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Showing posts from August, 2012

L - Glutamine

I have tried many alternative remedies and nutritional supplements over the years, including naturopathic, homeopathic, vitamin, mineral, and herbal products.  I have not had any success with them.

That doesn't mean I think they don't have value.  I just haven't found any helpful for addressing my particular needs.  Anything I have tried for anxiety, insomnia, allergies, hormone balance and immunity has not had any beneficial effects and in the end, I have always felt like I had just flushed my money down the toilet.

But I am right now in awe of one supplement: L - Glutamine.  This stuff has CHANGED MY LIFE!

I have long known that it is recommended to aid muscle recovery after strenuous exercise, all the body builders, male and female, take it.  But I stubbornly decided a few years ago that I wasn't going to bother trying anymore supplements (the last thing I tried was oregano oil, but honestly I don't think it really helps prevent or treat colds, it just tastes su…

Absolutely Perfect Vegan Vanilla Rice Pudding

Tomorrow the girls' daycare is closed for their annual cleaning/prep for the school year day.  Last year I took Big A to The Ex and promised that every year we will try to go on this day.  Unfortunately, now that Little A is also at this daycare, it means I've also got to bring our Little Terror along this year.  To make matters worse, they are predicting temps of 33C for tomorrow, which is typically weather that makes me loathe being outside.  Fortunately, my friend Jenny and her kids are accompanying us, and, thanks to this recipe the girls can fuel up on a delicious, nutritious breakfast before we head down to the mecca of fried foods and bacon-filled creations.

Every time Big A requests rice pudding I make it differently.  And everytime I know I say the latest recipe is better.  But this time I really have it nailed.  This one is the bomb!  No starches to thicken, just chia seeds which also add tons of fibre and nutrition.  Some vanilla/smoothie mix/protein powder pumps u…

Cocoa-Loco Pancakes

These pancakes are so healthy Adam was incredulous when I made them for the girls. "How much spinach did you put in those anyways?" he asked me.  The answer is a lot and the girls didn't notice.  In fact, they scarfed them down in the blink of an eye.

1 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed (or 1 cup pureed fresh baby spinach leaves)
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbls powdered stevia (I finally finished my New Roots stevia in this recipe, so I'll be breaking into my NuNaturals Stevia baking blend soon!) or other sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbls white chia seeds
1.5 cups whole wheat flour (or spelt, or other whole grain flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1.5 tbls baking powder
2+ cups water or unsweetened non-dairy milk

Whisk together spinach, bananas, sweetener, vanilla and chia seeds in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to bowl with dry ingredients and pour in enough water or milk to make a thick batter.  Ladel onto…

Caribbean Rice & Peas (with sausage or vegan option)

This was the perfect way to prepare those spicy jerk chicken sausages I bought, but since I am not likely to drive out to Medium Rare again any time soon to buy more of these pricey babies, I think I may make Dreena Burton's amazing looking recipe for jerk chickpeas in place of the sausage next time.  Whether you choose meat or vegan protein, you will love this delicious dish! 

It may not be traditional to add kale to Caribbean rice & peas, but it certainly boosts the nutrition and is really yummy.

1.5 lbs jerk chicken or other spicy sausage, sliced (or 1 recipe jerk chickeas)*
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 large bunch kale, leaves torn into bite sized pieces, tough stems removed
1 can light coconut milk

1.5 cups long grain brown rice, cooked

Saute sausage in a large pan or skillet over medium heat until partially cooked.  Add onion, garlic, thyme, salt and vinegar.  Coo…

"Smarter for Life" Bars (Sugar, Nut, & Gluten-Free + Vegan Option)

Happy Monday morning!  It is cloudy and rainstorms are predicted for today, but that's cool with me, assuming it gets rid of the extreme heat and humidity we've had for the past few days.  We had a lovely weekend, inspite of the icky weather, and the fact that Little A may have a bladder infection (still waiting for the lab results) and Big A has strep throat (meds made her feel better pretty quick).  Saturday afternoon we needed an inside activity to occupy the girls so I got them to help me make these bars.

For the past few years Adam has been buying the Smart for Life Bars from Costco. 

Given his cholesterol issues, they're better than a lot of other similar options that are high in saturated fat, but they are still not great.  They use soy protein isolate and are really high in sugar.  Unfortunately, it's Little A who has really fallen in love with them.  She ADORES them, and she is super picky.  She is almost as likely to turn up her nose at a piece of cake or c…

Second Time Around

Image source

There are 4 people in our household.  Three of them are being terrorized by the other one.  The smallest one.

Little A is just being a complete nightmare.  Grumpy, surly, unreasonable, irrational and unpredictable.  After several weeks of eating marble cheese like it's going out of style, I put a few pieces on her dinner plate the other night and she shrieked, "I don't like this!" and flung it across the kitchen.  Virtually every night she kicks up a huge fuss about going to bed with ongoing requests for us to come back into her room and hysteria if we don't comply.  She has refused to swim for the last 2 weeks at swim lessons, and she throws tantrums like every 2 minutes.  Why?  Oh believe me, she'll find a reason!  Remember the peeing doll she begged for?  Well, she is now asking for the jewelry box craft activity we'd initially been looking for.  She told me she's now done with the doll, and I can give it away.  Maybe she'd like to…

Warm Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad

This dish only uses half of the chutney recipe, but the leftovers keep in the fridge 1-2 weeks or can be frozen.

Apricot-mango chutney

8 apricots, diced
1 large, ripe mango, diced
1 onion, minced
1 chunk fresh ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Sweeten to taste, if desired (xylitol, stevia, Splenda, agave, coconut sugar, and honey will all work here)
2 tbls coconut flour or 1 tbls chia seeds
1/2 cup raisins
Optional: Chopped dried apricots

For ease, mince onion, garlic and ginger in your food processor.  Throw all ingredients except raisins (unless you want them to be really soft and squishy), into a large flat bottomed pot set over medium heat.  Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, until everything has cooked down and chutney has thickened.  Remove from heat, add dried fruit and refrigerate until set.

Warm Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad

1.5 cups brown basmati ric…

Vegan Deli Salad

I am always looking for healthy new recipes to liven up lunch time.  So to get some new ideas, I was cruising through the Diet, Dessert & Dogs website.  Ricki has such amazing, creative recipes that all sound scrumptious.  I found her chickpea-based mock tuna salad and was very excited to try it.  I love chickpeas, I love tuna, so no matter what, I knew I'd like it.

I did intend to follow the recipe, but then altered it based on what I had in the house, and to taste.  This salad doesn't taste anything like tuna, but it is really yummy.  I used finely minced cabbage instead of celery because we didn't have any, and I don't really love celery.  The cabbage lightens it up and adds some nice crunch.  If you still want this to be tangy, but don't want it to be too lemony, sub 2 tbls cider vinegar for the lemon juice.

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and mashed
4 tbls low-fat vegan mayo or other mayo-type dressing (or Greek yogurt)
1 cup finely grated/minced green c…

CAN FIT PRO Conference 2012

I've been attending the CAN FIT PRO conference since 1998 and it's only now that I feel like I've found a way to truly enjoy the experience.  First off, I pick sessions based not only on subject matter or content, but on presenter.  The presenter makes all the difference!
I also now make sure not to physically overdo things.  This year I refrained from participating in the workout part of all the cardio sessions I did and on Friday, when it was stinking hot, I took the subway to the convention centre instead of forcing myself to do the 6km bike ride. 
I also bought much less at the Trade Show.  I've learned that not all the 'deals' being offered are so wonderful, so impulse buying is not always a good idea.  In fact, I bought no clothes and no music.  After all, I only teach once a week now and the rest of the time work out in my home, so I have much less need for cute spandex outfits.  In addition, I make my own CDs for my spinning classes, so I don't need …

Spicy Chili Almonds

Holy cow, it was an exhausting weekend!  It was the Can Fit Pro conference - which I'll write about later this week - and Little A was really challenging.  Adam and I had scheduled a much anticipated date for Saturday night and the girls were supposed to sleep over at my in-laws.  But Little A refused.  No amount of bribery or cajoling could convince her.  She did go to bed that evening without the usual song-and-dance, and she did sleep until 7:15am Sunday morning (I don't think she's slept past 6:30am in many, many weeks) and she even woke up in a good mood.  But that lasted for about an hour.  By the time I left the house to go teach my spinning class at the JCC, she was in full tantrum mode.  On top of all that, for some reason I've been having really crappy sleeps for the past week, so even though Little A slept in yesterday, I woke up at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep on my one sleep-in day of the week.  Blech!

If like me you feel that your weekend wasn&#…

Spoiled Sports

It's not been an easy week. 

I've been feeling a bit crappy since last weekend.  I caught the bug that seems to be going around right now, and on-and-off for the past week I've had a sore throat, headache and upset stomach.  I've also had a few bad night sleeps, which hasn't happened in a while.  Sick and tired is not a good combo and generally makes me a big grump.

On top of all that, Little A may have caught the bug too.  Sunday we suspected she was coming down with something but Monday she seemed fine.  Until swimming lessons Monday night.  She refused to get into the pool, claiming to have a sore tummy.  But since she's been reluctant about lessons from the start this session due to being assigned a 'boy' teacher, Adam thought she was faking.  Nevertheless, she insisted on going right to bed when we got home, sans dinner, bath or stories. 

So we kept her home on Tuesday.  Ironically, she appeared 100% the whole day.  Good appetite, full of energy …

Sesame Garlic Asparagus

This is a simple and delicious way to dress up asparagus.

2 lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 tbls soy/tamari/aminos
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds (optional)

Place asparagus in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet.  Whisk together soy, garlic, mustard, and oil.  Drizzle over asparagus.  Roast at 400F for abou 15 minutes (or grill until tender).  Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

Peach-Apricot Barbecue Sauce

If you grill a lot in the summer, you probably go through a lot of bbq sauce.  It's so easy to make your own, and so much healthier than using the sugar-filled store bought kind, there's no excuse not to try it. I used our food processor to mince and chop everything and it came together super fast.  This one uses some of the in-season fruit to naturally sweeten it up.  Adding additional sweetener is optional.  I left it a bit chunky, but feel to make a smoother sauce if you prefer.

Peach-Apricot Barbecue Sauce

Half a red onion, minced
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ripe peaches, finely chopped
3/4 lb fresh apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Optional: 2 tbls - 1/4 cup sweetener, to taste (honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, xylitol, Splenda, will all work)
1 tbls chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional, for some heat)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (or few drops liquid smoke)
Pinch ground c…

Nutrition Action Healthletter Summer Issue

In this summer's issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter, Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, discusses the importance of teaching our children to cook (something I've been saying for a while). Not Kraft Dinner, but real food.  Personally, I think focusing on our kids is key because the current generation of adults are too far gone. 

Call me a pessimist, but from everything I read and see, most people who have adopted unhealthy eating practices such as grabbing most of their meals from restaurants, and/or consuming processed foods are unwilling to change.  I really hope we can make some policy changes to our education and food manufacturing systems that will enable the next generation to develop healthier behaviours.

This issue also has a large article on diabetes and heart disease (metabolic syndrome).  Here are some of the factors that can help you decrease your risk of metabolic syndrome:

* If you are a woman, keep …

Palak Paneer Pizza

Although Indian cuisine is one of my favorites, I'd never had Palak Paneer before.  In fact, I'd never tried Paneer, a pressed cottage cheese commonly used in certain parts of India.  Finding it in Kensington Market inspired me to give this dish a try.  While planning the meal, however, I decided to make it into a pizza dish, instead of eating it in the typical way I eat curry: with brown basmati rice.

Knowing that Adam will only eat cheese on pizza, and only eat pizza made with mozzerella, I decided to make it only for me, and made him a plain pizza with mozz and veggie pepperoni.

While the curry itself turned out great, and the flavour was great on pizza crust, I can't say I was overly impressed with paneer, which I found very bland, and, of course, doesn't really melt, which doesn't exactly make it the best choice for pizza.  I think next time I will use mozzerella instead.  If you want to do a vegan version, cube up some firm tofu or use your favorite vegan ch…

On Thin Ice

When we decided to put the girls into skating lessons this summer, they were both initially very excited.  No one complained about having to wear a helmut (not something we had to do as kids), particularly Little A, who got a pink helmut, and both of them were thrilled with their girlie skates.

These are the ones we got for Big A.  She thinks they look like high heels, which apparently is such a novelty, I think if we let her, she'd wear them all the time. 

Big A immediately loved skating and is enthusiastic to learn.  I think it helps that there are often young figure skaters practicing before our lesson and Big A is just as enchanted with the 'skin colour tights' and 'twirly skirts' they get to wear, as well as their agility and gracefulness.

It's a different story with Little A.  She began equally enthusiastic, perhaps a little nervous, but buoyed by her pink princess skates.

By the end of the first lesson, the teacher had gotten her to be able to stay stan…

Fitness Deals in the Burbs

I am the first to admit I am an urban princess.  There is nowhere in the world I'd rather be than Manhattan.  I don't like the country and I'm not a big fan of suburbs.  I like walkable communities with lots of character, diversity and activity.  Cookie-cutter housing developments, strip malls and sidewalk free areas are not for me.  This is why we live in downtown Toronto.  No, we have no backyard to speak of, just a big deck, a paved area, and a little garden (with red currents and raspberries!), yes our house is small, but it is so worth it to live so centrally, with access to so many amazing urban resources.

That being said, I'm not sure Toronto actually has suburbs.  Most of the areas I think of as suburbs of Toronto: Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan, etc., are actually cities in their own right.  Yet also lists these areas, and others, as being Toronto suburbs so perhaps even though they are all entirely seperate municipal…

Peanut Curry Kelp Noodles

I've been in kelp noodle withdrawal the last bunch of months.  The Korean grocery store that carries them for less than $2/bag has been out of stock, and I refuse to spend the $5-6 or more everywhere else seems to charge.  After all, I can easily eat a whole bag in one sitting!

So I was delighted to find them back on the shelf a few weeks ago and was fortunate to snatch up the last bag.  Unfortunately, I've been back twice since and they don't have them again. 

I love, love, love them.  Like shirataki noodles, they are very low in carbs and calories, and gluten-free, however, they don't have a funny smell like shirataki noodles do when you first open the bag, and they do absorb liquid so you have more leeway in terms of how to sauce them.

This recipe is quick and easy and crazy delicious.  I added in mixed seafood at the end, but you can omit that if you want these to be vegan.

Peanut Curry Kelp Noodles

1 340g bag kelp noodles, rinsed and snipped with scissors
1 bunch…

Maple Spice Protein Glaze

It was Adam's birthday last week so, like every year, he insisted his parents buy him his "Birthday Cookie" (a gigantic chocolate chip cookie from Mrs Fields covered in fluorescent blue and white icing).  So I decided to make a treat for myself: A batch of my pumpkin sticky rolls.  Lately when I make them I've been experimenting with glazes and icings.  I like it super sweet, but don't want to be giddy on sugar afterwards, so I came up with this recipe this time around.  I was very pleased with it!  It could also be used as a topping for fresh or baked fruit, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles or French toast.  Just make sure you use a good tasting protein powder.

I have to say, this was probably the best long weekend we've had yet this summer.  The girls got along pretty well and we had a lot of fun.  Friday we went to my in-laws for Adam's birthday dinner.  Saturday my friend Emily, visiting from Vancouver, came by, Sunday we took the girls to see Brave, and t…

Peach Crumble Bottom Pie (Gluten-free & Vegan)

Still going crazy with the spectacular peaches this summer.  This pie is easy to make and fabulous on it's own or topped with yogurt or ice cream!  This is rustic and un-fussy, since peeling the peaches isn't called for.  But if you object to that sort of thing, by all means, peel away!  Personally, I like the fruit to maintain its integrity.

10-12 small peaches, washed, pitted and sliced
2 tbls lemon juice
2 tbls arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup blanched almond meal
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups large flake oats (gluten-free, if necessary)

Toss peaches with juice, starch, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Place ingredients for crust, except for oats in food processor and process until well combined.  Add oats and pulse a few times.  Firmly press dough into the sides and bottom of 9-inch round springform pan.  Fill with peaches and bake at 350F for 40 minutes.  Let cool …

Vegan "Tuna" Sushi Rolls

Often picking up sushi rolls seems like the healthiest choice when you are getting take-out or prepared foods from the grocery store, unfortunately, there is often a lot of hidden salt, sugar and fat lurking in those rolls.  From the white rice, to the sugar and salt used to season it, or the mayo-based sauces, these rolls are not always so virtuous.

It's really easy to make your own and to customize them based on your diet and taste.

I've opted to make these without rice, but you can add brown rice, or even quinoa if you want to bulk them up a bit*.  I do recommend that you throw in rice or quinoa if you are not going to eat them right away as it will help keep the nori from getting soggy.  As is, they are best eaten immediately.  Aside from being yummy, these rolls are high in protein, and packed with nutrition and fibre.  I've seasoned the avocado spread with some soy and wasabi, so these don't really need to be dunked, which also keeps the sodium to a minimum.


The Genie Bra

Warning: This post may not be of interest to you if you are male...unless you wear bras or are a pervert.

These pictures are not of me, by the way!

Due to my pregnancies and breast feeding with the girls, my chest size has changed dramatically, multiple times over the past few years.  Thus, I now have a drawer FULL of bras in a variety of shapes and sizes, none of which fit properly.

I've known for a long time I need to replace them, but have been putting it off.  Why?  MONEY!  I have a small band size and a big cup size and I simply can't find my size in standard department stores.  I unequivocally have to go to a high-end specialty bra store where each bra is at least $80.  Since I need a bunch, the idea of replacing my brazier wardrobe made me sick because it was going to cost me a fortune.

So while I generally ignore infomercials, one caught my attention recently: the Genie Bra.  The promise is that they will fit any size like a glove and be super comfy.  Probably because …

Meatball Curry

Make this vegan by subbing chickpeas for the meatballs, but if you're a carnivore like my husband is, you'll like this...

Meatball Curry

1 lb ground chicken or turkey
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls minced fresh ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne, to taste (optional)

1 onion, minced
2 tbls fresh ginger, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 tbls garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or juice of  1 lemon)
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
A few handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped

Place all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl and mix by hand.  Roll into small balls and place in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.  Brown on both sides.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and seasonings to skillet, along with vinegar or lemon juice.  Cook until liquid is absorbed.  Pour in coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add peas and …