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Monday, November 12, 2018

Seabuck Wonders Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails: Product Review


I have reviewed a number of Seabuck Wonders products over the past few years and am generally very impressed with them. This one is no exception.

Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails is a combination of Omega-7 from organic sea buckthorn berry oil and sea buckthorn seed oil plus biotin and vitamin E.

As someone with weak fingernails that frequently snag and tear, and hair that has never really recovered from having 2 children (less shiny, drier, cowlicks that never used to exist, and hair loss), I was eager to see if this supplement could make a difference.

Omega-7 is something I have tried before in their other products but I have never taken biotin.

Biotin naturally occurs in small amounts in bananas, eggs and milk. Biotin is an important component of enzymes in the body that break down fats, carbohydrates, and other substances in our body.

You can't really test for low biotin levels, but symptoms of a deficiency include thinning of the hair, red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth, depression, fatigue, hallucinations, and tingling of the arms and legs.

After a couple weeks of taking 2 softgels a day (the recommended amount) what I noticed is that my hair was not falling out as much. Lucky for me, my hair has not started thinning, so I guess I am growing hair at the same rate I am losing it. Nevertheless, my shedding is gross and annoying. I am regularly finding hairballs all over the house, and strands on my clothes and even in my food (YUCK!). I was suddenly able to brush my hair and flat iron it after my shower in the morning without having to sweep up hair afterwards. Wow!

Unfortunately, a few days after finishing the bottle, my hair started falling out more again. I gotta get me some more!

Apparently it takes up to a year to see any change in brittle nails so I can't speak to its efficacy for that.

So do I recommend this product? Absolutely! But always speak to your doctor or health care provider first before starting a new supplement to see if its appropriate for you.

Disclosure: I was sent this product to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Tex-Mex Diabetes Cooking: Book Review


As ya'll probably know, diabetes is a big freakin' problem in North America. Some people develop Type I, which is an autoimmune disease, during childhood, but you can develop this in adulthood too though rare (I have 2 clients who did).

Type II diabetes can be genetic but more often than not it is a lifestyle disease brought on by a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. While some people will have to eventually go on medication in order to manage it, others may be able to get in under control, or even into remission with lifestyle changes.

The American Diabetes Association recently published Tex Mex Diabetes Cooking, written by author Kelley Cleary Coffeen, PhD. The concept is excellent because North Americans, especially folks south of the border in the US, love their Tex Mex food!

Traditionally, Tex Mex can mean huge portions of rice, flour tortillas, meats, with everything smothered in cheese, guac and sour cream. But really, this cuisine can be lighter and very nutritious that what you find in the typical fast food version. Think lean meats, beans and fish and lots of veggies.

But if you feel that Tex Mex just isn't the same without all the high carb, high calorie goodies, than don't fret, you will still love the recipes in this book.

Coffeen clearly has a 'moderation' approach to nutrition. The book even has a section for cocktails if you can't imagine eating a taco without a Margarita.

First, I like that she starts in her introduction with  a discussion about the importance of drinking water and exercising for people with diabetes. Then, she has a section listing all the essential chili peppers, herbs and spices essential for Tex Mex cooking. Delicious food doesn't need sugar, salt and fat when you have so many other ways to add flavour! This section also includes general tips for cooking Tex Mex food for people with diabetes.

All recipes include prep and cooking times, serving size, choices/exchanges (starch, protein, etc.), and nutritional value per serving. There are only a few photos so don't expect visuals of each recipe.

Recipe sections include:

  • Bites and Starters
  • Salsas and More
  • Tortillas and Breads
  • Breakfast Favorites
  • Soups and Stews
  • Tostadas, Tacos, Tamales, Burritos, Enchiladas, and More
  • Savory Sides
  • Little Sweets

I am eager to try a number of the salsa and sauce recipes. Aside from the Mexican White Sauce, which uses mayo, most are light and healthy and sound super flavourful and delicious. Roasted Pineapple Salsa...OMG!!

Many recipes do have sour cream, avocados, and cheese, but use either reduced fat versions and/or lower quantities, so you will not feel deprived.

The homemade tortillas use whole wheat flour or part whole wheat (I would use ALL whole wheat and ditch the white altogether), or corn flour, which is a whole grain. The rice recipes offer the choice of brown or while. Go with brown!

There is a lot of variety in this recipe collection and definitely numerous dishes that will appeal to just about anyone.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. If you love Tex Mex food, and even if you do not have diabetes, but want to eat better, this book is a good bet.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.




Monday, October 29, 2018

Amazing 2 Ingredient Pizza Crust


I love making pizza. I mix it up in terms of what type of crust I make. Sometimes a traditional yeast crust, sometimes a base of cauliflower, sometimes gluten free...but always healthy, of course.

But lately, life is so busy I haven't made it very often because it tends to be pretty time consuming. This is one reason I adore this recipe. It is not only healthy and super delicious, it is also pretty quick and easy.

All you do is mix equal parts self-rising flour (I make my own whole grain version) with plain Greek yogurt. If you are vegan or need dairy-free, I am sure you could make it with a coconut milk Greek yogurt. You could probably also use gluten-free flour if necessary. I used organic, whole grain spelt for these ones.

Self-rising flour

1 cup flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the pizzas pictured above (equivalent to 2 extra larges, one regular, one thick crust), I used 5 cups each self-rising flour and Greek yogurt.

2 Ingredient Pizza Crust

Mix together flour and yogurt in a large bowl and use hands to press into a ball. Divide into desired number of portions and press out onto greased baking sheets. Bake naked in oven at 400F for about 20 minutes (less if making thin crust), then top with sauce, cheese and toppings, and then return to oven for another 10 minutes.


As you can see, on the pizza above, I used nutritional yeast instead of cheese. It was my first time trying this on pizza, and I absolutely loved it!!

I think my go-to from now on is this crust recipe, and using nutritional yeast.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blendtec vs Vitamix

If you are at all into cooking and/or nutrition, than you likely own a high speed blender.

There are now numerous companies making them, but the two most popular brands are Blendtec and Vitamix.

About 6 years ago, Adam bought me a Blendtec for my birthday. I asked for it specifically, over a Vitamix, based on reviews I had read. The deciding factor for me at the time, was that many people suggested the Blendtec was easier to clean.

After having owned many food processors and blenders that suck to clean, this was very appealing for me.

Despite the Blentec's motor dying much sooner than I think it should have, overall we were pretty happy with it. It was used multiple times daily. I used it to crush ice and make coffee frappes, make batters for baked goods, sauces, purees, etc., and Adam and the girls used it primarily for making smoothies.

That being said, I didn't love cleaning it...but I probably won't love cleaning anything ever, to be honest. Food would get caught under the blade, and unlike our food processor, the blade wasn't removable. But it was not sharp, so I could often reach in and push food that was stuck with my bare fingers.

One thing I was very disappointed about was its ability to make nut butter. I had high hopes but after a few totally failed tries, I gave up.

The Blendtec had preprogrammed settings, like Ice Crush, Batters, Smoothies, etc. Sometimes they worked great for their intended purpose, other times, another setting would actually work better.

The Blendtec was also LOUD. Like really F#$*ing LOUD!

So a few months ago when it died, I decided to switch camps and try a Vitamix.  We got the Vitamix Explorian E310 Blender, which Adam got a good deal on at Canadian Tire.



At first it took us all a bit of time to get used to it. It has no preprogrammed settings, so when I turn it on, I forget I have to turn it off, because the Blentec settings had timers and would go off automatically.

It is just as easy (or not easy) as the Blendtec to clean, however, the blades are super sharp, so you definitely cannot stick your hand in to clean it out.

Like all high power blenders, it is loud, but I don't think its as loud as the Blendtec, which is a welcome change.

I tried nut butter and the first time was a total disaster. A second attempt led me to realize you just can't more than about a 1/2 cup of nuts in at a time. Given its large size, I find this very annoying. I had 4 cups of almonds and it was extremely time consuming and messy to do so many individual batches. I am going to stick to store bought nut and seed butters for now.

The Vitamix we got does have a pulse button, along with the continuous power button, and a speed control. But we tend to just blast the shit out of everything on the highest speed.

Overall, I think I do prefer the Vitamix. That being said, it remains to be seen if it lasts longer than the Blendtec!




Monday, October 15, 2018

My New Newest Favorite Quest Bar Flavour


Recently a lot of the online stores where we buy a lot of our protein powder, protein bars and pre-workout drink mixes have been having massive sales. This has prompted me to get more adventurous in trying new products and flavours. After getting the Maple Waffle flavour of Quest bars on sale and loving them so much, I went back to buy more but found only a few other flavours were still available, one being Birthday Cake.

I hadn't been considering trying them before because I read a mediocre review of them, and I had been very disappointed by the version made by One Bar (whereas their Glazed Donut flavour is AMAZING!) that looks like a big unicorn turd and made a mess of sprinkles everywhere.

I didn't really have high expectations for this Quest flavour, but I was really pleasantly surprised! I think I like it even better than Maple Waffle, and for sure like that its not sticky/messy like the Maple Waffle one, so I bring it to work or take it as an on-the-go snack.

Its not overly chewy, but also not too soft. The sprinkles are kind of within the creamy, white coating so they don't make a mess anywhere. I have avoided any coated Quest bars in the past, but I really don't mind the coating (vanilla frosting-ish).

I can't believe I am saying this, but I am done with Chocolate Chunk altogether. This is now my absolute favorite flavour!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sparkling Ice for Cocktails: Product Review


HAPPY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!!!

A few years ago I was lecturing my dad on cutting back on his alcohol intake (I am pretty much always lecturing him about his food/drink intake) and he said to me, "Come on, red wine is a health food." I may have starting yelling at him.

No. Alcohol is not health food. Forget the BS about it cutting heart disease risk. The research findings were exaggerated and we now know that too much alcohol for anyone is bad. Very bad. Men should have a max. of 2 drinks/day, and women less.

Believe me, if it was health food, I would have a few drinks a day. But its not, so I allow myself a few on the weekend, usually while making dinner. That's it. And when I do drink its usually craft beer, cider or occasionally wine or spirits. When it comes to spirits I stick with clear like vodka or tequila and sugar-free mixers.

The worst thing you can possibly drink is stuff mixed with sugar syrups, juice, creamy and/or sweet liqueurs, etc.

I usually make my own mixer with carbonated water from our Soda Stream, some muddled lime and a bit of stevia, but I always like to try new  things, so I was thrilled when Sparkling Ice sent me their array of products, including their 2 newest flavours, Classic Lemonade and Pink Grapefruit and suggested using them as mixers.

Pink Grapefruit has been a longtime go-to flavour for me (I love pink grapefruits), but it wasn't appealing to me as a cocktail. Instead, I combined the Classic Lemonade with tequila, carbonated water and lemon slices.

It was really amazing! The lemon slices added a bit more zing and the combo of the Sparkling Ice and plain soda water was the perfect level of sweetness.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 bottle Classic Lemonade Sparkling Ice
1 cup soda water
2 ounces tequila
2 lemon slices

Of course many of their other flavours are great too, and my kids love them (we had heavy negotiations over who got what flavours). Yes, we consume diet drinks in this house. I DO think it is a better option than sugary drinks. Believe me, if you think you are being 'healthy' drinking liquor mixed with juice or an organic sugary soda because its 'natural, you are truly delusional.

Do I recommend Sparkling Ice? If you want to cut down on your sugar intake but sometimes want a sweet treat or mixer for your cocktail, than absolutely!

Disclosure: We were sent the products to review but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My New Favorite Quest Bar

As you know, one of my go-to snacks/treats is protein bars. I am no delicate flower who can nibble on a dry piece of toast and not eat again until the next day. No way Jose!! This woman has a serious appetite, and you weight lifters know what I am talking about. Muscles scream for fuel!

I know they are a 'processed' food but I love protein bars because they are portable, filling, satisfy sweet cravings, and are easy to devour quickly in between my therapy client sessions (I have even been known to gobble one down during a session if my blood sugar is getting really low).

For the longest time I couldn't find any I liked as much as Quest Chocolate Chunk. I tried other Quest flavours: Cinnamon Roll, Cookie&Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mocha, Blueberry Muffin, etc., and I found them all just meh. Later on, I got addicted to Costco's version, which were also very cheap in comparison. Then Costco kept increasing the price, and then our Costco simply stopped carrying them. Through a Google search I learned that they were having packaging problems, but I am not sure if they will be back on the shelves. Sigh!

When I recently discovered Quest had come out with Maple Waffle flavour, I didn't have high hopes. Even though I loved the concept (I'm Canadian so I love anything maple, okay?), nothing new ever wowed me before. Nevertheless, I decided to order some to try.

Well folks, I was very pleasantly surprised. These have now usurped Chocolate Chunk's position as my favorite variety!

They have a sweet maple base, pockets of maple syrup (caramel-like consistency), and little chunks of I guess what is supposed to be waffle. The waffle bits are forgettable, but I love the base and the syrup.


My only complaint is that they are quite sticky and messy. I would not take one of these to the office in the summer. Nevertheless, flavour-wise they are a total winner. Now if only Quest bars weren't so darn expensive...