Optimal Wellness: Important Random Things I Learned Lately

December 6, 2016
The Dirt Cure

Like any good Gemini, distraction is simply an everyday part of life – I’m just too interested in everything! Ok, I could just be addicted to the Internet, but my stack of books-to-read is equally out of control.

Having said all that, some of the important random things I learned lately:

  1. A must read!
    I recently read the super, uber-recommended, easy-to-read, essential parenting book, The Dirt Cure by Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, a parent and integrative pediatric neurologist who’s worked with and helped heal thousands of very ill children.I suppose I love it so much because I share the similar parenting values – such as avoid antibiotics and any unnecessarily children’s medication (Tylenol, etc.), feed your kids nourishing whole foods and let them get dirty for goodness sakes! It goes far beyond just that and provides examples, research and success stories to turn skeptics into believers. I am an easy convert, but I can just as easily see many of my parent friends gaining a ton of benefit from this book. Actually, for the health of the younger generation, I wish all parents would read it.
  2. We need to stop giving apple juice to our children!
    Have you ever noticed how your kids behave after slurping down a juice box? It took me a minute, but for my five-year-old, the change is almost instant. He becomes super hyper!
    Apple juice raises blood sugar as quick or faster than a can of sugary soda pop. It’s super high in natural sugar and carbohydrates that race to your ¬†liver, instantly spiking blood sugar and insulin. Yes, apples are healthy – when eaten and digested at a natural rate. However because the fructose in the juice is instantly absorbed by our bodies, it apparently becomes more harmful than beneficial to our health. And if that isn’t bad enough, studies have shown too high levels of arsenic and lead in many popular brands – gasp! If your kids are drinking apple juice at parties and pizza lunches, feel better that the combination of food (protein/fat) and juice will help slow the digestion, thus slow the rate of super boosted blood sugar levels. And by the way, I also recently read that maintaining blood sugar is a key to life.
  3. DIY Infared Sauna for Under $100
    Once summer is over, I start dreaming of warmth – of flying down south and of having my very own sauna! You can buy a sauna if you have room in your home (which I don’t) or you can head to the local hardware store and buy some infared heat lights. I love this! Buy one or three, but make sure you also purchase a inexpensive lamp for them (see here) and you can pretty much set up your own infared sauna at home for super cheap. Did I mention all the many health benefits such as pain relief, increases circulation and detoxification? I’m hoping to test this out in the coming months – stay tuned for updates!


Parenting Hacks

Road Trip! Healthy Meal Ideas for Families on the Go

March 8, 2016
Road trip snacks

I have spent so much time searching online for decent road trip meal ideas in hopes of finding some really great, healthy ideas to feed my family when travelling by car – but really, all I came across was a lot of junky food ideas. Through all of our road trips from Toronto to Florida, we have eaten in restaurants along the highway many, many times – however the food options are limited to fast food and I’m not even sure you can call it food. Even some of the more reputable restaurant chains have been discouraging with healthy options very limited!

So, after five extensive road trips to and from Toronto to Florida and over 9000 km with young children, I think we are pretty much doing a good job of planning decent meal ideas on the road for the whole family.

*This is our road trip meal plan…..and while we strive to pack as much as possible to avoid stopping at yucky fast food places or restaurants that end up costing a small fortune, we still do always manage to purchase some prepared food at some point on our road trips.


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Out & About Toronto

Indoors & Out with Kids at the Ontario Science Centre

June 11, 2015
Cohen Family Nature Escape

Cohen Family Nature Escape

You may already know that we love the Ontario Science Centre. Yes it is close to home and an annual membership gets us unlimited visits, but rain or shine and in all seasons, it’s a great place for the whole family!

On a recent visit, we discovered the newly opened Cohon Family Nature Escape – an outdoor, urban nature space and trail in the forest surrounding the building. The great thing about this, besides the 125 year old tree trunk slide, nest house and graceful log benches, is that it’s a welcome diversion from all the stimulation inside. Now, we can go crazy in the kids area, see stars in the Planetarium, run, jump, drive and play instruments throughout and then escape outdoors to the beauty and calmness of the space, complete with more opportunities for learning.

Cohen Family Nature Escape Cohen Family Nature Escape Cohen Family Nature EscapeOntario Science CentreLego at the Science Centre

There are actually a few outdoor areas around the building with picnic tables and/or benches where you can get some fresh air and even bird watch. Now that the weather is nicer, we will certainly bring a picnic on our next visit!

Read more about why the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto is awesome for kids:

+ Around Toronto Indoor Fun: K!dSpark
+ Science Centre with Tots (12mos)

Overnight at Great Wolf Lodge Niagara: Quick Review

June 6, 2015
Great Wolf Lodge Niagara

I spent my birthday this year twirling with my niece in the giant toilet bowl at the Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls water park and had a blast!

Niagara Falls is a great little getaway spot and it’s only about a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto. There are always hotel deals to be found – even for Great Wolf Lodge (just sign up for their email blasts to find out about upcoming sales). As I’ve written about before, Great Wolf Lodge is one of three indoor water parks in Niagara, and while it’s the most expensive, it’s also the best.

The hotel and restaurants are so kid-friendly and from what I’ve experienced, families are respectful of each other which is a big deal to us. There’s morning activities, evening story time, MagiQuest throughout the halls, restaurants, an arcade and of course the water park!

Water slides  Water slidesWater slides

Just bring yourself!

Towels and life jackets are provided and depending on the day/week you arrive, seats are plentiful. Lockers are available to rent (just in case). As with all decent water parks, there’s space for the littlest ones, a wave pool, a lazy river, a few water play areas and various water slides! Our older boys had a blast testing out everything on their own!

Family meal plan

For the first time, we opted for the family meal plan – $50 adult / $25 kid (plus tax, gratuity & drinks included). This includes a breakfast buffet, lunch combo and dinner buffet. Not exactly cheap, but very convenient. The water park has a way of making everyone hungry all the time, so having the option of cooked food is great! The breakfast and dinner buffets were good, while lunch is a standard choice of pizza, a deli sandwich or burger.

Even if you don’t go for the whole meal deal, you can simply buy whatever you want from the pizza shop, deli or grill. As well, there’s an ice cream shop and a little coffee spot in the lobby.


Overall, we had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge. Because we went mid-week and booked during a sale, the price was manageable. Because it was my birthday, I got a ‘birthday bracelet’ which got me (us) many free ice cream cones. And because the weather was warm, we got to spend some time in the outdoor pool and patio, which really added to the ‘getaway’ feel!