A Life In Progress

Taking Better Care November 19, 2008

Filed under: Exercise,Healthy Eating,Me,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 2:03 pm

I’m horrible for this.

I always take care of myself last. There’s no way I’d give the girls just a bowl of noodles and sauce for lunch, for example.  I’d slice up some fruit or veggies to go with it.  I’d do the same for Jordan too.  But for me? I’d eat that bowl of noodles and not bother to make it a rounded meal.

Or when someone in my family is sick, I insist they take it easy, drink a lot of fluids, up their vitamin c, drink tea while snuggling on the couch with a movie, a dab of eucalyptus oil on their collar.  But do I do the same? Rarely.  Same goes for our vitamins and supplements.  I never forget to give the girls their vitamins in the morning but can hardly ever remember to take my own.

I’ve decided that it’s time I started taking better care of myself and then, in turn, be able to keep giving and caring for my family.  It may seem minor but I think all the small things add up.  I want to try to do something I enjoy every day, I want to be sleeping before 10 every night, take all my supplements and my medication, I want to slice veggies for myself, darn it! I am also going to give pilates a try. So those, among a few other things, are what I plan to work on in these next few weeks.

I’ve been feeling like junk for over a month now.  I called about two weeks ago to get into my naturopath and I got the soonest appointment available, January 9th.  I e-mailed her a few days later to give her an update on my thyroid condition and after hearing about it, she said she wanted to see me ASAP.  I go in tomorrow. I’m hoping that together we can find solutions to help me feel my best again.  Because it has been oh so long.


Smooth as butter September 19, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Eating — jdalsin @ 2:21 pm

This year has been a year of quite a few changes. 

Cloth diapering and back.

Pescatarianism and back and back again and back.

A few things have remained important and we have not waivered on them.


One of those things, oddly enough, is magarine.  Margarine has not entered out house is nearly 10 months. I thought it would be so hard but it has been the easiest change we’ve made so far.

I went to go see Lorna Vanderhaeghe speak years ago at the Mind, Body, Spirit Convention.  She is kind of a health guru.  After listening to her speak, taking notes, getting many ideas, she suggested everyone leave with this one piece of advice, if nothing else.  Go home and throw out your margarine.

Of all the things.  Really? That was so important.  Not stop eating chips, take a multi-vitamin, eat more fruits and veggies but throw out your margarine.  I was skeptical.  It took me a while to finally do it but I did.  We use butter for everything now.  My baking? A thousand times better.  Sauteeing veggies and fish in butter over margarine? What a difference.

Need a little encouragement to do the same? Check out this that I have copied and pasted for another website:


The Dangers of Margarine

Unlike butter, margarine has few nutritional value whatsoever. Margarine was actually developed to fatten up turkeys, but the turkeys instead died from it. Those who invested in the development of margarine obviously wanted some return on their money, so instead added yellow colouring (margarine was initially white) to make it more attractive for human consumption.

“Here are some basic truths about margarine:

  • High in trans fatty acids
  • Has the same amount of calories as butter
  • Butter (8 grams) is slightly higher in saturated fats than margarine (5 grams).
  • Triples your risk of coronary heart disease
  • Increases LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Increases risk of cancer up to five fold
  • Lowers breast milk quality
  • Decreases immune system
  • Decreases insulin response
  • Eating butter increases the amount of absorption of nutrients from other foods. The same does not apply with margarine.

And are you ready for the very SHOCKING truth about margarine? It is only 1 molecule away from being plastic! So it’s almost like melting your tupperware container and spreading it on your toast. You can confirm this by placing some margarine on a bench top and leaving it there for a few days. No ants, no mould, no flies! It does not rot, doesn’t smell and attracts no microorganisms. Nothing will live on it as it’s almost plastic!”

From: http://hubpages.com/hub/junkfood

Also, “a 1994 Harvard study found that women who consumed four or more teaspoons of margarine daily upped the risk of heart disease by 67 percent, compared with women who ate less than a teaspoon monthly.”

From Chatelaine, October 2008

And non-hydrogenated, while better than the alternative, is still junk!

So butter up your toast in the morning and use your margarine to test the above experiement in your garage. 😉


Answering the “WHY?”s April 16, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Eating — jdalsin @ 9:29 pm

I guess some people have been wondering why we chose to follow a pescatarian diet.  No one has actually asked me personally, I guess people around me are just buzzing about it instead of asking the questions.

Anyway, here are the most frequently asked questions and my answers to them.  Scroll down and find the questions in bold that you may have been wondering about.  I don’t expect anyone to read this entire post because it’s going to be looooooong.

Are you sure you are getting enough protein/iron/every other nutrient?

Yes, I am sure.  For instance, one filet of Mahi Mahi has approximately 22 g of protein.  Which is nearly half of my daily requirement.  We also are careful to eat a wide variety of other protein rich foods like whole grains, nuts, beans, oatmeal, peanut butter, brown rice, mushrooms, etc.    In fact, in recent studies, it has actually been stated that people now days are getting TOO MUCH protein which has been linked to osteoporosis.  So I think we are pretty safe.

Iron was one I was definitely concerned about since my levels are already low.  Again, we are incorporating more iron rich foods into our diet.  Tuna, salmon and shrimp are all good sources.   Broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, blackstrap molasses, eggs, dried fruit, etc.

On top of that, we all take supplements.  Jordan takes a multi vitamin and addition essential fatty acids.  Abby takes a multi vitamin specially made for vegetarian kids.  I take a list of supplements including iron, B12, Vitamin D.  Supplements are only the back up plan because nutrients are absorbed so much better from their natural sources.

Trust me, everyone’s nutritional needs are being met.  This was one of my biggest concerns when we first started our new diet plan but I am now confident that we are getting everyting we need.  Enough vitamins, minerals, fats, calories, food.

Does Jordan hate you?

This is my favorite question.  The answer is no.  We decided this together. He is on board, gung-ho, all for it.  In fact, he’s the one who said “We are never eating meat again.” Not me.  Him.  All him.  I would never force this decision on him.  There are days that I think he’s actually more into this than I am.  That being said, I wouldn’t even mind if he did eat meat when he was at a restaurant.  I’m not going to cook it but if he wants to order it, whatever.  He’s a big boy who gets to make his own choices.   He actually appreciates that I brought his attention to this matter and feels that we’ve made a wise, healthy choice for our family. 

And no Dad, he is not tempted to sneak into the basement and eat wings with you while I am asleep.  😉

What’s wrong with eating meat? 

Besides the cruelty, which is absolutely unacceptable and makes my stomach turn, there are health reasons too.  Do you know what a downed cow is?  It’s a cow that died/was injured in transport to the slaughterhouse.  They die of pneumonia, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc.  They have broken legs and are dragged out of the trucks, on the ground, prodded.  And then they are slaughtered for you to eat.    There is SO much information on the cruelty. I encourage you to watch Meet Your Meat on www.youtube.com or check out the videos on www.goveg.com

Here is a blurb from the www.goveg.com website:

“Leading health experts agree that going vegetarian is the single-best thing we can do for ourselves and our families. Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including our country’s three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. The American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer” and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be obese.1 Well-planned vegetarian diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products.

Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.3,4 Plus, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than vegans are.5

The consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products has also been strongly linked to osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, and male impotence. Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eating friends; this means that they are less susceptible to everyday illnesses like the flu.7 Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.8

A plant-based diet is the best diet for kids, too: Studies have shown that vegetarian kids grow taller and have higher IQs than their classmates, and they are at a reduced risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases in the long run.10,11 Studies have shown that even older people who switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet can prevent and even reverse many chronic ailments.”

Chicken isn’t that bad, is it?

Another quote from a magazine I got from www.goveg.com

“Because chickens are now bred and drugged to grow so large (so large that they become crippleld under their own weight), chicken flesh today contains three times as much fat as it did 35 years ago.  The most toxic form of the poision aresenic is used in chicken feed because it promotes faster growth.  The National Insititues of Health warns that this cancer-causing chemical is then ingested by people who eat chicken flesh.  Men’s Health magainze ranked chicken as the number one food you should never eat because of it’s high rate of bacterial contamination.”

Chickens are so poorly taken care of that nearly all of them are sick and dying before they are slaughtered.  It’s impossible to stay healthy in the conditions they are raised in.  So they are injected with antibiotics.  Which you then in turn ingest.

Why do you still eat fish? Aren’t there dangers to that then too?

There are absolutely dangers to eating fish.  Mercury and other toxins are the first thing that comes to mind.  We are still eating fish for now because I was nervous to go ‘all the way’.  I also think it’s important that the girls (and us!) get all those good fats in us. They help with brain development which is so cruicial for our growing daughters.

Another reason we kept it in our diets is to allow more flexibility when attempting to dine out.  Silly reason, perhaps, but it’s made this transition quite a bit easier.

Because of the mercury concerns, we’ve decided to limit fish to 1-2 times a week.    I have a feeling we will eventually phase it out too.  Perhaps in the next few weeks.

Do you miss meat?

Surprisingly, not at all.  There are so many great substitutes that we hardly notice it missing from our diets.  The only tough part is how it limits where we can eat- families houses, restaurants, etc.  It definitely isn’t easy to not be able to swing through the drive thru on the way home but really, that’s probably for the best anyways.

I think summer may be a challenging time because Jordan enjoys steaks and nothing says summer to me like a cheeseburger. 

But so far so good.  We’ll just have to keep finding things that we can take along with us to family meals, things we can grill and it will be all good.

Do you think you’ll end up being a vegan?

Maybe I’d think about it if soy cheese could melt.  I love nachos.  And pizza.  And quesadillas.  And I like them a lot.  😉

For real though, I don’t see this happening in the near future.  I think I’ll buy alternatives when they are available. We’ve been keeping soy milk around which I’ve used for baking and Abby & Jordan use in their cereal.  I’ll continue with that but for now I think that’s where it will stop.  Being vegan isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  A lifestyle that I definitely do not have the energy to persue right now.   I’d also be nervous raising the girls with no cheese, milk, eggs, etc. because right now we are quite relient on them for nutrients.  I know to any vegans reading this (hi Mike & Steph!) it sounds silly since they’ve been vegan for years and raising a healthy, beautiful little vegan girl.  Just how it sounds silly to me when people say I’m depriving my girls of proper nutrition by following a pescatarian diet.  Just not true and probably easier than you’d think.

The “God Made Animals to Eat” & the “Then Why Do We Have Eye Teeth” People

I’m sure we can all agree that if there was an 8th day, God wouldn’t have used it to create factory farming.  Things definitely are not as intended.  I doubt he smiles down upon tortured animals being mass produce for consumption.  Anyone want to argue that?  I may have a different opinion on eating meat if were done in a proper way, where everyone has a little piece of land that they grow their own food on, raise a cow, a few chickens.  But that’s not the case.

And eye teeth are for eating McIntosh Toffee and opening the odd chip bag. 😉

Is it hard?

Yes and no.  It’s not as convenient and right now since I don’t have all those memorized, old-favorite recipes to fall back on, meal preparation and planning definitely is taking more time.  But give me a few more weeks and I think I’ll have a new set of standbys.

It’s actually been a lot easier than I anticipated.

Is it more expensive?

No.  I thought we’d save money since we weren’t buying meat but that isn’t the case either.  It’s actually about the same price.  Instead of spending $4 on a pack on ground beef, I’m spending that money on a package of portabello mushrooms.  The money I’m saving by not buying chicken breats is going to buying more fish, different varities of cheese and a whole lot more fruit and vegetables.  We are also buying whatever is available organic since we have a bit more room with the grocery bill now.   

Well, I think those are the most commonly asked questions.  If you have any more, ask away!


This is the road that never ends March 3, 2008

Filed under: Going Green,Healthy Eating,Me,Natural Health — jdalsin @ 2:36 pm

sigh …

 I write today feeling a little bit defeated.

If you’ve been following this blog at all you know that I’ve been trying to make some changes around our house, with our health, our diets, becoming more environmentally conscious, etc.

I picked up a book from the library called Ecoholic.  It is so full of information.  After I read it my head is full of information.  Too much information.  So much information that I know that I’ll never be able to do it all.  Make the house as healthy as I would like.  Buy clothes that are made from organic materials and made by people getting paid decent wages.  Eat food that has been grown locally and without pesticides.  Ensure that my kids’ toys don’t contain PVC or lead paint.  That the wood we use to build a new deck isn’t destroying some ecosystem. That the soap I wash my body with isn’t full of chemicals that have proven links to cancer. 

So much to know. So much to do.  Where does one draw the line? Am I doing enough? Not enough? 

I wish there was a big store you could go to where in everything was safe and healthy to purchase.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Really though- this book is FANTASTIC. It’s also Canadian so it will speak of brands and stores you’ve heard of, list internet sites where you can order great products that will actually ship to Canada and so on.  I want to own it!


But be warned. You will be overwhelmed.


Foodies February 25, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Eating,Weight Loss — jdalsin @ 8:13 pm


We reconsidered.  And as of today we’ve decided to try out a pescetarian (basically a vegetarian that eats seafood) lifestyle.  We are excited about the changes and I really don’t think it’s going to be that difficult since we already have quite a bit of seafood in our diets.  We are going to try our best to stick to it this month but we may consider eating chicken if we are starving, sick of fish, etc.  😉


#1 – The main reason is to improve our health.  Meat contains hormones, antibiotics, toxins, etc.  Plus, and this is a very general statement, you really can’t go too unhealthy with a pescetarian diet.  Of course you can.  But what I’m trying to say is if you go to a restaurant, for example, the vegetarian and seafood dishes are generally healthier/leaner than anything containing meat- burgers, chicken fingers, etc.

#2- I’ve been a little grossed out lately.  Ground beef being the main source of my turning stomach.

#3- Animals that are raised to be eaten are treated pretty cruelly.  Search YouTube for a video called Meet Your Meat and you’ll see what I mean. 

Those reasons are listed in order.  Health.  What I can stomach lately and last, those poor little animals.  Many of you may gasp is disgust at me but I’m not an animal lover.  I can’t imagine that we’ll ever own a pet even.  While I don’t like seeing an animal being mistreated, I am by no means an animal rights activist.

I ran the idea past Abby.  Our conversation was hilarious.  It went like this:

“Abby, starting next week we aren’t going to be eating meat any more.”

Starts whimpering and whining (which is pretty typical these days): “But I LOVE meat.”

“What? I don’t think that you do.  You hardly ever eat your meat at dinner.”

“Well …. I love meatballs.”

“We aren’t going to eat meatballs on our spaghetti anymore.”

In a really loud shrieky voice: “Yes I AM going to eat meatballs.”

I glance in the rearview mirror as I prepare to break the news to her that I’m sure will win her over.

“Abby? Do you know what meatballs are made of?”

“Yes. Meat.”

“Do you know that meatballs are made out of cows?”

A look of pure horror covers her face.

“Are you just kidding?”


“Meatballs are made of dead cows.”  (Gross, I know.  But it’s true.)

“I don’t want to eat dead animals …. but …. I really love meatballs.”

“What if Mommy makes you meatballs that don’t have cows in them?”

“O.K.! You will make me special meatballs?”

“For sure! We are going to try all sorts of new foods.”

“O.k. I won’t eat meat with you any more.  That’s gross.”

Then I reached into the backseat and we did a high five.  😉

In other food news, we’ve discovered a few yummy food finds that I wanted to share here. Pick them up from the store if you are looking for something new and/or a healthier alternative to what you may be using at home.

HealthyWay Organic Sprouted Grain Bread & Tortillas- YUM! Check out the benefits of sprouted grains here: http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Benefits_Sprouted_Grains

Steel cut oats for breakfast.  Takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare.  Really tasty with a sprinkle of brown sugar.

We’ve been trying to phase out the peanut butter and bring in the almond butter.  It’s great on the above mentioned sprouted grain bread.

We picked up a jug of organic milk. Truth be told, I don’t really like the taste all that much. Not sure if we’ll continue with that one.  Plus it’s pricey.  A 2L of regular milk costs $1.89 at the store we shop at.  The same size organic milk costed us $4.98.

I’ve got a crying little girl upstairs so I have to run!


(Micro)Waving Goodbye February 20, 2008

Filed under: Around the House,Healthy Eating — jdalsin @ 3:41 pm

We’ve said goodbye to our microwave.  Almost.

We’ve never been big microwavers.  I’m guessing it got used maybe two or three times a week for things like melting butter and that’s about it.  We use our oven for reheating all leftovers from lasagna to pizza to whatever, making nachos and the like.  We use our cooktop for making quesadillas, reheating soups and making popcorn. So really, getting rid of the microwave won’t/hasn’t been too hard for us.

For now we’ve moved it to basement and have used it maybe once or twice when we’ve needed something heated in a hurry.  When I suggested to Jordan that we get rid of the microwave, his only concern was how we’d melt butter for our popcorn.  🙂  The other night when he whipped some popcorn up for us in a big pot on the stove, he even melted the butter in a little saucepan.  By the end of the month, I’d like the microwave gone all together.  Slowly, we are phasing it out of our lives.

Why? Because it’s white and clashes with our new black appliances.  Kidding.  Although there is truth to that.

But really, it’s because microwaving food zaps most of food’s nutrients.  A 2004 study done on the health benefits of broccoli found that, when microwaved, broccoli lost between 57% and 97% of it’s nutrients. That’s crazy! Why bother eating it when all that’s left is 3% of what’s good about it?  True, all cooking methods deplete the nutrition in food but steaming, for example, only destroy 10% or less of nutrients.  Raw is best, of course.

In our (too) crazy (too) busy world everything is about speedy and convenience.  You can go to the fresh produce aisle and get a bunch of fresh, nutrient packed broccoli for $2.00 or you can go the frozen food section and get a plastic bag full of broccoli that you are supposed to cook in the microwave for double the cost.  It’s too bad that when the going gets busy, the first thing to go is our health, our nutrition, the way we prepare food when really, the food we eat is what fuels everything else we do in our entire day.  Makes little sense to me.

Plus, what the heck is microwaving? Here’s one definition from an online dictionary:

“A microwave oven, or microwave, is a kitchen appliance that can come in many different sizes and styles employing microwave radiation primarily to cook or heat food.”

um… microwave radiation?  Check this link out if you want to know more about the electromagnetic waves that “cook” your food: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave. Spooky.

So that’s it.  We are thisclose to being done with the microwave.  Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  Done.


Veggin’ Out February 13, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Eating — jdalsin @ 1:02 pm

Jordan and I have been talking about becoming vegetarian.  I’ve been a little grossed out by meat lately. Mainly ground beef.

We started talking about if we would want to become vegetarians.

We then decided we’d for sure still eat fish and seafood.

And M & M’s Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.

And neither of us know if we’d be able to endure a summer sans bbq’ed cheeseburgers. 

Or the odd steak.

So, we aren’t going to be vegetarians.

What we are going to do is try to eat a lot more vegetarian meals.  Right now we probably have 2 or 3 vegetarian suppers a month.  We’d like to boost that to 10 and then go from there.  And we’ll probably still steer clear of the ground beef.  Not that we’d reject it if we were served it at someone’s house for dinner, just that we won’t be tossing it in our own shopping cart for awhile.  😉

So, does anyone have any magnificient vegetarian recipes?  Suggestions of cookbooks that might have some simple, delicious meal ideas?