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Showing posts from July, 2015

The Long Weekend Birthday Boy

Adam's birthday is tomorrow, and this means there are 5 weeks in which I am only 1, rather than 2, years older than him.  Since he makes fun of me non-stop for being older than him, I have to cherish these weeks each year.

Today is bananas work-wise, and the weekend is equally busy so I'm short on time to write a post.  I just popped in to say, have a wonderful 3 days and I'll catch up with ya'll on Tuesday.

Super Fudgy Energy Bites

Looking for a healthy, satisfying, vegan, gluten-free, sweet and tasty snack...that's portable and simple to make? Oh, and doesn't require you to turn on the oven? Got it!

These were a hit with the whole family so I will definitely be making them again.  I have recently discovered how amazing flax eggs work as a binder in unbaked recipes.  They avoid the need to add oil or liquid sweeteners while adding a ton of fibre and nutrition.  These are best made in a high speed blender.  You can make them in a food processor but you won't be able to get the nuts perfectly smooth.

Super Fudgy Energy Bites

4 cups shelled raw walnuts
1 cup soft prunes (soak in water, if they aren't soft)
4 flax eggs (4 tbsp. + 12 tbsp. hot water)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup stevia baking blend (that measures equivalent to sugar)
2 droppers full of chocolate stevia liquid (optional)

Place nuts in blender and blend until very finely c…

Healthy On-the-Go Snacks

One of the reasons North Americans eat so poorly is all the on-the-go eating we do.  In other cultures, there tends to be less of this, with more of an emphasis on sit-down, family meals.  The problem with on-the-go eating is that it tends to encourage consumption of convenience foods and interferes with mindful eating, often resulting in the ingestion of too many calories and too little nutrition.

Unfortunately, because of our lifestyles, sometimes eating on-the-go cannot be avoided.  But it doesn't have to be health risk if you do it right.

First, let me suggest what not to do. Do not go down the snack food aisle! Yes, you heard me: avoid snack foods!  This would include anything processed anyways, so things like cookies, granola bars/snack bars, chips, crackers, pretzels, etc.  It doesn't matter if they are organic, gluten-free, low-fat, etc.  They are generally void of nutritional value and just empty calories.  In addition, they are generally high-carb, low protein, whic…

Italian Roasted Zucchini

I often fixate on a particular fruit or veggie and just suddenly can't get enough.  Right now I am obsessed with zucchini.  Perhaps this is because it is so fresh and plentiful right now, there is always locally grown zuccs at the market these days. 

My favorite way to make it is roasted.  I don't use oil because I actually prefer it without. I find oil gives it a spongy texture.  This is a super simple recipe that just lets my favorite cooking method bring out the natural sweetness of this awesome veg.

I use Rustic Tuscan seasoning from Costco, but you can use regular Italian seasoning plus a pinch of sea salt in its place.  Or, sub it your own favorite seasoning blend.  Nowadays you can even find ones specifically for roasted veggies.

Italian Roasted Zucchini

4 zucchini, cut into rounds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Rustic Tuscan (or other) seasoning blend

Toss zucchini with vinegar, garlic and seasoning and spread on foil or parchment-lined baking s…

More Discoveries

Here are a few more discoveries I've had recently.  We certainly do continue learning throughout our lives, don't we?

First, I discovered that refinishing a dining room table and 6 chairs is way beyond the limits of my patience.  I'll do DIY stuff, essentially to save money, but I don't really enjoy most of these tasks.  So when the guy at the hardware store told me what a big job I was taking on, I quickly changed my plan.  With all the sanding to remove the stain and finish already on the set, and they re-staining, refinishing and sanding between coats, he estimated it was a 1 month job.  I trust him because he would have made money off all the supplies I was about to buy.  So, um, no thanks.  I was thinking 2-3 days.  Perhaps we will, in fact, just buy a new set.

Second, apparently age 9 is the new 13.  Big A is definitely pre-pubescent with that impending blossoming right around the corner.  Her sleeping habits are a dead giveaway.  Its harder and harder to drag h…

Discoveries

Its been a quiet week work-wise.  A lot of clients are away and a lot of my referring doctors are on holiday.  But its still been a fruitful week in other ways.

Most importantly, I have been feeling better than ever.  For months I've been struggling with daytime sleepiness and fatigue.  I thought it was my thyroid a few months ago when after a routine check, my doctor said it was, indeed, low and I needed to bump up my thyroid meds.  Unfortunately, when we re-tested a month later, my levels were perfect but the fatigue was still there.   Next, I wondered if it could be my iron levels, but my annual physical results all came back normal.  Finally, I reluctantly concluded that perhaps it was just part of being 40.  Recently, however, the fatigue has completely evaporated and I am back to my old young, energetic self.  WTF? I realized that my energy bounced back a few days after stopping my antihistamines!  In never occurred to me that it could be the culprit as it is supposedly non…

Cocoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars

As promised here is the recipe for these kid-friendly treats.  The girls absolutely loved these...between them and Adam they devoured the whole pan in about 2 days!  Although they're also great for adults looking for a healthy snack, I love making stuff like this for my girls since getting protein into Big A is so often a challenge.  For young children you can cut them into smaller squares, if you wish.

The base has a strong banana flavour, so if you want the chocolate flavour to come through more, definitely use chocolate protein powder and/or add a few teaspoons of cocoa powder.

Cocoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Bars
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter (like this one)
2 scoops chocolate or vanilla protein powder (whatever one you like)
1 large, ripe banana
1 325g box cocoa rice crisp cereal (like this one), approx. 6 1/4 cups

For the bars, whisk together flax and hot water and set aside until it thickens.  Add to foo…

What I Ate Wednesday: Snack Attacks

Happy WIAW and summer hump day!  I eat much more elaborately than most people who work 9-5 jobs, I would imagine.

When not seeing clients, I have the luxury of working from home.  I do all my report writing, admin and other tasks en casa.  Even if I have clients in the morning and the afternoon, I will come home, if I have time, to eat lunch here.  I love being at home.  I am a home body for sure!

In any case, this also gives me the luxury of whipping up yummy lunches and snacks on the fly like I did this day.

Breakfast the same as usual, only I dumped too much cinnamon into my oats.  It was still good, and I still ate ALL of it, but would have been better with a bit less.  As much as I love cinnamon, you can always have too much of a good thing!


Several coffee frappes happened, of course.

Lunch was spicy jalapeno chicken sausages, roasted zucchini and roasted kabocha squash.

In order to use up an overripe banana, I made these Cocoa Peanut Butter Protein Bars (recipe to come).  They m…

Navage Nose Cleaner: Product Review

Since my last visit with my allergist, I've given up taking any antihistamines, since they don't seem to make a significant difference to my congestion.  She also said I probably needn't bother with the cortisone nasal spray, however, she said to continue rinsing out my sinuses with saline.

Normally I use Hydrasense, but they are crazy expensive.  I also find even the strong spray ones not very strong.  I have some serious blocked sinuses so I need something serious to unblock them!

So, of course, I was more than happy to try out a Navage Nose Cleaner when it was offered.  I had never heard of it before, so had no idea what to expect.  It is essentially a battery powered nasal irrigator with suction.  It squirts saline into one nostril and out the other into a sealed compartment, so as long as you do it properly, there is no mess.  It requires special salt pods that are purchased separately.

I was a bit intimidated when it arrived as it had some extensive instructions in …

Our Big Beach Adventure

This weekend the weather was positively hellish.  My absolute most dreaded...over 30 Celsius and super humid!

We had plans to get together with my brother and his family yesterday, so we decided to go down to the water where it would be cooler.  He suggested Bluffers Beach (the beach near the Scarborough Bluffs) and since we'd never been (we always go to Woodbine), we thought that was a splendid idea.

Its not as busy as Woodbine (of course, it's all relative...it was still busy!) but is just as lovely and, of course, has the background of the bluffs: It was so damn hot I had to go dunk myself almost immediately after we arrived, and then went in and out a few times to keep myself from catching on fire.  I have to say, I watch the people slathering on oil and baking themselves like chickens with curiosity.  Even if you take away how dangerous that is for your health, I just don't get how feeling like you are going to ignite is pleasant.  But clearly my body chemistry is di…

Sniffles and Sinus Pain: Mystery NOT Solved

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a runny nose and congestion.  Always. 24/7, 365 days a year.  I get intense sinus headaches at times, and I snore a lot (or so Adam says!).

The runny, stuffy nose has been an issue since I was a little kid, but the sinus headaches didn't start until about 2000.  At the beginning nobody thought they were sinus allergies.  First, I was sent to an eye doctor, in case my headaches were caused by an issue with my eyes.  A prescription for eye glasses later, the headaches were still there.  Next, because I grind my teeth, I was sent to another specialist to see if I have TMJ.  Nope. I saw a homeopath (this was before I knew homeopathy was totally bogus) and took all sorts of weird tinctures and pills.  No relief.  Eventually I saw an allergist but all my scratch tests came out negative.  He suggested it was pollutants which they don't test for but really had not suggestions for treatment.  Finally, I was sent to a headache specialist…

Hey, Weight a Second!

Oh you know how much I despise myths and misconceptions when it comes to health, nutrition and fitness!  Well one load of crap that continues to irk me, and to still be spewed by many health professionals is that lifting heavy weights will make you big and bulky so if you are looking to be lean, you should use only light weights and body weight exercises.  THIS IS A LOAD OF BULL SHIT!


"But come on," you say, "Look at Gwyneth Paltrow, she does the Tracy Anderson Method!" And yes, this is the B.S. spewed by Anderson, and many other health and fitness 'experts' too.

Sorry. It isn't true. 

Not only is it not backed by science, it actually violates the underlying principles of fitness.  Ever heard of progression??  Well, basically, the body adapts to the demands you place on it relatively quickly.  So you will stop making gains and get diminishing returns on your fitness routine unless you increase the difficulty.  So all these folks who recommend you shou…

Summer Reading List

As always, I've been reading away and I've read some good ones!  Here are a few that I've enjoyed.

A House in the Sky is the autobiography of Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian journalist who was kidnapped, along with an Australian photo journalist, in Somalia and held captive for 14 months.


I found this book incredibly fascinating.  I plan to do a whole post about this book at some point because it got me thinking about all sorts of things, but in any case, its a very interesting read...I definitely recommend it!

I also read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

CurcuminRich: Product Review

If you follow nutrition news than you likely have heard that turmeric, a spice used frequently in Indian cuisine, is supposed to be packed with health benefits.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and there is preliminary data showing its potential as an antimicrobial, insecticidal, larvicidal, antimutagenic, radioprotector, and anticancer agent. It shows promise of being protective against proinflammatory diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. In some clinical trials, turmeric has shown efficacy to treat conditions such as lupus nephritis, cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, and fibrosis.

Since I love Indian cuisine, and curries from other cuisines, which often use turmeric, I frequently use it in my cooking and thought that that was enough to reap the rewards of this spice.  Unfortunately, a research study conducted in 2006 (Tayyem et al.) found that turmeric and curry powders contain a very small a…

Independance Day

Wow, today is going to be a cooker! Even early this morning it was so hot I felt like I was going to spontaneously combust!

Yesterday Adam drove Big A to Kingston to spend the week with my parents.  She is going to be attending an indoor climbing and swimming camp.  From the sounds of it, she is going to be both exhausted and in great shape by the end of the week!

Both my girls are so much more confident and independent than I was as a kid, it amazes me.  Big A, in particular, doesn't show the least bit of self-consciousness.  My mother reported that she walked right in to her new camp, with not a single familiar face, without a moment of hesitation. 

I was such a shy and insecure child I would have been clinging to my mother for dear life.  In fact, I never went to sleepover camp, just the thought of it terrified me.  Big A is game, however, so we might send her next summer, and even Little A said she might be open to it.

I think I made a mistake dropping Little A off at her ne…

Panamdemonium

Um, not sure if you heard, but the 2015 Pan Am Games start today and they are being held in Toronto.

Sadly, few people I know are too excited.  Maybe a couple are planning to see an event here or there, but most people are dreading the whole thing because of the impact it is going to have (and already has had!) on our city.

For the last bunch of years construction in the downtown has been at an all-time high, and one reason is the creation of all the facilities for the games.  This has made an already congested city, just crazy to get around in.

There are now reserved High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to control traffic and already sneaky (but stupid) people are trying to outsmart the cops by doing things like sticking mannequins in their car.  This picture hit the news yesterday when I guy got busted for this:

Sigh!  But it does give you some idea of just how frustrating it is to try to get anywhere these days and what lengths people will go to make it somehow easier. I will admit,…

Punctuality

Are you someone who is chronically late getting everywhere?  If so, you and I are a different breed.

The idea of keeping someone waiting horrifies me.  If anything, I tend to be chronically early, although since having kids that's lessened quite a bit.  Now I am at least right on the minute.


Not only am I rarely ever late, but I despise it when other people are.  I think it is incredibly rude and disrespectful.  One of the reasons I quickly knew Adam was the man for me is he showed up right on time for our dates every time.  No head games, no keeping me waiting.  It was so honest and refreshing, I was thrilled.  But if you know Adam and I, its not surprising, as we share many personality traits. 

Research has indeed found a significant link between personality characteristics and punctuality.  Those higher in conscientiousness (i.e. actively manage their goals, to be organized, dependable, dutiful, orderly, self-confident, self-disciplined, and deliberate) are more likely to be …

Vegan Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

Little A has a habit of asking for elaborate breakfasts on weekdays when we are in a rush.  Lately she's been asking for blueberry pancakes, so I promised her I would make some when I had the time, in advance so they are ready to go for busy mornings.  I finally got around to it and decided to try making vegan ones.  I don't know why, but I have never made pancakes without eggs before, as it turns out, they turn out just fine!  They are also gluten-free because I used nutritious whole buckwheat flour. In addition, I snuck in extra protein with some vanilla hemp protein powder, to keep the girls energized through their busy mornings.  When I make pancakes ahead, I simply freeze them with wax paper in between and then take them out as needed.  You can either defrost them the night before or defrost in the microwave or toaster oven.

Vegan Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. ground flax + 6 tbsp. hot water)
1/2 cup baking stevia (or other sweetener)
1 scoop vanilla v…

Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs: Product Review

If, like me you enjoy cooking, than you know just how much fresh herbs can add to a dish.  Many of them are also packed with important nutrients and have amazing health benefits.

But you also probably share the same problem I have, that the big bunch you get from the market or grocery store goes bad before you use it all up.  Sure, there are tricks to keeping them fresh, like sticking the stems in water in the fridge, but frankly, we rarely have enough space in our fridge to do that.  I will also be honest: I hate prepping fresh herbs.  They are often full of dirt and the ones you have to pull of the stem are a pain if your recipe needs a lot.

So when Litehouse offered to send me some of the newest flavours of their Instantly Fresh Herbs line, I was all for it.  They generously sent over Thyme, Mint, Sage and Lemongrass.  The herbs are freeze dried and have absolutely no additives.  All you do is add water (or add them directly to a liquid).

When friends came by this past weekend, I …

Summer Bitchin'

After a delightful, comfortable (albeit rainy) spring and early summer, the usual heat and humidity has arrived.  Rather than complaining like I usually do, I'll just share my thoughts with you through pictures.




I'll try to be gracious and acknowledge that compared to places is Asia where they have recently had heat waves with temps around 50 Celsius, I have little to complain about, but that won't stop me from complaining...

Have a lovely, sweaty Monday.

Peel the Onion

Hello, and happy Friday!

Warning: I am about to go on one of my rants, so if you want to, click away from this page and come back another day.  If you enjoy my pontifications, well here you go:

You know that saying, "We eat with our eyes"? Well its bullshit.

North Americans eat far too much of this:


...and far too little of this:


Now you tell me, which one is nicer to look at?  Even if you love fried food and hate fruits and veggies, you can't tell me the fried food is more attractive! Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I have never been one to be that concerned with food presentation.  Obviously!  Even the plates I picture on the blog here are generally gussied up more than the ones that are not.  I just heap the food on the plate and eat.  Yet I still consider myself a foodie.  I love to cook, I know all about various cooking techniques (if there were a culinary-focused Jeopardy I would win!) and I have knowledge of a wide variety of cuisines.  Our ho…