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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pizza Egg White Scramble


Who doesn't love pizza?  Really, come on??

Actually, I didn't love it as a kid.  But that's because at that point in time there weren't too many good pizza joints in our small town and the place my parents ordered from always had 'cheese warts', as I called them.  I now realize they simply burned the cheese because they cooked the pizzas too long.  I hated it so much, I generally peeled off the toppings altogether and just ate the crust...the white crust, because no one heard of whole grain crusts or any other kind of crust back then.  Also, I had to eat the toppings my parents liked, including green peppers and mushrooms.  I continue to dislike green peppers on pizza to this day, and I despised mushrooms as a kid.  Geez, no wonder I wasn't a big fan!

Now I adore pizza, but I almost always make it homemade.  My favorite crust is using a combination of plantain, flax eggs, chickpea flour and konjac powder.  Its really good, honestly, and so much healthier than a white crust!! If you think ordering gluten-free is healthier, you are most likely mistaken as most pizza places just use white rice flour-based crusts, which are no healthier than white wheat.

In this recipe, you get all the yummy flavours of pizza, without a crust at all.  But this is so flavourful and satisfying due to all the protein and fibre, I promise you won't miss it!  You can make this for a hearty breakfast, lunch or even dinner!

I used vegan pepperoni and kale for this version, but you can throw in whatever your favorite pizza ingredients are.  If you wanted to add some carbs to this meal, you could stuff some of it into a whole grain wrap, or serve it over a baked potato.

Pizza Egg White Scramble

1 cup egg whites
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp pizza seasoning (or Italian seasoning or dried oregano)
1 kale, chopped, tough stems removed
Veggie pepperoni (optional)
1/2 can tomato paste
30g mozzarella cheese (amount in a cheese string), shredded or diced
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
1 tsp konjac powder*(optional)

Saute kale, garlic and seasonings in vinegar until kale has wilted.  Add in veggie pepperoni or whatever other ingredients you want to add and heat through.  Stir in tomato paste and season to taste.

Pour eggs into a non-stick pan over cook over medium heat.  Sprinkle konjac powder over top.  Once eggs start to cook, add in your kale/toppings mixture.  Sprinkle cheese over top and cover until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

*Will prevent eggs from getting watery from adding lots of veggies.

The photo is the entire recipe, which for me is a single serving.  If you can't eat as much as I can, its 2 servings. Wimp!

I've shared this recipe with Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Water World

We're still enjoying our 4 day weekend over here, but its been a wet one in various ways.

Today its pouring rain, which definitely means no outdoor activities.  Thankfully all we'd planned was a trip to Costco and Adam is going to take the girls swimming at the JCC.

Friday we never made it to the farm because...it was wet...and cold...and icy.  Instead, we took the girls to the Pacific Mall, a super cool Hong Kong style mall north of the city.

We had fun exploring the weird and wonderful finds there.  The bulk food stores are hilarious.  Aside from various candy and snacks (think Pocky, etc.), there are some of the most bizarre things there, ranging from salty and sour dried fruits to fish jerky, dried duck wings, and marinated eggs of various kinds.
 


I wish I'd taken more pictures, because I forget some of the craziest stuff we found.

There are also tons of clothing and accessory stores and I bought Little A few hair bands and Big A a few pairs of earrings, and they're just delighted.

We also got them fruit slushies made from real fruit, and then from the food court, sushi and stir-fry noodles.  The noodles were from Sun Kitchen, where they make the noodles by hand, fresh, right in front of you.  Given how picky the girls can be, I wasn't certain they would like them. I made sure to order them a non-spicy dish with chicken and veggies.  They loved them!


Saturday after I got back from work, Big A and I did some Passover baking while Adam took Little A to gymnastics (Big A decided she doesn't want to do gymnastics for the spring session).  Then Little A had her best friend's birthday party. 

Sunday after my spin class and workout I had a client session and Adam took the girls to the Springridge Farm for the Easter Egg Hunt.  The weather was actually warm, sunny and gorgeous yesterday.  Then my sister-in-law and I went to the Body Blitz for a soak.  It is really wonderful there, even to someone like myself, who isn't a fish (i.e., aside from my daily shower I generally have no desire to get wet). They have a cold pool, warm pool and hot pool, and they have various therapeutic salts (Epsom, dead sea, etc.).  They also have an aromatherapy steam room and sauna, but those were too hot for me and I could only last a few seconds in each (my sister-in-law shook her head and told me I'm too hot, just like my brother).  Yep, hot heads.

They have a menu of smoothies and teas you can order and you are allowed to sip while you soak.  It was definitely relaxing, but really the best part of the whole thing was just having a few hours of uninterrupted time to chat with my sister-in-law. 

Afterwards, there are showers and tons of luxurious personal hygiene products for guests' convenience (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, hairspray, deodorant, etc.).  Oh, they also give you slippers, bathrobes, and towels, of course.  I'm hoping all the soaking might help prevent me from being too sore tomorrow from yesterday's workout.  We'll see...

Have a good Monday...or Easter Monday, or whatever kind of Monday it is for you!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Egg Heads

 
Its Friday and a 4-day weekend! Except not for me because I see clients every day.  That's okay, I love my work and I'm blessed that I can say that.

What's more, we've got lots of fun planned.  Today we are hoping to take the kids to Springridge Farm an Easter Egg hunt with Adam's sister and her family...but we have to see if the weather improves because right now it sucks.  Yes I know we're Jewish but the kids love these things.  Its all about the chocolate!  Truthfully, I wish it weren't so.  Our society teaches kids that holidays are about junk food, when really it should be about spending time with loved ones. 

 
Saturday Little A has her best friend's birthday party.  Sunday my spin class is on (no Easter Sunday closures at the JCC!), I have clients to squeeze in, and then my sister-in-law (my brother's wife) is taking me to Body Blitz, a spa which I've been hearing people rave about for years.  I am so excited!!

Monday, before I head to the office late afternoon, will be family time.  Possibly a swim at the JCC and then maybe a trip to Costco. Yes, Costco ranks up there as a favorite family activity in our house!

If you're celebrating Easter, have a wonderful time...just remember to fit in some exercise and go easy on the chocolate bunnies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Glitzies: Product Review

Official Gltizies STELLA Hair Stickers
 
My girls love hair fashion.  For Little A, its all about clips, hair bands, etc.  For Big A, who rarely ever brushes her hair, and usually is quite happy having it tangled up into a rats nest, its more about the colour.  She has been begging to die her hair for ages (bleach the ends, specifically, which I oppose simply because of how harmful bleaching is).  But apparently ALL the girls are colouring their hair already.  Ugh!

Fortunately, the girls were both thrilled with the products we were sent from Glitzies.  Glitzies are DIY hair stickers that come in a variety of colours and styles.

Little A was so excited about them, she wanted to try them immediately, which unfortunately led to a fight because she was just about to take a bath.  I was finally able to convince her to wait a few days and wear them to the birthday party she was attending.


This little 6-year-old was easily able to apply them herself and was absolutely delighted with the results.  She loves that they stay on so well. At the party, she got non-stop compliments from the other kids and parents, who were very intrigued by the Glitzies and wanted to know what they were and where they could get some.  You can purchase them online!

Big A received a more mature design with leopard print hearts, but she's decided to save hers for her most anticipated upcoming event: the upper grades at her school are going to be performing at Massey Hall! 

To me, this temporary hair decorating solution is a much better option than hair dye, and for how, Big A has stopped nagging me for the dye job.  Definitely a win-win in my book!

Disclosure: We were sent complimentary samples to try, but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hot Body Healthy Mommy: DVD Review


Unfortunately, my personal fitness goals stalled a bit these past few weeks due to being sick.  Missed workouts and not-as-challenging-as-usual workouts slowed down my get-legs-of-steel plan down. Despite still coughing and dealing with excess mucous, my energy is back 100% so yesterday I was back at it in the gym, squatting, lunging dead lifting.


The girls also took an interest in fitness this weekend.  Both jumped on the treadmill to see how long and fast they could run.  Big A started on Saturday and by Sunday, they were both at it, encouraging each other to go faster and further.  Little A did over a mile on a pretty massive incline, I was super impressed! I am trying not to get my hopes up that this will be a regular thing. I never preach to them about exercise, but just hope my example, and Adam's will rub off on them, and the sooner the better, I say!

I never fall off the wagon with fitness altogether because of love it so much, and its such an integral part of my life, but I know for many people, exercise adherence comes and goes.

In particular, once women have a baby, their fitness is often the first thing that falls off the rails.  Lack of time, sleep and energy are often the culprits, but for all of those reasons, it is critical to take care of yourself and include regular physical activity.

There is no doubt the body can change after you've had a baby.  But it doesn't have to be permanent!  I am definitely leaner and in better shape now than I was before I had my children. I think the fact that I do have less time and freedom has forced me to get smarter about how I eat and exercise.

Even if you've never been active, post-partum is actually a great time to start focusing on your fitness. A mom needs to be strong and healthy!  It is so important to take care of yourself when you are a care giver.  If you fall apart, you're no help to anyone.

When I was asked to review a fitness DVD targeting new moms, I was thrilled to accept.  You know I am super critical when it comes to fitness DVDs.  You might be surprised that I would agree to this one though, since it's Jillian Michaels.  As you know, I have found her attitude in some of her DVDs arrogant and offensive.  But I've read several articles where interviewers emphasize how much Michaels attitude has changed since she had her own children.  Michaels has an adopted child and another child whom her partner gave birth to.  Apparently, she has softened significantly and really changed her perspective.  Amazing how kids do that, eh?

Anyways, I am happy to report that Hot Body Healthy Mommy is a great video for new moms, or even for anyone who is a newbie to exercise.

Michaels does, indeed, behaviour better in this video and has a much kinder attitude.  The workout is divided into 3 20-minute segments: Upper Body, Core, and Lower Body.  This will appeal to moms who don't get long periods of time to themselves (I can relate as Big A didn't nap during the day at all (except on me) until she was 6 months old).

The segments feature different women with Michaels, who are all new moms, and not professional dancers or whatever they are in her other videos.  This may make it less intimidating for some women.  You need hand weights, so I recommend purchasing some if you don't have any already.  Newbies should start with 3, 5 and 8 pounds, more experienced exercisers should get some heavier ones.

The segments are mostly strength-based, but Michaels throws in some 'cardio' intervals, although they are so low intensity, you aren't likely to get your heart rate up unless you are an absolute beginner.  Those with a very weak upper body may struggle with the push ups and tricep dips at the beginning, but keep at it until you are strong enough to perform these exercises. I promise you'll get there.  I suggest using weight as heavy as you can and going heavier once something no longer feels challenging.

Michaels moves you quickly through the exercises, done circuit style, so each is performed twice.  The style of the DVD reminds me most of her Six Week Six Pack Abs DVD, which is my favorite of hers. 

Overall, I think this is a great workout DVD for new moms or newbie exercisers, just make sure you are always challenging yourself to get the most out of your workout!

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary copy of this DVD but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Friday, March 18, 2016

In Her Own Sweet Time: Book Review

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It's Friday, but this one means the end of March Break and back to rushed stressful mornings with the kids Monday. Ah well, at least we have a quiet weekend with no plans to look forward to. 

I have a book review for you this morning!

Not sure if its a coincidence or not, but in the same week that I received the request to review Dear Thing, I got one to review this book, In Her Own Sweet Time, which also focuses on my professional work in infertility.

This is not a novel, however, but both a memoir, as well as an informative compilation of qualitative and quantitative research about age-related infertility and the choice more and more women are making now to become single parents by choice.

Her experience mirrors that of many of my clients.  She simply has not found a partner to settle down with in a committed relationship, and becomes aware of her biological clock.  She ends of freezing some eggs, but then later on opts to conceive via insemination with donor sperm and now has a son.

I have lots of clients that freeze their eggs, but even more who opt to conceive with a sperm donor.  Unfortunately, many of them wait until their chances of conceiving are extremely low, because of their age.

In case you don't know, it is pretty tough for women over 40 to get pregnant.  The thing is, I actually think calling women who chose the donor sperm route as Single Parents by Choice is, for many, rather inaccurate.  Sure, I have had women come in, and are actually excited to do it, some are even quite young, still in their early 30s, but the vast majority are doing it because they feel they have NO OTHER CHOICE.  I have had many women who get hysterical as we discuss it because its actually not what they really want - what they want is to have found a life partner, someone to start a family with - before time started running out.  They are often scared and heartbroken.

Working with women in this situation has taught me that:

(1) I am pretty damn lucky to have met Adam, and met him when I was young...in fact I was just 25 and he was 23...we were practically still kids!! I chalk it up to chance and luck, frankly.
(2) All this BS in the media accusing women of delaying childbearing for their careers is way off base.  Most of these women have not found a partner...or found one and it didn't work out, or the partner decided he didn't want kids.

I find the current state of our society very concerning, and its not because of what women are doing.  Its because of men.  At least in big cities, there is very much a culture among male professionals to work hard and play hard, and they are the ones that are often delaying settling down and starting a family...by choice!  Especially with Internet dating, they just want to play the field until they are getting towards their late 30s or 40s...and then want to find a much younger woman!  I worry for my daughters and, to be honest, I will be advising them to freeze their eggs if they aren't settled down by their mid 30s.

In the book, Lehmann-Haupt describes her own experiences with dating and trying to find a mate, and interviews many other women who have taken alternative paths to starting a family.  She has also spoken to infertility specialists, and done her homework in terms of the statistics and success rates for various assisted reproductive technologies.

I was very relieved to get to the end of the book and discover, she was, in fact, successful in having her own child.  I think this book is very useful and informative for any woman with concerns about her fertility who is considering her options.  In fact, I will be recommending this book to my clients considering egg freezing and/or using a sperm donor.

Disclosure: I was sent this book by the publisher, but all the opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Simply 7 Kale Chips: Product Review

 

You all know I'm not much of a snack food fan.  To me, you need nothing more for a snack than fruits, veggies, cheese, nuts, etc.  Products marketed as 'snack food' tend to just be crap. 

But the rest of my family does not share my opinion, and apparently nor do most North Americans.  At the very least, if you are going to consume snack foods, you should opt for the most nutritious ones you can find, and even then, its wise to watch your portion sizes.

Admittedly, when I was asked to review Simply7s new line of kale chips, I thought they were sending me kale chips.  Like baked kale leaves, like the ones I make.  I was a bit surprised to discover when they arrived, that they were, in fact, green potato chips.  I hadn't read the description carefully when I was sent the inquiry. I was disappointed, but my kids were not!  They sent us the Dill Pickle flavour, Sea Salt, and Lemon and Olive Oil flavours. 

I thought the Sea salt were tasty, but they weren't Little A's favorite.  Big A, however, adored them and pretty much ate the whole bag herself.  Little A initially refused to try the Dill Pickle because she hates pickles but Big A described them as, "The best thing ever!" Eventually, Little A gave them a try and low and behold, she loved them too!  Our neighbours took the Lemon and Olive Oil flavour to sample and said they enjoyed them but found them too salty.  If they were less salty, they said they'd be 'delicious'.

Despite the fact that they are actually chips, and not kale leaves, I love that the first ingredient is kale powder, made from dehydrated curly kale.  Is this the same as eating fresh kale? I doubt it, but it is better than eating regular potato chips.

All Simply7's products are Non-GMO and gluten-free and made in Houston, Texas.  They are available across the U.S. and Canada, except the kale chips which, sadly, are not yet available in Canada.

Disclosure: We were sent complimentary bags from Simply7 but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Shamrock (Vanilla Mint) Shake


Th virus has decimated this household. When Big A first came down with it, she complained her throat was hurting and we thought it was just because she was barfing, but no, it appears to have both gastro and cold-like symptoms.  Its the virus that keeps on giving! After my stomach got better on Friday, I developed a horrible sore throat, congestion and laryngitis...yes, perfect for a psychotherapist! I had to croak my way through all my sessions Friday and Saturday, I am sure I made a great impression on my clients.  Sunday Adam finally succumbed to this bug and developed some, er, gastro symptoms, as well as a cough.  Today I am still very congested but otherwise feeling the pretty good.  Adam's tummy is better but he's developed a bad cough.  We are both very fed up with this stupid thing.  I was on such a long roll of not catching any of the nasty things everyone else was bringing home but this time it got me too.  Of course the two little germ-bags are as good as new.

Fortunately, we still managed to do some fun things.  Saturday we took the girls to Sugar Beach, a man-made beach on the waterfront, for this Sugar Shack festival celebrating maple syrup season.  Like most over-hyped events in Toronto it wasn't that exciting and the line ups were insane.  But the girls were still thrilled to try maple taffy rolled on snow.

Yesterday afternoon, Adam stayed home because he was feeling so lousy and I took the girls to see Zootopia. We all loved it, it was adorable!

This week is March Break, however, the girls have daycare, so the only thing that's different is that we need not rush in the mornings.  That is almost as good as any holiday anywhere in the world!

It is also St. Patrick's Day on Thursday.  Now, we don't really celebrate it...being Jews and all, Saints don't mean much to us.  Nor are we the 'go to a pub and drink green beer' types.  But I thought it would be fun to whip up a nice little green treat for the girls.  I always remember hearing about Shamrock Shakes as a kid but truthfully I never had one.  These are sweet, cool and minty but also super healthy. 

Mine are pale green, but you can adjust the colour by simply adding more greens powder and/or a few handfuls of baby spinach. This wasn't meant to taste smoothie-like though, it is meant to taste more like a shake, so I went easy on the greens.

The photo is really shitty because it was night time, the light was bad, and I was in no mood to work on getting a better shot, so deal with it.

Shamrock Shake

1 banana
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, or plain (dairy or non-dairy)
1.5 cups milk (plain or vanilla, dairy or non-dairy)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (vegan or whey, stevia sweetened)
2 cups ice milk cubes (freeze milk in ice cube trays ahead of time)
2 tsp or more greens powder (I used 1/2 moringa and 1/2 this)
1 tsp pure peppermint extract
2 droppers mint stevia drops (optional)
1 tsp konjac powder

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

I shared this recipe with Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Health is a Precious Gift

 
Its Friday, thank goodness! This week was a tough one with an icky virus ripping through this household.

It shocks me that the majority of North Americans take their health for granted.  I have read the research, I know that there are many complex social, psychological and cultural reasons for this.  I know that there is a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and health.

What really confuses me is all the people with money and knowledge who simply make poor choices.  This would include, unfortunately, many family members and friends I care about, and worry about.

I don't preach to them. I know that doesn't work anyway. Everyone is free to make their own choices. I try not to judge and I try to understand.

Nothing, however, reminds me of the importance of health than when I am sick myself.  This week, being flattened by a flu bug (along with both girls), just served to reinforce for me why I do everything I do in terms of diet, exercise and lifestyle (sleep, etc.).

Pain sucks.  Tuesday I just felt horrendous, every muscle in my body ached and my head was pounding.  I had no appetite or energy.  Besides the physical discomfort, it sucked to not be able to do everything I wanted to do.  That's one of the many reasons I work out.  I don't ever want to be held back by physical limitations from doing the things important to me. When my weight-loss clients tell me they don't like to exercise, I tell them to think of it as a blessing to have the ability to do it.  It really is!

Wednesday the pain was gone but I still had no appetite and my energy was still lower than normal and I felt weak.  Ooh I don't like feeling that way!  It was also the warmest day of the year so far, yet I couldn't enjoy it. I felt like I was missing out. I felt isolated and alone (despite the fact that I was dealing with the 2 girls, also not feeling their best).

These experiences always get me thinking about what it must be like to have chronic pain or mobility issues.  Its one thing to deal with it for a few days, but what about months, years or a lifetime! Sure, sometimes these things cannot be prevented.  But often they can.

Yesterday I was thrilled to be back to myself enough to get a workout in and go to the office.  I feel like I've joined the world again, thank goodness!

Today I am celebrating my health and looking forward to a weekend of not very much.  Just work, the girls activities and family time.  Its all ordinary, every day stuff, and I love it and its a blessing.

Have a wonderful weekend and don't take your health or mobility for granted. Go out there and run, skip, and play, breathe deeply, twirl, roll down a grassy hill and celebrate being alive!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dear Thing: Book Review

 
Although I receive tons of requests, I don't often agree to review fiction.  My fiction reading time is my sacred relaxation time (my form of meditation) before bed every night, and I'm not willing to waste it on a potentially crappy book. 

But when the request for me to review Dear Thing arrived in my inbox, I agreed immediately.  Its not every day I find a novel written about infertility, the area of psychotherapy I work in, and which I am passionate about.

The book is about a couple who have been struggling with infertility for many years and at the point of giving up trying to have a family.  It is suspected that the wife has poor quality eggs and potentially issues that will make it difficult for her to carry a pregnancy.  The husband's best friend, a single mom of one child, offers to be their surrogate.  The only problem is, she is secretly in love with him and always has been.

I am pleased to tell you that I loved this book.  I was eager to get back to it each night and anxious to finish it and uncover the resolution.

The author, an American, turned Brit, Julie Cohen, is an excellent and engaging writer that manages to draw out your empathy for each one of the characters despite their different positions and motivations.  I would have liked her to delve a bit deeper into the character of the husband so readers could really understand what makes him tick.  Quite a bit more information is provided about the wife so its easier to understand her reactions and perspectives.

Unfortunately, there is one thing that really concerns me about this novel: it is going to reinforce a lot of misconceptions that already exist about surrogacy/gestational carriers.

In the book, the best friend, Romily, is a traditional surrogate, meaning it is her egg, and the husband's sperm that create the embryo.  This practice is no longer encouraged as you can imagine it can raise all sorts of emotional, ethical and legal issues.  In the Assisted Reproductive Technology world, we how almost exclusively use gestational carriers, which means an egg donor is used, either from the intended mother, or another egg donor, so the carrier has no biological connection to the baby.

Secondly, the three characters embark on the process without any assistance from lawyers or medical professionals.  Now do folks still do this? I am sure they do.  Is it a good idea? Oh goodness no!  Most fertility clinics will not proceed with treatment unless their are legal documents drawn up ahead of time and everyone involved has gone through a full battery of tests to make sure there are no problems or potential health risks. 

Although I did feel somewhat empathetic towards Romily (a struggling single mom), it irks me that, again, the book perpetuates this myth that surrogates are always desperate, financially disadvantaged individuals and intended parents are wealthy people exploiting these women.  Not so!

Perhaps because I am an infertility counsellor and I see the immense pain and loss the intended parents experience, I identified far more with the wife.  That being said, the book also brings people's biggest fear of surrogates to the forefront: that they will end up wanting to keep the baby.  Well, this is one reason we don't use traditional surrogates anymore, and in my experience, I have never come across a gestational carrier for whom this is the case.

Apparently Julie Cohen is married with one child, but I have to wonder if she went through infertility herself seeing as its an issue that generally is not on a person's radar unless they have.  Either way, I applaud her for bringing attention to the issue.

In sum, I really enjoyed this book and do recommend it if you want a good read.  Just don't let the plot and events shape your perspectives on using a gestational carrier...and certainly don't follow the actions of the characters, because they were extremely stupid to do what they did!!!

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review, all opinions on this blog are my own.

Thank goodness I wrote this post last weekend because Big A has been home with the stomach flu until today, and now I have it, although thankfully a seemingly more mild form (no barfing, just bad headache, body aches and lack of appetite).  Hope you're feeling better than I am on this Hump Day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Indian Vegetable Soup in Chickpea Flour Broth


Hello and welcome to a new week! I hope you had a stellar weekend.

Ours was...eventful.  I worked Friday night and Saturday.  Saturday afternoon I took Big A to get her ears pierced, something she has been wanting for years.  She is so pleased.  I can't believe how fast the girls are growing up.  Big A turns 10 in May!

Unfortunately, Big A woke up Saturday night with a tummy bug that's been going around the school.    She is staying home today and my mother-in-law is watching her while I see clients this morning.

In other news, I squatted with the barbell for the first time in years at the gym yesterday.  I've been using dumbbells instead more due to not wanting to waste time setting up the bar than anything else.  Now due to my new goal of really pumping my legs, I decided it is time to get back on the barbell wagon.  I am pleased to say I easily squatted 135 lbs...not bad for such a little person!  Yeah, I am totally bad ass.  And by bad ass I mean my butt already kills.  Tomorrow I am really going to be paying for it!

Although we are supposed to be back up to spring-like temps this week, I have to share this soup recipe with you because its so yummy.

One of my favorite food blogs is Vegan Richa. Her recipes are not only healthy, but they are extremely creative and mouth-watering. 

That being said, I hardly ever use other people's recipes, so I usually look, drool, make a mental note to try a recipe, and then quickly forget.

But sometimes a recipe just screams, "Try me!" and this one using chickpea flour to season and thicken a soup/sauce base was just that.  Why? Because it never occurred to me to use chickpea flour this way, and I love trying something entirely new.  Also, I'd been trying to find a new soup recipe for this chilly weather and this sounded perfect.

As usual, I adapted the recipe quite a bit, not only to suit my taste, but also my budget - right now fresh fruit and veggies here are an absolute fortune! Using frozen green beans and a can of diced tomatoes keeps it inexpensive but still loaded with flavour and nutrition.  If you want to make it more like a curry to serve over rice, just add less water to make it thicker.  This makes it super versatile...my mind is spinning at the possibilities!!

If you don't have these exact spices, don't worry, just add what you have, at the very least a few tsps. of a good quality curry powder. Use whatever veggies you want.  Zucchini and cauliflower are other great options.

Indian Vegetable Soup in Chickpea Flour Broth (adapted from this recipe)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (I used ground fenugreek because that's what I had)
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional, if using mild curry powder)
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
1 14oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 cups water
2 cups frozen cut green beans (or whatever veggies you prefer)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (Optional)

Pour oil in pot over medium heat and add onion, ginger, garlic and spices.  Stir and cook 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat, if necessary, to prevent burning.  Turn heat down to low and add chickpea flour.  Cook for 3-4 minutes to toast flour, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro, as desired.

Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze.

Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop on Urban Natural

Friday, March 4, 2016

Keep the Old, Hold Off on the New

 
 
I've written before about how elitist the eco-movement can be.

As if most North Americans can afford to tear off their roof and replace it with solar panels, or buy only organic, sustainably-produced food and clothes, or drive a Prius.  If people have money, should they make the most eco-friendly choices they can afford?  Of course.  But too often I've heard extremists argue that everyone should throw whatever money they do have at the most eco-friendly option.  Frankly only someone from a place of privilege would say something like that and it pisses me off.  Who are you to say that someone should spend every penny they have on sustainably caught cans of tuna instead of trying to pay down their student debt, save to buy their first home, or create an education fund for their child?

There is one way to be eco-friendly, however, that can save you oodles of money: Be a stalwart.  What I mean is, don't assume you always have to upgrade what you have to the latest model.  If whatever you have works perfectly fine, keep it and recognize you don't need another one.

Adam and I are total stalwarts to our possessions...another weird way we are alike.  We both own clothes and items from our childhood simply because...well, they still do the job.

It was just recently that I recognized how many kitchen tools and items I have that were given to me by my mom when I left for university in 1992.  Most of these items were in my parents kitchen for many years before that, possibly for my whole life.  These include CorningWare dishes, glass plates, spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, and electric hand beaters.

Although I spend a huge amount of time cooking and baking, and always have, its never occurred that I should get rid of this stuff just because its old and get new ones.  They all are in great condition...or were, until one of my favorite teaspoon measures broke last week (the photo above).

The point is, every time you get new stuff and throw away the old, its going into the land fill.  At the very least give it to Goodwill or a place like that so it can be used by someone else!

Honestly though, neither Adam nor I have ever been the "Early Adapter" type.  Just because a newer, fancier model of something is available, doesn't mean we run out and get it.  Heck, it was less than 2 years ago I go a Blendtec, high powered blender, and I have been cooking and baking on a daily basis since I was 5 years old!  I just never felt comfortable spending that much on a blender.  Totally worth it though!!  But generally Adam and I are the last to get the newest 'stuff'.  We were still using our VCR until we finally got PVR last year.  We just got our first flat screen television about 2 years ago.  Adam just got his first smart phone last year, and only because his sister gave him her old IPhone when she got a new one.  I only got mine a few years ago - as I have mentioned before - to use for my business.  I know both of us and can assure you we will keep the phones we have until they break.  Upgrading would never even occur to us just for the sake of having a better/newer model.  Besides, you know how I feel about our device technology, you've heard my rants before.  I wish the stupid things had never been invented.

Now I am not denying that newer things aren't sometimes better, and often there are advantages that come with newer technology (PVR is frickin' awesome compared to dealing with a VCR and VHS tapes!), but we don't believe we 'need' every single new thing that is available.  All too often I see clients in my office struggling with financial problems - which often lead to relationship problems - because they believe they must have the latest and greatest of absolutely everything.  But you can't buy happiness, and all of this quick-disposal living, is adding to the environmental catastrophe we have created on this planet.  The most economical way to be green is to keep what you have that is still useable and don't purchase more.  Its pretty simple. Of course, the exception would be if you have a 1978 gas-guzzling Lincoln Continental...but you know what I mean!

Tonight I'll be cooking dinner in my 45 year old CorningWare dish and Adam and I will be watching our PVR'd show on our un-flat television (we've only upgraded our basement rec room television).  Have a great weekend and don't forget to Reuse Reduce Recycle!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Leg Up

 
I wish I could say that I always set specific fitness goals for myself, but I really don't.  Unlike most people, I guess, I don't need it for motivation, and I really have no interest in completing a marathon or participating in an obstacle race, which I suspect would just be a sure way for clumsy me to get hurt.

My general goal is to just be the strongest and fittest I can be...in an enjoyable way. 

Currently, I have a more specific goal: I want to pump up my legs!  More specifically, I want to focus on strengthening (being able to lift more weight) my legs.  Oh and if I can make them look more ripped, I'll take that too!

I was doing heavy lifting at the gym for legs until I got pregnant with Big A and then returned to it soon after she was born.  I stopped during my pregnancy with Little A again (just didn't like the idea of squatting huge barbells during pregnancy in case I hurt my back or something), then never returned to it because of the trouble I had with my hamstrings after she was born.  I figured all the cardio activities I was doing at the time (running, spinning, etc.) was enough to keep my lower body in shape.

Once I recovered from the tendonitis thanks to daily Essentrics sessions, and stopped doing much cardio, I returned to working legs.  But the way I'd worked it into my weekday routine (Wednesdays and Fridays which are also arms days), I didn't have time to really work them, just getting in a few exercises.  It has been only Sundays, my one day at the gym, that I would actually really get a good leg workout in before my spinning class. 

Fridays I have been doing one of Jillian Michaels' Killer Buns and Thighs routine, but I am giving those a break.  First off, she is so arrogant! She goes on about how awesome she is in these videos and warns viewers not to put critical comments on her Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Um, super unprofessional!  But more importantly, I find that the high repetition body weight exercises don't do what I am looking for.  Instead of targeting the muscle belly, they work on the tendons and ligaments, so instead of getting DOMS afterwards (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), I just feel tight around the joints.  Its not that I enjoy DOMS, but at least I am getting a sign that I've stressed the muscles sufficiently, creating little tears which will heal into stronger muscles.  I only get DOMS from the heavy lifting. 

So this week I've re-jigged my routine.  I am going to take out the HIIT training I did with the BOSU ball on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and add legs to my routine of Back, Chest and Shoulders.  Wednesdays and Fridays will be some martial arts or cardio DVD and arms.  This will also give me more time on those days to do arms and arms are my favorite body part to work aside from core.

I just started this new routine yesterday and I am already feeling it.  Unfortunately, I suspect this means our grocery bill is going to increase even more.  Every time I bump up my lifting, my appetite also gets a bump and usually its only protein that will satisfy it.  I may have to start chugging raw eggs.  Ha! 

This fitness motivation post has been shared with the #MotivateMeMonday Link Up.  And yes, I realize its Wednesday, but who doesn't need a bit of motivation on Hump Day?  Well me, actually, because I love Wednesdays and love working out, so ha!