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The Granola 01: Entomophagy

Whale exhibit at the ROM
blog, The Chaos

Intermittent Fasting for Real People

PART 1:
I have been looking into intermittent fasting articles recently because I many years ago I used to fast as part of my yoga practice.  I’d take each Sunday as a day to cleanse and just drink water.  Yogi’s believe it is beneficial to your health and now there are some research studies that believe that this may, in fact, be true.

I haven’t fasted in years, but always remember feeling mentally and physically good taking those breaks from the constant intake of food and drink.  It’s an activity that tends to consume the North American day.  We circle our lives around obtaining snacks, coffee, meals and the like.  The ubiquitous “to go” cup in hand is evidence of this (and as an aside, take out coffee cups are not recyclable as people assume so take your own travel mug!!)

Randomly, (or not so randomly Google would probably say) an article on Intermittent Fasting, or IF, popped up somewhere in my online browsing.  As I looked into it further I really felt it was something I had to try and, more importantly, given my personal circumstances something that I actually could try.  What appealed to me?  Firstly, that the method I chose (16:8) wasn’t about changing how I ate, or even limiting what I ate.  To me it’s a lifestyle change and not a Diet.  I hate diets.  I think they’re stupid and not for the long term.  And secondly, I could try this diet and still be a mother.  Meaning I could continue to cook meals for my family and eat with them.  I wouldn’t have to make any changes that would show my kids a poor example of body image and weight loss.

Now that I’d decided I wanted to give it a go, I then started to look for reviews from people who’d done it.  Was my thought process about this in line with what others had experienced?  Well, that was hard to gauge because every review seemed to suffer from one or more of the following problems:

  • the reviewer tried it for a week or some short period of time.  Lifestyle changes can’t be properly evaluated after a week, in my opinion.  How you manage that week or feel at the end don’t reflect week 4 or 14.  The first week and possibly first month will be about adjusting to that routine.
  • the reviewer didn’t have a 9-5 job.  I kept reading reviews from people who were journalist or physical trainers and such.  They have a flexible schedule to go to yoga classes, work out, take down time if they’re feeling off.  Also, the review was something they were being paid to do at that time so their focus may just have been on evaluating IF.  I work 9-5 at a desk and that’s a different experience when making changes like this.
  • the reviewer didn’t have a family.  Specifically children.  I have no free time to accommodate major changes to my life because my children occupy most of those hours.  I am a single parent so I can’t run off to a quick exercise class unless I have childcare and, quite frankly, I cannot afford either– the class or the childcare.  There are so many things I’d like to do to change the way we all eat but there are just so many days when I have to opt for cut up veggies and a quick pasta dish.  We eat very well overall, but there’s room for improvement yet I just don’t have the capacity to do more right now.
  • the reviewer was already a fitness, food and general superstar.  These are people who don’t need to lose weight, improve their fitness, or eat better.  They’re already rocking it all.  I want to see someone like me who tries in all those areas as best they can but there’s room to improve.

In the end my decision was to try IF using the 16:8 method (you can google all the various types, there’s lots of posts describing them.)  16:8 is where you have an 8 hour eating window and you abstain for 16 hours.  This seemed to be the most complimentary to my daily life.  Mornings are insane at my house with me trying to get everyone’s needs met from children to the dog and cat and then myself last.  I often make coffee I don’t drink and if I have breakfast I find I’m actually more hungry before lunch than if I skip it.  So, on the recommendation from the internet, I set my 8 eating hours for noon to 8PM.  This way I took some of my tasks out of the morning equation entirely, I have to pack lunches for everyone anyways and we all eat dinner together so that would continue.  And it tackled one of my biggest issues: snacking after the kids go to bed… on sweets and other garbage food.

It’s been less than a week so I don’t want to get into an actual review but here are the few things that I’ve noticed:

  • I don’t eat after the kids go to bed, and that was a big add to my food intake as well as causing me to eat much to close to bedtime
  • I feel less bloated afternoons and evenings
  • I drink more water
  • After a few days I didn’t feel crazy hungry before noon or obsess about food
  • I drink MUCH less coffee (and thus MUCH less cream).  I’ll have maybe one coffee with a Tbsp. of cream mid-morning, but I don’t enjoy it that much so I stop at one.  Then I rarely even like coffee in the afternoon so I usually abstain entirely for the day.
  • I definitely eat less overall.  I don’t run out to find a whole pizza to make up for the fasting.  I just eat the lunch I bring, and a protein bar mid-afternoon, then a healthy dinner with my kids.
  • I love that I don’t have to eat healthy or cook differently.   If there’s pizza at the office I can have it.
  • It fits into my kids schedule (I can eat dinner with them) and I can adjust it if I want to go out with a friend one evening.  I just shift my fasting time to a bit later.
  • It’s easy

PART 2 will be an update on how IF is going after a bit more time, hurdles I face, or letting you all know if I stop completely and why.  If you’ve tried IF, please share your experiences & advice in the comments.

blog, The Chaos

Protest!

As a self described (& described by others) hippe, and someone who generally has a lot of strong vocal opinions, people can be surprised that I’m not very politically engaged or much of a protester.  I care deeply about many causes, with animal and human rights being at the core of most of them; however, I also don’t believe in jamming my beliefs down other people’s throats, which a lot of protest leading organizations seem to do… Or at least the very loud, often, small militant factions that show up at demonstrations do.

Don’t get me wrong, I will set anyone straight on why eating factory farm, commercially slaughtered, meat is basically ingesting the pain and death of another being.  And if you think that death camps don’t still exist, just see my post on North Korea.  I try not to turn a blind eye to injustice in the world and I expect those who are my friends to at least respect that and be humane in their own way.

But now we have a true crisis on our hands in North America. The neighbours with which we share a Huge border, and whose political and economic choices very directly effect us have elected in a white, privileged, unintelligent man who has no respect for women, religion, races other than white, and people in general. He really only cares about himself and his own interests, and POWER.  And now he has so very much POWER it should terrify us all.

It really is time to protest. To go out in masses, and hold signs, and shout, and yell, and fight back, and fight for One Another.  For more than anyone else I join my fellow citizens in fighting back to show my children that this is not democracy. Even if the democratic system says this is how democracy works we do not, SHOULD NOT, allow this to continue. Democracy can be just as broken and misused as Communism, as a Dictatorship, as any form of ruling a people.

This man, and all the people who he has chosen to surround himself with, is dangerous. He is a danger to his own people, and a threat to all of us around the globe.  Join me in protest, Join women in protest, Join Muslims in protest, these are all of our causes.  There is a growing epidemic around the world of blaming The Other for a nation’s problems- we see this in the Brexit vote, in the growing anger toward refugees across Europe, in the random attacks on crowds of gays/church goers/blacks/Muslims/anybody, and now in Canada with the rhetoric coming out of rising politicians trying to ride the Trump victory wave.  We must be relentless in our fight against this oppression.

Fight. Back.
blog, The Chaos

High Protein School-safe Snack

I have been struggling with packing my child’s school lunch.  We’re vegetarian and then there are all the allergy restrictions which we also have to consider for other students’ safety.  At home, peanut butter and nuts in general are a big staple in our diet.  We also some fish and my kids love salmon but fish is also not allowed at our school.  I’m not saying the combination of vegetarianism and no nuts or fish makes food choices impossible for us but it does make me have to think about alternatives, specifically regarding protein.  I can pack all the fruits and vegetables I want but they don’t give my kids the energy to power through the day.

I should mention my child goes to an outdoor school where they are outside and active much of the day.  Protein is necessary and I can only pack the same handful of options so many times. Seeds, cheese, yogurt, chickpeas/hummus, repeat.  It gets boring and bland and then lunches start to come home uneaten and my kid hungry and cranky.

So I’ve been looking for something that I can add to that mix that will store easily and/or freeze well.  I like to make food in larger batches but it has to store well otherwise we all get tired of it and then it just gets thrown out.

Okay, that’s enough preable.  This recipe is for protein balls that are nut-free, GF, dairy-free, high in protein, and filled with a variety of amazing foods.  They are also easy to mix and match in whatever ingredients you’d prefer.  Just switch out each item by the same volume.  This also has a long ingredient list, but you can decrease them by  recaibrating the amounts (as long as the total volume of dry is about 3 1/2 c.)  I looked at a few recipes online, and tried some but the problem I had with them was they either were held together with a lot of sugar like a “brittle” recipe, or they were bonded with a seed butter and simply didn’t hold together at all.  The dates are key, but they don’t overpower the bites and make them taste like date.  Frankly, I hate dates.

2017-01-21-08-13-13
This is the dry mixture before the lentils/quinoa have been added.  I put in a 1/2 tsp. of tumeric as well, for a bit of colour.

School-safe Energy Bites
1/2 c. dry green lentils
1/4 c. quinoa

1/2 tsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. flour (any kind)
1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. flaked oats (look for GF label)
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. dried cranberries (slightly chopped)
1/4 c. dark chocolate covered puffed amaranth (I got this in bulk barn- you could also use cacao nibs) **
2 tbsp. whole chia seeds + 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds **
1 tbsp. ground flax **
2 tbsp. hemp hearts (or more) **

1/2 c. dates
1/2 c. pumpkin seed butter (or any other seed butter)
1/4 c. agave

Preheat oven to 400.  Line  baking sheet with parchment paper.
Boil water and simmer lentils for 15 minutes, and cook quinoa as per directions.
Drain both and then mix in the coconut oil, cinnamon, flour, salt.  Spread mixture evenly on parchment paper and bake for 15 minuts.  Stir half way to bake evenly and that it’s not burning.
Set aside the lentils and quinoa to cool.
Mix together the rest of the dry ingredients (oats, coconut, seeds, cranberries, puffed amaranth, chia, flax, hemp hearts).  When cool, add in the crispy lentils and quinoa.
In a food processor chop up the dates until they are a lumpy paste.  Add the pumpkin seed butter and agave and pulse a few times.  Add the dry mixture and pulse until date mixture is integrated.
Scoop with a teaspoon and roll into balls.  Put the energy bites into the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2 weeks or put them in the freezer for longer term storage.

blog, Minimalism, The Chaos

Yard sale dynamics

I made an insane last minute decision the other week to host a yard sale. And then went completely crazy emptying every room in my house of unwanted or rarely used belongings.
I talk more about that process in another post but this one is about the actual sale. I ended up doing two sales as one ended up being on such a cold day that almost nobody was outside and I barely made $20 after 4 hours.
The second attempt had decent weather and more traffic but after an hour I simply got bored. Plus I would rather do something else on my weekends. The kids were all over the place so I decided to throw in the towel. But what to do with all of the stuff I’d dragged out of my house? I sure as heck didn’t want it back in!
I put the few valuable items I wanted to try posting on Kijiji inside. Then I put out a jar that said “pay here” and walked away.
As it turns out my sale was more of a success by walking away. Some people definitely outright stole things, but most paid “something” and many were even quite fair.
The problem I have with yard sales is that so many people who come want to nickel and dime you for quality items but the next moment they will walk into a dollar store and will pay for absolute crap without a moment of hesitation.
The unmonitored sale allowed people to shop without being watched and to pay what their conscience felt was fair. Thieves stole. The cheapskates and those who want to rip you off gave nickels for quality goods. And those who don’t believe in giving less than sticker price gave whatever my tag suggested.
In the end, I didn’t want any of this stuff in my house anymore so it didn’t bother me to have some of it stolen. I was actually quite elated and even surprised each time I checked the jar to find a few more dollars. ‎ Plus I didn’t waste a day being frustrated by insulting offers when I could be with my kids.
Sometimes walking away is the best choice 😉