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Archive for the ‘Recently Reviewed’ Category

What is Cupping?

In Body Fantastic on September 16, 2018 at 2:04 pm

A Cup Above

By now, most people have heard about acupuncture. If you haven’t, it’s an alternative treatment practised in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), whereby thin needles (more like very small pins) are inserted into the body at specific meridians of the body to treat various conditions. For those of you with needle phobia, these are not the traditional needles they use at the doctor’s office to take your blood. For many physiotherapists and people who treat sports injuries, acupuncture has become somewhat mainstream as it has been known to help ease arthritis as well as joint pain.

A few decades ago, I injured my lower back in a slip-and-fall accident, and every now and again my back decides to seize up. While normal rest and some exercises helped my back, it was the debilitating pain of migraines that finally drove me to discover acupuncture. If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know what I’m talking about. Fortunately, many family members recommended a physiotherapist who I was more than happy to meet, and over the years she has relieved my back pain and aging body aches with a combination of acupuncture and physio. Since her office is on the other side of town, when a local TCM clinic opened within walking distance from my home and a colleague highly recommended one of the doctors, I decided to give it a try. Once there, I discovered their TCM acupuncture methods were more effective than the physio.

Fast forward, a year later and my back and neck were clenched – I need acupuncture badly. My TCM doctor assessed the situation as I laid face down and agreed. “I think you need cupping today to loosen your tight muscles…” she says. I’d heard of the practice but had never had the procedure done before – since I’m already in pain I think, how bad can it be? “OK…” I say.

No Pain, No Gain

Within a few moments, I hear the clinking of glass containers on a cart rattle in. The flick of a lighter is followed by a puff of incense-scented smoke and suddenly I feel a cold circle of suction on my back. As I endure the first few cups with only mild discomfort,   I think to myself, “This isn’t so bad.” But as she gets to my lower back and attaches the next two cups, I gasp out loud to which she responds, “if you can manage the pain, it is better if you try and hang on…”

FullSizeRenderWincing, my mind now conjures visions of booster cables pinching off nerve endings. “Remember why you went in the first place,” I try and tell myself. If you’ve endured crushing migraine or screaming lower back pain, then you can easily breathe through a few moments of this stinging. Memories of childbirth drift back into my thoughts although this time, it feels like I’ve got 20 pounds of glass pressing down on my back.

Mercifully, the time passes quickly. As the suction cups are removed they release a whoosh of air, and I simultaneously experience a sign of relief! That night, I fall into a deep sleep and am drenched in sweat when I awake feeling light and nimble, able-bodied and healed! And those angry red lesions that cover my back and worry my family gradually subside over the next few days.

Sitting Pretty at Sorelle

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on July 22, 2018 at 6:38 pm

In the ever-changing Toronto landscape, it seems like there’s a new vegan restaurant or café popping up at regular intervals no matter what neighbourhood you find yourself in.

Sorelle.pgIf you happen to have a sweet tooth – rush down to Sorelle and Co., and be prepared to be amazed by the confection selection. Feast your eyes on the prettiest non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, nut-free and preservative-free food you’ve ever seen.

Mind you, if you like to people watch in upscale Yorkville, it’s a great place to simply soak in the swanky decor. Be warned – unless you’re there to grab and go, be prepared to wait for a table.

Clearly it’s never been more trendy to be vegan, which to me is good news all around. Marie Antoinette would approve of the lush setting, elegant dishware and decadent desserts. It’s always a cause for celebration when vegans can have our cake and eat it, too!

Made It By A Nose

In Book Reviews, Food For Thought on August 3, 2017 at 10:51 pm

BookCoverImageIt’s here! Yes, it took me another year to complete but the paperback version of My Father’s Nose has just been released on CreateSpace.com. It should be widely available on Amazon.ca by the end of the week.

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words with this ongoing endeavour. It’s certainly been a labour of love – as all creative projects are – with the added bonus of learning new computer programs. Fingers crossed, the next book won’t take as long!

Happy Birthday Dad – didn’t think I’d get it together on time, but here it is. Hope all is well with you in the great beyond.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Best Baba-ghanouj By Far

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on June 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Move over hummus. If you eat a lot of dips, like we do, then I highly recommend Sunflower Kitchen’s classic eggplant dip. Fresh, non-GMO, kosher – this company makes some of the best-quality dips you’ll ever taste. This all-time favourite makes a perfect appetizer or snack with veggies and crackers. Try it as a spread on wraps or in sandwiches. We also love it as part of a meal with flatbread or naan.

babaghanouj

Sunflower Kitchen Baba-Ghanouj (www.sunflowerkitchen.com). However you spell it: baba ghanoush, baba ganoush, or Sunflower’s preferred baba-ghanouj  – this is one delicious dip. Almost as good as homemade, perhaps even better since there’s no prep time or cleanup – it’s already made and ready to serve! PRODUCT NOTES Wonderful, smooth texture with real eggplant pieces, skin and all. Has just the right flavouring that comes from roasting the eggplant. BOTTOM LINE Look for the large container, as the small one won’t last! I normally buy two large containers each time I’m out shopping, as it seems to disappear overnight in my house. Plus, I’ve noticed it sells out fast, so clearly I’m not the only one who has discovered it. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to any other brand. (And if you do find a better one, I’d like to know about it!)

 

Fur-rific Fable is Fetching Fun!

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 3, 2017 at 9:25 pm

MissMoonCoverIf you’re a cat person, the mere mention of dogs may conjure up images of simple, scruffy ruffians. But before you go and get your hackles raised, fear not – Miss Moon is here to lead the pack on raising well-mannered dogs (and their people, too). Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill (Tundra Books, 2016) is a beautifully illustrated picture book filled with valuable life lessons. Perhaps even a cat, or two, might learn some new tricks. Readers with a keen eye, no doubt, will be certain to spot the few cat cameos.

Based in Stratford, Ont., author Janet Hill is also the book illustrator and known for her elegant and whimsical artwork, which has been featured in various magazines as well as both private and corporate collections.

The story begins on an island off the coast of France, where Miss Moon began her career minding 67 dogs. Instead of running for the hills, she realized her lifelong calling was to become a dog governess. Refined dog owners everywhere will certainly agree that there is a terrible shortage, as it is extremely difficult to find anyone who specializes in imparting good manners to pampered pooches – let alone someone as experienced and dedicated as Miss Moon. Now before you go barking up the wrong tree, a simple visit to your neighbourhood park will prove how sorely these services are needed. Be sure to watch where you step, and don’t be surprised to find yourself overrun with common dog walkers and their motley crew of wild, canine charges.

Easy to read and broken into 20 life lessons, Miss Moon’s terrific tips and gorgeous artwork will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. Lesson Eighteen, for example, will appeal to eco-warriors and homesteaders alike – “Nurture the environment and you’ll never be hungry.” A delightful tale for young and old.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Coffee: The Life-Saving Beverage

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on March 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

Not a day goes by when I don’t drink coffee. Although there may be small blips of time – like during pregnancy with my daughter, or the odd illness here and there over the years that keep me from eating. That said, we’re not talking Timmy’s here. It’s only premium whole bean, dark roasted, organic, fair trade coffee that makes the grade in our house. Yes, we refer to this black, liquid gold as our “life-saving beverage” of choice. While “please” and “thank you” have their place in our home, the real magic words uttered are, “the coffee light’s on!”

So when I became vegan, I wondered how coffee would fit into this plan since I drink my coffee regular (cream and sugar). Sure, I tried every type of non-dairy milk from hemp to almond, rice and soy milk but these watery additions only led to a sad, sludge-like end product. If you’ve ever put skim or one per cent milk into your coffee, then you know what that’s like. One glorious day, I happened on the soy creamer that dreams are made of…and once again, the day was saved – by coffee!

creamer

 

 

Curry in a Hurry

In Food, Glorious Food, Recently Reviewed, Recipes on February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

While we love Indian food, if you’ve ever made curry from scratch you know, it can be a long, time-consuming process. To cut corners, I sometimes use ready-made sauces but it’s really hard to find prepackaged ones that not only taste good but are organic, not to mention vegan, gluten-free and nut-free.

For the most part, I find that store-bought sauces or mixes often need a bit of embellishment to make them more flavourful – so I end up having to add a ton of spices just to make them palatable. How happy I was to recently discover a new line of sauces that step up to the challenge! These sauces are made in small batches and are full of flavour on their own.

Ingredients

3          large potatoes, peeled and chopped

1          small cauliflower, chopped

1          large onion, diced

1          can chickpeas, rinsed (398 ml)

2          cloves garlic (2-3 tsp) minced

1          jar (485 ml) Perfect Chef Veg Curry

avocado or coconut oil

salt & pepper

Slower Method

Chop potatoes into bite-size pieces. Boil in salted water about 15 mins., until tender. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are boiling, heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid, add chopped onions and sauté on medium heat about 5 mins. Mix in garlic and cauliflower. Cover with lid and allow cauliflower to steam about 5-10 mins.

Once cauliflower has started to soften, stir in chickpeas and cooked potatoes. Add sauce and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. If curry is too thick, add a small amount of water or unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy, rice, coconut or almond milk work well for a creamier sauce) to desired consistency.

Replace lid and continue cooking, stirring regularly, until sauce beings to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 mins., until all vegetables are heated through. Serve with cooked basmati rice and flatbread or naan. Enjoy!

Make ahead tips:

The trick is to make parts of this meal ahead of time. Any prep you can do beforehand will cut down your overall cooking time.

Some suggestions:

-Boil the potatoes as above. Drain. Cool and store for later use.

-Wash and chop cauliflower, then store in container until ready to use. Or while you are boiling the potatoes, toss cauliflower with oil until lightly coated and roast in oven at 400°C for about 15 mins., until lightly browned. Cool and store for later use.

-Prechop garlic and store in a small amount of oil (or cheat and buy minced garlic).

-Sauté onions in oil until lightly browned.

Speedy Method

If all or most of your ingredients are cooked and ready to go, it’s a quick and simple assembly. Simply heat oil in Dutch oven, add onions and stir in garlic. Mix in cooked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are heated thoroughly.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Relief in a Wrap

In Body Fantastic, Recently Reviewed on February 13, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Version 2

Been shovelling much? With all the recent snowfall, my back went out of whack… it was a lot of snow after all! Not one to take pain killers, I came across these heatwraps some time ago and in sharing my snow shock with others discovered that many people still don’t know about them. Well friends, suffer in silence no more!

Heatwraps with ThermaCare by Robax. Consider it a form-fitting hot water bottle or imagine a toasty, electric blanket on your back (or neck if you get the other style). PRODUCT NOTES The wraps come in individual packs, which makes them easy to transport and store as you never know when a simple bend, twist or lift can suddenly cause one of your body parts to flare up. Only open the package when you’re ready to put it on or you won’t enjoy the full 16 hours or so of relief. Yes, they really stay warm for that long! BOTTOM LINE Put pain on notice. Once you’ve test-driven these tried-and-true back aids you’ll always want to have a package on reserve to pull out just as those first few snowflakes start to fall. Get the jump on spring and stock up early before the cleaning season starts. Now gotta get back out to the shovelling…


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Granola Made Good

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on January 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm

We’ve tried a lot of granola bars in our household over the years so we know something good when we find it – particularly when it’s organic, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan. Although my daughter is now in university, she still takes snacks just about every day. Both my husband and I like to have quick-and-easy items to grab and go, too especially when you’re on the road or running errands.

 Version 2Granola Minis by MadeGood  If you’re searching for a healthy snack the kids will love, look no further. These tiny little morsels are filled with – believe it or not – vegetables! And yes, the pickiest kid will enjoy them not just because they are fun to eat but they taste great. PRODUCT NOTES So many good flavours to choose from – strawberry (pictured), mixed berry, apple cinnamon, chocolate chip and chocolate banana. The hard part will be deciding which one to try first. The granola bars are simply larger versions of the minis. BOTTOM LINE Perfect for school (or work) lunches, these may cost a little more than your regular snacks but the better-quality ingredients make it worth your while.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Crazy for Kombucha

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on January 6, 2017 at 6:31 pm

There’s been a bad flu bug going around. Particularly during this past holiday season when most of us were getting together with family and friends. If the flu didn’t get you, perhaps the drinking, overeating, rich foods or sugary treats all took their toll.

While I was out shopping one day, I noticed a woman grabbing this item from the fridge section and was intrigued. Ginger remedies tend to be my go-to when I have stomach upset or cold symptoms. So I thought it might be a good one to try as something different while we had holiday guests. I’m sure glad I did!

kombucha

Kombucha Gingerade by GT’s. I’ve never seen this line before but the fact it was organic, non-GMO, vegan and gluten free made it appealing. As you know, I am always eager to try new organic and vegan products. PRODUCT NOTES In a nutshell, it’s probably the strongest ginger ale you will ever try – with real bits of raw ginger in it. My mother didn’t like it at all but the rest of us really enjoyed drinking it. BOTTOM LINE Both my sister and cousin had a bit of stomach flu and found it helped them to recover. Plus, there was a day or two when I was also feeling a bit queasy and it immediately made me feel better! I’ll have to keep my eye out for the other flavours. If they are as good as the gingerade, it will definitely be worth the search.