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Showing posts from June, 2012

3 Minute Cucumber Dill Salad

It's the Friday before a long-weekend filled with colour and celebration!  Not only is Sunday Canada Day, but this week is Gay Pride Week in Toronto which culminates in a myriad of wonderful events across the city.

Unfortunately, it is also supposed to be crazy hot this weekend, which means I am going to be very whiney about doing anything outdoors...

In addition, my newest nephew - Stone Cooper Collins - was born last night, so congrats to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (Adam's sister and husband)!!



Isn't he cute??

So you may have lots of leisure time coming up this weekend, or your weekend may be jam-packed with activities.  Either way, who doesn't appreciate a recipe that's crazy quick?

The only thing better than how delicious this salad is, is how ridiculously easy it is to make.  It's a perfect, refreshing side dish for a summer meal. 


As a bonus, it's crazy low in calories too.  Go ahead, eat the whole recipe!

3 Minute Cucumber Dill Salad

1 large…

Gluten-Free Romesco Sauce

I have been wanting to try making this classic Spanish sauce for a while, but while it is typically made using bread to help thicken it up, I wanted to find a healthier option.  I was inspired when I spied a sweet potato sitting on our counter.  I had a hunch that this sweet, creamy vegetable would be a perfect substitute and I was right.


This sauce is sweet, smokey and tangy and can be used in a variety of ways.  Use it as a sandwich spread, or on pasta, as a dip for raw vegetables, or as a sauce for fish or chicken.  I stirred some into a skillet of roasted zucchini, chickpeas and Spanish olives, and served it all over rice.  Fabulous!

Gluten-Free Romesco Sauce

1 large sweet potato, cut into 8-10 pieces
3 red bell peppers, quartered
2 tomatoes, halved
1 large onion, quartered
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup almonds
2 tbls sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 tbls ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika (or sweet smoked paprika + cayenne pepper, to…

Donate Naturally

Recently I was offered a gift certificate to try out and then review my experiences with donatenaturally.com .  It's the new sister company of Life Choices, which makes a lot of products my kids love. 


The company describes itself as follows:

DonateNaturally is an online grocery shopping destination that sells organic and natural groceries, including everything from fresh organic produce, dairy and meat, to beauty, personal and household items (Donate Naturally carries Life Choices Hot Dogs & Mac ‘n Cheese by the way). There’s a special diet and child/infant category too, so Donate Naturally really is a one-stop shop for your grocery needs. The best part is, the school or charity of your choice receives 15% of the value of every order you place. All groceries are priced the same, or less, than your local grocery or natural food store and there is no mark up in pricing to accommodate the 15% donation component. Donate Naturally even offers FREE next-day delivery right to your h…

Vegan East-Coast Style Donairs

Donairs are now all the rage among trendy foodies here in Toronto.  Upscale restaurants have transformed this nutritional monstrosity, typically eaten in Halifax at 2am by drunk university students after the bars close, into a high-brow delicacy.  But still an unhealthy one.

In case you are not familiar with it, a donair is basically a schwarma made with ground beef and/or lamb and drowned in a sickly sweet, garlicky sauce consisting of sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, sugar and garlic. 

Being as twisted as I am, I thought it would be fun to make a vegan version.  And you know what? It's fabulous! Even my schwarma-loving husband approves.

"Meat"

2 cups sprouted bean mix, cooked and drained (or 2 cups dried red kidney beans, cooked)
15g dried mushrooms
1 zucchini
2 shallots
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cu…

Wild Water Kingdom

There are some weekends when I'm happy to see Monday.  As a friend of mine once commented: When you're a parent, it becomes TGIM - assuming your children are in daycare and/or school.  But I'm sad to see the week beginning because we really had a good weekend.  Saturday we took the girls to Wild Water Kingdom in Brampton.  Adam used to go as a kid and had fond memories of the place, so when we saw a deal on tickets to use in June through WagJag, we jumped on it.

The best thing about this place is that it has stuff to appeal to ALL ages.  There are mega water slides for older kids, a wave pool, and dry and wet playgrounds that are great even for toddlers.  There is mini golf, a drive-in movie theatre, and often special events.  They have this thing called the Lazy River, where you float on an inner tube and drift down a fabricated river.  All four of us loved it, and we went down it several times.

The worst thing about it is that it's a total cash-grab place.  You pay f…

New Product Alert!

While time-outs have never been effective with either of my children - instead of calming them down, they make both of them more hysterical - I have learned that they are very effective for me.

This morning when Little A had a huge screaming fit that lasted over 30 minutes because she didn't like how I cut her toast, I had an overwhelming urge to dump her plate of eggs and toast over her head.  Instead, I left the room and went back to our rec room to finish my strength training, which had been interrupted when she woke up grumpily at 6am.  Although she screamed louder because I left, I was able to let off some steam and give myself a chance to calm down.  When I finally reemerged, I was able to calm her down by removing the plate and giving her a bowl of cereal instead (which she only took 2 bites of and left the rest).  Because Big A was such a challenging toddler and preschooler, I really thought Adam and I would get an easy second child.  It only seems fair!  I know, I know, L…

Happy Hump Day

I don't know why Wednesday gets such a bad rap.  I love Wednesdays!  By Wednesday I feel like the worst of the week is over.  I certainly hope that's the case today, because it's been a very frustrating week so far.

Our phone system has mostly been down since early Monday morning, and our Internet has been coming and going.  Yesterday morning the Bell guy came and 'fixed' it, but the line went dead again a few hours later.  This led him to the conclusion that the problem is being caused by our alarm system, only the alarm company denies this, and claims that 99% of the time when Bell says this, it is really Bell's fault.

All I know is that this is super annoying and I have 2 phone counselling sessions booked for Friday (the fertility clinic sees a lot of patients from out-of-town), and I would much rather do them from home than from the clinic.

I also had another talk booked for yesterday and this time the clients messed up.  Bailey, who arranges these talks fo…

Vegan Caramel Apple Cream Tart

Berries, cherries and stone fruits may be more seasonal, but my father-in-law loves apple desserts and I made this for him for Father's Day.  But really, apple cinnamon is a winning combination any time of year, isn't it?

This dessert was a HUGE hit.  Almost the entire thing got devoured immediately!

Crust

1.5 cups whole grain ginger snaps or graham crackers (I used Shasha organic spelt snaps which are not actually vegan because they contain honey), use any vegan and/or gluten-free cookies, if you wish)
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup large flake oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
2 tbls coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup agave syrup

Put cookies in food processor and grind into crumbs.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture comes together.  Press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

'Cream'

1.5 cups non-dairy plain or unsweetened vanilla milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or other granular sweetener)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds and po…

Good Vibrations (Power Plate Training)

Good Monday morning.  I hope everyone celebrating Father's Day yesterday had a great time.  We had a great weekend, filled with family and fun.  But I want to talk about fitness today.

I love working out. Actually, I love working out first thing in the morning. I swear when I don't, I don't feel fully awake. I feel kind of discombobulated, and just not like 'myself'. I guess it's the way a lot of people feel if they don't have a coffee. Of course I gotta have my coffee too!
Even though my hamstring tendonitis is significantly better since I had my cortisone shots, it is still a vulnerable area and I am still limited by it. I have to avoid most types of lunges and deadlifts, and really have to limit the amount of walking I do, particularly on an incline.
In general, I really have to avoid doing too much of any one thing. I suppose this is good because it prevents me from getting into a rut and forces me to keep a lot of variety in my workout routine. So for ca…

Vegan Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

I volunteered to bake for yet another fundraiser at Big A's school last week, but could not stand the thought of making more cupcakes, or anything else that takes effort from a presentation perspective.

Squares can be a perfect lazy-person dessert to make because they take less effort than cookies (no rolling, cutting out, dropping or flattening required) and they can be iced simply by pouring a glaze over the top (no piping, etc.).

So I whipped up a pan of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free brownies topped with my go-to fudge topping (chocolate chips and coconut oil - just melt, pour and set), for the gluten-free folks, and these vegan treats for the vegan folks.  The banana fudge topping on these is optional, but I felt I had to make these worthy of attention from school children who might otherwise pass these over in-lieu of less healthy icing-heavy cupcake alternatives on offer.

These are dense, sweet and chewy and bursting with banana and chocolate.  They were a success, as wer…

What to Say and Not To Say To a Woman About Fertility

Any woman struggling with infertility or who has experienced a miscarriage has probably had to deal with her fair share of stupid comments and reactions from others.  Some people just seem to completely lack any tact when it comes to the issue of fertility and think it is their business to comment and judge, while others are well-meaning but simply do not know what to say. 

So I thought I would put together a little guide for all of you out there regarding what is and is not appropriate to say. 
1. First and foremost, unless you need to know for medical reasons (you are a paramedic, x-ray technician, etc.) or a woman's water has just broken on your shoes,  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, ask ANY woman if she is pregnant!

Here are some of the reasons why:
It's none of your damn business;If she's not, you've just deeply insulted her;If she is, she may not be making it public yet;She may simply have eaten a big burrito;She may have a medical problem that makes her appear pregnant a…

Lentil, Green Bean and Brussels Sprout Curry

I make curries a lot, and I change them up from time-to-time, but more often than not they include chickpeas or chicken for protein, and spinach, cabbage, or cauliflower for veg.  This time I decided to be radical and do lentil, green beans and brussel sprouts.

I have to admit, green beans are one of the few veggies I don't really enjoy just plain. I would never just steam some for myself.  But I do adore them stir-fried in Chinese restaurants and one of my favorite dishes from Banjara, a fabulous Indian restaurant in our neighbourhood, is their sauteed green beans.  It was that dish that inspired this recipe when I spied a bag of green beans in our freezer.  I added brussels sprouts and lentils to it, to bump up the protein and make it a complete meal.  Awesome served over brown basmati rice!

3/4 cup red lentils, soaked for several hours or overnight (to cut down cooking time)

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 chunk fresh ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls garam mas…

North America's Health Crisis: Who's to Blame?

I'll apologize, up-front for this rather long editorial post, but this is an issue I've wanted to write about for a while...

Through my role as a fitness instructor, personal trainer, researcher, or speaker, I have been involved in health promotion in one way or another since I was 18 years old.  So naturally I am interested in understanding health behaviours.

I read everything I can get my hands on regarding chronic disease prevention, nutrition and fitness.  The factors responsible for North America's obesity epidemic and skyrocketting rates of associated chronic illnesses are hotly debated among academics, policy makers and health professionals.

Some feel it's entirely personal responsibility.  Others believe it is systemic, due to a toxic food environment that promotes the overconsumption of high fat and calorie, low nutrition foods, or fraudulent advertising that misleads the public about the health benefits of what they are eating.  Theories have cropped up abou…

Zesty Vegan Bits & Bites

Happy Monday!  Is my cheefulness annoying you first thing in the morning on the first day of the week?

I am happy to say that after a challenging week, we had a fantastic weekend.  Despite no naps as usual, Little A was actually in a wonderful mood.  I'm wondering if her especially stormy mood last week was due to not only fatigue, but the bad cold she and I were suffering from, and perhaps this weekend she (like I) finally started to feel better.  Whatever the case, she was her delightful self that we haven't seen in a while.

We had a birthday party and several playdates and the girls had a fantastic time.  Yesterday Big A had a 'date' with her adorable boyfriend.  Big A proudly gave him a bag of this recipe, our latest culinary creation to enjoy.

With the exception of during my pregnancies (when hormones were doing all sorts of strange things), I am not a salty snack person.  You can shove a bowl of potato chips right up to my face and it doesn't tempt me in the…

Shrinking Mountains to Mohills

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This has been a really tough week.  Like it has really and truly sucked.  Like there have been moments...a number of them...when I have felt like curling up in a fetal position in the corner of a room and screaming...or poking my own eyes out with an ice pick...or tearing every hair out of my head.

Actually, it all started last weekend.  It all went down like this:

Saturday
While we were in Washington, I received an email from the director of the counselling clinic where I do non-fertility related counselling.  She dissolved her contract with the company we rent offices through and decided to look for new space.  In the meanwhile, we have no downtown space.  Um, big problem.  Most of my clients at this clinic live and work way downtown and can't travel far for appointments.  Also, I get referrals from various doctors for their fertility patients, and usually sublet office space for these patients through this clinic.  Since the clinics are all competitors with one anot…

Beano Brownies

Brownie recipes using black beans are all over the Internet, however, I first saw this idea on a Food Network show a while ago.

I have been dying to try one out, but for some reason never got around to it until now.  Given that neither of my children will knowingly go near a legume, I was eager to see if they would go for them.

I sifted through a ton of recipes, found one I liked most, and then adapted it to my liking.


I think they turned out great, and the girls loved them too.  Adam, on the other hand said, "You can tell something [healthy] has been hidden in them".  Oh well, the point was to make them for the girls so I'm satisfied.  They may not instantly win over folks used to sugar, butter, white flour products, but I think they are really tasty, and they are sugar-free, gluten-free, and high in protein.  A perfect midday snack.

Beano Brownies (adapted from this one)

1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 egg whites
2 tbls coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup cocoa p…

President's Choice Summer Insider's Report Review

Every season I look forward to President's Choice Insider's Report.  What new healthy and yummy products will they have?

Unfortunately, along with the great new items, there are always a ton of nutritional duds.
The Summer 2012 issue came out recently and I was underwhelmed, to say the least.  As a company, Loblaws has vowed to eliminate all artificial flavours and colours from their products over the next year or so, but, Hey Loblaws, what about all the refined flour and sugar??

On a positive note, they have a slew of new condiments out, some of which look and sound great.



Just check the ingredient lists, I suspect they are all full of sugar, except perhaps the sofrito.

They also have a precooked grains blend, which is good for people who feel they don't have time to cook.


Their organic fresh produce is always a good bet, of course, and usually found at a great price point. 

For fans of frozen desserts - of which I am not one - there are greek yogurt smoothie bars, fruit…

Washington, D.C.

I can't believe that this past weekend was the first time I had ever been to the U.S. capital.  I am part American, after all, and actually the ONLY Canadian born person in my entire extended family.

But better late then never, as they say.

What a lovely city!  I actually liked it MORE than San Francisco and Chicago...but of course, like most other cities, it doesn't compare to New York.

The weather wasn't stellar the first day.  There was a rain storm, along with heat and extreme humidity on the Friday, that worsened over the course of the day.  We got to the hotel around 1pm and Adam and I had a quick lunch before he headed to his conference and I left to go exploring.

I took the bus out to Georgetown, since EVERYONE told me I had to see it.  Inspite of the rain, I had a lot of fun exploring this quaint neighbourhood.  Lovely shops and beautiful historic buildings make it a definite destination point for visitors.  I found the famous Georgetown Cupcake bakery and quickly…

Guilt Trips

Food, love, career, and mothers, the four major guilt groups. ~ Cathy Guisewite

Adam and I just returned from a fantastic weekend in Washington, D.C. 

Adam had a conference there and I'd never been, so since we just celebrated our 10th anniversary, I thought it appropriate to turn the trip into an opportunity for a little vacation.  I'll post more about our trip later this week.

Unfortunately, I left Toronto on Friday with a heavy heart.  Not because we were leaving the girls - we've done that before and I know they have a wonderful time with their grandparents and I feel parents do deserve breaks here and there - no, I was feeling guilty for a few other reasons.

Tuesday

Little A's room at daycare had prepared a show for the parents.  It was scheduled for 5pm, with parents asked to arrive at 4:45pm.  Adam couldn't go because he was at a conference in Waterloo that day.  I was stuck at home waiting for the a/c repairman, who it had taken weeks to schedule a visit w…