Thursday, December 11, 2014

Drinking Light

I love my wine and equally I love a creative cocktail. Since I've been home for the holidays I've been indulging at any appropriate time - tamarind margarita for lunch, champagne cocktail aperitif, red wine for dinner and post dinner. It's been wonderful. 

However, I'm well aware that my extra boozing could lead to unwanted pounds. Well that and all the dining out I've been doing. Don't worry this post is not about avoiding alcohol. I'm not insane, but I thought I'd look into low-calorie options and we got options for those office parties and holiday get togethers coming up. 

If you're into cocktails, Glamour has a great list of classic low-calorie options. I love gin & tonic and it's only a little over 100 calories!

Although I will probably always gravitate towards bold and heavy reds, this is a great post about calories in wine. I also love the look of these "light" whites.

I'm not a big beer fan and the beer I do like (sweet, strong, Belgium) will give me a beer belly. Light beers are boring, but Men's Health has an interesting list of brews that are light yet interesting.

Here's a thorough list of common drinks, spirits and beer and how they measure up on the caloric scale. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Home Sweet Home

I'm back in New York and it feels wonderful, even though it's absolutely freezing and I hate feeling cold. However, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else even warm sunny Rio. I will be home for about a month, but I'm moving around so much it feels like there's not enough time. This is the longest trip home I've ever had, but my time in New York already feels like it's slipping through my fingers. It makes me sad and yet, it's only the beginning of the trip. I guess it's just home sickness and every time I get a taste of home, it never lasts long enough. 

So far I've been indulging on the best vegetarian food ever, so vegan food porn post coming up soon. The only exception of course were these amazing homemade peanut butter cookies that my brother-in-law left for me on the kitchen counter. They were devilish and buttery rich and I've been desperately trying to sweat them out in Bikram yoga. So here's to holiday feasting! 

I look forward to sharing more posts with you whilst on our American holiday adventures.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gettin' Over the Hump

I don't really drink soda, but once in a blue moon I get a craving for it. There's something about the sweet bubbles hitting the back of my throat that's really enjoyable. I understand the appeal and know that soda addiction is very real. We all know sweet soda ain't great for us, but do we know that the diet version is just as bad? In my eyes it's even worse because the message behind the can is so misleading. 

Most of my friends and family drink Diet Coke, so let's start there. According to Coca-Cola's website there are 7 ingredients in Diet Coke but according to the can in my hand there are 11. Odd, no? What's even more interesting (or scary) is that all these ingredients combined add up to nothing - 0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 fats and 0 protein. How can this possibly be? First it's important to understand that all foods are made up of either protein, carbs or fat. So basically there are no real food ingredients in Diet Coke which means it's all chemicals. I used to think that diet sodas had no affect on my body because it had zero calories, but it does so much damage to our insides. Here are few links as to why we should reconsider drinking our favorite diet soda:

Diet sodas increases our risk for Type 2 diabetes.

One of the most common artificial sweetener in diet sodas is Aspartame, aka Nutrasweet or Equal, which has been shown to worsen insulin sensitivity and raise insulin levels as much as sugar. This is terrible for prediabetics like me or those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

Diet soda leads to weight gain because the artificial sweetener with zero sugar calories doesn't satisfy your carb cravings causing you to eat more.

Diet soda contains phosphoric acid and when consumed it pulls calcium from our bones, promoting bone breakdown and low bone density

Diet soda causes gradual damage to our brains and increases our risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Hub likes to keep diet sodas in the fridge for whenever we have guests, but now I feel like I should just throw them out. Maybe it's not so hospitable after all. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rio 3-Peaks Challenge

So a week ago was the Rio 3-Peaks Challenge, a fundraising event for the Street Child World Cup which involved hiking three of Rio's famous mountains in 12 hours. I did the challenge last year and the experience was amazing. This time around was a little different.

We did Pedra da Gavea first and what makes this peak challenging is the 30-meter wall you have scramble in order to reach the top. The wall is pretty much vertical and open air, so you are exposed to the heights. Last year I had heard about this famous wall but I didn't know what to expect so I felt a bit fearless. This time around I knew exactly what was coming I was scared. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make it to the top and told myself I would decide when I reached the wall. 

Nearly there...

It was a gorgeous day and the lagoon in Barra was mirroring the skies, which was amazing. 

Looking up at the wall I felt unsure but everyone went up and I didn't want to punk out. Plus we had guides and harness equipment, so there was no reason to be afraid. Midway up the climb I couldn't get a firm grip and I froze on that wall. I became paralysed with fear and my limbs started to shake. It felt irrational because I couldn't fall, but so real. Finally I made it up and then had a little cry. 

I still felt shaken up once we reached the top, the experience shook my core. I also had to get my ass back down, so had that to look forward too.

I felt nervous about scaling down, but I also really wanted to get off the peak. It's kind of crazy that you can't see the bottom of the wall, it just drops off after that curve.

Once I got down, the rest of the day was a piece of cake. Our next peak Dois Irmaos was easy peasy.

Hub was in the fast group but I eventually caught up to him on the last peak Corcovado mountain.

On our way up we ran into this little guy and I was able to get really close. I desperately wanted to feed him a banana and give him a hug.

Once we got to the top I sat by the bar and put my feet up. Three peaks done. In the end I felt proud of myself for getting through it, but I don't think I'll be visiting Pedra da Gavea anytime soon. 

Thanks for all the support and donations.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gettin' Over the Hump

You place a 36-pack of Oreo cookies in front of me and chances are I will eat more than the suggested and "moderate" serving of two cookies. In fact if I were to be alone in such situation with a bottle of wine and a chick flick, I would happily demolish at least half if not the whole damn thing. And then guilt with a side of self-loathing would commence. You feel me right?

When it comes to unhealthy foods that I love, I have no willpower. I can't just eat a little, the first bite sends me into a euphoric frenzy and I will eat more than I should. And I know I'm not alone. When I had my first consultation with the diabetic nurse, she went on and on about eating carbs in moderation but what the hell does that mean? She couldn't give me an exact figure or anything concrete to follow and I struggled with my diet all last year until I started researching on my own. What I've discovered is if I wanted to make permanent changes to my diet and health, the concept of moderation is bullshit. It's almost impossible to get the results you want whilst dipping your fingers into the cookie jar and here's why: 

The biggest problem with moderation is that it relies on willpower

There are biological reasons why you can't eat your favorite junk in moderation

Moderation is an excuse to eat the food that is feeding your muffin top

A friend of mine recently posted a vlog about being unhappy with her weight and wanting to make lifestyle changes, but she said she "can't" give up her favorite vices. I remember feeling this way when I realized I had to give up sugar, but it got easier once I changed my mind-set

(Picture taken in 2000 by Hub. I broke my pescetarian diet and was demolishing a bacon cheeseburger and fries)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gettin' Over the Hump

On Monday afternoon, my nose started to run and I felt a cold coming. By the end of the evening, I was a full-on sneezing, aching snot rag. Normally I would treat colds by guzzling NyQuil and taking tablets, but this time I decided to go all natural and I'm already on the mends after two days. There are many benefits to using natural remedies, but for me I just like knowing exactly what I'm putting into my body and that it's all good. Here are a few of my favorite tips for fighting colds with nature.

Drink a few spoonfuls of raw apple cider vinegar. The main ingredient acetic acid can kill bacteria and help prevent bacteria from multiplying and reaching harmful levels. So drink it everyday as a preventative measure or if your like me, start taking it as soon as symptoms start. Make sure the label says "with mother" which are strands of protein and enzymes.

Get your vitamin C on with freshly squeezed juice. Vitamin C helps you fight off the cold faster and it's also a natural antioxidant which helps protect cells. Store-bought brands are pasteurised and the heating process has killed all the natural vitamin C from the fruit, so you'll benefit most from freshly squeezed. So you can either create your own at home or give your roommate or loved one that distressed, I'm sick, puppy look and ask them to get you a 32oz fresh orange juice from Jamba Juice or WholeFoods pretty please.

Or you can walk to your local juice shop because a bit of light exercise is good for fighting off colds. It's the last thing you want to do when sick, but sweating cleanses your system, shaking that tushie will get blood flowing through your head and open up passages and you'll feel better after. Yesterday I only moved from my bed to get water or take a tinkle, but today I going to do a light jog.

Infuse your foods with ginger, which boosts your immune system and I think it acts like a natural decongestant too. Last night Hub made a delicious soupy vegetable curry with lots of ginger and the combination of spice and fragrance opened up my nasal passages and felt soothing on my throat. So cook a nice warm soup with ginger or create a fresh lemon-ginger tea for a double whammy to your cold. 

(Picture of me in my room yesterday)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bienvenidos a Santiago de Chile

Last week I went with Hub on a business trip to Santiago, where he was going to check out the Homeless World Cup. I never really looked into travelling to Chile but when the opportunity came up, I was excited. Santiago is beautiful and extremely flat. It lies between the snow capped Andes and the plush green Chilean coastal range so really picturesque. They also got fantastic wines. Welcome to Santiago de Chile!

The Homeless World Cup games took place in the historical downtown area, across from the Palacio de La Moneda where the President of the Chile sits. The charity is dedicated to transforming the lives of homeless people through football and the coach for Team USA was also a coach for Team USA in the Street Child World Cup. 

Took a quick snap of some of the Team USA players after a game. I was surprised to learn that the majority of the players were young, between the ages of 18 and 25.

While Hub was working I wondered around a bit. Santiago is a modern big city, but they've preserved colonial Spanish architecture especially in the downtown area.

One day I found me a lama...

and a celebration of pre-Colombian folk dance.

One evening we checked out the panoramic views at Giratorio restaurant in barrio Providencia. It was amazing to see the city sprawling out into the Andes on the east and the coastal range on the west. 

On our last day we booked a wine tour and tasting at Concha y Toro in nearby Maipo Valley. I was so excited because it was my first time to a vineyard plus our tasting included top premium wines from the company. 

After the first round of tastings, we got to walk the grounds and visit the grapes.

Hub thanking the Malbec Gods.

The wine tour was fantastic and we ended up walking away with this beautiful pinot noir.

That night we went to Italian-Chilean restaurant Liguria, a popular locals spot. I didn't really get to try any Chilean food because it's very meat heavy so I stuck with Italian.

I caved on this trip and enjoyed every bit of this baked provolone.

Thanks Santiago for the good times. Until next time.

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