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Monday, August 30, 2010

P1: Our research proposal has still not been approved by the Mount Sinai ethics board so I'm feeling a bit on edge. I just want to have it all finalized! In 2012, Ontario is establishing a professional body to regulate psychotherapists. Nobody knows what the criteria will be for registration, however, I know for sure that this project will go a long way towards getting me the experience and credibility I will likely need.

P2: The day Adam and I dreaded finally arrived yesterday morning - Little A learned how to say "no". Actually she doesn't just say no, she says, "nooooooooooooooooooo". Adam brought her downstairs and asked if he could change her diaper and she said, "noooooooooooooooooo". Then she ran into the livingroom and tore it off herself. Now everything is "noooooooooooooooooo".

It was quite an up and down weekend. Saturday was terrific. Everyone was in a good mood and behaved well. The girls played well together and had good naps. We went to visit Adam's uncle in the hospital (he had a terrible accident on his motorcycle) and the girls were great. Everyone ate a good supper and happily took their baths. Sunday was the opposite. Little A was cranky from the moment she woke up due to a cold she seems to have developed. When I got back from my spinning class at the JCC yesterday morning, Adam said she had been whining and crying all morning and he was at his wits end. Big A refused to take a nap and we allowed her to skip it since she took a 3 hour one on Saturday and then didn't go to sleep until 10pm. Unfortunately, she became extremely cranky. We went up to the Yonge & Eg neighbourhood so I could pick up a few things at a kitchen store for my birthday present from Adam. While I shopped, Adam took the girls to play with the toys at Indigo. Little A was alright, albeit her aggressive self, but Big A threw a tantrum because she wanted the doctor costume they had and we refused because it was too expensive. We left with both girls screaming (Big A because she wasn't going to get the costume and Little A because she didn't want to leave yet).

Little A had her final daycare orientation this morning. It went much better than last week. She did try to nip, scratch and pull hair a few times but overall she was much better than last week. Unfortunately, there is one little boy who seems intent on antagonizing her. He is so annoying that, frankly, I felt like biting him. I spoke to one of the toddler room teachers (who had been Big A's favorite) and she said the biting and other behaviour is very commong when kids don't have many words because it is their only way of communicating. She said they learn very quickly once they start daycare. I hope she's right!

F1: I'm having a cocktail party for my birthday on the 11th. I'm going to serve two kinds of cocktails, plus wine, and a bunch of appetizers and munchies. I haven't finalized the menu yet but I'm thinking mini pizzas with marinated portobello mushrooms, polenta cakes with pesto and brushetta, cucumber cups with smoked salmon, wasabi mayo and pickled ginger, and various types of nuts and olives. I can't wait to have some time to be with my friends sans children. The party is 4-7pm, so my in-laws will take the girls and give them dinner and baths before bringing them home.

F2: Visiting Adam's uncle in the hospital was a wake-up call. He is in the trauma ward of the hospital. Although he is lucky to be alive and lucky he did not sustain any brain damage, his injuries are serious and the poor man is in a lot of pain. He has a seperated pelvis, punctured lung and several broken ribs, among other things. He cannot walk yet because of the injury to his pelvis and therefore is completely bed ridden. It was an important reminder to me of just how grateful we have to be for our health and mobility. We become so consumed with trivial matters like the size of our butts or small blemishes and end up taking so much for granted. Health and fitness are a gift, take care of yourself and take advantage of the joy of movement and exercise if you can.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hey Sweet Thang, Better Cut Back on the White Stuff

So after all my angst recently about my sodium consumption, I am now feeling somewhat more virtuous. There is an interview in the Toronto Star today with former science writer David Stipp who just wrote a new book called "The Youth Pill". His research has led him to conclude that sugar, even more than salt wreaks havoc on our health. He says:

"If you look at the data on aging, one thing comes through loud and clear - slow aging goes with low blood glucose and low insulin and those things tend to go up when you've got a lot of sugar in your diet."

My diet is pretty low in sugar and I eat mostly low GI (glycemic index) foods.

Sneaky places where sugar lurks are breads, bottled sauces, salad dressings and flavoured yogurts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vegetarian Pad Thai

It took me years to come up with a recipe for Pad Thai that I liked. This one has some traditional elements(tamarind paste and fish sauce) and non-traditional ones (ketchup/tomato paste, ginger, and garlic). Pad Thai is also not usually a spicy dish but Adam and I love spicy food, so I add hot sauce. You can use whatever mix of veggies you want. Bean sprouts are, of course, the quintessential veggie to use but I don't like them that much. You can also add other proteins such as egg, chicken and/or shrimp if you like.

Pad Thai

1 lb organic brown rice fettuccini, broken in thirds

Sauce
2 tsp peanut oil
1/4 cup tamarind paste
2 tbls ketchup (or tomato paste + 1 tbls brown sugar)
2 tbls ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

Veggies
1 tsp peanut oil
1 bunch broccoli, cut in bite sized pieces (lightly steamed if you don't like it too crunchy)
2 red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers, cut in thin strips
1 carrot, jullienned
1 bunch green onions, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

1 lb organic extra firm tofu, cut in cubes

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed

Cook noodles according to package directions but DO NOT OVERCOOK. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl to make sauce and set aside.

In large wok, add oil and throw in veggies stirring until crisp-tender. Add tofu and stir. Pour in sauce and drained noodles and combine, cooking another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to plates and garnish with peanuts and lime wedges.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Who do I think I am, Oprah?

I'm blogging my butt off right now because I have time, which I don't think I'm going to have much of next month when school starts again. This is just for fun.

Food

Kettle valley organic fruit leathers - I have tons of these stashed everywhere, the car, my purse, the stroller, the kitchen...the kids love them and it keeps them quiet, even if just for a few minutes. They are made of organic fruit and no added sugar. Just make sure to brush teeth afterwards.

Life Choices - This company makes all sorts of healthy versions of kid friendly food. Little A loves the meatballs and fish sticks. Big A loves the chicken nuggets and both girls love the pizza. I also just found out that they make all beef, nitrite free hotdogs which are much cheaper than the Beretta Farms nitrite free turkey hotdogs I've been buying Big A (Little A won't touch hotdogs!). Their perogies are good too.

Healthy Handfuls - Organic, whole grain cookies that kids love. Need I say more?

President's Choice Organic Fair Trade Coffee - It is delicious and much less expensive than comparable name brands. The decaf is excellent too.

Stores

Costco - Who doesn't love this place? Aside from being great for finding huge jars of organic peanut butter, cinnamon, and bottles of vitamin D and fish oil at great prices, you can almost always find amazing deals on kids clothes (Carter's outfits for $10), toys and books.

Children's Place - This is my favorite kids clothing store. It's way cheaper than Gap Kids and the stuff is cuter too, in my opinion. They always have amazing sales and the clothing lasts (Little A is wearing all of Big A's old stuff and it is still as good as new.

Bonnie Togs - Also a great kids clothing store which sells lots of Carter's and Osh Kosh at fantastic prices.

Joe Fresh - Great affordable clothes for adults and kids alike. They have everything: lingerie, swimwear, athletic wear, business-casual, etc. Prices are insanely good.

Target - Great for everything...just wish it was in Canada.

Trader Joe's - Foodie heaven, but sadly also not available in Canada.

Beauty Products

Coppertone Oil Free Sunblock - I have very sensitive skin and most products give me an allergic reaction (even Neutrogena!), but this one never does. It also absorbs quickly and is not greasy at all.

Argan oil/Moroccan oil - This stuff is great if your hair is at all dry or frizzy. It's a leave-in conditioning treatment. It is pricey, but a little goes a long way. I buy an organic brand called Dermorganic but there are lots of brands available now.

Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner - This stuff doesn't smudge as much as other brands (which is good for a sweat-bag like me) and makes application a cinch for someone who essentially doesn't know much about applying make-up (like myself).

Books

Book of Negroes - I read tons and tons of literature but generally forget the titles immediately afterwards, however, this will always stand out as one of my favorites.

Other good ones I've read recently:

I don't Know How She Does It - Allison Pearson
The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit - Lucette Lagnado
The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo - Stied Larsson (Can't wait to read the other two in the series!!)
Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

I have read a billion other good ones, but I can't remember their names...

Movies

Milk - Adam and I don't get out to see many films but this stands out as the best one I've seen in a couple of years. Sean Penn is exceptional.

Television

Flashpoint - This is a Canadian show filmed in Toronto (yay!) that is carried on CTV in Canada and CBS in the U.S. Check it out, it is so so good.

Music

Take a Minute - K'Naan. I like a wide variety of music genres including stuff from the 70s, 80s, 90s as well as current stuff. Right now I'm loving this song. And K'Naan is Canadian!!



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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BP Rising...

P1: No word yet from Mount Sinai about our research proposal. I'm really hoping we hear from the ethics board soon. If the project is a no-go then it is far more likely that I will have time for a part-time job and my interview at the North JCC is September 7th. Even though I won't make any money doing it, the research takes priority over the job since it will contribute directly toward building my future career.

It is so nice having a bit of time off from school. Today is "get things on my to-do list done" day. I've been pretty productive but also had time to take a yoga class at the JCC.

P2: I realized recently how ironic it is that I spend half my time trying to keep my kids from killing themselves and the other half trying to keep from killing them myself. Even though I've cut back on sodium and my blood pressure is very low (like 90/60), I would be surprised if it wasn't a little elevated yesterday.

Yesterday was a nightmare. It was Little A's first orientation at daycare. It started off very badly. Right after we got there, the toddlers went out to the playground. Normally, when we pick up Big A every afternoon, Little A happily toddles off to play with the toys and go down the slide. Yesterday, as per usual, she fixated on the little push car and the wagon (she loves anything you can ride in or on) but she was appallingly aggressive with the other kids. If they tried to play with whichever one she was playing with, she would scream and push. This is not new, but she also tried to bite and scratch other kids a few times. Luckily she was unsuccessful but I was MORTIFIED. I was basically chasing her around and chastising her for her bad behaviour. Things got a bit better when "Coach Luigi" came to teach them to play soccer (he comes every Monday). Little A was more cooperative and even gave her soccer ball to another kid at one point.

Even though Big A can be extremely difficult for Adam and I, she is always on her best behaviour for other people. In fact, she often impresses people with her behaviour and always makes us extremely proud. Little A...not so much! I am so worried she is going to behave badly at daycare. It's so disappointing considering that she can be the most wonderful, affectionate little girl. She loves to cuddle and hug and her newist thing is to try and tickle your toes while making a "deedle deedle" sound. When she is in this mood it melts my heart into goo. I just hope she can show this side of herself at daycare and not alienate herself from the teachers and other children. Then again, she has always been great for my in-laws and Sherma says she has NEVER tried to bite or scratch kids when she's been with her. So maybe if I hadn't been there she would have behaved better.

At Big A's swimming lesson last night, we tried to get Little A to sit with us in the bleachers, but she wouldn't stop moving for one second. She ran up and down them and then became obsessed with climbing the cement stairs with an open railing at one end. I was sure she was going to fall and crack her head open. I got so stressed out, I finally took her into the hallway to run around and she had fun yelling "Hi" to everybody until Big A's class finished.

Of course, it's not hard to see why Little A has become so rough-and-tumble. After dinner the girls wrestled on the couch. I think I said, "Be careful please" and "Be gentle" at least a hundred times and how they didn't both break their necks I will never know. But they loved every minute of it, both of them were giggling hysterically. And while I love to see them enjoying themselves and each other, it became so stressful that I almost had to leave the room.

At 8pm after we put Little A down, Big A became defiant and said she would not go to bed, she wanted to play some more. Adam and I both lost our tempers. After a long battle that involved yelling, threats and door-slamming, Adam calmed her down and got her settled in bed. I came upstairs to see him instructing her to make a "happy face, sad face, happy face, sad face" and "breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out." Hysterical...but it worked!

This morning Big A starting shrieking for Adam (the usual pre-tantrum scenario) at 6:30am while I was finishing my workout. I instantly became angry so I didn't go upstairs and, instead, finished my workout and took my shower. When I got out, she was still yelling for him so I came upstairs and gave her a hug. She actually snapped out of it pretty fast! So I guess the key is getting myself to a place where I can stay calm enough to take that approach. Of course, that isn't always possible.

F1: We all know soda is very bad for us. Regular soda has tons of sugar and other crap and diet soda generally has aspartame. But I sometimes really crave a sweet bubbly drink and I am excited about a new product I just discovered: Zevia. It's an all-natural stevia-sweetened line of sodas and they are sugar, sodium and calorie free and come in a range of flavours. Check it out: http://www.zevia.com/

F2: Exercise of the Week: Curtsy Lunge

Great exercise for the lower body: Follow link for instructions: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/curtsy-lunge

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Curried Lentils and Spinach

Having drastically improved my diet for a week, I am now trying to readjust to my old diet without feeling like I'm going backwards. On one hand, it feels very weird to not continue to do what I know is healthier, on the other hand, given that after 5days I was feeling deprived, I know I cannot maintain the "perfection" long-term. And the goal of my "cleanse", after all, was to test the limits of my taste buds and find small ways to improve my usual diet. So keeping that in mind, I'm trying to eat low-sodium meals more often or find ways to decrease the sodium in my favorite recipes.

I came up with this one as another healthy lunch alternative to the usual turkey or soy meat sandwich. This takes more time to prepare, but I made it in advance today (Sunday) and made enough for a couple of lunches.

Curried Lentils and Spinach

1 tsp olive oil
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 knob fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp good quality curry powder
500 gram box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
2 tbls coconut flour

Pour oil in small saucepan over medium low heat. and add all ingredients except spinach and coconut flour. Cook about 10-15 minutes. Add spinach and stir until heated through. Add coconut flour and stir until all liquid is absorbed. Can be served over rice or quinoa or stuffed into a pita or wrap.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hurray for the Weekend!

P1: Well I did it: I quit my Brazilian Butt Lift class. I sent my boss a letter (email) of resignation today. Adam was right. Running around teaching fitness classes was something that I did in my 20s and it's not really fitting into my life right now. I am so sick of racing down to the financial district in the middle of each Thursday. And yesterday was the final straw: When I hopped on my bicycle to ride down there, I discovered that my rear tire was flat. I took my bike directly to the bike shop around the corner and then ran down the street trying to hail a cab. There were no cabs so I just kept running down the street trying to figure out how I was going to get there on time. Fortunately, a bus arrived so I took the bus and 2 subways and got there with 3 minutes to spare. It's just not worth it. It's not like my spinning class at the JCC which is on Sunday mornings and gives me the chance to see so many people with whom I have a personal connection. But taking on this class allowed me to prove to myself that I've still "got it", that I can still teach a variety of classes, even if I haven't taught them in years. For now, I am content with just my Sunday spinning class and being able to attend yoga classes when I can.

P2: Big A was great this morning, thank goodness. I was expecting the worst after yesterday. Little A, however, was a bit trying. She was playing with the TV remote and Big A took it away so she wouldn't mess up the satellite. She started screaming so I took out a battery and then gave it back to her. It took her 1 minute to realize it wasn't working and she started freaking out. She had a major screaming fit that lasted 15 minutes! Good grief, how did I end up with 2 such stubborn, strong-willed girls??? Wait, don't answer that...

F1: I'm now craving things not allowed on my "cleanse" so I'm grateful that I didn't plan on sticking with it over the weekend. I cheated at lunch and put my hummus and sauteed garlic spinach in a pita (with 290 mg of sodium). Tonight I'm making chicken and bean burritos with cheese and whole wheat tortillas. I'm just not going to add any additional salt. Tomorrow will be a sodium disaster because we are getting take out for dinner with our friends. Oh well, you gotta live. As I said before, this is not going to be a permanent diet, but I am going to make as many positive changes I can maintain as possible.

I also wanted to sing the virtues of psyllium fibre. I believe that it may be responsible, along with the decrease in sodium, for the improvement in my digestion and bloating. It has also helped Adam lower his cholesterol levels. Just a few teaspoons a day!

F2:Speaking of yoga classes, I will really miss the yin yoga class I have been taking after my BBL class each week. I might even speak to my boss at the JCC about bringing in the instructor to teach one there. I think the JCC members would love it. Last week I tried a class at the JCC called Restorative Yoga, thinking it would be similar to yin yoga. Oh boy was I wrong! The best way to describe it is: An instructor-led nap! I think I did actually drift off simply because we were on our backs with our legs up in the air for pretty much the whole 75 minute class. I guess it's more relaxation/meditation than anything else, but I didn't get any of the stretching/soft tissue benefits that I look for in a yoga class. Perhaps that's why I was only one of two participants under the age of 70...

I recently discovered that if I walk with a slight tilt forward and my knees slightly bent, my sciatica is less likely to get aggravated. This seems easier to remember on the treadmill than when I'm out walking with the girls. But the payoff is worth it. Unfortunately, anything that tightens my hamstrings causes the nerve to be compressed and then I'm in pain. Shifting the load to my quads helps a lot. I've been better since I saw the osteopath, but the problem is still there, I'm hoping this is not a permanent condition but I fear it is.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Love and Patience

It was a very bad start to the day today. Big A made a poo at 6:35am and started calling for Adam. I came upstairs to help her wipe (yes, the joys of parenthood!) and she immediately started whimpering for Adam. I should have started hugging and kissing her to diffuse the situation but I couldn't do it, I was too angry. She has managed to go 8 days straight without a tantrum in the morning (the longest stretch she's managed to behave in the mornings in many months) but today it was back to the same old thing and I just lost it. I really didn't FEEL like giving her affection, what I felt like doing was locking her in her bedroom to scream in a place where I couldn't hear her. Unfortunately, her room has no lock. Instead, when I was not able to snap her out of it with threats of a "sad face" on her morning cooperation chart, I just started yelling at her about how sick and tired I am of this same stupid tantrum and then started asking her why she can't stop doing it. All the while I know the yelling is pointless and that asking children why they misbehave is futile. But my anger got the better of me. So, of course, it escalated and she screamed and cried, waking up Little A and making me furious. Eventually, it was Little A who diffused the situation. Even after we got downstairs, Big A was shrieking and lay down on the floor, yelling and flailing around. Little A was puzzled and seemed concerned about her big sister, so she went over and bent down and gave her a hug. Little A's hugs make Big A melt, even when she's upset, so eventually she calmed down. Sherma pointed out later when I described the scene, that affection worked with Big A again, only this time it came from Little A rather than from me. I don't know who I am more disappointed in: Big A or myself. Hopefully, at least, we can both learn from the experience.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Candy Man, Salty Dog

I'm on my 2 week holiday from school...yay! September 7th is the first day of my third term of school, I'm glad to have the break as I feel like my brain has turned to mush. I gave another fitness seminar for the corporate fitness company I'm working for yesterday. It seemed to go well but seeing as it took 4 hours out of my day (2 to drive there and back because it was in Mississauga), it's not exactly lucrative for $100. I think if I get too busy once my research project starts, this will be the first thing to go.

Just 3 days into my diet cleanse and I can actually already notice a difference! Here is the low-down:

Energy - Excellent, but no different from before
Taste bud satisfaction - Confirmed, only one exception described below
Appetite satisfaction - Confirmed, although no surprise because I didn't really change my energy intake
Bloating - Much better!
Digestion - Better!!
Weight loss - 2 lbs of water already!

I am surprised how little I missed the sodium in most of the meals I've been eating. Only one was really amiss. The scrambled eggs with guacamole that I made for lunch yesterday was surprisingly a dud. I eat this meal a lot and never add salt, actually, but flavour the guacamole with red onion, garlic, cumin, jalapeno, and lime juice. However, yesterday I ate it on grilled fresh corn tortillas and that made the difference. Two corn tortillas have 104 cals and only 25 mg of sodium. Normally I eat my eggs and guac on my favorite whole grain pitas that have...ugh, 290 mg of sodium. Obviously that makes the difference because the whole thing is so much more flavourful with the pita. On the tortilla, even with all the seasonings I had in the guac, it still tasted like it needed salt. So I'm going to be sticking to my pita.

Everything else has been really very good. I'm keeping the power porridge for breakfast. Switching from my sucralose-sweetened, fruit flavoured yogurt to plain, Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries was a pleasant surprise. The Greek yogurt wasn't as sour as most plain yogurts and it was delicious with the blueberries. I might stick with that change as well. Now I finally understand why all the hard-core fitness folks and body builders eat this stuff - Greek yogurt has like 20 grams of protein per serving!

I was even surprised by how good the bean and quinoa dish was that I made last night. Adam, who was rather dubious when I described it to him ended up really enjoying it too. Usually starchy things like beans and grains call out to me for extra salt, but the lemon, garlic and oregano proved to be enough.

While I don't think I'll be eating this virtuously forever (I need more variety!), I am committed to sticking with a few of the positive changes to my diet that I tried and I think I am going to attempt to limit the amount of soy meats and deli meat (I usually allow myself one nitrite-free turkey sandwich a week, maybe I'll cut that back even more) I eat and replace it with more fish, eggs and beans, prepared without any high sodium ingredients. I'm also going to make sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes (which I always add salt to!) more often. It's not that I didn't know they were healthier, I just didn't bother to find a way to make the sweet potatoes that I really enjoy. I LOVE them made with the Chinese five spice powder!

It's actually been quite frightening to closely monitor the sodium in the foods we eat. It's everywhere, even in places you wouldn't necessarily expect (like pita!).

Mediterranean Bean and Quinoa Pilaf

2 cups organic quinoa, cooked according to package instructions

1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas or fava beans (I used a can that had both mixed), drained and rinsed well
1 500gm package frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp hot chili flakes (optional)

In large skillet cook garlic in oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer until tomatoes have cooked down, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingrdients and turn heat down to low, simmering another few minutes. Add quinoa to skillet and combine, stirring until all liquid is absorbed by the grains. Serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as a side dish. If you aren't concerned about sodium, this would be great with the addition of calamata olives and/or some feta cheese.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

These turned out FANTASTIC!!!

4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices (rounds)
2 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder (this is NOT hot at all, but it's very aromatic and wonderful)

Toss sweet potato slices with oil and spice powder and arrange them in a single layer on 2 greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

I made this for the wild salmon we're having tonight. You could also serve it with chicken or any kind of seafood.

1 large mango, diced
1/2 pineapple, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbls coconut flour (optional)

Combine all ingredients and let sit at least 20 minutes for flavours to mix. Coconut flour is my new favorite ingredient. I know use it regularly to thicken up sauces and frostings. If you don't use it, it will still be great flavours. I love using vinegars to cook with and rice vinegar is fantastic. Sodium free, sugar free and calorie free but full of flavour. I use vinegars of all types everywhere to add zing to my meals. Experiment with different ones such as rice vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic, red or white wine, champagne, etc.

Power Porridge

This is a great breakfast that provides immediate and sustained energy through the combination of carbs, protein, fibre and a little omega 3 fats. It makes either 2 servings for a normal person or 1 serving for a person with an elephant-sized appetite like myself.

1.5 cups quick oats
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups water
2 tbls organic ground flax seeds
2 tsp ground psyllium fibre

Sweetener of choice and milk, as desired

Put oats, eggs, cinnamon and water in large microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 3 minutes and then stir. Cook on high for another 90 seconds. If it comes out super thick and you like a thinner consistency, add more water or milk. Stir in flax and psyllium, along with sweetener, if desired.

This kept me full for almost 5 hours today and gave me energy to walk Big A to daycare, zip to the JCC with Little A (about a 30 minute walk), do a pilates class, and walk home again before needing a snack.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Cleanse

Well tomorrow it starts: The Cleanse! Low sodium, and no sugar, meat or wheat. But the sodium is really the key thing I want to focus on. So here's a two day menu (the rest of the days won't differ too much, I don't want to spend too much time prepping and cooking!). There is still going to be some sodium since I'm using canned beans and other items to which they add salt, but it's still low sodium because I'm rinsing them and not using anything else with a lot of added salt (I seem to love all salty things: soy sauce, dijon, fish sauce, olives, miso, etc.) so I'm making up for it with a lot of other flavour enhancers (i.e. citrus, garlic, vinegar, etc.).

Day 1

Breakfast: Power porridge

Snack: Baby carrots

Lunch: Roasted red pepper hummus, organic linseed bread, cucumber and tomato

Snack: Apple

Dinner: Mediterranean quinoa and bean stew

Day 2

Breakfast: Power porridge

Snack: Non-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries

Lunch: Corn tortilla with scrambled eggs, tomato and avocado

Snack: Baby carrots

Dinner: Baked wild salmon, roasted sweet potatos and steamed broccoli


Here is the recipe for the hummus (I'll post more recipes later).

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers or 255 jar, drained and rinsed
2-4 cloves garlic
2 tbls tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Throw everything in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Conference

You may wonder why I go to the CFP conference...well, I sort of have to. You need to get a certain number of CECs every year to maintain your CFP certifications and I have two: my fitness instructor and personal trainer certifications to maintain. And besides, I believe it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, equipment and information.

Actually, today wasn't so bad. The bicycle ride down to the conference centre in the heat and humidity sucked. Fighting the mobs on the multiple escalators to get to the right side of the complex sucked. But the trade show rocked! Sketchers only had running shoes but I was surprised to see MBT had a booth and they had a bunch of shoes $100 off!!! I got 2 pairs (one brown suede and black leather, both maryjane style) and while they still aren't the nicest looking things, they are definitely nicer looking than my old pair. And thank goodness I have a kind, generous husband who didn't kill me for buying 2 pairs of shoes.

My session also rocked. It was a spinning class using this new type of indoor bike called a "RealRyder" (www.realryder.com). Unlike other bikes, this one moves side to side so you can simulate turning. It is so much fun! And it lends itself to my style of teaching: wide variety of cadences, real music (no thump thump crap), etc. Unfortunately, only one club in Toronto has these bikes and I don't teach there so I have no idea when and if I'll ever be able to teach on these bikes. Too bad, because I LOVE it!

While at the conference, I ran into D., a woman who used to dutifully attend my fitness classes back in grad school when I was teaching at the UofT Athletic Centre. She is now an instructor herself. She told me she always thinks about me and about how I was such an amazing step instructor. Awww! Step used to be my favorite thing to teach. I miss it sometimes, but I just don't have time anymore to be constantly creating new choreography.
So one day down and one more to go.

The Fitness Industry

Today is the first day of the CAN-FIT-PRO (Canadian Fitness Professionals) conference. This is an annual event that draws over 6,000 fitness instructors, personal trainers and gym owners from across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. It is the largest conference of it's kind in the world and has expanded from 3 to 5 days. And I hate going. I think this is mostly because I don't really feel like I belong. There are a bunch of fitness industry "types" which I don't fit into. You have the full-time fitness instructors and personal trainers, who work in the industry for a living...and I don't usually have much in common with them. You have the young California beautiful blonde types, who are single and into partying...I definitely don't have much in common with them! You have the over 50 "moms" who teach fitness while there kids are at school all day, in between taking them to soccer practice and I don't have much in common with them...yet! And finally, you have the club owners who are essentially entrepreneurs looking for ways to increase their bottom line and I don't have much in common with them either.

Luckily, since Adam became a spinning instructor, I at least have him there, but because he doesn't teach other types of classes, we don't tend to take many of the same sessions. The one nice thing is that I often run into people I have worked with in the industry way back when I lived in Halifax or Kingston and haven't seen in years. That's pretty cool.

The other reason I hate going is the sessions are often so disappointing. I now consider it a success if I come out of it with 3 new ideas (new exercises or ways to coach/motivate my participants). Expecting anything more is not realistic. I have also learned not to go to aerobics/step sessions because the presenters ALWAYS demonstrate such intricate choreography that it is completely inappropriate for the populations I teach. Heck, I can't even follow, so how could my participants??? Aside from spinning workshops, I gravitate towards the ones that use common equipment (stability balls, bosu balls, body bars, etc.) in new ways, geared towards personal trainers or instructors who teach more athletic style classes.

While you might think an event such as this would be full of the fittest most beautiful people, this is not the case. You have some of the buff beauties, of course, but you actually get people of all ages, shapes and sizes, which is actually kind of refreshing. Fitness comes in a range of packages. But what is always shocking to me are all the bad habits some of these fitness professionals have: eating crap, smoking, drinking and partying too much. Then again, except for the smoking, that was me in my early 20s, so I shouldn't be so surprised.

What I like best about the conference is the trade show. This is basically a shopping orgy where a zillion companies sell their wares at decent to amazing discounts. You can find fitness music, equipment, DVDs, supplements, shoes and clothing. My goal this year is to hit up the "Sketchers" sale. As much as I love my MBTs, they are butt-ugly, and it would be nice to have a slightly nicer looking pair of shoes that use the similar technology (the Shape-Ups). I can't really wear any other type of shoe anymore for long periods of time. I also want to get a few small weighted pilates balls, but that's about it. I don't need protein bars this year (I have TONS that I got on sale from our online supplement supplier), nor do I really need any new music. Besides, the fitness music seems to have gotten worse in recent years with the companies that used to supply you with the work of the original artists, now shifting towards "remakes" that sound like garbage.

The other thing I hate about the conference is it is at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre so it involves cycling all the way through the downtown core and then walking/taking escalators through the whole massive complex to get to the north end of the building. Today getting there will be even more hellish since it is 30 degrees and humid. I could take the subway, I suppose, but that would take a lot longer and cost money. This conference is expensive enough as it is!

You can also check out the latest, greatest cardio and weight equipment at the tradeshow, and usually even try them out. A few years ago, this is how I discovered the Jacob's Ladder machine http://www.jacobsladderexercise.com/, which I think is one of the coolest cardio machines to be invented. It is incredibly intense, but is completely non-impact. When I tried it out, I didn't feel like doing more than 3 minutes...that's how intense it is! The tradeshow is also where I tried out Freemotion and Gravity equipment for the first time and did a Zumba workout (and made a total fool out of myself because I can't dance to save my life!). There are also machines to test your metabolism and body fat and free massages but the line-ups for these services are always too long for impatient me. You can also sample the newest protein drinks, bars, and health foods and pretty much make a lunch of it if you don't pack anything or buy anything at the overpriced food kiosks.

I always try to go for Friday and Saturday, but no matter how much I try to convince myself to show up on the Sunday, by then I want nothing more to do with it. I've never gone to the "pre-conference" stuff on the Wednesday or Thursday. Oh well, in half an hour I will head down to the trade show and then have my first session: This is How we Roll, a spinning demo using a new kind of indoor bike. Yippee!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: I don't get any!

About six months ago things came to a head between Big A and I when I got sick of the disrespectful way she would always order me around and ignore me completely when I asked her to stop doing something (dangerous, inappropriate, annoying, etc). I was fuming on a regular basis because of her yelling at me, "Hungry!", or "I want something to eat." I finally had to resort to taking a toy away from her for a day each time she asked me to do something without saying please and thank you and being polite. Eventually it worked and she started saying her please and thank yous without having to be reminded every time and would start her sentences with, "May I please have...". Unfortunately, we are back to square one with this. Once again she is rudely ordering me around, rarely saying please or thank you and completely ignoring me when I ask her to do something or stop doing something.

I have realized that I am not more motivated to be patient with her because she basically makes me so bloody angry. This isn't an excuse, rather an explanation for why I don't feel more charitable towards her a lot of the time. You know those dreams you have where you are trying to get somewhere but you can't? Well, that's how I feel most mornings because of all her antics. And when you put that together with her rudeness, lack of respect and refusal to listen or cooperate with me, it makes it difficult for me to remain patient and smiling.

I fellow classmate from school suggested that when Big A starts having a tantrum, that I ask her to take some deep breaths and even get down on the floor with her and do them together. She said it works with her kids. I tried this a few times and she refused to do it so it was not successful. Last week I was reading an article in the paper about a study showing that kids who are cuddled by their caregivers the most when they are small, grow up to be better adjusted adults with higher self-esteem. I used to cuddle Big A all the time when she was little and I cuddle Little A a lot, but as Big A gets bigger, I seem to cuddle her less. This got me thinking...I wondered what her reaction would be if when she starts acting up, I smother her with hugs and kisses and tell her I love her? While this is the opposite of what I FEEL like doing when she is acting up, I tried it this morning and twice, it diffused tantrums she was about to start. Wow! I'm sure it won't work everytime, nothing does. But even if it works sometimes, I'll take that!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

P1: One of my friends forwarded me a job ad that I thought was very interesting. The position is a Mind-Body Program Coordinator for the North JCC (unfortunately not the downtown one where Adam and I teach fitness). What was particularly interesting to me about the position, is that the ad mentioned a preference for someone with an MSW (Masters of Social Work), and some of necessary skills are: grant and report writing, data analysis and program management, all things that I have. The role is essentially to make connections between the JCC fitness and wellness program and other wellness organizations in the community in an attempt to make the program more accessible to all members of the Toronto Jewish community (I'm assuming, in particular, the disadvantaged ones). I didn't think I had a chance since I don't have an MSW and I'm not even half way through my program, but I decided to apply anyways. And what do you know? I have an interview for August 18th! It's a part-time job, which is great, because I could definitely not take on anything full-time. But the question is, can I fit in a part-time job? I guess I don't really need to decide at this point because (a) they haven't offered me the job yet, and (b) I don't know enough to know if I want the job. But it sounds like a position that would use my various skills and it would be really nice to have some income!

P2: Yesterday, being a Monday, I was home with Little A all day. Lucky for me, Little A was in a delightful mood. Her teeth must have been feeling better because she was fabulous from the moment she woke up until the moment she went to bed. I took her to the JCC so I could do a pilates class in the morning and she was great at the babysitting service (wouldn't come out of her stroller, but at least let the woman read her tons of stories and didn't cry). Then she had a nap and when she woke up we played at home for several hours until we had to pick up Big A from daycare to take her to her swim lesson. Little A ate well, played happily with me and was full of hugs and kisses. She made me do "this little piggy" with her toes about 20 times and squealed with glee every time when I got to the "whee whee whee" part. It was wonderful. But, boy, she is like the Tazmanian Devil! We were in the bathroom for 2 minutes so I could pee and during that time she managed to shred toilet paper, pull tissue from the box, pull out the toilet plunger, dump the garbage can and knock things of the counter. Adam and I had to take turns chasing her around the community centre so she didn't kill herself while Big A had her swim lesson. She doesn't sit still for a second!

Today is another story. She woke up grumpy and clingy. She howled and became hysterical if I put her down so I somehow made Big A a cheese omelet and toast with honey while holding Little A in one arm and had to pee with her sitting on my lap. I guessed it was her teeth so I asked her if she wanted some medicine, holding up the bottle of Tempra, and she nodded her head vigorously. The medication seemed to help a bit. Sherma took her out this morning and called me half an hour later to say she passed out in the stroller. She is definitely having teething issues again. I hope this ends soon, it makes her truly miserable.

I have become aware of the fact that I have become the kind of parent I never wanted to be. Just like my parents. I used to wish that my parents were more laid-back when I was a kid, instead of so impatient and task-oriented. I may be more familiar with popular culture and wear hipper clothing, but I am just like they were in other ways. I rarely yell (unlike my father who used to explode at the slightest provocation), but I am always snapping or speaking in a frustrated, impatient or exasperated tone of voice. I remember wishing my mom would give me more undivided attention instead of being distracted by "grown-up" stuff, but that's how it is with me now. Big A is always trying to get my attention to watch how high she can jump or to look at the funny face she can make and I'm always saying, "yeah, yeah, great" while I try to: do the dishes, write the shopping list, read the paper or cook dinner. How did I become this person? Why am I always in such a rush? I guess the only thing I can say is that I am at least aware of it and wanting to change it. I am currently working with my psychologist using CBT to learn how to "smell the roses" and not be so obsessed with being productive. So maybe there is hope for me?

F1: I have decided to attempt a "cleanse" diet next week. I never thought I would do such a thing as the thought has always horrified me. First off, there is no evidence that we need cleanses, our body is designed to get rid of toxins, and secondly, there is no way even for one day I could give up starchy carbs or live on liquids. But this is a self-designed special kind of cleanse. I am increasingly bothered by the short-comings of my diet which is primarily too much sodium. I like my food highly flavoured, so either very sweet, salty, sour and/or spicy. But we all know that salty is no good. I feel great and my energy levels are great, but I do often get bloated and have digestive issues. So I'm wondering if cutting down on sodium will help. A lot of the sodium comes from my favorite condiments (dijon mustard, soy sauce and fish sauce) and the more processed items in my diet like the veggie meats, smoked turkey breast, pre-sliced grilled chicken breasts (to throw into wraps and stir-fries in a jiffy) and bottled low-fat salad dressings. But even my fat-free, sugar-free yogurt has sodium as does all of the whole grain breads, wraps and pitas we buy. So I am vowing to go for a week (well, Monday breakfast to Friday lunch anyways...I need more freedom on the weekend!), with a low-sodium diet, eating whole foods and nothing highly processed. I'm also going to avoid meat and cheese. I'm not really looking forward to it, but I'm excited for the challenge in a way. Stay tuned for my meal plan. I'm going to have to use lots of garlic, lemon juice, etc., to satisfy my taste buds!!!

F2: Today I managed to do 10 chin-ups in one set! Even Adam was impressed. So now twice a week I am doing 60-70 chin-ups, broken down into sets, but today was the first time I actually could do 10 repetitions in one set without taking a break!

Exercise of the week:

Calf Raises

Stand against a wall holding dumbells (or soup cans or whatever) in each hand. Lift your heels off the floor and then push up as high as you can go onto the balls of your feet. Lift and lower, without letting your heels come all the way down to the floor. Do at least 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Drizzle

I love carrot cake, but lets face it, you can't really count it as being part of the fruits and veggies food group. It's usually to chock full of fat and sugar (and usually refined flour) to be anything except a decadent dessert. So I came up with the idea of integrating all the flavours into a healthier option: whole grain pancakes. For me, there has to be cream cheese icing involved, but if you wanted to be even more virtuous, you could just spread plain light cream cheese on them, or just a dollop of non-fat yogurt and some fresh pineapple. Or you could go the more traditional route with maple syrup or honey. If you don't have all the spices, you can substitute 1 tbls pumpkin pie spice.

2.5 cups organic whole wheat flour
4 tbls organic coconut flour
2 tbls baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 lb organic baby carrots, steamed about 20-30 mins until soft, then mashed or whirred in food processor (can be chunky)
1 can crushed pineapple, with juice
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups water (only use as much as you need)

Stir together dry ingredients in large bowl. Add carrots, pineapple, egg whites and vanilla and begin adding water, a little at a time, whisking it in, until you have a thick batter (don't make it too runny or it won't hold carrots and pineapple). Drop 1/2 ladels full of batter on a griddle, making sure to cook them through (they will be pretty thick). Makes about 16 pancakes


Cream Cheese Drizzle

1/2 cup light cream cheese
1.5-2 cups powdered sugar
Lemon juice, pineapple juice or water

Pulse together cream cheese and sugar in food processor. Gradually add liquid until icing is thin enough to drizzle over pancakes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Vegetarian Roti

I absolutely LOVE Caribbean roti and because I am lucky enough to live in Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I am surrounded by great roti places. But I've been dying to try to make them myself. You can use all sorts of veggies, I just used what I had on hand. Other options include your preferred combination of: spinach, potato, sweet potato, squash, okra, etc. Authentic roti skins are often made from chickpea flour or split pea flour and I know they're available around the city, but I didn't have time to go looking for them so I just used whole wheat tortillas.

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 knob ginger, finely diced
2 tbls good quality curry powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Scotch bonnett Caribbean style hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can light coconut milk
4 tbls coconut flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

6-8 roti skins or 10 inch whole wheat tortillas

Cook onion, peppers, carrots and celery in oil over medium high heat until slightly softened. Add cabbage, garlic and ginger and cook until cabbage is softened. Add spices and hot sauce and stir, turning heat down to medium. Add chickpeas, coconut milk and coconut flour and turn heat down to low. Simmer until gravy thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Put a few ladels of filling in the centre of a roti skin or tortilla and fold in all sides to made a square and then flip over so folds are on the bottom. Makes about 6-8 roti.

Friday Fun and a Fitness Rant

P1: I contacted Dr. M at Mount Sinai today to find out what's happening with our research proposal. She got her assistant to contact the research ethics board and they said we may have our proposal processed in another week. I wasn't expecting anything until the end of the summer, so this is good news. Fingers crossed we get approval!!! I am really eager to start the project. One logistical issue we had to deal with is how I will be contacted when there is a woman who has miscarried. Originally, we had thought I would be at the hospital 2-3 days a week, but there are no guarantees that any losses would occur on these days meaning I would sit around doing nothing. And what about women who have a loss on other days? So we decided that I will simply be "on call" all week and whenever possible show up ASAP. I am hoping I can follow up with those women I am not able to get to immediately. This, of course, will have to become a variable in the research so we can see if there are any differences between women I see right away and those I can only follow up with after the fact. Not ideal, but the realities of doing research.

P2: Big A's refusal to take naps is really causing problems. She still needs it. Last night after I gave her a bubble bath while Adam and Little A were at the market, Big A wanted to play Caillou games on my computer. I agreed because I am eager to have her learn to use the mouse on her own so I don't have to play the games for her anymore. She was having problems and kept calling me upstairs while I was busy in the kitchen to help. Finally I got Adam to go up to help, but being unfamiliar with the game, he cleared what she had done to that point. There was utter hysteria and she refused to calm down so Adam was forced to put her in her room for a time out. But she wouldn't stay in her room. She came down to find me and was completely out of control. I had to force her to eat something (it was 7:30pm at this point and she hadn't had dinner yet) and we put her to bed early. She was out instantly. Adam and I decided that she can make a choice each day: she can either take a nap or go to bed early. Today she opted for a nap (hurray!).

Little A is such a character. Most days she refuses to eat the lunch Sherma and I pack for her before they go on their outings and prefers to eat Sherma's lunch. Today it was fried rice and veggies. Other days its been macaroni and cheese, lentil soup and stir fried tofu and bok choy. What's annoying is she won't touch stuff like this if I make it! Last night I made the girls cheese sandwiches because I didn't feel like fighting with either of them and Big A immediately said she was not going to eat any broccoli (or other veggies). Little A ate half of one and then threw the other 2 on the floor and then threw the bowl. I ordered her to pick them up, put them in the bowl and back on the table. After dancing on them in her sandals, she did. Then she tried to throw the bowl and sandwiches again. Sigh!

Little A is apparently fixated on one of the boys in her playgroup. Sherma says the poor guy, who is 2.5 years old, was not too impressed with all the attention at the beginning, but Little A eventually hugged him into submission. That's what I love about her. She is qwerky and sensitive and strong-willed, but she is also incredibly loving and affectionate. I absolutely love her hugs!

F1: Of course we all know that eating locally, the big trend, means eating in season. But you know what? Sometimes eating in season doesn't seem to make a huge difference. Let's be honest, some imported produce is really good. I'm sorry to say that I've had cherries from Chile or the U.S. which are way better than the ones grown here in the Niagara region. But the same cannot be said for other things. The peaches, nectarines and apricots that are in season right now are fabulous. I've occasionally bought some at other times of year and dearly regretted it. I urge you to go out and get some now!

I'm making vegetarian roti tonight, I'll post recipe later.

F2: Fitness Cliques

One thing I've learned about the fitness industry is that different clubs form cliques as do particular activities. One of the snootiest activities tends to be spinning. There are a number of different approaches to this activity which seems to have created two almost adversarial camps. You have the instructors who believe that spinning classes should strictly emulate outdoor road cycling. These instructors naturally attract the outdoor cyclings (who, by the way, are a very small minority of all spinners). Their classes tend to be rather monotonous because they will only pedal between 90-110 rotations per minute (RPMs) and they usually use what I call "thump thump" music (generic techno dance). Then you have the instructors like Adam and I who believe that a spinning class should be a spinning class, meaning it should be fun and inspiring and does not have to emulate outdoor cycling because the bikes are inherently different and the vast majority of spinners are not outdoor cyclings and are not training for outdoor racing. We incorporate a wider variety of cadences and drills to keep participants interested and we tend to use music with words (alternative, rock, dance, 80s, 90s, hip hop, Top 40 etc.). Now I am obviously not a big fan of the other model of class, but what really bugs me is how condescending the followers can be. While my followers may prefer my approach, they are unlikely to tell an instructor using the outdoor method that they are teaching "wrong" or should change their approach. In contrast, outdoor cyclists who come to our classes are generally arrogant and rude and I have occasionally gotten into debates with a few of them about the pros and cons and the rationale of each style. Consequently, there are a lot of gyms where I would not dare teach spinning because they attract the snooty outdoor cyclist folks. What I don't understand, is why these individuals don't just put their bicycle on a stand and train on their own (like some competitive cyclists I know) so that they can tailor their workout precisely to suit their training needs, if that is their goal. Then they never have to be at the mercy of an instructor's whims.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Words

P1: I got a 95% on my first assignment in my current course. The prof had no problem with the content, but, of course, I made a bunch of APA formatting errors. Luckily he didn't deduct much and said he would rather students be given the chance to learn for future assignments. Very different approach from the one Dr. A-Hole took! You'd think after having written a doctoral dissertation in APA format and completed 4 courses already in this program that I'd have it down pat, but the truth is, I am lazy about it. I hate having to consult the guidebook for every tiny thing and I think the over-focus on formatting is idiotic. Nevertheless, this prof did me a huge favour: He explained to me how to easily format the references section using the "hanging indent" command. Because my current computer has Windows Vista, which is absolutely atrocious, I often cannot figure out how to do the simplest thing. Today, I finally figured out the hanging indent command and it made typing out the references on my final paper a snap. Of course I am still waiting for Adam's feedback on the rest of the paper, which I don't think will be pretty because it's not my greatest piece of writing.

P2: Little A went for her 15 month check-up last week, and she's doing great. She's 75th percentile for length and 50th for weight. The doctor confirmed that she has a bunch of teeth coming in, which explains why most days she is miserable from about 8-10am...maybe when her mouth hurts the most? But something exciting has happened: she is finally saying mommy and daddy! Yep, both words arrived at the same time. Now, I know she has known us as mommy and daddy for a while, but hearing the words out of her mouth is still heartwarming. Yesterday was a civic holiday but the weather was hot and sticky, so we took the girls to the Eaton Centre in the morning. They had a blast running around. At about 11am, all of a sudden Little A stopped in her tracks and made her poo-face. Adam snatched her up and he and Big A took her to the washroom for a diaper change. I waited with the stroller. As they walked back to me from across the mall, Little A pointed at me and yelled, "mommeee!". Yay!! Maybe now the words will all start coming...I hope. I can see the light now...we will soon have 2 children that can walk and talk and NO MORE BABIES!!!

Big A completely refuses to nap at home on the weekends now. I really wouldn't mind so much if she didn't still need a nap so badly. Yesterday we hopped in the car at 4pm to go to my sister-in-law's new house for a visit and within 3 minutes she was out cold. We had to take turns sitting in the car in the driveway with her until she woke up about an hour later. Then she was extremely groggy and grumpy. The only upside is we were able to get her into bed at 7:45pm last night, instead of fighting to get her there by 8:15pm, like most nights.

Big A has suddenly started showing a keen interest in learning to write her letters and numbers. Every night before bed she asks Adam, who, lucky for us is a fantastic teacher, to help her with it. Adam is very impressed with her work ethic and desire to practice. These are definitely traits she gets from her father! I once tape recorded myself playing the saxaphone when I was 12 so I could shut my door and play the tape when my parents told me to go practice. Needless to say I never became David Sanborn!

F1: A few months ago I mentioned the marinated tempeh products I got at the health food store (made by the Tofurky company). Yesterday I tried the coconut curry flavour (not at all spicy, I had to add some heat to satisfy my tastes) and it was fabulous. I highly recommend trying it if you see it.

F2: Exercise of the week: Prone chest press

Lie on your front on a stability ball or bench with shoulders at the edge holding light to medium hand weights and perform a chest press, pushing weights straight out in front at chest level with palms facing down. Perform at least 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thai Lemongrass Beef and Broccoli

We don't eat red meat very often, but both Adam and I love it and since it is Adam's birthday this weekend, I made this as a treat. It was great! You could always do it with chicken or even tofu, though, if you wanted. Serve over steamed rice.*

For specific directions about using lemongrass, check out http://thaifood.about.com/od/thairecipesstepbystep/ss/lemongrasshowto.htm before you start.

I only used 2 tsp oil because I have a non-stick wok, if yours is not non-stick, you'll have to use more.

1.5 lbs beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, minced in food processor (see instructions at website above)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knob ginger, grated or chopped finely
2 Thai chili, minced (optional)
1 head broccoli, cut in bite size pieces (lightly steam first, if you don't like your broccoli too crunchy)
2 tsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 tbls fish sauce
2 tbls soy sauce
2 tbls rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar


Stir fish sauce, soy sayce, vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl. Add 1 tsp oil to wok and stir fry lemongrass, shallots, onion, garlic, ginger and chili 1-2 minutes. Remove to bowl with slotted spoon. Add beef and stir fry a few minutes until desired doneness (I did mine medium-well). Pour in fish sauce mixture and then add the veggies back in and continue cooking a few more minutes. Serve over rice.

*I used brown jasmine rice, which was fantastic, but you can use any type of long grain rice. I love rice, it's one of my favorite foods. There are tons of varieties out there. I've had brown rice of various types, red rice, and purple rice. Whenever possible, try to eat brown over white. Recent research found that eating white rice increases the risk of Type II diabetes while eating brown rice reduces it.