I am writing this post at a Travelodge near the Calgary airport. ‘What on earth is she doing there?’ you may be wondering. ”Is it filthy?’ Well, yes and no. Last Sunday, my partner returned from his company’s golf tournament and jubilantly announced: ‘Honey, have I got a great romantic getaway weekend for you!’ Okay, so anyone who actually knows me or my partner has realized that this is bullshit. The only time the word ‘romance’ is used at my house is in a despisingly sneering manner, while saying no to movies starring Jennifer Aniston and yes to films made by drug-addled Germans. Nor is my partner ever ‘jubilant.’ In any case, he had been awarded a free night’s stay in a pretty standard hotel outside of Cowtown. Even better, this prize was accompanied by a stuffed version of Sleepy, the Travelodge mascot, though the teddy bear was inexplicably dressed in military fatigues instead of his usual blue pyjamas. After some research—apparently bizarro Sleepy is a top U. S. military secret—I discovered an image of the bear wearing what turned out to be the official American National Guard battle dress. Finding this combination of war with cuddliness disturbing, I grabbed my sharp sewing scissors and proceeded to remove all of the bear’s clothing, returning him to his natural state. Then I was even more disturbed. Stripping the bear just seemed so….wrong. I won’t repeat the inappropriate jokes bantered back and forth between my partner and I. Suffice to say that they involved references to roofies, the Todd Solondz movie Happiness, and the question: ‘Using this bear, can you show me where the bad man touched you?’
I mention this incident because it ultimately provided the content that follows, which is indeed related to fitness, health, and other such recurring themes. The first stop on our trip—after a visit to the Bosch Kitchen Shop, a kind of Adult Superstore for foodies like me—was the Chinook Honey Company in Okotoks Alberta. As I texted to MW: This place is the fucking bomb! After viewing a hive in action we spotted the Queen bee and had a private mead tasting. I mean, we gulped down all the meads. Then we sampled all the honeys and filled our shopping basket. I was practically delirious with happiness (not the Solondz kind), and the weekend only got better: swimming, Moroccan restaurant feast, oatmeal for hotel breakfast, Calgary Zoo, and Farmer’s Market lunch. (Yeah, so those 4 pounds I finally managed to lose are back. But who cares?).
Here is where Feminist Figure Girl comes back into the picture. The topic of healthy eating was raised at the honey farm, and has continued to haunt me. Is honey a healthy food? I’ll bet that some of you are shouting ‘of course not!’ while others are thinking ‘fuck yeah, bring on the miel.’ I am torn. Chinook honey is locally made, lacks preservatives and is (thank god) unpasteurized. Honey generally lacks cholesterol, contains vitamins and minerals, and has long been used in various medications. It is also a good source of energy. Yet in the end, this energy is sugar, and sugar makes us fat. As with all foods, the health benefits of honey depend on exercising portion control, but most athletes trying to lose fat or stay lean would not eat it. I rarely eat it.
This brings me to a bigger issue: how on earth are low fat, diet, and healthy foods defined? I know that this question is hotly contested and I am often filled with baffled disbelief by the results I get when googling ‘delicious diet muffins’ or something equally ridiculous. [Aside: I research recipes and food ingredients every day]. Online recipes often equate low fat with the removal of butter. Never mind that it has been replaced with oil or some other kind of fat. Or they include healthy bran along with both white and brown sugar. WTF? Apparently, chocolate chips are healthy in any muffin or loaf, but only if accompanied by bananas. Argh! I have decided to weigh in on this issue by creating a cook book (currently in progress, at least in my mind), to be called Entertaining Extremes. In it I will present multiple versions of the same recipe, ranging from one extreme to another. On one end would be the painstaking and extravagant meal that you prepare for guests, often planning ahead for months on end. [Doesn’t everyone do that?] The regular version would follow, and then a healthy, relatively low fat rendition would be offered. The series would be rounded out by one created for dieters. Let’s take brownies as an example. A sundae bar would be outlined for a dinner party, with various kinds of brownies and blondies, all made the with highest quality ingredients, alongside such homemade toppings as marshmallows, caramel sauce, and pralines. Baking enthusiasts could also consider making regular chocolately fudge brownies, or else a nice lower-in-fat masala chai brownie. The final option would be formed from wheat bran mixed with egg whites and splenda, to be savoured by bodybuilders as they pretend to eat a brownie. Please don’t steal my idea.
Since my hope for a healthier future knows no bounds, here is what I would make for the invention challenge on the new reality show called Master Chef: Extreme Health Edition. It requires chefs to create foods with flavour, but also adequate protein while being relatively low in fat, carbs, and sugar. After tasting the results, the judges would run on treadmills, having their VO2 max and energy outputs measured. Gassy emissions would also be measured. Take that Gordon Ramsay!
Dump Dumps Fibre Muffins
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup chocolate whey protein (or more if you like)
about 4-8 egg whites (depends on elevation and barometric pressure of your location)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup splenda (I often replace with orange zest and orange extract)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla or maple flavouring
1 cup water
Mix above ingredients and let them stand to absorb water. Spray muffin cups with pam; bake for 25-30 minutes (or less if you are in Edmonton) at 350 degrees. Which option would you choose?