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Monday, March 31, 2014

Squabbles

#parenting #humor Not sure why this was so funny, but I laughed so hard!
I think it is FINALLY spring around here!  It is a beautiful, warm sunny start to the week.  How was your weekend?  Ours was great except for the civil war that occurred.

The biggest challenge in this house is dealing with the girls' fighting.  Screaming, yelling, door slamming, crying.  It is so constant and so completely absurd (the two of them would fight over a who gets to eat a dead mouse if it was the only thing to fight about), that it makes me absolutely crazy.

I've tried ignoring it, getting them to settle things themselves, and all the other strategies the experts recommend, but nothing seems to help.  I always tell my parents about their squabbling and this past weekend they got to witness it.  Now they know I am not at all exaggerating!  As my father pointed out, their fighting was the only blight on what was otherwise a lovely family weekend.

I worked Friday evening and Saturday morning and my parents arrived on Saturday around lunch time.  Later that afternoon Big A's boyfriend came for a playdate and then my brother and his family came over for dinner.  Yesterday, I taught spin while the girls were at Hebrew School, then all of us (except my dad, because of his still limited mobility due to his hip operation) walked up to Wychwood Barns for a vintage clothes sale.  I would never have thought to go to such a thing but it was actually really fun.  My mom bought us all some jewellery including a really nice pair of earrings for me, and each of the girls a clip-on pair for dress-up.  I realized (13 years too late) that it is the perfect place to go to find a great deal on a wedding dress!

The girls had their squabbles here and there, but yesterday evening it really escalated.  My mom had brought a DVD of Mary Poppins, because the girls hadn't ever seen it.  They insist - despite their being plenty of seating in our living room - to squeeze together as close as possible on the same couch in the same spot all the time.  This leads to constant battles and this is exactly what happened.  Unable to solve the problem themselves, Adam ordered both of them off of the favoured couch.  Then they started fighting over the throw cushions on the other couch.  So Adam took them all away.  Then Big A just started trying to antagonize Little A, at which point Adam ordered her up to her room and she was forced to miss the end of the movie.  The whole thing was ridiculous...as are most of their battles.

I recently caught a segment on CityLine with Nanny Robina who was talking about a "Consequence Jar" where you write down random, age-appropriate consequences on individual pieces of paper, and each time your child misbehaves, they have to take one out (and then return it).  I am going to make one for each of them, only its going to be challenging to come up with consequences that they actually care about.  Television is one of the few privileges they value.  I've come to realize that taking away the Ipod or Ipad, doesn't upset them that much.  Taking away Pink Bear will work with Little A, but then I am also going to use Nanny Robina's idea of having some of the consequences be doing nice things for others, or chores.  I love that!  If the consequence jar doesn't work, I may just get ear plugs and lock myself in my own room whenever one of these battles erupt.

Have a lovely Monday!

Friday, March 28, 2014

And the Tides Shift Again...

I'm not giving the kids a time out.

I'm giving myself one.
The thought of sitting
in a corner & being
ignored sounds just
heavenly.

Before I left for New York, Big A and I were at each other's throats.  We'd both had enough of each other.  She was being defiant and utterly rude and obnoxious so even when I was trying to get along with her, she was goading me into fights.  It was making me nuts!  Well, as she said, we did need a break from each other, and actually we have been getting along much better since I got back from my trip.

Little A, however, is another story.  Now she can never be described as an 'easy' child, but she has been so outrageously difficult this week, Adam and I even began to suspect she was coming down with something.  She has been having major fits, often because she has made completely unreasonable demands that I refuse to meet, or because Adam is not around (maybe she got too used to having him around last week?).  But sometimes the fits are triggered by things so ridiculous, I am left seriously wondering if this child has suffered a brain injury.  One morning it was because Big A choose to wear her Flipeez hat, and Little A felt that she shouldn't be allowed to wear it on a day when she is wearing hers.  Three days this week, I delivered her shrieking to her classroom.  I was that parent with that kid...it was mortifying!

I have tried to get her to divulge what's going on and asked if something is wrong at school, daycare or elsewhere, or if she isn't feeling good.  But she has denied that anything is the matter.  Yesterday morning she woke up and immediately started having a fit because Adam wasn't around (he is never home when they get up in the morning, so it was no different than any other day!).  Talking to Adam on the phone calmed her down temporarily, but soon after that, she continued to be set off by the most inane things and by the time we walked to school (Little A shrieking and screaming at me the whole way) I was doing some deep breathing exercises to keep myself from completely losing it.

So you better believe I am glad its Friday!

Already the pendulum seems to be shifting back again.  Little A woke up in a sweet, delightful mood, and Big A is being completely obnoxious and disrespectful.  I seriously can't even imagine what things are going to be like when the girls are teenagers.  Man, one day at a time...

My parents are coming to visit this weekend for the first time since my dad's hip surgery in November.  He is finally out of a wheelchair and walking some.  It should be a nice family get-together, I just hope Little A has settled down.

Have a healthy and happy one, and remember...time outs are not just for kids!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

4-Ingredient Blueberry Muffin Protein Bites


Lately, I have been very bad about writing down my new recipes right away, and, consequently, have been forgetting them before I get a chance to do so.  Ohh I hate that!  So this one I got down right away.  And yes, I realize that's what I should always do.  But who said I always do what I should?  Hmm, could that be where the girls get that trait from?  No, of course not, they must get that from Adam.

These are super simple to make and delicious.  My intent was to make a healthy, high protein snack to have around, and one without nuts, so that they could be packed into the girls lunches.  I am thrilled to say that the girls love these, so they are definitely a success in my book.

If you can't find or don't like dried blueberries, you could add cranberries or another dried fruit, or sugar-free chocolate chips, if you prefer.  Make sure you use a protein powder that tastes good!

4-Ingredient Blueberry Muffin Protein Bites

1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup vegan, stevia-sweetened vanilla protein powder
1 cup oat flour (gluten-free, if necessary)
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Pulse together oil, protein powder and oat flour in food processor until well combined.  Stir in blueberries.  Roll into small balls and refrigerate until firm.  Keep for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.  Makes 18 balls.

This recipe has been submitted to Gluten-Free Friday, Weekend Wellness and Urban Naturale's link-ups.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seabuck Wonders Take 2: Product Reviews

Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil
After my very positive experience with the products sent to me by Seabuck Wonders, I enthusiastically agreed to try some of their other items when they asked me to do another review recently.

This time, I was sent their facial serum, and the Sea Buckthorn seed oil softgels.

I always try to take an omega-3 fat supplement, but recently I have been having a really bad reaction to fish oil pills: serious fish burps!  The capsules they sent are the perfect solution.  They are smaller, easier to swallow than fish oil pills, and NO FISH BURPS! I also love that they are organic.

Here is some additional info on these softgels:

High content of Omega 3, 6, 9, vitamins A and E, and numerous nutrients, including unsaturated fatty acids and minerals, makes this product very unique. The synergistic effect, like that of all seeds of plants, is extremely regenerating and potent. Whether you want to maintain or improve your health, if your target is your immune system, heart, brain, liver, skin or white blood cell count, it will work for you. The abundance of strong antioxidants and other bioactive factors may provide essential protection against hostile elements such as free radicals.
  • Powerful antioxidant and immune support
  • Cardiovascular and liver health
  • Healthy inflammation response
  • USDA Certified Organic*
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Super Critical Extract
  • Hexane-Free
  • Kosher Certified
  • For both internal and external use
  • Available in 1 fl. oz. (30ml) and 60 softgels / 500mg each
I was super excited to try the serum too!  I have been dying to buy a serum to help with my, um, not-so-fine lines and irregular complexion, but given how sensitive my skin is, I've been hesitant to invest in any of these expensive products in case I get a bad reaction.



Seabuck Wonders serum is obviously gentle, because I have had great results and no allergic reactions.  Like the body lotion, it is naturally scented with orange oil, but it is very subtle.  It is not at all heavy or oily, in fact, given how dry my skin is, I still use a moisturizer, but it may be enough on it's own for someone with less dry skin.

Here is more info on the serum:

Infused with a potent blend of Omega 3, 6, 9, and the rare Omega-7, SeabuckWonders’ Deep Hydrating Serum will not only moisturize skin, but also improve texture and tone.
Sea Buckthorn Deep Hydrating Serum nourishes and supports cell regeneration to minimize fine lines and help maintain a youthful, healthy glow. This serum is ideal for all skin types and is highly effective, yet it will not leave your skin oily or irritated. Deep Hydrating Serum is an important part of your everyday skincare routine and will leave you with smooth, radiant skin.
  • Replenishes and rejuvenates
  • Supports collagen production
  • Helps maintain skin’s moisture balance
  • Made with certified organic Sea Buckthorn
  • Vegan; Non-GMO
  • Paraben-free; Leaping Bunny Cruelty-free
  • Dairy-free, Wheat-free and Gluten-free
  • Naturally scented with essential orange oil
  • For all skin types
  • 1 fl. oz. (30ml)
Ingredients: Deionized Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Betaine, Algae Extract, Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris) Extract, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Phenoxyethanol, Sclerotium Gum, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Phytate, Ethylhexylglycerin.

For more information on their full line or to purchase their products, visit their website.

Disclosure: Seabuck Wonders provided me with complimentary products, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Athlete's Cookbook: Book Review


When I was asked to review The Athlete's Cookbook, I agreed, but kinda figured it would be pretty unexciting...I expected it would be a meal plan and recipe book similar to what is often included in the DVD fitness programs like P90x, etc.

In fact, it does something a little different and unique: it tailors meal plans depending on your specific fitness goals: endurance, fat loss or strength building.  I have to admit, the book arrived at the perfect time.

Now, as I've said before, I have always had an unusually large appetite, especially considering my diminutive size (something I get teased about a lot), but for the past 2 months, even the usual massive amount of food has been leaving me with a gnawing hunger.  Even I have been astounded by my appetite.  It's been so significant, that I was actually starting to worry maybe I had some sort of parasite.  It finally hit me though: its the weight lifting! 

In September I rejigged my fitness routine to include less cardio and more strength training.  It never dawned on me to rejig my diet to go with it.  I know when you lift you need protein, but I figured I was getting enough.  When I did figure out that it was my workouts fueling this crazy hunger, I added more fat thinking that was what was lacking (I've been going through the tahini like you wouldn't believe!).  But according to the book, this wasn't the right strategy...and since I'm still starving all the time, I believe it.  The guidelines in the book suggest that I need to redistribute my protein consumption so I am eating more early in the day, since I do my workouts first thing in the morning.  Aha!

The book starts with a section on Eating for Performance, but really, even if you are not an athlete...or even particularly active, you can benefit from following their advice.  I love that the recommendations are evidence based, and not just following the latest low-carb, Paleo, gluten-free trendy nonsense.

This first section give you Top 10s for each macro: carbs, proteins, and fats.  They also have a Top 10 fat burning foods list, which, in my opinion, is iffy.  I think the research evidence is thinner on this side of things.  Fortunately, its all good food you should eat anyways (except the lean meat, seafood and dairy if you are vegetarian or vegan).

The next section: Eating Protocols, deals with food timing, pre and post exercise nutrition and hydration.

The Goals of the Meal Plan includes goals and strategies for each type of training, as well as optimal meal timing, and how to structure you meals and snacks based on macros.  They also provide meal timing options for both training and non-training days.

The book also provides some meal plans, based on your goals, using the featured recipes.  There is a lot of variety and lots of yummy options.  Of course, if you don't like to cook, this will not be the book for you.  But, frankly, I strongly believe everyone should be cooking the majority of their meals from scratch, so if you aren't, that would be a good place to start if you want to improve your health.

The final part of the book is the recipes.  There are recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks and desserts.  Most look nutritious and tasty, but I do have a few criticisms.  First, they don't specify to use whole grain pastas, etc., and in my experience folks won't take the initiative to do so unless a recipe calls for it.  No one, even an athlete needs the blood sugar spike and empty calories of refined carbs.  Also, they liberally use honey in the recipes as a sweetener.  While honey is less processed than white sugar, it has the same effect on your blood sugar, and is just as full of empty calories.  I would like to see them use stevia or another natural sweetener that does not affect blood sugar.

Finally, there is an appendix with cooking tips, volume and weight conversions.

Overall, this book may be very helpful for you if you want to know how to optimize your fitness and health goals.  I would, however, modify the ingredients in some of the recipes as noted above.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The View from NYC

Good Monday morning!

My little jaunt to NYC last week was just what I needed.  I never get sick of that wonderful city.  The history, the energy, the food, the friendly people...

The trip in was a little nuts.  It was St Patrick's Day.  Adam warned me it might not be the best day to travel, but I said, "It's just St Patrick's Day, its not like its some major holiday or something!"  Hehe, I was so wrong!  Between getting off the plane and getting to my hotel, it was 3 hours!  That's mostly thanks to closed off streets in Manhattan for parades, performances and crowds of drunken revelers wearing green.  Even the airport shuttle driver was dressed up and, frankly, he was so short and squat he really did look like an Irish leprechaun...with a German accent.  It's a miracle I didn't barf because he drove like a complete maniac and some of the other passengers brought in fast food to eat, which stank up the whole vehicle.  Gag!

Fortunately, things went smoothly after that.  I was in a suite hotel so I could make my breakfasts and lunches in my room.  I was lucky enough to find the Fairway grocery market, which is FANTASTIC!!!  Oh my, I think I may stay in this hotel (The Marmara Manhattan) again, just so I have an excuse to visit Fairway.  I was in absolute gourmet/healthy food heaven!!  And the prices were relatively reasonable too.

I was thrilled to find natural maple extract, something I have not been able to find in Canada for years.  Makes sense since we are the friggin' biggest producers of maple syrup for goodness sakes!!  I picked up 2 bottles, plus a bar of Lily's stevia sweetened chocolate for each of the girls.


Upper East Side, Manhattan, NY

After my 3 hour trek to the hotel, I was pretty wiped, so I just got food, and hung out at the hotel and had an early night.  If that sounds boring, than you are clearly not the parent of 2 young children.  It was glorious.

Tuesday I went to see my Grandma Ruth, Uncle Ed, cousins Elyse and Martin visiting from Albany, and their son, David, visiting from Chicago (where he's doing a medical residency!).  We hung out with my grandma, who was mostly sleepy the whole time, and then went out for lunch at a quintessential New York diner.  The kind we don't have too many of in Canada.  We're not really a diner culture...

Later, I went to see a movie (another treat I only ever seem to do when I travel).  I wanted to see Monument Men, but it wasn't playing at the right time, so I saw The Single Mom's Club by Tyler Perry.  It was okay...a few funny moments.

Wednesday I went to see my grandma and we had a great visit.  She slept for the first half hour but then got up for lunch and was very alert.  She introduced me to everyone as her granddaughter, which is good because on past visits she sometimes calls me her niece.  She invited me to sit on the sofa with her in the hallway of the nursing home with her after lunch and is still feisty enough to make biting remarks about people's behinds as they passed.  Not that I condone that, of course, but its somewhat comforting to know that part of her is still in there somewhere.

After I left my grandma, I took the subway down to the Jewish Heritage Museum


I enjoyed it, but I think after seeing the one in Washington, D.C., its hard for anything else to compare.  It does have a lovely contemplation room overlooking the water where you can see the Statue of Liberty.

Then I walked up to Tribeca.  I went past the 9/11 memorial and thought about visiting, but it was absolutely crazy with long line ups and, to be honest, I was hungry and getting food was my priority, so I saved it for a future visit.  Eventually I made my way back to the hotel and ran myself a hot bubble bath (again, a total rare treat for any parent!).  I made dinner and put myself to bed for my last night in the city.

Thursday I didn't have time to do much besides walk around the corner to find little gifts for the girls, before the shuttle came to pick me up.  As sad as it always is to leave, it's also nice to know that no matter how many times I return, there will always be more to see and do.  What an amazing city!




Friday, March 14, 2014

MY March Break


Guess where I'm going next week???  Did the picture give it away?

Yay, I'm off to my favorite city!  And this little vacation couldn't come fast enough.

Adam has been away this week for work and its been a bit trying.  Every night he's been away, Little A has a big "I want daddy" fit before bed, which means she is NOT going to sleep and she is keeping Big A awake, which means long after the time I'd hoped not to see their faces again until morning, they keep coming out of there rooms making me feel like I'm playing whack-a-mole.

And, of course, even though there's been less time pressure in the mornings since they are on March break, I've been busy with work and they've found no end of ridiculous things to fight over.  Well, next week they are Adam's problem.  The only thing is, they LOVE when I go away, so he won't get any crying fits, in fact, I bet my name will barely be mentioned while I'm gone.  It's alright, I'm okay with not being appreciated.

If you think I'm kidding, I am totally not.  Big A actually said to me this morning, "You don't go away very often, we need a break." Yeah well, believe you me, I do too!  Little A did tell me that she loves me and will miss me and it might even be true, but I highly doubt she'll be having "I want mommy" meltdowns at bedtime for Adam like she's been doing for me this week.

So while it's party time for Adam and the girls, I will be visiting with family and enjoying the city.  I can't wait!  So I'll be gone next week and back with all sorts of stories and health tips the week of March 24th.  Stay healthy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nippy Vegan Cheese Spread


Daiya vegan cheese products are all the rage these days, but I have never purchased any of them.  Why?  Because while they may be dairy-free, they are also basically nutrition free.  They are low in protein and contain mostly various oils and starches.

This spread, however, is packed with protein and nutrition, and is still creamy and cheesy thanks to nutritional yeast and white beans.  Delicious spread or crackers or bread, or if you thin it out with a bit of non-dairy milk, you can make it a dip for fresh veggies.

I forgot to add the turmeric to this batch, so that's why its not as orange as it should be.  I was so mad because turmeric also has so many amazing health benefits, so I love to throw it into as many recipes as I can.  Oh well, that's what happens when I try to multi-task in the kitchen.  I was making gluten-free chocolate orange cake balls (will try to get that recipe out at some point). 

Not only is this spread yummy, its also super easy to throw together.  Come on, no excuses!

Nippy Vegan Cheese Spread

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbls Dijon mustard (use hot Dijon if you like it really nippy)
1 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls non-dairy, unsweetened, unflavoured milk*
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/4 tsp turmeric

Throw everything into food processor and puree until smooth.  Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

*Add a few more tablespoons milk if you want to make it into a dip.

This recipe has been shared with Gluten-Free Friday, Wellness Weekend, and Plant-Based Pot-Luck Party Link-Ups.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mung Bean Coconut Curry



Woe is me! It's hard to live with 2 picky kids and a husband who much prefers meat and chocolate chip cookies to much else.  Adam claims its me who is the weird one for loving fruit, veggies, whole grains and legumes as much as I do.  But I think he's the weird one. When he saw this meal he said, "That looks very full of fibre."  Yes, well it is, but it is also incredibly delicious.  And after trying it, my dear husband admitted this one is super tasty.

Hearty dishes like this full of veggies and legumes in a rich, flavourful sauce are total comfort food for me.  And right now, thanks to this brutal winter, I need some comfort!  After a gorgeous spring-like day yesterday, we're apparently in for a big snow storm today.  Enough already!!

This makes a large amount so feel free to half the recipe, or freeze leftovers for future meals.  If you like your beans on the softer side, start soaking them the night before.  As you can see from the photo, I kept the veggies very chunky because I like it that way, but feel free to dice into tiny pieces, if you prefer (I don't have the patience for that anyways!).

Mung Bean Coconut Curry

2 cups mung beans
1 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, sliced or diced*
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbls garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup mango puree (unsweetened)
1/4 cup cider vinegar (+1/4 cup)
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
4 zucchini, chopped
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup raisins (or dried apricots)

Place mung beans in heat safe container and add enough boiling water to completely cover.  Let soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Toss cauliflower and zucchini with 1/4 cup vinegar, salt and pepper, and roast on foil-lined baking sheet at 400F for 40 minutes.  You can skip this step if you want and just simmer veggies with beans in the next step, but this adds a lot of flavour!

Saute onion, garlic ginger and spices in oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add coconut milk, vinegar, mango and mung beans and simmer over medium/low heat until liquid has reduced and mung beans are tender.  Add roasted veggies, tomato paste and raisins.  Add in extra water if needed.  Simmer for at least an additional 10-15 minutes.  Serve with brown basmati rice or whole grain naan bread.

I have submitted this recipe to Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday link up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Gym-Free Journal: Book Review

Funny New Year's Ecard: It's time to renew that gym membership we're never going to use again.

There was a time when I thought it was not possible to get fit without a well-equipped gym.  Until the end of my pregnancy with Big A, I spent a whole lot of time in them, teaching fitness classes and training.  Spin classes, step, weight training, cardio machines...I did it all.

But after having a baby, it was no longer feasible to get there every day, let alone stay to teach 2-3 fitness classes and lift weights.  I did manage to get there 2x week thanks to the JCC's babysitting service, and then I did some running outdoors or on our treadmill, and taught a spin class or two.  After a while, I realized I was actually fitter than I had been before I had Big A!  Then I had Little A and it got even more difficult to get to the gym.  Little A's nap schedule kept me relatively housebound for months, and she would not hear of me leaving her in a babysitting service (seriously, once I had the staff come and interrupt a spin class I was teaching because she was screaming so loudly!).   Since then, I have only been a once a week gym goer.

Basically, I have never looked back.  Aside from Sundays when I still teach a spin class at the JCC, I do all my workouts at home.  And I love it.  No waiting for machines, no having to work in with some stinky guy.  I can do what I want, when I want.  Granted we are very well equipped, but I don't even use our treadmill anymore and most of my strength training is done with free-weights and a stability ball.  So basically, what I am saying is you don't really need much equipment at all!

So I was stoked to receive a review copy of The Gym-Free Journal.

The Gym-Free Journal

Its a guide-book for creating your own workout routine you can do at home.  It provides a program and diagrams and descriptions of all the exercises, as well as logs to record your workouts and food intake. 

I can't say there is anything radically new or different in this book, but recording your daily habits is one of the most effective strategies for losing weight and reaching your goals, so this book can be a very helpful tool.  I know there are lots of online apps that do this sort of thing, but not everyone likes to do everything on a device.  So if you prefer pen and paper, this book may be for you.

Really, there is no excuse for being sedentary.  Anyone who says they don't have time, money, etc. is basically just saying they refuse to make fitness a priority.  You don't need much money, space, or time to get fit and healthy.  The key is consistency.  Find something you can do as often as possible over the long-term.  If getting to a gym doesn't fit your lifestyle, take it home!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Creamy Kale Caesar (Vegan Option)


And...its Monday again!  This is the first Monday in months where its actually above freezing at least.  Given the balmy temperatures (ha!), its a perfect time to start thinking about salad.

As a teen, I thought Caesar salad was the healthiest thing to order on a restaurant menu.  Oh how misguided I was!  The traditional dish is just a big mess of egg (raw), cheese, bacon and (white flour) croutons, with a little bit of lettuce thrown in.

This version is low-fat, high protein, and packed full of nutrition.  You can dress it up with more veggies and additional protein, as desired, or keep it simple.  I am so going to be making this again!!!

Creamy Kale Caesar

1 bunch kale, torn or chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

Creamy Caesar Dressing

1-340g package soft, silken tofu
2 tbls Dijon mustard
2 tbls Worcestershire sauce (regular or vegan)
2 tbls anchovy paste or umeboshi plum paste (for vegan)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp nutritional yeast
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional salt, if desired

Place kale in large bowl.  Puree all the ingredients for the dressing in food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour desired amount over kale and toss (or massage) until kale is tender.  Toss in tomatoes and serve.

This recipe has been shared with Ricki Heller's Wellness Weekend and this week's Gluten-Free Friday on Vegetarian Mamma.

Friday, March 7, 2014

March Break Madness!

Patience... is what parents 
display when witnesses 
are present.

Are you heading somewhere beautiful for March Break?  If so, you suck!  Just kidding.  At least its supposed to be warming up a wee bit around here for the next few days, so I can't complain too much about going nowhere for the break.  Besides, my kids have daycare all week, so its not like I have to stay home from work and entertain them, like some people do.  If that's the case for you, check out some of these activity ideas for keeping your kids busy from Cityline.

Adam is going on a business trip next week, so I am actually very happy its March Break, because at least I don't have to worry about getting the kids to school on time in the mornings.  The mornings are still a challenge.  But this week I challenged myself to trying to stay calm no matter what goes down and I am happy to say I did well...or at least better.  Its required a lot of positive self-talk and ignoring what's going on with the girls. 

I feel like such a horrible parent a lot of the time because I'm always snapping at them.  Having grown up with impatient, Type A parents, I vowed to be a fun, laid-back parent, but, um, that's just not the case.  That being said, I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, whose kids go to the girls' school and daycare and she said to me, "When I see you arriving at the school in the morning with Little A screaming, I feel like such a horrible parent because you are so cool and calm and in control, and I've usually just finished yelling at my kids."  I had to explain to her that usually my cool, calm demeanor is only because I have no voice left from screaming at them before we arrived at the school.  My point being, that how things appear in public rarely reflect what's going on in private.  This is an issue that comes up with my clients at work all the time.  People assume that others' lives are so much more perfect than our own, but the reality is, most of us face the same struggles and stresses and nobody's life is perfect.

So have a lovely weekend and if it doesn't go exactly as planned...try to roll with it.  That's what life is all about!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ketchup With the Latest Products from President's Choice

Ketchup-style with Stevia.jpg

I am so beyond excited that Loblaws seems to have gotten on board with the whole stevia thing!

While the world has been obsessing with the amount of sodium we eat, we seem to have overlooked all the sugar we consume.  The latest research suggests that all this added sugar is just as bad, and very possibly worse for us, than the sodium.  Sugar is linked with not only diabetes and obesity, but also cancer and Alzheimer's disease.  Time to get it out of our diets!

Sugar is added to everything these days from bread and cereal to spaghetti sauce, salad dressing and mayo.  It makes me cringe frankly.  I try to do anything and everything I can do to cut down on the sugar we eat in this house.  Unfortunately, I think my kids still get way too much when they are out of the house. 

Although full of lycopene, ketchup is a huge source of sugar.  It's also a favorite among all of us.  It was actually one of the foods I craved like crazy during both my pregnancies, so I guess it should be no surprise that the girls both adore it too.  Therefore, I am thrilled that Loblaws just came out with a stevia sweetened (and sugar-free!) ketchup as part of its Blue Menu line.  Yehaa!!

I am eager to see what other products they are coming out with using stevia as the sweetener...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chickpea Tacos


I generally eat a hot lunch everyday.  Adam makes fun of me, because while he ALWAYS eats a couple of sandwiches, apples and carrots for lunch at work, I concoct elaborate noodle dishes, stir fries, or platters of roasted fish, sweet potatoes and steamed veggies for myself.  Sorry, a cold sandwich - particularly in this weather - just doesn't cut it for me.

This meal turned out very warm and comforting and just what I needed this week.  The picture gives you an idea of just how big my lunch usually is (I had a massive bowl of cole slaw on the side of those 2 tacos).  Yes yes, I know, it's unbelievable that someone as little as me eats so much.  I hear that all the time.  It's gotta be the weight lifting.  Although, considering that Little A ate more than her body weight in oatmeal this morning, maybe its a genetic thing.

This whole recipe was devoured by moi over 2 lunches, but I'm guessing most people with puny normal appetites could stretch this to 3 or 4 meals.  Admittedly, I heaped on so much that my tacos fell apart.  I definitely needed a bib.  For the daintier folks, you could probably get 8 tacos out of this...compared to my 4 massive ones.  So either a few lunches or dinners for yourself, or enough to share with your loved ones.


Chickpea Tacos

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked)
1 red onion, diced
4 roma tomatoes, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp mild or spicy chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 can tomato paste
1 ripe avocado, diced

Corn tacos (soft or crunchy) or whole grain tortillas or pita.

Saute everything together except chickpeas, tomato paste and avocado, until onion and tomatoes have cooked down and are tender.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Spoon desired amount onto tacos or tortillas.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze.

I have shared this recipe with Gluten-Free Friday and Wellness Weekend Link-ups for this week.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Lunchbox Cookies (Vegan, Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free)


Oh She Glows featured a recipe for double chocolate cookies last week. I instantly knew, with a few tweaks, it was going to make the perfect cookie to pack in the girls' lunches this week.  It's nut-free, which means its safe to take, and chocolate, which means bliss for them (and for Adam, who we told was not allowed to eat these...).  It was a cinch to modify them and make them sugar-free...which makes me happy.

I'm guessing my finished product has quite a different consistency than the original recipe since Angela's spread more than mine did.  I don't know if that's because she used sugar, or because I beat the batter by hand, rather than using an electric mixer.  Either way, these turned out great.  I also made small, rather than big cookies for the girls, so I ended up with 2 dozen, instead of 1 like in the original recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Lunchbox Cookies (Vegan, Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free) Adapted from this recipe

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (do not melt)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1 cup granulated stevia or 1/2 cup powdered stevia
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats, processed into flour (or 1.5 cups oat flour)
  • 1-2 teaspoons non-dairy milk (only if needed to moisten batter)
  • 1 cup sugar-free chocolate chips (I used these)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flax and water and set aside for a few minutes so it can thicken up. Whisk the flax egg again once thickened.
  2. Add the rest of the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flax egg (coconut oil, sunflower seed butter, stevia, and vanilla). With a hand-held electric mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and smooth.
  3. Now, beat in the dry ingredients, one by one, as you go down the ingredient list (baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, oat flour). If your dough is a bit dry, add a teaspoon (or two) of non-dairy milk and beat the mixture again. The dough should be moist enough to form balls without cracking, but not super sticky.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Shape into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Gently press down on each ball with your hand to form a disc.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  7. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 7 minutes or so and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.
Makes 2 dozen small cookies.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ultimate Booty Workouts: Book Review

Available now! Order your copy today!

Well good morning on this bloody cold March Monday.  How was your weekend?  Ours was nice and quiet aside from some sledding, swimming (indoors!), a birthday party and errands.  I didn't even have to work Saturday.  Word on the street is that this may be the last week of freezing cold temps.  Thank goodness, because like every other North American, I'm freakin' sick of this, and ready to enjoy a few days of spring before we move right into the blazing hot summer (which I'll complain about just as bitterly).

Now onto discussing butts.

Since I now do almost all my workouts at home, I love getting new ideas for how to change things up.  So I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Ultimate Booty Workouts.

The author, Tamara Grand, is a PhD, a certified personal trainer, a mom and a Canadian with her very own blog!  Ha, turns out we have a lot in common!  Of course, her blog is a whole lot prettier than mine.  Unfortunately for me, she lives across the country in beautiful British Columbia where she is lucky enough to be enjoying far more moderate temps this winter.

Part I of the book provides background on the musculature of the lower body and the benefits of strength training for women.  I strongly believe that women should strength train and it irks me that so many women are afraid to, so I am very glad she included this part.  This section also includes a brief overview of proper nutrition for strength training, some general nutrition guide lines and 2 recipes for wholesome, homemade protein bars.  Her recommendations are sensible and evidence based and do not subscribe to any trendy diets.  So I love that.

Part II of the book explains how to use the book to create your training program.  Grand describes the equipment required, suggests how to integrate the workout into your existing routine, and recommends a basic guide for progression of your workouts.  This section also explains how to measure progress and discusses the importance of rest and recovery.  Grand also includes definitions for key terminology and tips for getting the most out of your workout.

Next, Grand lays out the phases for strength training progression:

1. Setting the foundation
2. Building muscle
3. Leaning and cutting

For each phase, she offers at least one sample program with exercises, and suggested number of reps, sets and rest.  Altogether, it is a 12 week program.  Once you have completed it, she gives several options for what to do next to continue to make progress.

Part 3 provides photos and descriptions of how to execute each exercise.  Now, I didn't learn anything new in this section, all the exercises are already familiar to me, but then again, I have been training for a very long time.  For most people who have not, many of these will be new to you, or at least some of the variations on the basics (squat, lunge, etc.) will be new. 

Following the strength exercises, Grand includes a section with Tabata (HIIT) movements (plyometrics, burpees, etc.).

Part 4 is dedicated entirely to warming up and cooling down.  Grand explains why they are important components of a workout, and gives you exercises and stretches. 

Finally, the appendix at the back has some logs for you to record your workouts.

Overall, it is a very sound book that is perfect for someone wanting to focus on lower body strength training and conditioning on their own (without the help of a personal trainer).  The program can be done at home or in a gym, which makes it very versatile.

To be honest, my only concern is that - unlike myself - most of the world looks to 'apps' for everything now.  Personally, I still prefer books.  So I wonder whether this book will get a lot of attention or if most people will just go online to get this kind of thing.  If you are old school, like myself, and keen to learn more about strength training for your lower half, this is a very good option.