Monday, July 12, 2010

Help! Health Contradictions

Ok, so I did something that I didn't think I would do anytime soon: I signed up at the gym across the street from me. It's not just any old gym. It's like a weight-lifting, mind-changing, philosophy-pumping gym filled with large, muscly, oily looking men and women in tight spandex work-out shorts who don't smile back when I smile at them. Why? Well, the thai-boxing didn't work out (waaaaaaay too expensive!), and my partner and I wanted something exercise-y to do together that was convenient, interesting and a challenge. After muathai proved too hard on my summer budget, we signed up at the gym across the street.

Now, the signing up came with a 3 hour lecture on how to eat better and exercise better and a 1 hour training session on how to do 4 different lifts properly. We brought coffee, but I still left yawning. All I wanted was something to supplement my cardio workouts, something that would allow me to get stronger and more capable at doing certain physical tasks. The messages I got, were not only confusing, but hard to follow. Yeah, I'll spare you the gorey details, but apparently, cardio is a waste of time because it lowers your resting heart rate and you end up burning less calories when you're sleeping or resting -- but by lowering your resting heart rate aren't you making things less difficult on your heart?? It gets better. Apparently we're supposed to cut dairy out of our diets because it's so unnatural and no other mammal drinks another mammal's milk (so ... no other mammal wears clothes ... or uses technology ... or friggin pumps weights!), AND we're supposed to stop eating grains too because their not part of our "original diets" (yet at the end of it, he said that we should take advantage of the global market and eat a variety of meats and fruits and vegetables ... yeah, I don't think the global market was around when the first humans hunted and gathered!). Oh yeah, and basically all vegetarians have it wrong because you'll end up chubby and will never be able to build muscle because there's no protein in a vegetarian diet (Hello!! Brown rice + beans = complete protein!).

So ... does that mean that this (and I quote) "best oatmeal I've ever eaten," inspired by this gal and this lady shouldn't ever be made again? Oh come on! Peanut butter, bananas, strawberries? Until last summer when I read the mentioned posts, I never even thought to bake oatmeal. Now I do it all the time and experiment with different fruit/flavour combinations (apples, raisins, cinnamon and rhubarb, cherries and almonds). And that big dollop of skim milk yogurt on top .. that's no-no too??

The Best Baked Oatmeal

1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
1/2 cup of soy milk
3/4 cup of skim milk
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 banana, chopped
1 handful of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup of quick cooking (5 minute) oats

1. Put the peanut butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the soy milk a little at a time so that the peanut butter gets incorporated (as opposed to just having big lumps in the liquid).

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well-combined. Pour into a cake pan or square baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven until all the liquid is absorbed and it gets little golden at the sides.

3. Prepare to taste oatmeal that you have never tasted it before! It's like having cake for breakfast! Even better topped with yogurt (oh no! the dreaded dairy! How am I ever going to build muscle!)

So, does this ALSO means that the honeyed cherry muffins I made yesterday morning are nixed from my repertoire as well?? I thought they were super healthy -- oatmeal, fresh fruit, honey, canola oil, psyllium husks (ok yeah that was random.. I tried to sneak that one in but it didn't work. My Dad brought over this huge jar of psyllium husks because it's supposedly super healthy. If you don't have it, just use wheat bran or wheat germ). The secret here is soaking the oats in the liquids for 5 minutes or so before adding the rest of the ingredients - makes a very tender, moist crumb for the muffins. But the grains are a no-no ... really?!

Honeyed-Cherry Multi-Grain Muffins

1/2 cup of quick cooking oats (5 minute kind)
1/4 cup of psyllium husks (or wheat bran or wheat germ)
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/2 cup of skim milk (or instead of milk and yogurt, use all buttermilk)
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of honey
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 egg
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of cherries, pitted and chopped

1. In a large bowl stir together the milk, yogurt, oil and honey until well blended. Add in the oats and psyllium husks and stir. Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes (this would be a good time to pit and chop your cherries).

2. Add in a beaten egg, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

3. Sift in the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined (don't over mix!). Stir in the cherries.

4. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins (makes 12 big ones and 24 mini-muffins) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

5. Enjoy your whole grains! Yeah, I'm never going to get a six-pack anyway!


  1. Hmm, I can see how you'd be confused. No disrespect to this health professional you spoke with but frankly, it sounds like you've got a much better take on health and nutrition that he does!

    I have oatmeal every morning but I've never tried baking it - it looks like pie in your picture! (You had me at the pie-looking picture)

  2. "like cake for breakfast"?


  3. thanks for the vote of confidence, Monika! health advice is tricky, but hey, i think my pectorals are just fine they way they are :) and you must try baking your oatmeal -- you'll be amazed at how easy and yummy it is.

    yup, gigglejuice -- it's like cake for breakfast. please try it!