The Holidays in Isolation

We will all remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic and the changes it made to our society, our communities, our families and our day-to-day routines. It will be especially different at this time of the year when we are used to gathering indoors around the hearth or the table with our family and friends and we are now unable to do so. Rather than focus on what we cannot do or what we may have lost, try to prioritize the positive aspects of life we can all still share in:

1. Family time. Most of us will agree that we have had a lot more time together as an immediate family this year. Although this can be stressful at times, we may eventually realize it was the best part of this year and change forever how connected we are to each other. Consider gifts that families can have fun doing together like board games or DIY projects.

2. Getting outside. We hear this recommendation a lot these days, as the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support our physical and mental health. Whether a walk in the woods or neighbourhood or a trip to the ski hill, the benefits of getting out in nature have not changed a bit! Check out our blog on getting Merry with Movement for ideas on getting active outside and inside on drearier days.

3. Decorating. Stringing lights, using candles and lots of colour is common in cultures around the world during the dark days of winter to give our homes a bright, inspiring boost!

4. Eating well. Although we might not be cooking and baking for as many, we can still celebrate with our favourite family recipes. Check out our blogs on Healthifying Your Holiday Recipes and maintaining the focus on eating lots of veggies to balance the treat foods common at this time of year.

5. Staying connected. Unique ideas are springing up for ways to stay connected to family, friends and community. From online dance parties, religious services, book clubs or eating a meal together over Zoom, we can still see and support each other. Be sure to check in on those who are living alone during this difficult year.

6. Giving back. If you and your family have been spared the financial complications of COVID-19 or another financial crisis, consider supporting those less fortunate. It may be more challenging to volunteer our time in person this year, but we can donate money, food, gifts, survival supplies and so much more to those in need in our communities and around the world.

Spooky Supper

This Halloween have a fun family evening with some celebratory and spooky foods!

Serves 4

Spooky Fingers

8 medium carrots, peeled

8 medium parsnips, peeled

¼ cup hummus

16 sliced almonds

1 Tbsp beet juice (optional)

After peeling carrots and parsnips, slice a small piece off the thinner end to create a flat surface the size of the almond, as well as some ‘knuckle marks’ by making small, shallow cuts horizontally along the carrots and parsnips. Then place a small dollop of hummus on the flat surface and adhere an almond slice ‘fingernail’. Lay out as creepy fingers on a platter. Drizzle with beet juice ‘blood’ as desired.

Spidery Deviled Eggs

8 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved

1 Tbsp mustard

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

8 large black olives, pitted and halved

¼ cucumber

Scoop the cooked yolks out of the eggs and mash in a bowl with mustard and mayonnaise. Spoon or pipe this mixture back into the egg whites and lay on a platter yolk side up. Top each egg with an olive half as the spider body. Cut cucumber into tiny slices for spider legs then add 8 slices around each olive.

Jack-o-Lantern Quesadillas

4 large whole grain tortillas

1 can refried black beans

1 cup shredded orange cheddar

Preheat oven to 350F. Lay out two tortillas on a greased baking sheet. Spread each with refried beans and top with cheese. Cut a jack-o-lantern face out of the other two tortillas and place on top of the cheese. Brush with oil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are lightly crisped.

By Nicole Fetterly, RD

Giving Thanks!

Although the crowd gathered around our table this Thanksgiving may be a little smaller than usual and missing some of those far away family members, the spirit of this occasion can remain strong. Despite everything we’ve faced in 2020, we are so fortunate that our food supply has remained intact. And that is thanks to all of the hard-working farmers, ranchers, producers, harvesters, transporters and front-line workers.

The tradition of giving thanks and celebrating the harvest goes back centuries on the traditional and unceded ancestral lands and gatherings and rituals of our indigenous communities. These celebrations vary widely between different nations, but many involve feasting, dance, prayer and potlatch. The food also varies widely between different lands and what can be harvested or collected during this season, for example salmon from the BC rivers and coastline.

Many of the commonly consumed foods on Thanksgiving in Canada date back to early celebrations of European settlers coming north from the U.S. in the 1700s. These include turkey, a bird native to North America, as well as squash and pumpkin which are harvested at the end of the summer bounty.

The traditions that each family shares around this holiday are something incredibly special and they should be passed down to each generation so they can continue for years to come. Perhaps they involve special dishes, like vegetables or pies, or other fun past times like a walk in the autumn leaves or a game of family football. Most importantly, begin or maintain a ritual around giving thanks and sharing all that we have to be grateful for during these unprecedented times, whether it be the food on our table, the health of our family and friends or the strong spirit of all Canadians doing our part to stay safe and fight this pandemic.

If you’re looking for some new ideas for Thanksgiving dinner this year, consider serving a delicious vegetable soup to start the meal. It’s a great way to stretch out the time you’re together at the table, not to mention celebrate our beautiful bounty of squash: Butternut Squash Soup. It’s great to teach children that pumpkins (and squash) are not just for jack-o-lantern carving!

Kiss & Make Up Day

August 25th might not be the national day to celebrate your favourite sweet treat, but it’s certainly an important day. National Kiss and Make Up Day is all about putting aside your differences and resolving any conflicts with your family, friends or colleagues. Well, you don’t have to kiss your colleagues!

According to the Mayo Clinic, holding onto grudges can be toxic to your health, not to mention your relationships. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:

Healthier relationships
Improved mental health
Less anxiety, stress and hostility
Lower blood pressure
Fewer symptoms of depression
A stronger immune system
Improved heart health
Improved self-esteem

It’s not always easy to forgive someone, especially if you’ve been hurt and the person who’s hurt you doesn’t admit wrong. It’s key to remember that it’s not just about them, it’s also about your state of mind and how that could be negatively affecting your physical and mental health. That doesn’t mean just bottle it up and move on—these emotions need to be acknowledged to be processed.

If you are struggling to forgive someone, try practicing empathy and seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view. Consider if you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation. Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and been forgiven. Consider writing down your feelings in a journal, doing a guided meditation or speaking to a counsellor, spiritual leader or an impartial friend or family member.

Happy Book Lover’s Day!

A family that reads together, feeds (their minds) together! Summer is a great time to relax with a good book—whether on the deck, at the beach or around the campfire. And it is a very peaceful activity to do as a family. 

Start young! Reading to children from the earliest age can set them up for a lifetime of loving books, as well as prepare them for school and enhance their vocabulary. It also gives them valuable time with their caregiver(s) in a warm, nurturing environment.

Literacy is more than just reading and writing. It’s the foundation upon which we learn and grow.

Building literacy skills in children is one of the most effective ways to ensure they can achieve their full potential in school and throughout life. Literacy opens doors to understanding, empathy, critical thinking, and the capacity for lifelong learning, according to the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation.

Some of our favourite children’s authors include:

  • Richard Scarry—amazing illustrations and characters, great for learning vocabulary
  • Margaret Wise Brown—from Goodnight Moon to Runaway Bunny—sure to be passed down in your family
  • Sandra Boynton—funny rhymes that are easy for children to memorize and read along

And for older children (these could also be read together as a family):

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder—expose children to life in the 1800s and how hard people had to work just to survive (and her Canadian counterpart, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables)
  • J.K. Rowling—who doesn’t love Harry Potter and his magical world! 
  • Judy Blume—for younger audiences like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to books for tweens, these topics are still timeless
  • Suzanne Collins—a great author for tweens and teens in the sci-fi realm—even adults will love reading the Hunger Games series

For children who are transitioning to reading on their own, consider graphic novels in series like Big Nate or The Babysitters Club, where text is broken up into easier-to-read snippets accompanied by illustrations. A children’s magazine subscription can also be fun! Getting a Highlights or Children’s National Geographic magazine in the mailbox can brighten a child’s day and spark their curiosity and creativity.

For more ideas for reading as a family, visit and to buy books or support your local neighbourhood bookstore.

On Sunday, August 9th, celebrate Book Lover’s Day by picking up a new book, starting a book club or even having a family theme night where you dress up and act as your favourite book character!

Happy BC Day!

We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful province and unceded territory of our many indigenous communities. From our oceans, lakes and rivers to our hills, mountains and valleys, BC is so rich in nature. It is also abundant in so many local foods and what better way to celebrate BC day than focusing on eating local and supporting our incredibly hard-working food producers.

August is the perfect time to prioritize local purchases as our growing and harvesting season is in full swing. We also have time to visit local farms and understand the challenges our food producers face every day. Whether our vegetable and fruit farmers, our ranchers, the fish and seafood harvesters, let’s show them our support by buying these local BC foods in abundance!

Here are some of our local foods around the province to look out for:

  • Fruit—from Okanagan stone fruits like cherries, peaches, apricots and plums to wild and farmed berries that grow throughout the province, it’s easy to find local options in August. The taste of ripe, local fruit is so superior to those grown on the other side of the world. So, eat it while we have it (and take a break from fruit that has been grown far away). Also consider stocking up on freestone peaches and berries that can be prepared and laid out on baking sheets to be frozen before bagging to use all winter long.
  • Vegetables—farms and gardens are bursting with vegetables in August in every corner of the province—from leafy greens to summer squash, potatoes to peppers, cucumbers to carrots–the list is endless. A fresh local tomato tastes so much different than the pale ones we find in the grocery store in January. Don’t forget to get your local corn-on-the-cob! But consider trying it in a less-than-local way, as Mexican Corn on the Cob, drizzled with crema, crumbled cheese, lime and cilantro.
  • Seafood—although spot prawn season is wrapped up by August, our salmon season is just getting underway! Our wild BC salmon is world-class—get it while it’s fresh and freeze some for later in the year.
  • Eggs & Poultry—get to know a local egg or poultry producer in your region and consider buying straight from the farm. That way more money ends up in the hands of the producers and it’s easier to know how the birds are being raised. BC eggs and poultry are available year-round.
  • Other Meats—although Alberta is known for its beef, many BC ranches also raise beef as well as bison. Bison is a naturally grass-fed animal whose meat is leaner and often has a better nutrition and sustainability profile than conventionally raised beef. 

To know what’s in season in your region, check out And keep your eye out for those roadside signs for a neighbour’s eggs, freshly-caught seafood, a pick-your-own berry patch or an all-purpose farm stand.

Camping for Canada Day

Summer trips are looking a little different in 2020 with international and even inter-provincial travel off the table. Instead we get to focus in on our own province and our favourite spots, or maybe some new ones, closer to home. Camping is an incredible option this summer (as always!) because we know that the spread of COVID-19 is reduced when we’re outside and it’s relatively easy to practice physical distancing when you’re camping.

One of the best benefits of camping is being outside all day and the added activity that goes along with it. The kids take off on their bikes and are only see again when yummy food smells start filling the campground at mealtimes. Or they explore the woods, scrambling over logs, swinging in the hammock, playing with insects. This type of unstructured play is so good for children, building their independence, sense of adventure, ability to manage risk and connection with nature. And hopefully the grown ups also get up and get moving—hiking, biking and swimming go hand-in-hand with camping! Not to mention chopping wood, setting up tents and tarps and organizing the food prep.

The food is often the best part! A hot meal around the campfire is such a treat after a day enjoying the outdoors. But it doesn’t have to be all about the s’mores, chips, hot dogs and cold beverages (and then the lousy feeling you get when you consume only that for a few days). Hanging out at the campsite can give you lots of time to make a stupendous meal, as long as you’ve done the essential advance planning.

One of the simplest solutions to camp cooking is to bring a pre-made meal, ideally that you made for dinner prior to coming, doubled-up the amount and froze the leftovers. Perhaps a veggie chili, stew, curry or hearty soup. If you have more time on your hands, prep bean burritos, pita pizzas or Dutch oven lasagna that can cook over the coals. Try to keep to the Canada’s Food Guide recommendations, at least some of time, and include lots of veggies, fruit, whole grains and plant-based proteins. A bag full of fresh-cut veggies is the perfect thing to snack on or pack for a hike and it helps to quench our thirst after the salty treats.

So this Canada Day, consider celebrating the beautiful country we live in by getting close to nature and camping in the great outdoors! If you’re looking for a spot, visit and make a reservation at

Love the Earth!

April 22nd is Earth Day and what better way to show your appreciation for our beautiful planet than by minimizing waste. We throw away billions of dollars worth of food each year, despite the fact that so many people in this world, including here in British Columbia, are going hungry.

During this unusual time of COVID-19, many of us are stocking up our fridges, freezers and pantries over concerns about store closures and shortages. But it’s key to not buy more than you can use! Here are a few tips for using up food so it doesn’t end up in the compost or worse, the landfill:

  1. Check your fridge and freezer before making a weekly meal plan and grocery list. Look for veggies that need to get used up or items lingering in the freezer for longer than 3-6 months.
  2. When shopping, check best before dates, only buy what you can use and don’t fall victim to specials like “buy 4 get 1 free” if it’s too much food for you. Most of the time these specials hold true even if you only buy 1 or 2 of the item.
  3. The most commonly thrown away food items are milk, bread, eggs, cheese and fruits and veggies. If we keep track of the food in our fridges, we can ensure we use things up before they go bad and that doesn’t mean on the best before date. There are no expiry dates for food in Canada (only for infant formula) so instead of focusing on the date, use your senses to determine if the food has gone off. To use up excess, try:
  4. Making Homemade Ricotta cheese from excess milk—it’s a fun science experiment with kids!
  5. If bread has gone stale, pulse it in the food processor into crumbs, keep them in the freezer and use them for breading fish or making meatballs, meatloaf or homemade veggie burgers.
  6. If eggs are reaching their best before date and you cannot use them up, consider freezing them. Crack and whisk them together and place in an airtight container with the date and number of eggs. Freeze for up to 4 months then use them up in baking, as the texture may not make the perfect scramble.
  7. Overly ripe bananas can be frozen in the peel or peeled and stored in a freezer bag and used up in smoothies and baking. Making apple, pear and/or berry compotes are perfect for using up fruit and a good replacement (or addition) for maple syrup on whole grain pancakes.
  8. Soups are a great way to use up a lot of veggies. You can also save the scraps from vegetable ends like carrots, celery and onion and cook them with bones to make your own stock. Keep a stock bag in the freezer and toss the vegetable scraps and bones in until you’re ready to make stock. Check out our recipe here.
  9. Love your leftovers! Also a big contributor to food waste, leftovers can make an easy lunch the next day or two. Be creative with adding something new to freshen them up. 

Being at home these days can make it easier to keep a handle on what food needs to be used up. But as always, when in doubt, throw it out. For food safety information during the time of COVID-19 or anytime, visit Health Canada.

For more information and resources on minimizing waste, visit

Spring Holidays & Celebrations

Spring is a time of rebirth and regeneration and many cultures around the world start it off with important celebrations. In this time of homeschooling, consider a World Cultures class and learn about celebrations and rituals in other cultures and religions. Besides just reading about them, try making a traditional recipe from that culture, to help bridge that distance between different countries and people in this beautiful world of ours. Food is the one thing that connects us all, no matter our beliefs or ethnicity, or how socially distanced we all are.

Eggs are an ancient and important symbol of birth and new life and so they are what many of us associate with spring holiday celebrations. In many places in the world, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the Spring Equinox. This means sometime between the end of March and the end of April. On Easter Sunday, although there are many who have religious ceremonies, it is also a time for Easter Egg hunts that brighten the lives of so many children. 

Even during this time of isolation, consider arranging an Easter Egg hunt for your children to help keep a sense of normalcy, positivity and fun. If the weather or your outdoor space won’t allow, hide them through the house. If you want to make it more challenging, write clues that they must solve to get to the next egg or candy stash.

Dying eggs is another great homeschooling art project and will add some fun, colour and celebratory spirit to your home. Hard-boil white shell eggs (you can’t dye the brown ones) then consider drawing patterns or images with wax. Dye in food colouring baths or make your own food colouring with real food! Purple cabbage and beets, onion skins, avocado pits and turmeric can all make beautiful colours. Take the eggs on a picnic or enjoy them for weekend brunch. Keep hardboiled eggs in the fridge before and after they’re dyed. If you want eggs that can stay out of the fridge, you need to create a small hole in the bottom of the shell and blow out all of the egg inside. Try to capture all this egg though, by blowing into a large bowl, and then use them to make a scramble!

In Jewish culture, Passover occurs in the spring and is a celebration of the exodus from Egypt and pilgrimages made to Jerusalem. It is a holiday signified by unleavened bread because during the treks, only this type of bread could last. Known as matzo, this bread is a key feature of Passover feasts like Seder, as are other elements like bitter herbs (e.g. parsley). For the 8 days of Passover, no leavened breads or baking are permitted and so other foods become special at this time like Chicken Soup with Matzo dumplings. 

Also at this time of year is the start of the Muslim holiday Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a time of spiritual reflection, when people fast all day from sunrise to sunset. To begin and end this month-long period there are huge feasts! Also, at sunset every day, to break the fast, people participate in Iftar, usually a social gathering with a big buffet. The key dishes of Iftar vary in cultures around the world but dates, watermelon and other desserts are very important, as are main dishes like Jollof Rice and Chicken from African countries, Harees, a grain and meat porridge from the United Arab Emirates, Turkish or Moroccan stews, kebabs and so much more.

Our indigenous communities in Canada also celebrate the end of winter and start of spring with feasts, usually with traditional foods like wild game stews, bannock or other regional delicacies. Spring brings new treats from the forest like fiddleheads and stinging nettle, which is often used to make tea for celebrations.

During this time of isolation, we may want to share our special feasts and celebratory meals while video-conferencing with our family. We may connect with our spiritual and cultural communities in new ways as well with leaders or elders providing online services. But no matter what, we can all be grateful for our health, the food we have to eat, the beautiful spring season that’s upon us and knowing that globally, we are all in this together!

Celebrating Spring!

The days are growing longer, the afternoons lighter, the spring flowers and buds are emerging and the soil is softening. It’s the perfect time to get outside and move our bodies and what better way to do it then gardening! Being active, with a purpose beyond health, can be more inspiring for some of us. And it’s so fun to watch the fruits (or veggies or herbs) of our labour develop. Gardening is also a great family activity that builds connectedness to each other but also helps children develop food literacy or positive attitudes, skills and knowledge about food.

Consider starting some seeds indoors while there are still cooler nights. Pop by your local garden store and buy soil pods and some favourite vegetable or herb seeds like squash, tomatoes, peppers, parsley and kale. Plant the seeds in the moistened soil pods and keep in a sunny window. It’s so fun for kids (and grown ups) to see the sprouts emerge and grow! Then when it warms up, they can be planted directly in the ground or in pots.

Next you may need to order or pick up some soil and mulch to add nutrients to your garden or to fill pots for your patio. Shoveling and raking soil or mulch is a fantastic physical activity but is also the foundation for everything you grow. The kelp in our coastal waters is a wonderful source of nutrients both for our health but also that of our gardens. A lot of the mulch produced here in BC uses kelp as a nutrient source. And don’t forget the compost you may create yourself from your food scraps or that you may be able to buy back from the company that picks up your green bin. Compost is another rich source of nutrients to help our plants grow and thrive.

If you didn’t get a chance to start your own seeds indoors, consider picking up some starts or small plants for vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. Other vegetables and herbs, like cucumber, lettuce, carrots and basil can be sown directly from seed once it’s warm enough. Get buy in from the whole family by letting everyone pick a favourite item or two to grow. If your child is hesitant about eating vegetables, you may notice a keener interest from them if they’ve been involved in selecting and growing them. They will love eating their way through the garden as the summer hits, making an impromptu salad of new greens, herbs, edible flowers, snap peas and perhaps some strawberries!

Maintaining the garden every day is a great way to be active together after work, school or dinner. Watering and weeding require us to stretch and bend but also connect us to what is growing and it can change so quickly as the season progresses. 

Just remember to stay positive—not every seed is a success! But like everything else, the more we practice, the more confident we feel. And the outcome is beyond the produce—it’s just as much the experience of being outside together as a family, working towards a common goal.