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Friday, March 27, 2015

Is It the Weekend Yet?


Oy.
Stay at home mom at that!

Its been quite the week.
Car accident, work, and the most stressful thing of all?  Organizing what the kids are doing this summer!

I am on the girls' daycare board, and just waiting until the second day of registration left us on the wait list for one week this summer for Big A.  She is also going to Kingston for a week to see my parents and my mom and I are going nuts trying to find a camp for her for that week!  Getting kids into activities and camps these days is a freakin' competitive sport!!

This weekend is not likely to be more relaxed either.  I work tonight and tomorrow and they we have a community pre-Passover party, the girls' spring session activities start up again, then Big A has a birthday party on Sunday and I have my first book club meeting.  All that and I have to start making stuff for Passover.  This year my parents are coming here for the first time ever, and we are all doing a sedar and my in-laws' place. 

For tomorrow's party, I've just made some Charoset...recipe to come!

Have a happy, healthy weekend!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sweet Potato Chickpea Roti


This delicious curry can be rolled into a roti shell (or whole grain tortilla), or served over rice or quinoa (or cauliflower rice!).  Its so yummy, you may just want to eat it alone.  No matter how you serve it, it is as healthy as it is tasty.  Win win!!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Roti

1 cup lentils, cooked
1 sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed

1 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
Fresh ginger, chopped, to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbls garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 can light coconut milk
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups, cooked)
1/2 green cabbage, sliced

Saute onion, ginger, garlic and spices in oil in large skillet or pot over medium heat.  Once onion has softened, add vinegar, coconut milk chickpeas and cabbage.  Simmer until cabbage is cooked.  Stir in cooked lentils and sweet potato and continue cooking over medium low heat until liquid reduces.  Spoon into roti shells or tortillas or serve over rice or quinoa.  Keep refrigerated 4-5 days or freeze.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Close Call #2


I don't know what plan the universe has for me but after being hit by a car while walking a few weeks ago, I was sideswiped while driving our car yesterday!

It was yet another reminder of how things can change in the blink of an eye.

I am, fortunately, not hurt, however, pretty shaken up.  And the car is in bad shape.  Very expensive repairs required and we will be without it for about 2 weeks.  At least insurance will cover it.

It wasn't even the usual impatient, rude Toronto driver who did it (believe me, if you think Canadians are polite, you'll feel differently if you drive in this city!!).  It was a dude from London, Ontario, a guy driving his musical band to a gig.  Unfamiliar with the city, he is apparently not used to driving in Toronto and tried to do a U-Turn without looking and smashed into me.

At the end it really meant nothing more than a wasted bunch of hours dealing with towing companies, police and insurance, so I am trying to focus on being grateful for the fact that I wasn't hurt and I was the only one in the car.

Part of me wants to grab Adam and the girls and hide in our house.  Its not just terrorism and crime that we tend to worry about that is such a threat, but the more everyday things like accidents! 
I know, I know, overprotecting them isn't the answer, but we live in a scary world and it sometimes feels next to impossible to keep our kids safe from every single threat!

You know? In my 20s after getting hit by a car twice in a few weeks, my phone dying and my Ipod exploding (Apple fortunately replaced it), I would have been feeling very sorry for myself.  But now that I'm older and wrinklier...I mean wiser, I realize that I am actually very fortunate.  Its all nothing.  I have all the important things including my amazing family and my health. That's what matters.

Have a great hump day and drive carefully!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

High-Protein Ginger Fig Granola


One of my favorite food blogs is Vegan Richa.  Virtually every recipe she posts is not only nutritious but drool-worthy.  Recently she posted a granola recipe using lentils instead of grains.  OMG, I cannot believe the brilliance!  What a fabulous idea!!

My kids will NOT eat lentils and beans knowingly and getting Big A to eat protein at all is often a challenge, but the kid loves granola.  I could have done an entirely lentil-only granola, but I was afraid that was too risky, so I simply added them along with the other (gluten-free) grains to bump up the protein in this granola.  Oh man, so so so good!

This granola pairs some of my very favorite things: ginger, figs, and warm, sweet spices. It also happens to be gluten-free, sugar-free, and high fibre.  Adding cashews would be awesome, but I kept it nut-free so the girls could take it to school.  If you aren't a fan of figs, substitute with another dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or apricots.

High-Protein Ginger Fig Granola

1 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbls stevia (that measures equal to sugar), or 1/2 tsp pure, uncut powdered stevia

150g package of brown rice, millet or quinoa cakes, unsalted, unflavoured, crumbled
1 cup uncooked millet
6 cups large flake oats (gluten-free, if necessary)

2 cups unsweetened pear or apple sauce
1/3 cup coconut oil
Large piece of fresh ginger, chopped (or grated if you want a less pronounced ginger taste)
1 tsp pure, uncut powdered stevia, or other sweetener, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp apple pie spice*
1/4 tsp salt

2 cups figs, chopped

Place lentils and 2 cups water in covered pot.  Bring to a boil and then drain and rinse immediately.  Lentils should still be firm.

Remove excess moisture from lentils and then toss with cinnamon and sweetener and bake on parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until crunchy.  Do not burn. Let cool.

Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and toss together.

Pour pear/apple sauce into a pot with oil, sweetener, ginger, vanilla and seasonings.  Stir over medium heat until oil melts. Drizzle over dry ingredients and stir to evenly coat grains.  Spread on 2 baking sheets in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes at 350F, stirring and rotating pans at least once.  Turn off oven but leave granola in the oven for another 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Toss with lentils and figs and store in an airtight container.

*Or pumpkin pie spice.

I have shared this recipe with Urban Naturale's Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop and Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Farewell Target and Why Online Shopping Rocks


In case you haven't heard, Target, which finally came to Canada a few years ago, is now leaving.  Yep, like they will all disappear within the next few weeks.

Apparently they tried to use the U.S. business model here and it just didn't work because, well, we Canadians are unique.  Partly, we love online shopping and Target didn't offer us this option.  Its true, at least in this house.  Internet shopping has become so simple, and in a big city like Toronto where getting anywhere can be mayhem, and what your looking for in the stores could be sold out, it just saves so much time and energy.

Nevertheless, now that Target has got the last of its stuff on 40% off or more sales, we packed the kids in the car on Saturday and heading to the nearest one to check it out.  The deals were indeed very good, so we all brought some things to take home.  The girls got sandals for summer that they adore (so much so that they are refusing to take them off) and some clothes they picked out (which are not my taste but I bit my tongue).  I am thrilled with some new weight lifting gloves, a make up brush, two pairs of leggings, and a beautiful leather belt, and Adam found a bunch of stuff for himself too.

I guess from now on I will have to seek out Targets in the U.S. whenever we visit...the ones here were never as good anyways.  Now if only we could get Trader Joes here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, I must have angered the Device Gods with my rant about technology because, I kid you not, last week both my phone and my Ipod died!

For what its worth, we did get stuck in bad traffic trying to get to Target, and on Saturday when I took the girls with me to the Apple Store at Yorkdale Mall, half the subway was closed down (For maintenance maybe?) which resulted in us having to take 2 extra buses to get there and back.  See?  Online shopping is much better!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Anticipation

Don't forget to floss!

Good morning, its International Day of Happiness AND the first day of spring!

As you shed all the layers of clothes from winter, perhaps you should also consider shedding the weight of tasks you've been putting off?

Are you a procrastinator?  Some people put everything they don't enjoy off until the last minute.  Others do everything immediately to get it off their back.  Most of us procrastinate only in some areas, like everyday stuff, getting out the door, cleaning the house, or filing taxes, or big stuff like ending relationships, quitting smoking or...dental work.

We are, after all, naturally hedonistic creatures that seek out pleasure and try to avoid pain, but with most things our anticipation of negative events is often worse than the actual event.  This is something I discuss a lot with clients with fears about leaving a relationship, starting fertility treatment, getting rid of clutter they have been hoarding, etc.  What is most frightening is the uncertainty involved in future events. But uncertainty is an inevitable part of life for all of us.

I've realized that as an adult, I am someone who does put certain things off.  Most recently it was dental work.  I've had a cracked tooth my dentist wanted to fix for ages.  Her office booked the procedure and I cancelled it 4 times.  I hate dental work on the best of days - I find it intensely uncomfortable to have my mouth yanked open wide for a long period of time - but last time I had a cracked tooth I ended up having to have a root canal in the end.  That process was miserable.  The root canal itself wasn't the worst of it.  Sitting in my dentist's chair for several hours after it so she could make the moulds for the crown was awful, and then the period of time between that and getting the crown when I had to wear a temporary one (which fell out and caused me all sorts of pain) was completely yucky.

we get an A for effort

I finally bit the bullet and went in yesterday.  At first I tried to convince her just to clean my teeth because the crack hasn't been causing me too much pain, but she insisted we deal with it.  Eventually I gave in.  The good news was that it wasn't as bad as the other one and she feels drilling and filling the tooth will do...at least for now. 

Actually, when I finally gave in to my fate, I closed my eyes and decided to just try and relax.  I actually got very relaxed and actually started to feel sleepy.  About half way through my dentist stopped and asked me if I was meditating.  I almost laughed because...I realized I was...unintentionally.  I was definitely thinking about stuff, as always, my mind was going as fast as always, but just like mindfulness practitioners suggest, I was just letting them float away like clouds, observing them, but not reacting to them.

I can't say getting a massive needle in my gums was pleasant, nor was the drilling, which creates a nauseating burned flesh smell, nor was the filling of the tooth nor all the adjustments she then had to make to my bite to align my jaw properly.  The pain after the freezing wore off wasn't delightful either.  But you know what? I survived.  The worst case scenario didn't happen.  And I don't have to live with the dread that was hanging over me anymore!

Most of my clients have the same experience; when they finally do what they have been putting off, they realize it wasn't so bad, or even if it was, they are more resilient than they gave themselves credit for and not only survived the event, but feel a sense of relief and sometimes joy that it is done.  We humans are pretty amazing creatures.  We can endure a lot.

So make a list of everything you have been putting off due to fear and tackle each thing ASAP.  I promise you'll feel better!

Another Dental Joke

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring into Better Health


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Most people think of January 1st as the time to try and make a change to their lifestyle, whether it’s giving up smoking or losing weight. But that may not always be the best time to try and give up a bad habit or adopt a good one.  If you live in a northern climate then its likely cold and dreary, which can bring down both your mood and your motivation.
Making a healthy lifestyle change is a great idea any time of year, but some people may find spring a particularly good time to do so.  Days are getting longer, there is more sunshine and temperatures are more hospitable.  Spring is all about change, growth and renewal, which is perfect inspiration for making a commitment to get healthier.

Often after a long, harsh winter we feel like we are experiencing a reawakening as we enter spring, savouring the better weather.  Use your craving for fresh air and the outdoors to your advantage and boost your daily physical activity.  Whether you simply start walking instead or driving to your destinations, or add in some purposeful, structured exercise like a walk, jog or bicycle ride, both your mind and your body will benefit greatly.
Spring is also the perfect time to overhaul your diet.  With the warmer weather, you may stop craving heavy comfort food and begin gravitating towards fresh, lighter fare.  Exchange the meat, cheese and other rich food for more fruits and vegetables, and healthier proteins such as eggs, fish, poultry, beans and legumes.  Visit some farmers markets and discover all the wonderful in-season produce that is available.  Try to broaden your horizons and buy something new each time you go.  Ask sellers for advice on the best way to prepare it.  Nowadays, even your neighbourhood supermarket should have an abundance of fruits and veggies for you to try.

Make sleep a priority.  If there is one thing that can derail your health as much as physical inactivity and/or a poor diet, its lack of sleep.  Commit to a proper sleep schedule by going to bed and waking around the same time every day.  Avoid using stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime and limit your use of electronics at night.  If stress is affecting your ability to sleep, adopt some healthy coping strategies such as meditation, yoga, regular exercise, and/or get help managing your worries by speaking with a counsellor or therapist.  If you are self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, which can negatively affect the quality of your sleep, get support to develop more functional ways of coping.
Are there toxic relationships in your life making you unwell?  Perhaps now is a good time to shed the weight and start anew.  Many people continue dysfunctional relationships with partners, friends and/or family members out of fear.  But a toxic relationship can significant damage to your health and well-being.  Sometimes we must preserve our sanity and well-being my cutting out of our lives individuals who are doing us more harm than good.

As you shed layers of clothes for the warmer weather and emerge from winter lethargy many of us experience, you may discover you are in the perfect mindset for making positive changes.  Whether it’s a tiny change, or a massive overhaul of your life, it all adds up to better health and a sunnier outlook.

This post was inspired by the American Recall Center (http://www.recallcenter.com/), an organization devoted to provide up-to-date health information, focused on patiently safety. As you know, I am all about accurate health info, there is so much BS floating around out there!  I did not receive any compensation for the post and all opinions are my own.