Almost there!! OK...maybe not quite...we're flying out tomorrow night on the 9pm flight to Van, and then doing a red eye to Hong Kong at 2am (arrrggghhhh) but we're really starting to get excited now! It's a long haul flight at about 14 hours, and Hong Kong is 16 hours ahead of us so we'll end up arriving in Hong Kong at 7am on the 26th. Soooo...we might be a little tired...and I miiiiggght resort to a Red Bull. Gasp! Shock! Horrors! Sorry dudes...I know the stuff is crap but it works like a hot damn...and this is an emergency situation!
We've got lots on the go for our whirlwind trip - lots of shopping, lots of eating, and tons of sightseeing - Victoria Peak, the Big Buddha at Lantau Island, a day at the Happy Valley horse races and lots of Chinese New Year's celebrations. I promise I'll be a good blogger and take lots of photos, esp. of all the cool eats! Hubs and I have decided that we're going whole hog on the food while we're there...this is a once in a lifetime chance and Hong Kong is a foodie's paradise.
I've mentioned before that I track my exercise and food daily - I got into the habit three years ago when I started bootcamp, and with a few minor blips, I've been tracking pretty consistently. It's really useful because it helps me see what I'm eating and where I can make improvements...plus I like tracking how often I exercise and what body parts I'm working out.
My coworker M was playing with her iPhone today and found a cool new app called myfitnesspal that helps you track your food and exercise. Immediately intrigued but unfortunately iPhone-less (I will get on that bandwagon soon!), I went online and signed myself up on the website which you can find here. I've tried a few other food trackers and found them not great - but I really like this one. They have a lot of food choices, so it makes it really easy to track your food intake. And kinda fun. It also has some report options and I really like being able to get my carb/fat/protein breakdown for the day, which I can't really see when I'm just journaling my food on paper. Two thumbs up on this neat tool!
Next step - get me an iPhone. Strictly for the health and running apps only though. Heh.
As you guys know, I am a fan of Vikram Vij. If chefs had groupies, I would be one of Vij's groupies for sure. This weekend, Hubs and I made a quick day trip over to Vancouver to see family, and decided that lunch at Vij's bistro Rangoli was in order. Unfortunately we'd miss dinner at Vij's as we were planning on heading back on the 5pm ferry, but we figure Rangoli would give us a taste of what Vij's would have to offer.
We met up with my inlaws there, and ended up sitting in a covered outdoor patio area with heaters. The day was mild so it was fine, and they provided blankets in case you got a bit chilly. We had to wait a bit for everyone to show up, so we started off with some drinks - Hubs had a mango lassi, and I had a chai tea. The lassi was SO GOOD...really mango-y, thick and refreshing. The chai was good too - not too sweet, and not too overly spicy. Now you'd think that I would have taken photos of this blessed event, right? Since for me, this is like my version of mecca? Totally forgot. I was totally so into the food I forgot about my camera. Sorry fellow foodies...I promise I won't be so forgetful in Hong Kong.
Once everyone got there, we shared some appies - a savory chaat, which was fried wheat chips with yoghourt, potato, a curry sauce and cilantro on top. Super yummy. We also ordered up some pakoras, which were easily the best I'd ever had...light, not greasy in the slightest, and came with a flavourful cilantro sauce. The pakoras also came with a bowl of lentil soup, which was amazing. Thick, packed full of flavour...I'll have to see if the recipe is in either of Vij's cookbooks.
The lunch menu was really diverse - lots of vegetarian options for the veggies out there, and a good selection of chicken, lamb and goat dishes. I had the carmelized onion and lamb curry, while Hubs had the natural chicken and tomato/green bean curry. Both dishes came with either chapati or naan, and a fragrant basmati rice.
I know I sound like a freak, but that was the best curry I've ever had. EVAR. I'm not normally a lamb fan, but I figure if anyone can make lamb properly, it would be Vij...and the food definitely did not disappoint. Tender, not dry at all and not gamey in the slightest. Delish. Hubs' chicken was tasty as well, and everyone really enjoyed their meals. After lunch was over, I zipped into the restaurant to pick up some spices - Vij sells some of his own ground spices, so I picked up a couple of different types of garam masala and a few packages of chai tea spices. The price was incredibly reasonable - $9 for a pretty good sized container. And I figure if anyone would know how to make a good masala, it'd be him.
The only weird thing? The washrooms. Basically there are these two huge doors that are right in the main area, and there's no signs. So all you see is this huge wall with two handles. And it's not off to the back somewhere, but right out in the main area where all the coolers are where the takeout food is sold. A little odd, and I felt weird coming out and practically running into someone perusing the curried chickpeas. The washrooms themselves were kinda cool though...there was a little TV set into the mirror, and it was showing a Bollywood movie, replete with the latest bhangra moves. I love me some bhangra, so I thought it was totally cool.
All in all, a fabulous lunch. Next on the hitlist - Vij's!
I'm a fan of Jillian Michaels on Facebook and she just posted this entry on her status...amen, sistah, amen.
Don't blame anyone or anything for your situation or problems. When you do that you are saying that you are powerless over your own life - which is utter crap. An empowering step to reclaiming your life is taking responsibility. Although life may deal you some bad hands, evaluating the choices you make in response to those hardships is critical in affecting an outcome that is more favorable to you.
So remember how I was going on and on and on about these?
These are my crack. Yesterday was our off meal day, and it seems that now that I'm not on the TPC and have indulged in sugar, chips, etc., my body is craving - to put it plainly - shitty food. I was craving these like nobody's business all last week, so yesterday I had a few of these in the morning. Then a few more. And then another handful. I ate so many of these yesterday that by the end of the night I wasn't feeling great and woke up the middle of the night with a massive stomach ache. Oh, did I mention that I'm not good with dairy? I can't even look at the bag today without feeling queasy.
Oy vey. It seems that I'm an all or nothing kind of girl...once I have a bit, I can't stop. And now that crappy foods are "OK" again and I've had some, it's like some switch turned on and I crave sweets and chips constantly. For the most part when I was doing the TPC, I wasn't really craving crap and neither was Hubs.
So what am gonna do about this? Hubs suggested that we only allow ourselves one real "free" day per month...the other three can be not 100% clean, but not off the rails either. As much as I like my treats, I think this is a good idea and will go right along with the whole "mindful eating" gig I had as a goal for 2011.
One of my friends L posted on her Facebook the other day that she was going to start training for a half marathon - the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon to be exact. As I posted excitedly on her wall (one day we runners will take over the world!), I started thinking about my running plans...or lack thereof. Yikes! Christmas has been so busy and we're gearing up for our big trip to Hong Kong so I haven't really been thinking about racing that much. Hubs and I have been keeping up our long weekend runs and our workouts so I'm pretty comfortable with starting half marathon training after we get back at the beginning of February for the Oak Bay Half Marathon in May. It'll be my first time running that race so I'm interested to see what the course is. It's a smaller race but it seems to be gaining in popularity and they had chip timing for the first time last year. Awesome! I hope..I hope...to break the sub 2 hour barrier that keeps evading me. I'm always off by a few minutes! I think the weight loss through the Ten Pound Challenge will make the difference, plus the additional strength training that I'm incorporating into my workouts. I vow to not let my muscles atrophy in favour of cardio!
Then....the marathon. Dah-duh-duh! Training for that starts in May, so basically that means that the running off season is over as soon as we're back from Hong Kong. I think I just got a tingle. Ha! I'm excited - I'm still smarting from missing last year so will do everything possible to see the marathon through to completion. Ooooh...do I feel a list coming on?
You know the saying...it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it also takes a village to band together to achieve a goal and that goal is living a healthier lifestyle. CBC is doing a ten-part reality series called "Village on a Diet" where the little village of Taylor, British Columbia is embarking on a journey to lose one ton in three months. I saw the trailers for this show and I was intrigued - apparently 60% of the town's population are overweight or obese and the population is only 1300! That's crazy statistics. I watched the first show and thought it was so cool that the whole village would band together and support one another through this. I'm sure there will be ups and downs, but this is a situation where peer pressure can be a good thing! I was watching the news and of course there's a ton of health and fitness related stuff since it's the new year...but one stat really stuck with me...that 40% of people will be motivated to exercise/eat better only after a medical diagnosis. Wow.
Here's the link to the site and the first episode if you're so inclined. I know I'll be watching and cheering Taylor on. Woot!
I can't tell you how happy I am to be back to eating healthy again. Now don't get me wrong...I fully enjoyed my food debauchery over the past few days and it was even worth the multiple tummy aches, but towards the end of Saturday I was really sick of it, especially all the sweets I kept gorging myself on. Now these cheese crackers I could eat a hundred bags of and never get sick of them...
These are to-die-for delish....they're little squares of sourdough heaven layered with cheese and a smidge of cayenne...these things taste like those fried parmesan crisps that you get as garnishes at restaurants. SO.GOOD. Get these, get these now. Would I ever steer you wrong when it comes to food?
So after all the nasties I ate, I was menu planning and trying to figure out some really healthy meals to make this week because I just really wanted something nutritious and full of veggies. Aaannnnd...as you all probably noticed, I put it out there for my 2011 goals that I was going to start Meatless Mondays, and well...today is Monday. I decided that today's meal was going to be pasta e fagioli, a recipe I've made a few times before that we really like. Basically it's a hearty pasta and bean soup and it's pretty easy to make, and you can throw whatever veggies you have floating around in your crisper and it'll still taste good.
Pasta E Fagioli - from the Joy of Cooking (the new one)
Heat in a large saucepan over medium heat:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Cook, stirring until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Cook for 1 minute. Add:
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
Boil, stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in:
1 15 - 19 oz can cannellini, great Northern or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups stock
1 cup 1 inch green beans
1 cup frozen lima beans
Return to boil, stir in:
2 cups pcked chopped escarole, endive or swiss chard
Partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in:
1 cup elbow macaroni
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Just before serving, stir in grated pecorino cheese.
My adjustments - more garlic! But I'm a garlic fiend. And I really cook the celery/carrot/onion mixture, like until the onions are a dark brown. I learned this trick from a cooking class and it really adds so much flavour and depth to the soup.
I've posted a few times before about Ben Davis over at Ben Does Life the guy who started running and completely changed his life. He wrote this post that just absolutely knocked my socks off...he's another make-your-goals-public kinda person, and I'm so inspired by what he's got in the hopper for his 2011 goals. Ben has lost 120 pounds, run marathons and done an Ironman...so he's accomplished a lot by most people's standards, right? He's been on NBC and CBC, talking about this journey...he's going to be on the cover of Runners World - Runners World. Wow. Now he's taking it to a whole new level and wanting to start a race series, write a book and tour the country doing speaking engagements. His post is so honest and I can totally hear the passion that he has for what he does. I know I've gone on and on before about how he inspires me, but I'm gonna say it again (and it's my blog, dammit!) - he motivates me, and every time I think that's it, he tops it again. He's got me thinking a lot and pondering, and the wheels are whirring and turning in my head....be scared people, be scared.
Ahhhh....what beautiful weather for the first day of 2011...perfect! We had a really nice quiet evening at home last night - we had our crazy free meal and decided to watch a movie. So I'm sure you're all wondering - after two months of strict eating, what was my first night of foodie freedom like? Did I go buck wild? Did I eat myself into a food coma? Was I like a caged animal that is finally set free, gnashing my teeth as I ate?
Pretty much for the entire Ten Pound Challenge, all Hubs and I have been dreaming about is our New Year's Eve meal - what would we eat, what should we do? So before I describe what was on the menu, I'm going to post a warning for those with weak stomachs...it may all sound gross because there's no rhyme or reason, but it was what we craved. So here goes...
Salt and vinegar chips
Bacon wrapped smoked oysters
Smoked oyster spread
Asiago and cheese crisps (John WM Macy brand from Costco - holy CRAP are these good...just sayin')
Cheese platter - boursin/applewood cheddar/goat cheese
Crispy bbq pork
Crazy, right? I gotta say - it was delish as it went down...but during the last while we've been cutting down our portion sizes so I had a little bit of everything and that was it...I was satisfied. I wasn't stuffed. I didn't gorge myself. I felt no coma coming on. And then...and then...after I ate all these things that I'd been craving for months, all I could think about was "wow, I really could go for a nice fruit salad or something" so decided to have a few oranges. Could it be....has it happened....that my tastes have completely changed?! And not too soon after, my stomach started to hurt and I felt kinda sick. Wow. Is this the same person who pounded back chips, chocolate, nachos, pizza and instant noodles all in one night, no problem? Crazy! Anyways I'm back on the good food train on tomorrow so am going to fully enjoy the break while it lasts.
After dinner we watched The Other Guys with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell - two big thumbs up, there were a ton of laugh out loud moments and come on...it's got Mark Wahlberg! He's pretty easy on the eyes, no? Midnight came quickly, and we headed off to bed as we had the Resolution Run this morning. Hubs has a sore back so we decided to walk the full 10K distance. It was awesome, a great turn out this year (even though the jackets were horrid - pylon orange, anyone?). It was freezing cold, but a gorgeous sunny morning and it felt great to get outside, get our bodies moving and start the year off right.
So here I sit on a beautiful day to start the new year...chilling out at home like I had planned with my laptop, my travel books and my Hubs - sounds pretty damn awesome to me. If this is a sign of things to come for 2011 - I think I'm gonna like it.