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Showing posts from September, 2015

Simply Vietnamese Cooking: Book Review

I consider myself a foodie, albeit not a traditional one.  I am definitely more of a health foodie, but even if I wasn't concerned with nutrition, I have never been a big fan of classic French cuisine or fussy stuff.  I find ethnic food so much more interesting and my favorite cuisines have always been Asian.  You name it, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, I love it all!

Admittedly, I haven't tried to cook much Vietnamese fare at home, so I was happy to review Nancie McDermott's book, Simply Vietnamese Cuisine.

Vietnamese cooking utilizes many of the flavours, herbs and spices I love like cilantro, star anise, fish sauce, ginger, tamarind, coconut, etc.  If you want to cook Vietnamese food, your best bet is to stock your pantry with the basics first.  The book has a glossary at the back that describes many of the ingredients and includes online resources where you can buy them should you not be able to find them locally.

McDermott divides the book into the foll…

How to Manage a Sweet Tooth

Most sane people love sweet things.  If you struggle to control yours, check out my post with suggestions on my other blog.

Perfecting the Kale Chip

Good morning! Its officially fall and we have been having the type of ideal autumn weather (sunny and not too hot) that makes me so so happy.  Amazing what a dramatic impact the weather can have on mood huh?  Although the temp is lovely today, its unfortunately rainy :(

So, lets talk kale chips shall we?

I go through phases of making them a lot and then kind of forgetting about them for long periods of time.  I should make them more often as they are the only form of kale the girls will touch.  Lately I've been making them again because my lovely neighbour who gets a weekly organics delivery box has been sharing kale with me (she is always dropping by some sort of veggie for us, which, of course, I love!!).

I am happy to say I have finally found what I believe to be the perfect way to make kale chips.  If you've tried making them before, you know they can easily turn out too oily, soggy, burnt or bitter.  Some claim you need a dehydrator but you don't. 

Here is the recip…

My Spiritual Side

I have never thought of myself as spiritual.  But that isn't why up until recently I had little interest in being a practicing Jew.

Even as a kid when I attended Sunday school, was Bat Mitzvah'd and attended weekly services with my family, I was agnostic.  I just never connected with the idea of a higher power that I couldn't see, hear, feel, touch, etc. I've always swayed towards the rational side and, as is evident from this blog, demand tangible evidence if I am going to believe something.  But the real reason I rejected it was that, as a kid in a small town, being Jewish just made me different, and not really in a good way.

I now embrace practicing Judaism, in my own way.  This doesn't mean following the dietary laws (I love seafood too much and hate the restriction of no milk and meat together...my stomach comes first and foremost!). But attending shul for the important holidays and being part of a synagogue and a community is very important to me.  Judaism i…

Sardo Li'l Oliver Olive Snack Packs: Product Review

Olive a healthy snack for the kids, but sometimes convincing them to eat it is a challenge.  Sorry, bad joke, but olive a good pun!

As I have ranted on about many times before, we live in a toxic food environment which encourages overconsumption of highly processed, low nutrition convenience foods...especially for kids!  Most food products marketed to children is fluorescent hued nutritionally void garbage.  But the marketing works.  When I take the girls grocery shopping, it sounds something like this,

"Mommy can we get ____ ?"
"No"
"Mommy can we get ____ ?"
"No"
"Mommy can we get ____ ?"
"No"
"But this one is 'made with whole grains."
"No"
"What about this one? Its only got 7 grams a sugar per serving."
"No."

Believe me, we are not in the produce aisle! Its usually the aisle with crackers, cookies or snack foods.  Or even the dairy aisle, because, of course, now you can get suga…

Thirst, Hunger and Itchiness

Well, we are definitely atoning today, this Yom Kippur.  Yesterday just before I was going to leave to pick up the girls so we could go to shul for Kol Nidre the daycare teachers from their school called to tell me BOTH GIRLS HAVE LICE!

Oy gevalt!!

I called Lice Squad to come help us out but they were all booked up, so I took the pesty situation into my own hands, picked up supplies from the pharmacy and then picked up my two little bug heads.

I don't know why this is, but Toronto is an absolute hot bed of lice.  It is ALWAYS going around the girls' school and apparently its the same at other schools in the city too.  Such a freakin' pain! Or itch, I guess.

I did Big A first and just found a few eggs...Little A on the other hand, ughhhhhhhhhhhhh! I think every louse in North America had taken up residence on her scalp. At least thanks to the shampoo, they were already all dead.  Disgusting!!!  I treated myself as well, just in case, but came up clean.  To be on the safe …

Luscious Lemon Loaf

If I had to chose favorites when it comes to baked good flavours, lemon would be right up there.  Normally the rest of the family isn't so smitten with it, but this recipe is a crowd pleaser even with them. 

No one will believe its grain-free, sugar-free and vegan...and you don't even have to tell them.  It can be our little secret!!

Luscious Lemon Loaf

1 ripe plantain, peeled
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. flax + 6 tbsp. hot water)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp pure lemon extract
1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder, stevia sweetened
2 tsp pure stevia powder, or 1/2 cup baking stevia
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp konjac powder

Puree everything in food processor until smooth.  Scrape batter into 2 mini loaf pans lined with parchment paper (or 8 parchment lined muffin cups).  Bake at 350F for about 20-22 minutes, or until set in the middle.  Timing will be less for muffins.  Cool and ice, if desired.

Lemon cream cheese frosting

3 tbsp. cream cheese (vegan or regular)
1 tsp pure lemon extr…

My Beef with Beef

Its Monday! How about making it a Meatless Monday?

Protein is in.  Its hard to not know that.  Everywhere you look there are more products popping up with protein: bars, shakes, beverages...even candy!

After years of hearing we should limit meat consumption, all of a sudden huge slabs of animal protein seem to be back on the menu.  Carbs have now been deemed the diet and health enemy and things like bacon now have a health halo. Hello?  WTF?

So, are you wondering what the deal is? Is it better to be vegetarian? Vegan? Eat poultry and fish? Or is red meat actually the answer to all your health problems?

Sorry, folks, put down the steak and listen up!  High intake of red meat is not a good thing!!!  I am also sorry to say that it matters little if the meat is anti-biotic free, grass-fed, blah, blah, blah.

Sure, you heard the headlines recently that not all studies find a link between heart disease, stroke and red meat consumption, but you have to dig a bit deeper.  It is important what…

Om

Wow this week has been tough.  Between Rosh Hashana, and everything else, it just hasn't stopped. We haven't stopped.  A huge bomb was dropped at my work last Friday and the shrapnel has been picked up piece by piece this week.  I can't share details but there have been moments when I've been very close to having a panic attack worrying about how some huge changes with the businesses I work with are going to affect my practice.  I am a worrier and a catastrophizer, and all the CBT strategies I use with my clients to manage anxiety fell to the wayside.  I let my fears and doubts get the best of me.  Fortunately, I was able to keep myself together and to my complete surprise, it looks like things are going to be just fine [insert eye roll and "I told you so" from husband]. 

Today is nuts. I see clients then rush to a conference, then rush back to see a client in the evening.  I work tomorrow morning too.  The rest of the weekend is quiet...with the exception …

Totally Ripped Core: DVD Review

I get bored real easy.  This poses a challenge for someone who works out every day.  I gotta change it up a lot.  But this is a good thing because the more you change it up, the better it is for your bod.  I have been rotating my Jillian Michaels ab DVDs for a while now and really wanted to add in another workout to shake things up a bit.  It took me a while to find one I felt might be worth trying.  Bob Harper's DVDs get really good reviews, so I finally settled on his Totally Ripped Core.  Didn't hurt that its only $10!

So?

Meh!

Perhaps I am just uber picky because I am a fitness instructor myself, I don't know, but I am not sure what all the fuss is over this guy.

The DVD has a 50 minute workout and a 10 minute express workout. 

Now I only have one other of his DVDs, his power yoga, which I also find just okay.  Both have this weird split screen and fancy camera work thing going on, so I am guessing this is just part of his schtick, but its totally unnecessary.

But t…

Beet, Cucumber and Orange Salad

Things have been nuts around here.  Between school and the girls' activities starting, Rosh Hashana, entertaining last weekend, and work, Adam and I feel like our heads are spinning.  When the pressure is on, however, is when it is even more important to take care of yourself: sleep, eat well and exercise.  Admittedly, because of the holiday and my birthday, there may have been a wee bit more eating and drinking, but I always do my best to get back on track as soon as possible.

We had a few days of fall-like weather, but now its searing hot and humid.  Blech!  Seems that summer has returned.  This refreshing salad, which I made for our Rosh Hashana dinner at my in-laws is perfect for warm weather. It is very simple and allows the flavour of the ingredients to shine.

Beet, Cucumber and Orange Salad

2 bunches golden (or red) beets, about 8-10 medium beets, peeled and diced
1 tsp olive oil
2 English cucumber, sliced
4 navel oranges, peeled and segmented, pith removed
1/4 cup pomegran…

Nerium Age-Defying Night Cream: Product Review

In most ways I think I am aging pretty well. I am as fit as I've ever been, energetic, and, as far as I know, healthy.  My contact lens/glasses prescription hasn't changed, and my hearing has also stayed constant (although Adam has always complained that I set the television too loud).  Not a single grey hair yet too.  But I would certainly love to lose the wrinkles between my eye brows.  If I had to guess, they are from, more than anything, the fact that I scrunch up my face a lot, whether its from exertion while working out, or because I am focusing on something or wrapped up in the intense thoughts that are always running through my head.  And then there are the wild dreams I have every single night which often have me perplexed even during the dream.  Seriously, my unconscious mind is messed up!

Preventing wrinkles, as far as they are preventable, is possible by:

Avoiding sun damage/wearing SPFNot smokingNot drinking excessivelyEating a healthy, whole foods dietExercising …

Shana Tova

Its a gorgeous, sunny Monday, and the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.  I am filled with joy and optimism about this coming year and am excited to celebrate with family and friends today.

Shana Tova!

In Fighting Form at 41

Today is my birthday.  I'm 41.  Nope, I'm not ashamed of it.  After all, I think I'm doing okay. And we all age...the only alternative is not a good one!  The objective is to age well, like wine or cheese ;) Aging well doesn't necessarily mean looking like Christy Brinkley at 60...she clearly one the genetic lottery! It means looking and feeling healthy and vibrant. A 46 year old cousin of mine, with 3 kids, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, as was a 48-year-old mom at the girls' daycare.  Just being healthy and mobile is enough motivation to get me up every morning and working my butt off to stay that way.

I will admit that turning 40 was a bit of a shit storm for me.  It brought up a lot of existential angst about who I am and what I've done with my life.  This past year has involved a whole lot of soul searching (thinking, reading, talking, observing).  Fortunately, just in time for this birthday, I feel like I've come out swinging. 

I've w…

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life ~ Confucius

This summer Adam and I started watching the series, House of Lies, with Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell. Its a fantastic show, but very cynical and rather depressing.  Most of the characters are positively vile and it reveals the dark underbelly of the corporate consulting industry. Watching it was a reminder of all the reasons I hated the corporate world and working an office job.  Ah man, it was never for me!  My first job out of university and I was clinically depressed within 2 weeks.  I realize I am unbelievably lucky.  So many people dislike their jobs, but are unable to leave them.  Because of my incredibly supportive husband, who has a stable job and health benefits, I was able to transition to an entirely new career.  One that is unstable and doesn't pay well, but that I LOVE.  I love my work and I am so grateful for that because for so long I thought that was an impossibility.  I went down the entirely wrong road, and I blame both my parents (for emphasizing prestige and s…

Book Review: Weight No Longer - The prescription for amazing fitness and Living

I learned something extremely important from this book: NEVER waste your time on a health or medical book that is self-published!!!

I should have learned my lesson after reviewing this one.

Weight No Longer is written by Philip Caravella, an American family doctor who seems to think he has the secret to weight loss that everyone else has overlooked.  I'll save you the time and money you would spend on this book and tell you that is so-called secret is that - despite what most other credible health experts have concluded - he believes exercise is far more important for weight loss than diet.

While I agree with him wholeheartedly, that exercise is pretty much the most critical lifestyle factor (aside from not smoking or drinking excessively) for your overall health, it is not MORE important than diet for weight loss.  Health maybe, weight loss not likely.

When I mentioned this to Adam, he suggested that Caravella probably works for Coca Cola.  Ha, maybe!!

But this is only one of a t…

The Launch

Good morning and happy first day back at school!

I hope you're weekend was as good as ours...we had a blast: birthday dinner for my father-in-law, Costco trip with a little lot of retail therapy, movie (Shaun the Sheep...very cute!), and visit with my brother and his family.  But today its all business.

I was expecting the worst today seeing as it is the first day of new routines and Little A not only doesn't really like school, but she doesn't always adapt to change well.  I am thrilled and shocked to report, however, that this morning went incredibly smoothly!  Sometimes it pays to set your expectations low.

Our new morning rule is that nobody gets to eat breakfast until absolutely everything else is done (clothes on, sunscreen, lunch and school bag packed, etc.).  Since the girls are highly motivated by food (and only motivated by food), this seems to be working well.  It also helped that it is raining, so I drove them, which saved time, and meant we arrived at morning…

Ready, Set, GO!

Well, here we are, summer vacation is officially over. 
Tomorrow we have the beginning of a 4 day weekend starting with a trip to the Toronto Exhibition.  Whoopee!  At least we're meeting up with friends so I will be distracted by how hot and crowded it is...hopefully!

After the Ex, I actually have to see a client, and I see several clients on Saturday.  We also have to fit in a trip to Costco to get ourselves ready for school, and Monday, Labour Day, we will probably hang out with my brother and his family. 

Tuesday its back to the grind for all of us, and I'm just hoping the school year starts smoothly.

Have a lovely long weekend and I'll be back Tuesday.

Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Salad

I know I complain about the summer heat and humidity a lot.  Okay, constantly.  But there is one thing I'll miss come winter: all the refreshing salads I've been eating!

Occasionally I'll have salad other times of year, but on blistery, snowy winter days, um, I don't think so.

I'm making the most of these scorching temps by getting in all my salad eating.  This one is super yummy and both light and satisfying at the same time. 

I was planning to add feta cheese but found my feta looked more like blue cheese when I opened the container.  Into the compost it went!  Oh well, there is some good fat from the olive oil, and protein from the chickpeas, but feel free to add some feta if you wish.

It is best served just warm/room temperature.

Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Salad

1 cauliflower, pulsed in food processor into 'rice'
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 small zucchini, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cu…

Eat Your Water

The forecast for Toronto today and all week is stupid, gross, disgusting hot and humid.  Perfect time to discuss hydration!

Most people know that it is important to drink water, so I am always surprised how many people don't.  A life of sweetened beverages has left some people with a distaste for what is really, the most important nutrient we all need! Water is considered plain and boring, so when faced with water versus pop or juice, most people will pick the latter options.  This is a big mistake because drinking calories is the best way to add extra pounds, and sweetened beverages are associated with chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, etc.

You can, as I am sure you already know, lightly flavour your water with cucumber and lemon slices, or even naturally flavoured, stevia-sweetened water enhancers, but if that doesn't float your boat, fear not, you don't actually have to chug water to get the hydration you need.  Yeah, that's right, turns out the whole…