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Showing posts from June, 2013

One Lous-y Week!

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The theme of this past week has been looking for the silver lining.

Monday I dropped my heavy, glass Brevel blender after slipping on the kitchen floor.  It fell on my foot, leaving me with a nifty bruise, and smashed sending glass everywhere and cutting both my hand and one of my feet.  I was left cleaning glass and blood off the floor for quite a while.  Sigh!

The good news?  It is so big and heavy, it's been annoying me, and it was leaking.  So now I have an excuse to get a smaller smoothie maker since the only thing I really use it for anyways is making the girls smoothies and me my frozen coffee drinks.  Oh, and it's also good that the glass didn't fly into my eyes or face at least.

Tuesday the daycare called (as you are probably figuring out, calls from your kids' school and daycare are usually bad news) 15 minutes before a client session to tell me Big A has lice.

Now, as awful as this whole experience has been, I will start by acknowledging how gr…

Moroccan Spiced Almonds

Once again Adam's stash of almonds he keeps to snack on at work was empty.  After trying to decide which kind to make, I decided to try another new take on them.  These ones turned out great:  Smokey, salty and spicy, they are super yummy!

I made a double recipe this time to keep Adam going for a while, but half it if you want.

Moroccan Spiced Almonds

9 cups almonds (I used one of those big bags from Costco)
1 tbls olive oil
1 tsp ground Harissa spice blend (homemade or purchased)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt

Toss everything together in a large bowl.  Spread evenly on 2 large baking sheets.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, switching each baking sheet from top to bottom rack and vice versa, half way through.  Let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

This recipe has been submitted to Diet, Dessert & Dogs' Wellness Weekend.

Caulicumber Maki Rolls (Kid-Friendly Sushi)

I posted this recipe a long time ago, but it is always such a hit with the girls that I thought I would post it again.  I've cut down the sweetener and salt in the sushi rice and found the girls don't notice the difference. Caulicumber Maki Rolls
3/4 cup short grain brown rice (or quinoa would probably work too!)
2 cups water
2 tbls unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp granular sweetener (I use stevia powder)
1 cup frozen cauliflower*
1 cucumber cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, then cut in thirds lengthwise
5-6 sheets of toasted nori (seaweed)

Optional: Sesame seeds for sprinkling, low-sodium soy sauce for dipping, pickled ginger and wasabi (for the grown-ups)

Place rice and water in covered pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium low and continue cooking until all the water has been absorbed (depending on the type you use, you may want to overcook it a tad bit so it gets 'sticky'). Remove from heat and let cool (I made rice day before so it was…

Steamwhistle Pilsner: Product Review

I was generously send a pack of Steam Whistle Pilsner to try recently. For those of you who love delivery services, you'll be happy to know you can now have Steam Whistle delivered to your door through Grocery Gateway.









Here is a little bit about the Steam Whistle Brewery and their beer:

Our focus is on making one beer - a Premium Pilsner that Canadians can be proud of. We believe that world-class results require focus and dedication, so we developed a distinctive recipe for our single brand based on Europe's renowned brewing standards yet is brewed fresh locally at our independent, Canadian Brewery.

We use traditional brewing techniques and only four natural ingredients including spring water, malted barley, hops and yeast - all GMO-free. There is a fifth ingredient in every refreshing bottle, and that is the passion of our dedicated Brewmaster and staff.

I adore beer in the summer. Although I try to keep my alcohol consumption to a minimum, I have to say there is absolutely no…

Quinoa Edamame Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

It's the first Monday of the summer and the summer weather has hit with a vengeance.  But considering what's going on in Alberta right now, it doesn't seem fair to complain about the heat and humidity.  My thoughts are with everyone out west who is affected by the flooding!

It was the girls' daycare's Annual General Meeting last week and it is always a potluck event.  I pulled this together in a jiffy and I have to say so myself: It was fabulous!  But don't just take my word for it, I got a ton of compliments and requests for the recipe and every last scrap got gobbled up.

Salad

1.5 cups quinoa
2 cups shelled edamame
1 340g bag rainbow or broccoli slaw
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

Dressing

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos
2 tbls tahini
2 tbls light miso paste
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbls finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine quinoa with 3 cups water, cover and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to mediu…

Somersets Shaving Products: Review

Somersets is a British company founded in 1991 that makes all-natural shaving products for men.  They are now available to the rest of the world online through www.drugstore.com and www.somersetsusa.com. Recently, they sent me a generous box with samples of many of their products.


Being an XX, and a relatively hairless one at that, I handed over the products to my favorite XY (Adam) to try. 

The products contain essential oils and are gentle on skin and the environment.  The are designed to protect the skin, reduce razor bumps and are soap-free so they don't dry out skin.

Adam's feedback was the following:

"The Pre-Shave Face Scrub really feels like it's getting rid of all the crap."

"I really like this stuff.  It makes my skin feel good, it seems to smell pretty good...but it doesn't make my skin any better (i.e. reduce razor bumps/blemishes)...but doesn't make it any worse either.  The only thing I don't like is that the shave gel doesn't l…

Come On Get Happy

It's almost Friday.  Does that make you happy? Or are you feeling bummed because it's only Thursday?  Are you a glass half full, or a glass half empty type of person?

According to an article in Psychology Today recently, the things that differentiate happy people from those of us who are gloomy, are not what you might think.

To summarize:

1. They take risks and push themselves beyond their comfort zone.
2. They are less analytical and detail-oriented.
3. They are buoyed, not threatened, by others' good fortune.
4. They don't deny or run away from negative emotions when they emerge.
5. They balance striving with pleasure.
6. They don't obsess about being happy.

Interestingly, the authors of the article point out that happiness is just one aspect of a well-lived life.  Others include: occasional sadness, sense of purpose, playfulness, psychological flexibility, autonomy, mastery and a sense of belonging.

Do you consider yourself to be happy?

Do any of these things d…

"THE COOKIE" Healthified (Sort Of)

When I met Adam he had this weird addiction: these strange looking pastries his grandfather would buy him from Haymishs' Bakery which he called "The Cookie".

They looked like a big shortbread cookie with some sort of fruity filling.  The whole thing was weird because Adam usually doesn't go for anything that doesn't involve chocolate.  I couldn't figure out the appeal since I hate shortbread and just kind of figured that's what they were.

Then I tried one.

F#$%!

I was addicted.

They are like these gigantic rugelach with a rich vanilla cookie, topped with sugar, and a filling of jam and raisins, only instead of being rolled crescents, it's the two layers of cookie dough folded over with the fruity stuff in between.  Believe me, the description doesn't do them justice.  In spite of all the white flour and sugar, I started gobbling them down as fast as Adam. 

Since they are from a Kosher bakery, however, I knew that sugar and white flour weren'…

Pina Colada Granola (Vegan, Sugar-Free &Gluten-Free)

If it isn't feeling like summer yet where you live (frankly I'm happy, I'm dreading the extreme heat and humidity), this granola is sure to get you feeling like you're in the tropics.  Who says you can't have a cocktail for breakfast?  Okay, it's not a great idea...but this granola at least tastes like one!  That's a sure way to getting the day off to a good start, right?

Super crispy, crunchy, and flavourful, this one's a definite winner!

Pina Colada Granola

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2-3 ripe bananas
1 tbls lemon juice
1 tsp pure coconut extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
Coconut or plain liquid stevia, 2 droppers full or to taste

1 kg large flake, gluten-free oats
1 cup uncooked millet
1 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
1 tbls chia seeds

1 cup unsweetened, freeze dried pineapple, crumbled
1 cup unsweetened banana chips, crumbled

Place bananas in blender or food processor with lemon juice, extract, stevia and salt.  Puree until very smooth.  Pour into …

A Random Act of Kindness...for Me!

Good Monday morning!  I hope all you father's had a nice Father's Day.

I apologize for the lack of post Friday.  It was a busy day and I somehow forgot that morning.  Later on when I realized I'd forgotten, I was side-tracked by a call from the daycare: Little A puked everywhere.  Ugh!  Needless to say, Adam and I had to quickly rearrange all our weekend plans.  The good news is - and I'm not kidding - it's like she puked out all of the whininess and grumpiness that has been practically a constant with her for the past few months.  Literally, from the time I picked her up from daycare on Friday, until the end of the weekend (aside from a few whiny episodes yesterday), she was the happy, sweet, funny, delightful child that I feel like she hasn't been in a very long time.

Anyways, I'll spare you the details of Little A's barfing episode and instead talk about blood.  Ha!

I've written many times about becoming a regular blood donor.  I think it is suc…

Apricot Coconut Curried Mung Beans, Cauliflower and Rice

I have recently developed a love affair with mung beans.  I got them at House of Spice last time we were in Kensington Market.  They are one of the few legumes I hadn't tried cooking with at home yet.

Like lentils, they cook up pretty quick.  Just soak them overnight and then cook them up for about 40 minutes and they are ready to go.  Like all legumes, they are a super healthy, high fibre form of protein.  Combined with all of these sweet and savoury flavours, they are absolutely fabulous.  This dish was a hit, even with Adam!

Apricot Coconut Curried Mung Beans, Cauliflower and Rice

1 cup dried mung beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups brown basmati rice
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garam masala
Onion, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Sauce

1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup no-sugar apricot (or mango) jam or spread (or you could soak and puree unsweetened, dried apricots or mango)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1-…

Easy Garnish Spiral Cutter

I have been dying to get a spiral slicer for ages.  Not because I want to start eating a raw diet.  Goodness no, that'll never happen!  But because I had a sneaking suspicion the girls would love spiral cut veggies.  And when the girls like veggies, I am very happy.

Unfortunately, the spiral slicers I see everywhere were pretty expensive, and since my suspicions about the girls preferences are sometimes wrong, I wasn't too keen on making the investment before I was certain it would be a hit.  Then I saw one for sale for like $10 on one of those group deal sites.  I purchased it immediately.

It's called a garnish cutter, so I guess it's not quite meant to be the same thing - or as sturdy - as the expensive ones, but I figured it was perfect to experiment with. 

I started with cucumbers.  You have to cut everything into a fairly specific cylindrical shape and mount it on the spiky base.  Then you can choose from one of 2 cuts (one is more 'spaghetti' and one is…

Jerk Chicken (or Vegan) Enchiladas

I know, I know, Jerk Chicken Enchiladas?  But hey, this is Multi Culti Toronto and, hey, there are Korean tacos being sold everywhere these days!

I was trying to look for a dinner for our belated 11th anniversary celebration a few weeks ago and things involving (1) meat, (2) tomato sauce, (3) spice, and (4) something bread-y, are generally more of a hit with Adam than say, bean and grain-based dishes.  So my strange mind came up with this recipe.  While it may be strange, it is definitely delicious and for sure something I'll be making again!!

We're such losers though.  We talked about going to a movie, out for drinks, or ordering in, but right after we dropped the girls off at my in-laws' for a sleepover, we went home, opened a nice bottle of wine, made this for dinner and were in bed by 9:30pm.  But relaxing at home, just the two of us, is one of our favorite things to do, and Adam did have to catch a 5am flight to Vancouver the next morning.  Hey, we're cheap dates…

Book Review: Paleo Fitness

Here is an example of why you should never judge a book by its cover.  Or it's title, actually.

When I was asked to review Paleo Fitness, I agreed, but mostly because I thought it sounded absurd, and couldn't imagine what it was going to be about.  After all, I have a hard enough time swallowing the philosophy behind the Paleo Diet.  Sorry, but giving up whole grains and legumes and eating copious amounts of animal protein, just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

So I am humbled to say that I absolutely loved this book!

I assumed it would pretty much be a CrossFit type workout guide, since the CrossFit community seems to have wholeheartedly embraced the Paleo Diet thing.  But I was totally wrong.

There is a whole section on the Paleo Diet and even a 2 week meal plan and recipes, but the rest of the book is devoted to exercise.  Overall, I have no major problem with the meal plan except I think there is too much red meat, and I could never survive the whole grain/legume-…

Thank Goodness It's Friday!

Devon you are now the official winner of the SpaFinder Gift Card.  Please email me at erica@healthcounsellingtoronto.com and I will send it to you!!

It's rainy and yucky today, but at least it's the kind of temperature I like: 19C, so I'm not complaining...except for what it does to my hair!

Anyways, Adam is back after being away all week in Victoria, B.C. so I'm over the moon.  We've got a busy weekend ahead, how about you?

Sunday we are going to the Annex Festival on Bloor, an event our whole family always enjoys.  Check it out if you can!!

And now I leave you with a song that is currently a favorite with everyone in our family, by a Canadian group called Walk Off The Earth that hails from Burlington (not far from Toronto).  Love it!!

Middle Eastern Quinoa, Chickpea and Roasted Veggie Salad

This makes a great hot weather meal because you serve it just warm or at room temperature.  Hearty enough to make on it's own, or it can be a side dish.  This recipe makes a lot so it's perfect to serve at a gathering.

Salad

1.5 cups quinoa

2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), cut into pieces
4 small zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
Red onion, thinly cut
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)

Dressing

1 cup plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbls cider vinegar
2 tbls honey or other sweetener
1 tbls Za'atar spice blend
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt

Toss veggies with vinegar and seasonings.  Place on foil or parchment lined baking sheet(s) and roast at 350F for 35-40 minutes. 

Cook quinoa according to package instructions and set aside.

Whisk together yogurt with all other dressing ingredients.  Combine quinoa, chickpeas and veg…

Berry Healthy Superfood Muffins

Breakfast in our house always involves heavy-duty negotiations.  The girls...particularly Big A, crave nothing but carbs.  Big A, if we let her, would just sit and eat nothing but bread and honey, Little A only wants toast and butter (although you have to call it 'butter and toast' or she gets mad).  It takes some cajoling to get anything else (i.e. protein, fruit, etc.) into them.

That's why I love making muffins.  Unlike commercially-made muffins, that are little more than cake and usually full of sugar, harmful fats and refined flours, when you make them yourself, you can fill them with good stuff.

These ones have protein, fruit, veg, good fats and lots of fibre.  But most importantly, no negotiating is necessary to get the girls to eat them: they gobbled them down so fast I'm going to have to make more very soon!

1 cup fresh or frozen cauliflower (or squash), steamed until very soft
2 ripe bananas
1 cup plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-…

IAMS SO GOOD Dog Concert Ticket Giveaway

Are you an animal lover?  Do you live in the Greater Toronto Area?  If so, how would you like free tickets to the IAMS SO GOOD Dog Concert this Saturday, June 8th?



To win, just leave me a comment telling me about your pet (or a pet you used to have) and why you love him or her.  I have 8 tickets to give away!!

Here are the details:

Saturday, June 8 at Echo Beach in Toronto from 4-8 p.m.

This will be the first concert of its kind in Canada - an event for the whole family - including your pup! 

A live, 45 piece orchestra will play classical canine-inspired music  including hits like “Hound Dog,” “Bella Notte” from the film “Lady and the Tramp,” “Cruella de Vil” from “101 Dalmatians,” “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?” and “Who Let the Dogs Out?".

Cran-Apple Granola (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

First off, the winner of the SpaFinder giftcard is Sunflower!  Please email me at erica@healthcounsellingtoronto.com so I can send you the prize!! Now on to our featured blog post... 
I am on the girls' daycare board.  Like most daycares around here, we have to rely more and more on donations.  Each Wednesday in May, we've been putting out a table in the building and selling water bottles with the daycare logo, a cookbook with the daycare cook's recipes, and advertising our new affiliation with Donate Naturally.

Last week it was my turn to (wo)man the table, so I decided to add to the healthy living theme by making some homemade granola to sell along side the other items.  It sold out licked-split!

Cran-Apple Granola

1 kg large flake oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
170g bag puffed brown rice
2 cups dried apples, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup agave syrup (or maple syrup or honey)
1/2 tsp ground…