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Monday, November 23, 2015

Dietician Approved: Tips for Gluten/ Dairy Free Families

As part of my collaboration with PC Organics I had the chance to speak with a dietician and ask for suggestions and tips to help families eat healthy. With Ari sans gluten and dairy we are often asked about her diet such as what we give her instead of milk, what she can have for snacks, and if we'll raise Liam this way for simplicity (answer: yes), and if you're on the beginning of this journey yourself you're probably asking the same kind of questions.

Whether you have dietary restrictions in your own family or not, a common complaint I hear from other Moms is how busy the evenings are and the challenge to put a meal- bonus if it's healthy!- on the table. This can be even tougher when you need something quick & easy. The struggle is real my friends and our health often suffers for it. Even if you don't have to limit certain foods, the tips below can help you edit your grocery list to include foods packed with a nutritious punch- especially for those busy evenings when you're out of ideas. Here are some suggestions from Jessica, the Loblaws Dietician I spoke to on getting in nutrition if you're gluten/ dairy free. 

How to make sure you get enough calcium if you're dairy free:
  • Milk- dairy free alternatives such as unsweetened nut milks have just as much calcium as cow's milk (I love cashew milk & almond milk)
  • Yogurt- if switching to dairy free yogurts, check the label for sugar content as there can be quite a bit of sugar in yogurts
  • Cheese- try an organic soy cheese; Daiya cheese is another dairy free option
  • Kefir- if you can't have kefir, try dairy free milks such as organic soy or rice milk instead
  • Try eating other foods that are high sources of calcium: 
    • dark, leafy greens such as kale & spinach
    • oranges (who knew? They're the only fruit that's a source of calcium) 
    • beans- especially white beans- are a good source of calcium
    • organic tofu is also a good option, since it's minimally processed and versatile in cooking
It can be misleading when going gluten free what options are not only tasty (as in edible!), but also nutritious. Just because something is gluten free doesn't mean it's better for you; in fact some options can be even less healthy than the regular ones. Lesson: read the label and pay attention to the ingredients. 

Look for the following to get the most out of your gluten free options:
  • Look for high- fibre in processed products such as breads & cereals
    • breads-  look for high- fibre options with at least 3gr of fibre per serving
    • cereals- gluten free cereals tend to have a lot of sugar added for flavour; look for options that are sugar- free or have no more than 6gr of sugar per serving
    • pasta- look for options with whole grains (see below); try organic corn pasta as it's a good option and less processed than rice pasta
  • Make sure grains are gluten free-  the term 'whole grain' can be confusing when identifying gluten free options, so read the label carefully. Here are some examples of GF grains to try:
    • millet
    • amaranth
    • wild rice
    • brown rice
  • Sauces, seasonings, & marinades- always read the label as wheat is used in a lot of them & other processed foods. Double check things like store bought pasta sauces, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc
Other general tips for healthy eating:

  • Buy organic if you can afford to; canola and soy are often GMO so it's best to buy them organic
    • if a product is labeled as organic, then it is also non- GMO, but not vice- versa
  • Try cooking with oils high in omega 3s, such as avocado or flax oil (olive oil isn't good for cooking with high temperatures)
  • Find out your daily nutrition requirements and seek out alternatives that will fulfill them
  • Read the label- just because something appears to be healthy doesn't mean it is; this is especially important if you have to avoid certain foods such as gluten and dairy

Visit the PC® Organics website to learn more about their products and to find out how to speak with a Loblaws dietician. 
You can also find them on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Treats of the Holidays: 7 Ways to Have Fun With Candy at Christmas

If you haven't already started decorating for Christmas, chances are you will be soon. It can be hard to decide what my favourite thing is about this time of year, but the festive atmosphere is definitely up there on my list. I love coming up with fun ideas each year for the holidays, and this year I'm collaborating with Karameller Candy Shop to add some sweet touches to the holiday season. Candy doesn't have to equal a constant sugar rush (and it's not just for kids!) and there's more to the season than candy canes and chocolate coins. It can also be a colourful and cheerful addition to your Christmas festivities. I've got ideas for everything from the classic gingerbread house to party favours, and so much more. Read on for 7 ideas to have fun with candy this holiday season.

Candy Garland
We're all familiar with the popcorn garland but for a fun and colourful twist on a classic swap in candy instead. Use twine, ribbon, or string and a needle to make a pretty garland with festive gummy candy. Lay out your pattern before stringing it so you're happy with the design. You can make a solid garland or space the candy out. You can also use a glue gun to add gingerbread cookies or salt dough decorations to the mix (you'll want to glue the cookies since they could crumble if you try to use a needle); colour- coordinated beads are also pretty to use. These are beautiful hung on the tree (I loved how mine looked on our mini live tree), from a mantle, or from branches grouped in a vase for a splash of colour. Tip: Use gummy ribbons to make pretty loops (see below).

Stocking Stuffer Shapes 
This is a cute way to include some sweets in your kid's stockings without them getting a major sugar rush. Simply trace out a festive shape on 2 light- medium weight pieces of paper large enough to hold a hand full of candy (you'll want it to be strong enough to fill with candy without tearing). Cut out the shapes and use a glue gun to glue around the edges, leaving about a 2" gap to fill with candy. Once filled, glue the rest of the edge so candy can't spill out (this would also make for a cute gift tag idea, just use a hole punch so you can thread through some ribbon).

Marshmallow Pops
How pretty are these??? Another simple & sweet treat idea for holiday parties, these also make cute gifts & stocking stuffers. Simply pop a large marshmallow (I used two of Karameller's for each) on a straw and dip in some melted chocolate (pick colours to match your colour scheme- I went with white, mint & pink). Twirl & tap the marshmallows so the extra chocolate drips off and dip in something fun for a pretty treat (I used sprinkles and shredded coconut for mine). Allow to dry flat side down then pop in a pretty vase or wrap a bunch on cellophane for a marshmallow pop bouquet. I love how the white sprinkles pop on pink/ mint coloured chocolate.

Gingerbread House 
You can't talk about candy at Christmas without a gingerbread house! The possibilities really are endless, but I love going with a theme. This is a classic Christmas activity to do with the kids, but why not grab some wine and make a date night out of making and decorating one? They're a beautiful addition to your Christmas decor and easily customized to suit your style. Another fun idea is to have a gingerbread house party & set up everything guests (big or little!) need to decorate their own: graham crackers or gingerbread cookies, icing, and candy. Set up on a long table covered in craft paper for a cute decorating station and to make clean up super easy.

Party Favours
Send your guests home with a sweet treat! These candy cones are festive and so simple to make. Simply cut a piece of wrapping paper into 8.5 * 11" and roll it up, securing with a dot of hot glue, washi tape, or a sticker. You can fold over the top and decorate with some ribbon or leave open so your guests can choose their own sweet filler. They're beautiful when grouped together in coordinating papers and your guests will love the sweet token to enjoy after the party.

Candy Kebobs
Candy's not just for the kids! How cute would one of these be with a Christmas cocktail? Swap out a swizzle stick and add one of these instead. Or serve up some sweet treats at your holiday party and include these on your dessert table. Display in pretty jars or vases & let guests pick their favourite. All you need are some cocktail picks & a variety of gummy candy. Wrap in cellophane or pop in Chinese takeout containers as a sweet party favour or stocking stuffer (just make sure to stick a candy on the sharp end!).

A big thank you to Karameller candy for collaborating on this post & providing the candy for all of the projects included! Their jars of candy make beautiful gifts and are great to give as hostess gifts.

Karameller is located in the Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver, inspired by owner Louise's nostalgic memories of her childhood in Sweden. Each week she would bike to the local candy shop to splurge her weekly allowance on 'lördagsgodis', Swedish for 'Saturday sweets'. Bringing this tradition to Vancouver, Louise stocks her shop with candy imported from Scandinavia, made from high- quality ingredients, and free of GMOs, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup; there are even sugar- free and gluten- free options. Buy the candy by the bag or jar (great for gifting!), it's perfect to stock your candy buffet or in pre- measured bags. Karameller also offers weekly office subscriptions and will put together candy bags curated around party themes- a perfect time saver for busy parents when planning kid's birthdays. If you're in the area, Karameller is worth the visit- you've never tasted candy like this!- and you can also purchase certain varieties on their website.

To learn more and order online, visit the Karameller website.
You can also find them on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Photos: Catherine Hilcove Photography

November posts sponsored by

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dreams Are Made for Children: Classic Jazz Lullabies {Book Review}

Growing up I loved reading and now as a Mom, I love reading with my kids. We started reading to Ari she was only a few months old, and even though we weren't sure how much she understood (if anything) we knew one day she would. Now our young lady loves books and I'm only too happy to nurture this love of reading in her; Liam is now a part of this nightly ritual and even though he can't pick out books yet, I'm glad we're carrying on the tradition with him.  

One of my favourite things when I was younger was my nightly routine with my Mum reading books before bed. As I got older they evolved from story books to chapter books that we read over several weeks. The Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gable books are still some of my favourites and I look forward to snuggling up with Ari and turning the pages with her when she's a little older. A recent new addition to our nightly routine has been a picture book called Dreams Are Made for Children, which is accompanied by a CD with 12 classic jazz lullabies, perfect to help wind down at the end of the day.

I'm a jazz lover and I enjoy listening to these songs anytime, but they're perfect to help settle lively little ones at bedtime, and make a fresh alternative to traditional lullabies. Singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Billy Holiday are just some of the amazing voices included on the CD, selected by Paris- based jazz musician Misja Fitzgerald Michel. I popped the songs onto my old iPod nano and hooked it up to a portable speaker so we could enjoy it in Ari's room during story time.

The hardcover book is laid out to follow each song on the CD and includes lyrics and inormation about the singer, and illustrations by Ilya Green. The pictures are beautiful, and I love the bright colours she uses; it's a book kids and parents will both enjoy looking at. My favourite is the title song, Dreams Are Made for Children, performed by Ella Fitzgerald; I'll put it on repeat and enjoy the CD during nap time for some relaxing background music. I especially love one of the lines in the song, dreams are made for children, and for children dreams come true. This is such a sweet message and a reminder to nurture the dreams of our little ones as they grow.

I love introducing music to my kids and I've loved many of these jazz singers since my own childhood (I'm a big fan of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, and many of the singers on this CD). This is a fun and unique way to introduce this style of music to children while making it a part of nightly routine. And since the lyrics are printed in the books, it's perfect to follow along with the songs. 

Duration: 35 minutes. Recommended for kids 0- 3 years. Dreams Are Made for Children is available for $22.95 CAD through The Secret Mountain among other award- winning storybooks with CDs for kids.

To see more titles & learn more about this book, visit The Secret Mountain website. You can also find them on social media: Facebook | Twitter

November posts sponsored by

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Handpicked Holiday {2015 Gift Guide}

This year for my holiday gift guide I teamed up with The Handpicked Home to bring you some great ideas for everyone on your list. Shop owner Piya has lovingly selected items from a great variety of local and Canadian makers to sell in her store, making it easy to find something you love.

To help you check off your holiday shopping list this year Piya and I handpicked (see what I did there? ;) ) some favourites sure to please even the hardest to buy for. See below for our suggestions to help you give the perfect gift to everyone you have to buy for while supporting some amazing small businesses too. Happy shopping!

For the Home

Clockwise from top left: 'Explore' Bunting & 'Choose Happiness' Wood Sign, Allybeth Design Co | Yarn Bowl, G Ceramic & Co | Black Antlers, Townsend Rowe | Wooden Candle Holders, Pastiche Art (Brent Unrau) | Peach Pillow & Red/ White Pillow, The Jitterbug Shop | 'But First Coffee' Print, Townsend Rowe | Mason Jar Light, Dahlia Love Vintage | Ceramic Mugs, G Cermic & Co | Chalkboard, Townsend Rowe | Paper Ball, The New Mercantile | Candle, Woodlot | Large Stamped Cutlery, Teaspoon Memories | G Ceramic & Co | Chalk Style Paint, The Fat Paint Company | Gold Water Bottle, S'well | Crate, One Wooden Wall | Turquoise Frame, Teacup Cottage | Terrarium, Window Arcades

For Her

Clockwise from top left: Organic Coconut Oat Milk Bath, Bebe De Luxe | Chocolate (green box), Mink Chocolates | Earl Grey Lavender Tea, Karla's Specialties | Soaps, Pukalily | 'Life is Tough' Print, Victoria Senges Design Co | Bowl, G Ceramic & Co | '&' Sign, Allybeth Design Co | Necklace, Two Sparrows | Stacker Rings, Laughing Sparrow | Karuna Bath Salts, In a Sequoia | Meyer Lemon Lavendar Jam, Salt Spring Kitchen Co | Milk & Honey Soy Candle, Twine Abode | BC Cheeseboard, Love My Local | Red Pepper Jelly, Dolly's Delicious Treats | Cheese Knives, Rock Yard | Mug, Blushface Paper Goods | Weekly Organizer, Victoria Senges Design Co | Honey, Mellifera Bees

For Him

Clockwise from top leftt: Ties, Fly at Risk | Stag Canvas Print, The Jitterbug Shop | Hockey Stick Bottle Openers, Broken Stick | Mug candle, Forest and Waves | Beard Oil & Shaving Supplies, Peregrine Supply Co | Candle, Woodlot | Body Cream (in jars), Twine Abode | Socks, Forest and Waves | Aromatherapy Spray, Happy Spritz | 'Hello Handsome' Sign, Allybeth Design Co | 

Handpicked Gifts

Clockwise from top left: Triangle Chocolates, ChocoHappy | 'Oui Oui' Print, Swell Made Co | Caramels, The Candid Confectioner | Wood Bowl- Townsend Rowe | Linen Napkins, G and T Design | Noble Syrup, Mikuni Wild Harvest | Large Stamped Cutlery, Teaspoon Memories | Paris City Map, Point Two Design

For the Littles

Clockwise from top left: Kaui Cat T- shirt, Whistle & Flute | Teething Necklace, Glitter & Spice | Wooden Robot, Florid & Fallow | Grey Tree Sleeper, Little Citizens | 'Baby' Wood Print, Reclaimed Print Co | Organic Cotton Blanket, Numpfer | Mint Blanket, Little Citizens | Wooden Robot Coaster, Reclaimed Print Co | Gold Leather Mocs, Minimoc | Bibdana, The Little Moore Shop | Bear Card, Kenzie Cards | Stork Card, Port Paper Co | 'Dream' Wood Sign, Allybeth Design Co | Mountain Pillow, Florid & Fallow | Table, Townsend Rowe

Here's a little more of what you can find in store...

Shown Above: Antlers, Townsend Rowe  | Necklaces, Sweet Caroline Creative

Shown Above: T- shirt, Locomotive Clothing | Yarn Dream Catcher, Townsend Rowe

Shown Above, Top to Bottom: Baby bath products, Twine Abode | Wood Signs, Allybeth Design Co | Leather Mocs, Minimoc | Handmade Necklaces, Rachel Rainbow | Organic Cotton Blankets & Bibs, Numpfer | Teething Accessories, Glitter & Spice

Shown Above, Top to Bottom: Prints, Sarita Mann Design Studio | Greeting Cards, Swell Made & Sarita Mann Design Studio | Weekly Planner/ Grocery lists,Victoria Senges Design Co | Gold Polka Dot Wall Decals, Urban Walls

Piya has a passion for shopping and styling beautiful things, combined with a business background. After a lot of hard work & preparation, she took the plunge to chase her passion and opened the doors to her shop in White Rock this Fall. The Handpicked Home offers up a variety of items from home decor, jewellery, edible treats, baby/ toddler items, and so much more- all carefully selected by Piya. Her vision behind the shop is to offer "a lovely escape into a distinctive lifestyle shopping experience, meant ot evoke nostalgia and warmth through each item and design". Her shop is perfect if you're looking for something unique/ handmade for yourself or to give as a gift. 

You can find The Handpicked Home on social media:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Photos by Catherine Hilcove Photography 

November posts sponsored by

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#TryNatural with SocialNature

Have you ever seen a green product you've wanted to try but didn't like the idea of spending money on it because you didn't know if you'd like it? This has happened to me several times, and I find it even harder to spend on natural/ organic, etc products when trying them for the first time since they can cost quite a bit more, only to have them not live up to my expectations.

I recently came across an interesting way to sample green products for free- think organic deodorants, vegan mascara, healthy snacks and eco-friendly cleaners- before taking the plunge and buying them (and spending $$$): SocialNature. All that is requested in return is that you share your opinion with the SocialNature community. If you loved the product, you're also able to invite friends and family to try them for themselves. This is perfect if you know someone who's on the hunt for a new healthy snack idea, green cleaning products, and so on. There's no pressure to buy or to share, but the hope is that you'll help spread the word so that more people try green products.

Making greener, more natural choices with the products we buy can have more impact than we think, especially when we share about what's worked for us. I recently enjoyed some Tega Tea, which is a brand based right here in Vancouver, specializing in certified fair trade organic tea. I love coffee and tea (confession: I can't live without a little caffeine boost!) but I'm starting to pay closer attention to where it's from, if it's fair trade, organic, etc. A nice cup of herbal/ caffeine- free tea at night is one of my favourite ways to wind down after a busy day, and I like knowing that it's not only quality, but that it supports fair trade. 
SocialNature is encouraging everyone to #trynatural and help bring green into the mainstream. If you would like to check out SocialNature for yourself, enjoy priority to try any of their products as a TPB reader by following this link.

To learn more about SocialNature, visit their website & find them on social media: