Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today we held the annual Easthill Garage Sale. We didn't sell anything at our house, but our neighbours Karen and Wayne were out selling. We sat with them for a while, and had some coffee together, while the neighbours came and went.

I don't usually buy anything (I like to throw things away - not bring things in), but I found a George Foreman Grill for $4 so I bought it. I have a few friends who swear by their grills, and I'd like to give it a try.

Andy mentioned that he likes The Far Side comics. After the garage sale was over and we had been inside for a while, we found this book in our mailbox. So I guess Andy got something at the garage sale too.

question: do you like to bring things in? or throw them out?

mompoet - thank you for the book, Karen and Wayne

lunch bag

When I was in high school, my friends and I didn't spend much time together in class. It was a big school, and we all had different interests and academic tracks. A couple of us walked to school together,and some of us were in the school play together, but mostly, our time together happened at lunch. In the sunny months, we would meet at a designated spot on the lawn out front of the school. In cooler, wetter weather, we'd meet on the stairs out back of the school. It wasn't the smoke pit, nor was it where the cool kids congregated. It was pretty much near the math classrooms, so I guess it was probably the geek pit. It was a good place to sit and talk, with few interruptions by teachers or even other students. We were pretty tight at lunch time, catching up on each others' experiences and sharing gossip. Oh yeah, we also shared lunch.

My friend Vic is Italian. Her mom packed Italian lunches: deli meat sandwiches on lovely fresh buns, almost always a juicy pear, and either S-cookies or choke cake for dessert. We loved the S-cookies. These were store-bought confections of white flour and sugar and lots of egg, I'm pretty sure. They tasted a bit like vanilla and anise, but not too much. We would kill for S-cookies. Choke cake, on the other hand, could kill you. It was some kind of white cake without frosting, that was so dry, if you had even one bite, you would choke. This was before the time of water bottles and juice boxes. At school we could buy a small carton of homo milk at the cafeteria, or drink from the water fountain. Both the cafeteria and the water fountain were too far away to help with choke cake. I don't know what Vic's mom put in it. I don't have the recipe and I don't want it.

Sometimes the girls brought money for the cafeteria, where you could get hamburgers flat enough to use as book marks, and suspicious bran muffins. We sometimes took a marker into the cafeteria line, and marked a couple of the paper plates that held the bran muffins. We'd follow a "marked muffin" to find out how many days it stood on the counter before it disappeared. Although I really like bran muffins, I didn't ever buy the suspicious cafeteria bran muffins. By grade 11, all I ever bought from the cafeteria was coffee. I was already pulling study all-nighters by that time, and I discovered that coffee helped a lot. When we didn't bring lunch, and we didn't go to the cafeteria, we'd walk over to Kensington Plaza and get something at Safeway. My favourite was a big bag of grapes. I'd share them with my friends. We could eat a couple of pounds of grapes over the course of one lunch hour. Grapes don't make you choke, but they frequently gave me the hiccups, which made me not-the-teacher's-favourit
e in my after lunch class.

At university, I subsisted mainly on salad kaisers from the pub. They were big, fresh kaiser buns stuffed with veggies and cheese. I think one salad kaiser cost about $3, and it kept me happy until supper time. By that time I was carrying a water bottle. I was a weirdo for doing this because water bottles had not caught on yet. I was thirsty a lot, because I taught fitness at 7:30am on campus, then came to class. I had to bring a coffee in to my first class every morning, though, or I would doze off from waking up so early to come up the hill to teach. The falling asleep in the front row of the lecture theatre made me not-the-prof's-favourite-student, so the coffee was a big help. After fitness, then coffee, I was re-hydrating all day.

These days I pack myself a lunch to take to work. There's a staff room at my office, with a microwave and toaster over. I like to use the microwave, because the toaster oven frequently smokes a bit, and we live in constant fear of setting off the smoke alarms and having to evacuate the whole rec centre until the firefighters give us the all clear to go back inside. A warm, cripsy re-heated slice of pizza is just not worth it. I like packing my lunch because it's cheaper and generally healthier than buying lunch. Also, I can eat it during my coffee break, and use my lunch hour for exercise. I like to use leftovers because they are easy, and usually provide a complete meal. I always bring snacks as well as lunch. I still get up very early in the morning, and often eat breakfast before 6, so I need something to eat before lunch time. Fruits, veggies or yogurt tide me over just fine.

The lunch pictured here is pretty typical. It's actually the makings for a warm wrap sandwich. In the box, there are greens and onions, plus a whole wheat tortilla. The two little containers hold a beef-rice mixture (left over from stuffed zucchinis the day before) and feta and greek olive slices. At lunch time, I heated the meat/rice up in the micro, then put it into the tortilla along with the feta, olives and salad. It was delicious, and it did not set off the smoke alarm, which is good, because I did not want to share my delicious wrap with the firefighters.

When I pack my lunch, I remember to use a freezer pack to keep perishable foods safe to eat. We have a fridge at work, but I'm not always good at remembering to put my food into the fridge. Most days, I have a quick, healthy lunch. It almost never makes me choke. Sometimes though, I miss the good old days, the geek pit, and those yummy S-cookies.

question: what do you like to eat for lunch?

mompoet - the best lunches are smoke-free and choke free

Thursday, May 27, 2010

top ten reasons to go for a mammogram if you are a woman 45 years or older

If you are not a woman 45 years or older, but you know someone who is, then these reasons are important for you too...

10. You can call one number for all of BC to select the appointment that is most convenient for you. 1-800-663-9203 toll free outside of 604. 604-877-6187 where that area code works. It's open 8-5 Monday to Friday, 8-2 on Saturday. (If you live outside of BC, look up your local service online.)

9. It takes about 10 minutes, and once you arrive, you don't have to wait a long time for your appointment.

8. It's free.

7. You don't always remember to do your self-exam every month. The mammogram is hundreds of times more successful at detecting problems.

6. You can book time off work, and if you tell your boss it's a mammogram, there will be no argument, and probably no discussion if your boss is shy about stuff like this.

5. It sets a good example for your daughter.

4. It's uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as having breast cancer.

3. You have always liked pancakes, haven't you?

2. Having a mammogram pays respect to all of the women you know who have experienced breast cancer.

1. Lots of people want you to live and be healthy for a long time. Getting your screening mammogram is a gift to them too.

question: have you had your screening mammogram?

mompoet - think of me at 1:40 this afternoon

Saturday, May 22, 2010

mother's day treats

I have just enjoyed a couple of belated Mother's Day celebrations.

On Thursday evening, Alex treated me to a movie. We saw The Trotsky, which was a lot of fun. The movie is about a young man whose birth name is the same as Leon Trotsky, and who believes he is Trotsky re-incarnated. He organizes a hunger strike at his father's factory, then attempts a coup at his high school. It's set in present day Montreal and features a bunch of good Canadian actors. I love it because it is Canadian, and smart and funny and heartwarming. It probably won't be at the theatre for long, so go see it soon.

On Friday evening, Fiona and I went out to see Theatrix's production of Little Women. We ended up going by transit, which worked out perfectly. Did you ever have a day when every time you walked up to the bus stop, your bus arrived? It was like that for us. We also had some supper at Tsango Restaurant at Suter Brook - my first time there. It was yummy. The play was a sweet and scaled-down re-mount of a production presented by Theatrix a couple of years ago. It's basically a warmup for the Theatre BC Festival in which it's entered next week. We enjoyed some lovely singing and good ensemble work by a cast of talented performers, young and old.

I love that I can do these things with my kids, especially as they are growing up and making their own independent lives. We still laugh at the same jokes and appreciate the same beautiful things. It's just a gift to know that we all still feel it's a priority to spend time with each other. I am blessed.

question: what's your favourite recent family experience?

mompoet - got good kidpoets

I say tomato

I just finished up a few days of the stomach flu - the kind that empties you out both ways, sixteen times in a 24 hour period, and leaves you lying, dehydrated, under the bed. I even broke my 6 year record of no sick days at work and stayed home for a couple of days (drat! have to start all over again now). Nobody wants to be near someone who is shedding viruses that will cause others to empty themselves 16 times in a... Well, you get the point.

I'm on the road to recovery, and taking it easy with my food choices until I know my tummy is fully ready to handle digestive challenges. Strangely enough, one of the things on my easy to eat list is tomatoes.

I didn't realise how weird it is that I think of tomatoes as a soothing food until my first pregnancy. A whole bunch of us got pregnant at the same time at my work, and we'd share stories of horror and joy at coffee break time. Lots of us had morning sickness, so a favourite topic was: what can I eat without barfing at work? Nobody else liked my first choice: a can of V8 juice and a cup of cottage cheese. Come on, even people who aren't in the first trimester of pregnancy may be induced to vomiting by that combination! Me? I think it's a comfort food. Something about tomatoes - raw or cooked, chunky or juiced, just makes my tummy purr, especially when it has been growling and barking.

So one of my first meals after this bout with the gastrointestinal flu was one of my all time quick favourites, sick or well:

Tomato Soup with Spinach and Feta
Take one can of Campbell's Tomato Soup. Put it into a bowl for the microwave or a pot for the stove. Add about half a can of water (more if you like your soup more thin). Stir in some chopped spinach (frozen or fresh) and heat. Serve with a sprinkle of feta cheese.

I don't know, I guess the saltiness and tanginess restore something that I feel is lost when I am ill. I think this is my number one comfort food.

Another tomato favourite of mine is fresch bruschetta:

Tomato Bruschetta
1-4 ripe tomatoes (depending how much bruschetta you need, and how big the tomatoes are)
chopped red onion
chopped bell pepper - yellow or orange is best for colour contrast
pepper, salt
lime juice
olive oil
garlic clove
baguette, or whatever other bread you have
parmesan cheese if you like

Cut the tomato into slices and squish out the liquid and seeds into the sink, leaving the meaty parts for the bruschetta. Chop this up. Add the onion and bell pepper, and the cilantro, either chopped or whole leaves. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. This can all sit for a few minutes, especially if your veggies are cold from the fridge (it's better to store the tomatoes outside of the fridge, by the way), until it comes to room temperature, for better flavour.

In the meantime, toast up the bread and swizzle some pressed or minced garlic into your olive oil. Drizzle this over the warm toast and top it immediately with dollops of the tomato mixture, then garnish with cheese if you like. This makes a very yummy breakfast, even if you are not pregnant. It is also acceptable as an appetizer at a party, or a light lunch, alongside a yummy salad or soup.

Finally, a "make the most of tomatoes" green salad:

Tomato and Baby Bocconcini Bowl
Use your favourite dark and tender greens (salad mix works fine for this) and good cherry or grape tomatoes. Slice them in half if they're too big. Toss in some baby bocconcini balls and dress with a shaken up mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Eat immediately. Say bocconcini 4 times and you are entitled to more salad.

Did you ever get a cherry tomato stuck in your mouth and you couldn't get your teeth into it, so you had to take it out of your mouth and start over? This happened to me when I was first dating my husband. We were both teenagers. He took me out to Mother Tuckers' Restaurant, where they had a huge salad bar, which was great because I wasn't eating meat at the time. I popped a tomato into my mouth and realised I was hooped. He laughed when I finally spit it out and started over. And he still married me some time later. The only worse thing to do with an insurmountable cherry tomato is to chomp hard on it and squirt your date with tomato juice and seeds. But he still probably would have married me, even if I had done that.

This summer, that husband of mine is planting a veggie garden in the back yard. He doesn't like tomatoes (but I married him anyway). He will grow tomatoes for me. I will make bruschetta and salad with home-made tomatoes this summer, and I might even squirt tomato juice at him, just to see how much he loves me still.

question: do you say tomato?

mompoet - enjoy your food whatever stage of life and love you are living today

Friday, May 21, 2010

better now

I have been sick for a couple of days. I came home from work Tuesday feeling awful, and was pretty soon wretchedly ill. I pretty much vomited and slept until partway through Wednesday, then I slept until Thursday morning, waking occasionally to groan my way through a horrendous, hours long headache. Thursday I felt much more like myself, but still wobbly, so I stayed home and relaxed. When the kids are sick, I tell them to take a "recovery day" when they begin to feel better. I took my own advice and did this too. By Thursday evening I was feeling pretty good. Today, I'll go back to work.

Avoid this one, friends, it's yukky!

question: are you well today?

mompoet - much better, thank you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

20 days

Monday was "Move for Health Day." We celebrate this every year on May 10 at the rec centre with fun, free, active events for the people in the community. We had free fitness classes throughout the day. At other spots in Burnaby you could try out various indoor and outdoor activities, and mostly just get (or keep) moving for health.

To maintain the momentum, our lifestyles programmers designed a 20 day challenge. The idea is that it takes 20 days to develop a new, healthy habit. They challenged participants and staff to sign up. To participate, you have to pick a new healthy habit, and adopt it for 20 days. There's a big chart on the wall for names and daily check marks. All around it, there are paper hearts on which people have written (anonymously) what they plan to do for 20 days. Some say "take the stairs," or "eat vegetables," or "park farther away." One (not mine) says, "no beer." Another (also not mine) says, "no candy." Mine says, "sleep 7 hours." I have read that sleeping 7 hours makes you eat less, live longer, and have improved memory. Should be easy to do too. Andy goes to bed early so he can get up for a very early work start. I sleep well, and love sleep.

Now I have completed my 3rd night of week night 7 hour sleeping, and I have realised that I don't usually get 7 hours of sleep. It takes some planning and determination to get 7 hours sleep. I like to go to bed between 10 and 11pm, and I fall asleep pretty quickly - say 15 to 20 minutes after my head hits the pillow. I like to get up at 5:30am. To sleep 7 hours I must be asleep by 10:30 and wake at 5:30. If I delay sleep to 11, I must sleep until 6am. That it hard - not the being asleep part, but the missing being awake part. Suddenly I feel like I have a bedtime rule, like when I was a kid. Twice I have got into bed after 10:30, and reset my alarm from 5:30 to 6. I still wake at 5:30. It feels delicious to go back to sleep for 30 minutes, but I'm thinking, "I could be up reading the newspaper or playing with my computer."

I'll keep the habit up for 20 days and see what happens. Already I have a new awareness of what it means to get enough sleep. This will be an interesting challenge.

question: how is your sleep?

mompoet - looking out for the nap fairy

Sunday, May 09, 2010

conversation in the car

We're at the gas station. Andy is putting gas in the car. I am waiting in the front seat. Fiona is waiting in the back. I remember something that I forgot to do at work, so I take out my cell phone and call myself, to leave a reminder for myself. I reach my office voicemail.

me: Hi Sue, this is Sue. Please remember to send an outlook appointment to the eco-sculpture committee with the date for the rescheduled meeting. Good-bye!

Fiona: Did you just say, "You rock?"

me: What?

Fiona: Did you just say, "You rock?" It sounds like you left yourself a message, then you said, "You rock."

me: Nope. I said, "Good-bye," but maybe it sounded like "You rock." Come to think of it, that's a really good idea. I phone myself to tell myself to remember things. I should phone myself and leave encouraging messages. It would make me feel good to get a message like that.

Fiona: okay Mom.

me: I rock.

question: do you rock?

mompoet - I bet you do


I dreamed that I was walking in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. I realised that I was carrying a key in my mouth. Before I could spit out the key, I bit it, chomped off a piece of the key and swallowed it. I spit out the partially chewed key and found that it was the key to our swimming pool building. "Oh no," I thought, "a new pool key costs $50." Even so, I couldn't restrain myself. I popped the key back into my mouth, and continued to chew and swallow bits of it.

question: what does this mean?

mompoet - cook-key?

the safety play

This week at work we celebrated National Occupational Health and Safety Week. Usually we have a Safety Fair. All of the workers attend, and there are booths with information about workplace safety. It's organized by my friend Kathy, who is a program coordinator like me, working at one of the other seniors' centres in the city. She has done a great job, coordinating the event, arranging exhibitors and lunch, and making sure everyone could get there. The fairs have been informative and fun, with lots of giveaways, a yummy hot dog barbeque, and the opportunity to see other workers who are usually at different sites.

Kathy decided a while back that we had seen enough Safety Fairs. She thought it was time for something new. She called me and asked if I wanted to help produce a safety play. I have known Kathy for a lot of years. We met in school when we were just 9 years old. I have seen her work, and I know if she thinks something is a good idea, it's a good idea. So I didn't think about it very long, before I said, "yes."

Kathy called together a committee, and we brainstormed an outline for the play. The story is about a recreation centre custodian who has a workplace accident. The play chronicles the events leading up to the accident, illustrating contributing factors. We wanted it to be realistic, funny and informative. I got to work writing the script, which turned out to be about 15 minutes long. Kathy arranged the lunch, and found city workers to be the actors in the play. We got help from other staff, including theatre technicians at the Burnaby Arts Centre, and our wonderful Burnaby Food Services, who put together a pasta and salad lunch - a suitable meal after a theatre experience.

I can honestly say I did not worry about whether the play would be a success or well-received. We had great performers, including the assistant department manager in charge of cultural services, who allowed himself to be lampooned in a cameo appearance (do you ever hear the "Jaws" theme music just before your boss appears?) The audience was friendly and receptive, and they did laugh at the right places. We had a short time to prepare in the theatre, but the show came together beautifully. We had two performances back-to-back, with over 200 people attending. I'm glad we did it. Now people are asking, "What's the play going to be about next year?"

question: how safe are you at work?

mompoet - some days I can't believe what a great job I have

Friday, May 07, 2010

birthday guy

Alex turned 20 yesterday. We celebrated with a family supper at our favourite Szechuan restaurant in Burnaby. After supper, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's place and had cake and ice cream. Alex requested a chocolate cake, so I went to the internet and found this recipe. It was excellent. Mom and Dad had gorgeous french vanilla ice cream from Edaleen Dairy. It was yummy.

Tonight Alex will celebrate his birthday with friends. They have tickets for opening night of Iron Man 2 at the Imax theatre out in Langley. For a refresher, and to make himself even more excited, he saw a special screening of the first Iron Man movie at the Guildford movie theatre last night after birthday cake at Grandma and Grandpa's. Tonight the guys are planning to watch it again on DVD on a macbook while they line up early to get the best seats.

We are proud, and a bit boggled, to have a 20 year old. He's still at home, and will be for a while. This coming year he'll take time away from university to do some work (mostly for free) on film projects. Last night, Grandpa showed us photographs that he had in his wallet - beautiful ones of my Mom when they first met (and her address, jotted on a scrap of paper, at the time of their first date), and funny ones of Alex and Fiona when they were about 6 and 3 years old. It's hard to believe that little boy is a man now. It's wonderful and amazing.

Now I look forward to more birthday dinners - at restaurants, G and G's place, and one day Alex's own place, and to more chocolate cakes (for Alex it will always be chocolate). I wish him happy 20-somethings with plenty of celebration, and growing, and friends and family to share the cake.

question: are you sharing a celebration this week?

mompoet - Happy Birthday Alex

Monday, May 03, 2010

better than half-baked

(This is the second in a series of notes I'm posting to facebook, at the request of a friend who is turning over a leaf with healthy activity and nutritious eating - I thought I'd share them on my blog too.)

When we bought our house, the stove and fridge came with it. That was nearly 20 years ago. Over the years these two kitchen appliances have worked tirelessly and with few problems to serve our family.

A couple of years ago, the electronic control on the oven went on the fritz. It became increasingly difficult to turn the oven on to any specific temperature. We despaired, because a new range costs a lot. Our friend Tom came to the rescue with a kitchen reno. He handed us down his relatively new stove and fridge - a blessing.

Our new stove is great, but we have discovered that the oven is violent and unpredictable. It does turn on to your specified temperature without fuss, thanks to a much less complicated control. But it has a thermostat/burner clearly unsuited to the delicate work of baking cookies to a lovely golden grown. Without warning, it turns itself into a kiln, or something that you use to incinerate old mining trucks when you are finished with them. I have seen it turn raw dough into blackened nuggets in the blink of an eye.

We have adjusted our baking habits, placing an extra cookie sheet under pans to protect the delicate bottom of a lasagna, and watching carefully while things bake, so we can TURN IT DOWN! TURN IT DOWN! Even with all this adversity, I manage to bake a couple of times a week. I enjoy the whole grain goodness of home baking. And despite the dashing, gnashing and TURNING IT DOWN, I still find baking a relaxing endeavour. Here are a couple of healthy recipes. *Please note: eating a whole batch of even the healthiest item is not healthy. Bake up a batch and if you must, freeze portions, or better yet, share it so it's eaten up while still fresh and yummy.

Granola Biscotti - from the back of the granola bag but "healthed up"

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup brown sugar (don't scrimp - sugar makes the dough tender and prevents hockey puck cookie syndrome)
1 cup granola
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter or marg
2 tbs milk (orange juice would also be good)
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350
2. In a medium bowl, mix up the dry ingredients (down to and including the cranberries)
3. Make a hole in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir these in to make a sticky dough
4. Put a piece of parchment on a large baking sheet, and make 2 logs of dough (each about 2 inches wide).
5. Bake the logs until golden on the outside - about 25 minutes.
6. Take the logs out of the oven. Turn the oven down to 325. Let the logs cool 5-10 minutes outside of the oven.
7. Slice the logs into 3/4 inch wide slices. Put these cut side down onto the baking sheet. Return them to the oven for about 10 minutes until they are toasty, but not hard as rocks.
Makes about 16 small biscotti

Banana Blueberry Yogurt Oatmeal Muffins (from Canadian Living Magazine but whole grained up)

1 banana - mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup yogurt (plain or fruit - whatever you have)
1/4 cup veg oil or melted butter or marg
1 egg
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Heat oven to 375
2. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin
3. In a medium bowl, mix up the wet ingredients, down to and including the egg
4. Dump on top all of the dry ingredients and the blueberries. Stir just to combine. Don't mix more than you need to.
5. Spoon into the muffin cups
6. Bake about 25 minutes until golden
Makes 12 muffins

Easy Pizza with Persian Flatbread

Take one big package of that Persian flatbread - the kind that you can fold up. It's full of holes and has sesame seeds on it - you know the kind. Cut it with scissors to fit your baking sheet. Lightly oil the baking sheet with a bit of olive oil so the pizza doesn't stick if the toppings melt through the holes.

While the oven heats up to 400, put the flatbread on the baking sheet. Then add the toppings that you like:

First the sauce - here are some ideas:
tomato sauce - canned sauce or home-made - even some tomato paste with salt/pepper/oregano
pesto - homemade or from a jar
olive oil with garlic crushed in

Then the toppings - your choice
veggies - onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, kale - I mostly like to saute them before I put them on, but they'll work raw if you use thin slices
proteins - meats, tofu, chicken, cheese (try combining cheeses - not just mozzarella - try feta, goat cheese, whatever you have)
tasties - olive slices, hot peppers, garlic slices, capers

Bake the pizza about 10 minutes until it's bubbly and golden on top. Cut with scissors to serve. It's good hot or cold.

Leftover Persian flatbread makes great paninis - think grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with whatever yummy bits you can find in your fridge.

So there are a few ideas for using your oven. Baking at home is a satisfying experience. The results are infinitely more delicious and nourishing than anything you can buy at the store. As a home baker, I'm picky about the baked treats I accept from other places. Not much at the coffee shop or on the tray at the staff meeting can beat what I make at home, so that makes it easier to turn down a doughnut or say no to a giant cookie entombed in plastic wrap. They just aren't good enough for me. Even with my zorchy old oven, I can do better than that.

question: do you bake?

mompoet - smelling the cookies in my kitchen

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sondheim's Follies by Applause Musicals

Mom and I went to see Follies, presented by Applause Musicals in Concert yesterday. It was an early Mother's Day adventure, and a treat for both of us really. The highlight of this wonderful performance for me was Roma Hearn singing "I'm Still Here." I was falling out of my chair with glee, and beaming with admiration for Hearn's awesome talent. Here's Carol Burnett's take on that song. You would have loved the one I saw yesterday even better.

How fortunate we are, in Vancouver, to be able to see and hear productions of little known but gloriously wonderful and important works like Follies. Thank you, Mom, for coming with me and enjoying it so much. Thank you Applause Musicals, and all of the people who make these good shows.

question: are you still here?

mompoet - in the thick of it, and not far enough through to play my trumpet (yet)

you have to eat

In the last year I have switched up my already healthy eating to healthy eating that has helped me get a lot more lean and strong. For the first time, I found myself able to shape up without feeling like I was denying myself any of my favourite things. Now I have a friend who is making some similar changes - GO DANIEL! - so I thought I'd post some of the things that have worked for me. Please feel welcome to try them, and to share what has worked for you.

One enormous influence is the book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

Pollan has a simple philosophy for healthy and sustainable eating:

Eat food
Not too much
Mostly plants

That's pretty easy! For me, it boiled down to cutting out the few processed and packaged concoctions that I eat. (If your Grandma wouldn't recognize it as food, it's not food.) Then I looked at my typical plate, and doubled or tripled the proportion of plant to other stuff. More veggies, less starch, protein and fat. I like to eat a lot, so I began eating a LOT of fruits and veggies. Luckily I like to cook, so I kept it interesting by looking for new ingredients and combinations. Try this salad (from 101 Simple Salads for the Season by Mark Bittman of the New York Times)

"2. Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Astonishing."

It is astonishing, and big bowl of this yummy concoction, eaten along with my humble tuna sandwich at lunch makes lunch so satisfying. Here's another - a new twist on pasta salad:

"85. Mix lots of arugula with somewhat less cold whole wheat penne, lemon zest, olive oil and Parmesan. The idea is an arugula salad with pasta, not a pasta salad with arugula."

This one is sufficient for a meal if you eat a big bowl. I spring for the good parmesan and put dime-size shavings of it through the salad. Yum. Also, lots of pepper.

Last 2 recipes for now, but more to come if you like them:

What I had for breakfast today

1 apple
small handfull of dried cranberries
glob of yogurt (fruit sweetened or not, depending on your taste)
handful of toasted whole almonds
sprinkle of granola

Core and chop the apple (leave the skin on). Mix it with the cranberries, almonds and yogurt, stirring it up to coat the apples. Sprinkle some granola on top. This recipe is mostly fruit and very filling.

What I make for breakfast (or lunch) when I want a "big breakfast" (what I made my son for breakfast this morning)

2 eggs
chopped bell pepper - whatever colour you like
chopped red onion
cherry tomatoes - halved
feta cheese
whole grain tortilla
sour cream
olive oil
cilantro (if you like it)
green onions

Saute the pepper, onions and cherry tomatoes in a small frying pan with olive oil. When they are partly cooked, make a nest in the middle and break the eggs into the nest. Proceed to cook the eggs however you prefer - scrambled, easy over or sunny side (my favourite). Near the end of the egg cooking, put some feta on top and cover the fry pan with a lid to steam the veggies and melt the cheese a bit.

Heat up the tortilla in a microwave or the toaster oven or big oven, or in another frying pan, just to warm and soften it a bit.

Put the tortilla on a plate. Slide the cooked eggs and veggies on top of the tortilla. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, salsa and sour cream.

***Olive oil, sour cream, chocolate, cheese, butter, wine... all of these things are part of healthy eating. The trick is to get the right proportion of these into your everyday eating. I'm pretty generous with olive oil because it has lots of health benefits, and I include my other "craves" whenever I want them, but in reasonable portions, and not when I am starving hungry and likely to eat a whole bunch. So enjoy a blob of real sour cream on your tortilla. The big pile of veggies and satisfying protein of eggs will ensure that you don't consume a whole tub of the cream.

That's all for now. I hope these are useful tips and recipes. Enjoy your exercise, enjoy your food. Love yourself and the planet and the people around you. Cook for yourself and others. Enjoy when others cook for you.

question: who cooks for you?

mompoet - part chef, part owl