Fuel for School

Your kids will love this delish sandwich

There’s one guarantee with the Chocolate and Strawberry Sandwich: the lunchbox will be empty when your child returns home. Despite the decadent concept, the sandwich provides healthy whole grains, good fats, vitamin C, and antioxidants. This recipe makes about four sandwiches.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

1/3 cup (85 mL) hazelnuts, with skins on

1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup

1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 mL) cocoa powder, to taste

1/4 cup (60 mL) enriched vanilla soymilk, approximately


1 loaf whole grain bread, cut into

1/2-inch (1-cm) thick slices

1 cup (250 mL) organic strawberries, thinly sliced

To prepare the Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Place hazelnuts in single layer on shallow baking pan. Toast until skins are almost black, about 15 minutes.

Wrap hot hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub them until most of the skins have come off. Discard skins.

Process nuts in bowl of food processor, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until the nuts have become like nut butter (about five minutes).

Add maple syrup and cocoa to hazelnut butter, and process until smooth (about five minutes). Add soymilk as necessary to achieve consistency of cream cheese. Transfer Chocolate Hazelnut Spread to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Makes 1/2 cup (125 mL).

To prepare Chocolate and Strawberry Sandwiches, spread each slice of bread with about 1 Tbsp (30 mL) Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. Top with sliced strawberries. Cover with another slice of bread and wrap tightly or place in sandwich container.

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Get Your House in Order

Use Feng Shui to help clear your home of stress

Do you step into your home with a sense of serenity? Or is it with a sense of foreboding as you contemplate that leaky faucet, those piles of unopened mail, and your family’s ever-growing mountains of “stuff”?

If you’re souring on home sweet home, try borrowing some ideas from Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”). Arranging space to be in harmony with nature might seem like a New Age fad, but it’s actually an ancient Chinese concept with many practical applications. The main premise is that what you place in your environment and how you arrange and balance those objects can enhance — or hinder — your heath and well-being.

Basic Feng Shui

In her book Feng Shui and Health, Nancy Santopietro compares clutter in the home to cholesterol in your bloodstream: just as high cholesterol clogs your arteries and leads to physical illness, so too can clutter clog your home and feed feelings of stress and anxiety.

Keep your home as free from clutter as you can. Anything disorganized, unused, or unfinished qualifies as clutter — papers that need to be recycled, old clothes that could be given away, broken-down appliances that are gathering dust. Besides removing clutter, be sure to promptly repair or replace worn-out or damaged items, such as broken light bulbs and squeaky doors.

Once you’ve toned down on the visual noise, pacify your home with echoes of nature. The sound of gurgling water can breathe more life into your environment. Tropical plants such as lucky bamboo, dracaena, and ivy are easy to keep and will help to naturally renew the indoor air.

Regularly clean and air out your home. Also plug sinkholes and put toilet seats down. Make sure your doorways and entryways are clear of obstacles.

Install lighting appropriate to the area. Have high-quality luminous lighting in rooms that require greater attention to detail, such as in the kitchen or office. Reduce the amount of lighting in areas like the den or bedroom to help create a quieter, more relaxed environment.

Bathe your home in a sufficient amount of sunlight to uplift and soothe the spirit. (In areas of your home that don’t have access to natural light, full-spectrum light bulbs will do the trick.) Open drapes and add mirrors to draw in the sunlight.

Find a quiet spot in your home that can be reserved for meditation, soul-searching, and creative thinking. Add plants, a comfy chair or couch, and soft lighting, all of which will help to foster a sense of relaxation.

In Feng Shui, the bedroom is considered an inner sanctum. Position your bed so that the view is of something nurturing, rather than straight into the bathroom or down a hallway. Remove TVs or other electronic devices that can distract you from a sound sleep. Above all, don’t work in your bedroom: the goal is to never compromise its status as your ultimate oasis.

Feng Shui for the Office

You can also apply Feng Shui principles to the workplace to help relieve stress and unleash creative energy. You don’t even have to devote a lot of time to rearranging things. According to Kirsten Lagatree, author of Feng Shui at Work, “Subtle changes, such as the placement of your desk or use of color in a room, can bring dramatic results.”

As in the home, clutter in the workplace gives rise to mental and emotional chaos. Keep your desk tidy by dedicating at least an hour per week to organizing it.

When decorating, choose complementary, muted colors over bright colors and/or colors that clash. Avoid an overabundance of white: it reflects light, leading to eyestrain.

Make sure your computer screen is the brightest object in your line of sight. If the overhead light is too bright, your eyes will have to work overtime to make out what’s on the screen.

Bring in some plants or a tabletop fountain to add an element of nature to your office.

Situate yourself in what Feng Shui practitioners call the “Command Position” — with your desk facing the door. Having your back to the door can make you feel vulnerable, increasing stress.

Remember: You don’t have to believe its claims of mysterious cosmic energy to enjoy the very real benefits of Feng Shui. By transforming your space into your personal refuge, you can achieve greater relaxation and reduce your stress, thereby improving your overall health.

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Meat Lovers’ Misfortune

What you need to know about the listeria outbreak

A tiny but potentially deadly microorganism has prompted a massive recall of meat products in Canada. In late August, several people in the province of Ontario became sick after consuming “ready-to-serve” deli meats. Inspections later determined the meat to contain listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium found in soil, vegetation, animal feed, and feces (both human and animal). Consuming listeria-contaminated food can lead to a virulent form of food poisoning known as listerosis. For most people, according to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, “the risk posed by listeria is very low.” However, the resulting condition can be quite harmful and even fatal for the elderly, babies, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. Three dozen cases of listerosis have been either confirmed or are suspected and at least 12 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began. Here are some more key facts on listeriosis and meat products:

  • Symptoms of listerosis mimic those of the flu and include nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, headache, constipation, and persistent fever. They usually appear within two to 30 days and up to 70 days after consuming contaminated food. In extreme cases, symptoms may be followed by a brain or blood infection, either of which can result in death. For a complete list of food products that have been recalled by the Public Health Agency of Canada due to concerns over listeria monocytogenes, click here. (Source: Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • To avoid contamination, refrigerate foods promptly and keep the refrigerator at 4°C (40°F) or colder. Thoroughly cook or boil foods such as hot dogs and poultry products. Avoid raw, unpasteurised milk or foods made from it, such as raw milk cheese. Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating them. Clean all utensils, cutting boards, and work surfaces with a mild bleach solution (5 ml/1 tsp. bleach per 750 ml/3 cups water) before and after use. Separate utensils for raw and cooked foods. Follow “use by” dates, especially on packaged goods with a long shelf life. Wash your hands before, during, and after handling any type of food, especially raw meat and poultry. (Source: Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • Although most processed meat products remain safe for human consumption, you’d be wise not to make them a staple of your diet. Cold cuts, bologna, and hot dogs contain nitrites (a chemical used to preserve their pink color), which can combine with stomach acid to produce nitrosamine, a suspected cancer-causing agent.
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Young at Heart

Why kids are the experts on rejuvenation

Ask a skin-care model or those covertly greying men in the Grecian Formula ads: where looks are concerned, we all want to be youthful.

Yet what we eagerly seek on the outside, we routinely bottle up on the inside. Faced with a disapproving adult world, we quickly learn to repress our playfulness, exuberance, and curiosity. We put on poker faces and follow strict schedules that leave no time for fun and games.

As adults, we may continue to look young thanks to our genes or the wonders of cosmetic rejuvenation therapies. But we’ll never enjoy true rejuvenation — complete renewal of the mind, body, and spirit — if we don’t embrace our inner youthfulness.

The secret to rejuvenation is living in the moment. It enables us to get a true break from whatever’s on our minds.

Kids are the undisputed experts at living in the moment. By absorbing deeply whatever the moment has to offer, they’re able to go forward with renewed energy, increased vitality, and a fresh perspective on life. What could be more rejuvenating than that?

Here are five more important lessons about rejuvenation that kids can teach grownups:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.
  2. Have you ever seen babies cry after a spill or being separated from a toy, only to break out into a glorious smile seconds later when someone does something to amuse them? Believe it or not, those babies may actually be schooling us.

    Denying and burying your emotions will only leave you stuck in them. You’ll do much better to simply feel whatever you’re feeling without any resistance. All you need to do is let the emotion wash over you and then let go of it when it no longer feels good. You’ll be amazed at how good it can feel (temporarily) to grieve or have a self-righteous fit of anger. After a while, however, these feelings no longer feel good. That’s when it’s time to let them go.

  3. Don’t worry, be happy.
  4. Unlike adults, kids don’t splurge a lot of emotional capital on worrying. Part of the reason is because they don’t have as many responsibilities as grownups. But they also aren’t as worried about maintaining their status or a carefully cultivated image (we’re talking about little kids here, not tweens or teens, of course!). For them, each day is a fresh start. Take your cue from the youngsters. Plan ahead, but don’t become bogged down in unhealthy worrying. Focus on enjoying the present, while moving ahead on your goals for the future.

  5. Have a laugh.
  6. Laughter isn’t something to be stifled but encouraged. As well as inducing positive emotions and feel-good endorphins, it improves lung capacity and cardiovascular health, and produces antibodies that help to strengthen the immune system. But while a fit of the giggles is considered cute and charming in kids, chances are you’ll be curtly told to “grow up” if you spontaneously burst into laughter as an adult. So try to find some socially acceptable outlets for laughter. Go see a comedy, watch a funny TV show, or spend time with a friend whose witticisms crack you up. Amid all the hilarity, you’ll be experiencing some serious rejuvenating benefits.

  7. Get excited.
  8. Everything excites kids: going to the mall, seeing a doggie, the shapes they think they can make out in the clouds. As adults, we may be older, wiser, and a lot more jaded, but we still need to indulge our inherent yearning for childlike wonderment and excitement as often as we can.

    What thrills and captivates you? If it’s the beauty of nature, go for long nature walks. If it’s the mysteries of the universe, buy a telescope and explore the heavens from your backyard. If it’s a favorite musical artist, make a point of seeing them the next time they’re in town. Make whatever excites and inspires an integral part of your rejuvenation program.

  9. Get out and have fun.
  10. Remember when your friends used to show up at your door and ask your parents if you could “come out and play?” While those days of sandboxes and jumping jacks may be done, we still need to get out and have fun if we want to enjoy rejuvenation. Playing a sport like baseball lets us socialize and have an excuse to run around and think of nothing beyond catching and hitting a baseball. The arts offer another potential playground for adults. In fact, according to a Swedish study, attendance at cultural events, reading, and playing music may even help you to live longer.

    No matter what your preferred form of rejuvenation, give yourself ample opportunities to laugh, get excited, have fun, and generally feel like a kid again. No kidding!

Did you know?

In its earliest usage, the word “rejuvenation” — derived from the Latin root word for “young” — literally meant to become young again.

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Building Strength

Hope you had a wonderful and long holiday weekend? Now, I know that sometimes after the holiday it’s hard to get back on track but…I’m here to help you do so. Often some of us find that holidays are a great time for us to get in more exercise, more cardio and to get in better shape. Unfortunately even more of us find the holidays are a great time to intake (again…unfortunately) more calories.

So if one of your Summer goals are not to add on any additional weight, to decrease your body fat or to just get started…this blog is for you! This and in the next few weeks, I’m going to be address how not to add any additional pounds to your body during the summer months, through strength training and nutrition.

Usually when the weather is warmer we’re more incline to grill or eat lighter, since we don’t want to have to spend too much time in the kitchens or heating up the oven.

In conjunction to getting in your steps (10k plus a day) as well as your cardio steps (5k plus a day), it’s time to start adding in some strength training if you haven’t started yet. The following are some of the best exercises to do whether you’re short on time or are new to exercising. This 2 day routine are also some of the actual exercises that I give my clients:

Day 1:

Squats Quads (front of thighs), Hamstrings (back of thighs), Calves and Glutes

Push-ups Chest, Shoulders (front), and Triceps (back of arms)

Reverse Lunges Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Glutes

Tricep Extension Triceps

Calf Raises Calves

Seated Leg Lifts Quads

Reverse Crunches Lower Abs

Crunches Upper Abs

Day 2:

Squats Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Glutes

Seated Rows Back, Shoulders (back of) and Biceps (front of arms)

Lunges Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Glutes

Shoulder Press Front, Mid and Rear Delts

Bicep Curls Biceps

Glute Lifts Hamstrings, Glutes and Calves

Bicycles Upper, Lower, Internal and External Obliques

Full or Modified Plank – Core

Upper body: 1 – 3 sets 8 – 10 reps

Lower body: 1 – 3 sets 12 – 15 reps

You can do this routine on alternate days as well as on your cardio days. Remember that if you experience an pain or discomfort, discontinue IMMEDIATELY! Make sure that you continue to stretch before, during and after your workout.

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