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Archive for April, 2009

Swine flu alert?

I have to say, I’m finding the whole swine flu situation a tad disconcerting. One step away from a world pandemic (at the last I heard anyway) doesn’t sound too good to me! I suppose this is one time to be glad I live in a relatively isolated country. I feel sorry for the people of Mexico – even aside from the horrible health risks, this can’t be good for their country/economy/tourism.

I had a lucky score today. A *free* polar monitor!! We had a massive sort out in one of the places I work, which is a research centre where my research group focuses on childhood obesity. One of the things we had bought about a year ago but never managed to effectively use in the assessment process is a polar monitor. They were going to throw it out/give it away in a de-cluttering effort, so I asked if I could have it instead 😀 It is the most basic model so it only does heart rate and time; no calories and no capacity to link in with a foot pod to measure distance. But it is definitely better than nothing! I probably won’t get my head around how it works before going to the gym tomorrow morning, but I’ll definitely try it on my outdoor run on Saturday.

I don’t have many food photos to post. I’m back and forth between my place and my parents place at the moment, whilst they’re away and my siblings are by themselves, so photographing food becomes a bit more complicated. I did snap a frothy coffee (I buy these ‘skim cappuccino’ sachets that produce quite realistic froth without the need for a coffee machine) and a snack of a pear and peach:

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The peach was delicious! The pear less so. One downside of heading into winter (which I love, as far as seasons go) is that the fruit gets much less exciting. I’m really not a big banana or orange person, so it pretty much leaves apples, pears and mandarins. Not quite as good as apricots and plums and peaches and mangoes and grapes! Lol.

I will endeavour to have more photos next time 🙂

xx Kari

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Childhood foods

I’m a little belated with this post – Lara at Thinspired posted about the foods that take her back to her childhood a few days ago, but it’s taken me this long to think through what my most memorable/memory-provoking childhood foods actually are.

What I have realised is that my childhood foods and food memories are inherently linked to other memories. What do I mean by that? Well, the foods I remember aren’t just foods I remember…they’re foods that made me happy, or that I had when I was sad, or we ate for particular events, or at particular times, or for particular reasons. Most of my childhood memories – of any description – are linked to food in some way. I suspect that eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full was never really a part of my life. I have always loved food in the sense that it has always meant more to me than ‘just food’.

But…on to my list of foods. I’ve extended this a little to foods and food-related events that are reminiscent of or which characterised my childhood:

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and baked beans on toast. Lunch staples when I was about 4 and foods that I have rarely had since I was about 5
  • Warm weetbix with grated apple, and porridge with golden syrup or sultanas. Winter breakfasts in my early childhood years. The former, in particular, takes me right back to the kitchen table where I used to sit making weetbix mountains in my breakfast bowl 😛
  • Vegemite sandwiches. The Australian lunchbox fall back.
  • Plain spaghetti with vegetables (typically brocolli, carrot, cauliflower and peas) and just a sprinkling of cheese. I used to love this for dinner.
  • Chocolate cake. Of any sort. Whenever I could 🙂 Usually at birthdays and on the relatively rare occasions we went out to dinner.
  • Brown sugar eaten from the spoon and cake batter eaten from the bowl; the highlights of baking and probably the only reason I did it at all when I was younger
  • BBQ sausages. My mum hasn’t eaten red meat in my lifetime and whilst she would occasionally cook it for us as children, generally we only had red meat if we had a BBQ. I no longer eat red meat myself, but seeing or smelling sausages from the BBQ still makes me think “mmm” briefly.
  • Hot chips after swimming lessons. I was always freezing when I finished the 30 plus minute lessons (heated water didn’t seem to exist back then) and these were so perfect to warm up with.
  • Ham and cheese croissants when we went to Queensland the year I was 14. I literally had one for lunch every day for over a week, even though I didn’t usually eat ham or cheese much. In retrospect, I realise that I was at my thinnest natural weight at that time, having just had a spurt in height and not yet hit puberty properly. I suspect my body was trying to get as much fat as possible (ham and cheese croissants are pretty perfect from a high fat perspective!), and I was still at a point where I could recognise and follow through on genuine cravings/needs.
  • Apple crumble, my mum’s style. Basically lots of stewed apples with a bit of oats and brown sugar. We thought of it as dessert, she probably thought of it as extra fruit serves 🙂
  • Sticking with the apple theme, diluted apple juice. This was the only drink we had other than water when I was growing up (except at parties or if out), and whilst I no longer drink juice, even now when I am really thirsty I sometimes crave that weak apple juice flavour.
  • Danish pastries. When I started high school at age 12, I often had an extra holiday day that my younger siblings didn’t get at their primary school. It became a routine for my mum and I to go shopping on those days and have morning tea out. The place we tended to frequent had a morning tea special of a tea or coffee with a muffin or danish. I always got the danish and we ‘upgraded’ my tea/coffee to a hot chocolate. I loved this time with my mum and whenever I see danish pastries I still think of those mornings.
  • Fundraising boxes of M&Ms. We used to have these sold at school periodically; I think they were 100g or 150g boxes, about half to 2/3’s the size of a big M&M bag. They sold for $3 and I always went through a few over the fundraising period. Curling up with a box of these and a book on my bed was my idea of heaven 🙂
  • ‘Soyo’ soy yoghurts. After I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at age 8, I was switched from regular yoghurt to these soy ones. I loved them, despite hating soy milk at that time. I haven’t seen them around for years, but I remember they had a distinctive taste that I haven’t come across in any other yoghurt (soy or otherwise).

There we go! Quite a long list – I did warn you that I had a whole heap of food-related memories to draw on 🙂 And this is only a selection really. I guess a lot of mine are ‘special event’ foods/occasions rather than daily staples. I suspect that this is because we ate pretty healthily most of the time, and the ‘treats’ thus stood out more and were more eagerly anticipated.

I’ll finish with some food-related childhood photos…

I think this may have been my first icecream:

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My brother and I on my bed (I think I’m about 4), each with an apple:

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One of my mum’s most impressive birthday cake efforts! Can you guess how old I am? lol

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xx Kari

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Baking part 2

I had such a fun time yesterday afternoon 🙂 It was really nice to catch up with my friends and truly relax and enjoy it.

I think my baking ultimately turned out ok.

The brownies (I left them uniced):

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and,

the cupcakes:

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I was going for drizzled icing here, but I have to admit that it wasn’t one of my best efforts!

 

I warned my friends that the brownies had a ‘twist’ to them (I thought it was only fair lol) but none of them guessed it was beetroot. The closest anyone got was rhubarb 🙂

It’s got me thinking about what other vegetables might go into baking…besides the ones already tried and tested. Something to experiment with in the future I guess 😛

 

xx Kari

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I have to say, 6 months ago I would never have predicted that I might one day run longer than I intended. Yesterday morning I planned to do 2 laps of a 3.5km circuit near my house…a bit shorter than my last two ‘long’ runs, but it was a completely flat route and I thought it would be a good chance to practice moderating my pace without hills to make me do so. Plus, as I wrote about here, my last 2 runs resulted in serious swollen-ness the next day. I’m not planning to stop/ cut back on running because of this, but I kind of didn’t feel like dealing with it this weekend. So, 7km was the plan. Problem is, the two laps took 38 minutes. I am someone who likes even or ‘neat’ numbers, so running for 38 minutes didn’t really appeal to me.

I was still feeling ok, so I thought I’d go to 40mins to even it out. Then I stretched it out to 45mins. And then I was a quarter of the way round the circuit so I figured I’d just run it another time 🙂 So I ended up running 10.5km after all – but of course my time still wasn’t even that way, as the extra lap took me to 57 minutes. I found myself thinking ‘maybe I’ll just go on to make it an hour’, but I made myself stop…I might still be running yet otherwise. lol.

 

For this afternoon, I decided to make strawberry cupcakes and brownies with a twist. Uniced cupcakes:

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These are just a basic vanilla cupcake recipe with tinned strawberries added to the batter. I find that fresh strawberries don’t bake so well, and I’m not a huge fan of frozen strawberries. They just don’t seem to take to freezing like other sorts of berries do.

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When I bake, I always end up with one cupcake/cookie/item that is a bit…demented. I usually refer to it as my ‘practice’ item. For this batch, the demented cupcake is in the top left of the above picture…I had a bit of trouble getting it out of the tin and one side kind of collapsed.

 

The brownies with a twist:

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I’ve made these once before, after being inspired by Angela’s chocolate beetroot cake. Yes, that’s where the twist comes in 🙂 I remember my mum making a chocolate beetroot cake when I was younger, and I dug out the recipe for that. In her version though, there’s still lots of butter and the recipe doesn’t look too healthy. I took Angela’s list of ingredients, threw things together in a way that I thought might work, and hoped for the best 🙂 It did work out, but in my version you can almost tell there is beetroot in there. If you were looking for it, you definitely could. I don’t mind this too much as the flavour is hidden by cocoa and I personally like the taste, but I think perhaps I haven’t got the ingredients/balance quite right yet.

In my version there is (approximately):

  • 1.75 cups plain flour
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar (I didn’t have regular so I mixed 1/2 cup brown with 1/2 cup icing…not sure I’d recommend this usually!)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 (425g) tin beetroot drained and blended
  • 1 tsp almond extract.

I’m undecided about whether to ice this batch, so we’ll see what I decide on later today 🙂

xx Kari

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ANZAC Day

It’s ANZAC day in Australia (and New Zealand) today…we have an extra remembrance day on April 25th that marks the anniversary of when Australian and NZ soldiers first fought during WWI. It always makes me sad, which I suppose is partially the point. It also always makes me think about how petty some of my own concerns are, and how lucky we are today. I know in some places death from fighting is still a reality, but in Australia/ the US/ Canada/ the UK/ most Westernised countries, you aren’t forced to join the army and half of the population isn’t being shipped overseas to fight. I hope we can continue to decrease the number of wars in which we are involved – which exist.

On a less heavy note, I have a very domestic weekend planned. I have some old school friends coming to me for afternoon tea tomorrow, in part to see my new place (I moved at the start of the year) and in part to catch up after yet another 6-month stint of not seeing each other. In some ways I think we do pretty well though – it’s been 8+ years since we finished school, so to be seeing each other at all is impressive in some ways! There are 6 of us (5 plus me) and I’m still thinking through what I might make. Pictures will come once I’ve decided and baked 🙂

Right now I’m eating breakfast whilst catching up on the blog world. I know you aren’t ‘meant’ to eat and do other things, but I always do. I don’t even want to change. Maybe one day! I’m having natural fat-free yoghurt with blueberries and a sprinkle of oats, and coffee.

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I love this yoghurt (or yoghourt as they say lol) 🙂 For someone who used to only eat the diet artificially flavoured stuff this was a big shift, but my taste buds have well and truly adjusted.

Later today I’m taking my parents to the airport (they’re off travelling for a little while), catching up with my sister, reorganising a few things at home, and getting some work in that I want to cross off my list before tomorrow. I’ve already swept and mopped my floors which always makes me feel great, and I’m off for a run shortly 🙂

xx Kari

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Life nevers?

At work today, there was a whiteboard survey going about things you have never done that most other people have. It was certainly a fun way to fill in some work time…some people had never worn/owned jeans, eaten at McDonalds, drunk coffee, ironed a shirt (yes, a male, of course! – went straight from having his mother do it to his wife do it!), or owned a mobile phone. My unusual ‘nevers’ were: never having pierced my ears (or anywhere else), stayed up all night, drunk beer, or been to a football or other sporting match (I think this last one might only be unusual in Australia 🙂 ).

It really got me thinking about the things I have never done that I would like to do. I’m not that fussed about the things I listed above, except maybe the football game, because I think that could be fun. But there are lots of other things I’ve never done that might be less unusual, but which I think I’d really like to try. For example, I have never camped as an adult or of my own choice (only school camps when I was younger), or done an extended hike; I’ve never prepared a 3 course meal or eaten oysters or made sushi at home; I’ve never gone on a holiday with a friend or had a driving holiday or even just driven without knowing my final destination.  All of these are things that I think I’d like to try.

And of coures, I could come up with a whole separate list of things that I’ve done once and might like to try again (such as surfing), or that I haven’t done for years and could consider giving another shot. What started as a fun question has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that are out there!

And you know what, I think over the next few months I just might try to introduce some ‘never’ activities into my life…we will see what happens 🙂

xx Kari

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Half way through this afternoon I started feeling under pressure to upload pictures and post on here when I got home. I was wondering how I was going to have time amongst the other things I need to do this evening. Now this was not what I was expecting when I started this site – especially after just 1 week in! It made me think about whether I am taking the best approach to things. And then, when I did turn my laptop on, I saw I had a message from Leah at Simply Fabulous about how she views her blog and the approach she has taken with it. It made me think some more…and the verdict is that I am going to change focus slightly.

The reality is, I will never be someone who can post every day religiously. There are some weeks when I have lots of time and it seems I spend hours messing around on the internet, and I will probably be liable to post multiple times a day. And then there are some weeks where I work late 3 nights out of 5 and am trying to run errands on the other nights, and I won’t get on here at all. I am also someone who will put pressure on myself if I have an idea of what I ‘ought’ to be doing and I don’t manage to do it.

So. I think I will treat this blog as a come-what-may kind of site. I will still talk about exercise and food and health, because those things are important to me, and there will probably be photos of what I eat on here 50% or so of the time. But, I will also write whatever comes into my head 🙂 After all, I started this site for me and at this stage I am early enough in the process to not even have readers to think about.

The last thing I want is for this to become an obsession or something I feel obligated to do.

And yes, I probably should have thought these things through before I started…but hey, sometimes you have to learn by doing, right?!

On that note, I am going to upload some lunch pictures, because I bothered to take them and feel like I may as well put them to some use 🙂 Lunch today was really pretty basic. I had a salad with rocket leaves, pepper and cherry tomatoes, and the other half of my tin of salmon from last night:

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2 rows of these wholemeal rice crackers (about 45g);

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an apple;

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and this completely sad-looking green tea and lemon teabag. I tried to have it yesterday, but couldn’t open it (I know, I know…I’m sure other people don’t have these sorts of problems!), because I messed up the little bit where you’re meant to tear, and it then proved unopenable without scissors. I didn’t have any on hand and I got so irritated that I decided to just give up and have a different flavour. Today I attacked it with scissors and won the battle…

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As part of my change of focus in this blog, I am also going to update the About Me section. I started off quite autobiographical and I think I’d prefer to keep it a bit lighter and less detailed. We will see what I come up with 🙂

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. I’m working across lots of part-time jobs at the moment, which means I often need to be in 2 places at once. Tomorrow is one of those days! I’m also meeting a friend for dinner (which should be good, but I’ll pretty much be out from start through to late) so I am going to go and get myself organised now to avoid problems in the morning 🙂

xx Kari

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