The Cross-Continental Cheezie Showdown

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Isn’t technology amazing?

It allows us to do things like cross-continental Hawkins’ Cheezie competitions. Allow me to explain. I forget how it started, or who fired the first shot across the bow, talking smack about Cheezies being bigger in Newfoundland or BC, but let’s just say it has escalated to full-scale Cheez-powdered warfare.

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First of all, if you have never tried Hawkins’ Cheezies, you are living in a state of sad purgatory, so stop right now, close your browser, take off your bathrobe, take the rollers out of your hair (or not) and put on some shoes and go to your corner store and buy a bag of these crunchy, delectable, snacks bursting with “Real Cheez” flavour. They are hands down, the best, the most delicious snack food ever invented. All of those puffed, American-style inflated tube cheezies are not even in the same universe as Hawkins. And I am pausing here because I realized that they are probably only available in Canada. So to the rest of the world, my sincere regrets on your half-realized snack lives.

Ok I got distracted there, thinking about rummaging around in that delectably crunchy bag for the “mini cheezies” that are at the bottom, the ones most coated in cheezy flavour….

Anyways, back to the Cheezie competition.

You see, Hawkins’ Cheezies, unlike their counterfeit, Sponge-Bob American cousins, are completely irregular in shape. As I eluded to in the previous paragraph, some are minute, like a grain of rice; others are four, even five inches long. At the grocery store, my dad scours the racks of see through orange tinted cellophane looking for the bag with the biggest, ripest, most neon-hued cheezies, the way a vintner might walk amongst his rows of heritage Tuscan grapes, smelling and fondling them and using his finely-tuned sense of smell and intuition to determine the optimum harvest time. I think this is where it started.

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Anyways, the photos started with a trickle…. my mom with her Crackberry, snapping a few Cheezie Challengers…. escalating (as any competition does, in my family anyways) to us volleying back a whole RAFT of 4-plus inchers; to the most extreme of extremes…..

Wait for it…..

My brother sent me this on Christmas Eve. It made me feel loved like no amount of presents possibly could. What more could a girl want for Christmas than a giant Cheezie? I mean, really?

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Amber waves of death?

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I got one of those awesome Kobo e-readers for Christmas from my awesome boyfriend (Yes, I am aware I just used the word “awesome” twice in one sentence). The first book I read was one which kind of jumped out at me, called “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. I mean, I know I tend to be a bit of a bandwagoneer when it comes to this kind of thing, but wow, I am really convinced that wheat is Satan.

To get all the details, you really have to read the book yourself, which gets a bit doctor-jargony but is for the most part, pretty accessible. To sum it up in a sentence or two: Wheat has been extremely modified over the past century so that it no longer even resembles what your grandma used to make muffins when she was a spunky young teenager. This franken-grain that we eat today in nearly everything (think about it right now….. it’s everywhere…. not just obvious places like bread and pasta, but think about the supermarket aisles, the endless rows of snack foods and pretzels, frozen dinners, cakes, cookies, pastries, and even in sneaky places like soy sauce). And, this stuff is bad for you, people! The glycemic index of bread is much higher than eating straight sugar. That’s right, even your organic, multigrain, high-fiber bread will shoot your blood sugar through the roof, even moreso than a can of Coke. I found this totally shocking. In the book he asks the question: why weren’t any of our grandmothers fat back in the day? They definitely weren’t at the gym three times a week, pumping iron and doing spin classes? What has changed dramatically in the North American diet in the past 50 years or so? Well, Dr. Davis points his finger at wheat. Basically, things with a high glycemic index send your blood sugar sky-high, forcing an insulin response from your body to counteract it. This leads to that all-too-familiar cycle of being starving hungry before a meal, and eating way too much (often starchy, sugary calories which spike the blood sugar again…) only to find yourself starving again a few hours later.

The book is packed with case studies of his hundreds and hundreds of patients he has put on a completely wheat-free diet, whose myriad complaints from colitis to arthritis, were vapourized by simply cutting out the wheat. Oh yeah, and they lost dozens of pounds – effortlessly.

One of the things I found really, totally fascinating was the chapter on the addictive qualities of wheat. Now, I have often heard – and said myself – that I can go weeks without eating junk, but once I do, it’s like opening up the floodgates, because if I eat just one Oreo I am suddenly hoovering up every croissant, cookie, cake, donut, bagel, and slice of toast in the place. And what I have known now empirically has now been explained to me scientifically – that wheat actually affects the same receptors in our brains that respond to opiates (yes, like heroin). And, indeed, has the very same addictive properties, and results in the same compulsive behaviours. So if you’ve ever found yourself reaching for “just one more” Timbit, you are not alone, and it may not even be your fault.

It seems overly simplistic – that the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, even cancer – could be linked with this one unassuming edible grassy plant. But the book is incredibly convincing. I highly recommend it.

So yeah, I totally ploughed a bunch of beer-battered shrimp tonight (it’s New Year’s Eve, people) but other than that, I haven’t eaten any wheat-containing products for three days. I’m going to keep it up. It’s a bit early to say whether it makes much of a difference, but I have to say I have not ONCE been hungry, in three days, and that is a major anomaly for me.

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Hypnosis app for iPhone – it’s a winner

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This is a cool photo, but in no way represents my experience, which is not creepy or intense at all (whereas this guy is both)

I am a bit embarassed here to admit that I recently downloaded three hypnosis apps for my iPhone. Hypnosis! You are saying, what a bunch of cheesy schlock. But I have to say – to anyone – I would highly, highly recommend you try it! I listen to it right before going to bed, with my headphones, and am ALWAYS in a deep sleep before the half-hour session is over. Not that I have ever had problems sleeping, but sometimes, in the past, I have been known to wake up in choking, panicking states or yell in my sleep or toss and turn violently; and since starting this, I haven’t done any of those things. In fact, the one night that I skipped the meditation this month (it was already really late – just wanted to go to sleep) I DID wake up in that choking, panicking state. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Anyways, there are a variety of different programs to choose from – the one I got (for a few bucks) is by Andrew Johnson (who has this wicked Scottish accent) and I got a Success-themed one; along with Happiness and Lose Weight. How well these actually work specific to the content, I have no way of measuring – but I know I get the best sleep of my life after listening to it, and wake up feeling awesome.

I am not really sure – and maybe someone can answer this for me – what the difference is between meditation and hypnosis. I have meditation apps as well, and they seem to be remarkably similar, except that in the hypnosis ones I definitely go much deeper, the whole floating feeling and all, pretty trippy stuff. Definitely has the same calming, relaxing, releasing effect.

He says right in the intro, that it’s OK to fall asleep during the session, and that the message will still come through to your subconscious – good thing, because every night when my boyfriend comes to bed, he has to gently pry the earbuds out of my ears and wrestle my phone out of my hand while I am happily snoring.

Recipe for a fabulous concoction – Gourmet Pizza Buns

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Ok, so I don’t normally foray into recipe territory, since it’s really better off left to the Betty Crockers out there. I am a haphazard cook, at best, but sometimes, I really luck out and come up with something fabulous. Last night was one of these aforementioned times. Pizza Buns, people! My boyfriend actually said it was the best thing I ever made! So I am going to share this one.

 

Her20111222-102307.jpge’s how to make them:

Make pizza dough. If you don’t already know how, or are intimidated by yeast, as I used to be, check out allrecipes.com and they have some tremendous suggestions.

Sautee in a pan:

-Red onion (do this one first — until it’s nicely caramelized…. take it out and then put in the other stuff)

-Portobello mushrooms

-A handful of pre-soaked, chopped sundried tomatoes

-Red peppers

-Spinach (put it in at the last minute, until it just gets wilty)

Smear some tomato paste on your dough (I divided mine into two batches) which has been stretched into a long rectangle. Cover with your veggies. Crumble goat cheese (I used a bruschetta chevre – it was wicked) and a bit of old fashioned shredded mozza just to hold it all together. Roll it up in a long tube and then cut into rolls, cinnamon bun style. Bake in a greased pan at 350 for about half an hour, or until it’s done. Flip over onto a plate – voila!

If you try it – let me know how it turned out!

 

Suck it Nutritionists: Christmas is for Eating

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Turkey too. Get it in ya!

Suck it, nutritionists: Christmas is not Christmas without ploughing an absurd amount of cookies, chocolate, caramel popcorn, booze; downing a copious quantity of rich cheese and all manner of savoury delights! Christmas is not Christmas without the table FULL of plates of tantalizing concoctions beautifully arranged on a tray with garnish and cranberries and lovely springs of dill. It is the season of phyllo pastry, mini-quiches, smoked salmon, cream-cheese EVERYTHING! It is the season of Chocolate; of advent calendars and Pot of Gold and Turtles and After-Eights.

I don’t know about you, but I am super sick of that age-old column that appears in every newspaper and magazine around this time of year, with a headline that goes something like this: “How to Stay Thin over the Holidays” where some scrawny grinch-bag goes on to tell me that I should eat a massive plate of raw celery before going to a party, limit myself to one appetizer, (or even worse, as I saw recently, a suggestion to eat ONLY one appetizer, and skip dinner altogether — blasphemy!) drink only one glass of wine (which should be daintily sipped over a four-hour stretch…. yeah right).

Christmas is a season of celebration, not moderation. And for me, celebration is inextricably tied to eating. I love food, and so does my whole family, and our family reunions are never complete without certain key items: Aunt Kate’s famous spinach and artichoke dip. My mom’s pineapple muffins. Uncle Jim’s quiche. All these things (and many more) are as much a part of the event as any of the actual people in attendance. A family that eats together, stays together.

And most of these columns, these guilt-inducing, misery-inspiring columns, say that the average person gains about a pound – ONE MEASLY POUND! – over the whole holiday season. A pound is approximately 3600 calories. That’s only like, ten runs in January to get that off. No big whoop!

Let’s just be clear here, that I am not endorsing a flat-out binge-fest on everything in sight – I’m just saying that, one time of year ladies, lets give ourselves a bit of a break. Lets stop mentally calculating calories and amount of time you’ll have to jog to get it off, let’s stop DEPRIVING ourselves, for only a few weeks of the year, let’s instead allow ourselves, give ourselves permission, to go a little nuts, to laugh and joke and sing and, yes, EAT, with our dearest friends and family.

Time to put some Bailey’s in my coffee….

Green Juice – You gotta try it

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It looks utterly revolting – a thick, pasty beverage complete with unblendable chunks. Oh yeah, and it’s green. But I have been drinking it every morning now for two weeks, instead of breakfast, and I am really noticing my energy levels and most importantly – my SKIN – being awesome.

So yeah, after getting sick of my facebook friend Helen posting about her epic mountain running “Ran 30 km today, straight uphill, feeling awesome!” followed by, “Time for some more green juice!” And then, looking at her pics and being embroiled in jealousy by her thinness and gorgeous complexion, I figured maybe I will try this (not the mountain trail running, but the green juice anyways). She is also vegan and eats only raw food – a step I am simply not willing to take – but hey, Green Juice is a start, right?

So anyways, every morning I have been choking back a concoction of spinach, coconut water, celery, hemp seeds, apple, wild blueberries, avocado, ginger, lemon, and cucumber, or some variation thereof. The idea is to just throw in there whatever you’ve got. (My idea anyways — I by no means am speaking for any kind of legit “Green Juice Movement”) sometimes I put in some lemon or some greens plus or whatever else is kicking around my fridge.

To say it’s delicious would be a pretty extreme overstatement. But it is at least palatable and not totally disgusting (although my boyfriend can’t even look at it without retching). I don’t think it’s that bad. And yes, I definitely have more energy, my skin looks better than it has in years, and it is something I am definitely going to carry on with here.

I am a ‘go big or go home’ type of gal. So I have always struggled, in the health department, because I can’t handle the idea of making small changes, it’s just not natural to me. I tend to make preposterous promises to myself that set me up for failure – following whatever regimen or whatever that is a virtually unachievable goal for all but the most disciplined Iron Man athletes. It has occurred to me of late, that it would probably do a great deal for my self-confidence and self-esteem, if I could make some small changes, and stick to those, and build upon the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that come from successfully implementing those changes…. rather than the misery and self-hatred when I fail at yet another weight loss, nutrition, or fitness strategy.

So yeah…. my green juice might not change my life, but it could definitely be a springboard to make other, healthier decisions.

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Muay Thai This!

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Hi there, well, it’s been literally ages since I added anything to this particular blog, but I feel like this train of thought belongs on this rail rather than my new Newfoundland blog. So yeah — being a twentysomething couple moving to a brand new place, one of the things we have noticed is that it is really NOT EASY to make friends at this age. Since we don’t have kids yet, we don’t have the benefit of the ‘instant social circle’ based on the soccer practices and school plays and all that; and although St. John’s has a legendary night life, I feel too old for the whole hipster bar scene. Makes me yearn a bit for that ten-year-old ability to brazenly walk up to anybody and say, “HI. WANNA BE MY FRIEND?” And that was it you had a new friend.

So anyways, in order to try and make some new friends, and fulfill a lifelong dream of being Jackie Chan, I bought a Groupon for Thai Kick Boxing. And it is freaking awesome. I have only been to three classes (going again tonight!!) And I love it. I am hooked! There is something incredibly, appallingly satisfying about kicking, punching, kneeing, or elbowing the bag with everything you’ve got. Over, and over, and over again! It is an incredible workout. After every class, I am sore for days, but feel fantastic. And it is FUN! A two-hour class breezes by in no time.

My instructor is the coolest. She is a total enigma – mother, sewing store employee, loves baking, and is a Muay Thai fighter. If I could ever be as accepting of my own anachronisms, I would have it made. I have to restrain myself from going up to her and saying, “HI. WANNA BE MY FRIEND?” It’s unfortunate that building adult friendships is such a more delicate and complicated dance. One I have never really been good at.

Where do you make friends when you are 27, and your entire workplace consists of aging men? Help me out here, people!