Monthly Archives: June 2010

Local Delicious Strawberries Have Arrived!

The brief but bountiful BC strawberry season has arrived and an exceptional crop is expected. Now is the time to enjoy one of our most fresh flavourful and healthy local harvests! The June/ July bearing strawberries will be available only for a few weeks, but some growers have everbearing ones that will be available until September.  You can find local strawberries from the Eastern to Western Fraser Valley – from Chilliwack to Delta.

A great day out with the kids is to visit a strawberry farm and pick your own.  To find a local pick your own strawberry farm click here

It is also worth paying that little bit extra at your local farmers market or grocer for B.C. strawberries rather than cheaper California strawberries as our local starwberry farmers are under threat.  Cheaper imports, labour shortages and viruses and pathogens are all squeezing BC’s strawberry growers, who have seen their industry reduced to a tenth of the size it was 10 years ago.

“We need big support from locals to keep our industry alive,” says Jeff Gill, the owner of Gill Farms (the largest strawberry grower in BC) and a director of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association. “The season is only a month long, and if everyone knew that and supported our local producers, it would go a long way.”

Gill points out that strawberry growers are often pressured to convert their operations to blueberry farms, as blueberries require less labour to grow and pick and are sturdier than strawberries, which must be picked by hand and are more susceptible to root disease and viruses. These and other factors account for the disappearance of many Lower Mainland strawberry farms. There are now only half a dozen farms growing strawberries that are sold fresh and another half dozen growing strawberries for use in jam and food products.

Unlike their Californian counterparts – which are picked unripe – BC strawberries are handpicked at the height of ripeness to ensure they are sweet and bursting with flavour. So the best way to eat them is right away!

Easy Guacamole Recipe

Here is a favorite dip for all the family.  And with avocado as a base it has nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.  Great for after school snacks, pre dinner nibbles or even a sandwich spread.

This secret recipe has been very generously shared with us by Mike Fox, our Head Chef at Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Canmore. I only had to bribe him with about 10 big smiles, 4 hugs and about 5 gushy praises before he broke!  Enjoy!


2 ripe avocados

1 cup of small diced red onions

¼ cup of roasted garlic chopped

¼ cup of fresh cilantro chopped

¼ cup of fresh diced mango

1 fresh jalapeno diced (use less if desired)

2 TBSP honey

Juice of one lime

Add sea salts to taste and fresh ground pepper


Mash ingredients together in a bowl with fork.  Serve with tortilla chips, rice chips, oven roasted flatbread or as a sandwich spread!

Recipe by: Mike Fox, Head Chef of Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Canmore

Cooking With Garlic Scapes

Suz loves garlic scapes – I love looking at them grow in my garden (they are groovy looking), snipping them and baking or frying with them to add a little kick to my chard, spinach, cabbages, potatoes and any other veggie you can think of .  Here is a little summary on garlic scapes: “what they are”, “where to get them” and “ideas of how to cook with them”.

What Is It?

Garlic scape is the flowering stem which rises from the roots or crown of a plant. A garlic scape has a mild garlic flavor without the bite of too much garlic and they are in season for a few weeks in June/ July.

Where Do I Get My Supply?

To get your supply simply snip them off the tops of garlic growing in your garden or pick a bunch up at your local farmers’ markets

How Do I Cook With It?

To cook with garlic scapes try annointing them with some olive oil and grill them just like you do asparagus. They can also be chopped thick or thin and added to salads and stir-fries.

Here is  a link to a great blog for a  delicious garlic scape pesto recipe.

Tomato Blight Comes Early To Vancouver

Sharon says tomato plants are already showing blight this spring, throw them out immediately!

Last year, my garden remained blight-free. One reason: choosing tomato varieties that produce early—mostly small tomatoes—and, well, who knows? Maybe it was just luck; last year was particularly hot and dry. Not so this summer.

This just in: Some tomatoes are already showing symptoms of blight this spring. The picture above shows the discoloured, brownish-gray areas on the stem and wilted/yellowing leaves.

These poor Roma II plants were bought at Choices on 16th Avenue a couple of weeks ago, but it’s likely the plants were infected in the nursery. One Sungold I had in the greenhouse was also affected, probably because it was sitting beside the Roma IIs. Not sure. I will be speaking to the folks at Choices and letting them know.

One tomato grower (who does not supply Choices Markets, by the way) commented that late blight did affect some of their tomatoes very early this year while still seedlings, in the greenhouses.

And in fact, though we generally associate blight with rain and moist conditions in late summer, it actually can occur any time. Our spring weather this year has been super conducive for these diseases to flourish: warm and then cool, moist and humid.

So, if you notice a browning on the stem and a slight wilting of leaves on your tomatoes, throw them out immediately. Please do not put them in your home compost (never put any part of tomato plants in compost) or even in the city compost. Best to put them in the garbage.

Read more:

12 Tips to Healthier Eating

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

  • Eat natural foods in their whole form – Honour the synergistic combinations of vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in whole foods
  • Eat organic foods – to avoid herbacides and pesticides
  • Eat seasonal foods – These foods are fresh, local and appropriate for seasonal requirements of the body
  • Eat fresh foods – nutrient levels peak at the time of harvest; fresher foods are more nutrient-rich
  • Eat a variety of foods and rotate them – to ensure all nutrients are acquired
  • Eat in moderation – smaller meals more frequently are preferable to 3 large meals per day as this is easier on the digestive system and increases metabolism
  • Don’t eat rushed, under stressful conditions, or in front of the television – we do not properly digest food under stressful conditions and thus, nutrients are not sufficiently absorbed
  • Participate in the preparation of your food as much as possible – get acquainted with the food you eat and connect with it
  • Avoid processed, refined, and “enriched” foods – these foods are nutrient deficient and lead to nutrient debt
  • Avoid foods cooked at very high temperatures (BBQ) – damages the nutrient quality of foods and produces free radicals
  • Use plenty of beneficial oils and avoid hazardous oils – Consume organic, cold-pressed, unrefined oils (coconut, olive, and flax are particularly useful), and avoid processed, hydrogenated oils, particularly those that have been heated at high temperatures (deep fried foods).  (Never heat polyunsaturated oils – flax oil, borage oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, and evening primrose oil)
  • Chew food thoroughly – digestion for carbohydrates begins in the mouth

Love your Liver!!

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

Did you know that the liver performs over 500 metabolic functions? Some of it’s most important functions include: processing digested food from the intestines,controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood , combating infections in the body, clearing the blood of particles and infections including bacteria, neutralizing and destroying drugs and toxins, manufacturing bile, storing iron, vitamins and other essential chemicals, breaking down food and turning it into energy,  manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones including sex hormones, and making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.

Be good to your liver by eating the following foods that help to cleanse, strengthen and tonnify this amazing organ:

Alfalfa, Amaranth, Apple, Artichoke, Asparagus, Beets, Blueberry, Cabbage, Carrot, Cayenne, Celery, Chicory, Chlorella, Cinnamon, Citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange), Dandelion greens, Ginger, Green beans, Kale, Leeks, Legumes, Lettuce, Lima beans, Olives and olive oil, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Peppers, Plums, Quinoa, Raspberry, Rhubarb, Rutabaga, Sorrel, Spirulina, Strawberry, Turmeric, and Apple Cider Vinegar.

Truth in Labeling? Hidden MSG Ingredients

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN
Did you know that there are over 30 names for MSG? Most people don’t, which is no coincidence! Manufacturers have become acutely aware that the preference of most consumers is to not have MSG in their food. The overwhelming response to this preference has unfortunately not been to remove it, but, rather, to hide it in a label that contains only ingredient names consumers will not recognize as containing MSG. Using this technique, products that do in fact contain MSG, can “legitimately” advertise “No MSG” or “No MSG Added.” See below for a list of MSG containing ingredients and read all labels before purchasing your food, even those that claim to be organic!

Food label names that always contain some MSG:

  • monosodium glutamate
  • hydrolyzed protein
  • monopotassium glutamate
  • textured protein
  • glutamate
  • hydrolyzed oat flour
  • glutamic acid
  • yeast nutrient
  • gelatin
  • autolyzed yeast
  • calcium caseinate
  • yeast extract
  • sodium caseinate
  • yeast food
  • natural flavouring

Secrets to Longevity

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

I recently read an interesting book, “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner. The book investigates the areas of the world with the highest populations of people who have lived past their 100th birthday.  See below for a list of common factors Buettner observed in these populations and believes to be the secrets to longevity.

  • Calcium and magnesium
  • Eating a light dinner
  • Engaging in daily physical activity
  • Maintaining social networks
  • Moderate sun exposure
  • Having a sense of purpose (reason to get up in the morning)
  • Omega 3
  • Goat’s milk
  • Polyphenols, flavanoids and antioxidants
  • Plant-based diet
  • Consumption of seasonal, local foods
  • Whole grains
  • Engaging in ritual
  • Focusing on family
  • Laughing often
  • Spending time with like-minded people
  • Having sacred time
  • Eating less meat and more nuts
  • Giving something back to the community

Dieting is not the Answer

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

Fat loss is not about dieting: it is about eating for a long and healthy life. It is a lifestyle change that is permanent, so unless you seek a lifetime of exerting willpower and discipline, a diet should not consist of an eating plan you don’t enjoy.  The cornerstone of successful weight loss is finding healthy foods that you love to eat, those that maintain a healthy weight, extend your lifespan and increase your vitality.  Eating practices should not be based on depriving ourselves of the foods we enjoy, but rather on satisfying all nutritional needs with foods that are delicious, meet our individual tastes and habits, minimize hunger, and boost energy.

The answer is really quite simple: eat whole foods; foods that are in the natural form, foods that have not been refined, foods that have not been processed. When it comes to food, the emphasis should be not on quantity but on quality.

You may ask, if the answer is so simple, why don’t more people know about it or how come there are so many diets that state the opposite?  Well, most people and creators of the fad diets understand weight gain and weight loss in a very 1 dimensional sense: as related to the amount of fat we consume.  Understood in this way, the answer seems simple: eat less fat and we will lose weight.  Enter the plethora of low fat/diet foods, a North American scam that has lead to the understanding that less fat is equivalent to better health and being thin. With some critical analysis, not to mention cross-cultural analysis, it is clear that this is not so.

The factors that are involved in weight gain and/or an inability to lose weight despite doing things “properly” are complex and varied.  Poor nutrition, hormone imbalance, acidic pH level, stress and liver congestion are amongst the most common culprits however. Notice that very few fad diets address any one of these factors.

Think of low fat yogurt: a product that, via an industrialized process, has had its fat content cut in half, is in essence a product with poor taste, unpalatable texture and few health benefits. The solution? Add in excessive sugar to improve the taste, milk solids to improve the texture and synthetic vitamins to meet CFIA demands. The result: weight gain and acidic pH due to the sugar content and milk solids, a confused liver due to the foreign combination of nutrients, and a hormone imbalance that can cause your body to crave more food than it actually needs, and the wrong foods at that.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that fat consumption doesn’t play a role in weight gain.  It most certainly does.  However, again with the emphasis being on quality rather than quantity, it is easier to understand the relationship between the fat we eat and the fat we gain.  The body uses certain fats for energy and stores only fats in excess and fats it has difficulty metabolizing. The easier a fat is to breakdown, the more readily available it is for the body to use as energy (metabolism).  For example, butter, a commonly demonized saturated fat, is made up of short chains fatty acid, not long chain fatty acids and is therefore more available for energy than red meat, which is made up of long chains.

Whole foods work because, simply put, they meet the demands of any body.  Whether the need be for cleansing or for building, whole foods are the answer.  They balance hormones, create a healthy pH balance, support a healthy liver and meet all nutrient requirements of the body.   They are indeed, the long term answer for meaningful weight loss.

Experimenting with Whole Grains

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin RHN


The health benefits of whole grains are vast in comparison to their nutrient-depleted refined grain counterparts.  A whole grain has all its original parts intact, meaning it contains the fiber-rich bran, the nutrient rich germ, and the starchy endosperm. When a grain is refined, the bran and germ are removed, and most of the fiber, protein, and a number of vitamins and minerals are removed, too.

Because food, by definition, has to contain nutrients, refined grains are required to be enriched, meaning that some of the lost nutrients — thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, iron, and folic acid — must be synthetically added back in. Nutrients that are not replaced are vitamins E, K, and B-6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, protein, and fiber.

Careful when purchasing whole grain products, it’s easy to be tricked into thinking a food is a whole grain when it’s not. Just because a grain product is dark doesn’t necessarily mean it is a whole grain. Sometimes molasses or caramel coloring is added to breads, darkening them.  Unless a grain ingredient is listed as “whole,” it is a refined flour and not a whole grain. See below for a list of  my favourite whole grains.

  • Brown rice (regular, not quick)
  • Whole or rolled oats (not quick or instant)
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild rice
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Kasha
  • Cracked wheat, also called bulgur
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Whole rye
  • Kamut