Monday, October 29, 2012

Bubble of Bliss and Bodacious Stuff Going On...

Have you ever had a moment when every single thing in your life was going JUST according to plan?  I feel like I've been floating in a very delicate bubble of perfection and the second I start blabbing about it on the blog, the bubble will burst and my reality won't seem so fabulous.  That of course, is a ridiculous fear, because todo es bueno en el mundo de la mistress (everything is good in the Mistress' world, for all ya'll non-spanglish speakin' folks!)

It's SOOOO good, that I, of course, will now blab to all of you lovelies and brag on my life for a minute or two:

1. I'm starting a new job with CBS Atlanta

Quite unexpectedly, I was contacted by the TV station I worked at when I first came to Atlanta about an on-air opportunity...turns out, it's a great fit for me and I'm starting with them on 11/19!  It will be an incredible boost from my radio salary and I still have so many friends at the station that it feels like coming home....I'm psyched!

2. I'm shooting a cooking show pilot for Georgia Public Broadcasting

How many times does the head of your company ask you what your dream job is?  Well, that actually happened to me a few weeks back when I scheduled a meeting with the lady who runs the whole joint. I responded with, "Hosting my own cooking show."  Unbelievably, she suggested that I come up with a cooking show concept for GPB and run with it-- giving me all of the resources I need to make that happen.  Not only is this incredible lady (who shall remain nameless!) giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, but despite the fact that I'm leaving the radio side of GPB, she wants me to continue putting together the cooking show pilot. AND she also asked me to be a part of a new political round table show they're putting together.  AND I'll continue co-hosting the TV show Georgia Traveler. Count 'em....1, 2, 3, 4.  That's 4 TV gigs! I'm beside myself, I'm so ecstatic!

The cooking show concept I'm working on is a farm-to-table styled show where in each episode, I travel to several Georgia farms, meet with the farmers in the fields to talk about their harvest, collect the fresh "Georgia Grown" ingredients, and then cook up a bad ass meal in the farmhouse kitchen....I'm still working out the details of the format, but I'm planning to end each episode with me serving the meal to the farmers and their families who contributed the fresh ingredients.  It's a conservative, older audience who watches GPB, so I think that fits in well with the demographic, while also allowing me to interact with people and show my personality (and my majah culinary skills, of course!)  I personally hate watching cooking shows where it's just a chef cooking in a sterile kitchen.  I need other people's energy to vibe off of!

More details to come...Over the next month, I'm shooting a 3 minute sizzle reel to highlight the show concept!  SUPER's hard to believe I'm so close to achieving my cooking show dream!

3. I'm going to Hawaii to meet one of my favorite people in the world!

Yup.  The Mistress is Hawaii bound!  The 10 days before I start my new job at CBS, I'll be relaxing in the tropics, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!  One of my besties in the online world, (we've never met in person) is someone I text back and forth with every single day...We share recipes, videos of her kids, you name it, we're discussing it...but due to the fact that, um, 4,500 miles separate us, we haven't exactly been able to grab coffee together. Her incredible husband surprised her by buying me a round trip ticket!  I am beyond thrilled!  We're going to do our TAM workouts, cook up a storm, drink some wine, hang with her kids and finally meet in person!

All of this came together in the span of a week.  No joke.  I feel like I'm about to sprout wings and fly!!!

I'm seriously pinching myself.  Is this my life???? FINALLY....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Interview with Easy Tasty Clean Cookbook Author Janice Cumberlidge

Janice Cumberlidge with her new cookbook, "Easy Tasty Clean"

Cookbook author, Janice Cumberlidge shares her clean eating journey in her new cookbook, "Easy Tasty Clean," and is now offering the Mistress and all ya'll some insight into an Easy Tasty Clean lifestyle!  

You can check out her website and purchase her e-book....take it from Mistress of Mah-velous Meals, it's my new Go-To cookbook for healthy recipes!

What inspired you to write Easy Tasty Clean?
My desire to write "Easy Tasty Clean" arose for two main reasons. The first was that I wanted to make clean eating more exciting to people who thought that eating clean meant consuming dozens of egg whites, oats, plain chicken and a heap of broccoli every day. When you look at meal plans that bodybuilders are using, these ingredients feature highly, but to be clean I knew it didn't have to be tasteless. Secondly, I wanted to create a resource that not only had many clean eating recipes in one place, but also provided a little education about nutrition in general and also gave some insights into the ingredients I use in the book, so people know what all these healthy food items are and why they might be beneficial to their bodies when consumed. I felt that people WANTED to eat clean but they just didn't quite know HOW to put everything together, so that's where the ideas behind "Easy Tasty Clean" came from.

Can you talk a little about your personal weight loss/fitness journey?
I suppose I've always been interested in food, I mean, I LOVE food. I've never been an overeater but my weight has crept upwards a couple of times when I've probably been indulging in the wrong types of food a little too often. It happens when you meet someone and you're happy doesn't it?! Having said that, the most I've weighed is one stone heavier than I am now, but on my small frame (5 ft. 2") a stone can look like a lot more!

It was only in my 30's when food & diet came more to the forefront as I started having issues with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I would get terrible lower abdominal throbbing pains that often left me totally incapacitated for half an hour, and would linger for up to 24 hours. It was like having someone give me a Chinese burn but on the inside. My friend said it sounded just like the contractions of childbirth. It sure felt like it! 

So from that point, having learned that eating the wrong type of diet can cause IBS, I became more conscious of what I was putting in my mouth. I first started to change it by having one of those little probiotic drinks every day, and making fresh juices in my shiny new juicer. I knew certain foods would set off my symptoms more than others but even with the new regime and eliminating some of the foods I thought were triggers (such as pasta and bread), this didn't stop it. What I needed was a complete diet overhaul but I just didn't know it. I lived with a permanent packet of anti-spasm / muscle relaxant tablets in my bag for around 8 years. 

At around 38 I also found out I had an under-active thyroid, which might’ve explained some of the tiredness and weight issues I’d had for the past few months. I started taking daily tablets to improve my symptoms and slowly I felt human again. I lost the extra few pounds I’d put on too, however I was still a prime example of ‘skinny fat’ and still had the IBS issues.

In my late 30's I became more interested in exercise again, and started a home DVD program (Tracy Anderson Method). I didn't do the diet that came along with the program as I've never been into diets, but after finding 'Oxygen' and 'Clean Eating' magazines online, my interest in this concept of 'clean eating' grew, and I challenged 5 friends to eat clean with me, just for 3 weeks. So we swapped white, refined items such as bread and pasta for their wholemeal counterparts, we avoided processed meals, cut out added salt & sugar, and gave up all chocolate, sweets and alcohol. And surprise, surprise, after just 10 days of this I was down 4 lbs, which seemed like a miracle as I'd been the same weight give or take a pound for around 15 years (apart from the couple of periods of a few months I mentioned earlier)!

So with this newfound motivation and enthusiasm, I took these habits forward and continued to eat more and more clean foods, and learn as much as I could about this healthy new lifestyle. And guess what also happened? The IBS subsided so that I was no longer living in fear of an attack, and I could start to relax about it more. After a few months I was virtually pain free and today I rarely get any IBS issues at all, but if I do I can pinpoint it to one of the foods I ate in the last 8-12 hours. For me my only triggers now are very dry (acidic) white wine and high fat cheese, none of which feature very often in my diet in any major quantities anyway.

While improving my diet I also continued to exercise 5-6 times per week, which I believe also helped ease my IBS symptoms. On Facebook I later met Nancy Reinhardt, who had transformed herself from 200 lb mom of 5 with degenerating discs into the fit & healthy woman I saw in front of me, and I was in awe of her. We got chatting and she persuaded me that moving from a home DVD program to lifting weights would help me improve my body even further. And sure enough, within a few months of beginning my weights program with an even better standard of clean eating, I was down 2 dress sizes. In doing this, my weight still stayed around the same point, proving that muscle gives you better shape than the shallow fatty layer I’d been carrying around for years. Things had tucked in and shaped up and I was happy with what I saw, happier than I’d been in a long time. And the best bit, I was now buying clothes 2 sizes smaller! At first I was convinced the shops has re-evaluated their sizing charts but in shop after shop I could now fit into clothes that felt and looked good on me. I only wish I'd discovered clean eating and regular exercise in my 20's!!!

More improvements in my body have actually come whilst writing “Easy Tasty Clean” and in the month or so afterwards. Due to cooking and photographing every single recipe for the book at least once, this ‘forced’ me to eat clean in a way that previously didn’t have the same motivation or structure. I lost another 4 lbs whilst writing the book and it has stayed off since. I’m actually now looking at providing meal plans based around the recipes in the book, so that other people can easily see that if they eat what I suggest, then they too can make things. I think people sometimes need to be spoon fed before they’ll do something, so if I can say, “Look, eating this and this will help you with your weight issues”, then as long as they stick to the plan then it WILL work! I’m excited to finish this little extra project that has been on my mind since the book was released. These meal plans will all be a free resource but obviously you’ll need a copy of the book to get the recipes from.

What kind of advice can you give to those of us who are super busy and often find that in a time crunch, we don't make healthy decisions regarding food?
Everyone CAN make healthy decisions on what to put into their mouths, time constrained or not! No one forces you to grab that bar of chocolate or eat those fries!!! It’s all about your mindset but there are two main keys to helping yourself succeed at this and the first is preparation. If you pre-make meals in bulk and freeze them, and if you make a healthy 'cake' or your own fruit & nut bars once or twice a week, you will always have something to grab even if you only have 5 minutes to spare. People say they don't have time to make healthy food all the time but if you make healthy food SOME of the time, why not just make MORE of it and freeze some or refrigerate it for later? I regularly cook twice as much dinner in the evenings than I need so I can take the rest to work the next day. I also bake a 'cake' at the start of the week, which will also provide one of my snacks every day at work too.

The second key to not making the wrong choices is to just not have the wrong choices available to you in the cupboards! We trick ourselves into thinking, well, just one won't hurt, I'm in a rush, I'll get something better later, but the truth is we are kidding ourselves and no one can make these choices for us. Just don't have the bad stuff around and you're a lot less likely to eat it! And if you're out and about, the least you should do is take a piece of fruit and/or some nuts with you, just in case you're out longer than planned and are in danger of snacking on the wrong things. I don't mean to sound harsh but we are our own worst enemies and we have to take responsibility for our decisions, we're big girls & boys now!!!

Some of your recipes include chia seeds, which have been recently touted on Dr. Oz' show.  Why is it important to incorporate them into our diet?
I love chia seeds! They're natures little miracle seeds, full of proteins and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and pound for pound they provide twice as much protein as any other seed and up to ten times the amount of healthy fats!

When you put chia seeds into water, they absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water, producing what is known as 'chia gel', a jellified liquid that you can add to cakes instead of butter, or use in your smoothies to make them extra thick & delicious! The seeds hold so much water that they are the perfect companion for the digestion process, easing the way through the intestines for the rest of our foods, and holding onto water and nutrients to make sure we absorb the most goodness from our foods and ensure we're not constipated too. 

Chia seeds are an all round winning ingredient. I think everyone should try to add a tablespoon of them to their daily intake - add them into porridge, smoothies, yogurt etc. You won't know they're there but you will reap the benefits.

Many people cut out carbs when they're trying to lose weight, but your breakfast recipes often include complex carbs, like quinoa and oats.  What is the benefit of adding complex carbs into our first meal of the day?
First of all no one should cut out carbs completely, without them your body will NOT function properly, you will find yourself tired, irritable and unable to think straight, and guess what this will lead to… energy slumps mid-morning/mid-afternoon and poor food choices for the rest of the day because your body is craving a quick fix of energy, i.e. sugary snacks. 

The best way to avoid this self-inflicted cycle is to give your body what it needs when you start the day. When you've been asleep and not eaten for 7 hours or more, your body has gone into 'fasting' mode, and to break that fast you need to give it exactly what it needs, in order to get the most back from it later. Complex carbohydrates such as oats or quinoa break down more slowly during digestion, which keeps our blood sugar levels on a more even keel and reduces our risk of developing diabetes. Oats are a great added to your morning meal because of the amount of soluble fibre they contain, which helps to keep our intestines hydrated, lowers cholesterol levels in the blood and avoids insulin spikes that simple sugars would instigate. 

Complex carbohydrates provide the body with stored energy, as opposed to the instant one-off energy hit of sugary snacks. This means that you're less likely to get an energy slump later in the day if you fuel yourself up with complex carbohydrates earlier on in the day. This stored energy is accessible by the body for 24 hours and then will expire. If you do some sort of exercise during the day, you will have some of this stored energy to get you through it so no need for that high-sugar energy drink on the way to the gym! If you want to restrict carbohydrates at all because you feel you can manage your weight better without them, I would suggest only leaving them out of your evening meal, but definitely not your breakfast! This is the time to replace the energy you used or lost since yesterday, to start a fresh!

What are the benefits of using coconut oil to cook with, as opposed to olive, canola or vegetable oil?
Coconut oil is another of my favourite ingredients, not only for it's subtle and creamy coconut flavour but also for its amazing properties and health benefits. For a start, coconut oil has a very high smoke point, so we can safely cook food in it without the oil breaking down and causing free radicals to form, which are thought to cause ageing. The other benefit of using coconut oil is its structure, it is made from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), so although coconut oil is technically a saturated fat, it behaves differently once consumed than other saturated fats because of this MCT structure. The great thing about this is that is immediately turned into energy by our liver, rather being stored as fat in our cells. Coconut oil is actually said to help LOWER cholesterol levels and therefore we have no extra risk of heart disease when using this oil. However, we mustn't forget that coconut oil is a fat, and therefore has a certain amount of calories associated with it, so use it in small amounts when cooking and you will gain the health benefits and can still watch your weight.

Other benefits of coconut oil include use as a hair conditioner, as an all-over moisturizer, as toothpaste and to soften hard skin!

Each of your recipes includes a breakdown of carbs to protein to fat.  What ratio is healthiest?
That's a difficult one to answer, as there are so many schools of thought about what the 'correct' ratios are. In the UK the national guidelines are to eat approximately 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat. In bodybuilding or fitness circles you may find those macros nearer to 40% carbohydrate, 40% protein and 20% fat. What is for sure is that all three of these are essential items in our diet. We need carbohydrates to give us energy and sustain us throughout the day, protein to build and maintain not only our muscles but also our hair, skin, nails and digestive system, and we need fat to ensure we are able to absorb certain vitamins, to stop inflammation in the body, to prevent skin conditions such as eczema and to give us lovely shiny hair! 

In the book I provide the macronutrient breakdown for every recipe, so you know exactly how much of everything you are consuming. It’s always best to check with a doctor or registered dietician or nutritionist if you’re not sure what are the right proportions for yourself. Everyone is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all here, only guidelines.

What are some easy meal suggestions to pack for work each day?  Salads get soooo boring!
First of all, I don’t think salad has to be boring! I know what you're saying, you get sick of seeing those leaves peeping up at you every day. But what if salad didn't just mean the same old leaves with a bit of dressing thrown over them? What if we broaden our ideas of what salad contains to include multiple vegetables, for example roasted in balsamic vinegar. And what about adding some beans? A can of 4-bean mix in water is a great option and can be used for other meals once opened too. Or how about tossing in a few nuts & seeds for extra crunch, added protein and healthy fats? Or maybe add a few wholemeal pasta shapes? And then there's the dressing. You can create some really tasty and healthy dressings just using a few simple ingredients. Always try to use oil + acid + flavour in the ratio 3:1:1, such as extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar + wholegrain mustard. There are plenty of salad dressings online you can find, so spice up those salads, mix them up and don't be bored by them again!

If, however, you want something hot instead of salad and you have access to a microwave at work, why not take a small sweet potato and cook that, and have it together with a portion of pre-cooked fish or chicken or a bean salad? Or instead of sweet potato, try some wholemeal cous cous mixed with some spices such as paprika, turmeric, cumin and coriander, you can simply add boiling water and let it stand for 5 minutes, before serving with your favourite protein accompaniment.

How do I get the whole family on-board with clean eating?  (Husbands and kids can be so picky!)
You're right there! I think people can be even pickier if they think you're trying to 'make' them eat healthy foods. It's natural to want to rebel because it sounds boring. But what about if you treat your husband to a nice romantic night in, and make something that he would never know was clean, such as my Lemon & Coriander Lentil Chicken from Easy Tasty Clean (see recipe below). I think men appreciate hearty food and this is certainly that. He will be satiated and will love the flavours in it, so much so that when you tell him it's actually clean he'll be so impressed he'll hopefully ask you to cook him something clean again! Extra candles and cuddles might also do the trick ;-)

For kids I think it's important not to give mixed messages. If you give them MacDonald’s one minute then try to force fruit & veg down their necks the next, you're sure to come up against resistance. I fully believe in educating your children on the good and bad of food - simple ideas can be taught if it's done at a young age using stories they can get involved in, such as using a story of a magical creature that maybe gets sick when they eat fries (they can tell you how they would feel if they'd eaten fries) or come to life when they eat an apple for example (you can all do a dance when this happens!). If you make cooking and learning about food fun and let them choose their own ingredients from a selection you decide upon, they'll be on side from the start and will be more interested in eating the results of their choices. You can also have fun making fruit smoothies with them, let them choose 3 fruits each to make their drink with and then let them try each others if you have more than one child. You can join in too and all decide on a winner of which one tastes the best. They will all want to win of course so they will be proud of their own and be more likely to drink it up.

I definitely think parents need to take the initiative and try to educate and nurture children towards healthy choices. Kids are all unique and no one method with work for all of them, but if you've got their best health in mind and lead by example then that will give them a great start.

Here is a delish recipe from Janice's cookbook!

Lemon and Coriander Lentil Chicken
Serves: 4-5. Prep: 10 mins. Cook: 30 mins.

1 cup red lentils
450g / 1lb chicken breast, cut into half inch thick slices
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. freshly minced ginger (the squeezy tube or fresh tubs of minced ginger are ideal
for this)
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. turmeric
½ cup coriander leaf (cilantro), finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp. coconut oil for frying

  • Rinse the lentils then put them in a pan to simmer with two cups of water for around 12-15 minutes, or until they are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Some varieties of lentils can take up to half an hour to soften so check the recommended cooking instructions.
  • While the lentils are cooking you can get on with the rest of the dish. First take the chicken pieces and fry them in a little coconut oil, until they are starting to brown on all sides. Remove chicken from the pan and reserve in a bowl.
  • Fry the onions, chilli, garlic and ginger in a little coconut oil until softened then add the spices and fry for another minute. Finally, add the cooked lentils & chicken back in to the pan and stir in the chopped coriander and lemon juice.
  • Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Add a little extra water if it becomes too thick.
  • Serve with steamed cauliflower sprinkled with a little ground cumin.
  • This dish can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated later.

One portion of lemon & coriander lentil chicken gives:
283 calories, 38g protein, 27g carbohydrates, 2g fat (1g of which is saturated fat).