It was me all along – book review

Ever since I said good bye to my student life I hadn’t been reading as much as I used to – back then reading was a means of getting a university degree. It was an obligation. An obligation that made left me longing to read for pleasure – books that really interested me, not just the ones from a class syllabus. So many times I’d hear myself say : “I can’t wait to create my own reading list comprised of books I want to read, not just the ones that a professor deemed necessary to read to further my knowledge.” Since I’ve finished university 8 years ago I’ve only gone as far as creating my new and improved reading list and acquiring the books, but reading was yet to happen. There was always something else to do, I would get sucked in by the social media, there would be house chores waiting to be completed or I would be too tired to keep my eyes open. It’s truly been aggravating how I am not able to find the time to read! So I’ve rejiggered my priorities and bumped up “the need to read” way above other daily hurdles. What’s more, I’ve made reading doubly beneficial by incorporating it into my gym routine :  reading + biking = learning and losing fat! What can be better!?  I’ve always liked biking, so every morning for a warm up I hop on the stationary bike at the gym for 30 minutes. For the past couple of visits, when I had unlimited amount of time, my 30 minutes turned into 50 minutes! Why? Because I have gotten so engrossed in my reading that I forgot I was actually working! So, what was the book that kept me peddling for the past week? – It was me all along by Andie Mitchell.

It was me all along
This is a screenshot of the cover of the book taken from my electronic copy of the book.

I tend to try to read books that I can learn from, so several weeks ago I went on a hunt to find some educational reading. It’s not like I didn’t have anything to read on my kindle, there is plenty there. Most things that I have started reading and never finished because the books just didn’t grab my attention that much. And honestly, I find it hard to find well written books  in the subject area that I am interested in, namely fitness and nutrition. Those books are either written by non-writers and are incoherent and full of spelling and grammar mistakes – hence are hard to follow. When I do come across a well written book on fitness and nutrition they tend to be academically heavy and don’t make for a good read to take with me on the bike. Those books, even though they are full of good information, are better read with a notepad and a pen right beside – not at all bike friendly. So I kept searching for something new and exciting until I came across “It was me all along”. I immediately thought to myself  that I didn’t want to read about somebody losing weight, so I dismissed it right of the bat. But somehow the little chubby girl from the cover of the book kept reappearing in my search results. After an umpteenth time I have given in – I read the description on the cover and I have looked up the author. It turned out she blogs about food and her dishes looked quite fetching. I still felt highly sceptical, thinking to myself that I didn’t want to spend any time reading about somebody struggling with weight and telling me what to do to lose weight. But I figured I can always just get the sample and decide later if I wanted to actually keep reading. Needless to say, I’ve devoured the sample and purchased the book. I have just finished the last few chapters on my 50 minute bike warm up before weights!

Andie Mitchell
This is a screenshot of the cover of the book taken from my electronic copy of the book. – Andie’s transformation is more than just skin deep.

Weather you are trying to lose weight or not or you are a foodie or a food blogger or even if you don’t care about all this talk about fitness, food and nutrition – this book is worth your time! It is well written with beautiful simplicity, yet does not make you feel like you are reading an amateur writer. It is simply very accessible without an amateurish air about it. It is an autobiographical account of Andie’s struggle with weight and what she did to develop heathy relationship with food and exercise. What I like the most about this book is that it is NOT preachy. Andie does not prescribe anything to her reader, she understands that we are all different and we all have different goals and what works for one person might not work for somebody else. She is very brutally honest about her own story, she is very open and raw and you never ever get the feeling like she is putting anybody down. If anything she’s hard on herself and her own actions. Reading her words feels like talking to your best friend – she is warm and charming. And I still can’t believe I enjoyed reading her story so very much – mostly because that’s not what I was searching for. I was more interested in something gym related, but boy am I glad I gave this book a try! Even though, I didn’t learn much related to building muscles from this book, I have learned so much more about the feelings of somebody who was so utterly unhappy in her own skin, the struggles she has gone through to come out on top and develop a healthy relationship with food. I don’t regret a single minute spent reading this book! And I could not recommend it more even if I was paid to do it 🙂 (which I wasn’t).

Andie does point out very valuable observations about unhealthy relationship with food and exercise that I think many of us tend to ignore or even not know about:

  • The amount of food that you eat matters most – wether it be “good” or “bad” food you still have to watch out that you don’t overeat. I have heard it way too many times – people discounting the amount of food eaten just because the food appears to be “a health food”. Just because you are eating coconut oil sautéed broccoli doesn’t mean it has no caloric value. Calories are calories, whether they come from a donut or broccoli – you can overeat on both with just as much harm done to your metabolism. Another side of this coin is that you’d have a hard time overeating on broccoli, but you get the gist.
  • Just because your friend is eating seemingly the same food doesn’t mean that you will both have the same end result. She might actually not be eating as much as you and you don’t even realize it.  
  • Your exercise of choice must be something you enjoy otherwise you will quit it sooner or later.
  • Too much and too vigorous of an exercise will make you want to eat back all the burned calories – this is a topic for a whole new post. 
  • Dieters are generally not good at eyeballing the amount of food they are eating – hence should use a scale at least at the beginning to learn portion size.
  • We tend to eat for company rather than because we are hungry. 
  • We know the how to get healthy and fit, but we are still not doing it – and that one just keeps baffling me.

So if you haven’t already I urge you to give this book a try – don’t expect any revelations, though. The only revelation in this book is that it can be done, but a 180 is needed in your attitude to food and your relationship with it. 

 

How to make your friends wish they were eating your food ;)

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While I’m eating, I often get asked by people walking by who get a whiff of my food : “What do you do with your meat?” So here it is, my secret weapon against boredom and blandness is simply marinating my meat! That’s it.

Healthy eating has gotten a bad rep in that whenever you mention it people immediately equate it to boring, tasteless, bland and generally speaking unappealing food. But it isn’t so. You can make any food taste yummy if you know what you’re doing and how to use spices and herbs in your cooking. Yes, that’s pretty much what it takes and those do not add unwanted calories, bad fats or sugar to your food (unless of course you flavour your food with sugar). All they add is vibrancy, interest and taste.

This is what I do with my ground veal that I later use in various dishes such as my Eggplant Egg Muffin.  You can certainly substitute the veal, if you don’t like it or can’t find it, with any ground meat (chicken, turkey, pork). I put it in a bowl and add the following: 

  • 1-2 tbsp of mustard (See Note1.)
  • 2-3 tbsp of Vinegar (See Note 2.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bunch of fresh Rosemary chopped finely
  • Chopped Green Onions
  • 1 head of oven roasted garlic 
  • 1/2 Red Onion (previously caramelized) 
  • 5-6 mushrooms (caramelized with the Red Onion)
  • 2 tbsp of Walnut Oil (Optional. See Note 3.)
  • Other spices : Smoked Paprika, Sumac, Oregano Basil and Tomato by The Gourmet Collection (See Note 4.)
  • Last but not least a dash of Liquid Smoke (Thanks to Randy for reminding me about my real secret weapon)

Mix it all together in a medium bowl and put it away for as long as you can in the fridge to marinate. Preferably you’d let it marinate overnight, but I know sometimes it’s just not feasible, so a couple of hours will do too.  

NOTES:

  1. You can use any old mustard you have, yellow mustard, dijon mustard whatever you might have on hand. I like to play with flavoured mustard if I can. Today I’m using Aubrey D. Jalapeno Horseradish Mustard. And if I haven’t said it before, many of my spices and condiments come from the Winners’ food section.
  2. Vinegar – I usually try to use something other than just white vinegar and again you can go as fancy as you wish with this. I have used just plain Balsamic Vinegar (Dominion), Sparrow Lane Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar (Winners), Peach Vinegar by the Vinegar Lady (don’t mind the price in the link I got it on sale at Winners for 3$) etc. I find the flavoured vinegar to be milder and they do make a difference in flavour.
  3. Walnut Oil is by far my greatest discovery to date! The mild nutty flavour is just out of this world! I can’t recommend it enough! It’s quite pricy though, so I usually get it when it’s on sale and the big 1 litre bottle lasts me quite a bit as you don’t need a lot. And when it comes to marinating veal or any other fattier meats I find I can skip it all together, because I already have enough fat from the meat. But I would definitely add it to… let’s say to ground turkey.
  4. I absolutely love The Gourmet Collection of spices. I’m not sure if you can get them anywhere else in town other than the Winners food section, though. If you can and you know where, I’d love for you to comment letting us all know. 

So, in conclusion, make sure you always marinate your meat and you’ll be sure to turn heads when you’re heating up your meal at work :-). Now this might not be your main objective and of course I’m just joking, but keep in mind that adding spices to your food will not make it less healthy. Quite the contrary, it will make you stick to your food goals because you’ll know that your meals taste good and you’ll be less likely to fall off the wagon seeking something better tasting.  

 

Fed up

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I’ve heard about this movie  through social media when it was just about to come out in the States and finally was able to watch it myself. I didn’t know much about it, other than the fact that Katie Couric had something to do with it (she is actually one of the executive producers) and that it was pointing out the pitfalls of the current food situation in the States. And, I might add, I’d pretty much watch any food oriented documentary. So I figured that it was another no-brainer analysis of how everything is laden with sugar and we eat too much. I was wrong.

As I was watching it I went from saying to my co-viewer “isn’t this common sense?” to “I can’t believe this is how the government runs in the States!!”. When it comes to American political system, I have to admit that after watching the movie, I had to label myself  “an enlightened ignorant”. But when it comes to food, I am as bewildered as ever that people still believe that fat kills. People still buy into the idea that if they consume a product labeled “low fat” or “no fat” that everything is as it should be, that they are actually eating healthily, regardless of what else is in that product. But how could they not? If even though the government officials know this isn’t so, they can be bribed by the pseudo-food industry into lying to the public in support of the no-fat agenda.

There are many scenes in the movie depicting families that proudly announce that they are doing all they can to eat healthy foods such as low fat this and low fat that and they are surprised that it’s not working. Their kids are exercising and “watching what they eat”, yet the weight not only is not going down, it keeps going up. Now, when you look closer at what it is that they are putting in their carts at the grocery store, you will quickly realize that it’s sugar in all its forms: chips, cookies, puddings, salad dressing, pasta sauces etc. in one word – candy. Now granted, it is low fat, but it’s also high sugar. So, if one eats like this (and we are talking Costco size packaging and not a regular bag for a treat from time to time) and they don’t see results, wouldn’t they try something else? Try changing it up to see if something else gives them better results? Well, the government said that pizza is now considered a vegetable, so what can be better than a vegetable? Is it the government’s fault then, that large percentage of the population is obese? Should the government not be there to protect its citizens and make sure they are well informed? Well, it should, but in the current situation the government’s main objective isn’t making sure we are well. On the government’s agenda right now is money, lots of it and it doesn’t matter where it comes from. And, oh, it comes from whoever has the most of it. If you have it and you are a big corporation making pseudo-foods (or other things like drugs for that matter) and you want them to remain on the shelves of the grocery stores, all you have to do is to wave some green paper with printed numbers on it in front of whoever has a say in the government and they will quickly get rid of that annoying report by the World Health Organization stating sugar should be reduced in the everyday consumption because it is killing us!

This movie, by no means is any sort of revelation (well, except to me, on the bribery going on in the political system). There has been countless of books written and documentaries made on this subject. We have not discovered anything that hasn’t been already discovered. But in a way, it’s another step in the right direction. One more informative movie showing the corruption and the lack of the good intention towards the public. They don’t want  you to get better and be well by means of eating healthy nutritious food. They want you to get sick, if you don’t know any better, so that then you can buy their pills to treat preventable diseases and conditions. So, watch the movie and pass it on to somebody who doesn’t know and who still allows the government to take them by their hand to show them whathigh fat is good for them. And tell them that they mustn’t let that happen anymore, even though it should be the government’s role, right now it can’t.

On that note, I made a cheesy egg bake and    coconut oil pan seared 4oz salmon fillet sprinkled with some chopped green onions and radishes. I do enjoy a hearty fatty kind of meal at least once a week. For the egg bake I usually use a silicone muffin pan to make portioning easy. I put one whole egg in a muffin compartment and add another egg white to fill up the space. Next I’ll add spices and swish it around, making sure I don’t break the egg yolk. For spices I use pink himalayan salt, pepper, smoked paprika, Mrs. Dash or whatever other spices I might have on hand. And on top of all that I’ll add some grated cheese like full fat mozzarella. I’ll also try to swish the cheese with the egg, so that when it all comes out, each bite will have a bit of the melted cheese. As for timing of this beauty, I’m yet to get it right so that the yolk is slightly runny 🙁