Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spice and all things nice.

I love, love, love spicy food. My partner loves, loves, loves spicy food annnd so does our 21 month old daughter! (I know, bizarre, right? It must be the Spanish in her). Luckily for all of us spice lovers spicy foods are good to us in return, particularly on weight loss journeys. So, without further ado here is a list of several benefits to spicy food:

1. Spicy food boosts your metabolism. This is a fact and other studies have suggested that those that eat spicy food regularly tend to have smaller portions than those who do not. Furthermore capsaicin, a main ingredient in chillis, has a thermogenic effect causing the body to burn extra calories.

2. Improved digestion (whaaa?). Ok this one surprised me but studies have shown that spicy food can boost stomach secretions that aide in digestion.

3. It makes you sweat (ewww?). No, there is a very scientific type reason such as "Ahem, spicy food has been found to increase circulation thus is increasing the heart rate" which, in turn, makes one sweat. Those of you who have read 'First they killed my father' (Loung Ung, 2000) will know that this is a good thing as it helps keep people living in hotter countries cooler.

4. Those that eat spicy food the most often have a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also known to prevent cancer and lower blood pressure.

5. Chillies and peppers increase serotonin (the "happy" hormone) levels.

So, that’s just some of the many benefits of spicy food. For those of you keen to vamp up your pasta sauces with the wondrous super food I am including my very own chilli pasta sauce recipe (loved by both my partner and daughter).


Pepper, 2 tsp.

Oregano, 1 tsp.
Sea salt, 1 tsp.
Chilli flakes, 1 (or 2, if you like) tsp.
Dried rosemary, 2 tsp.
3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
Paprika relish, 1 tbsp.
Vegetable or Chicken stock, 2 cups.
200g tinned tomato.
½ green capsicum, diced.
5 button mushrooms, sliced.
1 leek (or brown onion), sliced.
350g premium mince (omit for vegetarian).
½ carrot, diced.
1 tbsp light olive spread, to cook.  
Parmesan, to serve.
·         Sauté garlic, leek, button mushrooms until softened. Add the mince and continue to cook on a medium heat, stirring, until mince is browned.
·         Add the capsicum and carrot and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
·         Stir in the oregano, sea salt, chilli flakes, pepper and rosemary.
·         Add the tinned tomato, paprika relish and vegetable stock. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.
·         Serve over wholemeal or vegeroni pasta with topped with parmesan.
*serves 4-5 people.
*The flavour can be further enhanced by making your own tomato puree flavoured with herbs, if you wish to.
Happy eating!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A diet is a diet is a diet.

“What's in a name? that which we call a diet
By any other name would be as hard;
So a diet would, were it not diet call'd
Retain that difficulty which it owes”.

A thing is what it is. Many people I know who are on diets shriek when it is called just that, a diet.
                "Oh don't" they moan "I feel instantly hungry when you call it that. Anyway, I prefer to think of it as a lifestyle change."
Oh, how many times have I heard this only for the person in question to cave in after two weeks?
I won’t call it a lifestyle change just to try and make it easier to cope with because it won’t. I am restricting myself from certain foods and embodying new things such as exercise and healthier alternatives. It’s not a lifestyle change until it’s complete, until it is so much a part of me that I genuinely don’t want those things that are bad for me.  
You see what I am learning is if you cannot face calling something a diet than you won't lose weight. You’re sabotaging yourself from the beginning. I believe in calling a diet, a diet. I want to lose 7 kg and in order to do so I am on a diet. I am restricting my calorie intake to 1,500 calories per day. I am running 3 and half km's four days a week. When I eat I make sure it is healthy, which means whole grains, low-fat milk and cheeses and lots of fruit and vegetables.
I accept that I must first diet to get to my goal weight before I can call it a lifestyle change. Once I am at the maintaining phase and can increase my calories (only slightly) then I will be putting my new lifestyle into practice; the beginning of the new me.
Thinking this way I find I have zero desire to sabotage myself. For 21 days I have followed my diet to a ‘T’ and will continue to do so. I am fully accepting this permanent change in my life. I know in future I can be a little less strict, but only a little. I am facing up to the fact that even though this is a diet it's something I want to stick to. If I let thinking of it as a diet discourage me I would not be so driven to reach my goal and make a permanent change to my life. I would allow myself to think “oh it’s a diet and I can’t stick to diets anyway”, “I have no will power” or “I will just eat this today and start over tomorrow”.  Well no, that is me of the past. I know now that if I stick this out I will be slimmer, fitter, happier and more confident. I will have all the tools and knowledge I need to make these changes permanent. After going the hard yards of the dreaded dieting territory maintaining my weight and beginning my new life slimmer and happier should be a breeze (well, maybe a strong breeze).
So I say call your diet a diet because calling it a ‘lifestyle change’ won’t make it any easier, or anymore permanent. The power and knowledge to succeed is within you, not the name.

Originals of the altered qoutes:
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Loveliness extreme.
Extra gaiters,
Loveliness extreme.
Sweetest ice-cream.
Pages ages page ages page ages
- Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein.  
      What's in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;
     So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
      Retain that dear perfection which he owes
-      Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare.