Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Healthy Recipe Box

Since the demise of the recipe book forum, I've decided to post my favorite every day recipes (most of which are Glycemic Index friendly) onto a wiki. You're welcome to have a look around and bookmark it if you think it will be a place you'd like to revisit. I've transferred everything from the forum, all of the recipes I've posted here at GI Way, plus a bunch more.

The reason I chose a wiki is because it's a searchable database. I'm really happy with it thus far. If you think you'd like to leave comments on it, you'll need to register. Otherwise it's publicly accessible.

Here it is: Healthy Recipe Box.

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ranch-Style Dressing

Our favorite salad dressing is Ranch, so I finally decided to figure out a basic recipe for my own version, lower in calories than most commercial versions.

Ranch-Style Dressing
1 cup 1% Buttermilk
1/3 cup light mayonnaise (such as Hellman's Light)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons* chopped fresh or frozen herbs**
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of salt

Whisk together in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours and up to a week. It does need a few hours to set up or it will be too runny.

*or 2 teaspoons of dry herbs

**I've tried this with oregano and dill, because those are two herbs we have a lot of and I freeze them in the summertime. We love dill in this. Parsley would probably be closest to a traditional Ranch flavor, though.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Metabolism: What is it?

Wiki Answers gives an understandable definition for those of us who are not scientists:
The Scientific definition of metabolism is the rate in which the body makes or breaks chemical bonds.

Metabolism is the rate in which one's body burns off and utilizes calories. Everyone has a set metabolic rate that is typically determined by one's genetics. Yet, that rate can be changed through exercise which will increase one's metabolism. Generally speaking, one would hope to have a higher metabolic rate so that the consumed calories will burn off quicker and will not become fat in the process.

Hope to have a higher metabolic rate? I can assure you that mine has slowed in recent years. I've been thinking about metabolism a fair bit recently, trying to come to terms with the fact that my body seems to get used to levels of food and exercise, causing my rate to slow again. How can one jumpstart metabolism?

Again from Wiki Answers, there is a lot of basic information out there. This page gives ten basic bits of advice on metabolism that pretty much matches things I've read elsewhere.

1. Build lean body mass (this means strength training)
2. Aerobic exercise
3. Eat enough
4. Eliminate sugar
5. Eat breakfast
6. Include spicy food
7. Drink hot green tea
8. Drink water
9. Avoid stress
10. Get enough sleep

As you know, not all of those are completely controllable. And others are downright hard to control even if it's possible in theory. Is there anything else to the equation besides the above?

Jump Start Your Metabolism explains that our bodies don't use energy for every task equally. This page explains that there are three main factors: The rate at which your body uses energy for vital processes, such as breathing (i.e. your basal metabolic rate, or BMR); the rate at which you burn energy during physical activity; the rate at which you burn energy during food digestion (otherwise known as the thermogenic effect of food).

I've got a few thoughts of my own on metabolism that I'll be exploring here on and off over the next while as I have the time and the inclination to study and research what the experts say. Any questions or comments on metabolism? Anyone interested in learning about this with me?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Seedy Whole Wheat Bread

I bake a 4-loaf batch of whole wheat bread most weeks, and this is the recipe I use most often:

Seedy Whole Wheat Bread
In a large bread bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup honey
1.5 Tbsp salt
(or as you prefer)
3 cups rolled oats I always use large flake, but you can use quick oats
1 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
6 cups boiling water

Stir this all and set it aside for 15 minutes, until the water is a good temperature for yeast (baby bottle warm).

Then add:
2 Tbsp instant yeast (I use Fermipan from the bulk department)
Whole Wheat Flour (We prefer a coarse grind that we have to special-order. Right now we're able to buy it at Costco, an *Ellisons* brand.)

You may ask how much flour. Um, a bunch. I just put in a few cups, stir, add another one, stir, until it's too heavy for my wooden spoon. Then I just get in there with my hands and knead, adding flour until it's enough. Use flour to get the gunky dough off your fingers and off the spoon and off the sides of the bowl. When it's getting so it isn't too sticky, pour a little olive oil in your hands and knead a bit more. You may find you need a bit more flour after that, still, but you don't want more than it needs. I know, that's vague, but this is the part that's hard to TELL, and easier to SHOW and FEEL.

At that stage I blop the ball of dough onto my table, wash out the bowl, dry it, smear it with olive oil, and blop the dough back in to rise for an hour or two (till doubled in size). I cover it with a damp teatowel while it rises to prevent the top drying out. Beware you don't use a good one, as the oil never comes completely back out.

When it's risen well, out it comes again and you divide it into four equal parts. My mom used to actually weigh them on a kitchen scale. I just heft the various ones a few times, pulling bits of dough and adding to others as seems best. Then I take one ball of dough and smack it against the table a few times. Great for letting off steam :P but it also eliminates gas bubbles from taking over the bread. I smoosh it out, roll it up, pinch the ends, and stick it in a loaf pan I've spritzed with Pam.

When all four are in pans, I put the damp teatowel over them again. This rise goes faster, under an hour. Heat oven to 375, stick the loaves in for about 45 minutes. The bread is done when you knock on it and it sounds hollow.

Take them out of the pans to cool. Once they're cool, I usually slice mine, bag them, and toss them in the freezer--except for the one that seems to be half-eaten at this stage! Frozen slices are easy to break off and thaw quickly on the counter or can go straight in the toaster. Of course you don't have to pre-slice the loaves but it makes life easier for the next week, and the bread board and knife don't have to be out constantly.

Any questions? Enjoy!

(If you also would like me to post Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread or Basic Whole Wheat Bread, just ask. I make them fairly often, too. As well as occasional Rye...and Foccacia...and other types!)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

One Year

This past weekend it was one year since I signed up for Fly Lady. I'd come off a few months of kitchen renovating (still incomplete), my mother's stroke, and a vacation and realized--with shock--one day that my house was a disaster from one end to the other.

I spent the Canada Day long weekend (which Jim had to work) mucking out the house and ended up Monday evening loading recycling and garbage and thrift store drop-offs into the truck, and washing the porch floor as I backed out of a sparkly clean (ish) house. And wondering why I couldn't keep it that way.

Fly Lady has been a big help but of course I've picked and chosen what of the system to do and what to ignore. Mostly I ignore all calls to clean/ sort/ declutter the front entry and porch. Mine just scares me. It always has and I think it will until the day we renovate that part of the house (up soon after the never-ending kitchen). I've done the daily missions on a hit-or-miss system for most of the year.

I've had a couple epiphanies that really ought to have been more basic to me. Fly Lady talks about Blessing My House once a week--basically a quick cleaning blitz that leaves the surface company-ready. Coupled with the daily missions, it pretty much keeps things running smoothly. Only it takes me much more than the hour Fly Lady allots to it. Finally had a DUH moment. She isn't using that hour to TIDY the house and then clean it. She's assuming that I've been actually DOING the dailies and keeping the hot spots picked up. Well. What a concept. She's likely right--the actual cleaning can be done in an hour!

I also learned that I'd done a decent job on the surface and even a bit below on the rooms that are on the Fly Lady rotation (if we pretend the front entry doesn't exist--and I'm good at pretending that.) What I wasn't dealing with were the two *spare bedrooms*. One of which hubby has taken over as his home office, and the other was mine. Except that I moved the computer desk downstairs several years ago (then booted it out entirely when we went to two laptops.) Boxes from the (unfinished) kitchen renovation lived in there, plus a couple boxes from cleaning out my mom's apartment last spring. And some craft projects I'm apparently never going to finish. And...yep, clutter.

When Hanna and Craig moved home at the beginning of May I was forced to actually LOOK at this room and it was embarrassing. Pretty much everything had to come out so they had room to set up their office in it (they're sleeping in the folks' motorhome, and the upstairs room is their living room). We allowed me to keep the closet (small), my Rubbermaid rolling drawers, and one narrow chest of drawers (that replaces the desk drawers from the desk that is no more). There was a LOT of junk that needed to go. Once again with the trash, recycling, and thrift store. The treadmill that I never use went out to the guest cabin (that still has a lot of cabinets in it!)--we can't get rid of that because it belongs to the folks, who don't use it but can't get rid of it. The uncomfortable futon got turfed.

A bunch of stuff from in there landed in Jim's little office, and after a few weeks he said--um---I need to be able to get in the door. So one rainy weekend I completely emptied the hall closet (big mess, wow) and really worked through what NEEDS to live in there to make room for the stuff that had wound up in Jim's room. Why did I have so many random sheets when there's no way we have room for that much company? Some got trashed, some thrift stored. Things are somewhat sorted out up there. For now. Once the kids leave at the end of August, I need to be careful not to spread back out and be lazy.

Altogether, though, the house is a huge improvement. The biggest thing has been the daily routines, though, especially the evening routine. I used to be bad for leaving dirty dishes out, but that's rarely an issue now. The coffee pot gets set in the evening, and lunches made. Supper decided upon, usually. I'm not up to full bore menu planning yet, but I rarely stop at the grocery store at 5 pm to decide what's for dinner anymore. And when the home and people go to bed actually prepared for morning, the getting-ready-for-work runs more smoothly. So those routines are absolute winners.

Right now I'm trying to deal with the garden. Easy to say that fifteen minutes a day would keep the yard work under control. I haven't quite worked it into my routines, I guess. But it's too hot, or too rainy, or too buggy...or something. We did a blitz weed in the garden this morning for a couple hours and now the potatoes and corn can see air again. All good.

The upshot is that while Fly Lady has not made my life perfect, I'm so grateful for how much improvement I've seen and that it really doesn't take that much effort. Maybe I'm ready for the next step. Unless the next step is my front entry. Then I'm not ready at all.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cincinnati Chili-Style Spaghetti

It's been awhile since I posted here, but...I haven't totally forgotten this blog. Honestly. This morning hubby was watching FoodTV (for something new and different) and came across a mention of Cincinnati style spaghetti. He asked me if I'd ever heard of it, and it sounded vaguely familiar. So I googled it and came up with this recipe. I just so happened to have a package of ground beef thawing for supper without a definite plan in mind, so I decided to try it. Here's what I did. We loved it, by the way. Definitely a do-again.

Cincinnati Chili-Style Spaghetti

1.5 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
a few drops tobasco sauce
.5 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt

Saute the above together until the meat is no longer pink. If you have extremely lean meat, you might need a slosh of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Then add:

1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce (I used a home-canned pint jar of roasted tomato sauce)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

If you like a bit more heat, add a bit more chili powder or tobasco. Once this is simmering, start heating the water for pasta. The timing came out very well this way.

Makes about 4-6 servings

To serve: ladle over cooked spaghetti or linguine.

Cincinnati 3-Way: Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top

Cincinnati 4-Way: A couple tablespoons of raw chopped onions, then the cheddar

Cincinnati 5-Way: Kidney beans, raw chopped onions, then cheddar

Hubby went for the 4-way. While I don't mind onions, I'm not keen on them raw, so I decided to pass on that version. However, the thought of kidney beans appealed to me (but not to him). Because i'm trying to get back to a low-GI diet, I only put a small scoop of the pasta in my plate, then about a cup of kidney beans and a good ladle of the sauce. Cheddar on top. This was to-die-for good.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Okay, now for everything else

Now that we're Walking to Somewhere, I feel like I have some accountability for getting some cardio exercise. Because of the degenerative disc disease in my neck and upper back, walking is about the best exercise I can get--and because I don't want to gain weight again, I need to do it regularly. I really think this little friendly competition is going to help a ton.

I've done an informal calibration at about 2662 steps per mile. With hubby working back in town and starting work at 8, my walking hour is between 8 and 9. We're sharing a vehicle, and most days I drop him off on my way into town, park the truck (its been 4x4 conditions lately, hence the truck not the car), and go for my walk in town. I pick him up at 12, we drive home for lunch, I drop him off for 1:00, and pick him up at 5 when we're both done. So this works pretty well for me.

A couple of days the roads were so horrid I left him the truck and walked the rest of the way: 2.2 kilometers or 1.32 miles. The downside there is I am carrying my backpack until I get to my store, then I ditch it and walk a bit longer without it. I've been averaging 4500-5500 steps before work for net days of 6000-7000.

I still need to get back in a good routine for core exercises, but one thing at a time.

Weight-wise, I'm hanging in at 148#. I've been there since...September? It barely wobbled over Christmas which is really fantastic. Honestly? If my body would like to be happy at this weight, I would like to not argue with it. I'm still twenty pounds down from my high spot of two years ago, I'm reasonably fit, and I don't hate my current clothes. Though I do miss a few of the cute things I wore last winter!

I'm keeping to a mostly low GI diet, generally speaking, while not getting carried away. (Obviously, or I'd be losing that weight again...)

We'll see what consistent walking does for me. Sadly I don't think it will remove my belly flab. It will take the core exercises to do that!