Playing Favourites: Avocado

Did you know that there are “good fats” that we should be eating?

Coconut is one. Almond butter is another. They’re both pretty delicious.

But my favourite is avocado.


Last night, I mashed up an avocado and squeezed some lemon juice into it to use as a sauce on a baked pork chop.

This morning, I cut up an avocado and a tomato and ate them in a bowl with two fried (Gingerich organic) eggs and salt and pepper on top.

I was introduced to avocado when I lived in Mexico. There, avocado is made into guacamole (which we all know and love), blended with peppers and other ingredients into a creamy salsa, sliced and put on sandwiches and hamburgers, blended with thick cream as a sauce for flautas, and so much more.

Avocado finds its way into my salads as well. Its creamy smoothness is a nice counterpart to something like onion or garlic.

A simple and absolutely delicious way to enjoy avocado is to make your own guacamole. You have probably had it at restaurants or purchased the powdered mix at stores, but I’m here to tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself. That is, if you have never tried to make it from scratch, from fresh ingredients, you should be ashamed of yourself. Please disregard this if you don’t even like avocado at all.

To make your own guacamole, you need a handful of ingredients:

guacamole ingredients

I usually use at least 2 avocados. You’ll want to add more if you’re making this for a party.

First, choose avocados that are dark, almost black, in colour, and have some give to them when you squeeze them gently. I would recommend buying avocados at least a day ahead of when you want to make your guacamole, to give the avocados a chance to ripen a bit more. The worst is when you crack open an unripe avocado and realize there’s no way you can mash it with a fork.

Cut the avocados in half, like the one pictured. Remove the pit. Scoop the avocado out of the skin with a spoon and into a bowl large enough to mix all of the ingredients.

Mash the avocado with a fork until any lumps are obliterated.

At this point, I usually add a few dashes of lime juice (or lemon juice if you don’t have lime), a few shakes of salt (I use free-running sea salt), and I press one clove of garlic into the bowl, then mix well. Then, I add finely chopped onion, diced tomato (cut as large or as small as you like. I like it chunky, but others prefer it smooth), and chopped cilantro.

Mix well.

Add more salt and lime juice to taste, and even more garlic if you’re that kind of person. For heat, you could add some finely chopped jalapeño or habanero or other hot pepper.

Et voila! Thick, healthy yummyness that you can dip raw veggies into, spread on a sandwich, put in a quesadilla or taco, eat with tortilla chips… the list goes on.

(photo source) (I didn’t want to make my own guacamole just to take a picture for this post. Sometime in the future I’ll make some and take a picture and put it here. 🙂 )

There are many other ways to use avocado. The sky is the limit!

Here are a few recipes I would like to try:

Scale no weighing

Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

Scale no weighing

On the Whole9 people’s list of guidelines for the Whole30 diet (which I started on February 22, 2012), there is a bit of a strange stipulation against weighing and measuring yourself:

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.

This, of course, flies in the face of everything that we know to be normal about diets and weight loss programs, right? We’re all familiar with that Before and After series of torso shots of people standing in their bathroom in underwear. We hear of people stepping on the scale to monitor their progress.

It’s natural. We are curious: we want to know!

One of the things I really like about the Whole9 mindset is that health is not only about weight loss. Instead, it’s all about balance.

Balance between quality and quantity, between getting healthy and staying healthy.

I forgot to take the requisite torso shot on the first day of my diet, and again at the one-week mark. I regret that, and I regret that I didn’t realize this final rule until I went back after I started my second week to make sure I was doing things right.

But I’m excited. I am so proud that I made the decision to do something that is so against the grain in order to not lose control of my body and my health to comfort foods and convenience. I’m thrilled at how energetic I feel and that I have been motivated to take up running. For years, I have felt a distinct lack of discipline in my life, and I feel like I finally am gathering the skills to be more disciplined.

I’m actually considering making this endeavour a Whole45 or Whole60, in an attempt to completely break my dependence on sweets and any remaining emotional connection with food. It sounds a bit hokey for those of us that looooooove to eat, but I don’t want to be ruled by hunger pangs or enslaved to potato chips.

I want to be clear: this is not about shedding pounds. Yes, I would like to avoid having to buy another wardrobe, which means losing some girth in the hip-thigh-tummy region, and I’m afraid of “letting myself go”, which could so very easily happen. But I want to make the decision to be healthy, not just skinnier. Healthy.

Please comment with your perspective on our tendency to have an emotional connection with food…


Whip it! How to Make {heathy} Mayonnaise.

My mayo!
My mayo!

I say may-uh-NAYze instead of MAY-uh-nayze. Does that make me weird?

Not that anybody but my boyfriend cares. He likes to make fun of me a wee tiny bit about it. Okay, truth is he doesn’t care, either.

Where was I?

As part of my newly turned-over healthy leaf, I am not eating any of the six store-bought salad dressings in my fridge. But I am eating lots of salad.

Last week, I made my own balsamic vinaigrette, tried it, enjoyed it, then promptly started wishing for other dressings. Specifically,  creamy dressings like Caesar and ranch.

(Mysteriously, I can’t find the recipe that I used for the balsamic vinaigrette, but here’s a great guide to dressings the Paleo way)

Now that I’d done hours upon hours of Internet research into Whole30 recipes, I was pretty sure that I could concoct something.

Most of those somethings started with mayonnaise.

Crap. I don’t have “kosher” mayonnaise.

Light bulb. I can make my own.


I remember my mom making mayonnaise, and knew I had her recipe somewhere. My mom’s sister Hazel says that Grandma  would be proud of me, because she used to make her own mayonnaise when they were growing up.

Mom's Blender Mayo Recipe
Mom's "Blender Mayonnaise" Recipe, as she typed it on our first family computer (MS-DOS!)

Mom’s wasn’t quite up to my health par, though pretty close. Following this very helpful recipe that I will refer you to for tips and what-to-do-ifs, I bought a fairly cheap Extra Light Tasting olive oil to use instead of salad or vegetable oil.

You’ll notice that my mom’s recipe is a fast recipe. 15 seconds fast to be precise! I’m going to lead you (as I learned from my new friend Melissa) in a much slower direction. Hours slow. But worth it slow.

Ingredients (Check back here tomorrow to learn where I got this beautiful big brown egg!)

So. What you’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar would work as well)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard* (pretty sure there’s stuff in that I shouldn’t eat, but I decided I didn’t care)
  • 1 1/4 cup light-tasting olive oil
  • A blender or food processor that can operate at a low speed

Possibly the most important thing you need to do is make sure that everything is at room temperature. Everything. I say again: nothing should be cold. Go ahead and leave the eggs and lemon juice out for a few hours!

Another very important thing to remember is that this recipe works best if you think LOW and SLOW. For the ingredients to emulsify, they need time. So, set your food processor on low and keep it there.

SLOW: In mayonnaise-making, as in many other aspects of life (though not all), slow and steady wins the race. Blogger Melissa says it very well when she says to pour “the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil”. Why would I try to re-write that helpful visual? So I won’t.

Now you’ve been prepared. Here are your steps. Go:

1. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature.

2. Make sure all of your utensils are very clean. (Yes, it matters. So I’m told.)

3. Crack the egg into the blender. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. Let them hang out there for maybe 30 minutes to make sure they are good and room-temp.

4. Add the salt and dry mustard and 1/4 cup oil and blend until well-mixed, 20-30 seconds. Use your judgement.

5. Do some hand exercises to get ready for several minutes of slow and steady pouring. I kid you not. My hands shook for several minutes afterwards.

6. Get the machine going on low. Slowly and steadily pour the remaining 1 cup of oil into the whirring mixture. After a few minutes, you will notice the colour get lighter and you will actually hear the machine start to work harder as the soon-to-be-mayo emulsifies.

7. Remember my mom’s tip: if when all the oil has been added, a pool of it has gathered at the top, increase the speed to high for 3 seconds.

8. Turn the machine off and give your hand a rest.

9. Pat yourself on the back.

Voila! You should have a very smooth and creamy, slightly yellow mayonnaise.

Here's what it should look like, more or less
Here's what it should look like, more or less

So. Room temperature ingredients. Light-tasting olive oil (I repeat: don’t get extra virgin). Low setting on the food processor or blender. Slowly pour the oil in.

Do you feel like you deserve the Suzie Homemaker crown? You should!

Updated March 28, 2012: If your mayo flops, follow my mom’s advice: pour out 3/4 of your mixture into another container, add one more (room temp) egg to the remaining 1/4, blend, then slowly add the rest of the oily gloppy remainder. After the initial heartbreak of the flop, you should be delighted to find your mayo more delicious than you imagined!

Of course, for me, the mayonnaise wasn’t enough. I wanted salad dressing.

After some more Internet searching, I came up with an idea for a ranch dressing from this very out-of-date but informative page.

Instead of adding dried dill and garlic separately, I realized I had an Epicure dill seasoning mix in my cupboard that already had garlic in it. Huzzah!

Ranch dressing with homemade mayo
Ranch dressing with homemade mayo

Whole30-friendly Ranch Dressing:

1/2 cup “Paleo” mayonnaise
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk* (I used coconut)
1 Tbsp. dry dill weed
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
ground pepper to taste

Use as a dip or a dressing. Will keep for… a while. (Use discretion, people!)

Now you can feel even better about your salads and dips… or whatever it is you use your mayonnaise for.


*Note: I learned after I made this mayo and wrote this post that I should be avoiding sulfites as well as carageenans and MSG. The mustard that I used  did not have an ingredients list, but I can be fairly certain it contained one of these three common additives. My bad. Also, some coconut products contain sulfites as well. Basically, if there are more than a few ingredients, or if there is anything listed in the ingredients that you can’t pronounce, look for something else.

McCafe $1 off

Gratitude á la First World

McCafe $1 off
This is not a promo. I repeat, this is not a promo.

I am grateful for being a Canadian, a citizen of a country where I am free to do so many things people of other countries cannot.

I am grateful for OSAP, which makes it possible for me to go to university, even though I will have debt after I graduate.

I am grateful for the technology which allows me to communicate with family and friends far and wide.

I am grateful for the chance to have a voice about things that matter, should I so choose to take it.

I am grateful for Tax-Free Savings Accounts.

I am grateful for nieces.

I am grateful for cousins.

I am grateful for freedom of speech, even though I have recently learned few things are as democratic as they sound.

I am grateful for good old-fashioned bacon and eggs.

I am grateful to be from a rural, agricultural area: farmers truly do feed cities.

I am grateful to know many truly talented people, and to be able to celebrate them in their successes.

I am grateful to have friends on at least 4 continents.

I am grateful for friends that I can have deep, thoughtful conversations with.

I am grateful for the knowledge that I will never run out of books to read.

I am grateful for the many resources I have to help me be healthy.

I am grateful for McDonald’s’ $1-off McCafe days, in competition with Tim Horton’s Roll-up-the-Rim, especially since, believe it or not, McD’s is currently the best place to go to study in my hometown!


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: The one where my new diet accidentally coincides with Lent

"the last supper"

When I posted yesterday’s blog about starting a fairly strict diet today, it didn’t even dawn on me that today is Ash Wednesday.

For those that are completely ignorant of Christian traditions, Ash Wednesday is the day after Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday). It’s the beginning of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter. A season in which it is traditional for people to give up (refuse to indulge in) something they love for the purpose of prioritizing God or their faith over that thing (food or entertainment, etc.).

I didn’t intend to start my Whole30 diet on the first day of Lent, but here I am, on Ash Wednesday, beginning a 30- or 60-day journey that excludes several of my favourite things: bread, wine, pastry, beer, chocolate, yogurt, cheese. CHEESE!

Last night, true to Pancake Tuesday custom, I ate pancakes as a “last meal” before the “fasting” that starts today.