Archives for November 2013

“Ritz” crackers should not count as a grain!

My mother recently forwarded this to me http://gawker.com/mom-gives-kids-homemade-lunch-school-forces-them-to-ea-1466822586/@neetzanz

Basically, a Mother in Manitoba was fined by her children’s because her home-packed, homemade, whole food lunch lunch did not include a serving of grains. Along with the fine, the school “supplemented” her children’s lunches with Ritz crackers to make up for the “lack” of a grain.

There is so much wrong with this. First of all, following the food guide literally to a T can be completely misleading about what a healthy, wholesome and nutritious diet should include.

Second of all, why does every meal have to include a grain? What if these kids had grains at breakfast and will have grains at dinner?

Third of all, what about the kids who are allergic to wheat? What about those who are vegetarian or lactose intolerant? What would the school do to their homemade lunches? How can they follow the Food Guide to a T?

Fourth of all, and maybe most important? HOW ON EARTH ARE RITZ CRACKERS CONSIDERED A HEALHY SUPPLEMENT? The whole point of following the food guide at this school, I presume, is to make sure children are eating a balanced, wholesome and nutritious meal. Yet somehow Ritz crackers are considered crucial to that? In our fight against the packaged food industry and obesity and health of young people, this is concerning.

What does everyone think of this? Should schools have the power to do this?

I think that it is great that schools are checking homemade lunches but what is important is the food and nutrition knowledge of those who are checking. Clearly, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed here.

Edible Schoolyard Project

I know this is not news, but we watched this in class a few weeks back and I think this is AMAZING.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qApx7O6phWo

Of course, this project takes place in California. The wonderful climate there certainly makes this easier but I still think programs like this could (and should!) happen anywhere.

I am a firm believer that kids are the ones who really need to learn about the issues in our food production and what we actually put in our bodies. One way to change this is definitely to target food education in the schools. Kids carry the messages home and are so impressionable in their young age. A lot of time children are only eating processed food because it is what their parents give them- they are not even aware of it’s detrimental effects on their health. We need to make these kids aware! And we need to teach them about sustainable and local farming.

Way to go Edible Schoolyard!!!!

I can’t believe I had never heard of this project until recently!!

Nike Training Club Canada- “Nearly Impossible Alone, Totally Possible Together”

My friends in New York City have been telling me for a couple years about their experiences with Nike Training Club. When they initially told me they attended free NTC classes at NYU I truly didn’t believe them. I thought they must be paying for it somehow in their tuition. They described these classes to me as a total-body workout involving metabolic conditioning in a super fun and motivating group environment all run by amazing NTC trainers. It seemed almost too good to be true. Still, I was envious that we didn’t have any NTC classes in Toronto when my friends explained this all to me.

Well, as of September I started seeing things about NTC Canada on Facebook. I clicked on the page and I didn’t see any info on any classes. However, a few weeks later an event for a NTC class popped up on my feed! I investigated and found out that all you have to do is write “count me in” on the wall of the event page. I was still a little skeptical and thought there must be some sort of catch. However, I decided to give it a go and attend a Saturday class and convinced my sister to join me. The classes are being offered at  http://academyoflions.com which is located at 64 Ossington Ave (Ossington and Queen West) in Toronto, a good trek from my eastern suburb, but after the raving reviews from my friends in NYC I decided it was worth the journey.

We arrived and checked in and sure enough, there really was no catch, it was definitely free!  The Academy of Lions gym is a neat space, and I didn’t feel intimidated being there (which is a feeling I have felt upon walking into other crossfit gyms). In fact, the atmosphere made me pretty excited (which is hard to feel knowing a gruelling workout is in front of you). We walked up the stairs to their second floor which has walls covered in NTC quotes and of course, tons of swoosh symbols.  There was loud, trendy music playing and I really couldn’t wait to get moving. All in all, there were at least 40 girls there (and a few brave men! YAY to them!!) We met our fun, itty-bitty, cheerful coach, Jenn Thompson (who’s body was all the motivation I really needed) and started a warm up. The warm up consisted of a nice mix of cardio and dynamic movements going from one side of the room to the other. Then, the hard stuff got under way. The whole class was a solid mix of intervals involving some plyometic movements, crunches and the like, combined with a circuit that we completed in teams as a relay. I really loved the circuit part of it all. One team member went at a time and went through 10 reps at each station (weighted lunges, dips, rows, burpies, squat jumps) and then held a plank at the end. The next person would start, and then release the team mate holding the plank at the end once they got there, who would then run back to the team members and send the next person. It was a lot of fun, and having a team to cheer me on really kept me going! The best part was that while we were waiting we were not just standing around. Jenn had us doing squats or jumping jacks and as soon as we started slacking, we were all down for 10 push-ups.

My only criticism of the whole experience is that I saw a lot of people rushing through their movements with less than optimal form in order to make their team win. However, Jenn was pretty good at fixing this- and given the class size, it would have been a lot of work to make sure every single person was doing the moves properly. For this reason, I wouldn’t say this would be the best class to attend if you are a total newbie to working out, but at the same time, I would still encourage newbies to the fitness world to check it out just because it was so fun and motivating!

All in all, I had an absolute blast! I really wish I lived closer to take full advantage of these free classes offered 3 times a week! I love the team environment and the completely female friendly easy going attitude I felt from everyone. I sweat like a pig, had fun, and left feeling accomplished. Not to mention, there is a cute little coffee bar right in the gym where I enjoyed a wonderful coconut milk latte after the class (why do more coffee shops in Toronto not offer coconut milk as an option?) It really was the perfect way to spend the first half of my Saturday. I mean, a good workout AND good coffee, what’s not to love?

Check out the classes! Just head on over to https://www.facebook.com/niketrainingclubcanada/app_233752330117269

Click on the drop down menu where it says “Train with NTC” and then select “Events.” That will take you to a page with all of the listed classes. Be sure to sign up early, they fill up fast! Make sure you write “Count me in” on the event wall in order to be registered. The best part? You can attend as many classes as you wish!

I hope to see some of you there next time I go!

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Squats for Subway Rides

Squats for Subway Rides

(click the title for video link)

This is AMAZING!

This video has been making it’s rounds today on social media sites but I just wanted to share it here as well. For those who have yet to see it, there has been a machine installed in the subway system in Moscow, Russia that allows passengers to trade 30 squats for a free subway ride! This has been put in place to promote the upcoming 2014 winter games. What I love about it however is that is promotes physical health as well! This is seriously genius, and so innovative! I think if we did this in Toronto you would see people squatting everywhere! This speaks a lot about how to incorporate small amounts of activity into daily life, and besides that, who doesn’t love free stuff?

It reminds me a lot of the video featuring the piano stairs that encouraged people to walk up the stairs.

Think we can convince Ford to do something like this?

Sick Around the World

Good Evening Everyone!

I don’t have much time for a long post tonight but I did just want to share this PBS special on healthcare around the world. I’m saddened that it didn’t include Canada in it. However, I think it is very pertinent right now to what is happening in the U.S.

Take some time to watch it and let me know what you think- I would love to discuss this!

http://video.pbs.org/video/1050712790/

 

Simply Magic Gluten Free Chocolately “clean” Granola Bars

Greetings Everyone!

Those who know me, know that I am not a big supporter of the packaged food industry. I try and avoid packaged foods as much as possible. Do you read the ingedients list of packaged foods? If so, you know as I do that the majority of packaged foods contain at least 1 of these as the first couple ingredients, if not all; wheat, sugar, soy, and corn. Since I believe no one should be eating refined sugars and I am fairly certain I’m allergic to both wheat and soy, packaged foods are pretty much out of the question for me (both because of what I believe in and also because of my poor stomach).

However, this can definitely be a challenge sometimes. Especially as a student with a job who is constantly on the go. Sometimes I really just wish I had that cheap packaged (insert “food” product here) to grab on my way out the door.

Another thing to point out is that buying packaged health food products are ridiculously expensive- up to 3 or more times the price of the conventional stuff!!

Yesterday a classmate pulled out a granola bar. “That looks so good” I said, “I have another,” she told me, “take it.” I had to decline but every last bit of me wanted to eat it- even knowing that I would pay for it in stomach pains later.

So, when I came home from class I went on a mission to create the perfect wheat free, no refined sugar yet still sweet, “healthy” granola bar. What resulted was the following recipe. I am quite proud of it and I think you’d like to too if you give it a go!

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This recipe can be made with less of the sweet stuff to make a little healthier (and I think next time I’d do this as these bars turned out quite sweet!) by cutting back on the maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar. Each bar has about 150 calories, 6.7g of fat, 4g of belly filling fibre, 9g of sugar, and 5g of protein. I wouldn’t recommend pigging out on these bad boys because of the high-ish sugar content but they are definitely a lot better for you and full of more natural ingredients than the store bought variety, and will satisfy your hunger more as well. They are perfect for a small snack with your afternoon coffee or tea when you just need a bit of a pick me up!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup chia seeds (any variety is fine)

4 tbsp ground flax seed

4 tbsp whole flax seed (I like to do half and half to get the Omega 3’s and the fibre)

1/4 cup ground pecans (you can used chopped as well, I just had ground in the house)

1-2 chopped apples

2 scoops Vega One Chocolate protein powder (you could just use a few tablespoons of cocoa)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup pure honey

1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute like coconut oil or earth balance spread to make this vegan)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp sea salt

 

Pre-heat oven to 450. Combine first 10 ingredients in bowl then distribute evenly on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast ingredients at 450 for 20 minutes (I like mine quite crispy so this time could be lessened).

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While mix is roasting, combine honey, maple syrup, butter and coconut sugar in saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add in vanilla. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Stir in protein powder.

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When mix is done roasting combine dry ingredient and wet ingredients in a large bowl. Grease a spatula and a baking sheet and use spatula to press combined mixture into baking sheet, pressing firmly. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Use a sharp knife to cut into bar shaped portions. Be careful to press down firmly in order to keep bars from breaking.

I like to freeze them so they keep longer.

feel free to experiment with these and make them your own creation! The possibilities are literally endless!