Pages

Monday, October 23, 2017

Spibelt: Product Review

Good morning and welcome to a new week! If you are a fitness fanatic, or are just constantly on the move, or even an avid traveler, keep reading...

Where has a SPIbelt been my whole life??

Who doesn't hate having to find a place to stash keys, phone, etc. when running outside. Personally, I have been stuffing my phone in my bra when I run the past few years, which isn't comfortable and I always worry I will destroy it with sweat.

I do have a fanny pack thingy from when I did the 8 hour cancer charity walk a few years ago, but its huge and bulky, designed to carry 2 water bottles and a lot of other stuff.

So I was more than happy to test a SPIbelt out when offered the chance. Its very small, light and sleek and adjusts to fit snugly and comfortably. It looks tiny but the stretchy material can accomodate a phone and other stuff very easily.

Even if you are not a runner, its a great option for walking, hiking, cycling, and travelling. I am going to take it with me for sure to Israel.

Get out there, get active, no excuses!!

SPIbelts are affordable, and come in a ton of different colours, models, and sizes, including ones that can accommodate water bottles, and one with a waterproof pouch.

Disclosure: I was sent a SPIbelt to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

The Edgy Veg: Book Review


Extremism is in. Whether its political views or diets, everyone is polarized these days.

When it comes to food trends, people seem to be either going over-the-top decadent (the latest in Toronto is Asian ice cream and desserts...like this:


...or to the opposite end of the spectrum, such as raw, vegan food like this:


If I have to pick a side, you know where I am going! The latter, of course!!

But there is another diet trend in Toronto, which, I guess is sort of the happy medium: vegan comfort food.

Now, personally, I have little interest in this because I find it tends to mean vegan junk food, and junk food is junk food in my book. It may be better for animals and the planet, but its not better for the body.

Nevertheless, there is clearly a market for it, and I suppose its a good way to get carnivores who have previously given no thought to what they consume an accessible way of becoming more conscious of what they eat, if only for ethical reasons (though I don't get why people would care about the health of animals and the earth, but not of their own body).

The Edgy Veg is a cookbook by fellow Torontonians, and bloggers, Candice Hutchings, and her husband, James Aita, which claims to contain "138 carnivore approved vegan recipes." I would say it definitely can be described as catering to people looking for vegan comfort food.


Now that I think about it, the polar opposite of this might be Paleo since that tends to be a very health conscious, high meat diet (assuming you believe eating large amounts of animal protein, especially red meat is healthy...which I don't).

Anyways, there is a lot to like about this book. It begins with a section on how to prepare to start cooking the recipes, with lists of kitchen tools, pantry staples,  and vegan substitutions. Then there is a chapter on the 'basics', such as pizza dough, seitan, vegan mozzarella, several types of veggie bacon, dairy-free sour cream, and a bunch of sauces. These items turn up as ingredients in a number of the recipes later on. I love that these base items, such as seitan and vegan mozzarella are relatively simple, since making them homemade might seem intimidating (at least to me!).

There are lovely photos of almost all the recipes and tips under the "Hack it" section at the bottom of the pages. Many of the recipes sound amazing and I plan to try such as the mushroom bacon, Eat the Rainbow slaw, Buffalo Cauliflower Wings 7 ways, What the Pho, and Garlicky Green Beans to Keep the Vampires Away.

The recipes span many different cuisines, and cover most of the food that's trendy (at least in Toronto) such as pho, ramen, Chinese/Thai/Indian, and fusions of many of them. Their are chapters for brunch, soup, salads, munchies, mains, sides, beverages, and desserts.

My one criticism is that many recipes use white flour and white sugar. Even organic versions of refined flour and sugar are absolutely void of nutrition and spike blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, you can substitute whole grain flours and healthier sweeteners in most of these recipes easily.

Also, be aware that substitutions for animal proteins are sometimes made with non-proteins (i.e. buffalo cauliflower, carrot lox). So be aware that you will likely have to add a protein somewhere else in your meal.

Do I recommend this cookbook? Absolutely! The recipes are approachable and appealing to even picky, closed-minded carnivores. Its perfect for people scared to eat vegan because they perceive it to be nothing but sprouts and seeds. Good job by my fellow Torontonians!!

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2017 Fall Favorites

Here are some things I've been loving lately...

Soyganic smoked tofu! The siracha is spicy and delicious, but I also love the black pepper garlic. I've been throwing them into stir fries like crazy. The plain smoked makes for a delicious sandwich. Honestly, you can't do better for an affordable, healthy and yummy source of protein.


Oh and this marinated tofu from Vegetarian  Gourmet is good too. I have only tried the Greek gyro variety so far, but really liked it and would gladly try the other flavours.




My electric Oster spiralizer!! I got if for Mother's Day, but didn't use it a ton over the summer as I don't spiralize for salads much, but do like to make veggie noodles for hot dishes. I know I am going to be using it a lot over the winter and I made a yummy vegan zoodle dish last weekend that Adam and I both enjoyed.

Is it obvious that I derive a huge amount of pleasure from cooking and eating??

I am also loving this hair conditioning treatment from Pantene. My hair is ridiculously dry so I am always looking for good moisturizing products, however, I have to avoid things that are too oily or heavy, because my hair is fine too. This stuff does a really good job of smoothing down my frizz, though I don't find the effect lasts after you shampoo the next time.

We have had more summery than fall-like weather so far, which has sucked for me because my favorite time of year when the air cools and the leaves change. Fortunately, today is the first day when the forecast is for actual autumn weather. Happy hump day!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes



Geez, how long has it been since I posted a recipe here?

Its not because I am not constantly cooking and baking up new things, its just all going on my Konjac for Life website and Instagram page.

But here is one for you. As you know, I adore roasted veggies, but a lot of fruits can also be roasted too for awesome results. This dish combines the two giving you a delicious sweet, savory recipe that's simple and flavourful.

I've made it a few times now for dinner parties, because its a little different than the usual stuff. Its low calorie, nutritious, high in fibre, gluten-free and vegan!

Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes

1 large, or 2 small heads, cauliflower, cut/chopped into bite sized pieces
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups seedless, red grapes
1/4-1/3 Balsamic vinegar (I used a cranberry pear balsamic, but regular balsamic, or even white balsamic work too!)

Steam cauliflower a few minutes until tender crisp. Transfer to large bowl and toss with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread on foil or parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 375F until it starts to brown. Add grapes and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to serving dish. Toss with balsamic and serve warm or room temperature.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Feelin' the Texture


Oh my Monday! I say this not because it is Monday, but because we have been having endless days of 30 Celsius weather and our A/C is broken! Our air people came and patched it up as a temporary fix last Tuesday, but by Friday it conked out again. That means, for the whole weekend we fried our asses off! They are here now to install a new system, and all I have to say is that if it isn't fixed by tonight. I will seriously cry. Very hot tears!

Anyways...

As you know, I am a stalwart hardcopy reader. No Kindles, no e-readers, no reading things on devices, I like paper books, newspapers and magazines, thank you!

Paper books seem to be sticking around, but print magazines and newspapers have been dying for a while now, much to my dismay. As I wrote about a few months ago, we gave up and went digital for our Globe and Mail subscription and will be going to the PDF version of the Toronto Star soon. Its just becoming prohibitively expensive to buy the print versions!

I have always been a big print magazine subscriber. I love magazines! They are my guilty pleasure. No mindless drivel like People, or tabloids, however, absurdity like fashion magazines! No, I prefer 'lifestyle' magazines, particularly Canadian ones like Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Best Health. I also love Toronto Life, Today's Parent, and occasionally some of the fitness magazines like Women's Fitness and healthy cooking ones like Cooking Light and Clean Eating.

 Unfortunately, buying off the news stand is insanely expensive, and even getting subscriptions is increasingly costly. And then, after I read them, I feel guilty recycling them so I feel compelled to (a) keep them, (b) donate them/give them to a  friend, or (c) put them in the waiting room of my counselling office.

After renewing my Chatelaine magazine subscription last year I received a letter from them informing me that although I will not be getting any of my money back, they will now only be publishing it in print 6x a year. For compensation they sent me an ugly fuschia scarf. I don't wear scarves and I hate the colour fuschia! Then I received no magazines for almost an entire year, leading me to think I was never going to receive any. That was the final straw!

Sometimes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

I signed up for Texture, the app that allows you access to a multitude of magazines online. Its only $9.99 a month, which is far less per year than what I was paying for just a few print subscriptions!

Though I still prefer reading print, I have to say, I am really enjoying my Texture subscription. It sucks down the power on my old Ipad super quickly, but I never run out of stuff to read, which is awesome. I am still getting used to reading off my Ipad while on the subway or bus, and trying not to feel self-conscious about looking like I am a digital junky like the rest of the world, but at least I am not reading off my phone. That's where I draw the line!

The other nice thing is that you get access to your account from 5 different devices so Adam and the girls have downloaded the app and are enjoying it too.

While I am pretty happy with Texture, don't even talk to me about reading books on a device, to me, that is just sacrilege!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nerium International IllumaBoost Brightening & Shield: Product Review


You know I hate heat so usually avoid the sun, but the summers here are so brutal, you can hardly be outside for minutes without feeling like a roasted chicken (though with all the rain this year we got off thankfully easy...unfortunately, fall so far has felt more like summer 😠). Not only do I hate heat, but I am concerned about skin cancer, so I do everything possible to avoid skin damage from the sun. Even in winter I always have sunblock on my face. Three of my close friends have been diagnosed with basal cell carcinomas, and a woman I went to highschool with has had melanoma twice!!

I am also prone to getting uneven skin tone which can be exacerbated by the sun and UV damage. So I was thrilled to receive Nerium International IllumaBoostTM Brightening & Shield to try.

The product:

  • Works to brighten the skin’s appearance and help even skin tone
  • Helps shield the skin from environmental stressors
  • Helps plump and moisturize the skin
  • Fights the appearance of discoloration, uneven skin tone and skin damage caused by air pollution
  • Can be mixed with: Age-Defying Night and Day Creams, foundation or sunscreen
  • Is ideal for all skin types (dermatologist tested)

The key ingredients are:

Phytolumina
A proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients, alpinia officinarum root extract, physalis pubescens fruit juice and bidens pilosa extract, which helps skin look radiant and brighter.

Niacinamide
A well-known ingredient for more even-toned looking skin.

Kombucha Ferment
A unique ingredient derived from fermented tea that offers a host of skin benefits.

Green Tea
A well-known antioxidant that guards against environmental damage.

Glycerin
Derived from lipids, this skin humectant absorbs moisture and supports skins natural barrier.

Hydrolized Sodium Hyaluronate
Naturally present in the skin, it binds water to the skin for volume and firmness.

Alteromonas Ferment Extract
Helps shield skin from environmental stressors.

Is there research proving this product's efficacy? No, nor is there any for most non-prescription products. The only thing I can tell you is that my skin tone does seem more even than it does by the end of every summer, and even more importantly, I did not have any adverse reaction to it. I have super sensitive skin so products with a lot of active ingredients can often irritate it. The company did do its own 4-week consumer study, which they say upheld their claims.

Do I recommend IllumaBoostTM Brightening &Shield? Hey, if you're cool paying a premium for skin care products and you are concerned about environmental/UV damage to your skin, go for it! Just don't forget the sunblock!

Disclosure: The company sent me the product to try but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Well Nourished: Book Review


The causes of obesity are numerous. They also differ from person to person. Contributing factors include poverty, mental or physical illness, parents (their weight status, genetics, behaviour modelling, what they fed you, etc.), and, of course, lifestyle.

Another contributing factor is culture. You've heard me say it before, we live in an obesigenic culture (i.e. is encourages obesity). How does it do so? Here are a few ways:

1. Abundance of high calorie, highly processed food available 24/7, that is cheaper than healthier food;
2. Mechanization of physical tasks (you don't have to churn your own ice cream now, you just open the freezer);
3. Social cues encouraging us to consume (advertising, social pressure, etc.)
4. Focus on productivity/consumption/materialism at the expense of spiritual/emotional/psychological fulfillment
5. Fat phobia

Numbers 4 and 5 are what I believe fuels one cause of being overweight for a lot of people: emotional eating.

Our culture has created widespread depression and anxiety among even the privileged classes. Being the consumerist society we are, people are sold a bill of goods about what they should have/who they should be/what they should be doing, however, even if people achieve it all, they are left feeling empty. To fill the void, they turn to consumables such as alcohol, drugs, and FOOD and numb their negative emotions. Food, of course, has less stigma than the others, but is harder to control, because you can't abstain from eating. Nor can you really ever get away from food or encouragement to eat.

Our veneration of fat is an integral part of the vicious cycle people get stuck in with emotional eating. While food, in and of itself, isn't shameful, being fat certainly is! We treat overweight people terribly! Fat discrimination is rampant. Unfortunately, this means that individuals who are emotional eaters start to develop extreme guilt, shame and anxiety over it, especially if it contributes to weight gain (which is usually does!).

But one of the biggest things that stands in the emotional eater's way of getting control of it is the self-sabotage. Everyone wants and needs unconditional acceptance from loved ones. We don't want to feel we have to look a certain way to get it. So I find many of my clients develop so much anger and resentment over feeling shamed by their weight, that they continue the behaviour spitefully, almost out of rebellion. Unfortunately, they ultimately hurt themselves the most. I often wonder whether emotional eating would be as much of a problem if we lived in a culture of size acceptance. Unfortunately, I don't think we will ever know the answer to that!

The good news is, if you struggle with emotional eating, I have a book for you!  Well Nourished, was written by Andrea Lieberstein, a dietitian and mindfulness eating instructor, among other things, who resides in California (where else?).

The book is like a guide to develop nourishment within the realms that are relevant to our general sense of well-being and commitment. A dearth of these things is what I believe are huge contributors to emotional eating, She includes:

  • Physical nourishment
  • Emotional nourishment
  • Psychological nourishment
  • Social nourishment
  • Intellectual nourishment
  • Creative nourishment
  • Spiritual nourishment
  • Worldly nourishment
Now, if you are the scientific type, and this all sounds a bit to "energy and crystals" for you, fear not! What I love most about this book is that it doesn't just tell you what may be causing your emotional eating, it provides exercises and instructions for overcoming it by maximizing your nourishment in the defined areas.

I think this is a great book and I will definitely be recommending it to my emotional eating clients!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.