Lift, data, food

Three things that have been big for me this year are LiftApp, data, and food. You’ve seen me talk about LiftApp several times. It’s been really helpful in tracking my progress on goals. Recently, when I was feeling bummed about not being great about reading my Bible daily which was one of my goals for the year. I checked out my stats on Lift and realized that I had read it almost 300 days in the year. The Data helped me realize that I had done better over the course of the whole year than in the last few months, which was encouraging. I’ve been trying to be more mindful about real information this year. The facts (like the previous example) help me see where I’m at objectively rather than based on my feelings. This year, I also gained a stack of weight due to my love of food and my lack of discipline in exercise and running.


In the new year, Lift is combining diet and data doing “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” It has two aims:

#1. Help one million people make a healthy diet change leading to: weight loss, overall health, and/or more energy. We’re providing 10 popular diets with expert advice.

#2. Perform the largest-ever measurement of popular diets. What works? How do popular diets compare? How can we all be more successful? We’re working with UC Berkeley on the science and the analysis.

People have the option of adjusting their diets to follow any of the following 10 diets (including the option of being given a random diet to follow):

  1. Paleo: eat like a caveman, mostly veggies, meats, nuts. Advised byPaleohacks and Nerd Fitness.
  2. Slow-Carb: lean meat, beans, and veggies; abstain from white foods like sugar, pasta, bread, cheese. Based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body.
  3. Vegetarian: vegetables, but no meat. Cheese and eggs are optional. Advised by No Meat Athlete.
  4. Whole foods: eat only recognizable foods and avoid processed ones. Advised by Summer Tomato.
  5. Gluten-free: no wheat, rye, barley or wheat-based foods.
  6. No sweets: a simple diet change that affects your insulin swings.
  7. DASH: USDA’s current recomendation.
  8. Calorie counting: the old standard.
  9. Sleep more: the science says this should work. Advised by: Swan Sleep Solutions.
  10. Mindful eating: learn mindfulness to recognize when you’re full. Advised by ZenHabits and the Center for Mindful Eating.

When I first heard about this a few weeks ago, I was really interested in the idea, just none of the diets. Well, you know I’m already doing #5 and #6, so I thought there was no real way for me to participate in this. Recently I was listening to a Micheal Hyatt podcast (I forget which one!) and he was talking about how helpful it was for him to start tracking his calorie intake in order to understand whether he was exercising enough. I’ve always been wary of counting calories because it can become a type of eating disorder, but I also have to face the fact that I just eat anything and everything whenever I want. I have zero data about what I’m putting in my body versus how I’m spending that energy (watching Bones on Netflix, these days).

So I tried MyFitnessPal for a few days to count my calories and it was eye opening. I was sometimes 1,000 or 1,500 calories over what I should be consuming based on my activity level! I was reminded of the story from The Power of Habit that talked about those who started tracking what they were eating, it became a Keystone Habit in that they suddenly became aware of what was going into their bodies, but then they also became aware of how they were exercising and spending their money. Their whole lives turned around because of being mindful of this one thing. (Random fact: this article on Keystone Habits is the most visited post of mine via Google).

I’ve decided I’m going to participate in the study doing #8: monitoring my calories. I want to invite you to join me on “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” All you need is to sign up here and download Lift to your phone (or use it on your browser), or read more about The Quantified Diet

No Bake Sugar-free Chocolate Cheesecake

cheesecakeMy husband and I are away from home so frequently that I have learned to become pretty adaptable wherever I am. I’m rarely home-sick for our apartment or even Montreal, anymore. When we were in the US this summer for four weeks, I did get home sick for Canada. As soon as we were across the border, I was fine. Four weeks seems to be the max I can endure away from my country.

The one thing that happens every time I’m away from home, is that I get home-sick for the food we love. The wheat-free and sugar-free food we love. Both our sets of parents are always very accommodating when they cook for us, but finding sugar-free things is not easy, which is why I always end up making things from scratch.

While we were visiting my in-laws for Christmas my mother-in-law made a No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake that looked so yummy. I’ve been looking for a good no-bake cheesecake recipe, so I gave this one a shot. It calls for bitter-sweet Bakers chocolate squares, so I knew it would be easy to sub in unsweetened chocolate and then add more natural sweeteners.


Last night I gave it a try. I’m very glad I did! It was glorious. I haven’t had a cheesecake in 10 months?

So if one of your goals for the new year was to eat healthier or you’ve finally resolved to go sugar-free, then here’s a recipe to try. I use NuNaturals powdered stevia, xylitol and agave (you can use honey instead, but if you’re concerned about glycemic index impact, then use more xylitol or stevia).


  • 1/3c chopped almonds, toasted, or use a graham cracker/butter crust like I did.
  • 2 packages (250g each) cream cheese softened,
  • 1t powdered stevia
  • 1/4c and 2T agave nectar
  • 1/4c and 1T xylitol
  • 6 squares unsweetened bakers chocolate
  • 1 envelop unflavoured gelatin, or 1/4t tapioca starch
  • 1c whipping cream, whipped


  1. Grease an 8 1/2″ springform pan.
  2. Sprinkle with almonds or press your graham base in the bottom
  3. Beat the cream cheese in your mixer until smooth. Add 1/2t of the stevia, 1/4c of agave and 1/4 xylitol.
  4. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave starting with 1 minute, then reduce to 30 seconds. Once there are smaller chunks, just stir until it is smooth. Add the 2T agave, 1T xylitol, and 1/2t stevia. If the chocolate isn’t sweet enough for you, keep adding sweetener until it is in small amounts.
  5. Sprinkle the tapioca starch in 1/4c cold water in a microwave safe dish. Let sit 5 minutes, stir a few times to incorporate.
  6. Put tapioca water into the microwave. Cook for 10 seconds, stir, then 10 seconds again, stir, then 5 seconds. Mixture should turn clear and glue-like. Let sit to cool.
  7. Mix chocolate with cream cheese until fully incorporated.
  8. When tapioca is warm, mix thoroughly into the cream cheese mixture.
  9. Whip the whip cream, then fold into the cream cheese until fully incorporated. Pour into the pan and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Tip: if you use the gelatin instead of the tapioca, it will be less firm.

Evernote + Food = Productivity (Sugar-free Pumpkin Pie with Spelt Crust)

I use Evernote every day. I use it to manage my to-do lists, store ideas, make grocery lists, meal planning and store/adapt all my recipes there. Another time I’ll show you how that process works in case you’re not familiar. Every so often Evernote does a cook along to advertise how to use Evernote Food for cooking. I’m still not totally sure how to use Evernote Food and plan on making a pie for (Canadian) Thanksgiving this weekend, so I thought I’d give this a shot. In doing the Harvest Cook-along it inspired me to another Evernote organizational activity related to holidays and food. I will post on that as well later.

It occurred to me yesterday that this my first Thanksgiving since going wheat/sugar-free. I’m glad I’ve figured out my life in that way so that I feel comfortable enough to have guests and not worry that I’ll ruin dessert for them. A few months ago I found this spelt pie crust from Seasonal Ontario Food, I have not used anything since. This one is the best/easiest one I’ve tried. Today I made a sugar/wheat-free pumpkin pie which tasted great, adapted from a recipe I found on the Food Network. You can see the Evernote Food post here.

You’ll notice I missed documenting the whole pie filling. Funny story related – a lesson in communication. It was 10PM last night and we had spent a few hours prepping some of the dishes for today’s Thanksgiving Dinner so we could have a more relaxed Saturday. As I was trying to decide whether to prep the pie filling, we walked through how the day would go. I figured I’d have plenty of time to prep a pie especially if I had all morning and afternoon to do it. After saying the turkey would take about two hours to bake, my husband said he would put the turkey in at around 10AM.

“After that, I’ll do the dishes and then I figure people will show up after that.”

That’s odd, I thought, why would people come four or five hours early to thanksgiving dinner? “When exactly are people coming?” I asked.

He gave me a funny look. “Well, we’re eating at one, so probably around noon.”

Ohhhhh. Lunch. Hmm. Missed that one.

This year is the second anniversary of us falling for each other. He invited a bunch of people over for Thanksgiving “Dinner” (lunch), I being one of those people. We fell for each other that weekend, started dating officially shortly after that. Were engaged three months later. Last year we had my dad, brother and his (now) wife over for Thanksgiving “Dinner.” In my mind that was an exception to the rule of Dinner being eaten at Supper time. These last two years have been exceptions to the rule in my mind, where extenuating circumstances have caused the cosmic act of Dinner being changed to Lunch Time. In my husbands mind, that’s the way it just always is. Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner are eaten at Lunch. Go figure.

Last night was a great example of how I’m really glad I’m a laid-back person. People were going to arrive 6 hours earlier than I had expected and I didn’t freak out. Ok so maybe just an eensy weensy bit of freak out.

Hence why there are no pictures of the pie filling steps. The adapted recipe for the filling is below, the Evernote Food post is how to do the Spelt Pie Crust. It has a wonderful nutty flavour and honestly, I like it more than regular flour crusts! Maybe it’s the hipster in me that prefers something less mainstream. Another thing Evernote Food didn’t capture well was the hissy fit I had in making the pie crust. Pro-tip: the crust always works better after you roll it out once, get angry, and start all over again. I think it has something to do with the way the butter awkwardly shifts around and distributes itself better under your chagrin.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie*

Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (500 mL)
  • 4.5T + 2tsp truvia
  • 3 tablespoons fancy molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •  1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons brandy

Spiced Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  •  teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg


Pumpkin Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just under ¼-inch thick. Dust the bottom of a 9-inch pie shell with flour and line with dough. Trim edges, keeping scraps to roll and cut for garnish, if desired. Chill while preparing filling.
  3. For filling, whisk pumpkin with brown sugar, molasses spices and salt. Whisk in eggs, then whipping cream and brandy or orange liqueur. Pour into chilled pie shell.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until filling puffs just a little around edges but still has a bit of jiggle in center when moved. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill completely.
  5. To serve pumpkin pie warm, it is recommended to bake and chill completely, then re-warm in a 300 degrees F. oven for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with spiced whipped cream.

Spiced Whipped Cream

  1. Whip cream with sugar and spices until medium peaks form. Dollop over the pieces of pie.


*This pie would have zero glycemic index if it weren’t for the molasses.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...