Monday, 29 July 2013

Dealing with My Food Demon

Where to start?

As you may have read in my first post, I have struggled with my weight and emotional/stress eating pretty much since I can remember. Up and down, in and out, it's always been a #1 thing on my mind. I've also struggled with depression & anxiety for the last 8 years or so. However, with the help of medication and finding an outlet for myself (I trained for my first half marathon) I had found a very happy, healthy space. I had finally gotten down to a weight that was healthy, normal, maintainable and I actually made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I was enjoying exercise, enjoying food and I pretty much let go of all my fears and anxiety about food.

Until June...In June, I did a pretty stupid thing. I went off my meds (for many reasons I won't get into here). I didn't do it the way I should have either. I went cold turkey. Very bad. I started to get emotional, and distraught. It was constantly up and down in my mood and temperament. I spent a lot of time crying (behind closed doors, that is). Not only that, June turned into the month I most needed my wherewithal. Between work, events, a wedding, moving and more, I had an extremely full plate.

Under normal circumstances, I would have been stressed out, but would have been able to deal with it. However, these were not normal circumstances. I had 1 million things to do, and the emotional energy to do none of it. I tried to do it all, and when I couldn't, I would beat myself up about it. I tried to please everyone (because they anxiety of saying "no" to someone is crippling to me) and ended up feeling like I had failed everyone.

How did I cope? Did I talk to someone about it? Release my energy & stress by working out?

No...I ate.

I fell back into my classic emotional, stress eating pattern. I had constant cravings for junk food. Mass and epic amounts of junk food.  There was a negative, angry voice inside of me that could only be silenced by food, and lots of it. Then, because I felt like I was also failing myself, I ate more and told myself that as long as I was exercising, I would be fine...and when I didn't gain any extra weight, I figured I was okay.

I wasn't. I was in a hole so deep, I didn't even realize until now that I've been back on my meds for over 4 weeks, that I was in such a deep hole.

The worst part? I pretty much stopped talking to anyone. At work, I covered it up from everyone (except for my Hubby, who I couldn't fool) and went about my life with a smile on my face, and jokes to cover it up. I posted on my Running to Bake Facebook page about eating well, and exercising all the while sitting at home, stuffing my face and feeding my guilt because I wasn't practicing what I was preaching.

All I kept telling myself was fail, fail, fail.

Then one day, right at the end of June, I decided...enough. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), I have been through this cycle before, and I knew how to pull myself out of it. I knew I had to get back on my meds and start reaching out to friends and family. I knew I had to do some sort of emotional rehab on myself if I ever wanted to get out of my pity hole.

So I started talking. I started reflecting. And yes, I went back on my meds. Now, these aren't the be all and the end all, but for me, they are something that I need to function properly.

I can happily say, here at the end of July, I am in a much better space emotionally. I'm still struggling with a few things, but emotionally I feel back to where I was before.

However, all those good habits I build for myself back before "Black June" happened? Gone. I'm still emotionally eating. Last week, I went through 3 bags of chips, plus ice cream, baked treats and wine. I'm watching the scale ever so slowly creep up on me, half pound by half pound, and I keep telling myself "Tomorrow I'll go back" which I know is silly.

I also stopped working out. I stopped running, I stopped going to Zumba. I figured walking Molly was enough. I was tired and hot and busy. It just didn't fit into my schedule.

Here's the thing. THIS, what I just described above, is life. I know this will happen again (minus the whole meds thing, that was just dumb) and I know that I'm going to have weeks where I'll just want to sit on the couch and stuff my face. There are going to be times where eating a bag of chips, or stuffing my face with my baking will truly be all I need. Sometimes you are truly too tired to work out...the trick is figuring out when it's a need and when it's your brain talking you out of it.

I don't know this trick. 

Then why am I telling you all of this?

Maybe you have your own food demon and you're having trouble tell it to screw off. You eat to fill a hole, that keeps getting bigger and bigger the more you feed it. You start to feel fat, and because of this, you eat more.

Maybe, you just love junk food and can't say "No Junk Food, not today"

Maybe you're having a shitty week, month or year and food is your only source of comfort.

Maybe you just have bad eating habits and are having a hard time changing them because, lets face it, food rocks.

Maybe you're tired, and don't want to exercise, even though you KNOW you love it and it will make you feel better, but you just can't do it.

Finally, maybe, like me, it's all of the above. You have too much on your plate and the thought of changing any of the above is exhausting and unappealing. You're quite content to sit in this hole of self pity and sadness.

So I'm telling you my story because I want you to know that you're not alone. I'm in this ship right along with you.

How do I cope? For me, the best way to do it is take it ONE day at a time.

Start making changes slowly. Today, allow yourself one piece of your favourite treat. Tomorrow, worry less about what you're eating and go for a jog. The day after, repeat. Find some time for YOU. Smile. Breath. Savour.

I want to leave you with something I am starting for myself this week. A list of things to try doing and things to avoid doing:


Saying "I love myself" (even if you don't believe it)
Letting yourself make mistakes
Setting aside 15 minutes a week for yourself
Telling yourself "I am worth it"
Setting small, daily goals
Pick one treat per day that you will have and enjoy
Giving yourself a break
If you're an avid snacker, find something that you enjoy snacking on that is lower cal (no, not celery and carrots) For me, I LOVE these CheeCha Puffs & Popchips as a way to curb my chip cravings:

Setting  ultimatums for yourself - this means saying "TOMORROW THAT IS IT, I am going to healthy, run 10 miles, work on my abs and do 30 push ups today. From here on in, no more junk, I will run every day, I will not fail and I will not eat junk any more" This is setting yourself up for failure.
Avoid rewarding yourself with food - instead, get your nails done, by yourself a new top, have a bubble bath, do something for yourself that isn't food related

I'm sorry that this turned into a mammoth post, but this is something I constantly hear around me (online, in person, on blogs, in articles) and it is something many people deal with. Although I am in a much better space with myself and my body, I still struggle with body issues, and I probably always will.

If you every want to talk (even if you don't know me at all, and live on the other side of the planet from me) leave me a comment below, or shoot me a direct  message on my FB page. I don't know everything, but I DO know that talking about it can make all the difference. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Macaron Massacre!

No, silly geese...this aren't mine!
So, ladies and gents...I did it. I decided that after facing my fear of baking with yeast, I would conquer another fear...Macarons!

I first learned about these scrumptious treats while in Paris with 3 girlfriends of mine on our Europe Backpacking trip a few years back. I have never heard of them before, but DAYYUM they were good (and expensive, I might add). I brought some home for my family and we all enjoyed them.

And then I forgot about them. There was nowhere here (that I knew of) where I could buy them, and as you do as an angsty 21 year old fresh out of University, you move on to more important things (Boys....boys....and boys...and maybe the occasional job search).

They were recently brought back into my awareness last year when we received a gift at the office of a Macaron TOWER. It was INCREDIBLE. Then, as I started getting more into baking and food blogs and the like, I can't get these stupid things out of my mind!

So, I started off by doing a little (okay A LOT) of research. I watched video after video, read blog after blog, and found the below (not intimidating at all) image:

FINALLY I plucked up enough courage to give it a shot. Why all this pressure, you may ask? I have issues...clearly!

Anyway, the good news? They turned out SO SO yummy! The gnache was yummyscrumbos, and the cookie has the desired taste and consistency.

The bad news? They were a WEE bit flat (which I know is because I over-mixed them by exactly 1.6784 folds)

Anyway, I DID learn a lot, so throughout this post/recipe, I'm going to share some tidbits with you so that when you attempt this at home, you will hopefully have more success than I did!

Basic Macaron
Recipe From: Cake Journal
Everything Else: The Internet

First, Words of wisdom from the kind lady of Cake Journal - "You might know that macarons are highly unreliable cookies, even if you have made them several times. The results can vary from time to time, and sometimes you have no idea what went wrong. It takes some time to figure out what works for you, in your kitchen and oven. But don’t give up! They are definitely not impossible to make and once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to make them without even thinking."

Got that? Okay, here we go!

Tools you will need (best to lay these all out ahead of time):
- Strainer/Sifter
- Parchment Paper
- Bowls
- Round Tip (thick)
- Piping Bag
- Spatula
- Hand or Stand Mixer

1 & 1/8 cup of ground almonds (you can grind yourself OR buy them pre-ground. I reccomend the latter)
3 egg whites that are room temperature
1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp regular sugar

If you have almonds grind them in a food processor. Sift to get rid of any lumps.

Now, this part should have come with the stipulation that your food processor should be an AMAZING, high quality one. Mine is good, but not for this kind of thing. I ground a whole bag of almonds and got MAYBE 1/2 cup worth of the ground almonds that are required. I tried grinding a little at a time, a lot at a time and just for a long time (that resulted in Almond Butter...there is a line, folks). It just wasn't up to snuff. SO I recommend you just buy them pre-ground. The rest was just lumpy. As you can tell, I was off to a really good start. Also, I was at this step for about 45 mins. Just save yourself the trouble and buy ground almond.

Mix the powdered sugar with your ground almonds in the food processor. I had to do this in multiple batches because my food processor is quite small. This also made QUITE a mess. This was part of the massacre.

In a separate, large bowl,  whip the egg whites (I used a hand mixer). As they start to foam, start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until it is stiff and glossy. You can tell it is ready if you turn the bowl upside down and the merenge stays put. Go ahead, try it, it's fun!

I know, it looks like boobies.
Fold the almond and icing sugar mixture into the merange, a little bit at a time. IF YOU WISH, add food colouring at this point! RIGHT NOW, otherwise, it's too late. Also, only use either a powder or a gel food colouring otherwise it will get too watery. Fold until fully mixed. It is VERY, VERY important that you do not over mix (I did). If you're not sure, Cake Journal says it should flow like a ribbon when you hold the spatula. I thought my did, but apparently flow like a ribbon and gush like a river are 2 different things. Who knew?

If you're not sure, put a dollop on your parchment paper. If it SLOWLY flattens, you're golden. If it liquifies, you're past the point of no return and your cookies will be flat (like mine were). In my defense, I made a last minute choice to make my cookies green and because I added my food colouring so late, I overmixed my batter. Green was also an unfortunate choice as you will see below. Second part of the massacre.

Once your batter is ready: put batter into a piping bag that has the appropriate tip. I didn't have the right tip, so I used the disposable piping bags instead and just cut a wider tip. 

TIP: if you have a hard time holding the bag and filling it at the same time, Cake Journal had a great idea - put the bag in a tall glass, that way it stays up and is less mess when you have a runny, gooey dough like mine!

Next, pipe the batter onto your parchment lined baking sheets. The cookies will flatten (or again, in my case, liquify into a green, gooey mess) so you only need to make them 1 inch across. 

This is where the green colour was an unfortunate colour. As I was piping, I put too much batter into the bag, so it was all coming out the top like flubber. It truly looked like toxic waste. I was going to take a picture, but my hands were so covered in goo, it was impossible. 

As you can tell, me in the kitchen is also a comedy sketch. 

Leave them for 1 hour in which time a skin will form. 

As this point I looked around my kitchen and it actually looked like I had murdered the cookies. Batter was EVERYWHERE, icing sugar COVERED the counter, I had bits of ground almond under my feet, and green slime on the cupboards. 

What next, you ask? I swear on my life, this is what happened next. I went down to the basement to do laundry, and what do I see? My hot water tank was GUSHING, and I mean GUSHING boiling hot water. Hubby wasn't home. Molly wanted to drink the water. You know what my first thought was? "I wonder if I can just leave it?"

No, Lisa, you cannot. Go get the landlord...NOW. So I did, he came and he fixed it. TA-DAH!

Back to the recipe. When there is about 10 mins left, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Let them bake for about 10-12 mins (mine only took 8). Be sure to watch them closely as they WILL burn quite quickly. If you don't think they are done, touch the top of the cookie and if it wobbles, it isn't ready!

Sort of?
Let the cookie cool completely by removing them from your baking sheets and put them on a cooling rack. If they don't come off, put them back in the oven for another minute or so!

I have to say, they turned out really well all things considered. My only beef was that they were flat and even still they have the texture that is described in the "perfect macaroon" specification above!

I whipped up a quick thing of ganache (recipe to come later but can be found here) and voila! 

Like I said, totally pleased with myself, and they were soooooo soooo good! Just need to keep the above in mind for the NEXT time I make them (in 10 years when I build up the courage to do it again!)


- Lisa
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Monday, 8 July 2013

Inside Out Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Just a quick little one I wanted to share with you today! I was making breakfast for hubby and myself this weekend before we went off to a wedding and I didn't have much on hand. I did a quick survey of the kitchen and found the following:

- cocoa powder
- 1/2 pack of white chocolate chips
- pancake mix
- bacon

I wanted to make something other than just plain pancakes so I figured I would experiment with adding the cocoa powder to the batter and put in the white chocolate chips (hence the inside-out).

Full disclaimer, I didn't have sour cream on hand, otherwise I would have made my fave pancakes from scratch.

Anywhoo, here is the recipe for the Inside Out Pancakes. They were super scrumptious and you could totally taste the chocolate without it being too overpowering! These would be perfect for Sunday Brunch, a special birthday morning, or in our case, just because!

Inside Out Chocolate Chip Pancakes


Pancake Mix (or, if you have the ingredients, whip up a batch of these bad boys)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp of sugar
1 cup of white chocolate chips
Butter (to grease your griddle)
Warm Maple Syrup

If making your pancakes from a mix, follow directions on the package (mine was just add water). OR if you're making the Sour Cream Pancakes (jealous!) follow the recipe here right up until the cooking part!

Next, add in the cocoa powder, the sugar and the white chocolate chips and mix until JUST combined! 

Heat your frying pan to medium low and melt some butter. Using a 1/4 cup, pour batter onto the griddle. Wait until the top is all bubbly and the edges are brown and then flip. 

Wait for about another minute and take a quick peek underneath to see if they are cooked!

Serve up with some coffee, bacon & warm maple syrup. Enjoy!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Healthie(r) Baked Donuts!

When it comes to baking and making treats, I'm pretty much game for anything. However, I'll admit, that I have a complete and total irrational fear to try making ANYTHING that resembles bread. Buns, bread, english muffins, donuts, anything that requires me to use yeast and to knead I actually get anxious even THINKING about it.


I really have no idea.I think I'm afraid that I'm totally going to eff it up. Who cares, you say? Apparently, I do. I do, I do, I do! Then, I found this recipe and I thought...YOLO. Let's give it a whirl. I've been wanting to try out donut making for awhile, PLUS these are baked, so I'm pretty much promoting healthy living, right?


I learned a couple of things while making these donuts:

1. Yeast expires and mine month ago - so although in the end these turned out quite well, they would have been even BETTER if I was using yeast that wasn't dead.
2. MAD props to all the women out there who make their own bread in sweltering kitchens (I'm thinking back in the day before A/C) kneading is hard work. I'm pretty sure if I keep making these I'll develop some serious guns
3. Yeast is really not that scary.
4. I was still feeling anxious the whole damn time I made these (which, as you'll see, is the equivalent of about 3 hours) 

Anywhoooo, I was REALLY chuffed with how these turned out, despite the fact I was using expired yeast.

I'm going to make some more this evening I think with NEW yeast and see how it goes. I will report back.

**UPDATE** When I made these again using ACTIVE, non-expired yeast and they turned out exactly the way I wanted them too. Fluffy & oh-so-good!

Healthy(ish) Baked Donuts
From Krissy's Creations and Tips from 101 Cookbooks
For the Donuts

3/4 cup of warm milk
1 package of active (non-expired) dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tbsp)
1 tbsp unsalted butter (I use salted)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (if you use unsalted butter)

For the Glaze (this is enough to do all of the donuts):
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 cups of powdered sugar

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping (this is enough to do all of the donuts):
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp of cinnamon


**Note: When I made these, I didn't use the tips I'm going to include below from 101 Cookbooks (just noticed them now) but I'm including them here because, as a yeast fearing baking, I would have found them VERY helpful!**

Place 1/4 of a cup of the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure the milk isn't too hot, otherwise that will kill the yeast (which I MAY have done while making these. Tip 1 that would have been helpful) Stir in the yeast and let sit for about 5 mins.

In a small bowl, combine the rest of the milk with the butter and sugar and add to the yeast mixture. With a fork (helpful tip #2), stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg and salt until the flour is JUST incorporated.

Using the dough hook of your mixer, beat the dough for a few mins at medium speed (helpful tip #3) If your dough is too sticky, add a little more flour a bit at a time. If it is too dry, do the same with milk. The goal is to have your dough to pull away from the bowl and be supple and smooth (#4). Knead the dough a few times on a floured counter-top and shape into a ball. (Note: the recipe I was using require less mixer time and more manual kneading time, I like this way better!)

Put in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, place (AKA, the house in the summer time).

Wait 1 hour or so. You want your dough ball to double in size.

When it is ready to rock, bring over to your floured counter and punch down the dough. Roll it out to be about 1/2" thick. I don't have a rolling pin, so I used a Canadian Club glass that we got in a gift set a couple years ago. Worked like a dream!

I don't have a donut cutter (it's a thing, I know!) so instead I used a pint glass and a shot glass to cut out my dough. It worked perfectly!
Classy, right?
Now, 101 Cookbooks says to cut out the larger circle first and then transfer to your parchment paper lined baking sheet before you cut out your centre pieces! I didn't do that this time, but I will next time.

Cover your baking sheets with a clean, dry cloth and leave for 45 minutes so that they can rise some more! (P.S. all this waiting nearly KILLED my hubby)

Bake in an oven that is set to 375F until the bottoms and tops are JUST golden (about 8-10 mins). Start checking around 8mins because you don't want these babies to over bake! When they are done, take them out and let them cool.

While they were baking I made the donut toppings!

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. In a seperate bowl, combine the sugar and the cinnamon. When your donuts are ready (about 3 mins out of the oven) dip the top into the butter then dunk into the sugar mixture and set on a baking sheet!


First, line a baking sheet with parchment paper (can be the same you used to bake the donuts on) and place a cooling rack on top. This acts as a draining system as some of the glaze will drip off.

In a saucepan, add the milk and the vanilla together and JUST warm it up (on low heat).  Slowly add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. When ready, dip the donuts in the glaze!

If you want to do half this way and half with the cinnamon sugar, just divide the recipes in half (this is what I did!)

Next: EAT! You deffo want to eat these when they are warm and fresh!