To Canada, With Love

fromtrextotigress:

Please have the family of Captain Nathan Cirillo in your thoughts and prayers. A young father who lost his life in this senseless attack.

Originally posted on Amberly Ever After:

As a Canadian and a citizen of Ottawa, the events that transpired yesterday were both shocking and tragic. My heart goes out to all of those affected and especially to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was killed while representing his country by standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The world we live in is full of terrible things, and no matter where you go or who you are, sometimes these bad things just cannot be ignored. However, this doesn’t mean that any of us should stop living the way we want. Should we be more vigilant and protective? Perhaps, but by no means should we ever allow fear to paralyze us.

My Ottawa will always be a beautiful city, one that I am proud to live in and one that I am proud to call my home. My Canada will always remain a beautiful country…

View original 209 more words

Flavourful Food

Since making adjustments towards eating healthier, I have reduced a lot of salt in my cooking and have turned to other ingredients to add flavour to my food. Those pre-packaged seasonings for meat dishes are often very high in sodium, so I always try my best to use fresh culinary herbs and root vegetables.

What I use to reduce salt:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…

Dill-This herb has a light almost minty taste. Fresh dill pairs nicely with salmon and various fish. I also steam it and add it to rice dishes and garnish for my salads.

Health benefits- Some studies suggest that dill helps to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

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Thyme- I always make time for thyme and it is now a staple on my grocery list. I use it in many dishes, including, adding it in ground meat for sauce or meatballs, to stews and soups, to season chicken, as well as my vegetable rice pilaf. I remove the tiny green leaves from the stem and into the pot they go.

Health benefits- Thyme can help prevent colds and flu and is an anti-oxidant.

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As Rosemary is to the spirit, so lavender is to the soul…

Cilantro- With its unique taste, I use cilantro in dishes that require no cooking. It adds a rich green colour and delicious taste in salsa and goes especially nicely with a mango salsa. Cilantro also pairs brilliantly as a garnish to your fish tacos and on your fresh salads.

Health benefits- Not just a pretty garnish, cilantro is an immune boosting, anti-oxidant that can aid the body in removing toxins.

IMG_2290Rosemary-Thanks to Rosie, I can add a certain something to my marinade rubs. I add olive oil, rosemary, fresh garlic, pepper, a little sea salt and rub over my roast. I let sit in fridge overnight before cooking. I also use rosemary to season poultry or add to grilled vegetables.

Health benefits- reduces inflammation and can lower the risk of heart and liver disease.

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Honourable mentions:  Fresh garlic, red onions and ginger cannot go unnoticed. All of these vegetables are a must to enhance the flavour profile in stir-fries, soups and stews. Sprinkle your diced garlic over grilled vegetables to enhance flavour.

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Herbs for the Wine…

You cannot go wrong with red wine paired with red meat.  I drizzle red wine over roasts, steaks and beef medallions before cooking to marinate. A cap full of vino tinto is a fantastic addition in meat sauce and beef stew.

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What are your cooking essentials?

Resource: Health benefits found in the book Healing Foods- Eating Your Way to Better Health.

How to be a Zen Kat

I love, love her blog. Hence the reason I was thrilled when Alex Katzen said she could fit in an inspirational story this month in her busy schedule. Her blog, The Zen Kat, is an exquisite celebration of family, friends, food, travel and fitness while making room for desserts (and handstands.) More importantly, Alex has taught me a valuable lesson. It’s important to slow down in this crazy, fast-paced life to engage the senses, spread positivity or come out of a comfort zone. With Alex you never know where life will take you, from a bakery in NYC or the Dead Sea, but I can guarantee you will enjoy the journey.

 

Was the Foodgasm Worth it?

To keep myself accountable, I have to be honest. I indulged too heartily this weekend and I was not happy with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against indulgences and believe it is important to treat yourself in moderation to live a balanced lifestyle. I have come from a place of obsessive, restrictive dieting in my past, and it’s never helped me to become healthier, but in fact it did just the opposite.  My approach now is 80% clean to 20% not-so-clean.  My diet has evolved a lot over the past year. Greens and lean proteins are huge parts of my meal prepping, and I have reduced (but not omitted) starches. I feel more energized and feel full due to these changes.  So what was the problem?

I over did it. I know, I know. I can’t beat myself up over treating myself, and I don’t. The thing is I did not treat myself, I overate throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. Starches, sugars, exessive caffeine and alcohol. How many pumpkin spice lattes did I throw back? Too many to mention. My alcohol limit went out the window. (Insert I’m so ashamed face here 😚)  However, a valuable lesson did prevail. I know why gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. The splurging was not worth it. Throughout the weekend, I felt lethargic, dehydrated, had a dull headache, felt bloated, gassy and was constipated. However TMI, this must be shared.  Protein and veggies make me feel great. An excess in starches, sugars, caffeine, wine and not enough water make me feel all of the above. (Which does not warrant repeating. Insert I’m so ashamed face once again 😚.)  To sum it up, crappy.  It felt great while I was doing it (like any addicting substance) but the after effects truly are not worth it.

My evening after splurging:

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As the holiday season approaches, I am confident to stick to my balanced approach. After all, Marie Anoinette said, “let them eat cake!” Not cakes. The Israelites ate unleavened bread at Passover, not eleven loaves of bread. So kale, spinach, swiss chard and beets will tip the scales, and a little Christmas cake will balance it all out.

What is your approach to healthy living, my lovelies?

I’m Thankful For Stretchy Pants

This Monday will make a total of two Thanksgiving feasts I have enjoyed. This is why God created stretchy pants. My Thanksgiving dinners usually contain alotta starches. Rice, potatoes, potato salad and at times pasta salads. I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving potluck at work on Thursday. Everything was so tasty and we even had a bird.

Four year old Piper shows me her turkey-lurkey.

Four year old Piper shows me her turkey-lurkey.

 

No, not that bird, a real turkey.

Mary’s mom made a delicious chorizo stuffing. Delicious does not do it justice. It was out of this world delicious. My contribution was a Thanksgiving pear and feta salad. It is very festive in colour and you can find the recipe right here. Oh, and I always save room for pumpkin pie. Gotta have that pie in the sky! Here lies the dilemma. Now that my diet is primarily light and protein-filled, anytime I gorge myself silly on these occasions, I feel lethargic and bloated. My stomach balloons up, and I go into sloth mode in my elastic waist pants. I guess my body is not used to over-indulging these days, but oops I did it again. Thanks goodness holidays come only once a year.

Here are a few more scenes from the fall:

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Andy’s bridge over troubled-waters

Fall constitutional with mom and dad.

Fall constitutional with mom and dad.

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Wishing all my fellow Canadians a blessed Thanksgiving. May your meals be stretchy-pants worthy and always save room for pie.

IMG_2278What are you thankful for?

My Harvest Prayer for you

I bumped into an acquaintance at Walmart tonight. I asked her what she has planned for Thanksgiving, and she replied, “not much. I find holidays depressing.” After wishing her well, we parted ways, lost between hoards of busy Thanksgiving shoppers.

On the drive home, a melancholy mood took over as I thought of this brief encounter. Not everyone enjoys the holidays for many reasons. Job loss, financial woes, family estrangement, fighting addictions and personal demons, illness, grief, break-ups and breakdowns can lead to hopelessness.  Not everyone will be carving into a turkey come Sunday. Not everyone is feeling blessed tonight.

If you are feeling lost, I pray for your direction.

If you are feeling weary, I pray you find rest.

If you are lonely, I pray you know you are loved. Loved by God and loved by me.

If you are feeling hopeless, I pray that you discover the answer.

If you are physically or mentally broken, I pray for your healing.

If you are feeling angry, guilt-ridden or sad,  I pray that peace takes over your heart, mind and soul.

If you are encountering difficult paths, know that this too will pass. You are going through hardships to build strength and resilience. God has not abandoned you and knows your plight.

 

Amongst the leaves, dotted in colours, beyond the winding dirt path and over the rushing stream, you will find an old bridge. This bridge though has another side. You will make it across the bridge, this I promise you. It may be difficult and seem so daunting, but this bridge is strong.  On the other side, the sunlight reflects off the stream and shines through the leaves on the trees. A woodpecker’s swift beak is echoing through the forest.  On the other side is hope, love, peace and purpose.

 

Cross this bridge and don’t look back. This I pray for you.

 

-C. Longsworth

 

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Trex to Tigress Spooky Halloween Confessional

I think I have a case of arrested development when it comes to Halloween. I simply love Halloween and refuse to declare it just for children. Besides, I’m young at heart.

So I decided it’s time for some Halloween confessions……

1. If it was socially acceptable for 40-somethings to trick or treat, I’d be all over that. Trick or treating is a great physical activity. For one, you do a lot of walking. Secondly, you walk holding heavy bags of candy.

2. When I was 21, my sister had a nasty sinus infection on Halloween. Her husband hated taking their kids trick-or-treating, so it became her parental responsibility. I happily volunteered to take over the trick-or-treating duty so my sis could remain in her sick-bed. What a nice auntie. However……I had my own selfish motives. I seriously considered dressing up and pretending to be an “older sister” to my nieces and nephew, so I too could collect candies. When my sister told me that was a crazy idea and don’t even try it (she was friends with all the neighbours) I decided against it. So instead I just told my nieces and nephew that if they didn’t each give me 5 mini KitKats and an addition 5 bags of chips that Freddie Kruger would pick the lock of their house with his knife fingers and break in at midnight. Wow, it feels great to get that off my chest.

Coming for your candy, kids!

Coming for your candy, kids!

3.  One year my bro waited last-minute to plan his costume. (I started planning my cossy in late August. Insert tooting horn here.) Sure enough, all the good costumes were taken at Woolco. Bro had to settle for the dreaded “sheet ghost.”  I hid our only white sheet for a joke and he couldn’t find it to cut the eye holes in it. My bro had to wear a flannel sheet with pink flowers on it. (Lol-ing right here. Man, it felt great to get that off my chest.)

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4. Which segues nicely into my next confession. My favorite Halloween show is It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I never miss it. (Where poor Charlie Brown was a sheet ghost and only got rocks when trick-or treating.) Reminds me of my poor bro, because I think someone did give him a rock with his flowery sheet ghost costume. “I got a rock.”

5.  One year, I wanted to make my house look extra spooky. I used all the TP to make those Kleenex ghosts because we didn’t have Kleenex. I made about 100 and hung them all around outside, on trees, on the door handles, on the mailbox. When my dad went to the throne ( with his National Geographic) I started to shake in my boots. When he bellowed, “Esther (my mom) are we completely out of toilet paper!?” I ran to my room and hid. Unfortunately, poor dad had to use paper towel. Ouch!  (You know, coming “clean” is feeling really good, unfortunately not for dad that day.)

How to make a Kleenex ghost with Andy’s soft, scented Kleenex, while he takes a nap, with easy step-by-step instructions:


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If your parents are angry you’ve used all the Kleenex kids, tell them The Tigress made you do it. I’ll take one for the team. Okay, back with the confessionals.

6. While visiting The Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City, a German tourist said I reminded him of Frida. That’s when I decided, I shall be Frida for Halloween. It was early September at the time and to make my costume authentic,  I let my mustache and uni-brow grow in for almost two months.

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7.   Whether invited to a party or not, I still dress up and will continue to do so if I live to a ripe old age. This year I hope to be the black Lagertha. #shieldmaiden #vikings

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8. I was one of those annoying teenagers who was way too old to be trick-or-treating, who would show up at your door after 10 pm with a pillow case as my treat bag.

So ends my Halloween confessionals. Any confessions to share? I highly recommend it. It feels like such a weight lifted off my shoulders. Speaking of witch which, time to get to the gym.

Go Take a Hike

Happy October! I think many people would agree with me when I say that nothing beats a Fall hike on a gorgeous sunny day. The thing with happy trails is that you can take it anyway you like, a light jog, a relaxed stroll, a power walk, or a marathoner’s stride. Nature is waiting for you; for you to enjoy however you choose. The foliage is not quite in its full colour spectrum, but it is getting there. Some leaves are still stubbornly fighting on to stay green, while others have already made the transition to turn red, orange or gold. It was supposed to be a lazy rest day today, but the great outdoors was beckoning my name and it was a call that could not go unanswered.

I will stop babbling now, and let the brook do it for me:

 

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imageTrue or false? The couple who stretches together argues less often?

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

-Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Did you Hug a Vegetarian Today?

I looked on the calendar this morning and discovered it is Hug a Vegetarian Day.

IMG_2222The two vegetarians I know live too far, so I will send them a virtual hug via Facebook. If you are a vegetarian, I’m sending a big hug your way.

Sending a hug to all my followers~ >u<

Today I began to think. Could I be worthy of a hug today? Could I be a vegetarian? I like poultry, red meat and fish. Meat provides me with much of my protein intake. At times, I feel such empathy for the animals that provide my sustenance. When I pass a field and see grazing cows, I get a little sad. I think, are their grazing days numbered? Will they be going to the cow heaven in the sky soon? I was a vegetarian for about two months when I witnessed the slaughter of an animal and it was horrific. The memory haunted me for months. I was sixteen years old, and on vacation in my parents’ birthplace of Belize. My cousin (who lives in Belize) took us out to get some relaxing beach time at one of the Cayes off the mainland. We swam in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea, soaked up the sun, ate tons of rice and beans and lobster, and watched a pig get slaughtered. You know, the normal vacation things. We gathered in the yard of one of the locals (my cousin’s friend Cecilio.) In Cecilio’s yard were two large pens, each had a pig in them of mammoth portions, a black and white pig and a pink pig. Families began to gather for the “event” in his yard.  I took a peek in the pens, making the animals squeal nervously. Cecilio approached the pens with a huge butcher’s knife.  I realized that the pigs were not afraid of me, but they had noticed Cecilio coming at them full force and could sense what was about to happen next. The pink pig was to face his horrible fate. Cecilio jumped swiftly in the pen, and pushed the animal’s huge backside out and started to tie its front and hind legs. It was that moment the ear-piercing squealing began. My cousin explained that the pig’s neck was far too large in girth, so a quick death of slitting its throat was not possible. Cecilio had to locate the heart and pierce the knife in it based on his estimation. As he began to stab at the pig’s body, it began to convulse uncontrollably. What I will never forget is the squealing. It was bone-chilling. The sound penetrated deep into my heart and head. I can only describe the sound as a car engine that won’t start, as you turn the ignition over and over again. After several jabs, Cecilio finally located the heart, which thankfully led to the animal’s demise and put an end to this misery. The next day, we went to Cecilio’s house for chicarones (deep-fried pig skin.) I couldn’t eat it. I just couldn’t after witnessing the slaughter. The animal’s carcass lay out on a picnic table in the bright sunlight. Not a wasted scrap of meat. Bright red blood droplets dotted the green grass.

I returned to Canada and abstained from meat, but slowly and surely, meat made its way back into my diet, starting with fish, then poultry and eventually pork chops. The only reason that would make me a vegetarian is compassion for the animals that feed me, not really for health-related reasons.

However, that day is not today. I’m going to The Works tonight for a charbroiled burger.

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Are you a vegetarian? If not, do you think you could be?

Source for virtual hug visit: http://chibird.com/post/31438594994/sending-a-hug-to-all-my-followers-u

Merengue Meets Bicep Curl

I have to give credit to Zumba for helping me lose unwanted inches from my thighs, (thanks Beto Perez!) and to resistance training for helping me to tone my muscles. Is it possible to merge the two worlds of spicy Latin dance moves, and strengthening those muscles? After taking my first Zumba Tone class this week, I can confirm that the answer is yes. Zumba Tone combines traditional Zumba moves, with light hand weights (resistance sticks) for basic strength exercises. The first thing I loved about Zumba Tone was the resistance sticks.  They are approximately one to two pounds, but the neat feature is that they make musica! Take a listen:

I was having way too much fun with these. I appropriately named them “skinny maracas” and at times I felt as though I was a back-up dancer in a salsa band (minus the big hair and tight dress with a side split). Don’t let the lightness of the resistance sticks fool you. Initially, I scoffed at the lack of weight but after doing high repetitions of side merengue or salsa steps, while executing a military press or tricep extension, I began to feel fatigued. A full body circuit type of workout, the first portion included a warm up with traditional Zumba moves. Next, was a high intensity cardio portion, with the ultra fast and pulsating beat of the Merengue, upbeat tempo Salsa, and slow and controlled Reggeaton.

Our ball of energy instructor, Mylene, takes us through some serious sweating with traditional Zumba dance moves:

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The second portion of the class focused on the strength training. The resistance sticks did more than offer resistance alone, but helps with coordination with steps by keeping the rhythm, agility and balance. It was a challenge to do a standing leg extension to the sounds of the Tejano beat, all while doing an overhead military press or tricep extension. We also did some lunge and squat combinations, ballet squats, and waist twists with the sticks to add some work to the core and legs.

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Tricep extension with leg extension combo (and a wee spot of mambo.)

Look at those smiles!

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Bicep curl to side lunge combo

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Zumba Tone is not a class to build muscle mass because the resistance sticks are not heavy enough, but if you’re looking to tone your muscles, burn serious calories, lose weight and have a lot of fun, then this is the class for you. I realized just how much I missed Zumba, and the great atmosphere, where I felt as though I was in a Latin club in Mexico with friends minus the Margaritas. The pulsating music makes you just want to dance and you don’t even realize that you are in the midst of a challenging workout. The most effective benefit of health and wellness from this class, which was unanimous amongst all the class participants was this, “it makes you feel happy!”

I really can’t argue there, as I mambo stepped my way home feeling energized and good.

To inquire more about membership rates, classes and personal training, be sure to visit http://www.womensfitnessclubs.com