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.