I was a nurse for over 20 years. I was a Masters-prepared Nurse Practitioner for 10 of those years. I left that profession because, though I loved working with people, I wanted find ways to help people stay healthy instead of caring for them once they’d become very ill. I saw that the further we got from food as a society the sicker we were getting. I thought writing about food and starting up food tours would be fun ways to engage and connect people with the source of food and all the health and joy it can bring to our lives.
I’m very pleased that after 11 years in my new career I have the opportunity to go full circle and to write for Alberta Health Services’ health magazine (applemag.ca) on the topic of healthy food. It’s a dream come true to write for a magazine whose credo is “Be healthy. Be Well. Be informed.”
In my regular “Food Sight” column I’ll be writing about a different great ingredient each issue. For the food issue I also got to write about five ways to build a healthy plate. Here are the first two pieces. Grab a carrot to munch on and have a read.
||click on the photo to expand to the article >
|A carrot close-up
||Look inside >
|Build a healthy plate
I met a great teacher last year in India. I met Sadhguru.
Sadh means knowledge that comes from within. Guru is a Sanskrit: गुरु noun that connotes “teacher”. When I met Sadhguru, I met an enlightened human being who is able to access knowledge from within. This is the knowledge of all existence from the beginning of existence.
Attaining enlightenment comes with certain perks.
Today is the second annual International Day of Yoga. One of Sadhguru’s goals is to share the science of yoga. The video above was made last year so that anyone anywhere can access the benefits of yoga. This year Sadhguru and legions of volunteers taught hundreds of thousands of people the simple UPA yoga described in the video. Today Sadhguru taught people from 135 nations live at the United Nations in New York City that same yoga.
I’ve been blessed by my guru. Sharing this video here is a tiny offering of love, gratitude and respect for him and his work. I’ll share more about my experience of meeting Sadhguru at Isha foundation in India in the rest of the post. Continue reading
Despite being punched down by the “wheat belly” gluten-free movement, bread is once again on the rise. Why is bread making a comeback? Maybe it’s because gluten (the protein found in wheat responsible for giving bread it’s elasticity) wasn’t the evil culprit some claimed it to be. With the exception of people who have Celiac Disease or actual allergies to wheat, gluten hasn’t shown harmful effects on humans in any solid research trials.
Bread has been “the staff of life” for thousands of years and wheat is the most commonly eaten substance in the world. Wheat varietals have evolved with plant breeding and natural selection. They’ve been tolerated well.
Michael Pollan, in his book Cooked – A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin, 2013) delves deeply into the bread box to conclude that perhaps it’s not the wheat that’s the problem; perhaps it is all the additives in commercially prepared bread combined with a lack of time spent making that same bread.
Time is important in bread making. Time allows the yeasts and bacteria in our environment to do their thing which turns out to be really important for the health of humans. What do they do? They combine with bread’s flour and water and if given the time, they will “eat” the sugars in the flour, produce the gas that causes dough to rise and most importantly for people that find wheat hard to digest; they partially digest the proteins (like gluten) in flour for us.
I hope you’ll watch the 2015 CBC Fifth Estate video above that probed into the “war on wheat” and that you’ll tune into my CBC Alberta at Noon show tomorrow, Friday, May 27 between noon and 1230 p.m. on 99.1 FM when I’ll talk more about how to get rolling in the dough – with sourdough and a few easier bread recipes.
Some of my favourite cooking utensils – photo credit – Geoff Lilge
Entrepreneurs invent business opportunities to meet societal needs. Few parents have the time or skill to teach their children to cook. Few schools include cooking in their curriculums and yet, thanks to the work of food educators like Jamie Oliver we know we need to reconnect children to food literacy and cooking skills. Enter the entrepreneur.
Need creates opportunity and here’s the response – this post contains a list of very entrepreneurial summer cooking camps for kids around Alberta this summer. Continue reading
If I tell you this is the my favourite TEDTalk will you take the time to watch the video above? I hope you will but maybe you don’t have 20 minutes so I’ll give you the “Cole’s Notes” version of the video’s message in this post. Continue reading
Polenta Lasagna – photo credit – Karen Anderson
This month on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon I’ll be talking about the importance of cooking skills for children. I believe cooking is a basic life skill that determines how healthy an individual and in turn a family will be.
A lack of ability to cook from scratch leads to a life dependent on processed foods. Processed foods are more likely to contain excess salt, sugar and food additives and a diet filled with processed foods is more likely to cause obesity.
Harvard University says the health consequences of obesity include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, asthma, some cancers, susceptibility to depression due to discrimination and the emotional impact of that. Thirty per cent of youth are now obese.
We are three generations since the norm was a stay at home homemaker and cook for each family. Many parents (let alone their children) lack cooking skills beyond reheating, microwaving and combining packaged foods. Women in the 1960s were told cooking was a chore and they needed to be emancipated from the kitchen. Women did go out to work but instead of “freedom” they now work outside the home and still do the majority of household work as well. Equal partnerships are slow to evolve. Reframing cooking as a family activity and a creative way to nurture, care and ensure health for ourselves and our children could go a long way to correcting our society’s obesity epidemic.
I developed the Polenta lasagna recipe in this post to act as a cooking skills bridge from reliance on highly processed packaged food to cooking with healthier choices. The result is a fun assembly of quality ingredients with delicious results. Older children can make it on their own. Parents and younger children can make this together. Continue reading