Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meet the Teacher!

Honestly I was seriously looking forward to meeting the teacher so that I could ask her a few questions.  I know, I'm starting to put myself on the 'annoying parent list', but the truth is...  I'm worried that my daughter is spending too much time drawing and colouring and not participating in anything else.  Every night I get about 5-10 pieces of artwork... It is starting to add up around our house.  This was tonights!

What I found out was that the focus is clearly on "play to learn" and that the children are completely "self directed".   I understand this to mean that " learning time/center" is completely up to the children to decide what they want to do.  They are also expected to "self regulate nd self monitor", which are huge undertakings for a bunch of 5 year old's.  But the teacher seems optimistic and was very encouraging.  I tried to ask the basic questions: what do they need to know by the end of the year? are they expected to read before going to grade 1? how much should they be able to write by June?  And to answer my question she gave examples of how the kids were already "reading and writing" and that I don't need to worry.

  So I am left to the conclusion that my child will teach herself to read and write!  They spend about 2 and half hours a day (broken into chucks) in self directed learning...  wow, no wonder I get so much artwork coming home.  I kind of miss the day's of concrete assessments, and clear and defined expectations.  Worksheets are a thing of the past!  I think my daughter would have seriously excelled at the archaic practices of the past.  Paper and pencil are becoming a thing of the past... So to all you that complain that the school system does not accommodate "every" learner, I beg to differ.  If your kid has a brain in their head, than they will be learning something and the good thing is that they get to chose what it is they are learning! So they will do it better and like learning along the way! 

I'm still getting used to this new system, but I am open minded and wonder how many more years of this type of self directed learning I will see in my children's future. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pre-Natal Yoga!!!

Well that was an interesting hour of my life.  I will of course keep going till this baby vacates 'hotel mama', but I'm not sure it's the right fit for me.  I get that having a baby is an important life changing experience.  And I guess I have no real problem with letting my vagina breath, but still I thought I would get some type of workout.  I can do keegles on my own, I wanted to be doing way way more hip openers and stretching my hamstrings.  Oh well, I also need to accept the fact that my brain seems to think my body can do more than what it actually can do.  Only 6 weeks left and then I can get back into my hot yoga classes and do some push-ups without my belly hitting the ground.  I'll be doing body pump tomorrow and combat and flow on Thursday!

ps. Life is getting really busy on the weekends now, we are cooking in preparation for the baby's arrival and swimming lessons and cleaning/laundry... So you will have to forgive me if I don't post on the weekends.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Time Saving Tips (diners 'a la rushed')

One of the greatest gifts you can give your family are healthy meals.  In order to do that in our busy world is to PLAN PLAN PLAN!!! Just take a couple of minutes on the weekend and think about what it is you can make either on Sunday or Monday night that can be turned into a couple more diners, that brings you to Wednesday and you just do it again.  It doesn't only have to be for evening meals, breakfasts can be turned into packed lunches too.

For example, boiling a dozen eggs in a pot takes the same amount of time as boiling 4, you can eat your boiled eggs for breakfast on Monday and make an egg salad wrap for your lunch Tuesday.  If you grill 8 boneless chicken breasts it take the same amount of time as making just 4. Now you have a grilled chicken diner for one night, you can make a chicken salad for your lunch the next day (just add greens, tomatoes and a light dressing).  Make the chicken go even further by using it again as a topping on pizza.  Or throw it in the pan with some taco seasonings and make fajita's for diner.   The idea is to be as efficient in the kitchen as possible so you can avoid the "take out" foods that are no good for our bodies.  You can buy an extra package of sausage and grill those up all at once, then you have leftovers in the fridge that can be easily used in as a the star attraction in other dishes.  Use the sausage in a fabulous diner omelet or frittata, you can throw onions (or leeks), celery, carots and potato's and broth in a pot and let it boil while you are emptying the dishwasher or putting away groceries (or helping your kids with their homework), when it's soft (puree it, or not) and add the sausage.  To kick it up a notch add some finely cut kale.

It's all about being efficient in your kitchen and using highly nutrient rich ingredients more often.  But with every skill it takes practise so don't give up and feel free to post what your favorite leftover transformations are.  (Have you ever had lasagna soup?)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1 Pot, 3 Meals!!!

So if you are wondering what the secret is to cooking healthy food for your family, even though you are busy and tired and don't even really like cooking...  I've done the work for you!  I've read the books and tips and hints and it can be summarized in a few key points.

1- start with a base dish that can be transformed into something else (ex. tomato sauce or plain rice and plain chicken)
2- make what would seem like 3 to 4 times too much for one family meal
3- be creative and don't be afraid of serving leftovers for lunches

Here's how I made 3 meals from one pot.

Evening #1
Pasta (quinois pasta for me, whole wheat for the hubby and kids) and a giant pot of pasta sauce - for something different I added veggie crisps, which are a soy based "meat substitute".  My pasta sauce was made from crushed tomatoes (2 cans of no salt added), a can of tomato paste, onions, shredded carrots and zucchini, garlic and basil/parsley.

Evening #2
Chili made from the leftover pasta sauce, here I added beans, celery, corn and chilli powder. Served with toast!  (easy easy)

Evening #3
Chili salad (see picture)
Lettuce and spinach, tomatoes, chili, some mozza, greek yogourt and GF chips!
Tomorrow I'll post more idea's on how to save time in the kitchen.  I get it though, I might be home in the afternoon but most of you are working till 4 or 5, rush home, need to make food for your family in less than 20 minutes and then run out of the house to get to dance lessons/swimming lessons or the gym.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MY Healthy version of: Toasted Oat Granola Bar

Yesterday I was watching Steven and Chris on CBC and Kary Osmond made these granola bars.  They looked healthy enough right?  But I was loath to use all that sugar and butter in a granola bar for my kids.  So this morning I set out to make my own version.  Of course (sigh) I didn't measure anything out really good, but I can give you the approximate measurements.  Ok so that might be annoying but seriously my bars are GF, peanut free and dairy free!  They are so healthy that I gave two of them to my youngest son for lunch today because I was too lazy to fix up a lunch for one kid only!  (terrible I know)

Toasted Oat Granola Bars
Makes 24 pieces

3 cups (750 mL) large-flake rolled oats
1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (125 mL) sesame seeds
2/3 cup (150 mL) butter
2/3 cup (150 mL) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) liquid honey
1/4 cup (50 mL) corn syrup
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1. In a large skillet, toast oats and coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool.
2. Stir in dates, apricots, cranberries and seeds; set aside.
3. In a saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, honey and corn syrup to boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool for 1 minute. Pour over oat mixture, stirring to coat.
4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan, pressing firmly with back of spoon.
5. Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into bars. Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Here is my version: 


 2 1/2 cups GF rolled oats (not the instant kind)
1/2 cup of agave
1tbsp coconut sap
1/2 cup tahini (as the oil)
1tsp vanilla
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup (or about a handful each of... dried cranberries, cut apricots, dried cherries)
You could add ANYTHING at this point, seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, flax/chia seeds, hemp hearts... the possibilities are endless... Just use what you have!!!
Always use parchment paper when you are baking, it's compostable and will make your life soooo much easier!
 Directions: (are pretty much the same as the above)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  I was able to toast the oats (*same as kary does), and combine the agave/tahini/coconut sap/vanilla AND mix all the ingredients together before the oven beeped to tell me it was ready!  So in terms of a fast granola bar to make, this is it!  Bake it for 20-25 minutes, cut it up and pack it up! (totally doable before school if you are in a pinch for snacks!!!)
This toasted oats granola bar is WAY healthier: Low on the glycemic index, high in protein, fibre and good fats!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

GF Pancake Sandwich & recipe for the pancakes

Yesterday I decided that I would make myself a full batch of GF pancakes.  I'll post my recipe below, in case you are looking for something different.  Needless to say I ended up with tons of leftovers, and really if you don't add the maple syrup, and pop it in the toaster, it's round bread slices!  So here is my lunch!  I used some lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, a slice of mozza and some hummus!  (the homemade stuff I made a while ago - black bean hummus mixed with a bit of leftover roasted red pepper hummus)

GFoatmeal pancakes

2 1/4 c buttermilk
1/4 c of water
1 1/2 c GF Rolled Oats (not instant)
1/4 c ground flax seed
1 c brown rice flour
1/4 c tapioca starch
1 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sap
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 tbsp veg oil

Pour the buttermilk and water over the oats and flax, mix and let sit, mix the rest of the dry in a separate bowl, mix the eggs and oil in a third bowl.  Combine and just mix the ingredients together, try not to over mix, it helps keep the pancakes fluffy!

Tip:  I add 1 cup of protein powder to this recipe and it still turns out fine.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pumpkin Bacon soup.

The stars of this dish...

Cooked up the bacon in pieces on the bottom of the pot, then took them out. Sauteed: 1 onion, 2 carrots, a big chunk of zucchini *seriously what else am I supposed to do with it.  Next I added the salt free broth, pumpkin puree and some water and let it boil for about 30 minutes.

I blended it with the hand-held and added the bacon back in.  At this point I tasted it and realized it needed a dash of garlic powder and some oregano.   I also added about a cup or so of milk to round out the edges and add a creamier taste.

The bread machine making buttermilk oatmeal bread.

A cup of my soup with some grated cheese on top.  My family chowed down on bread and soup for diner tonight. Ug,  I just noticed the oven mitts, I'm proud to say they have served me well for 10 years, but they should not be in my pictures like this!  Yikes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The friday night TANTRUM.

The 5 year old has been tantruming the minute she has walked in the door.  That is over 2 hours of very loud crying (because the neighbours need to hear too), yelling rude comments, flopping herself on the ground and down stairs, refusing to eat all but peanut butter while sitting on the ground -beside the table and chairs-, skreaching and screaming.  I am too pregnant for this!  Thank GOD for Mark and his saint like patience.  I am currently researching noise canceling ear phones.

ps.  In case you are wondering, she is like this because
 1- way way to tired(long full week 2 of school)
2- fighting off a cold

Even though I know that these are the reasons for her behaviour, it doesn't make listening and coping with it any easier.  Five full days of school is way way to long for her,  do you think it's ok to pull her out early next Friday to avoid this meltdown, so she can take a nap and have some control over emotions?  We will be "penalized" in a way, in that the absences will be tracked on the report card.  And eventually that will lead to administrative action.  However I'm not sure when they actually call the parents in to the principles office to discuss a childs "absences".   ?????

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I can do it... YOU DEFINITELY CAN!!!

Tonight in body pump, Deb (one of the best instructors EVER), told the gym that they could do the push-ups on their toes because there wasn't many of them.  Well she didn't tell, she yelled it at us!!!  Gillian Micheal`s style.  It was awesome! And I did.  Two sets of eight push-ups! On my toes!!!!   My belly was touching the floor and everything... But if I can do it... you bloody well beleive that YOU CAN do it.  While I was doing them, I didn`t actually know how many there was going to be, but I put my trust in the fact that she said 'not many' and just grit my teeth and did it. 

It also helped that I met with my midwife today and specifically asked her "how much is too much exercise at this point?" And she looked at me and said "none, just listen to your body".  So I'll take that as my hall pass to do what I really want to do! Keep working out as much as I physically can. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Exercise at 32 weeks pregnant!

Tonight as I hobbled into the house after my workout, I actually sat down on the couch and started researching the benefits of exercise in the third trimester...  Seriously, I would exercise anyway, but so many people are asking me why I still go to the gym, and feeling so tired, and achy... God I don't know!!!  Well I guess I do know why I personally go the gym, those reason are kind of messed up, but I'm glad to say that the research backs my neurotic tendencies!

So far this week:
Sunday:  108 Sun Salutations at PYC (took about 1:45) and I didn't miss a single one (I did a few modified)
Monday: 1 hour of body pump (resistance/weight training) and 1 hour of body flow (yoga, pilates and tai-chi)
Tuesday: 1 hour of body combat (martial arts inspired cardio)

Plan for the rest of the week:
Wednesday: 1 hour of body pump
Thursday: 1 hour of combat and then 1 hour of flow

Yes, I am sore.  But my muscles are sore from lactic acid build-up, from tearing and re-building.  I eat lots of protein and drink tons of water to help with the soreness.  Not to mention the nightly massage I get from someone special :D But what the point is, my joints aren't sore, my feet aren't swollen, my back doesn't hurt, my posture is still great, I walk with ease (even carrying the weight of a toddler around my mid-section) BECAUSE... da da da daaaa... I'm still strong!  

Some of the positive benefits that I personally get from going to the gym still (aside from noted above)...

 ENDORPHINS (Happy drugs!!!!  Ok but really -An endorphin is a natural pain reliever produced by the body in response to a number of factors. It binds to the parts of the nervous system that bind to morphine, relieving pain and frequently producing a natural high.)

SOCIAL - I love being around other similarly minded folks.  (we love to workout and have a great time doing it)  Plus carpooling helps with gas!

ESCAPE - Come on I have 3 kids, do you blame me for wanting to get out of the house everyday for a little bit of time. 

BALANCE - It truly helps to round out my day, sometimes changing poopy diapers and hanging out with pre-preschoolers all day makes me feel insignificant but getting out and connecting with my body increases my self esteem and it's a major part of my routine.  And the routine drives my life-fitness balance (ps check out the 3 part series on the blog). 

Ok I did mention that some of my reason are messed up and if you know me well you already know me, some of these involve personal punishment (sort of personal atonement), negative body image and  food issues (related to personal punishment).  But I try not to focus on these, I like the above mentioned ones!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I love Fall!!!

It is the BEST season!  It's finally cooling down but isn't too cold to wear shorts (if you are 8 months pregnant that is), sleeping with the window open at night, kids start school, the bounty of garden harvest and colours, apple picking, apple farms, SOUP... SOUP and more SOUP!!!   Today was the perfect fall day for me, the temperature is in the low 20s, I dropped my daughter off at school, picked up some friends and went to the apple farm.  I bought some honey crisp apples (because they don't let you pick chucks of gold off the trees), a bowl of potato chive bacon soup and sat down to watch the boys play.  When I got home I threw the ingredients for Ginger Carrot soup on the stove and now I am enjoying the delicious smells wafting off the stove.  ummmm

ps. If you are like me and didn't know what to do with a ginger root you can buy it fresh in the squeeze tubes.  I bought a ginger one and it is perfect for this type of thing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

 With a ton of zucchini to use up, I asked for some recipes and got this one.  It's the second morning in a row that I whip this up and I am in heaven, probably because I use a 1tbsp of coconut sap and normally I don't put sugar in my oatmeal.

I used:

1/2 cup of GF oats
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon and some grated nutmeg
1/2 packed finely grated zucchini
2 tbps raisins
1tsp vanilla
3 tbps chopped walnuts
1 tbps ground flax
1 tbps coconut sap

 Inspired by:

Grating fresh nutmeg right into the pot, I let it simmer for 4 minutes.

Take the oats off the heat and add all other ingredients.

Dig in!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Maternity clothes shopping SUCKS!!!

Seriously, how can you buy clothes, at full price when you know you are only going to be wearing them for another 8 weeks!!!  The weather is getting colder and I'm going to need some pants to wear, but everything that I find that fits nice now, I ask myself will it fit in 5 weeks or 6?  Should I actually spend money on this (47$ for jeans at Old Navy)? And it gets put back on the rack.  I end up with nadda! I used to buy second hand clothing at the "Once upon a child" store, but they don't carry Maternity anymore.  I've been to thrift stores but the selection is scarce plus I don't want to wear a moomoo either.  I have maternity clothing from my previous pregnancies that are way way too big and the cute stuff that was given to me for this current pregnancy is getting tighter and tighter....  Not to mention workout clothes!!!  You can't even find decent workout clothing for maternity sizes!!! Did I mention that I've had a kid in every season...  grrrrr

Ok rant done!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fitness-Life Balance Part 3

Well this is it, I've stolen the last of the series and posted it to my blog!  I hope you all enjoy the anecdotes and stories.  And lets give a whopping standing ovation to my friend Maxine for organizing and editing these pieces.  She rocks! 

Fitness-Life Balance Part III: Tips to Achieve Balance

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grilled zucchini and chick pea soup.

Seriously we have way way too much zucchini in the garden and I love it but the kids and Mark are on the fence.  So it's up to me to find ways to make this work for us.

Yes I do have these giant zucchini's growing in my garden right now.  As you can see I used lots of it, I couldn't tell you how many lbs (but it was about half of a giant)

Sauted 2 onions, added 1 can of Eden chick peas (because they don't use salt or bpa) and no-salt broth.

I didn't season or add oil to these (who needs the extra fat!)

I picked some rosemary and parsley from the garden (and chopped it up really fine), I added this to the onion/chick pea/ cut up grilled zucchini. 

I added the whole container of broth and let it simmer for about 25 minutes.

Puree mixture. (I wasn't happy with just the hand held so I blended it after it cooled a bit).

For the bowl of soup I added about 1/4 of greek yogourt. 
I am never satisfied with a bowl of soup as a meal unless it's packed with protein.  The chick peas and greek yogourt add loads of protein and make this soup extra creamy without tons of extra fat. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More food (garden harvest) and cooking pictures...

Potatoes and zucchini topped with olive oil, rosemary and pepper.  (bounty from backyard)

Yes, you can steam frozen pea and corn with freshly picked string beans and broccoli! (time saver) 

I made them on the bbq (no mess because the parchment paper is compostable)

My diner.  Left over organic chicken, roasted potatoes and zucchini, steamed garden broccoli and beans and some peas and corn for fun!  (ok ok, if you know me, you know I don't ever ever use ketchup but I found a low sodium version and it's the only way I can get my kids to eat zucchini!)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last day of summer feast.

It's finally here, that time of year when the weather cools down, clothes and closets get sorted and organized, new shoes are bought for school and harvest feasting begin. My dad drove my brother back to university today and showed up here with a giant organic free range chicken.  I have to be honest, I haven't cooked a real meal in a few weeks.  I've mostly thrown stuff on the bbq or made salads.  But here I suppose I'm gearing up for soups and homey meals.  Here are a few pictures of diner.  We ate salad as a starter because the chicken wasn't put on the bbq till 5pm.  It was done at 6:30 though; an hour and half on the grill is pretty good to cook like a 10 or 12 lbs bird. 

Steamed rice (with garlic, tomato's and basil = all from the garden) drizzled with olive oil. About half way through steaming I through in some baby carrots (I sheeted with these, we still haven't picked our carrots yet).

Beer can chicken, stuffed with garden herbs (rosemary, oregano, parsley and sage, these were chopped up, mixed with olive oil and rubbed under the skin).  Ps:  I made gravy from the drippings (the cast iron went right on the stove top when it came in the house, garlic/rosemary flavoured, I just added tapioca starch to thicken it.

Feast... topped with fresh parsley from the garden.  (yes that is a gigantic zucchini in the back, any GF recipes are welcomed!!!)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Grapetastic - Havest time.

And the race is on....  now we harvest but the big question is do we take everything down all at once or take it as we need it.  If we leave them up we are racing against time because the raccoons could potentially clean them out in one night. 

Mark smiling for the camera.  They are red seedless (most of them) we do have green seedless and concords also.
I'll let you know how harvest goes.  So far we are leaving them for a few more days and just picking a bunch every day.