Bonjour December!

Wow, today is December 1st and I seriously cannot believe how quickly this year has gone.  It’s like time has somehow sped up and is going at warp speed.

It’s December 1st which means No Carb November is over!  Thank goodness!!!  The hardest part about no carb November was having lunch in the city.  Food Court meals are pretty carb intensive- once you rule out the standard sandwich, burrito, sushi roll, and fish and chips, you’re left with salad or sashimi pretty much every day which I like but it gets a bit boring!  (I’ve gone a bit easier on myself for December and am doing 30 days no red meat!)

To celebrate the end of No Carb November, I’ve had no carbs so far today other than an arancini ball but I’m attempting for the first time ever bread and butter pudding.  This is a very very very weird thing for me to make.  I don’t think I’ve actually ever eaten a bread and butter pudding or had any desire to, so it’s weird that I would attempt one.  Well, really it’s The Runner’s idea.  We had a load of hot dog buns leftover from Thanksgiving and what didn’t become breadcrumbs will now become this pudding.

I’ve asked Uncle Google for a recipe for this and since I have no preconceived ideas of what I’m making, I’m using a mash up of recipes which will hopefully turn out to be an approximation of what bread and butter pudding should be.

First, I tear up 6 leftover hotdog rolls and put them in a ceramic dish.  I forget to spray it with vegetable spray so hopefully nothing bad will happen.  

I melt a hunk of butter in a saucepan (there were different recipes telling me different amounts so I decided a hunk would work well).  As the butter is melting, I add 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of skim milk, some raisins, a cup of sugar and some vanilla.  I let it come to a boil while I beat 4 eggs in a separate bowl.  At this point, I read a recipe that suggests adding rum or bourbon, so I threw in a couple splashes of Wild Turkey to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive and well.  I pour the warm mixture into the eggs and then pour it all over the bread in the dish.  And then I wait (and write) for ten minutes.

I give the mixture and bread a stir and then pop it into the over for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Fingers crossed, The Runner will be happy with my attempt!

 

3 more days!!!

Argh!!!! I received a box of cupcakes today as a present but unfortunately due to my 30 day challenge I couldn’t eat a single one 😦

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So I just licked the frosting off of one! It was delicious but not as good as the real thing!!! 72 more hours and this no carb November will be over!

No grains? No worries!

Wow, it has been such a busy two weeks that I have literally forgotten to miss eating carbs. Seriously, between heading to Noosa, The Runner nearly breaking his face, frantically trying to nail down wedding vendors, addressing and sending Save the Dates, starting a new job, planning (or at least planning to start planning) Thanksgiving and being a bit emotional as we come up to the 1 year anniversary of my Dad, I have literally been so distracted that this month’s challenge has been a walk on the park!

I won’t lie completely and say I haven’t missed potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, quinoa, polenta, and the other grains I’ve cut out for the last 15 days- but, I’ve been so flat chat and almost too busy to really notice. Ok, yes lunch in the city is slightly challenging once you rule out rice, bread and pasta but sashimi and salads are super yummy and it doesn’t stress me out to walk by the sandwich places or ask for a special order of “no rice” at Thai and Japanese places. I get strange looks sometimes but that’s normal anyway!

I will be honest and say I’m looking forward to my two cheat days (already planned for the 23rd and 30th) but I’m not tempted to cheat during the week- I’m just not that into grains/carbs anymore. Weird huh?

Is my willpower getting better stronger or am I just learning to think out of the box when it comes to food? Or have I just been too busy and spending emotional energy on everything else except food? Either way, I’m halfway through November and I feel pretty good in my de-carbed state!

Next Stop, Noosa!

So, in the midst of all the job searching, wedding planning, and challenge eating, I’ve neglected to tell you that it’s Noosa Week!  Well, not yet, but as of Friday it is!

What am I on about are you asking?

The Noosa Triathlon Festival– it’s The Runner’s favourite triathlon of them all and it’s because it’s a pretty good one (even I have to agree!)

Reasons why the Noosa Triathlon is so good:

1)  It’s in Noosa, and Noosa is amazing.  It’s one of the first places I ever went in Australia because it’s one of the best holiday spots in Australia.  It’s gorgeous, has great restaurants, a few shops and lots of ice cream shops.  It’s perfect.  If you don’t believe me, http://www.visitnoosa.com.au/

2)  It’s a fantastic atmosphere- there are about 20,000 athletes of all different ages and sizes and because Noosa is such a great tourist destination, there are lots of families, partners etc who cheer on the athletes.  There’s a real buzz and excitement in the crowd.

3) It’s established- it’s been going for 30 years so they have the logistics pretty well sussed out.  It’s very well organised and hassle free for athletes and spectators.  

4)  The nightlife is great- ok, maybe not the Saturday night but after the Triathlon is over, everyone parties at the Surf Club and on Hastings St.  Last year, I ran into the winner in one of the bars after the triathlon– and then made him prove (with photographic evidence- and his medal) that he actually won it.   

5)  Melbourne Cup on the beach– yes, it is as much fun as it sounds.

6)  We almost always have a house with a pool (except for the year that we stayed in the hotel with no bathroom door)

7) The weather is always good!

8)  We always have great friends with us!

 

Sunshine, friends, beaches and a great crowd– what else could you possibly ask for in a triathlon???

 

Spaghetti for breakfast…

I know it sounds weird (to some) but eating savoury foods for breakfast is one of my guilty pleasures.  Usually (but not always) they are leftovers from the night before.  Yes, I have been known to make lunch for breakfast… much to The Runner’s disgust.

Anyway, this morning the Summer Spaghetti Bolognese leftovers were calling my name (yum!)  I think the main inspiration behind spaghetti for breakfast was that I decided that my next 30 day challenge would be No Carb November (or as low carb as possible) November.  Or at least no white carbs.  Not being racist but I don’t want to cut out fruit and veggies.  So the idea of spaghetti this morning was really appealing– almost like a Last Supper 7 days ahead of schedule!

It’s going to be a tough month I think- no rice, no pasta, no white potatoes (super hard with an Irish fiancee), no bread, no cereal.   The jury is still out on quinoa and polenta but really it will be lots of fruits, veg, and protein.  So maybe No Grain November is more achievable than No Carb November– I am concerned that The Runner would have withdrawal symptoms without potatoes.  Even still, I think it’s going to tougher than the no dairy challenge which actually hasn’t been too bad!

Of course, I’ll still have my three cheat days but…. No Carb November is on– from next week at least!

Challenge 1: Done! Bring on Challenge 2!

Phew!  I have exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes left of my 30 day Gluten Free challenge and to be honest, it hasn’t been that bad.  I’ve had two cheat days- one was for charity and one was a hens day high tea.  Yes, I made the most of it and had high tea, pizza and McDonald’s all in the same day because well, if you’re going to fall off the wagon, why bother drinking light beer.  I’m not missing any foods really and I feel pretty good and am feeling slimmer and trimmer.  It could be my imagination but I’m pretty sure it’s true.  Lots of athletes- Novak Djokovic for one-  have switched to a gluten free diet because they swear it’s made them fitter, healthier and a better athlete.  (See here for an article) Well, I probably won’t win Wimbledon or the US Open any time soon, but I’m glad I’ve given the gluten free thing a go (again!)  because I do feel pretty good.  It’s surprisingly easy to follow and hasn’t really affected my daily eating habits- especially since I’m not a big toast eater and at home we’ve subbed gluten free pasta for normal pasta.  It’s definitely something that I may continue with longer term– although I may have a chicken schnitzel sandwich or bowl of pasta tomorrow– just because I can!

Sadly, October’s challenge is not going to be as easy.  For October (drumroll please!) I’m giving up dairy foods.   Yep, that’s right, no milk, cream, cheese, custard, gomme, yoghurt (frozen or not), gelato, kefir, lassi, etc for the next 30 days.   I’m going to avoid butter where possible but without being the crazy lady who interrogates the waiter in a restaurant to find out whether the chicken, fish, beef, etc is cooked in butter.   I’m not going OTT, but I’m challenging myself to avoid it as much as possible.  Two things I’m worried about the most:

1) My daily breakfast of yoghurt and berries

2)  My coffee.  Sometimes soy just doesn’t cut it.  

3)  Cheese.  I LOVE CHEESE!

I’ve cut out cow’s milk in the past and it wasn’t too bad– mainly because I was having sheep’s milk yoghurt and lots of goats cheese when the craving set in.  This time I’m going all the way.   And cutting out everything…. see the list here.  If Wikipedia says it’s a dairy product, I’m going to do my best not to eat it.  Sigh……  tempted to have one last cheese and ice cream binge in the next 69 minutes but I don’t think that’s the best idea ever.  

The Runner is doing a 30 day green smoothie challenge which I’m not officially doing but all the recipes make enough for two so… am having mini smoothies as well.  I’m also starting to run- which I hate.  But that’s a different topic all together.

For now, I’m going to go and spend the next 62 minutes foraging for a milky treat before I kiss it all goodbye for the next 30 days! 

No, Sorry for the next 30 days, I don’t.

7 days to go!

So, I’m nearly done with my 30 day Gluten free challenge and to be honest I haven’t done THAT badly!  I’ve had one full on cheat day (for Charity) and other than discovering that the muesli I ate had gluten in it, I really haven’t had to change my diet too much.  Yes, there have been the occasional cravings for sourdough toast, and yes, there have been a few restaurant meals where I’ve had food envy– but overall it hasn’t been that bad!

My tips for gluten free eating– not that I’m an expert after 23 days but- here’s what I’ve learned:

1)  Mexican Mexican Mexican- Ok, yes, it’s my favourite food but as long as you stick to corn tortillas it’s pretty much all gluten free!  Last night I made a fajita extravaganza- grilled skirt steak, pico de gallo, refried black beans, black and white rice, corn chips, corn tortillas, and grilled veggies- all without gluten!

2)  When in doubt, ask-– I’m amazed by how many restaurants will make alterations if you tell them you’re gluten free- I went to The Grounds in Alexandria (LOVE that place!) and really wanted a burger- because they look amazing– and they were able to do them on gluten free bread.  Ok, the gluten free bread wasn’t as amazing as the brioche looked, but it was pretty good!  Nearly everywhere in Sydney can accommodate – I’ve even had a cafe serve me polenta instead of toast with my breakfast.

3)  Read labels.  Wheat and gluten pop up in the most bizarre places- soy sauce, muesli, some but not all chocolates.  Read the label before ruling it out or shoving it in your face!

4)  Don’t be a pain in the a$$ but don’t feel bad about it either.  Everyone these days is on some sort of diet, special eating plan or just doesn’t like things– so many people are paleo, dairy free, gluten free, vegan, sugar free, organic, pregnant, detoxing, etc that it’s totally normal (at least in my group of friends) to have a “special” diet.  Actually there’s a great essay doing the rounds at the moment on how “special diets” diets are a First World Problem.  Click here to read it.
Everyone is on a diet of some sort but to be honest, no one wants to hear about it.  It’s not that interesting.  No one wants to go out to dinner or to eat with someone who either lectures them about the virtues of their diet or who turns up their nose and can’t eat anything and makes a big song and dance of it.  Ok, so you can’t have carbs, that’s fine, but if I’m shoveling rice and pasta and potatoes in my mouth and enjoying it, I don’t want to hear about how evil carbs are.   And, if you’re vegetarian and we’re in a steakhouse don’t be surprised when there’s only one option for you to eat– you’re the one who agreed to go, don’t make everyone else miserable trying to make you happy.  Which leads me to tip 5….

5) Research– it kind of follows on from point 4 but if I’m going out to eat, I have to do some legwork before I go.  What’s on the menu? Is there an option for me there?  Is it a pasta and pizza deal with nothing else on the menu?  If so, it could be a challenge and it’s best to know that ahead of time!

So, with only 1 week to go, I’m giving this challenge a 2/10 on the difficulty scale.  I’ve only used one of my official cheat days so far– and the second one I’m using on Saturday for a hens day (it’s high tea during the day and pizza at night).   So it’s not too bad…. next month’s challenge– 30 days No dairy…. I’m anticipating this could be a bit more difficult!

Gluten Free Challenge- Day 3

“This is easy so far,” she says with a slightly overly optimistic laugh.  And it is– or has been easy so far.  I always knew that going Gluten Free would be one of the easier 30 days of this set of challenges.  I’ve been trying to stick with a low level of  gluten diet for the better part of the last 12 months so cutting out all together isn’t too bad.  Tonight is salmon with steamed veg and brown rice and amaranth, sunday night was beef and salad, I may have skipped dinner last night because the power was out– long story.

I’m beginning to talk about my 30 day challenge– because it’s a real thing now and not just something I’m talking to The Runner about maybe doing.  And it’s good, it’s keeping me honest and people have suggestions and ideas for what I can do.  

My trainer—who hopefully knew I was on an endorphin high after my Dance, Tone and Burn class when I spoke to him tonight and that I didn’t really mean it when I said, “let’s try kettlebells on Thursday morning, I want to feel the burn”, #thingsI’llregretsaying– separate story.  Anyway, I told my trainer about my 30 day challenge plan and my revitalised 11 month fitness kick, and he had some suggestions.  

One– I try 30 days of no carbs which just sounds horrible, and so I’m going to semi-dismiss for now.

And two, and this one is intriguing– “Nothing with a label”.  I’ll give you a moment to mull it over for a second and wrap your head around it.  Nothing packaged, nothing from a supermarket, he said not even an apple with a sticker on it (ok, he may have been joking with that one but maybe not.  But basically not eating anything wrapped, packaged, pre-made or bought.  Only proteins from the butcher and only fruit and veg.  I’m not sure whether you would be able to bake things or make things from scratch with flour or sugar– I need to investigate the rules for that one.  But I thought it was pretty interesting.  I might need some lead time on that one to get the veggie patch going but I could be up for it.  The best thing is,  I’m pretty sure you could still drink wine– but only if it’s cleanskin…  Hmmmm, maybe not but I’m happy to bend the rules!

Wish me luck for the next  27 gluten free days!

Happy Spring!

So today is the first day of Spring here in Sydney and not only was the weather amazing today but I was reminded in my yoga class this morning that Spring is a time of new beginnings and a time to remember the past but move forward into the future.  Quite a fitting statement for my first Australian Fathers Day since my Dad died.   Spring is a time of rejuvenation and rebirth and Father’s Day- whether your father is here or not is a time of recognition and reflection on memories and love that you share.

It’s been quite a good day- surprisingly no tears.  I’ve been quite reflective but also recharging my batteries and getting ready for the year ahead.   A few weeks ago I started mulling over the idea of doing 30 day challenges between now and the wedding next year.  It’s a pretty stupid idea really considering I have the willpower of a… (I’m not really sure what analogy to use)..let’s just say I can relate to Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything except temptation”.   Since we’ve moved to our new apartment, temptation has pretty much come in the form of cakes from Kurtosh, ice cream from Cold Rock and Banofee Pie Tarts from The Sweet Spot Patisserie– basically, The Spot  I love you but your delicious food is ruining my hopes of being a size 2 ever again!  No matter how much yoga I do in a week, it’s not really counteracting the cookies and cream cheesecake that you can order by weight….seriously, it’s a thing and it’s yum!

So, I’ve decided today is also the start of my beginning a series of 30 day challenges! For the next 11 months (give or take), I’m going to undertake a different challenge for 30 days.  I will allow myself to have a cheat day (or two) here and there but I’m going to try to be on the straight and narrow and stick to my 30 days of depriving myself of something.  (I wish I could say I came up with this totally on my own, but  I didn’t.  30 day challenges are a thing- read here– and a website!)

I’m starting today with 30 days of Gluten Free eating.  I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again, but still, it’s hard to think about 30 days of no pasta, no bread, no cookies, no cake, etc.  It sounds easy, but resistance is futile in the face of Kurtosh– but I’m going to be strong and make it 30 days.  

Some of the other challenges will be 30 days dairy free, 30 days no alcohol (the toughest one ever), 30 days vegan before 6 (apparently its Mark Bittman’s new thing- see article here), 30 days no dessert (not even ice cream), and more.  I’m open to any suggestions as well!

So here we go, the first day of spring, the first day of a new me!   Let’s do this!  And on the bright side only 29 days to go before I can tuck into a big bowl of pasta and garlic bread and cake!