I am so proud of all of those who completed this spring’s Learn to Run Clinic for Women.  Most have now participated in their first 5km races and have started the 5km and 10km running clinics to continue on working towards new running goals. 

On Sunday, May 27th, 2012 some of us participated in the Toronto Women’s 5km that took place in Sunnybrook Park, Toronto.  Thank goodness the rainy weather held off for this fun and inspiring race through the park that helps to raise money for the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.

This past Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 the 34th Annual Bread & Honey race in Streetsville, Ontario took place.  Clinic members ran the 15km or 5km race, with some family members even taking part in 1km fun run.  Definitely a fun race weekend for the entire family!

Way to go ladies!  It was a pleasure instructing all of you and I look forward to watching you all continue on your running journey!

Enjoy your run!

Wow! It has been exactly one year today since I made the switch to a strict vegan diet and I have never felt healthier (both physically and mentally).  What better way to celebrate than with a healthy treat!  The first thing that usually comes to mind for me when I think “treat” is chocolate (I guess that is where my daughter gets it from).  I decided to make one of my yummy smoothies.  Since I love orange chocolate I decided to blend up the following: 

1 cup fresh orange juice
1 banana
2 heaping tablespoons of raw cacao powder

You can add anything else to liven this sucker up, but I was going for simplicity.

So simple, yet so decadent!


One of the reasons I love running early in the morning is for that quiet, calmness of the start of the day (and by early I mean somewhere between 5:00 and 6:30).  Everything is so peaceful and you are able to enjoy wildlife (deer, rabbits, water fowl, turtles, and oh yes my favourite – skunks) like you could not on a busy trail later in the day.  You also do not have to worry about running down a busy street while having every second or third car honking or playing chicken with you.

When I was out for my long run early this past Saturday morning, there was a group of people up ahead who had a beautiful Weimaraner on a leash.  For some of you who know me really well, this is my absolute favourite kind of dog and if I ever were to own one, this is the type of dog I would have.  Well, to my surprise as I approached the group of 3 (two of which appeared to still be in their pajama’s) they turned and asked me if I wanted her as they had just found her wandering around their yard!  The thought quickly ran through my head that it would be so amazing to have a dog who would be more than willing to get up at the crack of dawn or before and run with me.  Unfortunately she had a collar with tags so I knew that her owner would not be too far away and if they were not already looking they would be once they woke up at a more reasonable hour.  Oh well I thought, someday, and continued on.

Fast forward two days to this morning.  I was out again at the crack of dawn and for some reason on this day I was wishing that one of my running partners were with me.  I am being completely honest with you when I say that at that particular moment a robin swooped down and started running along the road beside me.  No kidding at all, he kept pace with me (which really wasn’t that fast as I was not fully awake yet) for 45 seconds!  It may sound kind of silly but this completely made my day and after he flew on I continued smiling for the remainder of my run.

For those of you who are contemplating starting a running or walking program to help you continue on your journey to health but are unsure if you want to do it without a running partner (or animal friend), there are plenty of running groups out there that you can join.  As a running clinic instructor I know first hand how welcoming members of these groups are and even though each member may have different running goals, what they have in common is that everyone is looking for some good company and that extra motivation to keep moving forward.  You really do not have to look far for one of these amazing groups.  Check out your local running store or community centre for details.  You will be glad you did!

Enjoy your run!


Who is your ideal running partner?
I don’t think its news to anyone when we hear that we should be eating our leafy greens, but why do most of us find it so hard to include them in our daily diet?  Beyond the basic salad we sometimes are stumped with how to include them with our meals.  Besides tossing up a salad, I almost always throw leafy greens into soups, sauces, and other main dishes.  

I’m sure you’ve heard that leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses.  Kale is one of my favourites.  Including it in our morning smoothie is very simple.  It is just one additional opportunity to give my active family the important nutrients needed to stay healthy.

My favourite is to combine kale with fresh oranges (or pineapple) in the blender.  I then blend in my extra’s which almost always includes a banana to give it the creamy texture.  Depending on your preference, in addition to your fruits/veggies you can add in your EFA oil, ground flax, protein powder, etc. to get the desired blend that you are looking for.  Yum, so delish!

If you don’t think a green smoothie sounds very appetizing, trust me and give it a try as you may be pleasantly surprised.  I’ve outlined a few of my favourite simple breakfast smoothie recipes below.  Kale is listed as the leafy green as it’s my personal preference, but others work just as well.  Remember to select organic produce whenever possible (especially the kale)!  Use more water if needed to get your desired consistency.

Apple-Pear Kale Smoothie
2 ripe pears
1 apple
2 cups kale
1-1½ cups water

Orange-Banana Kale Smoothie
2 oranges
1 banana
2 cups kale
1-1½ cups water
Pineapple-Banana Kale Smoothie
1 cup pineapple
1 banana
2 cups kale
1-1½ cups water

Kale Smoothie
1 cup strawberries
2 oranges
1 banana
2 cups kale
1-1½ cups water
A few weeks ago I headed out for an 18km run a little later than my usual Sunday morning long-run start time of 6:30 a.m.  As the sun was trying to make itself seen, I thought great!  It shouldn’t be as cold as it was yesterday!  In the winter I find the first few steps out the door the hardest part of the run.  But once I’m out there I don’t regret it, even for a moment.

While I’ve enjoyed running my entire life, I didn’t always enjoy winter running.  At least I didn’t think I would.  I have to admit that in the early years I would wait for the nicest of days to venture out.  For most of the winter, I would keep my workouts inside.  If it was cold and rainy I would just go back to bed and reset the alarm clock.  I finally got over this once I had my children and I realized that this time for me was invaluable and I needed it to help me recharge, regardless of the weather.

Before I lace up, I always check the temperature.  On this particular morning when I left at 9:30 a.m. it was -9, but the wind-chill made it feel more like -15.  Sometimes checking the temperature beforehand sends a chill through my body before I even take a step out of my nice cozy home.  I just have to remind myself that a run outside is much more enjoyable than a run on a treadmill any day of the year, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

It is essential for me to stay comfortable while running in the cold, so I dress in layers.  Moisture wicking fabrics are a must in order to stay dry.  I wear a synthetic base layer to keep my skin dry and then depending on the temperature a second layer for added warmth.  I always wear a light wind jacket with reflectors to make myself visible to others on the road if the sun is not out.  I wear my regular running shoes but sometimes will slip on ice cleats if it looks like it is going to be slippery out.  If I know the roads have been cleared in the areas I will be running, I sometimes won’t bother as I find them uncomfortable when on the dry pavement.  If there looks to be ice I’ll just slow it down a bit until I feel it is safe to continue at my desired pace.  I wear a hat, in particular a balaclava if it is very cold so I can cover my mouth and nose, and I usually will have a headband on me as well.  If I get too warm with the hat, at least I will have the headband to cover my ears.  I also never forget my winter mittens that have a windproof flap to cover the thumb and finger ports that are also made of moisture wicking material.

For me, winter running is an enjoyable experience during those sometimes dull, gloomy days.  Try to get out there and don’t let those cold Canadian winter days keep you from staying active and enjoying your runs!

Enjoy your run!
A lovely surprise outside my front window this morning!
About two weeks ago, my youngest son had an adenotonsillectomy which prevented him from eating for several days.  Popsicles and sipping drinks was just about all he could handle for the first week, a week that seemed like an eternity to me.  I tried everything to get this child to eat, puréeing, and overcooking just about anything I could think of.  You name it, I tried it.  I resorted to making a lot of bland, creamy soups as anything spicy, acidic or chunky was out of the question for my little man.  Finally on day 10 he started to come around and began eating, mostly out of hunger I think, as any food that went down his throat still brought him so much pain.

While I tend to make many soups over and over again, I’m lucky if they turn out the same each and every time as I am sometimes limited to what I have on hand.  The following hearty bean soup is one that I make often and my son was able to eat with little discomfort as his recovery progressed.  I usually use the beans that I have on hand which may include: pinto, limas, red and white kidney, black-eyed peas, red and green lentils, yellow and green split peas, navy, black, red, garbanzo beans, etc.  If you are new to working with dried beans and don’t have many varieties on hand you can usually find a 13 bean soup/chilli mix in the natural section of your local grocery store or just use 2 mixed cups of what you have.  This soup freezes well without changing the texture of the beans.  You can substitute a few cups of water for broth if you prefer once you add in your veggies.  Some of you may like to add tomato paste, but I think it tastes nice without.

Hearty 13 Bean Soup
2 cups dried 13 bean mix
10 cups of cold water (preferably spring or filtered tap water)
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
8-10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (3 tsp dried)
1 tsp sea salt
2 medium carrots chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Wash and soak the beans overnight if possible or at least for a few hours if you have the time (this will greatly reduce the cooking time of the beans).  Drain and rinse the beans, placing them in a large soup pot.  Cover with the water and add in the garlic and sage.  Bring the water to a boil and then cook for several hours until tender (this time varies depending on how old the beans are and how long they were soaking).

Once the beans are almost tender, add the salt (but not before or it will interfere with the cooking process of the beans).  Add in your carrots, celery and onion and cook for about an hour.

Once the cooking is almost finished add more salt and pepper to taste along with the lemon juice.  Serve with your favourite bread (I personally like rosemary focaccia, a recipe I will post soon!).  Enjoy!

As children, we listen to others tell us that we can do anything we set our minds too.  As adults we tell our children this, but we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day tasks that we sometimes forget this amazing piece of advice ourselves.  I am a firm believer of this and definitely had these positive thoughts in the front of my mind this past Sunday.

I’m still coming down from a Runners high.  Actually, I think I’m still experiencing it full force.  It’s been almost two days since I ran the full 42.2 km at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon on Sunday, November 6th, 2011.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.  While starting off a bit cool the temperature rose quite quickly and with the sun blazing down on us you wouldn’t have known we were already into what we would have expected to be a cool November.  What an amazing day for a race.

Its been about 18 weeks since I started the training, which at sometimes seemed quite intense.  Looking back I have to say I loved every minute of it.  As I have been a half-marathon runner for quite some time now, I really didn’t know what to expect when I woke up Sunday morning.  The distance still seemed a bit far off the regular 32-33 km I was used to tackling on my long Sunday morning runs.  Ten kilometres in a car doesn’t seem very far while you are driving.  But running that distance after running 32 km is a completely different story.  But, it’s an amazing story.  With as much physical energy as it took me to complete the full 42.2km, it took just as much, if not more, mental and emotional energy.  What a feeling it was to have completed this goal of mine.

If you are seriously considering tackling this ultimate distance or setting any other running goals such as a 5 km or 10km, be sure to have a plan in place.  Your strength can be built up over time but you have to be sensible about how you do it, especially if you are starting from a level of low fitness.  Any beginner attempting a marathon for the first time should aim to have at least one-year worth of solid running before beginning a training program.  Speak with your health-care provider first to get the go-ahead if you are unsure.  I have done this in the past and have even had my heart monitored just as a precaution.

I am very blessed to have such an amazing and supportive family and group of friends that have encouraged me with my running and marathon training.  Having a running partner or close friend who shares the same interest in running is a wonderful thing.  They can join you on your long runs; keep you motivated and on track to reaching your goals; and ultimately, share in your celebrations after achieving something you never thought was possible.

Enjoy your run!

(Reposted from 10/13/2011)

Fall is one of my favourite times of the year.  I love the changing colours that come with the season and the delicious assortment of foods that come out of the autumn harvest.  One of my favourites this time of year is butternut squash.  I especially like to make this recipe after the kids have picked the apples and the squash off the farm themselves.  What I usually do is cube a few large squash and freeze them in equal cup portions so that I have them on hand to make this delicious soup.

Preparation Time: 15 mins.
Cooking Time:  40 mins.
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings:  6

5 cups of butternut squash (peeled and seeded), cut into 2cm cubes
2 cups of carrots, cut into 2cm cubes
1 medium onion, cut into 2cm cubes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp oil
2 large, firm apples cut into 2cm cubes (peeled and cored)
1 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup apple juice (or cider)
toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine squash, carrots and onion and drizzle with oil, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add apples, stirring well to combine. Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove and add curry powder, again stirring well to combine. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes more or until vegetables are very soft. Vegetables should be browned a bit.  Puree roasted vegetables in a blender with 2 cups of vegetable broth. Transfer pureed mixture to a stockpot, add remaining broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and stir in apple juice. Sprinkle with more pepper and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

(Reposted from 10/13/2011)

  While I have always enjoyed running, it wasn’t until after I had my youngest that I looked at training seriously to increase my endurance and mileage.  Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list but the thought of training for one was daunting.  After being inspired by a family member, I decided to start training for my first half marathon.  I was absolutely thrilled a few months later to have completed my first half marathon.  Crossing over the finish line and seeing my family there at the end filled me with so much emotion it truly is difficult to put it into words.  At that point it was hard to picture my life without running. 

I now participate in several races each year, usually trying to pick ones located in different cities so we can turn race-weekend into a mini vacation.  Running helps me continue on this wonderful journey through motherhood.  It is my time.  It keeps me physically fit and emotionally healthy, which I think is so important in setting a perfect healthy example for my children.  I encourage each one of you to get out there and be active in any way you can.  Breathe in the fresh air and really enjoy your surroundings.  Little steps will bring about big changes in your health and everyday life.  Even though we may not all be marathon runners, we are all marathon moms.  We all need to be Healthy Marathon Moms. 


(Reposted from 10/13/2011)