Buona Pasqua

Buona Pasqua or Happy Easter!  Easter Sunday in Rapallo, Italy and it is raining and cold but picturesque. Last night drawings and letters were pored over in preparation for Mr Bunny’s arrival and left in anticipation of an exchange. Fortunately the Easter Bunny or Coniglietto trekked up the mountain we are on and left some chocolate eggs for Miss 7 and 6 years and Master 4. Chocolatiers or cioccolateria abound and the Italians go all out with their chocolate displays, most are beautifully wrapped, very large and Lindt.  No cheap compound chocolate here.    

 
 

The Easter Bunny (the 4 year old version)

The Italian food is a very pleasant assault on the senses.  A week just spent in Lucca, the beautiful walled city meant that we found a local pastericceria for breakfast everyday.  The cosy Pasticceria Pasquinelli was run express style by Roberto, barista extraordinaire.  Grumpy yes, but he punched out coffee like no other. while casting out bongiorno’s and ciao’s with every tinkle of the door bell.  Just like conversation, coffee really is an expresso activity in Italy, people come in and order their coffee, throw it back and leave.  I put my timer on and the average time spent standing at the bar (only tourists seem to sit and it is cheaper to stand at the bar) is about 5 minutes.  Quite the contrast to how much time we spend sitting drinking coffee in Australia.  A latte or cappuccini costs the equivalent of  AU$1.85.  Where does the other $2.00-3.00 go that we spend on a coffee in Australia? 

 

  

Il Buccellato
Roberto, Barista Extraordinaire

 Another Easter treat here is the Buccellato, just like a fruit bun with fennel and the Colomba which is the Easter version of the Pannetone in the shape of a cross.  The pizza and pasta as expected is overflowing with fresh ingredients and delicious.  

 Of course, road testing these foods is not just about pleasure, its part of my job…..  but we all know that the age old equation of what goes in must equal what goes out is still in play during holidays (sadly), so much exercise must be exchanged for the road testing.  Luckily the wall around Lucca was a 4km loop which we walked and biked around every day with the multitude of dogs that every Italian seems to have.  We now find ourselves part way up a mountain in Rapallo, down the coast from Genoa and there is only one way up and down without a car.  Great for the gluteal muscles and as my friend and colleague David Beard always advises, you gotta get puffed.  

Ciao for now.   

   

 

Eat, Pray, Row

I am in the process of writing my second book and without giving to much away, it will involve interviewing inspiring people in various walks of life.  I really want to discover what their top performance tip or strategy is, that the rest of us can use in our own lives.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to have a chat to an amazing woman by the name of Roz Savage, ocean rower extraordinaire.  This tower of strength was the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean and has rowed over 11 000 miles, taken over 3.5 million oar strokes and is set to complete the big three (Pacific, Atlantic and Indian) in 2011.  Roz set off yesterday on the Eat, Pray, Row adventure which will take her from Fremantle in Western Australia to the Gate of India monument in Mumbai, India and will take her around 5-6 months. How does one do that?  Roz is a champion of the EcoHero movement, the motivation for her solo rowing and when I asked  Roz about her top tip, she very simply said, “Keep putting your oars in the water” and focus on the things that you can change and not the ones you can’t. I’ve been thinking about that all day, its a motto that you can apply on any day in any life.  To keep track of Roz and her inspiring adventure check out her blog from the Indian Ocean.

Jamaican Gold

Jamaican Gold

My Pop was a proper English gentleman who had a distinguished military career, and served in World War II before being captured and held POW for three years. He was a very disciplined person but he had a secret…. He loved Jamaican Old Gold chocolate. Pop was strategic too. With all his grandkids sitting at the table he would always ask us if we would like some. No kid likes dark chocolate so he was then able to enjoy his chocolate without competition or interruption. Two years ago Pop became very ill and in the end couldn’t speak to us or even drink a cup of his precious tea but you know what he could do? Yep, eat Old Gold.

So at that moment I decided it was my responsibility to take the baton and train myself up to be a dark chocolate eater. It’s not an easy job believe me but I am committed, although my best on ground is still only 70 percent cocoa. I have dallied with 85 percent but I’m not quite ready for a long term relationship. I will keep trying though.

Apart from ongoing research which suggests that around 20g of dark chocolate each day may be beneficial for a healthy heart and for reducing inflammation and blood pressure, I just think about my Pop’s story. It’s so important to enjoy life and what you eat and having 20 grams of dark chocolate each day might just stop you eating a whole block. So, go dark this Easter.

Mindful Eating

I recently ran a few presentations for Chevron Australia on the interesting topic of Mindless Eating.

Mindless eating basically means not giving a lot of thought to how and what you eat. Brian Wansink has penned a thought provoking book titled ‘Mindless Eating’ and one of his research studies looked at the office candy jar and how irresistible it is to almost everyone. This study which followed 40 secretaries over 4 weeks in the US found that participants consistently ate more of the chocolate and lollies if they were in a clear container rather than opaque plus they wouldn’t usually go get it if not there.

But here is the interesting bit, if you throw in just 5 lollies each day over a working week, a 70 kg person would have to run for 29 minutes to burn it off. That’s on top of your usual exercise routine. Have you got time?

My famous mini choc muffin recipe!

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¾ cup self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup low fat vanilla yoghurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift together flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add sugar, yoghurt, eggs, vanilla essence and oil and mix to combine.

Spoon batter into non-stick mini-muffin trays (this mixture will make about 30 muffins) and cook in a moderate oven for 15 minutes. They should be slightly soft to touch. Cool on wire rack.

These muffins contain less than 1 gram of fat each.

Truth, Lies and Chocolate – the calorie free alternative this Easter!

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Here’s an idea for an Easter gift that has no calories or fat in sight AND can be a great source of entertainment for yourself over the break.

It’s ‘truth, lies and chocolate – 99 Facts and Fairytales about Food’.

If you place an order by TODAY Tuesday 19th April, you should have it in time for Easter.

The final word

Have you ever walked through your office around 3pm and noticed your staff gazing into space or getting up close and personal with the desk? Many businesses are surprised to learn that their staff may be productive for only 2 hours each day and certainly not after 3pm. The health and performance of your employees increases your bottom line. Give me a call and I will tell you how.
Yours in health and performance,
Julie