Saturday, June 26, 2010

All-egg-white omelettes? Oh, yes!

In The Skinny on Losing Weight Without Being Hungry, Dr. Louis Aronne prescribes a protein-rich breakfast to get your day off to a good start. And a good source of protein is eggs - specifically, egg whites. Dr. Aronne recommends making omelettes entirely out of egg whites because this allows you to consume a greater amount of protein without the fat and cholesterol contained in the yolks.

I admit that I was skeptical at first - I couldn't imagine anything more boring and bland than egg white. To me, egg white is what you use to make other interesting things like meringues and pavlovas. But I decided to give it a shot, and off I went to the supermarket for those egg whites that are sold in cardboard cartons.

My first all-egg-white omelette was a pleasant surprise. I added sliced asparagus spears, a little bit of sliced garlic, and salt and pepper. It was tasty and filling, and Dr. Aronne was right - you really can't tell the difference.

Just like with salads, the ideas for omelettes are endless. And a hot, healthy, hearty breakfast is definitely worth setting your alarm clock for.

Mexican Omelette

1 cup egg whites
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
chopped cilantro (optional)
salt and pepper

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a small, nonstick skillet and add the tomato and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes, until they start getting soft and translucent.

Spread them out evenly and pour in the egg whites. Sprinkle the cheese and chopped cilantro over all. Cook until the bottom is golden and set, then flip carefully to cook the other side.

Serve with diced avocado and salsa.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crazy over salads!

I can't believe I used to turn my nose up at salads! I've been having a salad for lunch every day for a week - and some days for dinner as well. They are so easy to prepare, are light but filling, and taste fresh and delicious. What more could you want from a meal?

It doesn't take any special genius to put together your own gourmet salad. And with the wide variety of ingredients out there - especially now during the summer and well into the fall - you can come up with endless combinations.

Here are some combinations that work for me:

Shredded romaine hearts, shredded white meat from a roasted Cornish game hen, sprinkling of bacon bits, diced avocado and tomato, ranch dressing

Watercress, Schneider's fat-free smoked chicken, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, slices of red onion pickled overnight in some raspberry wine vinegar, cucumber, vinaigrette dressing

Baby spinach, slivers of Genoa salami, Schneider's fat-free turkey breast, tomatoes, avocadoes, Italian dressing

Mixed greens, roast beef slices, red onion, cucumbers, crushed peanuts, chopped basil and cilantro, dressing made of low-sodium soy sauce, lime juice, dab of chili paste

Thai Beef Noodle Salad

I also sprinkle some crunchies (pumpkin seeds, soy nuts, almonds or dry roasted peanuts) over every salad.

Remember to wash and spin your greens well - even if the package says pre-washed.

Tossing the ingredients together right before eating ensures a crisp, fresh salad. I just pre-shred and pre-slice the ingredients - except the avocado. If you are left with half an avocado, leave the seed in until you are ready to use it. The avocado will magically stay green as long as the seed is still there. And yes, it works even when the seed pops out by accident and you put it back in.

Another great thing about salads is that they are easily portable - so take yours outside and eat it in the sunshine!

Here's to good health and good eating! 


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Homemade Spa Water

This summer, instead of sugary juice drinks, try this refreshing water luxuriously flavoured with mint, lemon, cucumber and ginger. Keep a pitcher in your fridge and drink as much as you want, up to one recipe a day.

Sassy Water
(recipe from The Flat Belly Diet)

2 litres water (about 8 1/2 cups)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (I use a vegetable peeler to get nice long slivers, then discard the middle part with all the seeds.)
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
12 mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, then chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to blend flavours.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday afternoons with my Tough Love Goddess

I ran into an old friend a few weeks ago. We hadn't seen each other in ages, so it's taken quite a few coffee sessions and park-bench chats to catch up. One afternoon she gazed straight into my eyes and said, "You look good. How are you feeling?"

It was a sincere question that deserved a sincere answer. So I said, "I feel great, mostly. I just wish I could lose more weight."

To which my friend said, "That's b---s---. You don't wish you could lose weight. You just do it."

The words look bald, even brutal, in black and white, but she said them with such firm, no-nonsense kindness, that instead of bristling I realized she was exactly right. When you want to do something good, it's not enough to sit around thinking about it. You have to get off your butt and do it.

I also realized that you need at least one friend in your life who isn't afraid to tell you when you're b---s---ing. And that there's no such thing as coincidence. But that's material for further reflection. This post is about what I'm doing now that I've gotten off my butt - and how my friend the Tough Love Goddess is helping me.

(I should explain that my friend is half-Greek and that her Greek name is Aphroditi. She is beautiful and feminine, with a big heart and an inner core of steel. She's also a super-fit personal trainer, among other wonderful things. This is why I call her the Tough Love Goddess. TLG for short. She is one of the most amazing women I know, and her story will be coming soon as part of the Wonder Woman series.)

So with TLG I've started walking on Friday afternoons. Yesterday we walked across the Cambie Street Bridge, enjoying the sunshine and the gorgeous views of False Creek, downtown Vancouver and the mountains in the distance.

Before we set out, we stopped by the Terry Fox monument at Robson and Beatty, for a moment of reflection and inspiration.

I should also mention that I've started making a few changes to my diet. I'm using a combination of principles from The Skinny by Louis J. Aronne, M.D., and The Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello. I will explain more later, but basically, I'm eating a lot more veggies and filling up with healthy protein and fiber rather than with processed carbs. I've been doing it for just a few days but I feel so much better - not hungry all the time, lots more energy, no more dizziness due to dips in my sugar levels.

The other day I had lunch out...I ordered cedar-planked salmon, and for the first time in my life I asked for more veggies in place of the garlic mashed potatoes. I was rewarded with a forest of asparagus - my favourite veggie. I'm taking it as a sign that this is going to be easier and a lot more fun than I ever would have expected.

Stay tuned for more TLG in upcoming posts!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons from my father

My father is the world's most quiet, unassuming, soft-spoken man - I think he had to be, just to balance out the dynamics in our household of talkative, easily excitable, occasionally crazy women. He doesn't say much, but the few words he does say - or his very silence - have taught me some of my most valuable lessons.

When I was about six years old, I was splashing around one afternoon on the steps of my uncle's swimming pool. Somehow I slipped off the last step and found myself in water way over my head. I didn't know how to swim and wasn't wearing floaties (which is why I'd been warned to stay on the steps). I remember a moment of pure, breathless terror as I desperately tried to get my head above water. I couldn't even scream. Then my father, who had been nearby and watching me closely the whole time, plucked me up into his arms. I almost cried with relief. And he said, "Honey, don't panic."

I didn't realize it at the time, but those simple words he said to reassure me I was safe, to calm me down, would become one of my life's guiding principles. In stressful situations, during moments of unexpected difficulties or at times when things just seem almost overwhelming - don't panic. Steady yourself, keep cool, keep treading water, take a deep breath, look around - and ask for the help that you need. Holler if you need to.

Just being in my dad's serene presence gives me peace. It also gives me joy. He has shown me time and again how a bit of quiet good humour can diffuse tension, sadness, and ill-feeling. Now I often tell myself and other people that nothing is ever so bad if you can still find something to laugh about.

My dad taught me the value of work done well, without complaining, without vainglory. He taught me to look beyond my own small universe, to be interested in what's happening out there in the wide world. He taught me the value of friendship, the importance of making time for people, to listen to their problems and try to help them. He taught me how to pray. He taught me how to love.

I'm not saying that I've learned all of these lessons by heart. Some of them - maybe all of them - I'm still struggling with. But I just have to look at my dad to find proof that they are all perfectly possible to put into practice.

And the amazing thing is that he taught me all these things without having to say a word. He just does them all himself, day after day, without ever saying, "Do what I'm doing." To him, this is all just the natural way to live, which I think is the most powerful way to lead by example.

So every day, and especially this Sunday, I give thanks to my dad, and for my dad. Happy Father's Day, Poppie!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Feather moon

"Fotografiar es colocar la cabeza, el ojo y el corazón en un mismo eje."

Henry Cartier-Bresson

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Celebrating the Beautiful Game

It's World Cup time again, so I've invented this recipe in honour of the team I'll be cheering for.

Go Italy! Artichoke and Spinach Dip

4-6 canned artichoke hearts, well drained and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, wilted in a hot pan with a little oil and salt, and well drained
1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
1 small red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella, coarsely grated
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl and season to taste with a good grinding of pepper and a dash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce. Scoop the mixture into a small, shallow, oven-proof dish and bake at 350 degrees in your toaster oven for 15 -20 minutes or until top is lightly golden brown. Serve with bagel or pita chips.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

When you get to a bridge, cross it

Vancouver weather can be very fickle, and this spring it's been more so than usual. Downtown was overcast and showery all day, but just now, I crossed the Granville Street Bridge, over which the clouds have literally parted, and ahead of me is the south part of Vancouver in a blaze of sunshine, while on either side of the bridge, the water dances with sun pennies.

Decisions are a lot like bridges.

You come to a bridge, and the ramp is so slippery and steep, you think you'll never make it up. Then finally you step onto the bridge, and the wind is so strong it takes your breath away. So you hold on tight to the railing and keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other...until you look up and realize - you made it. You're on the other side. And you've left the storm behind you, and there's only sunshine up ahead.
We can spend all our life at the foot of a bridge, knowing we ought to cross it, fearing that we can't, hating to leave the security of what's behind.

I made a decision today. It's one I've been putting off for too long. So today - I did it. I crossed the bridge. And I'm really liking the view from this end.

Until the next bridge. But I'll cross that one too, when I get to it. 


Thursday, June 03, 2010

When life hands you a lemon, make lemon squares

You know how you encounter something so wonderful in your childhood that you grow up trying to find it again - or at least, a passable substitute?

I encountered two wonderful things. One wasn't actually a something, it was a Someone. A man. Superman. My grandpa took me to see all the movies and I became completely enamored of the Superman character, so dashingly played by the late Christopher Reeve. It took me many years to figure out that Superman doesn't actually exist in real life.

The good news is that, unlike Superman, my second wonderful childhood thing is real, and I can recreate it myself. When I was a little girl, I tasted lemon squares for the first time at a party and it was love at first bite. It's taken some figuring out, and a lot of help from my sister (the baking expert over at - but I think I've finally found a version that stands up to the ultimate test: the cherished, unforgettable perfection of a childhood memory.

Lemon Squares
Shortbread crust (click here for my sister's recipe)

While crust is baking, prepare the lemon filling:

8 oz cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour
Zest of one lemon (I use a Microplane to zest my lemons - another great tip from my sister)

Blend the above ingredients, then mix in the juice of the zested lemon and 1/4 tsp baking powder.

Pour on top of the still-warm crust and bake for 25-28 minutes, until surface is golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Dust with icing sugar right before serving.

Close your eyes, bite, and get transported back in time...oh, wait. That last step is just for me.

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