Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eat...and cook with good oils

Given that I work for a grocery store, I do a lot of nutrition tours and field a lot of questions regarding how to choose better quality foods. One of the most common areas of concern is healthy cooking oils. As it should be. The quality of oils we choose greatly affects our health and so much of what is out there on the shelves (and hidden in our food) is terrible for you. 

So I was quite excited when my friend Lori shared a link to a resource that puts cooking oils in their place. The chart, created by Andy Bellatti RD and Andrew Wilder can be found here. Andy, a registered dietitian, also created a complementary post about the science behind the chart. Take a peek...and if you still have any questions, post a comment!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eat, Drink and Be Happy...Finding Yoga on Your Plate, Part Two

Food has changed. Once upon a time, we rarely thought much about what we ate; now there is so much context sitting on the end of our fork that it can be almost too heavy to lift. When we sit down to a meal, any number of questions can appear on our plates. Was the food grown close to home, supporting local farmers and putting less fossil fuels into the atmosphere? Were these fish farmed, spreading disease in our oceans? Should we be eating animal foods at all? What about all this GMO corn, is there some in this breakfast cereal? 

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is new meaning to the practice of ahimsa, or non-harming, where our food choices are concerned. How can we nourish our bodies and our spirits without causing undue harm? Here are some of my thoughts...take from them what you will. I hope they will encourage you to think about what it means to you to tread a little more lightly on the planet.

Eat plant-based meals. Whether this means a meatless Monday each week, a few vegetarian meals a week or transitioning to a completely vegan diet; eating fewer animal foods conserves energy and is good for your health. Consider meat as a condiment at any meal: building your meals around whole grains and vegetables, with meat as feature, is more sustainable from both an economical and an environmental sense.

Choose animal foods wisely. Cheese, one of my favourite treats, is also one of the most resource-intensive animal foods because it requires a great deal of milk from a very energy-intensive animal (the cow). If you eat cheese, choose good quality cheese and savour it. Don't simply cover everything you eat in a fake-orange tinted rubbery substance.  

Give your food animals a happier and healthier life. Buy your meat and dairy from organic sources whenever possible and if you can, from farms that raise their animals ethically. In BC, we have the SPCA certification for farms. If you have a good butcher, they will know exactly how that meat came to be in their counter.

Reconsider "superfoods". So many exotic foods sold as super foods can come with a hefty price tag for the buyer, the planet and the grower. In developed nations, our pocketbooks rule and we can outbid local markets for access to staple foods. A good example is quinoa, which has grown so expensive that many local populations that once relied upon the food have been priced out of the market. In addition, all of these foods have to be transported from far away. If they have travelled by boat, the carbon output is light. But if that pineapple or mangosteen is "jet fresh"...When you do choose super foods, buy fair trade whenever possible.

Eat Fair. As I alluded to above, when purchasing foods grown in developing nations, we should be buying fair trade. Those that toil growing our food, particularly in countries far away, are at risk socially and economically; they rarely earn enough money to raise their families. We often think about fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate. What about quinoa, bananas or sugar? Ask your retailer for fair trade foods and vote with your dollar. 

Eat modestly. We overeat. Period. We do harm to our bodies as we disconnect from true hunger and force our body to process the extra food that it doesn't need; we damage our spirit as we use food  as a substitute for something else that is missing in our lives. All of that excess consumption, whether in food or material goods, causes waste and an increased demand for resources which puts undue strain on our environment. Think of the Japanese tenet, "Hara hachi bu." Eat until you are  80% full. There is plenty of food out there. No need to gorge in preparation for hard times.

Eat real food. Food can be medicine or it can be poison. We honour our bodies when we choose simple, wholesome foods that are prepared with love. When we continuously feed ourselves over-processed, nutrient poor foods such as fast foods and junky snack foods we rob our bodies of nutrients and force them to go into detox mode to clean up the mess we just served.

Savour your food. We eat multiple times daily. Each opportunity can be one for happiness and pleasure when we take the time to focus on eating. Don't just scarf down your food in front of your computer screen or television. Take a quiet moment to eat slowly and truly experience your food. This will help put your body into a relaxed state that will encourage proper digestion, reduce mindless overeating and help you appreciate and enjoy what you are eating. Enjoying your meals is one of the simplest ways to add joy to your day. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Be Happy...in Savannah

Enter the Hive...

I am usually a very organized traveller. Prior to arriving in a new locale, I have seen the websites, read the guidebooks and know exactly where to go and what to see so I can enjoy the place at my leisure, without ever looking back into a guidebook. Not that I stay bound to my plans...I just hate wandering through a neighbourhood, stomach rumbling, wondering where the heck I can eat that won't be disappointing or ridiculously over-priced. 

When I was in Savannah recently, I was as unprepared as I have ever been for a trip. Perhaps it was because I was so busy prior to departure; knowing I wouldn't have much free time to explore probably contributed to the decreased effort.  When I arrived I knew two things: that I wanted to check out the Savannah Bee Co., the new museum at the Savannah College of Art and Design and maybe do some Jivamukti yoga

So after my work was done at the conference and I set out into the streets, I had very little direction other than to wander the streets aimlessly. Luckily, Savannah has very beautiful streets. The city is organized around beautiful park-like squares and the streets are lined with old colonial buildings and homes. Here are some of my favourite finds in Savannah...

Grab a french lunch to go at Papillote and go sit in the sunshine at Forsyth Park; try modern southern cuisine at Vic's or Alligator Soul (where they won't laugh at you for being a vegetarian); get farm-focused and local at Noble Fare or Local 1110. I am not going to lie, good (read: fresh and chef-created) food is not exactly cheap in this city nor do they sympathize much with vegetarians. This crazy Vancouverite forgets how spoiled she is in this city.

As you wander the shops on Broughton St, stop in for a cookie or beautiful notebook at Sylvester & Co Modern General Store; pick up some candles fit for the (actual) queen or some mint julep cups at Paris Market; wander the design district for independent spirit, pick up art created by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design at the SCAD shop or sample (and buy!) local honey at Savannah Bee Co.

See y'all later,

PS...and if you are willing to do some research, the NY Times always has great features!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Be Happy...Postcards from Savannah

The second of my two rapid-fire trips south of the border was to Savannah, Georgia. I was speaking at the Canadian Health and Wellness Innovations Conference. Here are some snapshots of this truly beautiful little city....enjoy!

One of the city's romantic squares.

The view of the river from my room.

All those trees save you from the intense southern sun...

For an unexpected hit of modern...SCAD.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Be Happy...in Sin City

Flower child(ren)...

The first time I went to Las Vegas, I was practically dragged there kicking and screaming. I think my exact quote was, "Las Vegas exemplifies all that is wrong and excessive in American consumerist culture." Insert crow to eat, here. I loved it and have been happy to return; this trip was actually my third to the desert playground. However, Las Vegas has many faces. I don't gamble...if I am going to throw money away, I want to see some fancy shoes. Given my age, I also don't see the Vegas that involves getting sick outside a nightclub at 4AM. I love Las Vegas for the sheer spectacle: best people watching in the world. Especially when you aren't the one who just consumed one of those yard-long slushies. In fact, Las Vegas is a foodie dream - as long as you choose wisely. Skip the processed-to-death chain restaurant food. 

This time, we stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Loved the hotel and the location...not so much the service. I suppose what you get for staying at "the" hotel right now is to feel like they are doing you a bit of a favour. The hotel has some great restaurants though; apparently their buffet Wicked Spoon is the best in Las Vegas. We stuck to the more traditional, celebrity chef, route and went to both China Poblano and Jaleo by DC Chef Jose Andres. When we wanted a nice pub, we found The Pub from Todd English, of Olives fame. And no burger aficionado can go to Vegas without a stop at Burger Bar from Hubert Keller. Even if you are a vegan burger kind of girl, like me. Also in the Mandalay complex is the Border Grill, which is so fresh and delicious. 

We have seen a few shows in Vegas and this time, we finally saw O and Crazy Horse. Both were amazing. And since January was a crazy month, my friend and I left the men to shop as we went to the Sahra Spa. Do the hammam...you won't be disappointed! We even drove into the desert to do some poking around, with our friends who are geologists. Which lead us to discover this crazy place.

So just in case you were desperate for a weekend away...Las Vegas is just a 2 hour plane ride away! Eat your heart out...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be Happy...Postcards from Las Vegas

EDBH has been quiet for the last couple weeks because I have been doing a bit of travelling, which of course means that in the brief moments I have touched down at home, life has been hectic to say the least. So to keep you company, here are some lovely shots from the first of my two trip - Las Vegas. 

Just in case France is too far...

Even the fountains are bigger in Vegas.

Exotic flowers? No - the ceiling at the Belaggio!

Sandy Valley...with our friend the geologist :)

If it were warm enough to swim, I never would have left the pool!