05 October 2018

Featured Post: Meal of the Week #MOTW

Hey ya'll!

The Measuring Cup Blog will feature a weekly Meal of the Week #MOTW. #MOTW is designed to help you meal prep for the week, as well as give you go-to meal ideas. Having your lunch prepared is a powerful tool - you are in control of what you eat at work and school, and will rarely want to snack on random stuff. #MOTW will serve as a useful resource for measuringcuppers. See my Instagram account here, where you can also connect with me. Feel free to suggest a #MOTW!


Coconut Milk* Curry/Stir Fry and Brown Rice 
Ingredients:
1 can of organic coconut milk, vegetables (such as broccoli, bell peppers, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower), chili peppers, curry powder or turmeric, onions, ginger, fresh cilantro, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.
Method:
Grease the bottom of a pot with coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.  Add the diced onions and ginger and let them sweat for about 3-5 minutes.  Add your spices to the mix. Next, add the coconut milk, adding a little bit of water to thin it out a bit. Add your vegetables. Steam for not more than 10 minutes - you still want your veggies to have a nice bite to them. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy an utterly delicious meal. 
Brown rice - boil rice, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes.  I find brown rice is more filling, so I only need about 3/4 cooked up to feel full. I typically serve half a cooked cup per meal.
*Coconut milk is high in saturated fat.  When I make this dish, I ensure that I get at least 4 meals out of it because of the high calorie content.  I immediately portion into different storage bowls. 

Quinoa salad.

Ingredients:
Quinoa, black beans, scallions, sweet corn, poblano peppers, cherry tomatoes, cumin seeds, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil, and feta cheese.
Method: Cook the quinoa with lots of cumin seeds and smoked paprika. Set aside. In a pan, using extra virgin olive oil ("evoo") and a little more cumin seeds, char poblano peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and the white part of the scallions (in no particular order). Next, add all ingredients to the cooked quinoa. Add the green part of the scallions, feta cheese, lemon juice, and freshly cracked black pepper to the mix. Enjoy warm or cold.

Quinoa salad.
Grilled sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, and steamed broccoli. 
Method: Cut sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, paprika, and evoo. I usually season mine with either the aforementioned, but I recently discovered "Agashe" from ThePantrySpices. Agashe has taken over my sweet potato grilling, because it's so delicious and not overpowering. 
Chicken breasts - cut to desired chunks, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, rosemary, and a little bit of thyme. Pan sear in evoo, letting it char a little (can you tell I like a lot of my food slighly charred?) Turn sides and cover the pan, letting it cook in its juices for another 7 minutes. All done. 
Broccoli - steam, don't boil. 



Steamed and semi-mashed black eye beans with a local tasting sauce, grilled mackerel and grilled plantains. 
Method:
Beans - soak and let absorb water before steaming. This helps to soften the beans and reduce flatulence. 
For a local tasting sauce that won't interfere with your clean eats, bleach a little bit of palm oil for your sauce. Blend roma tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, and scotch bonnet peppers ,then sieve to let water drain - this also helps to use a lot less oil, as the excess water sometimes calls for more oil. Season the sauce however you like - I usually use maggi, salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
Mackerel - freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, black pepper, a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and a tiny dollop of butter for a beautiful finish. 
Grilled plantains - slice plantains, place in oven on low "broil" setting and let cook for 35-40mins. Watch your plantains cook evenly with that tiny bit of brown  you're looking for. No oil needed. 





27 April 2018

The Weekender: Earned It

Eating out is a part of life, so it is important to have an eating-out strategy that fits into your overall nutrition plan. There is no point eating blindly and paying money for calories that you’ll later regret. Yes, you deserve a treat, but a calculated one. Here are my five tips for eating out:
1.     Check out the menu before your restaurant rendezvous. The joys of preparation. And it’s fun, too. You don’t want to be ambushed when you see different dishes on the menu and the waiter is “patiently” asking: do you need a couple more minutes? That slight pressure to order promptly, especially when others know what they want and you’re the one “holding up” the orders? I know the feeling all too well. Look at the menu and make your decision before getting to the restaurant.

2.     Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter questions about the dish you’re ordering. Last week, I went to a restaurant. The menu said “fish,” not “breaded fish.” My meal was a breaded-fish grease fest. If only I’d just asked. Watch out for fancy meal titles – they are often accompanied with some grease/sauce you didn’t anticipate. 

3.     Get your salad dressing on the side. When ordering a salad, don’t forget to ask for the dressing on the side. Salad dressing includes oil, and restaurants often use more oil than is required (in my opinion). Also, they tend to over dress the salad. Don’t forget to ask for the dressing on the side. It’ll save the point of having a salad in the first place. 

4.     Big portions. Once you have been served a massive dish, ask for a takeout container. Split it in half. You’ll still be satisfied, because that portion is probably for two meals. Thank yourself later for being so savvy.

5.     Ready to Splurge? Do it without any apologies. I know I keep referring to my Weight Watchers journey, but that journey taught me so much about nutrition. You are allowed to spend your calories on one meal at a restaurant – just plan for it. When I know that I want to “go to town” at a restaurant, I make smart decisions during the day. I usually just eat one protein-focused meal, and nourish myself with teas, water, and fruit during the day. My nutrition (the word “diet” is loaded with negative connotations, and I want to switch to nutrition) plan stays on track, even with my splurge. And on my splurge days, once I’m not enjoying anything a 100%, I leave it alone. Not worth my calories, and certainly not worth yours. 
What are you doing to ensure you stay on track with your nutrition plan even when out this weekend? Share your tips with me! 

Till next time,

anu

18 March 2018

No "#BodyGoals" But Yours

In this post, let's enter the realm of body positivity. No judgment, just frankness and acceptance. I hope to help you accept your body for what it is, while working to make your body the best it can be. 

To start with, did you know that the same weight can look drastically different on two people? Weight is distributed differently among different bodies, so don't compare yourself with others. A few years ago, I saw an article by a weight loss coach. He photographed five women, all who weighed the same. They looked entirely different and wore different clothing sizes. There is no authority on what you should look like, except for a healthy body and a happy mind. Every other thing is a distraction. Here are a few that get in the way of frankness and acceptance:
  1. Forget BMI? Use BMI with caution. It should not be your anchor but can give you an indication of how far away you are from a healthy weight. BMI neither considers body distribution, nor does it take into account a larger cup size, hip size, or butt size - all of which have their own weight, but by and large have no negative effect on your health and vitality. I know people who have "desirable" weights, but need to pay attention to their midsections for health reasons - information not contained in their BMI. Their "desirable" weight doesn't shield them from health risks. Instead of relying heavily on BMI, look at how much you weigh, and where that weight is concentrated.
  2. Ditch the clothing size anxiety.  I know this might sound corny but while clothing size is just a number, your beauty is multidimensional. Easy to say, right? I still get paranoid when I'm going to my tailor for measurements. We all do. But aside from an "honesty" dress or pair of pants, don't be bogged down by your size in the store. Some stores underestimate, and others overestimate. How healthy you are is not necessarily determined by the number a clothing company gives you.  
  3. What if I don't like my arms, for instance? If you don't like a body part, work on it (unless it's genetic and there's not much you can do about it). Growing up, I got teased because of my boobs. I would be walking to class and boys would chant "cowbell, our milk," and so on. Not to talk of the fact that my name was the perfect rhyme for breast milk (nono) in Hausa.    Long story short, I don't have the best relationship with my chest.  I remember my first proper bra measurement - I was a UK 12, and my cup size was a whopping J cup. Yes, I was a 32 J at age 17. I honestly wanted to cry my way out of the store - I probably did.  But there is nothing I can do that will ever change the fact that my cup size is larger than 'usual'.  Fine, it did reduce by a few sizes, although it's still not my "desired size" - I became a pro on just how well to compress them, believe me! But what I will not do is complain day and night. If you don't like a part of your body, do your best, but don't get bogged down by it. At the end of the day, you're probably the one who notices it the most.  Just let it be. 
  4. Body Goals simply does not exist.  The world started appreciating large posteriors when J-Lo emerged. Before then, many of my sisters went without positive acknowledgment.  Weird fact: big butts were seen as a medical condition in the 1800s.*  What's Hollywood et al. looking for now? A big butt!  Your body might not be what the world wants today, but don't test Hollywood. The morale of this story is - every body is Body Goals. There is no body that's better than yours. And I actually mean what I am saying. I wish you knew just how much I mean this statement. Just trust me. You have not seen a body better than yours. 
  5. Mothers First. The last shall be first. We have all probably contributed adversely to the way women feel after they have had a baby. If you are a mom, though I haven't been there, I can imagine it's tough, but please try to enjoy your body in peace. I recently ranted about this here, but I'll give a brief summary. The idea of "snapback" to pre-baby body not only trivializes women's experiences, it also shames the women who never get their pre-baby bodies back - and not getting pre-baby body back is perfectly OK. By all means, getting fit again is important. What is not important is pressure about pre-baby body.  
Accepting your body is not some lofty abstraction. It is at the heart of getting to the best version of yourself and accepting that version. 

till next time,
anu

* I saw this in an online article that I'm struggling to remember.  I love to #citewomen, so I'll keep looking for this and update accordingly! 

29 November 2017

Three Things You Should Never Do Close To The End of The Year


In 30+ days, it will be 2018.  Depending on how you have spent the past few months, you’re either looking forward to more progress, beating yourself up for having fallen off the wagon, or feeling stuck in a rut.  If you’re in the last two categories, do not despair.  Why? Despair is a scam that shouldn’t accompany you into 2018.

1.  (Do Not) Make a New Year resolution  

Don’t do it.   Don’t make that grand plan.  Rather, make specific targets for fragments of time.  For example, you can make a target for January.  A good target can be to write down everything you consume throughout the month of January.  Not only is this target useful, it’s strategic.  When you document all that you have eaten, I can assure you that you’ll become more conscious of what you eat.  Write down what meals kept you fuller for longer.  Write the portions.  Note the meals that made you feel heavier.  Another specific target can be getting in three days of cardio per week, no excuses.  This is sensible, because you already have Saturday and Sunday that are work-free. Pick one other day during the week to ensure you stick to your goal.

2.   (Do Not) Make drastic changes

This is not the time to make drastic changes.  There’s too much going on toward the end of the year.  Family commitments, work commitments, travel and holiday commitments, festivities, financial commitments, the New Year, and so on.  When there are lots of variables, drastic changes only put unnecessary pressure that’ll sadden you if you don’t live up to them.  You can, however, decide to be more cautious about your habits.  For example, if you have not been working out at all, this is not the time to join #teamnodaysoff.  Rather, you can decide to look frankly at your schedule and see where you can fit in some exercise, then gradually join #teamnodaysoff.  Ease into a new routine if you are keen on making changes before the end of the year.  Please don’t try to lose 20lbs by Christmas.

3.   (Do Not) Throw the baby out with the bathwater 

Don’t despair, just because you’re not seeing changes any longer.  If you’ve been consistent, or have made changes but are not seeing results quickly enough, stay the course.  Your body won’t be deceived – the changes you’re making will show up in due course.  I’ve suffered from this, too.  When I feel that I’m not making progress, I switch up my food and workouts. I incorporate more salads and soups into my meals.  I also do more high intensity training as opposed to my coveted long runs.  When all fails, I just stand.  I stay the course.  You should, too.  We will overcome.

till next time,

anu



22 September 2017

Your birthright as a Nigerian: Sunday Rice. Let’s talk balance.

I thought that was a nice and cheeky way to title this blog post. Really, though: do not let any diet plan cheat you out of enjoying the foods you love – well, unless they’re just plain ridiculous (somebody tell me why there’s such a thing as fried butter)? The crux of your sustainable, healthy eating, and exercise plan is balance. The finer details will follow as time goes by. Don’t buy into unrealistic or unsustainable ‘diet’ options.  You’re in it for the long haul, so think long-term. Speaking of long term: boy, can weekends pose the ultimate threat? Those Saturday mornings when pancakes, waffles, fried yams and akara are calling your name. Don’t forget about Sunday, when Sunday rice is literally the highlight of the day. The good news is: you can eat in moderation. The bad: well, there is no bad. Healthy eating choices do not and should not have disadvantages. Of course, we might need to reorient our minds as to what “disadvantage” means. Nonetheless, when your diet plan is overly restrictive and you can’t enjoy life the way you should, please rethink it. Let’s get to how to attain balance this weekend. I hope you like the photo – I thought of themeasuringcup readers when I was using the medicine ball during the week J

  • Sunday Rice: I know, Sunday rice – the holy grail of Nigerian kitchens. What’s not to love? The chewiness and warmth of jollof, the soundness of good fried rice – the kind that all the vegetables are freshly cut and just presents itself nicely on your plate, or the kingpin of it all – rice and stew. Kai,* why would a plan compel you to cut this out of your diet? I never cut it out of my diet, and I’m 12kg lighter and going strong J. Look at it this way: you cannot cut out rice from your diet as long as you are living (unless you really don’t enjoy it), so why cut it out when you’re trying to lose weight? Did you know that since rice is a simple carb, it’s relatively easy to burn? Did you also know that you don’t need a huge portion of rice to be satisfied? Don’t cut rice out. Reduce your rice portions. Switch to brown rice if you’re seeking more fibre. Diversify your rice portfolio. Grate some cauliflower into your rice to ‘increase’ the volume of rice without adding calories. Add quinoa to the side of your rice to enable you reduce the amount of rice, while still enjoying your rice; bulk up your rice with peas and legumes, and eat a healthy amount of veggies with your rice – make your rice (or whatever is scared to your food culture) go far! These tweaks are sustainable – they’re not hinged on any special diet, but are lifestyle adjustments I have made that help me enjoy my rice in peace.
  • Attending Functions: Those small chops.** What to do with them? I can bet that 90% of my readers have a wedding or event to attend this weekend. If you’re in Lagos, it’s probably a wedding. Now, what to do with all that food in front of you? Firstly, eat before you attend a function. You’ll be less hungry and make better food choices. Also, plan, plan, plan. I will certainly write a post on how to eat at a Nigerian function. For now, my main tips would be: eat before attending, and plan (adjust) your portions for the day with the function in mind, and don’t mindlessly eat at a function. It’s tough, but doable.
  • Sweat: This weekend, break a sweat. Find the time to do some form of exercise. Remember that you’re in no hurry. I recommend cardio if you did not exercise during the week. It’s a fast and efficient way to burn calories with the least risk of hurting yourself if you don’t know how to use gym equipment, or just aren’t well versed in exercise routines. Exercising will help you feel more balanced. It’s alone time, so it’ll help you clear your mind. Also, you’ll be more conscious of what you’re putting in your body when you’ve worked to burn calories. Most of all, it releases happy hormones.

This weekend, focus on your portions, try not to eat mindlessly, and break a sweat. Actually, break more than one sweat. Get drenched! Stay the course – you deserve it.

till next time,
anu

Glossary
·      * Kai – It’s an exclamation. Similar to “gosh, come on” etc.
·      **Small chops – light, mostly warm snacks served at Nigerian events.


#balance!



06 August 2017

Be Like Stella (Get Your Groove Back)


I remember June 2011. I was attending my WeightWatchers class (the gods bless WW! My WW journey was incredible, by the way) when, during our talks, a wonderful 50-something year old woman said that she was waiting on the final 2lb before her daughter’s wedding. She’d lost about 40lb, but the 2lb just wasn’t moving. It hadn’t moved in over a month, and her daughter’s wedding was 2 weeks away, if my memory serves me well. Just a week to her daughter’s big day, guess what happened? It moved! Finally! It was emotional, inspiring, and super exciting. This same plateau feeling we all reach after a period of consistent progress is normal. Those who win are the persistent ones. You can win, too.

Although I would not recommend being a slave to the scale/numbers, using the scale does have its occasional advantages.  It can give you an idea of how you’re doing, especially if you don’t strength train. There have been times (and recent times indeed) when I needed to be Stella – certainly needed my groove back! Most times, I’ve gotten it back. Let’s talk some ways I’ve made my honesty dress budge: shrinking a bit more and doing it healthily, happily, and most importantly, sustainably.  For the record, progress is a slow process (50 cent was the man). Even if you feel as though you’re not making much progress, remember that sustainable weight loss takes time. Here are my tips to switching things up to make progress.

1.     Hold on, you’re most likely making progress
Don’t despair just yet.  Your body is not trying to work against you. You live in your body, and your body is working for you. Be easy on your body. Take a minute to appreciate it, and the work it’s done thus far. Because you aren’t noticing more changes over a few weeks does not mean that you’re doing anything wrongly. Our bodies adjust, recuperate, might need a break, or might just need more time to adjust to a new environment. If you are still doing everything right, you have to trust the process. You’ll be happier for it.
2.     Diversify your food portfolio
Sounds like I’m referring to some trust fund here. I mean, we are our bodies’ trustees, right? We’re the ones entrusted with this frame that should last us a good number of years. Variety is the spice of life. Switch up your food a little. If you’ve been having a protein-focused breakfast, why not try one that includes complex carbohydrates, for example? Or if you eat leafy salads for dinner, why not try a more wholesome salad with seeds, legumes, cruciferous veggies and perhaps a yogurt-based dressing that you’ve never made? I made this wonderful yogurt based dressing to match my salad yesterday and it was so yum! I can share the recipe if you’d like J. Also speaking of diversifying, try reducing your animal flesh. I know a lot of us get our protein from chicken, beef, fish, lamb etc., but switching it up is always nice. Try a day without animal flesh. Go for legumes, eggs, almonds, Greek yogurt and so on. Constant consumption of animal flesh without giving your body a break might leave you feeling bloated – a recipe for false ‘weight gain.’
3.     Diversify your workout portfolio
Especially for runners, this is a tall order. Runners are so obsessed with logging in miles, that doing any other thing is considered sacrilege if we haven’t ‘paid our dues.’ But even within running, it’s possible to diversify. Interval training, speed workouts, shorter runs with time to spare for weight lifting, etc. If you’re not a runner, why don’t you try something different? Get a workout buddy. Try yoga. Workout at a different time of the day. Add an extra day in. Join a group exercise class. Do a workout challenge. Buy new workout clothes that’ll make you want to do more (I love this one).
4.     Watch your sodium intake
For my scale addicts, sodium can literally take a 160lb person to 165lb the next morning. Don’t panic, just adjust your sodium intake and drink more water. There are also hidden salts in foods that we don’t notice.
5.     Snackers beware
I have an entire post on snacking here. If you snack, you have to be really careful when you’re stuck in a rut and the weight just isn’t shifting. Switch your snacks. Eat some carrots and cucumbers, if you must snack. Pick up a few pieces of almonds – yes, almonds have calories, but not all calories are equal. The fullness from almonds can keep you full for a few hours and still provide you with fibre, protein, healthy fats, and so much more! These snacking methods are 100% sustainable. We are all about sustainability at themeasuringcupblog!

Share your thoughts with your friends and me. Till next time,


anu