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 Leisurely daily shopping trips to the grocery store for dinner supplies have been replaced by full tilt weekly meal planning and grocery shopping sessions each Sunday evening (after e has gone to bed!).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,

Friday, August 26, 2011

UnDiet...Week 31

Hello UnDieters!

It's hot out there, people! As promised, for another week or two we are going to keep our approach to healthy eating simple lest we anger the blood with too much exertion. So when I was thinking how best to keep my cool during these dog days, I immediately thought of cucumbers. Cucumbers don't get much respect in the nutrition world but they are a deliciously cooling vegetable and at their best right now as the heat produces some gorgeous field cucumbers. 

That gorgeous dark green skin is chock full of anti-oxidant pigments and its high water content is perfect for these dehydrating days. Rich in anti-inflammatory flavonols and a unique source of anti-cancer lignans, cucumbers deserve a regular place in your diet. So this week, try and have some cucumber everyday.

Here are some easy ways to enjoy cukes...

If you juice, add a bit of cucumber to a green juice (goes well with lemon, apple and kale)

Make a tzatziki or raita...the ultimate cooling blend of yogurt and cukes!

Chop cucumbers with tomatoes, olives, red onion and feta for a classic greek salad.

Top cucumbers with hummus for a quick snack.

Stay cool, cucumbers!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

UnDiet...Week 30

Hello UnDieters!

It's the lazy days of summer...I always feel that in August all motivation to expend serious energy on anything is lost. So this week, I will ask for a very simple but very powerful swap. Many weeks back, I asked you to add more seeds to your diet and this week I will ask you to start adding more nuts to your diet.

I have never been a fan of low fat diets but it can be easy to go overboard when our main sources of fat are added oils. However, we tend to overlook food sources of healthy fat, such as nuts. When we eat our fats in a package that includes protein and fibre and other vitamins you are getting more bang for your nutrition buck and they help to fill you up too. Nuts are also a great alternative to all those carb-based snacks that we tend to overeat. 

So this week, consider swapping one of your snacks for a 1/4 cup of raw nuts. For a higher protein nut, try almonds. To boost your omega 3 intake, try walnuts. To keep it local, go for hazelnuts. Whichever are your favourite, buy small amounts and keep them fresh in the refrigerator and enjoy daily. Nuts will help to fill you up and keep your energy up between meals without the blood sugar roller coaster of a granola bar. Need a bigger snack? Add a piece of fresh fruit. There are gorgeous BC plums out there right now!

Go nuts, folks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

UnDiet...Week 29

Local heirloom tomatoes...worth more than any dusty knick knack!

Oh haven't given up on me!

Week 29 into this journey of ours, I would like to ask something special of you. August is the perfect month to celebrate all the good food that is around us so it is time to really get connected. I, along with my friend Heather, am doing the Growing Chefs Get Local! Local Food Challenge for 7 days starting Sunday. We are chronicling our journey (and our recipes!) all week long on our new blog, The Fresh Sheet

So what does eating locally have to do with being healthy? I am glad you asked.

1. Eating close to home is better for the planet. A healthy planet makes a healthy human through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that our food grows in. Shipping food long distances pollutes the earth and wastes precious resources. Food grown close to home doesn't have to travel far.

2. Food that doesn't have to travel far can be picked closer to its ripe peak. Ripe fruits and vegetables express their full flavour and nutrition. So food tastes better, satisfies us more fully and nourishes us more fully. In addition, less travel time means that less nutrients are lost between farm time and dinner time. 

3. Choosing foods based on their social and environmental impact helps us think more intelligently about the act of eating. So often, we have a distorted and self-centered view of food; it is entertainment, pleasure, reward and penance. Thinking about the act of eating and where our food comes from connects us to the miracle that is food grown out of the earth.

4. Buying local food is a vote that you make with your dollars that quality food means something to you. Food companies, which exist solely to sell us our food, respond to where they see the money going and if enough of us vote, our food supply will become healthier as a result. Supply follows demand, always.

5. Focusing on local foods means focusing on real, whole foods. Our current health crisis is one borne of eating fake, processed, lifeless foods. Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, nuts and seeds nourishes our bodies and sustains our health.

I hope that this week you will join us at The Fresh Sheet and then commit to eating as local as possible for at least one meal a day or one whole day next week. As you do, think about how the act of thinking critically about your food changes your relationship to it. And see if you don't feel a whole lot healthier for it.

Get local, people!

PS...while times are tough, if you are able, please consider supporting Growing Chefs by pledging us this challenge week. They are looking to raise $4000 which is enough to put 4 chefs in the classroom for the school year. Educating the next generation to be conscious and healthful eaters is critical to our future success as a nation.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kerrisdale Farmer's Market the  Wagon
The Kerrisdale Farmers Market opened on Saturday so my friend Heather and I decided to check it out. Bread Affair was there so Heather grabbed a 100 mile loaf and I bought a gorgeous basket of organic heirloom tomatoes. But as tummies were grumbling, we were stopped in our tracks by a beacon of tacodom....

Of course we HAD to get tacos...

I had some delicious roasted yam and black bean tacos and a lime cilantro spritzer (not too sweet!). 

This could be YOU! Shop at the farmers markets.

I had some delicious roasted yam and black bean tacos and a lime cilantro spritzer (not too sweet!). Be sure to check out the market this weekend...and if you aren't shy, go hug a farmer.

Get Local, Folks!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good For You, Good For the Earth

My friend, Lori Petryk RD, has created these awesome mini-episodes on local food nutrition for Shaw TV called Good For You, Good For the Earth. I hope you like them....see more at