Posts Tagged ‘role model’

My word for 2017 is ….

January 3rd, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have done a lot of soul searching this holiday season. As per my usual routine, I drafted a few New Year’s type blog posts. None have seen the light of day as they didn’t quite hit the mark for how I’ve been feeling lately. I have been inspired by what some people have chosen as “their key word” for 2017 though. That got me thinking more deeply, hmmmm.

Although I have written a lot this past year, I have not posted much. Various family members have been experiencing their share of challenges, so my usual musings about food and nutrition didn’t quite feel right to post about in the grand scheme of things.

I did host a pre-Christmas get together with one of my sisters. I connected up with my many aunts to meet our new great nephew – Russel. I reflected on this get-together with awe about how lucky I am to have so many amazing women who are fabulous role models in my life in addition to my own Mom and Mom-in-law. Each has soldiered through their fair share of life’s challenges without the helicopter-type safety nets many young folks possess today. Yet each show up with smiles, love and enthusiasm, like always.

I am out at my hide-away as I write this and have been taking in the brisk winter outdoors with deeper reflection. On New Year’s Day I took the trek up snowy Knox Mountain. It’s is a love-hate thing – love it when I’m done and hate it while I’m trudging up…. a perfect way to contemplate life….

As I plodded along, it came to me: ROBUST!

  • This word sums up what my Moms and aunties have shown in their rich lives as they take on the world.
  • This explains the gumption you need to face an extreme challenge with courage, grit and a smile.
  • It goes deeper than merely “shaking a leg” in life, but losing one and making the best of it.
  • It’s what you need to break out of your routine and follow your dream.
  • It’s not spinning the yarn of mundane pettiness of the status quo, yet implies vitality & vigor, toughness & sturdiness, health & enthusiasm, to make a difference. Yes robust is my word this 2017.

May this word have meaning for you as you grab 2017 by the horns: Go forth and be ROBUST!

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Limerick for Ellie

October 15th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

There is a new baby named Ellie
Coming into the world she did dilly dally
Arrived Saturday by 10
Let the party begin!
To welcome our new baby Ellie

An armful of perfection she is
Took to breastfeeding just like a whiz
Awake and asleep
Oh so new
Love runs deep
That armful of perfection she is

Ellie’s parents are such a great team
A 2-some any new baby would dream
The love and the care
No one could
Quite compare
That Ellie’s parents are truly a dream team

Family love awashes Ellie all round
She doesn’t even need to make a sound
By her side we will stand
There to give
Her a hand
Family love awashes Ellie all round

Let’s rise up to make our world a better place
For all the Ellie’s of every single race
That’s what life’s all about
Go on
Don’t ever doubt
We can all work to improve this place

… welcome to the grand fam Ellie Francis, I will always have your back!

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Posted in Rhyme Time! | No Comments »

Back to School; Want to Make Food Fun?

September 1st, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Everything is so “back to school” these days. I have seen my share of ads, articles, tweets and blog posts about making food fun from sandwiches to breakfasts to snacks. Call me crazy, but are we that hedonistic that every dang thing we do needs to be fun, what gives?!

When it comes to food for kids (young and less young), here’s how to infuse fun inherently, listen up!

Grow It - I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel a sense of pride from eating something they’ve grown at home whether it’s tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon or herbs. Grow something; grow anything and you’ll create joy. Continue the growing season by bringing some herbs indoors as fall approaches.

Plan It – Round everyone up at home to decide what meals and snacks will be made and purchased each week. Use a team approach allowing everyone to have a say, while Mom and Dad lay the ground rules. Team-work makes everything more fun!

Prep It – Encourage everyone in the household to take part in preparing meals and snacks when age appropriate – whether it’s adding to the grocery list, grocery shopping, setting the table, measuring ingredients, chopping, cooking and cleaning up. Get kids to prepare their own lunch. Also, set a goal that your kids build a repertoire of making 6-12 family recipes to take with them when they fly from the nest. Here are some fast, easy recipes I love: Peppers & Eggs, Pasta Fagioli, Nan’s Veal Stew, Sugo! Crazy for Bolognese! Pasta Salad, Tomato Salad and Lettuce Salad – enjoy!

Share It – Breaking bread is a truly beautiful thing. Just like you book meetings at work, make meeting time at home over meals a priority that can’t be missed.

Savour It - As we live our lives in the fast lane aim to dial down the speed when you eat. Stop, find a quite place without distractions, slow down and eat your food savouring the taste to the MAX. If everyone did this, we wouldn’t need to seek out other stimuli to turn our crank. Savour the flavour people!

Enjoy It – With all of the “how to” info around food and eating, it seems something so very natural “the act of eating” has become so pre-scripted and unnecessarily complicated – eat this, don’t eat that – Ahhhh! Let’s lose the guilt around food and eating and enjoy food to the MAX!

So folks, when you infuse all of this into your eating repertoire you can forgo purchasing fluorescent coloured food or creating fruit-origami on your 3-year old’s plate to create fun when you don’t really need it.

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin', Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

“Go Outside & Play!” Let the Broken Record Play on…

July 28th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Let the Broken Record Play on – Focus on Free Play

Oh for the love of child’s play and activity in the peak of the summertime. School’s out and it’s time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. It’s every parent’s challenge to keep kids engaged and busy so you don’t hear the common mantra “I’m bored” until it’s back to school in September.

Who doesn’t love summer? It’s a perfect time to start a “movement movement” (as I describe in my book) and make a pact for the kids and parents to get and keep more active. As I sit here and write I can hear the birds chirping under the clear blue sky. It’s as perfect as any movie set, even better because it’s real.

Let’s reverse the abysmal stat that shows only a small percentage of kids meet the benchmark of one measly hour of activity each day. Given it’s the peak of summer let’s adopt some new behaviours that we’ll work on this season and each one following! It takes a conscious effort to “get your party started” to get and keep moving. However, if everyone in the household does it together each can lift each other out of the “lazy” part of the “lazy hazy crazy days of summer”!

The best place to start is setting a few limits. As much as I’d be tempted to suggest you pop a tube in your TV to get the kids outside, that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Set some limits around the time the kids (young and older) sit in front of any screen – TV, computer, game devises, phones.

Get outside and enjoy free play – throw the ball, ride a bike, play on the swings in the park, jump rope, play tag or hide and seek, run through the sprinkler, hit a tennis ball on the wall, climb a tree, go for a walk, you name it, just let your imagination run wild along with you!

Let the Broken Record Play on – Do What I Do

On the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on being a role model. The stats show that a child is very likely to participate in “unorganized physical activities” at age 4, they are likely to still be participating at 17. Having active parents reinforces that in spades. As a parent you might be very good at wagging your finger and telling the kids what THEY should do. I suggest you stop and take stock of your own activity level, then look in the mirror and do the same to yourself if you indeed are not active.

Light Your Own Fire Within
I blog often about setting goals, re-evaluating your activity level and giving yourself a much needed kick in the back side to vamoose and get moving. I might write it for you, but I certainly do it for myself as well. We all have days we want to just lie around – you know, as the song says “those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. We need to change lazy to blazing by lighting a fire under ourselves.

Play Together
I have divulged that my parents were active when I was young. We all took part in various activities and sports, including some lifestyle sports. We did our share of playing as a family. The great thing about that is that we can still do some playing together when I fast forward today by taking a walk or playing golf.

Destress Valve
Truly though as life becomes more stressful, I find activity is a proverbial valve that helps it release. I cope better after I get back from a walk then have to face the music of real life. And how great is this time of year to better appreciate the birds singing, the gardens flourishing, the kids playing, the sun shining, fresh air blowing. What’s not to love about this scenario, start and continue.

Stealth Moves
I have written about ways to sneak in stealth activity in my book if you’re going through a super-duper busy time. The key is to find 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, another 15 minutes somewhere else and before you know it, you’ve chocked up a half hour of moving. I’m a bad parker so I routinely park further away – that’s 5 minutes right out of the gate. To work in an extra walk I take my grocery bag under my arm and walk to the store at times. A great dovetail of a few activities at one time. Find some of your own stealth moves and get going to show the kids you are truly a gamer.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Organized Sport
Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on signing the kids up for activities. Let’s take stock of the school year that just passed. Were you stretched so far because of all of the obligations that you allowed the kids commit to? Let’s try to take the pressure off.

Family DISFunctioning & Signing Up
Sometimes organized sports can add to an existing DIS organized household. And, many of these cost money to sign up for in addition to the uniforms, shoes, equipment and more. I AM all for sports and teams, don’t get me wrong. But it’s ok as a parent to fallow the field for a season and encourage the kids to enjoy free play. We sometimes get caught up in what other families in our neighbourhood are doing and sign the kids up out of guilt. Free play is a perfect activity. I’m in your corner.

Sporty Spice Through the Ages
If you DO have the time and the means, then go ahead and get the kids into activity programs and/or sports. Consider those that the kids can continue as lifelong activities in addition to the team sports. As an adult it’s not as easy to arrange a volley ball, base ball, soccer, ball hockey game when you need a dozen busy people to get together. If you have the flexibility consider getting your kids involved in tennis, squash, badminton, golf, bike riding, hiking, running, etc. which can be more easily continued through the lifespan.

Life Lessons in Sport
I will divulge that I played competitive tennis when I was a teen. When I reflect on that experience I realize that I learned many worthwhile life lessons. I learned that life isn’t always fair even when you do your best. I learned that some people (including parents) cheat to get ahead. I learned how to lose graciously. I learned more from losing than I did from winning. I was a slow starter on the court and learned how to bear down and take it up a notch right when my opponent thought they had the win in the bag….. I also learned that through life people don’t change all that much – from the sand box to the court to the office cubicle. I’m wiser from the experience and that’s a good thing.

Do it, Do it, Do it ’til You’re Satisfied!
You who know me well by this point know my view on this. Doing something is better than doing nothing so just get started already. Do something you enjoy and encourage the same for your kids. Avoid living your glory days through your kids in sports. You had your childhood and they have theirs and never the two shall meet. Follow their lead and gently encourage their participation in something they can call their own and enjoy.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Rainy Day Play

Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on changing plans on a rainy day. Ahh yes just when I blathered on about getting active in the summer a thunder storm blows through! It’s times like these that reminds me how important it is to be flexible with our plans. Nothings carved in stone unless Mother Nature has the chisel.

Rules of Thumb
The first thing to remember on the weather change-up is that in most places it usually doesn’t rain all day, every day. So do try to get out when it’s over. Second thing is to remember that safety comes first, stay inside or ensure you take cover when there’s an electrical storm with thunder and lightning. And finally, rain without thunder storms won’t make you melt if you get sprinkled with rain. Really!

I rather enjoy walking in the rain. I have not melted yet. I have a trusty raincoat with a hood and it travels with me to many places to shelter me from the rain. Your kids won’t melt either and may love splashing in puddles and carrying on.

Board Game Help Ward off Boredom
I know a teacher who divulged that kids who’ve grown up without playing board games have more trouble with simple life skill, such as adding the dots on a couple of dice, for example. On a rainy day drag out some old games, blow the dust off of the boxes and get playing. When you get right down and think about it there’s a social aspect to game playing in addition to the simple counting thing, plus following directions “Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass Go and do not collect $200″. Like Snakes and Ladders we all have to cope in life with slipping on a proverbial banana peel, or a snake that sends you back 15 steps, only to recover in the near future. Yes, a metaphor of life.

If you have the odd rainy day inside, aim to get out when you can then play outside longer tomorrow when the sky clears.

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Posted in Miss Behavin' | 2 Comments »

Take Me to Your Leader, a Father’s Day Tribute

June 19th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I did some reminiscing about my Dad lately with Father’s Day right around the corner. He’s been such a positive force and stellar role model for me. This applies to all aspects of my life, but of course I’ll focus on the health related part, mostly. It’s a good time to toot his horn and turn the spotlight on my family’s silent soldier. He’s a silent soldier in part due to living in a household with 5 women who barely allowed him to get a word in edgewise…. When I hear about the importance of various family factors resulting in positive health outcomes for kids, it warms my heart to know how lucky I’ve been.

Family MealtimesHe knew about prioritizing what was important in life despite being a busy accountant (and still does). We consistently ate meals together as a family – breakfast and dinner. Fathers can play a very important role in the health of their family by scheduling work accordingly. It was our time to eat a home cooked meal together, catch up on our day and connect.

Family Activities – We learned activities we can all do together – tennis, swimming, badminton and made time to do them.

Leading by Example – He is a master time compartmentalizer even when work was super crazy. He had a very busy job yet always made time for physical activity. He was in good shape and used to jog a few miles a day and play squash. My sister and I took up jogging too, following his lead. We figured if He can do it, we can too!

Showing Tough Love, Setting Limits as a United Front – My Mom and Dad always worked as a team and he supported my Mom with the limit setting. They weren’t our best friends, they were our parents and secure enough not to cross that line.

Encouragement with a Reality Check – My Dad encouraged us to be the best we could be in whatever we chose to do in life. He didn’t flower up reality and would give you the straight goods when you needed it. He expected we get part time jobs and work, save money and pay for what we could. We learned the value of a dollar and not to spend what we didn’t have. All important life skills.

What does all of this have to do with eating and lifestyle… well, everything??!! When your life is properly balanced, wisely prioritized with good examples to follow it’s easier to make sound decisions. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book reflects how my Dad conducted his life naturally.

Thank you Dad for being such an amazing father and role model to me. I kept the family name as a testament of my pride for what you built on our branch of the family tree. You’re the best and I love you bushels full!

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

My Mother’s Like No Other…

May 6th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , ,

Well it’s almost Mother’s Day. A day to pay homage to the one woman who brought you into this world. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world – riddled with work, guilt, wonder and more guilt. Mothers are tied to their offspring long after the apron strings have been cut, poor bunnies. Always thinking, hoping, praying did “I do enough?” when it’s evident they have done so in spades.

I did some reflecting on my Mom, like I’m sure you have about yours. I am the youngest sibling of four daughters within five years of age who shared 1 bathroom going through the teenage wormhole. She mastered the art of homemaking as my “at home” mom and is a living saint while my Dad is even saintlier… living under 1 roof with 5 women…but I digress.

One benefit of being the youngest was having a few years of one-on-one time together while the others were at school, just her and me. Whether we were doing household chores, grocery shopping or having some downtime in the afternoon over a movie like Three Faces of Eve we always had fun together. I vividly remember her turning on Jack Lalane on our black and white TV and exercising together along with him “…5 more, 4 more, 3 more…” Sometimes we’d work out listening to Connie Francis swooning on our turntable. She was the one who put a tennis racket in my hand and encouraged me to hit a few balls. This was well before the fitness craze…move over Jane Fonda!

I am very thankful for everything she has done for me to this moment. I am most thankful for the things I didn’t much appreciate way back when – like her setting and keeping limits (“yes, and don’t call me her”), showing us tough love by standing her ground, giving us regular age-appropriate chores like joining in with food preparation, making lunches, clean up and such. She’s a 4’11′ Ninja who knows how to get her point across. I always loved her line “… you’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on me!” and she was right. We had unspoken rules like eating breakfast and dinner together as often as possible… and so much more. So many beautiful gifts from my Mother Extraordinaire.

Take the time to show appreciation to your Mom – that one woman who gave you life, opportunity, potential and who will always love you unconditionally. Show it not just on Mother’s Day but everyday of the year.

Thanks for all of the fabulous gifts you’ve given me Mom, I love you.

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie | 2 Comments »

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot! Making Arrabiatta Sauce with Nan

November 24th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Despite having a procedure done on her eye last week, my Nan was adamant not to cancel our Arrabiatta Sauce making lesson. She is one gritty Italian who’s north of 80 and I chose not to argue with her… this time anyways. That food loving Ukrainian I know put this request in a while back when we started our lessons, so Nan & Pops had the ingredients ready to transform into saucy deliciousness. Venture into the heat with this speecy-spicy recipe that tantalizes the senses and does not disappoint!

Ingredients
8 hot yellow banana peppers, washed
canola oil
1/2 cup white wine
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp each dried basil, parsley, oregano
salt & ground pepper to taste
4, 680mL bottles crushed stewed tomatoes
1m 400mL can diced stewed tomatoes
1 rack pork back ribs

Instructions
1) Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Cut your ribs into individual or double segments and arrange on a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slow cook in the oven for 90 minutes. Set aside to cool (make ahead of time before making your sauce).
2) In a large saucepan add canola oil and heat to medium, low. Using hand protection when handling the peppers on a cutting board cut the stems off and discard, then cut the peppers lengthwise then widthwise adding each to the saucepan, seeds and all (the seeds have the heat, so beware). Saute the peppers until softened and browned, stirring occasionally. Add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes.
3) Add all of the remaining ingredients then stir to combine, including the cooked ribs. Allow to simmer in the pot covered with a lid on medium low for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Serve over boiled pasta of your choice and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy to the MAX!

Commentary
This is one steamy proposition that transforms taste to a new level. We set the table with a tablecloth gift offering I brought back from Portugal and shared fun holiday stories during dinner.

We served another famous soup of Nan’s first – Acini di Pepe Soup that I made special to help her recuperation post eye surgery. Nice to see that it worked!

We enjoyed the pasta and ribs with fabulous Okanagan Wine and even better company. It was great to be the victim of this spicy food hangover, lucky me! What’s the next lesson on Nan, your famous Vodka Sauce?

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Posted in Food Revolution Recipes | No Comments »

Tall Tree

October 24th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Tall tree
Are thee
Beacon for
Many

Educate
And create
Opportunity
That’s great!

Raise the bar
Up so far
Mentor to
Many stars

Extra mile
Reconcile
Boundless with
Unique style

Volunteer
So sincere
Silent soldier
No fear

Deservedly
The Tall Tree
A new day is
Earned by thee…. congratulations!

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Posted in Rhyme Time! | No Comments »

Who’s winning the war on “healthy” at schools? Garbage cans perhaps

October 17th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been mulling over study findings showing healthy food served in school food service departments has been feeding the garbage pales since the school’s cleansing of less healthy food. These findings and a healthy debate with colleagues got me thinking more deeply and blogging about what might be happening in this regard.

I used to work with a passionate paediatrician Dr. Bob Hilliard many years ago at Sick Kids Hospital who often asked our team “Are we winning?” I have often asked myself this question through my career to do a gut check: are we are taking the right measures and achieving the planned outcomes? Are we winning?

I’ll be honest, my heart sank when I heard this study’s findings presented about healthy food wastage in school cafeterias, good grief. When I think about these kids having unique energy and nutrient needs, many going through growth spurts, I wonder what on earth are they eating to make up for what they’re discarding to fill that hunger void?

I recall having one-on-one sessions with teens many years ago who would openly admit to me that when they have a limited amount of money on hand what they seek is food that’ll fill the hunger void economically. The word “healthy” was rarely used to my recollection, sadly. Unfortunately, what they can afford are fast food offerings. So many schools I pass are surrounded by these places. So are we winning?

Could we the experts be exacerbating even worse eating habits after this less healthy food cleansing we’ve done in schools? I have heard about positive experiences where some schools had kids involved in the decision making of food service options. I love Brian Wansink’s healthy and stealthy approach to setting up a healthier cafeteria, described in his new book Slim By Design check it out.

The bottom line for me is the importance of doing further research on this to ensure there are no unintended consequences. After all we don’t want another wave of an epidemic on top of those we already have and add psychological eating issues to the mix, which would be more difficult to fix. For kid’s sake, let’s make sure we ARE winning and make necessary changes as needed.

Something to knaw on, that’s for sure….

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Posted in Francy Rants, Miss Behavin', Policy for the People | 2 Comments »

Cooking #SundaySupper with Nan

October 6th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I had a special date with my Mom (aka “Nan”) in her magical kitchen recently. She wanted to instil some of her culinary wisdom unto me, how great is that? Very! When you walk into her welcoming home and open the door that wonderful aroma I know so well greets me in addition to the hugs and kisses from both Nan and Pops.

On that fine day she showed me the ropes on making “Danny’s favourite” Veal Limone. Always dressed nicely, no sweats in her wardrobe, wrapped in an apron she is armed for a whipping…. of a fine dish or two! I heard she did some mentoring with my grown nephews and nieces on the secrets of her sougo and meatballs extraordinaire last week. She is on a roll!

She’s a master blaster, that’s for sure. Even though her vision is fading, her will and abilities are soaring. I have been blessed with a lifetime worth of fond food memories thanks to my Mom. Whether it was making her own dough for pizza or a cauldron of soup; her famous veal stew or eggplant parmigiana, roast beef, fast and easy chicken, calimari or butterfly shrimp, even jumbolia, she makes everything with care, love and zest. Food for the soul that’s fast and easy… for her anyways.

I’m so lucky that family meals we deemed to be important in our busy bella famiglia growing up with 4 sisters – weeknights, especially Sunday. I find when I set my dining table what unfolds with the tablecloth are magical memories from eating together. Cooking doesn’t need to be complicated like an olympic sport. Sometimes all you need to do is pull up a chair over the simplest dish, clink your glasses and linger over good conversation while breaking bread with each other.

Thanks Nan, what’ll we whip up next?

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Posted in Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin' | 2 Comments »