Just like riding a bicycle.
I put that to the test on the weekend.
I have not been up to my typical exercise regime this spring. I pared it down to 1 weight lifting class a week and 1 bike ride. Over the past 2 months, I have not cycled more than 400km.
Yet, in a week, I have signed up to cycle 200km between Perth and Kingston. (I long gave up cycling the full 354km between Ottawa and Kingston).
I used to think anyone could ride 100km. However, with my severe lack of training this year, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to cycle the “short” 200km route either.
So, I dusted off my road bike (the first time I rode it this year), and cycled almost 100km with Rob and Sue on Sunday. It was one of my favourite routes (the Aurora loop) which meanders north of Toronto through such small cities like Snow Ball and Maple. Cycling north of the of the city also meant tackling the uphill during the first part of the trip and enjoying the downhill going home. All in between getting soaked from a sudden downpour and battling the wind from many directions.
Did I do it? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. Will I do it again next weekend? Yes.
Rob has been training for this throughout our short spring, so he didn’t find this route as challenging as me… which meant he had more energy when we arrived home. Originally, he wanted to treat me with some ice cream but: a) I felt more like a smoothie, and b) we should be eating through our freezer stash. As I lay on the ground, Rob whipped up a delicious smoothie. I kind of made suggestions from the floor: frozen banana, frozen mamey, vanilla, hemp protein powder and almond milk. It was a crazy concoction and we weren’t sure how it would taste…. Only after I drank a huge serving, did I have enough energy to photograph it… because we both agreed it was too good not to share.
It is hard to describe the flavour of mamey. It takes like mamey… Think about it, how would you describe the taste of apple? Anyways, it is a sweet creamy mango-like flavour with floral undertones. It has a custard-like taste and consistency. Describing flavours is hard. I like this description:
The fruit’s flavor is variously described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Source
It paired beautifully with the creamy banana. The hemp protein powder made it a bit more of a green colour but also added creaminess.
How did we find mamey? We originally discovered it while travelling in Colombia, both as a fruit and in delicious smoothie form. We were thrilled when we spotted frozen mamey (sapote) at a Colombian bakery in Toronto and picked up a few packages earlier this year. They also had frozen guanabanana, guava, blackberry (mora) and possibly other non-exotic fruits like strawberries.
Have you ever tried mamey? I think it is best in smoothie-form.
Oprah did a 21-day vegan challenge a few years ago. I remember her gushing over her improved pooping. If there is one thing I am not lacking from my foods, it is fiber. Mostly due to my love of beans. One serving of Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini gives you 16g of fiber, or 65% of your suggested daily fiber intake. Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Vegan Tikka Masala): 18g of fiber or 72% of your suggested daily intake. This definitely helps to keep things moving.
Trust me, I don’t need help any help in the pooping department, but recently bought psyllium husks after Gabby gushed over a banana-less chocolate smoothie. I found the smoothie a bit gritty from the psyllium (I doubled the psyllium, though, and used psyllium husks instead of psyllium powder) but even worse, my belly became bloated nearly instantaneously. And boy, was I gaseous. With stinky farts. Super stinky. Poor Rob.
Psyllium helps relieve constipation and diarrhea, regulating bowel movements with its high soluble fiber content. It is the main ingredient in All-Bran Buds and Metamucil. During medical school, a surgeon touted its value and I began adding All-Bran Buds to my morning yogurt. However, as the husk itself, a little goes a long way. I used 1 tablespoon the first time, which is a pretty big amount. Nearly entirely fiber. Only 17 calories, with 5g of carbs including 4.5g of fiber. Way more potent than beans.(Metamucil only recommends 1 tsp at a time).
I thought I was doomed to another long-time pantry lurker, but then discovered an interesting chocolate cake. Hemp protein powder + psyllium + cocoa + mesquite + mint sounded like a winning combo.. actually, it sounded down-right odd. No grains? How would this turn into a cake? Especially after only microwaving it for a minute? My curiosity got the better of me and I was completely smitten. It may look like poop but it was a magic cake. Perfect as a dessert or a filling breakfast. It is a chewy cake but a chocolate cake nonetheless. I’ve made it with cocoa and carob. I have substituted maca for the mesquite, although I had to add more water. I’ve gone mesquite-less with more hemp and carob. I’ve mistakenly forgotten the mint. Since I am on the sweetener-free challenge I didn’t add any sweeteners but I encourage something sweeter for those who haven’t deprived your sweet tastebuds for a month (um, like Rob!).
But be careful, psyllium is incredibly filling. Drink a huge glass of water/tea with it. Work yourself up to a full cake and don’t eat them every day. Eventually the bloating will subside and the smelly farts become less.
However, because it is so filling, this is a terribly satisfying snack. Top it with some melted coconut oil or coconut butter. Want something even more decadent? Omit the mint and top it with my chocolate peanut butter frosting or cashew date frosting! Or make this avocado buttercream frosting and tell me how it was.
Looking for more psyllium recipes? Check out Dr. John Howard‘s (a pediatric gastroenterologist in London) collection of kid-friendly recipes using psyllium. If you have or know of children with constipation, I also encourage you to read through his kid’s book: All Aboard The Poop Train. All aboard, toot toot!
Rob and I did a 5-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida while in Colombia. You need a guide and we picked Magic Tours since they responded to our emails and assured me I would have vegan options on the trek. We started off with 4 other hikers, our guide, a cook and a porter (with 2 mules) for our 5-day 44-km hike.
We hiked through the Colombian jungle, with a well-delineated path, up and down many hills and through a river quite a few times! Gorgeous scenery with a great ruined city at the end. An unparalleled experience, to say the least.
I won’t lie. It was hard. We hiked in hot and humid weather, over 30C with at least 80% humidity. Shade from trees was a welcome treat after hiking in open sun. I also found the terrain difficult with many river crossings and steep hills. I wish I had had better ankle support on my hiking boots! By the fourth day, we reached The Lost City. There were 1200 steps to climb to reach the actual Ciudad Perdida with a further 800 steps within the ruined city, itself. Going up those stairs was not so bad; going down was worse! If you don’t like heights, this also won’t work well for you.
Before I left, I made a few energy snacks. This was one of them which was a great source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once).
I was drawn to this recipe immediately after Cara posted it. It reminded me of a souped up Raw Brownie with a heavenly base of walnuts, dates and cocoa. However, to make this a protein power star, there are hemp seeds and protein powder as well. I ended up increasing the mint extract and substituting agave for the brown rice syrup. Absolutely delicious straight from the mixer. I dehydrated them at 110F for 7-8 hours hoping to make them more portable. The sharp flavours diminished slightly but my snacks were now able to come with me to the jungle! Sadly, I didn’t wrap them individually so they kind of smooshed together towards the end of my trip. Still good, though.
I will admit that Rob and I overpacked for our hike, but I would still travel with my snacks again. I still need to share the winner of the energy snacks, so stay tuned. I had some bona fide Larabars as well, which also seemed to ooze some oily stuff under the heat of the jungle. If you are planning for a similar trip, definitely consult your tour operator to see what they recommend you bring. While Magic Tours had an extensive list of stuff to bring (sunscreen, hat, water bottle, clothes, etc), this is what I also found useful:
Foot talc powder- We didn’t bring any but if you are prone to sweaty feet or slipping into rivers, this is for you!
Sanitizer- We didn’t bring any, but considering the lack of soap and toilet paper, this would have been great to have to not get traveler’s diarrhea.
Compact camera- You do not want to bring a big D-SLR with you on this hike. We actually don’t have too many photos because we were more focused on hiking then taking photos.
After bite & antihistamines- We had deet (although only 30%), and were still bitten by bugs. Lots of bugs. This helped.
Ibuprofen- You may be sore. You may get a headache.
Travel pillow- On the hike, you sleep in hammocks and the occasional bunk bed. No pillows. I am VERY picky about my pillow. I often travel with my day-to-day feather pillow because I have a hard time sleeping without it. This pillow, albeit not exactly what I am used to, was a godsend, even outside the trek in other B&Bs.
Hiking poles- I love my collapsible hiking poles.
Non-cotton clothing- Want your clothes to dry? Make sure they are not cotton.
Water purification tablets- You want to make sure you are drinking potable water. These tabs add no taste to the water.
What else do you like to bring with you on long hikes?
How do you cook your steel cut oats?
My cousin’s spouse recently told me he cooks his for 20 minutes. WHAT?!
Mine always takes 35 minutes, if not 45 minutes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s how I get mine to be super creamy.
Because it takes so long, I make a big batch to last me all week. Leftovers heat up beautifully and I can mix-and-match my flavours each day.
I start by dry-toasting my steel cut oats as the water heats up to a boil (1:4 ratio). When they become fragrant and lightly toasted, I turn off the heat. Usually by this time, the water is boiling and I plop it all in, and then simmer it for 40-45 minutes.
I refrigerate the oats and take out a portion every morning. Heat it up in the microwave for 2 minutes along with a touch of water. From there, I add my flavours: cinnamon, vanilla, fruit, flax seeds, nuts, nut butter, etc.
My recent breakfast fix has a chocolate base. I use the Chocolate Amazing Grass coupled with Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Pro 70 for a hearty foundation. I also typically add some fresh fruit, but lately I’ve been cleaning out the frozen fruit from the freezer: this time with mixed berries!
Why Amazing Grass? Beyond its nutritional benefits, I really like the taste (Rob doesn’t like it, though). A slightly malty chocolate taste with low calories and a good protein ratio.
Why Hemp Pro 70? First of all, I am no protein powder aficionado, but Hemp Pro 70 is pure hemp protein. No fillers, no sweeteners, etc. The high protein content (70% by weight), omega fatty acids, iron and calcium is great but the most important part is that it is water-soluble. You can’t taste it in the oatmeal. It thickens it while keeping it smooth. I usually add more water when I add it to my oatmeal. It also makes my oatmeal more filling…. and green-looking.
My cousin’s spouse, though, recommended Bob’s Red Mill. He suggests using a big pot (a great tip for no spillover!) and to do a hard boil for 18 minutes uncovered and then 2 minutes covered. He keeps it covered and then lets it sit off the heat for an additional 2-5 minutes. Says it never fails him.
I’ve tried overnight slow cooker steel cut oats, but it was way too watery.
Hence, I’ve stuck with my classic, yet lengthy 45-minute boil.
Tell me, how do you cook your steel cut oats?
Here are some other ways I’ve enjoyed oatmeal:
Whipped Banana Oatmeal with Cranberries
Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal)
Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Roasted Flax Seeds
Pan-Fried Oatmeal with Peach-Blueberry Vanilla Compote
Multigrain Oatmeal with Quinoa and Kasha
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast
Savoury Oatmeal with Goji Berries, Nori and Ponzu Sauce