Archive for October, 2009


The 21 Foods List: Revamped

October 30, 2009

I asked and you answered. Thanks to everyone for your ideas with the 21 Foods List! Here it is, revamped; these are all the foods that I plan on making over the next year before my 22nd birthday, all of them from scratch and without the aid of bread makers/pasta machines etc:

1. Perogies

2. Pasta

3. Cinnamon buns

4. Jam

5. Marshmallows

6. Gnocchi

7. Baked donuts

8. Graham crackers

9. Cheesecake

10. Bagels

11. Pickles

12. English Muffins

13. Paella

14. Roasting a turkey

15. Nut butter

16. Yogurt

17. Pesto

18. Pate

19. Vegetable stock

20. Pita bread

21. Baklava

A couple others which I want to try but might not get accomplished this year, from your suggestions, are to make coffee, duck (I’m not sure how I’d prepare this- but the idea of tackling Peking duck is so intriguing and would be such a great challenge!), and lavender soup. At the beginning of October, as I was happily indulging in a square of layer cake that my awesome new roommate’s mum made, it crossed my mind that to make a layer cake would be another good one to add to this list. Therefore, I’m adding layer cake as a “bonus” bullet point to my 21 Foods List.

I have already crossed two off my list: roasting a turkey and making vegetable stock. They both turned out amazingly well! I roasted the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner with my mum looking on (following her directions- no one would trust me to bring along my own recipe because I’d likely try to “healthify” it and thus ruin it ;)), and I used a recipe from The Veganomicon for the vegetable stock. Both were simple and easy to do. There’s hardly anything to roasting a turkey! I was pleasantly surprised at the glorious simplicity of such a delicious dish (and, as my mum noted, if you’re using a butterball turkey like we do every holiday, it’s really just the combination of fat and salt that makes it. David Kessler, anyone?).

With the vegetable stock, the key is to use the “leftovers” from veggies. I threw in all of the ends of carrots and stumps of celery that are inedible (I saved them over the course of about a week), and besides that, the recipe just calls for one chopped onion, less than 1 tbsp of olive oil, and a pile of garlic. Delicious. It worked perfectly in my favourite split pea soup recipe. I’ve seen a lot of recipes to make vegetable stock which call for using a ton of vegetables, and I think it took me this long to make my own broth because I didn’t want to waste so many vegetables. But if you use the stumps, cores, peels etc that you wouldn’t eat anyways, vegetable stock becomes an incredibly economical and healthy dish. The best part about it, too, is that it only needs to simmer for a couple hours (throwing the veggies in with the water takes all of about 3 minutes), and it’s not overflowing with sodium! Even vegetable stocks that say “reduced salt” on them at the grocery store tend to have oodles of salt in them, so it’s nice to have that kind of control to ensure that there is either no salt, or very little, added to the homemade variety.

If you have any recipes for the above items on my 21 Foods List, please do send them my way. I’d love to try them out!

Also, for those of you who have been asking, here is my delicious bean ball recipe (click on link for more ideas for the best ways to eat them and for substitutions if you don’t have some of the ingredients readily available):

Energizing Protein-packed Bean Balls

1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained to remove any excess sodium)
2 heaping tbsp homemade ketchup (recipe below)
1 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
A few squirts of lemon juice
5 tbsp wheat germ
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Mash the kidney beans in a mixing bowl so that there are still some chunks of beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a spoon to mix everything together until it is well combined.

3. Roll the bean mixture into small balls. You should get between about 20 and 30 balls.

4. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the balls on the sheet and spray them with some olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes.

To make the ketchup: Combine 1 can tomato paste, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 2 tbsp cider vinegar. Refrigerate until use.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Taza Chocolate!


Product Review and Giveaway: Taza Chocolate

October 28, 2009

Taza Chocolate kindly agreed to send me some of their products a couple weeks ago to taste-test and review. The reason why I first became interested in Taza Chocolate is because it is stone ground, organic, minimally processed, and direct trade (their press release states that they “always pay more than Fair Trade prices for our beans”). I like the fact that this company operates on a sustainability level to be more environmentally friendly and to produce chocolate which is of the best quality. Taza Chocolate also states that it is a member of Slow Food USA (which we had a lively discussion about back in April) and the ingredient list for their products is refreshingly short. This chocolate is dairy free, gluten free, and soy free as well.

I was given the opportunity to taste-test the Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano, Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano, and the 70% dark chocolate bar. Before the sisterroommate left country for half a year, I asked her to taste the chocolate and tell me what she thought about it. She playfully agreed:

It’s very granular, but it tastes like original chocolate; it has a very pure base to it. It almost tastes a little barbaric, as though this is how they ate it at ceremonies in ancient times. It’s kind of sparkly, you can see the sugar in it… you can taste the sugar quite prominently. It would be really good melted in coffee. It has subtle overtones of rain-washed valleys.

(As you can see, the sisterroommate had fun with her review).

I also quite liked this chocolate, but I don’t think that the Chocolate Mexicano disks are the kind of chocolate I’d want to eat just by itself because the sugar granules are very large, so it’s a little bit too sweet for my liking. The dark chocolate bar is delicious by itself, however!

I tried using both kinds of Chocolate Mexicano in this amazing chocolate zucchini bread, and I can honestly say that this was one of the most decadently delicious breads I have ever made. The chocolate melted perfectly! I used less olive oil, added in some applesauce, and cut out the sugar (replacing part of it with agave nectar); the bread still turned out beautifully and I can’t wait to make it again with the Taza Chocolate.

I do not believe that chocolate is “a health food”, but this would be the perfect replacement in your diet if you normally like the sweet stuff. The cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano only has Dominican cacao beans, cane sugar, and Costa Rican cinnamon in it; the pure cacao has the same ingredients minus the cinnamon. The 70% dark chocolate bar contains Dominican Republic cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and whole vanilla beans. These are all real ingredients, and for that reason, Taza Chocolate makes for a great treat.

Interested in trying Taza Chocolate for yourself? Leave a comment about your favourite way to cook/bake with chocolate, your favourite kind of chocolate, or anything else chocolate-related below to enter to win a 70% dark chocolate bar, 2 0z nibs, and Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano! As always, if someone leaves a comment that really rocks my socks off, the prize is yours. Otherwise, I’ll be using a random number generator. Winner will be announced one week from today, on Wednesday, November 4th.


Interview with a Raw Food Vegan

October 26, 2009

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with a vegan raw foodist who lives in my city. We got together at my favourite cafe and wound up spending three hours chatting excitedly about health and nutrition. The time flew by and I’m sure we could have easily continued talking for the next three hours, swapping stories and ideas and research. It was one of the best possible ways to spend a Friday afternoon.

I went to our little interview knowing very little about the raw food lifestyle. I’ve learned some from reading Hanlie’s blog (she of the motto “Eat Produce, Not Products” that I adore), but aside from that, I knew virtually nothing. I’ve learned over the past couple years that many people in the medical profession don’t know much about nutrition, and that people who are interested and passionate in nutrition and health can be better informed than doctors or registered dietitians. Some experts in the field, such as Janel and Nicole and Gina, give fantastic advice and are incredibly knowledgeable. But I find that sometimes “experts” in health aren’t interested in considering alternative nutrition plans or working with what individuals feel comfortable with, and this is highly problematic. That is why I found it so refreshing to meet with Amanda and hear her views on raw foodism.

Amanda has a background in science from some of her university studies and she shares my passion for health and nutrition. She has been vegan for two years and a raw food vegan for one and a half years. Her 15-month-old son is also a raw food vegan, and her husband has just started this plan within the past month. The reasons why a person might choose a raw food diet are numerous, but one of Amanda’s reasons for it is because the living enzymes have a stronger nutrient content than cooked food.

The raw food diet creates even more controversy than the vegan diet. Some say that raw diets are very healthy; others say that raw diets are completely ridiculous and unnatural. I’m doing my best to keep an open mind when it comes to health and nutrition, and so I’m very interested in learning about alternative nutrition plans. My position on the nutrient content of raw vs. cooked food places more of an emphasis on balance: for many foods, the nutrient content might not necessarily be better or worse if the food is cooked or uncooked, but the nutrient content is different depending on how the food is prepared (raw or cooked- and if it’s cooked, the way it is cooked also has a dramatic impact).

A few years ago, if someone asked me what I thought about vegetarianism, I would have likely scoffed and said that being an omnivore is the most well-rounded, healthy way to eat. Once I learned more about vegetarianism, I came to the conclusion that if done correctly, it can be very healthy. After that, the issue of veganism came up; I was convinced that veganism is not a healthy option and that it is deficient in many nutrients. After my month-long vegan experiment, I realized that I’d been wrong: if done correctly, veganism, too, can be very healthy.

During my vegan challenge, I joked to others that I was thinking about trying out a raw food diet. The most common response from others was, “Ew. Really? Don’t do that. It’s not healthy.”

But I’ve learned my lesson, after my initial presumptions about vegetarianism and veganism. I’ve learned that most of the time, if we think that a diet/lifestyle is unhealthy, it’s because we do not know much about it. Being able to speak to Amanda was wonderful because I learned so much about the concept of a raw food diet.

I would now like to pose a question to everyone who maintains that raw food is “not healthy”: is the way that most people eat now, with eating some kind of processed food from grocery stores every day, “healthy”?

Even if the “processed” foods are things like loaves of bread, which most people would not consider to be all that processed, is it really “healthy” for us when we don’t know what half the ingredients are? We don’t have to chow down on bags of chips and fast food to still be eating food that isn’t healthy. I recently gave a speech for one of my classes about the misleading claims on nutrition labels, and I found it fascinating that a loaf of bread from the Safeway bakery counter contained 43 ingredients and half a dozen kinds of sugar, whereas if you bake bread yourself, you’ll use about five well-known ingredients with one kind of sugar. To me, that’s not healthy, if we eat bread which contains ingredients we don’t recognize.

Amanda told me that people concerned with her raw food vegan lifestyle never once approached her with concern when she ate processed foods. It wasn’t until she took an interest in nutrition and began to eat really healthy that the people around her began questioning her choices.

I found this interesting because the same sort of thing has happened for me. I went through junior high without anyone batting an eyelash at my intake of trans fatty packaged sunflower seeds, microwavable popcorn, Subway sandwiches, Slurpees, and KitKat bars. When I made the effort to lose a bit of excess weight and was eating Special K vanilla crisp bars and Cup-a-soups every day, people were still supportive of me. However, choosing to forego processed food as much as possible has led to an uproar of disapproval. It boggles the mind. Can anyone explain this phenomenon to me? Because I do not understand it. “Live a little! Enjoy yourself! You don’t have to be healthy all the time!” Well, guess what: I don’t have to eat crap all the time, either.

I believe very strongly that we can all benefit from eating natural, real, whole foods, and that each one of us should experiment with different foods to see what kind of diet best suits us as individuals. We’re all human, so we’re going to have a lot of stumbling blocks and obstacles in our way, but that’s part of what’s so great about it: the constant challenge means that we’re always given another chance to try again and make progress and learn what is best for our bodies and build a better relationship with them.

Amanda has clearly found that being a raw food vegan works for her. She used to wear glasses but no longer needs them. Her skin is clear, she has bundles of energy, and she emits a healthy glow (I sound like an infomercial here, but it’s true! I haven’t seen many people who look as healthy as her). Sometimes vegans and raw foodists have a sort of emaciated look to them, but Amanda has an inspiringly energetic, healthy look to her. She says that her son is equally as healthy and that her immune system has strengthened over the past couple years, too.

One of the common myths of a raw food diet is the length of time it takes to prepare and make food. However, Amanda told me that she can make food in five to 20 minutes, and she used to spend a couple hours each day cooking up healthy meals (just like I currently do- making things from scratch is rewarding but can be very time-consuming!). She has also found that the raw food diet is very cost-effective. She now spends less money on food for three people than they used to spend when there was just her and her husband.

“Raw food is a lifestyle, not a religion,” Amanda told me. I really loved that attitude. If Winnipeg doesn’t appear to be very accommodating for vegans, it is not a raw-friendly city at all. Because of that, a raw food vegan is going to run up against some difficulties in maintaining a wholly raw food diet. This is particularly true because there are no regulations for the label “raw” on food products. All a person can do, if they are interested in adopting a raw food lifestyle, is try to eat as raw as possible but allow that there are going to be a small percentage of meals that will not be raw.

I plan on trying a (virtually 100%) raw food diet for a month, but I think I’ll be waiting until January to do it- right now, things are a little too busy to jump into it completely. Over the next couple months I’ll be doing more research and trying out meals to slowly incorporate a few raw meals into my diet to make the transition a little smoother. A dehydrator and a food processor are two of the best kitchen tools when making the transition to a raw food diet, so I’m going to see if I can borrow those two tools from the mother dear and play with them before I try a raw food diet.

If you’d like to read more about the topic in the meantime, here are some interesting articles arguing both for and against a raw food lifestyle:

The Science Behind Raw Food

Raw Food Life

Is Raw Food More Nutritious?

My personal thoughts, at this stage, are that there appear to be health benefits to a raw food diet, but it might not be for everyone, and if someone were to try it out, they should definitely do their research to ensure that they are consuming a variety of nutrients. I also think that there are health benefits to cooked foods. We should, however, keep an open mind to all kinds of different approaches to healthy diets and lifestyles, and seek to learn more about them before we make wild assumptions about the positive or negative effects.

What do you think of the raw food diet and lifestyle? How much do you know about it? Would you be willing to learn more about it? I’m sure that there is a wide range of strong opinions on this subject and I want to hear all of your thoughts!


POM Wonderful Blogger Harvest Tour Recap

October 23, 2009

One missed flight and two delayed flights later, I am home again in Winnipeg after a POMtastically wonderful Blogger Harvest Tour at the POM Wonderful orchards in California. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

The latter part of Day Two

After picking pomegranates on Tuesday, Janel gave a talk about the role antioxidants play as an anti-aging superpower. Her health and nutrition philosophy is the twin of my own. It was beautiful to hear her stressing the importance of eating real, whole foods. I had to restrain myself from jumping up and giving her a gigantic hug partway through her talk!

Then it was time for dinner at The Vintage Press. It ever you go to California- no matter what part you’re in- make a detour to Visalia so that you can eat at The Vintage Press restaurant. The interior is gorgeous, the owner is kindness in human form, and the food… I’ll be dreaming of the deliciousness of that meal for days:

PA200107Random things on a stick. They were tasty. That’s all that really matters anyways, right? 🙂 I believe these were mostly vegetables and a mozzarella ball in some kind of oil/vinegar sauce

PA200110Bacon-wrapped almond-stuffed date, crusty whole wheat bread, and melty cheese in puff pastry

PA200112Cream cheese and pomegranate arils layered on top of a fig

PA200115Mushrooms between layers of puff pastry with cream sauce

PA200116Sliced pears and mixed greens with pomegranate arils

PA200120Pistachio-crusted salmon in a white wine/lemon sauce

PA200122Pomegranate sorbet

I enjoyed the meal with Kristy and Eric (I had so much fun with them the evening before that I really wanted to spend a lot more time with those two!), and Heather and Janel. The conversation was engaging and the company, perfect. I’d be understating to say that it was a complete pleasure and delight to talk to them.

PA200121Me and Heather

PA200124Kristy and I

Jeff gave an incredibly touching speech about the POM Wonderful-blogger relationship which I think had us all choked up. He and Andrea were the most amazing hosts any of us could have asked for! Then we went on a quick tour of the restaurant.

PA200135The whole place was beautiful, but I especially loved the piano at the top of this winding staircase

Roni suggested the idea of walking back to the hotel, so some of us walked/stumbled back. I crashed as soon as I got to my room.

Day Three

I woke up early for some quickie strength training and an interval workout on the treadmill to burn off at least two bites of that decadently rich dinner from the previous night. Once we’d all eaten breakfast together, we packed up and drove to the POM plant for our tour.

There’s quite an involved process for ensuring that each pomegranate is in pristine condition, but essentially what happens is that each pomegranate moves along the conveyer belt…




…and then it gets a pretty heart-shaped POM sticker further on down the line. Aww!

PA210182This is one of the biggest pomegranates ever! It’s about 5.5 inches in diameter

There were big banners hanging all over the processing plant with motivational phrases such as “Everyone matters at POM” and “Every drop of juice counts”. I loved the friendliness of the atmosphere.

It was also fascinating to see how the bottles are made and the juicing system itself. The bottles are made with recycled materials and even the husk of the pomegranate is squeezed for juice, so POM is very efficient in using every part of the pomegranate. I was impressed at how little goes to waste.

Every minute of this trip was unbelievable. The only thing I would have changed would be for it to have lasted longer- there was so much more to learn and so much more time I wished I could have spent with the other bloggers! It was nice to meet these fantastic people who have such an interest in health and food. Shirley explained to me all about the gluten-free philosophy, which I had known nothing about before. And I have to say that it was a lot of fun to meet the girl behind the infamous breakfast cookie, Gina, too- now I finally know how to make one.

The Harvest Tour was out of this world.


Day Two of the POM Blogger Harvest Tour

October 21, 2009

We started off the morning bright and early with a continental breakfast at the hotel. From there, it was a long drive to the POM orchards, so we snacked on Wonderful brand pistachios along the way. The orchards were fantastic; there are 18,000 acres of pomegranate bushes alone (and yes, pomegranates grow on bushes rather than trees).


Pomegranates as far as the eye can see

We also became very excited when we learned that there are almond and pistachio trees in the orchard too!


Then we went up in two planes to do a fly-over. The little plane was a six-seater; the “big” plane had about 8 seats. Just for kicks, I went up in the air on both planes.

PA200050Me and Janel on the small plane

The orchards are beautiful and cover an enormous distance. The ride was very bumpy on the smaller plane too:


After the fly-over, we ate lunch before heading back out to the orchards to learn more about pomegranates from the experts, and to pick pomegranates and do a little taste-test.


After that, we snacked on some POMx bars (chocolate-dipped peanut butter flavour and chocolate-dipped pomegranate flavour) on the drive to Visalia, California. We did a lot of driving today, but I kind of liked that- it gave us all an opportunity to get to know each other better and learn more about everyone’s truly fascinating lives. It’s very refreshing to be surrounded by people who have an interest in health, and the other bloggers are some of the loveliest people I have ever met.


In about an hour we’ll all be meeting up to hear Janel talk to us about nutrition. I’ve only spoken to her a few times but already it sounds as though our views on health are really similar, so I’m looking forward to it! We’ll be going to dinner later on at a nice restaurant, with a meal featuring pomegranates in every dish. Tasty.



POM Blogger Harvest Tour: Day One!

October 20, 2009

This morning I left my apartment at 6am to make it to the airport on time. A couple of airplanes later, with a quick stopover in Denver between them, I arrived in Fresno, California!

The POM company gave each blogger (there are 15 of us in total) a temporary credit card to pay for the taxi to the hotel, and I arrived at the hotel without a hitch about four hours before we were all planning on meeting together for dinner. A lovely little POM care package was waiting for me upon my arrival: it included a big environmentally-friendly tote bag full of goodies! Inside the bag was a folder full of the Harvest Tour information as well as a POM notebook, POM pen, POM usb device (with POM info and press releases on it, as I learned after I plugged it into my laptop), a bunch of beautifully designed cards with recipes for using POM on them, and a very large diagram of “how to open a pomegranate” (clearly it takes a lot of skill. Without step-by-step instructions I’m sure I could make as much of a mess with a pomegranate as anything else in my kitchen ;)). There was also a smaller box and inside it were a POM t-shirt (my size, yay!), POM Iced Coffee, and Spiced POM Cider. And a water bottle too, which was very much appreciated after the flight.


I decided that I should spend the next few hours exploring some of Fresno before meeting everyone, so I asked at the front desk if there was anything interesting in the area. When she mentioned a Trader Joe’s nearby I’m sure I nearly shrieked with excitement! I went for a little walk to discover Trader Joe’s and it was heaven. I ended up buying a loaf of vegan sprouted bread, Better ‘n Peanut Butter, and a Clif Z bar. I haven’t ever seen any of those items in Canada before and I always hear bloggers raving about the latter two, so I just had to try them. I ate the Clif Z bar as a pre-dinner snack and the honey graham flavour was very tasty. I’m excited to take the bread and peanut butter back home with me. Some people get excited about seeing tourist sites when they go traveling; I get excited about places like Trader Joe’s.

After my expedition to Trader Joe’s, I went out walking in the other direction and discovered that the area that of Fresno that we’re in right now consists of large box stores and even larger parking lots. But that also means that there’s a gigantic mall only about 20 minutes walking distance away. I found a lovely pair of boots and am somehow going to fit that gorgeous purchase in my bag along with my Trader Joe’s treasures to take home to Winnipeg.

Then it was time for the dinner! We went to BJ’s Brewery and because there were so many of us it was difficult to get around to talking to everyone. I spent most of the evening talking with Kristy of The Wicked Noodle and Eric of Eric Rivera’s Cooking Blog. I think I spent far more of my time laughing than eating, which is always a good sign. They are both hilarious and it was wonderful to meet with other food and health bloggers! It’s also good to be able to finally put a face to bloggers that I see all over the blogosphere, such as Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, Tina of Carrots ‘n Cake, and Roni of Green Lite Bites– and to meet bloggers whom I’d never know about before this occasion. And of course, as soon as the meals arrived, everyone whipped out their cameras and started snapping photos. How I do dearly love bloggers! It’s just the beginnings, I’m sure, of an immense amount of fun.

I had a lettuce wrap with Thai shrimp and some calamari to begin, followed by a massive salad with heaps of Cajun shrimp, artichoke hearts, and fire-roasted red peppers, and then finished it all off with a taste of apple crumble and a few bites of cookies with ice cream on top. Delicious! But I’m especially looking forward to tomorrow night’s dinner, which will be a specially-prepared POM affair.


It’s time for this health blogger to crawl into bed before a busy day tomorrow of touring the orchards! I love being a part of this experience.


Guest Post: Insight on Nutrition for Runners

October 19, 2009

This is an article about healthy and correct diet options in general but with a more detailed insight on how rules apply for runners. The article is written by Miki, a passionate runner but also a person very attentive to her body and her diet. It’s dedicated to all those who may share the same passion but also for those who may want to start running in the near future and don’t know were to begin with. This can be a good start.

We swim in it, bath daily in it, we drink it and use it while doing dishes or laundry, but we don’t praise it enough. Water is the basic element of optimal health. It makes up about 60% of the body weight. The prevalence of water in our body is due to the fact that it creates the environment for the body. Serious dehydration can threaten life itself. This is why runners (sports dedicated people in general, moreover every person who sweats) should closely care for water intake.

Along with water, there are nutrients that we need to properly assimilate in order for our body to respond as we wish it to. For example a runner must never randomly compose the diet. Proteins, calcium, vitamins, carbs and good fats are daily required for a balanced, healthy and successful diet.
Carbohydrates provide our cells with fuel. The recommended range of carbohydrates varies from 45% to 65% from our energy resources. Consumption of whole grain products, fruits and vegetables is not wishful thinking. It is only the necessary step to take for a balanced diet with a safe base of carbohydrates.

Proteins are a must for those who want to gain physical endurance. For resistance and energy you should consume food that stimulates protein intake, such as fish, poultry, lean meat, grains, and beans.

Oil, fish, and nuts are necessary for the proper fat intake, as they don’t contain carbohydrates, but a certain kind of fats that boost our bodies, omega-3. It is desirable for a runner to consume around 3000mg of omega-3 on a daily basis.

Also, for those runners who established losing weight as main aim, there are certain products that are warmly recommended as they succeed in burning fats, thus accelerating the results. Oatmeal, yams, potatoes (white or red), brown rice, whole grain products, green fibrous vegetables, fresh fruit, nonfat dairy products, chicken and turkey breast, fish and shellfish and lean red meat are the foods that should build up the program. Of course, variety is important, but these are not restrictive foods. They actually allow the preparation of a wide range of tasty meals (and also bad fat-free).

Gathering sharp focus and specific attention to nutrition intake, you will acknowledge that less is more. Nutrition is not a playground, but it can be the biggest asset we have.

Also, vegans  should carefully investigate the implications of such a diet and how the body may react to vegan stimulants. Those who decide to turn vegan must not urge the body but ensure that the body can handle it first.

From my own experience as a runner I can tell you that the best way to choose the right healthy diet is to read and apply the ‘rules’ as your body demands. No matter what fitness activity you prefer (either it’s running, aerobic, cycling or any other sport) just make sure your diet takes count of the effort your body goes through every day.

This article is a guest post by Miki, writer for, a site where you can read treadmills reviews.


Product Review: POMx Tea

October 16, 2009

Exciting Announcement

Next week I shall be away from the computer and out of business from Monday through Wednesday. Why, you ask? Because I will be in Fresno, California! Along with 14 other health bloggers, I have been invited by POM to tour the company’s orchards and juicing plant! This is POM’s first ever Blogger Harvest Tour and I am delighted to be a part of it. It includes an all-expense paid trip to California; I will be learning all about pomegranates. I am positively giddy with excitement. Upon my return I shall shower you all with new-found knowledge about pomegranates.

In the meantime, to hold you over…

POMx Tea Review

When I tried the POM juice, it didn’t top my favourites. The taste was incredibly strong and for someone who typically doesn’t drink much juice, it was just too much. I really enjoyed it in smoothies, but I couldn’t drink it straight. POM’s new iced teas, however, are a different story! They’re described on the press release as “deliciously refreshing”, and that is exactly how I would describe them. My favourite is the Light Pomegranate Wildberry White POMx Tea; I have an infatuation with white teas and this one perfectly emulates the lightness in taste.

A carton of juice can sit in my fridge for months and I won’t have any desire to touch it, but I actually found myself wanting to drink this iced tea. That is a definite sign that it has quality taste! I was happy to drink it on its own but also found that it pairs nicely with vodka (just in case you were wondering. It was solely for the purpose of research).

The nutrition stats for the Wildberry White Tea show that there’s about 70 calories and 18g sugar per one bottle. That is a high amount of sugar; however, I expect that much of it is natural sugars from fruit. Some of the sugars are added, though, as shown in the ingredient list: gentle brewed white tea (water, Superior White Peony tea leaves), POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice from concentrate, fructose, erythritol (natural sweetener), POMx (POM Wonderful Pomegranate Antioxidant Extract), blackberry juice from concentrate, natural flavours, citric acid.

Out of the other four flavours, only one other is “light”; the other three have about twice the calories and sugar per serving. The ingredient lists are all very similar. The other flavours are Pomegranate Lychee Green, Pomegranate Peach Passion White, Pomegranate Blackberry, and Light Pomegranate Hibiscus Green. Unfortunately the only two flavours that I could find at my store were the Wildberry White and the Lychee Green, and neither of these were abundant on the shelves- it looks as though they’ve been selling out fast!

Overall, I really enjoyed this new line of POMx Tea. It is a far healthier choice than other kinds of iced tea drinks that you’ll find at the grocery store. I’m not a big fan of the added sugars, but the product makes for a great treat and is super refreshing! Have you tried POMx Tea?

Have a wonderful weekend and I shall join you all once again next Friday (though I’ve got a post about my 21 Foods List and a guest post about nutrition for runners all set up for Monday and Wednesday, so be sure to check those out while I’m picking pomegranates in sunny California!).

Edited to add: It looks as though I might very well be updating my blog while I’m in California, in between looking at pomegranates. Check back daily!


Walk and Get Fit

October 14, 2009

For months, I have faithfully worn my pedometer every day, no matter where I’m going. When I went to Texas in August, however, I didn’t bother bringing along my pedometer. Upon my return home, I didn’t feel any great urge to put it back on. For the past month or two, it has been sitting quietly in a drawer in my desk. We’re both okay with that. We just needed some space. These things happen in the best of relationships.

But now I think I’ll be bringing it out once again, and that is to celebrate a new Walk Around the World in 31 Days challenge conducted by Fitness Magazine! Although it is an American challenge and thus one needs to have an American zip code to enter, I still enjoy wearing a pedometer on a daily basis to track my steps, and I think my pedometer and I are ready to be reacquainted. I really love the notion of the Walk Around the World challenge, especially because one of my ultimate life goals is to literally walk around the world (anyone want to sponsor me to do that? That would be the best experience ever).

Health experts advise us to accumulate about 10,000 steps over the course of the day, but I choose to think of that as the absolute minimum. I prefer thinking of 12,000 steps as my usual base, with about 15,000 as my goal. This is actually pretty easy to do. If I walk to and from work in the morning, and to and from class in the afternoon, that’s about 21,000 steps right there, not including other “lifestyle” steps. If you use your legs for transportation instead of a car, you will have no problem at all with achieving the 10,000 (or 12,000, or 15,000…)-step goal.

I have found that if I go for just a 45 minute walk during the day, I can easily manage 12,000 steps in total (once the steps of walking around the house etc are all included). Depending on how active your everyday lifestyle is- going up and down stairs, moving around at work, or if you live in a house rather than an apartment- you might need to only go for a 30 minute walk or perhaps need to walk for closer to an hour to meet the 12,000 step daily goal. Remember, that 30 minutes can be broken down into 10 minute increments. It’s easy to squeeze in a couple of ten-minute walks throughout the day!


One of the main reasons I stopped wearing a pedometer is because I’ve been riding my bike so much more frequently than going out for walks. The equivalent of about 7,000 steps of walking only matches up to a couple thousand “steps” if you’re on the bike. It’s the same distance, but you’re going so fast that the pedometer doesn’t realize you’re on a bike instead of on your two feet (much as I love the little gadget, it’s not always the brightest tool). Personally I get a little disheartened when I expect the number to be about 5,000 steps more than it shows.

Walking is one of the best exercises you can possibly do. Among other things, walking lowers blood pressure, reduces body fat, improves mood, helps to prevent osteoporosis, and increases flexibility. Walking is also perfect for strengthening and toning up the whole body. If you have difficulty with performing squats, lunges, or any kind of core exercise, start a good walking program and in a couple weeks try out those body weight exercises once more. You’ll be amazed at the difference that walking can do to improve your technique and endurance.

Walking is an enjoyable activity that anyone and everyone can do! How will you incorporate walking into your day today?


Winter Cycling

October 12, 2009

Giveaway Winner

And the winner of Mimi Spencer’s 101 Things to Do Before You Diet is… Maggie! Her tip: take some “me time”! Always needed. It’s great to just get away for a little bit each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes. We can all benefit from a little extra time to ourselves to recollect our thoughts.

Winter Cycling

We got our first snowfall of the year on Friday afternoon. It looks as though it’s here to stay- yesterday morning the snow melted quite a bit, but then it began snowing again in the late afternoon. So much for autumn! In the spirit of exercising no matter the weather, on Saturday morning I set out for my first ever experience with winter cycling.


Just imagine this… with a coat down to my knees, boots reaching up my calves, a scarf covering the lower half of my face, and ski gloves to keep my hands warm. Envision piles of snow around and that’s what Harriette and I looked like over the weekend.

My beautiful bicycle Harriette is useful for winter cycling because of her large cruiser-style tires. I learned this when I hit a couple bumpy ice patches on the road. Ever faithful, she managed to keep me balanced and we only slid once! There was something very invigorating about cycling on the slippery snow. I always assumed that bicycling in the winter would be colder than walking, but if you’re bundled up properly, it’s actually quite warm.

When I first started boot camp, I fell completely in love with it. With the Run a Race this Summer Challenge, I began to really enjoy running immensely. I think that there are a couple of key factors here, and that is the novelty of starting something new, and overcoming the difficulties that are associated with them. When I got on my bike on Saturday, I felt the same way that I did when I started those other challenging exercise regimes. The wind was nasty, the roads were brutal, and winter has altogether arrived far too early for my liking- but something about the extremeness of the sport is very attractive.

(Give me a week and no doubt I’ll be changing my tune).

I have a lot of friends who are seasoned winter cyclists. Seeing them out there in all kinds of conditions is intriguing. The reason why I’m particularly interested in it now is because my work/university schedules are not very accommodating if I walk to and from each of them. If I work in the morning (50 minute walk or 15 minute bike ride), I have to take the bus back to my place so I can make it to school on time for my afternoon classes (the university is about a 15 minute walk from my apartment). I’d rather spend my time exercising for transportation than sitting on a bus, so it makes sense to ride my bike- especially because it takes the same amount of time to bike or to go by bus to my work! Therefore, winter cycling really does seem like the most appealing option.

I know virtually nothing about winter cycling or if there’s any special way to treat your bike. I’m a little concerned because Harriette’s seat and handlebars are leather; will they crack in the cold?

There are a couple websites with useful winter riding tips, but I’d love to hear from any of you! Has anyone tried winter cycling? Is it something you’d ever be interested in? Do you have any pointers to help out a beginner?


Westwood took this photo when she and I went on an epic snow frolicking adventure on Friday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!