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Showing posts from July, 2012

Evergreen Brickworks

Big A slept over at my in-laws on Friday and then they took her to Centre Island on Saturday morning.  They normally take both girls, but they wanted to take Big A alone so they could do some activities that aren't possible when Little A is with them.

Since Little A has been feeling a bit left out because of all the special activities Big A has been doing lately, Adam and I thought we would try to do something special with her. 

Just as suddenly as it seemed we'd moved into a phase of smooth sailing, I feel like we are now in another rough patch.  The girls fight constantly (they complain about how much they miss each other, then battle over every possible thing when they're together) and Little A has been demonstrating some disturbing behaviour.  Aside from her typical 3-year-old completely irrational, narcissistic antics, for the past two weekends she has been mortifyingly awful at playdates.  Normally, no matter what, she has been wonderful with other kids and absolut…

Backwards Treadmilling

Disclaimer: This activity can cause serious injury.  Please speak to your health care provider and/or trainer to make sure this activity is right for you before you attempt it.

As I get older I realize more and more that youth is not always superior and there is a lot to be said for experience and the wisdom that comes with it.  Of course that doesn't mean that I would mind a bit of botox between the eyes to get rid of those damn lines, or 'experience wrinkles'.  But lets face it, our society still worships youth and beauty.

And I have to admit, I am vulnerable to this too.  A few months ago Adam and I were forced to come to terms with the fact that our beautiful, sleek, 5.5 year old treadmill was dying.  This is it below (we never even took off the tag!):



The guy who services it for us explained that residential treadmills are generally not built to sustain a lot of mileage (i.e. the manufacturers anticipate you'll end up hanging laundry off it after a few months) and…

Fresh Peach Muffins

The local peaches which are in season right now are so sweet and delicious that even Big A - who, when it comes to food, normally only gets excited about cake, candy, salty snacks or hotdogs - has been swooning over them.  Of course, they are best eaten fresh, out of hand, but they are highly perishable and because I bought so many, we couldn't eat them all before they started to get a bit mushy.

But you won't often catch me throwing out produce just because they are a wee bit past their prime.  Not when you can use them in cooking and baking and still get spectacular results!  These are incredibly sweet and moist, even though they are healthy and low in fat.  Everyone loved these, so I think they are going to become a peach season tradition.

You can actually make this into one big quick bread loaf, or muffins of any size.  I made mini loaves, which I love because they can be a serving for someone with a big appetite or sliced for sharing among those with smaller appetites.  Y…

National Drowning Prevention Week

If you follow the news than you probably already know that there have been an alarming number of drownings this summer across the country, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, which authorities blame on the exceptionally hot weather.  Apparently the heat and humidity encourage folks, who may not necessarily have the proper skills, to take to the water in an effort to cool down.  Water safety is particularly important for children, as drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of four.

The Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada is having its annual National Drowning Prevention Week this week in an effort to decrease these tragedies from occurring.  They argue that in a country like Canada, which has numerous and vast bodies of water, that swimming is an important life skill.

This is certainly how Adam and I see it.  While the girls have been free to chose whatever other recreational activities in which to participate, we have insisted on having bot…

High Protein Caesar Pesto (vegan option)

Healthy, flavourful, and versatile.  This recipe is killer, AND it is super simple to make.  It's great with whole grain crackers, bread or crostini as an appetizer or lunch, or can be used as a sauce for pasta, or spooned over baked fish or chicken.

8 cups dark green romaine leaves (outer leaves), chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
50g can anchovies packed in olive oil (omit or throw in a handful of sea vegetables for vegan option)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbls grated parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast for vegan option)
2 tbls white wine vinegar
1 tbls worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 15oz can white kidney beans (or romano beans), drained and rinsed
Fresh cracked black pepper and salt, to taste

Place romaine in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  Keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Recipe Favorites

I thought I'd compile a list of my favorite recipes because I publish so many and a lot have gotten lost at the back of this blog, particularly some that I didn't label very well.

These are recipes that each time I make them I think, "Damn this is amazing!"  If you try any, let me know what you think.

Meat/Fish Dishes

My Malaysian Curried Shrimp and Shirataki noodle dish is an all-time fave of mine (I can't make it for Adam because it has seafood, but I once made it for him with chicken instead and he loved it).

My take on chicken tajine turned out awesome.

You'll love my rhubarb apple butter chicken stew if you enjoy sweet/savoury dishes.  My apple butter chicken and squash dish, is also amazing.

My balsamic-glazed trout is simple but super-flavourful and is always a hit.  I make this one a lot.



Vegetarian Mains

My vegetarian pad thai, which I honestly think beats anything I've had in a restaurant.

You seriously have got to give my decadent-tasting creamy …

Independence Week

Big A has been in Kingston for the week with my parents.  They have been extremely impressed with how grown-up and confident she is.  Starting a new camp with all new kids, in a relatively unfamiliar city without her parents around hasn't fazed her for a second.  My parents say she was instantly comfortable with everything and the camp counsellors reported that she is very well-behaved and getting on beautifully with the other campers.  Big A is beyond thrilled because she has learned how to jump off a diving board and do cannon balls.  My parents said she now does this everytime they are at their pool about 20 times!

Little A has been enjoying being "Queen of the Castle" but also deeply misses her sister.  She won't stop asking when Big A will be back and has had several tantrums over it.  But she's had a great week too.  She spent the day with my mother-in-law on Wednesday and visited a fire station.  The fire fighters let her sit in the fire truck, which delig…

Outside the Box

I recently finished reading Outside the Box by Jeannie Marshall.  Marshall is a Canadian journalist who has spent time living in Rome.  The book details the differences she noticed between the traditional food culture in Italy - which is, unfortunately, slowly changing and becoming more Americanized - and the food culture of modern North America.  Her focus is the impact of these distinct environments on herself and her young son, and on the families around her.

I enjoyed this book immensely and agree with most of what Marshall says: our food environment is toxic; large corporate food manufacturers and restaurant chains are in business to make money, and do so at the expense of our health; cooking is a life skill and should be taught in school; food marketing is often manipulative and detrimental, particularly for children; and there are many complex personal and systemic reasons why people are overweight and suffering from related chronic illnesses.

Like Yoni Freedhoff, I was disapp…

Fat-Free Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

I am not a big fan of oil.  If you read my recipes, than you probably have already noticed this.  It's not that I'm fat-phobic, it's just that I'd rather get my healthy fats from real, whole foods like nuts, fish and avocados.  A lot of health professionals think this is better, but I also simply don't think oil is necessary or adds a lot to most recipes, unless it's something with a strong flavour like toasted sesame oil.

I also have a bit of an aversion to the 'feel' of oily foods.  Adam finds this amusing, but any cooking tool or vesicle that has been in contact with oil or very oily foods gets immediately thrown into the dishwasher by me.  I don't even like rinsing it out in the sink.  Just getting that oily feeling on my hands makes me shudder, much like fingernails on a chalk board.

So when I came across this recipe, I decided to give it a go even though I had no hazelnut oil on hand. 

If I do say so myself, it turned out amazing.  If you do…

Can-Am Games

Yesterday was my parents' 45th wedding anniversary!  

Yep, on July 16th, 1967 they got married in New York.

They came to visit this past weekend and to celebrate, we went for dinner at a new hot spot in our own neighbourhood: Actinolite Restaurant.  Great place!  I had an amazing endive, citrus and avocado salad, topped with black quinoa and then white fish over lentils.  Adam had a watermelon salad, my mom the bocconcini salad, and my dad the shrimp appetizer to start.  Adam and my mom also got the fish for a main, and my dad got the skirt steak.  We all loved our food.

My parents took Big A back to Kingston with them the next day.  For the first time ever, she is staying there for a whole week by herself!  My parents enrolled her in Queen's Sports Camp, which I used to go to as a kid.  I remember absolutely loving it, inspite of not being any sort of athlete, so I'm hoping she loves it just as much.

In 1970 my brother was born in New Haven, Connecticut while my father c…

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls

Do gingerbread men have balls? Apparently they do...


I know it's summer and strawberry shortcake may be more popular for some, but personally I always prefer gingerbread.  For me, it's a favorite any time of year.

These are relatively healthy and outrageously delicious.  Oh, also easy to make and since they are no-bake, I think they are perfect for summer.

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls

1 cup raw cashews
2 cups (about 1 lb) pitted honey dates
1/2 cup oat flour (use gluten-free to make these gluten-free)
2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbls crystalized ginger (this is optional, note that most is made with sugar but it really does enhance the flavour)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
Optional: 1/2 dropper vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste (or other sweetener)

Place cashews in food processor and blend until very finely ground.  Add all remaining ingredients and pulse until dough comes together.  Roll into bal…

It's in my blood...

My uncle sent this to me.  I guess my feelings about camping/outdoors/bugs, etc. comes from my ancestors...

Pedalheads

For the first time this week, Big A has started at a summer camp.  Since her daycares have always run through the summer, we've never needed to send her before.  But Adam and I tend to really slack off when it comes to teaching our kids certain things like...ice skating and riding a 2 wheeler bicycle.  Kind of odd for a bunch of fitness fanatics.  We did take the girls skating once and Big A couldn't stand up for 2 seconds on her own, and Little A simply refused to get near the ice.  Period.  We've neglected to take the training wheels off of Big A's bike because she can be such a wuss when it comes to boo boos (or what she perceives as boo boos, which means absolutely EVERYTHING!), that we weren't eager to deal with potential falls and scraped knees.  So when my friend told me about Pedalheads camp, which her son adores (he now goes every year), and taught him to ride a 2 wheeler on his first day, I was thrilled to be able to download this responsibility to other…

Virtually Calorie-Free Cappuccino Frosty

I don't know why summer is considered such a health-promoting time of year.  Cancer-causing UV rays, heat and smog advisories, carcinogenic grilled meats, ice cream, and high calorie drinks define the season.  And if, like me, you despise the heat, than you may actually get LESS exercise than during other seasons.  Personally, when it's super hot and humid, all I feel like doing is sitting on my ass (in an air-conditioned space) and drinking ice cold beer.

Sorry sun-worshippers, beach bums, and heat-seekers, I think SUMMER SUCKS!

Here are some of the many reasons:

Sun - No a tan is not a 'healthy glow'.  It's actually sun damage and frankly I think tanning is even stupider than smoking.  Why?  Because you can't even blame an addiction, it's just pure vanity.  Get over it.  Learn to embrace your pale, pasty self.  And don't give me the vitamin D argument 'cause it doesn't hold water.  Just take a friggin' pill. 

Heat - Related to sun is the…

Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Pancakes (Vegan option)

While I adore vegetables and eat them in extraordinary quantity (or so I am told),  and I am happy to cook and bake with virtually any fruit, the only fruit I really eat out of hand are apples, citrus, berries and cherries.

I absolutely adore cherries but have weaned myself off of snacking on them often in recent years because I can easily gobble down $10 worth in as many minutes.  After all, I haven't been earning much while on mat leave with Little A and then as a student.

But it's cherry season now, and I am finding some beauties for $2/lb, so all bets are off.  We've been buying them like crazy.  Normally I feel it is sacrilegious to do anything with them except eat them fresh, pitted, out of a bowl, but I am also a sucker for the cherry almond flavour combo.  My cherry almond muffin recipe is one of my favorites so I don't know why I didn't think of making cherry almond pancakes before now.  Good thing I thought of it...they're spectacular! 



You can freez…

Tandoori Fish with Roasted Cauliflower, Onions and Rice Pilau

I rarely cook with white fish because I tend to find it boring.  I am a much bigger fan of pink fish, like salmon and trout.  But white fish is also healthy, and it tends to be much less expensive.  So I figured there had to be a way to make it exciting.  Indian flavours are my favorite, so tandoori style seemed to be a good idea.  Also, I can never marinate meat in yogurt because of Adam's kosher-style diet, so using fish instead gets around this problem.

This meal turned out amazing.  Even Big A - not one to salivate over the aroma of Indian food - commented on how good this food smelled, and it tasted just as good.  The marinade actually makes the outside of the fish a beautiful bright pink!

Don't be intimidated by all  the 'minced' ingredients...I just throw it all in my food processor.

Tandoori Fish

1.5-2 lb white fish fillets (I had 4 massive basa fillets)
1 tbls tandoori masala spice blend (purchased or made yourself)
2 tbls fresh ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garl…

The Domestic Delinquent

Image Source

Due to the seemingly astonishing amount of cooking and baking I do, almost all of it from my own unique recipes, I've been teasingly called a little "Martha Stewart" by some of my friends.  Each time this happens I feel like a complete fraud.

Because the ugly truth is, aside from my cooking and baking skills, I am pretty much the Domestic Diva's polar opposite.

While I will shamelessly brag about the deliciousness I cook up on a regular basis, I can't, in good conscience, claim to be all that expert in the food presentation department.  You may remember the sperm cookie debacle:



Those squiggles are actually supposed to be "As".  The icing I flooded the cookies with was supposed to be pink.

Or Big A's birthday cupcakes from this year, which looked beautiful for all of 3 minutes before the piped pink icing practically melted off them in our hot kitchen. 



Adam's sister took up cake decorating just 2 years ago, and already she is produ…

Bubby's Lima Beans Made Over

When Adam and I started dating I was on a strict no red-meat diet so he warned me that I might not have much to eat when he took me to his grandparents' house for dinner.  Since I also avoided breaded chicken and other such dishes when we visited, I think his bubby eventually concluded that I was a vegetarian.  In order to accomodate me, she began making this delicious lima bean dish.  I happily spooned huge mounds of these sweet and savoury beans onto my plate every time, and eagerly took home all the leftovers.

Then I asked her for the recipe.

That was, unfortunately, the end of my lima bean love-affair.

I can't recall exactly the recipe, but what I do know is that aside from lima beans and onion, there was an extremely large quantity of ketchup, brown sugar and olive oil (like 1 cup of each!).

I had been eating dessert for dinner!

I've been meaning to give this dish a healthy makeover for years, but for some reason just got around to it.

Honestly, all that sugar and o…

Strawberry Jam-Filled Mango Muffins (Vegan and Sugar-Free!)

These will totally knock your socks off!  Unless you are Little A and wild horses could not get you to take off your socks.  Oh wait, she's finally given up her socks...thank goodness, because like most of North America, we are in the middle of a massive heat wave.

These muffins are so sweet, moist and delicious, you won't believe how healthy they are.  I love making things like this that have the girls convinced they are getting a big treat, and me confident that they are eating something nutritious.

For best results, make the jam a day in advance so it has time to fully set.

Strawberry Jam (Adapted from Angela's recipe on Oh She Glows)

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced (or blueberries)
2 tbls - 1/4 cup xylitol (or other alternative sweetener), to taste
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place strawberries and sweetener in a small pot and cook over medium heat until berries begin to break down.  Mash berries, but leave chunky.  Stir in chia seeds and vanilla and c…

Time

Like most kids, my girls are incredibly impatient.  If you know me well, then you are snickering right now, because you know that I am also extremely impatient.  I hate waiting in lines, I hate delays, I hate when people make me wait, and I have a low tolerance for pretty much anything I don't like.

So I try to remind myself - when my kids' impatience is making me nuts - that they come by it honestly, and that children really do seem to have a different experience of time than adults do.

When you are a kid, 15 minutes seems like an eternity, while as an adult, it can take that long simply to remember where you left your keys.  Hours, days, weeks, months, and even years just seem to fly by at a speed that didn't seem possible when you were a kid.

Recently I read a piece in a parenting magazine by a mom of almost grown kids, who advises new parents to try and enjoy their young children and not take the special moments in this stage of life for granted.  While I do see wisdom…

Bosu Ball Training

If there is one piece of fitness equipment - aside from the stepmill - that I think is under-utilized by most gym goers, I would say it is definitely the Bosu Ball.

It is such a versatile fitness tool, I absolutely love them.  They can be used to all sorts of strength training, balance and agility exercises, as well as for cardiovascular workouts.  Think of it like a STEP, but with the added challenge of an unstable surface.  Awesome!

Each year when I go to the Can Fit Pro conference, I try to do at least one training session with the Bosu Ball to get new ideas for using it.  Last year I picked up Mindy Mylrea's Bosu DVD workout, but forgot about it until recently.



A few weekends ago I finally gave it a try.  It is a lot of fun and perfect for someone new to Bosu training, but I didn't feel the cardio workout was intense enough for me.  Unfortunately, there seem to be very few cardio DVDs using the Bosu Ball, which is a shame because it can be a killer workout and, seriously I…