Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


Power Packed Protein for Parents, Kids & Athletes

In the past couple of months I scoured the internet for the recipe for a high-protein drink that was a daily fixture of my pregnancy diet.  My weight just before pregnancy was 102 pounds.  I was vegetarian at the time, and I had a very difficult time gaining weight on my diet of tempeh, tofu and bean diet verging at times on veganism.  At my early check-ups my doctor, worried about my vegetarianism, once said that I was taking a risk that my baby would be in the lowest weight percentile.

Häagen-Dazs ice cream was part of my prescription for weight gain and I ate it often.  So much so that I remember telling people that I never thought that I would consider eating ice cream (one of my favourite foods) a chore.  Just goes to show you what a MUST will do to make something normally pleasurable, seem less so.  Funnily enough, my son just loves Häagen-Dazs ice cream and stocks up on it when it goes on sale at Sobey’s, which seems to happen fairly regularly.

Last Saturday at a 50th birthday party for a friend, I noticed a copy of Laurel’s Kitchen, the very book from whence the recipe for the high-protein drink came. My copy had disappeared in my years of living in co-op houses.  The birthday girl agreed to lend me the book.  I don’t think the newer version has this recipe. So,  ta-da . . . straight from a very yellowed copy of Laurel’s Kitchen, A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition is my memory lane recipe.

High-Protein Blender Drink

  • 3 tbsp. whole soy powder
  • 3 tbsp. non-instant skim milk powder
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup fresh skim milk
  • 1 tbsp. toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon torula (I use brewer’s yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon carob powder

Authors, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Bronwen Godfrey

Before I knew I was pregnant, I developed an aversion to coffee.  I view this as an example of the laws of the body taking hold.  Near the end of the second trimester I began craving meat.  It was quite a shock to my meat-eating husband when I nibbled on some Italian sausage he was frying.  From there, I never looked back and to be honest, I get sick far less than when I was a vegetarian.  To each his own, I’m convinced, is the way with diet.  For me, blood sugar stability seems to work better on a high protein meat diet.

I gained about 23 pounds, my son was 7 pounds 10 ounces and it took three months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Due to the heavy demands of breastfeeding, I went under my pre-pregnancy weight by 4 pounds to a very skinny 98 pounds in year one of motherhood.

My son was never keen on bananas except when served in a quickie-kid version of the high-protein drink.  I used to make this for him when he insisted that he did not want breakfast.

Power Drink

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate milk powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

When he was a teen he wanted to weigh more than could reasonably be expected of the son of two very lean parents.  I used to supplement his drink with skim milk powder.  I can’t remember why, but I did not tell him this, and he never noticed.

Proving my doctor’s fears were unfounded, my one-and-only has grown to be over 6 feet tall, nearly a foot taller than his mom and a couple of inches taller than his dad.

Voila! I give you the mostly-vegetarian baby at 23 years.

Product of High-Protein Power Drink


“The Sugar Blues”

According to some mental health experts, Monday, January 17th was the most depressing day of the year. Mainly due to the arrival of bills in the mailbox and gloomy weather. In addition, by this time, many will have abandoned New Years resolutions, short of the 21 days that it supposedly takes for good habits to take hold.

I don’t usually make New Years resolutions as I find that September is the month when I feel most upbeat about tackling new projects.  It must be all those years of mom-hood that have me stuck in the school-year cycle. Today however I feel the need to resolve to reduce my sugar intake for the rest of the year.

The reason for this belated resolution is that I have not quite recovered from the holiday season sugar overload and I’m hooked, with the energy lapses and subtle mood swings to show for it.  Some have called refined sugar consumption, “Death by installments.”  I read and was influenced by the book Sugar Blues in the late-seventies and this coincided with my return to regular exercise after a five year lapse. The results of these two important lifestyle changes were that my energy level became very consistent and stable through the day. Mid-afternoon sleepiness and drowsiness after meals can be avoided by reducing the refined sugar in our diet, and foods ranking high on the glycemic index.

Here is an enthusiastic review of the Sugar Blues by a more recent reader:

A true health classic! February 3, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from New York City
I’m sugar-free ever since reading “Sugar Blues.” I was sluggish, moody, hungry, etc. I remembered that John Lennon mentioned Dufty’s book in an interview once. So I bought it at the local health food store. He starts off with his own sugar hell and redemption and then delves into the whole history of the cane. Very interesting, health-wise and also politically. . . When I tell people I’m sugar-free they usually scoff, saying sugar’s not that bad for you, why give it up completely. Well, now I wake up clear and I get through the afternoon w/o any flagging of energy. At various times of the day I’ll feel some energy racing through my body. (A great feeling; keeps me motivated.) Now I need less food on my plate, and my hypoglycemia has all but disappeared. (Think about THAT one, folks.) Never eat “refined sucrose” again! It can be done! Sky’s the limit! Thank you, William Dufty!

Sugar Blues by William Duffy

Apparently, John Lennon used to regularly give away copies of Sugar Blues. Well I’m a believer in “baby steps” so here is what I did today to lessen my sugar intake, I had a non-sweet latte, at LIT, foregoing the usual triple-venti-whole-milk-vanilla latte and I skipped a sweet treat. Once I’m back to minimal sugar consumption, a sweet treat can be enjoyed every now and then without ill effect and it will be truly a treat rather than the satisfaction of an unhealthy craving.

I won’t delve into the more serious issues related to blood sugar levels such as Diabetes for which my knowledge is limited to first-year Biology and Nutritional Food Science but one starting point might be this link to The Canadian Diabetes Association.

LIT Latte Art

Here is a great quote from Jack Lalanne, the Godfather of Fitness who passed away recently at the age of 96.

Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen put them together and you have a kingdom.

Just say NO, to sugar!


Treadmills, Vertical Challenges & Caffeine

In spite of having all the gear to run comfortably outdoors, I have run indoors for the past three days.  The usual Saturday run suspects were not available so I was left to my own devices.  In anticipation of sloppy and slippery conditions on sidewalks, I was committed to getting out early in order to run on (hopefully) cleared roads as much as possible.

My husband reminded me of one route I’ve used on days like this, a run to High Park with multiple loops around the 1.1 mile road circling Grenadier Restaurant.  He pointed out that he could drive to High Park and join me for a few loops.

As the day dawned and time constraints were considered, I decided that the most efficient way to get my 13 miler in was to run to the nearest treadmill.  The time it takes to go from my front door to a treadmill is under 2 minutes.  For longer runs, much time is saved on the treadmill as there are fewer stops and washrooms and water are always near-at-hand.

I left the house shortly after 7 a.m. and incidentally, I was not the first occupant of our home to be leaving for a workout.  Our roommate Alain was out the door, headed to play basketball, shortly before me.

Leaving to play basketball at 7:00 a.m.

I ran for over two hours and happily fell into a nice groove almost immediately.  I broke down the running time into 30 minute chunks with a little perk, when each segment was completed.  My rewards were chugs of Gatorade and checking my Blackberry.

While running, I spent time thinking about a National Geographic show I watched last night about climbers on the highest mountain in North America, Denali.  While watching this I emailed a nephew in Arizona who has climbed Denali to wish him Happy New Year.  A few years ago, I had blithely remarked, that climbing Denali was something I thought I might like to do one day.  His response was that it was a “very technical” climb.  After becoming more informed about the dangers of the trek and the number of people who have died attempting to do this, he probably should have told me that I have no idea what I am talking about.  He is a very diplomatic individual who obviously has great respect for his elders.

This led me to thinking about the Klondike Road Relay which I took part in a few years ago.  This relay goes from Skagway to Whitehorse and I was assigned the toughest leg which was a very hilly (Yukon size hills) 25K.  One third of my run was done in the dark of early morning and I was running into the sunrise, definitely one of my “rave runs”.

Pan American Highway

With this on my mind, I was surprised to see a map of the Pan American Highway appear before me on the BBC channel.  The show called Racing Green Endurance was documenting the journey of a race car driver along this network of highways stretching between Alaska and the southernmost tip of South America.

Treadmill TV, northern scenes on BBC channel

Another memory triggered of being on the Top of the World highway traveling in a RV with 3 siblings, their spouses and my son.  We were passed on this lonely dirt highway, close to Chicken, Alaska (population 3) by a caravan of colourful rally cars with checkered markings, the stuff of surrealism.  Perhaps these coincidences point the way to a return to the Klondike Road Relay.

Top of the World Highway

So between the television, the IPod, the Blackberry, the constant readout of my heartrate and these musings the time flew by and I returned home in good time.  I made it to my goal of 50 miles for the week, without expending too much stress in battling the elements and surviving the absence of my regular run pals.  It felt good!

Caffeine Corner

Treats at The Dark Horse Espresso Bar

Later in the day my husband and I stopped by the  Dark Horse Espresso Bar on Spadina two blocks north of Queen street.  As we drove along Queen street towards Spadina we noticed that another Dark Horse Cafe has opened west of Bathurst.

Dark Horse Cafe

I first visited the Dark Horse a couple of summers ago with one of my four brothers, the brother who lives in the Yukon (Did you see that one coming?)  took me there.  As sometimes happens, it is the adventurous tourist who finds new places for the locals.  This brother is well-traveled and I blogged about our (sort of) chance meeting in Frankfurt, this fall.  He is an architect by trade but is also co-owner of a thriving Whitehorse coffee bar, the BAKED CAFE & BAKERY.

Finally . . . snippets from the Dr. Suess classic, “The Places You’ll Go” are verging on the ubiquitous but it is has been a favourite of mine since I bought it for my son when it was first published in 1990, the last Dr. Suess published before his death in 1991.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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What I did while not running. Holiday Highlights

With the late start to holiday preparations due to the marathon, I’m feeling that the holiday season came and went a little too fast.  Through this period I interspersed the fun times with the fun of running 40+ mile weeks.  Since my five days of rest following the marathon on December 5th, I’ve run every day.

We were all off between Christmas and January 3rd.  Our son Steven was home from Kitchener-Waterloo where he is an intern at Research in Motion.

Christmas morning

Much of December 24th was spent preparing for our family dinner and we ended our day by attending midnight mass at St. Basil’s church.

Present-ation plus

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

Ready to roll

Rolling the chocolate roll

Nearly 7 hours for a 22 pound stuffed bird

Christmas dinner was well enjoyed by all and we gathered round the fireplace, oops, I meant computer to see a slide show put together for grandpa’s birthday celebration.

Watching family slide show

Boxing Day was spent relaxing and eating leftovers including a lot of cocktail shrimp and a melted brie and maple-pecan appetizer. We ate turkey for five days straight.

On the 27th we ventured out with two nieces, a nephew, our son and his girlfriend to see Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, a modern fairy tale, at the Bell Lightbox Theatre.  Afterward we enjoyed snacks at the OB Cafe which is part of the impressive TIFF-Bell Lightbox complex.

Our crew, prepared for the 3-D version of Nightmare Before Christmas with 3-D glasses

Entrance to MOMA exhibit of Tim Burton's oeuvre

Unidentified civil servant still craving sweets despite holiday excesses

Snacks at the OB Cafe on site at Bell Lightbox

We drank a lot of Stumptown Roasters coffee at home and at LIT Espresso Bar on College street. On December 28th I ventured out into the wilds of Boxing week sales with a trip to MEC and Europe Bound. I did not find what I was looking for however did drop into LUSH and took advantage of their sale prices. Apart from the fun atmosphere and great sale at LUSH, I found the shopping expedition vaguely depressing, un-festive and decided to stay away from the shops, and have only visited grocery stores since.

Stumptown coffee at LIT espresso bar

Groceries for Japanese rice dish Maze Gohan

We shopped at PAT, the Asian grocery store in Little Korea to pick up supplies for our family New Year’s dinner as each family member usually prepares a Japanese or Asian dish.  While preparing a rather complicated rice dish called Maze Gohan, we watched a remastered version of a Luchino Visconti classic, The Leopard. This version recently became available and my husband had put it on hold at the library and had finally made it to the front of the waiting list. Three cheers for the Toronto Public Libraries! Visconti is best known for the film, Death in Venice. The Leopard features an outstanding performance by Burt Lancaster with the orginal Italian version using a dubbed voice and an English version featuring all of him.

Friends had kindly invited us to their default New Year’s eve party at their friend’s place in the Beaches.  Since our son and our roommate Alain were hosting a New Year’s eve party at our house, we decided to stay at a B&B in the Beaches on Balsam avenue, the Balsam Beach Inn, 6-7 blocks from the party in the beach and give “the boys” their own space.  We were in the two-bedroom upper suite and were quite charmed by our quarters.

B&B on Balsam Avenue in the Beach

B&B on Balsam Avenue in the Beach


Blogging at the B&B on New Year's Eve

Fabulous cookie treats made by our New Year's Eve hostess

Unidentified couple (not us!) participating in three-legged race on the boardwalk

The highlights of the party included; beef brisket (smoked meat) from Montreal, a test of sobriety on the beach which involved walking along wooden barricades, partially sunk into the sand, three-legged races along the boardwalk, an outstanding selection of homemade cookies and dancing to a range of hits including Poker Face, the Clash and local heroes from the past, Teenage Head (I kid you not middle-aged Torontonians). The teenagers present showed great tolerance to the dance antics of the adults.  I overheard one discussing what songs might keep the grown-ups on the dance floor.

Maze Gohan

New Year's cookie selection

We made it back to our B&B around 2:30 a.m., and set a record for sleeping in due to the utter quiet and the light-shading drapes. I think the last time I slept past 11 a.m. was as a teen. In just under 30 minutes we brewed our Stumptown coffee, packed up and were on the road as we had mass to attend and food to cook. My plan to start the year with a run along the beach while thwarted did not feel as much of a disappointment as the morning was grey and foggy and you could not see the water from the beach.

We had a wonderful dinner at my sister’s home in Richmond Hill. I’m sure it had been a busy day for her as she is the mother of an 8, 6, 4 and 2 year old. In spite of her busy life as a mom she runs every other day and plays hockey. Over the holidays one of her teams competed in a tournament. I ended my evening with triple servings of dessert and a large can of Poppycock on my lap. Having decided to make the most of the season’s end I munched away with abandon.

Poppycock, discovered on New Year's by me, former Cracker Jack aficionado

My husband asked me to move away from him as he too was hooked and was annoyed that I did not comply with this request, leaving him to rely to his own self-control devices 🙂 It was my first encounter with Poppycock and I woke the next morning wondering where I might buy some.

Those who fear snakes were made a little uneasy by the prized gift of one of our six year old nieces, as shown below.  And, for the record, we have 3 six year old nieces.

I got a western hognose snake for Christmas!

We had talked about going to see True Grit and The Social Network but somehow the days flew by and we did not make it to either.


Reindeer ensemble, a treasured gift from our son's girlfriend, Thuy

On Monday we drove our son back to K-W and had our final holiday dinner there.  It was very nice to have him home and we miss him but our nest is not quite empty as we have his friend and now our special friend, Alain home with us.  Happy New Year!


Farewell dinner in K-W

“For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand Shall brush my wing.”

William Blake