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Monday, May 21, 2018

Crispy Chocolate Squares


Do your kids claim they love some food, and gobble it down like little hippos for a few days or weeks, only to one day shriek at you for daring to serve it to them because its so gross? Well bully for you if they don't. Mine do.

This is the reason for this recipe having such large quantities. I was trying to use up all the brown rice crispy cereal we had in the house after Little A decided she no longer likes it. Feel free to half recipe, but I will tell you, these squares will disappear quick, so you might want to make a lot. These were a huge hit in our house. Nevertheless, I will not be making them regularly. They are definitely healthier than the marshmallow kind, but these are still a treat. For those on a restricted diet, you will be happy to know they are both vegan and gluten-free.

Crispy Chocolate Squares

12 cups brown rice crispy cereal
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, vegan if necessary)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt oil in a very large pot over low heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla and keep stirring until smooth. Leave pot on burner but turn off heat and let cool a few minutes. Stir in cereal and mix until well coated. Firmly press mixture into 2 8x8 square baking pans. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Keep stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place, or in the fridge. Makes 24 squares.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Can You Workout Everyday?


The vast majority of North Americans don't even come close to getting the MINIMUM recommended physical activity to maximize health. We are not even talking training level exercise, we are just talking about movement that includes walking!

As you know, this makes me nuts. The number one way to lower your risk of pretty much most physical and mental illnesses is to exercise regularly! But research has shown that even educating people around the risks of being sedentary, and the benefits of exercise does not do much to motivate people nor increase adherence to exercise programs. As cynical as it sounds, I've pretty much accepted that humanity's future is grim when it comes to our health. The only way to really promote lifestyle change of populations is through changing the way we live from the top down (i.e. government, institutions, and business completely changing policies and infrastructure). I don't see this happening. Too many people are profiting off of us getting fatter and sicker.

The problem is, we humans adapt to our environment and look for ways to conserve energy, and we currently live in an environment that encourages consumption of high calorie/low nutrition food and a sedentary lifestyle. If our environment doesn't change, we never will (though some are able to resist the temptations through human agency, but this is not the norm).

Because of all this, over training is not really a major public health issue. It is relevant to a very, very, VERY small segment of the population. It primarily effects high level athletes and those with eating disorder/body image issues who may over exercise to manage their weight.

Anyone educated in fitness/physiology knows the importance of rest in a training program. Not only does it help prevent injury, it is essential to get maximum gains, since muscles rebuild during rest phases, and this is necessary for building strength.

So how much exercise is too much?

The answer is, it depends on numerous factors.

In the fitness industry, we design exercise programs around the FITT principle (in parentheses are examples of each):

F = Frequency (5x week)
I = Intensity (Moderate)
T = Time (30 minutes)
T = Type (cycling)

These variables are key in determining how often is appropriate. Also, it depends on how you define a rest day. Some people only think in extremes, so its either go to the gym and spin and lift weights, or do nothing at all except drink Manhattans and eat tacos. It doesn't have to be so all or nothing!

I believe most people should be trying to exercise every day if, as most do, they work sedentary jobs. But in most cases, it is best to vary your activities. A lot of people who do decide to begin a fitness program tend to focus exclusively on one thing (i.e. cardio, or yoga, etc.). Ideally, you want to incorporate all the components of physical fitness which includes:

Agility
Balance
Cardiovascular Endurance
Coordination
Flexibility
Muscular Endurance
Muscular Strength
Power
Reaction Time
Speed

Don't let this long list intimidate you! You can work on more than one in a single workout.

One of the reasons people often get injured is not the number of hours they are exercising, but because they are doing too much of one type of exercise, and not cross training. Like even someone training for a marathon can benefit from doing strength training and yoga, instead of doing nothing but running.

Does exercising every day mean going to the gym every day?

Absolutely NOT!

In fact, I think its better if you can seamlessly work activity into your day instead. Perhaps you only go to the gym and strength train twice a week. Then one day a week you walk 5km home from work. Perhaps another day you do a yoga video at home. Another day you and a friend go jogging together and the other 2 days you do a 30 minute ab video when you get up in the morning.

Or you never set foot in a gym at all.

So exercising every day can definitely lead to overtraining, if, say, you are doing a spinning class 7 days a week, or running 12km every day. But exercising every day can be extremely beneficial if you have a balanced workout program that varies the FITT variables and has a good balance of physical fitness components.

When it comes to strength training, you should give a muscle 48 hours rest before working it again. But you can still strength train every day, you just work different body parts on different days ensuring sufficient recovery time for each. For example, you do shoulders, back and chest one day, arms and legs the next.

Capiche?






Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring 2018 Favorites

Good morning! Here is a roundup of the things I am enjoying right now.

First off, given all the horribly disturbing things going on in the world, including in my own city (i.e. Yonge St. Van Massacre), I have been grateful for this hilarious book:




Its about a guy with Tourette's syndrome who works for a Brooklyn gangster. Every night while I read it in bed, I am in tears, laughing out loud. But you need a certain sense of humour for it. My neighbour gave it to me and she didn't like it at all.

Given that I get up at 5am to workout most mornings, I am a bit fuzzy when I start my workouts. Since I am a freak who has vivid dreams every single night, whenever my alarm goes off, I am ALWAYS deep in REM sleep. Coffee is not an option to shake out the cob webs at that point because I find it dehydrating and hard on my stomach, but this Mr. Hyde Zero does the trick.


I am not particularly responsive to caffeine, so it must be the other ingredients that give me the kick in the pants I need.

I recently realized that I can't find about 2/3 of my lipsticks. Now that the weather occasionally allows me to bike to work, I am often switching between a purse (when driving) and my backpack (when cycling) so I am transferring things back and forth and this leads to things going missing. Thank goodness I am not one of those women who has a million different purses and bags and changes every day depending on their outfit! I would never be able to find anything!! In any case, I bought this lipstick recently and it rocks:

Not only is it very reasonably priced, but this NYX Liquid Suede stays on better and longer than any lip product I have ever owned. The only thing I will warn you about, is that it dries fast, so if you apply it wonky (which I usually do), you gotta fix it up ASAP or it will stay that way until the day you die!

I am also obsessed with this Power Fruit Blend from PC. Frozen fruit is a life savor for anyone who lives in the northern hemisphere. Winter is not a time when buying fresh berries makes any sense at all. They will be imported, cost a fortune and taste like crap. Our freezer is always full of various frozen varieties. This is my latest favorite:

You could use it for smoothies, but as you know, smoothies make me want to barf. I make compotes and sauces with this using konjac. Then I top waffles or pancakes, or mix it with Greek yogurt and homemade granola. Amazing! I love the combo of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Most other brand similar mixes have strawberries, which I don't always want in the mix.

So here you go, the little things that are making me happy these days. And hopefully, now that we are into May, spring is actually here...and here to stay!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What We're Watching


As you likely know, we are old school in this house when it comes to technology and media. It was very recently we stopped using our VHS recorder.

We are the only people I know who do not have Netflix. That's right, we don't have it and never have. First off, we were born in the 70s, and secondly we definitely NOT early adapters. Obviously. Third, there is some great television you can get without Netflix thank you very much!

But Adam and I love television. We PVR (we finally PVR!) a whole whack of shows and then usually watch an hours worth an evening as our unwinding time together.

Here are the shows we love, some which we've been watching a long time, and some that are brand new to us:

The Good Fight
Law and Order SVU
The Good Doctor
The Resident
Criminal Minds
Blue Bloods
How to Get Away with Murder
S.W.A.T.
Black List
Code Black
Chicago Fire
Blackish
Brooklyn 99
Kim's Convenience

Here And yes, because we only watch either 2 of the half hour shows, or one hour long show a night, on the nights we are both home to do so, we are generally months behind what is airing live. But we don't really care. These are all great shows.

I figure by the time we are grandparents we will have Netflix.

I highly recommend every one of these shows, though if you have Netflix, I don't know if you have access to them. I don't anything about that kind of stuff. So figure it out for yourself.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Nuts or Seeds: Protein Bar Review

I don't have much time to eat during the day when I am at the office and busy seeing therapy clients. I've discovered that even doing 3 hour long sessions in a row without a snack can leave me hangry.

Since I need something satisfying, portable and quick, I frequently reach for protein bars. As such, I've been trying some different ones lately just to mix things up.

On a whim (and because they were on sale on Amazon.ca), I bought some Pegan bars.

This was an unusual choice for me because I am neither paleo nor vegan and that's the whole 'thing' with these bars. Also, the only flavour available was sunflower butter which is kind of weird. They have other yummy sounding flavours though, like Ginger Snap Cookie, Cinnamon Vanilla, Cinnamon Raisin Roll and Chocolate Lava.

In any case, I have to say I like them. They taste exactly like eating sunflower butter (surprise, surprise). So if you like it, you will like these. It isn't sweet or candy bar tasting, so I didn't even bother offering one to Adam or the girls because I know they won't like them.

The ingredients are pretty impressive, as are the macros, if you are looking for a relatively healthy bar:


I also found a clearance sale on Quest Peanut Butter Supreme bars and decided to give them a shot. They are similarly less sweet and candy tasting compared to other flavours, but definitely yummy if you are a peanut butter lover. They are pretty firm and chewy but I prefer that to a bar that's too soft.


The macros and ingredients are typical for Quest bars. This particular flavour does have sucralose so if you are one of those people who gets hysterical over artificial sweeteners, than these are not for you.

So, will I buy either of them again? Nope. They still don't compare to Quest Double Chocolate Chunk, or the Costco protein bars, which are also the cheapest of any I've found. But hey, its nice to have some variety.

Monday, April 16, 2018

DermaWand: Product Review


I despise the fact that once women look over 35, they are no longer considered beautiful. Okay, sure, there are exceptions for the genetically gifted, such as Christie Brinkley, but for the rest of us, normal aging is just not acceptable.

The expectations for women to 'age gracefully' are ridiculous, especially considering the double standards we have for men. Men can be fat, balding, bags of wrinkles and no one says boo. Health-wise, women tend to age better since men generally do such a poor job of looking after themselves.

Given the ridiculousness of all this, I hate that I let this pressure affect how I feel about my own appearance. I have never felt physically better or fitter. I think its the wisdom that comes along with aging that has helped me learn what works best in terms of diet and exercise for feeling my best, unfortunately, I believe my outside doesn't match the way I feel on the inside. I feel  like I am 25, but I definitely look my age thanks to lines on my face.

I know many women, some younger than I am, who have done Botox, and believe me, it is very tempting! But I have resisted for a few reasons. One, the cost. If it was a one and done thing, maybe, but the effects only last a few months, so you have to keep it up, and that adds up real fast! Two, it kind of scares the crap out of me. The potential negative side effects are a bit creepy.

I've tried all sorts of creams and serums promising wrinkle reducing miracles but never seen much difference no matter how much they cost.

So when DermaWand offered me an opportunity to try out their product, something non-invasive, I figured, why the heck not?

The DermaWand uses radio technology to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. The supposed benefits are:

THERMAL ENERGY
The gentle microcurrent delivers thermal energy to the dermal areas under your skin's surface and increasing dermal skin temperature may help support your skin's natural healthy look.

INSTANT STIMULATION
DermaWand® delivers gentle microcurrent at 100,000 cycles per second, producing a massage effect. Massage helps improve circulation and bring fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients to the skin's surface.

ENRICHED OXYGEN
DermaWand® gives off enriched oxygen which bathes your skin while you're using it. You'll recognize the smell; it's that fresh, clean "after a rainstorm" fragrance. Enriched oxygen will help breathe new life into your skin’s surface and with DermaWand®, you will see a reduction in pore size.

So I have been using it on my "Number 11" (my friend's term for the 2 vertical lines we get between the eye brows) because I had them the most, since January 2018 (with a 3 week break while we were in Israel and during my 2 weeks of flu). At first I was using it twice a day, up until our trip, but afterwards, and after recovering from the flu, my motivation to make it happen twice daily waned, so since then I have being doing it once  daily. In case you're wondering, no, it does not hurt at all. You just massage the area using the motion directed in the instruction booklet (it depends which area you are focusing on). You apply a moisturizer first, though they sent me the gel the company makes to use with it so that's what I have been using.

Has it worked? I think so.

Before



After



I think my 11s are not quite as deep now, though they are still there. But hey, I will take any degree of improvement!

So do I plan to keep using it? Hell yes! Maybe my wrinkles and lines will continue to diminish so that if I am consistent, by the time I'm 80, I will look 30!

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Game On: Board Game Reviews

I have always adored board games. As a kid I played Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue and Scrabble regularly with my family.

As I got older I became hooked on games like Pictionary, Scattergories, Taboo, Cranium, etc. In fact, as often as possible I would invite friends over for game nights and Adam and I once hosted a board game New Year's Eve party (long before kids!).

The girls love them too and we've amassed a good collection. Unfortunately, I work a lot on weekends, so its usually Adam and the girls who play them. We always prefer getting the girls playing a board game instead of doing anything on a device! Board games are a great way to hang out as a family.

Recently we were sent 2 new ones to try out, and that's just what Adam and the kids did over March break.

The first, Rubik's Race, was new to Adam and I but the girls had played it before and already were fans.



Essentially, you shake the Scrambler to create a Rubik's pattern and then slide the tiles to match the pattern on your board to the pattern in the Scrambler. The first player to complete the match and slam down the center frame wins!

Its a simple concept and easy to set up and Adam and the girls really enjoy playing it together.

The other, Bob Ross: The Art of Chill, was new to us all. This one, unfortunately, bombed. Now we knew it was a gamble to play as a family because it is recommended for people over age 12, but ironically, it was Adam who got frustrated with it first and threw in the towel, feeling it is much too complicated and not at all enjoyable.


Since it was so complicated they couldn't even figure it out completely, I found a link that describes the game accordingly:

For The Art of Chill, each player starts with three art supplies cards, with each card showing one of seven paints and one of four tools. You take one of the large double-sided painting cards, place it on the easel, and place Bob on the first space on the painting track.

Each player takes a turn to roll the die and either draws an art supplies card, plays a paint to their palette, receives an extra action for the turn, or both draws a "Chill" card and advances Bob on the painting track.

The player then takes three actions. Actions include drawing an art supplies cards, discarding two matching cards to claim the matching technique card (which is worth 2 points and 1 bonus point when used), sweep the art supplies card row, place a paint on their palette, wash half their palette, or complete a section of a painting. To take this latter action, the player needs to have all of the paint needed for one of the painting's three sections on their palette with no unneeded colors mixed in! The player scores points equal to the number of paints used, bonus points if they're the first or second to paint this, and additional points if they've painted this feature before Bob (i.e., did you paint this before the Bob figure reaches this space on the painting track.

When someone has completed all three features on a painting or Bob has reached the end of the painting track, this work is complete! Remove it from the easel, and start a new painting. Players continue to take turns until someone reaches a maximum chill of 30 points, at which point they win the game instantly.

So, do I recommend these games? Well, Rubik's Race I recommend for sure, especially for kids. The Art of Chill might appeal to people who have a lot of patience, but it was not a good fit for our family. Nevertheless, board games are a great way to spend time with your kids, especially when relegated indoors due to weather conditions. There are also games out there that will appeal to people of all ages. Personally, I have always favored word games. Get your Scrabble on!

Disclosure: We were sent these games to review but all the opinions on this blog are our own.