I’m currently training for my second figure show, it’s not until next year, but I need as much time as possible to get myself physically and mentally prepared to do it all over again. The biggest challenge for me has always been diet; I love food way too much. My foodie nature is once again proving to be an obstacle in my progress, I have been eating clean for all the days other than my cheat meal days, but sometimes, if there is something left over in the fridge, I may end up munching on it, and then realizing what I’m doing, spitting it out, and then feeling guilty for having wasted something so delicious. I must sound completely insane, but I’m pretty sure if you ask any fitness competitor out there, they will have a similar story, or stories to share.
I remember a couple of years ago when I was training for my first ever figure show; I was still living at home and my mom would always buy junk food, because the rest of the family wasn’t eating the way I was eating, it wasn’t fair to not have their favourite food s in the house. My mom brought home a bag of Oreos one day, and after resisting for much of the day I finally broke and shoved around 4 in my mouth at a time…swallowed, and proceeded to eat more…realizing what I was doing, I threw the rest of the box of cookies in the garbage, and had to cover them in soap so that I wouldn’t eat them out of the trash. Sigh. I did step on stage however, looking better than I ever did before, I lost more than 30lbs and gained a great deal of muscle, a new outlook on life, and a whole new attitude towards food, and what I was putting in my body. Ever since then I have been mindful of what the food I put into my body contains, and am much more knowledgeable of what happens to my body with the food I feed it with. That being said, once in a while I do like to indulge; being on the east coast and not taking advantage of the amazing seafood that is available is, in my mind, a terrible sin. So, today we did just that, indulged, in some east coast bounty.
Mussels in a Thai Red Curry Sauce with Herbed Irish Soda Bread.
2 pounds of live mussels, about 6 dozen, cleaned and debearded
2 cloves garlic
2 small or one large onion
3-4Tbsp Thai red curry paste (or more, depending on your taste)
2 cans of coconut milk
1 cup Chicken stock (I only had Beef stock on hand, and it worked out fine)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used ½ cup because we LOVE cilantro, but feel free to use less or omit altogether)
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
In a large pot heat the butter until melted (I used my dutch oven and it worked out perfectly) and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the curry paste and half of the stock and stir until the paste dissolves. Let simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the remaining stock, coconut milk, cilantro, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and ground coriander, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Take a moment to taste the sauce at this point and adjust accordingly.
Have your mussels ready to go, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mussels, stir them into the sauce and then cover the pot and let them steam for about 5 minutes or so. Check the mussels to see if they’re opening up, give them a stir or two; once the mussels start to open up, let simmer for another couple of minutes and then remove the ones that have opened up, don’t let them overcook or they will be rubbery. The ones that do not open up should be discarded. Once you’ve removed all of the mussels from the sauce, serve them up in bowls and pour a generous helping of sauce over each portion, garnish with cilantro and serve up with Irish Soda Bread (Recipe below) or with any crusty bread of your choice.
This recipe makes 2 very large servings, or 6 small appetizer sized ones.
Irish Soda Bread
-Makes one loaf-
*this is the base recipe, I added garlic, thyme, smoked gouda and a mix of savoury herbs I got from the market. You can add absolutely anything you’d like to jazz this up, or keep it plain!
1 tsp oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Brush a baking sheet with oil (I used Olive Oil) and set aside
Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into a mixing bowl, mix together with a fork, add any herbs or flavourings at this point. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the buttermilk. Mix very well with a wooden spoon at first, and then with your hands until it comes together in a ball (the dough should be very soft, but not too wet) if necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and briefly. Shape the dough so that it measures around 8”/20cm. Place the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool slightly, serve warm.