Sheryl Jesin

Fitness, food, family, fun and more!


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Recipe – Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Tis the season for pumpkin everything!  Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pies, pumpkin Oreos.  Yes, those do actually exists, although personally I have never tried them.  Unfortunately, most pumpkin flavoured items these days come with an excess amount of sugar and chemicals.  That is truly sad, as pumpkin itself is rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins.  So skip the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks this year (which actually doesn’t contain any pumpkin!) and try some homemade pumpkin goodies instead.

Why should you eat pumpkin?  Well, pumpkin is a vegetable, and who doesn’t need another veggie in their diet?  One cup of pumpkin contains 3 grams of fibre and only 49 calories.  Did you know that one cup of cooked pumpkin contains 200 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A?   Vitamin A is so great for your eyes – it aids vision, particularly in low light.   What gives pumpkin its beautiful orange hue is beta carotene.   These carotenoids neutralize free radicals which can help keep cancer cells at bay, and keep skin wrinkle free.

I decided to incorporate some pumpkin into one of my daily breakfast staples, oatmeal.  For me, oatmeal never gets old as there are endless ways to spice it up and change its flavour.  Pumpkin pie oatmeal is perfect on a chilly day.  I like to drink a super-food smoothie right after I workout ,and then around an hour later I am ready for my oatmeal.  So I don’t know if oatmeal is technically part of my breakfast or should be considered a mid-morning snack!  Either way, I love it – it is delicious and satisfying and keeps me full until lunch.

Recipe – Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Serves 4, vegan, gluten-free, total prep time and cooking time time – approximately 15 mins

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling – I bought a can of organic pumpkin puree at Whole Foods; you could make your own if you are feeling ambitious)

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or try 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, a small sprinkle of nutmeg, a tiny dash of ground cloves)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

In a small pot, combine all ingredients, along with 1 cup of water.  Stir well.  Cover and bring to a boil on medium/high heat.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and uncover.  Cook for around 10-15 minutes, stirring often.  You may need to add more water – keep an eye on it.  When oatmeal is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, you are done.

This dish can be refrigerated in and individual servings can be scooped out throughout the week and reheated as necessary.  Just add a bit of liquid and warm in a small sauce pan or in the microwave.

I like to top this dish with raspberries – I used frozen and the cool tart flavour of the raspberries perfectly balances the warm creamy pumpkin oatmeal.

Creamy, warm and filling on a cool fall day

Creamy, warm and filling on a cool fall day

What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal?  Please comment below and let me know!


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Kale salad with tahini dressing

It has been a while since I last posted!

Things I have been busy with – LIFE!  Things I have not been busy with – my blog.

I really want to blog more.  If you want me to blog more, please comment below or like this post.  It really gives me the motivation to be consistent with my writing, and lets me know that there are people out there interested in what I write.  Thanks readers for following me, and sticking with me, even when my posts are inconsistent.

Today I have for you a recipe.  It is quick, easy, healthy and delicious!

Here it goes:

RECIPE – KALE SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING – vegan, gluten free

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 head of organic kale

1 green apple

1 orange pepper

2 green onions

Dressing:

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp tamari sauce

1-2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp raw honey, or maple syrup if you want to be completely vegan

Directions:

1.  Wash and dry kale, remove middle rib.  Stack 5 kale leaves together, roll into a tight cylinder.  Slice into thin strips.  Repeat with the remaining kale, and transfer to a large bowl.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt (approx 1/4 tsp).    Massage kale and sea salt together until kale leaves are softened.

2.  Blend all ingredients for salad dressing together in a blender.

3.  Pour dressing over kale mixture, mix well.  Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two before serving so that flavours have a chance to develop.

4.  Enjoy!

Kale Salad


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4 month update

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is 4 months old already. How has time gone by so quickly? The newborn days are behind us now, and each day she gets more fun and more interactive.

I won’t lie, these past 4 months have been challenging. For the first 8 weeks, I barely slept because she barely slept. At night, she would be often up crying, and nothing would soothe her other than intense bouncing and rocking. This was no easy feat in the middle of the night. She would sleep during the day, but only if I was holding her or wearing her in a carrier. Thank goodness for babywearing or we would have been hungry with no clean clothes to wear.

At around 8 weeks, I took Alex to see my chiropractor. She specializes in pregnant women, babies and kids. She is extremely gentle. I took Alex three times, and at each visit Alex was crying when we got there for whatever reason. Hungry, tired, or both? I’m not sure. As soon as my chiropractor started her adjustment, Alex quieted down immediately and fell asleep. Coincidence? Or not? All I know is that after 3 adjustments, Alex started sleeping better. I am so thankful for that. At around the 8 week mark I also fully cut out dairy from my diet. I believe that has been helping too.

Now we happily co-sleep together, with no bouncing or rocking needed. When she wakes up at night, I hear her before she has a chance to cry. I latch her on lying down, and we both drift off to sleep. There is nothing better than that! As long as I am diligent about getting into bed early enough, I do not feel tired the next morning.

Juggling all three kids and maintaining some semblance of order in our house is no easy feat. Just the laundry alone is never-ending. I give a lot of thanks to my wonderful husband and my helpful mother and mother in law. My husband has been invaluable in his assistance with the older two boys and both grandmothers have been available at all times for sleepovers with the boys and pick ups from school. I am also so grateful that both boys are in school full-time – it gives me time to rest during the day and keeps them happy and occupied. It truly takes a village!

Even though things have been hard, I want time to slow down. I want to savour ever cuddle and snuggle and laugh with each of my kids. As Dylan has said often: “We will never have this day again.” How wise he is at only 6 years old.

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2014 Running Goals

OK so I know it’s February already, and most goal setting is done in January.  But I have a newborn, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

It’s hard to even think of running races when it is a challenge right now to take a shower or get dinner on the table, but I am going to do it anyways! Having a race to look forward to always motivates me to get out there and go for a run. So here is what I am thinking.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – Yonge St 10k

Sunday, September 7, 2014 – Yorkville Run 5k (the best 5k in the city!!)

Sunday, October 19, 2014 – Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon

Is it overly ambitious to think that I can run 10k in just over 2 months?

Is it crazy to think I can train for a half marathon with 3 kids to take care of?

Perhaps, but I’m going to give it a try.

After all, the only thing actually holding me back is myself!

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Three week update

Today Alexandra is three weeks old!  Hard to believe just three short weeks ago I was pregnant and wondering when my sweet little baby would be joining us.  

Things are going well, all things considered.  I’m not going to lie – it has been exhausting with the boys home from school over winter break, and that is even with a lot of help from Jake and my parents.  The popular new mom saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” makes a lot of sense in theory, but in practice is quite hard to implement with a third child.  The boys are go go go all day long, and I’d love to catch a quick nap during the day, but it just isn’t happening even though Alex sleeps quite well during the day.  Nighttime is a different story.  3-5 am seems to be party time and at all hours of the day and night she is a noisy sleeper and her strange grunts, squeaks and snorts keep this mama awake.  With a third child, I have some perspective in that I know that she will sleep more at night EVENTUALLY and one day I will miss her newborn sounds. 

Adjusting to life with three kids is taking some time.  I’ve just now figured out how to manage during the day on my own with all three of them.  It involves a lot of organization, even more patience and a bit of humour.  Today was probably our best day so far.  I managed to make, serve and clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of us, keep the house in decent order, do a few loads of laundry and  everyone was relatively happy.  This happened without the boys watching TV all day (just one movie), so I feel good about that.

I remember when Dylan was born I was afraid to be alone with him for the first few weeks.  If Jake had to go out, I would make my mom come over.  It seems so funny now, because when Jake takes the boys out and I am alone with Alex, it feels like a vacation!  

In terms of post partum exercise, I am quite anxious to get started again.  I’ve gone for a few walks, done a Nike Training Club workout, and done a few planks and push ups here and there.  I really miss spinning and running but will be waiting a bit to get back into both of those.  I know it is important that I rest now and let my body heal from birth.  Waiting a few more weeks won’t make a difference in the long run, but starting too early could lead to injury, and I want to avoid that.  It is humbling that just over a year ago I could run a half marathon (that’s 21km!!) no problem, and now I’m not sure I could even run 1km continuously.  I know that my body has been through a lot and giving birth is a huge physical accomplishment in itself, but I really miss my hard workouts!

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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 2

So Part 1 of Alex’s birth story left off with Jake and I heading over to the hospital to meet my midwife, Nicole, for an induction.  It was a strange feeling leaving the house and driving to the hospital without being in labour at all!  In a way it was nice not to have to drive with contractions.  It was easy to call my parents and ask them to come over and watch the boys – it wasn’t the middle of the night, no one had to rush!

We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 PM and headed to triage.  Here’s how the night unfolded:

6:30 PM

Nicole hooked me up for a non stress test.  This involved watching the baby’s heart rate and movement over half an hour.  The baby looked perfect on this test, and this meant that the induction could go ahead.

8:00 PM

A room opened for me on the labour and delivery floor.  We headed over to the room.  To my surprise, it was the exact same room I had for Benjamin’s birth – lucky number 18!  Number 18 has special significance in the Jewish religion – it represents life and therefore quite a fitting room for the occasion.   The room was tiny, crowded, old, run down, worn out – there wasn’t even a pillow on the bed and we couldn’t find an unclaimed one anywhere else on the floor.  This didn’t phase me much – I wasn’t planning on spending much time lying down in bed.  The room was adequate and I was hoping I wouldn’t be spending too much time there.

9:30 PM

First step in the induction process was getting an IV.  This was necessary because at 37 weeks I had tested positive for GBS and therefore required a dose of IV antibiotics.  The insertion of the IV really hurt – but I knew I had much more painful things ahead of me that evening!

10:00 PM

The antibiotics were done, and my IV line was disconnected, but a saline lock was left in my hand in case I needed another dose.  It was uncomfortable to leave the line in my hand, but there was no other choice.  As the night progressed, I would forget it was even there.  Nicole suggested that I have a little rest at this time, to give the antibiotics time to work and so that I would have the energy necessary for labour.  I lay down and tried to rest, but I was quite excited and unable to sleep.  Instead, I ate a banana, a Larabar and drank a lot of Nuun.  Felt like preparation for a half-marathon!

11:00 PM

The time had come to break my water.  As soon as Nicole did this, I immediately felt a pop and a contraction.  It was amazing how quickly my body responded!  Regular contractions followed.  They weren’t very painful right away, but they were certainly uncomfortable.

From 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM, the contractions came regularly every 3 minutes or so.  They increased in intensity over time.  I had to be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitoring machine, to monitor baby’s heart rate.  This was the hospital’s protocol for an induction.  It was a bit of nuisance to be hooked up to wires, but Nicole ensured that I could still move around and remain upright, rather than being limited to lying in bed.  This was very important to me.  Contractions when you are lying down hurt 1,ooo,ooo times more than contractions when you are standing up.  Moving around and standing up allowed my baby to move into an optimal position, and I believe this helped to minimize pain during contractions. At around 1:00 AM the contractions were quite painful, but always bearable.  The reason for this was that I always had a break in between contractions to regain the strength needed to tackle the next one.  I knew that each contraction meant my cervix was dilating further, and that I was one step closer to meeting my baby.  I was becoming a little bit worried though, as it had only been 2 hours of labour, and I wasn’t sure that I could handle the pain for too much longer.

1:00 AM

Nicole asked me if I wanted to be checked to determine my progress so far.  She said that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much because it had only been 2 hours since she broke my water.  I said definitely YES!  I needed to know how far I was. However, I remembered vividly from Benjamin’s birth that lying down to be checked was extremely uncomfortable.  Nicole suggested that I climb up on the bed, but remain in a hands and knees position.  This worked out quite well and was much better than lying down, and felt just as good as standing up.

Nicole checked me and we were all shocked to learned that I was already 10 cm.  She asked if I felt ready to push, and at the point I did not.  She said let’s just wait a bit until my body was ready.  She called my second midwife, Noushin, to come down to the hospital.

1:05 AM

After a strong contraction – I went from not needing to push, to needing to push right away.  I told Nicole and Jake that this baby was coming soon!  Nicole called to the nurses station to ask for a respiratory therapist to come and help since it looked like Noushin would not be at the hospital in time for the birth.

1:15 AM

After a few more strong contractions, I yelled out:  This baby is coming RIGHT NOW.  Nicole picked up the phone to tell the respiratory therapist to come immediately, but there was no time for that.  Almost involuntarily, I gave a small push and out came Alex’s head, followed shortly after by the rest of her body.  Jake and Nicole were not expecting it to happen so fast – Nicole caught the baby with one hand and Jake didn’t even see Alex come out.  Nicole and Jake helped me out of the hands and knees position and I lay down in bed.  Alex was placed immediately on my chest skin to skin and we were all in a bit of shock.

The respiratory therapist came into the room a couple minutes after the birth.  I said to her:  That was amazing and so much fun!  She told me she hasn’t heard new moms say that before.  I truly felt great at that moment – so many endorphins were running through my body and my baby high was starting.

Alex and I snuggled for about an hour after birth.  She latched on immediately and nursed like a pro.  Noushin arrived and she and Nicole took care of all the paper work that needed to be done.  After an hour, Noushin did the new baby exam on Alex and we learned that she weighed 5 lbs 10 oz.  This corresponded to 2551 grams.  We were quite happy  - if she had been under 2500 grams we would have to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.  We were ready to go home!

4:45 AM

Noushin wheeled me to the door in a wheelchair and it was time to take Alex home.     Alexandra didn’t make a peep on the way home.  My parents heard us come in and came downstairs to meet their new granddaughter.  Dylan followed shortly after at around 6:00 AM and was immediately in love with his new sister.  Benny woke up at 7:00 AM and was a bit more cautious about the stranger in his house.  It was so wonderful to be at home, eating my own food, resting in my own bed, and showering in my own bathroom.

Final Thoughts

After weeks of worrying, both about the initial breech presentation, and subsequently about Alexandra’s size, I was so thankful that she had safely joined us and that she was perfectly healthy, despite being little.  We will never know why she was little – the placenta and cord both looked good.  She is already growing so much – she reached her birthweight before she turned one week old.

I am so grateful that I was able to have a natural birth again, without medication.  I was so concerned that I would require either pitocin or an epidural, and I am so glad I didn’t need either.  I know people think it is crazy to even consider a birth without an epidural.  I don’t think I accomplished anything special by not needing one – I think anyone can do it with proper information,  an open mindset and lots of support from a partner and health care provider.  Jake and Nicole didn’t doubt me once and kept telling me I was doing a phenomenal job.  I thank them both, and Noushin as well, for all of their help and their love during all 39 weeks of my pregnancy.

Alex at one week old

Alex at one week old

And now we adjust to life with three kids.  It is crazy, tiring, amazing and wonderful.  I feel like our family is complete and look forward to watching Alexandra grow up, alongside her two big brothers.

Photos by Kelly Fischstein.

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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 1 – The Background Info

So, ya….a lot has happened since I last posted in February. To summarize the most important parts briefly – I got pregnant with baby #3, experienced 39 weeks of pregnancy, and had a baby girl last week!

Needless to say, we are overjoyed with the safe arrival of our brand new daughter. I feel like the luckiest mama in the world to have two wonderful boys and now and a healthy little girl. The hormones are definitely flowing and each time I look at my new baby, my eyes well up with tears and I am so grateful.

And now for her birth story.

It starts back at 31 weeks when Alexandra presented herself in a breech position. She stayed in this position until 36 weeks, and for those 5 weeks I was extremely stressed out at the prospect of a breech birth. I was not interested in a c-section at all, and was very skeptical about the idea of a vaginal breech birth. It would require transfer of care from my midwife to an OB, and the birth would have to take place in an OR…the whole thing made me want to cry whenever I thought about it.

What did I do from weeks 31-36? I swam 3-4 times a week, I saw a chiropractor regularly and I did some yoga moves involving inversions. I can’t say exactly what did it, but I was thrilled when I went for a checkup at 36 weeks and Alex’s head was down. This was confirmed the next day at an ultrasound.

However, at the same ultrasound, Alexandra was measuring small, in the 10th percentile. This meant I had to go for another ultrasound at 37 weeks, and then another at 38 weeks to keep an eye on her, with an induction on the radar if she dropped from the 10th percentile. I know that there are people out there who enjoy ultrasounds and feel reassured by them, but they stressed me out immensely. I kept worrying that they would find something bad at each one! The ultrasounds at week 37 and 38 were OK…she was still looking small but everything seemed fine. I was worried about an induction – I really wanted to have a natural, drug free, intervention free birth, like the one I had withBenjamin .This seemed to be slipping away from me. I was also of course and more importantly very worried about the baby – how was she doing in there? Did she need to come out?

At week 39 I went for another ultrasound, and this time Alexandra had dropped from the 10th percentile to the 5th percentile. This concerned the OB that reviewed the ultrasound, and he suggested at this point that I be induced and not wait any longer. He wanted to make sure that the baby could tolerate labour, and there was a chance that if we waited too long, this would not be possible.

So here I was, at 39 weeks plus 5 days…I called my midwife after the ultrasound, and she agreed with the OB that it was time to be induced. So we made a plan to meet at the hospital and get this show on the road! At this point it was already almost 5pm. I went home to get a quick bite to eat, and to pick Jake up. And we headed down to the hospital at around 6pm. To be continued…

 

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