Nutrition

Learn more about Nutrition and it’s effect on living a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is a factor in stress and weight gain.

The Truth About Superfoods

The term “superfood” has taken on a life of its own.

Superfoods are commonly defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” They consist primarily of dark green leafy vegetables, berries, fish, nuts, healthy oils (e.g. olive oil or avocado oil), and a few other nutrient power-houses.

What is a Superfood?

There is an alternate definition, however, that you should be aware of. “Superfood is a marketing term for food assumed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density.” There are a couple of critical words in that definition; “marketing term” and “assumed”.

Harvard Medical school points out, in the first line of their article on superfoods, “No single food — not even a superfood — can offer all the nutrition, health benefits, and energy we need to nourish ourselves”. The idea that the term superfood is being used as a trendy marketing tool gives us cause for concern—not with the superfoods themselves, but with our understanding and knowledge of how to include superfoods into our diet. We want to avoid the belief that one food provides a healthy diet, prevents illness, and elongates your life.

For example, take the company Laird Superfood. The company was founded by surf legend Laird Hamilton on the principle that if he added some superfood nutrients to his coffee, his day would be off to an optimal start. Although this may increase the nutritional value of your coffee, it by no means replaces a proper, wholesome breakfast, as it’s advertised. It’s this type of thinking we want to prevent. In reality, breakfast is the most critical meal of the day. Eating a balanced, whole-food breakfast will help balance your hormones and has been proven to increase anabolic metabolism by 15%. It should be so much more than just a cup of coffee supplemented with a few nutrients.

Superfoods can certainly be nutritious, but the term can often be more useful for driving sales than providing optimal nutrition recommendations

When food is given superfood status, it causes people to fixate on a few specific foods. Thus limiting them from eating other equally nutritious options that aren’t as hyped. Variety in your diet is important not only to gain the benefit of eating a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals but also to prevent one from eating too much (or too little) of a particular nutrient. It also keeps your meals interesting and flavorful!

Eat Super-plates, not just Superfoods

All whole, unprocessed foods are super in different ways! The more diversity of whole foods you consume, the more varied your nutrient profile will be. Increased varieties of nutrients in your diet offers more protection against disease and illness. Instead of focusing on just one superfood, we suggest thinking about creating Superplates by incorporating a wide variety of whole foods.

The healthiest diets of the world are all different and include a wide variety of foods that offer diverse nutrient profiles. When studying cultural diets across the globe, you’ll see that there’s no one perfect diet. Each diet offers different food grown in those specific regions. In other words, you don’t need the Himalayan goji berry in your diet to achieve your best health. Goji berries are called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants. You can find similar health benefits in everyday fruits and veggies, like organic rainbow carrots, fresh leafy green vegetables, and even cauliflower and broccoli.

A delicious blueberry is another great example of a holy grail superfood that ranks high on superfood lists. For good reason, yes! Purple and dark red colored foods are the signatures of a special class of natural antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants are extremely important, as they reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body. However, blueberries aren’t the only food with this color. You’ll also find anthocyanins in red cabbage, red onion, purple carrots, and beautiful beets.

Balanced plates lead to balanced health

Over two decades of helping people reset their health and find a sustainable lifestyle, we have found that in order to reach our most optimal health it’s best to have a balance of fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and detoxification. Someone who is fit and able to run a marathon, but only sleeps 4 hours a night, is not healthy. Someone who eats properly, but sits all day, is not healthy. So too goes this principle of balance for nutrition and superfoods—we cannot just eat one superfood and be healthy. We must eat a balanced super-plate, with a variety of whole foods for a sustainable diet that provides tons of energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. A diet that will leave YOU feeling SUPER.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

How To Reset Your Health In 48 Hours

a woman sitting on a hiking trail meditating

It’s perfectly understandable that spending an entire week eating healthfully, hiking through lush nature, sleeping well, exercising, and detoxifying will do wonders for your mind and body. But you might be shocked to hear that with the right strategy and a little bit of motivation, you can make a profound impact on your health in just 48 hours. That means that in just one weekend, you can right the ship, take the reins, and restore the balance of your health. It’s not a walk in the park (well, you actually might take a walk in the park) but your body will thank you for dedicating just one single weekend to yourself.

We’ve been running our Basecamp weekend retreats in response to the COVID crisis. Guests spend one weekend (Friday 3 pm – Sunday evening) following our program and working virtually alongside our expert team. And we have to say—the results have been absolutely amazing. Participants are feeling significantly lighter, recharged, and reset. We’ve distilled this amazing weekend into an easy to follow 4-step guide so you can reset your health in the span of 48 hours, and emerge from a healthy weekend feeling like the best version of yourself.

Step 1) Make a bulletproof schedule

The last thing you want to be doing all weekend is constantly trying to decide “what’s next”. This will prevent you from fully sinking into the weekend. Sit down and write your 48-hour schedule on a piece of paper. Make sure to include the following critical elements:

Nutrition

Eat 6 times per day, starting immediately upon waking, and consume your calories within a 12-hour window. Give your metabolism a break for the other 12 hours (Intermittent Fasting). Eat most of your calories early in the day and then taper off moving towards night-time. Eat organic, plant-based food when available, and avoid processed food, added sugar, and alcohol.

Fitness

Move your body as much as possible throughout the day. We weren’t designed to sit, so let’s try to do as little of that as possible this weekend. Time your exercise for after your meals to begin understanding the value of food as fuel, not a coping mechanism. Begin your day with yoga (after a smoothie), then after breakfast do a HIIT or other functional fitness class. After lunch, spend a long time outside in nature, walking for either 40 minutes at a vigorous pace, or 90 minutes at a leisurely rate. Then, following dinner, tackle one more functional fitness class and end your night with restorative yoga.

Sleep

After a full day of exercise and eating properly, you have some building blocks for great sleep. Ensure you not only get enough hours of sleep, but also a deep sleep. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil 90 minutes prior to bed, don’t let your phone cross the threshold of your room, ensure your room is the right temperature and is dark, and do a relaxation technique while laying down. Read our full guide to great sleep for more tips.

Stress relief/management

Make sure to include relaxation time. Mindfulness is a highly potent tool for stress relief. If you already have a practice, carve out a large chunk of time of your weekend to dive deeper than you have in the past. If mindfulness is new to you, take this weekend as an opportunity to dip your toes in. Schedule a couple of 5-10 minute guided meditations sessions, ideally early in the morning and then again before bed.

Creating a schedule can be difficult, so we’re happy to share ours. If you actually want to follow along, all of the recipes and exercises are linked (click the image first), and you can find a shopping list below

Step 2) Prepare for success

Once your schedule is in place, it’s time to commit and get ready to immerse in the weekend. There are three critical components to preparing:

Ensure you have the right equipment—for our schedule, you need the following:

  • Kitchen with basic cooking tools
  • Blender
  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga strap (could be a belt or tie, etc.)
  • Firm blanket or pillow (for morning yoga)
  • 3 large firm pillows (e.g. couch cushions—for restorative yoga)
  • Light weights (2-5lbs) or substitute (soup cans or water bottles)
  • Running shoes
  • A chair (used for stability during exercise classes)
  • Water bottle

Shop for your ingredients 2-3 days prior to the weekend

View a shopping list for our schedule

Remove as many distractions as possible

Carve out this time for you. It’s only 48 hours, so almost everything can wait. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues that you are going to immerse yourself in this experience and request they only call, text, or email if it’s an emergency. This will reduce your stress and anxiety. Get baby sitters for the kids if you have them, or make a plan with your partner to watch them for the weekend. Be selfish for just this one weekend.

Step 3) Instill accountability

We’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk. While investing in an experience like Mountain Trek and spending time with our expert staff, whether that be a full week at the lodge to really dive deep into your health transformation or just a weekend for a quick tune-up, will provide you the accountability you need to succeed, it isn’t always an option. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tricks to instill accountability on your own:

Form a “tribe”

The best thing you could possibly do is gather a small group of your closest allies and do the healthy weekend reset together. Sharing your experience with others has been proven to dramatically increase your chances of success and will make the experience more memorable and enriching. Create a group text thread dedicated to the weekend and have nightly Zoom calls to touch base and discuss your experience and progress.

Share your intentions

If no one is able to join you, share what you are attempting to accomplish with a close friend, family member, or colleague. Detail to them what you are doing the healthy weekend and what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask them to check in with you on Sunday about how it went. Just knowing that someone else is aware of your goals will hold you accountable.

Set a reward

Completing your healthy weekend reset is a big deal and a positive experience. These accomplishments deserve rewards, not only to keep you working towards the goal but to create a positive association with accomplishing such endeavors. Write your reward down prior to beginning your weekend and stick it on the fridge as a reminder.

Step 4) Turn healthy actions into habits

Once your 48-hours are up, you need to capture the momentum you worked so hard to create to ensure your health stays pointed in the right direction. A 48-hour reset is not a justification to go binge on bad habits—it is a leveling-up, a beginning of a new chapter, a fresh start. To keep your compass pointed towards your “true north”, we need to cement your new habits so they become part of your lifestyle.

Building habits is a skill and can be tricky at times. At Mountain Trek, we follow a six-step process to build healthy habits—ones that are truly sustainable:

1. Identify your health and wellness goals

This one is easy. Just write down all of your goals. Try to be as specific as possible, however.

2. Redesign your goals to optimize for success

Make sure your goal is SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-anchored. Setting a SMART goal immediately doubles your chance of success.

3. Simplify

Pick a maximum of two goals from step 1.

4. Set a weekly target

Start small. Aim for doing your healthy action two, maybe three times each week, then grow from there.

5. Monitor your progress and adjust if needed

Write your goal down in a journal, keep a piece of paper handy with a tally, track it using your online calendar, or, you can use either Mountain Trek’s Health & Habit Building App, which will keep track of your progress for you, or our simple goal tracker. Whatever tool you decide to use, it’s important to monitor your activity, notice when you’re falling behind and congratulate yourself when you are achieving your goals.

6. Reward your intention

Whether you are successful or not, you need to reward yourself for your intention to do your best. Rewards can be small or big, simple, or complex.

You now have a proven strategy to reset your health in the course of just one weekend. We hope you take the time to invest in your health, you need and deserve it now more than ever. Be compassionate to yourself throughout the process and don’t worry if it doesn’t all go to plan. There will most likely be hiccups along the way. The important part is that you committed to a healthy weekend—to yourself—and you made your best effort.

If the above is daunting to tackle on your own, we would be more than honored to have you join us for one of our upcoming Basecamp weekend retreats, where our expert team will do all of the work listed above for you, so all you need to do is show up and give it your best.

Good luck, stay healthy, and keep moving!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: How do I make or break a habit?

image of dice spelling old habits

Q: How can I use this period of isolation and working from home, to make or break some healthy habits?

A: This time of restricted travel and socializing is an ideal time to add or delete 1-2 behaviors that we want to change. Creating or breaking a habit requires consistency and repetition, but this isn’t usually easy. With this mandated break, we have the benefit of consistency right now. Without racing to the airport, commuting to work, or feeling obligated to attend an event, it’s easier to set a routine.

To fully capitalize on our newfound stability, there are a few things we can do to increase our chances to form a new habit or break an old one.

Pick Two Actions

First, focus your attention on a maximum of two specific actions that you can commit to daily for the next 4 weeks. Before COVID, we needed 3-6 months to solidify an action into a habit because our work life was in constant flux and flow. By embracing more time at home, we can significantly shorten the time needed to make or break a habit.

Are they Sustainable

Next, ensure you could continue your specific actions into your lifestyle once the travel and work restrictions are lifted.

Are they Achievable

Third, call it a 30-day ‘experiment’, to take the pressure of perfectionism off.

Make Yourself Accountable 

Fourth, set a 2-week reminder in case you fall off the wagon.

Reward and Temptation

Fifth, take a tip from Ultralearning, by Scott H Young, and remove an unwanted habit by understanding and replacing the needs that it services. For example, if eating Ben & Jerry’s while watching Netflix gives you a sense of reward and relaxation after a productive day of work, you could replace those needs with some restorative yoga and a candlelit Epsom salt bath—both great ways to reward yourself and relax. Another of his suggestions that we support at Mountain Trek, would be to remove the temptation altogether in the first place. Meaning, don’t purchase the ice cream.

I suggest diving deeper into proper habit formation by reading our article: Building Healthy Habits in 6 Easy Steps


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Q&A: How do I control my snacking?

Young man taking potato chip out of glass bowl while sitting on sofa in front of laptop on table and having snack

Q: Why do I crave snacking so much now that I’m working from home because of coronavirus and how can I stop it?

A: Firstly, Mountain Trek supports snacking! In fact, in our approach to mindful Balanced Health, we don’t judge food or eating to be “good” or “bad”. It’s all about what, how much, and when that makes what we choose to eat either positive and healthy, or derailing. If you’ve ever been to Mountain Trek, you have heard our nutritionist, Jenn, say to eat a mix of foods every 3-4 hrs up until dinner in order to maintain consistent blood sugar (energy requirements) throughout the day. Varying blood sugar is what gets us in trouble with caffeine (hello, 2 pm crash) and snacking. This means we actually need to snack in order to optimize our mental and physical health and vitality! But we need to ensure we’re eating the right amount, of the right thing, at the right time. 

Snacking between Meals

Ideally, each meal or snack will have a little protein with a variety of colorful items from the plant kingdom. As stated above, we should be eating snacks 3-4 hours after breakfast and then again after lunch. Timing our snacks will balance our energy levels and prevent over-snacking. If we can take the time to organize our snacks on the weekend, we can make healthy and timely grazing even easier. Pre-cut and containerized veggies and protein dips and a variety of fruit choices with nuts, seeds, cheese, nut butter, hard-boiled eggs are all great, healthy snack options.

Why we crave the “Trifecta”

As for your “craving”, the reason you find tasty but unhealthy snacks on your mind is that we all get attracted to the “Carb-Fat-Salt Trifecta”. There is biological wiring from our tongue’s taste buds to the neurotransmitter release of our “feel-good” hormones, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These mood enhancers bathe our brain with an uplifting break from our stress-filled day. So eating potato chips, which hit the trifecta on the head, makes us happier, chemically at least. Emotional eating is real! When we feel depressed, disconnected, lonely, bored, exhausted, we are emotionally stressed. It is normal to unconsciously reach for a little something-something to pick our mood up and feel satisfied. But that short term pleasure turns to long term pain.

Habituate Healthy Choices 

Setting ourselves up with actions that we can habituate, while we have the kitchen so close to work, can pay dividends when we go back to the office or begin traveling again. 

  • Prepare snacks and set timers to remind yourself to step away from the screen to refuel. By preparing in advance with a healthy mindset, it makes your healthy snack a satisfying, easy and quick option instead of reaching for a bag of chips. 
  • Make your snacks nutritional, but also pleasurable. Include a variety of fruit choices with nuts, seeds, cheese, nut butter, and hard-boiled eggs. These are all great, healthy snack options.
  • Pre-cut and containerize veggies with protein dips. The combination of a fibrous snack with protein is nutritious and will provide you lasting energy.

To get started, here is a 2-day healthy meal plan. Learn more about how to develop a nutritional diet from home during one of our Basecamp Retreats.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

What is Intermittent Fasting and How to Do it Right

looking at wrist watch in nature

At Mountain Trek, we hear a lot of guests say they’re “intermittent fasting.” To some, this means skipping breakfast; to others, this means eating just dinner. Which is right? Which is wrong? Mountain Trek also practices intermittent fasting (IF) and has developed a specific method over the past 20 years proven to help guests ignite their metabolism. Here, our Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Jenn Keirstead, gives us the scoop on Mountain Trek’s approach to IF:

Jennifer-Keirstead-Nutritionist

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting has become the latest health fad that allegedly assists with weight loss. It has even ranked as the “trendiest” weight loss search of 2019. The dietary term is used to describe the cycle between periods of fasting and eating.

Experts say: it’s not all hype. In fact, many agree that the diet can be helpful in boosting longevity, maintaining blood sugar levels, and reaching a healthy weight.

Popular Methods of Intermittent Fasting

Not surprisingly, given the popularity, several different types or methods of IF have been established. Being popular doesn’t mean they are healthy, however. Explained below, are a few of the most popular methods:

Time-restricted eating: Fast for 16+ hours each day

This method involves fasting every day 16+ hours and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8 hours. For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 p.m. and don’t eat until noon the next day, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours.

The 5:2 diet: Eat for 5 days, Fast for 2 days per week

For one to two nonconsecutive days per week, you consume just water plus 500 calories, (200 of which are protein), either in one meal or spread out over the day. The other five or six days a week, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

Alternate-day fasting: Fast every other day

For the first 24 hours, you consume just water plus 500 calories, (200 of which are protein), either in one meal or spread out over the day. For the second 24 hours, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Repeat the cycle every two days.

After reading about a trend, I always like to ask myself: is this diet restrictive in any way, and is it sustainable long term? These are always good points to ponder before you find yourself in yet another diet + binge cycle.

Also, a word of caution from Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Hu explains: “It’s human nature for people to want to reward themselves after doing very hard work, such as exercise or fasting for a long period of time; so there is a danger of indulging in unhealthy dietary habits on non-fasting days. In addition, there’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food. He also comments, “Part of the fascination with IF arises from research with animals showing that fasting may reduce cancer risk and slow aging. One hypothesis is that fasting can activate cellular mechanisms that help boost immune function and reduce inflammation associated with chronic disease.”

How to do Intermittent Fasting correctly

Here at Mountain Trek, we too have our opinions about the structured fasting and eating cycles. Program Director, Kirkland Shave, describes our version as a, “12 on, 12 off.” He explains how, “The Mountain Trek program, where we take a 12-hour break without food (glucose) at night, aids in deeper sleep, less calorie storage, less LDL cholesterol production, and lowering the potential for Insulin Resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes).” We also believe that fasting is beneficial in supporting the anti-inflammatory response of cellular autophagy (self-eating). According to Priya Khorana, PhD, in nutrition education from Columbia University, this is the body’s way of, “Cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells.” Autophagy occurs when sleeping—another reason to fast at night.

The idea of eating during the day makes sense to us. This is because you’re eating when your body and brain are most active. This way you consume your calories when your body needs them the most. You are literally fueling your metabolic engine as it needs energy, rather than operating on a full tank all the time. When done correctly, with proper portions and timing, this means your engine will be running as clean and efficient as possible. No build-up, no excess.

We support a daily 12-hour fast, for our reasons above—we’ve just restructured the guidelines, to encourage a more healthful, sustainable, and practical approach.

Fast for at least 12 hours overnight

This might feel challenging at first, as many of us are accustomed to late-night eating and snacking. Many people find themselves mindlessly eating late at night, even when they aren’t hungry. But eating late into the night means our metabolism is still revved up when it’s time to slow things down and rest. Continuing to digest through the night disrupts sleep’s natural healing processes, and prevents autophagy, when our cells “clean themselves”. Ideally, leave at least 3-4 hours to digest before going to sleep. You will notice your sleep improves as you’ll get to truly rest, instead of digest. Learn more about our sleep program.

One thing to consider is that nighttime eating may be the result of an overly restricted daytime food intake, leading to ravenous hunger at night. You may find that more consistent eating throughout the day helps curb the out-of-control feeling around food in the evening.

Daytime fasting has become popular, but it deprives our bodies and brains of energy when we need it the most, often leading to energy and mood fluctuations. Plus, it’s much easier to do a full 12 hour fast when you’re sleeping for (ideally) 8 of the hours!

Another bonus of IF and eating dinner earlier: after 12 hours food-free, you’re actually hungry when you wake up! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for fueling our brain and body, but it’s hard to bring ourselves to eat it when we’re still full from last night’s dinner. Think back—when was the last time you woke up to a hungry stomach?

Break your fast first thing in the morning

Consume your first calories within 30 minutes of rising—think of breakfast truly as “breaking the fast.” Real food first please, though, not coffee!

There are options here. If you’re the exercise-before-work type, you can grab a quick snack consisting of a fruit/veggie, with a protein. Some examples include: apple + seeds, carrots + nut butter, or 5 oz of our Energizing Morning Smoothie made from frozen berries, spinach, banana + hemp hearts. This amount of nutrition is enough to boost your anabolic metabolism by supporting the steroids that stimulate protein synthesis, muscle growth, and insulin production.

You can also break your fast with actual breakfast. Fantastic examples include: a veggie omelet with sprouted, whole grain bread, or a bowl of oatmeal with berries and seeds. Here are some other wonderful breakfast recipes:

Homemade Granola Yogurt & Berry Bowl

Shakshuka with Sprouted Bread

Yam Pancake with Poached Egg & Avocado Salsa

Warm Buckwheat Bowl with Fruit & Nut Butter

Eat every 2-3 hours for 12 hours

The primary goal of eating during the day is to efficiently fuel your energy requirements. Efficiently means we’re not under or overeating. Undereating leads to blood sugar drops and energy crashes. Overeating leads to a surplus of calories, a blood sugar spike (hyperglycemia), and subsequent issues like diabetes and obesity. Eating smaller portions more frequently during the 12-hour eating window balances your cravings as well as your energy and blood sugar levels. The result is higher, more consistent energy levels, reduced bloating and inflammation, and balanced hormones.

After your breakfast, we suggest that you continue on throughout your day with both lunch and dinner, including 1 snack in between each meal. This means you’re eating every 2-3 hours during the waking hours, leaving you more satiated and energized.

If you intend to adhere to the 12-hour fasting window, dinner is required to be an earlier meal. This may take the most planning. To enjoy dinner at a more reasonable hour, you may want to try batch cooking on the weekends, a crock-pot meal, or one of the many convenient, health-supporting apps, in which you can pre-order food right to your door. Do whatever it takes to make having an earlier dinner easier!

Advanced Tip: Eat 2/3 of your calories in the first 9 hours. Eat a higher calorie breakfast and then taper off throughout the day. Your dinner should be the smallest meal of your day. This will accelerate the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Learn more about our nutrition program or read more of our articles to continue reading about how to live a healthy, balanced life. Or join us for a week-long health-immersion at our retreat! More below.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Meet Chef Simon Vine & His New Recipes

Chef Simon Vine makes rutabaga spaghetti with tempeh-almond ‘meatballs’ and a tomato-cashew rosee sauce at Mountain Trek

Chef Simon Vine makes rutabaga spaghetti with tempeh-almond ‘meatballs’ and a tomato-cashew rosee sauce at Mountain Trek

Let’s be real, a large reason you’re coming and/or have come to Mountain Trek is for the food, more appropriately referenced as ridiculously-delicious, organic spa cuisine, that just so happens to be calorie-controlled to reset your metabolism. But who’s the mastermind behind our nourishing meals and snacks? Who is this menu-Einstein we all want to take home with us?

This year, we’re excited to introduce Simon Vine, Mountain Trek’s very much invaluable Head Chef. Through a rigorous vetting process, we hired Simon to take the reins of Mountain Trek’s meal-creation not just because he’s a wizard in the kitchen, but because he has journeyed through life in a way that closely aligns with our program’s ethos.     

 

Simon Vine Mountain Trek Head Chef

Mountain Trek Head Chef Simon Vine

In 2016, Simon Vine had worked his way up from being Executive Chef at a renowned fishing resort to catering for up to 300 people in the film industry. He was on top of the world. Behind the scenes, however, the 80-hour weeks were causing him to physically and mentally deteriorate. Depleted, Simon moved from Vancouver, Canada, to a remote island. There, he spent six weeks letting go of a stressful, hustle-bustle routine devoid of sleep and healthful food. He recommitted to himself, promising to return to his roots. He yearned for the plant-based, outdoor-oriented lifestyle of his childhood.

Simon and his wife never returned to the rat race; instead, they moved to the Kootenay Mountains. At Mountain Trek, Chef Simon is able to balance work with camping, biking, hiking and skiing, and he has rekindled his appreciation of a wide range of ethnic cuisines and ingredients.

Simon’s meticulously-crafted spa cuisine is both balanced and bold, light and intensely flavorful, and it’s created with the intention of helping others positively change their lives. While he’ll be bringing back many guest favorites this season, he’s also excited to be rolling out a few new dishes; he is, after all, dedicated to elevating our meals, while ensuring they stay within the program’s framework.

He says, “I’ve been busy counting calories and ensuring that we are able to deliver the results people want, without compromising on flavor and quality. We’ve also brought in some new cooking techniques with the addition of a “sous-vide” circulator to our kitchen.”      

Regarding what’s new on the menu, Simon says, “One new dish I’m really excited about is the seared steelhead salmon with parsnip puree, grilled fennel and radicchio salad, and tomato-caper relish. The steelhead we feature is an amazing local British Columbia fish, which is produced sustainably. The beautiful mild flavor of the fish is complemented by the rich sweetness of parsnips, as well as the fresh and bright flavors of the fennel and radicchio salad.” Rounded out with the sweet and tangy bite of the tomato caper-relish, Simon says, “This dish is a winner in my books!”

To whet your whistle just a little more, Simon says, “I’m also really excited about the rutabaga spaghetti with tempeh-almond ‘meatballs’ and a tomato-cashew rosee sauce, which will be accompanied with a kale caesar salad.” He says, “It’s a really healthy and interesting twist on the ultimate comfort food: spaghetti and meatballs.”

Eating isn’t just about curbing hunger pangs–it’s about nourishing a healthy and active body. The Mountain Trek program doesn’t offer a “diet”; instead, we eat seasonal, local, wild and organic foods six times over the course of the day to properly absorb all nutrients and avoid energy crashes. Each meal and snack is individually prepared for your body and your goals for the week, and are free of processed foods, stimulants or toxins, allowing your body to heal and strengthen.  If you feel in need of a health reset, join us for a week of exercising in nature, de-stressing in the spa, and clean eating.

5 Steps To A Merry, Healthful Holiday

family at a dinner table enjoying food and wineThe holidays are a time for family, warmth, and indulging — but we can often end up with bad sleep habits, little or no fitness regimen, and putting on a couple of unwanted pounds from holiday festivities. However, you can still enjoy the holidays without going overboard and go into the holiday season with confidence!

These are our top tips for a healthy holiday:


1. Make A Commitment To Be Kind To Yourself

Like we’ve discussed before — no major lifestyle change is successful without empathy for the self. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves (never having carbs again, exercising every single day), when we inevitably falter, our sense of failure and shame often results in giving up entirely. Smaller, incremental changes are the key to long-term success.

No one is perfect: creating space for your own imperfections will allow you to both enjoy the holidays to their fullest as well as stay conscientious about your health priorities.

2. Map Out Your Holiday Season Events

Holiday parties? Check. Cookie swaps? Check. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, New Years’ Eve, school parties, work parties, and more — get them all on your calendar. Then, take a step back and identify which events you really want to indulge in, and which you can approach with moderation in mind.

Make sure to prioritize indulging in the things you really love: Do you make cookies as a family every year? Do you and your spouse adore the company holiday party each year? Don’t rob yourself of your favorites.

By that same token, don’t “waste” calories on events that aren’t a priority. Creating this balance will help manage holiday indulgences.

3. Create & Stick To A Plan During The Week

In order to offset indulgences at events, be sure to stick to a nutrition, fitness, sleep, and stress plan during the week. With whirlwind events and cold/flu season, it’s the perfect time to prioritize your health. Meal plan your weekday meals, schedule/make time for fitness and create time for relaxation — whether it’s luxuriating in a bath or setting a goal for weekly meditation.

This Spiral Chicken with Mashed Cauliflower and Cranberry Recipe is a healthy holiday favorite at Mountain Trek.

4. Plan Health and Wellness Themed Activities With Loved Ones

Think about ways you can spend time with loved ones that involve treating your body, mind, and spirit. Go on a long walk or hike with a friend instead of a boozy brunch, a yoga class and a steam at a local gym instead of happy hour, snowy winter walks after dinner with your spouse instead of Netflix, and more.

5. Develop A Strategy For Eating Out

It’s hard to stay on track while eating out! Check out our secrets for navigating restaurant menus. Our favorite tip: determine your simple carbohydrate priorities. Plan to pick either bread, dessert OR alcohol — this allows you to enjoy yourself without going overboard.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Why There’s No Caffeine At Mountain Trek

The short answer? The Mountain Trek program seeks to balance your hormones for optimal health. For most people, caffeine increases cortisol — and cortisol negatively impacts your metabolism.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone, and it operates inversely to DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) — the “youth” or “rejuvenating hormone.” DHEA builds muscle, burns calories, and lowers inflammation. Cortisol is released when the body perceives that it needs to be in flight-or-fight mode, which results in muscle loss, bone density loss, calorie storage, and chronic inflammation (the body uses its own muscle stores to be ready for extreme exertion and stores as many calories as possible to prepare for any possible famine or lack of readily available nutrients).

The Mountain Trek Program is designed specifically to rebalance these two crucial metabolic hormones in order to get your body into a state of growth metabolism (burning calories, building muscle) as opposed to decay metabolism (muscle loss, calorie storage). If your hormones aren’t balanced, you won’t be able to get deep sleep or achieve your ideal body composition of muscle-to-fat. Unbalanced hormones are one of the core reasons that people can’t seem to lose those last 5-10 pounds (or “muffin top”).

Most North Americans are experiencing long-term, heightened levels of cortisol: between high work stress, lack of vacation time, inadequate sleep, and many more daily stressors, our systems are entirely overloaded. That’s why we cut out caffeine at Mountain Trek — not because caffeine is evil or bad, but because it’s one quick way to immediately reduce cortisol.
Eliminating caffeine is just part of our induction, and helps rebalance and reset the body’s hormones. We certainly don’t expect people to remove caffeine from their lives altogether — but for our induction phase, it’s important for resetting hormones to their ideal balance. During the program, you’ll learn about the best and healthiest ways to incorporate caffeine into your regimen.

If you’re ready for the full experience, join us at our health, wellness and stress retreat — we’ve just announced rates and dates for 2019! Click here to plan your trip.

Our Secrets For Navigating Restaurant Menus

a cafe table set with lunch items

If there’s one challenge to maintaining a well-balanced, nutritious diet, it’s eating out. Whether for work, travel or convenience, restaurant food is incredibly high in calories and can derail even the best of diets. Check out our tips for navigating restaurant menus so you can stay on track.

How to Eat Healthy While Dining Out

Before You Arrive At The Restaurant, Determine Your Simple Carb Priorities

Plan to pick either bread, dessert, or alcohol. Limiting yourself to just one of these simple carb categories will allow you to enjoy yourself and indulge a bit without going overboard.

Skip The Pre-Dinner Drink — But Be Sure To Have A Full Glass Of Water

While enjoying a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine before a meal is customary, alcohol lowers your willpower, and you’ll be much more likely to overindulge after a drink or two. If you’re going to have a drink, plan to have it with your meal.

Additionally, before you even look at the menu, make sure to drink a full glass of water. This allows you to approach the menu feeling a little bit satiated, rather than with a cavernous growling stomach. This limits the “eyes are bigger than the stomach” effect!

Ask The Server Not To Bring Any Bread

Restaurant bread baskets are almost impossible to resist and full of totally empty calories. Avoid the temptation entirely and just as you sit down to the table, kindly ask your server not to bring a bread basket or any pre-meal snacks.

Order All Dressings On The Side

Ordering a salad? Ask for the dressing on the side so that you can better control the portion. Better yet, ask if your salad can be served with a side of oil and vinegar — it’ll cut out extraneous sugars that often lurk in dressings.

Split A Meal With Another Guest (Or Save Half For Lunch Tomorrow!)

Many (but not all) restaurant serving sizes are well beyond recommended portion sizes. Do your research before the meal, and if it seems like a restaurant has larger or oversized portions, consider splitting a meal with another guest — or boxing up half and saving it for the next day!

Keep Your Plate 75% Vegetables, 25% Lean Protein

Just like when you’re cooking for yourself, plan to keep your plate three-quarters veggies and one-quarter protein! At most restaurants, you’ll still be able to find some nutrient-packed options. Look for lean proteins like fish and poultry, greens and beans.

By preparing yourself with the tips above when you eat out, you’ll maintain a healthy balance and stay on track. Happy menu navigating!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below: