We all need food to survive but to live well and free of disease eating the right type of food is necessary.


Moroccan Turkey Stew (serves 4)

It’s our first week back in session in BC and it’s been a little cool and damp around the lodge. Spring showers and the odd snow flake have surprised and delighted us with their unpredictable way of dashing in and then dashing out again just as suddenly. There’s a saying in the mountains – wait 20 minutes and the weather will change. And so it has!

Tip: take the spices (including the ginger) aside and saute them in a near dry skillet on a low heat for a few minutes. This helps release their rich flavours. Then add your onions, celery, etc and saute them all together. This dish can also be left to cook in a slow cooker rather than simmering on the stove.

Sherry Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Make a little gravy from the leftover mushroom stuffing. Add 2 c. chicken stock to remainder of mushroom stuffing, add salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 3 minutes – strain juice off and thicken with 1 tsp of arrowroot mixed with water.
4 – ½” rounds of yam – baked

16 Brussel sprouts
12 New carrots
20 Pearl onions
Sprigs of fresh thyme

Women – 4 oz. Chicken, 4 brussel sprouts, 3 new carrots, 5 pearl onions, ½” round of yam
Cranberry salsa – 1 Tbs. per serving & Gravy – 1 Tbs. per serving

Men – 5 oz. Chicken, 4 brussel sprouts, 3 new carrots, 5 pearl onions, ½” round of yam
Cranberry salsa – 1 Tbs. per serving & Gravy – 1 Tbs. per serving

Reducing dairy = better weight loss

This morning was my last guiding day of the season here in British Columbia.  As we close up shop for the winter, we are already preparing for the Turkey Burner (our winter program) and the upcoming 2011 season. 🙂

It has been great to see the evolution of our program over ten years to where it is now – offering ever-better and always great weight loss.  One of the things we will continue to pursue to achieve the best weight loss possible, is to reduce our dairy intakes.  While the federal and regional dairy foundations have supported research esposing the greatness of dairy in weight loss, we’ve witnessed that reducing dairy here at Mountian Trek in fact reduces many people’s food sensitivities and hence their body weights.  Today, our kitchen manager Laurie and myself have brainstormed more ideas to provide the 5 star spa cuisine you’ve all come to expect with even less dairy than ever…

(Let me just say that fresh, wild, smoked salmon prepared by the local First Nations peoples is going to be part of one of our fantastic trail snacks….:)

There are only TWO BAD FOODS

Sodas (pop) and artificial sweeteners (Aspartame and Splenda, or Sucralose). 

Whoa, did I, as a registered Dietitian just write that??   The position statement of both the Dietitians of Canada and of the American Dietetic Association are that Aspartame and Splenda are safe, acceptable sweeteners useful for weight loss.  Hmmmn.   When we graph the pop/soda consumption in the USA and Canada from 1970 till now, the increases in consumption are a mirror reflection to the increases in body weight and obesity observed in North America’s population.

No other food, product or habit shows as precise a correlation to our society’s weight gain as soda consumption.  

Interestingly, diet sodas are the populations’ leading source of aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and now Splenda, or Sucralose.   Regardless of whether diet or regular soft drinks  are consumed, the result has been the same – predictable weight gain in the 400 million Americans and Canadians in direct relation to soda consumption.   In research, correlation does not mean cause, however, 400 million people over 40 years of empirical measurements showing this matched, direct relationship is very, very convincing.

Why is this?  It appears that the chemical salts that make up sodas are the main culprit – they inhibit the ‘detox effect.’ 

Detox is the successful excretion of various heavy metals, chemicals and the like from fat cells. If we are unable to unload and excrete these things, we maintain a higher fat mass in our bodies.  Thus, soda and artificial sweetener consumption means you maintain more fat mass since you are prevented from excreting the things that help create and maintain the fat cell in the first place. So, regardless of whether or not the soda has calories, the mechanisms of fat storage from sodas are also the result of chemical interference in our fat storage system.

Our advice: avoid sodas of any kind as much as possible:)  

Self Soothing to Replace Stress Eating

Self soothing with food

Emotional Eating is a common stress release, or reward choice, for most of us. Using food as a way to work through our feelings, we lower the intensity, or even numb uncomfortable emotions by chewing, grazing, searching, tasting, craving, overeating or even binging. Unfortunately, eating can lead to guilt or shame when we do it for soothing rather than to stop hunger. In Susan Albers book “50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food”, the author of Eating Mindfully, offers 5 other choices to replace stress eating:

  1. Mindful Meditation Techniques
  2. Changing Thoughts (journalling, affirmations, etc)
  3. Soothing Sensations to Calm and Relax the Body (baths, yoga, massage, etc)
  4. Soothing with Distractions (music, shopping, creativity, etc)
  5. Social Soothing (buddy system, furry friends, safe venting, etc)

Susan’s practical alternatives to stress eating are beneficial to all of us who anesthetize our difficult emotions with oral pleasures. Her crux, is to practice “Radical Acceptance”…the complete focusing on “what is” rather than on how we wish things should be…feeling our feelings and accepting them for what they are. Susan offers,”Emotional eating is the opposite of acceptance…it involves warding off feeling bad with comfort eating because we don’t accept the way we feel.” Acceptance doesn’t equal condonance, it just allows more grace to be with what is…and the spaciousness to explore our unmet needs. Check out Susan’s Book if any of these thoughts resonate for you.


Burn more fat: Skip Breakfast before workout (WRONG)

Saw an article on Yahoo! news describing a study in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.   Whilst the catchy headline told me to skip breakfast, the research data did nothing to persuade me to give up breakfast before doing activity.  The study looked at only 7 healthy and fit youths, with only 4 of the youths showing only a marginal increase in fat loss but ALL the youths measuring poorer athletic performance compared to their established athletic norms.

It’s not what you get too much of but what you get too little of…

And what do we want to be getting more of in our diets? Plants, in all the colors of the rainbow and lots of them. Benefits…too numerous to mention such as increases in energy, fewer digestive issues, “feeling better and lighter” etc. Plants are loaded with things called antioxidants which are basically like pac men gobbling up things called free radicals which left to their own devices cause cells to break down. All these antioxidants also help reduce inflammation (see previous blog) and creates a strong immune system.

And remember the secret at Mountain Trek for those of you who have been with us…salad dressings. Dressing up your veggies creates a whole taste experience to have with your greens. Making your own is the best but supermarkets are carrying more “healthy” pre-made dressings.

My Year of Eating Less Meat

One of my New Year’s resolutions (besides mastering the use of chopsticks), is to reduce and possibly eliminate my consumption of meat and poultry. I’m not a high consumer of meat, never have been and I always considered myself a compassionate carnivore; I buy and eat only organic meats and eat only wild fish. It’s not for ethical or environmental reasons I’m doing this (although I am aware of the impact of consuming meat has on the earth) it’s more like my body is telling me this. Each time I go to the market looking at the array of meat I can buy, I just can’t do it, doesn’t feel right. No sound reason for it, it just is. I’ve never gone fully vegetarian probably never will I’ll be more like quasi-vegetarian. I think that would best describe what my goal is this year to be a quasi-vegetarian. Sometimes eat meat more likely not.

Legumes, lentils and beans always come to mind as a meat substitute (I can’t eat soya products). Endless cookbooks on the variations of what to do with them like veggie burgers, chili, and simply adding them in a salad. I did experiment with lentils, made the MT Captain Ainsworth soup, sans the turkey adding in cooked lentils instead. Wow! What a pleasant and satisfying soup! I had worried that not using the turkey juices would lessen the taste but was mistaken. I made the soup again (I’m invested in cooking most of MT recipes for the upcoming soon to be published official MT cookbook..watch for it) this time I added in a can of pre-made dal which again pleasantly surprised me on how awesome it tasted.

And then there’s quinoa. Challenged like the rest of the population in what to eat for breakfast, quinoa will make for a delicious and warm breakfast. It’s actually a seed not a grain and reportedly yields 18 grams per cooked cup (in case you are counting). I’m even considering using quinoa for sushi rolls but that will be another cooking adventure.

I’m excited about my entry to the semi-vegetarian world. I’ve always known about the beans, lentils etc, but to be honest with you, I was a bit lazy on tackling them thinking it would be time consuming and perhaps, not that appealing. I love proving myself wrong.

I’ll keep you posted on my new found culinary discoveries, my disasters and my pleasures.

till then…signing off..jp..who still is clumsy using chopsticks but committed.

A Brand New Year…2010…

I had every intention of writing a list of New Year’s resolutions for this blog before 2010 descended upon me. However, like all good intentions, things get in the way. I have a good excuse (as far as excuses go) as Mountain Trek’s Turkey Burn program was in full force and I can say I hit the ground snowshoeing after the holidays. Whew! We were a full house of 14 guests, some new to our snowshoe program and some familiar with us. So as a guide and New Year’s Eve host, my dance card quickly filled up and only now, I can kick back and start my list. Perhaps, I shouldn’t call them resolutions but suggestions for the year to support you on your journey to finding vitality in your life.

In the area of Nutrition:

1. For two weeks every three months, adopt a mini-cleanse. Limit and if you can, eliminate, dairy, wheat/flour products, sugar (all forms), processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol. This supports the body’s own natural cleansing process and supports what we promote at MT, detoxing through dietary changes. Enjoy more veggies, fish like salmon, lean meats, and be generous in using good fats like flax oil or Udo’s Oil.

And speaking of Detox:

2. Brush your Body. Dry skin brushing is an easy way to help the skin eliminate toxins, drain and cleanse the lymphatic system, and help support the immune system. Gently sweep the brush in a circular motion, moving from the outer areas of the body (legs and hands) towards the heart. Try it three times a week for 5-10 minutes before your morning shower. Dry skin brushes are available at most drugstores or health food stores.

How about fitness?

3. Text yourself messages reminding you to work out.

And of course, we can’t forget, relaxation or destressing.

4. Breathe. That’s it. Take a moment each hour of each day to simply take a deep breath.