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.

Banning Sugar In Schools Doesn’t Teach Healthy Habits

cake-pops-684163__180Not that long ago there was some discussion at the neighbourhood school my boys attend, how to greatly reduce the amount of sugar the students were consuming while on the premises.

A naturopathic doctor, also a parent to two young boys, gave a compelling presentation about the health and behaviour benefits to cutting back the white stuff, and successfully riled up the parent population with suggested action items.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: one sure-fire way to ignite controversy and polarize a group is to change-up the status quo.

Back when I was a kid, we’d walk the ten minutes to school in the pouring rain toting our umbrellas and like a growing snowball collect kids along the way and after school we’d knock on doors, ride bikes and play a good old fashioned game of kick the can. Not really, but you get the picture. We weren’t developing carpel tunnel syndrome by age 12 and taking selfies to document every minute of teenage angst.

When I was growing up sugar wasn’t the evil, it was fat and cholesterol. A few spandex clad mothers could be heard espousing the benefits of the 20-minute work-out, Jane Fonda and the AB Roller while pouring a healthy dollop of Lite salad dressing over iceberg lettuce. Butter, eggs, oils, red meat, all of it was eschewed until the mid 90s when Barry Spears revolutionize the diet world with The Zone and all of a sudden steak and eggs reclaimed their clout in the grocery cart.

As a kid I enjoyed donuts, candies and cupcakes.   Mrs. Dickson used to make the best cupcakes, with lots of icing and sprinkles so when it was her son’s birthday and she came into the classroom, I made sure to not be the last in the line-up. When a French teacher would toss out mini-sized chocolate bars for correct answers, we’d know that she was in a good mood and Mr. MacDonald used to let us pop balloons for prizes: a weekend with the class budgie, an afternoon in his chair, giant, over-sized chocolate bars our parents would never buy.

I used to peddle my bike to the corner store (about 15 minutes away and across a busy intersection) with my friends. We’d return our books to the library and then go the Village Market, to see how many Hot Lips and sour keys our change could buy us. A lot more than today’s pennies, that’s for sure.

But now I am a grown-up and I am the one making the decisions.

Do you want to know something? My shoulders are sore from the burden of expectations.

I have come a long way with not caring what people think about my parenting. The proof is in the pudding, I like to say, and I am playing the long game. I don’t always choose the healthiest or freshest or more local foods for my kids. In fact, last night they ate an entire party-sized pizza while they watched TV, and I basically ignored them to read the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

We have a treat bucket overflowing with candy and there it stays. My boys choose something from it once a day, but they could take it or leave it.   Sunday afternoons I bake something – cookies, brownies, macaroons, Hello Dollies – whatever the request but after the initial fanfare that accompanies the trays being pulled from the oven, the cookies will remain in the jar. Nibbled on, but never gorged. The piano teacher, friends popping by and play date guests are usually the ones to grab at the goods. For my kids, it’s part of the landscape, like the wallpaper. It’s just there.

Have you heard of Snowplow Parenting? If Helicopter parent was the term of yesteryear, then Snowplow parent is the term for now.

Snowplow parents: defined by some of the extremes they take in their children’s lives. When you take the snowplow route, you are teaching your child that someone will always step in to make things right, and therefore no initiative is required on the kid’s end.

That’s how I feel about removing sugar from schools. It doesn’t teach children how to make good choices it simply removes the obstacle for them. I am a believer that diets need to be balanced and healthy, and that includes sugar. It doesn’t mean scarfing down an entire box of Krispy Kremes (guilty!) on a regular basis but having a lollipop while watching a movie, is ok in my books.

It does get tricky in schools when parties and birthdays are celebrated with food, but that’s a learning opportunity in itself. Instead of banning sugary treats empower children with decision-making.  With parents and schools being more aware of and considerate of allergies, replacing birthday cupcakes for an non-edible treat (pencils, erasers, etc) is an obvious option.  There is also the option of a paper crown and singing Happy Birthday.  Simple.  But it’s about learning when and how to celebrate with treats.

It saddens me to see so many grown women (and some men) with unhealthy relationships with food, swinging from fad diet to fad diet, depriving themselves of food groups, binge eating; all of these behaviours leading to body image issues.

Here’s my question: With as much emphasis we’re placing on reducing sugar and getting our children active, why isn’t there more of an uproar over cut PE classes and revoked recesses (as punishment or to pack in more instructional time for core subjects)? Why do high school students only need one PE credit to graduate?

If I had things my way, we’d focus on healthy living where exercise is valued for more than just fitting into skinny jeans, where real food was consumed more than “fake food” and we would all chill out!

The Best Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s the new year and my desire to live a more healthy and mindful life has hit a snag.  More specifically, we’ve been hit with the flu.  So far it’s only claimed one of us (here’s to hoping our flu shots do their job!) but I’ve seen this movie before . . . it’s only a matter of time before it starts picking us off one by one.  And with three kids, that’s a whole lotta sickness waiting in the wings.

In the meantime, I will remain positive, keep exercising, disinfect the house to levels of surgical integrity and have a pot of chicken noodle soup at the ready.

Baba’s Chicken Noodle Soup

1 Chicken 2 to 3 lb. or about 2 lbs. deboned and skinless chicken (this is easier and Baba swears by Costco’s chicken).

Wash and place chicken in large pot (about 8 litres) and cover with cold water.

IMG_3875Bring to boil, remove scum, add a tablespoon salt, and boil for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot and remove bones and skin if chicken is whole.

Put aside.

Into the water used to boil the chicken, put aromatics:
a large handful of parsley with stems, a few stalks of celery with leaves, large onion peeled and quartered, green leaves of a few leeks, a few cabbage leaves or broccoli stalks or cauliflower stalks.

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Side note: If Baba knows that she is planning to make soup, she saves these in a baggie in the fridge.
Boil these aromatics in the soup for 20 minutes then remove and drain them. Taste soup for salt and adjust seasoning.

If you want, add 2 packets or 1 cube of chicken bouillon. Add
additional water if necessary.

Bring soup to boil and add spaghetti or fine noodles or any shaped pasta. The amount is contingent on the amount of soup there is and how much pasta you want in it.

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My boys like it both noodley and with spaghetti – all the better for slurping!
Boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, taste for salt and adjust if necessary, then add the chicken and more water if necessary, and boil until pasta is done.

Remove from heat immediately and serve.

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Guilty Kitchen’s Kale and Bison Roll-ups

Today, Elizabeth Nyland from Guilty Kitchen will be sharing one of her go-to healthy recipes. Elizabeth is a self-proclaimed fitness and foodie bad-ass who knows a thing or two about over-coming adversity. She makes no excuses and has forged her own path to wellness, weight-loss and feeling great! Need some fit-spiration? Check out Guilty Kitchen the blog or follow Elizabeth on Instagram.

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Ever wonder what to do with all of that kale besides boring old kale chips?

Are you a member of a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture? CSAs are springing up all over North America as convenient ways to eat locally produced foods. Farmers produce a crop (be it vegetable, animal, fruit, fish or eggs) and people buy shares. The product is delivered to your door or picked up at farm stands in your neighbourhood. CSAs provide a great way for anyone and everyone to participate in supporting local farmers. The farmer is assured his crop will be sold, and you, the buyer get to enjoy fresh, local food at better then market value (most of the time).

But what happens when you receive a lot of the same vegetable? Worse, you keep getting a vegetable that you have no idea what to do with or have very little use for? I often see kale as a popular CSA vegetable as it is as easy as weeds to grow and makes for a great addition to any CSA box. The problem is, most people don’t know what to do with it beyond sautéing, green smoothies, making it into the ever popular kale “chip” or throwing it chopped up into their salads or mashed potatoes. But kale has many uses indeed.

Kale is a wonderful vegetable filled with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, omega-3 fats, vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B1, folate, phosphorus and vitamin B3. It’s a super vegetable!

It’s also delicious and for anyone following low carb, paleo, gluten free or grain free diets, it’s a miracle in the wrap department! Lettuce makes a convenient wrap, but kale is far superior in the health department.

So if your CSA box is filling your fridge with kale leaves and you’ve had just about enough of green smoothies and kale chips, then try this great wrap for dinner. It also saves well for leftovers the next day, a self contained lunch for anyone on the go.

Kale Wraps 1-2

Kale and Bison Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 6 large kale leaves
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 500g extra lean grass fed ground beef or bison (or a mixture of the two)
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (optional garnish)
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced (optional garnish)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cut the stems off the Kale at the bottom of the leaf. Flip the kale over and run the knife parallel to the leaf (along the stem) to make it flatter. This will also help when you bite into it.
  2. Fill a pot fitted with a steamer attachment with two inches of water. Bring to a boil and arrange leaves flat in the steamer. Steam for about 3 minutes. Remove and drain on towels. Set aside until needed.
  3. In a heavy saucepan (cast iron is best), heat coconut oil until hot. Place the onion and garlic in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions are browned. Add in the other vegetables and cook until softened.
  4. Add in the ground meat and cook for another 7-8 minutes, or until browned. Season with salt, pepper, coconut aminos and other spices. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place a large spoonful of the meat mixture onto a flattened and laid out kale leaf, top with optional garnishes. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the meat, then each side into the middle and finally roll up like a burrito. Set seam side down on plates and serve.
  6. These are great dipped in creamy aiolis and served with a side salad!

Kale Wraps 2-2