Friday, May 30, 2014

Strange Happenings


Its Friday!  Hallelujah!  I need a break from the morning routine.  Little A has been in another pissy phase and has been just insufferable.  How does a 5-year-old wake up so angry at the world?  I do think it must be some sort of anxiety as she doesn't get into these fits on weekends or holidays and she always complains about having to go to school.  Its strange though, because she is doing great in school and really does have so much fun there and at daycare, but somehow the prospect of going in the morning bothers her.  I think I need to see a child psychologist so I can understand her!

Its been an odd week with some significant happenings:
  • Maya Angelou passed away
  • Knowlton Nash died
  • The search for the missing Malaysian aircraft ended
  • 5 girls/women in the Toronto area mysteriously went missing
Maya Angelou was such an incredible woman, and I love her quote above.  As I near my 40th birthday, I have never identified with it more.  I feel so grateful to do work that is so meaningful to me.  I absolutely love being a counsellor and feel blessed to work with all of my clients.  To me there is no greater opportunity than the opportunity to help others.  It makes me feel good about who I am and what I do.  I may never make tons of money, but I am making a difference and that gives me the confidence and sense of purpose I need to feel fulfilled.

I can't say I always love myself, but I think I'm getting closer to that point.  If there is one thing age gives you, its some perspective and wisdom!  One thing I have learned is perfection is an illusion and there are very few things in this world that are black and white.  Almost everything has many, many shades of grey.

Speaking of events this week, something spooky happen to me.  On Tuesday, while sitting at my desk and a book shelf mounted on the wall above my desk spontaneously - and without any warning or previous signs of weakness, fell down, coming completely out of the wall, taking the shelf below it with it and throwing books and other stuff on to the floor.  I was surprised to say the least!  The wackiest thing is that both shelves landed on a stained glass lamp my good friend Ray made for Adam and I as a wedding gift.  Thankfully it survived totally intact!

Now we have a big mess in our bedroom but our handyman can't come for a few weeks and I am not even going to attempt to put the shelves back up myself.

Again, I am so glad its Friday!

This weekend Big A has a Saturday playdate, and Sunday is her final performances (2 of them!) at Randolph Academy.  My mother-in-law and I are attending the afternoon show and Adam and my father-in-law are going to the evening one.  Little A wasn't into going so we arranged it so that she didn't have to come with us.

I am very pleased because although Big A wasn't so thrilled with her classes at the beginning, she has now decided to continue in the dance stream.  I think dance (without the singing part) will be more in line with her, um, natural talents.  She also wants to do gymnastics again, join Brownies, and keep going with swimming.  Little A also wants to do Brownies (Sparks actually for her age group) and gymnastics, on top of swimming.  How we'll fit this all in next year I have no idea!  The one thing I hate about living in a big city like Toronto, that is now plagued with a transit crisis, is the logistics of getting anywhere is a big gong-show.  Its total gridlock most of the time.  I think that's the only thing I miss about growing up in a small town, is how easy it is to get around!

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bubble Tea

I am so loving our Sodastream!

I know I have mentioned many times all the health benefits of green tea.  The unfortunate thing is, I don't love the taste.  Its okay, but anytime I am deciding what kind of hot drink to have, coffee always wins out.  I am not a huge fan of iced tea, in general, either though, so getting the tea in me is tough.  I use green tea to make my oatmeal, instead of using water, but now I have found another way I really enjoy it: with bubbles!

Yep, every day now I fill up my Sodastream bottle, carbonate the water, and make one of the following combos:
  • Green tea + lemon stevia liquid
  • Mint green tea + peppermint stevia liquid
  • Superfruit green tea + mixed berry stevia liquid
They are all so refreshing, and I feel great knowing I am getting all the benefits of green tea on a regular basis.
If you don't love drinking hot green tea either, I encourage you to give this a try, it's definitely my new favorite hot weather drink!!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Skindinavia: Product Review

Makeup Primer Spray
I wish it weren't true, but I do worry about how 'old' I look.  I am turning 40 this September and let's face it, women have come a long way, but our looks still matter.  You still gotta be thin and young.  Otherwise you are pretty much invisible.  Yes there are exceptions, but few of us are Hilary Clintons and even H.C. has received criticism about her appearance (even though last time I checked, her job does not require someone to look a certain least if you are a man).

Anyways, I won't go into a full-on rant.  But I will admit to having succumbed to the pressure to look youthful.  I because self-conscious enough about the lines on my forehead that I have anti-aging cream I apply every day and all sorts of 'illuminating' creams that are supposed to make light bounce off my skin in a way that hides my wrinkles.  Sometimes when I am getting ready in the morning, I feel like a contractor working on drywall with all the layers of stuff I put on.  So I didn't bat an eye lash when I was asked to try out Skindinavia's new spray Makeup Primer.  Hey you prime walls before you paint them, right?

My biggest concern was the fact that I have sensitive skin, but this hasn't been a problem.  It is oil-free and paraben-free.

Here are the claims:
  • 83% of users agree: this is the best makeup primer they have ever used.
  • 93% of users agree: The Makeup Primer Spray makes skin feel noticeably smoother.
  • Silicone-free formula creates a light, breathable barrier between skin and makeup.
  • Helps to prevent redness, uneven skin tone and large pores.
  • Proven to reduce the need for touch-ups or blotting.
  • Formulated to be worn with or without makeup.
They also have an oil control formulation for people with oily skin.  Mine tends to be on the dry side.
So?  Well beyond simply not having an allergic reactions, I am also quite pleased with how this product performed.  It is light enough even for a sweat-bag for me to wear in summer.  It does seem to make my skin look smoother and keeps my make-up from smudging as much.  I give it two thumbs up.
Note: I was sent complimentary products to test, but all the opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Time to Step Up Men!

Okay men, yes you, you heterosexual-in-a-stable-relationship men who, along with your partner, are certain you do not want any or more children.  It’s time to get snipped. Oh come on, stop covering up your groin with your hands and call the urologist already!

If you think I am joking I am absolutely not.  It peeves me how many women I speak to, both personally, and professionally as a therapist, who tell me their partners refuse to get a vasectomy.  These women are left with the burden of responsibility for birth control, because, by the way, most of these men don’t like condoms either.  Consequently, many have to use IUDs or birth control pills, often suffering from unpleasant, and sometimes serious, side-effects.

Okay dudes, women have no choice but to endure messy and often painful periods for about 4 decades of their life, as well as, if they choose, pregnancy, childbirth/C-sections, and breast feeding.  Sometimes they are forced to undergo surgeries for cysts, fibroids and more.  And you can’t get poked just once? 

Tubal ligation is a far more invasive option than a vasectomy, especially since the procedure is now usually done laparoscopically.  And, it really isn’t that bad.  I’ve known lots of men who have had them and none have reported any trauma from the even.  Adam offered to have one after our second child was born and did have it performed when she was 6 months old.  Now he can get just as big a man cold as any other guy, but he did just fine with it.  A bag of frozen peas on his crotch while watching television for a few nights and that was about the extent of it.

So stop whining and make that call!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Canadian Infertility Awareness Week

Infertility is not an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body's ability to perform the basic function of reproduction.

Good morning! I hope you had a nice weekend.  Ours was lovely.  Suddenly we are having summer weather...I'll spare you my whining and complaining about this heat and humidity that usually doesn't arrive for another few weeks...

It is Infertility Awareness Week, and today I am giving a talk on the Surrogacy Journey.  The whole roster of events can be found here.    Thanks to the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada for helping us put together this presentation!

Tonight is also the first meeting of a support group I am running for women who have had multiple miscarriages.  I am so thankful to have the opportunity to do what I do.  I love helping those going through this difficult journey, but there is so much more that needs to be done: greater awareness, more available support; less stigma.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Team Work

Well hello on this drab Friday morning!  The weather is so unpredictable, I can't tell from one day to the next if it is actually going to rain or not because the weather reports are never reliable.  This makes it tough for me to decide whether to ride my bike or take the subway to work.  Having just tuned up my bike, I am reluctant to have it rained on...

Anyhoo, at least its Friday!  I work tomorrow, but then we have dinner plans with friends in the evening.  Sunday Adam is heading to Kingston to give a talk to my mom's synagogue Jewish education group. After my spin class and the girls' Hebrew School, Little A has a playdate and Big A and I are going to check out Christie Pits Park Arts Festival.  The weather is SUPPOSED to be nice.

So, I have already raised over $1,500 for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers funding Princess Margaret Hospital! But my team, the Teal Magnolias, still has a long ways to go. I am so glad to have some awesome women embarking on this journey with me.  Isn't everything better when you can do it as a team?  Well, most things at least.   How about helping us out???  You can make a donation here.  Every tiny bit is appreciated.

Have a healthy, happy weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arty Party

Despite missing out on a romantic anniversary celebration last weekend, we still managed to have a lot of fun.  In particular, on Monday when Little A was finally feeling better and was being less pissy, we managed to have a great time. 

In the morning, we picked up Big A's boyfriend, and took the kids to the playground at their school.  There were other friends of theirs' there too, and we ended up staying for almost 2 hours.  Then we went back to our house for lunch.  Big A and her boyfriend are so cute...they held hands walking back from the park to our house.  Big A said to me, about him, at one point: "He is NOT hard to look at..."  Like where does an 8-year-old learn to talk like that???  Hysterical!

Later on, 3 of Big A's girlfriends, who had been away at Brownie camp the weekend of her birthday party, came for dinner.  I ordered pizza for them and they danced away playing Dance Party on the girls' new Wii.  A few of the parents stuck around when they dropped off the kids, and I convinced one to enjoy a little Prosecco with me, in honour of our anniversary...mine and Adam's that is, because Adam didn't feel like a drink.  While the kids played inside, the adults sat outside on our back deck and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.  After eating, the kids put together a musical performance for us, which the parents were forced asked to watch.  The girls had a great time.

I am also pleased to say, that I took down all the girls' art I painted for them a few years ago, which is now too babyish for them, and I managed to complete 4 new ones to hang in their rooms.  Big A got the modern pieces...



 ...While Little A got the more traditional, kid-art pieces:

I know I'm no artist, but I really enjoy it anyways!

Of course, after a fun weekend, I got payback in spades from Little A who has been insufferable the past few mornings.  I have had to do some silent meditations to get the children to school without completely blowing my fuse.  Please, someone tell me they will be easy teenagers!

Enjoy your Thursday and remember, tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grain-Free Chicken (or Vegan) Biryani

I loved the Chinese Style Not-Fried, Not-Rice recipe I made a few weeks ago, using cauliflower 'rice', that I decided to replicate it using Indian flavours.  It doesn't disappoint!    A little sweetness from the garam masala and mango, creaminess from the yogurt, heat from the cayenne, and richness from the chicken and this made an awesome couple of lunches for me.  If you want to go veggie, just use chickpeas or crumbled tempeh instead of the chicken.

Full of fibre, protein and vitamins, this meal is guaranteed to power you through the day!

Grain-Free Chicken Biryani

1 lb lean ground chicken (or crumbled tempeh)
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup finely diced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbls garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
2 cups peas and diced carrots
1/2 cup plain, gelatin free yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)

2 cauliflowers, pulsed in food processor until consistency of rice

Saute chicken with onion, ginger garlic, vinegar and spices until cooked.  Add peas and carrots and simmer over low heat until cooked through.  Stir in yogurt and cauliflower.  When cauliflower is just tender, remove from heat and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

This recipe was submitted to Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday Link-up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Say "Nu" to NutiLight

Are you a Nutella fan?  I can't say I actually ever have been.  We never had it in our house and even as a kid, there was something about it that just tasted fake to me.  Weird because I love the combo of hazelnut and chocolate.  Not much of a loss though, as Nutella isn't exactly health food.

I love the idea of making a homemade version - there are lots of recipes online - but I don't have a high power blender (one day I hope!), and my food processor could never handle making such a thing.  So I was excited when I found NutiLight online.  A sugar-free hazelnut chocolate spread?  Yes please!  I ordered 3 jars immediately.

Unfortunately, I found this product very disappointing.  It tastes much like regular Nutella (i.e. fake) and I could barely taste the hazelnut at all!  Also, it ain't cheap and even though the jar says it contains like 10 servings, I used half a jar just to make 2 sandwiches.  My nut butter and honey sandwiches are much yummier.  I think I might use this stuff in baking or desserts or just let Big A eat it (she loves it).  Little A doesn't like it either.

I gotta get me a Blendtec or Vitamix so I can make my own hazelnut cocoa spread!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Best Laid Plans...

And here we are on a holiday Monday!

Unfortunately, our date on Saturday to celebrate our anniversary never happened.  Little A got sick on Thursday but I was hopeful she would be better in time.  Not so much.  So much for that!  Her fever is gone, but she still has no appetite and is very mucousy, so Adam is taking her to the doctor today.  I am a bit worried she either has pneumonia again or another ear infection.  Sigh!

I did manage to make us some delicious meals, like Mediterranean pizza last night!  And Big A still got to go to the Lion King musical with my in-laws, and today she is having her lunch date with her boyfriend and her girlfriends over for dinner.  Since our celebration didn't happen Saturday, and today is our actual anniversary, I think I just might crack open a bottle of bubbly!

Enjoy your Victoria Day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Dozen Years...

wedding anniversary funny picture
Not only is it Friday...its the Friday before a long weekend! Oh, and Monday also happens to be our anniversary.  Admittedly, I have spent almost the past whole year thinking we were coming up on our 13th wedding anniversary, but actually, as Adam pointed out the other day, it's only our 12th.  But now he's teasing me that if its our 13th, than I must be another year older.  Yeah, he loves ribbing me about my age since I'm 2 years older than him.

Seriously though, I am really lucky.  Adam is my best friend.  I am so grateful I met him when I did...back when I was just 25!  To have to go through life alone is really tough.  I see this with my single clients who are opting to have a baby on their own, as they feel they have no other choice, and with my clients freezing their eggs because they are single and worry that time is running out, but are not yet ready to have a baby on their own.  As heartbreaking and difficult as infertility is, as long as you have enough money and are open to all available options (egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, gestational carrier, etc.), you can have a child, but you can't make a suitable life partner happen.  In fact, in my opinion, being with the wrong person is worse than being alone!

So yes, I am very fortunate to have such a great, supportive husband and I am really looking forward to this weekend.  Friday and Saturday I work, but then the girls are sleeping at Adam's parents' place Saturday night, so we have a date night.  Sunday we will find something fun to do as a family, and Monday Big A has a lunch date with her boyfriend and then a few girlfriends coming for dinner (who could not attend her party last weekend because of Brownie Camp).  Aside from some chance of rain, the weather report looks pretty good, so it should be great.

Have a happy, healthy long weekend!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Sole Story: Vionic Shoe Review

Happy feet are important.  I love cute shoes, but for me, they are not worth it if they aren't comfortable.  I envy women who can where whatever shoes they want without much thought, but I am not that woman!

First of all, there has to be some practicality to footwear for me.  If I can't chase after my children, run for the bus, etc. then forget it.  Special occasions are the only time I'll break this rule, but even then they have to be comfortable. At our wedding, my shoes came off right after the ceremony and didn't make it back on for the rest of the night.  I could have cared less that my dress dragged on the ground.  Those nasty buggers pinched like all get out.

The other reason I have such limited shoe options is that I have really bad feet.  My circulation is bad (which is odd for a very fit person), and although my doctor is not concerned about it (although the podiatrist a few years ago just told me to avoid walking outdoors all winter long...right!), it means warmth is key in the colder months.  I also have very sensitive skin so straps and things often cause chaffing and blisters.  I have a bunion on the outside of my left foot creates problems with fit, and my gait, walk and biomechanics are basically messed up (I have over $1,000 worth of orthotics that failed to help!), so I have to wear shoes with adequate support if I want to avoid pain.  And forget about squeezing my feet into narrow, pointy-toed stilettos! That's just a recipe for disaster.

Summer is often the worst time of year for me, foot-wise, because finding sandals I can wear without socks that don't create blisters, chaffing or pain is really challenging...especially when trying to find shoes that are appropriate for work.  So when Vionic offered to let me try a pair of their shoes, I, of course, said, "Absolutely!"

I sure am glad I did.  I got the Catarina model in bronze.  They are rather elegant looking for such comfortable shoes, and I can tell they are good for my feet.  They are supportive but light and well cushioned.  What a treat for my feet!!  I am so thrilled I have a pair of shoes that look stylish enough for the office this summer, but also allow me the freedom to walk with comfort.  That is not a small feet...I mean feat.

Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any boot or fall/winter shoes available yet, but if they come out, you can bet I will checking them out.

If you think my #solestory is worthy, vote for me here!

Solo GI Energy Bars: Product Review

Chocolate Charger (box of 12)

I was recently sent some Solo GI Energy Bars to try.  The whole family was exited, and when I opened the package, it took mere seconds for the kids to decide they were keeping them all for themselves.  Its not the first time I don't get to sample, but since were 5 bars, one of each flavour, I did insist they let Adam, at least, have one.

The idea behind these gluten-free bars, is that they provide a lower GI response compared to many other snacks and bars because of the protein and added fibres.  So when I read the ingredient list, I was both puzzled and disappointed.  The bars contain quite a bit of added sugar!  In fact, the 50g Dark Chocolate Orange flavour, for example, contains 20 grams of sugar!!

I find it really weird that they would add sugar.  Why not at least coconut sugar, which is lower on the GI than regular sugar?  Or xylitol or erythritol, which unlike the other alcohol sugars, are safe and do not cause stomach upset?  What about stevia?  There are so many better options out there, that I really fail to understand this product.  Oh, and the derived fibres they add are not proven to have the same health benefits as natural sources of fibre. 

So from a health and nutrition perspective, I give these a thumbs down.

What about taste?

Well, that's where these guys get bonus points.  Adam ate the Chocolate Covered Peanut flavour and he thought it was yummy...and he is very picky about bars.  The girls adored all the flavours, but agreed the Dark Chocolate Orange and Chocolate Charger flavours were their favorite.  The lemon one was also a hit as they said it taste like lemon candy.

So are these a better option than a candy bar?  I suppose so, but I would definitely stop short of calling these healthy.

Disclaimer: I was sent these complimentary bars by the company, but all opinions on this blog are my own (and those of my family).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sun Warrier Noodle Bowl

I can't say I love sunflower seeds...I don't mind them at all, but I don't feel they have a whole lot of flavour. Sunflower seed butter, on the other hand, is awesome!  This is such an amazingly yummy and flavourful dish.  I also make it with brown rice instead of noodles.  I usually use ground chicken but you can keep it vegan by substituting crumbled tempeh or tofu, if you like.

Sun Warrier Noodle Bowl


1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1/2 tsp salt
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste

Stir Fry

1 lb lean ground chicken (or tofu or crumbled tempeh)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
1 broccoli, cut into florets
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
6 cups mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 bunch green onions, sliced

1 lb brown rice fettuccini, broken in half, cooked al dente

Whisk together ingredients for sauce in a large bowl and set aside.  Brown chicken in large skillet, wok or pan with garlic and ginger.  Add broccoli and cook until tender crisp.  Add peppers and mushrooms and stir fry until desired doneness.  Pour in sauce and toss well.  Use additional water if sauce is too thick.  Add cooked noodles and onions and toss again.  Turn heat down to low and cook a few more minutes.  Serves 4-6.

I have shared this recipe with Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday Link-Up for this week.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Diet Fix: Book Review


 Good Monday morning!  It's a hot and sunny one here.  How was your weekend?  Ours was loads of fun.  My mom was visiting, Big A had her birthday party on Saturday, Little A had 2 back-to-back birthday parties to attend, and yesterday was Mother's Day.  Adam treated me to my annual shopping spree (yes, I do have the best husband) and then we had dinner at my in-laws.

Today I have a great book to tell you about!

One of the goals of this blog is to provide clear health information.  It annoys me to no end how poorly the media conveys (and confuses) research data to the public.  If you don't understand how to interpret/critique research and/or identify credible information sources, it is easy to be misled by all the messages you see and hear.

But it's not just the media that is to blame.  I am often flabbergasted by the inaccurate information spewed by many supposed health professionals.  My philosophy is, recommendations should be evidence based.  If there is no proof, how can you make a claim about cause and effect?  If you stick with the proven facts about nutrition, the message is always the same and can be basically boiled down to Michael Pollen's advice: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  The one thing that complicates this message, however, is that most North Americans don't know what food is.  That's because we live in a toxic food environment where the most affordable, readily available products is merely highly processed garbage with no nutritional value.

There is no evidence that eating gluten-free, low-carb, Paleo, alkaline, etc., etc. will necessarily make you thinner and/or healthier, however, these fad diets continue to emerge and catch on like wild fire with enthusiasts claiming that they are the key to solving the obesity epidemic.  Yet, as a society, we just continue to get fatter and sicker.

I have long been a reader of Weighty Matters, the blog written by obesity expert, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff.  He is one health professional who really seems to 'get it'.  He understands how to interpret research data and to present the information in a clear way that anyone can understand.  As a physician who's practice is dedicated to helping patients lose weight, he also shows incredible empathy towards those struggling to lose weight.  While he acknowledges the role of personal responsibility, he also understands how difficult it is for most people to lose weight because of the misinformation and myths about weight loss, the stigma of being overweight, and the challenges of living in an obesogenic environment.  So when I heard he was publishing book called The Diet Fix, I immediately pre-ordered it from Amazon.

If you are someone who has long struggled with your weight, I suggest you pick up this book!   I have already recommended it to all my weight-loss clients whom I counsel.

First, Freedhoff describe's Dieting's Seven Deadly Sins:
1. Hunger - Whatever diet you are on, if you are always hungry, you are not going to stick with your eating plan.
2. Sacrifice - If you feel constantly deprived, you will not stick with your eating plan.
3. Willpower - An inappropriate/too restrictive diet cannot be mastered by just mustering up more willpower.  Willpower is finite for each and every one of us.
4. Blind restriction - Completely eliminating a food or food group sets most people up for failure.
5. Sweat - Trying to adopt too extreme a workout routine does not encourage adherence.
6. Perfectionism - Making perfection the goal sets you up for failure.  Flexibility, rather than black-and-white thinking is most useful when it comes to your diet.
7. Denial - Overly restrictive diets are almost impossible for most people to maintain long-term.

Freedhoff also examines some of the trauma associated with repeatedly failing at diets (guilt, shame, failure, depression, despair, binge eating, and weight cycling) and suggests that if you cannot stick to a prescribed diet, than you should view the diet as the problem, not internalize it as a sign of personal deficiency.

The book also outlines a 10-Day Reset plan, with the goal of adjusting your relationship with food and your body.  It involves a particular task or focus each day:

1. Gear Up - get the necessary resources for your new outlook/lifestyle
2. Diarize - Learn how to write a food diary and start doing it every single day
3. Banish Hunger - Discover how to plan your meals so that you don't ever become too hungry (we are all programmed to seek out high calorie food when our body perceives we are in a period of famine!)
4. Cook - Cooking is a life skill everyone should can save money and tons of calories!!
5. Think - Practice self-compassion and stop striving for perfection
6. Exercise - Find an activity you enjoy and can stick with (consistency is the most important variable at the end of the day)
7. Indulge - Learn how to incorporate splurges into your life without going to extremes
8. Eat Out - Become an informed consumer so you know how to go out to restaurants and enjoy yourself without mindlessly consuming excess calories, salt and fat
9. Set Goals - Explore the best way to set realistic, achievable weight and health goals
10. Trouble Shoot and Move Forward - Be patient, expect and accept setbacks without judgement.

Freedhoff provides a great deal of detail on how to accomplish each daily task.  I was thrilled to read the section on diarizing because that is the habit I struggle most to get my clients to do.  In most cases, they say it is a pain, too time consuming, or are fearful of the shame they will feel by being forced to see a record of their food consumption.  Freedhoff explains how to make diarizing a simple task that takes no more than 5 minutes a day, and reminds people to try and complete the exercise without judgement.

So which diet or way of eating does Freedhoff recommend?  The healthiest one you can enjoy, maintain long-term and that allows you to remain at a healthy weight. Exactly what I tell my clients!He is not against or in support of any fad diet, in particular.  He does seem to like the Paleo diet, since it is centred around whole foods, rather than processed and fast foods.  Herein lies the only place where I disagree with Freedhoff.  He feels there is not sufficient evidence that saturated fat is harmful, but I believe there is.  The May 2014 issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, explains the methodological flaws in a recent study that had the authors' concluding that saturated fats do not increase disease risk.  At the very least, if you want to do the whole low-carb or Paleo thing, I would stick with fish, poultry and eggs over red meat (and of course avoid cured and processed meats!!).

Freedhoff includes a section covering other factors that can affect weight, such as sleep, health conditions and certain medications, and one that is filled with yummy, nutritious recipes.  The final section compiles resources to help you reach your health goals.

Overall, this book is a must for anyone who either struggles with their weight, or has developed a dysfunctional relationship with mood (although this is not meant to substitute treatment for individuals with clinical eating disorders).  It is also a good resource for anyone, like myself, who supports people trying to lose weight in a professional capacity.  Nice work Dr. Freedhoff!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Birthdays and Battlegrounds

Breakfast this morning was a vodka valium smoothie.

Okay, I'm kidding, but I could have used it!  The girls had a knock-em-down-drag-em-out fight involving gum and birthday hats and badges.  Basically, Big A promised Little A 2 pieces of gum if she could wear the birthday hat and badge Little A got for her birthday a few weeks ago.  But then Big A gave Little A 2 pieces of a piece of gum (clearly this kid is going to be a capitalist or a politician!).  Little A was outraged and so began a whole lot of screaming, crying and fighting. Oy!

Although I have taken the day off from work tomorrow, I'm not expecting this to be a relaxing weekend.  Tomorrow my mom comes for a stayover on the way back from her trip to NYC to see family.  In the afternoon, Little A has 2 back-to-back birthday parties for friends while we host Big A's party.  Again, I am so glad we are holding it at Amazon, because our experience with Little A's party there was absolutely fantastic! 

Sunday is Mother's Day, and like always, Adam is treating me to a shopping spree at Yorkdale Mall.  Then we have dinner at my in-laws.

What are you doing for Mother's Day?  Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tiny Bubbles


I have been wanting a Sodastream for ages.  I love the palate-cleansing effect of carbonated water, but don't like the cost and waste of buying bottles and cans of club soda (seltzer for you Americans).  I also don't want the girls drinking pop (soda for you Americans).  Adam has a bit of a Diet Coke habit, I am also hoping to help him replace it with a healthier option.  So when Adam asked what I wanted for an anniversary gift this year (our 13th is on May 19th!), I knew the answer immediately.

After doing some research, I ordered one from Kitchen Stuff Plus, and it arrived just a few days later.

OMG, I love it!  It is so simply and it cuts down on cost and is super eco-friendly.  It doesn't even use electricity!

I have been using it everyday and simply experimenting with different combinations of teas and flavoured stevia drops.  Of course, it is also great with just a squeeze of lemon or lime, but I am trying to limit exposing my already worn tooth enamel from too much acid.

So far, my favourites are, cherry vanilla stevia, vanilla chai tea with a few drops of English toffee stevia, and green tea with lemon stevia.  Mmm, so good!

The only thing that I haven't been able to do is figure out a good substitution for Adam's cola.  We bought a bottle of the flavouring mix, but he doesn't love the taste, and it's pretty much just as unhealthy as regular diet cola you buy.  Its not the cola taste that Adam is so keen for anyways, but he uses cola as a source of caffeine.  Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out how one would add caffeine to a liquid.  So I'm still working on that.

Seriously, there are so many ways to create, yummy, healthier sodas using these machines, its time to give up the crap you buy and make it homemade!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free & Vegan)

When it comes to sweets, my tastes run towards the very simple.  Chocolate.  Spicy stuff (gingerbread, carrot cake, etc.).  My favorite treat of all time is oatmeal raisin cookies.  Forget chocolate chip, its the crispy, chewy, cinnamon-y oatmeal raisin that is the cookie star in my book.  So that was the inspiration for this granola. 

With milk or sprinkled onto yogurt, this stuff is pure heaven.  I added golden berries, simply because, they kinda look like raisins and I was eager to try them (bonus that they are also super healthy!). The Snapz were added to provide a little crunchy contrast to the chewy fruit, but you could always throw in nuts instead.  Believe me, your house will smell divine after baking up this granola.  This isn't going to last long around here...the girls love it and so does my mom, who's noshed on it during her visit here recently.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free & Vegan)

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup granular stevia (or 4 droppers full of vanilla stevia liquid)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

5 cups large flake oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
4 cups puffed millet
1 cup millet (uncooked)

100g golden berries (optional)
2 13g bags Snapz Crunchy Raisins (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (increase to 3/4 cup if not using golden berries and Snapz)
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired

Melt oil over medium heat.  Add the apple sauce, stevia, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and turn heat down to low.  Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat. 

Combine dry ingredients in a very large bowl.  Pour wet ingredients over top and stir until well combined.  Spread evenly onto 2 large, parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.  Stir granola and then switch pans (bottom to top, top to bottom), and bake for another 10 minutes.  Stir both again and return to oven.  Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes.  Switch position of pans again and let sit in oven for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Pour into airtight container and toss with fruit (and nuts, if using).  Keeps for up to 3 months.

I have shared this recipe to the Plant Based Potluck Link Up at Urban Naturale, the Saturday Night Fever Link Up and Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mmm Mclean Turkey Bacon...


Bacon still seems to be all the rage these days, turning up in everything from cocktails to cupcakes.

Of course I think this is disgusting and ridiculous.  Probably one of the worst things for your health that you can eat is cured and processed meats.  Why?  The nitrites they are preserved with.  And don't let 'cultured celery extract' on the ingredient list fool you, that's just a 'naturally' derived nitrite that experts say may be just as harmful.

That being said, I do think bacon is tasty.  Not tasty enough to eat often, if at all, but I love the idea of a healthier substitution.  Unfortunately, all the supposedly healthier options I've found still have nitrites in them.  Until now.

I recently found Mclean brand turkey bacon at Fiesta Farms and was impressed by the ingredient list: Short, readable, with no nitrites!  I picked up a pack and threw a few slices into some wraps I made Adam and I for dinner the other night.  Yum!  It is fully cooked so it doesn't get crispy like traditional pork bacon, but it has a really nice smokiness.

Here is what they say about their ingredients:

There are too many products on store shelves with unhealthy, artificial or chemical ingredients like nitrites, phosphates, dyes, extracts, and bulkers and fillers made from soy, corn or wheat.
McLean Meats products are made using just meat, salt, sugar and spices. We only use ingredients you can recognize, trust, and pronounce. And where possible, we always choose the raw or less processed option in a recipe.
  • Beef: The beef we use comes from family-run farms in Canada and the United States, where the cattle are raised outdoors and enjoy a combined diet of grass and vegetarian grains. The animals are never fed any animal by-products and are never given growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • Pork: More than 90% of our pork comes from farms in Quebec and the Maritimes, where the hogs are raised in large open spaces with room to socialize, groom and bed. They enjoy a vegetable grain diet and are never administered growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • Poultry: Our turkeys and chickens are raised on family-owned and operated farms with large custom-built barns that provide fresh air and sunlight creating a low-stress environment with lots of room to roam, socialize and nest. Our birds are never raised in pens and never receive growth hormones.
  • Salt: We use only sea salt, which contains valuable trace minerals instead of regular table salt which is processed using high heat that strips away the good minerals.
  • Sugar: We use minimally processed raw cane sugar instead of regular sugar, which contains more additives and is bleached white using sulphur dioxide.
  • Protein: Our products are generally higher in protein than most leading brands, providing better food value.
  • Fat: We only use lean cuts of meat and strive to keep fat levels down wherever possible. Most of our products have less than four grams of fat per serving.
  • Spices: Each recipe we use has a custom spice blend that adheres to strict food safety and allergen controls. We only purchase spice blends from companies that demonstrate accredited and certified Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Food Security and Allergen Controls. Spice suppliers must also demonstrate that they don’t use irradiated spices or ingredients from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Our ultimate goal is to only use spices that are certified organic.
  • Allergens: Our products and spice blends contain no common allergens like dairy, soy, MSG or gluten.
  • We do not use phosphates, nitrites, binders, colourants, bulkers, celery extract or other chemical preservatives or additives in any of our products.
So if you are lucky enough to live near Fiesta Farms, I urge you to grab a pack!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fitness Weight Training: Book Review

Fitness Weight Training-3rd Edition

Good Monday morning!  How was your weekend?  Ours was lovely.  We had some excitement too: Little A got her first visit from the tooth fairy.  She is absolutely thrilled despite the blood, sweat and tears involved in losing this first baby tooth. Ha!

So, in case I never mentioned it before...workout out is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Based on my own experiences, and the research I've done, I am more and more convinced that strength training is one of the best forms of exercise for both health and appearance.

I won't bore you with the myriad of health benefits involved, sadly, most people are not motivated by those.  But most people like the idea of looking ripped (i.e. having muscle definition and minimal body fat).  Well my friends, I am here to tell you that strength training is one of the best ways to get that body.

The problem for many, particularly women, is that strength training seems intimidating.  Don't be scared.  Really.  Even if you've never picked up a dumbbell, its never too late to start.

Fitness Weight Training, by Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle, is a great reference for those looking to start a strength training program.  If you are not someone who enjoys reading how-tos, this book might not be for you, but it really does provide everything you need to know to start strength training, and knowledge is important because this one activity that can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.

In Part I, the authors explain how weight training improves fitness and describes all purpose of all the equipment and how to use it.  They provide a guide for assessing your current level of fitness, and how to design your fitness program.  There is a guide for how to choose appropriate training loads, and numbers of sets and repetitions.  Based on your experience and fitness level, you can then choose from a series of fitness programs, based on your goals (toning, body shaping, and strength), which are colour-coded by their level of difficulty/intensity.

There is a chapter describing proper versus improper postures, grips, etc.  Technique is absolutely key in strength training, both for safety and efficacy.  So if you plan to teach yourself the art of strength training, you need to know this stuff!

This book devotes an entire section to describing how to perform the most common exercises, complete with photos.  Again, this is important for anyone inexperienced planning to begin a training program on their own.

Another section lays out a variety of sample training programs based on your goals and level of difficulty, and offers guidelines for designing your own program.  The authors also include a section on how to integrate your weight training in with whatever cardiovascular activities you do.

Overall, this book contains a wealth of information and is a great pick for anyone interested in incorporating weight training into their life to improve their health and fitness.  So if your excuse is always you don't have money for a gym membership or personal trainer, suck it up.  Just buy the book and some weights and resistance bands and you'll be on your way!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Please Help Me Fight Women's Cancers!!


It's Friday!  Yahoo!!  But I'm working tonight and tomorrow, so maybe at least Sunday will be relaxing...

I have already started my fundraising efforts for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers in September.  I would be so very grateful dear readers, if you would help me...every little bit helps!!!  You can make a donation of any size right here.

While great advances have been made in detecting and treating breast cancers, there are still a long ways to go with many of the reproductive women's cancers such as ovarian cancer. If you are a woman or love a woman, that is reason alone to join this fight!

Have a lovely, healthy weekend friends.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

Its another wet, grey day.  Blech!  How about some sunshine filled muffins to warm you up?

I baked these for the grown-ups at Little A's birthday party, just in case they wanted something besides pizza and ice cream cake.  The place also had veggie and fruit trays, which was fabulous.  And I brought a batch of my Passover chocolate chip cookie squares, for those observing.

Pineapple Carrot Muffins

1 lb organic carrots, finely grated
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup granular stevia or xylitol
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups whole spelt flour
2 tbls coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Optional: raisins, walnuts, etc.

Whisk together eggs, oil, sweetener and vanilla in a large bowl.  Stir in carrots and pineapple.  Stir together dry ingredients in a measuring cup or smaller bowl and then add to wet.  Mix just until combined.  Spoon batter into greased, non-stick muffin tins and bake at 375F for 20-22 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and move to wire rack to continue cooling.  Makes 18 muffins.  Keep in airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze.