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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WTF is Going on? 13 WTF Events from The Urban Daddy: Thursday 13.


This has been a WTF kind of week!  I had so much going on that I had to take all my notes and throw them into a Thursday 13 list, of 13 WTF Moments.

  1. North and South Korea peace – WTF?  Does anyone believe that peace is going to change the way poor North Koreans live?  This guy in North Korea had his brother poisoned…

  2. Now I’m CERTAIN that Donald Trump is going to take credit for North Korea coming into the fold and agreeing to de-militarize, and seek peace with South Korea.

  3. Bill Cosby – Guilty – WTF took so long?  He was a great role model and changed the way TV portrayed African Americans, however, he drugged women and raped them.  That cannot be forgiven.

10.  Am I the only person who works out of coffee shops when meeting clients and who always checks his earphone when listening to something on the phone or computer to make sure it’s the earphones I am hearing, and that I’m not annoying the rest of the shop?  3 times this week patrons were listening to crap with their headphones on, and the sound was blaring out of their device.  They kept cranking up the volume until I had to notify them…

9.  I’m creating the Coffee Shop Police Etiquette Program

8.  Remember when a former Toronto Mayoral candidate threw a sexual harassment complaint against TVO host Steve Paikin, and instead of firing him, TVO hired an investigator to determine the legitimacy of the complaints?  Turns out no proof was found to substantiate the claim.  Good on TVO for getting on top of this right away (pardon the pun) and now what happens to the host, Paikin, and complainant, Thompson?

7.  Why do people bring food into coffee shops, then proceed to sit there – chow down their meal – then leave without buying anything?  More importantly, why does it always appear to me that these people have either really huge amounts of food, or are extremely messy and chew with their mouths open?  Is this a subtle way the coffee shop is trying to tell me to buy more food / drinks or leave?  They have this guy in the back and they sick him on patrons?  Better him, than the mouth-noise guy, the guy with the disgusting mouth noises, or the dancer who – no matter the weather – is wearing a tank top and just gets up and starts dancing…

6.  There is a “thing” for men who cannot get “laid”?  Is this real?  When I was growing up, if the girls didn’t look at you, you changed.  Your clothes, your hair, your weight, you got better educated, you learned to be a better person…  Clearly, for Millenials, this is WAY too much work, so it’s better to complain to others and then kill innocent people.  Enough already!

5.  With a Provincial election coming, FINALLY, in Ontario, and the Liberal government preparing for the crash, word comes out that a policy they created has come back to bite them in the ass.  LOL.  They created a policy where the Auditor General would review the books and records of the government prior to an election and confirm the amount of surplus or deficit the government has.  Well… The Liberals said the deficit would be only $2-3 billion dollars, but the AG said, nope.  It’s closer to $11-billion.  Thanks for the lies, deceit and for bankrupting this province!  See ya, Libs!

4.  I have a GREAT piece on minor hockey corruption coming shortly.  A must read!

3.  I agreed to coach my eldest son’s baseball team again this season, and I only had one request of the league… As a die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fan, please, please, please do not make us the Yankees again this year.  I cannot for the life of me say, “Go Yankees”.  I can’t.  Like the Fonz cannot apologize.  Guess what???  We’re the Spankees again this year.  UGH.

2.  A 23yo Quebec mother was charged with 2nd degree murder after her 2-year-old daughter was stabbed to death, then her body dumped in a garbage can.  I don’t know what to say about this other than what kind of a person takes a child’s body and dumps it in the trash… Words cannot describe…

… and the number One WTF Moment from this week…

  1. Toronto – my city, my home, streets from where I grew up, worked and where my family lives and works… The tragedy, the senseless violence.  Such and evil human being.  Thank goodness for the residents of Toronto who tried to stop this lunatic, or save the victims, or pull people out of the way… Toronto the good, overshadowed Toronto the sad.

 

 

It’s All My Fault!


canadian iglooIt’s all my fault.

Not the fault of the many who removed their snow tires, or put away their shovels, but my fault that it’s snowing in Toronto on April 4th.

And for that, I’m sorry.

You see we have family just south of the border in The United States of Donald Trump, and for what seems like the past couple of weeks, that area has been pounded by snow.

Snow.

I know, crazy, eh?

Since it is my long-lasting belief that most Americans believe that north of the boarder Canada is always covered in snow, I mockingly sent a Facebook message to said relatives telling them that they needed to move to Toronto, not the Southern US because it was plus 8 here and we hadn’t seen snow in quite a while.

I mean really…

Spring weather in Toronto.

Snow in the US…

In April.

 

Clearly Trump saw my message and commended Mother Nature to sick light snow flakes on the City along with 90 km/h winds.

 

Heck… I’ll take the little bit of snow and I’m okay that Americans generally think we live in igloos in exchange for not having to arm our school teachers with guns, and not electing incompetent leaders…

Wait.

Disregard the leader comment, and let’s stick with no guns!

Brrrrrr.

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…