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Showing posts from September, 2010

Otter Bottles

Who knew that what you choose to drink your water from can be such a complicated issue?

I was not a water drinker as a kid (preferring juice and diet pop) until I was about 17 and the doctor suggested that my IBS symptoms could be due to the fact that I was dehyrated (I was already working out every day by then) and was not drinking enough water to move my high fibre diet through my system. Many years later I discovered my tummy troubles (intense pain and bloating) was due to my morning bowl of cereal with milk (except when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding, I am extremely lactose intolerant). Anyhow, when I finally started toting a water bottle to the gym, it was the soft plastic kind that makes any fluid it touches taste "plastic-y". It always bothered me and I worried that it was toxic. So, like many other people, I eventually switched to the hard plastic Nalgene bottles which have no smell or taste. I figured this had to be healthier. Ha! Then it was revealed that …

If You Dream it You Can Achieve it? Really?

I have started to feel a bit discouraged lately. Dr M hasn't had time to review our revised ethics proposal but she said she hopes we can get everything going by mid October. I'm worried that we won't get approval from the ethics board at the hospital. And then what? Doubt and anxiety that I will ever achieve my dream of being a psychotherapist have re-emerged. But one thing is for sure: I cannot go back to a job I hate. It will kill my spirit and destroy my soul.

Now that my mat leave is over, the only income I have coming in right now is my one weekly spinning class at the really nothing. This is the first time since I was an undergraduate student that I have not had a fairly steady income...and I really don't like it. I have decided that if the research project at the hospital doesn't come through, I am going to try and get a job. Actually, I am trying to see if I can start a business. My business idea is something I have been thinking about fo…

Double Chocolate Sneaky Snack Muffins

My friend D broke her ankle recently. She had surgery but will probably have to have more. As a result, she is going to be off her feet and off work for a long time. I brought her some whole wheat penne with basil pesto and grape tomatoes a few weeks ago but I thought I'd bring her these when I go to visit tomorrow. She is a very picky vegetarian who doesn't like a lot of healthy foods and loves chocolate. I thought these would be a good compromise.

1 lb carrots, steamed and cooled, pureed in food processor or blender
1/2 cup (or one small jar baby food) prune puree
1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup milk or water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whisk together wet ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir together dry ingredients in smaller bowl and then add to wet ingredients, just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Fill 12 greased m…

Pumpkin Ginger Pancakes

Nothing says fall like pumpkin and to me, pancakes are the ultimate comfort food. If you aren't a big fan of ginger, you can omit. In fact, you can play around with all the spices and add your favorites or replace them all with 1 tbls pumpkin pie spice. I LOVE all the "sweet" spices so I add a lot.

2.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tbls baking powder
2 tbls sugar (or 2 packets stevia)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbls grated fresh ginger (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
3-4 cups water

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add wet ingredients to bowl (start with just 2 cups of the water so batter doesn't get too runny) and whisk together. Ladel batter onto greased skillet and cook, flipping once, until golden on both sides. Makes 8 large or 16 small pancakes.

Serve with plain maple syrup, cranberr…

Who's the Boss?

I've known for a while that my kids are not the least bit scared of me. Sure, Little A cries if I yell, but she cries if Big A yells or anyone else for that matter too. Big A, in particular, has no fear of me nor, as I've complained before, does she have any respect for me. And I take full responsibility for that. I simply suck at discipline. Adam is much better than I am, which is probably why Big A prefers him. I end up negotiating and then usually being manipulated, which means that I am also not consistent with my threats and repercussions. I try...really hard, but what I've recently realized is that I'm scared of my kids. I end up doing whatever it takes to avoid tantrums and defiance from Big A and screaming fits from Little A. In my defense, this is partially because I am alone with them in the mornings and there is a limited amount of time that I have to wait out or ignore bad behaviour. Sometimes I simply have to get the ball rolling somehow...anyhow…

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey and Fall Vegetable Meat Sauce

I thought this would make a comforting fall meal...too bad it's hot and humid here today! Oh well, it's delicious anyways.

2 spaghetti squash

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried, or 2 tbls fresh basil
1-2 tsp hot chili flakes (optional)
2 zucchini, diced
4 portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 bunch rapini, ends trimmed and chopped

For squash:
Cut squash in half, remove seeds and roast in oven, cut side down at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until skin is tender. Scrape out flesh with fork, so it is in spaghetti-like strands. Mound on 4 plates. Season with salt and pepper.

In large skillet or saucepan, add oil and saute onion, over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, fennel, dried basil (add fresh basil at the end), chili flakes (if using), zucchini and mushrooms and saute until tender. Add turkey and stir occasionally until meat is just slightly pink. Add crushed to…

Earaches and Bad Booboos

Well Little A was sent home with her first "daycare fever" yesterday. The daycare teachers scared the #%*$ out of me though, because on the phone they said she had a very high fever of one-hundred-and-seven and she was shaking. I knew it couldn't really be 107, but even if it was 103, it was serious. I raced down there thinking I would pick her up, get big A and subway it down to the Hospital for Sick Children (our car was in the shop) but when I got there her teacher said, "I was wondering why you seemed so upset on the phone and then I realized you must have thought I meant 107, but I meant 100.7 (though she admits sayiing 107 and repeating it 6 times to me on the phone!). So she was clingy and grumpy but not lethargic or anything. Sigh! I took her, walked over to Big A's school, picked her up and went home. At home Little A nursed for over an hour and basically insisted that Adam or I hold her all night until we put her to bed. Advil got rid of her fe…

Getting to the Source of the Problem

After a whole day of walking without my MBTs yesterday my feet were rather sore. I realized that I really need to get to the root of all my lower body problems, which I suspect stem from the fact that my pelvis is twisted (something numerous doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists and acupuncturists have commented on over the years). My pregnancy with Little A, which is really when the sciatica and serious problems with my feet began, somehow must have worsened it. I've made an appointment with a sports med doctor at a clinic I've been to in the past to get an assessment. I don't think I'm game for surgery, but perhaps there is some other non-surgical solution to getting me untwisted or at least in better biomechanical alignment to alleviate some of these problems. The osteopathy and acupuncture have helped, but they're only band aid solutions I think and I don't want to be living with this the rest of my life.

Ironically, the way my body is designed …

Doctor in the House

I am lucky to have a sister-in-law who is a physician (OB/GYN). After reading my blog a few weeks ago she called me with some advice. First, she said I was the last person she could think of who should be restricting my sodium intake since I exercise (and sweat) so much and drink a lot of water. A sports nutritionist I saw years ago had said the same thing. YAY! So I've reintroduced soy sauce, miso, turkey and "veggie meat" sandwiches, and some of my other favs back into my diet, but am trying to have them less often. Adam is relieved, to say the least. He wasn't so thrilled with the low-sodium kick I was on. She also recommended that I try wearing my MBT shoes less often, since they are intended to tighten you hamstrings and calves, she thought they might be exacerbating my sciatica. Hmm, that hadn't occurred to me. The problem is, I have bad feet and most other shoes leave my arches and the balls of my feet sore if I do any walking in them. But I hav…

Healthy Homemade Granola

Big A has fallen in love with the classic combo of yogurt and granola. Once in a while I manage to find some granola on sale at the health food store, but lately I have not been so lucky and all the granola I've seen, even the commercial ones at the grocery store, are like $5 for a tiny box (which would disappear in our house in 2 days!). So I thought, "Why not make some ourselves?". Big A loves cooking and baking and since it's so simple to make, it seemed like a good project for us. Last night Adam was at Shul for Yom Kippur so I had the girls to myself. Fortunately, Little A managed to entertain herself while we were busy making this. You can add in whatever you want, but we made ours nut/seed free (with just dried cranberries and raisins) so that Big A can take it to school as a snack and not worry about the nut-free policy.

1.5 lbs rolled grain flakes (I used a mix of oats, spelt, rye, barley, etc.)
1/2 cup agave syrup (or maple syrup or honey)
1/4 cup canola…

The Quick Fix

I think humans will probably never give up trying to find magic bullets for health and weightloss. Unfortuntely, there is no substitution for healthy living. You can't take a pill that will make up for lack of sleep, poor diet, inactivity, smoking, and/or drinking. Some of the things we will try, especially in the name of weight loss, are truly astonishing. The latest I became aware of it the use of a drug meant to treat respiratory problems in horses, called clenbuterol. It purportedly can health boost muscle gain and fat loss in humans. At a cost, of course. It is extremely dangerous. Is there any safe product that can accelerate weight/fat loss? Not really. Science backs the use of things like caffeine and green tea, but the effects are very modest and if you O.D. on these substances you just end up jittery and peeing all day. The only healthy and effective way to keep your body working as efficiently as possible is getting enough sleep (this has a major impact on yo…

Rush Hour

Much like on the city streets, rush hour in our household takes place twice a day: 8am and 6pm. Getting out the door in the morning is even more stressful now that Big A is in school because she absolutely has to be there by 8:45am. The last thing I need is her new school thinking I'm a delinquent parent because I can't get her there in time. But this morning we cut it as close as it gets. The morning started off great. Big A woke up at 7:15am and Little A at 7:20am. I actually was able to shower, get dressed and finish my coffee before Big A came downstairs. Big A was also in a good mood. I thought it was a sure sign of a great day ahead. Unfortunately, Little A was in a strange mood. She was clingy and obsessed with nursing. I couldn't distract her or comfort her in any other way. So I spend most of the morning on the couch with her on the breast. This meant I was really behind getting out the door. At 8:20am I finally got Little A to stop nursing and I cal…

And Year 37 Begins

P1: I got a note from Dr. M that she received my amendments to our research proposal to comply with the feedback from the Mount Sinai ethics board but she's been too busy to contribute her part. Understandable. So it may be a while before we can resubmit our proposal. Oh well, we're one step closer at this point.

My birthday party was a success and lots of fun. It made me realize just how seldom Adam and I do adult-only social things. I guess that is partly because we usually go to bed about an hour after the kids do so that doesn't give us much of an opportunity to go to many adult events.

P2: Sunday was a very up and down day. It started great - both girls were in fabulous moods and Big A seemed to really enjoy her first day of Hebrew school at the JCC. We took the girls to our neighbour's Back to School party at the local indoor playground (a favorite location for both girls). As soon as we arrived, they instantly sped off to play in opposite directions and …


There was a series of stories in the Toronto Star some months ago about a woman with severe "environmental sensitivities". Scents of any kind, personal care products, cleaning products, various building materials and a host of other things apparently cause her serious illness. Because of this, she cannot work and is on long-term disability and is practically house-bound. She was living in a rental unit of an old building in the High Park area of town, but the building was sold to new owners and slated for demolition. With a letter from her doctor and help from friends and supporters, she lobbied to fight her eviction. Although she lost this battle, the company that bought the property, offered her a variety of options, including relocating her to a paid-for home at a very reasonable rent either nearby or just north of the city. Even city hall stepped in and offered her help. She claimed none of the options offered to her were sufficient and chose, instead, to live on t…

Candy and Cocktails

This is a posting about some not so healthy treats. Autumn always makes me think about candy because of Halloween, of course. And it is the time of year when some of my favorite sugary treats become available. I used to be a total candy junkie, having convinced myself, as many of us did in the 90s, that if something is fat-free, it can't be bad for us. Adam always asks me, "Do you remember when you used to eat huge bags of candy?" I cringe to think about how much sugar I ate. I finally gave it up when I got pregnant with Big A and could no longer kid myself about how bad my candy habit was. Fortunately, I don't really miss it, but on the odd occasion when I feel like a treat, these are the ones I love most. You'll notice that I like "chewy" candy only. I actually can't stand hard candy or squishy candies, like gummy bears. Ick!

Licorice Allsorts - I inherited a love for these from my dad. I don't understand why so many people dislike b…

Welcome to Fall!

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the moderate weather, fresh smell in the air and the beautiful fall folliage. I love Thanksgiving and Halloween. I love the feeling of a new beginning - which, I know is the opposite of how most people view this season, but I hate, I mean absolutely despise summer, so the beginning of fall is a welcome time of year for me. Although September here can be just as steamy as August, this year the cooler weather has come early and I am blissfully happy. I can sleep with just a window open and no a/c and I can sit out on our back deck with a coffee in the morning doing my readings for school.

I am pleased to say that, so far, all of the transitions in our household seem to be going well. My course on counselling ethics is interesting, but not too demanding (weekly discussions, two assignments and an open-book exam) and I am not feeling the intense pressure to work like I did all spring and summer. I'm wondering if this is becaus…

More of My Favorite Things

I got such a positive response from my first posting of this kind that I thought I would add some more.


Ginger Gold apples - The past few weeks I've been frustrated by the fact that my beloved mutsu (a.k.a. crispin) apples have been replaced in all the markets with ginger golds. I remembered them as having a bland, watery taste. Nevertheless, since I dislike most of the alternative types of apples available in the markets right now I bought a few. Either my memory is inaccurate or the crop this year is exceptional, but all I know is they are delicious. Crisp and sweet. Yum!

Wildwood Pastaslim - Who doesn't love pasta? Although whole grain versions are nutritious, they pack a calorie wallop. A serving is a mere half cup, which I think even a toddler could devour in seconds. Now these will never replace real pasta for me, Pastaslim noodles are a great alternative when you want an extremely satisfying/filling AND low calorie meal. If you are trying to lose weight these…


P1: I finally heard from Dr. M at Mount Sinai and we got feedback from the ethics board. I shouldn't be surprised that they want a host of revisions to our proposal -that's pretty standard in this situation, as I found out when trying to get my PhD dissertation research approved by the ethics board at the University of Toronto. Most of the changes were related to wording on our consent form and no big deal. The one thing that worries me, however, is they wanted to know more about my qualifications to perform counselling. Nevertheless, this is specifically why I designed the study so that I am not actually performing formal counselling. I meet the women who have had a pregnancy loss, I offer moral support (i.e. I am sorry for your loss, etc.) and I provide them with a list of resources in the community that they may choose to seek out if they do want emotional support or counselling. In my response, which I worked on diligently this morning, I tried to explain this. I on…

So Here We Are

I didn't cry today when I picked up Big A and she hugged all her daycare teachers goodbye. I didn't even cry when Big A and Little A hugged Sherma goodbye. Yet as I write this I have a lump in my throat and all day I've had a horrible stomachache and I wonder if it is simply because I am overwhelmed with emotion. My first baby is starting school next week! This is quite a milestone. And my other baby starts full-time daycare which, for all intents and purposes is pretty much "toddler school".

Ironically, I was a little sadder about leaving the TAC than I thought I would be. The participants were very sweet and told me how much they had been enjoying my class and they were sorry to see me go. I had to sub an athletic intervals class there for the boss today (something I agreed to do weeks ago), so I guess today was officially my last day. I haven't taught step, which used to be my absolute favorite fitness class to teach, in years. I was reminded today…

Happy and Sad Goodbyes

Today is the last day I teach the BBL class at the Toronto Athletic Club. I am so incredibly glad I quit. The 30 minute bike ride through the searing heat and humidity in downtown traffic, the interruption to my workday, having to come home and take another shower in the middle of the's just not workin' for me. The participants are nice but I will remain on the sub list so hopefully I can teach the occasional class or two there and see them again. Will I no longer have a Brazilian butt? I guess not, but that was bound to happen at some point, ha ha!

Tomorrow is Sherma's last day watching Little A. I don't know who is going to miss her more, Little A or me...or Big A, who adores her and has been quite resentful that Little A has gotten to spend so much time with Sherma while she is at daycare. Sherma is one of the strongest women I have ever met and I have the utmost respect for her. I am sure we will call her on occasion when we need a sitter for the girl…

A New Year Begins

I have always thought of Labour Day, rather than January 1st as the mark of a new year. Perhaps this is because I have been in school for the vast majority of my almost 36 years and because my birthday is right around the same time.

This year there are many significant changes occuring in our household the day after Labour Day. First, Little A starts full-time daycare. I am keeping my fingers crossed she settles down quickly and stops the biting/pushing/hair-pulling behaviour. Big A starts kindergarten and begins at a new daycare. She also starts Hebrew school on Sunday mornings at the JCC from 9:15am until 11:45am - which seems like a long time for a 4 year old.

Because Big A starts school, she will no longer be able to spend Wednesdays with my mother-in-law as she has been doing since she was a baby. I am sad for her and wondering how she will handle it. They did a grandparent/grandchild program at a local synogogue for a few years and then when Big A graduated, they took cooki…