Saturday, March 19, 2011

Next New Project? Making Bread

I’ve never made bread before. Yes, its true – at 41, I’ve never made bread. What prompted this insane plan? Well, I make soup all the time – but end up buying buns to have with the soup… and I had this utterly insane idea (the day before yesterday) that it might be smart to start baking my own bread and buns to ensure that I am consuming as much healthily made food as possible.

Plus, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could actually bake my own bread???

At Christmas, when I was home, my Mum gave me her old grain grinder thingy (a Bosch something-or-another) and this is part of the reason I want to start baking bread – so I can use the grinder I already have.  This particular batch of bread and buns, though, is made with store bought all purpose flour.  I need to figure out where to buy wheat if I want to make my own flour…

A number of months ago my friend Nan (whose blogs I follow at Yambo (yet another mommy blog) and From Here to Habit in 90 Days) told me about this absolutely amazing cook book that she has called How to Cook Everything – it has two thousand some-odd recipes in it.  It is, in fact, the book I found the granola recipe in.  One of the great things about this particular cook book is that not only does it have the recipes themselves, it has very easy to understand, step-by-step directions in it that are to be followed.

After speaking with my Mum last night, then my brother, I have settled on a no knead kind of bread.  One small complication, though, the bread is cooked in this closed lidded container – the best ones you can get are called made by a company called le Creuset® and they run somewhere in the neighbourhood of $265.00 (Canadian) they are enamelled stainless steel – very solid and heavy – and they, like the good old fashioned cast iron frying pan, are mean to last a lifetime and then some.

And yes, $265 is what I priced one out at today when I was having a look around to see what they cost.


So… no cooking container in hand, I decided that, instead of a loaf of bread (or some buns) that I would make some naan to have with my dinner tonight instead. 

How hard can it be, right? Turns out that, as long as to actually follow the recipe properly, it shouldn’t be all that hard.   I *mostly* followed the recipe properly – screwed up a little where I was supposed to add the water & didn’t half that mentally before I added it to the mixture - so had to add a WHOLE LOT more flour… but when all was said and done, they turned out just fine and were actually pretty tasty if I do say so myself.  Maybe next time, though, I'll make the WHOLE recipe - I bet it will taste even better!

This counts as bread, right?

With love across the waters,

Friday, March 18, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup – in Canada, AKA Glucose-Fructose Syrup

As a part of a healthier lifestyle, I am working to incorporate better eating choices and, in the process, a less “processed” diet… well, with the exception of the one meal a week where I get to really and truly blow it.

The other day I read an article about the evils of sugar in all forms, but most specifically, in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (in Canada this has been branded Glucose-Fructose Syrup) and, this in mind, I opened a dialogue with some of my girlfriends – one of whom has mentioned this evil little thing (and the effects of it) a couple of times before. 

Something you may not know is that HFCS or GFS is added to almost everything that is baked (think desserts) and juices for sweetener – it’s even being added to honey to stretch the production!!! When we spoke about it the other day, one of my girlfriends looked at the box of HEALTHY cereal she has been eating (major name brand) and it has even been added to that!

Yes, I have items in my cupboard with this in it – and no, I’m not going to throw it all away, but once those items are finished and gone, I will VERY carefully be looking at the labels of all of the things I buy to be certain I am consuming as little of this as possible!

So… I have decided to take action. Yesterday, I made my own granola. Instead of using honey as the sweetener (I only purchase pure, unpasteurized honey) I opted to do a half and half split between maple syrup and molasses – and oh my GOODNESS is it ever delicious! Unfortunately, the maple syrup I used, yes, you guessed it – DOES have GFS in it, but the next bottle of it I buy will NOT.

I will never go totally sugar free – but if I can change a few simple things, make my own foods – like granola and so forth, I can certainly cut down on the sheer volume of processed sugars I have been eating and, in the process, reduce the amount of sugars in my day-to-day diet.  I’ll still have the natural ones - the ones in fruit and vegetables, and yes, the odd amount of processed sugars in my once a week naughtiness… just not as much. 

Each step we take away from sugars also takes us a step away from the possibility of diabetes. Just something to think about…

With love across the waters,

PS: Molasses makes your milk turn brown - if you try out making your own granola and use molasses for flavoring, don't be surprised by this  :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Signs ‘n Stuff

I’m not talking about the signs on the side of the road or those on street corners… I’m talking about the ones that we all ask for – and that many times, we receive but do not recognise until long after something has come to pass.

I often ask for a sign when things are confusing in my world – when I need that guidance and support that, as much as my friends and family would give me if they could, only the universe can provide me with. Most recently I have been struggling with work and the fact that (even though I am doing my best to find a full time job within the company I am currently employed by) no matter what position I seem to apply for - they just do not appear to want me. I’ve been back with them for nearly a year – and yes, I know that the Comox Valley can be difficult to find full time postings in… but really, I am tired of flogging my guts out and getting nowhere.

So I asked, recently, for a sign of what I should do.  Should I apply elsewhere? Should I stick things out, be patient and just keep plugging away? With the valley here being so hard to get a toe in the door, I am also considering career changes and second jobs.  Ends have been a little further away than means, and so money has been becoming something I think about more and more.

Yesterday afternoon I got my signs about that one. I had an amazing conversation about Tai Chi - one that lead to a phone number and website, and also some encouragement about the general attitude toward energy medicine in the Comox Valley - leading me to revisit the possibility of setting up my own energetic healing practice here. A little later on in the day, I had an email arrive telling me about a career possibility, and asking for a copy of my resume.  This afternoon I had an initial conversation and decided, based on that information and the person with whom I was speaking (who I trust implicitly) that I need to follow this lead.  My CV has been sent and I thank the universe, gratefully, for these signs. 

It appears that my intention and Feng Shui changes are starting to kick in!  Woo hoo!!

I have also been feeling more optimistic lately.  Yes, daylight savings has a lot to do with it – as does the hour (at least) of walking I have been doing every day for the last couple of weeks. I’m feeling positive about my possibilities. When I am walking I listen to upbeat music that keeps me pumped and motivated to move.  Some of my very favourite songs to listen to right now – not only for their beat, but also for their messages are:
  • Firework (The Glee Cast Version) * this one is now my personal anthem!!
  • Raise Your Glass (Pink)
  • Defying Gravity (The Glee Cast Version)
  • Friday I’m in Love (The Cure)
  • I’m Too Sexy (Right Said Fred)
  • Sin Wagon (Dixie Chicks)
  • U & UR Hand (Pink)

I’ve also been using an iPod application (I LOVE having my iPod back!!) a couple of times a day – it’s a collection of guided meditations called “Getting into the Vortex” (by Abraham Hicks Publications) – a recommendation from my friends Alison and Christine.  The two I have been focusing on have been “Relationships” and “Financial Abundance” – but I think I may also start listening to the one called “General Well-Being” a little more often.

Repetition being so very beneficial to absorption, this music and these guided meditations are, I think, building on what I am working with my hypnotherapist on - and leading me to a path where I can not only be successful, I can be happy and healthy and fit.

With love across the waters,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hypnotherapy Homework

The homework for this week, if you recall, was to pay attention to what has been going right for me, and also, to keep notes on what's bugging me...

On the "what's been going right" list, I've been getting out every day for good long walks - I did two 10 KM walks (both of which included running training toward the end - woo hoo) and the rest of the days during this time frame have been in excess of 4.5 KM walks - and with daylight savings time kicking in today, I can ramp those up to however far I can get in an hour... if Yesterday is any indication, I'm going to be putting in five nearly 6 KM walks per week, starting tomorrow.

Vegetables are still an effort, but they are becoming more and more included in my meals and snacks.

The day before yesterday, my Mum told me about a challenge that the CBC is putting to all Canadians - the Live Right Now Challenge - more information about the challenge and its inspiration can be located at this link, but the gist of it is that Canada has been challenged to lose one million pounds.  Yes, ONE MILLION POUNDS. I read through some of the information and, inspired, I signed up and have committed to a few challenges of my own. Weight loss, daily exercise, and improvement of my eating habits - similar to what I'm working on already with the hypnosis.  One thing that is recommended in the process is to check in with someone in order to cement your goals and progress - Mum and I are checking in with each other.  

Finally, I'm sleeping well and generally feeling pretty good about the progress I've been making and the things I am looking at incorporating into my plan next.

All in all, these are good positives and I'm pleased with how things have been coming along.

Unfortunately, as we all know, there are usually little things that come up during the week that bug us.  Fortunately, though, there have only been two items this week that were worth note in my notebook - and all-in-all, I'll take the two small irritations - they aren't huge.

With love across the waters,