Monday, June 27, 2011 Vancouver

Dangerous Goods Inside...

I attended the Dietitians of Canada National Conference in Edmonton, where Liane Faulder, writer for the Edmonton Journal, helpfully shared her favourite foodie spots for all us hungry dietitians. Inspired, a friend and I were chatting about where to eat in Vancouver and she half jokingly suggested that I write my own list. Careful what you wish it current 10 favourite places to grab a bite or a drink (in no particular order, most definitely subject to change) in Vancouver!

1. Cafeteria Cafeteria is that perfect combination of intimate, friendly, delectable, seasonal and (gasp!) a good value. I have literally NEVER had a bad meal here and given that it is within stumbling distance of home, I go here a reasonable amount. 

2. La Taqueria Mmmm....tacos. Real, authentic tacos. 'Nuff said. 

3. Finch's Tea House The baguette sandwiches are transcendent. The cookies are the size of your face.

4. Ganache Patisserie Owner Peter Fong does ridiculous things with pastry. I don't care much for sweets, unless they come from Ganache. Never met a treat I didn't like here.

5. Judas Goat At last! A real tapas bar. Not a "funky decor, $22 for a boring plate with 1 oz of food on it" bar. Love the tiny, intimate space. Bold flavours, awesome wine list. 

6. L'Abattoir Gastown is rocking the food world right now. L'Abattoir has a great room, great service, inventive food and they actually take reservations.

7. Gene This is where I go for coffee...some of the best in town. And they definitely make the best mocha in town for my taste. I hate sweet stuff (see #4) and their mocha tastes like cocoa, not sickly sweet chocolate sauce. 

8. Nuba Healthy, tasty and affordable. The good eats trifecta. Now open in the hipper-than-you Waldorf Hotel.

9. Campagnolo Still my favourite pizza in Vancouver. You MUST try the crispy ceci.

10. Bao Bei Want to impress your guests with how stylish and cosmopolitan Vancouver is? This is the spot. Think vintage modern Chinese with kicka@@ cocktails. Yum. 

Time to eat!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

UnDiet...Week 23+24

Hello UnDieters! 

You know when you are swimming lengths in a full size pool and in the middle of the lane the water gets a bit rough and choppy and it is a bit of a slug to get through it? I think that is where I am at with the UnDiet. I was considering bowing out early but I think that it is important to keep things going. Because these posts, like being on a healthy living journey, go through ups and downs. So I am going to stick with it, if you are going to stick with me!

So for this week (and last), let's do something bold. Can you handle going without an sweetened drinks for a whole week? Yes!! A whole week. That is no soda, no sweet tea, no mocha hazelnut frappucinos, no margaritas. Yikes. 

This challenge will separate the big kahunas from the teenie wahines. Sugar is all pervasive in our society and drinking sweetened drinks is a huge contributor to obesity. Blah, blah, blah. We all know it. Time to put our money where are mouths are. Who may even come out of this week looking pretty darn good on the beach.

Since I like to focus on what you can is a list of "Green Light" bevvies:

- coffee and tea, plain or with milk or veggie alternative. Think iced skim latte instead of coffee frap
- plain ol' water or club soda or seltzer or carbonated mineral water
- beer or wine (although if you go too crazy on the hooch, you probably won't shed pounds. if that is okay with you it is okay with me!)
- unsweetened liquor like vodka (watch out, some have added sugar!) or gin, with club soda or neat, you stallion, you!
- plain coconut water
- milk, soy milk, almond milk....all the veg milks but only UNSWEETENED versions

This could be a rough one, folks. But I believe in you. It is time to cut the sweet tooth. If you like the way you feel this week, try and keep it going all summer long.

In good health,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lawns to Loaves...Home Grown in Vancouver

In today's Globe and Mail newspaper, there is an article about Andrea Bellamy's Lawns to Loaves Project that examines the impact of city food production and the politics of supporting local food. Andrea is growing wheat in the city - it's not much: enough to make a few hyper local loaves of bread. What I find fascinating is how radical such a project seems to some. 

There was a point in time that growing food was just a part of daily life, like taking out the trash and making dinner. It says a lot about the world we live in that we are examining "the point" of growing food and that some in local politics could think of such a project as "goofy". That our mayor could be ridiculed for caring about local food and not city "basics" shows me that we have lost our way. Feeding ourselves is basic. Without a healthy food supply, our city would wither away and the exciting fabric of creativity and innovation and culture that our city stands for would cease to exist. While it is reasonable to argue that those of sufficient income will never starve, eating a diet that is filled with manufactured food starves our cells and the result is disease, which is not exactly an ideal outcome. And, while not an inevitability, food crisis is always a threat as mother nature doesn't always grace us with the ideal growing conditions to feed a ballooning population.

If we are to reconnect to food and make it meaningful, getting serious about growing within the city limits is vital. As a new mom, I do not want my child to think that food is a sterile commodity. I grew up knowing that blackberry bushes could prick, dirt was good for you and that salt and slugs were a particularly entertaining combination. Food knowledge is fundamental for an evolved society. Our children should be able to see food around them, whether they live in the city, suburbs or country.

Let's spend less time in debate and more time growing, eating and sharing.

Get Growing, Vancouver.

Read the full article on Globe and Mail

Sunday, June 12, 2011

UnDiet...Week 22

Hello UnDieters!

Enjoying summer yet? Warm days have us leaning towards lighter fare and markets are bursting with summer fresh produce. Talk about a match made in heaven: just when the bounty of summer is reaching its peak we stop craving beef stews and start salivating over berries. It is time to take advantage of farm fresh produce and start feasting on fruits and veggies all day long. So this week, I want to challenge you to eat a salad at least twice for your lunch or dinner. Don't just add a side salad to your meal - I want the salad to be the main event. Salads are an amazing way to eat a nutrient dense and low calorie meal and ensure that you get your minimum servings of antioxidant loaded fruits and veggies. Beware, not all salads are created equal: croutons, iceberg and ranch dressing do not a power food make. Follow my five steps to a healthy salad and pick up your favourites at the farmer's market or local grocer. Need more inspiration? Check out some great recipes on the web!

Power Up: 5 Steps to a Nutritious and Filling Salad

1. Punk up your greens. Skip the iceberg and go for greens with attitude. Spinach, baby kale, arugula, mache...whatever you like. Pile on a few big handfuls. They deliver hyper nutritious, practically no calorie filler.
2. Add Super Veggies. The bulk of your salad should be 1 - 11/2 cups of chopped multicoloured veggies. Add whatever floats your boat, from radishes to tomatoes, snap peas to artichoke hearts.
3. Pump up the Protein. Add a full serving of protein with 2 hard boiled eggs, 3/4 cup of beans (a super filling addition thanks to extra fibre) or 3 oz of chicken or fish.
4. Drizzle on the Healthy Oils. Use a tablespoon of a natural salad dressing, preferably made with olive oil or cold pressed canola. The quickest way to dress your salad is 1/2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice with a hit of salt and pepper. If taking the salad for lunch, carry the dressing in a separate container and dress prior to eating so your salad doesn't wilt.
5. Texture. Add crunch and variety with a tablespoon of raw nuts or seeds, from cashews to flax to'll add nutrients and healthy fats. If you like, add a tablespoon or two of crumbled feta or chevre or try some dried apricots or cranberries!

Enjoy the sun,

Friday, June 10, 2011


Rhubarb Compote with a little Greek Yogurt and Nature's Path Hemp Granola

At the Trout Lake Farmer's Market last weekend, I bought four hulking stalks of rhubarb, which I promptly forgot about in the fridge until Wednesday. So how to revive it? Make a super easy compote. It is so delicious and easy to eat. I ate it over yogurt and granola for breakfast, downed it by the spoonful and even made it into popsicles. 

Cardamon Scented Rhubarb Compote

4 large stalks (2 lbs) of local rhubarb
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweetener of your choice ( I used good old fashioned sugar)
Ground Cardamon and Cinnamon to taste (start with 1/8 tsp each and work your way up)

Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and combine with water and sweetener in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Add spices and then slowly simmer for about 15 minutes for flavours to blend. Stir occasionally and the rhubarb should breakdown and the mixture should be like a loose jam. Let cool and then refrigerate or eat on the spot!

To make into popsicles, simply fill molds and freeze. OR....I mixed about a cup of the mixture with a shot of vodka and then filled the molds. Vodka and rhubarb and popsicles? Most definitely.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

UnDiet...Week 21

Hello UnDieters,

I hope you are enjoying the summer sun. Did you get out to the farmers market today? My friends Heather, Melissa and I visited the Trout Lake market in Vancouver and I can't wait to show you the result of our trip. Hopefully in a week or two...

For today, however, let's talk UnDiet. With all that gorgeous summer produce out there, the same old crackers or pasta just won't cut it. You need a worthy grain to show off next to those heirloom tomatoes. So this week's challenge is to try a new whole grain. While some of us still might view grains as unneccessary carbs, let me differentiate a true whole grain from mere starch.

When research on the health benefits of whole grains started surfacing, manufacturers responded by adding "whole grains" to their products. Across the supermarket, "made with whole grain!" shouted at you from breads, granola bars, cereals and even yogurts. This marketing classic can be very deceptive: made WITH whole grain doesn't mean 100%. There is no guarantee how much whole grain you are getting. Technically, a product can be considered a whole grain if it contains all three parts of the original grain: the endosperm, the germ and the bran.Looking for a food made from 100% whole grains is a step in the right direction; however, eating intact whole grains is not the same as eating sugary cereals, aka candy, with added fibre.  However, you can then pulverize, gelatinize and puff up and sweeten the grain however you want to and still sell yourself as whole grain goodness. But whole grain Ritz crackers are not the same as cooking up some barley.

Intact, unprocessed whole grains are slowly digested, providing sustained energy that won't spike blood sugars. They are rich in minerals and vitamins and contain antioxidant phytochemicals. They also provide protein and fibre to help you feel satisfied. Most crackers, granola bars and pasta just spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry. Intact, unprocessed whole grains are a true superfood that are well worth the calories. They are also economical, great for any healthy eater on a budget.

For this week, go to your bulk bins or grains aisle and choose something you haven't cooked with before. Try barley as a base for risotto, black rice for a rich twist on traditional sushi, buckwheat toasted in a salad, amaranth sprinkled over berries and yogurt or even teff baked into a homemade granola bar. Teff??? Oh yes, get ready to be surprised by how many whole grains are out there that you haven't heard of before. Many grains cook up just like rice, but not all, so check out this cooking chart from dietitian Leslie Beck's website for water proportions and cooking time.

Note! Couscous is not a is a pasta. Ditto orzo. And buckwheat is not wheat.

I would love to hear how you used your grains this week....enjoy!