Thursday, July 31, 2014

Notuna Salad

I love I super love them.  So the idea of making a mock tuna salad with them is very appealing to me.   No it doesn't taste like tuna, it tastes like chickpeas, but I'm good with that.  I had seriously been craving chickpea salad and then when I saw the one they had at Yamchops, I knew I had to make my own.  Voila! It made a very nice couple of lunches for me, rolled up into whole grain wraps with a cucumber salad on the side.  Delish.

Notuna Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas), smashed with potato masher
2 large or 4 small stalks celery, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbls dill pickles, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegan mayo
1 tsp dried, or 1 tbls fresh, chopped dill
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients.  Eat.  Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

I have submitted this recipe to Urban Naturale's Pot-Luck Party Link-Up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Warrier Woman

My amazing friend completed her radiation treatment yesterday.  I had the honour of taking her to the hospital for her 2 final treatments.  That's 3 rounds of chemo down, 25 straight days of radiation, and possibly 3 more rounds of chemo to go.  Yes, that's what she has to get through after they found her stage 2 ovarian cancer last December.

Please don't forget that you can still help me and my team raise money for Princess Margaret Hospital's Weekend to End Women's Cancers.  Please follow this link to donate.  Thank you!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Therapy Ball Workbook: Book Review

Do you have balls? How big are they?  Are they rough or smooth?  Firm or squishy?

It seems balls are all the rage in fitness, movement and physical therapy these days.  Everything from tiny acupressure balls to ginormous stability balls.

We have quite a few balls in our house alone.  A big stability ball, a medium stability ball, a soccer-ball sized squishy pilates ball, two very small firm pilates balls and one acupressure ball.  Whew!

But hey, balls are awesome.  That's why I was happy to review the Therapy Ball Workbook.

The Therapy Ball Workbook is a detailed guide of what kind of balls to use for what purpose.  Different balls can be used for strengthening, conditioning, and stretching exercises.  Part 1 explains the basics and gives you the information you need to have before you get started on a ball routine.

Part 2 explains how to use the book and then provides you with 7 different routines, based on your goals (core stability, total body workout, muscle release, etc.).

Part 3 gives detailed instructions for each exercise, along with photos of each being performed.

None of the strength or conditioning exercises are new to me, but many of the stretch and active release ones are and I can't wait to try them.  Be aware that while some ball exercises are easy and gentle, some exercises using balls can be extremely advanced.  Like any other new activity, be sure that what you are doing is appropriate for you and your body.

If you have no balls, I highly recommend you get some.  They are incredibly versatile.  You might want to pick up this book too, because it contains a wealth of information about how to get the most from your balls.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Say What? Who is Really an Expert?

Good morning! It may be Monday, it may be rainy, but at least its not too hot and humid!  It was also a great weekend and a very fun party here last night.  I heard from Adam and he and the girls are having a great time at Great Wolf Lodge too.

So, today I want to talk a bit about many so-called celebrity health experts and the claims they make.

I know I talk a lot about the plethora of bogus health information out there.  Sometimes even seemingly credible sources like MDs can spew bogus info (you must have heard by now that Dr. Oz has been lambasted for proclaiming various weight loss supplements as "miracles").

Sometimes facts are skewed because of someone's economic interests (i.e. they have shares in a particular supplement or product).  Sometimes the problem is that a fact is poorly articulated by a person or media.

A good example of this is the column written by Tracy Anderson for Health Magazine.  By the way, I think this magazine sucks.  The only reason I get it is the girls' school has a fundraiser each year where you have to subscribe to a magazine, and I already subscribe to the ones I like.  I didn't know much about this one, but it's pretty much the same as Shape and Self magazines, which is to say, almost all about weight loss with skinny, perfect-looking models with the odd article about how your should really accept yourself as you are.  Yeah, total bogus shit.

No offence to you Americans, but we Canadians have much better magazines aimed at women.  I also got Best Health Canada through the girls' fundraiser, and think its much better.

Anyways, back to Tracy Anderson.  In case you don't know of her, she is a fitness trainer to the stars and entrepreneur who has several studios in the U.S. as well as countless fitness DVDs, etc.  I have heard many good things about her workouts and would like to check one out at some point.  My problem is not with her workouts, per se, but with the health information she shares in this magazine column.

In one issue, the headline for her column was, "This healthy food could be making you fat."  When you get to her column you find that she is referring to avocado.  She warns people that even though they are healthy, they are high in calories and most people can't limit portion size, so they should just be avoided.  WTF?  Last time I checked, we weren't all laboratory mice.  We do possess executive thinking skills!  This is a ridiculous recommendation to make without qualifying it.  You can gain weight or fail to lose weight if you are eating too many calories from ANY food.  I would only take her advice if you have a weight problem and you regularly find yourself eating large quantities of avocado or guacamole and are completely incapable of controlling your portion size.  For everyone else, eat on...

In another issue, that touts her workout method (high reps of exercises using light weights or body weight), she recommends avoiding heavy weight lifting, or even cardio activities like spinning because they will bulk you up.  Grr, this type of bullshit makes me so mad!!!!  Okay, there may be a SMALL minority of women (and I mean small!) that are able to add muscle mass very quickly and easy, but this is not true for most of us.  We just don't have enough testosterone.  Also, there are various types of heavy lifting, which you can choose depending on your goals.  I am really into lifting heavy right now (achieving muscle failure by 6-8 reps), and I still fit into all my clothes.  The only difference is I find I have to eat MORE just to maintain my weight because muscle mass is more metabolically active tissue than is fat.  And as for cardio activities creating bulk?  That's just hogwash.  Oh, and by the way, it is absolutely impossible for muscle to turn into fat.  So that is a complete myth that if you lift weights and then stop, you'll be bigger simply because the muscle turns into fat.  You might get bigger, but only if you put on additional body fat!

Here's the thing.  Anderson is a fitness professional with a dance background.  I couldn't find any evidence that she has any actual credentials (she may, but I can't find reference to them).  I seriously doubt that even if she is a certified instructor/personal trainer, she doesn't have a university degree that has taught her how to analyze research and scientific data.  So even though she may be considered an 'expert', I would hazard a guess that she is full of misinformation.

Apparently she puts clients on crazy low calorie diets, that alone will make most people shed fat, in the short term.  But also keep in mind that the celebrity clients doing her muscle endurance routines, are not - like most of us - sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, getting lunch at the food court, and then going out for drinks after work.  I can guarantee that if that is your lifestyle, doing her 100 leg lifts a few times a week, won't make you look like Gwyneth Paltrow.  If, however, like such lithe stars, you have a personal chef who cooks you macrobiotic meals, a personal trainer who puts you through several gruelling workouts every week, and a career that depends on you looking a certain way, then sure, adding in a few of Anderson's workouts to this already extreme lifestyle might be just the thing to give you the lean, toned, rather than butch-y look that most female celebrities covet. 

So, my friends, when you are considering health information, it pays to examine the source.  Do they benefit in some way from the information they are sharing?  Do they have the credentials to know what they are talking about?  Is there information evidence based?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Boo Boos

Oh my, what a week!  Its been good, its been bad and its been ugly.

The good is the girls are still fighting less than they were before and we've had a lot of fun.  The bad is that there have still been a few fights...Monday morning was really bad, but Mondays are always the worst, especially after a great weekend. The ugly was when I was picking up the girls from daycare camp on Tuesday, Big A got on her bike, and within seconds while still on the playground, hit a rock and went over sideways landing on her face.

Wow, there is nothing worse for a parent than watching your child get hurt.  I am not an overprotective parent.  Really, I'm not.  But I do get a bit freaked out about them getting hurt.  I probably tell them to be careful a thousand times a day.  And of the two of them, Big A is usually a heck of a lot more careful than Little A.  This was just a flukey accident because she is an ace bicycle rider.

Fortunately, she was wearing her helmet and didn't hit her head nor knock out her front teeth but she scraped up her elbow and her face.  Basically her chin and the skin above her top lip is totally gashed up and her top lip swelled up huge.  She looks pretty awful.

What's even more disturbing is that the whole thing really affected her.  She refused to ride her bike for a few days and worse, she got very glum and sulky.  I suspect that this girl, who is usually extremely confident, was feeling very embarrassed and self-conscious.  The good news is she is now both ready to get back on her bike and seems to be cheering up now that the swelling has gone down and she has had a few days back at camp and no one has teased her.

Despite the fact that I am a worrier, particularly about things like accidents, in the moment I stay pretty level-headed.  Admittedly, its usually after where I start to drive myself nuts with the what ifs.  Unfortunately, you can only do your best to keep your children safe and locking them up in a padded cell isn't really an option.

Speaking of injuries, my torn ab muscle is better.  I am surprised how quickly it healed given how painful it was last week.  Good though, 'cause now I can go back to doing my usual workouts.

Anyways, this weekend should be great.  Today the fertility clinic is taking staff to a waterfront hotel for a little poolside party.  Should be fun!

I work tomorrow and then Adam is taking the girls to Great Wolf Lodge for a little getaway while I am hosting a party for some girlfriends.  I have been preparing some yummy eats for it so hopefully I will have some great recipes to share.

Have a happy, healthy weekend and stay safe!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chilled Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

This soup is so amazing, and also amazingly simple to make.  Really it is good hot and cold so you can make this recipe any time of year.  I made it spicy, since we like our food hot, but go ahead and make it mild if you prefer.

Chilled Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 + 1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled
900 ml vegetable stock

Toss carrots, onion and garlic with oil, 1 tsp curry powder and salt.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400F for about 40 minutes.  Let cool.

Place veggies into food processor or blender with additional curry powder, ginger and stock.  Puree until smooth.  Season to taste.  Keep refrigerated up to 4 days or freeze.

This recipe has been submitted to Urban Naturale's Plant-Based Pot Luck Link-Up and this week's Gluten-Free Friday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DrVita Product Review

You may have heard the news that vitamins do not prevent chronic illness?  Oh yeah, big headlines recently.  But then you've probably been told you should be taking a million supplements by either your doctor, naturopath or another health care provider.  Are you confused?

It is confusing.  Ultimately, there isn't strong evidence that taking a multivitamin can prevent chronic illness, but that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Most people can and should be taking vitamin D, and many can benefit from fish oil or other omega 3 supplement.  Women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid.  Things like CoQ10 can be helpful for fertility and heart health.

So what about multis?

I'll be honest, I take one.  This is despite the lack of evidence that they are useful.  This is weird as usually my decisions are all evidence-based.  But for some reason, I can't give it up as a bit of insurance.  It just makes me feel better knowing I'm covering my bases...even though I eat a crazy nutritious diet and really probably don't need to take a multi.  To make it even, I take it every other day.  Or, if its one you take several times per day, like DrVita's Six Daily Advanced Multi-Vitamin, I  take just 2 rather than 6 capsules daily.

Anyways, here is what I like about this multi from DrVita: the capsules are easy to swallow and have no aftertaste.  They are free of artificial colours and flavours.  What I don't like is that it has a whole lots of unnecessary ingredients that are not present in large enough quantities to probably do much.  That being said, all the extra goodies in them do have health benefits, but I suspect only in much larger quantities, and keep in mind vitamins that throw in extra herbs, etc., are usually a lot more expensive.  Also keep in mind that herbs can interact with other supplements and medications, so it is best to check with your doctor first before taking any.  Most health experts will tell you that price is not always an indicator of vitamin quality.  If you do want to take a multi, I would check out the website for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, or contact them for advice.  I was not able to find any third party reviews about the quality of DrVita multis so while I can say they are easy to take and I liked being able to control my dosage, I can't tell you much beyond that.

I think the question of whether or not to take a multi should be determined by your budget, your health status, your diet and your lifestyle.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary bottle of DrVita vitamins, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Do you take a multi?