forage

As a child, I picked root veggies and salad greens out of the backyard garden for dinner. I became obsessed with The 100 Mile Diet when it hit the bookstores a few years ago. I haunt Farmer’s Markets and every summer I use almost every square inch of my tiny balcony to grow herbs and veggies. I think it’s safe to say that I love local food.

Why do I love it? It’s fresher, tastier, healthier and I believe safer than food that’s travelled a long distance to sit, covered in chemicals and preservatives, indefinitely on our grocery shelves. Have you noticed how conventional fruit seems to last forever now? It just doesn’t go bad and that, my friends, is not a good thing. You never know what the corporate food giants and that evil empire, Monsanto, are up to when it comes to tampering with our food supply. And a preservative doused piece of fruit or vegetable that lasts a month does not do a body good. So, in my book, fresh, pure and close to home is always best.

Vancouver has a number of restaurants that are committed to local, sustainable and cruelty free fare and one in particular, a restaurant named forage , seemed to be popping up everywhere I turned. On twitter, facebook and in local magazine articles, there is forage. Alway with a rave review. How it is that I’ve never been there, I thought as I read yet another glowing recommendation.

Luckily my lovely friend and fellow foodie, Sandrine was celebrating her birthday last weekend so I invited her to a Forage (or For-aw-sh, as she says in her beautiful French accent) brunch and off we went to finally experience a meal at this Vancouver hotspot.

Sandrine’s birthday brunch consisted of a yummy cheese frittata for her, Two Rivers turkey sausage hash, free run eggs and local root veggies for me and a kale salad that we shared. All so delicious and the kale salad dressing was especially spectacular. I mean I really like kale but this dressing made the dish taste sublime. I couldn’t tell what was in the dressing but it tasted sweet and champagney and I had  to find out. To make a long story short, I got the ingredients and guestimated the amounts to come up with the recipe below. I had never heard of champagne vinegar before and now I am hooked. This, I think, would make any green salad extra special…

Forage’s Champagne Dressing

  • 2 T shallots
  • 2 T garlic
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 T blue cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend ingredients together and voila! A fresh, delectable dressing a la forage.

forage

 

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Prego vs Oreo

garden tomatoes

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thank god its not prego

True or False

A serving of Prego tomato sauce has more sugar than an Oreo cookie?

If you guessed true, you’re right! Eating processed pasta sauce is worse, sugar-wise, than chowing down on a big ole Oreo. But there’s an easy way around that. Make your own pasta sauce. A friend gave me this delicious recipe and when I tested it in my tiny (now tomato stained) kitchen, it passed with flying colours. Below is a healthy, sugar-free alternative to Prego:

“Thank God It’s Not Prego” Bolognese Sauce

  • 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes (about 8 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • handful Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup spinach, zucchini, broccolini or almost any other vegetable
  • 1 Portobello mushroom sliced or diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Pink salt
  • 1/2 lb. organic ground beef *
  • Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
  • a splash of vodka (optional)

Simmer ingredients in a saucepan, pour over your favourite pasta (I love whole wheat for extra texture and nutrients) and voila! Dinner is served, and without a boatload of hidden sugar.

*My beef comes from Pemberton Meadows near Whistler. A beautiful, old school farm where the animals are treated well and grass fed. Local, humane and organic farms are the way to go. You pay a bit more but it’s so, so worth it! The saying “you get what you pay for” is usually true and not using our purchasing dollars to support the horror of factory farming will, I hope, eventually instigate change.

The Wellness Show & Chocolate Quinoa Cake

I woke up on the opening day of The Wellness Show craving a hamburger. Hmmm, not really in keeping with the vibe of the wellness theme but when I’m craving food that strongly, I’ve got to listen. So I ended up on a bar stool at the Cactus Club, right beside the Convention Centre, chowing down on a cheeseburger and watching all of the healthy, gluten-free people walk out of The Wellness Show with their large, orange swag bags in tow.

Have I mentioned how much I love animals and how badly I want to be a vegetarian? I have tried over and over again. And each time I try a little harder; consulting nutritionists, taking a plethora of supplements and iron tonics. And the longest I’ve lasted is three months. It gives me a lot of angst but I get to a point of craving red meat so badly that I feel like I could jump the fence, run into a pasture and take down a cow myself. Not good. Anyway, I digress. This post is all about Vancouver’s Wellness Show, not my dietary struggles.

The Wellness Show is the yin to my cheeseburger’s yang. Imagine a huge room filled with everything from power drinks to vegan cupcakes to reflexology to bio mats filled with crystals. I entered the room like a slightly ADD kid in a candy store, eyes frantically darting left and right, taking in all of the goodies.

By late afternoon I had stuffed myself with raw vegan goodness, gotten reflexology, a shiatsu massage, was covered in yummy smelling aromatherapy oils and had my bio-rthyms read (my hypothalamus is under-active, in case you were wondering). I was a happy girl. I ended my Wellness experience by plopping myself down in front of the cooking stage to see the talented and entertaining Chef, Craig of Italian Kitchen, make a chocolate quinoa cake.

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I was intrigued by this cake and had been thinking about it for days. Quinoa in a cake? I was dying to see how, and if, it would turn out.

To make a long story short, it tasted fabulous. Rich, chocolatey and you couldn’t taste the quinoa at all. Chef also made a raspberry sauce to go on top and all was sugar-free, sweetened with agave. I had to try to re-create this masterpiece at home in cupcake form.

 Chocolate Quinoa Cake (or Cupcakes)

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup flax oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Mix all ingredients in blender, then bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for half an hour.

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • splash agave
  • splash water

Simmer on stove top. Pour over finished cake or cupcakes.

Okay, you’ve gotta love a recipe that’s delicious and healthy, and everything is just thrown in a blender and then tossed in the oven. No muss, no fuss. I highly recommend this recipe.

Bon Apetit!

Dark and Rich

 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I have a sweet treat that would be perfect to make for your special someone or your fab friends.

Chocolate dipped strawberries! The first ingredient is organic, dark chocolate containing phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love! What could be more perfect for Valentines? Dark chocolate is also full of health-giving anti-oxidants and strawberries are pure goodness, containing fibre, vitamins and anti-oxidants too. And these two nutritional and feel-good powerhouses are the only things you’ll find in the recipe below. Pure and simple.

Dark and Rich Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces organic, dark chocolate
  • 12 organic strawberries

Preparation

  • Place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.
  • Dip strawberries in the melted chocolate.
  • Place upside down on wax paper.
  • Let cool.

chocolate

Whether you’re curling up with your sweetie, getting together with good friends to celebrate your fabulous single selves or having a mellow day treating yourself to a bit of chocolate, I hope everyone has a Valentine’s Day full of love (and that includes self love) xo L

Ouch! I Fell Off the Juice Wagon!

I was so good for two whole days. So good! Then my friend, Sandrine invited me to a foodie’s dream. A dining extravaganza called “Big Night” and featured a host of local, rock star chefs preparing course after course of delicous food to indulge in.

My last post talked about listening to my body and my body told me that it really, really wanted to go to this event! After two days of cleansing, I had had enough and was ready to feast.

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Curried mussel soup from Maenam

Maenam Sous Chef Sean McGuire

Maenam Sous Chef Sean McGuire

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With Sandrine at Big Night

I checked my phone when I rolled home later that evening and another friend had left a message, inviting me to a milkshake party the very next day. A milkshake party! My inner child shrieked in delight! So I cut my cleanse short, had a big, fat, fun, food-filled weekend. My three day cleanse turned into a two day cleanse with absolutely zero guilt. I think I made the right decision. Letting loose and forgetting about your eating plan/workout regime every so often is as important as cleansing. And btw, cleansing is really hard work.

So, with the juice cleanse over, it’s on to my next adventure, checking out the vendors at the Vancouver Wellness Show this weekend. I can’t wait to see what’s going to be on display and will share the good, the bad, the weird and the wonderful in next week’s post.

Until then…

 

Tuning In

So, I’ve been on this quest for wellness for a few months now and one thing has become really apparent to me. I don’t listen to my body. In fact not only do I not listen but I try to shut my body up on a regular basis. Teeth clenching? Ignore it. Shoulders tightening? Ouch. Ignore it. Stomach upset? Distressing, but still I do my best to ignore it. Rapid heartbeat, insomnia, anxiety. The same.

I’ve had a heck of a lot on the go for a while now. Managing a renovation at my full time job, going to school part time, being the social media coordinator for two charities, blogging and trying to keep up with my incorrigible, barky, Terrier terrorist, The Nickster. And this weekend, I finally felt the full exhaustion of my crazy schedule. My shoulders were a wall of pain, I had lost a small chunk of my back tooth from grinding and my eyes had scary, dark circles under them. All signs that it’s time for a change.

I realized that I can have the healthiest diet in the world but if I don’t learn how to manage stress and tune into the messages my body is giving me on a regular basis, I may as well give up, call it a day and go have a big mac and a chocolate shake.

So, today I am going to start maybe the most important endeavour of all when it comes to staying healthy. Really listening to my body. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away. If someone is treating me badly, speak up. If everyone at my office is running around in a tizzy, don’t pick up their frenzied energy. Life is too short. And, trust me, nobody is going to end up on their death bed thinking “Thank God I worked so hard! Thank God I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off on a regular basis. Thank God I got so upset over all of the little things”.

Today is my day one of learning how to relax and just go with the flow. The tricks I have up my sleeve include deep yoga breathing, shaking my arms out when I feel tension creeping into my shoulders, getting up and going for a walk if I’ve been at my computer too long, not taking on anyone else’s frenzied energy, more yoga breathing and last but not least, trusting in the universe.

Running late, as usual, I took a cab to work this morning and the cab driver had nothing but a string of complaints about our bike lane lovin’ mayor, Gregor Roberston, the traffic, the crazy drivers, the endless rain and on and on. I firmly believe that how we speak about our current situation helps to shape our future and this guy was both manifesting a lot of frustration for himself and ruining my chances of a peaceful ride into work. So, after listening to him for a couple of minutes I tapped him on the shoulder and said “I’m on a mission to stay as relaxed and positive as I possibly can so instead of complaining about what’s wrong with the world, let’s enjoy the gorgeous view to our left. It never gets old”. And then I took a deep yoga breath. My cab driver didn’t utter another word.

I really hope he did take a minute to enjoy the gorgeous Vancouver view while we were stuck in traffic.

It does help to put it all into perspective.

photo by everett potter

photo by everett potter

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http://myyearofsweat.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/an-ode-to-mother-nature/

The Jewel of Gastown

So, day one and two of my juicy cleanse are powered by the watermelon coloured nirvana of freshly made juices and smoothies, The Juice Truck.
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It’s day one and I made a lunch pilgrimage, in sub-zero weather, to Gastown’s Juice Truck, for my all-time fave smoothie, The Blueberry Matcha (Blueberry blended with matcha tea powder, banana, cacao nibs, cinnamon, medjool dates & almond milk). As I wandered through the frigid streets of Vancouver, sipping my cold, purple drink and shivering, I couldn’t help but think, “Who does a cold juice detox in January when living in Canada? A stupid person?” I walked along, imagining my lips turning blue as my core temperature dropped with every sip of my smoothie. After drinking it’s purple goodness, however, and making it back to my warm, toasty office, I felt happy, healthy and full. The flavours of the smoothie are sublime, the richness great for filling up an empty stomach and the matcha powder gives you a subtle boost to get through the afternoon. I think pure juice cleanses are good if you want to lose weight but, if you just want to detox your system, smoothies are the way to go!

Having had a green smoothie of kale, mango, bananas and almond milk for breakfast this morning and going home with a few packaged juices from the truck, I’m feeling slightly hungry but energized and very motivated.

juice truck

Today was, for lack of a better term to describe it, a piece of cake (well, except for the frosty smoothie in the freezing cold).

Tomorrow, I’m having a juice only, one day cleanse supply delivered to the office by the Juice Truck. Easy, convenient and you get seven drinks for $65.00. I’m curious to see how a pure juice, no smoothie day goes. Will I make it? Tune in tomorrow to find out.