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Showing posts from September, 2013

Victor-y-ia!

Good morning! I made it through the trials and tribulations of airline travel this weekend.  The trip there was pretty stressful for me...making all my connections was a little too close for comfort given that I like to have some buffer time.

The conference was great, and Victoria, is indeed, beautiful!  The waterfront is the gem of the city for obvious reasons, and what struck me the most is how lush it is: the emerald green grass everywhere looks and feels like velvet.  Oh, and the redwood trees...amazing!  The huge one in front of the parliament buildings is spectacular. 

Unfortunately, it POURED all day Saturday.  I really didn't do much of anything because literally a few minutes outside and, even with an umbrella, I got soaked.  I went through all of my socks and had to actually stop in a store and buy more!  Even then, I think my feet were wet all day.

But the hotel was awesome and I treated myself well.  On Friday, I was so tired and hungry after the conference, I ordered…

Flying Solo

Image source

Tomorrow I leave for the CFAS conference in Victoria.  I am both excited and nervous.  Excited because it's always a good conference, and I have never been to lovely Victoria, and nervous because I hate flying.  This trip will really test my limits with flying too.  First there is the 6 hour flight between Toronto and Vancouver, and this is about the maximum duration for a flight I can withstand, and then there is a short flight between Vancouver and Victoria, which, I am assuming, will be on a very small plane vulnerable to turbulence.  Because I am mildly claustrophobic, hate turbulence and get motion sickness (and occasionally experience severe ear pain and temporary hearing loss), flying is never pleasant for me.

I am just trying to focus on how nice it will be once I get there...except that the weather report is calling for rain for the entire trip.  Sigh.

The conference hotel is way too expensive for me, so a friend recommended this one.  It looks beautiful, and…

Green (Tea) Your Life

I'm assuming you've heard something by now about the health benefits of green tea?

If not, let me fill you in: It's chock-full of anti-oxidants and there is evidence that it is anti-carcinogenic (can prevent cancer), can lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease, and even aid with fat loss.  In short, it's a health and nutritional superstar.

But not everyone likes the taste.  To be honest, it's not my favorite tea, especially plain varieties.  But I am not a big tea drinker.  Not because I don't like it, but I'm not fond of iced tea and I cannot drink hot tea unless it's well below freezing.  I am already too hot blooded and it just makes me sweat.

A few months ago, however, I decided I needed to get more green tea into my diet.  I had heard of one health expert who puts a green tea bag into his coffee every morning.  Clever but not for me.  I decided to add it to my breakfast oatmeal instead.

Wait, before you turn up your nose, le…

DVD Review: Rodney Yee's Power Yoga Collection

So, I was really disappointed in this DVD.

Ironically, even after trying all these new yoga routines, my favorite is still my Flow Yoga: Strength and Flexibility DVD.  I'll explain why a little later.



I had heard such good things about Rodney Yee and the reviews of this DVD were stellar.  My experience with power yoga is that it is a fairly fast-paced, asthanga-based practice, so I expected these routines to be fairly challenging, which is what I was looking for, since originally I had planned to start doing yoga first thing in the morning.

I really didn't find any of these routines to be challenging at all!  Here is what I thought of the 3 routines:

1.Yoga Burn is actually so slow paced it made me feel like it was a yoga-tae chi hybrid.  Definitely requires focus to keep your movements so slow, but I found this routine much better suited for someone looking for a meditative, spiritual practice than someone looking for something at all athletic.

2. Total Body Power Yoga was a…

Ripple Effect: Second Skin Cream Review

Well hello Monday morning!  Despite Adam being in Halifax for a conference and lots of rain, it was a pretty good weekend.  Friday my mother-in-law made a birthday dinner for me.  Here's a pic of Big A and I.


Saturday Big A had a morning playdate, so Little A and I went to the mall.  We got her a Halloween costume (not the monarch butterfly one I wanted her to get, but a pink and green fairy get-up), had sushi and then all of us went to my brother's place to give my niece her birthday gifts, and see my parents who were visiting.

Saturday night, my in-laws generously took the girls for a sleepover and I got lots of house stuff done.  Sunday morning I taught my spinning class while they were in Hebrew School, then I took the girls out for lunch before dropping them off for their monthly yoga camp.  Adam, thankfully came home Sunday evening.

The only real challenge was refereeing the girls, who are fighting non-stop lately.  I have now told them that if they fight and bicker, t…

Gooey Chocolate Chip Squares (Gluten-free, Vegan + Refined Sugar-Free)

Ah it's been quite a crazy last few weeks.  Adam and I both have been very busy with work and the girls have been settling into school.  Little A has surprised us by transitioning very easily into kindergarten and a new daycare room.  Big A, unfortunately, is underwhelmed by school academically right now.  She was a grade 1 in a 1/2 split last year but is now a grade 2 in a 1/2 split and she is bored out of her mind.  It's early, so we're hoping things will improve, but Adam and I are quite concerned. 

We also have a lot of extracurriculars going on: Little started Hebrew school and Fitkids at the JCC, both are resuming swim lessons soon, and Big A is starting her Broadway Babes classes.  Big A also joined the Cross Country team, which we are thrilled about, however, this means I have to get us to the school by 8:15am 3 times a week and this has made the morning chaos even more chaotic.  Now that tv is banned in the mornings, the girls are glued to the Ipads/Ipod and aft…

Mediterranean Pizza

Another dinner I treated myself to in honour of my birthday last weekend was this thing of beauty.  It turned out awesome, partly because I found some spelt pizza dough at Whole Foods that produced a perfect crisp, chewy crust.  These dough balls are also smaller than the ones I usually buy so I was able to roll the pizzas thinner and I didn't get the food coma/hangover the next day that I sometimes get when I make pizza (which might also have something to do with how much of it I eat!).  In addition, I used less cheese than usual and realized I didn't miss it a bit thanks to the fabulous, flavourful toppings.  Adam loved this pizza too so I think I'll definitely be making it again.

Other tasty additions, should you desire, would be artichokes, feta cheese and/or red onion.

Enough (whole grain) dough to make 2 large pizzas (use whatever homemade recipe or store bought dough you like)

Mediterranean Pizza

Sauce

1 can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Ita…

Sweet Potato Chickpea Roti

I didn't get around to making myself a cake for my birthday this year, or any sort of sweet treat for that matter.  I think it's because it was a Wednesday and it's been super busy around here, or maybe because I just haven't really been in the mood.  But when I started to think about what I was in the mood for, one of the things that jumped into my head was sweet potato chickpea roti.

 I never said I have a normal head!

I might be a weirdo (or so my family tells me all the time) but sometimes I do come up with some pretty stellar recipes and this one is definitely a winner.  Sweet, tangy, savoury and - if you want - spicy.  Even my meat-and-potato-loving husband loved this dish.  And really, what is there not to love??

If you don't want roti, you can serve this as a curry as is or over a grain such as brown rice, quinoa or millet.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Roti

2 large sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
1 onion, diced
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
2 tbls fresh gi…

Cranberry Peach Crumble Pie (Refined sugar-free)

Saturday Adam and I were both feeling crappy and grumpy.  Adam because he was fasting for Yom Kippur, me because Little A woke me in the middle of the night...she had to pee, but she can do that on her own, so not sure what the deal was...then she made me put her back into her bed and when I did, she began screaming.  About what, I have no idea, I wasn't fully conscious.  But the interrupted sleep made me feel tired and headachy.  Grrr!

Unfortunately, I had promised Little A we would make a pie.  Why?  Because she asked and I try to be a good mom.  I actually hate pie.  I've never understood the appeal.  The fillings can be good, but the unhealthiest, yuckiest part - the crust, is also the hardest-to-make part.  I don't love making pastry and I don't even own a proper pie plate.  But she asked.  Why she asked, I frankly have no idea, although I think it's because Big A's daycare class made mini apple pies with the leftover apples and honey I gave her to share …

Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior: DVD Review

Good morning!  If the thought of starting another work/school week has your blood pressure skyrocketing, perhaps you need a bit of yoga in your life?

I recently treated myself to a few new yoga DVDs.  The first one I will review for you is Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior.

I abhor The Biggest Loser, but I've heard so many good things about Harper's DVDs, that I decided to give it a try.  And, hey, I'm a warrior, so I figured this DVD would be perfect for me. Of course I cringe when I see yoga called a 'weight-loss workout', but I tried to keep an open mind.

The DVD has a 60 minute yoga routine and a 15 minute core workout.  It's a decent non-traditional yoga workout that is kind of a fusion of hatha, ashtanga and flow.  As for being a weight-loss workout?  Ha!  Honestly, I would say this is an intermediate yoga DVD at best.  You do have to know what you are doing because he doesn't give a ton of detailed direction in terms of breathing or positioning,…

Holiday Honey Cake

Today is the first time the weather has actually felt autumn-like and while others are whining about the cooler temps, I'm dancing with joy.  The start of my favorite season!!

Okay, I know Rosh Hashana is over, and, in fact, Yom Kippur starts tonight.  But this deliciousness doesn't have to be eaten ONLY on Rosh Hashana, or Yom Kippur, for that matter.  If you ask me, it's a great treat any time of year!

I may love a lot of healthy foods; I'd rank oatmeal, chickpeas and brown rice up there as some of my all-time favorites, but I like some pretty sweet things too.  I have a weakness for honey and maple syrup, in particular.  So the traditional Rosh Hashana honey cake has always been something I've enjoyed.

Now everyone's family seems to have their own recipe with a particular thing that makes it unique: apples, raisins, nuts, orange peel, coffee, etc.  But I kept it pretty simple this year as I was making it for a holiday get-together this past Sunday with frie…

Roasted Jicama Chips (Oil-Free)

It's weird, but a few weeks ago was the first time I have ever found jicama in Toronto.  I know it must be available all the time, but I could never find it.  I swear, I have checked a million markets and grocery stores and never seen it.

So I was super excited when I found they had it at Fiesta Farms.  Unfortunately, there was only one left and it was gigantic.  Like I mean, crazy, ridiculously huge.  I took up to the cashier and asked her to weigh it.  It was almost 8 lbs and $14!  I decided that was a little insane and left empty handed and very disappointed.

A few days later, I was in Loblaws and spied some.  No wonder I never noticed them before, there was no signage and the few that were there were buried under some squash and root veggies.  I grabbed 2 small ones and danced happily up to the cash to pay.  Finally! 

For the uninitiated, jicama is a Mexican turnip that can be eaten either raw or cooked.  It is low in calories, but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. 

I h…

Happy Birthday to Me!

So.  Today is my birthday.  My last birthday before I turn the big 4-0.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that age has become...well, a 'concern'.

It's silly really because I am much happier and more fulfilled than I was in my 20s and the early part of my 30s for sure.  Maybe just as stressed...but definitely more content.

One of the most important things I have learned as I have grown older is the infinite amount of things I still have to learn. 

As Socates said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

I believe that really acknowledging this and experiencing this reality has made me more open to taking risks and, well, wiser.  While this seemed frustrating and overwhelming to me as a kid when I first heard this quote, I now see it as exciting.  Every day - even routine days - are an adventure.

I realized yesterday that probably for the first time in my life, I am truly exactly where I want to be.  In my early 20s I spent a lot of time in d…

Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

I have been suffering through this terrible cold that Adam was generous enough to share with me.  It really flattened me.  I developed laryngitis, which is always really convenient when you work as a therapist.  But that was nothing compared to the really really really sore throat I had for the first day.  That sucked.  The congestion isn't much fun either.  Fortunately I finally feel significantly better this week but I am still really congested.

Anyways, this cold is my excuse for not getting this Rosh Hashana recipe up until today.  Adam and my mother-in-law were particularly complimentary about this dish, but then we all tend to love root veggies.  Really, how can you not love them, when you roast them, they practically taste like candy! I am particularly fond of parsnips and should really make them more often.

Oh well, better late than never.  This dish doesn't just have to be for Rosh Hashana, of course, frankly I think it's good any day.

1 lb baby carrots
2 lbs par…

Hanging Up My Crown

Hello Monday!  How did you start your week?  I started mine the same as I always do: with a workout.  In fact, that's pretty much how I start every day.

I firmly believe we need to move our bodies in some way every day.  For me, it has to be first thing in the morning or I feel weird and fuzzy-headed...although after a few vodka drinks and a dance party this past Saturday night, I still felt a bit fuzzy headed after my spinning class Sunday morning.  Funny thing...

While my love of fitness never waivers, recently I've begun experimenting and changing things up a bit.

Although I may never become a Crossfitter, I like a lot of things about this grassroots fitness movement. For one, it fosters community.  A supportive social network is key to adhering to an exercise routine.  Second, it focuses on strength and fitness rather than physique.  Even for women, the mantra that defines it is, "Strong is the new skinny."  I love that!

I think it is really important for women …

Snap Pea & Grape Tomato Pesto Salad

Well, we made it through the first week of school here.  So far, so good.  It's gone relatively smoothly, but I'm still glad the weekend is here.  I thought I'd share another recipe with you today.

This dish is a creation I made for my father-in-law's birthday bbq last weekend.  Most of the time I would make my own pesto, but we had a busy weekend, so I picked up a container of Sunflower Kitchen's basil pesto.  It's gluten-free, nut-free and vegan (I can't bring something with dairy to Adam's parents' house if we are eating a meal with meat).  Mixed with just a bit of white wine vinegar, it made the perfect dressing for this yummy salad.



Snap Pea & Grape Tomato Pesto Salad

1 lb snap peas, trimmed and cut
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbls homemade or store bought basil pesto
2 tbls white wine vinegar

Whisk together pesto and white wine vinegar in a serving bowl.  Add veggies and toss. 

I have shared this recipe with Vegetarian Mamma's Glu…

Speedy Pineapple, Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Chili

Shana Tova!  Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashana today!  We are attending the new shul we joined today for the first time and we're all excited.  For me, it's just exciting to be part of a community.

It's finally starting to cool down a wee bit, and I couldn't be happier.  Soon - hopefully - it will feel more like autumn, my favorite season, than summer.  And with the cooler temps comes lots of my favorite comfort foods.  One of my favorites is chili.  This is a new spin on a vegetarian chili I recently came up with and its a winner.  It's also super quick to make.

I left everything chunky because I like it that way, but you can go the more traditional route and dice everything up in small pieces.  It's delicious on its own, but I love it best served over brown rice or quinoa.

Speedy Pineapple, Roasted Veggie & Black Bean Chili

1 tsp olive oil
4 zucchini, cut into strips or diced
4 bell peppers, cut into strips or diced
1 clove garlic, mince…

Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Princess Cookies (Gluten-free, Sugar-free & Vegan)

Today is Little A's first official day of school!  I think I'm more nervous than she is.  Unfortunately, it hasn't exactly been a smooth morning so far: the girls have been fighting like crazy.  Fortunately, they've been fed and their lunches have been made.  This week they include a little treat: these cute cookies.

This past Friday night, Big A slept over at my in-laws, so I figured I would have a blessedly easy Saturday morning: One kid, no fights to break up, and perhaps a little extra time to myself since Little A tends to sleep later than her sister.  Ha!

Little A ended up waking up at 5:15am and told me she wanted to bake cookies. I agreed, but said she needed to get a bit more sleep.  Come 6:20am she was up for good.  Sigh!

So make cookies we did.  Since she started kindergarten this week, I thought it appropriate to make the girls a healthy treat they could have in their lunch boxes.  Both girls love chocolate, of course, but Little A also adores dried cranbe…

Crafty Dinner: Instant Vegan Mac & Cheez

And a new school year begins...

Today is Big A's first day of grade 2!  Little A doesn't start kindergarten until tomorrow.  Although I am proud and excited to have them both in school, like most parents I am dreading having to pack their lunches.  Doing it for 1 kid was bad enough, 2 might just give me a nervous breakdown.

Yesterday I asked Big A what she wanted for her first lunch and she said pasta.  Now she's asked for hot lunches before (spaghetti, pasta, soup, etc.) and doesn't have a great track record.  Most of it usually comes home untouched.  So I wasn't wild about the idea of spending a whole lot of time whipping something up that was most likely to end up in the garbage.  The result is this recipe, which isn't really a recipe, because its so darn fast and easy, but the result is a pretty healthy dish that both of the girls love. 

If your kids like the taste of nutritional yeast, like mine do, then they will enjoy this.  If they are more adventurou…

Happy Labour Day

I can't believe summer is over!  It's the start of a very exciting new year:  Big A starts grade 2 tomorrow, Little A starts kindergarten on Wednesday, and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year begins on Thursday!!

We're still enjoying the long weekend, I'll be back tomorrow so stay tuned. Have a happy Labour Day!