Monday, October 31, 2011

Great Grapes!

Thursday night I worked at Holland College where they were hosting a private wine tasting for most of the restaurants in Charlottetown and surrounding area where wine is a large priority to the restaurant. It was an "invite-only" kind of situation and there were 36 different tables of people all displaying their wine and providing samples of their product for the owners and/or head chefs of the invited restaurants. Obviously the goal of the night was for a vendor to win over the taste buds of at least one of the invitees so that he/she will buy their wine and sell it at the restaurant.

I have had a distaste for wine since the first time I ever smelled it. My dad used to make his own wine in our basement and during the fermentation, the basement would stink so much and I would avoid the house until the stinky process was complete. Gross. I have also never enjoyed the taste and even though I would take a sip here or there of someone's wine, I would always just turn away after that one sip and head back to my beer. It just never physically appealed to me at all.

The thing about that though is that I want to, so badly, enjoy wine. I can appreciate the depth and breadth and complexity that wines can have. I love knowing that some wines compliment certain foods and there are endless factors that can alter the taste of an given wine. I think the science behind wine is fantastic and I wish that I could like wine enough to learn all of this first-hand (by drinking it!). But alas. It just doesn't taste good to me.

THEN! Last night I was talking to one of the vendors for quite a while and we got into talking about all of this.  I explained to him how I wish that I could go into a restaurant and order a lovely glass of wine to accompany my dinner and appreciate the product for exactly what its experience gives me. His product is called Quails Gate and he persuaded me to taste one of his wines.

I guess I should mention that during the last 30 minutes of the wine tasting, us servers were allowed to go around and taste some of the wines if we didn't drink to the point where they were carrying us out over a shoulder.

So I tasted one of his wines, and didn't hate it! It was such an extraordinary moment for me. We talked about the flavours I was tasting and how they go about creating the wine. Before I could even take my second sip he was pouring me another kind of wine, a dessert wine, which I also was to taste. And guess what? I didn't hate that one either. I definitely am not much of a fan for the sweeter dessert wines, but it wasn't that bad at all. I wasn't allowed to buy his wine so it's not like he was in it for that. I think for him, he liked the fact that he was slowly converting me into someone who might someday drink wine and he wanted to educate me with what he knew. So after this I decided to mosey around a little more and taste a couple more wines from a couple different vendors. Not gonna lie. I didn't hate any of the wines that I tasted.  There might be hope for me still. I am going to make a conscious effort to try more wines when they are offered to me and even possibly buy a bottle every now and then in hopes of learning more about what I enjoy and what I can pass on.

When the Quails Gate man was packing up, he handed me one of his company pens and said, "So you remember who gave you the first glass of wine that you didn't hate." I looked at the pen and guess what?? His winery is in the Okanagan. A good man from BC gave me the first glass of wine that I didn't hate. I love life sometimes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Got 'Er Done (Plus Some!)

Today was one of the most productive days that I have had in a really, really long time. I guess I just woke up with a fire-cracker in my butt or something.  Well, actually I realized that I have been putting off all of the things that I needed to get done by the weekend (aka, tomorrow!) so I was determined to not be horribly lazy and actually finish the to-do list. I am proud to say that I destroyed my to-do list and accomplished far more than that paltry, ridiculous little list.

My first, and most favourite accomplishment of the day was this guy:

I woke up and thought to myself, "I have to get that pumpkin carved!" I am quite proud of this dude. He makes me smile. I just immensely enjoy carving pumpkins and when (if) I ever have my own garden I plan to grow lots of pumpkins so that my property can be littered with these festive creatures every October 31st. You just never know what it's going to look like until the last knife slash is complete. And the bonus to carving pumpkins are roasting the seeds. YUM! The house was jammed packed full of great smells today. Here are all of the things I cooked/baked today which created the tangle of scents lingering in the air in this apartment right now:
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Cooked some brown rice to accompany left-over curry for Chris's lunch
- Boiled Beets--> which I made into a tasty baked beet salad for dinner
- Fried haddock and mashed potatoes --> later to be make into potato fish cakes also for dinner
- Steamed green beans
- Roasted onions
- Vanilla chocolate chip cupcakes

Today would have been much easier to get through if I had a dishwasher. Three different loads of dishes were washed today. Cooking would be far more fun if there wasn't a mess to clean up afterwards. Other things I did today:

- Went to the gym and had a pretty great workout
- Watched an episode of True Blood
- Walked to Sobey's and got a few groceries
- Altered my Halloween costume for tomorrow
- Went for my hair appointment
- Wrote a blog post!

And it's only 8pm! Like I said, I'm quite proud of myself at the moment. Days like this just don't happen. Generally I get about 2 things done and then it's time for bed. I guess not having to go to work helped a bit :)  Having a day off was a major bonus for sure.

So tomorrow I need to get lots done as well except I don't have the luxury of having the day off. It's going to be a long day for sure. Since Halloween falls on Monday this year, Saturday is the party night so I have to gear up to go out and have tons of fun, only to have to work at 9am the next morning. Gulp. I have spent way too much time and money on my costume to not go out and truly enjoy the evening. Plus I have had to endure the insane amount of glitter on this costume so just putting up with that will be worth going out for! I have been picking glitter out of my clothes and off of my skin for a week, even though the costume has been kept in a bag in the far closet since it got into the apartment. This should prove to be an interesting weekend. Stay tuned for pictures of my full costume and the madness which I like to call my best good friends.

OH yeah! I had someone order some of my Halloween cupcakes for a party they are having on Sunday! I felt so proud of myself when she asked me to make some for her! My next task will be finding the time to decorate them in the next 36 hours.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween 2011 Begins!

If there is one thing I love, it is making and decorating cupcakes and cookies. I just love it. I especially love making Halloween themed desserts because they tend to be extra awesome since you get to choose from so many different characters and creatures and use tons of colours and designs. I made my Halloween cupcakes a bit early this year because I was so excited to do it. I've been in a bit of a funk the past few days so when I got it in my head that I was going to make cupcakes this year, I couldn't get the excitement out of my head and had to go buy everything and just make them before my head burst.  It was an expensive and messy project but well worth it in the end.

I got most of the ideas online from other people's amazingly imaginative brains, but I had so much fun I really didn't care that they weren't original creations. Here are some pictures of them,

I am just really into Halloween this year. My next mission is to go pick a pumpkin and do some mad pumpkin carving. Stay tuned for those creations! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Consideration Criticism

For the past 4 years I was using the UPEI gym because all students who go to UPEI are forced to pay a student fee which includes full use of the gym - so since I was being forced to pay I was definitely going to use the facility. As long as I avoided the 3-7pm rush of all the macho guys who like to work out loudly (grunting and breathing heavily) and stare at themselves in the mirrors, then I highly enjoyed the UPEI gym. Lots of room, lots of equipment and friendly people who mainly stick to themselves and let you work out peacefully.

Now that I no longer go to UPEI, I have joined the gym at the Delta, mostly because it is only 1.5 blocks away which is hugely convenient. It's a very old gym with very little equipment and caters quite horribly to the female race since it doesn't have many lighter weights to cater to our delicate lady muscles. Some 12.5 pound dumbbells would be awesome! I mean, the Delta gym is fine for what it is and I get along there nicely. The people are very friendly (a little too friendly in some cases) and most of them seem to be over the age of 60 which is a nice change from all the students swaggering around in their tiny clothes and/or giant muscle egos. These people are there to stay active and be social at the same time. The one thing that bugs me is that they tend to be a bit...inconsiderate at times. I know this sounds a little backwards since it's generally the younger people who can be more difficult to manage, but a hand-full of these seniors like to do what they want and not really care about what you're doing. Obviously this is relating to a select few who are regulars and feel they have some kind of seniority or something since they go there every day.  A lot of them don't wipe down the machines after using them. Gross.

There is this one dude who comes into the weight room, turns off the TV (even though the other guys were watching Sportsdesk in between reps) moves everything around even though if you were using some benches or weights or whatever it may be, puts his favourite blue stationary bike in the middle of the room and starts peddling away.  The first time he did this, I was like, "HUH? Seriously? Just like that?" But he was a bit frightening so I didn't say anything. He has lightly coloured buggy eyes and longish white hair...maybe he's a war veteran or something. Now I just expect him to do this ritual and not even blink an eyelash.

Then there was this one guy yesterday who came into the cardio room and cranked up one of the televisions to full blast (you know, to drown out the music that was playing over the speakers) so that he could watch his 11am soap opera (no joke) while walking on the already noisy treadmill. There were 3 other people in the room, including myself, and we all gave each other the look. The, "Are you seeing this too?" look.  After about 10 minutes I was able to zone out the blasting television but it was just seemed really rude to do such a thing. If you want to watch a television that loudly than I recommend buying a treadmill and sticking it in your living-room.

We all use the gym and we all deserve to have an atmosphere that we can all tolerate and enjoy the use of.  People need motivation to get their butts to the gym so creating an environment that is distracting and not enjoyable is not a great way to promote motivation. There is this thing called "Gym Etiquette" which most people understand and live by, but others are completely oblivious or just don't care. I searched for a good website that outlined the rules and the best I found was at

Here's a quick run-through:
- Return the weights when you're done with them
- Don't hog the machines
- Wipe the machines down after you're done (please!)
- Don't drop the weights --> we know how strong you are...dropping the giant weights for the world to see just how much you lifted is not impressive.
- Spot those who need it
- Don't give advice to others
- Talk sparingly --> Keep it simple - I don't want your life story and I don't want to share mine
- Don't hit on every babe --> I have never been hit on so obviously all of the men I see at the gym are following this rule. . . . .
- No cell phones
- Pick up after yourself
- Don't grunt loudly --> This one makes me oddly uncomfortable. I don't know why.
- Smell good --> I guess the whole BO thing grosses people out
- Be considerate of the water fountain --> That means don't hog it or spit in it or stand there and fill your entire giant water bottle.
- No foul language --> and I also don't want to the story about your sexcapade on the weekend which you speak way too loudly about to your buddy.
- Don't walk in front of the mirrors

Happy Gyming!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is This What It takes?

So I read in Food Politics today that in about 20 years there may be a dramatic drop in chocolate production due to global warming. Apparently with just a temperature increase of only 1 percent (which is what they predict by then), the areas of the world in West Africa that produce the plants that supply half of the world's chocolate will be unable to produce adequate cocoa due to depleted growing conditions.

As an avid chocolate lover, this causes me great distress. For two reasons. No wait, for three reasons.

1) I love chocolate and I hold great fear in my heart knowing that there may come a time in which the chocolate that I know and love will be either unavailable or only able to come in my possession by paying an obscene amount of money. Neither of these will result in a good outcome.

2) They will now need to create a genetically modified cocoa plant that will be resistant to the adverse growing conditions, such as drought, which will cause a giant uproar for all of those opposed to GM foods.

3) It could be something such as the loss of chocolate to make the world wake up and realize that the impact of global warming is affecting something close to home - your sweet cravings! What I mean is that it seems that is just isn't enough that we're gobbling up fossil fuels and destroying our planet at an accelerated rate in a way that people realize that it is affecting them personally. I mean, yeah, global warming is affecting our climate (daily temperatures, storm patterns and intensities..etc), causing major melting of the earth's ice causing changes in ocean/sea levels, acidification of the oceans, causing droughts which affect crops and cause more wildfires, and even screwing up some animals migration patterns. But really, how does this affect me?? That is what most people think since they can't see these things first hand.  It might take something like the loss of chocolate to make people smarten up and do something energy-saving for once. That's sad.

Could they just start growing the plants in areas that are 1% lower in temperature than the new temperature? Travel a little more south with the plants and see how they survive down there?  OK, it would be much better to just slow global warming way way down, but it was just a thought that crossed my mind. Anything to make the cocoa plants survive!

Take a peek for yourself at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Love

If there is one type of food in this world that I know I will never ever get sick of is the wonderfully perfect fruit, known as the Apple,
and I have decided to dedicate this post to this lovely pomaceous fruit. I eat at least one apple a day and have been known to eat 2 or 3 if the mood strikes me. Apples are one of my staples around here so I tend to get a bit twitchy when there are none in the house, or if we get really low. I have an abundance of apples right now since I went picking with a couple friends on Saturday afternoon, so having a couple every day is just my way of contributing to the prevention of them going bad before they all get used up!

What makes the apple such a great food is that it is incredibly versatile. First of all, there are thousands of known varieties and just think of everything that we can do with them! An easy crunchy snack, applesauce, ciders, stuffed and baked, pies, cobblers, crisps, pastries, cakes, jellies, apple butters, paired with meat (think applesauce and pork roast or stuffed into a tenderloin), salsas, cut up and tossed in salads or grilled in a panini with some brie. YUM! I made an apple danish this morning which I think is my #1 favourite dessert. When I would find out that mom was making danish, my day became better by about 500%.

Tip of the Day: Did you know that adding sliced apple can soak up excess salt in your soup? Adding salt is easy but removing it is nearly impossible. Add some apple slices to your pot and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes to draw in the excess salt away from the soup.

Next, think of all of the historical apple reference made in the last few hundred (even thousands of) years.
Adam and Eve got into a lot of trouble just from sharing one in Eden. Sir Issac Newton discovered gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree (aka, the Apple Analogy). There have been apple remains found in the tombs of many famous people all over the world (Iran, Greece, Egypt) which are thousands of years old. The apple must be a pretty important choice of food to want to spend eternity with it.

Now I would be a terrible nutrition graduate if I did not include the wonderful health benefits associated with the apple. I mean, there's got to be reasons why they told us that eating one a day would keep the doctor away, right? It is packed full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin C. The regular consumption of apples have been proven to reduce the risk of developing some major diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The skin especially contains amazing antioxidant and other cancer fighting compounds. It also holds a lot of the fiber, so don't peel and discard this highly nutritional part of the fruit since fiber helps to promote healthy bowel movements and lower cholesterol levels. Apples can also help to prevent diabetes and even combat weight gain and asthma as well. Lastly, it seems that if a pregnant woman consumes apples regularly throughout her pregnancy then she can inhibit tumour growth in the fetus. Miracle fruit? I think so!

Boyer, J., & Liu, R. H. (2004). Apple phytochemicals and their health benefit. Nutrition Journal, 3(5), Retrieved from

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mo Money for Mo Sat-Fat

I was delighted to hear that someone has finally stepped up and placed a tax on fatty foods. Denmark has created a "Fat Tax" meaning that all people who buys foods which contain 2.3% saturated fat or more will have pay an additional price to take it home. They say this adds up to about an increase of $3.00/kg of saturated fats in our foods (foods such as butter, cream, cheese, oils and certain meats) which they are hoping will lead to people buying less of these heart damaging products and possibly helping to create a decline in obesity rates.

What I find incredibly interesting about this whole thing is that the USA has an obesity rate of 25% (yikes!), Canada's is 23% (also yikes!) and Denmark's obesity rate is nearly half of North Americas with 12-13%. A country that has a much lower percentage of obese people is the one coming forward and taking the initiative to improve the health of its people. Denmark admits that they eat way too much butter and fatty meats and after seeing the immense benefits from the ban of trans-fats in their country, they hope that this new tax will improve the health of its citizens even more. I applaud them.

One downfall: The fat tax does not discriminate against some foods that people may truly need which contains sat-fat levels that meet or exceed the 2.3% mark. For example, homogenized milk contains very high levels of sat-fat (25%) so this will be taxed for sure. This will then effect families of young children who need the high-fat milk to promote normal growth and health. Now that sucks especially since milk to already to expensive as it is.

Just a step back here. Yes, making people pay more for foods that cause us long-term illness is a good thing for sure and I hugely appreciate that this is the first step in a long and convoluted campaign and process to fight obesity. My big thing is something that I brought up just a few days ago and that is the combination of healthy eating and exercise to promote health. I think that if they're going to increase the price of foods that are bad that they should take that money and put it back into the system in a way that is good for us! Such as a subsidy to reduce the price of gym memberships or fitness classes. I just think that turning people away from buying a block of butter or fast food burger is just half the battle considering that people are so much more sedentary these days than ever before. Just a thought.

So the big questions is, will it work? Will people take a step back when they see the increased prices and think, "Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't buy this now that it costs more?"
To tell you the truth, I really don't know. Inflation has become such a normal occurrence in our regular trips to the grocery store that I can't say if people will even consider why they are paying more and will just pick up that frozen pizza and toss it in the cart like they do every day. I went and bought a coffee yesterday and had the money all ready (cause I already knew what it would cost) and when she told me the new price (an increase in $0.11), I just said, "Oh, the price went up," and reached into my wallet for some extra coin. In my head I wasn't impressed that the price went up but I've just become accustomed to paying more for stuff every now and then when they jack the prices up. It's really unfortunate that we don't think about this anymore and just accept paying more for everything. I hope that the Fat Tax works is so successful that they make all this extra money then all of the rest of the countries take notice and impose the tax as well, causing them to be able to reduce the cost of fresh fruits and veggies! One can dream right?!?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Killer Carbs? No Way!

It's nights like Saturday night that make me both happy and also frustrated that I have a nutrition degree. I have said it before but sometimes I feel like this field of knowledge is just a large group of intelligent and well educated men and women all banging their heads against a wall, hoping that someone in the far off distance will hear the faint thudding sound and come looking to see what's going on. The people who want information about health are going about it the wrong way (such as by watching Dr. Oz or Googling topics such as "lost weight fast", or "what to eat to be more healthy") and consistently dismissing trained dietitians who are more than happy to teach you what you need and don't need to improve or maintain health.

Case and Point: I was working at Holland College on Saturday night and got talking to one of the girls I work with. She told me that her boyfriend lost 100lbs because his personal trainer told him to stop eating carbs! ARG! What makes me the most angry about this is that this guy wanted help to become more healthy and he got his nutrition advice from a personal trainer. Now, let me step in and say that there are most definitely lots of personal trainers out there who know a lot about health and fitness and are qualified to tell someone what to eat to promote weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. But this person obviously knows very little about how the body works and what fuels our muscles to be able to perform effectively when activity levels are high.

I feel I should step in once again and address all those people who eat the "high protein-low carb" diets and had tremendous success with them. Yes, they work. But anything with the term "Fad Diet" anywhere in the same sentence or description should really take notice here. Atkins is a fad-diet because it promises fast weight loss, and yes, people lose weight fast eating nothing but bacon, burger patties and pads of butter at every meal. But really, do you want to eat these giant amounts of protein for the rest of your life? Most people get bored with these unpalatable diets and stop it, which equals instant weight gain! I would much rather find an eating plan that not only helped a person to lose weight effectively but also provided foods that can be enjoyed for the rest of their life. Doesn't that sound a bit more appealing? I am really happy that this guy had lost 100lbs but I fear that he will go out to dinner at a family member's house and indulge in a large plate of spaghetti, only to enjoy it immensely and get sucked into a spiraling marathon of non-stop pizza, pasta and bread eating which will go on for weeks and even months because his body is craving the carbs. Then guess what? Instant weight gain.

I am a huge fan of carbs. They make me very happy and knowing that they are good for me makes me even a bigger fan. Carbs feed our muscles (including the brain!) and we need them every day to maintain and prevent damage in the muscles, so please, please don't give them up if you want to lose weight in hopes of creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Please do the proper research or ask a professional about the myths and truths about healthy eating and dieting. Email me if you want! Just don't swear off carbs from your diet. Learn what are the good kinds (whole grains and complex carbs!) and what ones to steer clear of (refined or simple carbs) and take the steps needed to introduce them into your daily meals in a way that works for you.

I have a confession to make. I am this close to signing up for personal trainer certification courses because I hear this story over and over again and I want to help people and give people accurate information that they can use until the day they die. I want to go into deep detail with these clients about how carbs work and how calories are measured in food and all the stuff that they don't teach you when you sign up for fitness courses at the gym or local studio. Fitness and food go hand in hand. They run along the beach together and comfort one another at the end of a long hard day and make sweet sweet passionate love to prove just how devoted they are to one another.

Did I go too far? I just wanted to prove my point with a graphic mental image. I bet you're totally picturing the scene in your head right now. Am I right?