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Showing posts from June, 2011

Feel the Rush

Do you feel like you are ALWAYS in a rush?

I do. Constantly!

Partly this is because life is busy. Particularly if you have young children.

But I admit most of this is simply due to my personality. I am terrified of being late and terrified of not fulfilling all of my obligations and obsessed with being productive and efficient.

While these traits make me reliable, responsible, and successful in many respects, this also means that I have difficulty relaxing, am constantly multi-tasking, needlessly stress myself out and struggle to live in the moment.

I believe this is why Big A and I clash so often. She is emotionally needy and desperate for attention, while at the same time a dawdler, and a child who has difficulty with transitions, making decisions quickly and often changes her mind at the last minute.

I have said publicly on this blog many times that I need to slow down and spend more time giving her my undivided attention because...well, that is what she needs.

But I think I have …

JK Graduation

Today is Big A's last day of JK. They had a little graduation ceremony yesterday which Adam and I did not attend because we were both working and the letter we got from the school said it was SK graduation. Yes, so in other words we are crappy parents. Apparently ALL the other JK parents showed up.


Big A got a great report card and apparently her teacher announced at the ceremony that she is the most organized student in the class and should have a future managing other people's businesses. Okay, I was kind of hoping she'd become a doctor or Olympic athlete, or successful health food chef but I'll take that.

Yet when we asked her what her favorite thing was about the day, she replied, "When we got cake and rice krispie squares and juice.

This is what I'm talking about when I say I worry about this girl folks. I'm envisioning competitive eating in her future instead of med school. She could probably already eat 4-5 hot dogs in a sitting if we l…

Workout Your Core

Because of all the rehab exercises I do that my physiotherapist gives me, and because I am generally so busy now due to my counselling placements, I haven't done any pilates, core training or yoga in a long time. And it's definitely taking a toll. I have had some regression with my leg pain and my calves and hamstrings constantly feel tight.

I am really hoping to get to the JCC on Thursday for a yoga class. Although at the time I wasn't sure it was helping my leg and I was doing it primarily for stress management and enjoyment, looking back I have realized that my leg was actually feeling better when I was doing it twice a week.

Last week I was desperately craving yoga but couldn't find the time for a class so I looked through my stack of fitness DVDs for SOMETHING to do. I wasn't in the mood for anything too lengthy and when I found my copy of Jackie Warner's Crunch Free Abs, I knew I had found the perfect workout to squeeze in.

Warner is the Hollywood ce…

Homemade Bubbles

If your kids are like mine, they love blowing bubbles.

If they are really like mine, then they also tend to spill more bubble solution than they actually blow...on purpose. I don't know why but they both really enjoy dumping the stuff all over the place.

Bubble stuff isn't expensive, but you can make it for even cheaper at home, and it is super easy.

1.5 parts dish soap (Joy or Dawn)
8 parts water
.25 parts glycerin (available at pharmacies)

By the way, for the record I would like to say that I really am not overly restrictive about what my kids eat. I may seethe over it, but I generally allow them have whatever is offered to them...and sometimes I even offer them crap myself.

Yesterday is a perfect example. We went to Yorkdale Mall to find bedding for Little A's big-girl bed that we just ordered. We promised the girls we would buy them dinner there, so I got them smoothies from Jamba Juice, and a hot dog (sans white flour bun!) and fries from New York Fries.

Everything …

Big A's Carrot Pineapple Mini Muffins

Big A had a massive melt down after I got back from New York. It was quickly apparent that she was feeling extremely jealous of Little A and that she really needed some alone time with me.

Fortunately, this weekend our Sunday routine changed as the new session for swimming began for the girls. It now works out that Big A and I have about an hour together while Adam is taking Little A to the JCC.

I asked Big A how she would like to spend this time and she immediately decided she wanted to bake carrot muffins. Hey, who am I to argue if my sweet toothed sweetie requests homemade baked goods with veggies in them??

Fortunately, she loves eating these as much as she liked making them. Whether or not they compare with "Bear Paws" is another story...

1 lb organic carrots, steamed and pulsed in food processor
1 19oz can crushed pineapple
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar, Splenda or stevia (I used a stevia that measures one-to-one with sugar)

2 cups organic whole whea…

Strawberries & Cream Muffins

These may sound and taste decadent, but they are packed with fibre and nutrients and very low in fat.

Don't let the zucchini scare you. You can't taste it but it boosts the nutrition and decreases the calorie content.

2 zucchini, grated
1 lb organic strawberries, finely diced or pulsed in food processor
3/4 cup non-fat strawberry (or vanilla) yogurt
4 egg whites (or 2 whole large eggs)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Splenda or sugar

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic oat bran
1/2 cup organic ground flax seeds
2 tbls chia seeds* (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

In large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (zucchini to Splenda/sugar). Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and add to wet. Stir just until combined. Fill greased muffin cups right to the top and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 jumbo muffins.

*After my initial awful experience using ground chia seeds in my oatmeal, I have falle…

No Sharing Please

Once again I am stressing about what my kids are eating. Believe it or not though, I have seriously loosened up A LOT about what they consume.

I think about the diet Big A ate for the first year of her life and I laugh comparing it to what she and Little A eat now.

While you might think I am too restrictive with them at home, I really am not. In fact, I bet there are many parents out there who would think I could be doing a much better job of feeding my kids.

The number one concern I have is that they get too much sugar. Sure I don't buy candy or oreos or chocolate bars for them. But they do get a lot of that crap at school, daycare, birthday parties and friend's houses. They also get lots of treats at their grandparents' and great-grandparents house, including store bought cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, etc. And I do buy a lot of what I consider to be "healthier junk food". Things like organic, whole grain cookies (they are still cookies!), whole grain sweetene…

Sloppy Janes

I believe this recipe I created for vegetarian Sloppy Joes will satisfy even the carnivores in your life.

Don't be scared of tempeh, it is easy to use and very healthy. Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is less processed than tofu and other soy products, easier to digest, and higher in protein and nutrients.

1 tsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, grated or finely chopped in food processor
350g organic tempeh (grated or cut into cubes and pulsed in food processor until it resembles crumbled ground meat)
2 heaping tbls taco seasoning or chili powder
3-4 cloves garlic
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cups ground or pureed tomatoes
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

8 whole grain buns

Pour oil into large skillet or fry pan over med heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add grated or crumbled tempeh, spices, garlic and beans and cook for a few more minutes. Pour in vinegar, tomato puree and seasonings and turn heat down to low.…

The Streets of New York

I'm back from NYC, possibly the greatest place in the world.

I joked that if there were any place where you could find "banana soft-serve" made just from bananas it would be NYC...we'll I found it! I didn't get any because I had just bought a sandwich and was walking back to my grandmother's nursing home on the upper east side, but I did walk in just to make sure it was what I thought it was...and it was! It's called "The Soft Serve Fruit Co" and it's frozen fruit mixed with water and sugar into soft-serve. I almost asked if you could get it without the added sugar (so unnecessary), but I was in a rush to get back to my grandma. What a wicked city!

Of course NY is also a place where you can see all kinds of crazy. I've seen people walking ferrets and cats on leashes, I've seen a man barking like a dog in a subway car, I've seen people dressed up in all sorts of nutty get-ups. On this trip, however, I was the one who probably …

Frozen Treats

I am off to New York today and I'm very excited. New York is my favorite place on the planet. Unfortunately, this is not quite a 'vacation' as the primary reason for going is to see my grandma Ruth, who is in the hospital. Nevertheless, it will be fun to visit my favorite city and see my grandma, uncle and cousins.

I am also excited that I am flying Porter Airlines for the first time ever. It is supposed to be much more civilized that flying Air Canada!!

Unlike our trip to San Francisco, I don't plan on this being a food frenzy trip. For one, I did enough indulging for a lifetime in San Fran, but also I am trying to save my pennies. Since I will be staying at my grandma's apartment (which will be weird since she won't be there), I plan to grocery shop and cook some healthy meals. This is always a blast when I go to the U.S. because I get to try all the many products not available in Canada.

But I don't have much confidence that I can resist a few visits…

One Long Weekend

No it wasn't really a long weekend, but it did sorta feel that way.

Friday I was busy counselling, and my in-laws cancelled dinner plans with Adam and the girls because my niece, who was staying with them, came down with the stomach flu. This meant that when I got home around 6:30pm, I had to try and journal all the details of my sessions for the day and log my hours (requirements for school) with the two of them running around like maniacs.

Saturday I was by myself with the girls for most of the day because Adam was at the gym all morning and then at UofT for a party to honour his former PhD supervisor. The morning was great, I took the girls to the Wychwood barns farmer's market, which Big A loves, and they sampled all sorts of treats: soy yogurt, spelt cookies, fresh apples of different varieties and raw/vegan brownies and cookies. Then I let them loose in the playground. Big A had a blast getting into her bathing suit and running around in the water park while Little A h…

Pizza Roll-Ups

Easy, really yummy, and easily customizable for the little ones. You can change up the veggies and fillings any way you want. Some options are: mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pineapple, olives, different cheeses, meats, etc.

6-8 10-inch 100% whole grain wraps/tortillas

1.5 cups low-fat mozzerella, grated
1 package veggie pepperoni, cooked and crumbled turkey sausage or, bbq or grilled chicken, cut into chunks (optional)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
4 sweet red/yellow/orange bell peppers, cut into strips
1 bunch rapini, or other greens, chopped
1 400-500ml jar bruchetta topping (I used tomato olive)
1 can tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste

In large skillet over medium heat, saute onion, garlic and spices in oil for a few minutes. Add peppers and continue cooking until onion and peppers have softened. Add greens, bruchetta topping, tomato paste and salt a…

Little Einsteins

Do you think your kids are the smartest kids in the world? Well I have news for you: they are. And mine are too, of course.

My dad once told me that one of the most rewarding things about watching your kids grow up is how they learn and take in the world and how amazing it is. And he is totally right.

I have also realized that when kids hit most developmental milestones often has little to do with their intelligence or potential.

Big A was definitely not an early talker, but when she did start talking, she developed an incredible vocabulary very quickly and since then has been extremely articulate for her age. Yet now that she is in Junior kindergarten and learning to read, she is making taking her time to learn to read. Adam, has pointed out, however, that this is partly because she is extremely lazy and gets frustrated/bored/distracted quickly.

While Big A did walk and toilet train early, Little A walked a few months later and still shows little interest in getting out of diapers…

Oodles of (Shiratake) Noodles

I am obsessed with Shiritake noodles these days. Not only are they convenient (no cooking required!), but unlike rice noodles, they do not get gummy or sticky, and unlike most other types of noodles they are CALORIE AND CARB FREE. They are also made from all natural yam starch and are gluten-free. I guess that's why they are often referred to as "Miracle Noodles".

The ones I like best are the ones that DO NOT contain soy. The ones that do are okay, but not my favorite. Also keep in mind that the soy noodles do contain a modest amount of calories (I think about 50 calories a bag).

They are generally best with Asian recipes, but if you are going to try them with Italian pasta style recipes, the soy ones are better suited. Just keep in mind that they do not absorb liquid like starchy noodles, so they are great for soup, but this also means that you have to either start with a thick sauce or add a thickener to your sauce, if you don't want your dish to end up soupy…

Living a Dream

How would you describe living your dream? Are you doing what you love to do? For some this might mean being a famous movie star, a millionaire, or a pro athelte. For others it might mean owning a tiny cafe, being a stay-at-home mom, or working with disabled children. For me, it's being a psychotherapist.

I am now 5 weeks into my practicums for school. Already I feel like I have learned so much. And, fortunately, I am still absolutely certain that this is what I want to do with my life. Even without receiving pay, it feels like a privilege to me to be able to counsel people.

At the fertility clinic I am still co-counselling with S.D., but at the general therapy clinic, I already have my own clients who I see solo. Oh my!

Although I have heard people describe unimaginable losses, and horrific experiences with illness, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, and watched both men and women break down sobbing, overall I have found my experiences so far encouraging and inspiring. …

Bench Squats

I have given up using the squating cage at the JCC on Sunday mornings until I have my MRI and find out exactly what's causing my leg pain. I figure it's best to avoid squating and lunging with 140 lbs of weight on my shoulders for the time being.

But it is still important for me to strengthen my legs, and is actually part of my rehab prescribed by my physiotherapist. So I've tinkered with my workout to come up with challenging exercises I can do that won't irritate my hamstring/glutes.

This is an amazing exercise that I love (because it is effective) and hate (because it's tough). You don't need a weight bench, a chair (not on wheels please!), aerobic step or even a firm bed can work instead. I also like this because it forces you to squat with your knees behind your toes, which is important to protect your knees. I guarantee you will really feel these in your quads and glutes.

Use as much weight as you can. You can start with no weight at all and work your w…

Pasta with White Beans, Sundried Tomatoes and Pesto

I never make my pestos with cheese because I am married to a cheese-hater. But if your brood likes it, I would add about 1/4-1/2 cup of parmesan to the food processor before adding the spinach and basil. I don't like mine too oily, so I add very little and it ends up pretty thick. You can add more if you want to thin it out.

5oz organic baby spinach
Large bunch fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts (or pinenuts), toasted if desired
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil (or more)
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 lb whole grain short pasta (rotini, fusilli, etc.)
1 can white kidney beans or romano beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, julienned

Place nuts, garlic, oil, cheese (if using), salt and pepper into food processor and process until nuts are coarsely ground. Add spinach and basil, a few handfuls at a time and process until desired consistency is reached.

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and return to pot and place back on stove over low heat. Stir in pesto,…

Stewed Spiced Plums

This is one of my favorite ways to use plums. To me, they taste like candy when prepared this way. Enjoy over low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, on top of pancakes, waffles, or just on their own.

6 plums, pitted and sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbls grated fresh ginger (optional)
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium/medium low heat until plums are soft. Serve warm or cold.

An Apple A Day or No Way Jose?

A few weeks ago while I was lifting weights at the JCC before my Sunday morning spin class, a member I have known there for years (50 something lawyer with two grown kids), was telling another member about the new weight loss plan he had just started. It is essentially a low-carb diet that eliminates most starchy carbs and fruit.

I listened for a few minutes and then couldn't bite my tongue any longer. "M, you know I don't approve of that!" I teased. M respectfully sees me as a trusted authority on fitness and nutrition so, with sincere interest, he asked me to explain why.

I told him there is no magic to these diets. The reason high protein, low carb diets work short-term is that protein is filling so people are rarely hungry. The problem is, excessive protein consumption can cause kidney damage over the long-term and low-carb diets leave many people depressed, tired, irritable and craving sugar. That is because carbohydrates affect seratonin levels in the brain…