11 April 2013

slow cooker coq au vin recipe

i looked at a bunch of recipes before making this, to get an idea of how long to cook for and how much liquid to add (i am still new to the crock pot thing), but didn't actually look at any of them while cooking!

also the measurements below are somewhat fuzzy, the tomato paste was dolloped and the herbs were pinched rather than being actually measured. and i used 3 slices of bacon because that is what we happened to have!

3 tbs butter, divided
5 small carrots, diced very fine
2 med/large stalks celery
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
bay leaf
8 oz shallots, peeled and halved
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
3 slices bacon, diced
3 chicken legs, skinned
flour to coat
salt & pepper
1 1/4 cup red wine (sardinian cannonau)

melt 1 tbs butter in a skillet over medium flame, saute carrots and celery until soft. transfer to slow cooker, stir in tomato paste, oregano and thyme, add bay leaf.

add remaining butter to skillet, saute shallots until soft and starting to brown. add mushrooms, stir and cook covered for a few minutes or until soft. transfer to slow cooker.

add bacon to skillet, cook until starting to get crisp. transfer bacon to slow cooker, leaving fat in the skillet.

coat chicken in flour, season with salt and pepper. brown on all sides in bacon fat. transfer chicken to slow cooker.

pour wine over all. cook on low for 8 hours.

10 April 2013

another day over

and i think i did all right! lots of protein, lots of fibre, lots of nutrients, and kcal in & out balanced almost exactly (2037 kcal in, 2066 kcal burned).

today i had french toast with maple syrup for breakfast; an orange as a morning snack; lunch was salad with smoked mussels and cucumber, and a few multi-grain crackers with organic cheddar; afternoon snack was a banana, and dinner was coq au vin (yay, slow cooker), mashed potatoes, and green beans. and a glass of the aforementioned sardinian cannonau.

who says eating healthy can't be enjoyable at the same time?


i am feeling pretty smug about riding my bicycle in this weather:

think i'll give it a rest tomorrow though, when they're predicting snow!

in other news, i've been really good about taking my supplements and fish oil lately, giving myself a pat on the back about that. as an added bonus, period cramps were nonexistent this month. i've noticed that in the past too, when i take the fish oil religiously, no cramps.

if that isn't motivating i don't know what is!

one thing i need to get on top of though is eating enough. last night i had a meeting to go to (ugh), so instead of having a proper sit-down dinner with family, i had a hurried sandwich, and a few cookies at the meeting. i was wired instead of sleepy when i got home, and ate a bunch of chocolate almonds. but when i entered all the cookies and candy into fitday this morning, i realised i still hadn't broken 1900 kcal for the day! no wonder i was hungry, considering i had the bik bike yesterday.

08 April 2013

blue zones

i recently heard a story on blue zones on the radio. blue zones are areas where people seem to live longer - where there is a much higher than average number of centenarians.

i with there was more notice paid to altitude. one of the researchers pointed out that the zones tend to be in mountainous areas, and i remember noticing that in a book i read years ago (on another topic entirely) that noted life expectancies of different peoples living hard-scrabble lives, and it struck me that the longer-lived people were all in mountainous areas, and the shortest-lived people all lived near sea level. that correlation jumped out at me and lodged at the back of my mind, until years later when i started hearing about altitude training for athletes, and then about african runners and marathon training camps that have opened in the great rift valley in kenya, where the elevation is a whopping 2200m above sea level.

i would love to see a global study comparing life-expectancy at different altitudes, distance above sea level seems to have a big impact that we don't really understand yet.

anyway, back to blue zones. i find this project interesting for the same reason that i am interested in the united states' national weight control registry (nwcr) - instead of coming up with an idea and trying to develop a study to prove if it works or not, these studies take a huge group or groups of people who have already acheived the desired goal (longevity for blue zones, sustained weight loss for the nwcr), and work backwards to see what these people have in common, and how their habits can be applied to other people who are working towards those goals.

the blue zones group has identified 9 principles for longer living, which doesn't include altitude (which is not that easy to change for most individuals, anyway), but does include some useful info. much of it seems to be the standard common-sense stuff that we hear everywhere, but it bears repeating.

  1. move maturally instead of working out hardcore, incorporate exercise into daily routines - walk or bike to the market, do gardening, sweep the front walk every day.
  2. purpose they say having a sense of purpose can add seven years to your life! as well as giving you a reason to wake up in the morning.
  3. down shift blue zone people have a daily ritual of some sort to de-stress - a nap or a prayer or a glass of wine.
  4. 80% Rule stop eating when you are 80% full. for most people it takes about 10 minutes before the "full" message gets from belly to brain, so if you're still eating when you get the message, you've overdone it. not to mention the numerous studies that show that calorie restriction is one of the surest ways to longevity (that's getting 80% of your rda, not starvation or anorexia). although in the radio program, they mentioned that calorie restriction was most important for young people; by the time you hit middle age, it doesn't have an impact. so starve your kids and enjoy midlife!
  5. plant slant eat your veggies, especially legumes! we've all heard this before. interestingly though, the area with the most centenarians (in sardinia) included a lot of pork in their traditional diet, and even in blue zones where less meat was eaten (as little as 5 servings a month) pork was the meat of choice.
  6. wine @ 5 moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. the ideal is 1 or 2 glasses per day of red wine (preferably sardinian cannonau), with friends and/or food. i'll try that, in the name of science!
  7. belong out of 263 centenarians interviews, 258 belonged to a faith-based community. doesn't matter which particular denomination you follow, as long as you get together with fellow travellers once a week.
  8. loved ones first multi-generational living is common among the blue zone people - parents, grandparents, children, all living together (or nearby) and taking care of one another. divorce rates are low, and children are raised with love to be caring and compassionate towards their elders.
  9. right tribe habits - good and bad - can be spread from friend to friend. long-lived people have friends who have similar good habits, thus naturally supporting one another's choices.

i'm feeling a bit smug that i'm doing a number of these things already - walking and cycling, advocacy, lots of fruit and veggies and whole grains, attending service every sunday. i definitely need to work a de-stress into my schedule, and drink more wine! 80-20 is something i'm working on, in part by timing my meals so i'm not absolutely famished by the time i sit down to eat. i've also been making a point of eating in the lunchroom instead of at my desk, which provides a little break in the day, and i find i eat less. family is tricky as i have no parents, but i have definitely been spending more time with my sister lately, and my father-in-law and brother-in-law are in the neighbourhood so we see them fairly regularly too. one place i am definitely falling short is point number 9 - i don't get to spend a lot of time with friends because i'm so busy with work/the kid, and when i do, we're usually in vent-session mode, and reinforcing bad habits instead of good! oopsie.

in any case, it helps to have a list like this which is relatively straight-forward and gives some pats on the back as well as good starting points on what needs more work.

is it best to eat before or after exercise?

idly wondering as i am planning on going for a walk/picking up a couple of groceries at lunch today (pearl onions, mushrooms, rapini, red wine) and wondering if i should eat first then walk, or the other way around?

i've got a pretty good day planned for today - hitting almost all of my nutrient targets (including lots of fibre and protein), coming in at just under 2000 calories, and burning just over 2000 calories with some light exercise (cycling, walking).

05 April 2013

the long week closes

between back pain and dental work, it's been a toughy. but, it's made me more vigilant about taking my vitamins and fish oil, and i'm ending it feeling better than when i started. although i may need another advil for my aching jaw!

04 April 2013

spring is here!

and about time, too!

this morning i rode "the big bike" for the first time in a long time - maybe since november! the kiddo was very excited to see that, he's really missed getting to ride, and feeling "cool" around his classmates.

it really got my blood pumping this morning, and i was also pleased to note that i had no trouble turning my head to do a shoulder-check. i've had some "popping" in both shoulders since my visit to angus last week, and the occasional stabbing feeling, but have basically been ok. yahoo!

in other news, i got my bridgework started yesterday. my jaw is sore! i am glad to know i am seeing the light at the end of that particular tunnel, but it reminds me that i was supposed to book a retainer check with my ortho for january, and it kept getting put off as i worked through all my dental struggles. i will definitely need a new retainer

when all this is done.

onward and upward now, i hope.