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Month: January 2017

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

To me this is comfort food. After shovelling the driveway on a cold winter’s day, it’s so comforting to have a meal like this. The balsamic vinegar caramelizes and turns every piece of vegetable into deliciousness…. Mmmmm!  It’s great for left overs too! You can even prepare all the vegetables in advance and coat them in the topping and leave covered in the fridge to bake later. The longest part is cleaning and chopping the vegetables but it’s so easy to do while having a conversation with a family member…

  • vegetables such as:
    • potatoes of any colour
    • sweet potatoes
    • parsnip
    • carrots
    • onions
    • leeks
    • brussel sprouts
    • peppers of any colour
    • celery
    • zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, Basil

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

You can use any vegetables you have on hand. I love to use as many different colours as possible. Some of my favourites to roast include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers, leeks, parsnip, carrots, celery, brussel sprouts, zucchini, etc.

Wash, peel and chop veggies into medium/small size pieces. Place in large bowl. Mix ingredients listed above and stir onto veggies to coat all sides. Pour out evenly onto lined cookie sheet and bake at 400F for 45 minutes or until veggies are tender. Flip veggies periodically so they cook evenly.

What are your favourite veggies to roast?

Please leave your thoughts below…

See some of my other recipes.

Invermere, BC

Invermere, BC

Invermere, BC

 

Windermere Lake

Invermere may be one of Canada’s best kept secrets. It’s a small community in the province of British Columbia, near the border of Alberta. It sits in the Rocky Mountain Trench on the northwest shore of Lake Windermere. It has a population of approximately 4,000 permanent residents, which increases ten-fold in the summer months with tourists and many Calgarians who own a second home in Invermere. You can get to Invermere by driving 3 hours from Calgary or 1-1/2 hours from Cranbrook (to the south) and it has become one of British Columbia’s top destinations.

As a vacation destination, Invermere and the surrounding area have much to offer. Located in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada with its natural beauty amongst the mountains, along the shores of Lake Windermere, Invermere has a cold temperate climate. It has fairly significant precipitation: snowy winters and long hot summers making it perfect for year round visits.

Summer activities include golfing, swimming, kayaking, boating, water sports, fishing and hiking. Winter activities include skiing, skating and snowmobiling. At any time of year there are spa treatments, hot springs and various festivals and shopping in local arts & craft shops. Spring comes early to the valley, by late March. With snow in the mountains until July, you could go skiing in the morning and then play golf in the afternoon! Fall is warm and sunny allowing the lake to stay warm, extending any summer activities.

Invermere has two public beaches on Windermere Lake: Kinsmen Beach (near downtown) and James Chabot Provincial Park (at the north end of the lake). The entrance to the downtown is marked with a bronze statue of explorer David Thompson and his wife. In the summer, the quaint main street is lined with flowers. You’ll find various shops, pubs and restaurants and even a historic movie theatre.

Fairmont Hot Springs

The Columbia Valley has amazing geothermal hot springs, which are popular at any time of year. They might be the most fun in winter when the steam coming off the hot springs makes the experience more mysterious.

Canada Day Parade

Many festivals take place in the summer, from a birding festival each May, Canada Day parade July 1st, many sports events including triathlons and paragliding. Every Saturday in summer there is a thriving farmer’s market. Winter festivals include the Snowflake festival and Taste of the Valley.

More information on Invermere and area:

Have you been to Invermere?

Please leave your comments below…

Read about more travel destinations.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D – the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. It is present in very few foods naturally, but added to some foods. It is produced when the sun hits our skin. It is also found in vitamin supplements. It promotes calcium absorption in the gut and is needed for bone health and prevents a condition in children called rickets (soft, weak bones). Other roles of vitamin D are cell growth, immune function and reduction of inflammation, amongst others.

We absorb it into our bodies in two ways: by the sun hitting our skin and through the food we eat. The farther away you live from the equator, the less likely you will be to get enough vitamin D from the sun especially during the winter months. It’s important to allow yourself a few minutes exposure to the sun each day to get vitamin D without allowing your skin to become burnt or with risk of developing skin cancer. Everyone has a different tolerance level, but a few minutes each day should be sufficient to get vitamin D naturally from the sun. Living in the northern hemisphere, especially in Canada, many people are deficient in vitamin D so it is important to try to increase it in other ways where possible.

Vitamin D is found in a limited number of foods: egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Foods like milk, yogurt, cheese and orange juice may be fortified with vitamin D. If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, then you can find some dairy-free milks that are fortified with vitamin D. People with medical conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or some forms of liver disease have difficulty absorbing vitamin D. In these cases you may not get enough vitamin D through your food. Alternately you can take vitamin D in tablet form daily. Recent research suggests that vitamin D may have benefits in fighting infections, reducing heart disease risk factors, and preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancers (especially colorectal cancer). However, more research is needed to fully understand the role of vitamin D in these conditions.

There may be some conflicting pieces of advise regarding the sunshine vitamin but for the most part medical professionals recommend that adults should not exceed 4000 IU of vitamin D each day. Most doctors recommend 600 IU each day for adults. Personally, I take 2000 IU per day and occasionally have fortified almond milk. I am fair-skinned, so am careful not to get too much sun. Just by walking outside, I think I am getting enough sun on my face – except in the winter months! Because I work indoors, I know I am not getting any vitamin D from the sun all winter long. That is why I supplement with vitamin D tablets.

Vitamin D tablets are fairly inexpensive and easy to swallow because they are small. But if you can, try to get this vital nutrient naturally by going outside in the sunshine!

Do you take Vitamin D supplements? How much? 

Please leave your comments below…

See also Strength Training.

Thai Coconut Curry

Thai Coconut Curry

Thai Coconut Curry

I love Thai vegetables and the little bit of heat from the curry! This is one of my favourite dishes. It’s comforting and nutritious, affordable and easy to make for your friends and family! It’s easy to replace any of the veggies with something else so you can easily use whatever is on hand. Here’s one of my versions:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mini potatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 can low-fat (or full fat) coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 inch ginger root, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or pinch of stevia)
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (optional – to taste)
  • 1-2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 package frozen vegetable blend (PC Bangkok style)
  • optional garnishes: fresh basil leaves, chopped peanuts
PC Bangkok style frozen veggies

In a large pot, sauté the onion and pepper adding water as needed, stirring every so often until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine the cornstarch with ½ cup of veggie broth and whisk until completely smooth. Now combine this mixture with the rest of the veg broth, coconut milk, soy, ginger, curry, salt and sweetener.

Add remaining ingredients (including the sauce) to the sautéing veggies and bring to a boil. Cook on medium, uncovered 8-11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve as is or over brown rice or basmati rice. If desired garnish with fresh basil leaves and/or chopped peanuts.

Loosely based on original recipe from Chocolatecoverkatie.com

See more of my recipes.

What veggies do you put in Thai Coconut Curry?

Bucket List

Bucket List

Make your own bucket list

A bucket list is a list of everything you wish to accomplish before you “kick the bucket” – anything you would regret not doing or trying before you reach the end of life. It could be learning something new, travelling somewhere you’ve never been or simply accomplishing a task. It could be big or small. But whatever it is, it has meaning and is important to YOU.

A lot of people are looking for a meaning or a goal in their life. We can’t always wait for the right moment to experience life. Start now by making your own list. Set goals for achievements on a big scale, but also for a small scale; think every year, every month, every week, every day.

You can have all the experiences the world has to offer, but if you don’t get to share them with those that are close to you, they may feel empty. It’s way more meaningful to share your bucket list with the important people in your life: your family and close friends.

Why make a bucket list?

  1. Give your life purpose and meaning. Life is about having fun, creating joyful memories. The list helps create fresh new experiences and ambitions to feel happy and excited about. Stay motivated even when times get tough.
  2. Defining goals gives direction and focus to build excitement and bring dreams to life. Everyday life can get in the way. The list reminds us of the big picture and helps us stay true to our own values.
  3. Reward yourself. The list is measurable and it gives you incentive for major accomplishments. Celebrate each triumph or achievement.
  4. Anticipating an experience gives us almost as much of a thrill as the actual event.

Start your very own bucket list:

First brainstorm and dream of everything and anything you’ve ever wanted to do – with no limits. Start writing all your desires and dreams down. Get inspiration from the Internet to help you get started, but stay true to your own values and dreams. Then organize your thoughts into categories: travel, learning, activities, etc.

How to put your list into motion:

Start by thinking about what’s most important to you. Then plan goals based on time and money. For example, what is your travel budget? Plan trips according to time off and what you can afford. Or if you want to learn something new, research classes in your area and find one that fits your schedule and budget. A big goal such as travelling would be spread out over time and fulfilled as you can afford it. You may also have monthly and weekly goals, which cost much less and are more feasible such as apple picking or painting or even running your first race.

It may seem odd, but the goal of the bucket list is not to complete it but to keep it growing! Your bucket list will be dynamic and fluid, changing from time to time. Share your list and ideas with as many people as possible. It’s an interesting topic that many people would love to hear about. And you’ll be surprised that some people may help you reach your goals by offering advice and connections.

Celebrate achievements:

Once you’ve completed something off your list, it doesn’t end there. Celebrate it by sharing your success through social media, blog about it, create a photo album or journal, and/or collect keepsakes.

It doesn’t matter if you complete everything on your list. What’s more important is that you tried and achieved some of those things on your list. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Use the list as your own personal guideline to self-improvement.

Finally, remember to pay it forward; support other people’s goals and dreams.

What’s on your bucket list?

See travel destinations.

Walking

Walking

Walking – the best exercise

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It requires no special equipment except for a good pair of walking shoes. It doesn’t require any special training or practice. You can do it outdoors or even indoors (in a shopping mall for example). It’s probably the safest form of exercise with the least chance of injury. If you aren’t ready for running, but are thinking about it, start with walking!

If walking is your main form of exercise, the challenge is that it may not be strenuous enough to be considered an aerobic exercise. To make walking a more aerobic form of exercise you must walk with a purpose. Find a comfortable stride and swing your arms opposite from your legs. Keep your abdominal muscles firm, to support your back. Keep your chest open and allow the diaphragm to move freely to support regular deep breathing. Stand tall with your shoulders back and keep your face looking straight (not down). Walking at a reasonable speed will get the blood pumping and raise your breathing rate. It will help tone your muscles and help maintain your weight. It’s good for your bones and helps increase circulation.

Once you are comfortable with a regular walking pattern, step up the aerobic challenge. Try gradually increasing your speed; try walking longer or farther; or try walking uphill. You can increase speed incrementally or just for part of your walk. For example, if you walk for 15 minutes total, walk at 5km per hour for 5 minutes, increase to 6km/h for 5 minutes, then return to 5km/h for the remainder of your walk. Always start small and increase gradually. Don’t use ankle or hand weights because that can cause stress on your joints. Instead use weights in a separate routine for strengthening but not while walking.

It’s a great idea to walk with a friend (or your spouse), so you have a regular routine. Start with three times a week. Once you become more accomplished at walking you could join a walking group. You can even do walking tours throughout the world! Some people even do race walking. You might ultimately consider a walking half-marathon…

Like any form of exercise, make sure you do a short warm-up beforehand – some light movements for both upper body and lower body to gradually increase your heart rate. At when your walk is complete, don’t just stop – do a cool down to gradually bring your heart rate back to normal and finally finish with some light stretching. Particularly pay attention to stretching your lower body: quads, hamstrings, calves. Hold stretches for about 30 seconds until you feel a slight tension without it hurting.

Ideally we should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. You could split this into two if that works better in your schedule. Use walking as a tool to add exercise into your day. I am extremely lucky to be able to walk to work and it allows me those 10-15 minutes to get my head “in the game”. Conversely, on the way home, those 10-15 minutes let me de-stress before I return home to make dinner. If you work in an office job, you’re probably sitting all day. Try as much as you can to get up and walk around. Consider getting off the bus a few stops early and walking the rest of the way. Go for a walk at lunchtime or even have a “walking meeting”. Choose the stairs over the elevator. If you consistently choose to walk, you will soon notice you have more of a bounce in your step!

More information about walking:  The Walking Site

See also How to Start Running.

Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor for medical advice before proceeding with any new exercise routine. Information provided is of a general nature and is for educational purposes. By following this information, you agree that any injuries or damages resulting from action relating to this information are at your own risk.
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lighter Chocolate Chip Cookies

lighter-chocolate-chip-cookies

  • 2 flax eggs (see instructions)
  • 7 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup pear sauce (or apple sauce)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups oat flour
  • 2-1/2 cups almond meal or flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In small bowl prepare 2 flax eggs by combining 2 Tbsp ground flax seed with 6 Tbsp warm water. Set aside.

In large bowl add vegan butter and canola oil. Mix well with hand mixer. Add pear sauce, almond butter and both sugars and mix well. To make oat flour, use a high powered blender and process 1 cup of oats at a time. In medium bowl whisk oat flour, almond flour, cinnamon and baking soda.

Next add flax eggs and vanilla to wet ingredients and combine. Add dry ingredients into wet bowl and mix well. Using a spatula, stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Use a cookie scoop to drop batter onto parchment covered baking sheets and press down with a fork. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before placing on cooling racks.

What’s your favourite cookie?

See more recipes.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island

The most western part of Canada is known for its mild climate and stunning scenery. It is also renowned for its arts community. British Columbia’s capital city Victoria sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and named after Queen Victoria. This is a popular vacation destination for tourists and many retirees move here due its mild climate, boat-lined harbour, neo-baroque Parliament Buildings and English-style gardens. Many of the retirees are British-Canadian and you can’t help but notice many British accents especially in areas like Oak Bay, a residential area within Victoria. Like Vancouver, the cost of homes has increased drastically but it is an area that is very quaint and walk-able with lots of little shops on its main street.

The whole island encompasses about 32,000 square km (about 500km long and 100km wide) with a population of about 750,000 people. The highest elevation is 2,195m or 7,200 ft. There are two ways to approach the island. If you go by car, then there are ferries to Nanaimo or Victoria. BC Ferries runs ferries from Vancouver (Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay). If you approach by air, the most popular landing spots are Victoria, Nanaimo or Comox. Really the best way to see the island is to rent a car and drive. There used to be a train but it doesn’t run anymore. In addition to driving you could travel by bus either Greyhound or Island Link Bus, but these options give much less flexibility than the ability to drive and stop whenever you want.

To drive from the most southern tip in Victoria all the way up to the most northern point in Port Hardy is about 500km and would take about 5-1/2 hours total non-stop. Obviously, a traveller would want to stop and visit places on the way. Your visit would not be complete without a visit to the west coast of the island – to Tofino. The drive from Qualicum Beach to Tofino is about 2-1/2 hours. Here you can see the large waves crashing into the rocky coast. It’s a popular spot for winter storm watching. There are many hotels that cater to this including the well-known Wickininnish Inn.

Depending on how long you have to spend on the island, you’d probably want to research various aspects to see which interests you the most. There is so much to see and do; from beaches, trails, parks and gardens to museums, castles and historical buildings to tours, fishing, boating, golfing etc. Some of the most popular spots are:

Victoria: (Greater Victoria population about 365,000)

Butchart Gardens
Craig Darroch Castle
BC Parliament & Queen Victoria statue

Nanaimo: (population about 167,000)

  • Tourism Nanaimo
  • Harbourfront walkway – The Bastion landmark
  • Neck Point Park, Maffeo Sutton Park, Piper’s Lagoon Park, Westwood Lake Park
  • Newcastle Island
  • Nanaimo Museum
  • Protection Island
  • Boat tours, kayak rentals, fishing, canoeing

 

Parksville (population about 12,000)

  • City of Parksville
  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
  • Parksville Community Park & Skate Park
  • Paradise Fun Park
  • Top Bridge Park
  • Englishman River
  • Boat tours, golfing

 

Qualicum Beach – (population 8,500)

Little Qualicum Falls
Enormous trees in Cathedral Grove

Tofino & Ucluelet

  • Tofino – (population of 1,800)
  • Ucluelet – (population of 1,600)
  • Tofino & Ucluelet visitor information
  • Chesterman Beach, Long Beach, Cox Bay Beach
  • Pacific Rim National Park
  • Rainforest Trail
  • Schooner Cove
  • Tofino Brewing Company
  • Surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, winter storm-watching
  • Hiking, camping, fishing, eco-tours
Surfers enjoying the waves near Tofino, BC

Comox (population about 13,000)

  • Fishing charters
  • Golf
  • Parks
  • Trails
  • Gardens

 

Campbell River (population about 31,000)

  • Museum
  • Elk Falls Provincial Park & Suspension Bridge
  • helicopter tour, boat tour, kayak river adventures
  • Quinsam Fish Hatchery
  • Ripple Rock
  • Maritime Heritage Centre

 

Port Hardy (population about 4,500)

  • Most northern populated part of Vancouver Island
  • BC Ferries Inside Passage cruise
  • Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre
  • Port Hardy Museum
  • Nature tours, trails, parks
  • Scarlett Point Lighthouse

 

More information about Vancouver Island can be found at the following links:

Who knows? You may love it so much you might decide to move there!

Ten Tips to Manage Stress

Ten Tips to Manage Stress

Ten Tips to Manage Stress

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s response to a real or perceived threat. Some stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us and help us take action. When stress is unhelpful it can make us feel powerless and unable to act. Many people have physical responses such as racing heart, sweating or tense muscles. Over time this can have a bigger impact on our physical health. We are more likely to get sick when we are stressed. Stress is a reaction to a situation – it’s not about the situation itself. Depending on our skills, we each react differently to various stressors. What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Common sources of stress may include major life events, like moving or changing jobs. Long-term worries, like a long-term illness or parenting, can also feel stressful. For many of us, stress at work plays a big role, but even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress.

What can you do about it?

  1. Identify the daily stressors in your life. Each time your experience it, write it down in a journal. Over time you will begin to notice patterns and common themes. Write down what triggers your stress. How did it make you feel emotionally and physically? How did you act in response? What did you do to make yourself feel better?
  2. Be aware of any unhealthy ways you cope with stress: smoking, drugs, drinking, over-sleeping, over-eating, procrastinating, avoiding friends, etc. Avoid (or reduce) consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. These chemicals can act as stimulants and raise stress levels. Also avoid intake of refined sugar, which can cause energy crashes and may lead you to feel tired and irritable.
  3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay hydrated with water, eat nutritious food and incorporate some physical activity in your daily routine on a regular basis. Exercise can metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.
  4. Get more sleep. Although stress can interrupt your sleep, don’t rely on medication to help you. Instead maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Try relaxation techniques. In a stressful situation, before blowing up, start by slowly counting to 10. Breath deeply and visualize a positive place. (Go to your happy place.) It may be hard to relax at first, but don’t worry – relaxation is a learned skill and will improve with practice. Be calm. Practise meditation, breathing, mindfulness.
  5. Talk to someone. After a long, busy, stressful day of work, one of the best ways to de-stress is to go for a walk in the evening with your spouse or a friend. They act as a sounding board and help put things in perspective. Not only are you getting some fresh air and exercise you can talk about your day and get your thoughts out of your head. Sharing your thoughts helps you to de-stress.
  6. Let go of what you can’t control. Many things, including other people are outside of your control. Focus on the things you can control, including the way you choose to react. Take control of what you can. Learn how to problem solve and make decisions in those stress-inducing situations. Inaction causes stress. Taking action helps alleviate it.
  7. Simplify and manage your time. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Now make a schedule to complete those tasks. Prioritize tasks by time sensitivity and importance. Delegate some tasks and remove others that are less important. Allow some contingencies to make your list more manageable.
  8. Learn to say No! If your stress is caused by taking on too many activities, decide on how many and what you can do and stick to your decision. Being pulled in too many directions helps nobody.
  9. Learn to forgive. We live in an imperfect world and as humans we make mistakes. Free yourself from negative energy and learn to forgive and move on. Be positive. When stress is getting you down, take the time to reflect on all the things you appreciate.
  10. Make time for fun and relaxation. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Do something you enjoy and keep a good sense of humour and this includes the ability to laugh at yourself!

Read about mindfulness.

Go outside!

Easy Guacamole

Easy Guacamole

Easy Guacamole

guacamoleThis simple recipe is a colourful, nutritious dish that can be served as a snack, an appetizer or along side a meal. It can be used as a spread inside wraps or on top of any savoury dish for some added flavour.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 dashes of Tabasco sauce (hot sauce)
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced, juice squeezed out
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of no-salt seasoning (Mrs. Dash)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Cut each avocado, peel the skin and remove the stone. Mash the avocados in a medium bowl with a fork or potato masher. It’s ok to leave some chunks for texture. Prepare the tomato by finely chopping it, then scoop some in your hands and gently squeeze out most of the juice. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Add more or less spices to taste. Place in a serving dish and serve with corn tortilla chips.