Get With the Time(s)?

I was in my friendly neighbourhood library the other day as I'm wont to do, when I came across an article in Time Magazine entitled "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin."

"What?" I thought. "Now how is that possible?" Everybody knows that calories out must equal or exceed calories taken in, in order to maintain or lose weight. Right?

But then I began to read. And soon realized I had experienced the same things the author, John Cloud, laments about.

The upshot of his story is that what you eat will have more of an effect on weight loss then how much or how hard you exercise. Exercise is good for one's health, of course, however, the more you exercise the more inclined you may be to eat a little more afterwards or move around a little less during the day which, in turn, would totally negate any calorie deficit benefits.

"Sacralidge!" You and I say. But, now that I think about it, I think Mr. Cloud has a point. I remember coming home from the gym, starved enough to gnaw through anything that got in my way, only to stuff my face with the first thing I could find that was the quickest to make. Say a pizza pop. Or some Mac 'n' Cheese. Or both.

So let's say I exercise for an hour and burn about 400 calories. Then I go home and have a pizza pocket that contains 230 calories. Now I have only a 170 calorie deficit. And then let's say I have that single serve container of Mac 'n' Cheese because I'm so hungry I can't slow down to think about what I just ate - that's another 220 calories. I've now eaten an extra 50 calories and negated any calories I burned during exercise.

On top of not actually burning any calories in the end, I haven't really eaten anything that good for me. I've consumed 12.5 g of fat (which amounts to 113 calories from fat or 25% of what I just ate was fat) and 1160 mg of sodium (almost half of the daily recommended intake) in one meal.

I think I may try some moderate exercise, like walking around the block, and then eating something good for me afterwards instead of exercising to the max and then stuffing down whatever I can find. We'll see how that works. I'll keep you updated.


I ♡ Food

I love eating. No, really, I LOVE eating. I love food. I love buying food. I love researching food. I love preparing food. But really, I love eating food. And all kinds of food at that. I may even be a food snob, but I hate to put such a label on myself. I'd like to think I'm an equal-opportunity foodie.

I love trying all sorts of foods and so I love going to all sorts of restaurants. My wallet, however does not share the same sentiment. It begs for clemency. Thus, I decided that for a month, if I want a specific type of food, I'll just have to make it myself.

And my most favourite food is sushi. So yummy. So good for you. But such an expensive habit. A sushi roll costs about $4-5, while sashimi is about $10 for 10 pieces. So instead of making my wallet cry, I decided to head over to my local fish market and grab some sushi-grade salmon and tuna and last Friday night I made sushi rolls as well as nigiri and sashimi.

I like to make my sushi with brown rice instead of white as there's more fibre and other good nutrients. It's not quite the same consistency in the end, but yummy enough for me! To the rice I add some rice vinegar, sugar, and salt and that's all that's needed for sushi rice.

Inside my rolls, I like to put some avocado which is chock full of good fats, as well as a protein like chicken, crab, or in this case, tuna, and some lettuce if I happen to have some hanging around.

And voilà!
Now 40 of these rolls cost me about $15, including the fish, the rice, the nori, and the veggies. My wallet says: Thank you.

For the nigiri, I used white sushi rice as it was a gift from a friend and I felt mildly obligated to at least try it. And try it I did! Same sushi rice recipe with a piece of salmon on top. Delicious!

The salmon cost me $11 and I got another 40 pieces out of it. So all in all, that's about 80 pieces of sushi for $25. Can't beat that!
My wallet's final say: Thank you. Thank you very much.

And in case you're wondering, no I did not eat it all myself. I did manage to share with friends. And no, I'm not lying. Honestly.


A New Take On the KFC Bowls

KFC chicken bowl. With mashed potatoes, cheese, and gravy. It sounds gross. But then the idea of trying it started to grow on me. And so I tried it. And it was delicious.

And now that I've eaten about half my daily calories in one shot (740 calories to be exact), 35 g of fat (43% of calories from fat), and 9 g of saturated fat, I feel a little gross.
So, of course there has to be a way to make this at home and make it so much healthier (and tastier)!

I started with:

1. the mashed potatoes: mash up some potatoes (you can leave the skin on for some extra fibre) and add a little bit of non-fat milk to make them creamy. If you're really adventurous, you can try mashing some sweet potato or yam instead.

2. for the next layer, corn: I simply opened a can of low sodium corn, rinsed, and put on top of the mashed potatoes. You can also cook your own corn on the cob, and slice off the kernels for an extra fresh taste.

3. the chicken: I sliced up a chicken breast into small, bite size pieces, coated them in a mix of non-fat plain yogurt and fat-free ranch dressing, a mixture of whole wheat bread crumbs and a healthy cereal like Fibre One (crushed) with some herbs like parsley thrown in, and baked on a tray until done.

4. the gravy: I made myself by dissolving about a tablespoon of butter and adding some flour to create a roux, and then adding a beef or chicken bullion cube dissolved in water, and then heating until thick.

5. The cheese: was a low-fat cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, very lightly.

And now you have a fabulous, tastier and healthier version of the KFC bowl.



Tasty Salad? You Don't Say?

Almost everybody I know doesn't relish the idea of sitting down to a salad. It's boring, they say. It's tasteless. I'm not a rabbit, they tell me. I need real food.

But salads are a great way to get some do-your-body-good vegetables and even fruits into your system. And they can even be filling enough for a main meal at dinner.

First, start with whatever mix of greens you like. My personal favourites are:
Then add whatever mix of foods you enjoy. You can't go wrong - trust me, the more the merrier!

Some of the things that get rave reviews are:
  • adding fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, or oregano. Herbs add so much flavour that you might not even need the salad dressing after all! But keep in mind that it's fresh, not dried, herbs that add the most flavour to your salad.
  • adding fruits like apples, pears, mangoes or orange sections gives your salad some sweetness while at the same time adding needed vitamins, minerals, and fibre to your diet.
  • adding some avocado. Avocado is delicious plus it contains some great good-for-your-heart fats.
  • sprinkling or crumbling some goat cheese on your salad. Goat cheese tastes great and is fabulous for your body. A 1 oz serving only has 75 kcal, 6 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein, as compared to 1 oz of cheddar cheese which contains 113 kcal, 9 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein.
  • adding some crunchy vegetables like bell peppers or celery, which not only makes the salad yummier but also boosts your vitamin C intake in one meal.
  • sprinkling nuts and seeds like hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds or cashews on your salad. These contain a variety of essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals and add crunch and flavour to your salad.
  • adding pre-cooked shrimp (found frozen in your grocery store) or chicken pieces adds tons of flavour and lots of protein to your salad.
  • adding legumes such as snow peas or soy beans (edamame) also adds flavour, crunch, and, of course, protein.
Now that you have some ideas on how to make an excellent salad that tastes great and is great for you, you can start adding salads to your lunches, dinners, and even snacks!

And you can't say it's boring now, can you?


Pizza Pizza

I like pizza quite a bit. It's not my most favourite food, but made right, it can be quite good for you.

So, one day I decided to order a pizza from Domino's. Probably not one of my smarter ideas. I seem to have this really bad habit of checking nutrition info right after I scarf something down, and not before, like any other sane person would.

Turns out a 12" (about 8 slices) thin crust cheese and pepperoni pizza has 1320 calories, 64 g of fat, and 28 g of saturated fat. And if you haven't read my previous post, that's (on average) 66% of your daily calories, 94% of your daily fat intake, and 41% of your daily fat intake in saturated fat (of which you should only be getting 10%).

Now, I know you're going to say "But Nutrition Queen, who in the world eats a whole pizza themselves?!?"

So let's say you only ate three slices: that's 495 calories (25% of daily calories), 24 g of fat (36% of daily fat intake), and 11 g of saturated fat (16% of daily fat intake). I know you're thinking "Well, who cares! That's good enough!"

But I have a better idea! Make your own - it will be healthier, not to mention yummier.

I was rummaging around in my local grocery store when I came across this fantabulous product:
PC Blue Menu Whole Grain Lahvash Flatbread. It's approximatively the same size as a 12" round crust so use it as the crust for your pizza, squeeze some Primo Pizza Sauce on, add about 120 g of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, and about 8 slices of pepperoni and you have yourself an excellent pizza. It's almost less work then picking up the phone and dialing for delivery. Plus, less wait time!

But the best part? 3 slices have only 279 calories (14% of daily calories), 12 g of fat (18% of daily fat intake), and 6 g of saturated fat (9% of daily fat intake AND within the recommended 10% daily intake for saturated fat!) - all of which is about half of what a delivery pizza contains!

Bonus: if you don't add pepperoni and instead put on mushrooms or bell peppers, you take out an extra 128 calories, 8 g of fat, and 3 g of saturated fat.

So there is a way to have your pizza and eat it too!

Welcome to McDonald's. How can I make you unhealthy?

In my travels around the internet, I bump into a lot of interesting articles and posts, but this one takes the cake. I mean burger.

It's at the Urban Toronto forum, where member ganjavih posted about his recent trip to San Diego and Tijuana, complete with pictures. When I saw this picture, I thought the last remaining brain cell that had been rattling around in my head for some time now had finally exploded.

Well. I, for one, am glad to know that the US represents the freedom to eat McDonald's whenever, wherever, and however I damn well please. Whew, was that a relief. For a minute there I thought they might take away my right to put

* 56g of fat (which is 86% of your daily fat intake)
* 17 g of saturated fat (which is 25% of your daily fat intake, while at the same time keeping in mind that saturated fat should be restricted to 10% of fat intake per day)
* 91 g of sugar (the same amount that's in a medium sized slurpee)
* 1490 mg of sodium (recommended intake is 1500 mg per day, so that's 99.3% of your daily intake)
* and a whopping 1440 calories (and as, on average, daily calories consumed is about 2000, that's 72% of your daily calorie count)

into my body, all in the form of a Big Mac Meal.

God bless America.

Frappuccino Hell

My favourite newsletter, Nutrition Action, has a section on what they term "Right Stuff" (The Good Foods) vs "Food Porn" (The Not-So-Good Foods) that is always a great read. It's very informative and I always learn something new. So in the spirit of my favourite newsletter, lets talk Starbucks.

Just the other day, I discovered the beauty of the Starbucks Blended Crème Frappuccino. Especially the Orange Crème. I got it for someone else, but ended up sucking down the entire grande-sized drink myself. Mmm, was it good. Then, after the evil deed was done, I just happened to look here.

I love Starbucks so this was a bit of a jolt - and not the good caffeine kind, either.

So I made my way to the Starbucks Nutrition section of their website and here's what I found:

The grande Orange Blended Crème Frappuccino (or Fattuccino as NA likes to call them) has 320 calories - but, of course, mine had whipped creme and syrup too, so that's now 430 calories. For someone who eats only 1500 calories a day, that's almost a third of my calories!

Apparently, a Venti Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino has 620 calories and when you add whipped cream you get 750 calories plus 9 grams of saturated fat and 15 grams of total fat. NA compared it to a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza with an additional 140 calories thrown on top that you can sip through a straw!

But, if you MUST have that one Frappuccino, this is what Nutrition Action suggests:

Get a no-whip Frappuccino Light. It's not sugar-free, but it'll save you 100 to 300 calories and, if ordered non-fat with skim milk, most of the saturated fat grams.

For my grande Orange Blended Crème Frappuccino that's 430 calories with 13 grams of fat vs 140 calories and almost zero fat!

Maybe once a week wouldn't be so bad, right?