Friday, 1 November 2013

Happy Hallowe'en

Wow, it seems like forever since I posted on here.  So much for consistent journaling – which was my original goal for this blog.  But, sometimes life just gets in the way.  I’ve been busy taking a six-week (simply for interest) course sponsored by my local library called “The Philosophy of Horror Fiction”.  Between the readings for that and my real job there hasn’t been a lot of time for anything else.  I have also written a few things for my “other blog”.  I like to focus this one on weight loss and healthy lifestyle choices.  This “other” is more of a personal blog with personal ramblings.  Sometimes an idea just rattles around inside my head screaming to be put on paper … and, that’s where it ends up.  If for any reason someone is interested in checking it out, it can be found at  Sometimes there is a little crossover and I post things from here to there, but not usually the other way around.

We are also on the eve of the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  In a nutshell; On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.  One can make it all official and such by registering on their website hence submitting the fruit of their labors. I would just do it for interest sake and to keep the brain working.  I think about participating every year and then my determination begins to lag and I don’t get words down on paper (or into the computer as the case may be).  I’m going to give it shot this year, but don’t expect anything to be posted here or anywhere else.  Like the horror fiction course I am taking it would be purely for interest sake.

But back to this post!

My BFF “M” is also a member of my TOPS group and, bless her heart, to take some of the pressure off me she offered to lead the meeting this past Monday night.  In light of some other things that went on this week I was more than grateful for her help.  The following is her “Halloween Tips” meeting.

Q: How can I have a healthy Halloween with all of the treats around? Any tips? 

A: Halloween is one of the most exciting days of the year for kids and candy lovers alike. It’s so easy to overdo it with piles of candy in the house though, even before the big day arrives.
Understand the impact 
Those cute, snack size candy bars and bags of chips may seem harmless, but they pack monster amounts of calories, fat, sugar and salt.
It is estimated that the average child collects between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of Halloween candy in one trick-or-treat session. That’s the equivalent of one to two pounds of fat! For a 100-pound child to burn those calories, it would take 44 hours of walking or 14.5 hours of full court basketball.
Out of sight, out of mind 
To avoid eating all of your goodies before trick-or-treaters arrive, buy candy just before the 31st, or keep it somewhere inconvenient so you’re not tempted to dig in each time you pass the candy bowl. And buy treats you don’t like! If you’re a sweet tooth, buy salty treats. If you like chips, buy sweets. Once candy is in the house, put it out in smaller amounts or put it away so you and your child don’t have free access.

Moderation is key – set limits! 
You don’t need to lock your kids in the house on Halloween or confiscate their candy bags. Halloween can be an opportunity to teach moderation and  eating sweets as treats. When your kids get home from trick-or-treating, have them make two piles of their loot: a favourites pile and a pile they won’t eat. Encourage them to share or give away their unwanted pile. Explain that candy is a treat on Halloween for them to enjoy in moderation on regular days. Work out a reasonable treat allowance and explain that eating less per day will make their Halloween stash last longer. 1-3 pieces per day (100-300 calories) is a reasonable amount for most active children over a short period of time. Have them enjoy their candy alongside a healthy snack or a glass of water. Make sure you’re also eating candy in moderation to set a good example. 82% of parents set candy limits, so don’t let puppy-dog-eyes change your mind!

Healthy habits all year long 
Remember that Halloween is just one day of the year. Indulging on holidays can be completely acceptable if we do our best to eat healthy every day

Handy tip: Try refrigerating or freezing candy to reduce overindulging. When it’s not soft and chewy it isn’t as appealing and by the time it has thawed you or your child may lose interest. 

Okay … it’s me again.  Although my kids are grown and in charge of their own candy consumption these days there was a lot of great information to hear.  Those cute little packages are so deceptive too.  Don’t look anything like a full sized chocolate bar of bag of chips, but calorie wise they still pack a heck of punch.  Check it out …

One of things that I do miss about having little ones around on Halloween is carving the pumpkin and roasting the pumpkin seeds.  I guess I could still carve a pumpkin to set out on the front porch, but let’s face it, as much fun as we had carving those jack-o-lanterns they could never be called works of art.  Lopsided smiling/grimacing faces was the best we could come up with.  I’ve since taken the lazy way out and put a little battery operated tea light inside of a smiling ceramic pumpkin and call it good!

I do miss the pumpkin seeds though.  And who knew they could be so good for you?  From an article on here are the 9 Top Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds.

1.  They contain heart healthy magnesium.  One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.  These help with important bodily functions such as the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels and proper bowel function.

2.  Zinc for immune support.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc with one ounce containing more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral.  Zinc is important to you body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation and male sexual function.

3.  Plant base Omega-3 Fats.  Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s.

4.  Prostate health.  Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health.

5.  Benefits for post-menopausal women.  Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good HDL along with a decrease in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms.

6.  Anti-diabetic effects.  Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.

7.  Heart and liver health.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, which may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.

8.  Restful sleep.  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone”.  Eating pumpkin seeds before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the trypotphan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful nights sleep.

9.  Anti-inflammatory benefits.  Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibity anti-inflammatory effect.  One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritic, but without the side effects.

And what’s the best way to eat these little powerhouse seeds?  In order to prevent the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw.  If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins.

If you prefer to eat the seeds roasted, do so yourself so you can control the roasting temperature and time.  Raw pumpkin seeds can be roasted on a low heat setting in your oven (no more than 170 degrees Fahrenheit or 75 degrees Celsius), sprinkled with natural salt, for about 15 to 20 minutes.  And make sure you eat the white outside part of the seed … that’s where the fiber and all the health benefits are.


Friday, 11 October 2013

One, Two, Three ... Go

When you are trying to stay on a weight loss program, or even just a healthy eating program there are all types of occasions throughout the year that can easily derail your efforts.  Valentine’s Day complete with chocolate hearts, green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, chocolate bunnies and ham dinners at Easter, but those holidays are nicely spaced apart.  If I do manage to overindulge and inflict major damage on my calorie count I can get back on track the next day and redeem myself before I have to step back onto the scale at the following Monday meeting of TOPS.

But now, the holiday eating season has officially begun!

You’re probably asking yourself, “What is this crazy woman talking about?  It’s only October!” 

Easily explainable!

Here in the “Great White North” otherwise known as Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, this coming Monday as a matter of fact.  As if that were not enough, the small city I call home hosts Canada’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, coincidentally, also starting on the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  Yup … we go from turkey and all the fixings non-stop into 10 days of Gemuetlichkeit, beer served by the pitcher, candied peanuts, wiener schnitzel and, sausage and sauerkraut.

Let’s not forget about Halloween at the end of the month.  That lovely time of year when we shell out candy to all the ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties ringing the doorbell, their voices chiming “trick or treat”.

For me, the real trick is not eating all the treats before it’s time to give them out.  I’ve learned over the last few years to NOT buy any Halloween candy until the day before to resist temptation.  No matter what you tell yourself about those little bite-sized candy bars … let me tell you from personal experience … they DO contain calories! 

Then of course, hanging on to my willpower by the tips of my fingernails, we gleefully glide into November.  In our family that means two consecutive weeks of celebrating birthdays. 

As if that were not enough the Christmas celebrations start.  I know, I know … you are scratching your head again wondering what I am talking about, but think about it; is there anyone that does not have one Christmas function (company dinner or otherwise) that is already scheduled in November? 

Like I said, the holiday eating season is upon us.

It all seems so overwhelming when I am trying to eat sensibly and shed pounds.  Everywhere I turn from October through January there seems to be an event or an occasion where food is the main star.  Best to tackle them one at a time.  I’ll leave Oktoberfest out of the equation because, lets face it, it’s a local demon I need to face.   We’ll start with Thanksgiving.  Whether you celebrate it in October or in November Thanksgiving can be a major set back to your weight loss success.  But, only if you let it!

Studies show that the average dinner sets us back 2,000 – 3,000 calories more than the average daily allowance.  That’s NOT 2,000 – 3,000 calories for the dinner.

No! No! No!

That’s 2,000 to 3,000 calories MORE than is normally consumed.  Since I am trying to lose weight my calorie count is probably lower than “the average daily allowance” so if I let myself indulge I can only imagine what my personal over-consumption numbers would be? 

So what are some tips to make sure that the only stuffed at the Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey?  The following list is a compilation of advice found on various websites, including,, and

EAT BREAKFAST – You may be tempted to try and save some of those breakfast calories for later in the day when the “good” food comes to the table but eating a small meal in the morning can actually give you more control over your appetite.  Start your day with a small satisfying breakfast and you won’t arrive at your gathering feeling starved.  Plus, missing out on your first meal of the day slows down your metabolism, which causes your body to store more calories later.

EASY ON THE ALCOHOL – Alcohol calories can add up quickly!  Have a glass of wine or one drink and then have a glass of water or enjoy sparkling water before having a second drink (if you must).  That way you stay hydrated; limit your alcohol calories and, stay sober.

LIGHTEN UP YOUR PLATE – If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner you can make your recipes healthier and chances are your guests will not even notice the subtle changes.  Use fat free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make the gravy.  Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar and/or fruit purees instead of oil in baked goods.  Reduce the oil and butter whenever you can.  Try plain yogurt or fat free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.  If you are attending dinner at someone else’s home ask if you can bring a few dishes to share, that way you can make some lighter dishes.  Most hostesses welcome not having to prepare everything.

POLICE YOUR PORTIONS – Not only on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year make sure you fill at least half your plate with veggies.  Thanksgiving is a great meal for calorie counting because so many dishes are already on any healthy eating plan; turkey is a lean meat and yams are an excellent source of fiber

If your dinner is going to be buffet style, survey the table before you fill your plate and decide what you are gong to choose.  Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.  Don’t waste calories on foods that you can have all year long.  Fill you plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.

Make some healthy swaps when you are choosing what to include on your plate; choose white meat instead of dark meat, green bean casserole instead of stuffing, dinner roll instead of corn bread, pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie, homemade cranberry sauce instead of canned and baked sweet potato instead of candied yams.

SAVOR YOUR FOOD – It is difficult to sit down and enjoy a meal on a regular day and even more so when you’re suddenly faced with a feast.  First and foremost, remember to eat slowly.  Put your fork down between bites and actually taste the food you are eating.  Experts agree that it the best way to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate of food.  If possible choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber to add to the feeling of fullness.

SKIP THE SECONDS – Try to resist the temptation to go back for second helpings.  Leftovers are much better the next day, and if you limit yourself to one plate, you are less likely to overeat and have some room for a delectable dessert choice.

TAKE A WALK – Instead of jumping from the main course into the dessert round, excuse yourself from the table and take a brisk   Take a couple of friends and family members with you to keep enjoying the company.  The added bonus here is you leave the “skinny” people behind to clear the table and do the dishes before dessert is served!


  1. Have doggy bags ready or encourage your guest to bring containers.  You really only need one plate of leftovers for the next day and all the extra food in your refrigerator is nothing but a temptation.
  2. Eat before the party starts.  Don’t go to dinner starving.  Have a low calorie snack before hitting the Thanksgiving table.  You are less likely to overeat if you have your appetite under control
  3. Avoid finger foods.  Nibbling before, during and after the main meal is a recipe for a bellyache.
  4. Choose white meat.  White-meat turkey is one of the best low-fat protein sources for the dieter.
  5. Stay on your personal schedule.  If you already maintain a fitness schedule, don’t let Thanksgiving derail it, but …
  6. Don’t use exercise as an excuse to over-indulge.  On average, you need to walk one mile to burn about 100 calories (15 minutes at 4 mph) while it takes only 2 seconds to gobble 100 calories of food.

PLAN AHEAD – Start adding a little more exercise to your routine for several days before the BIG DINNER.  This will give you an overall calorie deficit and may offset any damage done at the dinner.

BE REALISTIC – You may possibly want to shift to weight maintenance during the holidays.  Dieting through Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a chore.  Make good choices, eat in moderation and keep moving.  Limiting the damage instead of eliminating it will reduce your stress about holiday meals.  Stress can lead to further overeating.  Sometimes, not gaining during the holidays is as good as losing.  Start fresh when it’s over and done with.  You did not gain all your weight by eating one meal, and you are not going to blow your whole diet with one meal.  Just remember, it called a holi-DAY not a holi-MONTH!

FOCUS ON FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Thanksgiving is not about the bounty of food, it’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.  That should be the main event.  Spend quality time socializing.


Be thankful that you are surrounded by your family and/or friends.

Be thankful that you are able to enjoy a table abundant with food.

Be thankful that you can make choices at this meal because you know you will have another meal to enjoy tomorrow.

Those are all a lot more blessings than some people have!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thursdays Random Thought (Here's To Us)

I'm not sure where I came across this affirmation.  I only know that I liked it at the time and still like it now. It seemed somehow appropriate for a Random Thought on Thursday.

I make bookmarks to give as small gifts in my TOPS group ... sometimes to someone who is struggling a little, as we all do at times.  I think this would make an excellent one.  A good reminder of how and why we persevere.

Enjoy it.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mind Over Fatter

Keep a stiff upper lip!

Never let them see you sweat!

No fear!

Mind over matter!

People are always saying that once you make up your mind, you can do anything!  As it turns out, that’s not just a little piece of motivational mumbo-jumbo.  It’s really true.

The mind is a powerful thing and if you can use it to your advantage in losing weight?  What can it hurt?  Suspend your disbelief and listen … it might just help you get over a couple of hurdles.

Much of this information comes and all the ideas come from Dr. Steven Gurgevich and his book The Self Hypnosis Diet, with a few personal comments that I could not help but include.

Dr. Gurgevich explains how thinking positively can play a large factor in your success or failure.  It all depends on three things; MOTIVATION, BELIEF and EXPECTATION.

MOTIVATION … You have to want something to achieve it.

BELIEF … You have to allow yourself to believe that it is possible to achieve your goals.  Even if you only pretend that it is possible, that is good enough to start you on the right path.  It all comes back to the “self fulfilling prophecy”. If you believe something for long enough, it will become your reality.  If you constantly tell yourself you cannot do it because it is too hard, you will believe that and never succeed.  On the other hand, if you are constantly telling yourself you can do it … you will!

EXPECTATION … You must have some form for what you believe.  Some concrete expectation of what you expect and believe will actually happen.  You can have either one big goal at the end of the journey, or many little (more achievable) goals along the way.  To stay positive you must keep your expectations reasonable and always in your sights.

This combination of motivation, belief and expectation will make this happen for you, beginning from the inside out.  The mind and the body are always in communication.  If that communication ever stops you cease to function.  Every thought and idea in your mind has an effect on your body.  Thoughts are things; you cannot see them but you know you have them.  You cannot see them, but they impact on your body.  If you had biofeedback sensors on your body you would see the instantaneous changes that your thoughts have on your body. 

For example:  If I said to you, think of someone who makes you angry, you would immediately register changes to your heart function, blood vessels, changes in your nervous system and muscle tension – all based on just having a thought. 

Your body responds to your thoughts, both in the positive and in the negative.  And just as your thoughts influence your body, your body influences your thoughts.  There are times when you feel something in your body that causes you to feel emotion.  Things like hunger or thirst.  But sometimes there is a confusion such as having the feeling of being emotionally hurt might be confused with the feeling of I need to eat, or I want to eat.

The thoughts, ideas and pictures in your mind are tangible things to your body.  Keep them positive.

Eating is a habit.  Granted it is a necessary one, but it is still a habit.  You have to learn to change that habit.  Everyone is either right-handed or left-handed.  Yes, there is a dominant side to your brain that determines which hand you are going to write with, but basically it is a habit you formed because it was easiest.  Just like sometimes you go and grab some food because it is the easiest … you do not have to think about, you may not have to prepare it, it may not be on your healthy eating plan … but it is easy.  Going through the drive through on the way home is easier than planning a meal, preparing it, sitting down to eat it, and then cleaning up after it.  Do it often enough and you decide that you like the ease of the drive through, and it has now become a habit.

The easiest answer is quite often not the best answer.

So, let’s go back to left and right-handedness.  If some unfortunate accident befell you and you could not longer use your dominant hand, you would be forced to use your other hand to be able to function, to get dressed, do up your buttons, tie your shoes, get the spoon to your mouth to eat … all those simple tasks that you now take for granted.  You would have to learn to use you opposite hand.  Would it be easy?  Definitely not! Would it be fun?   I would guess, no!  Would it be necessary?  Absolutely!  And would you accomplish it?  Again, my guess would be that yes you would, because it would be important to you.  Sooner or later, using your opposite hand would be accomplished without giving it a second thought.  You would automatically start to pick up the pen with your opposite hand, you would automatically pick up your fork with the opposite hand.  What was once new and what had to be learned is now a habit.

You have to approach your eating habits the same way.  Will it be easy?  Definitely not!  Will it be fun?  It could be!  Is it necessary?  Yes!  And will you accomplish it?  Yes, because it is important to you!  Sooner or later you will automatically make the right choices.  What was once new and what had to be learned is now a habit.

It’s no different than tackling a new task at work.  You don’t want to do it.  You may not even agree that changing the way you do things is necessary.  But, if you want to keep you job you MUST make the change. 

Planning meals, healthier food choices, smaller portions and exercise are your job in looking after yourself.  You may not want to do them.  You may not even agree that changing the way you do thing is necessary.  But, if you want to be healthier, more fit and slimmer you MUST make the change.

The brain is by definition the “smart” part of your body.  As you go through your day you don’t even realize it, but there are two parts of your brain at work at the same time.  There is the “conscious” part.  That’s the part that allows you to put one foot in front of the other to move, it allows you to do math calculations, it allows you to get to work on time and do many other ordinary, every day functions.  Then there is the part that we don’t really think about very often.  It’s the “subconscious” part of the brain.  That’s the part that does all the work you don’t think about … remembering to breath, keeping your blood flowing and all the parts working together smoothly.  The conscious part of the brain tells you that you have an itch, and the subconscious part of the brain tells you that you need to scratch it.

The two parts to the brain also handle information differently.  Even information you provide yourself.  The conscious side of your brain can rationalize; it helps you think in abstractions.  You can decide what something means even if it is not expressed clearly.  But the subconscious mind is your problem solver.  It tries to make your life easier by simplifying things.  It is the part of your brain that epitomizes the acronym KISS … Keep It Simple Stupid, and it takes everything literally.  It has it’s own language.  If you say to yourself, and you probably have heard yourself or others say this, “I want to lose weight so badly”.  You know – and the conscious side of your brain – know what it means; they want to lose weight.  But imagine that your subconscious mind is right there taking your order, like a little waiter or waitress inside your head.  That waiter or waitress hears the first part, “I want to lose weight”.  They write it down and then ask, ”How would you like that done?  Badly?  Okay!”  That’s exactly how you are going to get it – badly!  That’s not what you wanted, but that’s exactly what the subconscious mind hears.  You have to restructure how you express things, even in your thoughts to yourself.

Another way of controlling how your subconscious mind responds to things is by using the word try.  You know what try means.  You’ve probably used that word quite often.  But I can’t show you a “try”.  And, you cannot show a “try” to someone else, because it doesn’t occupy space.  A try is something we only have an idea about.  We know with our conscious mind what we mean when we say, “try”, like I’ll try to be on time, or I’m trying to fall asleep.  But “trying” is NOT “doing”. 

And you can do it!  You can do it quickly, or slowly, or with difficulty or easily, but you can do it.  Doing it is not the same as trying.  The word “trying” is a mixed message to your brain and your body.  In weight loss there is no trying allowed.  It’s a do or do not proposition.

To quote the ever-wise Yoda from Star Wars, as he explained it to
young Luke Skywalker:

Another word you have to be sensitive to is “not”.  Actually you should remember the phrase … “Never the Nots”.  When you are speaking to yourself, or offering suggestions to your subconscious remove the “nots”.  Every time you say something like “I am NOT hungry” or “I do NOT want another piece of cake” the “NOT” means nothing to your subconscious mind.  The only thing your subconscious mind hears is what comes after the “NOT”.  If a person says, “I do not want a cigarette” The only thing your subconscious mind hears it “I want a cigarette”. 

Throw away “NOT” and throw away “TRY”.

The other word to throw out is “can’t”.  Never tell yourself that you “can’t” have something.  That leads to a feeling of deprivation and missing out.  The minute you feel deprived you want to alleviate that feeling and you will indulge.  Change the I can’t have three cookies – whimper, whimper, sob, sob – into I can have one cookie.  Always turn thoughts into a positive.  It stops you from feeling sorry for yourself.  Think about the fact that you can have a half a cantaloupe instead of the face that you cannot have a chocolate bar.  Feeling deprived and left out is one of the worst saboteurs to a successful weight loss effort.

Do you remember, from way back in school, what a hyperbole is?  A hyperbole is an exaggeration of speech used to evoke strong feeling or create a strong impression.  A hyperbole usually makes a point.  The hyperbole can also confuse the mind and body connection because the message is often conflicting.  For an example, “I just look at food and I gain weight” or “If I eat ice cram it’s like I just slap it right onto my hips” or someone once said, “If I walk past a buffet table of desserts, they seem to just jump right off, like magnets to my rear end”.  Those are hyperboles.  Can you imagine being behind the person with the food magnets in their rear?  You’d have to get out of the way end up looking like the victim of a vicious cafeteria food fight.

And then you have surely heard other people say, “I can eat anything and not gain an ounce”.

Which one of the people would likely be overweight; the “I can eat anything” person or the “I gain weight looking at food” person?

You probably answered the “I gain weight looking at food” person and you would be absolutely right.  And as ridiculous as the statement sounds, that person is being very honest.  They probably can gain weight just by looking at food.  There have been studies that looked at this phenomenon.  The people who repeatedly said that they could indeed eat anything they wanted and not gain an ounce were allowed to eat anything they wanted.  Gorge themselves on junk food if that was what they wanted to do.  Medical tests performed during and immediately after the consumption of the large quantities of food confirmed that their body did everything it could to prevent them from gaining weight.  Their metabolism increased, the motility of their digestion and elimination processes increased and they even perspired more.

Their body did everything it could to fulfil the suggestion that “I can eat anything and not gain an ounce”.  They also found themselves feeling a greater sense of fullness much earlier than others would. 

The other group that always said, “I just look at food and gain weight” were shown food, but they were not allowed to eat it.  They were also subjected to ongoing testing, and although they did not consume the food their body showed physical signs of trying to maintain their weight; they perspired less, their urine became concentrated, the motility of their digestive system slowed down and their bodies actually went into a mode to slow down their metabolism, all to fulfil that suggestion that “I just look at food and gain weight”.

Those are just some examples of how the things we say can be powerful messages to our subconscious mind and then to our body without even being aware of it.

Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what you imagine or believe to be true.  You may have had this experience … you are walking along the side-walk, a trail or, even on the carpeting in your home and you jump out of the way of something that turns out to be harmless; a piece of string or a rubber band.  But in the moment you jumped you BELIEVED that you needed to jump out of the way even before you thought to do it.  Your subconscious mind perceived it to be dangerous and jumped you out of the way to protect you.  If you believe you will not lose weight no matter what attempts you make … you subconscious mind will make sure that happens.

This is last example I am going give for the power of positive thinking and mind over matter.  I thought it was pretty fascinating.

You can also use aversive association to foods.  That is to give some food a negative association to help you avoid it.  Here is something from the National Academy of Science; one of the leading experts on memory and false memory designed experiments to demonstrate how a false memory about eating a fattening food in childhood, which made them sick, caused that person to avoid that food when it was offered to them later in life.  We've all had experiences of food making us ill in childhood, or at least that is what we came to believe about that incident.  And, even today, we may find that food unappealing because of a negative or aversive association.  It may have been decades ago, and yet our memory about strongly influences our behavior to avoid it.

I can vouch for this personally.  When I was pregnant with my second daughter I could not stomach the smell of bananas or the taste of iced tea.  I consumed neither of those items for many, many, many years.  About 5 or 6 years ago I started eating bananas again, but to this day I cannot stomach even the thought of iced tea … and my daughter is now 27 years old.  Now why, oh why, oh why could she have not caused me an aversion to chocolate and desserts?

The research published was titled “False Beliefs About Fattening Foods Can Have Healthy Consequences”.  The premise is that you can create a false memory about a certain food or foods.  Use your imagination to embellish the memory with imagery about when it happened, where you were, how you felt.  Give it details.  Then when that food is presented to you as a choice it will be easier to avoid it.

This might be particularly useful to avoid those high fat or high calorie foods that have previously been an obstacle to your weight loss in the past.

This research validates the subconscious mind’s ability to respond to what you let yourself believe, whether it is true or false. 

Your belief makes it real for you because your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what you imagine.

Whatever has the dominance of your thought and belief is what your body is going to act upon.  So 51% of your mind believes you will lose weight and only 49% of your mind believes you will not … you WILL lose weight.  You don’t have to have the perfect 100% belief.  You just have to have the dominance focused on what you want.

That doesn’t mean you can eat a whole pizza or half of the chocolate cake in the refrigerator, wish it not to make a difference on the scale and expect to lose weight.  But it does mean that you can use the power of your mind to convince yourself one slice of pizza is enough and you don’t really want the chocolate cake.

So think positively!

Believe in yourself!

The power is in the believing and the doing.

No doubting!

No trying!  Just get it done!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Food Friday (Baked Peaches)

I stumbled across this recipe on and since it is definitely peach season in Southern Ontario thought it would be an ideal answer when you want something a little more decadent than simply a piece of fruit for dessert or snack.  And bonus, they are super simple to make.

Coming in at about 100 calories each (a little more or a little less depending on whether you add light whipped topping to them).  It’s still a bargain in the calories department.


1 Fresh Peach
2 tsp Brown Sugar
0.5 tsp Butter
Cinnamon, to taste

Halve peaches.
Place butter in hollow of each half.
Top with brown sugar and sprinkle cinnamon on top to your taste.
Bake at 375 degrees until soft (about 30 minutes)
Serve hot. Make sure to scrape all the yummy goodness off the bottom of the pan.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Calories: 94.7
Total Fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 5.4 mg
Sodium: 18.0 mg
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 0.7 g

The Pinterest picture led to this link (which I thank for the mouthwatering pictures)

And that link led to her source for the recipe

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Thursday's Random Thought (Think Yourself Thin)

Well, we've passed the Labour Day Long weekend so I guess we are well on our way into fall.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I post my Monday Night TOPS Meeting Topics here, and since it was a long weekend there was no meeting this week and this upcoming Monday we are having our annual TOPS picnic.  Granted it is supposed to be held sometime during the summer ... but long story I won't bore you with ... we are having it in September.

I can across this pic on and thought it was interesting enough to share here.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Thursday's Random Thought (Monday Morning)

We all need a little uplifting now and again.  No matter our age, or which battle we are facing I think we can all take a page out of this amazing lady’s book on how to live life to it’s fullest as a healthy, happy person.

This is my little homage to 104-year-old Ida Hall.


I am not much of a morning person, so I take great comfort in the simple rituals that start my days.  My most difficult maneuver is getting my feet planted on the floor and putting one foot in front of the other to make it to the kitchen where I start the coffee maker, feed the cats and then shuffle into the bathroom for my shower.  By the time I’m done there I am a little wider awake and the coffee is ready to hopefully finish the job.  After taking that first sip of coffee I make my breakfast and sit down to watch City TV’s Breakfast Television.

City’s Breakfast Television is a “light” morning show focusing on human-interest stories, entertainment news, traffic and weather.  If there is anything earth shattering going on in the world there will be a few minutes coverage about it at the top of the hour in the news segment.  That’s about all I can handle first thing in the morning.

“Roving reporter” Jennifer Valentyne, travels to various locations across south-central Ontario to participate in events like charity runs, to check out Wiarton Willy on Groundhog Day, participate in new openings of stores, visit the Boat Show, the Car show, the Food Show, to welcome the new Pandas to the Toronto Zoo … I am sure you get the idea.  This past Monday her “Live Eye” segment was an early morning report from St. Hilda’s Towers, a fairly upscale retirement and assisted living facility.

I am not certain as to the number of seniors residing at the residence, but amazingly 14 of them are celebrating birthdays of 100 years or beyond in 2013.


Obviously St. Hilda’s takes extremely good care of their residents, but my mind does not travel in that direction early on a Monday morning.  Sadly, my first thought was “Geez, when the time comes, don’t put me in there.  They don’t let you die!”

My bad.

Sipping my coffee I continued to watch as Jenn interviewed those (mostly women !?!?!) celebrating the century+ milestone.  I was astonished at how beautiful these seniors were.  They were all decked out in their birthday celebration clothes enjoying a lovely breakfast with their family and friends.  (As I was sitting there in my favorite, seen-better-days bathrobe)

My father was in assisted living facilities due to his dementia/Alzheimer’s.  He was a wanderer so as his disease progressed so did the level of security in the residences in which he lived.  They were all lovely homes staffed by extremely caring individuals.  I have nothing bad to say about any of them.  But these ladies, they were a totally different story from any perspective I have about aging gracefully.

They were sharp!  No signs of dementia or fading faculties in these ladies!  They maintained their sense of humor, their pride in appearance, their activity levels (each taking part in exercise programs and social activities St. Hilda’s provides).  Aside from age, there did not seem to be any particular demographic represented.  Accents could be detected in some indicating Canada was not their country of origin.  Some were shy in speaking in front of the City TV camera and others were very comfortable.  They listened intently and answered Jenn’s questions patiently and thoroughly. 

The ladies were sitting at individual tables surrounded by their own families, friends and loved ones so could not compare answers to the questions, but when asked the secret to their longevity they all agreed it was living a life filled with purpose, fun and most importantly love.  Most agreed that having good genes helped a lot too!  The part that completely made my morning and sent me off to work with a smile was a comment made by 104-year-old Ida Hall

What a lovely affirmation of life to see on a Monday morning.

One of Ida’s fellow residents, Eva Altay, a native of Budapest, is by all outward appearances a feisty lady, full of gumption and determination.  She broke her hip recently while doing Tai-Chi (of course) and absolutely vowed that she would not be wheelchair bound.  She has been doing physio three-times weekly and credits that for keeping her mobile. Quoting from the Toronto Sun newspaper interview “’I look after myself completely,’ the petite former lawn bowler told me proudly.  ‘I try to be as self-confident as I can be.’”

Ida also takes part in the physio program three times a week and credits that with keeping her independently mobile, albeit with the help of a walker (cheerfully decked out with yellow roses).  She also participates in exercise classes. 

I can only hope to be as vibrant, active, sharp and happy as Ida if I am fortunate enough to make it to some ripe old age.  Personally, I think I am more apt to be the crazy cat lady, sitting on her front porch in her purple hat, shaking her fist and yelling at the kids to get off the lawn.

Unfortunately, the reason that Eva Altay and Ida Hall were in the paper was not because of Ida’s upcoming 105th birthday, but because cutbacks in government funding to the physio-therapy program at St. Hilda’s will keep her, Eva and other residents from receiving the much needed care enabling them to remain both mobile and non-dependent of full time care givers.  That, however, is a topic for another time and place.

Back to Jennifer Valentyne’s interviews that morning.  I went off to work with that big smile I mentioned before because when Jennifer walked over to Ida and showed her the paper, pointing out that Ida herself had made the front page (pictured below) …

… rather than becoming flustered by her new-found notoriety, neither embarrassed nor tickled to be on the front page of the paper, her only comment was “Oh my!  I look old.”

Bless your heart Ida … YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

H.A.L.T. - A Little Refresher

H.A.L.T. is an acronym that caught my attention.  It is sound, reasonable and do-able advice for anyone on a healthy eating or weight loss plan.  There are no earth shattering secrets revealed in the suggestions, and we’ve discussed every point somewhere along the way.  My thinking … it's put together in a very succinct and memorable fashion and it never hurts to have a refresher!

So, with much thanks to Daniel G. Amen, MD here is his H.A.L.T. plan to weight loss.
(website listed below)

Do you want to make it easier for you to stick with you weight loss plan? You need to put a H.A.L.T. to the barriers threatening to sabotage your progress.

The acronym H.A.L.T. is a term commonly used in addiction treatment programs that can be very helpful in dealing with the daily obstacles you face. I understand that you may not equate an addiction program with weight loss, but in my opinion, chronic overeating is akin to substance abuse. And H.A.L.T. has proven to be a very effective way to keep people on track when they are trying to change their habits.

H.A.L.T. stands for:

Don't get too HUNGRY.

Don't get too ANGRY.

Don't get too LONELY.

Don't get too TIRED.


Going too long without food lowers your blood sugar levels, which can lead to a variety of emotional issues, including feelings of anxiety and irritability. These may trigger your overeating.

Low blood sugar levels are also associated with lower overall brain activity, which is linked to an increase in cravings and impulsiveness. Heightened anxiety and irritability coupled with more intense cravings and impulsiveness is a recipe for overeating. Keeping your blood sugar levels even throughout the day is critical to keep you on track.

Tips to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels:

Eat a healthy breakfast—people who maintain weight loss eat a nutritious breakfast.

Have smaller meals throughout the day. Eating big meals spikes your blood sugar levels then causes them to crash later on.

You must stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, such as candy, sodas, cookies, crackers, white rice, and white bread. These also spike your blood sugar then cause it to crash later on.

Write down the things you plan to do to help prevent you from getting too hungry. Keep this list with you at all times.



Uncontrolled anger can send you racing to the cookie jar to calm your emotions.

When you feel mad, write down your thoughts and ask yourself, "Is it true?"

Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm your mind and soothe your emotions.

Count to 10. When you get angry try counting to 10 before reaching for something to eat. Sometimes that short delay can be enough to calm your temper and interrupt the urge to eat.

Get moving. If you feel anger bubbling up inside you, go for a walk or a short burst of exercise. This releases brain chemicals that help calm you down.

Express your feelings. After you have calmed down, express your feelings in a non-confrontational way. Letting your anger fester can drive you to overeat.

Write down the things you plan to do to help prevent you from getting too angry. Keep this list with you at all times.



Social skills and a positive social network are critical to your emotional well-being.

Working on your current social situation is important to healing. Here are some tips to increase your social bonding.
Enlist a team of supporters and healthy role models.

Volunteer in your community.

Join a small group at Church, a recreational sporting team, book group, or any other type of group that appeals to you.

Make it a priority to spend time with your friends and family.

Make a list of people you can reach out to when you are feeling sad, anxious, mad, or frustrated.

Write down the things you plan to do to help prevent you from getting too lonely. Keep this list with you at all times.



If you are tired your brain simply can't cope as well with stressful situations, leading to worse moods, more anxiety, greater irritability, increased anger, and more frustration. When your emotions are running wild, you are more apt to run to the refrigerator for solace.

In addition, lack of sleep lowers overall brain function, which leads to more bad decisions. Several studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to higher calorie intake and higher consumption of refined carbohydrates, which as you learned in the Don't Get Too Hungry section, causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash.

Make sleep a priority to boost brain function, moods, and energy levels, and to improve judgment and self-control. Here are 10 ways to make it easier to drift off to dreamland and get a good night's sleep. Remember that we are all unique individuals and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep trying new techniques until you find something that works.

In a past blog I discussed the issue of sleep and weight loss.
The following are Dr. Amen's tips for getting a good night's sleep.

1.  Maintain a regular sleep schedule—going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Get up at the same time each day regardless of sleep duration the previous night.

2. Create a soothing nighttime routine that encourages sleep. A warm bath, meditation, or massage can help you relax.

3. Some people like to read themselves to sleep. If you are reading, make sure it isn't an action-packed thriller or a horror story—they aren't likely to help you drift off to sleep.

4. Don't take naps! This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have insomnia. Taking naps when you feel sleepy during the day compounds the nighttime sleep cycle disruption.

5. Sound therapy can induce a very peaceful mood and lull you to sleep. Consider soothing nature sounds, soft music, wind chimes, or even a fan.

6. Drink a mixture of warm milk, a teaspoon of vanilla (the real stuff, not imitation), and a few drops of stevia. This increases serotonin in your brain and helps you sleep.

7. Take computers, video games, and cell phones out of the bedroom and turn them off an hour or two before bedtime to allow time to "unwind."

8. Don't eat for at least two to three hours before going to bed.

9. Regular exercise is very beneficial for insomnia, but don't do it within four hours of the time you hit the sack. Vigorous exercise late in the evening may energize you and keep you awake.

10. Don't drink any caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening. Also avoid chocolate, nicotine, and alcohol—especially at night. Although alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it interrupts sleep.

Write down the things you plan to do to help prevent you from getting too tired. Keep this list with you at all times.


By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Friday, 23 August 2013

Food Friday (2 More Summer Smoothies)

Before our TOPS meeting officially began this week we were talking about the abundance of fruit in the summer.  I love the peaches, nectarines, berries, golden plums and melons at this time of year.  One of my members mentioned that as much as she loves the summer fruits she is finding it difficult to get her recommended intake of fruit every day because she is getting tired of them. 

That surprised me because I am of the opposite opinion.  Come February and March I find myself willing to pay the (out of season) premium price for a couple of nectarines.  They’re always a little on the disappointing side as far as sweetness and juiciness, but what a taste sensation after months of apples, pears and bananas.

Watermelons are in season right now as well.  I love watermelon and seeing as I have difficulty getting my 8 glasses of water in every day … I allow as eating watermelon subsidizes at least some of my water intake deficiencies.  The tough part about buying watermelons is that you can’t see inside them.  And while I have cantaloupes and Honeydew pretty much figured out, I seem to get a dud watermelon two out of three times. Any and all suggestions on how to rectify this and pick a perfect watermelon every time are welcome!   It’s either pale or mealy, just basically looks too unappetizing to serve “as is”.

When I was traveling in Greece years ago the fruit vendors had a little apparatus that looked very similar to an apple corer that they would use to take a plug out of the melon you wanted to buy.  That way you could see what the inside of the melon looked like and even have a taste.  If it wasn't to your liking, you simply picked another one.  Seemed like a good idea to me!  However, I am fairly certain if I tried that here my local grocery store manager would promptly throw me out of the store.

All that aside … really, what do you do with a watermelon that is not quite up to snuff?  It’s not like you can throw it into a pie!

For some reason it had never occurred to me to throw watermelon into a smoothie!  So I was quite excited when I came across the suggestion under the heading “Sweet and Skinny Healthy Yogurt Dessert Ideas”.  Not only can you make smoothies, but also the site suggested freezing cubes of the watermelon (I also never thought to freeze watermelon before … it was just a day of revelations for me) and use the cubes to make a slushy type drink. 

Not that anyone needs a recipe for a smoothie, it’s easy enough to throw some berries, bananas ice and yogurt into a blender but here is the suggestion from Babble.


1 small watermelon
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup strawberries (optional)

Fell free to add a handful of raspberries, blueberries or a few sprigs of mint, if you like.  The mixture, by the way, would also make great Popsicles – just freeze in a pop mold.

Now I know a lot of people throw dark leafy vegetables into their smoothies.  I can handle some spinach but as far as kale and chard go – I just don’t like the taste that they add to the smoothie.  And, no matter what everyone tells me, I can taste them in there.  I have nothing against kale and chard if they are cooked.  But just not in my smoothie.  The article with the suggestion for the watermelon smoothie also suggested adding parsley to a smoothie.

Everyone thinks of parsley as a garnish or a natural breath freshener.  Parsley has the same nutrients as any of its dark green leafy cousins.

Apparently (and no I have not tried it yet) you can’t see it (taste it?) as long as you use dark blueberries or the frozen strawberry-raspberry-blueberry fruit mix you can buy at the store (or make yourself if you are more industrious than I am)


1 banana, peeled and broken into chunks
2 cups frozen mixed berries (such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
1 big handful (or a small bunch) or curly or flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup orange or other fruit juice
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth, adding more juice, water, yogurt or berries as necessary to achieve the right consistency
Serve immediately.
Serves 2-3


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Thursday's Random Thought (Changes)

My best friend 'M' is also a member of my TOPS group.  She brought in this "Tip for TOPS" in the form of a quote ...

"If nothing changes then nothing changes"

It certainly makes sense in terms of weight loss, doesn't it?  I wanted to credit the correct author of the quote and discovered the whole quote reads ...

"Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I've always done, I'll keep getting what I've always got, and will keep feeling what I always felt."

                                                                Author, Earnie Larson

Monday, 19 August 2013

Eat Beakfast Like a King

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

We’ve all heard those sayings at one time or another.  Old wives tales or truth?

Although skipping breakfast may seem a good way to eliminate calories, breakfast skippers tend to weigh more than breakfast eaters. And when people eat a larger-than-normal breakfast, they usually end up eating almost 100 fewer calories by the end of the day.  That is a significant number in a weigh loss effort.  Skipping breakfast in order to lose weight is a big mistake and is counter productive because it actually slows your metabolism and can lead to over eating.

Breakfast has been in the news the last few weeks.  I never thought I would be saying (typing?) those words, but there has been a lot of coverage of a new weight loss study at the Mayo Clinic which proves the importance of eating breakfast.  The 12-week study saw all the participants lose some amount of weight, but the participants who regularly ate a full breakfast lost significantly more weight than the others.

 The Globe and Mail summarized the results and reported, “Compared to the big dinner eaters, women who ate a 700-calorie breakfast and 200-calorie dinner experienced a 2.5-fold greater weight loss (19 pounds versus eight). As well, waist circumference, blood glucose and insulin levels improved to a greater extent in the high calorie breakfast group. Blood triglycerides levels fell 33 per cent in the big breakfast group, but increased in the big dinner group.

The participants who consumed half their daily calorie intake at breakfast reported being less hungry throughout the course of the day, so they were most easily able to stick to their meal plan. Remember Ghrelin, the hunger hormone talked about a few weeks ago? Blood tests done on the participants in the study had lower levels of Grehlin after eating the high-calorie breakfast.  That definitely explains no hunger pangs through the day.

Breakfast is exactly what the name suggests – Break Fast. It’s breaking the fast your body had while you were asleep for 8 hours (or however long you normally do). It is the first meal of the day, usually eaten in the morning (assuming you slept at night). If you’ve got a twisted sleep cycle (perhaps due to working on shift, etc) and you sleep in the afternoons, then your breakfast will be the first meal you have when you wake up. Breakfast does not follow the time of the day, but your sleep cycle, and helps kick-start your metabolism levels for the day, which is crucial to weight loss.

After virtually starving your body for the past 8 to 10 hours your goal should be to start the day with foods that give your body what it needs:  nutrients and energy.  Eating a proper breakfast helps jumpstart your metabolism, which is at its lowest levels after you have been sleeping.  Having your largest meal in the morning ensures that the food energy will be used as you go through your daily tasks.  The alternative is that you eat a large dinner and then do not use up all the food energy before bed.  The excess is then stored by the body – as fat.

So eating a large breakfast can help maintain the level of your metabolism, eliminate through-the-day cravings, lower the levels of Grehlin, lower blood sugar, make the body more efficiently use insulin and prevent belly-bloat, but is it always practical to have a big breakfast?  Personally, some mornings I have enough trouble getting myself motivated enough to brush my teeth and get dressed, much less cook myself a big breakfast.

Some people complain that they simply not hungry in the morning.  If this is true for you, it could be because you are still full from the night before.  If you begin a routine of eating less in the evening you may find that you have more of an appetite when you get up in the morning.

Some people simply do not enjoy breakfast-y type foods.  There is no rule that says you have to have eggs, cereal and toast in the morning.  Breakfast food can be anything.  It can be a sandwich, leftovers from dinner the night before, even vegetables or a salad.

The important thing is to eat something within one hour of getting out of bed, plan on eating more food sometime during they day.  It does not have to be a set “lunch”.  Plan ahead and enjoy healthy snacks that you can eat every couple of hours and then plan on eating less in the evening.

According to registered dietician Leslie Beck ( planning is essential and she recommends including the following in every breakfast.

Power up with protein

Adding protein to breakfast slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness throughout the morning. Studies suggest protein-rich solid foods curb appetite better than protein-rich drinks. Breakfast foods high in protein include egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, low fat milk, turkey breast, smoked salmon and tofu.

Add healthy carbohydrates

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains and fruit at the morning meal fuels your brain and muscles. Research also suggests that carbohydrate at breakfast is important to help guard against abdominal obesity. Quickly digested carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index (GI) – e.g. white bread, refined cereals, and pastries – are less effective at promoting weight loss because they spike blood sugar and insulin, which can trigger hunger and inhibit the breakdown of body fat.
Foods with a low GI release sugar more slowly into the bloodstream and don’t produce an outpouring of insulin. Low GI breakfast foods include grainy breads, steel cut and large flake oats, 100 per cent bran cereal, oat bran, apples, citrus fruit, grapes, pears, nuts, milk, yogurt and soy beverages.

Focus on fibre

Include 5 to 10 grams of fibre at breakfast. Like protein, fibre slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full longer after eating. Choose 100 per cent whole-grain breads, breakfast cereals with at least five grams of fibre a serving, and eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice.

Satisfy your sweet tooth

Adding something sweet at breakfast – a square of dark chocolate, a cookie or candy – has been shown to cut sweet cravings later in the day by preventing spikes in serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical.

Keep dinner small

To make dinner the lightest meal of the day, include 3 to 4 ounces of low fat protein such as chicken or turkey breast, lean meat, egg whites or firm tofu. Fill up on plenty of vegetables rather than starchy foods.

This is a great make ahead breakfast you can keep in the fridge for five days.  Breakfast is ready for each morning.   I have tried this recipe and even served it to company once. 

Blueberry and Raspberry Baked Oatmeal


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar free)
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
3. Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
4. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

It makes 6 servings.  Nutritional values will change depending on the fruit used.