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Showing posts from August, 2010


P1: Our research proposal has still not been approved by the Mount Sinai ethics board so I'm feeling a bit on edge. I just want to have it all finalized! In 2012, Ontario is establishing a professional body to regulate psychotherapists. Nobody knows what the criteria will be for registration, however, I know for sure that this project will go a long way towards getting me the experience and credibility I will likely need.

P2: The day Adam and I dreaded finally arrived yesterday morning - Little A learned how to say "no". Actually she doesn't just say no, she says, "nooooooooooooooooooo". Adam brought her downstairs and asked if he could change her diaper and she said, "noooooooooooooooooo". Then she ran into the livingroom and tore it off herself. Now everything is "noooooooooooooooooo".

It was quite an up and down weekend. Saturday was terrific. Everyone was in a good mood and behaved well. The girls played well together and had…

Hey Sweet Thang, Better Cut Back on the White Stuff

So after all my angst recently about my sodium consumption, I am now feeling somewhat more virtuous. There is an interview in the Toronto Star today with former science writer David Stipp who just wrote a new book called "The Youth Pill". His research has led him to conclude that sugar, even more than salt wreaks havoc on our health. He says:

"If you look at the data on aging, one thing comes through loud and clear - slow aging goes with low blood glucose and low insulin and those things tend to go up when you've got a lot of sugar in your diet."

My diet is pretty low in sugar and I eat mostly low GI (glycemic index) foods.

Sneaky places where sugar lurks are breads, bottled sauces, salad dressings and flavoured yogurts.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

It took me years to come up with a recipe for Pad Thai that I liked. This one has some traditional elements(tamarind paste and fish sauce) and non-traditional ones (ketchup/tomato paste, ginger, and garlic). Pad Thai is also not usually a spicy dish but Adam and I love spicy food, so I add hot sauce. You can use whatever mix of veggies you want. Bean sprouts are, of course, the quintessential veggie to use but I don't like them that much. You can also add other proteins such as egg, chicken and/or shrimp if you like.

Pad Thai

1 lb organic brown rice fettuccini, broken in thirds

2 tsp peanut oil
1/4 cup tamarind paste
2 tbls ketchup (or tomato paste + 1 tbls brown sugar)
2 tbls ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)

1 tsp peanut oil
1 bunch broccoli, cut in bite sized pieces (lightly steamed if you don't like it too crunchy)
2 red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers, cut in thin strips
1 carrot, julli…

A Few of My Favorite Things

Who do I think I am, Oprah?

I'm blogging my butt off right now because I have time, which I don't think I'm going to have much of next month when school starts again. This is just for fun.


Kettle valley organic fruit leathers - I have tons of these stashed everywhere, the car, my purse, the stroller, the kitchen...the kids love them and it keeps them quiet, even if just for a few minutes. They are made of organic fruit and no added sugar. Just make sure to brush teeth afterwards.

Life Choices - This company makes all sorts of healthy versions of kid friendly food. Little A loves the meatballs and fish sticks. Big A loves the chicken nuggets and both girls love the pizza. I also just found out that they make all beef, nitrite free hotdogs which are much cheaper than the Beretta Farms nitrite free turkey hotdogs I've been buying Big A (Little A won't touch hotdogs!). Their perogies are good too.

Healthy Handfuls - Organic, whole grain cookies that kids love. …

BP Rising...

P1: No word yet from Mount Sinai about our research proposal. I'm really hoping we hear from the ethics board soon. If the project is a no-go then it is far more likely that I will have time for a part-time job and my interview at the North JCC is September 7th. Even though I won't make any money doing it, the research takes priority over the job since it will contribute directly toward building my future career.

It is so nice having a bit of time off from school. Today is "get things on my to-do list done" day. I've been pretty productive but also had time to take a yoga class at the JCC.

P2: I realized recently how ironic it is that I spend half my time trying to keep my kids from killing themselves and the other half trying to keep from killing them myself. Even though I've cut back on sodium and my blood pressure is very low (like 90/60), I would be surprised if it wasn't a little elevated yesterday.

Yesterday was a nightmare. It was Little A'…

Curried Lentils and Spinach

Having drastically improved my diet for a week, I am now trying to readjust to my old diet without feeling like I'm going backwards. On one hand, it feels very weird to not continue to do what I know is healthier, on the other hand, given that after 5days I was feeling deprived, I know I cannot maintain the "perfection" long-term. And the goal of my "cleanse", after all, was to test the limits of my taste buds and find small ways to improve my usual diet. So keeping that in mind, I'm trying to eat low-sodium meals more often or find ways to decrease the sodium in my favorite recipes.

I came up with this one as another healthy lunch alternative to the usual turkey or soy meat sandwich. This takes more time to prepare, but I made it in advance today (Sunday) and made enough for a couple of lunches.

Curried Lentils and Spinach

1 tsp olive oil
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 knob fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp good qual…

Hurray for the Weekend!

P1: Well I did it: I quit my Brazilian Butt Lift class. I sent my boss a letter (email) of resignation today. Adam was right. Running around teaching fitness classes was something that I did in my 20s and it's not really fitting into my life right now. I am so sick of racing down to the financial district in the middle of each Thursday. And yesterday was the final straw: When I hopped on my bicycle to ride down there, I discovered that my rear tire was flat. I took my bike directly to the bike shop around the corner and then ran down the street trying to hail a cab. There were no cabs so I just kept running down the street trying to figure out how I was going to get there on time. Fortunately, a bus arrived so I took the bus and 2 subways and got there with 3 minutes to spare. It's just not worth it. It's not like my spinning class at the JCC which is on Sunday mornings and gives me the chance to see so many people with whom I have a personal connection. But ta…

Love and Patience

It was a very bad start to the day today. Big A made a poo at 6:35am and started calling for Adam. I came upstairs to help her wipe (yes, the joys of parenthood!) and she immediately started whimpering for Adam. I should have started hugging and kissing her to diffuse the situation but I couldn't do it, I was too angry. She has managed to go 8 days straight without a tantrum in the morning (the longest stretch she's managed to behave in the mornings in many months) but today it was back to the same old thing and I just lost it. I really didn't FEEL like giving her affection, what I felt like doing was locking her in her bedroom to scream in a place where I couldn't hear her. Unfortunately, her room has no lock. Instead, when I was not able to snap her out of it with threats of a "sad face" on her morning cooperation chart, I just started yelling at her about how sick and tired I am of this same stupid tantrum and then started asking her why she can'…

Candy Man, Salty Dog

I'm on my 2 week holiday from school...yay! September 7th is the first day of my third term of school, I'm glad to have the break as I feel like my brain has turned to mush. I gave another fitness seminar for the corporate fitness company I'm working for yesterday. It seemed to go well but seeing as it took 4 hours out of my day (2 to drive there and back because it was in Mississauga), it's not exactly lucrative for $100. I think if I get too busy once my research project starts, this will be the first thing to go.

Just 3 days into my diet cleanse and I can actually already notice a difference! Here is the low-down:

Energy - Excellent, but no different from before
Taste bud satisfaction - Confirmed, only one exception described below
Appetite satisfaction - Confirmed, although no surprise because I didn't really change my energy intake
Bloating - Much better!
Digestion - Better!!
Weight loss - 2 lbs of water already!

I am surprised how little I missed the sodium in m…

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

These turned out FANTASTIC!!!

4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices (rounds)
2 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder (this is NOT hot at all, but it's very aromatic and wonderful)

Toss sweet potato slices with oil and spice powder and arrange them in a single layer on 2 greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

I made this for the wild salmon we're having tonight. You could also serve it with chicken or any kind of seafood.

1 large mango, diced
1/2 pineapple, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbls coconut flour (optional)

Combine all ingredients and let sit at least 20 minutes for flavours to mix. Coconut flour is my new favorite ingredient. I know use it regularly to thicken up sauces and frostings. If you don't use it, it will still be great flavours. I love using vinegars to cook with and rice vinegar is fantastic. Sodium free, sugar free and calorie free but full of flavour. I use vinegars of all types everywhere to add zing to my meals. Experiment with different ones such as rice vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic, red or white wine, champagne, etc.

Power Porridge

This is a great breakfast that provides immediate and sustained energy through the combination of carbs, protein, fibre and a little omega 3 fats. It makes either 2 servings for a normal person or 1 serving for a person with an elephant-sized appetite like myself.

1.5 cups quick oats
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups water
2 tbls organic ground flax seeds
2 tsp ground psyllium fibre

Sweetener of choice and milk, as desired

Put oats, eggs, cinnamon and water in large microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 3 minutes and then stir. Cook on high for another 90 seconds. If it comes out super thick and you like a thinner consistency, add more water or milk. Stir in flax and psyllium, along with sweetener, if desired.

This kept me full for almost 5 hours today and gave me energy to walk Big A to daycare, zip to the JCC with Little A (about a 30 minute walk), do a pilates class, and walk home again before needing a snack.

The Cleanse

Well tomorrow it starts: The Cleanse! Low sodium, and no sugar, meat or wheat. But the sodium is really the key thing I want to focus on. So here's a two day menu (the rest of the days won't differ too much, I don't want to spend too much time prepping and cooking!). There is still going to be some sodium since I'm using canned beans and other items to which they add salt, but it's still low sodium because I'm rinsing them and not using anything else with a lot of added salt (I seem to love all salty things: soy sauce, dijon, fish sauce, olives, miso, etc.) so I'm making up for it with a lot of other flavour enhancers (i.e. citrus, garlic, vinegar, etc.).

Day 1

Breakfast: Power porridge

Snack: Baby carrots

Lunch: Roasted red pepper hummus, organic linseed bread, cucumber and tomato

Snack: Apple

Dinner: Mediterranean quinoa and bean stew

Day 2

Breakfast: Power porridge

Snack: Non-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries

Lunch: Corn tortilla with scrambled eggs, tomato a…

The Conference

You may wonder why I go to the CFP conference...well, I sort of have to. You need to get a certain number of CECs every year to maintain your CFP certifications and I have two: my fitness instructor and personal trainer certifications to maintain. And besides, I believe it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, equipment and information.

Actually, today wasn't so bad. The bicycle ride down to the conference centre in the heat and humidity sucked. Fighting the mobs on the multiple escalators to get to the right side of the complex sucked. But the trade show rocked! Sketchers only had running shoes but I was surprised to see MBT had a booth and they had a bunch of shoes $100 off!!! I got 2 pairs (one brown suede and black leather, both maryjane style) and while they still aren't the nicest looking things, they are definitely nicer looking than my old pair. And thank goodness I have a kind, generous husband who didn't kill me for buying 2 pairs of shoe…

The Fitness Industry

Today is the first day of the CAN-FIT-PRO (Canadian Fitness Professionals) conference. This is an annual event that draws over 6,000 fitness instructors, personal trainers and gym owners from across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. It is the largest conference of it's kind in the world and has expanded from 3 to 5 days. And I hate going. I think this is mostly because I don't really feel like I belong. There are a bunch of fitness industry "types" which I don't fit into. You have the full-time fitness instructors and personal trainers, who work in the industry for a living...and I don't usually have much in common with them. You have the young California beautiful blonde types, who are single and into partying...I definitely don't have much in common with them! You have the over 50 "moms" who teach fitness while there kids are at school all day, in between taking them to soccer practice and I don't have much in common with th…

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: I don't get any!

About six months ago things came to a head between Big A and I when I got sick of the disrespectful way she would always order me around and ignore me completely when I asked her to stop doing something (dangerous, inappropriate, annoying, etc). I was fuming on a regular basis because of her yelling at me, "Hungry!", or "I want something to eat." I finally had to resort to taking a toy away from her for a day each time she asked me to do something without saying please and thank you and being polite. Eventually it worked and she started saying her please and thank yous without having to be reminded every time and would start her sentences with, "May I please have...". Unfortunately, we are back to square one with this. Once again she is rudely ordering me around, rarely saying please or thank you and completely ignoring me when I ask her to do something or stop doing something.

I have realized that I am not more motivated to be patient with her because…

How Did I Get Here?

P1: One of my friends forwarded me a job ad that I thought was very interesting. The position is a Mind-Body Program Coordinator for the North JCC (unfortunately not the downtown one where Adam and I teach fitness). What was particularly interesting to me about the position, is that the ad mentioned a preference for someone with an MSW (Masters of Social Work), and some of necessary skills are: grant and report writing, data analysis and program management, all things that I have. The role is essentially to make connections between the JCC fitness and wellness program and other wellness organizations in the community in an attempt to make the program more accessible to all members of the Toronto Jewish community (I'm assuming, in particular, the disadvantaged ones). I didn't think I had a chance since I don't have an MSW and I'm not even half way through my program, but I decided to apply anyways. And what do you know? I have an interview for August 18th! It'…

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Drizzle

I love carrot cake, but lets face it, you can't really count it as being part of the fruits and veggies food group. It's usually to chock full of fat and sugar (and usually refined flour) to be anything except a decadent dessert. So I came up with the idea of integrating all the flavours into a healthier option: whole grain pancakes. For me, there has to be cream cheese icing involved, but if you wanted to be even more virtuous, you could just spread plain light cream cheese on them, or just a dollop of non-fat yogurt and some fresh pineapple. Or you could go the more traditional route with maple syrup or honey. If you don't have all the spices, you can substitute 1 tbls pumpkin pie spice.

2.5 cups organic whole wheat flour
4 tbls organic coconut flour
2 tbls baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 lb organic baby carrots, steamed about 20-30 mins until soft, then mashed or whirred in food processor (can be chunk…

Vegetarian Roti

I absolutely LOVE Caribbean roti and because I am lucky enough to live in Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I am surrounded by great roti places. But I've been dying to try to make them myself. You can use all sorts of veggies, I just used what I had on hand. Other options include your preferred combination of: spinach, potato, sweet potato, squash, okra, etc. Authentic roti skins are often made from chickpea flour or split pea flour and I know they're available around the city, but I didn't have time to go looking for them so I just used whole wheat tortillas.

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 knob ginger, finely diced
2 tbls good quality curry powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Scotch bonnett Caribbean style hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can light coconut milk
4 tbls coconut flour
Salt and peppe…

Friday Fun and a Fitness Rant

P1: I contacted Dr. M at Mount Sinai today to find out what's happening with our research proposal. She got her assistant to contact the research ethics board and they said we may have our proposal processed in another week. I wasn't expecting anything until the end of the summer, so this is good news. Fingers crossed we get approval!!! I am really eager to start the project. One logistical issue we had to deal with is how I will be contacted when there is a woman who has miscarried. Originally, we had thought I would be at the hospital 2-3 days a week, but there are no guarantees that any losses would occur on these days meaning I would sit around doing nothing. And what about women who have a loss on other days? So we decided that I will simply be "on call" all week and whenever possible show up ASAP. I am hoping I can follow up with those women I am not able to get to immediately. This, of course, will have to become a variable in the research so we can …


P1: I got a 95% on my first assignment in my current course. The prof had no problem with the content, but, of course, I made a bunch of APA formatting errors. Luckily he didn't deduct much and said he would rather students be given the chance to learn for future assignments. Very different approach from the one Dr. A-Hole took! You'd think after having written a doctoral dissertation in APA format and completed 4 courses already in this program that I'd have it down pat, but the truth is, I am lazy about it. I hate having to consult the guidebook for every tiny thing and I think the over-focus on formatting is idiotic. Nevertheless, this prof did me a huge favour: He explained to me how to easily format the references section using the "hanging indent" command. Because my current computer has Windows Vista, which is absolutely atrocious, I often cannot figure out how to do the simplest thing. Today, I finally figured out the hanging indent command and it …

Thai Lemongrass Beef and Broccoli

We don't eat red meat very often, but both Adam and I love it and since it is Adam's birthday this weekend, I made this as a treat. It was great! You could always do it with chicken or even tofu, though, if you wanted. Serve over steamed rice.*

For specific directions about using lemongrass, check out before you start.

I only used 2 tsp oil because I have a non-stick wok, if yours is not non-stick, you'll have to use more.

1.5 lbs beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, minced in food processor (see instructions at website above)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knob ginger, grated or chopped finely
2 Thai chili, minced (optional)
1 head broccoli, cut in bite size pieces (lightly steam first, if you don't like your broccoli too crunchy)
2 tsp peanut or vegetable oil
2 tbls fish sauce
2 tbls soy sauce
2 tbls rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Stir fish sauce, …