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Showing posts from October, 2013

Sweet and Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Because the girls can't agree on anything, they insisted they each get their own Jack-o-lantern for Halloween this year.  Then they each chose the biggest one they could find.

While I'm grateful we didn't have to pay by the pound for these massive things, it still meant a huge amount of work for me, because each of them also wanted an intricate (based on my abilities) design and for me to scoop, clean and roast the seeds for them.

I got smart this year and bought a carving set with proper tools and stencils.  I think I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself (again, based on my complete lack of talent in this department).  The cat is Little A's and the witch is Big A's.

When I asked them whether they wanted sweet or spicy roasted seeds, Little A said both.  I asked if she meant half sweet and half salty and she clarified that, no, she actually wanted them both sweet and salty.  And Big A actually agreed with her!

So, their wish is my command!  These smell as …

Harvest Vegetable Curry

After having unseasonably warm weather all fall it very suddenly turned cold.  All of a sudden we've had to dig out the winter jackets and the mittens. It seems like I've gone from slathering on sunscreen to prevent burns, to skin cream to prevent dryness overnight.   But I don't mind. It means gorgeous fall foliage, cosy afternoons with steaming cups of tea, deep sleeps cuddled up under the comforter, and hot, hearty meals...including lots of stews, pastas and curries.

This kind of came together just by throwing together what I had in the house but it turned out so amazingly delicious, I had to share it.  You can sub different veggies based on whatever you have lying around and I am sure it will still me fabulous.  Adam really loved this one too, which given his carnivorous preferences, means it's got to be pretty awesome.

My curry turned out pretty green and white because I used a purple sweet potato that was white fleshed.  You'll get a much more golden curry i…

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child?

I love my girls and would give my life for them in a heart beat.  But man can they drive me nuts!  Of course, I am sure most parents feel this way.  Last week was particularly hard because I was on my own with them, but some of their behaviour that was most difficult for me to take involved doing and saying things they often do, even when Adam is home.  What really disgusts me is when they complain about their life being so hard.  Like this really makes me mad.

A few months back I went on my big Random Act of Kindness kick to try and get them to understand just how fortunate they are and to practice a little gratitude.  Unfortunately, this hasn't done much in terms of getting them to: (1) realize how good they have it, or (2) understand that they will not and should not get everything they ask for.

Several times last week, Big A lay on her floor right after waking and moaned that she was too weak and hungry because I had not yet made her breakfast, to be able to make her bed and …

I. Am. So. Done.

I don't have the time or brain power for a real post today.  Adam has been in Ottawa since last Sunday for his annual work trip and while there have been the expected challenges of single parenting, this morning I had to endure over an hour of the girls having screaming fights (I think in part they are also done with not having daddy around) and acting like spoiled brats.  Needless to say, I have probably never been so grateful for the weekend to arrive.  Adam gets back tonight, thank goodness, so at least I have that to look forward to.

Have a safe, healthy weekend!

Book Review: Painted Girls

The reason I have a whole section on books on this blog is I am a book-a-holic.  No Kindles, etc. either.  I like good ol' paper books.  I am ALWAYS reading something.  People frequently ask me when I have the time.  The answer is, it is part of my bedtime routine.  Sometimes I read for just 5 minutes before drifting off to sleep, sometimes a whole hour.  Either way, it is how I unwind and relax. Also, if I have to take the bus or subway to work rather than bicycle, I always tote along some reading.  I even bring books with me to the office to read in between clients.

I just finished The Painted Girls, which my mother-in-law loaned to me, and I loved it so much I had to share.  It is written by a Canadian, Cathy Marie Buchanan.  I have to say, Canada has so many fabulous writers, it's really incredible.  Oh, and in case you didn't hear, our very own Alice Munro just won the 2013 literature Nobel Prize!

Anyways, The Painted Girls is about a family with 3 young daughters in…

Sweet Masala Granola (Oil-Free, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free & Vegan)

I am always trying to come up with new granola variations.  I dreamed this one up lying in bed one night.  Not sure where the inspiration came from, but man, it was a good one.  Aromatic, flavourful, crispy and chewy.  It is so so good...and super healthy.  There is no oil, no sugar, and the low-calorie puffed brown rice lightens it up, so you can eat it guilt-free.  The turmeric gives it a nice yellow colour, but really I threw it in because it is an amazing super food with anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.  This granola is great with dairy or non-dairy milk, or yogurt and fresh fruit, if desired.

Don't be scared off by the garam masala, it is a warm, aromatic, but not spicy, spice blend.  I love it in both sweet and savoury dishes.  I didn't add nuts to it, so it could go in the girls' lunch box, if they want, but shelled pistachios and/or cashews would be awesome.  Also, instead of the cherries and raisins, you could throw in chopped dried apricots, d…

Product Review: RW Garcia Snacks

Recently I was sent a generous selection of RW Garcia's snack chips.  They are all made from organic, non-GMD, certified gluten-free corn.

They gave us several flavours of their tortilla chips and a few bags of their dippers.  I could give you the low-down on each, but it's faster just to tell you that every variety they sent was a serious crowd pleaser.  The girls loved them and everyone we shared them with (I brought a bag to our Rosh Hashana party, and served a few more when we had friends visiting), loved them.

Big A said she found them "Very flavourful."  Adam told me they were dangerous (i.e. he could easily devour too many).  Even Little A enjoyed the Thai Sweet and Spicy Flax variety, which I thought might be too overpowering for her.  These really impressed everyone who tried them!

From a nutrition perspective, they are a better choice than most conventional brands of chips because there are no additives, preservatives or artificial crap.  Just keep in mind…

Book Review: The A to Z of Children's Health

Hey there, welcome to Monday!  We had a delightful, relatively quiet weekend.  How was yours?  Hopefully no one in your home was sick...there is a lot of nasty stuff going around these days.

If you're a parent, than you have probably spent far more time that you would like to desperately searching Google and/or parenting books trying to figure out if your child's rash, cough or fever warrants a trip to the doctor or if there is something that can be done to treat it.  It's hard not to worry that it could be something more ominous that just an every day infection and while you'd make yourself (and everyone around you) nuts if you panicked every time your kid has the sniffles, as a parent, you naturally want to do everything in your power to prevent your child from harm.

Recently I was sent The A to Z of Children's Health, written by doctors Jeremy Friedman, Natasha Saunders, and Norman Saunders, of Toronto's very own Hospital for Sick Children.  One of the cont…

Healthy Nuts: Stay Prostate Cancer-Free

I know mostly women read this blog, but, then many of you will still have a man in your life you care about such as a father, brother and/or husband.  So I thought I'd do a post about prostate cancer.

Often people get confused about the headlines and research findings, partially because there are two types of prostate cancer: the indolent kind that doesn't usually require treatment, and the lethal kind.

Harvard Professor, Meir Stampfer, has attempted to address this issue by focusing on prostate cancers that lead to death.  He and other researchers have found that the following factors increase the risk of fatal prostate cancers:
ObesitySmokingA sedentary lifestyleCalcium supplementationHigh fat dairy intakeHigh intake of eggs (6 or more/week)Low/no coffee intakeLow intake of cruciferous vegetablesLow intake of fatty fish & fish oil (but decreases risk of indolent prostate cancers)  For men who are diagnosed with a prostate cancer, the type you have can help determine the …

Vegan Bacon-Flavoured Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I hate food trends.  Admittedly, it's probably because they are usually pretty unhealthy.  This is definitely the case with the big food trends of the past few years: Burgers, cupcakes, and bacon on everything.  Silly!

Of course, I find diet trends just as annoying.  They are generally based on pseudo science and never end up being very effective.  Mark my words, even with gluten-free and paleo diets being all the rage, I bet there will be few positive changes in the overall health and weight status of the North American population.

The bacon thing is particularly stupid: cured and processed meats are quite possibly the most unhealthy thing you can eat.  Period.  Cancer and heart disease city.  You can poo poo my warnings all you want, but do you really think it will be worth it when you're wasting away from colon cancer?

Okay, enough of my scare tactics.  If you want all the smoky, salty deliciousness of bacon, without the crap, just make these babies.  They taste good and a…

Cranberry Chocolate Crispy Squares (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

Happy hump day! Here is a sweet treat to brighten up a rainy Wednesday.

Angela posted this recipe last Monday when I was stuck at home with a sick Little A.  I instantly knew making these would be the perfect activity for us and a great lunchbox treat for the girls. 

Of course, I mixed things up a bit.  I omitted the drizzle and - as per Little A's request - added in some dried cranberries.  I also doubled the recipe because I knew they would disappear fast!

Adapted from this recipe.

Cranberry Chocolate Crispy Squares (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup cocoa powder
150 mls agave syrup or other liquid sweetener
Pinch of salt
1 cup dried cranberries
2-1/4 cups brown rice crispy cereal

Melt oil over medium heat.  Whisk in cocoa, sweetener, and salt until smooth.  Stir in cereal and cranberries.  Press into parchment paper-lined 9x12 baking pan.  Freeze for about 20 minutes, until firm.  Remove from pan and cut into squares.  Makes 24 squares.  Keep refrigerated.

Pumpkin Raisin Curry

It's kinda nice to have just a 4 day week ahead.  After a very full and active day running around Downey's Farm and then bouncing on trampolines at Skyzone, all 4 of us were exhausted and starving last night.  I thought the extra long weekend might make it even more difficult than usual to get the girls out the door to school this morning, but things went relatively smoothly.

This year we didn't do a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  But believe me, I didn't miss the turkey, stuffing thing at all.  I cooked up some pretty yummy things this weekend, if I do say so myself!

I dreamed up this recipe, like I usually do, at some random moment.  Actually, I was trying to think of a new way to use pumpkin.  If you like sweet, savoury dishes, you will absolutely love this.  If not...well then you're weird.

If you don't want it spicy, you can omit the chili. No matter what, you'll end up with a delicious, comforting curry to warm you up on chilly autumn nights. 

But …

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving for 2013

Today is a family day.  We are heading to Downey's Farm for Pumpkinfest in the morning, and then a trip to Skyzone with my brother and his family in the afternoon.

Instead of spending the whole day sitting and eating, get outside and get active.  Research studies show that outdoor activity is one of the best ways to improve your physical and psychological health!

So before or after your meal, why not take a brisk walk with the family, or enjoy a friendly game of soccer, football or tag.  It won't be long until snow and cold temps make it harder to get outside.  Enjoy the beautiful fall weather while you can.

No turkey eating this weekend for us, however, I made a great festive vegan recipe instead which I'll be sharing soon.

Thankful for the Many Gifts

It's the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, which is usually one of my favorite times of year, but it has been quite a week.  Little A seemed to be on the mend and even went to school Tuesday and Wednesday, but Thursday morning woke up with a fever of 104 again.  I cleared off my schedule for the day and whisked her to the doctor again.  This time she got a swab for strep, but it came back negative (no surprise, she hasn't had a sore throat!), so the doctor sent us for a chest x-ray since she was coughing and pneumonia was suspected.  Yep, pneumonia it is!  No wonder this child has been miserable.  I've heard many stories from other people already about how it often isn't suspected at the beginning because the patient seems to have periods of feeling better but the fever keeps returning.  What's odd is that while she does have a cough, it's not severe and she hasn't had the breathing difficulties that often accompany pneumonia. 

 On the bright side, this week …

Honey Garlic Roasted Trout

Here is another simple fish recipe that is easy, delicious and kid-friendly.  I almost had a pretty picture of it, but, of course, broke the fillet in half when moving it into the serving dish. Clearly not only am I not meant to be a food photographer, I'm not meant to be a food stylist either.  Ah well, I only care about the taste anyways.

Honey Garlic Roasted Trout

1 lb rainbow trout fillet
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbls  honey
2 tbls soy sauce (or tamari, or coconut aminos)
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Season with salt, to taste

Whisk together garlic, oil, honey, soy and seasonings.  Spoon evenly over trout.  Roast at 425F for 8-14 minutes (depending on thickness). 

Herbal Stress Relief: Sainthood Herbs Product Review

I may be passionate about living healthfully, however, I tend to be a skeptic about herbal remedies.  Not because I think none of them work...although few have for me, but because there is much less scientific research on these products so we know less about appropriate dosages, absorption, etc.  In addition, many of these products are not regulated so what you see on the label may not be exactly what you are getting in the bottle.

So it was with much doubt that I agreed to try out Sainthood Herbs' Stress & Sleep formulation.  After all, as a woman who has struggled with anxiety and insomnia forever, I have tried a multitude of herbal and alternative therapies and found absolutely none did anything for me at all.  But I had nothing to lose.

The supplement is made up of Lemon Balm, and a 'proprietary blend' of Chinese Mint, Silk Tree, and Jujube.  The bottle recommends consulting at doctor before taking if you are on any meds and since I am, I decided to c…

Pumpkin Spice Harvest Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free & Vegan)

Ah, it's fall and that means many of my favorite foods are in season.  These bars combine several of them into one and are just as delicious as they are nutritious.  These make a great breakfast, snack or lunch box treat.

Batter Base

1/2 of a medium pie pumpkin, roasted and mashed (about 2 cups)*
2 cups oats, ground into flour (gluten-free, if necessary)
1 cup xylitol, or stevia baking blend (or coconut sugar, if you prefer)
2 flax eggs (2 tbls ground flax + 6 tbls hot water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dropper full of stevia liquid (if desired)
2 tbls lucuma powder (optional)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Fruit compote

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup dried, juice sweetened cranberries
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Liquid stevia, to taste (optional)
1/2 cup water

Place compote ingredients in a pot on the stove over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low.  Simmer until liquid is absorbed and fruit is softened.

Place all the ingredients for bat…

Book Review: Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques

Its a very rainy Monday morning here, and we've got a pretty sick little one in the house.  Saturday night Little A woke up with a fever and yesterday she was a mess.  She tends to spike crazy-ass temperatures and she was absolutely sizzling.  What freaked me out is she was complaining her neck hurt!  Fortunately, the doctor said it is NOT meningitis, and that many viruses can be accompanied by neck pain.  Who knew?  In the middle of the night last night her fever finally broke, but I am going to be at home with her today. 

If you are feeling a bit stressed about another week ahead of you, perhaps this book will be of interest.

I was sent Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques by Kathy Gruver to review.  Gruver is the host of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet.

The book starts with an explanation of why she wrote the book and then some background and history on mind/body medicine.  Next, there are sections that give a brief explanation of various mind/body techniques.


And the Axis Shifts Again

The dynamics in this household have changed dramatically over the past month.  Little A has transformed back into the delightful, joyful child we used to see more of before she turned 2.  The frequent shrieking fits we've been dealing with in response to absolutely everything for the last 2 years have significantly declined.  I am so enjoying this adorable child again!  She is so gleeful and fun to be with again. I can't tell you how happy this makes me as she goes through the final vestiges of being a baby-ness.  She is still so cute and squishy.  The way she talks, giggles and laughs is so sweet...I just want to gobble her up.  It is such a pleasure and I can't stop hugging and kissing her.

Why the change?  I really can't say.  Perhaps starting school has made her feel more grown up.  Or, perhaps she just happened to go through a major developmental phase at the same time.  I just know that I want to take advantage of every minute of it.

And then there is Big A.  Ac…

Think Fast: The 5:2 Diet Book Review

If you have been reading this blog for long, than you know I abhor quick fix weight-loss schemes and have no time for detoxes, cleanses, or extreme diets.  There is no evidence to support the efficacy of detoxes or cleanses and most people cannot sustain a really restrictive or low calorie diet long-term.  The goal for anyone should be to establish healthy habits that can be maintained over the lifetime. 

So initially when I started to hear about intermittent fasting, I rolled my eyes and sighed.  "What now," I wondered, "A diet where you just don't eat at all?"

But intermittent fasting is actually a weight loss or maintenance technique that is backed by science and supported by weight-loss experts I respect like Yoni Freedhoff.  So when I was asked to review Kate Harrison's The 5:2 Diet Book, I enthusiastically agreed.

There are many variations that one can take on this eating pattern: short cycles of complete fasting (1-2 days a week consuming nothing),…

Adoration Above the Clouds

I mentioned this incredible encounter I had on my way home from Victoria on Sunday. 

Don't worry, I did not cheat on my husband and join the mile high club!  Why would I when I am the luckiest woman in the world?  While I was away, Adam spoiled the girls with food and fun, all the while taking over all the domestic duties including laundry and even cutting up mountains of fresh vegetables for this week's meals!

No, I did not find romantic love on the airplane, but I fell in love in a different way.

I was seated beside a couple on the airplane, the husband beside me, as we departed from Vancouver.  I kept to myself reading the whole time (my television was broken, of course!).  About two-thirds of the way through the flight, both got up to use the washroom.  When they returned, they switched seats and the wife sat down beside me and immediately struck up conversation.  She proudly told me that she and her husband were on their way to Rome for a 50th wedding anniversary celebr…

Think Pink (Lady)

Did I ever mention that I love apples?  Like really love them?  I'm sure I've mentioned it at least 1,000 times on this blog.

But an apple snob I definitely am.  No Delicious (either red or yellow), Granny Smiths or Macs for me thank you very much!  My favorite varieties are Mutsu (Crispin), Fuji, Kiku, and Honeycrisp.  And, now, I can add another to this list: Pink Lady (or Cripps Pink)!  I have had them before now and again and liked them, but the ones I am getting this season absolutely ROCK!  I discovered them at our market last week and they looked so gorgeous, they were calling my name.  They are large, sort of oblong, and pale green with a pink blush.  Oh, and absolutely delicious.  Firm, crisp, and the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness...I'm drooling just thinking about them now...

The girls love them too, and, of course, they love that they are called Pink Lady apples.  They are actually a hybrid of Yellow Delicious and Lady Williams (which I've never…