Weekly Wrap Up
It has been a little while since I posted a weekly wrap up, and it has been even longer since I posted it on a Friday, but I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share with you.
What to Eat Wednesdays….
I have to apologize, but it has been 2 weeks without a What to Eat Wednesday. I have been quite busy over the holidays with family and with trying to get back onto an exercise routine. As well, my 1st Annual list of fitness offenders, The Dirty Dozen, took forever to research and write. In any case, it will be back next week and there will be a rare weekend edition this weekend to make up for my lapse. If I am to give any help at all to the millions of us who regularly eat out for lunch and sometimes dinner, I will have to pick up the pace a little on this feature.
When I was younger I did downhill skiing. I wasn’t very good at it and I actually hated the whole getting up early part of it. I ended up quitting when I was a young teenager. I have always meant to pick up snowboarding and now thanks to some family friends (thank you Frank and Sylvie), I have done exactly that. I went snowboarding for the first time with the kids and it was so much fun! It isn’t that hard, certainly much easier than downhill skiing. That said, you need to be able to get up from sitting on your ass. That seems simple, but with a board strapped to your feet it really isn’t. If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, this may be a difficult, if not impossible task, so you may want to try it out in a rental or sales store before going up the mountain. As well, you will fall a few times at least and probably one or two of those will be on your knees, so you will want to have pants with some knee padding in them.
An awesome winter activity, the gold standard in my opinion is cross country skiing. I have been out with my kids 3 times now this season and we are having a blast. It is the perfect combination of fitness and downhill excitement. There is a feeling of rightness about knowing that to go down a hill, you first have to climb it. It can be similar to a brisk walk (if the terrain is flat, it is actually similar to a gentle walk) and moves up from there to being the most hardcore cardio activity on earth (with the possible exception of the Tour de France). It is so refreshing to get out amongst the trees and the snow and explore and get to know some different routes. If you want to be fit for life and enjoy it, you need to find activities you enjoy. Seasonal ones can be some of the best because you get excited for the short time they are around and you work harder to get time to enjoy them because of this fact. I cannot recommend cross country skiing enough! I used to think it was for chumps. Why walk up the hill when you can just grab the lift. My most hated memories of downhill skiing were the lifts. The wind, the wait, the stops, it was miserable. When you are cross country skiing, you wear much less gear, you don’t need tons of expensive stuff and the whole event is much cheaper. It is also so much easier to get ready for. My kids and I just throw on our cold weather exercise pants and tops with a layer of tights (for them, if it is cold I will go with long underwear) and tight tops underneath, grab the backpack and we are on the mountain 10 minutes later. If you have access to cross country skiing where you live or vacation, please give it a shot. I will address dressing for cross country in a separate post because most people over dress, but just think of running on a cold day and you should have everything you need. Bring some warmer items in a backpack and you are set.
The Advent of Portable Oatmeal
The other day I was buying a coffee at Delaney’s, my local Dunderave coffee shop. I snapped a quick picture and decided to follow up on it. As I have said in my book, oatmeal is a great way to start off the day. It can be a healthy part of a breakfast. It is almost totally deficient in protein, but it is a slow absorbing carbohydrate, and that means that it will keep you full for a long time. Again, as I explain in the book, I hated oatmeal up until I read the Zone Diet and finally incorporated it into my diet. After eating it for a little while, I have grown to love it. I know that Starbuck’s serves an oatmeal and it is an excellent choice with either fruit or nuts. I am not entirely sure how you can get your 4 oz of protein at a coffee shop though.
This is Umpqua Oats. I hope a lot more coffee shops start selling it. It is so much better than the baked goods they usually offer. Avoid the ‘Quick Start’ option, and go with the ‘Not Guilty’ choice, ‘Take a Hike’ or the ‘Monkey Bars’. Any choice with less than 20 grams of sugar is a good one.
The real story here though is that McDonald’s has it’s own oatmeal. Yay McDonalds. It looks pretty good on paper, and reviews of it are very positive. It is a pretty good breakfast choice. The only downside to all of these oatmeals is that they are instant. Still, there are low sugar options at each of the stores. Order it without sugar. You really don’t want to get in, or stay in the habit of eating sweets for breakfast.
I can’t wait until we can order a side of low fat Canadian Bacon at each of these places. If you are listening McDonalds and Starbucks, we need a protein side order to go with oatmeal. In any case, Bravo McDonald’s. I know I give you s@#t for your happy meals, and other questionable activities, but I think your salads are fantastic and your oatmeal sounds pretty good.
Quinoa, pronounced keen-wa, is being touted as a superfood. I hate it when people call things superfoods. I tell you what, when a double quarter pounder with cheese has 40 calories, makes me actually younger and does my laundry, then we can start calling things superfoods. Until then, lets just stick with calling quinoa a remarkably better balanced plant product. According to Wikipedia:
Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusuallycomplete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights
The history of Quinoa and the impact of its new popularity are actually remarkably interesting and make for a great read. Why I bring it up this week is that in one week alone, I was over at some friends houses and actually ate it twice. The first time was last Saturday at my friends, Jason and Siobhan. Siobhan is a very healthy person and cooks phenomenally healthy meals for her family and on occasion, for me as well. She made a blend of quinoa, a blue cheese, and mixed vegetables. It was served cold and it was quite good. There is no doubt that this salad is ‘health food’, the kind of food I have avoided for years, but am opening up to. It is amazing when you try to enjoy vegetables, you feel a sense of accomplishment when you jam healthy foods down your throat and successfully swallow.
The next Quinoa experience was during the Monday night BCS Championship. We were eating wings and chilli when a very fit person, Samantha prepared a quinoa salad. I figured I should definitely try it (as no one was eager to try it), and it was actually pretty good. Instead of the sharp cheesiness of the earlier quinoa salad, this one had a light vinaigrette dressing with a spicy serano pepper bite. It was actually really good, but serious health food. I don’t expect anyone but super fit people to eat food like this, but the thing that came to mind to me is that although everyone healthy is using this pseudocereal in salads, maybe I could use it in a fried rice recipe, substituting the quinoa for the rice.
The reality with quinoa is that is has twice the protein of rice and three times the fibre. This isn’t earth shattering, but quinoa is healthier than white rice in every way. You can see a great comparison here (quinoa, white rice). So after thinking about quinoa in a fried rice, I actually started to get excited. I love friend rice and I don’t eat it as much as I used to, as I have pretty much sworn off rice. So tonight, I went out and I got all of the ingredients and cooked it up. It was incredible. I had to make some substitutions, but I will post the recipe for my Yangchow Fried Quinoa and my experiences making it tomorrow.
The best run of 2010
I was rehabbing a heel injury last year. I actually got planter fasciitis by ramping up my running too quickly early last year. While I rehabbed the heel I didn’t get in as many runs, but I have ramped back up. So on December 29th in Canada it was gorgeous. I went for a run down to the seawall. The waves were huge and cresting over the seawall. Apparently over night they beat the living crap out of the seawall and debris and parts of the seawall were everywhere. It was fun swerving throughout the driftwood and logs and jumping up on the wall to get through sections. Running still isn’t my favourite thing but every once in awhile I feel almost like a kid running along. This was one of those runs, in winter in Vancouver in nothing more than shorts and t-shirt. What a mild year it has been and what a great run that was.
Damn You Shoppers Drug Mart
On a less positive note, I went into Shoppers Drug Mart this last week only to discover that they have done nothing to get rid of the junk food gauntlet. Seriously, look at the picture below. Does this look like a drug store to you?