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Showing posts from December, 2012

Farewell 2012

Welcome Back!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  We had tons of fun in the sun in Florida.  This year's vacation was a trip full of discoveries.  Here are some things I learned:

1. Little A is not a very good traveller.

2. Even when there are no delays or turbulence, I still hate flying.  Guess I'm not really a good traveller either.

3. Cheap chocolate sweetened with maltitol isn't good for anything except as an emergency laxative.  I'll spare you the details here...

4. Sketchers' GOWalk Oasis shoes are so freakin' comfortable, I had to buy them in 2 colours:



5. After doing absolutely no exercise for 4 days and consuming a wee bit a lot more beer and chocolate than usual, one's regular workout will feel a wee bit a lot harder!

6. Lilly's Chocolate, sweetened with stevia, tastes awesome, and should be used for pleasure eating and will not cause stomach upset. Of course, like many yummy things, it doesn't seem to be available in Canada. 



7. Unless…

Happy Holidays!!

Next Monday I will likely be poolside at the Vistana resort, pictured above, watching the kids splash in the water.  We're heading to Orlando with Adam's family for a little break.  For this reason, I'm actually happy that all four of us are currently suffering from a bad cold, because I'm hoping this means we will all be healthy (for once) during our holiday.

I am looking forward to relaxing with the kids and spending a whole week with absolutely nothing to do, except eat, sleep, and play.  No, we're not going to Disney.  We're saving that for a year or so from now when Little A is, HOPEFULLY, past the melt-down stage, so we can ensure, as much as you can ensure anything when you have kids, that we will get our money's worth, and not have to leave abruptly, after spending a fortune on entrance fees alone, because of a tantrum.

In any case, have a happy, healthy holiday (keep eating your greens, getting lots of sleep and exercising!!) and I will be back to…

Hannukah Cereal Squares

If you celebrate Christmas, there are endless decorating options for your home and food.  The choices are far more limited for Hannukah.  Blue and white are the colours and menorahs and dreidels are the associated objects.  Even though I love Christmas lights, white and blue lights would still look Christmas-y.  I suppose I could make a wreath out of dreidels or something, but I'm not that crafty.

I had a similar problem looking for a way to make Hannukah themed cereal squares for our community Hannukah party.  Red, white and green Christmas sprinkles and candies are everywhere, but there were no blue and white Hannukah ones to be found.  I'm sure they exist somewhere but not in my 'hood.  In any case, I wasn't thrilled about adding some food-colour-filled sugary crap to an already not particularly nutritious treat.  So I settled on dried blueberries!  There ya go, blue and white.  And blueberry and vanilla flavours are so good together, I'm pretty pleased with my…

Thai Mango Cashew Chicken (or Tofu)

I know, I know, I'm on a Thai Food kick right now.  But can you blame me?  Thai food kicks butt.  I have always adored the balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy.  This dish does exactly that with the fish sauce, chili, mango and cashews.  Make it vegan by using tofu instead of chicken, if you wish, and subbing out the fish sauce for plum vinegar (or coconut vinegar).

Thai Mango Cashew Chicken

1 lb ground chicken or chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces (or 1lb extra firm tofu)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbls finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tbls fish sauce (or plum vinegar)
crushed red chili flakes, to taste
I can light coconut milk

2 cups frozen or fresh mango chunks
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (lightly steamed, if desired)
2 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped roasted, salted cashews

1.5 cups brown jasmine rice

Place rice and 3 cups water in a large pot.  Bring to bowl and turn heat down.  Simmer until w…

President's Choice Holiday Insider's Report 2012

It's out: President's Choice Insider's Report for the 2012 holiday season featuring all the latest products available at Loblaws and affiliated grocery chains across Canada.

Honestly, it's pretty much same old, same old.  High fat frozen hors d'oeuvres, and rich, sugary desserts, many of which are probably not worth the calories.  Really, I'm not saying you shouldn't indulge at all over the holidays, just indulge in only the absolute best stuff, and skip the rest.

Here are a few tips to keep you feeling your best all season long:

For savoury bites, stick with good ol' fresh veggies with hummus or dip, pickles, olives, cheese and whole grain crackers, popcorn, etc.  A shrimp platter is another healthy option:

If you do want something a bit more indulgent, go with something like a holiday nut carousel:


Personally, I think most appetizer-type foods are icky.  If you are looking to splurge, I say save it for the sweet stuff at the end of your meal.  Go with…

Dark Chocolate Pudding (Vegan + Sugar-Free)

Happy Monday morning!  I am glad to say that we have our internet back, but it took until Saturday for it to really be 'fixed'.  Looks like we will be switching to Rogers anyways at some point in the future, but I just have to wrap my head around closing out my Bell email, which will likely cause me many headaches.

Aside from all that, it was a pretty good weekend.  Dinner out with colleagues Friday night, a massive Hannukah party on Saturday, and a whole bunch of errands on Sunday with a whiny, hysterical 3 year-old.  Okay, Sunday wasn't so hot.  In fact, Adam and I both had moments of wanting to wrap Little A up in wrapping paper, placing her on somebody else's front porch, ringing the doorbell, and then running like hell.

I'm kidding of course...we like our neighbours too much for that.

Actually, like pretty much all parents around the world, regardless of their antics, we were feeling extremely lucky to have our little ones safe at home with us, following the …

Technical Problems

I don't have time for a real post today as Big A is home with a bad case of strep throat.  It's the third time she's had it and apparently if she gets it too many more times it may be that she needs to get her tonsils out.  Oy!

It's been a trying week for other reasons too: our internet service has been very intermittent since last Saturday.  I've been on the phone with Bell Canada at least 5 times and they've even sent someone to our house and each time they claim they've fixed the problem and then it goes down again.  So I'm writing this as fast as I can before it conks out again.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and that I am back online - for good - by Monday.  If not, you can bet I will be SCREAMING at the Bell Canada folks and perhaps considering a different service provider.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Adam refuses to use natural peanut butter.He doesn’t object to the taste, but he can’t stand the mess and difficulty of spreading it on bread, particularly when you get down to the bottom of the jar.Although I do insist on buying the all natural stuff for myself and the girls, I can’t really blame him.Somehow it never seems possible to get the oily part mixed all the way through so the top is liquidy, the middle lumpy, and the bottom, a dry, solid mass.

So what to do with that dry stuff at the bottom of the jar?Make truffles!Easy, decadent but not too unhealthy, delicious truffles.
1 cup ‘dry’ peanut butter or other nut/seed butter ½ cup coconut sugar 2 tbls coconut oil (not melted)
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea salt
250g dark chocolate chips


Place nut butter, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla and salt in food processor, and process until it comes together and is smooth.Place mixture in freezer for 30 minutes, until firm.Meanwhile, melt chocolate and let cool slightly.Remove from freezer and roll…

Chinese "Un"Fried Rice

This is an easy dish that can be customized based on your tastes and what you have in the fridge.I’ve listed the veggies I used, but you can use any you want, fresh or frozen.
1.5 cups brown rice
¼ cup soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos ¼ cup rice vinegar (the unseasoned kind)
¼ cup sugar-free orange or apricot fruit spread
1 tsp sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
Crushed red chili flakes, to taste (optional)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked black beans) 1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets (lightly steamed, if desired)
2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
1 lb mushrooms, halved or sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced

Place rice and 3 cups water in a big pot.Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low and simmer until all the water has been absorbed.Whisk together ingredients for sauce in a medium bowl.In a large skillet or wok, stir fry beans and veggies in sauce until veggies are tender-crisp.Add rice and cook until sauce has …

Frosted Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I think fast food, and fried foods, in particular, smell horrendous.On the other hand, I am the first to admit that the smell of a Cinnabon is absolutely mouthwatering.But it’s been at least 20 years since I had one since those babies are absolute nutritional nightmares.Nothing more than trans fat, white flour, and a whole whack of sugar.

Instead, I make my own cinnamon rolls, using a whole grain dough and minimal fat or sugar.This variation, in fact, has no refined sugar even in the frosting.They are also A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!I can’t be bothered to make dough from scratch, so I cheat and use Bob’s Red Mill dough mix, and make it in our bread maker, but if you are more ambitious than I, just prepare your favorite whole grain dough recipe, vegan, gluten-free or whatever suits your fancy.You could also add in chopped nuts, dried apples or raisins if you wish.
I have discovered that quark is a fantastic base for icing.It is thick, rich and creamy, but low-calorie and fat-free!Hello!No need to eve…

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I am relieved to say that the girls' fighting has lessened recently.  Don't get me wrong, eruptions still occur, but they are not constantly yelling and bickering anymore, thank goodness.  Of course, I can't take any responsibility.  I still have yet to sit down and review the things I read in Siblings Without Rivalry, nor have I gotten Adam to read it, so few of the ideas and suggestions have been implemented.  Lately I've been thinking that I need to make myself little cue cards because of the fact that my mind seems to go blank regarding effective parenting strategies just when I need them most.  Perhaps if I have something I can whip out of my pocket to jog my memory, I might be a better parent and disciplinarian/teacher.  And, admittedly, I still need to work on being more patient.  That will always be my greatest challenge.

Little A has also been having fewer meltdowns, although we still shouldn't dare cut her toast the wrong way or give her anything but the…

Cheezy Vegan Popcorn

What do you think, could I win an award for the world's worst food photographer?  Not to state the obvious or anything, but my interest in taking photos of food is almost non-existant.  So while I can't make anything LOOK good, you'll just have to trust me that it TASTES good!
Big A adores cheese flavoured popcorn so I thought I'd try to whip up a healthier version of her favorite.

Cheezy Vegan Popcorn

1 cup popping corn
1/3 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 heaping tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt

Pop corn in an air popper or paper bag in the microwave.  Place popcorn in a large bowl.  Melt Earth Balance in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in remaining ingredients and pour over the popcorn.  Toss to coat.  Enjoy immediately!

We have a fun weekend ahead.  It's my mom's birthday today so my parents are coming to town and we are going out for an adult-only dinner.  Tomorrow Big A has a birthday party and then we have my mother-in-law's annual H…

Sticky Spiced Caramel Corn (Vegan option)

As I've said before, most things that fall into the 'snack food' category are crap, no matter how you sugar-coat it (ha ha!).  Low fat, reduced sodium, gluten-free, organic, most of it still has little nutritional value and lots of calories. The only exception is popcorn.  Too bad I don't like it.  But my peeps do, so I make it a lot because I'm happy to feed them this low fat, low calorie, whole grain snack and they are happy to eat it.  This is one of the least healthy versions I've made before, but it was for a holiday party and was being shared by all, so an exception was made.  He he!

Here is a recipe you can customize to suit your fancy. It's so quick and inexpensive, it's an easy thing to have handy for holiday entertaining and, unlike me, most people love it.  This is not a crunchy caramel recipe, its more ooey gooey.  To get it crunchy, you have to do the whole sugar boiling, make it reach a certain temperature thing, which I've never been…

Morrockin' Quinoa

I made this as a side dish but add some chickpeas or tofu and it can be a whole meal.  Colourful, flavourful and delicious!

Morrockin' Quinoa

1 onion, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp harissa spice blend (purchased or homemade)
1/2 cup red quinoa
300g box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, or 1 lb fresh baby spinach
1 cup olives, pitted and halved (Spanish or sundried are best)
8 artichoke hearts, quartered (canned, or frozen, not marinated in oil)
1 cup white quinoa
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups water
Juice and zest of a lemon

Saute onion, garlic and red quinoa with vinegar, garlic and seasonings in a large skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients, except lemon, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed.  Add lemon zest and lemon juice just before serving.  Serves 6 as a side dish and 4 as a main. Freezes well.

This recipe has been submitted to this week's

Thai Yellow Curry Noodles

This tastes just like something you'd get at a Thai restaurant, only I can guarantee this version is much lower in fat and calories.  So, so good.  I made it with chicken, but it would be just as good with tofu if you want a vegetarian version.

Rice vermicelli are a cinch to use.  I don't even soak them beforehand, I just add them to the dish dry and let them soak up the yummy sauce to soften.

Thai Yellow Curry Noodles

Stir Fry

1 lb brown rice vermicelli noodles, broken up
1 lb chicken (boneless, skinless breasts or thighs, or ground), or extra firm tofu
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets and lightly steamed
2 lbs mushrooms, cut in half
2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and sliced in 1/2 inch pieces

Sauce

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
2 tbls fish sauce (or plum vinegar for vegetarian)
2 tbls yellow curry powder (mild or spicy)
2 tbls tomato paste
Siracha hot sauce, to taste (optional)
1 can light coconut milk
1 cup wate…

Aerial Yoga

Image source

I love love love discovering new forms of physical activity.  I've never much been into organized sports, but I love movement and exercise and finding new ways to challenge my body and improve my fitness.

I heard about aerial yoga a while ago and started scoping the city to find classes, but couldn't find one that fit my schedule.  Then I saw a WagJag deal for 4 classes for $24 and I couldn't resist. After all, most studios charge that much for just one class!  I had never heard of the club before, and it's not particularly convenient for me, but I figured I'd never find a better deal.

The class is offered at 10am on Saturdays at the Cardio Go King West Club in the Entertainment District of Toronto.  Cardio Go has 4 locations, but only this one offers aerial yoga.  It was clearly a popular deal as I bought the deal months ago but could only get space in a class this past weekend.

It involves doing yoga poses, core exercises, and inversions suspended fr…