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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Favorites

Happy Hump Day!

I thought I'd share a few of the things I am enjoying recently.

First, this cold brew from Loblaws. Once the weather heats up, hot coffee is a no go for me. This stuff is awesome, with a bit of sweetener (I use stevia) and cream or milk.

Unfortunately, its expensive. The carton is $3.99, which is about 2.5 servings for me, so it will not be something I buy regularly.

Loblaws also hits it out of the park with this Greek Yogurt Tatzkiki Spread. It is so yummy! You can smoosh it onto veggies, or a sandwich or burger. I am loving this stuff!

These wrist grips I got have been making my workouts better.

My forearms frequently cramp when I am lifting super heavy weights while doing deadlifts, etc. These are very helpful for preventing that. My one complaint is I find it a bit awkward to get them wrapped around the bar or dumbbell, which slows down my workout.

Finally, are you familiar with JP Sears, the comedian/life coach? He is frickin' hilarious. I love how he parodies the health and wellness industry. When I need a good laugh, he's my go-to guy.


Well that's all folks, have a wonderful day!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Super Easy Beer Bread


Good morning, and welcome to a new week! How does hot homemade bread, right out of the oven sound?

If the idea of making homemade bread seems intimidating to you, you have to try this recipe! It is so easy, its ridiculous!

I made it with organic spelt flour, but you could probably make it with different types as well. A gluten-free mix and gluten-free beer would probably even work, if you have to avoid gluten. It is also 100% vegan.

Its fresh, free of junk and preservatives, and doesn't even use yeast. Easy peasy, healthy and delicious!

Super Easy Beer Bread

3 cups whole grain flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup coconut sugar 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 355ml bottle beer

Stir together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Pour in beer and mix, just until combined. Scrape batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 375F for 50-55 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool and then remove from pan. Store wrapped at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze.

I have shared this recipe with Urban Naturale's Plant-based Pot-Luck Party link up.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hyperbiotics: Product Review


As I am sure you well know, supplements are a huge industry. Go to any pharmacy, grocery store or health food store and there is a dizzying array said to cure or treat pretty much everything.

Some are amazing, many are okay, and many more are totally bogus. I don't take many compared to a lot of people I know. Just Vitamin D, CoQ10, and probiotics. I don't need antioxidants or calcium or a multi, not when I get about 300 servings of fruits and veggies every day, as well as whole grains, beans, soy, eggs, dairy and poultry. My diet is sufficiently healthy and varied, so I chose to save my pennies where I can.

But probiotics I am a big fan of. There is actually research behind their utility, and that matters a shitload to me. I have tried various brands and some definitely are better than others.

One critique I've heard is that our digestive juices may break them down when consumed in supplement form, before they have time to fully work. So some people recommend eating things like yogurt instead. Unfortunately, analyses of various consumer food products claiming to contain probiotics found that many of them contain much less than advertised or not enough to have any therapeutic value.

In any case, as someone with a history of IBS, I am all about finding the best probiotics out there so had no problem agreeing to review hyperbiotics PRO-15.

The claim is that they are formulated to bypass stomach acids so they reach your intestinal tract providing greater efficacy. They also don't need to be refrigerated, unlike many other brands of probiotic supplements.

There are also a bunch of different varieties to target different needs, from general digestive health, to dental health, to one just for kids.

According to their own lab research, their supplements are supposedly 15 times more effective than standard probiotic capsules. Since they don't provide the raw data in their literature nor on their website, and since the results have not been peer reviewed, its hard to know how accurate this is.

So what's my view on them? I have been taking them now for 2 weeks, and, honestly, my tummy has felt noticeably better. But my anecdotal experience is not scientific evidence. I do love that they don't have to be refrigerated since our fridge is always too full anyways, and it means you can take them when you travel. They are reasonably priced too, compared to other probiotic brands.

My only complaint is that because the pearls are round, they roll off the breakfast table. I guess you just have to pop them in your mouth directly from the bottle.

So, overall, I am quite happy with them and will definitely be switching to them as my go-to brand. They are available online and with free shipping for Canadians as www.amazon.ca .


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mouth Wide Shut



One of the first things I'd do if I won a lottery, is high someone to exclusively prepare the kids' meals. I'd cook my own, because I love cooking, but not for them.

They drive me effin crazy daily with their pickiness, and Big A, in particular, changes her mind dramatically about what she likes and doesn't like on a dime.

I try not to worry, but their diets suck. Little A avoids veggies at all costs.  And Big As is way too heavy on sugar and carbs. Its even worse now that she has an allowance and is old enough to walk to a store and buy stuff on her own.

I know I am not alone. Many parents struggle with this stuff and its tough.

One debate among parenting experts is whether or not its a good idea to hide veggies and fruit in other foods to get your kids to eat them. Some people think its better to try and serve them to your kids a hundred times until they decide they like them.

I don't really know why this has to be an EITHER/OR thing. Its never been the case in this house. I openly serve them veggies, but I also hide them in their food whenever I can. Why not? I don't see the harm. And don't give me crap about the ethics of tricking your kid. Even if it is unethical, I don't give a rats ass.

Anyways, one of my favorite ways to hide veggies is to buy frozen cauliflower and puree it. No green bits, and frozen has a much less pungent flavour and smell than fresh.  Recently, I discovered that adding frozen cauliflower into their smoothies is brilliant. They didn't have a freakin' clue! I am going to do this until the day they each leave the house (at that point I suspect they will adopt the student diet of Kraft dinner and beer).


Friday, May 19, 2017

15 Years of Craziness...I mean Bliss




Today Adam and I celebrate 15 years of marriage. Holy Crap! We've been together 17 years. Insane!

Not a day goes by that I don't thank the universe that we somehow found each other way back then. The current dating environment is horrendous. We managed to get together just before the online dating thing was starting, and man, I am so so grateful! What a shit show. I desperately worry for my children.



Of course, I am not just grateful that I found SOMEONE, I am grateful I found a great someone. Without a doubt I love Adam a whole lot more than I did back then. We have both grown up so much and I have watched him become the most amazing and devoted father to our girls. He is beyond hard working both in terms of his career and helping out to run our household. He is absolutely my best friend and I feel very lucky.


I have to work tonight, but tomorrow we celebrate. In our own unique way of course. The girls are spending the night at my in-laws.

I contemplated booking us reservations at a fancy restaurant and scoured the city for an appropriate choice. But to be honest, I find the Toronto restaurant scene has gotten so pretentious, and since I love to cook and eat, I don't get much satisfaction in going to some loud, crowded joint to drop $200+ dollars on a meal so small we have to eat again when we get home.

Finally, I decided to make us dinner but then was undecided on what to make. I thought fish because we both love it, but then I realized we have it a lot. I thought maybe something unusual like duck or ostrich but Adam isn't always on the same page as me with stuff like that so I wasn't sure he'd even be open to that. I know he loves beef, but I am not in the mood. So I went back to fish. First, I thought Black Cod, but its super expensive and not available except at specialty stores and fish mongers and I didn't want to be running around the city for ingredients. Eventually I settled on Arctic Char, which I have never made us because its way more expensive than trout or salmon. Hey, its a special occasion. Side dishes will be cauliflower mash and local asparagus.

Then there was the issue of bubbly. I like prosecco but Adam doesn't really. We both like beer. So I thought it would be fun for us to head over to a local craft brewer in our neighbourhood. The weather is supposed to be nice, so hopefully we can sit at one of their outdoor tables.

For dessert I baked us a spicy ginger black bean chocolate layer cake. Ha, I bet if Adam knew I'd be making him this for our 15th anniversary, he never would have married me! But seriously, I am very lucky to have a partner as devoted to a healthy lifestyle as I am. Also lucky to have a man as totally nutty as I am.


Its also a long weekend here (Victoria Day Weekend), so even though I work both Saturday and Sunday, I am sure we will get out and about with the girls and make the most of it. Have a happy, healthy long weekend!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Litehouse Dips: Product Review


Like many parents, I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into my kids. Neither of my kids are vegetable lovers, and they are extremely fickle. One day the one vegetable they are willing to eat and the next they scream at the sight of it. It can be a wee bit frustrating!

Salad is almost always a hard sell. They have each gone through brief periods of enjoying specific types of salad, but generally, plain raw veggies are the safest bet. So when Litehouse asked me to review their products, the first thing I went for was one of their dips.

I choose the light ranch variety and presented it to the girls with a plate of their favorite raw veggies (which right now is baby carrots, sweet peppers and celery).

Little A informed me that she doesn't like dip, and refused to even try it. Sigh! Big A was happy to sample and even happier with the product. She gave it a 12 out of 10 and proceeded to gobble down a record amount of veggies. Raw veggies and the dip has now become a daily routine for her, either as an after school snack, or part of dinner. She even packed veggies and dip for her day long track meet last week. Wow, I am loving this!

My only complaint with the product is that it contains caraggeenan as a thickener, and stuff like maltodextrin, etc. A lot of people avoid caraggeenan because it is believed to contribute to gut inflammation. They seem to all contain some sugar, but compared to many commercially made dressings and dips, its much lower down on the ingredient list, at least.

Litehouse also makes a wide variety of salad dressings, and seasonings. If you want to avoid caraggeenan, their vinaigrettes and organic dressings are free of it, and could be used as a dip alternative.

So from a taste perspective the dip gets top marks. From a nutrition perspective, its not perfect, so if you are concerned with minimizing your intake of additives, maybe stick with Litehouse dressings over the dips.

Disclosure: The company sent us complimentary samples of the product but all opinions on the blog are our own.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Mothering


THE GIRLS' ANSWERS

By Little A:                                                    By Big A:                                                          

Erica Berman                                                   Erica

42                                                                      43 (not yet!)

Black hair, green eyes                                       Brown/red/brown hair, green/hazel eyes

Apples and broccoli                                          Carrots, apples...anything a horse would eat

Green                                                                 Green

Black                                                                  Black and comfy exercise clothes

Psychotherapist                                                  Psychotherapist and runs konjac company, and                                                                                        personal trains

The mall                                                            The massage therapist

A lot of things                                                   A lot because she has done a lot of school

Raising me and Big A                                       Making money

To not fight with my sister                                To eat healthy

Does things with me                                          Gives me a massage

...of everything she does for me                         ...she takes care of me and feeds me

Friday, May 12, 2017

SafetyTat: Product Review


Wanna get your kid inked?

No I am not talking about a full sleeve of down one arm of roses and skulls.

How about temporary tattoos with safety info like with your name/info, allergy information, etc.?

What a great idea huh? Like perfect for going to big, busy events. I think any parent can relate to the panic of thinking you've lost your child somewhere. Though abductions are much less common than most parents think, kids often wander off and simply get separated from their parents.

This idea has been brought to life by SafetyTat. The company offers several types of identifiers you simply stick on your child, either water applied tattoos that last a few days, or stickers that last 2 weeks. They also sell labels for your children's belongings, and we all know how important those are! If I only had a dollar for every thing the girls have ever lost!!

There lots of different designs to choose from that are appealing to kids, so, hopefully they won't object to having them applied. Little A was instantly fascinated with them, and, before we took the girls out to the Toronto airport last night to get them Nexus cards, she insisted on putting one on herself (she pointed out she could easily get lost in a big place like that!). She wrote Adam's cell number on it, and applied it to her arm. She then offered her feedback on it. She loved the cute butterfly design and how it felt on her skin.  Two thumbs up from this monkey!

All their products are latex-free, soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, non-toxic and water resistant.

While Big A, almost 11, is very responsible and street savvy, Little A at age 8 still tends to have her head it the clouds. Though we didn't lose her at the airport last night, a few weeks ago when I took her to the mall, she'd get distracted while we were walking and stop and look at something, and before I knew it, she'd be half way across the mall from me before I even realized she wasn't by my side! She makes me crazy that way, so I'd be happy to stick something on her that says, "Property of Erica Berman". Ha ha!

If you are interested in SafetyTats for your little one, you can purchase them right on their website.

Disclosure: SafetyTat sent me their product to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

11 Years Ago Today I Became A Mom


Today Big A turns 11.  The funny thing is, she can behave unbelievably maturely one minute, and ridiculously immaturely the next. But hey, that's true even of adults. The girl is pretty much the same size as me already and loves to prove her strength by picking me up and walking around. We can share clothes!

She is still very much a kid, yet also growing up so fast. But I can't say "It seems like just yesterday we brought her home from the hospital." It actually does seem like a long time ago, especially since its been so long since we had any babies in this house. I barely remember all the diaper changing, breast feeding, nap schedules, etc.

I couldn't be more proud of the person she has become. Big A has more courage than I've ever had. She takes risks, and tries new things enthusiastically. She is confident but also incredibly kind-hearted and empathetic.

This coming Saturday we are taking Big A and a few of her friends to an escape room in town. After that, we are taking them to a 'grown up' restaurant for gourmet pizza and then this place for sugar-filled monstrosities.

This morning I am surprising her with a breakfast of whole wheat croissants with chocolate hazelnut spread, which she is going to LOVE.

Sunday, of course, is Mother's Day. We are going to my in-laws for dinner and during the day I am going to get my gift: an electric spiralizer! Because I have come to hate doing it by hand (keep in mind how much veggies we eat in this house. That's a lot of spiralizing!!).

I may not be a perfect mom (well there is no perfect...but perhaps I am especially IMperfect), but either I am doing something right, or we just got lucky, because this kid is pretty special!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Aquafabulous!: Book Review


Welcome to a new week. I am happy to say its sunny, which is such a relief after having so much rain lately!

I have a cookbook review for you today.

Though I am not vegan, or even vegetarian, I do cook and bake that way a fair bit. Sometimes just for fun and to indulge my inner scientist, which is the case with aquafaba. Come on, you know what I'm talking about! The liquid from cans of chickpeas that can be whipped up like eggs!!

I eat boat loads of eggs (about 8 whole eggs a week plus a few cups of egg whites), but the science behind this aquafaba thing fascinates me. Though apparently how it all works isn't even totally understood.

But its also nice to have an alternative to eggs for vegans and those with egg allergies.

I've made aquafaba meringues and marshmallow fluff and they have gone over very well with the family. I once made a vegan pizza dough with aquafaba, and I regularly make chickpea and blackbean cakes and squares that include the liquid and contain no eggs, but that's as far as I've gotten with my recipe experimentation. So I was excited to receive Aquafabulous! to review.

It's full of over 100 recipes using this interesting ingredient. Its written by Rebecca Coleman, a social media consultant and food and travel blogger from Vancouver. Yay, a fellow Canadian!

The book starts with instructions on how to make your own aquafaba from dried beans. Kudos for you if you do this. I am too lazy and just open a can of beans.

Then, Coleman provides recipes for all sorts of nut and other non-dairy milks you can make. I am not sure why when they are readily available to buy, and there are a million recipes online.

There are recipes for non-dairy cheese, which look very interesting, and I hope to try, seeing as I am obsessed with nutritional yeast. Using aquafaba to make mayo, is brilliant, though given the high vegetable oil content, it is certainly not a low-cal option!

The most popular recipes, I am guessing, will be the meringue a d marshmallow fluff, since these are items that are hard to find in vegan form.

Next, there are chapters of recipes for:

  • Breakfast
  • Snacks and appetizers
  • Salads and  Sides
  • Mains
  • Baked Goods
  • Desserts
My biggest criticism is that many recipes use regular sugar and white flour. Nonetheless, most can be made with substitutions. Just replace white flour with your favorite whole grain flour (whole wheat, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, etc.) and brown sugar with coconut sugar and white sugar with stevia, xylitol, monk fruit, or erythritol.

I also find it weird that some of the recipes don't use aquafaba at all, like the soup recipes in the "Mains" section. Not that they are bad recipes, but how do they fit into this book??

There aren't too many recipes that really caught my eye, except for "Herbed Chickpea Crackers" made from just chickpea flour, seasonings, olive oil and aquafaba. I will definitely have to try those!!

So do I recommend this book? I do for anyone who is a cooking and baking newbie and is looking for some guidance on how to create vegan sweet and savoury dishes and isn't as anal as I am about nutrition (remember vegan isn't INHERENTLY healthier if it contains lots of sugar and/or refined flour!!).

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Digital Divide


Its Friday! Yay! Unfortunately, it is very rainy here, and it feels like it has been for weeks! In fact, various parts of Canada are experiencing serious flooding because of all the rainfall. Enough with the April showers already, lets have some May flowers!

Anyways...

Unless you just started reading this blog, than you know I despise smartphones. I think they are going to destroy the world.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating, but as a therapist I see how destructive they are to life and relationships. I will refrain from writing a whole diatribe about this here as I've done so before. Many times.

We are not a huge phone family. Adam and I were very slow to get smartphones and we don't use them much now that we do have them. I only use 3 apps on my phone. Instagram for my food business (because I was told EVERY food business must be on Instagram), The TTC app, so I know when the buses and streetcars are (not) coming, and the Green P app for parking in downtown Toronto. That's it. I only text with friends and families who only communicate via text (there seem to be a growing number!).


In any case, I find it absurd that everyone thinks they need one and need to be connected to it 24/7. When I see people walking down the street, or anywhere in public, absorbed in their phone, I want to smack it out of their hand. Sorry if that's you!
Big A, who is far more tech savvy than Adam or I (in fact, has a real gift for it) has been asking for a phone for a few years now. I have always scoffed and told her it isn't happening. Kids need smartphones? I think not!


But then Big A started getting more independent and walking and taking the bus places on her own. All of a sudden I started to see how having a phone might be useful. Adam has been saying for a while he wanted to get her one, but I still didn't think it was essential. Nevertheless, with her 11th birthday a few weeks away, Adam took her out to get her one. I was not thrilled, but to be honest, I almost immediately saw the benefit.

Yes, full admission, I love that Big A has a phone. In my professional work, I generally see how these stupid gadgets can be destructive, but I now see how they can sometimes have a positive affect.

Big A texts me several times a day, usually just to update me on where she is and what she's doing. But our exchanges have also become an opportunity for us to connect emotionally. She sends me emojis (I don't even know how you get emojis on your phone...is that an app?), and we send little notes to each other about how much we love each other. Yesterday she sent me one saying I am the best mom in the world! It made my heart melt.

When she texted me to tell me she made the school soccer team, I was able to text back that I was proud of her, but would be even if she hadn't made the team. She responded with kiss emojis.

I have to admit, I check my phone more frequently now, looking forward to her texts. So, like most things in the universe, I guess smartphones aren't all bad. That being said, if you are looking at yours while driving (I still see people doing this all the time!) or in any other inappropriate situation, I still think you are an asshole.

Have a nice weekend and put your phone down for 5 minutes, for goodness sakes!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Health Benefits of Furry Friends

As I have confessed before, I am a reformed Crazy Cat Woman (I hate the word lady). My hand was kind of forced because Adam is allergic, but after I had the girls, I really wasn't big on the idea of having pets anyways. My own offspring were demanding enough. Over the years, however, my obsession has started to return.

I have had to accept we will never have cats in our house again, so I fulfill my cravings virtually through cute cat photos and videos online. While this may sound silly, even this is therapeutic. Its my way to meditate, or calm my mind. Just seeing cats or hearing them purr or meow makes me feel warm all over.

If you are an animal lover, than you probably get it. Animals truly can be therapeutic.  Dogs, in particular, are often used for therapeutic reasons in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. They are companions to many people with a physical or mental impairment, allowing them to live fuller, richer lives. They can even save your life if you are in danger!

Puppyspot created this infographic summarizing all the ways that dogs can benefit your health.



Just remember that a pet is a huge commitment and it is important to find the right one for you and your family! Click here to peruse puppies.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Silipos: Product Review


Though the health benefits of regular physical activity are beyond plentiful, there are also sometimes some discomforts involved. Anyone who does endurance activities have probably experienced the discomfort of abrasions or blisters. Having sensitive skin, I have definitely had my fair share, and Adam, too, who does a lot of running, has encountered numerous problems with this. He basically has to oil up his whole body before a run!

Luckily, there are now really innovative products that can help, like those made by Silipos. They sent us a whole variety of their orthopedic foot products to try. Adam has recently developed big issues with blisters from running, so he was thrilled. The gel toe spreaders are his favorite and have eliminated his need to bandage up all his toes before each run. He wasn't as thrilled with the digital pads, because he found as he runs, they roll down and don't stay in place very well.

Adam didn't find the heel slip cover helpful, but I did. One day I woke up with heel pain, for some unknown reason, but after wearing it for the day, had no other issues with it and the pain did not return.

Many of their products are infused with aloe and other natural agents to soothe and moisturize skin. Aside from their orthopedic line, they have a skin and beauty line of products, and one for prosthetics. How cool is that?

Here is a little info on the materials they use:

Silipos polymer gel technology provides a unique dermal-delivery system that gradually diffuses USP medical grade mineral oil to impart deep moisturization for soft and supple skin. Silipos gels have been developed for numerous Medical and Beauty Care applications, and can be customized with a wide range of additives to meet specific consumer needs.
As the leading, vertically integrated manufacturer of patented polymer gel technologies in the world, many leading global corporations rely on Silipos for their product development needs. All gel development, including the incorporation of additives, is conducted in-house, as well as the base gel manufacturing and conversion to finished products.
Another unique feature of Silipos gels are the "visco-elastic" properties which allow the gel to move synergistically with the skin helping to prevent abrasion and discomfort. And of course, all Silipos gels are non-toxic, latex free and hypoallergenic.
Silipos gels are available in two primary formulations each targeting specific customers needs and product applications. Unlike silicone and urethanes, Silipos gels have additional functional capabilities, such as the release of additives that provide antimicrobial, scar reduction, and anti-aging properties, amongst others.

MINERAL OIL GEL

Our mineral oil gel is formulated with USP medical grade mineral oil which has a well established usage preference in orthotic/orthopedic applications. The core benefits provided by its mineral oil gel include:
  • Cushioning
  • Moisturizing / Softening
  • Shear Force Reduction
  • Support

TRIGLYCERIDE GEL

Silipos' patent pending triglyceride gel has been developed for a variety of skin care applications which typically require a higher rate of additive delivery. The exudation rate for our triglyceride gels can be 300% greater than mineral oil gels. Target markets for triglyceride gels include:
  • Scar Management
  • Anti-Aging
  • Severe Dry Skin

Do I recommend their products? Absolutely!! They offer such a wide variety, to address all sorts of health issues and to make movement easier and more comfortable, so I am all for that. Since they are also reusable, they are a more eco-friendly solution than bandages you have to discard after each use.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary selection of Silipos products to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.