Monday, November 16, 2009

A Local stores now!

Here it is folks! I am officially (self) published....A Local Table: the Choices Markets Cookbook launched at Choices Markets and Cookworks yesterday. It has been a labour of love over the past six months and it is amazing to finally see it in print. I hope you all love it!

The cookbook features 98 recipes by Choices Markets' executive chef, Antonio Cerullo. Antonio comes from an Italian fine dining background but he is a bit of a cowboy when it comes to food. No matter what we throw at him, from tofu to gluten free, raw foods to reinvented Italian classics, his flair for creating simple yet elegant and delicious meals that anyone can create makes his monthly cooking classes at our White Rock store pretty popular!

A Local Table reflects what Choices Markets is all about  - there is something for everyone! Many of the recipes are gluten free and there are plenty of meal ideas for the vegan, vegetarian or meatarian in your life. Each recipe is colour coded according to diet suitability and comes with nutrition facts to help make diet planning a snap, just in case you're counting calories....I prefer to count sheep, myself!

What makes this cookbook unique is that not only is it about local foods but it also focuses on what is local right where we live, here in BC. The recipes are divided amongst the seasons -yes, you really can eat local in February! To help prove it, our wonderful friends at Farm Folk/City Folk provided us with their Get Local Metro Vancouver map and they even created an Okanagan calendar for us too! So if you live in Kelowna, you can crack open our book and see that in November, you can get local cauliflower and garlic to make a curry. In Vancouver, you might take advantage of the local potatoes and leeks to make a soup to ward off the rainy days.

We have featured 4 amazing local farms in BC and other local businesses who are making healthy and sustainable food for our family tables. I have also written a section on sustainable nutrition that talks about how each one of us can help to reduce the carbon foot print of our meals every day.

If you are in the Lower Mainland this weekend, join us at Cookworks on West Broadway (near Granville) on Saturday, November 21st between 11:00AM and 4:00PM for our launch party or attend our Cooking Class at our White Rock store on Monday November 23rd (call the store to pre-register).

A Local Table is just $19.95...with $5 dollars from each book to Farm Folk/City Folk!

Let me know what you think of the book...and get cooking!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Good health depends on staying hydrated: water is the medium in which every single reaction in our bodies takes place. Unfortunately, should the urge to sip hit, there aren't a lot of healthy options on offer. Store shelves are stocked with a kaleidoscope of flavoured drinks that offer little more than sugar with preservatives and crayon box hues. Vitamin Water anyone? Kool-Aid with vitamins would still be Kool-Aid. Think about it!

Research shows that liquid calories are the worst offenders when it comes to weight gain because our bodies don't really register the energy intake like they do with a solid meal. So what's a health conscious drinker to do? We diligently shun any beverage with sugar...or fake sugar...or calories of any sort and drink loads of pure, simple water day in and day out (out of a BPA free reusable bottle). Which, truthfully, can get a little boring! Sometimes you need a little flavour...healthy flavour. The answer to your healthy drink quest? Tea!

Tea has a lot going for it: calorie free, much lower in caffeine than coffee and host to powerful disease busting antioxidants. So drink plenty of water...but when you need a little healthy flavour in your life - try one of these 5 great teas!

1. Oooli. Made right here in Vancouver, Oooli is all about oolong tea. What is great about Oooli is that it is real brewed tea, either plain (zero calories!) or lightly sweetened with fruit flavours. The highest calorie count is 80 calories for a 473mL serving and nothing artificial - which is waaaay less than other "iced teas" aka liquid glucose delivery systems. Flavour without the sugar hit!
2. Kombucha Wonder Drink. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been enjoyed for centuries...the nice people at Wonder Drink people have conveniently bottled it for us! Kombucha is celebrated for detoxifying and energizing properties (try it for yourself to see how you feel - I like it!) and at about 60 calories per 250 ml....the highest calorie count of all 5 teas on my list but not too bad in moderation. One note...I didn't realize that Wonder Drink pasteurizes their products, so unfortunately there are no live probiotics to benefit your gut health - but the products of fermentation (the organic acids purported to detoxify) still live on!
3. Numi Pu-erh Teas. Ever heard of Pu-erh? Pu-erh is a highly prized tea picked from very old tea trees which is then fermented for 60 days. The result is a rich, earthy taste and a higher antioxidant count than most green teas. Pu-erh is purported to have numerous health benefits (you can check them out on Numi's site)....apparently in Taiwan, Pu-erh is called the "skinny tea"! Any Taiwanese tea drinkers out there...let me know! Did I mention there is a chocolate flavour? Yum.
4. Red Espresso. Not that coffee is hideous for isn't really...but perhaps you are a latte lover looking to swap your bean for leaf? Red Espresso is calling! Red Espresso is a specially ground rooibos tea that can be used in your espresso machine or french press. Naturally caffeine free and antioxidant rich, long used in South Africa as a healthy beverage - rooibos tea has a sweet, rich flavour that definitely satisfies the coffee craving. You can buy Red Espresso in the shops and a few local cafes have started making tea lattes from it too.
5. Matcha. The classic green tea health beverage, matcha tea is a highly prized green tea that is ground into a vibrant green powder with a rich, grassy taste. Whisked with a small amount of hot water, matcha is traditionally drunk almost like an espresso shot and because you actually consume the tea leaves - matcha blows traditional green tea out of the water when it comes to antioxidant levels. A bit of an acquired taste....but matcha is where it's at.

To your health!

PS....just in case you are wondering, no one paid me to talk about their products...but the nice folks at Oooli did supply me with the photo when I asked...these are all drinks I actually love!

Sunday, October 18, 2009 Habit

Welcome back Habit! For those of you unfamiliar with Habit on Main St...sadly, 10 months ago this great restaurant had a fire and closed down for a while. It is reopened with a refocused theme and menu and finally (I seriously don't get out much nowadays...) my husband and I tried it out this previous Friday.

For those of you who went to Habit version 1.0 - you will be relieved to note that they still have the amazing carrot and brie pierogies.

The room now looks like an ultra sultry take on the 70's rumpus room (kind of how you always imagined it looking as a nocturnal teenager) complete with a comfort food packed menu. The cocktail list features the classics reinvented (sex on the beach, deconstructed bento box style so you can shake your own? YES!) and a big list of Canadian whiskey...because is there a single one of us who doesn't crave a Crown and coke every once and a while?

We started with a smoked onion and white bean hummus...and yum! I love hummus but I never expect that anyone can do anything really that exciting with it. A little extra garlic or spice, but that is about it. Well, the smoked onion gave the dip and incredible flavour and it was served with fry bread. I know that I shouldn't be condoning fry bread but it was so bloody good how can you say no?

For the main course, my husband had tuna casserole (OceanWise of course!) and I had the vegetarian shepherd's pie. Jim loved the casserole, super rich, creamy and indulgent. The shepherd's pie was just what I wanted: silky lentils, rich and filling, topped with a potato-parsnip hash. And enough fibre to ensure your digestive system hums for days afterwards. I promise to start bringing my camera when I eat so I can snap some shots of the gorgeous food.

So if you are looking to support an awesome local restaurant, give the chains a break for the night and get cozy at Habit. 2610 Main St.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 boost your immune system

Nothing like getting caught up after a vacation to cut into your blogging time but I am back! Since we are running head first into probably the most interesting cold and flu season we have experienced in recent memory (H1N1 anyone?)I thought it fitting to spend some time talking about how we can boost our immunity with good nutrition.

Now, I don't think anyone can hear this enough...washing your hands constantly and not touching your face is a massive step towards stemming the spread of cold and flu germs but building a healthy strong body through good nutrition can help you fight off whatever little bug may come your way.

Let's take this step by step...and talk first about probiotics. Yogurt has been considered a health food for literally thousands of years. Revered in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a "food of the gods", the secret to yogurt's success is fermentation by lactic acid forming bacteria. It was Dr Elie Metchnikoff in the early 1900s that popularized the health giving benefits of yogurt in the West, believing that the healthy bacteria in yogurt fought disease causing critters and normalized bowel habits.

Clinical research is mixed on the health benefits of probiotics, which probiotic strains are best and the dosage but probiotics are typically taken to encourage a healthy mix of bacteria in the colon. The link to our immune system is one of a healthy barrier. Believe it or not, our gut (from mouth to you-know-what) is actually the outside of our body...what? Yup, our gut is a first line defense against the outside world much like our skin is. So keeping our gut barrier healthy (and discouraging disease causing bacteria from setting up camp in our colon) theoretically helps to strengthen our immune defenses.

Researchers have learned that our gut health is regulated by the bacteria that live within us. A newer concept in GI medicine is one of gut barrier integrity, or "leaky gut": the idea being that if our gut is unhealthy, the cells which are supposed to be a barrier to the outside world become "leaky", allowing food particles and bugs that have no business getting through the velvet ropes to crash the party. The result is inflammation, infection and potentially food and gut hypersensitivity. It is thought that probiotics may reduce inflammation as a whole by downregulating inflammatory messengers called cytokines and therefore gut sensitivity.

If you want to learn more and like reading original scientific articles (and really, who doesn't), see this great 2009 review article here: . By the way, I love it when journals offer free access to their thank you Journal of Gastroenterology :)

To supplement or not? As a dietitian, I am always a food first kind of girl but I have been known to take a probiotic supplement if feeling like I have been "hit with a bug". However, then the question becomes "which brands can I trust?". This is where things get a little tricky. A 2004 study done at UBC looked at 10 common over-the-counter probiotic supplements and not a single one of them met the specifications shown on the label. 50% of them didn't even contain the bacterial strain they claimed on the label. What is frustrating is that the researchers declined to name the brands - which I would really like to know. If a company is saying one thing and selling another, customers should have the right to know! Here is the study URL if you want to check it out for yourself. . If you do want to take a supplement, make sure you enlist the help of someone knowledgeable who knows the brands.

My personal probiotic prescription for better health? 3/4 cup of plain nonfat organic yogurt daily. Keep it simple (and get a boost of protein and calcium along with your probiotics!). Remember, it was yogurt that has been revered as a health food...not the individual strains it may or may not contain (not yet at least!).

There is a lot of bad yogurt on the shelves - filled with gelatin and other stabilizers, colours, flavours and other gunk that you don't need. Good yogurt should be milk and live active bacterial cultures. Like it a little sweet? Add a bit of honey or maple syrup or better yet, try one of my favourite healthy snacks: take a half cup frozen blueberries, add yogurt and put in your lunch box along with some hemp seed and organic bran. By mid morning, the berries will have thawed and juiced up the yogurt better than any premixed stuff. Mix in the other goodies for some fibre and healthy omega 3 fats!

A bientot,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Be Happy...Paris

I don't care what anyone says...Parisians were awesome. In 5 days, only two people annoyed the heck out of me; the rest of the time, Parisians were gracious hosts in an absolutely beautiful city. Both occurrences had something to do with a train station so I will happily shrug it off. You also can't smoke in restaurants in Paris anymore so the smoking wasn't even a big deal.

I thought I would finally close my Paris adventure notes with the other two things I came to Paris for: art and shopping.

My 5 favourite places to shop (or window shop...Paris is not cheap!)

1. Uniqlo. Okay, I am stretching a little because Uniqlo wasn't actually open yet but of all the cool things to come out of Japan...this is Japan's chic answer to GAP. The are featuring a Jil Sander capsule collection so vite! vite! vite! 17 Avenue de l'Opéra (Metro: Pyramides)
2. Galleries Lafayette. This is a Paris department store? Oy...way too much good stuff. I thought my head might explode. Printemps, across the street and my friend Celine's preference, has Laduree which might give it the edge but Galleries Lafayette is a classic. 40 Boulevard Haussmann (By the Opera Garnier)
3. Isabel Marant 47 rue de Saintonge in the Marais and 4. Vanessa Bruno 100 Vielle du Temple in the Marais. Both of these are my favourite stores for clothes in Paris. Think cool Parisienne girl's closet. Worth the splurge!
5. Colette. Colette is the place where they decide what is cool and we all buy it up. It is the original "emporium": everything from music to perfume to limited edition trainers. Be schooled here. 213 Rue St Honore

We bought a museum pass and if you really want to see some art I highly recommend it. Like it said in our guidebook, you either have a museum pass or you wait in line! And with 60 sites to visit, if you only feel like seeing the Mona Lisa and then escaping the throngs of tourists - you don't really feel bad because you didn't pay full price...

My 5 favourite sites in far! Maybe not the "insider's view" of Paris but if you are first timer like me, you have got to see these...

1. The Louvre...maddening crowds...worth it for a peak at Mona Lisa's smile
2. Centre George Pompidou...modern style
3. Sacre beautiful, perched above Montmartre
4. The Eiffel Tower...nothing like seeing it up close
5. Champs Elysee...not so much for the gap, nike and adidas...but for the grand boulevard, flanked by the arc de triomphe and the tuileries gardens

Next, on to Provence!

A bientot,

Monday, September 14, 2009 Paris

On to are a few that I was lucky enough to dine at plus a few that are highly recommended by others that I didn't get a chance to!

France really isn't for vegetarians; I find it a challenge to find totally meat free dishes while trying to dine with abandon(eating around the meat has become a bit of a norm). For those who prefer meals untainted by meat, salads, pastas, pizzas and soups will be your staples. There are also a small number of vegetarian restaurants I noted wandering the streets...I will highlight places I got a completely meat free meal...

One of my favourite aspects of culture and exploration of other cultures is that surrounding our food choices and norms. Most interesting in France is the utmost respect for good food and dining - and they manage to have such without the slightest hint for our North American excess. This is an excess which they notably detest and it might be best when in France not to note the "small" portion sizes :) For those of you used to dining at the Cheesecake Factory, take note! The portion sizes in France are the ones we should be eating...and with the quality of food here, bursting with flavour, you might be surprised to find yourself completely satisfied!

Should you find yourself wandering the streets of Paris, it is important to know that meal service is at very definite times - lunch is generally 12:00 - 2:00 and dinner from 7:00 - 9:00 or 10:00. Try and get a meal outside those times and you might find yourself with a closed restaurant or only a crepe at a restaurant with "service continue"(see my previous post for good street food options).

Meal times are to be enjoyed at a leisurely rate, with good wine and conversation. The French also strongly believe in the multicourse menu and the Menu or Formule is a 2 or 3 course which is also usually the freshest and the best deal. Amazingly, because of the proper portions, you can leave a 3 course meal here about the same degree of stuffed as after a single main course at home. Also nice, you can get demi bouteilles of wine. Your own bottle...just half the size. Very civilized at lunch ;)

So, on to the restaurants...

1. Les Cocottes 135 rue St Dominique 7th arr (Metro: Ecole Militaires) This restaurant from chef Christian Constant is a chic take on French comfort food. The "cocotte" is a pot...stuffed with delicious French home cooking. They even offered a young vegetable pot that tasted of the freshest "pulled from the ground" peas, carrots and new potatoes. A must have is the fabulous tart or la fabuleuse tarte. Yup, its pretty fantastic...and it's chocolate.
2. Au Pied de Cochon 6 rue Coquillier (Metro: Chatelet Les Halles) This restaurant is pretty legendary in boasts that it has not closed its doors since it opened in 1947 and there may not even be a key to those doors. The place is open 24 hours and it is classic Paris bistro. Not for the meat timid...I had to push aside the Chicken in my salad.
3. Higuma 32 rue Ste Anne 1st arr (Metro: Pyramides) I found this Japanese ramen shop in the Paris Shopping Guide that the tourist info centres provide. It is super close to the Louvre and is pretty well stocked with locals...which is always a good sign. The Yasai Ramen is the vegetarian choice. Nothing beats a bowl of noodles (yes, Connie!) to restore your energy after a long slog on the pavement.
4. I also had a lovely meal at a restaurant near the Sacre Coeur...I will ask my Parisien friends the name so I can let you all know about it.

A few restaurants that I found highly recommended but didn't get a chance to visit...

1. Chez Janou 2 rue Roger Verlomme (near the Bastille)
2. Zoe Bouillion 66 rue Rebeval (in Belleville)
3. Lao Siam 49 rue Belleville (in Belleville)
4. La poule au pot 9 rue Vauvilliers (at Les Halles)

I am not sure if my next hotel will have stay tuned for my notes from Provence and Cote d'Azur!

A bientot,

Sunday, September 13, 2009 Paris has to be said that the French know food. The thing that amazes me most is that places we would expect to be run of the mill turn out the most incredible products. Ugly yellow awning? Amazing ratatouille! On a dingy looking street? Best croissant d'amande in Paris!Not only has Paris been all that I could have imagined it to be, the food is even better. And I do know food. While Paris isn't exactly a cheap city (beware the $5 cafe au lait) - you can get by "on the cheap" if you do as the Parisiennes do and make a pique nique. People here will sit out any number of gorgeous gardens or on the canal. You can make a couple of quick stops and then eat under the sun. Important to note - it is totally acceptible to drink wine with your picnic; buy a bottle at a wine shop and then wander into a cafe and ask them to open it for you!

The next couple of posts will be a few brief food notes from my 4 days in recommendations to follow tomorrow.

Five things you must eat/drink in Paris (and then walk off later!)

1. it croissant, pain au chocolate or tarte d'abricot. I am not a big fan of sweets or pastry at all - but I can't get enough here. Patisserie is a way of life; on every street corner you will find an independent patisserie with a vast selection of the best pastry you will find. Anywhere. Look for a shop that has a few people in it (at lunch or when school lets out...about 4:30) and then select at will. Patisserie also makes for a cheap lunch en plein air.
2. Un croque madame or monsieur....monsieur for the grilled cheese and ham; madame has an egg on top. Available at any sandwich shop.
3. Paris, meal service is at strict times - during the non meal hours, crepes are one of your only options at a cafe or on the street. Nutella for the sweet fans....ham and emmenthal for the savoury (although I just had chevre and fig confiture which was pretty amazing)
4. Kir....there is nothing more civilized than cocktail hour in Paris. Before dinner, plunk yourself down at any cafe and order un kir, which is white wine with cassis (or peach or raspberry liquer if you must). Cocktails are absurdly expensive in France and this is the perfect aperitif. Sit out as the Parisiens do and watch the world go by.
5. Macaroons from Laduree....75 avenue des Champs Elysees (metro stop Georges V). Not cheap; 4 tiny macaroons will run you 8 euros but come on, you must indulge once in a while and laduree is the ultimate expression of posh sweets in Paris.
6. Quiche....really? Yes really! Quiche in North America tends to be a rather heavy dish and taste like a thick omelette. I have no idea how the french make it the texture of silk, as if the whole thing were made of whipped cheese and the flavours are infused into it rather than floating in it. Not low fat. From the Patisserie or cafe

Thank goodness for walking for 8 hours a far the fancy Lagerfeld jeans still fit!

I will blog tomorrow with some restaurant recommendations, should the wi-fi (wee fee en francais) hold out.

A votre sante,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eat...dulce de leche

This one is for Jerome and is my super easy (but time consuming) recipe for dulce de leche!

Dulce de leche is a South American milk caramel that is made from sweetened condensed milk. When I was in Argentina, I found the locals smothering this on medialunas for a sugar charged breakfast, in crepes for dessert and as a filling for yummy traditional cookies called alfajores (If you are going to Buenos Aires, stop by Havana Cafe to buy multiple boxes of these cookies. Don't share.)

Feeling nostalgic and in need of a treat...I discovered this fool proof way to make your own dulce de leche without slaving over a hot stove stirring away. This is a good thing to make in advance; pop in a movie while you are waiting for it to transform.

You will need:

1 can of sweetened condensed milk such as Eagle Brand
1 heavy medium sized soup pot with a well fitting lid
1 electric or stove top kettle
3 hours to hang out...


1. Remove label from can and place in pot, unopened. Fill pot with water to cover can by just about 1 cm.
2. Bring water to a boil and set timer for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, boil a kettle of water and add boiling water to pot, as needed to restore original water levels. If the water level gets too low - it, and your pot will explode. Bad news.
3. Repeat step 2 five more times, for a total boiling time of 3 hours.
4. After 3 hours, remove pot from heat and replace water with lukewarm tap water and allow to cool for 1 hour.
5. Move can with an oven mitt if still hot and place in fridge for 2 + hours.

DO NOT attempt to open can until it is completely cold otherwise you will burn yourself as the dulce de leche spits out when you try to open the can. Believe me. It hurt and I learned my lesson.

Serve dulce de leche with sliced banana and apple as a great dessert. This makes an easy potluck option as all you have to do is open the can, scoop out and cut up some fruit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weight Loss Tip: Eat High Fibre Foods

You won’t see me selling the crash diet mentality…or endorsing some crazy acai cleanse. If you have ever dieted and regained more than once, you know that it is no way to live. The kind of strict lifestyle it requires to get serious poundage off fast kind of sucks the fun out of living. And I bet that the faster you take the pounds off, the faster you are going to run for an extra large pizza to help you put the pounds back on. I am a big fan of the little change…pounds are gained and lost by a hundred calories here, fifty calories there. If you have a lot of weight to lose in order to reach a healthy weight, you will probably want to make more than one change at a time. But if you only have ten or fifteen pounds to lose, why not take the “slow and steady” approach to weight loss and commit to making small, permanent changes?

One of the most important changes we can make for our health is switching to high fibre foods. The average Canadian only eats about 14 grams of fibre per day but a woman needs 25 grams and a man needs 38 grams of fibre each day. Why bother with roughage?

Fibre is like a workout for your gut: it adds bulk to your stools which helps to tone the gut and ensure that all of that gunk moves through your system quickly. Why is that so important? It’s waste, right? What happens if you leave your kitchen garbage sitting too long….now imagine that inside of you. Enough said! Eating fibre is filling and when you are trying to lose weight, you want to feel full so you are less likely to eat more. Fibre also helps keep your blood sugars in check which prevents huge spikes in insulin – a barrier to weight loss.

Here are some simple ideas to increase your fibre intake…try them one at a time and be sure to drink lots of water. Your body needs a bit of time to adjust to additional fibre (and plenty of water to make sure you don’t get constipated!).

1. Switch to a sprouted grain bread like Silver Hills. Sprouted grain bread generally has 5 grams of fibre and 5 grams of protein per slice. Regular whole wheat bread rarely has more than 2 grams of fibre per slice. Sprouted grain bread will really fill you up – a sandwich with sprouted grain bread will ring in at 10 grams of fibre before the side dishes…that is more than 1/3 of a woman’s daily intake.
2. Eat bran buds. Seriously, they’re a dietitian’s best friend. Nature’s Path makes Smart Bran which has 13 grams of fibre but per 90 calorie, 2/3 cup serving. Stir this into some yogurt for a super filling weight loss snack.
3. Eat ½ cup of beans every day. Beans, beans, beans….anyone who knows me is sick of hearing me talk about beans. So why aren’t you eating them? Beans are the richest food source of fibre: a half cup of black beans has 8 grams of fibre. A half cup of chick peas has 6 grams. There are tons of recipes for bean rich main dishes but you can also cheat and add beans to almost anything….salads, premade soups, casseroles or even rice side dishes.
4. Switch to whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is an easy swap; thin pastas like spaghetti or linguine have an easier-to-love texture than shapes like penne. An 85 gram serving (a quarter of most spaghetti boxes) has 8 grams of fibre….
5. Snack on apples, berries and pears. Not only are they local in many parts of North America…they are also the fruits with the highest fibre (Pears are highest at 5 grams).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nutrition Spotlight: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the current darling of the nutrition world: a PUBMED search for “vitamin D” reveals over 9000 studies just in the last five years. So what is so special about vitamin D?

Dietitians, including myself, believe quite strongly that we can meet our dietary needs with a “food first” approach. Yet vitamin D is unique because there isn’t much of it to be had in our food supply. The only significant source of vitamin D comes from wild caught salmon. Vitamin D is also added to milk at a dose of 100 International Units (IU) per cup; it would take a lot of milk to reach what most experts agree is a physiological daily dose of the vitamin.

For many years, vitamin D has been dismissed as a supporting role to calcium in the story of our bone health: get a bit of vitamin D and you will absorb calcium for strong bones. However, we now know that there are vitamin D receptors all over our body including in the brain, breast, heart and prostate. Where there is a receptor…there is a function. So researchers set out to look for it.

Epidemiological studies, which look at patterns in disease in populations, have found that people living in higher latitudes had a greater risk of dying of certain cancers and a greater risk of certain auto-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. What is common among people living further away from the equator is that they receive less sunlight – and bright, direct sunlight turns a cholesterol-like molecule in our skin to vitamin D. As a result of this early work, researchers began clinical studies to test for direct relationships to vitamin D.

What they found is that vitamin D is more than just a co-factor in calcium absorption. Vitamin D plays a role in cell cycle regulation and immune function as well. As a result, research is ongoing to look at the role of vitamin D for cancer prevention and treatment, auto-immune diseases, blood sugar regulation, heart health, weight loss and even depression. While future research may moderate some of these early hopes, learning that vitamin D is a far more important player in our overall health is good reason to ensure that we get enough of it.

While current recommendations are 200IU per day, most experts recommend that all school age children and adults take 1000IU of vitamin D3 every single day. It is important not to take more than that, as there is the small chance for over - accumulation because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Ideally, your physician would do a simple blood test to ensure you are not deficient in vitamin D and that you are taking enough to keep your blood level at a safe and therapeutic level.

The Institute of Medicine, the body that creates the national recommendations for daily intakes of nutrients is currently reviewing their recommendations and it is expected that recommendations for vitamin D will officially increase.

Note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified health professional. Please speak with your registered dietitian to ensure that vitamin D is right for you.

Reference: Holick, M. and Chen, T. Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87(suppl):1080S-6S
Institute of Medicine.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The ABCs of Nutrition

A is for Apple...long overlooked as a health food, an apple a day just might keep the doctor away.

Apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fibre that helps to stabilize blood sugars and lower cholesterol. Fibre content helps lower glycemic response, making apples a lower GI choice. Apples also contain a host of antioxidants, including anthocyanins in red apple skins that further help lower cholesterol levels. Apples are also a local food for many of us, making them an eco friendly choice. The perfect between meal snack, enjoy an apple daily on its own or with a little bit of almond butter of low fat cheese for extra staying power.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Vancouver is an amazing food city...we have raw food, super star chefs, the best Indian and Chinese restaurants west of the Atlantic and access to the freshest produce and seafood around. That being said, getting a healthy meal that tastes amazing at a "to go" price can still be a bit of a challenge. Which is why I love Nuba.

Billed as "authentic Lebanese cuisine" this place is a bit more than just good falafel. Not many restaurants use a vegan diet as their baseline, but scanning their menu you will notice the statement "All menu items vegan, except for V for vegetarian and M for meat." They use plenty of organic ingredients and food is bursting with flavour, without the greasy hangover of many kebab and falafel shops. My favourite is the crispy cauliflower and my omnivore husband likes the lamb kafta.

The Yaletown location is more of the takeout spot; at Crosstown, they offer a sitdown experience at a super reasonable price at dinner - the most expensive item is their feast for two at $35.

Go to Nuba - eat healthy - be happy.

Nuba...207 West Hastings at Cambie and 1206 Seymour at

Thursday, August 13, 2009 me!

Lunch...making lunches has got to be one of my least favourite chores. I do it because I want a healthy homemade meal. So might as well make all of the hard work worth it.

In winter, I usually rely on leftovers for lunch but in summer I take advantage of the season and eat salads. A salad takes 5 minutes to throw together and I can get 5 or 6 servings of fruits and veggies at one go. Two thirds of us don't get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day...and potatoes count. How sad is that?

5 minutes in the evening (while I wait for dinner to cook) and I have a lunch that leaves me feeling pretty virtuous by the time I commute home.

Power lunch...redefined:

3 large handfuls baby spinach (3 cups)
1/2 bell pepper
5 radishes
1/2 large tomato or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chick peas or white beans
5 kalamata olives
1/4 cup soft goats cheese
1 tbsp of your favourite dressing

Make this the night before...pack a piece of fruit and some organic yogurt for dessert and in an instant! you just became healthier than your coworker.

1 tbsp organic hemp seeds

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Priorities

There is a great saying about priorities that I am about to butcher here ... that no man has ever approached the end of his life wishing he had spent more time at the office. There is something else I should add to that sentiment - that when you wake up 25 pounds heavier or with your first diagnosis of high cholesterol or diabetes... it is unlikely that you will say to yourself "At least I watched every single episode of Grey's Anatomy."

Time spent preparing healthy food and exercising can only become priorities when you put your health at the top of your to do list. Time is short; between a full day at the office, shuttling kids around and trying to keep your house in order it is easy to make compromises when it comes to your health and happiness. To reward yourself for all of your hard work, you forgo a homemade meal in favour of your favourite take out. But a truer reward is a meal that nourishes your body so that your skin can glow, your jeans fit and you can literally jump out of bed in the morning full of energy.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle demands changing how we think - making dinner doesn't have to be a chore to be avoided. Making dinner should be about taking the time to care for yourself. Laugh in the face of the overflowing laundry basket and say..."I'd prefer to go to yoga". See how you feel.

Now is the time...because that cute butt of yours deserves it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Post Modern Pizza Pie may be an "eat sometimes" food - but the art of pizza making has been seriously elevated beyond Domino's. And thin crust helps to reduce the high carb hurt. Here is my ever expanding list of the best pizzas I have tasted and where to get them.

3. Bordello's Pizzaria, 1481 Water St, Kelowna. Sneak past the pub downstairs to enter this little jewel box of a restaurant on the second floor. Fantastic wood fired thin crusts and plenty of artisan toppings that will suit you just fine when you have had your fill of chain restaurants.
2. Campagnolo, 1020 Main St, Vancouver. This gorgeous spot has already made the Conde Nast Hot List and is my favourite new haunt. Located in the old Adega space, Campagnolo serves up rustic Italian fare at a reasonable price. Try the pizza bianca....and go back for brunch.
1. Serious Pie, 316 Virginia, Seattle. One of chef Tom Douglas' Seattle restaurants. Fantastic ultra chewy just in the right spot...crispy and super thin crust. Must try the truffle cheese and roasted mushroom.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 me!

People are always interested in what a dietitian like me might eat on a regular basis - my favourite comment of all time regarding my eating habits was "Your idea of junk food is probably non-organic broccoli!".
SELF magazine even has a dietitian blogging her daily meals at
While I won't blog an exhaustive food diary...I thought I would I would start with the most important meal of the day...breakfast! This is a meal that most of us don't do well: a little special k and out the door, or worse - nothing more than an americano on the way to work! Research released last year looked at the metabolic powers of a good breakfast: researchers put women on low calorie diets and for breakfast, either gave them a standard mostly carb breakfast, ringing in at about 300 calories or fed them half their daily calories (600!) as a breakfast with plenty of healthy carbs, protein, fat and even a piece of chocolate.
Guess who lost more! The big breakfast a huge margin!
Why? Overnight, our bodies are fasting and by the time we wake up we have some starving brain cells on our hands and peak levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. If we don't give our bodies what they need, those stress hormones don't go anywhere - wreaking havoc on blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day.

No time for a full breakfast? Try my favourite smoothie recipe:

1 cup natural So Nice soymilk
1 cup plain non fat organic yogurt like Liberte
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 scoop berry Vega powder (a vegan supplement with protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals)

This takes 60 seconds to whip up, stash in a to go cup so you can get out the door (just watch the blueberry skins in your teeth when you get to work - embarrassing!). It contains roughly 450 calories, 33 grams of protein, fibre - 3 servings of fruit, including a dose of antioxidant rich berries and probiotics!
Okay folks...that's a power breakfast!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Drink...Summerhill Winery

In Kelowna this week for work and had the exceptional opportunity to have lunch with Steve Cipes - the proprietor of Summerhill Organic Winery. Talk about a take cajones to start a winery in a new region (as the Okanagan was a time ago) and to go certified organic? Well, you've got to have passion.
Nestled on the eastern slopes of the Okanagan Lake, Summerhill is the largest organic winery in Canada. If you find yourself in Kelowna - you really must visit - the winery boasts a lovely restaurant with a pretty magnificent view (and tasty organic food to boot). And yes, the Pyramid does exist -
We chatted about organics and winemaking, among other things - so many of us are making a concerted effort to eat organic food and use organic body care but we don't give a second thought to our wine habits and organics are just as critical in viticulture, especially for those who tend the vines and live near them.
I tried the 2007 Ehrenfelser, the Icewine and the wonderful Cipes Brut...and the next day I couldn't resist a return trip to buy some. As I am totally not a wine expert, I will spare you the amateur tasting notes, but you can go to their website to check it out:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It Begins

So...I was happy to see that this blog still belongs to me this morning. Apparently blogspot doesn't tank your account after a period of inactivity like webmail does. I decided last year as I was finishing up internship that it would be a good idea to get a blog; a blog seeming as de rigeur as an iPhone these days. However, with a new career to start, it was easy to let this project fall to the wayside. So why now? I think I have an opinion or two to anyone who knows me well can corroborate.
After spending almost one year as a consumer health dietitian, I have been fascinated by the amazing community of those here on the west coast who are passionate about living well and are willing to devote a lot of time and energy to their health. To all whom I have met over the last year, I thank you for sharing your passion and enthusiasm with me and I hope that I have been able to share something valuable in return. 
This blog is where I hope to share my passion for health, living sustainably and enjoying life all while providing lots of juicy tidbits on what I have learned in my career and my own personal experience that you can take advantage of to go from just living to living vibrantly.