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 Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
Travelling is top of mind for me right now. On spring break, I spent two weeks chaperoning teenagers across Italy and Greece. And though the dust hasn’t even had time to settle on my suitcase, I’m already dreaming of my next adventure and my next destination. Unfortunately, a major barrier to my wanderlust is always the associated costs. Travelling is expensive and requires discipline both prior to and during a trip.
This month, I’m sharing some money-savvy hacks to support your frugal and fruitful travel.
Keep your eye on the deals
Take breakfast to go
Book hotel stays that include breakfast. Start your day with a big meal and pack extra snacks so you can save money on food throughout the day.
Avoid on-the-road prices
Pack your own food on travel days so you can avoid paying for pricey food on flights and trains or in airports. With healthy options on hand, you’ll be able to avoid the drive-through.
Find the free days
Many museums and galleries have free days or visiting times throughout the week. Some also offer discounts for students, children and families. Check their websites in advance.
Double check your coverage
Be sure to check your travel insurance coverage, or the coverage of a spouse or dependent. If you’re already covered through work or a credit card, you can avoid paying additional insurance costs. If you are enrolled in UBC’s extended health befits, be familiar with your coverage while travelling outside BC or Canada. Visit the UBC travel benefits site.
Take a staycation!
A vacation does not always need to involve travel. Take advantage of the amazing sights, eats and activities available locally. This will also allow you to save your dollars for a future trip. Read more about staycation ideas for Metro Vancouver on Daily Hive and Miss604.
Wherever your travels take you, I encourage you to prioritize taking time off. Breaks are important for building resilience and promoting mental and physical health. Allow yourself time to breathe, relax and be present without the threat of an incoming credit card bill looming in your head. Have any savvy travel hacks of your own? Share in the comments below!
All my best,
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Melissa Lafrance on April 2, 2019
Did you know that there’s a connection between mindfulness and financial wellbeing?
Mindfulness can help us pay closer attention to the present moment and acknowledge its beauty through focused awareness. By paying attention to our personal finances, we can spend our money more intentionally and thoughtfully, rather than spending impulsively on unnecessary things. Improving our self-awareness can help us become savvier shoppers.
That’s not to say we need to think about the present moment all the time; being financially responsible involves planning for the future and understanding how our spending habits will impact it. Bringing a mindful awareness to our shopping habits will not only help us make better decisions in the present, but set us up for long-term financial health.
Before making your next purchase, try applying this simple Pause, Notice, Take Action practice:
When you discover something you want to buy, pause and take a mindful breath. Take a moment to reduce the distractions and stimulations around you.
Check in with yourself and consider: How am I feeling? Will this item bring me joy? Is it within my budget? Listen to your intuition and give yourself time to decide. You can always step away and come back later.
After making your decision, take action mindfully. Notice your behaviour. Whether you purchase the item or not, be proud that you made a conscious decision rather than an impulse buy.
You should absolutely treat yourself with your hard-earned money. However, by being more mindful, you can avoid impulse purchases and savour the moments and things that bring you joy and satisfaction.
Take action now by signing up for UBC’s 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge cohort, starting April 15.
By Melissa Lafrance on April 2, 2019
Food accounts for a significant portion of our incomes and budgets, which is why it can be challenging to find a healthy balance between finances and optimal nutrition. This month, let’s look at ways we can stretch our food dollars, reduce food waste and still have the nourishing food that is essential for good health.
Week 1: Meal Planning & Batch Cooking
Generally, the more preparation or processing that goes into making a food product, the more expensive it is. If you reach for canned/packaged goods or produce that’s out of season, you’ll also pay more. To save money at the grocery store, avoid pre-made foods, dips, dressings and sauces.
Here are other tricks and recipes to try:
- Consider your weekly schedule and plan your meals and leftovers accordingly. Try a free meal planning app like Yummly.
- Batch cooking is a great way to avoid relying on more expensive restaurant meals or pre-made foods. You’ll have leftovers for lunch or even healthy weekday breakfasts and snacks. Check out Nutrition Stripped’s Batch Cooking 101 or the Food Network’s 50 Batch Cooking Recipes.
Week 2: Eat Well on a Budget
It’s helpful to have a solid food budget, but so is looking at other aspects of your spending. If you feel you can’t stretch your food dollar, but end up buying lunch or spending $5/day on a latte, you may need to evaluate your budget.
- Eating on a budget by Workhealthlife*
- 12 ways to save on groceries and shop on a budget by myMoneyCoach
- How much should you spend on groceries? by Global News
* Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Week 3: Waste Not to Save a Lot
Wasting food is like dumping your money in the trash, yet many of us are guilty of doing this. Here are a few waste-reducing tips and recipes:
- How to become a financially wise food shopper by Workhealthlife*
- SuperCook instantly finds matching recipes for ingredients you have and want to use up
- Expiration date vs. best-before date by Spud
* Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Week 4: Be Friends with Your Freezer
Freezing baked goods, snacks, fruits, vegetables and even full meals not only prolongs food freshness, but also makes it easy to eat home-cooked food when you need a quick fix.
Here are some freezer-friendly recipes and tips from Jamie Oliver:
By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
Nourishment goes beyond nutrition, beyond food labels, calories and superfoods. Nourishment is a mental, physical and even spiritual state where we feel fulfilled, satiated and whole. Our modern lives often have us running to and from commitments, engaging with fast-paced technology and navigating personal and professional demands. This leaves little time to think of food as anything but the fuel to help get us there. In the spirit of Nutrition Month, I’m providing a little ‘food for thought’ (pun-intended), some simple steps to support feeling nourished.
1. Practice gratitude
At the start of a meal, take a quick moment to consider where your food came from. Picture who had to work in order for the food to land on your plate. In that moment, pause and say thank you.
Why: Gratitude supports mental health and wellbeing, and slowing down supports healthy digestion.
2. Don’t forget your liquids
The body needs food to function, but it needs hydration to survive. To ensure that you are hydrated throughout the day, try water tracking and reminder apps, incorporating beverages into your daily routine (before breakfast, before bed, with all meals), and using a favourite water bottle.
Why: 60% of our bodies are made up of water, which needs to be replenished in order to support many important health functions.
3. Prioritize sleep
Set up a sleep routine and do your best to keep it consistent. Try setting a reminder to go to bed at the same time each day, invest in comfortable sheets, limit caffeine consumption and avoid technology before bed.
Why: Sleep and nutrition go hand in hand. Our diet can positively or negatively impact our quality of sleep, and our sleep patterns can result in irregular or overindulgent eating habits.
4. Identify what brings you comfort
For me, comfort food includes cheesy pasta, salt and vinegar potato chips and wine. We all deserve to indulge once in a while: it’s important. However, we should also be aware that we define these foods as ‘comfort’. We often use these foods as a way to avoid dealing with challenging people, situations or emotions. By identifying the foods that you crave the most, it brings awareness to the emotions driving the eating.
Why: Being more mindful of why and when we reach for certain foods can interrupt habits and enable portion control and increased self-awareness.
5. Listen to your body
Pay attention to subtle signs your body might be telling you about your diet. Consider writing them down or tracking them over time. Have a headache? Your body might need more water or perhaps you’ve been drinking sugary beverages. Experiencing a gastro-intestinal issue? This could indicate an allergy or a need for more fibre-rich foods. Skin inflammation? This might indicate a food intolerance.
Why: Getting to know your body’s rhythms can help catch an issue, challenge or allergy early, leading to increased physical comfort and piece of mind.
This month, I encourage you to look beyond nutrition and reflect on what helps you feel nourished. This may mean eating meals with friends, establishing a new bedtime routine or even indulging in your favourite comfort foods (just to make sure they’re still as delicious as you remember).
You can also read more about strategies to help you feel nourished.
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie, Nutrition | Tagged comfort, editorial, gratitude, mental health, nourishment, Nutrition, nutrition month, physical health, sleep, tips, tricks, UBC, water | 2 Responses
By Melissa Lafrance on December 5, 2018
In December, we are highlighting winter produce, feeding yourself when you’ve caught a bug, and rethinking holiday eating. You won’t find your typical guide to healthy holiday eating here. We are all unique and some of us celebrate in different ways, so it’s important to savour those special moments, especially if your festivities revolve around food.
Follow along below and discover weekly new ways for nourishment and enjoyable holiday eating.
If you’ve caught a cold or flu virus, it’s important to hydrate and get proper nutrition – even with a reduced appetite. Passing over food or skipping meals isn’t recommended because when you’re fighting a cold or flu virus, you need extra calories to support a higher metabolic rate.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you combat the bug:
- Hydrate! Learn about WebMD’s best (and worst) drinks to have when battling a cold.
- Check out this classic chicken soup from Eating Well.
- Try making Cooking Light’s flavourful quick chicken pho.
- When you have more energy to cook, consider Jamie Oliver’s collection of winter soup recipes. Freeze in batches so you have a quick dose of goodness when you need it most.
We are lucky to be able to enjoy great foods and flavourful ingredients – even through the chilly winter season.
Here are some recipes and tips for using in-season produce:
- Check out Eating Well’s five healthy foods you can enjoy this winter.
- To find local foods grown in December, check out FarmFolk CityFolk’s seasonal food chart.
- Try Ina Garten’s simple roasted vegetable recipe. If you want, sprinkle some goat cheese on your finished dish.
- Buy what might be an odd-looking squash and inspire yourself to do something with it. “Ugly vegetables” are not just ornamental; you can actually eat them. Check out The Spruce’s website to see the many winter squash and pumpkin varieties. You’ll also find great recipes if you scroll all the way down the page.
Week 3 and 4:
This holiday season, leave the guilt aside and mindfully enjoy meals that not only nourish your body, but also feed your soul. It is perfectly okay to eat foods that are sweeter and richer (oilier or creamier), with a reminder to always check in with your doctor if you are on a special or restrictive diet for health reasons
Check out some of my favourite go-to festive recipes:
- Spinach dip is a great potluck dish. Try Cookspiration’s version with pumpernickel bread and a variety of veggies.
- Another winner is Smitten Kitchen’s broccoli slaw. (I usually omit the buttermilk and mayo, and use Vegenaise instead.)
- Check out Vegetarian Times’ rosemary whole-wheat stuffing with figs and hazelnuts. (I usually add finely chopped carrots and celery, a bit of allspice, and replace the port with extra broth.)
If you choose to indulge a little, here are some tips on how to do it well and mindfully:
- Have a strategy to help with self-control. Check out Self’s 13 holiday healthy-eating tips from a registered dietitian.
- Check out Harvard Health’s 10 mindful eating tips.
- Read Psychology Today’s take on enjoying holiday eating.
For more recipes and tips, visit our online nutrition archive.
By Miranda Massie on December 5, 2018
During cold and dark winter months, it can be enticing to hibernate and stay indoors, leading to less activity. But there are still lots of ways to keep moving and to maintain a fitness routine. This month, we offer some winter-proof workouts for you to try.
Week 1: Maximize your energy by being prepared
Before heading outdoors, make sure to brush up on these Cold Weather Clues (from our Fitting in Fitness archive) to ensure that you stay warm, dry and hydrated. This will help conserve energy for your chosen form of activity.
Week 2: Work out on your break
No gym? No problem! Make the most of your break with this quick and easy routine from FitnessBlender.com that can be done at a desk, an office, or anywhere with a spare chair.
Week 3: Embrace the cold (and the activities that come with it)
Metro Vancouver offers a wealth of unique winter activities and adventures that can only be done at this time of year. Don’t miss out on the fitness opportunities that snowy conditions can bring.
Week 4: Think outside the box
Feeling busy and overwhelmed? Consider the Greatist.com’s list of stress-free ways to incorporate activity into your day, like delivering gifts on foot, decorating and even singing!
For more fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
Photo credit: ICORD
By Melissa Lafrance on September 11, 2018
September is here, and so is back-to-school time. This month, we offer ideas, recipes and tips that are as stress-free as possible.
Food fuels our bodies, including our brains. Nourishing ourselves with good quality foods will help ensure peak cognitive function. It starts with a fortifying breakfast, then a recharging lunch, followed by a delicious supper, with balancing snacks to keep us going throughout the day.
Week 1: Be breakfast ready
Breakfasts that include foods with a low glycemic index 1 will produce a slower rise and lower peak in blood glucose concentration after eating. Your first meal of the day can include carbohydrates such as low-in-sugar breakfast cereals, oatmeal or whole grain toast combined with some protein such as a plain dairy or non-dairy product, eggs and nut butters to keep you satiated for longer. Here are some breakfast options to try:
- No-fuss breakfasts (Melissa Baker, Manager of Nutrition & Wellbeing at UBC SHHS)
- Healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings (Healthy Families BC)
- 34 healthy breakfasts for busy mornings (Greatist)
- Freezer-friendly breakfast sandwiches (Damn Delicious)
- Freezer-friendly spinach feta breakfast wraps (Kitchn)
- A week’s worth of oatmeal in jars (Kitchn)
Week 2: Transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch
With a bit of planning and making extra food when you do have time to cook or prep meals, you can transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch. Try doubling up on recipes so you have enough portions for a couple of lunches. It shouldn’t add any cooking/prep time.
Be prepared with these recipes, tips and healthy lunch spots:
- 15 kitchen staples to help you whip up a healthy meal (Melissa Baker)
- 13 hacks for quick lunches (Spud)
- Need to buy lunch? Find out what’s open on the Vancouver campus.
- Mouth-watering healthy lunch ideas for work (EatingWell)
Week 3: Who’s ready for snacks?
Avoid the mid-morning or mid-day run to the vending machine by incorporating healthy snacks that include a minimum of two food groups. That will help reduce the sugar spike and impending crash from eating highly processed, carbohydrate-based, easy-to-grab snacks.
Week 4: Home-Cooked Meals
How often do you get home after work, starving and with no idea what to make for dinner?
- Explore meal planners, including Martha Stewart’s Grocery Bag Weekly Meal Planner. You’ll get recipes for dinner (and possibly leftovers for lunch), grocery lists and the confidence to whip up simple meals.
Here are some time-saving tips:
- Wash, chop and store fresh veggies and fruit once or twice a week to minimize cooking and prep time on other days.
- Make grains galore. Cook extra whole grains or other sides and store portioned leftovers in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. That way, you’ll be ready when you need a healthy meal in a hurry.
- Slow saves time: consider using a slow cooker. Check out BBC good food’s vegetarian slow cooker recipes.
For those extra busy times when you don’t have time to grocery shop, consider online food ordering or meal delivery services. Here are some local options for online ordering:
By Melissa Lafrance on August 7, 2018
It’s no secret that there’s a plant-forward movement happening. Even popular fast food joints are jumping on the plant-based wagon. This month, I’m sharing some food for thought: awesome plant-astic recipes and suggestions on what you can do to support the environment.
Week 1: Why Plants?
Wondering what the deal is with meatless Mondays, and why people are making an effort to reduce or avoid eating meat? Many personal reasons can influence our diet choices. In general, compared to meat-based diets, plant-based diets are more sustainable because they use substantially less natural resources and are less taxing on the environment.
Learn more about the health and environmental reasons for shifting from meat to plants:
- Avoiding meat and dairy to reduce your impact on earth study (The Guardian)
- How does meat in the diet take an environmental toll? (Scientific American)
- Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, and vegan diet (Nature)
Week 2: Plant-forward Diet
Vegetarianism and veganism isn’t for everyone, but we can all play a part in reducing our environmental impact through the foods we consume. I challenge you to explore and embrace plant-forward dining, where plants are emphasized but not limited to only plant-based foods. This means making plants the centre of attention and subsequently reducing your consumption of animal products. For instance, rather than having steak crowd your dinner plate, try reducing the portion and having it be your side dish. Read more about plant-forward dining (Foodservice Director).
UBC is playing its part as well, having hosted Canada’s first Forward Food Culinary Training and Summit. The May 2018 event focused on helping chefs to refine their plant-based cooking skills and challenged them to think differently about their menus.
Week 3: Let Plants Be the Star of the Dish
Try these plant-centric ideas and recipes that are sure to capture your attention:
- Plant-based (meat-minimal) recipes (Bon Appétit)
- Find the right plant-based diet for you (Harvard Health)
- 20 best plant-based dinner recipes (Minimalist Baker)
Week 4: Fill Up on Plants
Here are more recipes to help sow the seeds of plant-forward dining:
- High-protein vegetables and plant-based foods (Prevention)
- Healthy vegetarian eating plan (Dietitians of Canada)
- Following a vegan eating plan (Dietitians of Canada)
- Plant-based recipe collection (Cooking Light)
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on August 7, 2018
Spending time outdoors is a great way to make the most of the sunny weather. It’s also a perfect opportunity to sneak in a little extra fitness. This month, give your fitness a boost and maximize your time outside.
Week 1: Get Strong Without a Gym
Discover nine sneaky ways to strength train outside of the gym (Greatist.com). No equipment required!
Week 2: Immerse in Nature
Have you heard of forest bathing? Soak in the benefits of this Japanese practice from simply being in nature and letting nature guide your walk. Learn the simple steps here. (Time Magazine)
Week 3: Give Your Legs a Low Impact Workout
Looking for something quick and easy? These seated leg exercises (Livestrong.com) can be done indoors or outdoors in less than five minutes.
Week 4: Take a Mindful Moment in a Beautiful location
Feeling good is about more than just our physical health; mental fitness is just as important. Make the most of a few quiet moments outside: pause, think and reflect. Need inspiration? Check out these hidden gems of UBC.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on June 5, 2018
The sun is out, the air has warmed, and it’s the perfect time to incorporate a little play into our lives. Being a grown-up and a professional doesn’t mean that we can’t infuse our days with some fun. Here are a few ways to bring recess back into your life.
Week 1: Join Yoga on the Mall
Take a break from your work day and participate in Yoga on the Mall, a fun and free group yoga class. Can’t make the mall? Look for other classes near your workplace, home or neighbourhood that take place outside.
Week 2: Up Your Lawn Game IQ
Fitting in fitness doesn’t need to be overly strenuous. Lawn games are a great way to keep active while socializing with people of all ages. Check out this Family Education list of the top 10 backyard party games for all ages and consider adding one or two to your next BBQ or group event.
Week 3: Playgrounds Aren’t Just for Kids
Playgrounds are fun places to spend time no matter what age you are. They also offer an opportunity to spice up an otherwise boring workout. Discover how to use swings and jungle gyms to your advantage with this Full Body Playground Workout from Parents.com.
No playground around, or perhaps it’s full of kids? Try these 17 Picnic Bench Exercises from RedefiningStrength.com.
Week 4: Get Some Extra Credit
Did you know you’re already benefitting from many of the chores or activities you already participate in? Cleaning, gardening, walking the dog and even shopping are some of the ways you are already fitting in fitness, so keep up the great work!
Calories burned during leisure and routine activities (Harvard Health)
Photo Credit: UBC Communications and Marketing