Friday, June 28, 2013

Toronto Pride Prep!

Pride weekend is upon us in Toronto. The girls got themselves in the spirit by attending University of Toronto's Pride Pub last week. More pictures to come at the end of the weekend!

If the music is playing, Teagan will dance!

Snack Spotlight: Homemade Popsicles

Summer has finally hit and it hit with a vengeance. The weather in Toronto has been extremely hot and humid for a couple of weeks now. The girls tried ice cream not too long ago and like every kid, they loved it! Ice cream is something that I'd prefer that they only have once in a while as a treat. But, the heat called for cold snacks, so I put my thinking cap on.

Earlier in the week, I made two different homemade protein popsicles recipes. They were quick and easy to whip up and were thoroughly enjoyed! If you live in Canada, the Loblaws Superstores sell mini popsicle holders for $2 (makes 8 popsicles).

Watermelon Mint Popsicles
1.5 cups of 10% fat Greek yogurt (loads of protein!)
2 cups of chopped watermelon
Small handful of fresh mint (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup almond milk
1-2 tbsp. raw honey
Juice of half a lime

Combine everything in a blender and pour into popsicle holders.

My friend, Sarah, gave me the brilliant idea of freezing the excess in muffin cups! The girls made quite a mess of these so we enjoyed them outside.

Mango Popsicles
Inspired by Vanilla & Spice

1.5 cups of 10% fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk
2 cups of chopped mango
1-2 tbsp. raw honey
Dash of cardamom and salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender and pour into popsicle holders.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Trimming The Fat"

Like many pregnant women, I signed up for Baby Center's weekly 'fetus updates' when I became pregnant. It was fun to see the twins' size in utero compared to a fruit or veggie and read about the various body parts and organs that developed at the different stages. Since the girls were born, I don’t always have the time to look at the updates but when I do, they are often informative and useful.

However the piece I received for my "2-year old preschooler" this week titled Long and Lean concerned me in my capacity as a nutritionist. The first sentence said: "Time to trim the fat!" … and my toddlers’ diets should consist of no more than 30% fat and I should start to feed my twins low-fat dairy products.

In my opinion as a nutritionist, this low-fat take on food is misguided. In the 80s, we were extremely fat and carb-phobic (or so I was told). Some people have still not left that behind and realized the difference between the healthy and not-so-healthy.

Here are a few reasons why we, and not just our two-year olds, should stay away from low and no-fat foods:
•   When fat is taken out of a food, it needs to be replaced with something. That something is most often sugar. Sugar is no better (arguably worse) than fat. If carbohydrates (sugar) are not burned off, they will turn to fat. Low or no-fat "foods" rarely leave us feeling satiated, which means it often leads us to eat more. 
•   Saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, eggs, meat) keep our cell walls strong. 
•   Fats, especially saturated fats, help our bodies absorb vital nutrients (vitamin A, D, E). Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, which is particularly important for young children and women. 
•   Omega-3 fats are critical for brain development in young children. But, don't be fooled by "fortified" foods (ie. breakfast cereals). These foods have very little omega fats and the quality of the fats is usually poor. My girls eat fish and seafood 1-2 times per week and take a daily dose of a high-quality DHA supplement. If your child suffers from eczema or frequent colds, try adding omega-3 fats into his/her diet for a few weeks. [Note: If your baby is under a year old, do not give an Omega-3 supplement without consulting a naturopathic doctor. You can, however, take the supplement yourself, if you are breastfeeding.]
•   A reasonable amount of saturated fats per day can actually promote weight loss. Research actually shows that coconut oil is so well-absorbed by the body that it is used as an energy source and will speed up your metabolism. 

As with everything, fats, both saturated and unsaturated (Omegas), are good for us in moderation. I cook only with butter and coconut oil and use sensible amounts.

In closing, the last thing we should do is "trim the fat" on our toddlers! In the event that a toddler is overweight, a healthy diet, exercise and proper sleep should be the only "medicine" given.

For more information, definitely contact a naturopathic doctor. 

For further reference check out Gary Taubes' excellent books: Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We are Fat and What we can do about it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New House!

New house! This has become the girls' new favourite phrase. We moved last Friday! It has been a bit hectic, hence no blog post. We didn't move far from our old place (15-ish minutes).

We are all loving the new digs. I am in love with having a backyard. While we had one in the other house, it was tiny and not useable for the girls. I feel like we've got another huge new playroom for them. It is completely fenced in (a must for toddlers and dogs).

The house is bigger than our old one, but still has 3 bedrooms. We turned the third bedroom into the girls' playroom. Toys all over the living and dining room drove me nuts in the old place! Jenn and I are thrilled to have a master ensuite in this house. We also love the massive closets in every room.

There are tons of windows, including two skylights on the second floor, so the house gets lots of natural light. Even on cloudy days, it doesn't feel dark in here.

We also love the location. We are a stones throw to tons of great restaurants, shops, parks etc. This was something that we loved about living downtown and weren't ready to give up. We also have parking for two cars. This is a huge luxury when you live in the heart of the city.

We are surprisingly settled for not even being here for a week. We were lucky enough to have my parents take the girls for two days at the end of last week. We were able to get a ton of stuff unpacked. Moving with young kids is definitely tough!

A few pics:

They could be in a Litt.le ad!
Summer patio drinks
Finn, Riley and Carlee relax on the patio
The boys are loving the huge front window
The playroom (work in progress)
Silly-faced Q shows off their (much larger!) bedroom

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Perfect" 45 minutes

On the heels of my previous post, the girls and I were lucky enough to share a most "perfect" 45 minutes a few days ago. Try to focus on the good times, right?! We were running early for a play date so we popped into the Distillery District in downtown Toronto (a must if you visit this city). I grabbed some coffee and we all shared some delicious banana bread from an organic bakery. The two of them were in such good spirits that they actually stopped so I could snap a few pictures with my phone!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My 2-year old made me cry

Last week was a rough one. My 2-year old made me cry. She beat me down for 12 hours. I tried to hold back the tears after she went to bed. I couldn't. I felt drained, mentally and emotionally. I felt a little bit pathetic that a 25-pound tot did that to me. She yelled at me all day long. She wanted my attention constantly. She wanted that book and not this book. Tantrum. She wanted grapes and not watermelon. Crying. She wanted me to pick her up while I made breakfast. Ear-piercing screaming. She wanted (EVERY) toy that her sister had. Hitting and then more crying. It didn't Even during my precious nap "break", she screamed from her crib, refusing to nap. After falling asleep briefly, she woke crankier than ever. She yanked and clawed at my chest, demanding milk. I tried reading, singing, playing with toys, going for a walk to the park, a car trip, food bribery and even You.Tube. The videos I put on were never right. I don't even think that she knew what she wanted for those three days, but it started minutes after waking from her 12-hour sleep and ended minutes before falling asleep for the night.

Maybe she was teething or maybe she was stressed about our move. I don't really know. I stayed calm. I gave in when I felt like it was appropriate and ignored her when I couldn't handle being near her. I gave her hugs and kisses and cuddles when needed. Maybe it is the parenting rookie in me, but it was hard not to feel like I was doing something wrong. My 2-year old was Jeky.ll &

I read this article, To The Parents of Small Children, a few days later. Hallelujah, I'm not a terrible parent! I feel like I am sometimes, even though I know, deep down, that I'm not.

Enjoy every moment! They grow up so fast. The strangers who say this to me, to all of us, must be remembering toddlerhood through rose-coloured glasses. On days like last week, I'm not usually enjoying the moment. On those challenging days, those kinds of comments make me feel guilty. If I'm not 'enjoying the moment', am I missing out? No. The good faaaaaaaaaar outweigh the bad. The girls and I have some incredibly perfect days or moments. We also have many, many good days filled with great moments. Those tough days make me appreciate the good ones that much more.

Time is the greatest gift to parents of young children. This isn't a quote from the article. It is from my mom. When I receive those emails from my brother offering to take the girls for a few hours, my day is instantly better. I no longer feel guilty over wanting time away from them because I know that that time makes me a better parent and a better person.

On those horribly challenging days, sometimes I need to scream. Sometimes I need to cry. Sometimes I need to vent. Sometimes I need to eat junk food. I'm trying really hard to recognize what I need during those times.

Sometimes it is as simple as breathe in, breathe out and the reminder that you're not alone, as Steve Wiens puts it. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

False Promises

They remember. Don't make false promises to a toddler. Lesson learned...the hard way.

Rob, my brother, was over earlier. He was picking up my parents' at the airport after he left our place. About 40 minutes before he was leaving, I jokingly asked the girls, "Do you want to go with Rob to pick up Grandpa and Atty? You can have a sleep over!" Immediately, Quinn said, "Rob, let's go!"

The time came for Rob to leave, 40 minutes later. He walked to the door and so did T&Q. They tried to push by me, yelling about Grandpa and Atty. They were going to the airport afterall.


It took us a while to clean up my mess.

She was furious that I was taking her pic
(and rightfully so)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Non-Green Green Smoothie

Recently, a few people have told me that they would love to be able to feed their kids green smoothies to get more nutrition into them. The catch was that their kids refused to eat anything green.

I made a non-green green smoothie for the girls this morning. I actually assumed that it would come out green but it didn't.

Non-Green Green Smoothie
(approximate measurements)

-- 3 cups of organic baby kale
-- 1 banana
-- 1.5-2 cups of frozen berries (blueberries and strawberries)
-- 2 cups of water

1. Throw all ingredients in a blender and thoroughly mix.
2. Enjoy!

This smoothie was quite tart from the berries. If you prefer your smoothie to be a bit sweeter, add a tablespoon of honey.

Even though it is red, you can feel good knowing that your kids (and you!) are getting all of the fantastic nutritional benefits from the healthy serving of kale in this smoothie.