5 quick and healthy breakfasts

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day so why is it so hard to make time for something healthy?! I always feel rushed in the morning and hate when I leave myself without a healthy breakfast option. I refuse to be tempted by the treats that stare me down while I am ordering my morning latte… Just because that muffin says low fat doesn’t mean it’s good for you! Here are a few of my quick and healthy breakfast favourites…

Nut Butter & Banana Rice Cake

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Ingredients:
Brown rice cake
Natural peanut butter or almond butter
Banana slices
Sea salt

Directions:
- Spread nut butter on the brown rice cake
- Top with banana slices and a sprinkle of sea salt

Ricotta & Honey Toast

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Ingredients:
Whole wheat/multigrain/ or oat bread
Ricotta cheese
Honey
Red pepper flakes

Directions:
- Toast bread then spread on ricotta cheese, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle on red chili flakes

Overnight Oats

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Ingredients:
1 cup of oats
1 ½ cups almond milk
¼ cup chia seeds
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
½ tsp. cinnamon
Maple syrup and fruit and/or nuts for serving

Directions:
- Mix together oats, almond milk, chia seeds, yogurt and cinnamon
- Cover and refrigerate overnight
- In the morning stir in maple syrup to sweeten and top with fruit and/or nuts

Loaded Oatmeal

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Ingredients:
½ cup quick oats
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp Almond Butter
¼ Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp maple syrup
Fruit to serve

Directions:
- Mix oats and almond milk together and cook in microwave for 90 seconds
- Once cooked add more milk if needed to reach desired consistency
- Mix in chia seeds, almond butter, cinnamon and maple syrup
- Top with fruit (berries, bananas, apples)

Green Smoothie

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Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
1 cup kale leaves or spinach
½ of a frozen banana
½ cup frozen mango pieces and frozen peach slices
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. Chia seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions:
- Blend ingredients together and enjoy

-B

Taco Fiesta Salad

This is one of my favourite summer salads. It’s easy to make and packed with veggies and protein. I love taking it to a summer BBQ or picnic because it’s so colourful and looks great.

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Ingredients:
2 Romaine hearts, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 small can of corn (or use fresh corn)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/2 cup pickled jalapeno peppers (from a jar)
2 green onions (chopped)
1 package of Halloumi cheese

For the dressing:
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 large lime
Juice from the jalapeno jar (a splash or more depending on how spicy you like it)
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
- Combine romaine, red pepper, corn, black beans, avocado, jalapeno and green onions
- Mix up dressing and add to salad
- Slice halloumi cheese and grill in skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until browned. Be careful not to overcook or it will melt. Cut cheese into cubes and add it to the salad.

Enjoy!

-B

 

 

 

Wake Up, Makeup!

To say most mornings in my house are chaotic is an understatement. Somewhere between chasing my 9 month old down the hall with his shirt half on (seriously how do they crawl that fast?!)… trying to feed him… pack the diaper bag… and make sure he doesn’t kill himself (he tries to climb everything!)… I’m supposed to get myself ready. I’ve joined the mum club. Where daily showers are no longer mandatory…washing your hair once a week is acceptable… and the official uniform is lululemon gear. I have nothing against hanging out in my yoga clothes most days… I love my lulus… But I want to look good doing it. So I asked my friend Natalie Sexton to help a mama out.

Natalie is a makeup artist, stylist, personal shopper and owner of the Sexton In The City boutique in Hamilton (her accessories are amazing and affordable!).  She shared these great tips for busy mums:

Being a mum certainly doesn’t mean that looking polished and chic has to go out the window… The time we have for ourselves is definitely much more limited so it’s all about maximizing those 10 or 15 minutes (sometimes less!) that we do have. As a makeup artist I am often asked by women to help them come up with a simple makeup routine that is user friendly and doesn’t involve an overwhelming amount of products. There are 5 key pieces that every mum should have in her makeup bag that will take 5-10 minutes to apply and have you out the door looking fresh and fabulous. Invest in your makeup, quality is really important, it’s better to spend on 4 or 5 key pieces than to have a drawer full of mix and match makeup that you never use. This is my list of your makeup bag must-haves!

1. ~ Concealer ~ This is a busy mum’s best friend! No need for a full face of foundation when you have a great concealer in your makeup bag. A liquid concealer is my favourite because it has a lightweight finish not cakey like some heavier concealers. It’s really easy to use, I apply 3 dots under each eye and blend it with a sponge or concealer brush. A liquid concealer is also a great product for covering up any blemishes or scars. Don’t try to choose your concealer colour by testing it on your wrist or hand, go to a professional (like me!) and have them match your colour. (try SITC Liquid Concealer, $19)

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2. ~ Gold Shimmer Eyeshadow ~ A swipe of pretty eyeshadow will instantly make your eyes pop and a soft gold tone is universally flattering. Choose a powder rather than a cream shadow, a powder will last all day while a cream will start to wear off mid-day. Apply your shadow with a good quality shadow brush to ensure a clean and flawless application. Sweeping the colour from your lash line to your natural crease will give you just the right amount of colour. Don’t wear it up to your eyebrows, this will look way to heavy and dated. (Try SITC Eyeshadow in Beachy, $15)

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3. ~ Mascara ~ A go-to product for me is definitely my mascara! Apply your mascara starting from the roots of the top lashes and wiggle the wand from side to side and then up to the end of your lashes. Let the first coat dry before you apply the second coat, this will prevent clumping and smudging. One coat on your bottom lashes just takes a few seconds and will make your eyes look bigger. Opt for a universally flattering black or dark brown mascara. (try SITC Lengthening Mascara, $21)

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4. ~ Blush ~ You will look instantly refreshed with a pretty peach blush. The easiest way to get a natural application is to smile and apply your blush with a fluffy blush brush to the apples of your cheeks and blend up to the temples. A blush with a shimmer is a great look for summer and will act double duty as a highlighter. If you prefer a brighter blush opt for a pink tone with a sheer finish. (try SITC Blush in Simmer, $20)

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5. ~ Lipgloss ~ The finishing touch and easy to throw in your purse (or diaper bag!) is a neutral pink gloss. A perfect summer product that will keep your lips moisturized and prevent them from chapping in the sun. Choose a pink that works for your skin tone. A fair skin tone looks great in pastel and peachy pinks, a medium skin tone looks fantastic rose and deep pinks and a dark skin tone will look fabulous in rich berry pinks. (try SITC Lipgloss in Pinky, $18)

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Check out Natalie’s blog for more fashion and beauty tips and visit her store for some great accessories. The best part is they are affordable so you can stock up on statement necklaces and pretty scarves without breaking the bank. Natalie will be back again next month with more great tips :)

-B

Healthy Beaver Tails

The beaver tail… An iconic Canadian treat… Warm dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar… So delicious but so unhealthy. Whenever I visit family in Ottawa these deadly pastries temp me. So I came up with a heathy version you can make at home in only a few minutes and you won’t feel bad about eating these little treats.

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Ingredients:

Whole wheat tortillas
Earth Balance spread
Cinnamon
Coconut sugar

Directions:
- Spread Earth Balance on to your tortilla then sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut sugar
- Broil in the oven until crispy

That’s it! It’s that easy! A delicious and healthy treat that won’t make you feel guilty.

- B

Trail mix cookies

I was in Prince Edward County a few weeks ago and had a trail mix cookie with my chai latte at a cafe called the Tall Poppy. It was delicious and inspired me to create my own healthy version. I wanted to make mine with oat flour and make it vegan. These cookies are perfect for a sweet afternoon treat but are healthy enough to grab for breakfast as you are running out the door.

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Ingredients:
4 Tbsp. coconut oil, softened
4 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, shredded coconut, raisins)

Directions:
- Mix water and maple syrup in a small bowl, add chia seeds and stir well.  Set aside for a few minutes until it forms a gel
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Blend oats in a food processor to make flour then add baking soda and salt
- In a large bowl mix coconut oil and peanut butter together until creamy. Add coconut sugar, vanilla, and chia gel
- Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Then mix in the seeds and dried fruit
- Make dough into balls and press with your hand to flatten then onto the pan
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms brown

Hope you enjoy!

~B

Birthday party beer pairing

For Nick’s 40th birthday party I wanted to surprise him with something fun. He’s a beer lover so I decided to put together a tasting. Wine pairings I can do…. but beer pairings were totally new to me. I picked out several local beers and some others that I thought sounded good then researched them online for tasting notes and possible food pairings. It was a lot of work for someone who doesn’t normally drink beer but I was really happy with how it all came together. And our party guests really enjoyed it — especially the candied bacon! I set up the beer tasting station in our kitchen and used some craft paper to write a few tasting notes and explain the pairings.

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Here’s what I put together:

Amsterdam Spring Bock: This is a German style dark, strong lager. It’s aged three times longer than traditional beer and you can actually lay it down for a year like you would a bottle of wine. I paired this with Gruyere cheese which had a bit of a nutty flavour.

Beau’s Beaver River: A British style India pale ale with citrus and earthy hops. This was paired with spicy nuts and an English smoked cheddar cheese.

Oast House Barn Raiser: An American pale ale from a great local brewery in Niagara on the Lake. I paired this with salt and pepper kettle chips. I loved the flavours here and it was my favourite pairing.

Hornbeer Black Magic Woman: An imperial stout with espresso, chocolate and smoky flavours. I paired this with dark chocolate and blue cheese (like a dessert wine pairing).

Beau’s The Tom Green Beer: A milk stout with chocolate and coffee flavours paired with Gouda cheese and smoked almonds.

Blacksmith Smoked Porter: With aromas of dark fruit, chocolate, coffee and tobacco I decided to get a little creative and pair this with candied bacon. This was by far the most popular pairing — mostly because of the bacon but the beer was pretty good too.

Beau’s Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale: I loved this beer. It was light and had a nice crisp finish. I paired this with a sharp cheddar cheese.

I loved the challenge of putting these pairings together and I think it worked out pretty well considering I’d never done something like this before. Anyone have any beer pairings to recommend?

 

10 best uses for coconut oil

I have a bit of an obsession with coconut oil. I have a container of it in my bathroom, bedroom, diaper bag and kitchen. That sounds a bit crazy but you can literally use it for EVERYTHING. You can eat it, cook with it, moisturize your skin and hair, remove your makeup, the list goes on. And it is free of chemicals and 100 percent natural.image

I use coconut oil every day on my skin and in the kitchen. Here are some of my favourite uses:

Moisturizer: Use it as a face and body moisturizer. I also like to put it under my eyes (it reduces dark circles) and on my lips before bedtime. It also softens wrinkles and age spots.

Stretch marks: Prevents and softens stretch marks. I used it every day during my pregnancy.

Hair mask: Heat it up so that it’s a warm liquid and put it on your hair for a few minutes before washing. It will make you hair smooth and shiny.

Makeup remover: Use it to take off your eye makeup.

Diaper rash: It can help heal mild diaper rash. (It’s also good for babies who have cradle cap and for nursing moms who have cracked nipples).

Sun protection/sunburn: It can help prevent sunburn but has a low SPF so apply often. If you do burn rub some on for relief.

Bug bites: Rub it on bug bites to take the itch away. Mix some with peppermint oil and apply it to your skin before going outside to keep bugs away.

Acne: Dab some on to fight the bacteria that causes acne.

Cooking oil: Coconut oil is also one of the healthiest oils to use when cooking and it doesn’t burn like some other oils do. It’s great for pan frying food and grilling veggies.

Baking: You can substitute it for butter in baked goods.

 

Ontario wines for sale at farmers’ markets

When you head out to your local farmers’ market to pick up fresh fruits and veggies you’ll now be able to pair your produce with a bottle of local wine.

Starting this weekend VQA wines will be sold at farmers’ markets. It’s part of a two-year pilot project that the province hopes will increase demand for local wine.

Last year VQA wine sales in Ontario hit $268 million — up $100 million from 2008.

This is good news for local wineries and local wine lovers (like myself). I’m a big believer in supporting local and farm-to-table. I’m excited for people who don’t regularly visit local wineries to discover new and delicious wines. And talk about one stop shopping! How great is it to be able to pick up yummy food for dinner and your bottle of wine… And to know that it is all homegrown?! The perfect pairing!

 

Why midwives deserve more

My son was born in August 2013.

Pregnancy is scary… labour is scary… caring for a newborn is scary. Like most mums I know, I’m constantly wondering “is this normal?” or “am I doing this right?”

Imagine if you had someone to reassure you, offer you advice and tell you “it’s not easy, but you are doing an amazing job.” Someone who doesn’t pass judgement on your parenting methods or abilities. Someone to offer you tips and tricks that will keep you sane when you haven’t slept, showered or eaten. Well I was lucky enough to have that someone — my midwife.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I decided to choose a midwife instead of an obstetrician but I met my midwives, Rhea Wilson and Sarah Cross, when I was only six weeks pregnant and was with them until six weeks after my son was born.

imageLike many pregnant women I know, I may have been a little paranoid, crazy, uncertain (the list goes on) and I don’t know how many times I called or paged them with questions or concerns while they talked me off the ledge… especially when I had to have an emergency root canal in my second trimester. Unlike doctors, midwives are available to their clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And unlike most medical offices where you are in the waiting room longer then the exam room, at my appointments I could sit and chat with them for an hour if I wanted to, armed with my list of questions.

I got to see both sides of pregnancy care when at 32 weeks I was transferred to a high risk OB at McMaster Children’s hospital because of a heart condition I suffered triggered by the pregnancy. Everyone at Mac was amazing but the high risk clinic is busy, the doctors are in high demand and it just didn’t feel the same as when I got to ‘hang out’ with Rhea and Sarah.

In the end I had a great birth at Mac and got to keep my midwives in a  supportive role. Jack was born one week early, after about six hours of active labour. I really wanted a natural birth and decided to do hypnobirthing where you focus on breathing, meditation and relaxation. My husband will say how calm and beautiful my labour was but I’m not sure that’s how I would describe it. At one point I remember thinking “gah why did I decide to do this?!” image

My midwife, Sarah, was at my side for my entire labour, encouraging me. I’m pretty sure I squeezed her hand more than my husband’s. And when Jack’s heart rate dropped near the end, she coached me to push him out in only six minutes. I truly mean it when I say I couldn’t have done it without her.

There aren’t many occupations that involves the kind of relationship like the one between a midwife and her client. And it really is a relationship. I spent 40 weeks getting to know these two women during a special and important part of my life. It was hard to say good bye at the end of it all.

Of all the mums I’ve met and shared birth stories with in the last few months I’m surprised at how many decided to have midwives. There’s a funny saying that once you pee on the stick the first call you make is not to your husband, but to the midwives because there’s so few of them it’s really hard to be cared for by one.

image Many people are surprised when I tell them that my midwives were covered by our healthcare. That you don’t have to have a home birth or do it drug free. There are almost 700 midwives in Ontario, they have privileges at most hospitals and since midwifery became a regulated health profession in 1994, 150,000 babies have been born under their care. Basically they are baby experts and can do everything a doctor can as long as you have a healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery. They even visit you at home for checkups postpartum.

But based on my experience I think it’s fair to say they aren’t properly compensated for the work they do. One pay equity expert says while other healthcare professionals have received pay increases there’s a pay gap for midwives of about $94,000 based on their value. Despite this my midwives say, like I’m sure most of them would, they catch babies and help other women because they love it and it’s rewarding. But any woman who has been looked after by a midwife will agree that they should be justly rewarded for the work they do.

imageEven though I’m no longer a client, we still keep in touch over Facebook. So when Rhea told me this week that they are continuing to fight these pay gaps by announcing Wednesday that the Association of Ontario Midwives is filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario regarding pay equity I wanted to show my support by sharing my story.

Kegs aren’t just for beer

You’ve heard of a keg of beer but what about a keg of wine? A Brock University grad has invented a way to serve a true sparkling wine from a tap. I interviewed Rakesh Mahra for a story I did for CHCH news but I wanted to share it here also — especially since I haven’t blogged in forever. It’s hard to blog about wine when you are pregnant :)

Mahra invented a special system of dispensing sparkling wine just like beer. It preserves the bubbles in the keg as the glasses are filled. 

“You just put the keg into your keg system, draft system or cellar and it’s a simple draft line just like beer,” Mahra says. 

It sounds simple but it took him more than a year to get it right. 

“I thought it was going to be easy but it was not that easy, trust me,” he laughs. ” I went through hundreds and hundreds of trials. 

He came up with the idea for his Contraband Sparkling Wine while studying in Bordeaux a few years ago — wanting to find a way to keep bubbly from going flat. He funded it all himself… A bit scary for someone just out of school. 

It’s pretty cool considering that normally when you open a bottle of sparkling it starts to go flat within minutes but with his system the last glass is just as bubbly as the first and the wine will last for several weeks. 

His concept was met with some skepticism at first — bubbly from a keg doesn’t sound very posh and there IS something lovely about the pop of that cork — but now he has kegs in Toronto’s Globe Bistro and Zooma Zooma Cafe in Jordan.  And he hopes more restaurants will jump on board. 

Mahra had to design special equipment, that he now has a secret patent for, because sparkling wine has 5 to 6 times more carbonation than beer.

The 20 litre keg costs $450 — it works out to $17.50 a bottle — and will pour about 130 glasses. He makes the wine from 100 percent Riesling grapes from Featherstone winery so it is VQA. I didn’t try it but my camera man did :) and I know how much Rakesh loves sparkling… In our wine class last year he always found a way to scam a second glass.