food and nutrition
By Melissa Lafrance on June 4, 2019
Outdoor cooking and eating is much more inviting when the weather warms up. This month, let’s see what’s cooking when it comes to picnics, grilling, markets and farms.
Week 1: Picnic Ideas & Areas
How many of you have to work indoors but enjoy getting your vitamin D too? Incorporate some outdoor time during your workday by stepping away from your desk/office/workplace and eating lunch outside in nature. Here are some ideas to try:
- Check out our July 2018 Healthy Recipes & Tips article for picnic tips and recipes.
- Discover UBC Vancouver’s outdoor spaces – great for eating out or hanging out with colleagues.
- Additional spots at UBC Vancouver include the tables, benches or green spaces outside the Pharmaceutical Sciences building, the Nest, along Main Mall, and near the Forestry building and Reconciliation Pole.
- Discover UBC Okanagan’s outdoor spaces, including the Amphitheatre, Commons, and the Courtyard.
Week 2: Grilling 101
There are many benefits to grilling: it’s a simple, fast and low-fat cooking method that uses fresh ingredients and best of all, it’ll mean fewer dishes! Our June 2018 Healthy Recipes & Tips article offers a number of tasty ideas and options.
Week 3: Farmers’ Markets
Farmers’ markets are venues that increase food accessibility and where consumers have access to local, fresh and readily available produce. It’s also a great way to learn what foods are in season and connect with your community, nearby farmers and food providers. Whether you’re in Vancouver or the Okanagan, visit one of BC’s many farmers’ markets using the BC Farmers’ Market Trail resource.
Week 4: Explore the UBC Farm
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) at UBC Farm in Vancouver is a research centre and local-to-global food hub working towards a more sustainable, food-secure future.
Throughout the growing season, the UBC Farm hosts three markets each week, including their Farm Gate Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and their farm markets outside the UBC Bookstore on Wednesdays. Check out the 2019 market calendar and visit a market for an opportunity to purchase fresh food right from the source.
Photo Credit: UBC Brand & Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on March 7, 2018
In honour of National Nutrition Month, this third installment of our annual series takes a critical look at three popular myths. Read on for the real facts on fruits, veggies, and turmeric.
Disclaimer: The information in this feature is intended to encourage you to think critically about the information we are bombarded with. It is not meant to cause worry or make you revamp your diet completely. At the end of the day, we all need to make the food choices that make the most sense to us at the time.
Fruits and vegetables are healthy, so I can eat as much as I want, right?
It’s true that the majority of Canadians do not consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables; however, some people do and may even eat too much. There is no set maximum, but keep in mind that you can only eat so much in a day, and you need to leave room for other food groups. Eating only fruits and vegetables may result in you getting insufficient essential nutrients — not to mention the discomfort that can result from eating too much fiber-rich foods. Think moderation and variety. According to Canada’s Food Guide, adults between the ages of 19-50 should aim to consume:
- 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for females
- 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for males
- At least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day 
Cooking destroys all nutrients in vegetables.
This is not entirely accurate. It is true that exposing vegetables to high heat or boiling water for extended periods of time diminishes some nutrients, but some nutrients are actually enhanced. Take lycopene for example, the main carotenoid in tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell matrix, thereby making the lycopene more available . Cooking vegetables breaks down the plants’ cell walls, making them easier to digest and absorb.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B, are the most vulnerable because they leach out into the cooking water. For foods high in water-soluble nutrients, steaming (even using a microwave) and dry cooking like grilling, roasting and stir-frying retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling . If you tend to boil your vegetables, don’t be alarmed: just eat a variety of cooked and raw veggies (even frozen) and you’ll be good.
Here are some additional resources:
- Tips to maximize nutrient retention by Thinking Nutrition
- Guide to avoid overcooking vegetables by the kitchn
Turmeric has superpower curing abilities.
First there was kale, then coconut oil, and now turmeric has made it into the mainstream superfood consciousness. Not only is it readily available as a common spice, but it now can also be found in concentrated supplement form. Curcumin, the principal compound in turmeric, has been studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but there still lacks clear and significant results. Some preclinical studies suggest that curcumin may help prevent and treat certain types of cancers and type 2 diabetes, however larger randomized controlled trials are needed to determine its efficacy. Also, curcumin taken orally is poorly absorbed and rapidly metabolized and eliminated in humans.
Bottom line: there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest that it can prevent disease or cure illnesses . Long before it found its way into your latte, fresh turmeric root or ground turmeric spice was known for being flavourful and commonly used in many dishes. It can continue to be safely enjoyed in that way in small doses. You can find out more about how curcumin is metabolized, its bioavailability, as well as adverse effects and drug interactions here.
Interested in learning more about nutrition, detoxes, superfoods and hormones? Check out our Debunking the Diet Workshop Series.
For other nutritional myths we’ve debunked, see the previous articles written by Melissa:
Photo credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on May 4, 2017
It’s easy to reach for a bottle of ketchup or salad dressing at the grocery store. But it’s just as easy – and often healthier and less expensive – to make your own.
This month, we’re taking a look at basic food staples and finding ways to make them a little healthier by making our own instead of buying pre-made. The best way to know exactly what is in your food is to make it yourself. You also benefit from being able to customize it to your taste and can often save money, particularly when you buy the ingredients in bulk. Plus, cooking is fun and satisfying.
Check out the four-week plan and get cooking!
Let’s start small and simple. Try these recipes and tips:
- Make your own salad dressing. You can use old bottles for your dressing or mix up all the ingredients in a glass or a Mason jar.
- You can even make your own butter!
- Make homemade crackers. I’ve made these before and they are super easy and delicious on their own or with hummus or cheese.
- Try baking your own bread.
What about dairy and dairy alternatives? Most of us have these as staples in our everyday diets.
- Did you know you can make your own almond milk? The leftover almond pulp can be used in smoothies, hummus, oatmeal and crackers.
- Homemade yogurt is easier to make than you might think!
Now let’s explore condiments! Nut butters are full of nutrition and great to add to many dishes or use in a good ol’ peanut butter and jam sandwich (even better if it’s with your homemade bread!)
By Melissa Lafrance on March 1, 2016
The Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team in Human Resources is actively involved in promoting and improving health and wellbeing of staff and faculty. This commitment is part of the larger university goal to create an outstanding work environment. The spotlight this month is on benefits available to UBC staff and faculty for nutritional health.
Extended Health Benefits
The UBC Extended Health Benefits plan is designed to help promote the continued health and wellbeing of staff and faculty. Benefits include coverage for a wide range of services, including paramedical practitioners such as Registered Dietitians and Naturopaths.
Employee and Family Assistance Program Services
Nutrition Support Services
UBC’s EFAP provider, Shepell, offers Nutrition Support Services, with a holistic and proactive approach to nutrition and wellbeing. Shepell’s Nutrition Support Services are provided through phone consultations. Their health professionals can help you make positive changes to your diet and address weight loss or gain, eating routines and lifestyle changes. You also have access to Registered Dietitians who can assess your eating habits, identify dietary concerns and answer nutrition-related questions.
Support is available for a variety of concerns, including:
UBC’s EFAP also offers Health Coaching! As part of Health Coaching, information and tools are provided to better understand health issues. Shepell Health Coaches teach about the changes required to be well and stay well, while providing motivation to reach lifestyle goals.
Personalized and interactive support from Registered Nurses and Occupational Health Nurses provide:
- Initial assessment of health history
- Information about a variety of health conditions and risks including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- PMS, menopause, or andropause
- Gastrointestinal concerns
- Goal setting and action planning specific to the issue
Health Coaches can work with you to create a risk-reduction action plan targeting:
- Weight management
- Healthy eating
- Smoking cessation
- Responsible alcohol use
- Stress management
- Exercise as a component of a healthy lifestyle
Naturopathic support is also available through UBC’s EFAP, providing a natural and holistic approach to the maintenance of good health, including but not limited to improving digestion, boosting energy levels, proper nutrition and food choices. Naturopathic professionals will provide you with information about naturopathic medicine and how it works; the program will teach you practical lifestyle practices that you can use every day.
Get on the right dietary track with help from EFAP. Check out the services available.
For immediate assistance, call 1-800-387-4765 or visit www.workhealthlife.com.
Posted in Benefits Spotlight, EFAP, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged Benefits, coaching, EFAP, Employee and Family Assistance program, extended health, food, food and nutrition, heath, naturopathic medicine, suppoort | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on March 1, 2016
This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Nicole Fetterly, Manager of Nutrition & Wellness in Student Housing and Hospitality Services.
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff.
How do you thrive at Work?
As a busy working mom, it’s hard to prioritize myself and my health. My number one strategy is to start the day on the right foot. I have a hard time eating breakfast in the morning (as do about 50% of the clients I’ve presented to or counseled) with all I have to do to get out the door with the kids. So instead of going without eating, grabbing ‘just a banana’ or stopping at Starbucks, I make a green smoothie every morning.
Here’s my simple green smoothie recipe for 2 people:
- 1 avocado
- 2 cups spinach or kale
- 1 cup cucumber
- ¼ cup fresh mint or parsley
- 2 tablespoons spirulina
- 1 pear or 1 cup mango (or other light coloured fruit—I love berries, but they turn it brown)
- 1.5 cups plain kefir or yogurt
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- 1 cup water or OJ (if just using water, one tablespoon of maple syrup is sometimes needed to taste)
- 1 cup ice (if you like it cold)
This hearty beverage gets me through until lunch and meets half my veggie and fruit servings for the day, plus almost half of my calcium needs.
I’m fortunate to work for UBC Food Services. Not only does this help me to get out and see/taste the business but also to ensure I get my veggies every day. Before working here, I would prioritize the leftovers and veggies for the rest of my family but often run out the door with a box of crackers or whatever was in the fridge for myself. Veggies were rare!
The other thing that keeps me thriving at work is the amount of walking I get to do. I park 10 minutes away from my office, which gets me to almost 5,000 steps just to the office and back to the car. Then all I need is one other meeting across campus and I can reach 10,000 steps a day, easily. If I don’t happen to have a meeting across campus, I try to find someone to have a walking meeting with or just a fun walk. I’m looking forward to the Wreck Beach stairs this summer…
How do you thrive at Home?
Lucky for me, my profession and my life’s passion intersect in the kitchen, which is truly the centre of our home. We prioritize family dinner every night and encourage the kids to get involved in cooking whenever possible or at least the discussion about our food choices. I find cooking to be very relaxing—especially if I have the opportunity to multitask and catch up on my Netflix or a Facetime call. But it takes work—every weekend we make our meal plan for the week and get the ingredients.
Being away from the kids at work all day makes it challenging to get formal exercise. My hot yoga class takes a solid two hours to go to and that is hard to find time for. Instead, I try and build activity in as a family, whether a fun dance party, yoga or stretching, a walk around the block in the evening or a weekend day on the ski hill.
But my number one way I take care of myself at home is a hot bath! I love to add essential oils like eucalyptus or citrus. Warm water is so soothing and the bathroom is usually the quietest room in the house. I’m saving up for a hot tub so I can enjoy this same luxury in the fresh air, surrounded by trees, under the stars…
Nicole Fetterly, a Registered Dietitian, is the Nutrition & Wellness Manager in Student Housing and Hospitality Services. Nicole is passionate about helping people make the best food choices they can for themselves and for a sustainable food system.
After graduating from UBC’s integrated dietetic program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, she worked for Vancouver Coastal Health in clinical dietetics. She was the Nutrition Operations Manager at Choices Markets, an independent chain of 10 natural and organic food stores in British Columbia. She was named Star Woman in Grocery for 2015 by Canadian Grocer magazine.
Nicole has extensive experience writing and contributes to newsletters, blogs and other social media, as well as features on television and radio. She has an ongoing private practice and provides support for the food industry on product design and nutrition labeling.
Her role at UBC is brand new! Since October, 2015, Nicole has been providing one-on-one counseling and educational outreach to students in residence, supporting Employee Wellness initiatives, consulting for the UBC Food Services culinary team to increase the healthy offerings and improve the labeling of foods served on campus and writing articles and recipes for her blog www.food.ubc.ca/nutrition
By Miranda Massie on September 15, 2015
UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of free activities and events coming your way this fall. Sign up today for topics including Learn to Meditate Orientation at the Diamond Health Care Centre, Own Your Own Fitness series, Guided tour of Nitobe Gardens, Are You Heart Healthy, Belly Basics, Career Navigation; and plenty more!
Learn to Meditate: Orientation & Registration – Sept 17, 2015@ 12-1pm (Location: Diamond Health Care Centre)
This orientation session is a free opportunity to learn more about the Learn to Meditate Four-Week program offered to UBC employees, and have an opportunity to register for the sessions beginning in late 2015. Come to hear the benefits, differences and similarities of meditation and mindfulness, and how it can help you build your resiliency and reduces stress. The facilitator will share her story in developing her own meditation practice, and in bringing this meditation facilitation to others. Click here for more information and to register.
Guided Walk in UBC’s Nitobe Gardens-Sept 22, 2015 @12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Make the most of your lunch break and join us for a guided tour of the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden located here at UBC. This event will take place rain or shine, so please dress accordingly. The group will meet at the Garden entrance at 12pm and the tour will begin at 12:05pm. Nitobe Garden is considered to be one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America. Click here for more information and to register.
Healthy UBC Career Navigation Series: Part 1– Sept 23, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Diamond Health Care Centre)
Join UBC’s Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal in the first session of this three-part series to help UBC employees navigate possible career opportunities and create a personalized career development plan. This lunch-n-learn workshop will talk about the Career Navigation at UBC approach to enhancing your professional success. We will discuss an approach to help you discover your career strengths and enhance your career wellbeing and professional success. Click here for more information and to register.
Belly Basics: Digestive Health Series, Part 1 – Sept. 24, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Part 1 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. In this session, attendees will learn to define proper digestion, understand why digestion has so much to do with your whole body health, and learn about the anatomy of the digestive system and how to discern your body’s weakest link. Attendees will also be able to take home four physical movements and lifestyle ideas to practice, that will assist the digestive system’s natural functions. Course is currently full. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Determining the Best mode of Exercise for You: Own Your Own Fitness Series, Part 1 – Sept. 29, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Considering a cycling, hiking, walking or running program? Getting started on the right exercise program that suits your schedule and needs is important. Learn about various types of exercises that are available to build aerobic health, and discover how some have greater benefits than others. Join qualified fitness and health professionals in two classroom-based workshops and one Fitness Centre orientation and introduction to help you demystify fitness and help you get started on the right exercise program that suits you. Click here for more information and to register.
Maximizing Calories Burned with Interval Training: Own Your Own Fitness, Part 2 – Oct. 6, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Discover safe and effective ways to maximize your shortened workout with Interval Training. Join qualified fitness and health professionals in two classroom-based workshops and one Fitness Centre Orientation and Introduction to help you demystify fitness and help you get started on the right exercise program that suits your schedule and your needs. Click here for more information and to register.
Are You Heart Healthy? Say Yes with CAMMPUS! –Sept. 30, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits in the Department of Human Resources, in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, invite UBC faculty and staff from UBC’s Point Grey campus, Robson Square and Hospital locations to participate in a unique project called CAMMPUS (Cardiovascular Assessment and Medication Management by Pharmacists at the UBC Site). CAMMPUS features confidential, expertly guided services provided by the UBC Pharmacists Clinic (located at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vancouver campus) to help you find out your current level of heart health (and cardiovascular disease risk) and take steps to keep this risk as low as possible. Click here for more information.
Coming up later this fall…
Fitness Centre Orientation and Introduction: Own Your Own Fitness, Part 3-Oct. 13, 2015 @ 5:15-6:15pm (Location: Body Work Fitness Centre, Point Grey)
Attended Part 1 and 2 of Own your Own Fitness 2015? Convinced of the benefits, but you don’t know where to begin? Then join qualified fitness and health professionals in a BodyWorks Fitness Centre Orientation and introduction and learn the basics of strength training to get you started on a general exercise program anywhere that is convenient for you. Instruction on utilizing proper exercise technique for common exercises will also be covered. Click here for more information and to register.
Back by popular demand: Managing your Money Oct. 22, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Creating a plan to manage your money is a sound way to achieve the goals you want in life, whether it be a house, travel, education or retirement. The quote, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” does apply to the process of managing personal finances. In this session, join Money Coach Melanie Buffel to learn to manage and control finances, reinforce good habits, build new ones and create a manageable budget. There will be additional information on saving to meet your financial needs and investing these savings.
Bacteria & Bowels: Digestive Health Series, Part 2 – Oct. 29, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Part 2 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. In this session, attendees will learn the real deal behind bacterial balance, what probiotics can do (and can’t do) and whether probiotics are appropriate for you. Leave with four easy food ideas that promote bacterial health to incorporate into your diet over the next four weeks. Click here for more information and to register.
Healthy UBC Career Navigation Series: Part 2 & 3– Nov. 5 and Dec. 3, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Diamond Health Care Centre)
Join UBC’s Career Navigation & Transition Consultant Pooja Khandelwal in the second and third sessions of this three-part series to help UBC employees navigate possible career opportunities and create a personalized career development plan. Register for Session 2 and Register for Session 3.
Feelings & Fibre: Digestive Health Series, Part 3 – Nov. 19, 2015 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Part 3 of Healthy UBC’s Fall Digestive Health Series with Dr. Thara Vayali. Learn the reasons behind how mood, food and digestion can affect each other, and how different types of fibre can assist with full-body health, with four simple diet & lifestyle ideas to achieve a blissful belly. Click here for more information and to register.
Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives, Mental Health, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged career, courses, events, finance, fitness, food and nutrition, Free Healthy UBC Events, workplace health, workshops | 1 Response
By Colin Hearne on September 9, 2014
Welcome to the new Healthy UBC Recipe Series featuring the recipes of Stephanie Dang from the School of Food Nutrition and Health.
These recipes are distributed one-per-week through our UBC Health Contacts and will available here as a group each month. Bon Appétit!
Light Tiramisu –Click here to view
Barley Stuffing with Porcini Mushrooms –Click here to view
Roasted Cauliflower and Red Pepper Soup – Click here to view
Steamed Snapper – Click here to view
Stephanie Dang is a fourth year dietetics student at the University of British Columbia. When she is not busy studying, Stephanie volunteers at the eating disorder clinic at Children’s Hospital, works at a local bar, and plays soccer. Stephanie believes that living “healthy” means enjoying everything in moderation, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Staying physically active and satisfying your body’s nutritional needs shouldn’t be considered a burden, and if it is, seeing a dietitian is a great way to get advice on how to enjoy healthy living!