Thursday, December 31, 2009

Girl Gone Holidayin'

I'm back at home after a week of family get-togethers, catching up with old friends, and altogether eating far too much of everything, despite staying primal throughout the madness. So rather than bore you with a day-by-day breakdown of food, here's a run-down of the highlights:

The first dinner at the farm - rack of lamb, expertly prepared by my dad, and roast pumpkin with cabbage, spinach and bacon, expertly prepared by me.

Family Christmas #1, at a restaurant in Hamilton - 'roast turkey' with ignored vegetables...

... accompanied by a half-dozen natural oysters. Disappointing.

Baked oysters topped with tomato, ham and cheese. Much better, and made by me.

Introducing my family to haloumi.

The Usual but with salami instead of ham.

Another dinner at home with the folks - crayfish night! Served with cold meats and a range of veg I whipped up: bacon/cabbage/spinach, roast pumpkin, and roast fennel.

Family Christmas #2 - my contributions: date/walnut balls (same as Apricot & Walnut Balls but using dried dates) some dipped in 100% cacao, then in coconut,

Fruit 'n' Nut Cake (recipe coming soon!), apricot/almond slice (same mix as the Balls but using almonds instead of walnuts, and squashed into a slice pan) topped with 100% cacao,

& Choc-Berry Pie (topped here with date/walnut balls)!

I also brought along a cheese platter for nibbles, and was forced to provide crackers...

... and I also laid out a selection of date/walnut and apricot/almond balls, along with almonds and walnuts.

My main course. The 'salads' provided by the hosts were disappointing - scalloped potatoes, cauliflower drenched in white sauce, and defrosted corn/potato/pea combinations... So I loaded up on meat (there wasn't as much available as I would have expected though), and dipped into my cheese and fruit platter to fill the void, thus beginning my Christmas treat for myself - consumption of fruit! I also began an unexpected indulgence - Dad bought me some bottles of a low carb/cal/alco wine, so it became my beverage of choice throughout the following days.

The desserts were a big hit, although there was still a lot of food left over at the end of the party. We took everything home as the hosts had little storage capacity, and what this slideshow does not reveal is the domination of fruit/nut foods over the rest of my eating throughout the following days! Fruit 'n' Nut Cake for breakfast, date/walnut balls between meals... I've returned with a bit of remaining bloat, and a much higher number greeted me when I weighed in this morning! Let's hope it doesn't take long to shake off!

Back at the farm for dinner - a light meal of ham, boiled egg and veg.

The light dinner was followed by a not-so-light serving of Choc-Berry Pie, date/walnut balls and a serious heft of double cream.... Mmmm...

Boxing Day leftovers - roast lamb, cold meats, cheese, salad, etc.

Family Christmas #3 - a BBQ at last! I scored a perfectly cooked piece of steak, served with a colourful salad (I combined aspects of all the salads on offer, plus some nuts I brought along. Win!)

More crayfish! This time we had two smaller ones, so we tackled one half each, accompanied by salad and grapes! Grapes! My first for the year (and last for another 12 months! Oh, the stomach pain...)

A low-key dinner of steak, chicken, broccoli and roast pumpkin.

Picnicking in the Hamilton Botanical Gardens, lunching on BBQ lamb chops and Mum's crisp salad.

A brief return to normality - chicken and ham. My sore, bloated guts appreciated the respite!

The final breakfast at the farm - almond pancakes with fruit and cream.

A new experiment - Coconut Cherry Ripe Ice-Cream Cake! The recipe will be coming soon...

On the drive back to Melbourne, we stopped in at the home of some friends, who served us a surprisingly vegetarian dinner (thankfully low-carb, as I avoided the one dish containing lentils). I enjoyed a zucchini, asparagus and pea frittata, as well as some crisp cabbage with vinegar and mustard, and a Middle Eastern eggplant/tomato/onion dish called Imam Bayildi. Overall, a light and delicious meal, perfect for the 40degC day, but I was hungry again about an hour later. It was great to arrive home to my freezer full of organic meat and my trusty grill! Mmmm, pork chops...

Today I'm back to all-meat whilst my intestines recover from their fibre-shock. I don't expect to suffer too much Atkins Flu since I didn't notice any sugar rushes despite the heady consumption of dried fruits in the past week. We'll see how I go. The menu for the rest of today consists of cold meat (ham!) since it's another scorcher today. We're off to an NYE party tonight, where we're free to throw items of preference on a BBQ, but I'm hoping we'll eat before we leave.

My Pithy Farewell to 2009:

So, given that's it's the last day of 2009, and I began my new way of eating on January 1st of this year, obviously today has a lot of resonance for me. Even with my holiday weight-gain, I'll be starting 2010 a full 10kg lighter than 12 months ago. But the biggest change is doubtlessly my mindset and way I schedule myself. Food is obviously a major priority now, and nutrition/health is at the forefront of my mind for much of the time. This new knowledge has changed so many aspects of my life that it's hard to remember what I felt and thought as the ignorant me back in 2008.

What has changed thus far:

My size and shape
My way of eating
My ability to prepare and create meals
My enjoyment of food
My passion for local, real food
My food sources and shopping style/frequency
My fashion sense
My appreciation of fashion
My footwear
My sobriety
My online activity
My online presence
My socialisation
My mood

My plans for 2010:

Widen my social network
Get back into dancing & singing
Develop my garden
Continue to improve my physicality
Starting investing in my financial future
Travel to catch up with loved ones and expand my cultural awareness
Stress less
Spend more time outdoors

So there are no real absolutes in that list, since I am very happy with where I am today, and the hopes noted above are more articulation of where I think I'm headed. I want this list to serve as a reminder of my current priorities, and maybe my ideas will inspire you to consider various aspects of your life that aren't getting your full attention. At the very least, if I still haven't made changes in 3 months, this list can be a procrastination wake-up call!

I hope that everyone has found success in their endeavours in 2009, and that you will reflect on your positive outcomes whilst letting go of the various stressors and pain suffered throughout the year. I wish you all the best for 2010 and look forward to sharing your achievements and passions in the New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Last Day of Shopping for the Year!

One final cruisy day in Melbourne before heading to the farm for family duties. I'll be taking a bunch of metro-only ingredients with me as I have offered to create many tasty treats - sweet and savoury - for a number of parties. It's the only way to ensure there's something edible in the mix!

I forgot to point out in yesterday's post, though you probably noticed it anyway, but I'm testing my tolerance of dairy again this week. I'm eating some form of cheese at least once per day, cooking everything in butter, and I might even have some protein shakes with dairy cream while I'm helping Mum start on the 6-Week Cure. So far, I haven't experienced a single digestive whatsit to speak of, but it might take a few days to kick in... I haven't had issues with dairy in the past, but I also haven't had a chance to test my tolerance with such a clean digestive slate before either.

Breakfast: fried haloumi! Truly, I would eat this for every meal if I could...

After this small meal, I proceeded to fast until dinnertime, while out shopping for clothes and a final couple of Christmas present. I have spent an eye-popping amount of dosh this past month and a bit, mostly on myself, so I am committing to avoid all unnecessary spending until 2010. In between now that then, I will have to buy a train ticket home, and some ingredients at a rural supermarket. Hopefully, that will be all!

Dinner - entree: Italian pork sausage (no additives) and egg scramble, served on lettuce leaves and topped with double brie! Mmmmmm...

Dinner - main: Salmon fillets, dipped in egg and coated in chopped macadamia nuts. The fillets were then placed in a frying pan coated in melted butter and chopped coriander. I hadn't made this for ages - it used to be my specialty, and I only recently realised that it was primal!

Sadly, a domestic disruption called me away from the pan, and the nuts had burned by the time I could get back to cooking :( Next time!

And it is now that I bid you a farewell! Internet access as my childhood home (a farm in the middle of nowhere) is sketchy at best, and while I will be diligently taking photos of the various feasts I encounter over the coming week, I may not be able to upload them for a while... I will be dealing with dial-up (remember those days?) and the cables run alongside electric fencing, and are gnawed on by rats and other critters, and can be disrupted by certain weather patterns... Fun!

So just in case, I'll jump the gun and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday period, and I hope you celebrate with good food and good company!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Mode: Enabled

Slept in.

Ate The Usual for breakfast.

Did some Christmas shopping online.

Read this, this, this and this.

Ate roasted chicken drumsticks for lunch.

Unpacked the last of the moving boxes from the guest room - we moved in 2007, by the way.

Wrapped more Christmas presents.

Spent time outside with the guinea pigs.

Ate lamb chops and haloumi for dinner.

Watched Californication.

Wrote a blog post.

Predicted an uneventful evening and an early night to prepare for a big day of shopping tomorrow.

I like days like these!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two Christmas Parties & A Day of Recovery

Friday marked the final day of the school year - no students, just teachers: sitting, chatting, eating, Kris Kringling, laughing, fare-welling, and celebrating merrily. Every teacher new to the school is overwhelmed by how upbeat and positive everyone is, and how much effort and thought we put into our final day. I said a few words for a friend who is getting married over the break (I'm attending the wedding - dietary requirements have been listed as "STRICTLY meat and cream ONLY!" Not sure where she got the cream part, but how lovely!). The caterers for school weren't quite as thoughtful, with just a couple of platters of cold chicken pieces, evidently abused by coatings/marinades and wildly over-cooked. Since I had skipped breakfast (i.e. slept in), I had to make do with what I could scavenge...

Impressive, eh?

That night was the Impro Melbourne Christmas Party, with a special farewell for the out-going Artistic Director (who is, as it happens, a very outgoing person. Oooh, pun!) We ate at the Houndstooth pub(?), which serves a limited menu and you pay a very small price per course. The beau and I went for four courses - I knew the meat portions would be small - though it would seem would should have upped tat number to at least double if we wanted to achieve anything close to satiety...

I ordered some cured Spanish ham as appetiser, but it was so old that it had lost all flavour and couldn't be severed with teeth! Had to spit it into a napkin - a classy way to start the evening!

Entree #1 - pan-fried scallops topped with chorizo. Tasted just like it sounds. Meh.

Entree #2 - prawn skewer. Coated with chermoula, quite tasty, but tiny!

Main - kangaroo on a bed of beetroot, spinach, and lentils. Fantastic meat! So tender! I've been boycotting the big-name supermarkets this month, so I haven't had access to roo in ages. I now have some mince waiting for me in the fridge...

So dinner was a nice variety of tastes, but overall the day was low on calories so I started fading early in the night, but pushed through til 2am and still managed to avoid the cocktails and snack food at the after party. Here's hoping I burned some fat for my efforts!

Saturday - I woke up a few minutes before my masseuse arrived to deliver my 2hr pamper session, a treat for myself to celebrate the first day of holidays! An absolutely fantastic massage, with some lush, natural products pampering my dry skin. I'll definitely be using their services again - if you're in a metro area of Australia and like to use mobile massage services, try Ripple Massage. Such interesting options, and great value! I'll be buying some gift vouchers as Christmas presents for family and friends :)

Mid-massage, I had the beau place a beef roast in the oven, in an oven bag in order to collect the juices. It was ready just as my treatment finished up, so in my warm, sleepy, moist state I poured the juices into a pan, along with a tablespoon of butter, and boiled the two until it had reduced. I then added thyme and basil, and simmered until the liquid thickened and started to smell gorgeous...

Then I carved up the roast (serving the beau's share with a side of cos lettuce), drizzled the gravy over each, and dug in!

Afterward, it was off to the local shopping centre for some Xmas madness - the maddest part being that we traversed the 2.5km journey on foot! Uphill! And it was much sunnier out than we had predicted... So we were quite spent by the time we arrived to confront the hoards of last-minute shoppers, but we found some goodies for our relatives and ourselves, although we still haven't found the perfect gifts for some hard-to-buy-for uncles. Gift voucher land, here we come...

I picked up some cheese on the way home (via taxi; even though my feet were coping fine in my Vibrams, my energy levels weren't and the beau was similarly exhausted), and decided to make a favourite that has been missing from my menu of late - The Usual! Two eggs each, a bit of cheddar and a bit of ham, and the beau and I tucked in to a lovely ZC dinner.

Ain't it just the perfect candidate for the "This Is Why You're Fat" site? Except for me, it's why I'm getting thin! Mwahahaha!

What with the buttery gravy for breakfast/lunch, and the oozy cheese fried in butter for dinner, today's fat % has been much more comforting, even though I only consumed around 1300kcal max, burning at good 300kcal with our walking expedition this afternoon! Feeling great though - my gut is loving the extra spot of dairy, and I'm shaking off the water retention caused by the salty ham gorging earlier this week!

The plan for tomorrow is to make up some more Christmas treats - stay tuned! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lovely Ham! Wonderful Ham!

Ham for breakfast, ham for lunch, ham for afternoon snack... Then the plan was to have roast beef for dinner, but it had gone bad, so we had lamb chops, eggs, and ham!

No more ham left. And Christmas is still a week away! No more ham til at actual Christmas parties. It was so good though! And totally unprocessed. You can only get good ham in December, it would seem.

Tomorrow is the last day of work, and all it involves is going in to share in Christmas lunch, Kris Kringle giving, and farewelling various members of staff. Should take a couple of hours (and here's hoping there's some plain meat for me!) and then it's party party party! And then sleep! :D

The best part of Christmas to me? Giving gifts that encourage the recipient to make positive changes in their lives. I'm giving most of my younger cousins toys that involve solar power or hand-generated power (wind-up torches, etc), inspiring and fun books about sustainability and politics, hand-made items... I told this to my Mum and she said "So you're focussing on educational gifts, hey?" My response - "I'm imposing my values upon others through generosity". The severity of my linguistic choices was for ironic effect, but the message is still true. Much more effective than an awkward discussion or criticising of current activities, etc. I really hope I can help my family make more positive life choices. Even if my little cousin doesn't really appreciate a grow-it-yourself radish pack (I didn't get to pick the plant, sadly), it will remain meaningful for longer than the typical stocking full of chocolates. I feel bad enough that most of the gifts I'm giving colleagues are chocolates - re-gifted from the immense amounts given to me by my well-meaning students and friends - but these are people who continue to scarf garbage every day even though they've seen the changes I have made to myself and know how I did it. So they can continue making poor health choices. But I refuse to effect the lives of my family in negative ways. My Mum is making positive steps. My Dad happily lives on red meat anyway - just have to make sure he isn't snacking on garbage...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hamming It Up

Phwoar, apparently a day of running around, go-karting and playing driving games, laser-tagging, and mini golfing take their toll on a body that's only really used to walking and lifting boxes! Adding the dancing last night on top of that, and I'm left with some surprising aches and twangs in various parts of my body today - particularly my thighs and shoulders. Eek! At least all I had to do today was watch a movie (tough work) and make some jewellery with the few students that turned up for the final day of summer activities before their holidays start. At least we stayed inside, shielded from the heinous heat outside...

I was very grateful for my choice to buy a cured ham - cold meat access on a hot day is divine!

I tolerated a cooked breakfast first up, though I did let it sit out to cool for a bit - just enough for the very very lean beef sausages to condense into a brick of tastelessness (grilling them just doesn't cut it - only two more rushed mornings left for the year!)

Packed a lunch of ham, sliced off the mass of deliciousness currently residing in my fridge. This is seriously the best ham ever - if you're in Melbourne, go to the Biodynamic Butcher on Belmore Rd in Balwyn North. Seriously.

A late afternoon 'snack' of chicken drumsticks, coated in oil and roasted. Scrumptious, but eating hot chicken on hot bones in the heat of the day = stoopid.

And finally, more ham! Served some up for the beau as well - his first taste, and he gushed that he's never had ham as good as this before.

Short & sweet since I'm knackered & need sleep! Already looking forward to ham tomorrow! Sweet (or savoury) dreams...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meating My Goals

Ooooh hoo haaa haaa, a pun! How wittily delightful!

But yes, today was a successful meat-only day despite the 'women's issues' causing mood fluctuations and fatigue. I actually managed to maintain a fast through til 4pm, across a hot day spent at an indoor funpark as an end-of-year excursion. There was a canteen, and the smell of freshly fried chips filled the air at regular intervals. Kids offered me chips at equally regular intervals. I stayed strong, despite their sad looks of rejection. Bloody manipulative bastards. :)

Broke the fast with a generous slice of free-range Christmas ham - cured with a minimal amount of nitrate and real smoke, after being soaked in salt. No sugar, no grains, no chemicals, no awful environmental/health impact. Huzzah!

Then it was time for a long nap before dressing up in my favourite finery (a sweet Alannah Hill frock with a flattering shape, cute love-hearts and sequins, and a devilish low-cut neckline!) and heading off to my work Xmas party.

Entree - some form of tender beef steak on an ignored pile of vegetation.

Dinner - a choice of roast lamb (with mash and heated frozen veg) or chicken wrapped in prosciutto (with risotto, creamy sauce and heated frozen veg). Since I let them know my dietary preferences, I was given the chicken/prosciutto without the sauce and rice, and I ignored the 'what country is this from, or how long has it been in the freezer?' veg options.

Delicious and satisfying. However, the lamb looked damn good, and there just happened to be a plateful of it placed next to me, where there was a spare seat...

Oh yeah! Full and happy, and I even got a bit of a dance on!

I have a week to get rid of the fat-loss jiggles and higher-carb bloat: together = not good! The trip to the organic butcher yesterday means I'm all set too - a giant ham to pick at, beef and lamb roasts, all manner of chops and steaks, chicken drumsticks... And I just heard from my Dad that he successfully acquired another ginormous crayfish ready for us to enjoy at the farm! I'm already drooling...

Girl Gone Readin'

There has been a sudden spate of interest regarding polyunsaturates today, across a variety of outlets. If you're still unsure of what's good, bad and ugly about polyunsaturated fat, or want some resources with which to pummel the minds of friends, check out the following:

Mark's Daily Apple: Canola Oil

The Comfort Eater's Diet: Polyunsaturates & Heart Disease

Dr. John Briffa's Blog: Why Eating A Lot Of Polyunsaturates Is Not Necessarily Healthy

In other news:

Local Nourishment responds to a somewhat closed-minded article about the truth of sustainable farming. While it's great that the wider community is learning not to take things merely at face value, it's disappointing when the 'correcters' still get it wrong.

Tom Naughton has been posting of late on his Fat Head blog about his father's battle with Alzheimer's. A must-read series for anyone currently on statins or needing to break from their sugarholism.

I treasure posts from bright experts that take conventional wisdom and give them such a thorough bashing with scientific research that there's no possible way for the reader to continue to believe the diet/nutrition myth any longer. They don't use fancy anecdotes or discussion necessarily - it's "here are all the studies that clearly refute what's being pushed on us. So duh, clearly the CW is BS". Two such posts: 'This Is Your Brain On Wheat' by Dr. William Davis, and 'The Dirty Little Secret of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis' by Stephan Guyenet. The latter in particular adds much weight to the continuing body of evidence demonstrating that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol are not, by themselves, bad guys. Surely the 'experts' controlling the information disseminated to the general populace will have to face facts soon...

Yet as we can see from the lovely Goofy cartoon below, we've known for 50 years (and more!) that the reason we're fat is due to over-eating (thanks to hormonal imbalances caused by insulin, psychological imbalances and emotional disorders, the food-obsessed culture, etc...), and yet the 'gurus' continue to push quick-fixes and exercise as though we can eat as much as we like of any and every food and somehow be healthy and of a normal weight. Sheesh. Enjyo the cute cartoon - but don't overthink it! Goofy may be deluded and lazy and a greedy pig, and we know not all obese people are that way at all, but the food-as-culprit message is still clear. Just watch out for the emotionally-manipulative bastard in the mirror!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Ladies Will Understand...

A successful return to zero-carb...

...until 7pm.

Breakfast - lamb chops!

Dinner - beef mince and bacon

Good, eh?

Well, as ladies will attest, there's one day in every month where you either want to inhale copious amounts of pain killers, or you turn to the more natural form of hormonal balancing substance - chocolate. And guess who had Primal Choc-Berry Pie in her fridge?

Let's try again tomorrow. :)