All Posts Tagged ‘Wellness with Joanna

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On Sustainability – And Doing the Best You Can

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I’ve hesitated to write this post for awhile now, because I really don’t want to write something that makes you, the reader, feel guilty. I want to inspire you to explore the topic of sustainability; I don’t want to beat you over the head with facts about pesticides that will scare you into buying organic. No one I know has this completely figured out. No one I know is living a 100% sustainable lifestyle. What I want to focus on is how to do the best you can with what you have. This has been my motto of late: to consistently move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, to cause as little harm to the earth, to others, and to myself as possible. 

Sustainability is a huge topic and can be very intimidating. When I started to research it, I became overwhelmed with all the things I’ve been doing ‘wrong’, and started to panic and try to fix everything at once. This became disastrous and made me wish I never had started looking into it in the first place! I’ve dialled back a bit and I’m now trying to adjust one section of my life at a time. Here are the three sections of my food intake that I have recently committed to sustainable practices only.

Meat/Eggs/Fish

One of the biggest criticisms of the Paleo lifestyle is the increased amount of meat intake. If you are buying your meat at Superstore, Walmart, or many other large grocery store chains, then yes, I have to agree with this criticism. We’ve all heard the rumours of what goes on in those factory farms. If the Pink Slime incident doesn’t disturb you, maybe the treatment of the animals on those farms will. Maybe the rumour of arsenic being fed to chickens might cause you to think twice. Don’t care about animals? You might care about the way it affects the earth, you know, that same earth your children and your children’s children have to live on.

In the past year, we have slowly made the transition from buying our meat at Costco to buying our meat from a local butcher shop. Everything in the store is nitrate free, almost everything is sugar free, and as locally sourced as possible. There are no hormones or antibiotics fed to the animals. They are free to roam in the pastures and eat grass. The animals are not abused in any way. Yes, this kind of meat costs more than factory farmed meat. In the beginning, this was a difficult choice for our family to make, as we keep to a very strict budget. However, the more I researched, the more my conscience would not allow me to wane from this decision. For those of you who can’t afford this kind of meat, this is one of those areas where I urge you to do the best you can with what you have. When you can and as often as you can, choose humanely treated, grass fed, hormone free meat.

One of the ways we are cutting back on meat costs this year is investing in a 1/4 share of a cow. Information on the company we are using can be found here, but there are many other farms doing the same thing. Find one that works for your budget and your family.

For eggs, we currently buy two dozen eggs per week from a local farmer in our neighbourhood who allows his chickens to range free. They cost half the price of the organic, cage free eggs from the store, and when we go pick them up in the morning, the eggs are still warm and fresh, rather than having sat in a warehouse for weeks. It’s one of Charley’s favourite things to do and I love that she gets to see the chickens and learn where her food comes from. Ask around your community or go online to find a local farmer who sells eggs. I found this farm by posting the question on Facebook.

eegs

For fish, we have a share in a CSF – Community Supported Fishery. Huge thanks to my talented friend Liz Johnson who invited us to be a part of it. We have been so thrilled with this program. Previously I found it difficult to justify the cost of wild fish, but this program has made it possible for us to enjoy fresh, wild salmon two or three times a week (seasonally). We’ve also had a lot of fun as a family learning about where our fish comes from and learning how to eat it. It’s been a great experience for Charley and she now eats salmon with minimal complaints, which is nothing short of a miracle in our household. Click here to check out the program we are a part of.

Charley helping fillet our fresh, wild and sustainably caught pink salmon.

Charley helping fillet our fresh, wild and sustainably caught pink salmon.

Produce

For produce, I focus on buying seasonally, local and organic whenever possible. This can get expensive if you are not careful. I did some research and shopped around to find the best prices, and have found that in my surrounding area, Two Ee’s Market is one of the best places to buy.

This year we signed up with a CSA program – Community Supported Agriculture. I googled ‘CSA Langley’ and after looking through a bunch of options that came up, I chose Glen Valley Organic Farm. Each week they deliver a huge box of local, seasonal, organic produce right to my doorstep. With careful meal planning, I only need to pick up 2 or 3 things at the market each week in addition to what comes in our box. We are saving 20-30 dollars a week with this program! There are many options and farms to choose from, depending of course on where you are located.

This is one week's delivery, at my door step.

This is one week’s delivery, at my door step.

If a CSA program is not possible for you and if you are concerned about the prices of local/organic produce, check out this list to help you decide where to spend your money in the produce section of your grocery store.

Treats – Chocolate and Coffee

I recently read an eye opening article on how some of our food choices are unintentionally promoting child slavery and other horrible things on a great blog called Sustainable Dish. (Read the article here.) I have yet to tackle the banana issue, but am now striving to only buy fair trade or direct trade chocolate and coffee. I drink one cup of coffee every morning, and I love dark chocolate for a treat now and then. These are areas that are easier to take on sustainably, if you’re not drinking multiple pots of coffee per day or consuming multiple chocolate bars a day. One of my favourite brands of chocolate is Green & Black’s. Their chocolate is  a truly ‘guilt free’ treat.  For coffee, there are a lot of options out there. A couple of my favourites are Kicking Horse and Ethical Bean, but do some taste testing and find your own favourite.

I could talk with you for hours about these things and discuss so many more reasons behind it all. If you want to delve deeper into this or if you have questions, please leave a comment or email me at wellness@wellnesswithjoanna.com.

If you’re feeling guilty or overwhelmed, relax. Remember, do the best you can with what you have. When you can, make the best choice for you, for the earth and for others. Be intentional in your choices and where you spend your dollar.

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The Meal That Started It All – Breakfast Hash

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This month marks my 2 year Whole30-versary!

Two years ago, a close friend of mine posted an Instagram photo of her zucchini and yam hash for breakfast with the hashtag ‘Whole30’. I asked her about it, and she gave me the Whole30 rundown. I completed the Whole30 challenge, and have been on a journey of health ever since. 

(Side note: The friend happens to be a beautiful writer and very talented photographer. Check out her blog here.)

This meal is still one of my favourites for breakfast, or post workout. I’ve seen variations of the recipe on several different food blogs and I have no idea where it originated, but here’s the gist of it.

Ingredients

1 zucchini

1 yam

1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped

1 tsp sage

2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

1) Using a food processor or cheese grater, shred your yam and zucchini. 

2) Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and melt your coconut oil in it. 

3) Place your shredded yam and zucchini and your chopped onion in your pan and mix to combine. 

4) Sprinkle with sage and mix again.

5) Allow the yam and zucchini to cook until you start to see some crunchy brown parts starting to brown, about 10-15 minutes.

6) Remove your hash from the pan when it is cooked to your liking and cover to keep it warm.

7) Fry your eggs in the same pan, however you desire. My favourite way is to gently crack them into the pan, pop the lid on, and leave them to cook for 3-5 minutes until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are still runny.

8) Carefully slide your eggs out of the pan and on top of your hash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

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End of the Week Breakfast Skillet

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breakfastskillet

 

Every Tuesday we get a big box of produce delivered through our CSA program. It’s enough to completely fill our fridge and then some, so every Monday I clear out whatever is left from the previous week and fry it up for breakfast. This is a quick and simple meal that is ever changing, and really doesn’t require a recipe. Here are a few steps for any newbies in the kitchen, but those of you who already have been cooking for awhile, just go for it and see what delicious combinations you come up with!

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 apple, washed and diced

Any vegetables you have left in your fridge, washed and chopped to uniform size

Some form of protein (a meal is not a meal without protein the size of your palm!). For example: two fried eggs, nitrate free/sugar free farmer’s sausage, chorizo sausage, etc. Experiment with whatever you have in your fridge.

Directions

1) Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and melt coconut oil in it.

2) Fry your onion and whatever meat you have chosen until cooked through.

3) Add in your vegetables, starting with the hardest vegetables (yam or potato), and then adding the softer ones a few minutes later so they don’t get soggy. 

4) Combine and fry until cooked through. Simple and delicious!

Some of my favourite combinations are: 

Chorizo, yam, leek, apple, bell peppers, and kale.

Farmer’s sausage, potato, apple, bell peppers, swiss chard, and sauerkraut.

Ground pork, zucchini, peppers, fennel, and apple.

Pictured: Farmer’s sausage, red potato, swiss chard and apple.

I would love to hear what delicious comments you come up with or suggest! Leave a comment and share your insight. 

 

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A Healthy Vacation – Part 2 – Camping

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I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with camping my whole life. My (brave) parents took all four of us kids camping every single summer for as long as I can remember. And I’m not talking weekend camping, I’m talking 2-3 weeks at a time with no showers, no flushing toilets, no fancy RV. I loved it as a young kid, hated it as a moody teenager, and now I’m back to loving it as an adult. Looking back, I’m so incredibly grateful to them for giving us those amazing, natural, old school, get-outside-and-breathe-that-fresh-air kind of experiences. Just don’t tell them I said that.

I’ve been hearing all summer from people that it’s impossible or just too difficult to stay healthy on vacation, and especially while camping. I decided to try and prove them wrong. (Read Part 1 to see a detailed explanation of how we stayed healthy in Whistler here.) 

You CAN eat healthy and keep up with your balanced lifestyle while camping with minimal preparation, and still leave room for some treats here and there. My husband and I just finished a 5 day road trip to Banff and Jasper, British Columbia, and I promise you we didn’t climb mountains with hot dogs and muffins in our bellies.

Hiking around Lake Louise

Hiking around Lake Louise

Here’s what I packed and how we enjoyed our adventures, completely guilt free.

In an electric cooler I packed:

1 batch of frozen homemade meatballs (previously made and frozen before our Whistler trip), separated into ziploc freezer bags of 5 for quick defrost

1 batch of frozen homemade sausage patties (previously made and frozen before our Whistler trip), separated into ziploc freezer bags of 4 for quick defrost

6 hardboiled eggs

1 pound of frozen grass fed beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 frozen farmer sausage 

4 bell peppers, chopped

3 sweet onions, peeled and chopped

Approximately 20 mushrooms, washed

2 large zucchini, chopped

5 red potatoes, scrubbed 

4 apples

1 bunch of bananas

A big bag of carrots

3 packs (about 350g total) of sugar free, nitrate free beef jerky

4 Larabars

1 glass container of our leftover breakfast from the morning we left (a skillet mixture of chicken sun dried tomato sausage, kale, swiss chard, peppers, potatoes, onion and apple)

A sealed glass container of coconut oil

For cooking supplies I packed:

2 plastic plates

2 forks and 2 knives

1 sharp knife

Heavy duty aluminum foil

1 cutting board

1 frying pan

Propane stove (with propane and matches)

Garlic Salt

Pepper

We dropped our kids off with my parents and left late in the afternoon and drove straight to Golden, BC. We ate before we left and then snacked on veggies, hard boiled eggs, and meatballs for a quick dinner in the car. The next morning we left early to finish our drive and had a similar meal for breakfast in the morning, eating the sausage patties instead of meatballs. (Because I separated the meatballs and sausage patties into ziploc freezer bags, I was able to pull them out of the cooler and let them defrost for 10-15 minutes before eating them). 

For the next three nights we camped in Jasper National Park. We spent each day exploring and adventuring around Jasper and Banff and spent as little time as possible at our actual campground, so here are some of the quick combination meals I came up with for dinner each day. I made a little extra each night to warm up in a pan on the propane stove for breakfast in the morning. Lunch was always a mixture of eggs, veggies, jerky, Larabars, meatballs and sausage patties.

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Tinfoil Steak Dinner

I piled half of the stew meat on 2 large torn pieces of layered tinfoil. I sprinkled it with garlic salt and pepper, then added the diced potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. I wrapped it in the tinfoil and sealed it tightly at the top, and cooked it on a grate on top of the campfire for approximately 20-30 minutes. Depending on the size of your stew meat chunks and vegetables, check on it every 15 minutes or so until it’s cooked to your liking. We ate it right out of the tinfoil to save dish washing time.

Some possible variations: throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or steak spice.

dinnerfire

Tinfoil Farmer Sausage Dinner

I did the same thing as the Steak Dinner, just replaced the stew meat with sliced farmer’s sausage. Farmer’s sausage usually has a high salt content, so skip the salt on this one and add chopped apple to balance the flavours. This cooks much quicker, so check every 10 minutes or so for doneness. 

If we had stayed longer, I would’ve done the same thing with a cut up chicken breast, pineapple, red onion and more vegetables. By making different combinations, you can have different flavours each night, all healthy and satisfying.

steakdinner

Eating this way gave us lots of energy for all of our hiking and canoeing adventures, and left room for treats in the cute little town of Banff, at the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and the occasional S’more. If you skip the extra treats, the whole road trip and camping trip could easily be Whole30 approved.

We are hoping to squeeze in another short camping trip before the summer is over, so leave a comment with some of your healthy camping ideas. I’d love to try them out!

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A Healthy Vacation – Part 1 – Whistler

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Over the course of this summer, I’ve heard a lot of this:

“I’ll start eating healthy after my vacation is over.”

“It’s impossible to eat healthy on vacation.”

“It’s too hard to eat healthy while camping.”

“Whole30 is impossible on vacation.”

Of course, I took this on as a challenge to prove that it IS all possible, and that it’s not that difficult or time consuming with a little guidance and prep work. We had two short trips almost back to back, giving me two opportunities to test out my ideas. (Read Part 2 – Camping to see how we stayed healthy on our road trip to Alberta).

First, we got to spend a weekend in Whistler with our good friend and her daughter. We stayed in a lodge with a full kitchen, making this the easier of the two challenges. Still, we only had 2 nights there, and I wanted to spend as little of that time in the kitchen as possible, so I prepped almost everything ahead of time.

whistlerfood

Here’s a complete list of what I packed:

Green beans

Kale/Swiss chard mix, washed and torn

Yellow carrots

1 large zucchini

4 avocados

1 bunch of bananas

Cherries

Apples

1 dozen eggs, half of those hardboiled

Chicken (2 large bone-in breasts and 2 large thighs)

Homemade sausage patties

Homemade meatballs

Partially cooked diced yams

Cooked beets

Cashews

Larabars

Date/Coconut balls

Black coffee

At first glance, all that cooked food may look like a lot of prep work, but it really wasn’t. I like to keep it simple and use shortcuts.

For the chicken, I threw it all in a crockpot the night before with about 1 tbsp of rosemary, 1 tbsp of basil, 1 sliced lemon, salt and pepper, and drizzled olive oil on it. I let it cook all night on low, then let it cool in the morning and packed it away in tupperware. This took about 5 minutes of hands on time.

For the beets, I also used the crockpot. I scrubbed them, threw them in the crockpot and covered them with an inch or two of water. I cooked them on high for 2 hours. Once they cooled, I slid off the peels and then packed them in tupperware. Maximum ten minutes of hands on time.

The meatballs and sausage patties were what took the most time, and so I doubled both recipes knowing that I could use the extra for camping the next week. For the meatballs I used the Greek version of Melissa Joulwan’s meatballs. I packed half of them in a tupperware and froze the other half in a ziploc freezer bag for camping. For the sausage patties, I used my absolute favourite homemade sausage recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo, found here. I did the same as I did with the meatballs, packing half in a tupperware container and freezing the rest in a ziploc freezer bag for camping the next week. This only took about 30 minutes of hands on time the night before our trip.

While the meatballs and sausage patties cooked in the oven, I peeled and chopped about 6 small yams. I fried them in coconut oil but left them slightly hard so that they wouldn’t get mushy over the next few days. This took about 15 minutes of hands on time, and about 15 mins of frying time. 

The morning of our trip, I threw it all in a cooler and unloaded it all in the fridge once we arrived. Over the weekend, we simply ate different combinations of all these foods. Bonus, we came home with a ton of leftovers that we ate at home over the next couple of days. All of this food was Whole30 approved, and because I’m not actually doing the Whole30 challenge this month, eating this way for our 3 main meals a day left room for treats like this that I found at the Whistler Farmer’s Market:

applebaconpie

Apple Bacon Pie. Seriously.

Spending the small amount of time to do this ended up saving us a ton of money (dining out in Whistler is expensive!), a lot of frustration and exhaustion trying to keep our two wiggly children quiet and entertained at restaurants, and left us with so much extra time to explore and have fun. 

Try it, I know you can do it!

(Side note: I was so happy to bump into Caveman Grocer at the Whistler Farmer’s Market. Check her out!)

Kayaking in Whistler

Kayaking in Whistler

Morning run around Lost Lake, Whistler

Morning run around Lost Lake, Whistler

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Salmon and Lemon Pepper Zoodles

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This summer we’ve been enjoying so much wild salmon from the Community Supported Fishery that we are a part of. I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different recipes (basically trying to find which one Charley will eat with the least amount of whining) and have found that this one that I have just barely adjusted from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo is simple, delicious, and great for repurposing leftovers the next day. I have a hunch that Charley might actually like it, although she would never admit it.

I happily eat leftovers every day as a way to save time in the kitchen. When you cook absolutely everything from scratch, leftovers are a necessity. With that in mind, i reheated this salmon from last night’s dinner and added some simple zucchini noodles and red pepper, and it only took about 15 minutes of my time. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the salmon:

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 lb wild salmon

1-2 tbsp of coconut oil

2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary

Pinch of salt and pepper

For the zoodles:

1 large zucchini, spiralled into zoodles

5 baby bell peppers, chopped

2 tbsp Tessemae’s Lemon Chesapeake sauce

Directions

For the salmon:

1) Preheat your oven on the low broiler setting.

2) Place some tin foil on a baking sheet and grease with coconut oil.

3) Place the salmon skin side down on your baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4) Sprinkle the chopped rosemary on the salmon, and top the salmon with the lemon slices.

5) Broil on low for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.

For the zoodles:

1) Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce.

2) Fry your peppers for a few minutes until they begin to soften.

3) Add your zoodles and combine with the peppers. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until they are softened to your liking.

4) Remove and place in a bowl or on a plate. Top with your leftover salmon.

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Tessemae’s sauces are Whole30 approved and a great addition to your kitchen. They make dishes like this super quick and easy! You can order them online or find them at Whole Foods.

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Potatoes with Kale and Bacon

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POTATOES. KALE. BACON. These are few of my favorite things, especially all served together. I’ve stayed away from white and red potatoes for years but have recently had some fun reintroducing them into my diet after the big Whole30 announcement saying they are now approved.

In regard to the bacon, please don’t make this dish unless you are using sugar free, nitrate free bacon. My conscience can’t let me get away without saying that in this post. Clean bacon can be difficult to find, so do your homework. Find a good butcher and quiz him on how he makes his bacon. If you can’t find it locally, check out US Wellness Meats.

This dish, paired with a few eggs, works well as a pre/post workout meal or a hearty breakfast.

Ingredients

3 cups potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces

3 strips of sugar free and nitrate free bacon

1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped, stems removed

Directions

1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry in the pan until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, to be added back in later.

2) Remove some of bacon grease from the pan, but leave about 1-2 tbsp in the pan.

3) Add the chopped potatoes to the pan and fry in the bacon grease. Turn the heat down and a little and fry until the potatoes are almost completely cooked through.

4) Turn up the heat again and add in the chopped kale. Give it a good stir and add in the cooked bacon pieces. Fry until the kale becomes slightly crispy in the pan and the potatoes are cooked through.

Serve up and dig in!