Road Trip: Kelowna & Vernon

27 07 2010

We headed out to Kelowna and Vernon this past weekend. A tropical paradise in the Okanagan, a lake tropic anyhow. For four days the weather was 35 degrees +. Ah summer, almost forgot what it is like (uh, um Calgary?!?!?!?). Anyhow, we visited with two sets of very dear friends and their little kiddies in both places.

As we hit the road, just leaving Calgary, we came across one of many fields. To the left we noticed a lone bull pressed against the barbwire making all sorts of head nods looking out across the highway. Following his gaze to the right a field of black and white dairy cows. Three of which were pressed against the barbwire gazing back. Ah love.

It isn’t hard to be healthy in the Okanagan (besides consuming too much wine). The fruit and veggies are abundant. We of course packed home cherries, apricots and peaches. I plan on making a peach and rhubarb cobbler this weekend. Our first day there we headed to our favourite vineyard, Cedar Creek and then off to Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm for home made goat milk gelato. There is nothing like it!!! We all had our fill (pre-dinner of course) of this yummy treat.

For dinner we headed to RauDZ in downtown Kelowna for dinner. Their menu is seasonal and they source their menu from local growers and suppliers, they even list them on the menu. The daily drink special included a martini with the days fresh fruit. Besides a bit of a mix up on Tony’s meal, the food and service was incredible. A ‘must eat’ if you are in the area. There are choices for everyone, veggie and the like.

We stayed at Manteo Resort for a night, what a treat. We had brunch on the amazing patio and I had the crab cake egg benedict, swapping the potatoes for tomato. Not for the veggies out there, but sooooo good.

From Kelowna we headed to our friends lake house in Vernon. Gorgeous home, great friends and lots of fun. I was even surprised with the most amazing cake that little miss Ella decorated. How can you resist eating a big piece! The cake was delicious, full of fruit with yummy icing.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Eat well, be well,

Nat





Seeds of Change: Part III

23 07 2010

I haven’t killed anything yet, in the garden that is. Well the tomatoes came close to perishing. Comparing them to my grandmas a few weeks ago, it was clear I was doing something wrong. Hers were nice and leafy with lots of blooms. Mine. Whaa whaa. Same tomatoes different gardeners, clearly my responsibility. I got on the tomato food and things are on the mend. So far we have reaped the rewards of kale, radishes and our first strawberries (which were a very ‘sweet’ gift from our friends Kim and Janet last year).

How’s your garden?

Be well, eat well
Nat





Stampede Healthfully?

20 07 2010

On Saturday I tweeted we were off to the Stampede and while there you know I was going to record healthful treats ūüôā I love the Stampede. I know a lot people think it’s pathetic and silly. I think this: in Calgary we have two big opportunities a year to celebrate with friends and family, bringing colleagues from all parts of the city together to visit and have some cheer, the holiday season and Stampede. We get to party in the winter and the summer. It is a joyful time, especially when you have kids or are in business. So why not take part. Even if you don’t go to the grounds, friends have BBQs or even head out of town together, bottom line, people spend time together, what’s lame about that?

So our Stampede always includes BBQs and networking and a trip to the grounds¬†followed by an outing and maybe some two-stepping. We didn’t get to the two-stepping this year, but we enjoyed a stroll on the grounds, took in the sites and ate A LOT.¬†The first way to be healthful at the Stampede is to fill up on veggies BEFORE you go, that way you aren’t a) starving or b) tempted so easily. We did just that, made a big salad before we went. This way you can take your time, wonder around and sess out the options. Doing so we found our first choice, Wood Fired Pizza’s. Tony LOVES Margherita¬†pizza and they had it on the menu and it looked good. A small crowd had gathered and was willing to take in the wait for a fresh oven fired pizza. We ordered a pizza to share and ¬†to go with it, Limonada, soda water with fresh squeezed juice. We chose lemon, no sugar please. Delicious.

We continued our wondering, buying tickets to the Dream Home and Truck & Camper. Tony talked about both like they were already his (A technique for winning he says. Update: We didn’t win). We had met some good friends down there and one of them had a toddler, so we headed into the Big Four building for more dinner….that ended up being perogies, not bad. Tony had the entire Ukrainian dinner! The best part was that you could sit, with your kids and have a beer (light beer of course, continuing with the theme, and the fact they didn’t have much choice).

Dessert! Our favourite, Pineapple Cones. We both have been eating these since we were kids, it’s my mom’s favourite too. I do¬†remember actual chunks of pineapple back then though. They are still yummy and FAT FREE!

Those that know Tony know he is a candy-o-holic so when he saw the salt water taffy booth, we had to stop. I thought, fine, buy a handful. Nope, he buys the 65 piece box. The kid at the Pineapple Cone place says “whoa, that’s a lot of salt water taffy”. Yes, yes it is ūüėČ

We toured the Round Up Centre, where they sell and hock all sorts of stuff. Eating our cones (Tony started on the taffy) we talked to the Nellies Natural Laundry Soap people. We bought some dryer balls, citrus scent inserts and got a bag of soap for free, 50 loads worth!

A night out at the Stampede is not complete without those little mini donuts. OF COURSE! And because we did relatively well all night, or I did relatively well, I deserved them. As we made our way to the LRT Station, we grabbed some donuts. Tony finished his off before the train, I took my time, he continued to eat taffy. Candy, it’s an issue in our house.

Did you go to Stampede, what’s your favourite treat?

Eat well, be well,

Nat





June

30 06 2010

June is a busy month for us, it starts with a birthday and ends with a birthday and lots of stuff in between. I have recently been reminded by a few important people in my life to be present and that we never know what life brings. Being healthful includes sharing with others and June is the time when summer arrives (usually after lots of rain) and our spirits are alive in the sun. The gardens are planted and by July we settle in to a new routine that includes watering, pruning and BBQ’ing. We slow down, enjoy friends and family, eat fresh foods and rejuvenate. Here is a walk through June.

I was able to snap this amazing photo and a few others of bees doing their biz’ness in the plum tree. When the plum tree blooms the smell is incredible and the bees can be found buzzing around until the beginning of June.

It was my dad’s birthday on June 7 and we celebrated with a ‘bacon fry’ at my brother’s house. I forgot to take a picture of what a bacon fry looks like, doh. A very old school tradition and passed along by my Hungarian heritage. Over a fire pit you cook a piece of back bacon that has been slit lengthwise a few times. On a tray you have a thick slice of grandma’s bread with diced onion and paprika on it. As the bacon cooks, you drip and press it into the bread. Sounds like a coronary eh, well, these days the bacon looks quite lean, but not something to be done weekly. As you can imagine, I don’t partake, I cook a Spolumbos turkey sausage instead. The picture I did get was the Cedar Waxwing¬†above. It sat by the pond for 30 min, I just kept getting closer and closer to snap a picture on my phone. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Then it was Fathers Day. My grandpa, dad’s dad, passed away January 5th. Before that we had a pre-Christmas dinner at our house and I made ‘good but bad for you’ almond cookies, to end the Spanish inspired dinner. They’re like a shortbread and dreamy. Gramps wasn’t feeling good, but he ate those cookies, he loved sweets! We call them ‘grandpa’s cookies’. For Father’s Day I made some for our dads. For my dad I wrapped them in wax paper and placed them in a turtle dish we bought in Mexico (his nickname is Turtle).

Tony and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary on June 21, the summer solstice. The rain seems to stop and the sun makes an appearance that day, lucky. To celebrate we bought a hot rod for cruising and shows. It’s a 1967 Beaumont and Street Heat fixed her up real nice (but I keep getting told “winter, new engine”, oh oh). China and Cotton are the traditional and modern anniversary gifts, I bought Tony and I t-shirts with the 1967 Beaumont advertisement on them. I know, don’t say it.

My dear grandpa’s birthday is on June 23. This was a tough day for everyone. We gathered at my grandparents, ate and cheers’ed¬†him. A pic of my gramps and I dancing when I was like 15? Miss you gramps {heart}.

By the end of June the peonies are in full bloom and it is Tony’s birthday June 27. The peonies are amazing and fill the house with the smell of summer and remind me of my Baba, my mom’s mom. She passed 9 years ago and her birthday is June 29th. Miss you Baba {heart}. It’s sad the peonies don’t last long, but once they bloom the other perennials get their turn in the sun. For Tony’s birthday I bought him all sorts of BBQ’ing apparatus, I look forward to the veggies and such grilled on the ‘q over the summer.

Was June special for you?

Be well, Nat





Seeds of Life: Part II

10 06 2010

Ok, we did it. Got the garden in. It was a dreary day on Tuesday, but the rain stayed away for the day. In between errands and writing a presentation I put my floral rubber boots on (wedding gift from my friend Kathy in Van) and got to work. I checked the lay out and started back to front. Like a good project manager I had a plan.

The soil was pretty wet, but since it was warm’ish out and damp, it was good weather to get the seeds started. Dry weather isn’t the best and you have to water it a bunch. I hope it will turn out okay. I still have some raspberry plants to plant in the back that grandma gave me yesterday. It is a lofty first try, but hopefully we are reaping the rewards of our own organic food by the end of summer. I guess this leads to canning and preserving too, huh.

Looking forward to sharing the fruits of our labour with all of you. Anyone else plant a garden? What’s your favourite garden treat?

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Seeds of Life: Part I

7 06 2010

So, we have been attempting to get the garden in for a couple of weeks. With the rain and cold it has been a challenge to sync calendar with sun. This past weekend Tony borrowed the rototill from my folks to till the garden. We (I meant he) added an entire black barrel of compost from our house, two bags of Sea Soil (compost enriched with sea creature scrap) and a bag of manure my grandma gave me.

Alright, so now in-between appointments and meetings, Monday is the day, to get the seeds sown and plants planted. Grandma gave me eight tomato plants, I have eight zucchini plants, four kale plants, two raspberry canes and a bunch of seeds including; carrots, green lettuce, radish, beets, swiss chard, spinach and green beans. Already in the garden is rhubarb (see Spring Rhubarb post), strawberries, mint and sorrel. I did a little drawing and laid the lot out. The raspberries are temporary, they will be moved once our shed is moved and a new fence put in, this year or next. I think I need to get another one though, two doesn’t look right, needs a third to balance.

I went out this morning, took a before picture:

Then I laid out the plants and where the seeds would go, measuring with my measuring tape the recommened distance apart from each plant. The bamboo canes represent where a line of seeds would go. Good, i’ll be back after lunch, do some sowing, off to the next appointment, back to finish, out to dinner. I can do it.

HAIL!!!!! I am about 5 km from the house post appointment #1. I can do it. Pass the bus, get through the light (without a speeding ticket), safety belt off, garage door opened, into the garage, eerch. Umbrella, back seat, run, tomatoes first, zucchini next, into the basket, run, into the gazebo. Flowers, move, into the gazebo, done. <long sigh>

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Be well,

Nat





mmm Cupcakes

4 05 2010

I know, I know, not healthful but anyone that knows me knows I have a thing for cupcakes. This is thanks to my dear friend Kathy in Vancouver. Many, many years ago she introduced me to the original cupcake shop north of the 49th parallel called what else ‘Cupcakes’. They were and still are located on Denman and now have a bunch of locations. Anyhow, I first fell in love with cupcakes then and they have been my (and many others) favourite treat since. I have tasted them from here to Santa Monica to NYC and abroad. We had them at our wedding and every month Tony and I get two of the ‘flavour of the month’ from Crave. Do I have a favourite in the city? We had Buttercreme Bake Shoppe for our wedding, lavender icing on chocolate cake and a vanilla icing on vanilla cake. Perfect simplicity. We thought we’d be going out on a limb offering lavender flavoured cake at our wedding, but people loved them. I love the cake of Crave and the icing of Buttercreme but for the record the Blue Hawaii is our favourite at Cupcakes. It not only tastes perfect, but it has sweet memories for me (luvs ya Kath).

Today however, it was my good friend Jessica’s birthday and we took advantage of this day to sample a new cupcake place in the city, The Little Cupcake Shoppe. She even cleared the kids out (and I went over prepared to reluctantly share, isn’t she sweet). We organized ourselves, tea, plates, forks. We tried six cupcakes, but were civilized about it. We cut the cupcakes in half and then quartered them. Jess said that ‘you’d think we were sampling wedding cakes!’. We ate three, took a rest, discussed each one as we went. It was serious business. They are a bit smaller than the other ones in the city, so really it was like eating one big one. Their icing is less sweeter, less sugary than Crave, so we loved that. There is real fruit puree and other fresh additives, love that too. The cake, really good. Score. Check them out (But only as a special treat. I once saw the icing sugar get delivered to Crave, it came on a palate, eesh). I think our fav’s today were the Pina Colada and the Mocha.

Eat well (but not cupcakes everyday), Nat





Not for the Guys

30 03 2010

My friend Lisa is part owner of¬†Moksha Yoga in Calgary and one of her partners is a Naturopathic Doctor. Lisa and I were talking about girl things, fertility etc while on the beach in Sayulita. She mentioned they were thinking of doing a workshop on this very topic. Perfect! Since I am in the business of understanding fertility and um getting pregnant, I told her I’d go for sure. Low and behold, she set it up and sent me the info. Looks interesting and not only for women wanting to understand fertility but those interested in overall health. Like the quote in the pamphlet: “The menstrual cycle remains one of the purest barometers of our health”. A link to the workshop information is below. Give it some thought.

Body Literacy

Be Well, Nat





Sayulita Life Part III

20 03 2010

Home from Mexico and drying up like a prune. The wedding was amazing (happy couple Bryce and Tara)¬†and the town of Sayulita the perfect Mexican get away. Small surfer village, no big resorts, nothing over three stories tall, families and surfers vacationing together and locals living and loving the surf along with sun seekers. The food was incredible. Yoga in the morning sun. Fruit salads daily, fish tacos, veggie burritos for lunch and out to one of the many quaint and very good restaurants each night. Day of expense, the boys headed out for some ocean fishing and the girls headed to the Four Seasons in Punta Mita for a lunch by the pool (which we later learned moved a village to build, grrr). Love to hear your comments about Sayulita if you’ve been.

The tequila research was easy. After the wedding at Villa Amor, a quaint character complex on the beach, the wedding party walked down the cobbled streets to the main plaza (the intersection of the four roads in Sayulita) and stopped at Sayulita Fish Taco for a shot of Tequila. Here the owner gave us the Tequila 101. There are three forms of the agave elixir; Blanco (silver, unaged tequila), Reposado (golden, lightly aged tequila) and Anejo (darker, longer aged tequila). The difference between the tequila can be told mostly in the blanco varieties. When they are aged, they are aged in wood barrels and casks which masks the original flavour of the agave and the region it comes from. There are thousands of Tequila varieties and at any time SFT has 350+ on hand. You can try a flight of Tequila like you do with wine, which Tony and I went back to do. They served sliced orange sprinkled with cinnamon to cleanse the palate. Like wine, this is a really good way to taste the difference between tequilas. There is a technique to tasting tequila. Take a sip, inhale through your nose, swallow and exhale through your mouth (for the yogis, doesn’t that make for a fun pranayama, kidding). We learned that tequila has a low sugar content and after doing some research the carbohydrate content of tequila is unique to each brand, some brands have sugar added to them during processing. El Jimador is very low in sugars while Jose Cuervo is higher. If you are keen, look here.

I happen to like tequila*, so learning more about it was interesting. The lime or fresa (strawberry) margaritas were a daily additive. To the chagrin of my travelling companions I created a way to drink tequila with no added sugar. In my self proclaimed genius I poured a shot of Reposado El Jimador over ice in a tumbler, squeezed two small ‘limons’ over it and added soda water. Voila a refreshing drink we named the Agave Azul (after the name of the residence we were living in). I asked about this at dinner one night to learn it is called a Charro Blancho or ‘white cowboy’. Really? That’s not sexy and we stuck to our naming convention. At the Four Seasons they introduced us to a version called the Poloma made with grapefruit soda (aka Squirt, again not sexy). It was good too.

We enjoyed guacamole every day, there is nothing like fresh avocados in Mexico. We bought Queso Fresco (fresh cheese) and made bean and cheese quesadillas with fresh maize tortillas. There is a wonderful bakery we tried late in our trip which was too bad but probably a good thing. I love grocery shopping in other places and I bought cumin, cinnamon, vanilla beans, whole nutmeg and turmeric to bring home.

I learned to make guacamole in Mexico many years ago, here is the recipe to enjoy for yourself.

2 Ripe Avocados

1 Tomato, diced

2-3 Tbsp of Red Onion, diced (this is optional, I usually leave it out)

2-3 Tbsp chopped Cilantro

1 tsp Ground Cumin

2-3 Tbsp Queso Fresco (or 1-2 Tbsp plain yogurt, again optional)

1-2 Tbsp of fresh Lime Juice

Pinch of Salt

I learned to half the avocado, remove the pit. Scoop the flesh out and mush with a spoon (this was really important for some reason). Mix in the rest of the ingredients, enjoy.

*Tequila is obviously not a health food (although I tried to figure out how it could be, I am sure there is an ancient wisdom in it somewhere). I am not dogmatic about not drinking, over doing it isn’t healthy. Just drink responsibly and enjoy the flavours of other cultures.

Eat well and be well, Nat





Sayulita Life Part II

14 03 2010

The tequila research continues, stay tuned on that front. We did find the most glorious hot weather treat, home made popsicles. Now these are no ordinary popsicles they are made from real fruit juice with chunks of fruit. She also makes ice cream and again full of fruit, nuts or Oreos if you like. We have tried blackberry and pineapple (pic below), coffee, jack fruit and coconut water with pieces of coconut! She has mango, mango with chillies, lime, melon, mixed fruit and the list goes on. Coconut is a group fav and I think I’ll try the coconut ice cream before we leave – it’s made from coconut cream.

Adios and eat well