Thursday, July 02, 2015

Why you should eat lasagne

I haven't made lasagne in years. Aside from p.a.s.t.a. being a new-age five-letter swear word, making a really good lasagne from scratch takes a good effort - whether it is beef or veg.

A few weeks ago I needed a convenience meal option and, at great expense, I bought a Woolies lasagne; the one in the large foil dish that they say is for three to four people. They're delusional! There was more pasta than filling, it was maybe four-centimetres high and the amount was only really good enough for a fair portion for two people (unless you have lots of salads and veggies too).

To be fair, it was tasty and to their credit Woolies didn't drown it in cheese, which is too often the case at restaurants.

I have always loved lasagne - in every version - so it has been on my mind.

On Monday night I had a good cooking session, preparing the lasagne for dinner on Tuesday night. While there are time-saving 'cheats', I made the cheese, tomato and bolognaise sauces from scratch - each one totally delicious. I assembled and baked late Monday night as I was out most of Tuesday. From there is was easy to reheat for dinner.

A normal packet of uncooked pasta is 500g and for a pasta-and-sauce dish for two people you'd cook 250g. That's 125g of uncooked pasta per person.

One packet of uncooked lasagne sheets (250g) is more than adequate for a good-sized lasagne and I got four layers into my deep baking dish. I can't quite recall but I think there were about 12 sheets in the box. I didn't use two sheets so that's around 210g of pasta that went into the dish.

My finished dish made for very generous portions sufficient for six adults. That's only 35g of pasta per person. And for the rest you've got mince/veg/spinach, a bechamel or cheese sauce and tomato sauce. I don't add extra cheese.

There are 33g of carbohydrates per 100g of pasta. So a good portion of lasagne, with its 35g of pasta, would be around 23.5g of carbs.

And then there's another kicker...

Last year some research came out about how cooled pasta is treated by your body more like fibre than a blood-glucose-spiking carbohydrate..

"Cooking pasta and then cooling it down changes the structure of the pasta, turning it into something that is called "resistant starch". If you cook and cool pasta down then your body will treat it much more like fibre, creating a smaller glucose peak and helping feed the good bacteria that reside down in your gut. You will also absorb fewer calories, making this a win-win situation." - from an article on BBC.

But how is this... cooking, cooling and then reheating the pasta makes it into an even more 'resistant starch' - it reduces the rise in blood glucose by 50%. By doing nothing more than changing the temperature, a carb-intense meal becomes fibre-loaded.

While eating lasagne feels like you're eating a pasta dish, lo-and-behold you're consuming far less pasta than if you'd had a traditional bowl of pasta - like spaghetti bolognaise or the like. AND, if you make it the night before and reheat it the next day, you have even less carb effect.

Taking all of this into consideration, the question really is... Can we move reheated lasagne onto the banting green list?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bush orienteering - a lovely long leg

Our orienteering calendar has a variety of events. The beginning of the year is dominated by the Urban Series, a collection of 10 events that are held on urban terrain - places like university campuses, large school properties, city parks, botanical gardens and golf courses.

With winter comes the start of the Bush events, which are my favourite-favourite. Here the navigation is more technical and the terrain more challenging, especially up here on the highveld were we have rocks and grasses and bushes and wag-n-bietjie thorny trees and rocks and rocks...

My club hosted the Bush orienteering event at Hennops Farm yesterday. This was the second event of the Bush Series; there are eight in total from now until mid-October. Margaret did the controlling with Pascale learning from Margaret and trying her hand at assisting with planning.

I ran the brown course - and what a superb course it was!

For the most part my navigation was more than spot-on and I thoroughly enjoyed this terrain that really allowed us to move 'as-the-crow-flies'. There was little restriction to our movements due to vegetation and so for the most part I avoided the paths and played with straight-line navigation.

There was one leg of particular mention - between Control 2 and Control 3. Heading to #1 and #2 I'd folded my map and leaving 2 I unfolded my map to reveal the next leg.

"Oooohhh weee!" I shrieked with glee as I started running towards my destination.

There were two options here...

  1. Head back the way I'd come (a gate in the uncrossable fence) and run on the trails heading for Control 3 (yellow line)
  2. Go cross-country (pink line)

Let's take a look.

I didn't go totally straight-line from 2 to the fence corner to avoid dipping-into and climbing-out-of the valley. That's why I took the track along the fence, which made for easy, no-brainer running.

Most went for 1 (yellow). Margaret seemed to think that 2 (pink), which I went for, was actually faster because you don't drop and then climb up again - the gradient is more pleasant. Mmm... I'm not sure.

I wasn't particularly racing and I stopped to chat to Celliers for a bit near the fence and then I overshot 3. The road continued a bit further than indicated and I actually went off the map, which I realised immediately and backtracked - but I lost time anyway as I was a bit uncertain how far I'd overshot. So my split for this leg really won't be representative of the potential of this route.

Assuming two orienteers of similar speed and ability take on each route, which do you think would work out better?

Overall this was a very, very enjoyable course with great direction change and spot-on control placement. I really loved that I could go straight-line for most of the controls. Gauteng Champs are on this next weekend in Hilton, KZN and the next Bush event is on 19 July at Big Red Barn, also presented by AR Club.

Dead of Winter Run not that cold - again

With morning temperatures predicted to sit on 6°C for Saturday morning, we thought that this may be the first of our 'Dead of Winter Emmies to N1 Run' to actually be cold and wintery. In past years conditions have been sunny, warm and pleasant.

Driving from home to Fred's shop just after 06h30, it was already 9.5°C according to my car. Nice. And it was even more improved by the time we set off at 08h30.

Turnout this year was better than ever before. I didn't write a post about this last year but I seem to think there were only four or five of us running. This year at least 40 runners joined us.

This is a casual and social run and the runners settled into groups of matched pace. I was in good company with Ian, Sarah (x 2) and Nick. Good company and great conversation as we made our way along the Braamfontein Spruit. The distance was around 18km and we were rewarded with a lovely breakfast on the far end.

Next one will be in the dead of winter next year.

We (Adventure Racing Club) are thinking of coordinating a "Heat of Summer Emmies to N1 Run" - we'll let you know.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wearing gaiters, a winter run and bush orienteering

John Vonhof this THE foot guru and his book 'Fixing Your Feet' is the best foot care resource for runners and hikers. This wonderful guide is in its 5th edition and AR Gaiters feature in the book. John also writes informative and educational foot care blog posts (subscribe to his feed for free) and his most recent one is about the value of wearing gaiters for blister prevention and a host of other foot-care related reasons.

On Saturday morning we've got our annual AR Club Dead of Winter Emmies to N1 Run. It looks like we're in for a chilly run, which is unusual because our Dead of Winter Run has been warm and sunny the past few years. Well, it is a Dead of Winter Run and we've been angling for a frosty morning. Looks like we'll get our wish this year. 

And then on Sunday morning AR Club is hosting the second Bush orienteering event of the season at Hennops, which is North of Fourways on the road to Hartebeespoort. There are a bunch of courses available for all ages and levels of experience. It really helps us for you to pre-register on orienteeringonline so we print enough maps. It's free to register on the site and makes pre-entry quick and easy.