Tag Archives: healthy living
Contests

It’s More Than a Feeling… It’s #FeelGoodBread!

Today is a very good day. The heavens have parted; a ray of sun shines down and with reverence, a spotlight is focused on Dempster’s Healthy Way breads.

Canadians, it’s time to feel good about your bread. Great taste, good-for-you ingredients and customized to fit your lifestyle. What could be better? From boosting your protein intake to maintaining a healthy diet, these new Healthy Way breads from Dempster’s are made for movers and shakers who like to look and feel oh so good.

Double My Fibre!: Provides you with 48% of the recommended daily intake of fibre to help keep things moving. ;)

Say No to Fat and Sugar!: If you want to say ‘no’ to added fat and sugar it’s time to say ‘yes’ to this multigrain bread and make it part of your healthy diet. It’s chalked with 12 essential nutrients to help maintain your weight and make the most out of every Feel Good moment.

Boost My Protein!: With a jam-packed schedule you don’t always have time for a late-afternoon snack. That’s why Dempster’s created a bread that’s high in protein, to help keep you feeling satisfied long after your last meal. So go ahead, book those back-to-back meetings, honey.

Want to learn more about how these delicious breads can become part of your healthy diet? Join us for the Dempster’s #FeelGoodBread Twitter Party!

Host: @Dempsters
Moderators: @Listen2Lena @Kidsumers @OurFamilyWorld @TeacherMomofTwo
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 27th at 9:00pm EST
Hashtag: #FeelGoodBread

We’ll be chatting about ways to make healthy, satisfying food choices that can help keep you on track and complement your busy lifestyle. As with all Dempster’s Twitter Parties, make sure you bring your best foodie questions, tips and tricks – it’s always a great conversation!

Join us and tweet to WIN over $1,400 in prizes including a $1,000 Grand Prize ‘Feel Good’ Life experience for you and a friend! RSVP now, and see you on Wednesday night!

(more…)

Contests

The Best Defense is a Good Offense #Giveaway

Folks, it’s that time of year again. You know, when that unwanted, unapologetic, pesky little visitor infiltrates our communities for the next 6 months or so. Its name?

Influenza. Also known as the crappiest feeling of your life.

According to Health Canada, in a typical year, up to an estimated 25 per cent – or about 8.6 million Canadians – come down with the seasonal flu. I’ve been lucky to avoid the dreaded virus in winters past; but then, I don’t get out much, so my protective little bubble has served me well. However, for those who brave the elements (and germs) head on, Shoppers Drug Mart would like to offer one of my readers a chance to win a Cold and Flu Defense Kit to help prevent the flu and manage cold symptoms when they do occur.

Valued at over $150, the Shoppers Drug Mart Cold and Flu Defense Kit contains a $50 gift card to use at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, plus essential items you should have on hand including Life Brand hand sanitizer, Vapo Rub, a digital thermometer, sugar-free cough drops, facial tissue, Vitamins D and C, a cool mist humidifier and Simply Food Chicken Noodle Soup.

(FYI:  You can now get your annual flu shot by walking-in to SDM or booking an appointment online.)

Although I’m not here to tell you whether or not to take the flu shot (for the record, I do not), I do have one solid piece of advice I’d like everyone to follow: If you’re sick, for the love of God, please stay home. Seriously. NOBODY wants your germs, and no job/ class/ shopping trip/ get together is so important that you need to infect everyone within a 3-metre radius of your phlegmy curse. If more people took the time to isolate themselves and simply get better, we wouldn’t have an epidemic on our hands.

Ah well. One can dream. In the meantime, there’s the Cold and Flue Defense Kit. To enter, simply fill the form below with your qualifying entries. Good luck – and stay healthy! (more…)

Contests

It’s a Dempsters #WinWithTHINS Twitter Party!

Once upon a time… a very long time ago… I gave up the good stuff. You know – the stuff that begins with the letter C.

Carbohydrates. 

A staunch anti-carb activist, I banned scrumptious foods like bagels, breadsticks, potatoes and pastries from my diet. For the most part, I survived… but I was just a shell of my former self. Barely recognizable; I was moody, depressed, and flat out craving the sweet comfort of delicious, soft, chewy bread.

And so, I caved. With just one bite of a Dempster’s Everything Bagel, lightly buttered and oh-so satisfying… I was off the wagon for good. No longer a slave to a high-protein diet, I found happiness. I found security. I found love.

But I also found myself wondering: Isn’t there a happy medium? Couldn’t I have my bread… and eat it too?

And just like that, the heavens parted, and Dempsters created Dempsters THINS. With 50% less calories than the leading competitor, even carb counters can rejoice!

Dempsters THINS are available in a 100% Whole Grain Tortilla, Multigrain Loaf, White Loaf and Whole Wheat Loaf. And they’re not just for the carb conscious – they’re also for the health conscious, or weight conscious – because if there’s one thing that North Americans need to do, it’s tone down our serving size. And Dempsters THINS allows us to enjoy all the benefits of multigrain and wheat products… in a slightly slimmed down portion. Perfection!

Another bonus: they’re a great option for little lunch boxes! My little guy loves a good sandwich, but often complains that there’s “too much bread”.

(Huh. In time he will learn there is no such thing.)

That’s why Dempsters THINS are perfect for elementary school sandwiches – all the nutrition, served light! I can’t wait to experiment with the 100% Whole Grain Tortillas – if you’re a loyal reader, you know that we like to #WrapitUp :)

Of course, the BEST way to celebrate the new Dempsters THINS is with a Twitter Party!

For your chance to win, RSVP below. Looking forward to partying with you! (more…)

food

Have You Had Your Daily Dose of Delicious?

Work is busy. My schedule is crazy. The kids are driving me insane. I have no “me” time. I need balance.

Sounds familiar? Yeah, it sure does. Let’s face it: LIFE IS BONKERS.

Adding to the chaos? The fact that every single moment seems to be “scheduled” with activities, deliverables, commitments and “must dos”. In fact, raise your hand if you feel guilty when you’re just sitting around and enjoying a quiet moment. Guilty!!

However, I’m a realist; no matter how many times I scold myself and make a promise to rearrange my priorities, the truth is, I’m a workaholic, helicopter parent and part-time obsessive-compulsive. And if life isn’t scheduled, I start to lose my grip on reality. Must. exercise. control. over. everything!

So, I’ve made a new promise to myself. It’s not about changing my ways, or priorities, or life. It’s about finding a daily dose of delicious; a daily reminder of love, luck and laughter. It’s about finding those moments that I’ll think about before I go to bed – and be thankful for another amazing day on this incredible journey.

It’s a reaffirmation that life – when lived in a robust, healthy and wholesome way – is simply delicious.

Over the past week, I’ve made good on my promise to find my daily dose of delicious. Here’s what I came up with:

Clockwise from top left: (1) A discounted designer handbag; (2) a little boy drinking cream soda… and pretending it’s beer; (3) a “Lena” necklace – on sale!; (4) homemade nachos from the grill; (5) a roller coaster I like to enjoy – from afar; (6) a little boy on a carousel. DELISH! (more…)

Contests

It’s a Dempsters #VeggieBread Twitter Party!

It’s a win-win situation, friends.

You take the veggies, you take the bread; 
You take them both, and there you have… Dempsters Vegetable Bread!

Okay, so it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue… but seriously, you can now super-charge your sandwiches!

Dempster’s Garden Vegetable Bread offers the delicious taste and same smooth texture as your favourite 100% Whole Wheat bread. PLUS, with the added nutrition of vegetables like finely ground carrot and pumpkin baked inside, every 2 slices contains ½ a serving of real vegetables. So you now have a tasty way to add extra nutrition to any sandwich!

Let’s be real, folks. Dempster’s Veggie Bread is NOT a substitute for vegetables (even though technically, there are REAL vegetables baked inside). So yes, you’ll still have to eat your broccoli and maybe even your brussels sprouts.

However, given the opportunity, why not sneak in as much nutrition as possible? Garden Vegetable Bread is a source of fibre, 13 essential nutrients, and is low in fat. And I’m pretty sure I would adore a Toasted Western made with Dempster’s Garden Vegetable Bread (pictured below), a Chipotle Club Sandwich, Double Decker Grillers or a Dilled Salmon Spread with Cucumber Sandwich. They’re just a few of the drool-worthy recipes (created by the magnificent @Chef_Bob_V) that you’ll find on Dempster’s Pinterest Page!

Of course, sandwiches are just the tip of the iceberg; think of all the things you could make with delicious Dempster’s Garden Vegetable Bread: savoury stuffing, breadcrumbs for coating foods (and for incorporating in meat loaves), layered egg casseroles, croutons, garlic bread, pizza sticks…. oh yum, I could go on for days!

Want to get in on the conversation? Join Dempster’s for a #VeggieBread Twitter Party! (more…)

family

The Best Multivitamin is The One You Actually Take

Three questions for you:

1. Would you be more likely to book your annual checkup… if your doctor was Ryan Gosling?
2. Would that time of the month be more bearable… if the government subsidized chocolate?
3. Would mornings be better… with a live-in Starbucks barista?

While we’re at it, here’s another one: Would you be more likely to take your daily vitamins…if they tasted like gummy candy?

The answer to all of the questions above… YES!

Taking vitamins has always been an issue for me. They’re big, chalky and have *the worst* aftertaste. For too many years I’d purchase bottle after bottle, trying in vain to supplement my less-than-stellar diet. Then, they’d sit in my cupboard. Until they expired. And sometimes, for a year or two after. Why? Because they’re big, chalky and have *the worst* aftertaste, of course.

(In fact, I recently stumbled upon an old box of multivitamins that expired in April 2009. Durr….)

I’m not alone. Most readers agree that they’d be more likely to stick with a vitamin or supplement regime if they didn’t have to swallow horse pills. Because when it comes down to it, the best multivitamin is the one you actually take.

Now you all know that I’m a fan of Adult Essentials Gummies. Earlier this year, they generously sent a supply of their gummy vitamins and supplements for me and my husband to enjoy. And I think “enjoy” is the key word here – great tasting, gummy vitamins in the most delicious fruit flavours? Twist my arm!

Of course, I haven’t been popping all of the products on a daily basis like candy – because despite appearances, they’re not. There is a very real danger in over-supplementing, especially if your diet is packed with vitamins and minerals. Hence, your first step is to speak with a nutritionist to help identify some of the gaps in your diet and how certain vitamins can help you meet your RDI. When you have, Adult Essentials are an easy, great tasting way to keep you at your optimal health and performance.

(For those wondering, my diet is kind of lame. Though I’m working on it!) (more…)

food

Be Fresh For Less: The Lure of Fresh Cut Fruit

At any given time, you can find a variety of fresh fruit in my home. Both my boys are addicted to nature’s candy, and I make a habit of reaching for handful of ripe, tart raspberries or a slice of cool, refreshing melon a few times per day.

But not every day. And certainly not five (5) times a day, the minimal requirement according to Canada’s Food Guide.

The truth is, if the fruit in my fridge looked more like the picture on the right, I’d likely indulge much, much more often. It’s the lure of fresh cut fruit.

It’s colourful, inviting, and most importantly – all the work is done for you. You simply have to grab a fork and enjoy… and grocery stores do enjoy charging you a premium for something as simple as slicing a few strawberries and adding a handful of grapes for colour. $6.74 for a small bowl of fruit, likely valued at about $1.30? Someone will pay it.

I used to. I too was once swayed by the promise of cold, delicious fruit; all pretty and juicy and full of vitamins and just enough to fill me up with a variety of tastes and textures that I craved. In fact, when I was pregnant with my second, my husband will grudgingly fondly recall tales of 11:00pm grocery runs to deliver a bowl of fresh cut fruit to me (I’d literally wait at the kitchen table with a fork in hand and an eye on the front door).

However, spending $5+ on fruit got old really quick, and I resigned myself to once again sneaking the odd serving of berries or a banana. Not. very. inspiring.

So I thought to myself, “What is stopping me from having the perfect fruit salad at home? Surely I can make it myself – for a fraction of the cost!” (Newsflash – cutting up fruit takes exactly one knife and one bowl – how simple!)

But then it goes all brown and yucky. And I’m too lazy to spend all that time making a whole bowl that gets runny and limp after a few days…. any more excuses?

Here’s what I did: I searched Tips for Keeping Fruit Salad Fresh and Tasty. And I came up with:

- Fresh cut fruit stays fresh in the refrigerator for a maximum of three days. The good news: you’ll only have to do your cutting twice per week.

- Most people will tell you to sprinkle your fruit salad with lemon juice to keep it from oxidizing, but really, a little bit of acid from sliced oranges or pineapple is all you need to help it stay bright and firm.

- Stay away from apples, pears and bananas. They lose colour and texture quickly, and can be unappetizing after being exposed to air for about 15 minutes.

-  If you’d like to include apples, cut the fruit in water to prevent the browning process. Water washes away enzymes that will break down the fruit – just be sure to dry the fruit slices before storing them, since the moisture can cause them to spoil more quickly.

- Cut up fruit at night when you’re less likely to be in a rush. I’m lucky to have a television within view of my counter top, so I tune into the latest must-see-tv and peel, chop and slice away.

And here’s the key: single serving, air-tight containers. It may be tempting to dump the whole works in a big bowl, but too many juices can macerate the fruit, and every time you lift the top, you’re accelerating the decaying process (sounds so romantic, eh?). So grab those food storage containers and divvy your fresh cut fruit into 3-4 servings.

Et voila! Fresh cut fruit you can enjoy daily with minimal preparation and maximum enjoyment. I grab a bowl with breakfast, add granola and yogurt for a healthy afternoon snack, or for a yummy dessert, top off with a dollop of Cool Whip. Enjoy!

musings

Your Best Health: It’s Not a Coincidence

Faithful readers of my blog will know that I began this year with one goal in mind: Get Healthy.

Of course, this essentially translated to one thing: CUT OUT THE CRAP.

It’s actually very simple. A few months ago, while thinking deep thoughts, I realized that there are some things that come without effort. Size 2 naturally? Good for you. A born athlete? Amazing! Math and science whiz? I wish!

But when it comes to good health, it’s never a coincidence, is it? Good health is a direct result of the choices we make – nutrition, lifestyle, sleep habits and exercise – and they all play a role in being your best. In fact, it’s no surprise that most diseases do not happen spontaneously; they are a result of lifelong lifestyle choices. And in the case of hereditary diseases – sometimes, the result of our ancestors’ lifestyle choices.

I do not want to make poor choices. I do not want my children to be affected by my poor choices.

So, what’s the crap?

1. Crappy Diet. Which includes refined sugar, simple carbs, trans fats and those unpronounceable ingredients you find in practically every boxed food - I need to limit the amount of the bad stuff we’re exposed to, so when it’s time to enjoy that bowl of potato chips, it’s a treat, not a dietary staple.

2. Crappy Stress. Often, I place too much importance on things that don’t really matter, or dwell on the things (or people) I can’t change. How often do we find ourselves measuring our self worth based on the opinions of others! This year, my goal is to let it all go…

3. Crappy Sleep Habits. Staying up too late because I “need” to work. To get just one more thing done. To watch the last 10 minutes of that news special. Since having children and working from home, I have the worst sleep habits I’ve ever had. Is it any wonder I’m now up to 3 cups of coffee per day?

4. Crappy Laziness. I’ll admit it: I’m too lazy to exercise. Which probably means that I haven’t found the right workout – one that is fun, challenges me and is a routine I can stick to. Oh, I have a “dreadmill” in the basement, and for some reason I own 6 pairs of yoga pants… but don’t actually do yoga. Before winter ends, I’d like to make friends with physical activity and get moving.

This year, it’s my choice to cut out the crap. It’s my choice to make better food choices. And it’s definitely my choice to be an exemplary role model for my two sons. (more…)

food

Orange Granita with Balsamic and Mint Strawberries

We’re BA-ACK!

Well, technically we’ve been back for exactly 6 hours… because after a late night flight and two flight delays… we didn’t touch down in Toronto until well after 2:00 a.m.

Did I mention that -10°C in the middle of the night, after vacationing in Florida, feels like pure torture?

Now I’d like to say that I’ve got my wits about me and am ready to bang off another brilliant blog post, but the truth is, I’m exhausted from four days of non-stop sight-seeing; two whiny children who slept at the wrong times and fought a few hundred times; and frankly, am depressed that I can’t live in Orlando year-round. It is quite honestly my happy place.

However, I realize that you’re probably tired of seeing my same old post from last Wednesday (in the spirit of family travel, I decided to shut down completely and enjoy time spent with my loved ones). So, to take myself back into a Florida state of mind, I’ll be making this recipe for Orange Granita with Balsamic and Mint Strawberries very soon (maybe even today). It’s just one of the fabulous recipes you can find on the Florida Citrus Facebook Page, where they feature a Citrus Recipe Swap

The thing I love about granitas is that while they sound incredibly sophisticated, they’re really just scraped ice. Ever wonder what to serve your boyfriend’s parents, a discerning friend, or others you’re out to impress? Serve them a granita. The traditional Italian ice dessert is the perfect way to cleanse the palette, particularly after a rich meal. And with the addition of orange juice, this dessert is full of purifying antioxidants and will satisfy most sweet tooths in a fresh, healthy way.

Think this dessert will take me back to the Sunshine State? I’m counting on it! I can already taste the tangy, citrusy goodness. Serve in martini glasses for extra panache.

¼ cup sugar
1¾ cup 100% Florida orange juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp fresh mint cut into long, thin strips

Place sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups orange juice and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch by 13-inch shallow pan and place in the freezer.

Every few minutes, stir and scrape the granita with a spoon to create an icy texture. This procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your freezer.

Combine sliced strawberries, mint and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and let sit while granita freezes. Serve 2 ounces of granita topped with 3 ounces of strawberry mixture in individual dessert bowls.

food

Join us for a #BreadJuicer Twitter Party!

If you were reading my blog just before the holidays, you’ll recall that I shared my recipe for a Grilled Vegetable Sandwich on WholeGrains Bread with Basil Goat Cheese Spread.

(Yes, it does sound delicious! And yes, I really do think you should try it. Lunch will never be the same.)

The basis of my post was a mission towards nutritious eating, and a humble request to start looking after your health. It was reminder that 2013 is the perfect time to make those small changes that help bring about long-term health benefits. It was a reality check when it comes to finding excellent food sources of vitamins, fibre and iron. In essence, it was a refresher course in good eats… WholeGrains-style.

Well, I’m excited to share that Dempsters has chosen my sandwich as the featured recipe on their new social website, Naturally Dempsters! That’s right – simply scroll down for a peek at my tasty creation. You’ll also find delicious submissions from other bloggers around the web (including sandwich recipes for Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado, Chicken Divan, Mediterranean Chicken and Turkey and Veggie Crunch).

Next, head on over to the Dempsters Facebook page and watch their featured video, Gerry Dee Hijacks Juice Bar. (I promise, hilarity ensues!) If the laughs aren’t enough to make your day, when you’re finished watching, you can enter for a chance to win $3000 in FREE groceries. Now isn’t that a delicious way to start off 2013?

TWITTER PARTY ALERT!

We’ll be talking Nutrition Naturally at a Dempsters #BreadJuicer Twitter Party on Thursday, January 24th at 9:00pm. Join us to find out amazing ways to incorporate fruits, vegetables and whole grains into a balanced diet.

Prizing is available to Canadians only. For your chance to win, RSVP below! Looking forward to partying with you! (more…)

Contests

Join us for a #FeelBetterFL Twitter Party!

If you caught my “I Always Feel Better in Florida” post below, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of citrus fruits and juices. They’re a great addition to a nutritious diet, helping you #FeelBetterFL through cold and flu season.

Looking for healthy ways to start the year off right? Join us on Tuesday, January 22nd for a @FeelBetterFL Twitter Party! We’ll be sharing ideas and recipes that are sure to help you feel your best during winter and throughout the year. Here’s what you need to know:

DATE and TIME: Tuesday, January 22nd at 8:00pm ET
HASHTAG: #FeelBetterFL

HOST: @FeelBetterFL
MODERATORS: @Listen2Lena@NuggleMama@SassyModernMom@TeacherMomofTwo

Prizing is available to Canadians only. (more…)

food

I Always Feel Better in Florida

Weeks ago, just before my family departed for Orlando, my entire household came down with a dreaded winter cold. Sneezing, coughing, runny noses – if the symptom is listed on the side of an OTC cold product, trust me, we had it. And with just days before we reached our sunny destination, I was worried that our first trip to Disney World would be ruined.

“Get rest, de-stress and load up on Vitamin C,” my mother suggested. “As soon as you touch down into the lovely Florida climate, you’ll feel just fine.”

She was right, of course. Through a combination of aggressive hot citrus therapy and the balmy Florida weather, our cold symptoms melted away in a hurry. And is it any coincidence that the delicious orange juice and grapefruits that I was consuming before the trip happened to come from the sunshine state too? Let’s just say that I always feel better in Florida :)

Now I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’ve resolved to do one simple thing: incorporate as many fresh foods into my diet as possible. I am tired of feeling rundown and battling colds, and I figure the quickest way to good health is through good nutrition.

Will I follow through? Well, I even put it in writing, because somehow it makes me feel more accountable -

I’ve also developed an S-M-L action plan to implement my new dietary changes. What is S-M-L?

SMALL

My plan is to eat small amounts of the bad stuff – refined sugar, simple carbs, trans fats and those unpronounceable ingredients you find in practically every boxed food. Now I say small – and not total removal – because I truly believe that there’s a place for everything in our diets, and let’s be honest: I have two small children. Complete elimination of convenience snacks and foods just isn’t realistic. However, I can limit the amount of the bad stuff we’re exposed to, so when it’s time to enjoy that bowl of potato chips, it’s a treat – not a dietary staple. (more…)

food

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich on WholeGrains Bread with Basil Goat Cheese Spread

Often, I spend copious amounts of time trying to come up with the perfect post title. It has to be catchy, witty and of course, it must subtly convey the topic at hand.

And other times, I just let the content do the talking. Such is the case with this Grilled Vegetable Sandwich on WholeGrains Bread with Basil Goat Cheese Spread recipe. I mean really, what more can I say?

This post is brought to you by Dempsters – and, your body from the year 2013. Sure, Dempsters supplied the delicious bread, but what does your body have to do with it?

Well, it’s a humble request to start looking after your health. It’s a reminder that 2013 is the perfect time to make those small changes that bring about long-term health benefits. And it’s a refresher course in the nutrition – for instance: Did you know that 1 slice of Dempsters WholeGrains bread contains this? ->>

In a society where wisp-thin celebrities turn up their noses at carbohydrates, here’s a dose of reality – Whole Grains, such as the ones found in Dempsters bread – provide so many nutritional benefits that are often overlooked in favour of skinny jeans.

The thing is – our bodies have a long memory. And as we age, they won’t care what we wore to our office holiday party in December 2012, but they will remember all the wonderful nutrients we’ve fueled them with over the years. Make 2013 the year you give back to your body with healthy, natural choices that promote vitality.

To start, here’s an easy, delicious recipe that is chock full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health. I whipped this sandwich up today for lunch and just had to share! Add a healthy dose of Vitamin C, a splash of Calcium and a generous serving of deliciousness, and you’ve got a Grilled Vegetable Sandwich on WholeGrains Bread with Basil Goat Cheese Spread. Enjoy! (more…)

family

That Little Drug Called… Youth

Meet Reid.

He’s my sweet little charmer; a terribly opinionated, feisty toddler who still prefers the company of his thumb over any stuffed animal I present him with. And for those who’ve been following my blogging journey, yesterday was his second birthday. Yes, he is TWO. (Already!)

Now would be an appropriate time to insert a predicted “Where does the time go?” – except for the fact that I know exactly where the time went: two years of feeding, changing, amusing, disciplining, soothing, teaching and caring for a sweet little baby. A baby whom, according to Old Navy’s size guide, is now a toddler.

My toddler Reid, who go-go-goes, pausing only briefly to smell the flowers – or eat a well-seasoned tortilla chip, as demonstrated above. He was a champion breastfeeder, is an authentic foodie (preferring pan-seared scallops over chicken fingers any day) and demands enjoys a cup of warm white milk before bedtime.

And, every single day of his life, he has been below the 5th percentile for weight. (more…)

family

Yes, I Know it’s the Most Important Meal of the Day

I tend to swing to extremes – either I do something extraordinarily well, or fail miserably at it. In fact, I often wish I was Jennifer Lopez and could get paid for excelling at mediocrity (how can someone be a mediocre singer-actress-designer-producer-dancer-perfumer and still warrant that kind of paycheck? Oh yeah, she’s hot).

Focus, Lena.

Anyhoo, one of the things I royally reek at is getting a healthy, balanced breakfast from the boys’ plate to their mouths. Like, I fail at this EVERY morning. In all fairness, they don’t put up too much of a fuss at lunch and dinner; there’s just something about the 8:00 a.m. meal which has them pushing the food away in frustration, irritation and downright hostility.

I like breakfast. In fact, it’s probably the meal I look forward to most!

Think about it – it’s the only meal where it’s socially acceptable to have something sweet or savoury – or a glorious combination of the two. They even invented a hall pass for gorging on pastries and little cakes – it’s called “Continental Breakfast”. And every fitness enthusiast will preach the importance of protein in the morning – bacon IS a great source of protein, right? Right.

So what the heck is their deal? I am at a loss. Ryder and Reid will push aside cereal and take about one bite of scrambled eggs (sometime two). Muffins will be tossed on the floor and don’t even get me started on oatmeal… the gagging begins the second they see the pot of water boiling on the stove. Toast? Used as Jedi swords.

(They even discard bacon. Seriously! They cannot be my sons.)

In fact is, the only thing they will eat willingly – in large quantities – is fruit. A bowl of strawberries, sliced banana and apple, and a few blueberries for good measure. THIS is my “Plan B” every morning… which is slowly starting to turn into Plan A, since I’m just about done wasting perfectly good food, and my waistline can’t afford the whole “waste not want not” phenomena, if you know what I mean.

Fruit they will eat. Even veggies – thinly sliced raw green pepper, cucumber and grape tomatoes make repeat appearances at the breakfast table for the boys. (Ryder asked for an onion the other day, and after insisting it’s not a good food to eat raw, I called his bluff and handed him a slice. He ate it and asked for a second. Who IS this little person?) (more…)

musings

Read This: Energy Now! by Michelle Cederberg

Regular readers of Listen to Lena will be surprised to see that I’m reviewing – gasp – a book.

Not that I’m not a big reader; on the contrary, whenever I’ve got a few moments to myself (on average, about 23 minutes per day) chances are you’ll find my nose buried in a book. But since I look to books for self-improvement and entertainment, I normally shrug off requests to review material – I like to call it “using my spare time wisely”. However, when I was introduced to Energy Now! by Michelle Cederberg, I made the decision to accept the review – mainly because since I started on a path to healthier living, I was vitally interested in what she had to say.

About Michelle Cederberg:

Michelle Cederberg has worked in the trenches of the health and fitness industry for more than 20 years as an educator, personal trainer, life coach and speaker. She has a Masters in Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise and Health Psychology, plus a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Cederberg brings hands-on, applied knowledge of energy and health to the challenges facing her readers. (She also happens to be Canadian!)

About Energy Now!:

For a lot of people, a lack of energy is a big problem in day to day life. Michelle Cederberg shares tips for re-fuelling naturally in her new book “Energy Now! Small Steps to an Energetic Life”. Energy Now! explores how mind, body and spirit each play a part in determining one’s liveliness. Digestible small-steps advice is achievable no matter how busy the schedule or demanding the career. Cederberg’s realistic, energy-generating tips include:

• Dehydration is the biggest source of daytime fatigue. Replace one drink (soda, coffee, juice, etc.) with one big glass of water at least three times daily. Don’t enjoy water? Dilute your juice if you have to. Just drink more water.

• A good sleep keeps energy levels high. Spend 30 minutes before bed away from all screens. Allow your mind and body to unwind completely for a sounder rest.

• Exercise is key. Even in small amounts. Skip the coffee run and go for a quick 10-minute walk instead; daily exercise doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Ten minutes a day is all it takes starting out.

• Coffee isn’t the answer. Can’t go without a caffeine fix? Make sure you drink it up by 1 p.m.; any consumption later than that will negatively impact the quality of your sleep.

• Create your own energy. Do something positive with your day. Help someone, reach out to a loved one with kind words, or spend time with someone you admire. Positive energy is contagious. (more…)

food

Bongiovi Pasta Sauce: Yay or Nay?

Today, I just have one question for you: Pasta Sauce, from the original recipe of Great Grandma Bongiovi (whose genes would later spawn the sex god Jon Bon Jovi)…. YAY or NAY? Would you try this?

NOT SO HOT DEAL ALERT: Shipping to Canada: $41.00. (That is not a typo.)

The sauce retails for $8.00 per jar and must be purchased in 3-packs. For more information about the line, click here.

food

Dempsters $10,000 White Bread Taste-Off

To adequately appreciate the tone of this post, I’d like you all to hum Lionel Riche’s “Hello” in your heads.

(Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?…)

Alas, no other tune fits the bill when describing my relationship with white bread. I MISS white bread.

Long considered the more delicious alternative, in recent years it has received a bad rap from the health- and carb-conscious. In fact, I’ve actually been on the receiving end of a nasty glare while reaching for white bread at the supermarket. Apparently I failed to yield in front the grain police; the woman continued to stare as she loaded up her cart with 12 Grains, Whole Grains, Multigrain, etc, etc. (I’m thinking she was more of an Ancient Grains kind of gal, but I digress.)

The fact is, I realize that whole grains are a healthier alternative. But some things just taste better with white bread. French toast. Croutons. Stuffing. Grilled cheese. Oh my! It is irreplaceable as an ingredient in preparing some of my most beloved comfort foods. And you simply CANNOT create culinary blasphemy by having a whole grain grilled cheese. Or maybe you can – mine will just taste much, much more divine.

The good news? Dempster’s White Bread is made with enriched wheat flour, and the taste and texture is loved by families across Canada (including my own). Given the choice, my husband would only buy Dempster’s White Bread – he’s a huge fan of PB&J, and according to him, PB&J is definitely a while bread thing. And while I tend to agree, I limit my intake – I am generally guilted into consuming whole grains most of the time (still humming Hello? … I want to tell you so much… I love you). (more…)

food

Two Thumbs Up: Personal Gourmet by Rose Reisman

If you caught my post from a couple of weeks ago entitled I LOVE It: Personal Gourmet by Rose Reisman, you’ll know that I had the opportunity to test drive her Person Gourmet Frozen meal plan for two weeks.

(Delicious, healthy and convenient meals for two whole weeks? Twist my arm!)

Now that the program is over, I decided to take a moment to put some thoughts together on how to make the most of the service, and decided the best way to do that was to formulate some sort of list. Technically, the following points are just a collection of conversations I’ve had with family and friends, describing (and raving about) the program. So here we go… if you live in the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for healthy meal solutions, may I offer… (more…)

family

Tales of a Winter Hermit: A Sunless Survival Guide

I believe that we can learn many things from nature. From the self-sufficiency of trees to the uniqueness of a snowflake, we only have to look outside our windows to find inspiration. And just like the strong, wise black bear, I too curl into a ball and hibernate for the winter.

Seriously! Who wants to spend the winter outdoors when you can rest peacefully ensconced in a cave or hollow tree… or a semi in the suburbs. (Er, same thing, I’m sure.)

I fully admit to being a winter hermit. While it was common for me to shy away from the cold during my working days, being at home has only intensified my dislike for the three S’s: snow, slush and sleet. In fact, if I hear the words “minus” and “degrees” in the same sentence, chances are I’m shacking up for the day.

The truth is, the entire season depresses me. Clinically, I’m sure. You’ve heard of “February blahs”? I have them from November to March. I find myself eating more, caring about my appearance less, avoiding social interaction and most of all, spending too much time in my pjs. Really, if someone studied my habits for any length of time, they’d likely have me on some kind of watch. But it’s not that I’m unstable – I just hate, hate, hate being cold.

Two unwilling casualties of my reclusive behaviour are Ryder and Reid, of course. As little boys, they adore the outdoors! And it doesn’t matter how long it takes to pull on their winter gear; they’ll do anything for a chance to walk through the snow, sit on the white stuff, and catch snowflakes with their tongues. Unfortunately for them, this winter has been less than cooperative – I’ve only been able to take them out for a good snow day a handful of times. Other times, I’ve made excuses – it’s too windy, it’s too dreary, it’s too cold. Translation: it’s not summer.

Ryder's introduction to snow, December 2009

Now other than robbing them from experiencing all the Canadian seasons, I’m also robbing them of sunshine – and Vitamin D. Until I had children, I paid little attention to the “sunshine vitamin” and certainly have never considered my own body’s reaction to a deficiency. But lately, I’m beginning to wonder if my own winter blues are in part due to a lack of exposure, and with good reason: “Maintaining Vitamin D levels helps prevent numerous ailments such as osteoporosis, depression, cardiovascular disease and can help to reduce the risk of certain cancers (by almost 60 percent)”. (Source)

From Deborah Lowther of IronKids:

“Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies naturally synthesize it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Recent studies have shown even with the Vitamin D in our diets and exposure to direct sunlight, the majority of the population is Vitamin D deficient.”

Yikes. I wonder if my little guys have been in direct sunlight for more than 5 minutes at a time this winter. Shamefully, I think the answer is no.

And so I’ve made it my mission to conquer my distaste for winter and GET OUTDOORS. (As Vitamin D producing rays cannot penetrate glass, clothing or sunscreen, I can’t really count the drive to the mall. Darn.) Additionally, my boys receive an IronKids Vitamin D Gummy EVERY DAY; each great tasting gummy contains 400 IU’s of Vitamin D, which is the minimum daily intake as recommended by Health Canada and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I’m proud to say that I’m not just a brand ambassador – I’m also a brand enthusiast. From their Gummies Multi-Vitamins for Active Kids to Gummies Calcium for Growing Kids, we LOVE the products.

So tell me, do you experience winter blues? On average, how much time do you spend outdoors during the colder months?

I am an IronKids Brand Ambassador – with pride. I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this brand.
The opinions on this blog are my own
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