Oatmeal Wonder

Today, after arriving home from my daughter’s swimming lesson, she was ravenous. Although it took about 15 minutes to prepare, I made a delicious hot grain cereal that was another Ali-Oops success.


Here’s what I used and how I made it.

  1. Cooked 1 ½ cups of steel cut oats in water
  2. Cooked ½ cup of kasha in water
  3. Combined both grains in the larger pot and added some soy and almond milk. I didn’t measure, but I added enough to make it the consistency our family likes. Not to thick…not too watery.
  4. I then added raw sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, 4 chopped dates (would use 6 next time), and some cinnamon. Again…no measuring…I just eyeball it until it seems like enough.
  5. I stirred it all together and then added some more soy milk.

I just loved it. My daughter added about a tablespoon of pure maple syrup to hers. I am in the process of making my own date syrup, so when that’s ready, I would offer that before the maple syrup.

This type of hot cereal can be created in whatever unique way you like. I happened to be out of bananas today (a rarity in my house), otherwise, I probably would have chopped up half a banana for each of our servings.

Other things to add instead of, or in addition to, what I used are: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, other seasoning (nutmeg, ginger, all spice) and other beverages (regular milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or even just water).

I was thinking about the health benefits of pure maple syrup compared to homemade date syrup (which I just recently tried to make….delicious), so I looked up some facts online. Here is what I found:

Very Approximate Comparison of Pure Maple Syrup to Homemade Date Syrup

Pure Maple Syrup: 30 mL/2 Tbsp

Calories: 110

Sodium: 2.5 mg

Zinc: 10% DV (daily value)

Manganese: 66%  DV

Homemade Date Syrup: includes 2 medjool dates, soaked overnight and blended with water (amount of water depends on preferred consistency)

Calories: 115

Potassium: 285 mg

Fibre: 3 g

Calcium: 2% DV

Iron: 2% DV

If you compare maple syrup with homemade date syrup, the date syrup has lots of potassium, and the maple syrup has a good amount of manganese.

Which is better for you?

In my opinion, the date syrup is better for you because:

  1. It is made in your home, so you can see exactly what goes into it and the environment in which it was prepared.
  2. Dates have fibre, even after they are blended, and maple syrup has none.

If you want to try this, but you think your family wouldn’t go for it…try easing them into the change. Start with a 3:1 ratio of maple syrup to date syrup, then move towards 2:1, then 1:1, then ½ :1.

5 Pounds of Success

Today, I feel delighted about how I’ve committed to getting back to eating well after my holidays…with the ultimate goal of achieving a healthy weight.

Since coming back from my vacation, 5 days ago, I’ve lost 5.2 pounds. Now, a whole bunch of this is probably water, and that’s just fine with me. My body is getting rid of whatever it doesn’t need right now. The result? I feel great!

In those past five days, I have eaten when I was hungry. I eat whatever I want, but I choose to include only the foods that I feel are ideal for health.

My two main food groups are vegetables and fruit. They come first. Next, I include legumes, nuts/seeds and some grains. I also include some soy or almond milk in smoothies or to mix with oatmeal. Lastly, I add omega-3 foods like ground flax seeds, hemp seeds or chia seeds to dishes. The only other food group I put in some meals that I haven’t mentioned is seaweed/sea vegetables like kelp or dulse.

Within this selection of foods, which are all plant-based, I get all the nutrients I need, which include:

-Lean Protein, Complex Carbohydrates and Good Fats



-Vitamin D

-Omega 3’s


-Other vitamins and minerals

The only thing I need to stay on top of, to make sure I have it regularly is soy milk, or other specific plant-based beverages, fortified with Vitamin D and B12.

Foods I Avoid...or try to have as little as possible (perfection I am not after…life requires some flexibility)

-Meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish)…I may treat myself to seafood now and again


-Dairy products

-Processed food (basically the packaged stuff)

-Processed oil (added oil)…I will of course happily eat plant-based foods that naturally have oil, like olives, nuts and seeds

Foods I Limit (or try to limit)

-Wheat, pasta, bread, crackers


Huge Benefits to Eating This Way

Although I have not eaten this way on a long-term basis, here is what I can tell you about how it has benefited me.

1. I don’t think about how much food or what kind of food I am eating…because it is all healthy and fairly low in calories. Now, I’m not going to sit down and eat two avocados or a big bowl full of nuts because that is too heavy in fats…even if they are good fats. If I did that once in a while, however, it would be no big deal. If I did it often, then I would just gain weight.

2. I’ve lost 5.2 pounds in 5 days…weight loss is usually easy at first, but if I keep this up, I should find my way to my ideal body weight. My body will tell me.

3. I feel engergetic…not sluggish.

4. I am more patient and less irritated by life’s little annoyances.

5. I am happier.

Back to Health!

Well, the East Coast party’s over! Back from vacation and time to get back on track with my eating habits.

From Jan. 2013 to Aug. 10, 2013, I did not eat any meat or eggs.  I was really proud of myself for accomplishing this. No beef, pork, chicken, fish or shellfish…none. I moved to the next stage that I wanted to achieve (giving up dairy) in late July which lasted until mid-August, when my vacation started.

In advance, I decided to eat seafood during my East Coast trip and indulge in dairy again. After all, I justified…I was on holiday! I ate mussels, oysters, lobster, haddock, cod….loved it! Being a true cheese addict (the only dairy I’ve been stuck on), I had cheese as well as eggs. As a last hurrah…yesterday, my family and I enjoyed eating a whole lobster each for a late lunch. Yes, of course we had melted butter.

I indulged, and now it’s over.

After that meal, I took my official step toward eating well again. I am fortunate because I gained only 1.6 pounds while away… could have been a LOT worse!

So, how did the rest of my day go? I got right back on the health train.

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For dinner we visited with some family. They had chicken, and I brought salad for my main dish. It contained romaine lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, cucumber, pickled hot peppers and some ground cashews.

For the dressing, I wanted to get back to making dressing without any added oil. This is a real challenge at first, but once you start to experiment with different ingredients that provide the moisture needed, it becomes a fun challenge to create one. Here’s what I made:

I blended one kiwi, some frozen mango (mostly defrosted in the microwave first), some cilantro and a tiny dash of salt. It was delicious, but when I make it next time, I will add a couple of tablespoons of lime juice.

I felt light, guilt-free and happy with my choices when my day ended. A wonderful feeling that beats feeling full, bloated, guilty and unhappy.

Lobster…at Last!

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While vacationing on the East Coast, we’ve been looking forward to having lobster in Halifax. Last night, we ate dinner at Salty’s, right on the harbour, and it was fabulous.

We started with local beer: Garrison Brewery’s Tall Ship Amber and Irish Red. Oysters out here are more expensive than we expected, but we decided to indulge, since it was our first night in Halifax. Of course, we had the whole, steamed lobster, with melted butter (a must if you are on vacation and not worrying about your weight/diet).

Our view and service were terrific, and we may have to go back before we leave.

I’ve been eating seafood galore out here. Although I have not been eating any meat (beef, chicken or seafood) since Jan. 2013, I consciously chose to eat seafood while on this trip. I’ve waited a long time to come out here and enjoy all that this area has to offer. Perhaps when my veggie ways are more established, I may choose to bypass seafood while on vacation. We’ll see. I won’t have any problem with beef or chicken, because neither appeal to me at all any more.

If you are a wanna-be vegetarian or wanna-be vegan, remember that it takes time to transition, and don’t be hard on yourself. I have learned this over the last three and a half years since I first read The China Study.

The Ali-Oops Way

I’ve never been keen on following recipes. Probably because I’m impatient!

Recipes are a great way to learn how to put together ingredients, however. They can also serve as a template that I can tweak and make my own. What’s worked the best for me is just winging it. Thinking on my feet and grabbing what’s in the kitchen. That’s about it. I know that can be intimidating for some.

Taking risks in the kitchen has helped me to do two things:

1)      I have confidence when I throw together a meal.

2)      I have created recipes that I can now fall back on and share with others.

I call this the Ali-Oops Way because I put together a bunch of things I have in my kitchen, and then….oops!…something wonderful is created. Now, there may be times when my creation is more like a 5 out of 10 instead of an 8 or 9, but hey, that’s part of the process. We have to make mistakes to learn. I’ve broken down this winging it trick into 5 easy steps to show you how it works for me.

The Ali-Oops Way…5 Steps

1. What do I Need? Do I need a snack, a meal or do I need something simple like a salad? This helps me through the next step.

2. What’s in the House? Basically, I look in the fridge to see what I’ve got on hand. Generally I know what’s in the cupboard (staples like quinoa, rice, pasta, beans, canned goods, oil, vinegars, spices, etc.). Usually, I don’t have a lot of time, so I want to keep it simple. I use what I’ve got, instead of trying to pull up a recipe and then ending up without some key ingredients. Once I see what’s in the fridge, I grab a few things that I think will go together. Next, I go to the cupboard to see what might go with the fridge items. Don’t be afraid to takes risks…be creative.

3. What will it Taste Like? Next, I look at flavours. Do I need spices, herbs, or maybe some other flavourings like lime juice, red wine vinegar, soy sauce or tobacco sauce? I select the ones that might work.

4. What’s the Big Idea? Here, I need to pull it all together. I start to peel or chop what I need. I then put things together in a bowl or a pot/pan, depending on if it is a cooked dish. Then I add any cupboard ingredients and throw in some flavours. I don’t measure for any of this. If this is a cold dish, like a salad or a dip, then I just toss or mix and serve. If it is a hot dish, then I might stir it, simmer it or bake it, depending on what I think will work the best. I just do this by trial and error, based on what I’ve tried in the past. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Take a risk.

5. What will it Look Like? In the end, I may add a few more flavourings or garnishes, like cilantro, basil or parsley and then dish it up. Maybe a bowl…a plate? Then I transfer the food to the dish and arrange it in a pleasing way.

That’s it! This is the way that works best for me.

Finally…some greens!


Finally, some greens in my diet while on vacation. I’ve enjoyed many dishes while in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. But, like most people, I’ve veered off course from the healthier food I usually (not always, that’s for sure) eat at home. For lunch today, I had a heap of romaine greens with cucumbers, tomato and red/orange peppers. A splash of grilled eggplant and some feta cheese topped it off. Now, I don’t know what was in the dressing, as this was a buffet lunch, so it’s safe to say that it would be heavier on oil than I’d like.

Needless to say, even though I tend to have perfectionist tendencies…which I’m working on, I am pretty pleased that I chose this salad over the pasta and cheese with garlic toast! Sorry, where was I supposed to pick up my medal?

Lesson: Be proud of your accomplishments, even the little ones, and don’t be too hard on yourself.