Monthly Archives: February 2012

Poached salmon with ginger

Last night I prepared a lovely dinner! A dear friend was coming to visit and I wanted something new and special. I had the latest edition of the Australian Healthy Food Guide on the table and flicked through it while getting my shopping list together. One picture caught my eye: poached salmon atop peas and snowpeas in a bowl with broth and a wedge of lime. It looked so fresh and light! And finally, we have summer (only 2 months late). The last couple of days have been hot and clear.

I adapted the recipe a little. I bought some fresh shitake mushrooms which I knew would just be wonderful in this dish. I included asparagus as well to increase the variation with the vegetables. The result was a lovely combination of flavour and texture. While it was a little fiddly and hands on right to the end, which is not my preferred style of cooking when entertaining, it is something that I will definately make again.

The recipe below is written to serve two people, last night I served three (well three and a half). When cooking more salmon fillets you will need a larger saucepan to fit them all in at once, which means increasing the quantity of water, fish sauce, sugar and especially the ginger.

Poached Salmon with Ginger

1 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, sliced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2x 150g skinless salmon fillets
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup water
100g shitake mushrooms, sliced
10 snowpeas
10 asparagus
1/2 cup frozen peas
coriander sprigs
lime wedges
1 cup cooked white rice

Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan. Add the spring onions and ginger and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar and water; bring to the boil and turn the heat down to low. Add the salmon. Cook for 3 minutes, turn the salmon over and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove from the saucepan and keep somewhere warm.

Increase the heat under the saucepan. Add the mushrooms. Boil rapidly for five minutes. Add the asparagus, snowpeas and peas and cook for 2 minutes.

Pack 1/2 cup of cooked rice in a small ramekin, turn upside down onto a plate; the rice will come out and keep its shape. Prepare the rest of the rice in the same way on a second plate. Serve the vegetables on the plate next to the rice, top with salmon. Ladle some of the broth on top of the salmon. Garnish with coriander sprigs and lime wedges.

Nutritional information
total: 4139 kJ, 46.1 g fat, 76.8 g protein, 64.4 g carb, 8.9 g fibre
per serve: 2069 kJ, 23.1 g fat, 38.4 g protein, 32.2 g carb, 4.5 g fibre

the end of a busy week

It has been a busy week with a lot of little stress points. The result has been a lack of focus. My head is not quite in the right space and I have been a little relaxed about snacks.

I did not have the time till this morning when I got up early to go running to work out why my focus had faded. Once I started looking at the week I realised what had been going on, and that I have done very well despite all the varied stress.

– I had some sort of mild virus on Monday night. The symptoms (muscle soreness, tiredness, headache, back ache) only lasted for about 8 hours but it meant that things I was going to do needed to be put off.
– Our boy is transitioning from a cot to a bed and the novelty has worn off. Tuesday night he had a lot of trouble getting to sleep and then getting back to sleep through the night which meant that we did not sleep well.
– I was not able to get up early on Wednesday to go running and I missed it.
– My mum went in for emergency dental surgery on Wednesday. She is ok now, feeling better than she was. But I was worried and Dad did not call when he said he would so I spent Thursday morning quite distracted.
– I called the agent managing my unit and said I had decided to put it on the market. – Thursday night we were out at a friends place and I had more snacks than I usually would because I was still tired.
– And last night I was just hungry. I am not sure why (although I suspect hormones). So, I had some nuts, some more nuts and a hard boiled egg. And went to bed early.

So, lots of things on top of a busy work week and general home life. This is where having planned the meals for the week has really helped me. Last night we got home and dinner was easy and fast.

Today there is more to to. I decided not to go for the morning walk around the lake so I could do some cleaning. To get my run in I got up at 6 and did it early. It was a good run as well. My man and our boy have left and the house is quiet. I have done the meal plan and shopping list for the next week. I am about to put on another load of washing and start the cleaning. But it was nice to take 10 minutes out and reflect on last week and get my focus back. And to realise that even with everying going on, I did not overeat for comfort or stress relief. I ate a little more than normal on three evenings but it was not in excess.

Next week will also be busy and will have different stress points. That is ok. I know if I take the quiet time when I get it I will get through.

Jam

I am jamming again but this time I am doing it smart.

I am making spiced plum jam, the same as last week. The plums are Blood Plums and are from a tree at my boss’s house. I gave her a jar of last week’s batch and she offered me some more plums, the jam is that good. So, I am jamming again.

I make spiced plum jam by throwing in whole cloves, coriander seed, peppercorns, a couple bay leaves, a vanilla pod, a nutmeg, a cinnamon stick and some dried orange peel. Last week I threw all the spices into the pot with the fruit and then needed to get them out again before bottling. It was too hard to separate all the fruit from the spices (although I did try) so I ended up eating the fruit and spitting the spices out. Bad decision.

This week, all of the spices were tied up in some muslin and I could fish them out in one go. I also took out all of the plum stones before adding the sugar. It was much less appetising without the sugar!

The jam is almost ready for bottling. I know it is delicious, I have had maybe 2 teaspoons while checking to see if it has reached setting point. This is a huge difference to last week! I have several small jars and am giving some away to my colleagues. The rest I will keep to use throughout the year and to give away to friends when we visit or as thank you presents.

Hurrah for learning from past experiences! Hopefully I will remember next summer when I make spiced plum jam again.

Monday review

Another week is done in February! And I am happy with how the week went and what the number box said this morning.

This week’s stats:
Start weight (3/1/2011): 140.9kg (310 lbs)
Today’s weight: 95.4 kg (210 lbs)
Lost this week: 0.6kg (1.3 lbs)
Total lost: 45.5 kg (100 lbs)

There are many things I am happy about with this week.

My eating averaged out at 9330 kj a day, with some days over 9500 and some days at about 9000. There were a couple of special food things, we got takeaway last Tuesday night for Vday and it was nice to share a special meal with my man. On the not so good side, I made spicey plum jam last wednesday and ate alot of the fruit when I was trying to strain the spices out. It was wonderfully delicious but it was far too much sugar in one sitting for me. I need to start asking myself -how will I feel in 5 or 10 minutes?- before eating something. Apart from that, it was a highly successful week on the food front.

I exercised 5 times in the week, my 3 Up and Running workouts and 2 additional fast walks. And my 5K on Saturday! I am already up to 87km of running and walking in Feb!

I remembered my affirmation on most days. I tend to forget it on the weekend, I need to remember to say it then as well. I notice the difference when I do. Progress was made on the money front, too. I am getting organised and taking steps to make my financial situation better. Even taking small steps on this front is reducing my overall stress.

I am happy with the loss this week. I was hoping for more but I got back down to 100lbs and that makes me very excited.

This week I will stick with my target of 9500kJ a day and 5-6 workouts. This seems to be a good balance for me. I have already survived a work morning tea today and I did really well in sticking to my plan. I don’t know what else is happening but there will be things on the weekend, I am sure… I am starting to want to bake. I might need to investigate a cake option, and more importantly, cake disposal options.

It is almost the end of the month. This week I will start to think about my challange for next month. Still no chocolate for me so far!

Things are good. The upcoming week looks good. I am happy.

Spicy Chicken Curry

Tonight I followed a recipe. Well… read ‘followed’ loosely. I used a recipe as a base for what became dinner. But more than that, I worked out the nutritional info and I wrote it up to post here.

I wanted to do something with chicken. I wanted something that I could make in bulk and freeze. I wanted something that would be tasty and healthy. I started looking through cookbooks and a recipe called ‘Hot and Spicy Chicken Curry’ caught my eye. It seemed to fit all the criteria.

My small boy is not up to hot foods yet, but he does get spicy foods regularly. To adapt the recipe for him I left out the chilli powder. I did leave in the white pepper so it will be interesting to see what he thinks. I also cut down the amount of oil called for from 60mL to 10mL. I only used 1kg of chicken thigh fillets, the original called for 1.7kg. I did this because I had only bought 1kg of thigh fillets and I did not want to go back to the shops. I left the amount of the spice the same even with less chicken but cut back a little on the liquid. So, I did mean loosly followed 🙂

There are alot of spices used in this dish. We like spicy food and cook frequently, so we had all of these in the cupboard except for the fresh lemon grass and the curry leaves. These are both available in asian grocery stores and larger supermarkets in Australia.

I thought about swapping the coconut milk for light evaporated milk with coconut essence… but decided against it. I am not using much in the total dish and it will add to the taste and texture of the sauce. But you could swap the coconut milk for reduced fat greek yoghurt. That would give the curry a slightly different taste but it would work.

The curry serves 5-8 people, depending on how much chicken you want. My diet is higher in protein so for us the meal served 5 (ish). I had 8 thigh fillets in my kg of chicken, that gave me 16 pieces of chicken. I served up 3 pieces of chicken for each person. If you only had 1 thigh fillet each, the curry would serve 8.

There was alot of sauce, which I like and it made me think that the recipe would work with more chicken but not increasing the quantities of anything else. The flavours are gentle because there is no chilli but still complex. The chicken was fall-apart tender. I needed to add a little salt and the coriander was important. I really liked this dish. I am glad there are left overs to freeze. It is not too heavy for a cool summer evening and it would be a good winter dinner.

Spicy Chicken Curry
(adapted from Woman’s Weekly Cook It Freeze It)

2 tsp olive oil
1kg chicken thigh fillets, halved
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10 curry leaves
400g tin of diced tomatos
1/2 cup chicken stock
10cm piece of fresh lemon grass, bruised
80mL light coconut milk
coriander leaves to garnish

Spice blend – mix together the following:
1 tbs ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground cardomom
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Pre heat the oven to 160’C.

Heat the olive oil in a large flame proof casserole dish. Brown the chicken in batches, set aside.

In the same pan, cook the onion, stirring until soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a further minute. Add the spice blend and curry leaves, cook stirring for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock, tomato, lemon grass and the chicken, stir to coat. Bring to the boil.

Cover with a tightly fitting lid and place in the oven. Cook for 60 minutes, stir and return uncovered to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir to incorporate.

Serve with basmati rice, some steamed greens and garnished with coriander leaves.

Nutritional info (without the rice or the greens)
Total: 8110 kJ, 104.5 g fat, 190.1 g protein, 68.3 g carbohydrate, 8.7 g fiber
per serve (5 serves): 1622kJ, 20.9 g fat, 38.0 g protein, 13.7 g carbohydrate, 1.7g fibre.

5K run

Everything fell into place this morning 🙂

My eating has been good for the last 3 weeks, my exercise consistent. The weather was not too hot/not too cold and dry. I got up early enough for a light breakfast before I went out. I had a rest day yesterday. I am mid cycle (don’t actually know if it makes a difference but I felt good).

Today I did 5 min warmup walk, 1km warm up run, stretches, 5K run and a cool down walk. Total time 54 min. Total distance 6.96 km. My 5 km time wa 34.41 minutes with spilts of 6.58, 6.54, 6.51, 7.12, 6.46, giving me an average pace of 6.56. That is a PB by 90 seconds.

And separate to the times, I felt good in the first two km, was feeling the third km, had to push myself in the 4th km and then knew that I would finish in the 5th and managed to go up a gear. My breathing was controlled, my pace at the start was deliberately slow. And I got to the end and knew I had done well, even without knowing the times.

I am so proud of me!

unofficial weigh in

I jumped on the scales this morning after my workout.

I have lost more than 45kg. And I am half a pound away from 100lb loss.

Cracking big milestones is so exciting!

And eating that little bit more is helping to balance the exercise; I am not as tired and not as hungry.

Yay!

Running in public

The running workout that I have been doing for the last couple weeks has involved the sequence (run for several minutes, walk for a small bit, do some half squats)*several times. And it is fine to do early morning when there is no-one about and I am running around the back paths of my suburb.

On Saturdays, I have started going with my man and our boy to a lake where we meet with friends. I do my workout around the lake and everyone else walks around and we meet at a play ground at the end for the kids to all get out and play. It works really well. The path mostly follows the lake; there are two bridges next to a very busy road and about 400m on the side of another very busy road. Last Saturday I was uncertain whether I should do the squats. I mean, it would look… Well, you see people running and walking and power walking and stretching but not really doing other sort of moves… And I feel self conscious enough…

But by the time I was at the first lot of squats I was 20 minutes into the workout and didn’t care that much. As long as I was not on the bridge (where there is not alot of room) I was good to squat in public. I was even next to the very busy road towards the end of the workout and squatted. And it was just me, doing my exercise and it didn’t matter. I was very proud of myself at the end.

Today I overslept and I needed to leave 30 minutes earlier to get to work early. So, I did not get my early run in. But because I was there 30 minutes early I was able to take a long lunch break. I packed all my gear and at 12.30 I got out for my run by the lake – it’s a different lake; a busier lake with bigger roads and bridges and alot of lunchtime traffic around it in the form of people walking, running, riding, sitting, strolling. I decided that I would do the two bridge loop which would give me about 7km for my workout. I know this workout needs about that much.

Again I was really uncertain about the squatting! Initially I planned to just walk for an extra 30 seconds before running again but by the time I got to it, I just did it. I stepped off the path so no-one would run/ride into me and got on with my workout. And each time I got to the squatting segment I was able to step off the path. So I did. And I felt silly. But getting fit is more important to me than a fleeting silliness. These people who see me exercise really don’t care. They don’t know me, they won’t see me again. All they see is someone working out and working hard. And I am ok with that.

Well, mostly ok with it. The next workout, the one I had planned for today, had skipping segments (not jump rope skipping but skipping along). I did not want to skip in public, but I am mostly ok with squatting in public!!!

In other news. Today I weighed in and the stats are:
Starting weight: 140.9kg (310 lbs) 3/1/2010
Today’s weight: 96.0 kg (211 lbs)
Loss since last week: 1.6kg (3.5 lbs)
Total lost: 44.9kg (99 lbs)

Last week I exercised on 6 days – I did 4 running workouts and 2 walks. One of the running workouts was a bonus; it was not planned but I got the opportunity and I also thought that I was busy the next day. So, I went. And then the plans for the next day fell through and I went walking that day instead. I deliberately did not run on two of my workouts. Last week I did a total of 34kms.

I ate well and consistently, averaging at 9225kJ/day which was a little more than I was aiming for but only twice did I think I had a little too much. I am doing well not having chocolate and really am not craving sugar, although I am still loving the summer fruit and choose to eat my extra kJ that way.

I have been more consistent in saying my positive affirmation. It starts off “I breathe in, I breathe out. I breathe in peace, I breathe in joy, I breathe in strength, I breathe in love. I breathe out fear, I breathe out discontent, I breathe out stress.” I repeat that a couple of times and then the focus changes a little. But, I breathe deeply and relax and when I say ‘I breathe in joy’, I can feel my cheeks lifting and I am smiling.

It was a big loss last week. Look at the numbers!!! Almost 45kg gone! Almost 100lbs gone!!! And I am very close to the lowest I got to in early December. My clothes are a little looser and I feel really good. It is very exciting. But I need to be careful. I need to eat enough to sustain my exercise – that is one of the things I got wrong in January. This week I am aiming for an average of 9500kJ a day, so just a little more than last week. I want to slow my weight loss to about a kg a week but I want to keep my exercise intensity up. I will aim for 3 of my Up and Running workouts and 3 fast walks. Again, I will choose not to run in some of my workouts!!! I love how far I have come, that more and more the expectation is that I will run!

So far, Feb 2012 has been a good month. My exercise and food choices have been ones that bring me closer to my goal of health and fitness. And my actions and choices bring me joy.

Wednesdays for regrouping

I so appreciate not working on Wednesdays. It gives me time to regroup; do some mid week washing, shopping and cooking. It gives me some time with my boy, to read books together and play. Right now, I am sitting here and writing shopping lists and to-do lists for today. Today I want to cook some soup for lunches the rest of the week and next week. I want to cook dinner for tonight and tomorrow night.

I went out running this morning. That is the other thing about Wednesday mornings; because I am not rushing out the door to work I can go out early and get my exercise done. It was a good workout. I did 6.78km in 58 minutes. 40 minutes of this time was running, there were walking segments and squats throughout. I was happy with my pace throughout. My little boy saw me just after I was back all hot and sweaty. I like explaining to him that I go out running and that he sees the effort and the satisfaction I get from exercise.

Yesterday in my lunch break I went out for a walk. I did not run and I am pleased that I stuck with a lower intensity workout. I walked quickly and worked up a sweat. I also had a good pep talk – what am I doing, how am I doing it, what my goals are. I find these talks really help my motivation and commitment. The exciting thing yesterday was that I started building in some different and desireable outcomes from being healthy as I get older. Up till now I have been saying that I want to be active in 30 years so that I can play and walk and run with my grandkids. Yesterday I included that I want to be healthy and active as I get older so that I can travel with my man when we have retired. And that thought excites me.

There be progress

I am not sure what happened last week on the scales, whether it was a real number or not… I am just happy to report today that the scales are down, that third number at the front is gone and I am feeling positive, energised and determined.

This morning I weighed in at 97.6kg (214.7 lbs) which is 2.7kg (6 lbs) lighter than last Wednesday. That is a total loss now of 43.3 kg (95.3 lbs). I am still not back at my lowest but I am only 2.5 kg away and now I am confident that I will get back there this month.

I don’t know what happened in the last 5 days with the number box on the floor; because it is only 5 days since my weigh in at the start of the month. But what I can say is that I have done really well food wise and exercise since last Wednesday. This is fact.

I went out for a run last Thursday and it was hard work after not having run for a week. Then on Saturday I ran 5K in 36.08 minutes which is a PB for me. I was stoked. This morning I went running again and it was a hard workout but I did it; 7.09km in 60 minutes with 40 minutes of that running and with some short walking segments and squats thrown in. I also did a 5K walk yesterday around one of the lakes nearby. After a week of cold and rainy weather it was lovely to be out in the sun! The exercise last week felt more balanced because it wasn’t every day and I was eating enough I think to cover for it.

From Wednesday to Sunday I averaged 9100kJ a day which was just over my target. I managed to fit the extra in by eating fruit. I love stone fruit and the peaches and plums are just wonderful right now. I buy several, thinking I have fruit for the week and then need to get more because I have already eaten it all. And I am finding that food planning is working well to give me varied meals which are healthy and tasty.

I am also doing really well on the no-chocolate front. I have not had any chocolate in any form since last Tuesday, so that is 6 days now. I did use the fruit those first couple of days for some extra sweetness and that helped. I also had a bad headache last week from giving up the chocolate and associated sugar, I have not had any biscuits or cake or other sweets either, but the headache passed and I am eating well and am satisfied.

The biggest food challenge of the week was at a birthday party yesterday. I had my snacks before arriving, chewed gum and and drank water. And I did not eat anything while I was there, not even chcolate brownie cake. Fortunately, I have had this brownie in my past and I know how wonderful it is so I did not need to taste it to learn that. (This is a trick I use sometimes at parties. If I have had something before, I don’t need to have it again, I would rather try something new if there is something new than have something that I know; even if that something is really good. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.)

I am saying my positive affirmation frequently and I think it is a good thing for me; I think it is helping with my motivation and general attitude.

And one new thing from last week is that I started reading my text book for the course I am about to start. Last year I decided to start studing nutrition formally. I find it so interesting and it will help me learn more about getting healthy and staying that way. It might be something I could move into career wise but I have now set plans there. I enrolled in course and classes start in March, all online with assignments and exams. I am doing two subjects this semester and I picked up one of the textbooks last week. I started reading and I am enjoying it. I am thinking again about why I eat what I do, about my choices and whether they could be better; what changes I could make to improve my diet. I am comparing my old diet to my new diet as well and I am really encouraged as the changes I have made seem to be very sensible ones. This bodes well for the future.

This coming week I am going to do more of the same. Eat well, plan meals, exercise consistently but not excessively, keep reading and thinking. I also want to cook something new and write it up. It is an age since I have posted a new recipe here here… I will see how the week progresses on that front.