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Cashew chocoballs

Last night, after splitting a batch of brownie batter with Andrew, I decided I had enough time to whip up a batch of my cashew choco balls – this time actually measuring and recording ingredients as I went. It ended up being a little different than my first batch – in a good way. I think this one had more cashews than the first batch, making them nuttier and almost reminiscent of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Yum!

Cashew chocoballs
(makes about 45-50 balls – which sounds like a lot, but will disappear surprisingly quickly!)

2 cups dates
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup coconut
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp vanilla

Put dates and cashews in blender and blend until it starts to stick together a little.
Add remaining ingredients and blend for a couple minutes.
The mixture will be a little crumbly, but will press together well.
Press together to shape into little balls. (Don’t try to roll them. They will break apart!)
Put balls onto a baking tray and pop in the over for about 2 hours at 50*c. (This will dehydrate them without actually cooking them).

You can also eat them straight from the blender or pop them into the freezer for a colder, chewier snack.

Because you don’t need to cook it, you can try it as you go and make adjustments along the way. If you want it sweeter, add more dates or a little honey, agave nectar or maple syrup. Add more cocoa to make it more chocolatey or more cashews to make it nuttier, etc etc.

 

I brought a bunch of them into the office as a little Friday treat and within half an hour I had 3 people asking me for the recipe. Considering there are only about 12 people in my office, I reckon that’s a pretty good number! Plus, I emailed the recipe around to everyone after the third request… so the may have been more if I had waited. 😉

My favourite part, though, was Andrew wanting to help! I brought the mixture over to the couch so I wasn’t all alone in the kitchen making 50 little chocoballs and when I sat down, Andrew scootched over and looked at me with a smile, then said he wanted to help make them and asked to show him what to do. I love the fact that he not only tries my random recipes but that he takes a bit of an interest in it. He’ll taste-test things and give suggestions and opinions. And help me make a big baking tray full of chocoballs.

 

Nothing too exciting planned for the weekend. Gym Saturday and Sunday. Girls over for sushi and Top Model tonight. The rest of the weekend will be little tasks: getting a NZ credit card (now that I’m a resident!), picking up some things for mom’s visit (a nice pillow, a towel set, etc), picking up things for myself (socks, workout clothes) and possibly heading out to Bin Inn for the first time. It’s the closest thing I’ve been able to find to Bulk Barn so far in NZ and while I haven’t been yet, I’m getting pretty excited:

Bin Inn is a wholefoods speciality store chain offering nuts, dried fruit, confectionary, gluten free products, home brew supplies and much more.”

I’m hoping I’ll be able to get things for cooking/baking a bit cheaper than I have been able to find at the grocery stores. Nuts and dried fruit, especially, have been racking up the grocery bills! I love the idea of eating way more raw foods and things, but I don’t want to end up compromising because the increased costs associated with that type of diet. We’re saving for a house, so we’re trying to watch what we spend, but to me food is something that’s hard to compromise on. A little extra spent on quality produce, nuts, good oils, etc translates into heaps saved on cold & flu meds, doctor’s visits and all sorts of other things. Andrew sort of agrees – but mainly because I don’t make him split costs on things I insist on buying (like 1 kg of raw cashews or agave nectar!) I think finding somewhere I could get a bunch of essentials at a slightly lower price would get less “Are you really going to spend that much on that!?” looks – and leave a little extra cash for the house fund. *fingers crossed!*

 

Does cost influence your grocery/food choices? Will you spend a little extra on something you know will be beneficial to your health or is the price a deciding factor? How do you convince your partner that it’s worth the extra costs for organic/unprocessed/healthier versions of things? Have you found ways to keep costs down without sacrificing the foods you want?

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I call bullsh*t

Recently, I’ve seen a few articles debunking fitness myths and a few have said:
“Myth: Muscle weighs more than fat. Fact: One pound of muscles weighs the exact same amount as one pound of fat – it’s just more compact.”

Are you serious!?!

With that logic, you can say that bricks don’t weigh more than feathers, lead doesn’t weigh more than cotton candy and granite doesn’t weigh more than bubble wrap.  Obviously one pound of ANYTHING will weigh the exact same amount as a pound of anything else. A pound is a pound is a pound.

Telling people that muscle weighs more than fat isn’t perpetuating a myth! If two people have the exact same measurements, but one has 45% body fat and the other has 5% body fat, the person with less fat and more muscle will weigh a significant amount more. Why? Because muscles is denser and weighs more per cubic foot than fat does.

Clearly muscle takes up far less space by weight!

In the photo above, you can see a replica of 5 lbs fat and 5 lbs muscle. Yes, both those pieces weigh the same, but look at the size difference! Now imagine the difference in weight if you were to take one square inch of each and weigh it.

Sure, you can’t just hop on the scale and declare you’ve only gained weight because you’re adding muscle and it weighs more than fat. BUT, if your measurements are getting smaller and you’re losing inches but not losing as much weight as you expected, you can probably chalk that up to the additional muscle on your frame.

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Supplements

In an ideal world, what you eat throughout the day would provide an ideal amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain optimal health. And, I suppose, if I had a dietician and personal chef choosing, preparing and serving me every bit of food I eat throughout the day, that might be true. But I don’t.

And the fact that my body isn’t fantastic at absorbing the nutrients I do eat every day (thanks gluten-intolerance mucking up my intestines!) I can’t assume I’m getting all the nutrients I need just through diet. Factor in that I don’t eat anything with wheat, rye or barley. And my doctor told me to minimize the amount of red meats and dairy I consume. Kinda leaves my diet slightly lacking…

So I’ve decided I’m going to start taking some supplements. I don’t want to take a multivitamin and try to cram everything in all at once. 1: because I don’t think I actually need every single supplement included in multivitamins. 2: because the main vitamins/minerals I want to make sure I’m getting enough of actually prevent proper absorption of each other.

Starting today, I’m going to trial taking 2 different supplements. The first is Vitamin D3; 1000IU tablet once a day. My doctor mentioned my vitamin D was on the lower end of normal with my last blood test and since it’s winter and I’m getting absolute minimal sun exposure, I’m not getting any vitamin D naturally!

The second is Thyro Guard. It’s marketed as a “multi-nutrient thyroid support formula”. Though all my blood tests have always come back as having normal TSH levels, I’ve always questioned my thyroid function:

  • I’m easily fatigued, despite getting a solid 8 hours sleep a night
  • My hair is dry and thinning
  • My skin is dry
  • I have puffiness around my eyes and face
  • I have difficulty concentrating
  • My sex drive is lower than it should be
  • I get sick frequently (currently battling cold #2 in as many weeks)
  • My eyes feel sensitive to light

Many of those symptoms can be related to so many other causes, I know, but there are enough of them that I really do question whether I have an underlying thyroid issue. (TSH is not always accurate, but my doctor won’t test my T3 and T4 since the TSH isn’t abnormal).

Anyway, so supplement #2 is Thyro Guard which contains Magnesium, potassium, B6, B2, B1, B12, iodine, copper, manganese, zinc, calcium and vit C. I have to see when the best time to take each supplement is and then I’m going to take one of each every day, religiously, until they are finished or I feel any negative effects and then reevaluate once the trial is over.

Do you take any supplements? Why or why not? Have you found them to make any significant difference?

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Weekend Breaks

I tend to take weekends as breaks. A break from work, of course, but also a bit of a break from my routine and diet. That’s not to say I pig out on junk food and lie on the couch all weekend, but my diet and exercise is different on weekends than during the week.

Monday to Friday I sit at a desk for most of the day. Yes I try to walk to/from the post office every day to get at least 40 minutes of walking in and yes I try to do little things here and there to get myself off of my chair and moving around but I think having the desk is helpful, too. Weekdays I drink at least 2 glasses of water and 4-5 cups of green tea throughout the day. I have healthy food in my desk and in the fridge and I eat 3-4 small meals over the course of the day. I blog and I look for new healthy recipes to try. I read about other people’s progress on their journey to a more healthy lifestyle and it helps motivate me.

Weekends are the time I take a break from all that. I still try to make healthy choices, but I don’t know exactly what I’ll be eating around what time of the day. I don’t usually have any green tea and I’ll have a glass or two of water when I think about it. I usually eat slightly bigger meals but less often. And I’ll usually do laundry, go grocery shopping, and tidy up around the house instead of walking to/from the office.

I’m not going to feel bad about it, though. Why should I? I’m not going out on booze-filled binges and eating every meal out of a fast food take-away container. Sure I might have a couple pieces of chicken bacon with breakfast one morning, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Everything considered, I’m still making healthy choices overall and getting some exercise in. Plus I’m enjoying the time I have to spend with my boyfriend without worrying about how I’m going to managed to drink enough green tea while we’re out (or finding a washroom every half hour!)

Weekends are the little breaks that I think will keep me on this track longterm. They give me time to step back from my weekday routine and mix it up a bit while still providing lots of opportunities to prove I’m making a lifestyle change. ex: Saturday night was spent at the pub watching a rugby match. Over the 3 hours we were there with friends, I had 2 glasses of ice water and half a small bowl of fries – no ketchup. I think that’s pretty good!

They also make me look forward to the week, in a way. I look forward to my walks and to my green tea and my rice cake snacks, the same way I look forward to a little break on the weekends. It’s all about balance and variety!

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And so it begins…

I’ve tried to start multiple things. Actually, I’m amazing at starting things. Absolutely fantastic. The problem comes in with follow through and completion; I fail miserably at both. This is an attempt to follow something through with as much excitement, enthusiasm and commitment as I have for the start of it.

A few months back, I was emailing my mom and was very excited about my newfound commitment to looking and feeling great. “By my birthday, I’ll be in the best shape of my adult life!” (Now, I do need to include “adult” in there as I was a competitive gymnast as a child and I know that no matter how much I commit to this, I will never be in the same shape I was when I was 11 and training 20+ hours per week).

My birthday is now less than 3 months away – October 1 – and I’m quite convinced I’m in exactly the same shape I was those determined, optimistic months ago. Bugger.

Maybe I won’t be in the best shape ever by October, but I am back on the commitment wagon and still want to look amazing when my birthday rolls around. I also want to improve my balance, strength and cardio by the summer so I can take on some of the more adventurous challenges New Zealand has to offer; surfing, rock climbing, hiking and camping – without whining to my boyfriend that I’m tired, sore, exhausted or just unable to keep up.

Hopefully this blog will keep me honest and motivated. Having a written reference to all the foods – good and bad – I’ve indulged in may help keep those sugary, fatty foods away from my mouth. And a record of all physical activity will may be the little kick in the pants I need to actually get up and do something when the couch looks so comfortable and inviting.

So wish me luck! Here’s hoping my journey is just as exciting, inspiring and motivating three months from now as it is right now.

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