, raise your hands if you meet these requirements.

You do? Great.

You don’t? Well, that is where this post comes into play. While I find it easy to add plenty of fresh produce to my meals – and tend to go crazy in the grocery store during the summer months – Richard is slightly pickier with his food, and sometimes forgets about the “one apple a day” rule. I bet many of you have similar problems. Why not make life easier by sneaking some healthier foods into your everyday treats?

  • Coffee. Don’t lok at me like that, I am completely normal in my head. Okay, no, but this is a really good idea. Prepare a cup of strong black coffee and blend it with a banana, a tablespoon of nut butter (so far I have tried peanut, almond and hazelnut) and maybe a teaspoon of coconut oil. Tastes delicious and might even make a great iced drink (haven’t tried it). This is also a great breakfast in a hurry, because it contains proteinand carbs and healthy fats.
  • Baking. Not just by making apple pie or some other fruit-laden baked good. You can substitute almost all fat in most baking recipes with puréed fruit, such as applesauce. The internet is filled with recipes for cakes, muffins, bread and such. I have even seen a recipe for chocolate cake with beetroot, but I have not tried it yet. All applesauce recipes, however, have been met with enthusiasm by my colleagues. (And my colleagues are mostly from countries that place great emphasis on desserts and baked goods, so their opinion matters. Ever tried Moroccan almond cookies?) I usually keep one or two tablespoons of fat per recipe for taste and texture.
  • Ground beef/sausage. If you have a recipe that calls for ground beef or sausage, simply replace some of it (up to a third in my kitchen) with grated vegetables such as carrots and zucchini or lentils – the funny orange ones, they cook really fast. I have done this with lasagna or sloppy joes and have even healthified burger patties without anyone complaining.
  • Ice cream. A few weeks back we bought an ice cream maker. Not the fancy one with the compressor that can give you virtually throlfteen (i.e. as many as you like) flavors right away, but one of those boring pots to put in the freezer with a stirring mechanism to be put on top. Yesterday I blended a ripe mango with some cream and crème fraîche and a few spoons of sugar and turned it into dessert. I have done the same with strawberries and orange juice or pineapple and coconut milk. I am also known for blending fruid salad with a bit of buttermilk or juice and turning it into popsicles.
  • Pudding. Instead of milk and starch, base your puddings on avocado or banana purée. Plenty of recipes out there. While I am personally not a great fan of the avocado chocolate pudding, many swear by it.
  • Mashed potatoes. Try adding avocado or cooked cauliflower to your potatoes before mashing. Or, after mashing, add finely diced/shredded/naturally small vegetables such as carrots, zucchini or peas.
  • Soups and stews. Every soup benefits from more vegetables. Cream soups are the easiest because you can blend everything you want, and no one really cares what’s in them. For all other soups and stews, simply cut your vegetables as small as you like them (small enough so they cannot be picked out if you have picky children). Grating is a PITA, but helpful.
  • Smoothies and milk shakes. Easy. Use more fresh fruit. Or vegetables. You have all heard about the famous green smoothies, right? The most important thing is to get the texture right. One of my favorite summer smoothies consists of cucumber, apple and parsley.

Well, these are all the tricks I can think of off the top of my head. Most of them work like a charm with Richard, and we have also fed all kinds of vegetables to unsuspecting kids (and picky adults). How do you make sure everyone eats their greens (and reds and yellows and…)?

Fueling the witchy life

5 Jun

 

IMG_7792

This is a picture of my morning garbage. Pretty colors, right? We have banana and onion peel, egg shells, lettuce, peppers and avocado (and somewhere beneath there must also be some dry cucumber). And now you are asking, “Why does she show us this?”

Because I am kind of a health nut. Surprise! Or maybe not. ^^

Some of you may still remember the weight-loss blog I had and deleted some time ago when I realized that my obsession with the numbers became more important to me than my health. At that point I had lost 15kg, getting my BMI from 28.9 to 23.7 – and then the weight stopped coming off. I cut more calories, increased my exercise to a point where I did not enjoy it anymore and spent most of my day trying to figure out how I could lose those last 5kg I was trying to get rid of.

One day I had enough, hid the scale, reduced my exercise to occasional feel-good workouts and started eating whatever I wanted while trying to figure out what my body really needs. (I am still experimenting.)

I gained about 13 of those 15kg back – in the course of three months. (Putting my BMI back at 28.2) At first I hated my body for doing this. Then I started using what has by now become one of my favorite mantras: Would you say (do) these things to your daughter?

When I realized how unkind I was being to myself, I cried. And promised myself I’d be better. After all, I claim that I am perfect because the divine does not make mistakes, so obviously shaming myself for looking as if I had swallowed a melon without chewing – really, I have had the most peculiar belly bump since childhood – is stupid.

Ever since I have been reading up on nutrition more than usual, focusing on health instead of losing weight. I learned a lot of things from “The Leptin Diet” – most of all the importance of not snacking between meals (easy) and after dinner (tough). I remembered my joy in trying new vegetables and new dishes. And I increased my protein intake without reducing my fruit and veggies, subsequently reducing the amount of processed grain/carbs I eat. I am not counting calories and step on the scale once per week at best. Instead I focus on how the things I do (and eat) make me feel.

So, why is this of witchy importance, you ask? Because the gods make no mistake. They have gifted you with a body which may or may not do what you want it to do. And you are supposed to be kind to it and take good care of it. Your body is like a much-loved (maybe vintage) car – you would not fill it up with sand and expect it to do 200mph, right? This does mean enjoying life, but also making sure it gets the nutrition (and exercise) it needs. (YOU need.) Good food, lovingly prepared, is basically the easiest health spell I know.

Having said all this, here are pictures of my breakfast…

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Pancakes made from one banana, one tablespoon of peanut butter and two eggs (sounds strange and tastes delicious – also when using other nut butters, e.g. hazelnut) with a kiwi. As a kid I loved kiwi, and would have eaten half a dozen per day or more. Unfortunately kiwi were expensive, so my parents had to restrict my intake to maybe two per week. 😦

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Some leftover strawberries (I did not even know this thing existed!) with raw cane sugar and crema di balsamico*.

I am also drinking some coffee with milk – I am trying to be better, not become a saint. ^^

And my food for the office day:

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Lettuce, onion, peppers, tomatoes, cucmber and grilled chicken with a honey and mustard dressing – I have a second bottle of crema di balsamico at the office, which I will use on this as well. Yes, it is this good.

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An apple and some cherry tomatoes to be used as dessert or before going home so I won’t eat the people at the post office.

What else I will be eating today, you ask? I don’t know yet – there may be some chocolate and/or nuts at the office if I am really hungry (or in the mood), and for dinner I have some obscure plans involving one of the last Hokkaido pumpkins I got at the store, some salmon and dried dill. Oh, and don’t forget my dessert coffee after lunch. ^^

How are you coming along with being kind to yourself?

* A condiment meant to be put on salads and such, with a hint of vinegar and extremely sweet. I could eat it pure. And on fruit, as you see. It does not have any positive or negative effects on health, as far as I know, except for making me happy.

Emergency baking – doing it right!

27 May

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Pentecost weekend, we were invited by Richard’s mother to go for icecream together. At the last minute, however, she became afraid that the bad weather – and whoever was kept from eating icecream by a bit of rain? Hu? – and asked us to get some cake on our way, since the confectioner in her town was closed. And who would I be if I couuld not instead whip up some cake myself? I mean, for the price of ONE piece of cake I can make a whole cake, and a healthier one at that.

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See? Vegan wholegrain biscuit (I did not have any eggs left) with raspberry purree and ricotta cream, covered with chocolate, edible flowers and some glitter. I still had some meringues left over from that other cake I made, so…

To be honest, the biscuit was a bit dry (I am still looking for that perfect recipe), and I guess mascarpone or cream cheese would have worked better than ricotta, but at the end of a long weekend you either use what you have got or dish out five bucks per person. Not that Richard’s family (or at least that part) would totally be worth it, but homemade is always better.

(Unless you have got an uncle who keeps picking off the chocolate because he is diabetic, but does not mind eating fried potatoes for dinner later that day. But hey, his life, his decision.)