You've heard it a million times, and guess what? It's true. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Fuelling up with a nutritious meal in the morning lays the foundation for the day ahead, supplying you with much-needed energy to start your day - every day.
Weekday or weekend, these quick, easy and healthy ideas will put a spring in everyone's step. The few minutes it takes to prepare them is worth it, and some have ingredients that can be prepared the night before, making them ready-to-go in the morning.
Using frozen fruit, even the most time-crunched among us can whirl up a batch of Strawberry Peach Smoothies. For a heart healthy Omega-3 boost, add a spoonful of crushed flax seeds before blending.
During the tail end of these colder months, enjoy a warm, hearty bowl of Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Porridge. Not only tasty, it keeps you feeling full for an extended period of time with stick-to-your-ribs goodness.
Our toasted Muesli Mix is equally delicious presoaked or not, and served with milk or yogurt, and fresh fruit.
Of course you love your pet—but the bills from the vet are another matter. Follow these tips on covering the costs, and on when it might be time to let go.
My late dwarf rabbit Molly was known as the Two-Thousand-Dollar Bunny among my friends. In fact, medical bills for this fluffball—adopted for just 20 bucks—were closer to $3,000 by the end of her life, 11 months after I brought her home.
Molly had Snuffles—not as cute as it sounds. Snuffles, or pasteurellosis, involves sneezing, wheezing, runny eyes and, in my bun’s case, an out-of-control abscess needing daily draining and two rounds of ultimately unsuccessful surgery.
I was a student at the time, and when my vet was talking options and price tags, I can't say every one of the tears I shed was for Molly. Later, as the bills piled up, my then-boyfriend demanded to know exactly where I'd draw the line. I couldn't say. He saw an inversely proportional relationship between the amount I'd spent on a rabbit and my suitability as a life partner. We'd already split up by the time Molly passed away.
Alda Loughlin, practice manager of the Animal Clinic in Toronto, sees many clients struggle with emotionally charged financial decisions about treatment. Here she shares insights into handling high-cost medical care for pets.
People usually underestimate veterinary costs when they're planning to become pet owners. Loughlin relates that her clinic asks prospective animal adoptees how much they expect medical care will cost in the first year.
"How they answer dictates how we'll go forward with the application," she says. "People often think about $500 for a new cat or dog, but you may be looking—without medical problems—at $900 to $1,100, for neutering, exams, vaccinations and microchipping."
If those figures shock you, best get your fix of kitten cuteness on YouTube.
One way of being prepared for big bills is taking out pet insurance; at Loughlin's practice, 30 per cent of clients have policies. While Loughlin supports this precaution, she admits hearing regular complaints about the hoops claimants jump through for reimbursements.
"If people don’t want pet insurance, I suggest they take $30 a month and put it away, or even pay it forward to their vet," she says. Loughlin stashes $100 a month between August and April for her own poodle's annual dental cleaning. "It's good to have a cushion," she says.
Negotiate a payment plan
If you're facing a big bill and you're not covered, your vet may let you pay in installments. "Mention that a treatment is price-sensitive," suggests Loughlin.
Some charitable organizations will help pet owners who are retired, on disability benefits or on a fixed low income and faced with expensive veterinary procedures. In Ontario, pet owners may be eligible for assistance from the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation (requests go through the Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Toronto) or the Farley Foundation, says Loughlin. Ask your vet about similar foundations in your home province.
Do your research
The price tags for treatments can vary quite dramatically from clinic to clinic, so it's OK to shop around, advises Loughlin -- it's a question of balancing out quality and cost. "Call a couple of clinics, ask questions, and be very candid about your pet's condition," she says. She also advises asking exactly what's covered in each quote: is it just the surgery or also the pre-op bloodwork, post-op meds and follow-up visit?
And don't just let cost be the deciding factor. Checking websites with scores and client reviews of local practices or asking your network for recommendations gives you a sense of the level of care you can expect from an unfamiliar vet.
Draw your line
While I couldn't draw a line for my rabbit Molly's medical care, I admit I sometimes felt frustrated that such sophisticated and expensive options even existed as I fell deeper into the red. And I've sometimes wondered if all the interventions were even fair to her.
I polled my friends recently on where they'd draw the line for their own pets. Most said there was no line, but one had an important insight to share, based on her experience paying a fortune to prolong the life of a suffering cat.
"I've regretted the course of treatment we gave my cat who had kidney failure, for more than a decade, but that taught me a lesson," she says. "Find a vet you trust -- one who knows you and your pet well. Just because you can do another test or try another treatment doesn't necessarily mean you should."
Are you keen for quinoa? Here are 2 easy ways to cook quinoa that work every time you want to add this superfood to your recipes. The pasta method In a large pot of boiling water, cook quinoa until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well. The rice method* *This method uses the 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, for example, for every 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, you'll need 2 cups of water. In saucepot of boiling water, stir in quinoa; return to boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer until all the water has absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. I like to have plain cooked quinoa on hand to add into a salad or use as a base for a vegetarian main dish, like our Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce but if you're looking for a sweet treat, check out our delicious Quinoa Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesHow do you like to enjoy quinoa?
You'll recognize a good baguette by its signature deep-golden crust, and it's chewy, soft interior. For all its perfection when it comes to texture,
it does have one major flaw: it's really only at its best if enjoyed on the day it's made and purchased. If you're lucky -- and not a purist! -- you may get another half day out of it, but that's really the most you'll ever get out of a fresh baguette.
My solution? Given that my love for baguette knows no bounds (blame it on me being French!) I like to always have some on hand, but I rarely get around to finishing an entire baguette in the span of a day. For those times, I simply freeze leftovers to be enjoyed later. You can also purchase a baguette with the intent of freezing it so you know you'll always have some readily available for later. Here's how to do it!
To freeze your baguette, cut it in half crosswise and tightly wrap in aluminum foil. The fresher the baguette the better the results so if you can score a warm-from-the-oven baguette from the store, do so!
To thaw, preheat your oven to 450F. Once its reached that temperature, turn your oven off, and bake the unwrapped bread in the oven until it is thawed, which takes about 12 minutes (depending on the size of your bread). Photography by Jennifer Bartoli