Tag Archives: nutrition

The Twitter Dinner Experiment starring my “Venison Ragu'”

ABSTRACT

In the past few weeks I managed to catch up on a lot of unfinished projects and systems that needed to be set up which has freed up a lot of my time previously taken up by stressing over said incomplete tasks. I never really got the hang of Twitter and often wondered why is it that people spend so much time on it. I must say, I don’t often see that many interesting posts as my stream appears to be cluttered with tweets from companies promoting other companies so I set out to turn this around.

METHOD – PART 1

First of all I reconnected with my Audiense account for an in-depth health check of my Twitter account and to address the balance between following and followers. After clearing out a whole bunch of people that I had no idea I was following and who were cluttering my stream with dodgy posts I started looking at some statistics. I am not a bit fan of Social Media but I understand its importance so I participate, some times more wholeheartedly than others. After talking to a friend who gets paid to tweet on somebody else’s behalf I discovered that a) I am more popular, b) there are all sorts of funky metrics that I can look at from within Twitter itself to see how much time I am spending pissing in the wind as opposed to making progress.

I played with a variety of different style tweets for a few days and got mixed results but, amazingly, some engagement and a few new followers. It’s still too early to renounce my self-imposed title of “Anti-social-media Queen” so I decided to carry out an experiment to see if I could move a further step forward in that direction.

BTW

In case you wonder how this post fits in with my SMART Fitness Makeover project and body transformations I shall refer you back to the paragraphs on “A = Amaze Yourself” and “T = Three Dimensional” on the homepage. It’s my experience that whenever people muster the courage to take a tiny little step outside of their comfort zone they will soon be looking in all sorts of different directions to repeat the experience in other areas of their lives. It’s that good that they can’t have enough of the sweet feeling of accomplishment. For example it’s quite natural for me to take a massive leap into the unknown when looking at exercise, nutrition or success mindset. However it’s totally unnatural for me to be social. As I summoned the courage to be bold in my exercise choices for rehab I thought that if I could push myself like that at the gym I could also push myself just as much in an effort to be social on social media. There’s nothing quite like a bit of laser focus and “what if…” attitude to make strides. On this occasion I flexed my Twitter muscle.

METHOD – PART 2

Back to my Twitter experiment. Sometimes the best ideas are those that happen on the spur of the moment if we are in a position to act on them straight away. As I went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner I had a light bulb moment: “Why not run a #Twittermentary of me making #Sundaydinner?” – genius! And so it started. With bad lighting. A retro cooker. An equally retro saucepan that looks shit in photographs and a 3-models-ago tablet that takes even shittier pictures in dodgy lighting conditions. What could possibly go right?

RESULTS

I ended posting 6 tweets detailing in 140 characters or less how to make venison ragu’. I remember to take pictures for 5 of them. The first tweet had 2 likes and 84 impressions, the second tweet had more impressions but only 1 like, tweet number 3 tanked in terms of impressions but people actually started to click on the post. Tweet number 4 is when I got the majority of impressions and media engagements, plus actual interactions with people who had seen the picture of the food and commented on it. Tweet number 5 (without picture) was average and the final tweet with a picture of the food ready to eat shot back up in terms of impressions and engagement.

Twitter Experiment Post 4 Analytics

DISCUSSION

I am well aware that in the big scheme of Twit’o things the stats in the image above are pathetic BUT I am very proud of them because I now know that it’s perfectly possible to go from zero to some kind of engagement in the amount of time that it takes to cook ragu’. No, seriously, when I look at other people’s posts (the one time it’s good practice to make comparisons) I see hardly any engagement of any kind. It’s like we are all tweeting to ourselves with the occasional individual or company who manages to get a massive engagement. So for 8 people to click on a bad photo of my pasta sauce (pre-photoshop too) I think it’s awesome.

PLUS I gained a few new “seem like genuine people” followers who occasionally like my Tweets and have even met one of them in person to chat about fitness and skincare products. Most importantly it’s been good fun doing it and that seems to be the key to be successful with our social media efforts. Yes, we want to get our message out to the masses and, ideally, we would like to gain new clients but I am sure you are all also sick and tired of being sold at on social media. As much as I love Buffer for managing my posts I feel it’s time that we all stop scheduling everything and go back to being social and actually talk to each other as our favourite apps aren’t doing that much of a good job in creating new connections. I never thought I would say something like this!

THE RECIPE

Anyway, below is the full recipe for the Venison Ragu’ with images duly edited and slightly pizzazzed. It’s a great recipe, fairly quick to prepare and that will keep in the fridge for a few days. In Italy 1/2 Kg of Venison mince in ragu’ form would make a dozen meals as typically we are only allowed to use one or two tablespoons on the pasta but in my SMART Fitness Makeover way of doing things I reverse this: I tend to use more sauce (protein from meat) and less pasta (starches). My mum would have a fit but it works from a nutritional point of view by combining sensible macro proportions with great flavour and pleasure.

CALL TO ACTION

Enjoy and if you try it and like it please let me know in the comments below. Also, I send out my blog posts via my newsletter once a week – if you would like to keep on top of my ramblings please use the form in the sidebar to sign up.  Finally if you would like to be social with me on social media you can follow me on Twitter: @SMARTFitnessPro or on my Facebook Page. 🙂

Print Recipe
Venison Ragu'
A "wild" variation on Italy's classic pasta sauce with a strong and rich flavour that's perfect for warming up on a cold early Spring evening.
Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped organic
  • 0.5 celery, finely chopped organic, leaves included
  • 4 large carrots, finely chopped organic
  • 2 large cloves of garlis, finely chopped organic
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500 grams Venison, minced from a high welfare establishment
  • 1 glass Red wine Chianti
  • 500 grams Tomato passata organic
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Seasoning Rock salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 400 grams Gluten Free Pasta Any shape will do
  • 1 handful Parmigiano Reggiano, grated Only the real thing will do!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 30 min
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped organic
  • 0.5 celery, finely chopped organic, leaves included
  • 4 large carrots, finely chopped organic
  • 2 large cloves of garlis, finely chopped organic
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500 grams Venison, minced from a high welfare establishment
  • 1 glass Red wine Chianti
  • 500 grams Tomato passata organic
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • Seasoning Rock salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 400 grams Gluten Free Pasta Any shape will do
  • 1 handful Parmigiano Reggiano, grated Only the real thing will do!
Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
Instructions
  1. Gather the onion, the garlic, the celery and the carrots together and chop them finely with a half moon knife or kitchen implement of your choice. You don't want to reduce them to dust speckles, and it's actually good if some remain a bit on the larger side to give some texture to the ragu'.
    Venison Ragu Step 1: soffritto
  2. In a large saucepan add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Warm up gently and as soon as the oil starts to release its scent add the finely chopped vegetables. Season, stir and gently fry for a few minutes, until the onions become translucent and they begin to soften.
  3. It's now time to add the venison mince plus the herbs to the simmering saucepan. It's important to spend a couple of minutes stirring the contents to ensure the minced meat is not forming large clumps so that it cooks evenly. If you want to add a bit of "bite" to your ragu' this is also a good time to add some hot stuff: paprika, cayenne paper, chilli powder, real chillies... the choice is yours.
    Setp 2 - add the venison mince
  4. As soon as the venison mince is uniformly browned and "free from clumping" it's time to add a glass of good quality red wine. For this recipe I added a glass of Chianti and it was simply perfect. In Italy we have drinking wine and cooking wine which is often cheap and made from a mixture of grapes. However venison would be considered a "special treat" so you might as well use something with a strong, solid flavour. Stir well, lower the heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes.
    Step 3 - add the Chianti
  5. As soon as the wine has evaporated it's time to add the passata to the saucepan. Stir the lot for a minute or so until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, wait for the passata to boil and then lower to heat so that it can sit there and simmer in peace for a little while. Before you leave the room to catch up on your favourite TV program check the ragu to make sure the seasoning is spot on and adjust accordingly.
  6. When you think that the ragu' is almost ready, in a separate saucepan heat up some water and bring to the boil. Add a good handful of sea salt. Add the pasta. For this recipe I also added some broccoli to make this a complete meal and increase the amount of veggies. You don't have to do this and you can just have the pasta on its own or substitute the broccoli with a different type of green veg. I have to use gluten free pasta which takes up to 20 minutes to become "al dente" and ready to eat, if you use ordinary pasta made with durum wheat this time is cut by half.
  7. As soon as the pasta is giving the first signs of softening up remove the ragu' from the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes. When the pasta is "al dente" remove from heat, drain and leave to rest for 1 minute before dishing out. Share equally in some bowls and cover with the ragu'. Drizzle some raw EVOO on top and finish off with a couple of teaspons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir well and enjoy!
    Step 5: dish out and enjoy!
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No fridge? No problem. What to do when the shit hits the fan.

If you have been following me through my blogging challenge you will be well aware of how important good nutrition is for me. And I am sure that because of that you will be able to imagine just how horrifying it was for me to wake up last Thursday to discover that my fridge-freezer was no more.

In truth I knew this event was imminent but not that imminent. The signs were all there: ice a foot-deep inside the freezer (it was meant to be a no-frost appliance), crazy amounts of condensation in the fridge compartment, loud clonking noises, rust everywhere and the vacuum seal not so sealing anymore. Having read the installation instructions for the new one I now wonder if placing the jars of Kombucha on the top because it was warm played a part in expediting the demise of my appliance. Anyway, it happened.

In my infinite wisdom and perhaps a mild panic attack I somehow managed to not see that there wasn’t a next day delivery option available on the website where I purchased the replacement from and so I spent the last week (just as the weather turned really mild) without a refrigerator and a tonne of fresh food just delivered. To add to my woes I am almost half way through my “Project 8” and eating correctly and at the right time is imperative if I want to shrink and shed fat at that level.

What to do? Make a plan to either use or preserve what I had as long as possible.

First up were vegetables like baby spinach and mixed baby leaves: they tend to wilt very quickly, mines are organic but the company that delivers them has them flown in from Italy so by the time they get to me they are already a couple of days old and need to be eaten fast at the best of times. The calories they provide are negligible so I didn’t hesitate to eat almost all of them in one go.

Second was the meat I had in the freezer. Thankfully because there was more ice around the top and sides than space both the turkey and the pork were still frozen but defrosting so I decided to cook them and then store them in an air tight container resting on an ice pack. I then went on a very high protein diet for a few days eating insane quantities of turkey breast slices at each meal just so I wouldn’t have to throw them away.

Up to the weekend the only casualties were the milk and the spring greens that decided to decompose inside the fridge compartment because I didn’t realise it was actually keeping everything really warm. At this point I removed everything and stored it on the table trying to think which produce you would find in the non refrigerated aisle at the supermarket. Onions, garlic, some green things, peppers, sometimes tomatoes and herbs. And eggs. And vacuum packed cheese. As you can see below.

nofridge

The hardest thing to do was deciding what to eat with what I had on the table before the local store closed at 8pm so that I could go and fetch just the bit of meat or fish that I needed. As the days went on, eventually, the ice in the freezer melted too but over the weekend it was a bit like going for a picnic with a giant ice box in the middle of the kitchen.

It’s always nice to have a takeaway on a Saturday night and it was even nicer on this occasion because it took the pressure off us to find something to cook at the last minute. But on Sunday, after Hamilton got bitchslapped by Rosberg at Montmelo, I decided to celebrate by creating a “whatever is still edible” kind of dish. I decided to use up all the remaining home made pesto with some pasta and the surviving turkey breast to make a highly modified version of a carbonara. To make it healthier I added the only 4 non-decomposed spring greens leaves to the pasta and fried an onion with the turkey breast. Plus raw eggs and cheese. Eating starches as part of the last meal of the day has two advantages: 1. it helps sleep better, 2. it ensures that I don’t wake up feeling ravenous the next day. Amazingly, this random combination of ingredients worked incredibly well and we’ll make sure to repeat the experiment soon, just because.

Then, of course, come Monday I ran out of almost everything, especially time. And so I thought it would be a good idea to have a go at intermittent fasting. This is usually done for extended periods of time either side of sleeping time, i.e. fasting between say 8pm and 11am, however for me it had to be breakfast early am and dinner late pm with only water during the day. The advantages of intermittent fasting are that a) it’s convenient at super busy times and b) it helps raise the production of human growth hormone which is responsible for muscle growth and fat burning. I tend to have whey protein mixed with cocoa powder and nut butter for breakfast, this combination provides me with the protein and amino acids I need to ensure I don’t lose my muscles and keeps me satiated for up to 6-8 hrs even when I do a lot of physical work like Thai Yoga Massage treatments, gardening, etc.

I cannot do this for more than 1 or perhaps 2 days in a row without my metabolism fighting back while I am busy running around all day juggling clients, emails, animals and home. However, when necessary, it’s a brilliant way to boost my fat loss while at the same time giving myself room to enjoy whatever I fancy for dinner without exaggerating with portion size or having to worry about calories reduction. This will happen naturally during the course of the day whilst also forcing my body to use excess stored fat for fuel. It works a treat and the difference it makes in body composition is immediately visible and “Project 8” got a mahoossive boost instead of a blow from my cooling woes.

And being that I am writing this between “blogging Tuesday” and “Thankful Thursday” I can’t help but think about how much I take the luxury of having a fridge and being able to preserve my food for granted. Yes, for a moment I thought my whole world was coming to a warm end, there have been challenges during the past week as I had to incorporate this new variable into my daily life but I soon got used to it and tried to frame the whole situation as “what would my grandparents have done in the same circumstances as they often were during the wars?” or “if I had to live in a tent (not glamping) what would I do?”.  Going basic has in fact been amusing and have re-discovered that sticking a bottle of cider on a bag of ice cubes is actually better than keeping it in the fridge.

whatever risottoBy the way, the new fridge has now arrived. It looks monolithic all in black (matte of course). And having had enough time to cook earlier I was able to create another “whatever is still edible after a week” kind of dish: this time it was a celery, carrot and dried porcini risotto with scrambled eggs (protein), a generous portion of Parmigiano Reggiano and the last splodge of warm Vermouth Bianco. Hic!

🙂