Friday, November 21, 2014

Don't Feed the Animals

Kids can always pick out the onions! #Parenting
We may be past the toddler stage in this house, but feeding the kids still remains a challenge.  Like most kids, they would prefer a steady diet of cake and candy, with the only savouries being pizza and hotdogs.  Sigh!

I guess I should feel lucky that I can whip up all sorts of whole grain, stevia-sweetened concoctions and they'll gobble them down whereas I hear a lot of kids clearly distinguish between true crap and healthier imitations and will only go for the former. My kids also don't notice all the fruits and veggies hidden in their food, and they will, sometimes willingly eat vegetables.

Its frustrating, because I feel like no matter what I do at home, they are still exposed to way too much junk from the outside world.  Probably a day does not go by...and I am seriously not exaggerating...when they get cookies, candy or other garbage either from school, daycare or other family members who tell me, there is no harm in the occasional treat.  The problem is, since they are getting it from all directions, it is absolutely NOT occasional.

Oh well, I feel like there is little I can do except try to set a good example and I think we do that pretty well.  I ate my fair share of crap as a kid but eventually gravitated to the healthy side.  My parents were never health nuts like me, but rather foodies, and, at the very least, foodies tend to appreciate good quality food, which eliminates most fast and processed foods.

What trips me up with the girls sometimes is taking things personally.  Like most kids they are incredibly unpredictable, one minute adoring something and the next minute hating it.  Because I love to cook, when they reject something, my feelings get hurt, especially if its something I made just for them.  Case in point, last week I made this homemade baked honey Dijon garlic chicken.  Super moist boneless chicken thighs in a yummy, flavourful sauce.  Or so I thought.

Served a tiny bit, cut up into tiny pieces, each girl was only willing to nibble a corner of a single piece.  Big A said little, but Little A told me it was disgusting and then complained that it smelled like throw up so could I get it off her plate immediately.  Oy vey!  Her response was so dramatic I thought perhaps there was something really wrong with the chicken that I missed, however, when Adam tasted it, he confirmed what I thought, which was, it was amazingly delicious!

Thank goodness I've learned to worry less about their nutrition.  Several years ago I was constantly stressing about what they were and were not eating and wondering how this would impact their health.  I've learned to let go of that a bit.  They may not eat like I want them to, but I guess they do okay, and the reality is, there is not much more I can do about it so I have to just suck it up.  All I can say is thank goodness they now make organic, whole grain Mac and Cheese in a box because it takes 5 minutes to make, and the kids love it.  Yes, I'll admit it, I feed that stuff to the girls possibly once a week. In fact, my mom is coming today to stay for the weekend and I am making a delicious dinner tonight of lemon pepper trout, roasted delicata squash and my edamame, cucumber, and shitaki mushroom salad.  I know the girls won't touch any of it, so I may just break open a box of their Mac and Cheese.  We'll all be happy and their will be no fights...although I admit I may encourage them to eat some vegetable matter along with it...

I no longer feel guilty about being imperfect.  I do my best and that just has to be good enough.

Feeding a family
Saturday I made sure not to book any clients so my mom and I can do something fun with the girls before their afternoon activities (gymnastics and swimming) and then my brother and his family are coming for dinner.  His kids are darn picky too so we're ordering in Mashu Mashu, which is a favorite around here and actually appeals to most kids.  Sunday I teach spin while the girls are at Hebrew School, then we'll take my mom to the train and the girls have a playdate in the afternoon. 

Have a happy, healthy weekend folks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holographic Acupressure Discs: Product Review

Relief Discs

What the heck are Holographic Acupressure Discs?

Well, apparently they are "All-natural, non-invasive pain relief discs used by world class and Olympic athletes now available to consumers." They are just one of the products sold by the Winning Factor wellness company.

I had just wrenched my shoulder when these arrived for me to try out.  I stuck one on the effected shoulder in the area indicated in the instructions for shoulder pain before bed.  Is my shoulder better?  It is actually.  Can I attribute it to the discs? Impossible to say, to be honest, because the day before I did an acupuncture session.  In any case, a sample of 1 does not make for scientific data. 

I couldn't find any data, actually, on any link between holographic acupressure discs and pain.  In fact, I found just one study on holographic anything in relationship to health...apparently holographic arm bands do not improve balance or stability.  But here's the thing, perhaps research is just behind in this area.  A few decades ago, we folks in North America would have scoffed at the idea that acupuncture can actually be effective for treating various ailments and now we know it is.  So whether there is scientific evidence out there for these or not, given that these are non-invasive and affordable ($20 for 35 discs), if you have pain that is resistant to other interventions, it certainly doesn't hurt to give these a try, no?  Next time I have an ache or pain, you can bet I'll be sticking one on!

Disclosure: I was provided with this product by the company but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chickpea Sweet Potato Roti

Whenever Adam expresses delight over a vegetarian recipe, I know its one I need to share.  Generally, its hard to get him excited about savoury dishes that have no meat in them.  This one's a sure winner though.  Hearty enough for even the biggest, carnivorous appetite!

Chickpea Sweet Potato Roti

1 tsp coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
Large chunk ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls madras curry powder (hot or mild)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cabbage, sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)
1 can light coconut milk
1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed
Caribbean hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Roti skins or whole grain tortillas

Heat oil in large skillet, pot or fry pan.  Add onion, garlic, ginger and spices.  Cook for several minutes over medium heat.  Add in vinegar, cabbage, chickpeas and coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir in mashed sweet potato until most of the liquid has absorbed and sauce has thickened.  Adjust seasoning, to taste.  Add desired amount into wrap and insert into mouth.  Makes a lot.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Small Wonders


Good Morning! I hope you had a nice weekend.  We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning.  Good think the girls were cooperative, or actually, pretty excited, to get all dressed up in their winter gear.  Don't they look cute?

I can't help but brag a bit about my girls.  They got great report cards last week and we had lovely parent-teacher interviews.  I am so proud of them! 

Big A is a good student, but what makes me so incredibly proud of her is just what a good person she is.  It was noted on her report card and by her teacher in person, that she is very kind and helpful to all the other kids.  All.  She is not clique-y at all.  And she apparently is learning not to be as bossy as she used to be.  I would say that between her kindness and her assertiveness/confidence, she has the makings of a very effective leader (CEO, politician...), ha ha!!

Little A is miss smarty pants, blowing away her teachers with her clever questions.  She just still has to work on 'controlling her emotions' and not distracting the other kids by chattering with her best friend so much.  Nevertheless, the teachers are very pleased with her progress and academically she is doing great (she's going to be a Nobel Peace Prize winning scientist I think!).

Aside from the girls fighting, which, at the very least, is much less frequent these days, and some serious spoiled-brat-like behaviour (i.e. whining about having to walk 7 minutes to school, sulking because they can't have what they want whenever they want, etc.), I'd say we're in a pretty good place around here.  Big A is so grown up sometimes it amazes me.  She can still act like a 2-year-old though.  Little A is still prone to tantrums too, but she has them less often and I am loving the last vestiges of her 'babyness'.  She is still so cute and cuddly and silly and impish. 

Older people with grown children always warn me it all goes by too quickly and I get it.  I already can't wrap my mind around the fact that Big A is 8.5 years old.  It won't be long until I've been a mom for a whole decade!  And yet I still feel like a kid myself!!

I can't help but be relieved to be at this point where we no longer have preschoolers or babies and the girls have a degree of independence.  I sometimes forget that they are now capable of doing certain things themselves, which means that as a family we have more freedom and ability to do all sorts of things that weren't possible before.  But there is also part of me already mourning the loss of my little monkeys.  I am sure it won't be long before they want nothing to do with me and spend all their time with their peers and just roll their eyes when I address them.  Those days are coming for sure.  And in the blink of an eye they'll be leaving for university and Adam and I will be empty nesters.  Gasp!

Fortunately, since they are both going to be extremely successful and wealthy, they'll be able to fly back and visit their old parents regularly. HA!

Well, here's to family, and hoping I don't screw mine up too much!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Delavier's Women's Strength Traning Anatomy Workouts

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I have made it no secret that I believe strength training is absolutely critical to health and fitness.  Unfortunately, I find even committed fitness fanatics, particularly female ones, resist embracing it.  I suspect this is due to many misunderstandings and myths about strength training, but its very frustrating to watch people failing to reach their fitness goals because they are missing out on this vital component in their exercise program.

Why is strength training so important?  This is why, it:

- Reverses sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass we experience with age
- Lowers risk of osteoporosis
- Lowers risk of dementia
- Strengthens tendons and ligaments, lowering risk of injury
- Improves overall strength and helps to maintain mobility as we age
- Builds lean mass which increases metabolism, making it easier to lose weight and maintain weight loss
- Improves sport performance
- Is empowering

Need I say more?

But since the world is primarily motivated with aesthetics, let me reiterate the point that it is just as important as, and quite possibly more so than, cardio for improving your body composition and HOW YOU LOOK!

Now a lot of women tell me they just don't know where to start, and weight rooms and machines seem intimidating.  They need not be!  Honestly, its like anything else, once its familiar, you realize there is nothing to be scared of.

Now, perhaps you can't afford a regular personal trainer to take you through several weekly workouts.  I get that!  Most people can't afford that.  Even 2-3 sessions with a trainer can get you started.  But if you want to figure it out on your own, than Delavier's Women's Strength Traning Anatomy Workouts may be the book for you.

This book is absolutely packed with information.  It too may seem intimidating because of the sheer volume of info, but if you read through it carefully, you'll realize it is actually quite straightforward.
It is particularly well suited for people who really want to understand the what and why behind things.  And really, I think anyone who works out should know that about their exercise or activity.  Too often I see folks at the gym doing weird things, which you can tell, they are doing because they saw someone else doing it, but because they don't have a clue what the purpose of the exercise is, or what muscles they are trying to target, they are doing it all wrong.  This makes it useless at best and dangerous at worst.

Delavier's Women's Strength Traning Anatomy Workouts tells you everything you need to know. Should you not be interested in the details of your anatomy, than you can ignore those parts and diagrams.  But again, its helpful to understand why you are doing what you are doing.

In Part I, there are directions for now to create a strength training program for yourself, based on your level of experience, while avoiding injuries.  It also talks about how to integrate cardio and stretching into your routine.

Part II has very, and I mean very, detailed sections organized by body part (glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, abs, shoulders, upper back, lower back, chest and arms) including instructions on how to do the foundation exercises properly (most are pretty fundamental), what muscles you are working and why, and how to avoid injury.  There are photos and diagrams for each too.

Part III puts together a whole bunch of programs for readers from beginner to advanced with all sorts of variations based on workout frequency and whether you will be training at a gym or using minimal equipment.  Again, these sections include photos of each exercise, so you don't have to go back to the previous section to figure out what they are if you forget.

Whether you simply want to stay healthy and mobile as you age or you want to be a ripped, lean, mean fitness machine, I can't stress enough the importance of strength training.  If you want to see and feel an amazing change in your body, I suggest you give it a try.  And if you want some guidance, this book is a great place to start.

Disclosure: I was presented with a complimentary copy of this book, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Please Say It Isn't Snow!?!

Yep, it snowed yesterday.  Didn't stick, thank goodness.   Nothing to build snowmen with yet at least. But there is no denying winter is here, whether its 'official' or not.  Tuesday we had a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, but I think that was it for that until spring.

I am already looking forward to our trip to Florida in the middle of December with my family.  We usually go to Orlando with Adam's folks, but in honour of her 70th birthday, my mom is treating us, and my brother's family to a vacation in West Palm at the Sandpiper Club Med resort.  Apparently its just a dream for people with kids as they keep the little ones occupied practically 24-7, giving adults time on their own.  Sweeeeeeeet!

But this does mean we will be in town over Christmas, which is going to necessitate some serious planning on my part to keep them busy when they are home from school and daycare.

I just worry that if we have another particularly bad winter, which they are predicting, that by March I'll have lost my marbles.  I wonder if a last minute get away might be possible...

I work tonight, but then the girls are staying for a sleepover at my in-laws which means Adam and I will get a bit of an evening alone, and a relaxed Saturday morning.  I see clients tomorrow but then I am thinking we should start doing our Hannukah mother-in-law is having her party on December 7th, since both our family and my brother's will be leaving for Florida the following week so there isn't much time to get gifts for all the cousins!  Where did the fall go? I can't believe I'm thinking about Hannukah already!!

Sunday Adam has his book club but otherwise this is going to be a pretty quiet one for us.  Sunday, however, is also the Santa Clause Parade, which means getting anywhere around downtown Toronto will be a complete nightmare.

How about you?  Any snow where you are yet?  Have you done your holiday shopping?
Have a safe and healthy weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Frosted Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Squares

Yep, another flavour of oatmeal squares.  Why? Because having a prepared breakfast in the mornings that the kids love is brilliant.  It makes life so much easier.

Since its pumpkin everything season I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

The frosting is optional but it always increases the attractiveness of a baked good for the girls (of course!).  You can also choose to make it less sweet but I knew I had to mask the pumpkin taste completely if they were going to go for it.

Success was mine.  The girls fought over the frosting bowl and were covered in it before I plunked them both in the bath.  They refused to wait until morning to try these and ended up having a couple for dessert after dinner.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Squares

2 cups quick cooking steel cut oats
1/4 cup flax meal
2 cups boiling water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup granular stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips (preferably stevia sweetened)

Stir together oats and flax with water in large bowl and let cool a bit.  Add everything but chips and mix well.  Fold in chips and scrape into greased 9x9 square pan.  Bake at 350F for about 24-25 minutes.  Let cool.


1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tbls coconut oil, softened
1 scoop vegan chocolate protein powder
3 tbls cocoa powder
1/4 cup stevia
2 droppers full of chocolate stevia liquid

Place ingredients for frosting in blender and whip until smooth.  Ice cooled squares.  Let set before cutting.  Makes 16 squares.  Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

This recipe was submitted to Urban Naturale's Plant Based Pot Luck Party Link Up and Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.