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Showing posts from July, 2013

Bathing Beauty

I hate swimming.  I used to like it as a kid but at some point that all changed.  I hate the smell of chlorine.  I hate walking around on wet, dirty change room floors and pool decks.  I hate having to have another shower in the middle of the day, redo my hair and makeup and reapply sunscreen.  I'm not prissy, I swear.  It's just that I hate doing that stuff enough as it is.  To have to spend 10 minutes AGAIN to blow dry my stupid, unruly curls straight is annoying as all get out...and no, leaving my hair au naturel is not an option.  I hate my curls.  In summer my do untamed becomes a fro.

I also worry about exposure to the sun.  My grandfather died of melanoma and my dermatologist has told me a million times to stay out of the sun.

The problem is, my kids love to be in the water.  Indoor pools, outdoor pools, they love them all.  The only thing that motivates me getting into a pool is the summer heat, that I hate even more than I hate swimming, and wanting to share in the f…

Antipasto Wraps

This is a great weeknight dinner because you can really just grab whatever you have handy in your fridge and pantry and make a quick, terrific meal.

The ingredients listed her are just what I had on hand, but you can really sub in whatever you wish.

If you want to make these an eat-out-of-hand wrap, you can probably make 8 out of this recipe, but if you want a more substantial meal - like I did - where the wraps are stuffed with filling, with more over the top and you have to eat them with a knife and fork, you'll get 4 out of it.

As you can see, I don't care about whether my food looks pretty.  Just yummy and healthy.  You can make your wraps more aesthetically pleasing, if you want.

Antipasto Wraps

1 can chickpeas (or romano beans)
4 small grilled or roasted zucchinis, sliced
2 roasted or grilled red peppers, sliced
1 onion, roasted or grilled, sliced
1 cup kalamata olives (I used garlic stuffed ones!) or any kind of olive, pitted and chopped
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup red w…

A Toronto Day

Good Monday morning!  How was your weekend?  Ours was pretty quiet.  Well except for the usual fits Little A had.  She was as delightful this weekend as she was last week, which is to say, not so much.

Adam described our Saturday as a pretty "Toronto" day.  In the morning I was at the Dufferin Mall, which if you live around here, you know it's the epitome of the 'comeback mall'.  Back when I first moved to Toronto, it was pretty much one of the grossest malls around.  The only reason I ever went there was to shop at the No Frills, discount grocery store, which was great for starving students.  But it's been revitalized and despite the massive Walmart and a few kind of skanky clothing stores, is pretty rad now.  There's a Winners, H&M, Toys r' Us, Gap Outlet, etc.

Anyways, the reason I went, aside from some usual Saturday errands, was to buy the Insanity Asylum!

After a few years of randomly doing 1-2 Insanity DVDs every week as part of my fitness…

A Full Moon or Demons?

Not that she's ever an easy child, but this week Little A has really been pushing me to the brink. I wonder if we need an exorcist?

Forgive me if we are Facebook friends in which case you would have seen me post this on Tuesday, but for those of you who are not, here is a summary of how the morning went down:

@#*% that made my 4-year-old cry this morning:
1. She didn't like the clothes I picked for her because she (now) doesn't like purple.
2. She forgot to tell daddy something before he left the house.
3. She spilled her milk.
4. Her feet got wet from the spilled milk.
5. She wanted daddy.
6. When I applied her sunblock it made her feel itchy.
7. She wanted daddy.
8. The apple juice freezies the kids ...
begged to eat on the way to daycare were too cold.
9. She wanted daddy.
10. The freezie melted before she could eat it all and it was my fault.
11. She wanted daddy.
12. She wanted to hold may hand but I was walking too quickly.
13. She wanted daddy.
14. I held her hand to…

Adzuki Beans With Creamy Sesame Sauce

I have a confession: I usually cook with canned beans.  There.  I said it.  It's not even laziness so much as my preference for really soft, creamy beans and my assumption that it is practically impossible to get such a consistency when cooking them from a dried state.  This all comes from one or two experiences in my 20s where I cooked and cooked dried beans and they just never seemed to soften. I've recently learned that you can get nice soft, creamy beans when cooking with dried, at least with certain kinds of beans.

Admittedly, I only bought dried adzuki beans because it's tough to find them canned.  But I am so glad I did.  I cooked them up this past weekend into this delicious dish and they were soft, creamy and fabulous.  Of course, if you prefer your beans firmer, with more bite, than you just have to cook them for less time.

I don't know what it is, but the combo of rice, beans and a creamy, tahini-based sauce just makes me swoon.  Honestly, if I had to pick …

Sugar-Free & Vegan Milk Chocolate

I've gotten myself used to dark chocolate, but I still do have a thing for the milk stuff.  When we were in New York and I nabbed a few bars of Coco Polo, it was the milk with almonds that had me swooning.  It's the creaminess of it I think.  By the way, Coco Polo is now being carried in Canada by Low Carb Canada!!  But cheap it is not.

I tried to make my own version by adding creamed coconut to Chocolate Covered Katie's 3 Ingredient Chocolate Bar recipe, but it had to be refrigerated to stay firm, so it never quite got to the consistency I wanted.  It also didn't really taste like milk chocolate.  So I decided to take another kick at the can using a different approach.

These are not just sugar-free and vegan, they are DEVINE!  I cut them into chunks to use in baking, but you can cut it into bars for eating too.  I am so making this recipe again!!

FYI - I didn't bother to temper it, so it isn't shiny and smooth like it would be if you did.  Personally, I don&#…

Go Bio Chocolate Pudding Mix

The girls have been nagging me to make jello again, but I won't buy the conventional crap at the grocery store and the past few times I've been to the health food store I forgot.  Fortunately, this week I finally got around to it and was very pleased to see that this time they had cherry flavour.  I love this brand: no sugar (you add your own sweetener so I use stevia) and no artificial colours or flavours!!

I also noticed they have pudding mix so I purchased the chocolate to give it a try.

Like the jello you add your own sweetener, so I used stevia again, and you use whatever milk you want (I used almond).  You just bring the milk to a boil and mix the package with some additional cold milk and then whisk it into the hot milk.  Unfortunately, it clumped up immediately.  It was actually a total lumpy mess.  I don't know if I did something wrong, but I did follow the instructions on the package.  In order to salvage it, I let it cool down and then scooped it into my Big Bos…

The Circus Sucks and Other Things I Learned This Weekend

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Okay, so as I always tell my clients, mistakes are learning experiences.  Really.  It's clichéd but true.  So what I learned this weekend is that circuses suck.  At least the one we attended did.  Big time.  The girls liked it okay, particularly Big A who was thrilled by the acrobats who performed.

So, the first sign that it might not have been a great idea was when I mentioned it to my mom.  I asked her if they'd ever taken me to a circus.  She couldn't remember, however, she COULD remember being horrified when her parents took her as a child because of the treatment of the animals.  Ugh!  Sometimes I can be naïve.  I just assume that these days animal mistreatment is so strictly prohibited that these types of large organizations could never get away with it.  All I had to do was think about the Marine Land scandal!  Sure enough, when we parked the car and walked over to the big tent, there were 3 women holding signs about boycotting circuses because of anima…

Mighty Mouse Pasta Sauce

TGIF!  And a hot, steamy Friday it is.  It's going to feel like one big, smoggy sauna in Toronto today.  Lovely.  And the day started off beautifully with a 4:30am wake up for me because Little A had a pee accident in her bed.  Super lovely. 


If you're a parent then you know how frustrating it is to feed kids.  One day they can't get enough of a particular food, the next they won't touch it.  For a few years, Little A couldn't get enough of my Kiddie Alfredo pasta.  I am not exaggerating when I say she would ask for it for at least 2 out of 3 meals a day.  Then one day I put a bowl of it in front of her and she threw it across the table and screamed that she would not eat it, it was disgusting.  In fact, she wouldn't eat any noodles or pasta for a few months. 

This was tough for Big A who started really liking pasta.  After years of refusing to eat any tomato-based pasta dishes, she sampled a few I made for Adam and I and decided she liked them.  …

Eco Nuts for Eco Nuts: Product Review

Are you into finding the best eco-friendly, non-toxic products to use in your home?

If so, you will definitely want to read on.  A company called Eco Nuts recently sent me their laundry soap to try. 

Eco Nuts actually look like nuts but are actually berries.

Here is the info provided by the company:

Eco Nuts®  Soap Nuts are a berry that grows in the Himalayas that naturally produces a soap.  The soap is called saponin, a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away. Eco Nuts are gentle on both clothes and skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. Because they are so mild, they are perfect for baby clothes and cloth diapers. All-Natural Eco Nuts are also great for septic and grey water systems. But don’t expect these shells to foam up like commercial soaps, which have a…

Big Boss Blender

So you may recall me mentioning a few weeks ago that I slipped on our kitchen floor and dropped our Breville Blender (pictured below), which then smashed and cut me.  It was lovely.

 That day, Groupon happened to have a deal on a Big Boss Blender.  Sometimes I'm impulsive I guess, so I snapped one up without knowing anything about it.  Yes, I would love a Vitamix, but I don't have $500 burning a whole in my pocket at the moment.

Fortunately, I've been pretty pleased with my Big Boss so far.  I thought it would only be able to handle smoothie kinds of things, but it actually does a lot more than that.  The instruction booklet claims it also grinds coffee beans and spices.  This was exciting for me because my coffee grinder has become a spice grinder since it cannot be immersed in water, and therefore likely retains the oils from the spices and may unpleasantly flavour my coffee.  The Big Boss blade and multiple cups can be fully immersed in water and even dish washed so it…

"Classic" Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

Big A has a playdate with her friend Z tomorrow.  Z's mom runs a home daycare so there are always a few kids there and lots of fun activities.  Big A absolutely loves spending the day with them.  But I always feel guilty because I know Big A can easily eat them out of house and home, and I feel like she is getting a full day of daycare (even if it really is a playdate) for free!  So I whipped these up for her to bring along for the whole gang to snack on.

I am not sure about the tastes of the other kids, but knowing that Z is pretty picky, I stuck with a fairly straightforward muffin.  I guess the only thing that makes these a little updated is that I used whole grain flour and coconut sugar instead of the white stuff.    Sorry, you'll never catch me cooking or baking with the white stuff (unless you count potatoes and cauliflower)!

"Classic" Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk  (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbls cider vinegar)
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup canol…

Kid-Friendly Maple Roasted Salmon (or Trout)

Good Monday!

How was your weekend?  Ours was really quiet.  Saturday Adam and his parents took the girls to Centreville while I spent the morning cleaning up our back yard.  I think I did more gardening than I've ever done in my whole life this weekend!  I'm pretty proud of myself.  Then we had our neighbours over in the afternoon for drinks and a playdate for the kiddies.  Yesterday the girls had their swim lessons at the JCC while I taught my spinning class and then we went to Christie Pits pool in the afternoon.  It was just too freakin' hot to do much but be in the water.

Speaking of which, it's going to be 30 celcius and humid all week.  My least favorite weather.  I'll try not to complain to much, but holy cow, even first thing this morning it's oppressive and unpleasant.  Yuck!

So, shall we talk food now?

From the time I got pregnant with Big A until about 2 years ago, I went from adoring fish to just eating it from time-to-time.  After not eating red me…

Caribbean Curried Rice and Beans (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

We usually think of curry as being part of Indian cuisine, but there are lots of other cuisines that have curries that play a prominent role: Thai, Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, various African cuisines, and Caribbean.  I like them all.

This is a really yummy, satisfying comfort-food type meal.  If it doesn't seem like a typical summer dish, well come on, it's always hot in the Caribbean!

It is also incredibly cost-efficient: the main ingredients (rice, beans and cabbage) are inexpensive and this makes a massive amount.  If you aren't feeding a crowd, leftovers can easily be frozen.

Caribbean Curried Rice and Beans (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

1.5 cups brown rice

1 onion, diced
1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
3 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can black eyed peas, or 1.5 cooked black eyed peas (or sub chickpeas or pigeon peas)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 can light coconut milk
1 tbls Madras (yellow) curry powder)
Caribbean (scotch bonnet) or o…

No Fuss Lunchbox Fudge (Vegan + Nut Free & Refined Sugar-Free)

I've intentionally been stingy with the girls this week in terms of what's been going in their lunches for bicycle camp.  I feel like they are ALWAYS getting too much crap.  Even when I do my best to limit it at home, via birthday parties, daycare and school events, play dates and relatives, they are constantly being given food I would prefer they didn't eat.  It drives me nuts, but I feel like unless I become (like I'm not one already, ha!) an uber obsessive mother that doesn't let her children ever eat what all the other children are eating, that I'm virtually powerless. 

Little A loves her sweets for sure, but it's still Big A we worry about most.  She just doesn't have a healthy relationship with food.  She always wants to eat.  When other children decline offers for food, she will always accept, even if she's just eaten (unless the only thing being offered is veggies, that is).  I think I was kinda the same as a kid though, I always had a big…

Gluten-Free Banana Protein Muffins

Happy hump day!  Things in Toronto are just starting to get back to normal but they are calling for thunderstorms again today.  Oy, what craziness!!

Like a typical Canadian, I'll go from complaining about the weather to talking about food.

Last time we were at Costco, I picked up a jug of Complete Green protein powder.  As much as I love my Vega Almondilla, because it contains nuts, the girls cannot take anything I make with it to school or daycare.  So this plant-based protein powder seemed like a great alternative.

Big A still doesn't consistently eat the food I pack her for lunch and often what I find left over (aside from the veggies!), is the protein.  Yogurt she will generally eat, but cheese is sometimes left untouched and a sandwich often comes back to me with the filling and crusts remaining.  So I decided to make some high protein muffins she could take that would satisfy her ever present sweet  tooth and give her some long-lasting energy.  These fit the bill perfec…

Lucky Ducks

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Did you hear about the storm we had here in Toronto last night?  It caused massive flooding and a widespread power outage affecting almost a million people!  Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.  Actually I know it.  We got more than an average month of rain in just a few hours.

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But while thousands of people in this city were stranded for hours in their offices, in their cars, in buses, subways and trains, or trying to cope with a loss of power at home, we sat cosy and dry in our house, with the lights on and not a drop of water seeping inside.

I can't believe how lucky we are.  It scares me really.  Our life is already so blessed and when I look around at the seeming endless tragedies that occur around the world, I wonder what I did to deserve this?

Right now my heart goes out to those trying to piece their lives back in Alberta, the folks affected by the plane crash in San Francisco, the Quebec town flattened by an explosion, …

Moving Target

Good Monday!  Today is a big day in our house: It's Little A's first time at summer camp!  Big A loved Pedelheads bicycle camp so much last year that we've enrolled both girls for the week this time.  We're hoping (although it may be premature) that Little A can get off her training wheels as quickly as Big A did last year at this camp.  This means I will also be packing Little A a lunch for the first time, which I suppose is good practice for when she starts kindergarten in the fall.  But I'm anticipating some issues, after all, when Little A is not happy with even the tiniest detail of absolutely everything, you can guarantee there will be much whining, screaming and complaining!

We had a great weekend despite the hot, humid weather.  Saturday we took the girls to the Kidstown water park in Scarborough.  Adam wasn't impressed because he felt there were too many kids running wild without close enough parental supervision (in particular, a bunch of kids kept i…

Fat Chance

I am pretty lucky.  As a health and wellness blogger, I get sent lots of great products to review.  Sometimes though, I get asked to review some crazy stuff, which I feel doesn't jive with my values and beliefs.  In most of these cases I decline the offers. 

Recently, I almost automatically deleted one for a cellulite cream called Second Skin Therapeutics' Thermo Active Contouring Cream.  Such a product generally would not be on my acceptable list of items to review.  Why? Because I think they are a big bunch of BS. 

But something in the info they sent caught my eye: The product is endorsed by celebrity trainer Stephanie Joanne (pictured in the centre in the photo above).  Joanne is the trainer for CityLine host, Tracy Moore, who seems like a very down-to-earth, no-nonsense individual.  Joanne herself usually provides fairly accurate, reasonable fitness and health info when she is on the show.  I figured she wouldn't put her reputation on the line for a totally crappy p…

The Low-GI Slow Cooker: Book Review

There are few cookbooks that I am truly excited about.  This was an exception for two reasons: One eating low-GI foods are generally healthy and the kinds of foods I eat anyways, and two, because Adam and I got a slow-cooker for our wedding 11 years ago and I have been wanting to try it out, but for some reason I've had a slow-cooker phobia.  I think it's the idea of an electrical appliance being plugged in for hours, potentially when you are either sleeping or not home.  I just used to envision the house burning down or, at the very least, the food getting burnt to a crisp.  I know, it's totally irrational!  So our slow-cooker is essentially brand-new (albeit over a decade old!) and I am a slow-cooker virgin.  I decided being sent this book to review was the impetus I needed to finally use a slow-cooker.

The book gives a bit of background about the glycemic index (GI).  What I like is it is not a diet plan.  I think most diets are ridiculous and generally unrealistic for…

Beach Bums

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Our Canada Day trip to Woodbine Beach was a smashing success.  The girls had the time of their lives and it was a joy to see them so happy.  Big A asked if we could come back every warm day.  Ha, I wish!  She also took a massive face plant in the sand, getting sand covering her entire wet body including her face and in her mouth, but was in such a state of bliss that she laughed with the rest of us (her usual reaction to such a thing would have been tears and claims that she'd broken every bone in her body).

I also had fun, with the best part for me being that it wasn't too hot (25C) and a bit overcast.  Admittedly, it did mean the water was chilly, but that didn't stop the girls!  I happily got to stay covered up in a sweatshirt and yoga pants over my bathing suit, so with my hat, sunglasses and copious amounts of sunblock I didn't worry about exposure. 

Honestly, it's been many years (11 actually) since I've been to a beach, the last time being …

Chinese Stir Fried Green Beans

Adam and I used to frequently go to a restaurant in China Town that we adored.  Unfortunately we never manage to get there anymore.  I don't know if there is much the girls would eat and frankly, we just don't go out for dinner much.

One of our favorite dishes was their stir-fried green beans.  They were crazy good.  Any time we went there we ordered them and any friends we brought along always agreed with us that they were special.  Vegetables they may have been, but they were without doubt not the healthiest: oily, salty and, admittedly very delicious.  I remade them here trying to keep the fat and salt content least compared to the restaurant version.  Given how simple and easy these are to make, and, of course, how delicious, you gotta try these.

Chinese Stir Fried Green Beans

1 lb fresh or frozen green beans
2 tbls low sodium soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red chilis, to taste
Additional salt, to taste

Hot Weather Fun

If you read this blog even occasionally than chances are you know I hate the summer.  Yes, HATE it.  I can't stand hot weather and just want to hide in the a/c and drink beer which doesn't jive well with my love of healthy living.  I like being out and being active but when the thermometer goes above 20C I start getting grumpy.

In any case, now that I have kids I feel an obligation to participate in summer.  After all, while they don't love the heat much themselves, they are more than happy to put up with it if there is water, rides or fun activities involved.  And I don't want to deprive them of fun.

The good news is that the Toronto area has tons to do.  We already visited Wild Water Kingdom this year, which is now a favorite of ours.  Even I can tolerate that place on a hot day since there are endless ways to cool down.  But it's really pricey.  So I was thrilled when I recently read about a water park called Kids Town in Scarborough, run by the city and virtua…