It has been quite a year. A roller-coaster political adventure, re-integrating into work, and taking an opportunity to evaluate my goals afresh. I’m working on creating new avenues of opportunity, and focusing on health and wellness. We are back in our walking routine (although 10000+ steps a day campaigning was no holiday), getting around the city and finding pathways to joy and wonder. I’m looking forward to sharing food, wellness and attitude ideas with you again. (Major joy source: I’ll be a grandmother very soon. Stay tuned for news!)
Get Walking! You’ll See Your Neighbourhood from a Whole New Perspective
The milder weather seems to be making a comeback. Hurray! For me, the best thing about that is the fresh perspective I’m able to get, every single morning. People who live near the ocean often comment that the view is always changing…as if they have a lock on that. I can tell you having lived in both places, that there is just as much change when I get out and about in beautiful #Toronto, as there is in a house by the sea. Whether it’s the pinky-hued sun peeking up in the distance, or a view of new construction, seeing City Hall from the rearward aspect, or glimpsing my favourite weather-light on the top of the Canada Life Building, there’s always something intriguing to see.
(Do you know how the weather light works?) The Beacon’s lights go upward when the temperature is rising, and down when it is falling; they stay steady when there is a constant temperature. There is also a light at the top, that is red for cloudy, flashing red for rain, green for clear, and flashing white for snow. I have to admit the past couple of times, I haven’t seen the top light turned on, but the temperature indicators seem to be working just fine.
Another sight that always catches my attention is this condo – the Jazz, which retained the original facade while building a tall building above. I’m always happy to see heritage buildings honoured while adding much-needed density.
What do you love seeing, as you walk around your city? Please share!
Are You Fit to Win?
Are You Fit To Win?
I’ve been away from the blog for awhile…back in January, I was juggling so many things that I managed to get sick. I am one of those people who *never* gets sick (and by that I mean rarely, and usually a very mild case of whatever it is). So I was surprised when I was beset by the flu, not long after my last post. Then work, and travel, and my secret project (soon to be not-so-secret, and definitely not secret to those in the know). Fortunately I have people around who look out for me, so I had lots of hot soup and TLC to help me get well.
Although unexpected events can be a major disrupter of my plans, what I’ve learned is that I can always get back on track (and so can you). Some key things I have learned to keep in mind:
- I don’t expect to come back at full speed on the first day.
- A shock or shakeup can be a great excuse to make a change to my habits.
- Exercise helps me with more than fitness – it builds resilience – so I return to it as soon as I’m able.
So now, as I get ready to take on a new and enormous challenge, I’ll be making sure I’m eating right, enjoying the process, being grateful every day, and working out to make sure I’m #FitToWin.
But I HATE Kale! (Full Disclosure, I Don’t)
This is a refrain I hear all the time. The most “egregious” (according to its detractors) is kale. You know I’m a kale fan, but I can understand how this fibrous, unfamiliar vegetable can be challenging for some people. It doesn’t taste like peas, beans, or carrots. It can be earthy. It looks funny. And it can be tough if not prepared correctly.
So what can you do with kale? Here are some ways we like it in our house:
In smoothies. You need to pair it with something very flavourful and colourful. Try a banana, a beet, and some ginger and cinnamon, in addition to plant milk. The beet will keep it from looking green (or worse, brown). Cocoa powder is another addition that can really make a difference. Or go full-on green and instead of the beets, add an avocado.
In a delicious soup with onions, chickpeas, a little potato, and chorizo. Basically chop it and sweat it with a lot of onion (three or more, diced), then add a chopped potato, a diced chorizo, a couple of cups of cooked chickpeas, and enough water to fill a large pot (like a French or Dutch oven). Simmer until everything is tender. Thanks to the onion and chorizo it will make its own broth.
Kale chips – fans swear by these but I will fully admit I’ve eaten them but never made them at home.
In a stir-fry. Much like cabbage, sliced thinly, it will take on the flavours of the other ingredients.
Last but not least, in a salad. Chop it relatively finely. Don’t use the stems or tough ribs. And mix it with a tender lettuce (like cos or Bibb) and a watery, juicy one (like iceberg or romaine).
I hope you’ll at least give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Here are some menu plans for next week! You can see we are still using up the gallons of turkey soup I made. If you don’t have turkey soup, that’s okay – but make a homemade soup. It’ll have far less salt and be better for you, and a large pot will make several lunches worth, that you can freeze and reheat when you’re ready.
|Sunday||January 21st||Leftover quiche||EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad||Weight Watchers Barley Chicken Casserole|
|Monday||January 22nd||Beet and Kale Smoothie||Cooking Light Roasted Sweet Potato and Orange Salad||Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma|
|Tuesday||January 23rd||Granola with 1/2 banana||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||Weight Watchers Zucchini Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes|
|Wednesday||January 24th||Banana Kale Smoothie||Apple Kale Salad||Weight Watchers Orange Couscous with Chicken (substituting turkey) – served with green beans|
|Thursday||January 25th||Apple Nut Oatmeal||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||Weight Watchers Spaghetti with Kale and Garlic|
|Friday||January 26th||Carrot Cake Smoothie||Cooking Light Fall Vegetable and Lentil Salad||Weight Watchers Cod with Parsley Sauce served with steamed green beans and carrots|
|Saturday||January 27th||Granola with 1/2 banana||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||Artichoke Pizza|
There’s Nothing Like Hot Soup on a Cold Day
Soup, it’s delicious, right? And a fantastic way to use up whatever has been hovering around your kitchen. There’s a scary side to soup, though, especially if you’re starting with a powdered or canned variety. It can hide a LOT of sodium. A good rule-of-thumb is to keep the milligrams of sodium equal or less than the calories. Check out any soup in your grocery store, even the “healthy menu” types, and you’ll find there’s four (or more) times the sodium in most varieties. Not so healthy, after all. Sure, in a pinch, they can work. But with an hour or two while you’re working on something else or even sitting in front of the tube, you can cook up one or two huge pots of soup, and freeze the results to last for months.
So if you’re stuck inside in the cold, and you’ve got some vegetables, an onion or two, and beans, or meat, rice, pasta, or potatoes, you can make soup. Your body will thank you. Here’s one to get you started.
Meal Planning and More…
Just walk. Sounds simple enough, right? But as the streets get colder and icier, it can be more of a challenge. We’re lucky to have a gym in our building, so I can commune with my old friends Rower and Treadmill, but if you’re not so fortunate, here are some other places in Toronto where I can get in a walk without going into the great outdoors:
Walk the Eaton Centre (warning: if you’re instituting “no-buy January”, this can be a challenge).
Walk the PATH – it’s especially interesting during off hours when there are few workers hustling and bustling on their way.
Live in a highrise (or even a lowrise)? Take the stairs. As many as you can. Repeat.
There are lots of great apps to help you fit in exercise, too – one I’ll be trying in January is 8fit. I’ll report back, but so far, I’m enjoying the variety of exercises offered, and the app asks me to rate the difficulty, so it can adjust to suit what I need to push myself.
Here’s another week of meal plans for you, starting next week. That should leave you time to shop. How are you doing with your healthy eating? After starting the year with a week of visitors, it’s good to keep focused with a plan.
|Sunday||January 14th||Pizza Egg – 1 slice of leftover pizza topped with a poached egg. Otherwise, a poached egg with 1 toast and a sliced tomato||Cooking Light Cashew, Coconut and Cabbage Slaw||Veggie Chili – I’ll make enough for 3 meals, including one with Turkey|
|Monday||January 15th||Banana Kale Smoothie||Apple Kale Salad||Tofu Stir Fry|
|Tuesday||January 16th||Apple Nut Oatmeal||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||Veggie Chili|
|Wednesday||January 17th||Carrot Cake Smoothie||EatingWell Vegetarian Taco Salad||Weight Watchers Vegetable Quesadillas, plus cheese|
|Thursday||January 18th||Apple Nut Oatmeal||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||EatingWell Turkey Curry|
|Friday||January 19th||Beet Kale Smoothie||EatingWell Stetson Chopped Salad||Weight Watchers “Fried” Catfish with Potato Sticks|
I had a note from a reader this week, looking for bread recipes. To see my own recipes, check the EAT tab on the blog.
Have a healthy week!
It’s a Whole New Year!
What I love best about New Year’s Day is that everyone sees the potential for a fresh start. My resolution for 2018? To help as many people as possible understand that we have that potential every single day. No matter what’s happened before, we can be better from here on in.
Yesterday I began posting January Meal plans, which I’ll continue for you here. I hope they’ll help inspire you to be your best, healthiest self this year.
|Sunday||January 7th||Granola with 1/2 banana||EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad||Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma|
|Monday||January 8th||Beet and Kale Smoothie||Cooking Light Roasted Sweet Potato and Orange Salad||Cooking Light Turkey & Swiss Sloppy Joes|
|Tuesday||January 9th||Granola with 1/2 banana||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||Jamie Oliver Hungover Noodles|
|Wednesday||January 10th||Banana Kale Smoothie||Apple Kale Salad||Jamie Oliver Smokin’ Chicken Chowder (substituting leftover turkey)|
|Thursday||January 11th||Apple Nut Oatmeal||Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter||EatingWell Savory Carrot and Tarragon Tart|
|Friday||January 12th||Carrot Cake Smoothie||Cooking Light Fall Vegetable and Lentil Salad||Jamie Oliver Carbonara of Smoked Mackerel|
Before you go, here are some tools that help me keep track of meals, make grocery lists, and remind myself to stay fit and drink water:
Paprika Recipe App, good for either Kindle, iOS, or Android. It lets me download recipes, organize them as I like, share them, and create grocery lists for my meal plans.
My Fitness Pal – I love this for figuring out the nutritional content of recipes, and seeing whether I’m missing key nutrients.
And I’m rarely without my trusty FitBit, so I can keep track of steps. I also have UnderArmour’s UA Record, so I can log exercise that isn’t walking.
What are your favourite tools for healthy living?
Planning for Success! Meal Plans for January
If you’re like many people, you may be planning to improve your diet in 2018. One of the most effective ways to make sure we are eating healthily at our house, is to make a meal plan. It works for three reasons:
It lets us see the big picture and identify patterns (such as eating too many bad fats, or dividing dishes into extra large portions instead of making less). We get to think about seasonality and what’s available in stores, which some meal plans miss, especially if they are formulated in warm weather climates where salad greens and other vegetables are readily available year-round. It also lets us be mindful of what we have on hand, so we can use it and not waste it.
I’ve decided to share my January meal plan with you, so you can adapt it with some of your own favourites. Many of the food items are from websites, so I’ve put the links in also. Enjoy! Stay tuned for additional weeks…
Breakfast – Banana Kale Smoothie
Lunch – Apple Kale Salad
Dinner – EatingWell Vegetarian Spinach Enchiladas
Breakfast – Apple Nut Oatmeal
Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter
Dinner – Eating Well Baked Tofu Stir Fry with Cabbage and Shiitakes
Breakfast – Carrot Cake Smoothie
Lunch – EatingWell Vegetarian Taco Salad
Dinner – Eating Well Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini
Breakfast – Apple Nut Oatmeal
Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter
Dinner – Eating Well Curried Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Leeks
Breakfast – Beet Kale Smoothie
Lunch – EatingWell Stetson Chopped Salad
Dinner – EatingWell Kale and Gruyere Panini
Breakfast – Poached Egg Avocado Toast
Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter
Dinner – Men’s Health Salmon Hobo Packets
Breakfast – Granola with Banana
Lunch – EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad
Dinner – Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma
My smoothies follow a recipe something like this, for two:
Two beets, or a carrot, or a handful of kale
5ml cinnamon or grated ginger
60ml nuts or seeds
A banana or 250ml of berries or for carrot cake smoothie, pineapple
750ml unsweetened low-sodium non GMO soy milk (try Natur-A, they are all Canadian and the best plant milk I have tried).
Stay tuned for additional weeks, and please share widely. Thanks to all of you who have visited my site, and wishing you a healthy, happy 2018.
Forward is the Only Way
Wherever you’re headed, the only way to get there is to move forward. If you have a dream, a goal, or a plan, you can’t get there by going back in time. Oh, you can revisit the past. You can consider what you’ve learned and incorporate that into your wayfinding plan. You can understand if you’ve had patterns of behaviour that have been holding you back. Getting stuck or weighed down by your mistakes, though? That’s no use to you at all.
Deal with what you must deal with. Maybe you need to grow, or find a coach to help you through issues you have to face. Perhaps you have amends to make. Don’t delay, just get those over with, too. People may or may not accept your apology – remember that your timeline is not the same as theirs. Do the work, and trust that it will play out as it should. Once you’ve done that, move forward with confidence. Second-guessing is simply allowing our old friends fear and doubt to cloud your perfectly-good judgement. For the most part, you’ll be presented with multiple opportunities for course correction. So start, and take that first step. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be on your way.
No fuss, no muss, and a whole lot of fibre…
Last night I made a batch of one of my easiest homemade breads. It’s more of a method than a recipe, although the proportions have been worked out after much experimentation. (In the EAT section of my site, you’ll find other recipes, including other breads).
There’s nothing like homemade bread for breakfast, or a sandwich, or just as a snack – but I’m always trying to sneak in some more healthy goodness. One of my tricks is always to add some chickpea flour, for extra protein. This one also benefits from whole wheat flour, and whole grain rolled oats. It is a bit time-consuming (you’ll want to start a day ahead, or first thing in the morning to bake for dinnertime), but it’s worth the wait, and doesn’t require any kneading at all.