This sounds amazing and with only two table spoons of flour, it’s pretty low on the grainy carb’s scale. I would also substitute Greek yogurt (unflavoured) for the sour cream (more protein, less cream). I will have to give it a try.

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

I was never a big fan of Popeye. I could never understand the guy, he seemed to make bad decisions and for the most part he was pushed around. He was in love with Olive, who compared to the other cartoon love interests, was rather homely. He was entirely uninteresting until he had his spinach. Then he could take on the world.

Who thought of this? Elzie Crisler Segar. In 1929 he created the character in a comic strip and in the first four years of publication, spinach sales increased 33%. The idea is spinach became more palatable both to kids and their parents, as they saw Popeye eat it, so they bought more and more. Really? When I was a kid, spinach was a soggy, bitter mop. I couldn’t stand it and Bugs Bunny, Goofy and Superman combined couldn’t get me to like it more.

Only as an adult have I come…

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Recipe Roundup: Cauliflower Sheppard’s Pie

I went into this blogging goal fully intending to be about fitness and work outs. Maybe some discussion on food and regimens. I refuse to call anything I am proposing a ‘diet’ to avoid confusing it with some sort of fad, lose weight fast scheme.

I’ve been reading Vicky’s recipe blog for a while now. I love her photos and styling of her recipes, the way she easily and clearly explains the process. If you haven’t checked it out, I strongly suggest you do. It’s Menubyvicky (also found in my links tab to the left). Go ahead. My recipe can wait.

Vicky’s blog, and so many others (I love Smitten Kitchen!), have been so helpful to me while I look for new things to add to my meals. In the nutritional seminar I attended last night, I realized that others could benefit from some of the recipes I use, that I take for granted, just as much as I can. Along with every seminar, we get one new healthy recipe that is usually a healthier variation on something that normally wouldn’t be healthy. Some of these I have tried, some I have not, but I think they’re worth sharing.

This one is on my ‘must try’ list given I’m currently on a veggies and meat regimen right now.

Cauliflower Sheppard’s Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 2 cups mushroom
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup black beans


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef in a frying pan, then drain fat.
  3. Bring 5-6 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
  4. Cut cauliflower into flowerettes and place in boiling water.
  5. Cook 5-10 minutes or until soft.
  6. Thoroughly rinse black beans in a strainer until water runs clear.
  7. Remove ground beef from frying pan.
  8. Add chopped mushroom and onion, cook until transluscent.
  9. Add black beans and ground beef to vegetable mixture.
  10. Cook another 2 minutes, season with salt/pepper/chili seasoning if desired.
  11. Remove cauliflower and drain the water.
  12. Add cottage cheese and mash well.
  13. Spread meat mixture in a 9 x 9 pan.
  14. Layer cauliflower mixture on top.
  15. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
    *Cooking times may vary, check after 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information (Amount Per Serving)

  • Calories: 410
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 103mg
  • Sodium: 645mg
  • Total Carbs: 32g
  • Dietary Fiber: 12g
  • Protein: 51g


March 29 – Back

I did an upper body workout targetting mostly the back and biceps.

Group 1 – Repeat 4 times
Lat Pull Up (counter-weight machine): 50 lbs at 8-10 reps – note: the machine subtracts the weight from your body weight, so the lower you go, the more weight you’re using. In my case this was 80 pounds (130-50 = 80).
Dips (counter-weight machine): 50 lbs at 15 reps
Medicine Ball Slams: 30 reps – note: start with a weight that you feel comfortable lifting over your head and make sure to continuously maintain ab contraction throughout the movement. I recommend folding a foam mat over to slam the ball into (much less noisy than the example video and can add a bit of a challenge in getting it to bounce back). This is great if you have frustration to work out!

Group 2 – Repeat 3 times
Bar Pull Up (palms up): 10-12 reps – note: be sure to contract and lift using your shoulders first, opening up the chest and keeping the belly down (no lifting with the stomach!). If you’re having difficulties, bring your feet a little closer to the bar.
Bicep Curl: 12.5 lbs at 10 reps – note: these use full to the side extension but don’t: swing your elbows back for momentum, raise/shrug your shoulders, or lean back as you lift them up. Try to keep the abs contracted and draw your movement from there.
Kettlebell One Arm Alternating Swing: 3kg at 30 reps – note: the goal is to keep your abs contracted, as well as pushing up through the heel while keeping your chest up (not parallel to the floor). Don’t swing the kettlebell much higher than shoulder height, but maintain control and bring it at least to your shoulders with arms straight.

Menubyvicky: On the go egg muffins

These are an amazing way to get protein in the morning and avoid the dreadful carb trap of grains from cereals, oatmeals, and breads.


The other day, a friend asked me about on the go breakfast ideas. She was looking for something that was healthy, portable, lower carb and most importantly could be made ahead of time. My favorite standby is oatmeal but that doesn’t work if you’re trying to go for a low carb breakfast. I did a quick search and came across a recipe for egg muffins. These remind me of mini frittatas. Yum! I think my favorite thing about this recipe is that it uses items that most of us already have in our kitchens. Plus they’re healthy, high in protein and easily transportable in a sandwich bag or plastic container. Works for me, as most of you know that I’m not much of a morning person on the best of days.

For my egg muffins, I used a southwest seasoning blend, salsa, green onions, chicken bacon and a bit of…

View original post 394 more words

March 28 – Lower

A lower body work out. As before, repeat each group of exercises 3 times.

Group 1
Squat Jumps: 30 reps
Calf Raises: 30 reps
Lunge Jumps: 30 reps
Box Jumps: 30 reps – note: try to land without making noise and with the whole foot on the surface.

Group 2
Step-Up – Glute Extension – Lunge: 15 reps each side. Start facing the middle of the bench and place one foot all the way on it. Step up, keeping the weight over the heel and using the glute to pull yourself up. Straighten without placing the other foot on the bench and contract the glute straight back (not to the side or turned out and avoid allowing the pelvis or torso to tip forward). Slowly lower yourself down, in a controlled manner, and continue back (with the foot you used to step up onto the bench) into a backwards lunge. Contract with your glutes to rise up out of the lunge and move right back into the next step up. At no point should both feet be stationary next to each other. The movement should be smooth from one exercise to the next.
Plank Leg Lifts: 10 reps each side
Hamstring Curls: 30 lbs with 12 reps – note: be sire to not lift your butt or lower body off the machine and avoid arching your back.

March 26 – Full Body

Today’s workout consisted of both upper and lower exercises. I usually group my exercises in groups of 3-5 at a time, doing 2-3 groups a workout and repeating each group 3-4 times.

Group 1 – Repeat 3 times
Chest Press: 55 pounds for 15 reps
Up & Over (fast): 30 reps (one way is one rep) – note: fast here means no pausing and only one foot at a time on the bench, kind of like a hopping action.
Bosu lift – Burpee – Push-up: 12 reps – Lift the bosu, with the ball part facing the groun, up with straight arms over you head (avoid arching the back) and lower to the ground, keeping your grip on the bosu. Push your feet out like a normal burpee, and lower your chest down to do a push up over the bosu. Rise, hop your feet back in, and repeat. Be sure to contract your abs the whole time to avoid curving the lower back and to draw strength from your core.
Dips: 18 reps – Note: you should go to a 90 degree angle if you can and avoid letting your elbows point outwards (ideally you want them straight back but not to the point you lean forward with your chest).
Up & Over Squats (Bosu): 30 reps – note: same speed as above, but instead of on a bench, lay the bosu ball side up on the ground and squat at the end of each pass over the bosu.

Group 2 – Repeat 3 times (no pauses between repeats in this group)
V-up Roll-ups: 12 reps – note: be sure to contract your abs down into the ground when lifting up and avoid swinging your arms to momentum (harder than it sounds).
Sit-ups: 30 reps – note: as above, focus on lifting using the abs and avoid any swinging arm motions.
Leg Lowers: 10 reps – note: lower the legs as close to the ground as you can without allowing your lower back to lift off the ground (contracting your abs in will help with this).

The Beginning

Every story has a beginning. Mine isn’t all that exciting or interesting, but it’s all I have. It’s a short and sweet story of someone who was frustrated with how they looked, felt, and moved.

I’d had jobs all through university where I was on my feet and moving a lot. I was able to drink socially on the weekends, eat out at restaurants all the time, and basically not think about the gym or what I was eating. Then I got my desk job. I kept my lifestyle as it was, but without the constant movement of my old shift work, my weight started to creep up and my fitness level started to deteriorate.

By 2010, I found I wasn’t happy with my appearance. My clothes were didn’t fit well and I had difficulty taking stairs without being winded. There were other signs that things were off. I had no energy, my mood was pretty down in the dumps, and I just lacked motivation to do anything.

In March, I decided enough was enough and signed up at the gym. I may go into detail later about how I chose the one I did, but in the end I was signed up and committed to go.

At first I tried classes and doing some machines on my own. I wanted to improve my muscle strength as well as my cardio. The biggest challenge I had was that the classes were at such a time I’d have to go home first. I lived on the 25th storey of my apartment building which ended up being a really good excuse for me to not go to the gym. Things pretty much stalled there.

I needed new motivation, a kick in the butt as it were, and I decided to sign up for personal training. I felt I didn’t have the knowledge to properly design a work out for myself so I sought out a resource to help me. My first trainer was not very good, had me eating all the wrong things, etc. and was soon laid off from her role. I was then paired with Mel. She’s the perfect balance for me because she listens to what frustrates me to help me find ways to make my work outs work for me. I have quirks in my body and she’s great at adapting my exercises around those quirks. On top of that, she takes all my whining with a smile and helps me push through all my negative thoughts. Eternal sunshine when I need it most.

We’ve been training together for one and a half years and I’ve learned so much. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some of what I’ve learned with you all, now.