Friday, July 30, 2010

Bananaberry Oatmeal Bran Muffins

The heat and humidity keeps making our bananas ripen before we can eat them. I had 5black bananas to use up today so I made a HUGE batch of healthy, low-fat muffins. You can always cut the recipe in half. I used raspberries from our garden, but fresh or frozen will do.

5 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda if you want them lower in cals)
4 egg whites or 2 extra large eggs
4 tbls organic canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 cups milk or water

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
2 cups natural bran
2 cups oats
1/2 cup organic ground flax seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries

Combine all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until frothy. In a seperate bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Dump dry ingredients and berries into wet ingredients and stir, just until combined. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins and bake at 375 F about 18 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean (don't overbake!). Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Breast Cancer Prevention

Because my mother had breast cancer 13 years ago, this is an issue close to my heart and something I worry about quite a bit. This month the Nutrition Action Newsletter did a fantastic job of summarizing the findings of the latest research. Many people are confused about what increases and decreases breast cancer risk, so I thought I would provide a brief review of the information from the Newsletter.

Uncontrollable Factors that Increase Risk:

Age (highest rates are among women 70+)
Family history (Risk is twice as high in women with a first degree relative who has had breast cancer)
Genes (BRCA-1 and CRCA-2)
Breast density (more dense = more risk)
Benigh breast disease
Jewish ethnicity
Early menstrual periods (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55)
Births (fewer than 2 children or no children before age 30 = greater risk)
Height (taller women are at greater risk)

Controllable Factors that Decrease Risk:

Avoid gaining weight (BMIs of 27 and above increase risk)
Avoid taking hormones like estrogen and progesterone
Exercise (yippee!! - the earlier in life you start, the better, but starting later in life still affords significant protection)
Minimize alcohol (even one drink a day significantly raises risk)

The jury is still out on the effects of BPA, folate, fruit and veggie consumption, glycemic index, pesticides, red meat, soy and vitamin D.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Molar Madness

P1: I am working on the major paper for my current course at school, and for the first time since I started this program, I feel like I'm struggling. I don't know why. I chose the topic and it's only a 10 page paper. The title is, "Empirical Evidence of Freudian Defense Mechanisms." I think defense mechanisms are one of the most useful and compelling aspects of Freud's work and there actually is quite a bit of evidence that they exist. I just can't seem to organize my thoughts. I write a paragraph but then don't feel it belongs in the place I originally put it and then start moving it around. Of course, Adam pointed out that I should be writing up an outline before I begin, but I never do that for papers, I'm too eager to get started...

P2: Little A is cutting a bunch of teeth at once and boy, did she let us know on Monday how uncomfortable she is! Adam was off work for the day so he and I attempted to take her on a trip to the Don Mills Centre, a swanky new mall in Toronto. It was, unfortunately, a bust. She screamed and cried the whole time we were there and I had to carry her as she refused to let me put her down at all. When nursing her didn't help, I offered her some bread I had brought along as part of her lunch. She took a bite then threw the rest on the floor and...I'm not kidding you here, she stomped on it, while screeching hysterically. When we got back to the car, she fell asleep so we decided to drive around and let her rest. But wouldn't you know it? I really had to pee. So at a red light, I jumped out to run into a coffee shop and the plan was that Adam would drive around. Unfortunately, she woke up instantly when I shut the door. Moreover, I had to buy something at the coffee shop to use the bathroom, which was filthy and disgusting. I bought a chocolate chip cookie for Adam, which turned out to be lousy. Grrrr! To our surprise, Little A woke up in a great mood and played happily with us at home for 4 hours before we put her down for another nap. Hopefully she is over the worst with the teething, but I am sure there will be more difficult days to come.

This week I've had some tough mornings with Big A. After having Adam home in the morning Saturday, Sunday and Monday, she flew into a fit the past two days when she got up and he wasn't here...even though Adam warned her several times he would be gone to work. I am trying not to take it personally (I know she wouldn't care if I wasn't home when she got up), but it really pisses me off. Nothing like your child having a tantrum and rejecting you the minute she wakes up in the morning!

Big A has also pretty much given up her nap. She just flat out refuses on the weekends and has also started refusing at daycare. I'm a little concerned as there are some days she really does still need it. On Monday, her teacher had to wake her up 3 times because she passed out in the middle of activities.

F1: I thought that I had found the perfect healthy kid-friendly product a few months ago: organic, whole wheat spinach and ricotta ravioli from Whole Foods. I served them to Little A and she would not touch them. My niece of the same age, however, loved them, so I gave my sister-in-law the whole bag. Last week I was at Whole Foods and I decided to try them again. After all, Big A eats stuff like that at daycare all the time and Little A eats stuff like that with Sherma. Once again, Little A flat-out rejected them and even Big A had to be coerced into eating just 2 of them. I am embarrassed to admit that I make the girls scrambled eggs (with steamed broccoli on the side) for dinner several times a week because that is one of the only things I can get them to eat. I worry that they will be teenagers before I can make one meal that all 4 of us will eat together.

Big A and I made these the other day and they were definitely a bigger hit with the girls than the ravioli.

Chocolate peanut butter corn puffs

8-10 cups organic puffed corn
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
4 cups mini marshmellows

Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over medium low heat in big pot. Once smooth, turn heat to low and add marshmellows and stir until they begin melting. Turn off heat and stir in puffed corn. Remove from heat and press into 2 8x8 pans. Refrigerate 1 hour and then cut into squares.

F2: I'm always finding new ways to challenge myself in the gym and I love the simple exercise I started doing again recently that has been leaving my abs burning for 48 hours afterwards. It requires a flat bench with something you can hook your feet under, otherwise, you can do them on the floor and find anything you can to hook your feet under. They are similar to what you would do on a decline bench, but instead of starting with your back on the bench and raising your upper body (most people actually end up using their quads and hip flexors more than their abs), you start seated upright and lower yourself back towards the bench just until the point where you feel like your legs will take over, then you raise yourself back up. Try doing a few sets of 15 reps.

I got temporary relief from my trip to the osteopath last week. But my sciatic pain is back in full force today. She did warn me, however, to give it 2 weeks and that my symptoms may get better and worse before settling down. I hope she's right because I'm feeling pretty miserable today.

Just as an aside, we got our 3 year old treadmill serviced a few weeks ago and the service man was astonished to discover than in the few years we've had it, Adam and I have put 3750 miles on the machine! Well, we always knew we were fitness nuts.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh the Irony!

So it turns out that all of my fellow students who were in Prof A-hole's course thought he was outrageously horrible and we all gave him scathing reviews on his teaching evaluations. In fact, I specified that he should not be teaching. Anything. Ever.

I fully expected to not do as well in this course as I have in the others and frankly didn't care too much because I just wanted to be finished with it, and finished with him. However, when I learned that most of my peers had gotten their marks back already, I started to get nervous on Wednesday. Suddenly I began worrying that he'd already seen the teaching evals and was able to identify mine and was pondering how to get back at me. Fail me? Accuse me of plagarism on my final paper? Then I got my paper returned yesterday...Whoa was I surprised! He gave me a 95% (98% for content and 3% deduction for APA formatting errors), gushed about how beautifully it was written, said it was one of the best, and offered me an academic reference if I ever need it. Ha Ha!

It gets even better. Today I got an email from him saying that he changed my grade for my week 3 assignment from an 84% (all my other grades were >90% but that week he said that although my writing and research was beyond rapproach, my work wasn't interactive enough with the other students) to a 91% and he raised my paper grade from a 95% to a 96% so he can give me an A+ in the course. Oh, and he offered me a reference again.

I'm not sure why, but this whole situation actually makes me a little uncomfortable. Probably because I have this image of him reading my teaching eval, realizing I panned him and flying into a rage and trying to seek revenge on me somehow. Geez, that sounds really paranoid. Perhaps he and I both have personality disorders...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fish Stew

This is not a typical summer dish, but I had a craving. I used sole, but you can use any white fish. If you use something meatier, like halibut, the fish will stay chunky, otherwise, a flakier fish like sole or cod kind of disolves into the stew. I threw brown rice into the skillet and let it absorb the liquid, stirring over low heat until liquid was absorbed (making almost like a stiff risotto), but you can also add diced potatoes, like my mom does, instead. Shortcut tip: Arctic Gardens makes a frozen veg mixture called "Spaghetti" that consists of diced onion, red and green peppers, carrots and celery. You can use this instead of the fresh veggies (except for fennel), if you're short on time.

Fish Stew

1 lb fresh or frozen white fish (boneless, skinnless)
1 tbls canola oil
1 bulb fennel (anise), diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fennel/anise seeds
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour oil into large skillet and add fennel, onion, carrots, peppers and celery. Saute until softened. Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook a few more minutes. Pour in can of tomatoes with juice and stir. Add frozen or fresh fish (cut into cubes if using a meaty fish like halibut, otherwise add whole) and lemon juice and zest. Simmer until fish is cooked through. Add green onions and season as desired.

What Does Age Mean Anyways?

As my 36th birthday approaches in September, I can't help but think about the fact that I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. Does it bother me? I guess a little. It's so ironic that when you are a kid, all you want to do is grow up, but once you do, all you want to do is halt the aging process. Do we ever really appreciate where we are?

When I was a kid, being in your 30s was "middle-aged". Now, of course, my perspective is different. Being in your 20s is still being a kid and being in your 30s is the beginning of adulthood. Middle-aged now seems closer to 50 or so. And truthfully, I am a lot happier and fitter now than when I was in my 20s. A lot of this has to do with maturity and the fact that I take much better care of myself (less cardio, more strength training and yoga/less refined carbs and alcohol and more protein, fibre and good fats). I also have more things in my life that give it meaning, such as a husband and children and a purpose (becoming a counsellor to assist women who have experienced infertility and pregnancy loss). In my 20s I was plagued with self-doubt and a lack of direction. I guess this is why I appreciate Jung's perspective on individuation. In my case, at least, having a sense of purpose and giving my life meaning is integral to my mental health.

Big A is just starting to master her big girl bicycle with training wheels, yet she is already asking when she can get rid of her training wheels. So I told her that it would happen in time but that she should learn to appreciate the things that you only get when you are a kid (naps, training wheels, stroller rides, someone to take care of you), because you never get those privileges again once you grow up. I'm not sure, but I actually think she kind of got what I was saying.

At 15 months, Little A already wants to do whatever Big A is doing. It is so important for her to feel included. If Big A goes into her room to play and closes the door to keep Little A out, Little A howls and cries outside the door. And nothing seems to make Little A happier than when we all do something together as a family. She is really growing up. Her comprehension is astonishing, you can give her fairly complex directions and she'll follow them...all she has to do now is learn how to say more than "Hi" and "Ah-oh".

My thoughts about aging lately have focused on my role of fitness instructor. I have agreed to sub some extra classes at the TAC and Goodlife in August and I feel myself dreading it. I also am not sure how much longer I want to teach my BBL class at the TAC. At the JCC, where I teach spinning, it's different. I love teaching there, not just for the act of teaching, but because of the personal connection I have with the people. Adam and I met there, after all, and some of the members have known me well since I started teaching there in 1997. At other gyms where I don't feel a connection to my participants, I don't get the same joy from the experience. It's so different from during my 20s when I would teach upwards of 15 classes weekly and I adored every minute, no matter what or where the classes were. When will I quit? I'm not sure. Do people want a 50 year old fitness instructor? Maybe at the JCC where a good proportion of members are over 50, but I am not certain about that at other clubs. I used to look with disdain at the 50+ "mom" instructors who would show up at fitness conferences, but I will eventually be one of them. I guess I don't have to decide now. I am still on probation at the TAC, so no guarantees I'll have this class for much longer anyways and it's a mat leave fill-in until January, so I only have to stick it out until then if I make it past my probationary period.

Either way, I actually feel pretty good these days. I think I am much wiser than I was during my 20s and I'm much closer (still a long way to go) to some degree of self-acceptance. Research studies have shown that happiness does increase among women during their 30s and 40s and I believe it. I feel like as I age I am improving (like a fine wine) and "self-actualizing" in psycho-babble terms, and I will continue to do so. So bring on 36! I plan to get even wiser, stronger and fitter than I am now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Human Nature

In my current course for school, we are studying the way you practically apply various psychological theories. So in other words, based on various theoretical models, how to you structure the delivery of psychological counselling? Once again, I am fascinated and stimulated by the subject matter. Some of these dead white guys actually had some very interesting things to say!

Carl Jung believed that at midlife, many people reach a crossroads. One is generally settled in one's lifecourse in terms of family and career but then one has an existential crisis (he is the one who coined the term "Midlife Crisis"). The purpose of therapy for people at this stage of life is to enable the process of individuation, which is essentially self-acceptance. This involves acknowledging all of one's shortcomings, as well as one's gifts, and finding meaning in one's life and one's place within the world. It is coming to terms with the one's own fallability and mortality and the fallability and mortality of humankind. I find this perspective extremely interesting and profound, and it is by far one of my favorites. Of course, operationalizing working towards the goal of individuation is easier said than done. There are several therapeutic techniques which have self-acceptance as a focus, but ultimately, I think the best approach depends on the individual.

In contrast, Carl Rogers proposed the Person-Centred therapy model which I think is ridiculous. He believed that humans are inherently self-actualizing. In other words, people inherently strive towards self-improvement. So first off, I don't agree with this assumption. Second, his model with how to deliver therapy doesn't work for me. I call it, "Hire a friend" because the therapist specifically avoids giving any interpretation or professional advice. There is no structure at all and sometimes the therapist barely says anything. The only criteria he specifies is that the therapist provides unconditional empathy and understanding to the client. I agree with this, but then there has to be a more directive approach, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I am willing to concede that this approach may be most suitable for some individuals...just not me.

About 13 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I went to see a psychologist at the University of Toronto, where I was doing my (first) Masters degree at the time. This woman was using the person-centred approach and all I can say, is I left in tears. I remember her saying just 2 things to me, this is how the dialogue went:

Her: So what brings you here today?

Me: My mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Her: How does that make you feel?

Me: Um, scared. (And I'm thinking here, how the #@*&% do you think it makes me feel, you idiot?)

Her: Why?

Me: Um, I'm scared that something will happen to her...and I'm worried about what this means for my own health. (And I'm thinking here, I'm scared because I think killer squirrels are about to take over the world, why do you think I'm scared, stupid?)

I don't remember anything else about the session except feeling uncomfortable due to her lack of interaction and frustrated by her lack of useful feedback. I stormed out of the session in tears and never went back.

Nevertheless, there is extensive empirical support for the importance of unconditional empathy and understanding from therapists. It is critical to the outcome of patients. This makes me wonder if I am really up to the task of being a therapist. I'm not known for being the most patient, tolerant individual...will I be able to fulfill this obligation? What if I dislike a client? Rogers says the therapist must acknowledge these feelings but work through them because it is essential that the therapist is sincere in order for the therapy to be effective. I am realizing what a huge responsibility being a therapist really is. You can have a tremendous impact on another person, either good or bad. This is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. I have a lot of work ahead before I'm ready to take it on, but I'm commited to getting there and doing the absolute best that I can do.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sugar and Spice

P1: I am loving my new course so far and enjoying the beginning of my second course that is part of the infertility counselling certificate program at the University of Toronto. It is entitled, "Pregnancy and Parenting after Infertility". Just 4 more credits to go for the certificate! I am realizing just how important it is to my well-being and happiness to feel intellectually stimulated. I think that's why I was so miserable during my PhD, I really wasn't inspired by the material I was working with. So ironic really. I could have saved myself 4 years of my life and just gone straight to this program. Of course, I didn't really have the maturity or life experience for counselling at that time, nor would I have been able to call myself Dr. as I can now.

P2: The other day I asked Big A to share her snack with Little A in the car on my way to the in-laws and she did so and then said, "You know what mommy, my snacks taste better when I share them with Little A." Although both girls can drive us completely insane, their affection for each other gives me great joy. Little A absolutely ADORES Big A and Big A adores Little A and adores the adoration she gets from her. When Little A sees Big A she shrieks with delight and will wrap her arms around Big A and follow her around the room. I really hope they grow up to be good friends. I always wanted a sister who could be my BFF. Fortunately, I have been blessed with wonderful sister-in-laws so at least I sort of got my wish as an adult.

Of course it's not all sugar and spice with two girls. There are some snails and puppy dog tails too. Little A is still throwing food and anywhere she goes she leaves a trail of crumbs. The stroller, the car, the whole first floor of our house and pretty much anywhere else she eats anything ends up a complete mess. Recently we found a petrified cheese sandwich and a whole slew of raisins under her car seat and don't even get me started about the things that turn up in the stroller! Little A, herself, is usually pretty dirty too. We bathe her every night but by the time she's been awake for an hour the next morning, she is almost always filthy. In fact, she seems to relish in filth. She loves sand. Eating it, running it through her hands, rolling in it. She doesn't mind being wet, muddy, sticky or stinky. Big A was never like that - she hated being dirty. But Little A is more like Pig Pen (which is my new nickname for her), the dirt seems to follow her everywhere.

F1: I baked this today and it turned out great.

Banana Berry Bread

3 ripe bananas, mashed
4 egg whites or 2 large eggs
4 tbls organic canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/4 cup organic coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup dried berries

Whisk together wet ingredients in large bowl. Stir together dry ingredients and berries and add to wet ingredients. Stir just to combine. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 375 for about 1 hour, or until set in the middle. Cover with foil after the first 20 minutes to prevent top from over-browning. Cool on a wire rack.

F2: No pain No Gain

This old adage really does have some merit when it comes to exercise. The key is distinguishing between the "good" pain and the "bad" pain. Bad pain, due to injury is not what we are talking about here. That kind of pain is generally, sudden, sharp pain accompanied by blood, bruising or swelling.

The type of pain you want a bit of is muscle fatigue (i.e. when your muscles start to shake or you strength train to failure, meaning perform reps of an exercise until you cannot do anymore) and delayed onset muscle soreness (the pain you feel within 48 hours of exercising). Delayed onset muscle soreness occurs because when you strength train, you are essentially tearing the muscle fibres. When they repair, the muscle is stronger.

You want a bit of discomfort in your cardio training too. A few of my spinning participants were chatting before my class last weekend about how they always cheat during the class because they can't actually keep up. What they fail to understand is that if you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you never get stronger or fitter. It doesn't have to be dramatic, every little incrimental change makes a difference. Go a little faster, a little higher, a little longer or a little harder. JUST DO IT!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Black Bean Stir-Fry

Sometimes I fret that we eat too much meat in this house. We only eat red meat maybe once a month, but poultry is a staple I worry we rely on too much. So sometimes I try to make an extra effort to eat alternative sources of protein. So far this week, I've only had chicken for dinner on Monday and lunch yesterday. Aside from that my proteins at all my meals have been tempeh, wild salmon, veggie burgers and beans. I made this dish last night for dinner and I love it because it is healthy, easy, economical and delicious. Beans are so fantastic (healthy, cheap, and yummy) and make a complete protein when combined with a grain like rice, in this case.

Black Bean Stir-Fry

1 tsp oil
Broccoli, cut in pieces
24 mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 red peppers, cut in strips
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced


Large knob ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup black bean sauce (good quality like Lee Kum Kee - make sure it is made with fermented black bean paste and sugar is not one of the first ingredients)
Spicy red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

In wok or large skillet or frying pan add oil over medium high heat and stir-fry broccoli a few minutes. Then add mushrooms, peppers and water chestnuts. Fry another few minutes and then add beans. Stir together remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and then pour into bean and veggie mixture. Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce has thickened. Add green onions. Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Melting!

It is my least favorite weather right now: really really hot and humid. I am dreaming of blizzards...and no, not the ice cream treats from Dairy Queen, a real winter blizzard.

I've decided that I must just have a constitution that predisposes me to being intolerant of heat because I am almost always warm to begin with and I really dislike the feeling of hot weather, or heat of any kind really, it makes me miserable. No whirlpools or saunas or Bikram yoga for me! I guess I just have a messed up metabolism or something. In the middle of winter I am still sleeping in a summer nightie and often have a fan blowing on me. If my room is not sufficiently COLD I cannot sleep. Poor Adam has had to contend with a bedroom so chilly he can see his breath in past winters. Unfortunately for me, now that we have kids we've got to keep the house warmer.

P1: This is the last week of my course with Professor Poopoohead. Halleluyah! Next week I start a course called "Counselling Methodologies--Humanistic and Psychodynamic Modalities", which looks interesting and evaluation is 90% assignments (3 of them) and 10% class participation. Yippee!

I just heard from Dr. M. from Mount Sinai who is back from her holiday. We are almost ready to submit our application materials to the ethics board, so hopefully this will get underway soon. I'm now feeling no rush though, as I am busy enough as it is.

F1: I make this for Little A for breakfast sometimes and she loves it, although she makes a huge mess with it because she refuses to let us spoon feed her and she can't use a spoon herself yet. I just dump a bit on her tray and let her eat it with her fingers.

Picky Person Porridge

1/8 cup organic oatbran cereal
1/4 cup homogenized milk
dash cinnamon
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
2 tbls organic almond or peanut butter

Microwave cereal, milk and cinnamon for 1-2 minutes until milk is absorbed and cereal is cooked. Add banana and nut butter and combine. If child eats with spoon or allows you to feed, add more milk to thin out, otherwise keep it thick so child can eat with fingers.

F2: I discovered another yoga pose I love: Cow's Head. Not sure why I seem to prefer all the ones named for animals...I can't do the upper body part as I have never been able to twist my arms behind my back very well, but I love the stretch I get for my lower body from this one.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kale Chips

I know I obsess too much about getting the girls to eat green veggies but I seem to have found the answer (at least today). Kale chips! We went to the local farmer's market and bought a HUGE bunch of organic kale. Then Big A and I tore it into pieces, drizzled it with oil and sprinkled it with sea salt. Then we baked it in batches in the oven at 325 F for 22 minutes on a non-stick cookie sheet. It came out crispy and delicious and, would you believe it, BOTH GIRLS LOVE IT!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coconut Flour

Recently I made Little A some more muffins using pureed fruits and veggies from the freezer. This time I experimented and used spelt flour and coconut flour along with a combo of grated carrots, pureed pear, sweet potato and...believe it or not, pureed cauliflower! They are actually a hit.

I picked up the coconut flour at the grocery store and saw that it is high protein, high fibre and high in calories...perfect for my picky little eater. It's also gluten free. The package said to add more liquid to your recipes when you use it to replace regular flour. I didn't listen initially until I realized it really did absorb ALL the liquid. I had to add a ton of water to get the batter back to the right consistency. Probably easier to start with a recipe designed to use coconut flour like these ones I found. I hope to try them soon.

Blueberry Coconut Muffins

1/4 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon teaspoon baking powder
½ cup fresh blueberries


Blend together eggs, butter, honey, salt and vanilla. Combine coconut flour with baking powder and thoroughly mix into batter until there are no lumps. Fold blueberries into batter. Blueberries should be dry. If rinsed, dry them off before adding to batter. Pour batter into greased muffin cups. Bake at 205 Degree C (400F) for 16-18 minutes. Makes 6 muffins.


1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)


In a saucepan at low heat, blend together butter and cocoa powder. Remove from heat and let cool. In a bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in cocoa mixture. Whisk coconut flour into batter until there are no lumps. Fold in nuts. Pour batter into a greased 11x7x2 or 8x8x2 inch pan. Bake at 175 Degree C (350F) for 30-35 minutes.

Happy 143rd Birthday Canada!

P1: I emailed a fellow student at school who has been in all the same classes as me and asked her what she thinks of Professor A-hole (she is currently in a different section of the same course). She has exactly the same impression of this guy that I do: arrogant, unprofessional, inflexible and condescending. At least it's not just me! I am just counting down the days until it's over and I don't have to deal with him anymore. Both of us, however, are going to have our say in the course evaluation, that's for sure. This guy really shouldn't be teaching!

P2: Canada Day went much better than expected. Holidays are, of course, not really holidays once you are a parent, unless you leave your kids with someone else. We've done that once with Big A when we went to Chicago when I was pregnant with Little A. We left her with my in-laws and it went very well..we hope to do it again next year, possibly with a trip to San Francisco.

Anyways, yesterday was actually pretty successful, although very exhausting. We took the girls to the Whitchurch-Stouffville Strawberry Festival. Our day started SUPER early as both girls were up before 6:30am. We got in the car around 10am assuming Little A would have a good 1 hour nap on the way. Unfortunately, she only fell asleep when we were 15 minutes from the destination and woke up as soon as we got there. The good news is the little car hater was very happy the whole time she was awake. I got smart and let her bring her favorite bear and favorite doll and it made a huge difference. And snacks for both girls helped too.

After the petting zoo (Big A was kind of fearful and had to be coaxed into even touching a little pink bunny - they coloured the bunnies different colours, like pink, blue and green, which I thought was a little strange), the carnival (rides, fun house, a candy apple and winning a stuffed animal for Big A and running around with us chasing her for Little A) we went swimming in the outdoor pools (they had a toddler pool, shallow pool and big regular pool) and froze our buns off. It was cool and breezy yesterday (which made me very happy) and not really swimming weather but Big A insisted. Then we got back into the car around 3pm and assumed both girls would have a good snooze. Big A fell asleep almost immediately and Little A fell asleep 15 minutes from home. So Adam drove around the block a few times while I unloaded a few things and picked up the hostess gift for my friend who's BBQ we were headed for. As soon as I got back in the car Little A woke up. So that made a total of less than 45 minutes of sleep for her. At my friend's party, both girls were grumpy but since there were toys to play with and other kids, we were able to stick it out until about 5:45pm. Then we headed home and Adam bathed our 2 sticky, filthy kids while I made them scrambled eggs. Little A got grumpy around 6:30pm so I breastfed her and we thought we'd put her to bed early. But the nursing gave her a second wind and all of a sudden she was in a fantastic mood. "What do you have in those things?" Adam asked me incredulously, pointing at my chest. So he and I lay almost comatose on the couch while the girls played and ate and ate and ate (I guess being outside all day whet their appetites?). We both have colds, which might partly explain our lethargy but the energy level of the girls was still pretty impressive, especially considering the limited sleep they got during the day. Nevertheless, we made it through a whole day with the 2 of them without any major tantrums or crying spells. I can't recall the last time that happened on a weekend day! Happy birthday Canada!

Tomorrow my in-laws are away and they usually have one or both girls in the morning while Adam is at the gym. So I'm on my own with the kids AND it's supposed to be 6000 degrees. I'm not sure what's going to be more of a challenge: surviving the high temperature and humidity or surviving the kids...

F1: New lunch idea

I found that Sobeys frozen wild salmon burgers that you just pan fry (or you can bbq) for about 5 minutes a side. I tried them on a whole wheat bagel spread with a thin layer of cream cheese and a sprinkle of dill (1 burger on each half if you're a big eater like me). Yum!

F2: When exercising in the extreme heat/humidity, try to do it in the early morning or evening and STAY HYDRATED!!!!