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Showing posts from May, 2011

Low-Fat, Sugar-Free Mini Banana Muffins

These are a perfect guilt-free snack or yummy addition to breakfast.

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/2 cup stevia (the powdered kind that measures 1-to-1 with sugar)
2 tbls chia seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together wet ingredients in large bowl. Measure out dry ingredients into a smaller bowl and stir. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir, just until combined. Fill mini muffin tins and bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 34 mini muffins.

Optional add-ins: walnuts, raisins, blueberries, 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Sit, Stand, Walk, Talk

Oh man, it's not even 10am today and already it's disgustingly hot and humid and it's supposed to get even worse. A high of 30 celcius (90F)? Toronto really has only 2 seasons: winter and summer. And they both suck!

Okay, enough bitching about the weather here.

The weather in San Francisco was my ideal: 15 celcius, breezy and sunny. This made our long days of walking very enjoyable as did the fact that I experienced very little pain in my butt/leg the whole time.

I was surprised given how much walking we did and that so much of it was hills. This gives me hope that one day I might be able to go back to my treadmill workouts.

By the time we came home, in fact, I was feeling better than I had felt in many, many, MANY months, confirming what my physiotherapist and I have suspected: sitting is the real culprit for me.

If you think about it, sitting in a chair is really a human convention. Our bodies were designed to stand, walk, lie down and sit on the floor, but we invented …

Vegetarian Tacos

Dried lentils are one of the cheapest, healthiest and easiest to prepare protein sources. I also think they are super yummy!

1 cup lentils, rinsed
1.5 cups water

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, minced (I just threw the whole thing into the food processor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls taco seasoning*
2 tbls cider vinegar
1 can tomato paste

Garnish as desired: grated cheese, chopped peppers, chopped red onion, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, etc.

In saucepan place lentils with water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to medium low and cook until most of the water has been absorbed and lentils are soft and mushy (about 15-20 minutes). You can cook them ahead of time and then refridgerate until needed. Place oil in skillet and add onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add taco seasoning and stir for another minute or two. Then add in vinegar. Scrape lentils into skillet and stir to combine with onion, garlic and spices. Add tomato …

"Seaweed and Broccoli"

Don't worry, this is not my latest healthy recipe idea!

This is the response Big A gave the doctor yesterday when asked what are her favorite foods.

Man, we have trained her well...To lie, I guess.

Sure, she is crazy about munching on toasted nori as a snack, but broccoli? Her favorite food? No way Jose!

Adam and I are actually rather concerned about her almost obsessive preference for junk food. It's not so much that she eats too much, because we rarely have real junk around the house. She mostly gets it at family get togethers (particularly at Adam's grandparents' house!), birthday parties, school, etc.

While I may be partly to blame for being too concerned about her nutrition intake in the past, I actually think I may be too permissive now. Nothing is forbidden when it is offered to her by others (even if the item in question makes me completely cringe!) and I think the girls get way too much sugar, even at home, from all the breakfast cereal, almond butter and …

Chocolate Monkey Birthday Cake

It's my mother-in-law's birthday this week and I promised Big A we would bake her a "flower" cake using the daisy cake pan I bought to make her cake on her second birthday.

My mother-in-law loves banana bread and chocolate, so I thought this was a good combo to make her. Unfortunately, a brown daisy isn't very appealing, so chocolate frosting won't do. For Alana's vanilla daisy cake I made a white chocolate icing and spread lemon curd in the centre. This time, I think I may make a banana white chocolate frosting and perhaps I will decorate the centre of the cake with chocolate chips and/or banana chips. I'll post icing recipe when I decide for sure...

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup agave syrup or honey
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbls lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot water

2.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In large bowl whisk togethe…

San Francisco

San Francisco is definitely now my second favorite city in the U.S. (behind New York, of course).

What a beautiful place!

We walked over 8 miles every day!! This allowed us to see a lot of the city and we happily ate our way through it. We were basically out of the hotel for about 12 hours every day.

Day 1:

Breakfast at the famous Dottie's True Blue Cafe - we got there at 7:40am and STILL had to wait 45 minutes for a table!! Yummy whole wheat blueberry pancakes and chicken apple sausage.

Walked across the city to Trader Joe's to get Big A some Clif Bars for Kids, by special request.

Walked over to Ghiradelli Square, into the Maritime Museum and along the waterfront.

Stopped for lunch at Golden Era vegan Vietnamese restaurant - Adam found this ironic since it is located in the Tenderloin neighbourhood.

Walked down to the San Francisco Mall. Did some shopping and then headed over to the Burger Bar for dinner. Turkey burger on whole wheat with swiss cheese, avocado and sauteed spin…


If you are wondering why I am blogging while on holiday, its because I woke up before 7am Toronto time, meaning before 4am San Francisco time. I've already done all my rehab exercises at the hotel gym, showered, dressed and am now waiting for Adam, who finally agreed to get up, to finish getting ready.

When I said we have not travelled much because of finances and kids, I also forgot another reason: I HATE FLYING. Its 2011 for goodness sakes, when are they going to invent travel like they had on Star Trek where you can just be beamed somewhere?

Aside from hating delays and waiting in long lines, I also get motion sickness and claustraphobia. Add my discomfort caused by sitting now because of my hamstring and it's not the most pleasant experience for me.

Fortunately I survived the flight yesterday. However, the proper gentleman (i.e. guy with pickle up his butt) sitting beside me likely thought I was a nut case. So what if I ordered 2 white wines and drank them straight out…

Travel Light

What is your dream getaway? A secluded beach in the Caribbean? A hike through the Grand Canyon? Skiing in Colorodo? A European Cruise?

For me it's simply exploring a big city. I hate suntanning and I love urban environments, so I need nothing more than a city to trek through.

Over the 11 years Adam and I have been together, we haven't travelled much. Why? Because at least one of us has been a student without much income and/or we have had babies, which makes travelling (in my opinion) stressful.

But now that we have a 2 and 5 year old, it's time to get away. Tomorrow we leave for San Francisco to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary (we simply couldn't wait another year until our 10th!).

Not only can exploring cities be good for your wallet, if you are careful, they can also be good for your health.

In my opinion, the best way to get to know a city is on foot. This is also the cheapest way to go, of course. The first time I took Adam to New York, we walked 12 …

Light Mango Ginger Dressing

I have a confession to make. Something a foodie and health nut should never admit to...I love bottled salad dressing. Particularly the low-fat kind made by big evil companies like...Kraft. Yep, you heard me right.

The reason I like these dressings is they are highly flavoured. When they cut down on the fat, they bump up the seasoning with tons of sugar and salt. Also beware, the fat-free creamy dressings can also pack almost as many calories as higher fat dressings. So, yeah, not so good for ya.

But the truth is, most people vastly underestimate the amount of calories and fat in their salads, particularly those they eat in restaurants. Oils, regardless of how healthy they are, still pack a huge calorie wallop, and most really aren't that flavourful. Personally, I'd rather get my healthy fats in a salad from nuts, avocado or wild salmon than bland dressing.

Unfortunately, my past attempts at making a great homemade, healthy, low-fat dressing have not been successful (I s…

Bon Fete

We managed to survive the girls' birthday this weekend...albeit barely.

After we got home from the community centre, my parents and I polished off a bottle of wine. It was a necessary evil. Fortunately, Adam abstained so he was able to drive to pick up sushi for our dinner.

Soccer with Coach Luigi was a huge hit with the least the older kids. The younger kids ran around the gym playing with scooters, beach balls, etc. Big A had a fabulous time, but Little A was overwhelmed (I think we had over 20 kids!) and cried and clung to Adam for most of the party.

I don't think we'll be doing big parties like this every year, it's nuts! I also think that if we do, we will ask for donations to a charity or the girls' school instead of gifts. They didn't need anything before and now it's almost shameful how many toys they have!!

But even Little A couldn't resist blowing out candles and eating cupcakes.

The carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing turned o…

Mommy Hugs

Things have been very difficult with Big A for the past few weeks.
I continue to get unsolicited positive feedback about her from teachers and parents. She seems to be caring and empathetic with other kids and helpful and respectful towards authority figures. But at home it is a different story. She has been acting out and seemingly trying to break Adam and I.

Well, this week she did break me, she broke my heart.

Perhaps I deserve it. I wonder if I have broken her heart too. Is that fair? No. I am the adult and I know better.

Wednesday evening Little A asked me to read them Mommy Hugs during story time. If you are not familiar with this book, you can peak at it here:

In the middle, Big A pointed to the mommy in the book and turned to me and said, “I wish that was my mother”.
“What?” I asked, “You want a different mother?”
“Well, I wish you did those things with me.”

I took this to mean hugged her more and s…

Guilt-Free Granola

This recipe is pure heaven.

Who doesn't love granola? Unfortunately, even though it is generally healthy, it tends to be very high in calories and fat because of the oil, sugar, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

My parents are both granola lovers, but as foodies who are also very intellectual/cerebral, they are more into reading than running. Thus, they need to watch their energy intake - something my mother tries to do...but, unfortunately, my father does not (his approach to food is pure hedonism).

They are coming to stay with us this weekend so they can attend the girls' birthday party, so I thought I would whip this up for them as a treat. It satisfies my mother's preference to limit unnecessary fat and calories at breakfast time, as well as my father's demand for pleasure.

The smell of this granola baking is irresistable!

I got the idea of replacing the oil with carrot puree from Jessica Seinfeld's latest cookbook...but I completely altered the recipe after that.

Sun Safety

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health. But I still see way too many people sticking their (uncovered) head in the sand when it comes to sun safety.

Personally, I have never understood the appeal of a tan (it doesn't look attractive to me) nor do I understand the appeal of sitting in the sun (or a tanning bed). But that's probably because I despise being hot. I am happy to embrace my paleness. You should too.

Now that the warm weather is FINALLY here, I thought this post was appropriate. Let me set you straight on a few myths about sun safety:

1. It is better to avoid sunscreens because we need to get vitamin D from the sun.

Nope. No one should rely on sun exposure alone for vitamin D. Take a vitamin D supplement. They are safe and effective.

2. Getting a tan is the safest way to prevent getting a burn when exposed to the sun for a prolonged period of time.

Sorry. The safest way to avoid getting a burn is to wear sunscreen and protective clothing and avoid being in…

Carrot Cupcakes

1 lb organic carrots, steamed (or microwaved), cooled and finely chopped in food processor
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
2 whole eggs or 4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water or unsweetened carrot juice

2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

In large bowl, cream together butter/Earth Balance, eggs and sugar with a whisk or electric beaters. Add carrots, vanilla and water or juice and whisk or beat until well mixed. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just until mixed. Spoon batter into mini muffin tins lined with mini muffin papers that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350F for 18 minutes. Makes about 44 mini cupcakes. Spread or pipe with frosting once cupcakes are cooled.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup light cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extrac…

Mango Blueberry Giggle Jiggles

Hope you all had a nice Mother's Day!

We went to the mall and Adam treated me to my annual shopping spree. Yes, yes, I know I have a wonderful husband.

I bought only a few items of clothes that were crazy on sale at H&M, but I treated myself to a new watch. I've been wearing the same Timex watch for the past 13+ years. I got it while finishing my MA in sociology when I decided I needed something a little more dressy than my Timex Ironman.

This time I went for a really snazzy DKNY watch. The only problem? I got it home and realized it had no battery. WTF? When you spend that much, I would expect it to include a battery!

I didn't have enough time to look for shoes because Little A was being cranky. She detests shopping.

These are a fun snack for your kids that they can help you make. The recipe comes from Today's Parent magazine.

Make sure to cut mango into fairly small pieces and be aware (as I found out the hard way) that this has to be eaten with spoons and…

Excess Calories and Lack of Exercise Bad for Kids Too

You may be aware that drinking calories is not a healthy habit for adults because it increases the likelihood that you will consume too many calories. Why? Because liquid calories do not contribute to feelings of satiety.

Even all natural juices are highly caloric and do not contain the fibre and other essential nutrients of fresh fruit. Pop, sports drinks and other sweetened beverages are just pure junk. Ideally water should be your beverage of choice, along with coffee and/or tea, with low-fat milk and/or small amount of sweetener/sugar-substitute.

Alcohol should also be consumed sparingly. Don't fool yourself into thinking it's okay to drink lots of wine because it's good for your heart. It also comes with a lot of risk factors, particularly if you are a woman. Great way to increase your risk of getting breast cancer, by the way!

The same rings true for children. They need far less milk than most parents think, generally no more than 8oz a day, and unless your …

Ups and Downs

This week has been filled with excitement, fear, disappointments, frustrations and joy. So pretty much just like any other week, right?

I have had counselling sessions that have been fascinating, educational, and satisfying, I have also had disappointments. Some clients at the fertility clinic refuse to have a student intern (me) present during sessions, and my first solo client at the general clinic was a no-show yesterday.

Little A started the week with a seriously high fever and then severe diarrhea from the antibiotics she is on. She bounced back to her usual self pretty quick, but Big A has regressed over the past few weeks. She is acting very jealous of Little A again and has been sullen, defiant, disrespectful and emotional with Adam and I. We remain completely in the dark about what may be causing this latest phase of misbehaviour.

Overall I continue to have some moderate improvement in my leg pain, but it too, goes up and down. Sitting continues to be the central problem…

Apple Butter Streusal Muffins

Day 2 of my practicum placements and I'm home with Little A.

Yesterday, Day 1, I received a frantic phone call at 3:45pm from her daycare with the teachers in hysterics because she had such a high fever they were worried she was going to have a seizure.

I hopped on my bicycle and zoomed over there, leaving it locked up in front for Adam to pick up on his way to pick up Big A, and snatched my shaking, burning up child and raced to the subway to get her to the pediatrician before there drop-in hours ended at 5pm.

Little A was absolutely miserable and kept complaining that her ears were "itchy". Thus, an hour later when we were finally seen by the doctor, she concluded that it was "probably" another ear infection, even though there wasn't much fluid visible in her ears yet. She said sometimes children get the symptoms before the infection is obvious in their ears. Thankfully, she gave me a prescription for her which I filled immediately. Although she failed…

A Thirty Something Something?

Why did I name this blog "Tales of a Thirty Something Nothing"?

When I began this blog, I was having great existential angst and emotional turmoil about the state of my professional life. At the age of 35, after obtaining a PhD, I was stuck in a career that I hated and had ended up in by default.

I had always wanted to do counselling, but because of various decisions I made years ago, my path led me in a different direction. For a very long time I simply believed it was too late to turn back. I felt stuck.

When I finally decided that I could not endure a lifetime of unfulfilling work and devised a plan to re-train as a psychotherapist, I was excited. But giving up a good salary to return to school when I was in my mid 30s and had two children to support made me feel very uncomfortable. I couldn't get beyond my regrets. If only I had made different (better) choices in the past. I could already be well ensconsed in a successful and lucrative counselling career instea…

Very Berry Munchkin Muffins

Although I have learned to worry less about what the girls eat and don't eat - particularly on weekends when birthday parties, playdates and outings can lead to too many treats and too little nutrition - I still try and sneak in good stuff to their food when I can.

Today we have some friends coming with their kids for a playdate and I wanted to make sure I had some healthy snacks to serve. Along with kale chips and fresh fruit, I am going to put these out.

Originally, I worried that these might be "too healthy" tasting, but when I offered them to the girls to taste test for breakfast yesterday, Big A gobbled down 3 and Little A gobbled down 2. Success!

1 cup sweet potato puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 banana, mashed
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk (or water)
1/4 cup stevia* (or sugar)

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup natural bran
2 tbls ground flax seeds
2 tbls chia seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup fresh or …