Friday, May 31, 2013

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

Here is a post about 5 things I'm loving right now.  It's a nice, light post because I feel like there is so much heavy stuff going down in the world right now. 

I've got some rosacea stuff happening: redness on the bridge of my nose that spreads to my cheeks if I have any alcohol or get hot (and I'm always getting hot- did I mention its now 30C and 100% humidity here now??).  I've been reading and hearing so much about these new skin serums and how great they are for things like redness, but their prices are insane.  I am still not at the point of being able to spend $50 on a tiny bottle of some beauty product, besides which, my skin is very sensitive so I always worry I'd end up having a bad reaction to said expensive product anyways.

Many of these serums are full of vitamins, so when I found an old bottle of Jason Vitamin E Oil in our bathroom cupboard, I decided to give it a try.  I smear a bit on before bed at night and, yahoo, redness has dramatically improved!  No super expensive serums needed!  This stuff, by the way, is also great for helping to heal scars.

Jason Vitamin E Oil

Wearing my compression socks for intense exercise and rolling out my muscles for about 5 minutes a day has done absolute wonders for my body.  I have virtually no hamstring tendonitis anymore (it only ever bothers me now if I sit on a hard chair for a long period of time).  In fact, I have had such a significant recovery, that I  can now enjoy all the activities I used to do that irritated it, including lunges!  This means I am able to actually start strengthening the area again, which will hopefully prevent any further injuries.  Ha, no surgery or expensive, invasive treatments needed!!

My Self-Help Rehab Kit

I have been using Live Clean hair products for a while now, but only recently did I discover the Live Clean Bali Oil Shampoo and Conditioner.  It smells awesome and does a great job of smoothing my unruly curls (which I blow dry straight...or as straight as possible) in the hot, humid weather.

I am addicted to my Cappuccino Frosties, which I discovered last summer.  Sweet, creamy, cold and refreshing, I could drink them all day in the hot weather.  The only problem is, they make me pee like all get out, so I try to limit myself to 2 per day, and usually make at least one of them decaf.

My Sketchers Go Walk Oasis shoes I got in Florida this past year are a godsend:

I am so glad I got these shoes, and glad I got them in 2 colours.  They are super duper comfy and I can get away with wearing them to work, which is perfect because sometimes I do walk therapy sessions back to back with counselling sessions in the office.

Sometimes small things can give us great pleasure, you know?

I am still trying to perform Random Acts of Kindness whenever possible, but I admit I've fallen off the wagon lately with regularly scheduled kindness activities, but I have an idea I'm working on to get the girls to start to understand the concept of gratitude.

Have a splendid weekend!

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.  Life is no "brief candle" to me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
-George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mango Smoothie Pops & Tovolo Popsicle Mold Review

My kids adore frozen treats.  Actually, I consider this a blessing, because it's pretty easy to make healthy frozen desserts that they gobble down.  Frozen bananas in the food processor (aka banana ice cream) is always a favorite, but they love popsicles too.  Unfortunately, the cheap popsicle molds we've been using around here really sucked: 2 our 3 would get stuck and not come out, or they would come out broken, which led to many tears and disappointments.

I've been looking around for new ones for a while now, but didn't see anything that looked great until we were in the Distillery District a few weeks ago.  Most of the shops are way too expensive for us (and most people on the planet!), but there is a great design and kitchenware store called Bergo with accessible prices where we found Tovolo Bug Pop Molds. Admittedly, $18 is rather steep for popsicle molds, but I decided it wasn't worth risking buying more useless ones for less and the girls were instantly charmed by their whimsicle shapes (Little A, in particular, has a thing for ladybugs!).

For our first trial with them, I came up with the recipe for these Mango Smoothie Pops, and I have to say, of all the popsicles I've ever made the girls, I think they loved these best!

The molds were very easy to use: you pour your ingredients into the cups, which have a stand they securely fasten to, and then you snap on the holders.  Place in the freezer and when ready, simply run them under warm water for a few seconds and, voila, they came out absolutely perfectly!  The girls were thrilled.

Mango Smoothie Pops

2 ripe bananas, broken into pieces
1 ripe mango, diced
1 scoop Vega Vanilla Almondilla Smoothie mix (or other vanilla or plain protein powder)
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)

Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze at least 6 hours.  Makes enough to fill 6 Tovolo bug pop molds.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nexus 7 Tablet Review for Staples

Recently I was asked if I would like to review the Nexus 7 Tablet for Staples.  Of course I said yes!  The two Ipads in this house get used non-stop and I was eager to try one designed to work with Google products AND is smaller and lighter than our Apple Ipads.

One of the first things I noticed is how simple it is to set up.  It literally took just a few minutes to sync it with my gmail, and get all the apps I want set up: Facebook, Skype, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Sweet!  It also happens to be a perfect match to my new Samsung Galaxy 4 phone.

I already find it annoying to type on my Ipad, so I figured this would be even worse given it is smaller, but perhaps because I have small hands, I actually find it much easier to type on.

Once I had it all set up, I turned it over to the kids to see what they thought.  They are possibly more tech savvy than I am already.  Sure enough, they needed little help figuring things out.  Little A, however, found it a bit frustrating that when the tablet goes into energy saving mode, you have to press the power button on the side, rather than just tap the screen like you can on the Ipad.

The girls downloaded a bunch of games and were thrilled we a few new ones they found that they do not have for the Ipad.  Working the games, however, has proven a bit more difficult for them to figure out.  Nevertheless, once they do figure out how to play them, they have been very pleased.  One thing I was a bit upset about is that when the girls searched games in the Google Playstore, a few inappropriate apps appeared.  That has never happened with the Apple App store!

I like that, unlike the Ipad, it fits easily into a small purse.  It also is faster than my Ipad.  Overall, I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a tablet and on a budget since it is much less expensive than the Apple products.

My brother has been telling me for years that Apple products are far superior to all others and at first when I got my Ipad I believed him.  My experience with the Nexus 7 Tablet and my new Samsung phone, however, make me question whether this is still true.  I think there are now some pretty awesome products available that are more affordable than those from Apple.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A to Zevia: Product Review

I have long been a fan of Zevia as an alternative to conventional soda pop.  So when I was offered samples of all the flavours available in Canada, I jumped at the chance.

I generally avoid pop, but sometimes there is nothing more palate cleansing than a beverage with bubbles.  While it's hard not to know how bad regular pop is, just because of all the sugar and empty calories, most conventional diet sodas also have many questionnable ingredients and artificial colours.

Zevia is sweetened with stevia, and has no artificial colours or flavours.  The flavours available in Canada currently include:

Cherry Cola
Dr. Zevia
Caffeine Free Cola
Regular Cola
Ginger Root Beer
Cream Soda
Lemon Lime Twist
Ginger Ale
Black Cherry

I already loved the black cherry and cream soda, but I was excited to try to rest.  In the end, they are still my 2 favorites, by far, although I liked the Dr. Zevia a lot too.  Adam likes the fruit flavours, but was not a big fan of the cola, he said he could taste the stevia, and not in a good way.  I don't much like any cola so I can't really comment.  As for the stevia taste, I don't taste it, but I'm also more used to it than Adam is.

Big A liked the lemon lime twist best - I didn't like it, but I don't like any lemon lime soda, I did think it tastes an awful lot like the originals, and the orange is Little A's favorite.

My one complaint is that many of the flavours have caramel colour, which IS an artificial colour and there is some evidence it may be toxic.  I was actually shocked when I noticed that and wouldn't let the girls try any of those flavours.

In any case, these are still a better option than conventional pop, but I hope the Zevia company will consider removing the caramel colour from it's products!

Disclaimer: The Zevia company provided me with free samples of its products, however, all the opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Johnny Cake (Vegan + Sugar-Free)

Good Monday morning!  It's a beautiful day and the girls are actually getting along this morning (and singing Taylor Swift at the top of their lungs), so I will not complain about how early they got up.

Instead, I'll give you a yummy recipe.  I remember a recipe for Johnny Cake (corn bread essentially) that I made as a kid that used creamed corn.  It was super moist and delicious thanks to the creamed corn as well as butter, eggs and a lot of other decadent ingredients.

After coming up with my healthier creamed corn recipe, I knew I had to redo the classic Johnny Cake.  Here it is not only low-fat and sugar-free, but vegan as well!  You can try replacing the regular flour with a gluten-free baking blend, however, I can't vouch for the results as I haven't tried that.  You could also make this into corn muffins, however, you'll have to adjust the cooking time.

Johnny Cake

1 recipe creamed corn
1 cup non-dairy milk + 1 tbls cider vinegar
2 flax eggs (2 tbls ground flax + 6 tbls hot water)
1-1/3 cup spelt, kamut of other whole grain flour
1-1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tbls erythritol, xylitol or other sweetener
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Whisk together wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together all your dry ingredients and add to the wet, just until combined.  Scrape batter into a greased 9x12 sheet pan.  Bake at 350F for about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool and cut into squares.  Makes about 20 squares.  Freezes well.

This recipe has been submitted to Diet, Dessert & Dogs' Wellness Weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Big Book of Gluten-Free Recipes

Recently I was sent this book to review. I'm thinking that we're pretty over-saturated in the gluten-free department these days and I'm kind of sick of hearing about it.  Yes, celiacs need to avoid gluten absolutely for sure, and there may be some who have true sensitivities, but I'm not convinced that other folks really benefit from avoiding gluten, and there certainly isn't any scientific evidence to support this.

Anyhoo, I was curious to see if this book would be novel in any way.


It's certainly a good deal for $20, you get over 500 recipes.  But aside from a few exceptions, I did not find this book particularly exceptional.  Most recipes are Italian or American inspired, with a few Asian ones thrown in for goog measure.

There are no photos whatsoever, nor is there a lot of information about how to avoid hidden sources of gluten, although strangely some of the recipes call for 'gluten-free' varieties of a lot of foods I didn't know needed to be classified as such, like yogurt or raisins.  I suppose, however, that any food could be contaminated with gluten just as products often declare 'may contain peanuts'.

There are only a handful of vegan recipes, but a whole chapter devoted to vegetarian dishes.  For me, I found most of the recipes used ingredients I don't like to use like white sugar and butter.

The only recipes I found interesting were the ones in the quick bread, appetizer and dessert chapters where they use gluten-free flours for baked goods and crepes.

If you want or need to follow a gluten-free diet and don't have any other dietary restrictions (low-fat, sugar-free, vegan, etc.) than you might like this book because it has so many recipes covering a wide variety of dishes.  But frankly, it's nothing special.

Have a fabulous, healthy, happy weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Birds and the Bees and the Birdees App

If you are a parent of young children, or are not yet a parent, you may be wondering when to start discussing sex with your kids.

As an infertility counsellor, believe it or not, this issue comes up with my clients all the time.  For anyone using donor sperm or egg, there always needs to be a discussion about how to disclose this information to the child and when to do so.  But regardless of whether your children were naturally conceived, the product of donor or adopted, the answer as to when to start talking about sex is the same: as early as possible!

Believe it or not, humans are sexual creatures from the day they are born.  We do not suddenly become aware of our bodies or develop sexual urges after puberty.  Also, nowadays children are exposed to sexualized images and messages very early on.

Beginning to talk to your kids about sex can begin as early as age 2, and should definitely start as soon as they are asking questions about their bodies.  What you say and how you present the information will differ, somewhat, depending on the child and on their developmental stage, but it should always be accurate, involve correct anatomical names, and be presented in as simple and non-judgemental a way as possible.

There are lots of books that can help you with this, but if gadgets are more your speed - or more the speed of your little ones - than you may want to check out the new Birdees App that provides detailed information on anatomy, sex and reproduction tailored specifically for children in all age groups.

However you decide to discuss this stuff with your kids, just make sure you do it, and do it sooner rather than later.  Remember, you as a parent have the power to help your children develop a healthy attitude towards sex and their bodies.  Be approachable.  Be accepting.  Be open-minded.  Stay calm and welcome their curiosity!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Vegan, Sugar-Free + Gluten-Free)

I'm stressed.  I've got some important career-related decisions I have to make and I'm struggling with them.  I hate making these kinds of decisions.  Essentially I'm trying to weigh risk versus potential benefits, and, like many people I don't like uncertainty.  Nor am I a big risk-taker, at least when it comes to financial matters.

So one day last week I arrived home after a meeting feeling particularly conflicted and anxious so I did what I always do when I feel this way: I baked.

I decided to make cookies using some of my sugar-free chocolate chips, and see if I could make some gluten-free ones that would pass muster with my fussy folks.

Whoa Nelly, these were a big hit with everyone!  Sweet, soft and super chocolately, no one suspected how darn healthy they were.  Big A declared them,  "Awesome!"

See, sometimes stress is a good thing!

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Vegan, Sugar-Free + Gluten-Free)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 flax eggs
1 cup xylitol, erythritol or stevia baking blend
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups almond meal/flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar-free or regular dark chocolate chips or chunks

Whisk together wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together dry ingredients and add to wet.  Mix in chocolate.  Let batter sit for about 15 minutes.  Roll into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheet (leave enough room for them to spread).  Bake at 350F for about 16 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing from baking sheet (at least 30 minutes or they'll fall apart!).  They'll firm up even more and get chewy the next day.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 18 large cookies.

Note to self: Photographing the cookies on the chocolate-smudged parchment paper looks crappy. 

Reply to self: I don't care, I'm busy and lazy and hate photographing food!

This recipe has been submitted to Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday and Diet, Dessert & Dogs' Wellness Weekend.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Swerve Towards Sugar-Free Frosting

So how was your long weekend?  Ours was lovely, thanks.

Saturday we cycled to Christie Pits for some playground fun and popsicles. 

Sunday we took the girls to an arts festival at the Distillery District.

Monday we had a park playdate in the morning and then we took the girls to Vaughan Mills in the afternoon.  Adam took them bowling while I cruised the mall.

Now it's back to reality, but at least it's a 4-day week.  And at least I've now found a way to make sugar-free frosting.  Yes, sugar-free frosting.

Who doesn't love frosting?  My kids, like most kids, usually gobble it down and then leave the cake.

Personally, I like really sweet, sugary frosting, like fondant.  If it's more like sweetened whipped cream, that I don't want any part of it, that makes me gag.  I don't like marshmellow or boiling icings either.  Just the straight up powdered sugar kind.

I try to avoid sugar as much as possible, so I don't eat frosting very often these days.  So I was very excited to discover Swerve carries a powdered sugar alternative and even more excited when I found that it's now carried by Low Carb Canada!  It's made from erythritol, so it doesn't affect blood sugar, and it's calorie free.  And for those of you who avoid anything 'artificial', it's a 'natural' alternative sweetener.

Confectioners Sugar Substitute

For my first experiment with it, I combined a 1/2 cup with a 365g container of quark cheese (quark is like cream cheese, but it's much higher in protein and it's fat- and salt-free), a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and a squirt of vanilla stevia.  Then I iced a gingerbread cake I'd made.  It was fabulous!  Next time, however, because if I am going to eat frosting, I want it to be SWEET, I might use more Swerve, but I still thought it was pretty awesome.  I made the cake as a "Happy Mother's Day to Me" treat last weekend ;)

Of course no amount of frosting can sugar-coat the situation in Oklahoma today.  My thoughts are with everyone there affected by the tornado. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Infertility Awareness Week 2013

Not only is it Victoria Day here in Canada, but it's Infertility Awareness Week!

To kick things off, I've got information on how to maximize your fertility provided by Dr. Victoria Maizes, who has just published a new book: Be Fruitful.

Simple Ways to Increase Fertility
Seven Tips from Victoria Maizes MD
 Age matters! Today many women are putting off child bearing until later in life, and it is affecting their fertility when they do finally start trying to conceive.  Women in their 20s have a 25% chance of conceiving each month while women in their early 40s have only a 5% chance. 
 Don’t stop eating fish!  While women should avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, other fish are safe and very important to the pregnant woman’s diet.  Fish is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are critical to a baby’s brain development and can even help prevent post-partum depression.
 Ditch the junk food!  Processed foods are filled with exactly the wrong kinds of carbohydrates and fats that lead to high glycemic indices and interfere with fertility.
 Take folic acid!  Taking multivitamins with folic acid BEFORE conception and through the third trimester helps protect against autism as well as neural tube, cardiovascular and limb defects.
 Exercise, but not TOO much!  Too much exercise can cause infertility.  When trying to conceive, it is not the time to train for a marathon, or even participate in very vigorous yoga classes.  Vigorous exercise may temporarily stop menstrual periods or shorten the latter half of the cycle interfering with conception.
 Make your home green!  When planning a pregnancy, either avoid buying new furniture and carpet, or buy green products instead.  Also avoid new paint, which releases high levels of chemicals into your home.
 Be particular about containers!  Stay away from plastic food containers, Tupperware and refillable water bottles while trying to conceive.  Plastic contains BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical that has strong estrogen-like activity that interferes with normal hormone function.  BPA is also found in the lining of many canned goods.
 Stay calm!  Hormonal changes associated with chronic high stress signal the brain that this may be the wrong time to reproduce.  The brain responds by altering its signaling to the ovaries.
 Victoria Maizes MD is the executive director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and a Professor of Medicine and Public Health.  Her newest book is

Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child.  For more information about fertility visit her website or follow her on twitter @vmaizes. 

While all of Dr Maizes suggestions are valid, I do feel it is important to mention that many causes of infertility have nothing to do with lifestyle.  For example, you could be born with a bicornuate uterus or endometriosis, or a genetic disorder that causes sterility.  You could have blocked fallopian tubes or a pituitary tumour.  So please, never ever assume that someone you know facing infertility will overcome the problem just by 'relaxing' or changing their diet.  Often medical intervention is necessary and this is very frustrating and upsetting for individuals struggling with infertility to hear.

Also, while poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, can definitely age you prematurely, don't assume that living a really healthy lifestyle can allow you to beat age-related infertility.  Fertility begins to decline after a certain age and often this is genetically determined, so believing you can wait until your 40s to conceive because you eat all organic food and do yoga is simply wishful thinking.

Please visit the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada for more information and resources and check out this very short awesome video:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wired for Wellness

I got pretty darn lucky this week: I got asked to attend TELUS's First Wellness Learning Centre Session featuring Lyzabeth Lopez and the Samsung GALAXY S4!

Me and a group of other wellness bloggers got to visit the TELUS House in downtown Toronto for this fantastic event.

TELUS employees who work in this building are lucky to have fabulous, immaculate facilities, including a first rate gym and fitness studio.  I love any company that promotes employee fitness and wellness!!

The event kicked off with a butt-kicking workout led by Lyzabeth, and then we were fed a healthy lunch and, you won't believe this...we each got to take home a Samsung GALAZY S4 phone!  We got a presentation about all of this amazing products' features and honestly, I almost fell off my chair.  I called Adam immediately after the session to beg him to let me switch my plan to this phone, and I am thrilled to say, he agreed!‏
Here's some info about the phone:

About the Samsung GALAXY S4 from TELUS
·         It captures life’s meaningful moments: sporting the world’s first-ever Full HD Super AMOLED display, the GALAXY S4’s five-inch screen showcases images in stunning resolution. And with its Dual Camera mode (including a 13-megapixel rear camera), you can capture life’s moments in as many ways as you can think of – and enjoy them seamlessly through TELUS’ 4G LTE wireless network experience while you’re at it!

·         Breaks language barriers with S-Translator: say or text what you need translated and the GALAXY S4 will read or text the translation back to you. This is a must-have feature for avid travelers!

·         Provides Effortless Innovation: features like Smart Pause, Air View, Air Gesture and Optical Reader detect your motions, face and voice to enable screen control with no need for finger touch activation (and you can use the screen with gloves too!)

·         Group Play: like to share what you love? Connect with those around you to play and co-create content, without the need for a Wi-Fi connection or cell signal.

·         Toss it in your bag, worry-free: constructed with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, this phone is as beautiful as it is tough, and can withstand the daily bump and grind.

The Samsung GALAXY S4 is available from TELUS for $199 on a three-year term or $650 month-to-month. For available general plans and pricing, please click here.

I also love that TELUS has partnered with a great cause (all the attendees were lucky enough to also take home one of these limited edition cases, and TELUS made a $50 donation in each of our names to Rethink Breast Cancer:

TELUS and Rethink Breast Cancer
TELUS has a long-standing history supporting the fight to end breast cancer. Since 2008, TELUS has given $5.4 million towards research, early detection and treatment of breast cancer in Canada.This year, TELUS will be encouraging Canadians to “raise their paws to support the cause” and will donate $300,000 to Rethink Breast Cancer (and QBCF in Quebec).

 How can I get a case?

Starting in May and while quantities last, TELUS will include this free, uniquely designed case with each purchase of a white Samsung GALAXY S4. To show its continued support to breast cancer prevention efforts, TELUS will also donate $25 to Rethink Breast Cancer (or QBCF in Quebec) for each purchase of a white Samsung GALAXY S4.

 Join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting using the hashtag #raiseyourpaws.

 About Rethink Breast Cancer

Launched in 2001, Rethink is the first-ever Canadian breast cancer charity to bring bold, relevant awareness to the under-40 crowd; it strives to foster a new generation of young and influential breast cancer supporters, infuse sass and style into the cause and, most importantly, responds to the unique needs of young women fighting breast cancer. No pink ribbons required.

One of the purposes of this event was to demonstrate how the technology can be used for wellness.  We receiving an exciting presentation about a new app coming out called UP by Jawbone.  Given all the evidence that tracking one's activity and food intake can help people stick to their diet and exercise programs, and help them to reach their goals, I think this is very exciting:

UP by Jawbone: Available at TELUS


UP by Jawbone:  a wristband and app that aids in   tracking how you sleep, move and eat, ultimately helping you use this information to make healthy life changes.

The wristband, available in eight different colours, tracks things like your movement and hours of rest. This tracking system is advanced enough to track hours of deep sleep vs. light sleep, the amount of time it took you to fall asleep and even how many times you woke up!
The UP app displays data tracked from the band on your Android device’s dashboard and prompts you to track things like meals and mood. UP is flexible enough to track nutritional information from package barcodes and even photos you’ve taken of a meal!
The app helps you set alerts, reminders and daily goals, tracking your progress over time. It then provides insights to keep you motivated.

How can YOU get one?
Up by Jawbone will be available online and in select TELUS stores across Canada starting this summer.

or more information, head to or contact Emma Miller at TELUS.

As if all that wasn't enough, TELUS provided each of us with a new yoga mat, awesome glass waterbottle and a few samples of Biosteel sugar-free recovery drink to equip us for future workouts.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Barbecued Bean Burritos

After a week in New York filled with more animal protein, sugar and alcohol than usual, it's back to basics: a mostly plant-based diet!  But even Adam gave this meal high marks.  It's delicious and hearty enough to satisfy the biggest carnivore.

Serve in your favorite tortillas along with the stewed peppers and onions, or your other favorite toppings such as cheese/vegan cheese, avocado, chopped lettuce, onions, and tomatoes, etc.


Barbecued Beans

1 cup sprouted bean mix (or any kind of sprouted legumes)
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
1/4 cup bbq sauce (your favorite home-made or store bought variety)
1/2 cup tomato salsa (your favorite home-made or store bought variety)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbls tomato paste
1 tbls mild chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

Combine sprouted beans with 2 cups water in a covered pot.  Bring to a boil and then remove lid, turn heat down to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes until at least half of liquid has been absorbed.  Add in remaining ingredients and continue to cook until it thickens.

Stewed Peppers and Onions

2 red bell peppers, sliced in strips
2 green bell peppers, sliced in strips
1 red onion, sliced
1 Spanish onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 can tomato paste

Place all the ingredients in a skillet or deep fry pan, except for tomato paste.  Set heat to medium and cover with lid, stirring occasionally until onions and peppers start to soften.  Remove lid and stir in tomato paste.  Continue to cook for at least 20 minutes until veggies have stewed down and are soft and sweet.

To assemble burritos, place desired amount of bean mixture into the centre of each tortilla and add some of the peppers and onions and/or other desired add-ins.  Roll up tortillas and spoon more of the onions and peppers over top.  Makes 4-6 HUGE burritos.  Both peppers and onions and beans can be frozen.

Unfortunately I have no photos of the finished product as Adam and I devoured all of them (yes, all of them), before I remembered.  Oops!  What can I say, they were delicious!

This recipe has been shared with Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday and Diet, Dessert & Dogs' Wellness Weekend.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Treat Yourself!


I have a $25 gift card for SpaFinder that can be yours, redeemable at over 20,000 Spas, Yoga, Pilates, & Fitness Studios Worldwide!

For a chance to win, just follow me on Twitter and/or 'Like' my professional Facebook page and then leave me a comment that you've done so.  You get 2 entries if you do both!

Just look at this list of over 100 participating yoga studios in the Greater Toronto Area alone.  The gift card is like a free class!

This contest is open to EVERYONE.  Contest closes May 31st, 2013.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Balsamic Sundried Tomato Green Bean Salad

This made a lovely spring side dish at our family's Mother's Day BBQ.  It's very easy to make too!  I didn't add any salt because I thought it was flavourful enough (Dijon has a lot of sodium already), but season to taste.

2 lb fresh French green beans, washed and trimmed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
2 heaping tbls Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Dump beans in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and put immediately into ice water.  Drain, pat dry and place in a large bowl along with tomatoes.

Meanwhile, place vinegar, garlic, seasoning and sundried tomatoes in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and then simmer until liquid reduces by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients.  Pour over beans and tomatoes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Birthday Party

It's over.

We survived.

It was a success.

I wish we never had to do it again.

We probably will.  Every year.  For at least another decade.


But the good news is, we definitely picked the best venue.  Honestly, if you live in West End Toronto, Bob Abate is an amazing place to have a party!  The gym is large, they supply tons of toys, climbing equipment and even a bouncy castle!  There is a kitchen right off the gym, and the staff are incredibly helpful.  It was awesome.

Awesome in a kind of, crazy, insane, ridiculous way.  In total, I think there were about 30 kids.  The volume was about 100 decibels, between the karaoke, the screaming, the bouncy castle, and the parents trying to chat over the din.  Given the energy level maintained by the kids over the 2 hour period, I'm actually very surprised no one got seriously hurt.  These kids were on fire!

I was, unfortunately, very disappointed with the baked goods.  Nothing I made turned out how I'd hoped.  The cake pops became 'cake balls'.

The rainbow cupcake pull-apart cake simply became 'swirly cupcakes'.

And the chocolate mini-cupcakes were made simply to make sure there was enough.  Hey, I am a neurotic, Jewish mother after all!

I've finally admitted to myself that not only do I completely suck at decorating cakes and cupcakes, but I also despise it too.  Nothing ever turns out as I intend and I find it incredibly stressful.  So next year I'm hiring out my sister-in-law to do it for me.  She loves doing it and is very talented.  And frankly, I'm done.  I think if I have to spend as many hours as I did this year decorating baked goods, I'll stab myself it the eye with an ice pick.

So there you have it:  The 4th and 7th joint birthday extravaganza for 2013.

I hope all you moms out there had a lovely Mother's Day.  Mine was fabulous, thanks.  I was greeted with beautiful cards and two smiling girls yesterday morning.  Then I went and taught my spinning class at the JCC.  Then lunch at home and Adam sent me out for my annual shopping spree.  I managed to find a great pair of shoes and a  few items of clothes that will be perfect for work this summer.  Then we headed to my in-laws for a BBQ.  But I think the best gift of all yesterday was that the girls were happy and cooperative, and most amazingly, they played together in the afternoon for about 2 and a half hours without any fighting.  I think that's a record in this house!

Friday, May 10, 2013

New York 2013 Part IV

Adam was originally booked on a later flight home than I was so he could get more work done, if needed on Friday, but he managed to get all his work done at the archives on Thursday.  So he decided to accompany me to the airport to see if he could get on my earlier flight.  He also suggested we start the day with a run in Central Park.  This turned out to be a fabulous idea!

We left the hotel at 7am and made our way to the park.  Eventually, we found ourselves on the Bridal Path, which gave us breath taking vistas of the reservoir, framed by trees full of pink blossoms.  I think the best part was that neither of us seemed to be allergic to those trees, which were dropping pink petals all over the place!

After our run, we went back to the hotel, showered, ate breakfast, and packed up.  We took a cab to La Guardia, and discovered not only could Adam get a seat on my plane, but we could BOTH get one on the flight leaving an hour before mine!  Yes please!!  Of course, this flight was delayed, but we still ended up leaving about 5 minutes earlier than my original flight.

Believe it or not, my 'fitness' caused a ruckus both on the flight to and from New York.  At Pearson, I was told to go through the full body scanner.  Great, love all that radiation!  It beeped and I was ordered to stop for a pat down.  The image on the screen was all lit up around my mid section.  I thought this meant I had some sort of metal IN me and was stressed.  Did I swallow a coin and not notice?  Did someone implant a microchip in my stomach or another internal organ?  Like WTF?

On the way home, the same thing happened at La Guardia, only this time when I made the scanner beep, the guard made me do it a second time (great, even more radiation!) and then he asked me if I workout.  Um, yeah, so?  Apparently my ab muscles are so strong and defined that they were making it look like I had something hidden and strapped to my middle (like I might be trying to smuggle something).  How freakin' weird is that?  Frankly, after all the eating we did, I'm surprised it didn't look I had a spare tire sitting around my waist, or an inflated inner tube.  Anyways...

On the plane, I managed to catch 2/3 of a movie called Parental Guidance.

Parental Guidance film poster.jpg

I had never heard of it, which is usually a bad sign, but with a cast that includes Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei, I thought it couldn't be that bad.  It was pretty silly, but there were a few scenes (particularly a bathroom scene with Billy Crystal) that had me laughing so loud Adam was elbowing me to be more quiet.  It's too bad I didn't see the end, but I can't complain about a short flight, I still hate flying!

The girls had a great time with my in-laws and I doubt they missed us much.  Oh well, after all the single parenting I've done recently, I really needed a little getaway, and this trip was really amazing.

If you have never been to New York, GO GO GO!!! It really is the most amazing city in the world (okay, I'll admit there are many hundreds of cities I've never seen before...).

Happy 7th birthday to Big A today!  I can't believe I have a 7-year-old.  The big party for her and Little A is tomorrow.  Oy!  If I am still standing, I'll fill you in on the details next week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New York 2013 Part III

Thursday after breakfast, I went and rented a bicycle again.  I rode down to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to check out their farmer's market.  There were really only a few types of apples, veggies and baked goods, but I scored some local, fresh apples for Adam and I who were doing well with vegetables on the trip, but were feeling deficient of fruit.

Next, I pedaled down to the Chelsea Market.  Oh my goodness, I can't say enough about this place!  It is fabulous!!  If you want to find unique gifts and/or are a foodie, you gotta check out this place.

File:Chelsea Market entrance.jpg

I particularly loved Chelsea Market Baskets - where I picked up chocolate and other goodies for my in-laws who were so kindly looking after the girls, The Nut Box - where I got unsweetened banana chips for Big A (who adores them), and Posman Books - where I found each of the girls an amazing kids book about New York.  I also thought the raw, vegan goodies at One Lucky Duck looked fabulous, but it was way to pricey.

After dragging myself out of the market without spending more, I cycling back up towards my grandma's home.  By the time I got to 72nd and York, I was hot and, you guessed it, thirsty.  Good thing I spied $4 beer at Palacio Azteca!  The two friendly women running the restaurant must have thought I was an alcoholic, because I popped in, guzzled two Corona Extras in about ten minutes, and left without eating anything (I'd already picked up a hummus and avocado veggie wrap).  Hey I was celebrating Cinqo de Mayo a wee bit early, and the only thing I know how to say in Spanish is "Dos cervazas por favor."  So dos cervazas I did have.  Ironically, despite my very diminutive stature and the fact that I drink very little alcohol, I have developed quite the tolerance.  Two beers in 10 minutes gets me about as buzzed as Perrier.  I adore drinking beer in warm weather, I just wish alcohol was so bad for your health!

Next I went to visit my grandmother and delivered the second bag of jelly beans.  One of her male attendants came into the room and wanted to talk to me about working out.  He saw me locking up my bike outside, noticed my 'pipes' (I was wearing a sleeveless top) and deduced that I'm an 'athletic type'.  When he found out I am a fitness instructor and personal trainer, he was very excited and wanted to share about exercise.  Hey, why not, I love talking about healthy living!  Obviously.

After my visit, I cycled down to meet Adam at the UN building for our tour.  This was probably the biggest surprise of the whole trip!  I was going along just to spend time with my hubby, who was checking it out as field work for his next book.  But I think I enjoyed it much more than he did.  He didn't really learn anything new, but I thought the whole thing was fascinating.  I definitely recommend doing a tour here if you have the chance.

Later on, I returned the bicycle and after relaxing at the hotel for a bit, we grabbed another quick bite at Fuel Grill and more soft serve from World of Nuts and Ice Cream.  Hey, we're creatures of habit...on a budget!

Stay tuned for our fourth and final New York day tomorrow.