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Category Archives: Lifestyle

17 day diet, healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, losing weight, weight loss

On the Lighter Side

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I find that my week goes a lot better if I have a favourite dish waiting for me at the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the stir fries and salads, but sometimes what I really want is a pizza. That’s why I’ve come up with what I think is an awesome pizza recipe that allows me to indulge, without too much guilt. The key to this, I feel, is to make your own base. This means that your base can be amazingly thin and you won’t be as conscious stricken!

Below I have the recipe I use for the pizza base, as well as some of the toppings I like to put on. The base recipe has come from a lot of experimentation. It is a moist dough, but that gives it a lot of stretch.

Pizza base

  • 400ml Bread flour (stoneground is best!!)
  • 1Tbsp salt
  • 180ml lukewarm water (+/- 45 degrees C)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 1 sachet dry active yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (this adds a silkiness to the dough and helps keep it moist, but you don’t want to put too much in as the base will be hard rather than crispy – yes, there is a difference ;))
  • Flour for dusting
  1. Mix the water, honey and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for +/- 5 min (this wakes the yeast up and gets it moving)
  2. Put your flour in a large mixing bowl (or make a well on your counter if you’re feeling bold!), mix in the salt and add your wet mixture steadily, stirring with a fork until it all comes together. (Note: as tempting as it may be, adding your salt to the yeast mixture could kill the yeast – and the rising action. Not desirable!)
  3. Dust your counter with flour and turn your dough out onto the flour.
  4. Knead to your hearts content. Really get in there! Kneading helps develop flavour and texture so give it all you’ve got for a good 10 minutes (fun fact: apparently this will burn +/- 30 calories)
  5. Once you have an elastic texture (you can poke it and it bounces back) and you no longer have dough hands, you’re done! Form into a ball, and place in a floured bowl to rise. The bigger the bowl, the better. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel to avoid the dough forming a crust.
  6. After about an hour, knock the air out of the dough (punch it baby!) and leave it to rise again for another 45 min.
  7. Divide the dough into four balls and roll out to +/- 28cm rounds.
  8. You now have your base and can add your toppings as desired
Note: The way I like to build a pizza is to heat a 28cm casserole dish in the oven (at 220 degrees C), remove it from the oven, turn it upside down and put the raw pizza base on top. This acts like a pizza stone (which I don’t have) and helps the base cook from the bottom as well. I then put all the toppings on and cook in the hot oven for 10 to 15 min until it’s super crispy.
My favourite toppings include: (not all on the same pizza)
  • Mozzarella (such a must!)
  • Simple basil tomato sauce (made by blitzing 1tin of tomatoes, a handful of basil and 3 garlic cloves in the food processor)
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes (in a 180 degree oven for 40 min)
  • Caramelised onion (onion, salt, garlic, a little honey and balsamic vinegar cooked on a low heat for 30 min – stir often to avoid burning. Top tip: Adding salt draws moisture out of the onion helping it to caramelise and stopping it from burning, putting a lid on also helps with this)
  • Olives (calamata are my favourite because they’re the easiest to de-pip and I find that olives that are already de-pipped are bitter)
  • Cremozola – amazingly creamy gorgonzola cheese!
  • Roasted garlic
  • Leaves: Baby spinach, Rocket, Basil and Watercress – all of which can either be added before or after cooking
  • Feta (Fairview’s anti-brine society rocks, so does Fruit and Veg’s Danish feta!!)
  • Avocado
  • Like-it-lean bacon
  • Pine nuts
These are just a few suggestions. Really, the options are endless! In my experience, the simpler the better. I don’t like overloading my pizza.
To help balance the pizza (life is about balance) I like to share a pizza and have a salad on the side. Yum!
Happy moving and munching!
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Confessions of a Chocoholic

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“Are you going to tell the diet police, or are you going to retain your right to remain silent?” That was the question posed by my boyfriend after I stepped off the scale this week and announced the result.

I gained a kilo!

Don’t get me wrong; this didn’t come as a surprise! I have no disillusions as to how it happened. In fact, I can think of a number of reasons – the chocolate and banana milkshake shared with colleagues after school, the packet of Whispers that was just lying there, the second packet of Whispers that was sought out and not to mention the copious amounts of “thank-you” chocolates I received from teachers. Each and every “cheat” was justified in my mind. “I deserve this!” or “I’ve been so good up to now, what’s one more _______________?” The problem was not “one more _____________” the problem was that it was really “5 more ___________”, but at the time, I was not thinking that.

So what have I learnt? Don’t use food as a reward! If you think about it, we’ve been conditioned to see food as a reward from an early age. From the mother who is trying to get her child to eat all their supper in exchange for dessert and the doctor who gives the child a lollipop for being a “brave boy/girl”, right up to colleagues buying chocolates as thank yous. I’m guilty of it myself! Just last week I gave a group of girls in my science class each a packet of Whispers for coming first in the quiz (hence the extra packet of Whispers lying around). This is not a novel idea. When I did a simple Google search, I found numerous studies and research that has been done into the topic. Bottom line: using food as a reward perpetuates a bad psychological cycle.

So this week I’m going to try and avoid using food as a reward. I might have the odd “nice-to-have” (remember the balance) but it’s going to be just that, a nice-to-have, not a reward. Instead of the reward, I’m going to focus on how far I’ve come and how good I feel and try to take that as reward in itself.

Happy moving and munching!

Spicy lamb koftas with minted yoghurt

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I love these Gordon Ramsay inspired lamb koftas! They’re tender, juicy and are perfectly complemented by the minted yoghurt. Best of all, they are so easy to make!!

Ingredients

  • 500g extra lean lamb mince
  • a handful of mint
  • 1 onion (preferably red)
  • 1 Tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 lime – zested
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt
  • Sultanas (optional)
Method
  1. Quarter the onion and put it in a food processor along with the chilli, tumeric, fennel, black pepper, cloves and half the mint.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped – but not pureed.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the onion mix with the mince and add the egg yolk.
  4. Divide the mixture into eight even sized balls
  5. Flatten the ball slightly to form a patty (the “flatter” the ball, the faster and more thoroughly it cooks)
  6. Fry each of the patties in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until brown on the outside and thoroughly cooked through (about 10 minutes depending on the size and thickness)
  7. While the patties are cooking, finely chop the remaining mint and add it along with the lime zest to the yoghurt
  8. Serve the koftas with the minted yoghurt, sultanas and some steamed vegetables

Munch moderately, move more

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7 weeks, 12 kgs down! That feels so great to say! It’s fantastic seeing people that I haven’t seen for a while. Special mention goes to a good friend, Pieter, who made my day on Thursday with his comment: “Where are you disappearing to Jenna??”. Ahh Piet! Even the kids at school are starting to notice and that’s pretty cool!

It hasn’t always been easy, but we knew it wouldn’t be from the start. Hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it! A couple of things have changed though… I no longer like the look of cream based sauces. I far prefer fish to fatty cuts of meat. I don’t even consider getting the jelly babies and the likes that line the isle of temptation at the shops. Chocolate is a nice-to-have rather than a can’t-live-without. Sugar in tea is repulsive. And I have learnt to “just say no” on most occasions when presented with unhealthy options.

Note that I said “most occasions”. That has been a very important factor for me. I would not be standing here 7 weeks down the line and 12kgs lighter if I had not allowed myself a few “cheats” – simply because I would not have gone through with it. The way I see it, I am changing my lifestyle not going on a diet, and lifestyle is about balance. We have to have the not-so-healthy with the healthy. Sure, because the goal here is to lose weight, I try to have a lot less not-so-healthy options, but at least I can still have them!

Many people have asked me about my approach. It’s simple. Munch moderately, move more. I eat smaller portions and when I do eat I aim for fresh – not processed foods. I try to have protein at every meal – important when you’re trying not to lose muscle mass. I try not to eat carbs at night, as there is no time for your body to process and use all that energy. Water and rooibos tea with no sugar are the only two drinks I have – not even diet sodas are welcome as they cause havoc with your body. I also avoid coffee, mainly because I still can’t get my head around coffee without sugar, although I do have it on the odd occasion.

One other thing I have done to boost my motivation has been one week with carbs and one week without. The way this works is in every 2 week cycle I have 5 – 7 days without carbs. On these days I basically follow the 17 Day Diet cycle 1 and I don’t allow myself any cheats at all. It offers a rapid weight loss (1-2kgs in the 5 days) that boosts morale. It also makes me appreciate the avocado or low GI roll even more when I do have it on a carb day.

As for the move more, I try to get some form of exercise in daily – whether it be a quick lap around the school grounds, taking a long walk or dancing on the Wii. This week the goal is to return to regular gym sessions.

All in all it has been an interesting 7 weeks. While I am 12kgs down, I would still like to lose another 28kgs, so I still have a bit of a way to go. I’m okay with that. In general, I try to focus on how far I have come, rather than what is left.

Happy moving and munching!

Diet chocolate

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Picture, if you will, a world without chocolate.

It’s not something any of us want to do! And why would we, when there are so many reasons why we crave it in the first place?! Scientists have linked chocolate to increased serotonin levels (our pleasure producing neurotransmitter) and stress relief. Not only that, but women are apparently programmed to crave it, especially during “that time of the month”. We don’t stand a chance in the fight to cut it out of our lives! And studies say we shouldn’t (fight that is)! By telling ourselves we can’t have it, we only start wanting it more! Most of us want the things we can’t or don’t have… People with straight hair want curly, while those with curly want straight. White people tan to make their skin darker, people with dark skin use creams to make their skin lighter. Blondes dye their hair to go brunette, brunettes use peroxide to go blonde… It’s never ending!

Why should we cut it out anyway? After all, isn’t it healthy? Yes! Yes, it is! I’m not talking about the chocolate bars you find at the tills in Pick ‘n Pay, the Inside Stories and the Bar Ones and the like. No, I’m talking about the real deal. The genuine article. The real McCoy. Chocolate in it’s closest to pure form. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) is actually quite good for you!

In an American study that measures the ORAC value (or anti-oxidant capacity) of foods, dark chocolate scores 5 times higher than blueberries! This means that chocolate is better at reducing free-radical damage and thus slowing the effects of aging, and age related illnesses and reducing blood pressure! What’s more is that 75% of the fats found in cocoa butter (the main source of fat in chocolate) are actually thought to lower cholesterol!

Am I suggesting that you eat a chocolate bar everyday? No. Sorry. There are still things in chocolate that are not good for you, like sugar and caffeine. All I’m saying is that one or two blocks of good quality dark chocolate every now and then, is not the end of the world and might actually be good for you. Not only are you not denying yourself chocolate (reducing the “want what you can’t have” craving) but you’re also providing your body with good anti-oxidants and fats. Just remember, the darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less space there is for the undesirables (like sugar, and the other fats).

If you really want to be good, and cut out the sugar, I suggest looking in the sugar replacement section of your local grocery store. Here you’ll find a multitude of things from 8cal per serving jelly, to sugar free chocolate and chocolate mousse. Just remember that artificial sweeteners can be bad for you for a whole different reason… But that’s a different story for a different day. Just don’t think that because it doesn’t have sugar in, it can’t be bad for you.

Bottom line: enjoy chocolate in moderation… But we knew that 🙂

Happy moving and munching!

17 Day Diet: 1st week down!

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1 week, 4kg’s down!!! Let me just say that again… 1 week, 4kg’s down!

It’s getting much easier I must say! Apart from the fact that I’m incredibly sore from the workouts (a good feeling actually), I feel great! I’ve got more energy, I don’t get hungry during the day, I don’t crave things like sweets and chocolates anymore and best of all, I’m starting to feel the change! Honestly, this is probably partly to do with the supplement that I have been taking lately. I started it on Saturday and I’ve noticed that I’m not as hungry during the day. I’m going home with lunch that I haven’t finished rather than going home and looking for something to eat!

What has been a great help is I’m actually enjoying the food, simple as it may be.

I have a fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, followed by another fruit and yoghurt as a snack (bout 2 – 3 hours later). I’ve found that a nice yoghurt to use is Parmalat’s Fabulite. This is a yoghurt that is fruit flavoured but is fat free and has no added sugar.

Lunch usually consists of a salad with copious amounts of free veggies and either tuna (a nice tuna to get is the one in brine with lemon and black pepper added, alternatively, mix in some fat free cottage cheese) or grilled chicken. Recently I introduced a bit of cous cous (half a cup) on a Tuesday and Thursday, just because they are 14 hour days, so I’d like something a bit more substantial.

Supper options include grilled fish and veggies, chicken stirfry, steamed chicken pockets, prawn stirfry (when Woolies has a prawn special :P) or even fillet steak and veggies to name a few.  I usually buy the pre-packed stirfry veggies, just because I don’t have time to julienne veggies during the week, but it’s probably better to do your own. I’m not going to stick to something if it’s going to be too much like hard work, especially during the week (as much as I love cooking)! There’s a trick to buying ready prepared though, you need to look for the ones that don’t have potatoes and butternut in (not allowed in the first cycle).

Keep an eye out. I promise to post lots of recipes this week! The first being a delicious chunky vegetable soup.

Happy moving and munching 🙂

The Big Fat Truth

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A wise woman once said: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the key to losing weight is to eat less and move more”.

While I am proud to say that after 6 days on the 17 day diet, I am down 2,8 kgs, I have come to realise I need to get moving and shaking in order to shift the weight! After all, it’s not just the calories your burn while doing the workout, but also the lean muscle you build that increases your metabolism for future fat burning.

With this in mind, I have made 2 big changes to my movement regimen, in the form of 2 Wii games.For those living in the dark ages, the Wii is a console that allows you to play games on your TV using a wireless remote that tracks your movements.

The first of the 2 games is EA Sports Wii Active 2. This game allows you to create a profile including your height and weight. You can then either participate in a 3 or 9 week training programme that is tailored to suit your needs, or you can create your own programme from a wide variety of exercises. The game comes with a heart rate monitor that you strap to your arm, and a movement tracker that you strap to your thigh (both wireless). The game uses the feedback from these two sensors to calculate the number of calories you burn in your workout. This information can be stored on the flash drive that comes with your game and analysed on the computer. You follow a personal trainer on the screen who provides feedback on whether or not you’re doing the exercises correctly. It’s a great workout! It really gets your heart rate going! BT Games has a special on at the moment, and it was marked down from R1000 to R299 included all the necessary gadgets.

The second game is one that was introduced to me by a friend. It’s called Just Dance 2. Here you follow the figure on the screen through a variety of moves and hit songs. Choose to battle against a friend or just sweat it out by yourself. It’s so much fun that you lose track of time! I did about 16 different dances today! Yes you might look like a bit of a fool in the beginning, but that’s part of the enjoyment!

The plan is to use at least one of these programs 5 times a week.

Happy moving and shaking!

The 17 Day Diet – Day 1

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The war on carbs has been declared!

Let me just say that I am not the dieting type! I don’t believe in diets. Diet should be a swear word as far as I’m concerned! But, just like swear words, there is a time and a place where they come in handy – and that time is now! My goal is to lose 40 kilos and I could really do with a kick start!

So what’s it all about? Well the 17 day diet was formulated by Dr Moreno, a GP in the States. You may have seen it on Dr Phil or The Doctors. Basically there are 4 – 17 day cycles: Accelerate, Activate, Achieve and Arrive.

The first one, Accelerate, is where I’m starting. It seems quite radical, but you are required to cut out all carbs (save 2 fruit a day) for the entire 17 day period. Drastic? Well maybe, but Dr Moreno promises a good kick start to your weight loss (+/- 12 Pounds over 17 days) and then you may return (albeit gradually) to most of those carbs you have grown to love – in moderation of course.

You may be thinking: “Without carbs, what is there??” The answer – quite a lot actually. Everyday you are allowed unlimited “free” veggies and lean proteins (see lists below). On top of that, you should have 8 glasses of water and 2 probiotic servings (like fat free yoghurt) a day, as well as 2 fruit servings before 2 PM. The reason for this is that it gives your body time to metabolize the sugar in the fruit instead of storing it as fat while you sleep.

Lean proteins include:

Fish:

Salmon (canned or fresh), Flounder, Catfish, Sole, Tilapia, Tinned tuna

Poultry:

Chicken breasts, Turkey breasts, Ground turkey, lean, Eggs (although you may have unlimited egg whites, you should limit yourself to 2 egg yolks a week for cholesterol reasons).

Cleansing vegetables include:

Artichoke, Artichoke hearts, Asparagus, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Egg plant, Garlic, Green beans, Green leafy vegetables, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Parsley, Scallions, Spinach, Tomatoes, Watercress

Low sugar fruit:

Apples, Berries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Prickly pears, Prunes, Red grapes

This seems possible! I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’re trying this too, please let me know how you’re finding it and if you have any ideas you’d like to share!

For more information on the 17 Day Diet, you can check out Dr Moreno’s book, which is available on Kindle at Amazon here.