My friend and I live far apart, and only occasionally see each other, but when we do, she sees more of me than I of her. That’s because there is, um, more of me to see.
Once upon a time we were both sticks. Then we learned to cook. She’s been able to burn off her calories, by cycling to work, walking almost everywhere, swimming and regular visits to a nearby gym. Even during this long winter, she never gained an ounce.
I, on the other hand, have done diddly squat for exercise these long past months. It shows. Everything in my closet shrank this winter.
I’m one of that 77 per cent of Canadian women (and 74 per cent of men) who are not physically active enough.
This isn’t a good place to be, and not just because of weight gain. A desk-bound, car-dependent, couch-potato life- and work-style is unhealthy, and the experts tell us that long periods of inactivity increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. Our sedentary ways cost the health-care system big time too.
My friend keeps so fit because of where she lives — a leafy, walkable neighbourhood, with access to safe, well-lit bike paths to get to and fro, not to mention nearby indoor public pools and a good gym. She’s committed to being healthy, but her active living is simply part of her daily routine.
That’s more problematic when we live where we must depend on our vehicles to go most places, and weather keeps us indoors long periods of the year. Then it requires a more intentional commitment to a lifestyle of active living.
Thank goodness it’s May. We winter-weary Manitobans are long overdue for the physical renewal and social connection that comes with getting outside and increasing our physical activity.
It’s time to get walking, cycling, hiking, running, gardening, forming ball teams, or taking tai chi classes.
Just how much physical activity is enough? The more the better. Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, which is only about 30 minutes five days a week. I’ve also heard we should aim for a lot more — at least 60 to 90 minutes per day.
It may sound like a lot, but it’s not. We think exercise is something we must set aside time for, and fit into our busy schedules, but active living is supposed to be part of our daily living. Housework, yard work, and opting to ride our bikes or take a brisk walk to get from A to B all count too.
That’s my friend’s secret to a healthy weight. She’s always experimenting with new recipes and loves a cream sauce and fancy dessert as much as I do. But she’s always moving.
Three Seed Yogurt Muffins
Tasty muffins chock full of colourful and crunchy seeds make a satisfying breakfast with a glass of milk and a piece of fresh fruit.
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. wheat germ
- 1/2 c. unsalted green pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 c. unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp. flaxseeds, cracked
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger or cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. each baking soda, and salt
- 1 egg
- 1 c. milk
- 2/3 c. liquid honey or packed brown sugar
- 1/2 c. plain yogurt, (not fat free)
- 1/4 c. butter, melted
1 tbsp. unsalted green pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter non-stick muffin pans or line with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, honey, yogurt and butter. Pour over dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin pan; sprinkle tops with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Bake for about 25 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch. Let cool in pan for five minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
TIP: Cracked flaxseeds add a nice texture and allow the nutrients to be digested better than in whole flaxseeds. To crack them, pulse a few times in a coffee or spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle to crack the seeds without grinding them to a powder.
Add 1 tbsp. grated orange zest with butter. Use 1/4 c. hemp seeds and/or chia seeds in place of an equal amount of pumpkin or sunflower seeds; add 1/2 c. dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins or chopped cherries.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes Makes: 12 muffins
Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada
Buckwheat Shepherd’s Pie
Here’s a nutritious take on an old favourite and a filling meal to serve everyone during seeding time.
- 1-1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
- 1/3 c. sour cream
- 1-1/2 c. Canadian Monterey Jack, grated
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- 1-1/2 c. red onion, chopped finely
- 1 200-g container crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 c. toasted buckwheat
- 2 tbsp. fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 tbsp. chipotle in adobo, chopped
- 1 c. canned, diced tomatoes
- 1 c. vegetable stock
- 3 c. corn kernels
Cook potatoes in salted water. Mash and set aside in a bowl. Add sour cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Refrigerate. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms in butter for 10 minutes without browning. Add buckwheat, coriander, chipotle, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a full boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, six minutes. Transfer to an eight-inch square baking dish. Top with corn kernels. With a fork, spread mashed potato evenly over the top. Bake in the middle of the oven 40 minutes. Serve promptly.
Tips: Chipotle in adobo sauce can be found in jars or cans in the Mexican products section of major supermarkets. Chipotles are red jalapeño peppers that are smoked and dried and preserved in a sauce. In recipes, the peppers are usually drained and chopped before using.
Preparation time: 40 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour. Serves: 4 to 6.
Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada