Our Morning Smoothie: Simple, Healthy, Delicious.


Last month, the kind folks at Almond Breeze reached out to me and said this;

“Hey Urban Daddy!  Are you familiar with Almond Breeze?”

I replied with this; “Familiar???  Absolutely!  In fact, my oldest son and I have a smoothie for breakfast EVERY morning, and instead of using milk, we use unsweetened Almond milk from Almond Breeze!”

“No way”, was what I got back.  “Would you share the recipe for your audience, and we’ll send you some Almond Breeze.”

“Ummm, yeah!  Of course!”

So because we received chocolate almond milk, vanilla almond milk, regular almond milk and unsweetened almond milk, this constitutes a paid post, or compensated post, and as such I must (and I am) declaring it to be so.

The cool part, is that its already something we use, and enjoy, and have been using for years since we cut back on our milk.

Here is our breakfast every single morning;

Into the blender goes the following ingredients:

2 cups Almond Milk, from Almond Breeze.  I like the unsweetened, my son likes the sweetened ones, and before we got to make our first smoothie, he had polished off the chocolate Almond Milk, and by the end of the week, the Vanilla was gone too.  It’s high in protein which helps him as he swims competitively and needs to keep all that muscle on…

I digress… Back to the blender.

1 large banana

a handful of ice cubes

a table spoon of peanut butter

and that’s it!  Blend it on the smoothie setting, and drink and enjoy.

Sometimes, we add, protein powder for him, and a huge handful of spinach for me.  Sometimes I’ll pour in some left over coffee, add a touch of honey and some fibre, but the main ingredients remain the same and it is SO yummy, and fills me until noon.

 

So here are the facts about Almond Breeze which I did not know – so likely you did not know either…

  1. Almond Breeze is like a family themselves as they are owned by the Blue Diamond Growers who have been in the almond business for more than 100 years.
  2. Almond Breeze is one of the only brands to grow their own almonds

So let’s think about this for a second from the context of parenting and being a family.  Our family doesn’t have a family business which is passed on from generation to generation where the newer generation learns from the older generation and does that work with pride in order to keep up the quality and the respect the family name has earned.  There is a lot of pride, but also a lot of pressure!

It also surprised me – but makes a lot of sense – that this is the only almond milk producer who makes their own almonds.  I’m sure it’s a technical process and finding the right almond for the milk must be difficult as it has to be tasty, not spoil quickly and must be in an area where it leaves the smallest carbon footprint to make the product in order to keep the price reasonable.

It makes me feel comfortable knowing that the almonds are coming from a place where the growers actually care about the product because it’s not just the brand which is on the shelves, but it’s also the growers and their families.

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Travel With Kids! Yeah! As Much As Possible, Please!


I opened my Twitter feed this morning (I’m @urbandaddyblog if you’re not following me yet – and if you’re not… SHAME!) and the first tweet that greeted me was this one;

“Up next with on Travel Edition. Are healthy eating and traveling even possible with hotel stays and security restrictions? Tune in to hear more…

Then I thought about all of the travel we have done over the years with the kids and food, make that nutritious food, has never been an issue… anywhere!

By “travel”, I’m not just referring to East York, Mississauga, or GASP, Richmond Hill – which if you live in or near the Greater Toronto Area, you will know take 40 minutes to an hour no matter what time of day, and literally used to take “5-minutes” when I was younger…

Here are some of the places we’ve taken the kids (current ages are 8-13);

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • PEI
  • England
  • France
    • Paris 3 times
    • Drove the country heading south
  • Spain
    • Barcelona
    • Madrid
    • Seville
    • Drove the country / took trains
  • Italy
    • Venice
    • Rome
    • Amalfi Coast
    • Florence
    • Drove the country / took trains
    • Tuscany
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Holland
    • Amsterdam
    • Ghent
    • Edam
  • Florida

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…

We’re big into the experience, so I’m not including cruises, but we backpack – take the least amount possible, and when we look for places to stay, there are no hotels.  We want to experience our destination as the locals would, which is why Air BnB is great for us.

With Air BnB not only do we save on accommodations because 5 people at hotels require an extra room, or extra charge, but we ensure we have WiFi, Air Conditioning and most importantly a kitchen!

With a kitchen, the food, especially healthy food, never becomes an issue.   We are so lucky to have a spouse who is almost certified as a nutritionist, and who is so incredibly organized that when we (read: she) plans our accommodations and itinerary around grocery stores so we can gather the food we need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

Without having to rely on eating out all the time, we save money, and eat much better and much healthier, plus we have snacks available for taking with us on our excursions / day-trips.

That’s how we get to experience the world with children, while eating healthy, and having a ton of fun.

 

 

Federal Budget: Paternity Leave, The Urban Daddy on CTV!


Yesterday was the 3rd Federal Liberal budget and if you paid any attention to the news leading up to the budget, you would have heard that this was going to be a “gender” budget, as our Prime Minister and Finance Minister hope to save Canadian “Peoplekind”,

What made it a “gender” budget was the inclusion of policies aimed to equalize pay between men and women and adopting a paternity leave benefit program which was implemented in Quebec just over 10-years-ago.

As a father of 3 children, I was lucky to have the opportunity to take parental leave with 2 of my three kids.  I was working for the Canada Revenue Agency, and the CRA topped up my salary from the 66% which I would have received while on EI, to 93% of my salary.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to support his spouse, bond with his children and help out with everything that comes with children, which is why I took 9-months with our first child, 4-months with our second child, and by the time our third child rolled around, I was in the private sector and took just one day.

So who better to speak on the government’s policy than me, right?

I was on the CTV News Network, live, in the morning with Marcia McMillan, and then in the evening, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks interviewed my wife and I for a well done piece on what worked and what didn’t with regard to paternity benefits.

Watch the clip here; CTV Parental Leave The Urban Daddy

It was my first foray into TV – I have been on the radio quite a lot to discuss tax-issues – and I really liked it (except for the way I looked in the evening interview – exhausted!)

Here is how I feel about the Liberals intention vs plan of action; They talk a great game but always seem to fall short, with an ultimate cost to the taxpayers, for their plans.

They said that providing fathers to take 5-weeks off would lure more women into the workforce.

???

There were no new day care spots made available, nor any changes to the Live-In Caregiver program, so it left my wife and I puzzled as to how this was going to lure women into the work force.

Is it possible that behind this message was a belief that men don’t do anything around the household and that if, in 5-weeks – with them being home, changing diapers, cooking meals and keeping the house clean – men will realize they can help out at home, thus lessening the burden on women?

I think that’s a stretch, to say the least, but for $1.2 billion dollars – and starting in June 2019 – men will be able to take 5-weeks off with their partners to help, support and bond.  It’s certainly better than nothing.

It doesn’t change the stereotype that men don’t do paternity leave.

It doesn’t change the hesitation of some firms to hire woman who are in their child-bearing years.

It does make the Liberals look hip, and cool.

I just hope the last point wasn’t the motivation behind this initiative…

 

Monday Musings of The Urban Daddy: Toronto Traffic SUCKS!


Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Have to drive anywhere in the City?  I did… It was not fun, and quite frustrating…

What the heck is going on in my City?

City Construction

This is the view from the stop light heading north from the downtown core.  The right lane, as you can see, is blocked.  The right lane has been blocked for a while, during the construction of this building, but the other northbound lane was closed so that stuff could be dropped off / picked up from the right lane.

It boggles my mind and makes me really angry that the City;

  1. Allows developers to take out an entire lane of traffic to help them with their construction for as long as they need to take.  The same annoyance is occurring at Bathurst Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue.
  2. Allow builders to build to the capacity where they cannot do so on their own space that they need to use City streets.
  3. With the addition of bike lanes, parking restrictions and general congestion, that this is even allowed to happen.

Yes, this rant is a real one, and comes from a resident of the City who pays taxes… Lots of taxes, and has to struggle to drive in the city because lanes are closed, construction is taking WAY too long, the Eglinton LRT is dragging along and the roads are AWFUL.

I’ve had 7 flat tires since the LRT construction has begun.

You want pot holes and shitty roads?

Forget the odd pothole that pops up here and there.  Try living around the LRT construction where your only access to the main streets are via roads which should have been torn up and paved over years ago.

In our area, for example, near Allen Road and Eglinton Avenue, the only ways out are Glen Cedar Road – which is an absolute disaster, or to the West, heading towards Oakwood, the roads are worse.

Where is the compensation coming from the developers for taking up our roads, so we can drive where we need to go?

Where is the compensation from the City for either picking terrible contractors, or for not doing their jobs and keeping our roads safe so I don’t have to keep repairing my tires from driving on these roads?  My dealership told me that if my car keeps driving on these roads for a couple more years, the car will be a write off.  The potholes, bumpy and buckling roads and vibrations from these horrid streets are shaking my car apart.

But hey, we’ve got bike lanes, one way streets, no cars on King Street and the Gardiner is falling apart.

Toronto City Council really messed this up… Big time.

Hey Council… You want to put a giant park over the railway tracks in the downtown core?  Before you do that, move the tracks, add a driving tunnel, add a subway or LRT, and then once you’ve used that space to the max, then bury it and put a park on top.  Then above the park, put a bicycle path – enclosed or covered or not – where bikes can shoot across the city and not interfere with traffic and visa versa.

It’s not rocket science…

It has to get done.

Speed it up, make it safe, and remember that there are cars who have to drive in the city.  By pretending that by adding a LRT line I’m going to stop using my car – that I pay lots of fees to the city for, if an exercise in nonsense.  I’m not going to all of a sudden pack my kids and their sports equipment and them and hop onto the subway to take them to their games and practices.

It’s not practical, and is never going to happen.

 

In other Toronto-news:

The Toronto Rock Lacrosse team is the BEST game in town that no one goes to see.  These games should be sold out!  Best game in town!  The Rock destroyed the 1st place New England Black Wolves 21-9 in front of just 9,125 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

As a LONG time season ticket holder, I’d like to see more fans venture down to the ACC to take advantage of a great event.   Coincidentally, the Rock play the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday February 3rd at 7pm at the ACC.

 

The Royal Rumble was last night.

The Grammys were last night.

The NHL All-Star game was yesterday.

 

Great time of year to be a fan.

As long as you’re not driving.

 

Oh, and we take the subway to the Rock games… Convenient, cheap and reliable.  Good thing the games are at the ACC, or we’d drive.

 

 

 

Happy New Year! How Did 2017 Go? You Tell Me…


Happy New Year!  We, at The Urban Daddy sincerely hope that this year is the best year ever and that it is filled with fun, family, health, happiness, wealth, prosperity and PEACE!

While in the process of clearing off an old computer, I came across my family plan for 2017.  I’m going to post it below and after reading it, you tell me if you think that the year was a success, OR, if I need to rename it “Happy New Year 2018” and try again.

Did you set family goals for the year?  Or does that get done in September before school?

Do you then use January 1st as a re-boot?

 

Here is what I presented to my 3 children on January 1st, 2017.

Welcome to 2017!

Kids, you have left us no choice but to institute this new policy in our household. Your mother and I are tired of picking up after all of you, and asking you to do the same things over and over again.  We don’t like buying you new things because you treat everything you have very poorly.  You all have the ability to change this, but you have never had the reason to… Until now!

Each of you have complained that we don’t like doing things that you want to do, and that is also going to change this year because as a family, we will be doing more together inside and outside the house.

You have 2 options. Read them below and let’s see which one we like and want to start following.

Option 1.

Starting at 12:01.01 am on January 1st, 2017, your parents will no longer be making your lunches, driving you to programs, buying you toys, or taking you to and from school.  We will not be allowing you to watch TV, use electronics or listen to your music devices until these following conditions are all met each and every day.

Conditions;

  • Make your beds in the morning
  • Brush your teeth in the morning and at night
  • Clean up after yourselves after each and every meal – not just putting things on the counter or in the sink, but in the dishwasher, or washed, dried and away.
  • Not leave any food out
  • Put away all of your clean clothes
  • Placed dirty clothes in your hamper the right side out
  • Only be allowed to eat at the kitchen table
  • Leave the kitchen table and your eating area spotless once you have finished
  • Hang your towels on the back of the door in your bathroom once you have used it
  • Hang your jackets in the closet when you get home, not on the railing, not on the floor in the closet, but hung properly
  • Complete ALL of your homework assigned to you which is due the next day
  • Be responsible from taking your lunch box from your school bag, empty it – put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or wash, dry and put them away. Any uneaten food must be put in the appropriate place
  • Not hit one another
  • Not yell at one another
  • Not swear at all. Ever
  • Be respectful to your parents.

 

If you fail to do any 3 of these in a week, you will forfeit anything that you consider “fun” and will be given extra school work to compensate for your lack of interest in being a contributing member of this family.

 

Option 2.

Help out more around the house. It’s your house too, not just ours.  Don’t fight as much with each other and respect each other’s belongings.  Be kind to others, be kind to yourselves, and make sure if you don’t know / are not sure / confused / uneasy or uncomfortable with anything that is said, done to you, near you or around you, or to others, to ask us or tell us.

Lie to us and it’s over. Tell us the truth and we can deal with consequences.

We want others to see how wonderful each of you are.

Hugs are a must

We’re not perfect either but we are your parents. We have the key / password / ability to allow you to have fun, or be miserable.  We think you might want fair and fun over option 1 and feeling like a prisoner.

Happy New Year!

 

 

How was our year?  Better than 2016.  🙂