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Monday, September 18, 2017

Nerium International IllumaBoost Brightening & Shield: Product Review


You know I hate heat so usually avoid the sun, but the summers here are so brutal, you can hardly be outside for minutes without feeling like a roasted chicken (though with all the rain this year we got off thankfully easy...unfortunately, fall so far has felt more like summer 😠). Not only do I hate heat, but I am concerned about skin cancer, so I do everything possible to avoid skin damage from the sun. Even in winter I always have sunblock on my face. Three of my close friends have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinomas, and a woman I went to highschool with has had melanoma twice!!

I am also prone to getting uneven skin tone which can be exacerbated by the sun and UV damage. So I was thrilled to receive Nerium International IllumaBoostTM Brightening & Shield to try.

The product:

  • Works to brighten the skin’s appearance and help even skin tone
  • Helps shield the skin from environmental stressors
  • Helps plump and moisturize the skin
  • Fights the appearance of discoloration, uneven skin tone and skin damage caused by air pollution
  • Can be mixed with: Age-Defying Night and Day Creams, foundation or sunscreen
  • Is ideal for all skin types (dermatologist tested)

The key ingredients are:

Phytolumina
A proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients, alpinia officinarum root extract, physalis pubescens fruit juice and bidens pilosa extract, which helps skin look radiant and brighter.

Niacinamide
A well-known ingredient for more even-toned looking skin.

Kombucha Ferment
A unique ingredient derived from fermented tea that offers a host of skin benefits.

Green Tea
A well-known antioxidant that guards against environmental damage.

Glycerin
Derived from lipids, this skin humectant absorbs moisture and supports skins natural barrier.

Hydrolized Sodium Hyaluronate
Naturally present in the skin, it binds water to the skin for volume and firmness.

Alteromonas Ferment Extract
Helps shield skin from environmental stressors.

Is there research proving this product's efficacy? No, nor is there any for most non-prescription products. The only thing I can tell you is that my skin tone does seem more even than it does by the end of every summer, and even more importantly, I did not have any adverse reaction to it. I have super sensitive skin so products with a lot of active ingredients can often irritate it. The company did do its own 4-week consumer study, which they say upheld their claims.

Do I recommend IllumaBoostTM Brightening &Shield? Hey, if you're cool paying a premium for skin care products and you are concerned about environmental/UV damage to your skin, go for it! Just don't forget the sunblock!

Disclosure: The company sent me the product to try but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Well Nourished: Book Review


The causes of obesity are numerous. They also differ from person to person. Contributing factors include poverty, mental or physical illness, parents (their weight status, genetics, behaviour modelling, what they fed you, etc.), and, of course, lifestyle.

Another contributing factor is culture. You've heard me say it before, we live in an obesigenic culture (i.e. is encourages obesity). How does it do so? Here are a few ways:

1. Abundance of high calorie, highly processed food available 24/7, that is cheaper than healthier food;
2. Mechanization of physical tasks (you don't have to churn your own ice cream now, you just open the freezer);
3. Social cues encouraging us to consume (advertising, social pressure, etc.)
4. Focus on productivity/consumption/materialism at the expense of spiritual/emotional/psychological fulfillment
5. Fat phobia

Numbers 4 and 5 are what I believe fuels one cause of being overweight for a lot of people: emotional eating.

Our culture has created widespread depression and anxiety among even the privileged classes. Being the consumerist society we are, people are sold a bill of goods about what they should have/who they should be/what they should be doing, however, even if people achieve it all, they are left feeling empty. To fill the void, they turn to consumables such as alcohol, drugs, and FOOD and numb their negative emotions. Food, of course, has less stigma than the others, but is harder to control, because you can't abstain from eating. Nor can you really ever get away from food or encouragement to eat.

Our veneration of fat is an integral part of the vicious cycle people get stuck in with emotional eating. While food, in and of itself, isn't shameful, being fat certainly is! We treat overweight people terribly! Fat discrimination is rampant. Unfortunately, this means that individuals who are emotional eaters start to develop extreme guilt, shame and anxiety over it, especially if it contributes to weight gain (which is usually does!).

But one of the biggest things that stands in the emotional eater's way of getting control of it is the self-sabotage. Everyone wants and needs unconditional acceptance from loved ones. We don't want to feel we have to look a certain way to get it. So I find many of my clients develop so much anger and resentment over feeling shamed by their weight, that they continue the behaviour spitefully, almost out of rebellion. Unfortunately, they ultimately hurt themselves the most. I often wonder whether emotional eating would be as much of a problem if we lived in a culture of size acceptance. Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever know the answer to that!

The good news is, if you struggle with emotional eating, I have a book for you!  Well Nourished, was written by Andrea Lieberstein, a dietitian and mindfulness eating instructor, among other things, who resides in California (where else?).

The book is like a guide to develop nourishment within the realms that are relevant to our general sense of well-being and commitment. A dearth of these things is what I believe are huge contributors to emotional eating, She includes:

  • Physical nourishment
  • Emotional nourishment
  • Psychological nourishment
  • Social nourishment
  • Intellectual nourishment
  • Creative nourishment
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • Worldly nourishment
Now, if you are the scientific type, and this all sounds a bit to "energy and crystals" for you, fear not! What I love most about this book is that it doesn't just tell you what may be causing your emotional eating, it provides exercises and instructions for overcoming it by maximizing your nourishment in the defined areas.

I think this is a great book and I will definitely be recommending it to my emotional eating clients!

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




Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy New (School) Year!


Its almost a cliche to say, but, man did summer ever fly by!

My counselling practice was pretty busy all summer, which is fantastic, but also means I just cannot devote more time to posting here 😢😢

But I really can't complain, its been good. The girls were in camp almost the entire time. Mostly Harbourfront Kids Camp, but Little A also did a week of sleepaway camp, and loved it. She wants to go for a month next year. We gotta start saving now!! Both girls also went to Kingston and stayed with my parents last week. So last week was really the summer holiday for Adam and I. No driving the girls anywhere, no preparing food for them, no listening to them fighting...it was glorious!

Tomorrow Big A starts grade 6 and Little a starts grade 3. I am probably more nervous than they are. There will be more homework, and so many extracurriculars, that just thinking about coordinating everyone's schedules makes my head hurt! Big A insisted on having us sign her up for 4 different dance classes this year. Little A is doing gymnastics again, they both do swimming and Hebrew school too. Big A also joins virtually every school sports team and club.

Adam's work also gets crazy between now and the Christmas holidays, so I suspect somewhere around November we will all likely lose our minds. Then we'll go to Florida over the holidays.

Even more exciting is Adam and I finally booked our trip to Israel for February. This airplane hater is going to have to drug myself to sleep for the flight. I am already having nightmares about it. Nevertheless, I am excited. And no, we are not bringing the kids.

My 43rd birthday is coming up. Not a major milestone, and not a nice even number either. But the only alternative to aging for humans is not a good one, so I will take it. I am also grateful to be strong and healthy. Really strong. I can kick ass! I also feel like I have slipped into a more peaceful state of mind. I have finally been able to let go of a lot of the nagging woulda, shoulda, coulda, negative self-talk that used to consume me. That, I think, is the advantage of aging...the wisdom that comes with it!

So yay, for a new school year, another birthday and waking up each day to a new opportunity for health and happiness!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Honest Company: Product Review


If you are a mom, than you've probably heard of Jessica Alba's Honest Company.

Just introduced in Canada a few years ago, the company sells products that are touted as all natural and non-toxic. They have lines of personal care products, household cleaners and baby care items.

The company claims to use sustainable production methods, fair labour practices and has a commitment to social responsibility.

In terms of their products, they offer the following explanation of their efforts to ensure safety:

Our definition of safety
Our Honest approach takes full consideration of potential chronic (long-term) impacts, exposure routes, unique windows of vulnerability and a wide spectrum of potential health impacts including carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, allergenicity, neurotoxicity and more. It’s a lot more to consider and weigh, but we think our children are worth it.

We create meaningful lists.
Some companies play on consumers’ fears by saying they don’t use certain chemicals in their products — even if that type of product never contains it. (For example, some food brands label their chicken “hormone-free” and pop a premium price tag on it when the reality is that ALL chicken is hormone-free because the USDA banned the practice in the 1950s!) You can trust that the Honestly FREE Guarantee you find on each product is a meaningful list specific to that product. Each one is a unique and important list of ingredients that can be found in similar products.

Our list is always growing.
While each product has a unique guarantee, as a company, we keep a master list of ingredients we’ll never consider for use in anything. Period. We confirm, to the best of our knowledge, based on information from our raw material and packaging suppliers and manufacturing partners that our products are Honestly Made Without: phthalates (DEHP, BBP, DBP, DMP, DEP); PVC; formaldehyde carriers; alkylphenols; benzene; TEA (Triethanolamine); MEA (Monoethanolamine); parabens; phosphates; chlorine processing; chlorinated or brominated solvents; ceteareth 20; resorcinol; bronopol; quaternium 15; triclosan; sulfur oxides; organohalides; hexavalent chromium; DMDM hydantoin; organophosphate pesticides; 1,4 - dioxane; SLS/SLES (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates); optical brighteners; mineral oil; petrolatum; BPA (bisphenol-A); a-chlorotoluene

This is just the short list of hundreds of chemicals that we’ve opted NOT to use in our products. And our list is always growing.
The only exception to this claim (to be perfectly transparent and honest) is that we cannot account for or always eliminate background contamination or cross-contamination. For example, most soils naturally contain trace amounts of arsenic which can then end up in plants grown in the soil. This is standard for all products, no matter who the manufacturer is, but we do our best to proactively find the purest, most unadulterated ingredients.

We’re über-vigilant to the latest science.
We stand behind the safety of our products, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to do better. Every. Single. Day.
You can rest assured that we’re doing our very best to understand every nuance of the complex world of toxicology. We’re hyper-attentive to staying abreast of the latest science, actively consulting with our own internal scientific team, conducting chemical safety profiling, referring to green chemistry reports, adapting to new international standards and examining credible lists of unacceptable ingredients (like the International Chemical Secretariat’s Substitute It Now list). And should any new regulations, studies or real risks become apparent and concerning to us or our community, we quickly assess the data, modify our approach and immediately update our formulation (that’s how we roll)!

I know some people will still find these products too commercialized and not natural 'enough', but I am not one of those people. I don't worry obsessively about toxins. If you want to bath with nothing but organic rose petals, or some gloopy thing you whipped up in your kitchen, go ahead.

Though I've wanted to try these products for a while, I hadn't had a chance yet, so I was thrilled when the company sent me some of them to sample. A generous box arrived with shampoo/body wash, conditioner and bubble bath in three varieties: Sweet Orange Vanilla, Dreamy Lavender, and Apricot Kiss. They also sell unscented for those with sensitive noses.

Little A and I usually shower together so we sampled them together. We both liked them a lot. Little A thought the scents were a little light but I like that they aren't over powering. We both felt the shampoo lathers just enough, and that the conditioner is creamy enough to do its job. Having dry hair, I am particularly choosy about conditioners and this one does the job. Its not as moisturizing as some of the heavy duty ones I've used, but its good enough for humid summer days, so that's saying something.

I have very sensitive skin but neither I nor Little A had any adverse reactions to the products.

Do I recommend these products? Yes, they work well and they give me enough confidence that I am using safe products on myself and my children. They are premium, mind you, so along with that comes a premium price. The line is readily available in drug stores here across Toronto.  If the products are not available where you live, you can order them online.

Disclosure: I was sent the products to review but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Monday, August 21, 2017

New Quest Bar Flavours

Good morning! I hope you're Monday is going well so far. Mine has not been stellar. Little A woke up as a total grumpy-pants, and the weather forecast calls for temps feeling like 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit). Blech!

I attended the Canadian Fitness Professionals World Fitness Expo this past weekend, but don't have much to share about it, frankly. A few of the sessions I did by TRX were extremely disappointing. I actually found great deals on clothes at the tradeshow so bought a bunch of stuff for Big A and I (she is now bigger than me and giving me hand me downs!). The most interesting thing I did was watch Jillian Michaels do a half hour Q&A. I mentioned hearing her talk for a few minutes last year and being surprised by how gracious she seemed. Well, even moreso this time. She really is humble and down-to-earth, which is so different from the persona she has in a lot of her videos. Also, loved that she reassured us she didn't vote for Trump!

One thing there was a ton of at the tradeshow was protein bars! None new to me though. In any case, I thought I'd post a review of 2 Quest bar flavours that are new to me.

You know I am loyal to my Double Chocolate Chunk Quest bars. But every once in a while I will try a different flavour just to experiment.

Since I adore mocha, I had to try the Mocha Chocolate Chip. The first one I was ambivalent about. They definitely aren't as sweet as the Double Chocolate Chunk ones, and the chunks or chips in them are more crumbly (they are supposed to have cookie crumbles and chips, but it all seems like crumbles to me). As I tried them again and again (I bought a box of 12), I liked them more and more. As much as my favorites? Nope.



Initially being completely disinterested in the Blueberry Muffin flavour, I suddenly was eager to try them. Sometimes I get chocolated out, you know what I mean?

I bought 2 boxes of these babies because there was a good sale.

I love the blueberries, and the white chocolate chunks. The so-called muffin chunks, or whatever they are supposed to be are a bit weird. But overall, I like these too, and they are perfect when I want a non-chocolate flavour protein bar snack.

At the conference, everyone got a free Quest bar in their registration package. I got an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie one, which I have given to the girls. But, at the tradeshow, it was one of the few companies that didn't offer free samples. Interestingly, neither did GNC, unlike in past years. WTF? Its all about the free samples man!

Have a good week!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fresh Back: Product Review


If you workout regularly or play sports, than you know how funky athletic wear can get. After a while, they start to stink, even right after they've come out of the wash.

Its a total bummer because it limits your workout wear lifespan, and that stuff isn't cheap!

I will sometimes soak my clothes in vinegar and baking soda, or saturate in Febreze for fabric, before throwing them in the wash. But those are temporary solutions...and admittedly, you end up smelling like a pickle from the vinegar.

Since Adam and I workout at home, we probably don't have to worry as much as folks who are around other people at gyms or are part of a team, but eventually we can gross each other out if things get too bad. So I was thrilled to take up the offer to try Fresh Back, which promises to get the stink out of your clothes and keep it that way for a few months, or even up to a year.

It involves a 2 step process, with 3 different products that work together. First you wash your clothes with the detergent. Next, you leave your clothes in the machine and wash again (with cold water) using the freshener and bonder. Than you dry as per usual. It can be used in any kind of washing machine, and even with hand washing.

Of course, one of my first questions was, what's in this stuff? Having sensitive skin, I always worry I will get an allergic reaction. The answer is as follows:

Premium Detergent: Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Metasilicate, Trisodium Citrate Dihydrate, Sodium Percarbonate, Dodecylbenzenesulfonic Acid, Sodium Salt, Alcohol Ethoxylate, Amorphous Silica. 

Freshener: Water, Color Stabilizer 

Bonder: Citric Acid, Anhydrous 

While some of these ingredients may sounds scary, I looked them all up, and none are anything to worry about. Just don't eat the stuff or rub it into your eyeballs. If you are one of these folks who obsesses about toxins, then you probably would never use this...but then again, you probably stink and don't care anyways.

In any case, I got no adverse reactions from it and I threw my entire workout wear drawer into the washer with it.

So does it work? Well it hasn't been a few months yet, but after the initial wash, everything did come out stink free! The clothes I have worn since definitely smell fresher, though perhaps not like a lavender sachet.

Do I recommend Fresh Back? Absolutely! Thrown away clothes just ends up in the landfill, and having to replace your workout wear frequently is a huge expense. I think its a great idea!

They also sent us their outdoors version, which I will for sure be using when Little A returns from sleepaway camp. Heck, her sleeping bag, and everything will go in!

Disclosure: I was sent the product to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Knixteen/Knixwear Period Proof Underwear: Product Review


Its tough to menstruate.

While being capable of creating life is undoubtedly miraculous, the whole experience of menstruation more or less sucks.

Even women who don't have severe PMS or menstrual disorders probably don't enjoy the monthly cramping, bloating, headaches, digestive upset, mood swings, and other lovely things that typically occur. And no one enjoys having to worry about leaks!

I for one tend to wear black pants or skirts during my period every month, just in case there is a leak so it will be less visible. But depending where you are and what you are doing, it can be really embarrassing!

Thankfully, new technology is now being developed to make managing your period easier, and make leaks a thing of the past.

I was really excited when Knixwear, one of the companies devoted to creating period proof clothes for women, sent me some of their leak proof underwear to try. Specifically, they sent me a couple pairs made for teens, but since I am small, they fit me perfectly anyways.

They do warn that they are meant to fit snuggly, but that's how I like my underwear to fit. Having no waist or hips to speak of, if mine don't fit snuggly, they'll slide right down to my ankles.

I loved these the moment I slid them on. They are thin and sleek and feel a lot like the Lululemon underwear I have, which are my favorites.

At first I still wore a tampon with them because I was skeptical that they were really leak proof. Eventually I gave them a shot and found them to do the job. In fact, I wore them overnight without anything else one night, and they still came through!

Whether you are a teen a 20-something or a pre-menopausal 30, 40 or 50 something, I definitely recommend Knix wear. On top of peace of mind, they also allow you to save money by using fewer tampons and pads, as well as save the environment from all that waste!

The company also makes bras, and I am tempted to try them too. I am such a rare size (big cup, small band), that its hard for me to find things that fit and are comfortable. Their sizing is much more flexible.

You definitely pay a premium for these undies, but its very worth it I think. Thanks Knixwear!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Time to Think About Death


A year or two ago my mom read a book about death, Being Mortal, that she raved about. She gave the book to Adam, who read it, and raved about it. They both told me I had to read it, but I put it off until now.

Like many people, death is something I try to NOT think about. I am not concerned about what will happen to me after I die. I am more concerned with how and when it will happen. But because this is something I can easily get anxious about, I wasn't eager to read the book in case it got me all worked up.

Fortunately, it did not. I even read it as my nighttime reading, which is unusual for me, because normally I reserve that time for fiction.

But I am here now to rave about it and tell you you need to read it too!

To be more specific, the book is about how we view death and how death is treated in Western Medicine. Its written by an American surgeon, Atul Gawande, who I now worship.

It examines what is really important, and what we should really focus on at the end of life. We tend to focus on longevity at the expense of quality.

It made me think of my beloved Grandma Ruth and the last few years of her life she spent in a nursing home. The nursing home was supposed to be one of the best in Manhattan, and that is very depressing. Sure, the staff were great. But an institution is an institution and those places are a miserable hell. Luckily, my grandma basically died of old age, though she had dementia the last few years, so we didn't have to make tough decisions about treatments, resuscitation, etc. But nonetheless, I found the whole situation very upsetting. She had been a very sharp, active woman her whole life and for the last few years she didn't leave the building and basically slept away most of every day. Every time I think about it, my heart hurts.

Gawande says our fear of death prevents us from thinking about how we want to die, and informing our loved ones. This often leads to terrible ends for people (unnecessary painful treatments and surgeries, nursing homes, hospital stays, etc.) and people dying in institutions, instead of at home surrounded by loved ones. He is so right!

Though he supports assisted dying in extreme situations, he points out that if we planned better for our deaths and communicated our wishes better with loved ones and care givers, it would be necessary much less often.

There were only a few spots in the book that got me anxious, particularly, when he discussed a few patient cases involving young people dying of incurable cancer (that basically is my worst fear). Most of it features stories of the elderly, which I can handle better.

The issue, Gawande argues, isn't just dependent on individuals, but also on major changes to the medical system and how we treat terminal illness and disability. Nursing homes are awful places period. Assisted living in its truest form, is much better, as is hospice care.

While this may seem like a depressing topic, its essential reading I think. Because we all will die one day. That's inevitable.

Okay, order the book and then have a good day!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sparkling Ice: Product Review


The topic of beverages is a hot one. Even when we are talking about cold ones (ha ha).

You must live under a rock if you are unaware of the health risks of drinking sweetened beverages. Pop, and even juice are linked with obesity and Type II diabetes.

Even diet drinks, however, are now on the hit list for many health conscious consumers. Some experts have raised concerns that artificial sweeteners may actually increase blood sugar, and promote overeating or weight gain, though the evidence is still weak. Just last week the media blew up over results of a new study from the University of Manitoba with headlines claiming that artificial sweeteners may "...cause weight gain and increase risk of heart disease." Here is the reality. It is a meta-analysis, which means it used past studies as units of measurement. Few of the studies done on this topic, and used in the analysis, are randomized, controlled studies, and even the researchers who conducted the review admit that the results do not prove a causal association.

There is no doubt that the healthiest option is to simply drink water. Period. Dress it up with lemon and cucumber slices if you must. Perhaps have the occasional unsweetened tea or coffee, if necessary. But that's it, end of story.

Unfortunately, most people don't want to be so limited in terms of what they can drink. People like bubbles, and people really like flavour. Sweet flavour.

I am one of those people. I also don't sweat having artificial sweeteners here and there. I have yet to find solid research showing harm so the occasional diet soft drink, etc., is something I have without too much concern.

I would personally rather have a diet drink than consume 150 empty calories of sugar water. If it came down to that or plain water, I'd just choose water, because, frankly, I don't think any sweetened drinks are worth their calories (if I am going to drink my calories, I'll take it in the form of alcohol, thank you very much!).

I hate cola and most pop, diet or otherwise, so if I do want to purchase flavoured bubbles, I will reach for something like Sparkling Ice. I'd only tried their grapefruit flavour, so I was thrilled when they sent us a package of their other flavours to try.

The also offer:

  • Black Raspberry
  • Orange Mango
  • Kiwi Strawberry
  • Coconut Pineapple
  • Lemon Lime
  • Cherry Limeade
They are sweetened with sucralose, so for you folks convinced it is poison (no evidence this is true), than these drinks are not for you. Ingredients wise, my only complaint is the artificial colours. To me, they are so damn unnecessary. Do we really all have to behave like children and only consume things that look like unicorns? If they were all clear and colourless, I would be fine with that.

The girls, of course, wanted them all, but I allowed them each to choose just one to try. Little A chose Kiwi Strawberry, and Big A Lemon Lime, and since these were the two that appealed to me least, I was happy to oblige.

I liked Cherry Limeade best, but all were good. Little A loved Kiwi Strawberry and said the flavour kind of overwhelmed the bubbliness (which is a positive for her as she doesn't like strong carbonation). Big A loved the Lemon Lime and asked, "Why would anyone drink the sugary stuff? This tastes better."

Do I recommend this product? For an alternative to a sugary soda, for an occasional treat? Sure. But again, plain water should be your go-to beverage the vast majority of the time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook


Indian food is SO DAMN DELICIOUS!

Aspects of it are very nutritious: lots of veggies, legumes and spices. But Indian food can also be very high calorie thanks to liberal amounts of ghee, cream, coconut, etc., and very high carb, thanks to lots of rice and breads served with most meals. Its not always a good choice for those struggling to lose weight or manage Type II diabetes.

Your best bet is to skip the Indian restaurant meals, and cook your own Indian cuisine at home, where you can control what goes in it.

If you don't know where to start when it comes to Indian cooking, let alone healthy Indian cooking, a good place to start is with the Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook, published by the American Diabetes Association.

Its written by May Abraham Fridel, a food literacy advocate, author and spice company owner in the U.S.

The book is a comprehensive guide to both popular and more exotic Indian dishes. It starts with a guide to the spices, staples and cooking techniques in Indian cuisine.

Then there are 15 chapters full of recipes. Yes, 15! They include:

Healthy Breakfasts
Appetizers, Snacks and Street Food
Chicken and Vegetable Curries
Soups and Dals
Elegant and Exotic Dinners
Fish and Seafood Delicacies
Regional Delicacies
Kebabs and Grilled Dishes
Indian Flatbreads
Whole-Grain One-Pot Meals
Health Sides
Slaws and Salads
Desserts
Sweet and  Savory Drinks
Condiments, Chutneys, and Raitas

Small amounts of oil and cream are used in some recipes, but most are relatively low-fat, and are sweetened with stevia, or honey or maple syrup, rather than sugar.

There are no recipes, that I saw, using white rice. Instead, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains are used. All the flat bread recipes use whole grains instead of white and ample amounts of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and spices are used for flavour in everything.  Nutrition profile for each serving is provided for every recipe. The middle of the book has photos of some recipes but for others you will have to do without.

While most people will recognize things like Chana Masala, Rogan Josh, Dal, Chicken Korma, etc., there are others that are less common in North American restaurants and sound delicious. How about Masala Lamb Chops with Parsnips and Pears?? Or for breakfast, Burgur Wheat Upma, a savoury dish with cashews??? I also am going to have to try the Baked Spicy Kale Chaat (basically Indian spiced kale chips)  and Phal Ki Chaat (masala spiced fruit salad), and Tofu Bhurj (spiced scrambled tofu).

If you stock your kitchen beforehand with the staple ingredients, the recipes will not be difficult to make. Those living in areas where some of the ingredients are hard to find (like fresh curry leaves), can just omit them and make do with what you have. Don't be intimidated. Just because Indian cuisine has lots of spices and complex flavours, doesn't mean its difficult to make!

So do I recommend this book? If you love Indian food, absolutely! Cooking your own rather than going to a restaurant or ordering take-out, will always save you money and whole lot of calories.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Homemade Strawberry "Quest" Bars


If you avoid protein bars because you worry about the ingredients, don't like the taste of most of them, or can't afford the expense (These days the good ones are over $3 each!), than make your own.

These are so super easy and you can customize them to your taste and nutritional needs.

Using Vitafiber syrup makes them high in fibre. Using a plant-based protein powder will keep them vegan, and if you use coconut flour, instead of almond flour, they are nut-free.

If you don't want strawberry flavour, you can sub another type of freeze dried fruit. You can also make them a bit more decadent by drizzling melted chocolate over top. But in warm weather, that will make them a bit messier if you are eating them on the go.

Homemade Strawberry "Quest" Bars

1.5 cups Vitafiber syrup (or other IMO syrup)
2 cups vanilla or berry flavoured protein powder, sugar-free
1 cup freeze dried strawberries, whirled in blender
8 tbsp coconut flour (or 10 tbsp almond flour)
1 tsp beet juice powder (optional)

Pour syrup into pot and heat until bubbling over medium. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. Dump dough into parchment lined baking dish (either 9x9 for thicker bars, or 9x12 for thinner bars). Chill until firm. Remove from pan with parchment paper. Cut into desired size and shape. Keep in airtight container in cool place for up to 3 weeks.

I have shared this recipe with Urban Naturale's Plant-based Pot-Luck party.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada!


I know Canada's birthday was Saturday, but its still a national holiday here today. So yay for long weekends!!

Its been great so far. Adam's brother and his family are visiting from Vancouver. Though I had to work Friday evening and Saturday morning, everyone came over to our place Saturday evening for a BBQ, and yesterday we went to Adam's sister's son's birthday party, so there has been lots of celebrating. I have the day off until tonight when I have a Skype counselling session with clients.

There has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday due to our colonial history. We are certainly not the only country who have a sordid history in this regard. What's more troubling is how horrible conditions continue to be for our indigenous peoples.

That being said, I do strongly believe we have a lot to be proud of as a country. I have clients from all over the world who immigrate to Canada because of our acceptance of diversity and multiculturalism.

I am extremely grateful to live here and be raising my children here. And I don't care where you live, we make better beer than you do!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Be a Freezer Fanatic


My long time readers know I am a Freezer Fanatic. If you care about your health, and time and money, you should be too.

Filling your freezer with the right foods means you always have ingredients on hand to make healthy, tasty meals. It is also a great way of reducing food waste.

Here is what to stock up on:

  • Frozen fruits and veggies (they are just as healthy - sometimes even better - than fresh)
  • Meat and fish (I mostly buy fresh and then freeze, but also buy frozen chicken breasts from Costco and frozen seafood)
  • Whole grain bread, pita, wraps, etc. that you are not using immediately. (They will get moldy quickly at room temp, and get stale in the fridge)
  • Leftovers (if you've made a huge batch of chili, pasta sauce, soup, etc., freeze in individual or family serving size containers for a meal when you have no time to cook)

Basically any food you aren't using can be frozen instead of letting it go off and then having to throw it away. This includes fruit and veggies (cut up first), milk and other dairy, eggs (crack into ice cup trays), sauces (freeze pesto in ice cup trays for quick access) and more.

Honestly, if you are not using your freezer, you are wasting a lot of time and money on food (and wasted food).

This ends my series on how to stock a healthy kitchen. So throw away those takeout menus (or apps, I guess is what people use now), and start cooking!!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pantry Staples



I am going to admit upfront that we (mostly me) are food hoarders.  The photo above is NOT our pantry. Ours doesn't look photo worth. We like to be well stocked with our staples, and when we find our favorites on sale, we stock up big time. We also have a Costco membership, and, well, you know how that goes!

If you want to make it easy to be able to make quick, healthy meals at anytime, here are some things to make sure you have on hand (and these are the things you will find in our pantry...and massive storage room):


  • Canned beans and lentils and dried beans/lentils
  • Canned tuna, salmon and/or sardines
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and other condiments
  • Dried herbs and spices (buy in small quantities as they lose their flavour quickly, unless you use them a lot)
  • Dried pasta, rice, oats, quinoa and/or other grains
  • Jarred salsa and pasta sauce
  • Nut butters
  • Whole grain flours, cocoa powder, sweeteners (coconut sugar, xylitol, stevia, etc.), and other baking ingredients
  • Vinegar (white, cider, red wine, white wine, rice, etc.)
  • Oils (avocado, olive, toasted sesame, etc.)
  • Dried fruit, nuts, seeds
The great thing about stocking your pantry is that the items are non-perishable, so you don't have to be planning to use them immediately. It also means you will be well fed at least for some period of time, if there is an apocalypse.


Monday, June 12, 2017

What's in Our Fridge


Is your fridge bare except for a 6 pack of beer and an old jar of pickles?

Or is it full of a carton of sour milk and 50 bottles and jars of 3 year old condiments?

We are a family with a full fridge. Always.

Its usually over-full on market days, twice a week, but really its only empty when we go away on holiday.

I don't understand how people live without fresh food available, if they can afford it. When our contractor doing our renos last summer recommended we unplug our fridge and live without it for a few weeks it was no deal. NO WAY JOSE!

So what takes up all the space in our fridge?

Here are the things we always have on hand:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cheese, veggie meat, tempeh/tofu, etc.
  • Milk, eggs, egg whites, yogurt
  • Miso, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, sugar-free ketchup, salsa
  • Non-hydrogenated margarine
  • Minced garlic in a jar, pickles, olives
  • Salad dressing, sugar-free bbq sauce, maple syrup
  • Shirataki noodles
Many of my weight loss clients say they stop buying fresh fruits and veggies because the end up always throwing half of it away uneaten. OMG, wasted food makes me CRAZY! There is an easy way to prevent this. First, plan your meals. Before we head to the market, I plan the meals I am going to make and buy accordingly, so I don't buy stuff that will languish too long in the fridge. Second, if you do end up with stuff you can't use right away, cook or bake with it for the future, or at least freeze it.

Many of my clients also admit their weakness is a lack of motivation to cook at the end of the day and giving in to take-out. But if you have a well stocked fridge, it can take just minutes to whip up a healthy, yummy meal such as a main course salad, omelet, or sandwiches.

Fill your fridge, cook at home and your body (and your wallet) will thank you!!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Baby Gourmet Shakers


Any parent knows it can be a real challenge to get nutritious food into kids. So when Baby Gourmet offered to send me their new Shakers nutrition supplement for kids aged 1 and older, I thought it might be a great idea. They generously sent us 16 bottles of them, half vanilla, and half chocolate!

The best way to describe it is its basically "Ensure" for kids. Unfortunately, that is not a compliment. You know, that's the meal replacement they often give seniors or people lacking appetite, that is essentially chemicals and sugar with added vitamins.

Shakers are not nearly that bad, but my basic criticism is the second ingredient is SUGAR (after whole milk)! For that reason, I would never buy these for my kids, and I certainly would never have bought them when the girls were toddlers. Like couldn't they sweeten them with banana puree or something?

Sure, the sugar is organic, but who gives a crap? Its still sugar.

The girls certainly liked them. Big A liked both flavours, but Little A only liked the chocolate. I guess if you have a kid who is struggling to gain weight and doesn't eat many other foods with added sugars, these aren't so bad, but both my kids already eat way too much sugar (thanks to spending their allowances on junk, school events, daycare, birthday parties and pretty much anywhere we go, since our society encourages kids to eat garbage 24/7).

If your kids are like mine, I don't recommend Shakers. Fortunately, the company, which happens to be Canadian (I do love that!), also sells organic baby foods and snacks, many of which are a whole lot more nutritious than Shakers. In fact, they look great. Organic and free of added sugars and fillers. I recommend you stick with their other products for your little ones.

Disclosure: I was sent Shakers to review, but all opinions on this blog are our own.

I am going to be posting on Mondays from now on, and hopefully more often when I can.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Busy Body


The time I have available for blogging seems to keep shrinking. I used to try to write as many posts as I could ahead of time but I got nothin' for you right now. I have lots of posts and product reviews I plan to write, but haven't yet, and I have just been turning down requests for book reviews because I don't have the time. I used to read on the subway or bus to and from work, but now that I work closer to home, I've been riding my bike.  In fact, have just a few minutes to write this before jumping on my bicycle and rushing off to the office.

To be honest, I couldn't be more thrilled about my dearth of time to blog. My practice has just gotten too busy, and there are too many other balls to juggle. But I am loving it all and so grateful to have a career I adore. Life is really good! I am trying desperately to still get out 3 posts per week, but I may have to cut back. I will keep you posted on that.

Sorry folks, all I can do is wish you a happy, healthy weekend, and I promise that come Monday there will be a new post.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Favorites

Happy Hump Day!

I thought I'd share a few of the things I am enjoying recently.

First, this cold brew from Loblaws. Once the weather heats up, hot coffee is a no go for me. This stuff is awesome, with a bit of sweetener (I use stevia) and cream or milk.

Unfortunately, its expensive. The carton is $3.99, which is about 2.5 servings for me, so it will not be something I buy regularly.

Loblaws also hits it out of the park with this Greek Yogurt Tatzkiki Spread. It is so yummy! You can smoosh it onto veggies, or a sandwich or burger. I am loving this stuff!

These wrist grips I got have been making my workouts better.

My forearms frequently cramp when I am lifting super heavy weights while doing deadlifts, etc. These are very helpful for preventing that. My one complaint is I find it a bit awkward to get them wrapped around the bar or dumbbell, which slows down my workout.

Finally, are you familiar with JP Sears, the comedian/life coach? He is frickin' hilarious. I love how he parodies the health and wellness industry. When I need a good laugh, he's my go-to guy.


Well that's all folks, have a wonderful day!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Super Easy Beer Bread


Good morning, and welcome to a new week! How does hot homemade bread, right out of the oven sound?

If the idea of making homemade bread seems intimidating to you, you have to try this recipe! It is so easy, its ridiculous!

I made it with organic spelt flour, but you could probably make it with different types as well. A gluten-free mix and gluten-free beer would probably even work, if you have to avoid gluten. It is also 100% vegan.

Its fresh, free of junk and preservatives, and doesn't even use yeast. Easy peasy, healthy and delicious!

Super Easy Beer Bread

3 cups whole grain flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 355ml bottle beer

Stir together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Pour in beer and mix, just until combined. Scrape batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 375F for 50-55 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool and then remove from pan. Store wrapped at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze.

I have shared this recipe with Urban Naturale's Plant-based Pot-Luck Party link up.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hyperbiotics: Product Review


As I am sure you well know, supplements are a huge industry. Go to any pharmacy, grocery store or health food store and there is a dizzying array said to cure or treat pretty much everything.

Some are amazing, many are okay, and many more are totally bogus. I don't take many compared to a lot of people I know. Just Vitamin D, CoQ10, and probiotics. I don't need antioxidants or calcium or a multi, not when I get about 300 servings of fruits and veggies every day, as well as whole grains, beans, soy, eggs, dairy and poultry. My diet is sufficiently healthy and varied, so I chose to save my pennies where I can.

But probiotics I am a big fan of. There is actually research behind their utility, and that matters a shitload to me. I have tried various brands and some definitely are better than others.

One critique I've heard is that our digestive juices may break them down when consumed in supplement form, before they have time to fully work. So some people recommend eating things like yogurt instead. Unfortunately, analyses of various consumer food products claiming to contain probiotics found that many of them contain much less than advertised or not enough to have any therapeutic value.

In any case, as someone with a history of IBS, I am all about finding the best probiotics out there so had no problem agreeing to review hyperbiotics PRO-15.

The claim is that they are formulated to bypass stomach acids so they reach your intestinal tract providing greater efficacy. They also don't need to be refrigerated, unlike many other brands of probiotic supplements.

There are also a bunch of different varieties to target different needs, from general digestive health, to dental health, to one just for kids.

According to their own lab research, their supplements are supposedly 15 times more effective than standard probiotic capsules. Since they don't provide the raw data in their literature nor on their website, and since the results have not been peer reviewed, its hard to know how accurate this is.

So what's my view on them? I have been taking them now for 2 weeks, and, honestly, my tummy has felt noticeably better. But my anecdotal experience is not scientific evidence. I do love that they don't have to be refrigerated since our fridge is always too full anyways, and it means you can take them when you travel. They are reasonably priced too, compared to other probiotic brands.

My only complaint is that because the pearls are round, they roll off the breakfast table. I guess you just have to pop them in your mouth directly from the bottle.

So, overall, I am quite happy with them and will definitely be switching to them as my go-to brand. They are available online and with free shipping for Canadians as www.amazon.ca .


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mouth Wide Shut



One of the first things I'd do if I won a lottery, is high someone to exclusively prepare the kids' meals. I'd cook my own, because I love cooking, but not for them.

They drive me effin crazy daily with their pickiness, and Big A, in particular, changes her mind dramatically about what she likes and doesn't like on a dime.

I try not to worry, but their diets suck. Little A avoids veggies at all costs.  And Big As is way too heavy on sugar and carbs. Its even worse now that she has an allowance and is old enough to walk to a store and buy stuff on her own.

I know I am not alone. Many parents struggle with this stuff and its tough.

One debate among parenting experts is whether or not its a good idea to hide veggies and fruit in other foods to get your kids to eat them. Some people think its better to try and serve them to your kids a hundred times until they decide they like them.

I don't really know why this has to be an EITHER/OR thing. Its never been the case in this house. I openly serve them veggies, but I also hide them in their food whenever I can. Why not? I don't see the harm. And don't give me crap about the ethics of tricking your kid. Even if it is unethical, I don't give a rats ass.

Anyways, one of my favorite ways to hide veggies is to buy frozen cauliflower and puree it. No green bits, and frozen has a much less pungent flavour and smell than fresh.  Recently, I discovered that adding frozen cauliflower into their smoothies is brilliant. They didn't have a freakin' clue! I am going to do this until the day they each leave the house (at that point I suspect they will adopt the student diet of Kraft dinner and beer).


Friday, May 19, 2017

15 Years of Craziness...I mean Bliss




Today Adam and I celebrate 15 years of marriage. Holy Crap! We've been together 17 years. Insane!

Not a day goes by that I don't thank the universe that we somehow found each other way back then. The current dating environment is horrendous. We managed to get together just before the online dating thing was starting, and man, I am so so grateful! What a shit show. I desperately worry for my children.



Of course, I am not just grateful that I found SOMEONE, I am grateful I found a great someone. Without a doubt I love Adam a whole lot more than I did back then. We have both grown up so much and I have watched him become the most amazing and devoted father to our girls. He is beyond hard working both in terms of his career and helping out to run our household. He is absolutely my best friend and I feel very lucky.


I have to work tonight, but tomorrow we celebrate. In our own unique way of course. The girls are spending the night at my in-laws.

I contemplated booking us reservations at a fancy restaurant and scoured the city for an appropriate choice. But to be honest, I find the Toronto restaurant scene has gotten so pretentious, and since I love to cook and eat, I don't get much satisfaction in going to some loud, crowded joint to drop $200+ dollars on a meal so small we have to eat again when we get home.

Finally, I decided to make us dinner but then was undecided on what to make. I thought fish because we both love it, but then I realized we have it a lot. I thought maybe something unusual like duck or ostrich but Adam isn't always on the same page as me with stuff like that so I wasn't sure he'd even be open to that. I know he loves beef, but I am not in the mood. So I went back to fish. First, I thought Black Cod, but its super expensive and not available except at specialty stores and fish mongers and I didn't want to be running around the city for ingredients. Eventually I settled on Arctic Char, which I have never made us because its way more expensive than trout or salmon. Hey, its a special occasion. Side dishes will be cauliflower mash and local asparagus.

Then there was the issue of bubbly. I like prosecco but Adam doesn't really. We both like beer. So I thought it would be fun for us to head over to a local craft brewer in our neighbourhood. The weather is supposed to be nice, so hopefully we can sit at one of their outdoor tables.

For dessert I baked us a spicy ginger black bean chocolate layer cake. Ha, I bet if Adam knew I'd be making him this for our 15th anniversary, he never would have married me! But seriously, I am very lucky to have a partner as devoted to a healthy lifestyle as I am. Also lucky to have a man as totally nutty as I am.


Its also a long weekend here (Victoria Day Weekend), so even though I work both Saturday and Sunday, I am sure we will get out and about with the girls and make the most of it. Have a happy, healthy long weekend!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Litehouse Dips: Product Review


Like many parents, I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into my kids. Neither of my kids are vegetable lovers, and they are extremely fickle. One day the one vegetable they are willing to eat and the next they scream at the sight of it. It can be a wee bit frustrating!

Salad is almost always a hard sell. They have each gone through brief periods of enjoying specific types of salad, but generally, plain raw veggies are the safest bet. So when Litehouse asked me to review their products, the first thing I went for was one of their dips.

I choose the light ranch variety and presented it to the girls with a plate of their favorite raw veggies (which right now is baby carrots, sweet peppers and celery).

Little A informed me that she doesn't like dip, and refused to even try it. Sigh! Big A was happy to sample and even happier with the product. She gave it a 12 out of 10 and proceeded to gobble down a record amount of veggies. Raw veggies and the dip has now become a daily routine for her, either as an after school snack, or part of dinner. She even packed veggies and dip for her day long track meet last week. Wow, I am loving this!

My only complaint with the product is that it contains caraggeenan as a thickener, and stuff like maltodextrin, etc. A lot of people avoid caraggeenan because it is believed to contribute to gut inflammation. They seem to all contain some sugar, but compared to many commercially made dressings and dips, its much lower down on the ingredient list, at least.

Litehouse also makes a wide variety of salad dressings, and seasonings. If you want to avoid caraggeenan, their vinaigrettes and organic dressings are free of it, and could be used as a dip alternative.

So from a taste perspective the dip gets top marks. From a nutrition perspective, its not perfect, so if you are concerned with minimizing your intake of additives, maybe stick with Litehouse dressings over the dips.

Disclosure: The company sent us complimentary samples of the product but all opinions on the blog are our own.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Mothering


THE GIRLS' ANSWERS

By Little A:                                                    By Big A:                                                          

Erica Berman                                                   Erica

42                                                                      43 (not yet!)

Black hair, green eyes                                       Brown/red/brown hair, green/hazel eyes

Apples and broccoli                                          Carrots, apples...anything a horse would eat

Green                                                                 Green

Black                                                                  Black and comfy exercise clothes

Psychotherapist                                                  Psychotherapist and runs konjac company, and                                                                                        personal trains

The mall                                                            The massage therapist

A lot of things                                                   A lot because she has done a lot of school

Raising me and Big A                                       Making money

To not fight with my sister                                To eat healthy

Does things with me                                          Gives me a massage

...of everything she does for me                         ...she takes care of me and feeds me

Friday, May 12, 2017

SafetyTat: Product Review


Wanna get your kid inked?

No I am not talking about a full sleeve of down one arm of roses and skulls.

How about temporary tattoos with safety info like with your name/info, allergy information, etc.?

What a great idea huh? Like perfect for going to big, busy events. I think any parent can relate to the panic of thinking you've lost your child somewhere. Though abductions are much less common than most parents think, kids often wander off and simply get separated from their parents.

This idea has been brought to life by SafetyTat. The company offers several types of identifiers you simply stick on your child, either water applied tattoos that last a few days, or stickers that last 2 weeks. They also sell labels for your children's belongings, and we all know how important those are! If I only had a dollar for every thing the girls have ever lost!!

There lots of different designs to choose from that are appealing to kids, so, hopefully they won't object to having them applied. Little A was instantly fascinated with them, and, before we took the girls out to the Toronto airport last night to get them Nexus cards, she insisted on putting one on herself (she pointed out she could easily get lost in a big place like that!). She wrote Adam's cell number on it, and applied it to her arm. She then offered her feedback on it. She loved the cute butterfly design and how it felt on her skin.  Two thumbs up from this monkey!

All their products are latex-free, soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, non-toxic and water resistant.

While Big A, almost 11, is very responsible and street savvy, Little A at age 8 still tends to have her head it the clouds. Though we didn't lose her at the airport last night, a few weeks ago when I took her to the mall, she'd get distracted while we were walking and stop and look at something, and before I knew it, she'd be half way across the mall from me before I even realized she wasn't by my side! She makes me crazy that way, so I'd be happy to stick something on her that says, "Property of Erica Berman". Ha ha!

If you are interested in SafetyTats for your little one, you can purchase them right on their website.

Disclosure: SafetyTat sent me their product to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

11 Years Ago Today I Became A Mom


Today Big A turns 11.  The funny thing is, she can behave unbelievably maturely one minute, and ridiculously immaturely the next. But hey, that's true even of adults. The girl is pretty much the same size as me already and loves to prove her strength by picking me up and walking around. We can share clothes!

She is still very much a kid, yet also growing up so fast. But I can't say "It seems like just yesterday we brought her home from the hospital." It actually does seem like a long time ago, especially since its been so long since we had any babies in this house. I barely remember all the diaper changing, breast feeding, nap schedules, etc.

I couldn't be more proud of the person she has become. Big A has more courage than I've ever had. She takes risks, and tries new things enthusiastically. She is confident but also incredibly kind-hearted and empathetic.

This coming Saturday we are taking Big A and a few of her friends to an escape room in town. After that, we are taking them to a 'grown up' restaurant for gourmet pizza and then this place for sugar-filled monstrosities.

This morning I am surprising her with a breakfast of whole wheat croissants with chocolate hazelnut spread, which she is going to LOVE.

Sunday, of course, is Mother's Day. We are going to my in-laws for dinner and during the day I am going to get my gift: an electric spiralizer! Because I have come to hate doing it by hand (keep in mind how much veggies we eat in this house. That's a lot of spiralizing!!).

I may not be a perfect mom (well there is no perfect...but perhaps I am especially IMperfect), but either I am doing something right, or we just got lucky, because this kid is pretty special!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Aquafabulous!: Book Review


Welcome to a new week. I am happy to say its sunny, which is such a relief after having so much rain lately!

I have a cookbook review for you today.

Though I am not vegan, or even vegetarian, I do cook and bake that way a fair bit. Sometimes just for fun and to indulge my inner scientist, which is the case with aquafaba. Come on, you know what I'm talking about! The liquid from cans of chickpeas that can be whipped up like eggs!!

I eat boat loads of eggs (about 8 whole eggs a week plus a few cups of egg whites), but the science behind this aquafaba thing fascinates me. Though apparently how it all works isn't even totally understood.

But its also nice to have an alternative to eggs for vegans and those with egg allergies.

I've made aquafaba meringues and marshmallow fluff and they have gone over very well with the family. I once made a vegan pizza dough with aquafaba, and I regularly make chickpea and blackbean cakes and squares that include the liquid and contain no eggs, but that's as far as I've gotten with my recipe experimentation. So I was excited to receive Aquafabulous! to review.

It's full of over 100 recipes using this interesting ingredient. Its written by Rebecca Coleman, a social media consultant and food and travel blogger from Vancouver. Yay, a fellow Canadian!

The book starts with instructions on how to make your own aquafaba from dried beans. Kudos for you if you do this. I am too lazy and just open a can of beans.

Then, Coleman provides recipes for all sorts of nut and other non-dairy milks you can make. I am not sure why when they are readily available to buy, and there are a million recipes online.

There are recipes for non-dairy cheese, which look very interesting, and I hope to try, seeing as I am obsessed with nutritional yeast. Using aquafaba to make mayo, is brilliant, though given the high vegetable oil content, it is certainly not a low-cal option!

The most popular recipes, I am guessing, will be the meringue a d marshmallow fluff, since these are items that are hard to find in vegan form.

Next, there are chapters of recipes for:

  • Breakfast
  • Snacks and appetizers
  • Salads and  Sides
  • Mains
  • Baked Goods
  • Desserts
My biggest criticism is that many recipes use regular sugar and white flour. Nonetheless, most can be made with substitutions. Just replace white flour with your favorite whole grain flour (whole wheat, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, etc.) and brown sugar with coconut sugar and white sugar with stevia, xylitol, monk fruit, or erythritol.

I also find it weird that some of the recipes don't use aquafaba at all, like the soup recipes in the "Mains" section. Not that they are bad recipes, but how do they fit into this book??

There aren't too many recipes that really caught my eye, except for "Herbed Chickpea Crackers" made from just chickpea flour, seasonings, olive oil and aquafaba. I will definitely have to try those!!

So do I recommend this book? I do for anyone who is a cooking and baking newbie and is looking for some guidance on how to create vegan sweet and savoury dishes and isn't as anal as I am about nutrition (remember vegan isn't INHERENTLY healthier if it contains lots of sugar and/or refined flour!!).

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Digital Divide


Its Friday! Yay! Unfortunately, it is very rainy here, and it feels like it has been for weeks! In fact, various parts of Canada are experiencing serious flooding because of all the rainfall. Enough with the April showers already, lets have some May flowers!

Anyways...

Unless you just started reading this blog, than you know I despise smartphones. I think they are going to destroy the world.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating, but as a therapist I see how destructive they are to life and relationships. I will refrain from writing a whole diatribe about this here as I've done so before. Many times.

We are not a huge phone family. Adam and I were very slow to get smartphones and we don't use them much now that we do have them. I only use 3 apps on my phone. Instagram for my food business (because I was told EVERY food business must be on Instagram), The TTC app, so I know when the buses and streetcars are (not) coming, and the Green P app for parking in downtown Toronto. That's it. I only text with friends and families who only communicate via text (there seem to be a growing number!).


In any case, I find it absurd that everyone thinks they need one and need to be connected to it 24/7. When I see people walking down the street, or anywhere in public, absorbed in their phone, I want to smack it out of their hand. Sorry if that's you!
Big A, who is far more tech savvy than Adam or I (in fact, has a real gift for it) has been asking for a phone for a few years now. I have always scoffed and told her it isn't happening. Kids need smartphones? I think not!


But then Big A started getting more independent and walking and taking the bus places on her own. All of a sudden I started to see how having a phone might be useful. Adam has been saying for a while he wanted to get her one, but I still didn't think it was essential. Nevertheless, with her 11th birthday a few weeks away, Adam took her out to get her one. I was not thrilled, but to be honest, I almost immediately saw the benefit.

Yes, full admission, I love that Big A has a phone. In my professional work, I generally see how these stupid gadgets can be destructive, but I now see how they can sometimes have a positive affect.

Big A texts me several times a day, usually just to update me on where she is and what she's doing. But our exchanges have also become an opportunity for us to connect emotionally. She sends me emojis (I don't even know how you get emojis on your phone...is that an app?), and we send little notes to each other about how much we love each other. Yesterday she sent me one saying I am the best mom in the world! It made my heart melt.

When she texted me to tell me she made the school soccer team, I was able to text back that I was proud of her, but would be even if she hadn't made the team. She responded with kiss emojis.

I have to admit, I check my phone more frequently now, looking forward to her texts. So, like most things in the universe, I guess smartphones aren't all bad. That being said, if you are looking at yours while driving (I still see people doing this all the time!) or in any other inappropriate situation, I still think you are an asshole.

Have a nice weekend and put your phone down for 5 minutes, for goodness sakes!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Health Benefits of Furry Friends

As I have confessed before, I am a reformed Crazy Cat Woman (I hate the word lady). My hand was kind of forced because Adam is allergic, but after I had the girls, I really wasn't big on the idea of having pets anyways. My own offspring were demanding enough. Over the years, however, my obsession has started to return.

I have had to accept we will never have cats in our house again, so I fulfill my cravings virtually through cute cat photos and videos online. While this may sound silly, even this is therapeutic. Its my way to meditate, or calm my mind. Just seeing cats or hearing them purr or meow makes me feel warm all over.

If you are an animal lover, than you probably get it. Animals truly can be therapeutic.  Dogs, in particular, are often used for therapeutic reasons in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. They are companions to many people with a physical or mental impairment, allowing them to live fuller, richer lives. They can even save your life if you are in danger!

Puppyspot created this infographic summarizing all the ways that dogs can benefit your health.



Just remember that a pet is a huge commitment and it is important to find the right one for you and your family! Click here to peruse puppies.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Silipos: Product Review


Though the health benefits of regular physical activity are beyond plentiful, there are also sometimes some discomforts involved. Anyone who does endurance activities have probably experienced the discomfort of abrasions or blisters. Having sensitive skin, I have definitely had my fair share, and Adam, too, who does a lot of running, has encountered numerous problems with this. He basically has to oil up his whole body before a run!

Luckily, there are now really innovative products that can help, like those made by Silipos. They sent us a whole variety of their orthopedic foot products to try. Adam has recently developed big issues with blisters from running, so he was thrilled. The gel toe spreaders are his favorite and have eliminated his need to bandage up all his toes before each run. He wasn't as thrilled with the digital pads, because he found as he runs, they roll down and don't stay in place very well.

Adam didn't find the heel slip cover helpful, but I did. One day I woke up with heel pain, for some unknown reason, but after wearing it for the day, had no other issues with it and the pain did not return.

Many of their products are infused with aloe and other natural agents to soothe and moisturize skin. Aside from their orthopedic line, they have a skin and beauty line of products, and one for prosthetics. How cool is that?

Here is a little info on the materials they use:

Silipos polymer gel technology provides a unique dermal-delivery system that gradually diffuses USP medical grade mineral oil to impart deep moisturization for soft and supple skin. Silipos gels have been developed for numerous Medical and Beauty Care applications, and can be customized with a wide range of additives to meet specific consumer needs.
As the leading, vertically integrated manufacturer of patented polymer gel technologies in the world, many leading global corporations rely on Silipos for their product development needs. All gel development, including the incorporation of additives, is conducted in-house, as well as the base gel manufacturing and conversion to finished products.
Another unique feature of Silipos gels are the "visco-elastic" properties which allow the gel to move synergistically with the skin helping to prevent abrasion and discomfort. And of course, all Silipos gels are non-toxic, latex free and hypoallergenic.
Silipos gels are available in two primary formulations each targeting specific customers needs and product applications. Unlike silicone and urethanes, Silipos gels have additional functional capabilities, such as the release of additives that provide antimicrobial, scar reduction, and anti-aging properties, amongst others.

MINERAL OIL GEL

Our mineral oil gel is formulated with USP medical grade mineral oil which has a well established usage preference in orthotic/orthopedic applications. The core benefits provided by its mineral oil gel include:
  • Cushioning
  • Moisturizing / Softening
  • Shear Force Reduction
  • Support

TRIGLYCERIDE GEL

Silipos' patent pending triglyceride gel has been developed for a variety of skin care applications which typically require a higher rate of additive delivery. The exudation rate for our triglyceride gels can be 300% greater than mineral oil gels. Target markets for triglyceride gels include:
  • Scar Management
  • Anti-Aging
  • Severe Dry Skin

Do I recommend their products? Absolutely!! They offer such a wide variety, to address all sorts of health issues and to make movement easier and more comfortable, so I am all for that. Since they are also reusable, they are a more eco-friendly solution than bandages you have to discard after each use.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary selection of Silipos products to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.