Tips to Help Your Picky Eaters

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It’s food month here at 4Mothers, and we have been reveling in our taste adventures.  What do you do, though, if you love a wide variety of foods but your kids have distinctly more limited tastes?  What do you do if your child eats such a limited range of foods, that the whole family ends up restricted by the picky eater’s choices?

I recently read Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, a guide by Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin, two professionals in helping children with eating disorders.  I have to tell you that my first reaction was to count my blessings that my own picky eater is far and away more easy to feed than the children profiled in this book.  This is a book for parents and caregivers of extreme picky eaters, children who do not eat “enough quantity or variety to support healthy emotional, physical or social development, or [who have] eating patterns that are a significant source of conflict or worry.”  Often, these are children with food issues that have sent them to a medical or psychological professional.  These children may only eat five or ten foods, or they are extremely averse to certain food textures, or they have sensory motor issues that make feeding physically difficult.  If you are one of those parents, I found the advice in this book so grounded in compassion and common sense, and I highly recommend picking it up.

This is not necessarily a book for parents of run-of-the-mill picky eaters.  Nevertheless, I found a lot of advice that can help all families gather around the table with less stress and more joy.  I found it full of great, practical advice, and I learned about some of my own unproductive approaches to food and feeding.

1. Eliminate stress from the dinner table

The number one priority is to create a relaxed and inviting atmosphere around food and eating.  Who doesn’t want that?

If you have a picky eater, the first step is to learn not to engage in conflict or power struggles and not to draw attention to the issue of food.  The idea is to enjoy the time you share around the table and for both parent and child to stop obsessing about food and nutrition.

How many of you do this?  You pick up your kids from school or camp, and one of the first questions you ask is an anxious or accusatory, “Did you eat all of your lunch?” I do it every single day!  The advice from these authors?  Stop that right away and take the battle over what did and did not get eaten right out of the equation.

Enjoy each others’ company; do not measure each others’ food intake.

It’s the same at the dinner table.  Eliminate the stress and conflict over food by relaxing the reins and letting the kids take more control.  Stop all pressure tactics, bribes and negotiations.  Stop all praise or blame.  The big picture is that kids have to learn to eat to satisfy the intrinsic cues of hunger, not to satisfy (or annoy!) an anxious parent.

2.  Create structure.

No more all-day grazing.  Kids need to learn to listen to hunger cues.  Make eating a structured and mindful part of each day, and make each meal and snack nutritionally balanced so that all eating opportunities are healthy eating opportunities.  Let kids’ hunger and appetite build between meals, and don’t dull the appetite with constant grazing.

3. Create a clear division of responsibility.

The authors of this book are refreshingly clear on what a parent should control:

Your job: decide when, where, and what foods are offered (as long as you include something your child can eat)

Your child’s job: decide whether and how much to eat.

Period.

No more one-bite rule!  Really??  Really.  Your job ends with putting the food on the table.  What the children choose to eat is their responsibility.

4. Do not put food on anyone’s plate but your own.

Do not serve dinner on to the diners’ plates.  Put all of the food you serve in the middle of the table.  All food is equal: broccoli and pasta, salad and bread.  It all goes on the table, and there is no division of adult and kid food.  No more us and them.  If the only thing your child will eat today is crackers, put them in a bowl on the table with the rest of the food.

Then let the kids serve themselves.

The authors even suggest putting dessert on the table with dinner!  If you stop using dessert as a bribe, you stop a food battle in its tracks.

In the short term, the kids may still only eat the plain pasta and a bowl of ice cream.  Let them.  Let them learn enjoyment and pleasure at the table.  Let them learn to trust that they will find things they like.  In the long term, when conflict and power struggles are gone, they will begin to expand their eating repertoire.

5.   You are not a short order cook.

Stop catering to the limited palate of the picky eater.  Make your menu, provide at least one safe food and serve it up without apology: “When you sit down to foods you actually want to eat, not only do you expose your child to a wider variety of foods, but you can also authentically model enjoying different foods.”

6.  Model healthy eating.

Eat what you love and relish it.  Avoid labelling food “good” or “bad.”

 

I have put some of these very concrete steps into place in our home, and I’m loving the results.

  • I put platters and bowls of food in the centre of the table, and, sure enough, the kids were more willing to serve themselves a taster of something new.
  • After I told them about some of the tortuous strategies used to teach children table manners, like knives in the backs of chairs to enforce good posture (learned watching a documentary about the making of Downton Abbey!) we laughed about table manners from days of old, and the boys planned a night of eating fancy: dress up and pretend to be aristocrats.  This is to be followed by a night on which we eat like cavemen, with fingers and no manners at all.
  • My “picky eater” planned a cheese tasting for dinner when he had a friend over, and he went to the cheese store and spoke to the owner and tried five new cheeses.  He helped slice the fruit and veggies, lay out the cheese board and the cracker tray.  He ate like a horse, and his friend very gamely tried all of the cheeses, even the blue.  It was a huge success.
  • I’ve stopped calling my picky eater a picky eater.  Take the label away and the behaviour will follow!

 

Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating is published by New Harbinger Publications.  We were sent a copy for review.

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Summer Salads with Jane’s Adventure In Dinner

We’re excited to have Jane from Jane’s Adventure In Dinner as our guest today. Jane’s blog is a go-to for everything from appetizers to desserts. She’s passionate about food like no other, but as a busy mom she also understands that recipes need to be both delicious and do-able. Regardless of your cooking level (ahem, I am still a beginner after all of these years) Jane is the best teacher and you’re in capable hands with her step-by-step instruction . . .accompanied by gorgeous photos!

Today Jane shares simple salads that are perfect for the hot days of summer. Be sure to follow Jane’s website for meal inspiration and instruction. You won’t be disappointed.

Jane’s Summer Salad

I start with a nice big plate and drizzle it with 2 tsp. balsamic glaze.

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I added a layer (about 1 ½ cups) of spring greens.

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I took a firm pear (I’m a sucker for Anjou) and cut it into 6 wedges. I took out the core and started to lay it on the greens.

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Add 3 T Roquefort (or your favourite blue cheese) to the centre. Don’t like blue cheese? How about some Boursin or an herby cream cheese?

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Fold the pear pieces back together, top with toasted walnuts and drizzle with a really good quality olive oil.

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Drizzle on a bit more glaze . . .

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And add cracked pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Classic Salad Update

We seem to just live off the bbq in the summer.

I love to cook but I really like to keep the house cool and I’m not a huge fan of running the air conditioning all the time.

We’ve gotten used to having our little 1950’s bungalow vent itself for the most part and even though it’s lots bigger after the reno (yes, I promise to finally get all the pictures together this summer, I’ve got 1000’s) we designed the build to allow for our original airflow.

Having said that, if the oven is on all the time then nothing can keep the house cool so bbq it is.

I’ve been playing with a number of salad recipes lately that I’ll be sharing with everyone in the next couple of weeks but this is one that we’ve now had at least six times since I was happy with the recipe.

Hope you love it too.

To serve four adults for an appetizer start with four romaine hearts cut in half.

Bring them to room temperature, drizzle with olive oil, 3 crushed garlic cloves and lots of crushed, crunchy black pepper.

Let sit for 30 minutes.

Grill on high on each side JUST until a little charred.  This is about 30 seconds a side.

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While your one and only is grilling your lettuce (thinking that you are totally mental with your weird cooking ideas), crisp pancetta (I got super thin pieces that you blink at and they are cooked), or cook four really good pieces of bacon and crumble.

Put your yummy lettuce on a platter and top with; bacon/pancetta, slivers of parmesan, chunky croutons…

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drizzle with lemon juice.

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Plate one half per person (trust me, folks will be back for the other half) with plenty of pancetta and drizzle with balsamic glaze (you can find this all over the place OR boil balsamic until it is half its volume).

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Follow Jane on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Guest Post: Lisa Betts on Raising a Vegetarian Family

I am so excited to welcome Lisa Betts to the blog today.  Lisa is the author of the blog Vegan Cookbook Academy, where she takes vegan cookbooks through their paces.  Lisa is also Nathalie’s sister-in-law.  Not only is Lisa one of the major inspirations for Nathalie’s becoming (mostly) vegetarian, she is an inspiration for energy, experimentation, variety and fun in the kitchen, and we have been on the receiving end of many of her excellent meals.  (I tried all three of the Three Birthday Cakes, and, yes, they were all as good as they look!)  I’ve never met anyone with more of a passion for learning about the science and art of eating well.  Check out her blog and get your vegan groove on!

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The kitchen is truly the heart of our home. At least, it’s where I spend most of my time, and I put a lot of work into making yummy, healthy food. Of course, feeding children is always a challenge. We have been fairly shameless in our tactics to make the vegetables go in. Basically, the favoured food becomes the reward for eating a less enticing item. On our eldest son this worked amazingly well – “You can have more tofu if you finish your spinach!” – up until quite recently. Now he has particular ideas about how food should look and taste (i.e., no sauce of any kind). Our younger daughter is made of sterner stuff, and is much more difficult to manipulate. I think it is partly because she sees her older brother now resisting his food, and also because she is just that much more independent than he ever was. Second child, after all. I try to get 3-4 different vegetables into them daily, plus at least one big round of protein. I’m still struggling to increase their fatty acid intake, as they don’t reliably finish their smoothies anymore and I am loathe to waste the precious Udo’s Oil. So far, I’m sure this sounds like fairly typical family food dynamics. The only twist is that we are raising our kids as vegetarians.

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My husband and I have been vegetarian since 1997, and we eat very little dairy in day-to-day life. It has never been easier to be a vegetarian, or to be a vegetarian kid. Meat and milk alternatives are flooding the grocery stores, even easy kid foods like veggie dogs and nuggets (basically, things that go with ketchup). Celebrities are crowing about their vegan ways, and there is a growing interest in the health benefits of plant-based eating. The cookbook world is exploding with vegan authors, as my blog can attest (vegancookbookacademy.wordpress.com), meaning that the traditional home cooked meal is evolving from a meat + 2 veg into something more diverse. Not to mention the vegan baking – ditch the eggs and eat the batter, worry-free!

There are so many children with food allergies and intolerances these days that making special vegetarian requests at school and special events is not ostracizing. My eldest eats dairy and eggs, so he is easily satisfied by cheese pizza, chocolate milk, and birthday cupcakes. I do worry when my daughter starts school that she will find it a bit harder, because she is lactose intolerant and has been vegan all of her life. Even when she was exclusively breastfeeding, she would spit up – like, a lot – if I had milk or eggs in my diet, so I followed a strict vegan eating plan as well until she weaned. She may outgrow her intolerance, but I’m not going to push milk on her because I strongly believe that I can raise her to be a strong and healthy vegan. I’ve told enough diaper horror stories to our extended family that they no longer offer her dairy-based treats. When she is sick, and people suggest that perhaps she needs to eat some meat, I politely point out (often through clenched teeth) that all the other children are also sick with the crazy superbugs that are floating around, and their diet is not providing them with any magical immunity. I know that I will bump up against that bias time and time again.

IMG_2071We are at a very critical stage with our oldest, who just completed his first year of junior kindergarten. He has known for a while that being a vegetarian is different, especially at our large family gatherings with the aunts and uncles and all of the cousins (all of his 8 cousins are devouring the turkey and ham at the holiday gatherings). When he recently stayed with his grandmother for a week, he would ask, “What animal are you eating today, Nana?” Up until his time at school, his food was always controlled by his parents. It still is, for the most part, but there are often treats and candy that are handed out and he is now paranoid that they contain meat. Have you ever known a 5-year-old to turn down a bag of candy?? He is even asking me now whether the food that I’m making for him contains meat, and whether the store we are at contains meat. I feel bad that this is a cause for anxiety for him, but he’s figuring it out, and we answer all of his questions the best that we can. I admit that it was a bit tricky to explain my t-shirt that reads, Kale is the New Beef.

Will my children stay vegetarian? Will my son ask enough questions about cheese and milk to give up his beloved dairy? My husband and I have talked about it, and almost expect that eating meat will be a form of rebellion when the time comes: “You will not eat meat in my house, young lady!” When they are old enough to feed themselves and develop their own politics we will let them make their own food choices. Perhaps they will become the faces of the new vegetarian generation. Time will tell…

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Kids Need to Be Doing It For Themselves

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I had the great pleasure of going to a presentation by Dr. Karyn Gordon at Eldest’s school recently.  Her talk was entitled “Raising Kids in an Age of Overindulgence,” and I came away from the night with so much practical help.  If you ever get a chance to hear her in person, take it.  She’s not only a wonderfully dynamic speaker, her talks are crisp, on-point and so well organized.

The piece that resonated most strongly with me, and that fits so well for our month of posts on Doing It Yourself, was her discussion of how parents have to stop over-functioning for their kids.

Are you your child’s alarm clock/maid/chef/chauffeur/laundress/bank machine?  Do you find yourself resentful and stressed in one or more of those roles?  Do you notice that your kids are not in the least bit motivated to act for themselves because you are their snowplow, clearing their path through life for them?

Gordon used the image of a teeter-totter to illustrate her point: when one person does all the work on the see-saw, the other person slacks off and stops working.  When you do too much for your children, they not only fail to learn how to cook/clean/manage time/manage money/eat well/etc, they stop looking for ways to learn those skills.  Why should they?!  You have removed all their motivation to do so by doing it yourself.

Well, in the spirit of DIY month, I did an inventory of the ways I may be over-functioning for my kids, and I handed in my resignation as the household alarm clock, bank machine and short order cook.  “Kids,” I said, “from now on, you will be doing more for yourselves.”

You know what?  It worked beautifully!

Eldest is already his own alarm clock, and at 13 he gets up, out the door and onto the subway before I am awake most days.  But I sat down with Middlest and Youngest and helped them to write up their morning routine and timetable.  I’m still prompting them to look at the clock, but there’s no more nagging about time to get dressed/brush teeth/pack backpacks.  Glorious.

Then I took the little kids out to the toy store with their wallets and let them loose.  When we travel without their money, it’s an endless litany of “Can you get me this?” from the snack booth at the subway to the candy machines at the rink to the impulse items in the check out lines.  I am very good at sticking to my guns and not giving in, but I do get so, so very tired of saying no.  This time, I took them to the bank machine to check their bank balances and then set them loose.  They spent over an hour looking at Lego and video games, then they spent about $10 each.  That’s it, that’s all.  Littlest also bought himself a pack of gum at the subway newsstand and then proudly spent the next week offering all and sundry a piece of gum.  It was wonderful to witness their care and generosity.

And, beginning this week, Eldest will be cooking one family meal a week.  It must be balanced and it must be healthy.  From the age of 13, Gordon says, kids should be able to prepare a simple family meal, and I don’t think I could be happier to let one night of meal prep go.  He is already an able helper in the kitchen, and he makes the most beautiful fruit and vegetable platters, like this one he made for a Habs playoffs game party last year.

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I think we are both more than ready for him to take the reins one night a week.

How about you?  What have you happily delegated to your kids?

Chemical Peels: Myths Debunked!

imgresA flawless complexion has become somewhat of a life goal. Okay, so it’s not exactly world peace or feeding the hungry but I figure I should start out with baby steps.

Turns out that world peace might be easier to come by than a flawless complexion. I know that some of you, dear readers, think that I am being frivolous or hyperbolic and that’s because you were genetically blessed with a good complexion free from acne breakouts, discolouration, Melasma . . .I could go on.  And some of you, dear readers, know exactly the quest that I am on. Keep reading.

I first discovered Canadian made Miracle 10 when I was invited to an event they hosted for beauty bloggers.   Miracle 10 was developed by Ann Marie MacDonald and acclaimed plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Lista in 2005 after spending years learning about cutting- edge skincare advancements from the best medical doctors and researchers in the world. Together they identified a void in a crowded marketplace where many times promises fail to actualize. After extensive research and development they founded Miracle 10. MacDonald, with her background in dance and psychology, is passionate about providing women with products that allow them to articulate their beauty and develop confidence. Miracle 10 does that by offering just below clinical grade skincare that delivers noticeable results on both a superficial and cellular level at a competitive price.

The Lista-MacDonald team’s life goal doesn’t seem so far removed from my own.

A Chemical Peel Play-by-Play

Elevate_landingpage_v1Miracle 10 Spa offers a variety of medispa treatments including chemical peels – a procedure that had been on my skincare bucket list for some time. I arrived for my scheduled peel 15 minutes early to fill out a comprehensive skin history. After a lengthy discussion with the medical aesthetician, where I fired question upon question at her about side effects, redness, recovery and the epidermis and she patiently and thoroughly answered each one, I lay on the treatment table.

To start, my skin was cleansed to remove make-up using Miracle 10 cleanser. The next step involved dermaplaning, the process of using a surgical blade to gently scrape away two weeks worth of dead skin covering the upper epidermis. There is no blood, it doesn’t hurt and the immediate result is illuminated skin!

When it comes time to apply the peel, the medical aesthetician assured me that the best way for novices like me to begin is with the gentle lactic acid peel.   There are three different peels and each offer their own benefits.

  • Lactic Acid Peels are derived from sugar and are gentle. They are best for hydrating, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and can help improve acne.
  • Glycolic Peels feature glycolic acid and when applied remove the top layer of skin revealing brighter, healthier skin reducing the appearance of wrinkles and acne.
  • Salicylic Acid Peels are made up of salicylic acid, commonly found in over-the-counter acne medication but in a higher concentration and generally help improve the overall tone and look of the skin by targeting pores.

The peel was applied for two minutes, and a fan was made available to cool the skin, but I found that didn’t need this. The treatment felt no more intense than my nightly Alpha Hydroxy cream.

To conclude, the mask was washed off with a fruit enzyme scrub followed by a moisture-rich soothing mask.

It’s important to note that you should always wear sunscreen but it’s especially important following a peel. Also, even though peels are non-invasive and seem as simple as a manicure, it is important to remember that it is a procedure and it is best to have these applied by a trained professional in a doctor/plastic surgeon’s office because there can be side effects.

Admittedly, all I (thought I) knew about chemical peels I learned from Sex in the City. For those unfamiliar, sexy siren Samantha had a peel done and her skin was left a deep shade of crimson. I now know that this is a possibility but a thorough pre-analysis, a well-trained medical aesthetician and low-dosage peel will likely not garner that unfavourable result!

Initially following the treatment, my skin glowed and using the recommended follow-up products has improved the over-all look of my skin. At Miracle 10 they believe skin needs to be healthy, not just pretty but to achieve this standard educated, passionate technicians are a must. And at Miracle 10 you’re in good hands.

Intrigued? Still not sure a peel is for you? Take a look at this video or visit the Miracle 10 Spa in Toronto, or visit their website to order their products to your home!

H20 Float Spa – Floating to Relaxation

float spaI first heard about the float spa from Beth-Anne.  The synopsis: you enter a large water capsule, close the lid and lie there in the dark.  I believe she may have referred to it as a nightmare.

I was like, “Oo, I want to try!”  And in honour of 4 Mothers’ reviews of interesting spas this week, I did. And it was really quite cool.

My local H20 Float Spa, conveniently located on Danforth Avenue, offers two float pods (with lids) and two open concept float rooms (large enough for a couple to float together).  I opted for the pod, which really is large water capsule with a lid, perhaps the size of a queen size bed, filled with 10 inches of water and filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts.  At this concentration (higher than the Dead Sea), the body naturally floats to the surface without any effort, which in turn is conducive to deep states of relaxation.

It was this selling point that got me: I am trying to meditate more, and was curious about doing so in the pod.  What would it be like?

The water in the pod is comfortable but not hot – you can’t float for an hour in water that is too hot.  It’s normally kept at body temperature (34 degrees) although when I mentioned to the attendant booking my appointment over the phone that I get cold easily, he increased the temperature a degree or two for my session.  I slipped into the water and immediately was buoyed up.

The attendant had asked me if I wanted cream to cover any cuts on my body, but I didn’t think I had any. Apparently I had small cuts on some cuticles though, and the high salt content of the water meant that the stinging was distracting enough that I buzzed the attendant (there’s a button in the pod for this) to request the cream after all.  I generously applied (and reapplied) this and felt better. (Luckily I hadn’t shaved before floating; I later learned this is not recommended because any little nicks in the skin will sting too.)  I also inserted little spots of wax into my ears; apparently you don’t want the salt water entering the ear cavities.

It’s possible to plug in music to the pod, which I think would be an amazing experience, but for my first try, I wanted just silence.  When I was ready, I reached up for the handle to close the capsule.  When the lid actually clicked shut over me, I had a moment of startled awareness of enclosure. And the sudden, completely absence of light. There was a subtle green glow in the pod when the lid was open, now with it shut, there was a short window of reddish darkness, and then just black darkness.  Pure sensory deprivation.

It was quite amazing.  Weightless, with absolutely no difference to my sight whether my eyes were open or closed, I began my mindful meditation practice.  With so little sensation, what was there was heightened.  I was very aware of the water, its temperature and mine, its texture on my skin (so very smooth), and also what parts of my body were covered by it or exposed. The sounds of my breath were intensified, and almost foreign as it got deeper. My mind wandered (it always does – my meditations are a work in progress), but there was very little external stimulus.  And I don’t think I have ever heard my own heartbeat so prominent and plain.

The one meaningful distraction was the periodic rumble of the subway that makes the location so convenient; in my sensitive state I could both hear and feel this.  I took this in stride with my meditation but could imagine a purer experience without it – some music might mask this beautifully.

I’m fairly sure I fell asleep and woke a few times.  Towards the end of my hour, my meditative state ended, and I very nearly opened the lid (although I didn’t – the lights came on just a few minutes later to signal the end of my session).  I began to wonder:  how much oxygen is in this pod, and was my breathing a bit more laboured than when I started?  In other words, I began to experience some mild anxiety. But I recognized this, and was not actually worried; I had just left my relaxed state.  I finished up with a leisurely hot shower in my floating room, and ended my spa with a hot cup of sweetened tea and an orange.

As Beth-Anne astutely observed from the beginning, the floating pod isn’t for everyone.  Even though there’s only 10 inches of water, I think you have to be really comfortable with water – no fear of it at all – to enjoy the experience.  Also, you have to be a-okay with the dark and small spaces (although it’s absolutely possible to float with the lights on and the lid up, but you’ll be missing the main experience of sensory deprivation).

If you are good on these fronts, by all means, give it a go.  I’m not sure I’ll become a regular, mostly because I rarely go to spas in general, but it was an unforgettable experience and a very good meditation session. The attendant told me that there are some excellent meditators who book three hour sessions. (I had asked him my oxygen question, and he explained that there is a filter inside the pod that is constantly monitoring oxygen levels and adding air so very long sessions are possible.)

And if the pod isn’t quite up your alley, the open concept floating rooms sound very accessible.  There were only couples in the waiting room when I was paying and wrapping up; a casual testimonial, I thought, that floating in the dark with your lover probably makes for an excellent date.  One thing is sure: you wouldn’t soon forget it.

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Yoga, lululemon, and The Remix – All in One Afternoon

Kate Gillespie of Downward Dog Yoga Centre, Trophy Jones and fitness class 3Nathalie’s one word for 2015 is attend.  I know she’s the one who authored a long, thoughtful post about it but her words resonate so well with me that I almost feel some ownership over them too.  At the least I am happy to ride on her coattails.  I want to attend and care for myself, and I want to get out and try some new things, and so far these two impulses have been quite complementary.

Most recently I accepted an invitation to attend Beats and Balance, which begins lululemon‘s involvement with The Remix Project, whose educational programs assist under-serviced youth from marginalized communities enter the creative industries.  lululemon hosted four fitness classes two hours apart at impressive Arcadian Court, paired with unusual live musical performances, with all proceeds going to The Remix Project.

Enlisting my sister as company, I attended this event with little sense of what to expect.  Mostly I knew there would be yoga, and that it would be a unique way to get on the mat.

We rolled out our mats with hundreds of other people, under the vibrant purple lights illuminating all of Arcadian Court.  It was difficult to see the instructor but we managed to get along, and it really was a memorable class – there was something in the air from sharing a practice with so many people.

The practice closed with an aria by an opera singer without accompaniment – it was all a bit surreal.  The delicious and healthy lunch that followed helped bring us gently back down to reality.

Good times continued as I got to talk to Ricky Bekzadeh, Director of Programming at The Remix Project and learn more about their alternative education program.  They’re able to accept 45 young people (of 350 applicants) for a 9 months semester in one of four areas: Recording, Business, Creative, and Film & Television Arts. Courses are led by industry professionals, and students also attend mandatory monthly workshops on diverse topics including resume building, social media, business ethics, branding, and financial literacy.  Some graduates pursue their education further, others get internships or jobs.

Their application process bears mention:  they interview everyone who submits an application (which can be done online).  This approach acknowledges that a disadvantaged but excellent applicant’s potential can be difficult to identify on paper.  Criteria for the program is three-fold:  need, determination/drive, and talent.

It sounds like a program doing great things, and Natalie Westlake from lululemon explained that the company wanted to support it.  lululemon will also further this connection by providing instructors to The Remix Project students over the next year.

My efforts to “attend” worked – I learned about this promising educational program and its partnership with lululemon, met some interesting people, had a rare experience in the city, and did my body a very nice turn.  Getting out does have its rewards.

Photo credit:  @botcomm

 

Finally Get Healthy Beautiful Skin With Consonant + Giveaway!

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“What goes on your body goes in your body” is Consonant Skincare’s motto and never have words from a company permeated my psyche quite like these.

I first met Bill, CEO and creator of Consonant Skincare, this past summer at a holiday preview party. It might be unoriginal to say that it was his skin that I first noticed, but it’s true. His skin glows! His skin does what every clichéd beauty infomercial promises to do and I, someone who is always chasing after a perfect complexion, had to introduce myself.

Bill Baker didn’t always have aspirations to be Canada’s next skincare trailblazer, but we have a handicrafting co-worker to thank for his passionate foray into the beauty industry, arguably one of the most challenging fields to eke out a foothold.

For years Bill tried to remedy his skin issues with pricey products that promised relief only to find that said products exacerbated his skin issues and left him in search of new, pricey products. Bill continued to run on this hamster wheel until one day when he reached for a bar of his luxe soap and found his supply gone with the exception of a single bar of organic soap made by a co-worker, bought by Bill to be courteous. Little did he know that transaction would improve his skin and change the trajectory of his life.  8003776491_48b12c6e0b_z

Marrying his newfound interest in organic skincare with his years of experience in advertising, Bill knew that for him to make it in the competitive beauty market his product had to standout.

“It can’t just be natural and organic. It has to work.” Bill didn’t want to put out another ho-hum moisturizer that promised the world but became bathroom counter clutter within a few months.

First off, Bill educated himself about skincare and was appalled at what passes for acceptable beauty standards in our country. Furthermore, he was disheartened that some big-name, flashy brands were not being completely transparent about their company’s practices and organic/natural/healthy claims. Bill knew that he needed to do whatever he could to change the marketplace, through education and affordable, high-quality products that are natural and deliver results.

Bill’s commitment to finding just the right formulation resulted in success.

6289156202_c883f0b1f7_oThe Natural Foaming Face Wash ($9-$18) and Ultra Moisturizing Organic Face Cream ($54) have usurped my previous go-to brand, free from parabens, phthalates, sulphates and more*. The Perfect Sunscreen ($45) really is just that. I have searched for years for a natural sunscreen that blends well without leaving a chalky residue. I have tried department store brands, drug store brands, and independents and nothing comes close to this. But perhaps my favourite product, that has a cult-like following, is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2012 Canadian Beauty Innovation Awards, HydrExtreme® ($72). It provides hydration and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles – Amen!

Bill generously gave me some samples of Consonant products but I returned with a re-fill list and I crossed several names off my holiday gift list by purchasing their skin care kits including one for my mother and expectant sister-in-law.

Consonant recently launched their Healthy Baby line touting 100% natural and free from all harsh, irritating and toxic ingredients. In an effort to be as gentle as possible the products contain no artificial scent or essentials oils.

Consonant is the real deal and I want you know what I am raving about. Bill and his team have generously donated Healthy Baby Hair and Body Wash and Healthy Baby Body Lotion, a combine value of $45 to giveaway to a lucky reader. The contest opens today and ends Friday at 6 pm. Sorry friends, but only Canadian readers for this one.

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Enter to win by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or Instagram and if you already do, simply leave a comment. A random winner will be contacted Saturday to arrange delivery.

To find out where you can buy Canadian-made Consonant products or to order on-line visit their website by clicking here. *Parabens, phthalates, sulphates, petroleum,/PEG, BHT, artificial colours, TEA, DEA, propylene glycol and diazolidinyl UREA. For more information visit: www.icareaboutcosmetics.com

To be clear:  I was not paid to review Consonant Skincare.  Bill gave me some samples to try, I enjoy them and want to spread the word.  All of the opinions expressed are my own.  

The War on Sugar-AHHHHHH By Guest Bloggers, Leigh and Meg

lollipops-602441_640Our guests this week are Leigh and Meg from the popular motherhood blog, Me and Meg. Leigh and Meg blog about ups and downs of motherhood with just the right amount of snark. They are witty, humble and kick-ass at Cross Fit (and other fitness-y things!). Think you’ve heard of them? I wouldn’t be surprised because they are contributors to Global Morning Show, Parentdish.ca and “What She Said” Canada Talks on SiriusXM Radio.

Thank you ladies for giving us your two cents on this topical issue.

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The War on sugar is real! We fight it daily with our kids. Our war consists mainly of our kids asking for some sugar-laden snack and us saying “no”.  We are very conscious of how much they consumer daily. That means water is what you can find in their bottles always and they rarely get anything at the arena snack bar – we are real drags as mothers.

It doesn’t stop at sugar, what about preservatives! There is a whole world of bad food out there worth avoiding….

What we have seen happen in our children’s school is an increase use of candy as a reward in class, quite the opposite of a sugar ban.

With so many “fads”  one can prescribe to now and ever-changing research on the food industry it’s difficult to say what is the right choice or the “most” healthy for our children – just ask a vegetarian or talk to someone who adheres to a paleo diet. Could you find a larger chasm in what is nutritional and optimal for our health than that? Recently we read that it’s not sugar itself that is the nasty school yard
bully but sugar and fat TOGETHER. Right okay. Like ice cream, give us some. Our kids go crazy over it too. Do we think it’s bad for their overall health? No.

Do we think a world where schools do not allow sugar is the right choice? No, that’s ludicrous. The path to a healthy lifestyle involves moderation, which means having the odd juice box, and treat. We are better off teaching our kids what healthy choices are and empowering them to make well-balanced decisions.

The schools should focus on a holistic approach to health, remember getting changed for gym class? We do. Our kids don’t do that. Let’s bring back physical activity EVERYDAY in our schools and not make any one food forbidden.

As for the  birthday treats at school-we say skip those too.