Friday, December 12, 2014

Hiatus


Ah, don't you just love Grumpy Cat?  Not sure why he's so grumpy though, apparently he's made millions!

I am going on a little blogging break.  We've got family stuff, a trip, and I have a lot of business stuff to work on over the next few weeks, so I will be back December 29th.

If you want to get a jump start on your health resolutions for 2015, there are still 44 days to be first to try konjac powder and experience all its health benefits.  If you contribute to my campaign, you get to try some at a discount and, for those in the GTA, you get to try some goodies too!!

Until then, I hope you have a safe, happy, wonderful holiday!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Smokey Southern Bean and Bacon Stew (Vegan Option)


This is a super yummy, comforting hot meal, perfect for chilly winter days.  Of course, besides being delicious, it is also packed with nutrition, guaranteed to fuel you for your busy life.

Smokey Southern Bean and Bacon Stew (Vegan Option)

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
A few drops liquid smoke or 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp real maple extract or 2 tbls real maple syrup
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
2 slices turkey bacon, tempeh bacon or 1/2 cup coconut bacon
1 lb okra, trimmed and sliced
1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked)
1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked)
2 tbls creole seasoning, or chili powder
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 can tomato paste
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss sprouts, cauliflower, onion and bacon with oil, garlic smoke and maple.  Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 350F for about 40 minutes.  Simmer okra, beans spice and vinegar in a large pot or deep skillet.  Add roasted veggies and bacon and stir in tomato paste.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Season to taste.  Eat alone, in a wrap, or on top of brown rice, quinoa or other grain.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inner Strength: How and Why to Keep Your Bones Strong

  The way I easily learned the humerus bone (in anatomy, for massage therapy) was by recalling how NOT humorous it was back when I broke my right humerus.

If you are under age 50, you probably aren't terribly concerned about your bones.  But you should be!  The latest issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter summarizes the latest research findings.
 Your bones generally reach peak mass in your 30s and by your 50s most folks start to lose a significant proportion of their bone mass (men too, although women lose bone more rapidly).

A million and a half Canadians have osteoporosis and many more have low bone mass and don't even know it.  Not only does this put you at risk for fractures, it also costs our health system millions of dollars.  Among frail, elderly, a fracture can also mean death.  Osteoporosis is referred to as the silent disease because often people don't know they have it until they experience a serious break.

Genes play a role in your risk of osteoporosis, but lifestyle also has a significant impact on risk and is the one thing you can control.  Uncontrollable risk factors include being over 50, being female, having a small/thin body type, and a family history of weak bones or fractures.  So how can you minimize your risk of osteoporosis and associated bone fractures?

1. Strength training - Keeps both bones and muscles strong and reduces the risk of falls.
2. Consume sufficient calcium, mostly from food sources rather than supplements.
3. Take a Vitamin D supplement.
4. Don't smoke and limit alcohol consumption.
5. Avoid medications that are linked to bone loss, if possible.

Another thing to watch is the amount of acid you get through your diet.  This does not mean avoid acidic foods like citrus, etc., it refers to foods that have a high potential renal acid load when they break down in your body.  The ones with the highest load are proteins, particularly animal proteins, as well as grains.  Those that have a high negative potential renal acid load (i.e. are good for bones) are veggies and fruits.  That being said, it is important for older adults to get sufficient protein to avoid muscle loss so older adults most at risk should consider limiting their consumption of cereals and grains instead.

Even if you are young and don't think osteoporosis will ever effect you, following all the tips for minimizing your risk make good sense anyways.  Exercise, eat a healthy, plant-based diet, don't smoke and limit alcohol. Capiche?



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Festive Kale and Quinoa Salad With Cranberry Orange Dressing


Ironically, while this yummy salad is festive with the colours of Christmas (okay maybe more pink and green than red and green, but close!), I took it to our family Hanukkah party...hey it's pretty hard to come up with a blue and white salad...blueberries and cottage cheese maybe?

Anyways, this is great for a pot-luck because it is served at room temperature and balances out some of the super 'healthy' ingredients with a bit of sweetness.

Salad

1 cup quinoa

1 lb organic baby kale
1/2 cup juice-sweetened cranberries/cherries and goji berries
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), or sub sunflower seeds

Dressing

1 cup cranberries
2 tbls orange rind
Juice of 2 oranges
2 tbls maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Cook quinoa according to package instructions and let cool.  Toss with kale, berries and seeds.

For the dressing, place cranberries, rind, juice and sweetener in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer until cranberries begin to burst.  Let cool.  Pour into a food processor or blender and add vinegar, oil and salt.  Puree until desired consistency (personally, I like it with small pieces of cranberry still intact).  Pour desired amount of dressing over salad and mix well.  Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to 2 weeks.

This recipe was submitted to Vegetarian  Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Things I'm Lovin': December 2014 Edition

Its Monday!  No doubt about that.  Little A was in Monday morning mode which is always delightful...not!  The girls just wanted to stay home and do all the crafts they got at the Hanukkah party yesterday.  I tried to put things in perspective for them and explained that they are damn lucky they get to go to school because in some countries only boys get to go and girls have to stay home, aren't allowed to learn to read and have to do nothing but have babies and scrub toilets their whole life.  Surprisingly, it actually worked and they were so flabbergasted by my preaching that they forgot all about complaining.  Ha!

Anyways, on Mondays its particularly important to appreciate the little things.  Here are the little things bringing me joy right now.

First, my new winter jacket I got on Black Friday for 50% off.


It is the lightest, warmest and most flattering winter coat I have ever owned.  LOVE IT! By the way, that is not me in the picture ;)

For some reason I am craving hot drinks, but I am suddenly not into drip coffee or tea.  Its weird actually...but what I'm guzzling these days are homemade mochas made from espresso powder, NuNaturals cocoa syrup and a bit of milk.  Sometimes I will even add a chai tea bag to spice things up a bit. Guilt-free mochas that warm the soul! 

 
Tricking my kids into eating secretly healthy foods while they believe they are decadent treats...like these frosted chocolate cupcakes (they ALL got devoured in one evening, no joke!).  Unfortunately, I can't share the recipe, although it may go on my new business website ;)
 
 
Winter Squash and sweet potatoes.  For some odd reason I was turned off squash and sweet potatoes during my pregnancies and even for a few years after my distaste lingered.  But gradually my love for them has returned and now I'm kind of obsessed. 
 
 
Unfortunately, no sooner had I decided that delicate squash is my absolute favorite, it suddenly disappeared from all the store shelves.  Sigh!
 
Body Shop Shea Body Butter.
 
Click for enlarged view
This is the only stuff I use in the winter.  I love it, I love the smell and it keeps my skin feeling moisturized all day!
 
What are the little things making you happy these days?


Friday, December 5, 2014

Working at Home


You may think it odd that as a therapist, I do a lot of work from home?  Well naturally I do all my paperwork and report writing at home, but I also do a lot of my counselling.  No, I don't have clients come over to my house...while it would be awesome to have a home office, we don't really have an appropriate space nor are we close enough to subway stop to make it realistic.  Actually, I do a whole heck of a lot of counselling by phone. In person is best, of course, but sometimes it just isn't possible.

You see, there are few infertility counsellors in small towns outside of the Greater Toronto Area, so I get many clients from north and west of the city...and a few from east - I've even had clients from my hometown of Kingston!  Also, sometimes clients that start out seeing me in-person, switch to phone counselling.  Why?  Because if they don't live downtown, it can be a nightmare to get in and out of the city core.  Its getting really difficult to get around this city!

I feel very fortunate.  It certainly saves me a whole lot of time going to and from the office, and I can wear sweatpants and drink tea all day.  Today, I was somehow fortunate enough to book 4 consecutive phone sessions, which means, yep, sweatpants and tea!  There is nothing better on a cold winter day.  Tomorrow, unfortunately, I have to go to the office, but I am looking forward to our pre-Hannukah party at my mother-in-law's on Sunday (because everyone is away over Hannukah).  Its our annual tradition of all the cousins getting together and is crazy chaos. 

Have a healthy, happy weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sugar-Free Teriyaki Sauce

 

This is a photo of a yummy teriyaki chicken and cabbage stir-fry I made for Adam and I using home-made teriyaki sauce.

I am very careful about what sauces and condiments I purchase because most of them are pretty much pure sugar and other crap.  If you think its too much work to make your own, you're wrong.  Most are very easy to make yourself, just like this teriyaki sauce which is sugar-free and corn-starch free and can be gluten-free if you want.

Sugar-Free Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cup, packed dates
Boiling water
Chunk of ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
Optional: 1 tsp konjac powder

Place dates in measuring cup.  Cover with boiling water up to 1 cup line.  Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in blender.  Add dates and water and blend until smooth.  Keep in fridge for up to 3 weeks.