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Don’t believe everything you see and hear

People that see me on the street probably don’t think I’m someone who knows a thing or two about nutrition, health and exercise. Especially if, at the time they walk past me, I’m scoffing my face full of chocolate and churros. I’m not slim, I don’t live in yoga pants, I don’t go to the gym.

But I know a lot about food nutrition and exercise, I sometimes just choose to do and eat things that don’t fall within the healthy realm. For me, the issue is more about motivation than lack of knowledge.

Which brings me to the point, recently I noticed a photo on instagram  of a bottle of Gatorade and an apple and she mentioned how she was trying to get on track to be healthier. I commented that Gatorade was high in calories and sugar and it would be better to stick with normal water. Her response was that her doctor said it was ok (which concerns me), it’s better than soda and athletes drink it so she will too.

There is so much about this response that just worries me. For one, why a doctor would suggest Gatorade is ok to drink is beyond me, (granted I don’t know the situation so maybe it’s for a good reason), it’s high in calories and sugar and has no proven benefits (over water) on hydration. I can understand if you were drinking it after a strenuous workout but not as an every/all day drink, as it is only a slight improvement on drinking soft drink all day. Also, athletes are getting paid to say they drink the stuff, they’re sponsored by brands to endorse them and make grand statements about how it helps them. And maybe it does, because their lives are about working out, they do a whole lot more than just your regular person, they can afford to have the additional calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably can’t.

How many empty calories are you drinking?
How many empty calories are you drinking?

This reminds me of, about 5 or 6 years ago, when I was doing my best to eat healthy and lose weight. I was eating all the things the advertising told me to. Yoghurt, muesli, low calorie snack bars etc. and I was exercising but I wasn’t losing any weight. I couldn’t work it out, I was doing everything right!

Nope, I was doing just what those clever food marketers wanted me to do, buy into their “fat free”, “low sugar” “wholegrain” gimicks and buy their products. As it turns out, it was an episode of The Biggest Loser that made me start investigating further. They were doing a challenge and at the end had to chose what they thought was the best food off a table with 20 or so options. One person made a comment about steering clear of the vanilla flavoured yoghurt because it was the first thing the trainers threw out of the house in the beginning, why? Because flavoured yoghurt, with all its healthy claims is high in sugar and calories. They lure you in with fat free but forget to mention the sugar content. If you want to eat yoghurt you are better off going with low/no fat greek yoghurt, it is high in protein but low in sugar and fat (the tastes takes some getting used to though, eventually you’ll find flavoured yoghurts to sweet).

Same as the muesli I was eating, I thought I was doing so well! But it was high in sugar too even though the box claimed it was healthy and nutritious and awesome for a balanced diet. So obviously, you cant believe all the hype you see and read because, at the end of the day, it’s all so you will spend money on a product, it has nothing to do with your health or wellbeing.

Deluxe Chicken BLT & Chips - Bacon, lettuce, cheese, tomato, grilled chicken breast with aioli sauce ($16.90)

Review: This Cafe, Gungahlin

In April of last year, Jarrod and I moved into our new house. On the day of the move we were so hungry by the time the removalists had left that we had to go and source some food, and fast. The Gungahlin shopping centre has many cafes and restaurants that were open but also a bit pricey. That day we ended up with a place called The Coffee Club which, unfortunately (and also fortunately) wasn’t for us. The seating was uncomfortable and squishy, the food was incredibly slow to arrive and with the exception of the shake the food was pretty average.

That led us on a hunt to find the cafe that would become ‘ours’. The place we’d go on the weekend when we were too lazy to make breakfast/brunch/lunch ourselves, that was well priced and had good food. Previous to moving to this house we lived in an area that had a huge amount of food places within a 5 minute walk so we were quite spoiled but we were determined that we could find something just as good again.

Enter, This Cafe which, other than having a neat name “want to go to This Cafe?”, has very fast service and tasty food. I believe our first visit to This Cafe occurred on a cold Sunday afternoon at 3PM where we were still able to order Bacon and Egg rolls (all day breakfast), this was the place for us.

Since then, we have been going roughly once every fortnight to eat there. In fact, we went there last weekend AND this weekend.

Cream Cheese Ricotta Crepe - Crepe stuffed with ricotta & cream cheese served with raspberry puree , almond syrup, banana & whipped cream ($13.90)
Cream Cheese Ricotta Crepe – Crepe stuffed with ricotta & cream cheese served with raspberry puree , almond syrup, banana & whipped cream ($13.90)

Last weekend, I decided to take a look at the specials menu and see if I’d like to try something new, I decided that I did and ended up choosing the crepe. It may not have been the best decision as the cheeses just didn’t work for me. Also, look at that mega mound of whipped cream! Although it was delicious it sort of took over the whole meal. I had hoped the cheese would have a softer, gooier consistency. Given that this was my first ever crepe stuffed with cheese, maybe my idea of how it should be is completely off and they all have this crumbly texture. The syrup and the puree were lovely and sweet but I just couldn’t get past that cheese.

 

Deluxe Chicken BLT & Chips - Bacon, lettuce, cheese, tomato,  grilled chicken breast  with aioli  sauce ($16.90)
Deluxe Chicken BLT & Chips – Bacon, lettuce, cheese, tomato, grilled chicken breast with aioli sauce ($16.90)

Jarrod decided to go with the Chicken Burger on the menu. Now, this is where I need to pause and ask, why do places use boards in place of plates/bowls these days? What purpose does this serve and who thought it was a good idea? When eating a burger, I want to know I have something underneath it catching all the juices and be confident they’re not going to slowly slide off and onto me. This Cafe used to use plates for burgers but a couple of months ago switched to clipboard menus and boards for burgers. Apparently that is just what cafes do these days.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean the burger was bad because Jarrod said it was delicious and it had a generous amount of aioli and the chips at This Cafe are always good, fresh, hot and crispy. You do need to ask for a side of sauce though if you’d like it (which Jarrod does). I am yet to try this burger but it looks so good that I will probably have to. Grilled chicken in burgers is so good!

Chocolate Thickshake ($5.90)
Chocolate Thickshake ($5.90)

One thing we pretty much ALWAYS get when we visit This Cafe is a Chocolate Thick Shake. They are incredibly good, always cold and so thick you have to suck your hardest to get it out of the straw… just how we like them. There’s nothing worse than the disappointment felt when you order a thick shake from a place and it’s basically just milk. These places have no right to call them thick shakes. When trying somewhere new, we have ‘The Straw Test’ where you stick the straw in the middle and see if it falls to the side or how fast it sinks in. The slower the better. This shake definitely passes the test. The thick shake is one of the things we keep going back to This Cafe for, to the point where they have Mango slushies and although I really want to try, I haven’t.. I can’t risk losing the thick shake.

So, after feeling a bit sad about my crepe adventure of last weekend, we decided to go back again on Saturday. We did a lot of people watching of men (mostly) walking by flowers in hand (it was Valentines Day) and one guy had 3 single roses and we wondered what that was all about! Obviously the assumption being that he had 3 girlfriends.

Breakfast Wrap - Toasted wrap with bacon, egg, cheese, hashbrown and BBQ sauce ($14.90)
Breakfast Wrap – Toasted wrap with bacon, egg, cheese, hashbrown and BBQ sauce ($14.90)

This time, I played it safe (although I’ve only had this once before) and went with a breakfast wrap.. mostly because it was before 11am and that is when their lunch menu starts. I might not have been so safe had the lunch menu been on offer. The combination of bacon and eggs and hash brown work really well, as it’s toasted too it keeps it’s heat for a long time. I ended up burning my mouth in my impatience. It’s a good size too, not too heavy or filling but filling enough that you don’t want to snack on anything else afterwards.

Bacon & Egg Roll - Bacon, egg, cheese and BBQ sauce on a large roll ($10.90)
Bacon & Egg Roll – Bacon, egg, cheese and BBQ sauce on a large roll ($10.90)

Jarrod went with our regular, if you’re really hungry or can’t work out what else you want the fallback is always the bacon and egg roll. It’s massive, unlike the wrap you might find yourself struggling to finish this. Piles of bacon, 2 eggs (usually runny, but we ask for them to be hard as dripping yolk isn’t our thing), cheese and bbq sauce on a massive black pepper and parmesan roll. So good when you’ve rolled out of bed at 10AM and are starving for breakfast but too lazy to make anything yourself. Not only that, but it’s also an excellent price, one of the cheapest things on the menu and quite possibly the most filling.

Obviously, we really enjoy this place and have been multiple times and will, no doubt, visit again.

This Cafe on Urbanspoon

In Five Years

Not many questions scare me more than “So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. I don’t even know how this became a standard question to ask people. Are we really expected to plan ahead for 5 years, working hard towards that goal and hoping for the best? That sounds sort of terrifying, especially if it doesn’t turned out as planned.

If someone had asked me 5 years ago (and they did) where I thought I’d be today, I can guarantee you it wouldn’t be where I am now. In fact, one woman pushed this point and asked me about my goals and what do I want to do and I should write it all down and wouldn’t it be wonderful? I did my best to stop myself from crying in front of her because no, I couldn’t see how it would be wonderful. I never thought I could have the life I do now. I always expected I’d be that same person, struggling to get by in a life she didn’t particularly enjoy.

Five years ago looked like this for me:

  • Working in a school supplies company, ordering text books and stationery for schools.. lugging boxes in a warehouse, faxing off orders
  • Living week to week and often running out of money before pay day came around again
  • Swimming in debt I never thought I’d pay off
  • In a relationship that was unstable, unpredictable and unhappy
  • Living in the cheapest 2 bedroom flat I could rent
  • Blaming everyone else for the situation/life I had

The flipside of all that is where I am now:

  • I’ve worked at 3 companies since that time. Currently in the public service
  • I have more money than I need, I make 73% more(!!) than I did back then
  • The only debt I have is a house mortgage. I was able to pay off my debt in 12 months and start saving towards a house
  • In a relationship that is stable, understanding, fun and happy
  • Living in a 4 bedroom house, that we’re paying off as fast as the bank will let us!
  • Taking responsibility (or at least trying) for my life and what happens to it

It’s sort of amazing.

A lot of people feel hopeless and that their life won’t get better but it can and if you put your mind to it you can make it happen. The hardest part is making the hard decisions and getting out of/away from bad relationships, whether that be friends, family or romantic. Get away from the people that bring you down. In turn, find people that lift you up and will support you. For me, that was Jarrod. He showed me that there was a better way of living and I was worth more than the situation I was in.

The second hardest part is taking responsibility for your life and accepting that not everything is going to go your way but how you react to that can make all the difference.

So, where will I be in five years? I have no idea! I expect my home and relationship will stay the same, but we’ll be in somewhat less debt. Maybe I’ll have finally worked out what I’d like to do for a job/career and be working in that role, or at least towards it. That’s the hard one, I’ve spent my adult life trying to work out what I want to do and I still haven’t worked it out.

Mostly, I just hope to be happy with the person I become.

Thick cut French Toast topped with mixed berry compote & maple bacon

Review: Neighbourhood Food, Gungahlin

Last Friday night Jarrod and I were procrastinating making dinner and eventually we decided we couldn’t be bothered with all that and would buy something instead. We nearly ordered pizza delivered because, well, we’re lazy but then we decided to put some ‘outside clothes’ (translate: pants) on and head to the shops.

For a long time I’d been wanting to visit Neighbourhood Food because I’d seen their flyer in the mail and also looked them up online and the photos of all their delicious meals made me want to give them a try. So I convinced Jarrod we should go there and eat one of their awesome looking pizzas.

Neighbourhood Food - The Meat Pizza
Neighbourhood Food – The Meat Pizza

As we arrived the owner, David, opened the door for us and seated us in a nice window seat, reciting that days specials and allowing us to have 2 chocolate milkshakes for drinks, even though it wasn’t on the menu. Jarrod and I enjoy trying new shakes where ever we happen to eat. Thick shakes are our preference but we’ll take what we can get.

The table was quite big in size and it was nice to be in a place that doesn’t try to cram everyone in and have tiny tables for couples, shoved up against the wall. It was a good size and they had a bunch of flowers and a little tealight candle on the table for a nice added touch.

Cute table arrangements - and shakes!
Cute table arrangements – and shakes!

While the specials sounded great, we ended up going with what we’d walked in for. The Meat pizza.. exactly what it sounds like, pizza loaded up with all kinds of meat. Some might say the best kind of pizza and this one didn’t disappoint, there were large chunks of everything. I really enjoyed the big pieces of ham.

The Meat Pizza - Ground beef, salami, ham, chicken, bacon, onion, oregano & mozzarella
The Meat Pizza – Ground beef, salami, ham, chicken, bacon, onion, oregano & mozzarella ($22 Large)

While waiting for the pizza, David came around to keep us updated on the progress and to make sure we didn’t need anything else. You can tell he really cares about making sure his customers enjoy their meal and have a good experience.

Jarrod and I struggled to finish getting through the pizza and unfortunately had to decline the dessert. It was one of the specials that had caught my eye, a brownie in a cup with house made strawberry sauce & chocolate mousse.. sounds delicious! I seriously considered just getting it anyway but I was just far too full to do it.

So we decided to leave it at that and pay, David handed us a copy of their new brunch menu (very sneaky) and was really glad we’d enjoyed our meal, he also opened the door for us on our way out.

As it turns out, that wouldn’t be the last Neighbourhood Food would see of us for the weekend. The brunch menu was lurking on our kitchen bench all day Saturday and we decided we should try that out for breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning.. little did we know that the Convoy for Cancer would be driving up the street to the shops and it would be lined with people. We persevered though and made it through to our destination.

Again we were read the specials but we had basically decided already by the time we got there.

Fried free range egg & bacon in a fresh crusty roll with BBQ or tomato sauce ($10)
Fried free range egg & bacon in a fresh crusty roll with BBQ or tomato sauce ($10)

Jarrod went with the Bacon and Egg Roll which came out on a bed of baby spinach. Usually we’ll ask for a hard yolk (I’m not sure of the “egg name” for that) when ordering anything with a fried egg but we trusted they would know that an Bacon and Egg Roll should never have a runny yolk (who wants yolk running down their arm?) and it would come out fine. Which it did, a nicely done (soft but not runny) yolk and delicious looking bun. Jarrod said it was a very good roll.

Thick cut French Toast topped with mixed berry compote & maple bacon
Thick cut French Toast topped with mixed berry compote & maple bacon ($14)

Would you believe I’ve never eaten Maple Bacon before, and only in the last few months even considered I could eat bacon with sweet things? What have I been missing out on all this time? So yes, I decided to go with their French Toast which was amazingly good! There was even hidden bacon between the layers, it was all cooked perfectly and the berry compote was sweet and delicious (although needed a spoon!). I’d be really interested to know how they would go with waffles or pancakes!

All in all, we had a great experience here. The staff are friendly and provide excellent service but also know when to leave you (and your food) be. We’ll definitely be going back to try more things from the menu.

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Neighbourhood Food on Urbanspoon

What is Cheating?

A few days ago I watched a Q&A video on YouTube and one of the questions was surrounding cheating in a relationship and what she would consider the definition to be. Her answer, which I think is a decent one, was if you have said or done anything you wouldn’t want your partner to see or know about. Essentially, could you hand over your phone, laptop, etc. to your partner and know they weren’t going to be upset with something on it.

I thought this was a really interesting definition for cheating and I’d never considered it in that way. There are definitely things that I have said and done while in previous relationships that, by this definition, would be considered as cheating. For me, cheating has usually been more about physically being with someone rather than the emotional connection. Which, now that I think about it, is strange because I know how I’d feel if there was someone out there that Jarrod was more emotionally attached to than me.

I would consider myself to be quite anti-cheating, I’m a person that has the state of mind that if you are going to cheat on your partner than why are you with them at all? I would also end a relationship if I found my partner had been cheating, no second chances. So it’s strange to think, looking back, that some of the things I did weren’t really above board.

Fortunately, I can live guilt free, even though my view has been expanded, as I know that I could hand over my phone or laptop to Jarrod and know I wouldn’t be concerned by anything he could find on there.. other than any super cool gift idea that I might have open in Chrome at any given time :)