Saturday, December 24, 2011

UnDiet...Week 52

Merry Christmas UnDieters!

This week, you have only one task: eat, drink and be happy. Get close to your loved ones; whatever food you choose to prepare as you celebrate, use the best quality ingredients possible and prepare foods with love. That way, you are guaranteed to nourish your soul (even if all not all the foods you eat this week nourish your body!)

Thank you so much for following along this year. At certain points, you might have certain points, I have strayed! When beginning this project, I never realized the dedication it would take to keep going all year long - what a good reminder that any commitment you make to yourself requires passion, perseverance and willpower to keep it going. The lovely thing about an UnDiet is that there is no true beginning or end point: should you feel the need to reinvest in your health in 2012, simply start back at week one! 

Health is a journey; no one (not even a dietitian) eats "perfectly" all the time or exercises religiously, gets enough sleep or manages stress all the time. The key is tipping the scale in your favour. Always strive to be healthier today, in any way that you can. That is key to true health. 

I hope you enjoy the remaining days of 2011. Be sure to keep tuning into EDBH in the New Year for plenty more delicious adventures.

All the best of the season,

PS - should you have any thoughts on what you would like to see on EDBH in 2012, let me know!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be Happy...Healthy Holiday Gifts

For the last of my three healthy holiday gifts posts, I won't be sending you running to the mall to fight the frazzled, pushy, un-festive crowds. If you have people on your list that you haven't bought for yet - why not go another way?

With a full time job, a toddler,  a husband and a time consuming writing habit...I don't have a lot of free time. I am looking forward to some time off in just a few days and I think some of the best gifts you can give are time spent with friends and family doing something fun. So for this holiday gift instalment, here are my suggestions for the best healthy holiday gifts you can give: quality time.

1. Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain - I have desperately wanted to try snowshoeing for the last 4 years and every year seems to pass without me hitting the alpine. Maybe this will be my year? Grouse Mountain offers nightly guided snow showing tours that end with a fondue feast. Okay, so heaping pots of cheese and chocolate aren't the pinnacle of health but the broth course is healthy and you did just complete an hour of snowshoeing... 

2. Wander through Van Dusen Festival of Lights - Bundle up, fill up a thermos with hot chocolate (spike it with Baileys...I won't tell) and take friends for a long evening's walk through the thousands of glittering lights at Van Dusen Gardens. Take girl's night out to a festive new level. Nightly until January 2nd. 

3. Sign up for a cooking class at The Dirty Apron and invite your friends over for a New Year's tapas party. A little gift for you...and some great fun with friends post Christmas, when everyone needs a lift!

4. Offer an evening of babysitting to friends who have children. If you have children, I needn't explain further. If you don't...marvel in how inexplicably thankful your friends will be when you send them out for a night on their own. Feel smug and thoughtful and help yourself to treats after the kids go down for the night.

5. Treat a friend to a yoga, Bar Method or any other fitness class, followed by a stop at your favourite cafe. My favourite spot is YYoga...where you can go for a class, get a sauna and have a cup of tea, all in one locale. Perfect way to get fit and reconnect all at once!

Here is to a healthy holiday,

Friday, December 16, 2011

UnDiet...Week 51

Hello UnDieters!

I hope you are all snug and toasty with your loved ones this morning, enjoying a warm cup of tea or coffee and saying to yourself, "TGIF!" Take a moment this morning to relax and get ready to UnDiet, holiday style.

For your festive mission this coming week, I would like you to eat one holiday superfood each day. Because, what are the holidays without a celebration of food? I have chosen 5 foods that are readily available, nutritious and absolutely delicious for you to enjoy. When you eat your daily superfood, think of all the nourishment that good food (and good spirits!) can offer. Appreciate. Savour. Nourish. Enjoy.

1. Citrus - a delightful seasonal (if not local) treat, enjoy satsumas, moros, clementines, Meyer lemons, ruby grapefruit and kumquats. Squeeze yourself a bit of upliftingly scented vitamin C. The scent of grapefruit might even help to curb appetite. Any help around the holidays is appreciated :)

2. Cranberries - a potent bacteria fighter the colour of holiday lights. Make a lightly sweetened compote with apples for dessert or a snack; drink unsweetened, not-from-concentrate juice with sparkling water or dice raw cranberries into salads, pilafs and casseroles for a tart hit of nutrition.

3. Nuts - enjoy a 1/4 cup of your favourite raw nuts. Go holiday style and crack them right from the shell or take it easy and buy shelled nuts to eat on oatmeal, with dried fruit or on their own. Healthy fats will moisturize from the inside out and provide plenty of micronutrients to keep you resilient during all the holiday festivities.

4. Turkey - not just for the big feast, enjoy easy-to-prepare turkey roast as a nutritious and delicious main, slice for sandwiches, wraps and scrambles before you are totally sick of leftovers.

5. Yams and sweet potatoes - without all the sugar and marshmallow (say it ain't so!), these super spuds are super nutritious. Use them in place of other grains or starches: baked, roasted, boiled or mashed, these colourful tubers are a rich source of vitamin A.

Enjoy the holidays,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Happy...Healthy Holiday Gifts

I hope that you are all enjoying the holiday season, without stress or strife! I thought for this instalment of my healthy holiday gifts post, I would focus on my first love: food. These are the foods I like to give, receive and indulge in this holiday season. Enjoy!

Ah, the macaron...the delicate almond cookie, baked perfectly tender crisp. Thomas Haas is so far my favourite in the city. These make a perfect hostess gift or why not take a friend for coffee and a couple of macarons to celebrate the season? 

Chocolate I can take or leave...but caramel is forever. I love that Cocolico sauces are made from quality ingredients and they taste amazing. I tried this sauce for the first time on the luscious apple caramel tarts Cocolico brought to Feast of Fields. Try it. It will turn sliced fruit into the most heavenly dessert ever known. 

Now salt is something that I definitely love. Just a sprinkle of a good finishing salt sets a dish on fire and makes a healthful meal delight the palate as much as it nourishes the cells. During my 100 mile diet challenge this year, I discovered Vancouver Island Salt. Local. Salt. No more needs to be said :) Available at Marche St George.

Another of my vices, er, healthy indulgences is a nice glass of wine. I read about 40 Knots Pinot Noir and had to get my hands on it. Other Island vineyards I have experienced have left me a bit cold but this was a beautiful bottle to enjoy with someone special or to take to a dinner party. 

Hope your holiday season is glittering,

Friday, December 9, 2011

UnDiet...Week 50

Hello UnDieters! 

Just a few short weeks left in this glorious year; I hope that you are all enjoying the holidays in true UnDiet style! Eat mindfully, savour beautiful treats and leave plenty of room for the sort of nutrient dense food that will keep you charged up and partying late into the night all season long.

To help give you an added boost, this week's task is to swap a snack. Are you eating daily nuts? If not, this is the time to start. Raw nuts are full of healthy fats for gorgeous skin and clear arteries; protein to power you through your day and vitamins and minerals to strengthen your defences. So choose one of your daily snacks and replace it with 1/4 cup of your favourite raw nuts. For more protein and vitamin E, choose almonds. For omega 3s to nourish your mind, go for walnuts. For a bit of healthy indulgence, holiday style, try cashews or macadamia nuts. 

Replacing a more carbohydrate based snack for raw nuts will help keep your energy levels stable and carry you through to your next meal without getting too hungry. 

Party on!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Be Happy...Healthy Holiday Gifts

How is that holiday shopping coming? Just 18 more sleeps until Christmas...

I am very excited to say that in my Christmas-crazy family, we are paring down this year. We are limiting our usually over the top gift exchange to stocking stuffers. I love this because in reality, many of us don't really need anything and it can be so unnerving to continue to try and find something "special" for your loved ones. This way, we can buy cute trinkets that are useful and have lots of fun opening little surprises but the focus can be on family, not stuff. 

That said, a little bit of stuff - especially functional stuff - is always fun around this time of year so I thought that for this round of gift ideas I would highlight some of the things I am coveting this year. Given the amount of time I spend in the kitchen, I am always keen to get a new gadget.

All of the gifts featured are available at Cookworks (big plug because my mom works there and it is a local business - support the local!) and Cookworks has graciously offered all Eat Drink Be Happy readers a 15% off code for their online store. See below for details!

First on my list are the Le Creuset Cocottes (and a large Dutch oven, but these are easier to lift!). When my husband and I were in Paris, cocottes were all the rage - we even had dinner at a restaurant named Les Cocottes. This tiny little pots are perfect for single servings of custards, souffles or even as a cheeky way to serve soup. The fennel colour is my new favourite.
Les Creuset Cocottes Set
Next, I would really like some silicone muffin cups. If you have ever forfeited a lovely muffin because it has stuck to the need these. Nonstick and infinitely reusable!

Danesco Silicone Muffin Cup Liners
Okay. I never had much use for peelers. To be totally honest, out of laziness and a desire to eat as much fibre-containing peel as I can, I have never owned a peeler. Until I got one of these, I used to struggle to "peel" squash with a knife. This little inexpensive gadget changed my food prep life. Super sharp - you have been warned.
Swiss Mar Carbon Blade Peeler.

I want to be a master macaron chef. Not to sell...just to impress the pants off guests (and save myself 1.50 - 2.50 per cookie!). This set will help take the guesswork out of the process.
Mastrad Macaron Set

My husband is a big whisky drinker. I bought him his first set of Whisky Rocks a while back and they are a big hit. For those who like their scotch neat, these little natural stones get things chilled without diluting the good stuff. Perfect for the single malt connoisseur on your list.

Whisky Rocks

From today through December 23rd, enjoy a 15% off discount at with the promo code EAT15 . The discount applies to only regular priced merchandise and cannot be combined with any other offers.

Happy Holidays everyone!

PS. Thank you to Cookworks for offering such a generous discount to EDBH readers! As always, the idea for this post and the opinions contained in this post were unsolicited and completely my own - if I ever choose to start accepting sponsored posts, I will let my readers know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be Happy...Healthy Holiday Gifts

It's Christmastime, so that can only mean one thing...the 12 blog posts of Christmas!!!

I am a bit of a Christmas freak. I love the glitter and twinkle lights and holiday cheer. It almost makes me forget that the days are dark and damp and that we are far from the warmth of beach season. Now that it is December 1st, I am thinking all about Christmas goodies.  Just for fun, this month I am going to feature some of my favourite things that have come across my path in 2011 that would be perfect to give or receive this holiday season. 

Since my bookshelves are creaking under the weight of my bibliophilic tendencies, I can think of no better place to start than books. I have placed all of these books in my Amazon shop, just to make things easy for you this holiday season!

Spilling the Beans by Julie van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan

Any book that devotes itself to the humble bean is okay by me. By far and away, the main reason I hear cited for not including more beans in your diet is not knowing what to do with them. Well, now you know! 

Food Cures by Joy Bauer MS RD CDN with Carol Svec

This book, written by uber-dietitian Joy Bauer, is the nutrition geek's saving grace. Want to know what foods to eat for better skin? Check page 63. Need a grocery list to help you fight heart disease? See page 141. If you believe like I do that food is your medicine, this is the book for you.

Une Journee a El Bulli by Ferran Adria

I recently saw the El Bulli documentary at the Vancouver Film Fest and it reminded me that I have this in my book shelf. I devoured it in just a single day after receiving it a couple of Christmases ago. El Bulli closed its doors before I ever got a chance to dine there (sigh!) as the height of culinary creativity. This is hardcore foodie fare. It masquerades as a cookbook but if you are brave enough to get out the dry ice for the margarita, you've got one up on me.

Seasons by Donna Hay 

I am a huge Donna Hay fan...where can I sign up for her job? The ultimate food stylist turned cookbook author turned magazine editor, now food TV star, released this "best of" book which compiles recipes from her magazine. The pictures are gorgeous and many of the recipes are, as always, refreshingly simple.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan, illustrated by Maira Kalman

Michael Pollan, patron saint of conscious food consumerism, has deftly released a new illustrated version of his food rules book just in time for the season of consumerism. I couldn't resist. The perfect, entertaining read as you sit on the couch post turkey dinner.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

UnDiet...Week 48

Santa is watching, UnDieters...drop that cookie!

Hello UnDieters! 

Just a few weeks to go in 2011...hope you are starting to enjoy the glitter of the holiday season without submitting to the all too pervasive stress of it all.

As the days get darker and we get more sedentary, I would like you to explore your nighttime noshing. Usually when we eat after dinner, it is for one of two reasons: we didn't eat nearly enough during the day or we are simply in the habit of snacking in front of the television. After a long day, we rush get dinner on, kids fed, bathed and tucked in and then we crash in front of the television to decompress. Potato chips in hand. And before you know it, you are passed out in front of The Office and the potato chips are gone. 

It is exactly this kind of behaviour that can result in massive weight gain over time. At night, we are less likely to need those extra calories we are ingesting and far less likely to burn them off if we eat them. This week, let's try and break from routine. If you want to eat after dinner, eat only vegetables. You still get to engage in what is probably a deeply engrained habit but you will be eating healthy, low calorie food that contributes to making you a healthier human. We can capitalize on our propensity to overeat and work towards getting our 10 daily servings of vegetables!

To make this task easier, as you grocery shop this weekend, buy extra vegetables and then wash and chop them right away. Place the chopped veggies in an airtight container in the fridge so that if you have a snack attack, you have emergency snacks at the ready.

Ever tried to overeat broccoli? Trust me, you will thank me later.

To your health,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

UnDiet...Week 47

Hello UnDieters!

Week 47....New Year's Day is just around the corner. Hopefully, with a year of UnDieting under your belt the one thing you won't be worried about come January 1st is how you are eating. This week I want to get you eating some more food to save your nutritional soul...greens.

"Kale!" is a routinely heard battle cry at the office. We shout "kale!" when things really rock. Don't laugh. Yes, I am a food geek. That is besides the point (or it is the point entirely.) Why should kale represent the height of my exuberance? Because kale and other greens are serious foodie medicine. So nutritious is it almost ridiculous to start naming names...all you really need to know is that you should eat greens every day. Even Canada's Food Guide, which is not always heralded as the most progressive of texts, recommends you get some daily greens. Who am I to argue?

Does a daily green food seem like an impossible task? Perhaps it is because you simply need more ideas on how to use them. First, let me start by counting the greens...

Black kale, purple kale, curly kale, red chard, rainbow chard, collard greens, mizuna, broccoli, bok choy, gai lan, beet greens, spinach, baby kale, arugula, broccolini, rapini, cilantro, parsley, basil, dandelion get the picture!

Next, here are 10 ideas on how you can use all of those delicious greens in your daily diet:

Steam collard leaves and use instead of tortillas.

Stew chard with onions and garlic as the base for a hearty winter soup.

Add de-stemmed black kale to a blueberry smoothie.

Saute your favourite green with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and chili flakes for a simply delicious side.

Make a salad with mizuna, baby spinach, cilantro and add Mexican flavours like chipotle simmered black beans, corn and queso fresco.

Stir fry gai lan with lots of garlic and add sriracha marinated tofu. Serve over rice noodles.

Layer steamed, sliced beet greens in a vegetarian lasagna.

Simmer broccolini with white beans, garlic and finish with lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Make kale chips with your favourite kale by tossing pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking at 325 for 15-20 carefully!

Wrap dandelion greens with feta, pickled beets, hummus and grated carrot in a sprouted grain wrap.

See? It's easy being green...

Monday, November 7, 2011

UnDiet...Week 45

Hello UnDieters!

2011 is slowly drawing to a close and I want to ensure that all of you who have stuck with me through my ups and downs creating this Un-Diet plan finish off the year on solid footing. We have introduced so many different types of foods; skimmed the fat where it isn't necessary and added quality fats (by the measured spoonful, of course!) where they are. We have gotten up to our elbows in roughage and celebrated the harvest. So let's finish strong, with a focus on good food fundamentals. 

Last week, we revisited the apple (or pear) a day challenge and I do hope you can keep going with it throughout the balance of the year. For this week, I want to introduce a habit that is also worthy of maintaining for the last 7 weeks of the year at the very least. Could it really be only 7? 

Each time you sit down to eat, I am asking that you put your fork or spoon or chopsticks down in between bites. In our fastest-just-gets-there-fastest world, this seems almost ridiculous now. But what are we really rushing to accomplish? By physically getting in the way of hoovering your meal, you can stretch out the eating process for just a little longer. This is a good idea for your stress levels, your waist line and your overall health.

When the rest of our day is fast paced and stress filled, why not consider meal time as a break from the madness? If you are already making the commitment to nourish your body with food, why not go the extra step to truly nourish your body with a moment's respite from chaos? Doing so will actually help you maintain a healthy weight as well; eating slowly gives our body time to realize that it is full and satisfied before we over eat. A slower pace also helps promotes proper digestion and absorption of nutrients so that we derive all of the benefits of the food we eat and don't end up with an angry gas filled gut later on. We need a relaxed environment and state of mind for our body to do its best work.

So for the rest of the year, simply take a moment's pause. It's good for you. And if you want to be really bold, invite a friend to break bread with you. Use those pauses to reconnect. 


Sunday, October 30, 2011

UnDiet...Week 41

Hello UnDieters! 

Don't those look good? 

Are any of you still eating an apple a day? If you can remember back, oh-so-long ago, that was our very first challenge in this year of healthy eating. Sometimes the simplest missions are the best. 

You would easily be forgiven if you had abandoned your resolve to eat a daily apple through the summer, with all of that blushing summer produce. However, now that the berries, peaches and plums have been either preserved or composted, it is time to get reacquainted with the fruits of fall labour. So as we get back in touch with our original goal, let's up the ante just a little bit. You are all now very well established UnDieters and it shouldn't faze you at all! 

For this week, let's eat one apple AND one pear a day...and keep it up through New Year's Day. These beautiful fruits are the very best that BC has to offer right now. Crisp, sweet and packed with fibre, eating an apple and a pear everyday will help boost your intake of fruit and veg in a season when it can be all too simple to forget produce. Red skins will provide anthocyanins for a healthy heart; apples feature quercetin to support respiratory health and copper in pears helps build SOD, a super antioxidant in the body. Just what this busy season calls for, I think...

To your health!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Be Happy...Grow Your Own

My new baby...a tiny little Brownlee's Russet Apple Tree.
I am a modern, urban, concrete dweller. I, of romantic grow-your-own ideals and, until this August, virtually no direct sunlight. My north facing view was lovely for gazing at the city skyline but terrible for attempting to grow anything useful. After a couple of disastrous attempts at harnessing the 1/2 square foot of sunlight that I enjoyed from July through August, I swore off growing things until I moved to sunnier climbs. I would flip longingly through stories of patio produce and condo farmers thinking that one day, my time would come. The ultimate embodiment of my fruitless (natch!) dreams was realized the day I saw a picture of an apple tree, happily bearing fruit while trellised on someone's patio. Someday, I thought to myself, I will have my own apple tree. I will have to wait for my third best seller before attempting to own an actual house and yard, but a tree...I can make that happen.

This summer, I moved into a new suite that indeed had access to actual sun. Soon, I thought...I can grow something! I thought I would wait for summer, until my trip to the UBC apple festival a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day. There were trees for sale. Grafted onto dwarf stock. Could they be grown in a container? They could, I was reassured! Giddy with local food fever, I decided to take the horticultural plunge.

From a sea of options, parameters were defined: I would need a tree with hardy root stock (M109, I was told) to resist disease and the opposite-of-ideal conditions of life in a container. I would also need a self propagating tree. You see, you need a boy tree and a girl tree to grow apples. I was not aware. And, given that I was already getting myself in over my head with my new tree, perhaps I would not dive into having twins just yet. So, a Brownlee's Russet it was! I was so excited to take that little tree home...I could practically taste the apple crumbles, homemade cider and apple butter to come...

Recognizing the glimmer of cluelessness about me, the wonderful volunteer at the apple festival sent me home with a sheet of instructions on how to grow apples in container. I studied and surveyed. The very next Saturday, I schlepped to home depot and picked up some supplies. Husband and son safely exiled for a walk, I set about to potting this little gem.

Following my instructions, I drilled holes in the pot for better drainage (yay, power tools! and cute gardening gloves!)...

As per instructions, I mixed some perlite and lime with my soil for better drainage and pH balance...

And then in went my little tree!

I now stare at my tree daily. It looks very small and delicate and I hope I can help it thrive. As the days get colder, I will wrap it with a blanket to keep warm (don't laugh...the instructions tell me to!) and do my best not to ignore it as I do all of my house plants. 

I will keep you all posted...wish me luck!! And, if you have any container gardening tips, please do share.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

UnDiet...Week 39

Kiwis growing in the warm Vancouver sun...

Hello UnDieters!

I hope you enjoyed this gorgeous autumn weekend. It really couldn't have been more beautiful. I spent these sunny days taking full advantage of the season: we wandered through a corn maze, visited the UBC apple festival (and saw these kiwis growing at the botanical garden!) and picked up our CSA share of local wheat from Urban Grains. And I bought an apple tree. Which I intend to grow on my patio. Wish me luck folks - I hope to have some 0 mile apples next fall!

As the days turn colder, we start looking for heartier food and sometimes it is easy to forget a bit about fruits and vegetables in favour of grains and proteins. So this week, we are going to measure up! You all know that I am not a big fan of counting calories but a few simple metrics can help us all eat a bit healthier. So this week, your number is 50. Each time to sit down to a meal or snack, ensure that 50 percent of the food you are eating is a fruit, a vegetable or both! 

Basing all of your meals on produce is an easy way to keep calories down without skimping on the actual volume of food you are eating (and therefore not feeling satisfied). You all already know how energizing fruits and veggies are so I won't spend volumes expounding upon the virtues of fresh produce. Even if won't touch another salad until April, be sure to get those veggies in. Cool weather fruits and vegetables lend themselves beautifully to cooking: think stewed greens with cannellini beans; roast squash or red peppers over pasta; baked apple crumbles and poached pears. 

Enjoy the harvest,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Drink...something mysterious

With a name like Kings and Spies, how could I say no?
It has been a long while since I have done a drink post, hasn't it? 

Given that I was without drink for a good year and a half I suppose it is only fitting. However, with the dry spell complete it is time to delight in all sorts of libations (in responsible moderation of course)! When they are deliciously local, all the better. 

I have to admit, Sea Cider had me at "spies". I have been meaning to try Sea Cider for a long time as I drive past the turnoff to the cider house on many a trip to the island to visit family. So when I was in the store today, it was the siren call of Kings and Spies that caught my attention.

The Kings and Spies referred to on the bottle are actually heritage apples. In this libation, King and Northern Spies apples create a wonderfully refined and grown up cider. The bottle also features an optimistic valve top (as if the whole 750ml won't disappear in one sitting!). And when you buy this specific variety of Sea Cider, proceeds go to Lifecycles. If it gets much better than this, I am at a loss for examples.

You can buy Sea Cider at specialty stores or they will kindly ship cases in BC for free. And if you find yourself on the gorgeous Saanich Peninsula, be sure to stop by and say hello.


Friday, October 7, 2011

UnDiet...Week 37

Hello UnDieters!

This turkey is breathing a sigh of relief that this is a Tofurkey house!

For all of my Canadian friends, this weekend marks Thanksgiving, one of my favourite feast days. I love thanksgiving because there is no other celebration, recognized across different faiths and cultures, that is solely focused on gratitude. We give thanks for the love we receive from others, the blessings and abundance we have in our life and the beautiful food that we feast with. 

In fact, this is a great intention to set for the whole week. So, UnDieters, in keeping with our theme of evaluating how and why we eat, this is a week to give thanks. Each time that you are about to put food to lip, take a 30 second pause to reflect on how that particular food got to your lips and give thanks. Nothing formal, nothing out loud...just a brief pause to connect yourself with your food.

Whether it was the turkey who provided its life as nourishment, the warm sun that helped the pear to ripen or your roommate who took the time to prepare a simple dinner because you are both far from family - give thanks for the conditions that aligned to help nourish your body at this moment.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? The miracle that is my son, the amazing people I am proud to call my friends, colleagues and family and that through my work I get to help people live healthier and happier lives. And some good food. 

Thanks to you for continuing to read!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hello UnDieters!

Now that the days are darker and a chill is creeping into the air, I always feel an intense desire to stay closer to home. I find that all of that outward energy and exuberance that spring and summer bring with them softens as thoughts turn inward for a bit of mental hibernation. Fall and winter months find us looking for warmth, comfort and maybe some time to reflect. So for this week, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on our motives for picking up our forks. 

This week, before you put a bite of something in your mouth, I want you to ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?"

Be honest with yourself. If the answer is no, consider how would best meet your needs right now. Do you need a nap? A cry? A chat with a friend? A bath? A hug? Something more interesting to do than sitting on the couch? If you can think of something that might be more constructive to your mental and physical state than eating, then do that instead. However, you might find that the scoop of leftover mac and cheese may be just what the doctor ordered. So go ahead and enjoy. The goal this week is simply to be more present about what drives us to fill our bellies.

See how this week changes the way you think about food - is it simply fuel? Soul nourishment? Entertainment? Comfort? Punishment? How can you give food its rightful (and joyful) place in your life? Warm up a mug of tea, lounge on the couch and think about how you can truly eat well.


Friday, September 16, 2011

UnDiet...Week 34

I think it is time for another measure up post, don't you? Let's talk protein. The stuff of nutrition myth and legend, every health professional has an opinion on protein. We eat too much, we don't eat enough. No animal protein...nothing is better for you than animal protein! 

Let's set the record straight on just one meaty issue: portion size. Rummage through your junk drawer to find a deck of cards. Got 'em? Good. Take a good hard look at that deck and imagine it is a piece of chicken. There is your serving size. If the deck starts clucking at you, put it down. Walk away. Consult a physician.

Before you pale at the thought of starving on such scarce flesh, remember this: whether you are a vegetarian or a meatatarian, veggies and grains should be the centrepiece of your dish. They provide the fibre, the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Protein is a compliment to these nutrients. Getting enough protein helps support stable blood sugars and a strong immune system. Even the average North American vegetarian gets more protein than they need (us poor vegetarians...where could we possibly be getting all that protein?).

So this week, instead of slapping a huge hunk of meat on your plate, serve yourself a smaller portion. Or "extend" meat the old fashioned way: add slivers of chicken to your stirfry, combine grass fed beef with lentils, veggies and breadcrumbs into a meatloaf or add some lentils to a soup or stew. Be sure to get a good source of protein at every meal...just don't gorge yourself on it!

And while you're at it...try and eat more veggie protein too. It comes loaded with fibre and we all need more roughage. Go hug a lentil, already.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Eat, Drink and Be Happy! Feast of Fields

Beyond this geek heaven.

This Sunday, my husband and I went to our first Feast of Fields. Where on earth have we been, you ask? Out of town! Literally every year for the last four on the weekend FoF has taken place. So this year, we were so excited to finally be around to bask in the sun and eat and drink the best that BC has to offer. And yes, it made me happy. Very happy. 

The lovely Antonio Cerullo dishing out organic tomato and natural pastures bocconcini skewers.
Feast of fields is literally just that; volunteers hand you a wine glass and a napkin and you stroll through the field, stopping at tents, sampling gorgeous food and drink. You could spot the FoF veterans as they came bearing their own cocktail plates with the handy wine glass hanger so they could eat and drink without juggling the spoils. The sun was blazingly hot on Sunday so I have to admit I did not sample as much drink as I might have liked lest I disintegrate into a bumbling, dehydrated mess. FoF was full of people I work with; not a great idea to start slurring your words in such company!

Smart people with their sun hats. I was not smart.
Feast of Fields is the signature fundraiser for Farm Folk City Folk, a wonderful organization that promotes local agriculture and strives to bring together farm folk and city folk to get people talking, collaborating and working towards a more sustainable food system. 

This really says it best.
Some of my favourites at the Feast included Summerhill Organic Wines....

And the delicious caramel apple tarts from Cocolico. The tomato chips with creme fraiche from Bishops were divine as was the ceviche from my husband tells me!

A little bit of food...a little bit of drink...and keep on walking....

T Tea Company...LOVED the iced teas!

The lovely ladies from Krause Berry Farms, today's host, were grilling up fresh corn. In a land of little nibbles, the corn, drug through a large dish of butter was about as perfect as you could get.

The Vancouver Club brought these delicious ginger snap ice cream sandwiches....

Victoria spirits was there with their delightful gin, straight and in a refreshing muddled cucumber cocktail. And Terra Breads had some gorgeous local food pizzas.

More, please!

But for me, the hands down winner of the day was The Pointe at the Wickininnish Inn from Tofino...

Because THIS is what they brought with them....

 It was so delicious, that I had to have seconds....They managed to make a sweet thing savoury and complex. I was hooked. So now I will just sit back and dream of next year's feast. I might have to try and make it to two. My friend Lori was there filming her Good For You, Good For the Earth show. Be sure to tune in to see more from FoF.

Go Be Happy,

Friday, September 2, 2011

UnDiet...Week 32

Stressed? Just gaze at this sunset and take a deep breath.

Hello UnDieters!

I hope you all enjoy this last blissful weekend of summer. Get outside and hike, bike, walk, swim and run. Pack a picnic and lounge at the park or grab a book and sit on your deck and ponder life. Next week, it is back to traffic, busy schedules and (perhaps) stress. 

Do you know what is the perfect antidote for a stressful life? Good clean living! When we get stressed out, the first thing many of us do is to stop exercising, start eating "comfort" food and then we end up even more lethargic and energy deprived. However tough it is to keep up with our self care, it is even more vital the crazier life gets because eating well and exercising builds our body's resilience and helps us cope with a stressful stretch. 

This week, we should all help make sticking to our eating plans easier. Take a lazy morning to plan out a couple of go-to healthy meals. Then saunter over to the grocery store, grab your supplies and after the sun goes down, have a glass of wine and make a few big batches of food to carry you through the week. This way, when life is crazy, trying to eat well doesn't have to be. 

Some great ideas for big batch cooking to make the week easier:

- Make and freeze some whole grain muffins, with lots of fruit, nuts and seeds for breakfast on the go.
-Make a batch of steel cut oats Monday night and portion out for the week with some dried fruit and hemp seeds. Just a splash of milk in the morning and heat!
- If the days are already cooling off where you are, make some delicious corn soup, a zesty chili or a roasted tomato stew. Fill lunch sized containers for the week and freeze a couple of portions for your emergency food stash. Serve with whole grain crackers and cheese.
- Cook a big batch of barley or brown rice to have for evening dinners as that is usually the meal component that takes the longest.

Check me out on The Fresh Sheet this month as Heather and I will be sharing our favourite lunch ideas to make brown baggin' it easy and fresh.

Enjoy the sun,

Monday, August 29, 2011

From Working to Mom to Working Mom

My new man...and me!

What a transition the last month has been; I went back to my day job on August 2nd and it has been a whirlwind. Instead of long days spent with my son, there are long days commuting to and from work. Leisurely daily shopping trips to the grocery store for dinner supplies have been replaced by full tilt weekly meal planning and grocery shopping sessions each Sunday evening (after e has gone to bed!). 

I am wading into the water that countless women have before me...that transformation from working to mom to working mom. At this early stage one of the biggest challenges I feel is that time is just rushing at me. I am no longer calmly observing the horizon but hurtling forward at breakneck pace trying to avoid the obstacles. Each day I build more skills and learn to navigate the challenges but I am definitely not there yet. My treasured workouts have disappeared. My love of dreaming up new and interesting ideas for dinner each night have fallen to the wayside and those super basic, go-to 20 minute meal ideas are the new mealtime staples. 

Someone once told me that the 'daycare years' are the biggest challenge in a person's life. Balancing work, caring for children, taking care of a home, time with a spouse and (if there is ANYTHING left) time for yourself is quite the juggling act. I keep wishing that there were just 2 extra hours in a day that no one else knew about, just for me. I know exactly how I would spend them: I would workout, read a book and maybe even paint my toenails.

It would be easy to turn on auto pilot. And some days, I certainly feel that is how I operate. But there is something else to be said for continued commitment to living well. It is not about perfection; it is about continuing to value your health (it carried you this far) and building habits that you can model for your children. Endless take out dinners turn into a taste for junk food. Nights crashed out on the sofa create kids who rarely go outside and stare at screens all day. All of these considerations are still so new to me. It was not that long ago that if I didn't feel like making dinner, we went out. If we ran out of yogurt, I didn't have to worry about what someone else would eat at snack time. If I skipped a couple of workouts, I knew I would get back on track the next week. My choices are not just my own now; they have an impact on a very impressionable little boy. That realization is both humbling and at times, a little frightening.

As a dietitian, I am constantly working with families to help them make healthy eating easy and realistic for busy lives. I am breathing a sigh of relief to find that many of my strategies actually work. When you have a young family, this may not be the time for three course dinners on a Tuesday night but that doesn't mean that you have to resort to take out. My ultimate strategy is planning ahead. I now plan my week's meals on Sunday and make a grocery list and then head out to the store. The whole routine takes just over an hour and it makes eating well Monday through Friday effortless. The week's meals are posted on the fridge so that my husband, who gets home earlier than I do, can start the meal. 

While I cook a lot from memory and inspiration (when my brain is functioning enough to be creative), I also am constantly looking for new recipe inspiration. One of the most frequent requests I get at work is from people looking for recipes. You will find my recipes here and on my new blog, The Fresh Sheet, but there are endless sources on the web for great, family friendly meal ideas. 

Healthy Families BC is a new website that is sponsored by the Government of BC that is devoted to building resources for families to take control of their health. I love that our vision of health care in BC is finally embracing a preventative approach. As a dietitian, I know the power of taking care of yourself so I really like supporting any initiative that shares this philosophy. Healthy Families has started a library of family friendly recipes that are healthy and simple. 

While the workouts may still be on hold, this summer I have been treasuring walks on the seawall with my family. The fresh air always calms my little one during that early evening fussy spell and the walk together as a family means that we don't have to sacrifice together time for a bit of fitness. I vow to get back to get back to my workouts soon but sometimes you have to choose between your blog post and your exercise routine. Guess who won today? 

I would love to hear your favourite strategies for staying sane and healthy with your family. And I have a little incentive to sweeten the deal. Healthy Families BC  has generously offered Eat Drink Be Happy readers a $250 dollar Lululemon gift card because there is no better incentive to get healthy than some new duds. 

To win, all you have to do is like Healthy Families BC on Facebook AND leave a comment below to share your favourite weeknight dinner. I will announce the winner on September 26 since that is my birthday. Wait, it's my birthday but you will get the present? That seems fair enough!

Here is to figuring it all out,