Posts Tagged: Guest Post

3 Small Changes Make a Huge Difference

By Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP

If there were three simple things that you could do every day that would virtually turn your health around, would you do it? What if all three were easy to do, did not take any time and cost you exactly nothing. Any one of them will help you live healthier, longer and take years off the appearance of aging skin but together they are your little secret to your inner universe.  Are you ready? Of course you are!


Life Altering Tip #1

Make yours NEAT!

We are all strapped for time and getting to the gym isn’t on everyone’s wish list anyway. When you think about it, the official exercise regime gets you moving for one hour per day. It is what you are doing the other 15 waking hours that really counts.  Now there is “NEAT” or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Making this change is as simple as increasing all the heat creating (aka calorie burning stuff that you do in a day) and you have a lot of sway in how that goes.

  • Find as many ways as you can to wiggle, tap, move throughout the day. Walk one bus stop, take the stairs for at least one flight, sit on an exercise ball for an hour a day while at work or watching tv. The possibilities are endless and they all add up.
  • Add weight whenever you can.  Fooling your body into carrying more weight around (that isn’t really your own!) builds muscle.  A backpack of books, maybe? Carry a basket around the grocery store instead of using a cart or strap on a weight belt for the subway ride standing up.
  • Convert your desk to a standing station to reduce all of the sitting hours in your day.


Life Altering Tip #2

Remove liquid calories.

The brain does not process liquid calories the same way it processes calories that must be chewed.  When you chew, your human internal food mechanism indicates satiety, when you sip…nada. If you added up all the useless calories that come by way of cream and sugar in your coffee, sodas, alcohol and even juices you would likely find 300 calories each day that you could do without.(Do that for 11 days and you can lose one pound!)  And don’t go switching to aspartame laden beverages, they are even worse! Try this juice substitute instead.


Life Altering Tip #3

Add ½ cup of beans each day.

There is now sound evidence that it takes one small serving to make a world of difference in your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.  Beans and pulses (not green beans!) can come in any form and need no longer be the overnight-soaking-pain-in-the-pants they used to be. Here are some ways to work beans in:

  • Serve hummus (made from chick peas)
    • as a dip for an afternoon snack
    • hummus comes in a variety of flavors so you will never get bored
    • It’s easy to make at home in a blender
    • add a tablespoon to every wrap and sandwich instead of mayo
    • Add drained, rinsed canned beans to any pasta dish
      • White navy beans and lentils work best
      • Make a crockpot full of lentil or minestrone soup weekly
        • store in the freezer in single servings for lunches or appetizers
        • Top salads with canned kidney beans or chick peas
        • Look for bean based veggie burgers instead of beef burgers
        • Snack on roasted soybeans instead of nuts or popcorn

All it takes is a tiny shift in attitude to improve your health outcome. Make these healthy habit decisions once and never look back. Do you have others to share? Always looking for simple ways to get people moving in the right direction!


About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show, Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.

How To Make School Lunches Like A Boss

How To Make School Lunches Like a Boss

Cafeteria food hasn’t changed much since you once went to school. It’s much easier to guarantee your kids will eat all their lunch when you pack it, but what should you pack? How do you keep it from being boring? It isn’t nearly as big of an undertaking as you may think it is.

Admittedly, it can be hard to think outside the (lunch)box when it comes to what to prepare. Plus, if your mornings are anything like my mornings, there’s simply no time. And while it making the same lunch daily could make things simpler, I think we can both agree, adult or child, eating the same thing everyday is NOT fun.

Here are five easy-to-implement strategies to get you well on your way to kicking butt at lunch-making for your kids in no time.

1. Prepare the night before. You’re already in the kitchen cooking dinner, why not utilize that kitchen time to start preparing lunch? I cut carrots, celery, cucumbers, or prep other side-dishes while I’m busy cooking dinner, using my time more wisely. This comes in handy especially if I’m re-purposing ingredients for lunches the next day. Say I’m serving pizza for dinner, and then I decide to use pizza toppings and make pizzadillas or pizza grilled cheeses the next day.  I’d rather prepare the night before than rush to make the morning of.

2. Use leftovers creatively. There’s no law that says leftovers aren’t good for lunches. In fact, I think they make the BEST lunches. (Plus, they’re already prepared, what could be easier!? Why not, if you’re serving spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, prepare extra meatballs to serve meatball subs for the next day’s lunch? Or use that leftover spaghetti and serve with a breadstick instead? On taco night, why not use some of the soft taco shells and taco meat, roll-up the meat inside the shell, and bake in the oven to make some baked taquitos for lunch? The sky is the limit here, so long as you consider how well their lunches will keep out of the fridge until lunchtime. As some cafeterias do not allow microwaving, it’s best to send along already-cooked, easy to eat room-temperature meals for the kids.

3. Breakfast for lunch? Okay! This is my favorite trick! And I feel a little sneaky doing it! While you’re busy cooking dinner one night, batch cook a bunch of breakfast-type items for your kids all at once. This way, you’re saving time in the mornings for your family (because they can re-heat breakfasts during those hurry-up mornings) while simultaneously creating a fun and “different” lunch for them, too!  Try pouring whipped eggs, cheese, and some crumbled bacon into muffin pans for easy-to-eat mini quiches, or, while making regularly sized muffins, prepare a batch of fun-sized mini-muffins to add pizazz to any lunch.

4. Make it fun. You don’t have to be a skilled professional chef to make lunches fun for your kids. Some of our favorite ways to make it fun and give them something to look forward to include: wrapping string cheese in lunch meat, quartering it, and making “lunch meat sushi.” Also, cut up a hot dog lengthwise to make legs for an octopus! Or spread peanut butter on celery, topping it with raisins for “ants on a log.”

5. Go with what you know. Got a picky eater (like I do)? It’s okay to have to cater to a picky palate. But there are times you wonder, “Is this getting boring?” To help change-up the normal a little, do it slightly different each time. Does your child live and breathe grilled cheese? Make his favorite sandwich in cut-out shapes instead (like stars, circles, squares) or on different breads to spice things up! Does she love nutella? Make her a nutella uncrustable sandwich, or give her pretzel rods with nutella to dip it in!

I’m currently on a mission to make lunches for my children fun, exciting, and something they can look forward to. I’m calling it Operation Awesome School Lunch. I’d love it if you’d join me. You can follow our journey on our School Lunch Pinterest board, too.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask away!

About the Author:
Lisa Douglas is an Army wife and mother to S-E-V-E-N kids, and author of, a parenting blog that provides an often humorous take on parenting, and all the (hilarious) war-stories that go along with it, with family-friendly recipes, health & fitness, kids crafts, & other family-oriented topics.

The Right Book at the Right Time

Guest blogger and book-loving mama Heather Wray talks about her favourite childhood books and how the right book at the right time can encourage children to become lifelong readers. 


When my grandfather was preparing to move into a retirement residence, he gave me a small trunk which held some of his most treasured possessions: my grandmother’s wedding dress, his silver baby spoon, and three 19th century volumes of The Works of Charles Dickens. Inside one of the books, in youthful fountain penmanship, is inscribed my great-great-grandfather’s name.

Now you can walk into any library or bookstore and grab a copy of Nicholas Nickleby, and so the fact that these books have been in the family for over a century indicates that the physical item can be just as valuable to a person as the words on its pages. It is said that if children connect with the right book—one that captures their interest and imagination—at the right time, they will become lifelong readers. Were these volumes the “right” books for my great-great grandfather?

I think back to some of the books I first read—books I still have—and they are very much like old friends.  Many were read several times, and some contain birthday wishes from the relatives who gave them to me. Books like The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables  introduced me to worlds and times beyond my own.  They offered an escape and an understanding of what it is to be lonely, to struggle, to overcome.  The Velveteen Rabbit comforted me when my favourite stuffed bunny disappeared in the hospital after a case of appendicitis. And then there was Nancy Drew – a strong female character who always prevailed in the end.

Do I expect my descendants to keep these books forever? No. They will have their own treasures that will be meaningful to them. However, I do love revisiting stories I think my kids will enjoy and reading with them. With their yellowed pages and well-worn spines, these books reflect a simpler time. I read my first e-book this summer and loved it, but there is truly nothing like the all-sensory experience of snuggling up with little ones and turning the pages together. They laugh at the funny parts and widen their eyes at the suspenseful ones, and I’m fairly certain I will never throw those books away.

Book Labels


Book Labels











Giveaway Alert! We’re giving away a set of Book Labels  from Mabel’s Labels! To enter, simply leave a comment letting us know what your favourite book as a child was. Winner will be announced on August 21, 2012.





About the Author:

Ten years ago Heather made one of the best decisions of her life when she went back to school to become a librarian. She currently works in a public library and has a passion for connecting people in her community with the resources they need. She shares her life with her husband, a son and daughter, and a guinea pig named Snowy. Her children have taught her more than any book ever could.

Heather blogs about her experience raising a child with Down syndrome and the resources that are helping her along at


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