Friday, June 26, 2009

Food Inc.

Hey there, Internet! Sorry for the neglect. I have had a couple of epiphanies this week and am not so sure a food blog is the healthiest or most lucrative activity for me. I enjoy each entry I produce, but the pictures take forever to load! My New Year's resolution was actually to spend less time on the Internet and I am doing the exact opposite of that, so I just don't know about this thing. This is typical Robyn, by the way. I am so gung ho and then two weeks pass and then all of a sudden I am not. It's tough being multi-faceted! Haha.

I just wanted to write a bit about a movie I saw today called Food Inc. It's a documentary created by the authors of the books Fast Food Nation and the Omnivore's Dilemma (and In Defense of Food!). It's all about modern food production and how truly horrific it is for our health and our planet. I could go on and on about the horrors of factory farming, Monsanto, fast food, diabetes, environmental degradation etc., but instead I just suggest you see this movie. It is eye-opening, even to a fairly educated vegetarian like me. If the movie isn't showing near you, I'd recommend those books, which deliver the same message.

You see a movie like this and feel so empowered to make changes. It is frightening how we can know what we do about something as important and simple as food, and yet still make the same mistakes all because of a monetary price. Spending just 3-5% more on food could seriously change the face of our planet for the good. Back in the 50s, families spent 15% of their income on food. Not bad for, like, total sustenance! Now, we spend about 9% of our income. We are also unhealthier.

So that is what has got me all fired up today. Tomorrow I am heading to the farmer's market and hope to make some inspired choices. I am not sure when I will be back to this thing, but if you are reading, I do appreciate it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Second-longest day of the year

Happy Second Longest day of the year! The optimist in me loves and cherishes this time of year. The pessimist in me realizes that the days are only going to get shorter from here. Bah!

I have had a pretty good day...for a Monday. I am still getting over my cold but just have a nasty cough. I feel just fine. And I've been able to eat some tasty things today, too. We have a great selection of fruit right now.

For breakfast, I had some Kashi Probiotic cereal with some plain non-fat yogurt and some blueberries and strawberries on top. I would usually have a spoonful of nut butter with this, but I have been really OD-ing on the nut butter lately. I am almost - almost - sick of it!

For a snack, I had some tasty cherries...

And the rest of this bag of pecans. I bought this bag of organic pecans from the health food store at least three weeks ago and I feel like I really got my $2.20 worth. You know what they say: A little pecan goes a long way.

For lunch, I had leftover Cumin Rice with Eggplant and Peas. It was ok. It needed some sprucing up!

I had my usual coffee but then I really rebelled and had a 3:30 peach instead of apple. I am so excited that peaches are starting to appear in stores, even though they are far from local. I should try to hold out until August when they are in their prime here, but I am a sucker for a peach.

Hubs was cutting the grass when I got home from work, so I tried to tide myself over for dinner by having some crackers and an apple with roasted almond butter. I must confess: roasted almond butter is much tastier than raw. I am not going to fight this realization.

For dinner, I had even more Cumin Rice but I DID spruce it up with half of an avocado. This made a world of difference!

For dessert, I had some dark chocolate, the same sized hunk as yesterday. I ate it while watching the news about the garbage strike that has recently afflicted Toronto. Pray that it is over soon or I will have a garden shed full of rotting avocado peels!

Here is a new product I picked up yesterday. You have to love Celestial Seasonings! If you've seen the movie Catch and Release and you love tea, you probably got a kick out of one of the side story lines. I wanted to try this flavour because I love chai tea but want to stay away from caffeine in the evening. This tea seemed perfect because it is herbal and doesn't require any added milk or sugar.

You can see my own bengal tiger in the background there!

This tea has an amazing sweetness. I feel like there must be some hidden sugar in there somewhere, but I've scanned the ingredient list to no avail!

Thus concludes another day of eats. I think I will be doing less of these Food Journal posts and more about overall health and well-being along with any neat or unusual products or recipes I try out. Alas, taking pictures of food isn't as much fun as I first believed! And it takes a while for them to upload. I don't know. I have definitely benefitted from keeping this blog, but sometimes I can be a bit obsessed!

Well it is time for my daily fix of TMZ. I am not going to watch Jon and Kate and learn what the big announcement is...or at least that is my plan. It is hard to stay away from other people's drama!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

Another weekend comes, another weekend goes. This blog is full of false advertising because on days I don't post what I eat, I eat a lot. A lot a lot, if you know what I mean. I went to a wedding yesterday and I really did some damage at the dessert table. There is no photographic evidence, thank goodness!

Today I felt really great about everything I ate, until I was waiting for these photos to post and then I ate two spoonfuls of peanut butter! I think that's my own fault for not having enough protein throughout the day. This healthy eating thing is tough!

So after our busy, hectic day yesterday, I wanted to do nothing more than rest and relax. I began the day by sustaining myself with Sunday Morning's very best inclusion:

And I made a Green Monster for breakfast. This is what it all looks like pre-blend!

It contains 1 banana, 2 cups of spinach, 1 spoonful of peanut butter, and 1 cup of milk.

For lunch, I decided to have another breakfast item. I've been enjoying the blog Yoga is Yummy and this is one of Polly's favourites. Simple oat bran with a sliced peach on top! No milk, no sugar, no cinnamon even - just plain delicious cereal and fruit. This was made with 1/2 cup of oat bran with 1 3/4 cup of water. I really enjoyed this.

I spent the afternoon napping and, upon waking, had a bowl of cherries. The idea of these cherries was the only thing that got my head off that pillow!

I also polished off the last little bits of my jar of almond butter. No worries - earlier today I bought a new jar!

For dinner, I made Cumin Rice with Eggplant and Peas. I had it with a side of steamed carrots and a glass of wine (not pictured).

And for dessert, I lugged this giant bar of Dark Chocolate out of my freezer. I wonder how long it will last around here?

I find the healthy eating to be especially difficult on Fridays and Saturdays. I get out of my weekly routine and almost kind of binge! It's not healthy, going from extreme health to extreme un-health. I am working on striking a good balance, but it's taking a while! I try not to beat myself up too much. I mean, having four desserts at a wedding is normal, right? *everyone reading this now nods their heads in unison*

Ok, well, maybe not.

But I'm trying! And I know I am trying new foods, eating more spinach in the last two months than I have in the last two years combined!, and eating more fruits, vegetables and less preservatives. Yes, there are dessert binges, but I'm not perfect. That's just life.

I am now going to get a giant glass of water and go watch Catch and Release, a library DVD. Tomorrow should be a busy day at work, so I need to rest while I can!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back on track

I was SO glad to get back to work today! I did not realize how much I actually enjoyed my job until now. It's not so much the job, as it is the people, the scenery, the not hacking up a lung. Although I still do have a nasty cough. Oh well, if nothing else it elicits looks of sympathy and pity from coworkers. That almost makes it worth it.

I started the day off with a new combination of foods. Yesterday, in the midst of sickness and boredom, I sliced my first fresh pineapple! I even watched a video on YouTube about how to do it. (The Internet: Not Just For Food Blogs Anymore). I don't mind canned pineapple for baking, but if I'm going to eat it straight up, it MUST be fresh. Fresh pineapple is one of my favourite foods, especially when mixed with coconut.

I did not have any coconut. I did have cottage cheese, though, my second favourite choice for mixing it with. I had some pineapple, cottage cheese, and a bit of this Probiotic cereal from Kashi.

It was a great combination.

It was also great to have a Larabar for a snack. I only have these when I'm not at home. Since I've been at home so much this week, the Larabars had to wait. This was a new flavour. Excellent, as Larabars always are.

For lunch, I had a whole wheat wrap with spinach, hummus, tomato, cucumber, 1/2 avocado and salsa.

It was excellent, but I ate it so fast! Salads make me pace myself. On my daily lunchbreak walk, I came across some "50% off" danishes (My daily lunchbreak walk happened to make a detour through the bakery section of the market; I have no idea how that happened!). I must have looked ridiculous, because I literally picked up the package of danishes, inspected them closely, put them back on the shelf, hesitated, and then picked them back up again. After much thought and deliberation, I gently placed them back on the shelf. This is the turmoil that is my life! I was very close to buying them, but some how, some way, did not. Miracles do happen. Yes, I am overly dramatic.

I ended up having a large coffee and a 3:30 pm apple. They were ok. They were no danish.

For dinner, I mixed some of my spinach pasta and whole wheat pasta and made a tomato sauce with zucchini, mushroom, onions, garlic and veggie ground round. Topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, this was a satisfying meal.

For dessert, I had more fresh pineapple, a sliced kiwi, and some strawberries. I tried to make tea but there was an incident involving curdled milk. Hate that!

Tomorrow is FRIIIDAAAAYYY. I am meeting some friends for some mid-day dessert and coffee, so that should be an exercise in self-restraint! Hubs and I are planning a pizza and movie night, too. There will be some good eating. Glad I said no to those danishes when I did, 50% off or not!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I am still sick! My cold seems to have migrated from my head to my lungs. Around 4:00 am this morning, I gave up on the idea of sleep altogether. It is weird and a bit creepy to be up so early. I called out sick to work again and have slept off and on all morning. Sleep really does wonders and reminds me that I need to make sure I get in my 8 hours every night as well as my vitamins (I think that slipping off the vitamin bandwagon over the weekend, as well as being dehydrated from the bike ride, is what pushed my body over the edge and made it susceptible to this cold!).

Today I have really been craving the carbs! I also got my period today (oh yes, I am going there on a public blog!), so it is just all sorts of fun happening in this body right now.

Around 5:00 am (ugh), I had some whole wheat toast with peanut butter along with a mug of green tea. This toast really hit the spot!

Somewhere around 8:00 am, I had a Green Monster. It contained:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 spoonful of flax meal
  • 2 handfuls of spinach

Then the Carb Monster that lurks inside of my body decided to rear its ugly head! The only thing that appealed to me was some plain wheat crackers. I had a bowl...

and possibly a second.

For lunch, I had an open-faced grilled cheese and tomato sandwich with a glass of guava juice.

And two squares of Lindor milk chocolate (no photo because I popped those suckers into my mouth too fast!)

Aside from the GM, all of this food looks so blah and boring, eh? Where is the colour? I will try to eat lots of fruits and veggies for the rest of the day. When I am sick, I am really caught in the middle between wanting to eat as healthfully as possible to help restore my body and wanting to succumb to my cravings and eat what makes me temporarily happy, like carbs and chocolate. I think I am doing a fair job of balancing between the two, but I really could use, I don't know, a carrot or something.

When you are sick, do you try to eat healthy, or do you eat what makes you happy even if it's unhealthy?

Well, now I am drinking some black tea with honey, lemon and milk and I will probably check out the world of online celeb goss! We are supposed to get a thunderstorm this afternoon, and that would really make this picture complete.

I shall return later this evening, hopefully with a picture of a carrot!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Becoming Sick

I am still fighting this nasty cold. I would have stayed home today, but I just hate the thought of work accumulating on my desk. It is funny to talk about healthy eating when I am feeling so unhealthy - but the healthy eating must continue! For the sake of my health, but more so for the sake of the blog!

This is a pretty sight. I cut these from my peony bush. I've got pink ones out front and white ones out back. The white ones are just starting to bloom.

Wait, this blog is called Becoming Health, not Becoming A Gardener! Onwards and upwards...

For breakfast, I had a Classic: about 3/4 cup of Dorset Muesli, 1/2 cup of plain non-fat yogurt, 1 sliced banana, and 1 spoonful of almond butter. Delicious!

For a snack, I mixed the classics of cherries and walnuts. Instead of making muffins or cake, I just ate, well, cherries and walnuts! (Tasty, but not as good as cherry walnut muffins!)

For lunch, I loaded up on the veggies with another salad. What made this salad special was the large number of pecans I put on top. I love pecans! Too bad they are so expensive. This salad also had hummus, avocado, and sliced figs with fig balsamic vinaigrette, along with the usual assortment of veg. I always use spinach in salads, not only because I buy it for my Green Monsters, but because spinach is much healthier for you than lettuce.

Since I wasn't feeling well, I treated myself to a medium-sized non-fat vanilla latte from Second Cup, the best creator of lattes this side of the Canadian-American border! Sorry Starbucks.

I still ate my 3:30 apple, because, well, it was 3:30 pm! No picture :(

For dinner, I made an egg burrito. Ooh, a new addition to the flog. I took a whole wheat tortilla (worth about 200 calories) and loaded it up with 1 egg and 2 egg whites fried with broccoli, zucchini, tomato and feta cheese. I topped it with some salsa and had a cup of guava juice for some extra Vitamin C.

I foresee many more egg burritos in my immediate future.

Now I haven't had dessert because it is only 6:21 pm. However, I had to take a picture of this slice of blueberry coffee cake that I intend to eat in the next hour or so. I made this on the weekend based on a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It is VERY GOOD and I definitely recommend it.

Hubby just read a section of the paper to me. Paul McCartney wants the world to have Meatless Mondays in which people abstain from meat one day of the week to help the environment. Did you know that a vegetarian or vegan diet is the #1 thing you can do for the environment, even more than driving a hybrid or recycling or praying to the moon goddess in your birthday suit (?). Yes, this is true. Ok, enough proselytizing for one flog entry.

Book Review: In Defense of Food

Sorry, I have been away from the blogosphere for a whopping two days. Ok, that is not a very long time, but it feels that way when you don’t post on a daily food journal! I was a sick puppy yesterday. Just a head cold, but enough to make basic physical activity impossible. I stayed home from work and even took pictures of everything I ate, but fell asleep sometime around 6:00 pm and didn’t wake up again until this morning. So sorry about that! It is hard to gauge how many people actually read this thing, but I like to pretend its millions and trillions.

In any event, my sick time allowed me to finish reading In Defense of Food. You know what that means: BOOK REVIEW!

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. Sometimes, I read books like these and don’t learn that much because it is preaching to the choir. I have been fascinated with healthy eating since I was 13 years old (not that I necessarily practiced what I knew!) so I know a lot. But this book really showcased the faults of nutrition science. You know how you constantly hear about new research that reveals things like “Vitamin C is connected to pancreatic cancer” or “Calcium prevents butt tumors” etc. etc. This book basically says that a lot, if not most, of those studies are rubbish. There is even a word for this kind of thinking: Nutritionism. It’s when we think of food as these little parts instead of it as a whole. We don’t think of milk as milk but as a great source of Vitamin A and calcium. So then we take a Vitamin A supplement and a calcium supplement and then we wonder why we get a butt tumor! (Generally speaking of course.)

You can look at the history of nutritionism and see its many faults. Remember how they used to say that margarine was better for you than butter? Then this pesky little thing called TRANS FATS was revealed (you know it’s illegal to have trans fats in foods in Denmark? Not so over here in Trans Fat North America!). And now there is not just plain old yogurt, but cherry banana yogurt with probiotics and artificial food colouring! It can get exhausting knowing what to eat and what not to eat, especially when scientists are constantly finding new studies and telling us the opposite of what they were saying 10 years ago.

The solution? Stop reading and start eating whole foods. The more basic, the better. Do your own cooking. Buy from farmer’s markets or the outer perimeter of the grocery store (where the basic, fresh food is kept). Eat simple, wholesome food. Don’t worry about calories. Don’t worry at all. Just eat simple, good, natural food and spend your time thinking about other things…like the physical ramifications of butt tumors!

I give this book two healthy, wholesome, and natural thumbs up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Almost Summer (and the living is sweet)

The meal was so memorable that I had to post some photos here from Friday night's Keg dinner.

My giant glass of wine:

And fajitas! Fajitas are fun, although it can be tricky figuring out how much "stuffing" you have in relation to the number of shells in order to have a continuous shell to stuffing ratio. Stressful!

Anyhow, today I got the eating back on track! And had a 5 hour bike ride to boot.

I started out the day with a Green Monster and only a Green Monster. I needed to detox!

It contained:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of 1% milk
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 scoop of hemp protein powder
  • 2 smallish handfuls of spinach
It was quite a bit thicker than usual, I am guessing from the kiwi? The protein powder helped keep me full for about 4 hours and then I had an early lunch. For lunch, I had some leftover greek pasta salad (made with whole wheat noodles, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese and a homemade vinegar/oil dressing), topped with some homemade hummus, and with a side of cherries.

We then embarked on a long bike ride (I purposely kept my helmet on to give this photo credibility!)

We ended up making it to Harbourfront, this cute area by the water in downtown Toronto. I can't believe we rode all the way downtown, and I can't believe it only took 45 minutes! We rewarded ourselves with a stop at a patio overlooking the water. I had a frappucino-like beverage with whipped cream! Hubs ordered a Corona and is doing an elaborate flipping gesture in order to insert a lime into it? I don't drink beer and am unfamiliar with its rituals.

We also ordered bruschetta. I had one piece.

We then rode our bikes to The Beaches area of Queen Street East and walked around a bit. I was surprised to be hungry again so soon, but I suppose that constant bodily motion will do that to a metabolism (I am very unfamiliar with this!). I had packed this Vel bar for a snack. It was excellent!

We eventually made our way home and I relaxed for a bit before starting dinner. I had some iced coffee (this had black coffee, ice, and about 1/4 cup of milk). I am reading In Defense of Food. Review to soon come!

For dinner, I had steamed asparagus, more leftover pasta salad, and a morningstar garden burger with some salsa. I am slowly working my way through the different brands of veggie burgers in the health food section of Loblaw's. I really liked Amy's, but these are delicious too (and cheaper!).

And for dessert, 1/2 of a mango, 1 kiwi, and a handful of blueberries.

It's been an excellent weekend. I love summer. The best part is that it's not even officially summer yet. This is the best time of the year, hands down.

Sunday Morning

No pictures from Friday or Saturday - sorry! I fell off the food blogging bandwagon. The effects were immediately felt: I definitely ate more yesterday than I have in a long, long time. Must start taking photos again this morning! I think there is a Green Monster with my name on it...

On Friday, I had one of the best meals of my life. I think it was mostly because I've been so "good" lately, and my body isn't used to so much food. We went to The Keg for dinner. Have you tried their bread? It is enough to make a girl swear off WHOLE WHEAT flour. It is warm, dough-y, and very very white. I ordered the portobello mushroom fajitas and I ate every single bite - about five fajitas! And I also had a "Keg sized" glass of 9 ounces of red wine. I felt like King Henry VIII or some other obese, gluttonous member of royalty. It was actually marvelous and an eye opener about food's true and beautiful power! It is important to have splurges where it is justified and truly enjoy food for what it is. It doesn't always have to be healthy...or green!

I will return to food blogging today. We are going on a long bike ride so I will be sure to pack some healthy snacks! Maybe take some photos of our journey too.

I hope you are having a great weekend. Enjoy this last one before summer truly begins!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Muffin Tops

I am writing this with a warm, fresh-from-the-oven blueberry muffin in my mouth. I don't want it to end! Holy cow, are they ever good. Moment of silence, please.

Thank you.

Well this was quite a good day! You will soon see why...

For breakfast, I had one slice of the sunflower seed loaf with jam, a hard-boiled egg, and a Green Monster made very simply with:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of spinach
I am all about the simple. This was one of my favourites, probably because the full banana made it thick and sweet and there wasn't any protein powder or flax to make it a bit more bitter. Very tasty.
For a morning snack, I brought about 3/4 cup of 1% cottage cheese with some sliced strawberries and blueberries. The combination of strawberries and blueberries makes me think of summer! Now if only Mother Nature would realize that summer will be here next week so she should start ACTING like it's summer. Stay tuned 3 weeks from now when I complain about the heat.
I am on a major salad kick these days. There is nothing I'd rather have than a salad for lunch. It takes a while to eat and is full of such a variety of foods. What else can compare? This salad was made with the usual conglomeration of vegetables, along with walnuts, sliced figs, feta, and fig balsamic dressing.
Then I went all crazy on my lunch break and got my hair cut! This was today's impulsive action. I have had passing thoughts about getting a hair cut and then, all of a sudden, I knew I had to do it! I knew I had to do it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I get this way with haircuts and books. Sometimes, I just hear about a book and need to read it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so I run out to the bookstore and pay full price for a book that I usually only half-read. Gah! It is tough being me. At least I am kind of cute. And, obviously, modest.

Once I came down off my HAIR HIGH, I ate an apple. No picture. I had other, more important things on my mind!

For dinner, I kept it light with a toasted sandwich made with hummus, tomato, spinach and cucumber, along with a sliced carrot and cucumber to dip in a tablespoon of raw almond butter.

I kept it light because I knew, beyond all reasonable doubt, that I would be making blueberry muffins from scratch this evening and that one, possibly two, of these muffins would end up in my belly. Indeed, they did.

These muffins are AMAZING and so simple to make! I will now write out the recipe to:


As great as it would be to make these all year round, they are the very best when made with fresh blueberries. I found some fantastic ones at the market today.

To make 9 big crazy muffins:
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line muffin tray.
2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and powder. Place oil in a measuring cup; add egg and enough milk to make it one cup. Mix this with the flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.
3. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

You will not be disappointed! It is not a modified-for-health recipe. Sometimes, it is just nice to eat something that tastes like grandma made it, y'know?

Well it has been an exciting day, what with hairs being removed and muffins being baked. I am pooped!