Archive for February 2016

5 Healthy things to do in Vancouver on Bonus Day

This is a leap year, so February 29th is kind of like a bonus day. 

Do you often think that you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do or want to do? Well, this year you have an extra 24 hours, so what will you do? Here are some healthy things to do in Vancouver on “bonus day” (or any day, if today’s already booked up).

5 Healthy Things to Do in Vancouver 

healthy things to do in Vancouver acupunctureTake a hike. Sometimes when we’re stressed to the point of wanting to tell someone to “take a hike,” the best thing we can do is take our own advice and take that hike ourselves. Of course Vancouver is close to many wonderful hikes, including those on Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse mountains. If those seem too challenging or you just don’t have the time for those ones, there are several more local (and flatter) walking options, including of course the Stanley Park seawall, Pacific Spirit Park, Lighthouse Park, Burnaby Mountain trails, and one of my fave nearby ones, the False Creek seawall. Some of those are also great cycling options.

Shop for healthy ingredients. If you want to be healthy–and really, why wouldn’t you want that–then you’ll need to make some healthy food choices. First, you’ll need to figure out what you want to make. For some healthy recipes, check out my blog (search “recipe” when you go to my blog) or recipe page, my chef friend’s blog Cooking Journeys, web search what type of nutritious food you’d like to make, or dig out your recipe books or magazines. Right now I love my slow cooker. Doesn’t take too long to make delicious food, and I usually have lots of leftovers. We have so many places in Vancouver to buy healthy food, from Choices and Whole Foods to small markets and local stores like Greens Market and Pomme Market. Even our big chain grocery stores are recognizing our wish for organic, local, and healthy food options. And then there are the farmers markets–gotta love those! 

healthy things to do in Vancouver acupunctureEat out right. Don’t have time to make a healthy meal? No problem, there are a ton of healthy eat-out food options. I don’t eat out much, so perhaps you can chime in via the comments section to list your faves. I like Heirloom, Nuba, and The Naam. I also like to get a pick-me-up from The Juicery Co. 

Do something helpful. If you’ve volunteered for a worthy cause, you know that you feel good about it. But did you know that the benefits may go beyond a simple temporary “I done good” sensation? Studies have shown that donating our time through volunteering helps us ward off loneliness and depression, allowing us to feel more socially connected. Another potential benefit is a lower likelihood of having high blood pressure. That’s huge because hypertension contribute to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. So, giving your time away actually may help you have more time! There are many worthy causes in Vancouver and surrounding areas. I love animals, so I volunteer for Furbearer Defenders. I’ve worked with my friend’s wonderful organization, Beauty Night. And, I’ve done talks for the David Suzuki Foundation. If you’re not sure what you would like to do or how to find out how you can help, check out this online resource Go Volunteer.

Treat yourself well. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the foundation of wellness care and illness prevention. If you are not well, it’s important to address those aspects of your health to get to the source, not just mask them with medications or ignore them. If you are well, it’s important to do what you can to stay well. I recommend seasonal tune-up treatments or monthly treatments (depending on your particular needs) to help you limit the amount of time you spend in pain, tired, depressed or anxious, bloated, or struggling with other health issues. Come in for a TCM and acupuncture tune-up!

What do you recommend for healthy things to do in Vancouver (or anywhere, for that matter)?



Be careful about what you read online

natural health TCM Vancouver BCI get that my title is somewhat ironic. After all, this too is an online posting. But, I do advise that that you use your own critical thinking and ask other experts if anything I say below seems off to you.

This blog all started because of Facebook. Three postings on Facebook over the last 6 or so months. Thank you to my friend who always tags me when her friends ask for health advice, and for sharing topics that open up discussion in the field of health and wellness.

One posting on Facebook asks for advice from friends. For a week and a half he has had shoulder pain and is unable to move his arm above shoulder height without causing sharp pain. Friends suggest he get a ball and dig in deep or use a foam roller to release the muscles. Ack! No, I would not suggest that. He may cause more damage and slow his recovery. 

Another posting on Facebook had a woman asking friends if her symptoms of fever, simultaneous sensations of hot and cold, very sore throat, and aching all over was the result of the detox herbs she had started that day. Her friends agreed it was a “healing crisis,” part of the cleansing process that she should proceed with. Nope. I knew it was the flu, and sure enough that’s what it was. Continuing the cleanse would have been harder on her body for her immune system to mount a response.

I agree that it’s great to be able to take care of yourself, with a little help from your friends. But if your friends are not health care providers, you should take their advice with a grain of salt. They want to help, but sometimes they will accidentally cause you more harm.

Sometimes even those who are in the wellness industry hold onto old ideas. 

Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef, says that the wellness industry has it wrong–coconut oil is unhealthy because it is full of saturated fat. The article link here. What he neglects to note is what I posted on my friend’s FB page when she opened up the dialogue:

It’s not as simple as Jamie Oliver and that dietician state. For a long time all fat was villainized. Now the mainstream gives monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats hero status and calls saturated fats the villains. The studies are contradictory. Here’s one that’s a meta-analysis (grouping of studies) showing high saturated fat intake did not increase risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or coronary heart disease (CHD): American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A large Japanese study even found that eating more saturated fats was associated with lower rates of death from stroke: Japanese study.

There are studies showing that it might be high sugar intake that increases “bad” cholesterol (e.g. JAMA Internal Medicine). And, even almost 20 years ago, large studies were showing that there didn’t appear to be much link between blood cholesterol and risk of stroke (blood pressure, on the other hand, is a different matter). In fact, this one showed that lower blood cholesterol levels, though associated with lower levels of non-hemorrhagic stroke (the kind where the blood vessels in the brain don’t break), resulted in higher numbers of hemorrhagic stroke (the kind where at least one blood vessel breaks): The Lancet.

For anyone to claim that a real food (I’m not talking about the chemical garbage we’ve made up and called “food”) that has been consumed by populations for centuries is “good” (superfood hero) or “bad” (dangerous—that word is so overused), is presumptuous. It depends on how you eat it, the quality of the food itself (there is crappy coconut oil out there), how much you eat, and most importantly, your own body constitution.
My very long answer, but nutrition and nutrition myths are so important to me. 🙂

What questionable health advice do you most read about online?


Healthy eating with slow cooker: Morrocan Chicken with Veg Recipe

Easy Healthy Eating with Slow Cooker

healthy eating with slow cooker recipeI know. Eating healthy seems like effort. It’s easier to just pick up the phone and order a pizza or drop into Subway for what they would have you believe is a healthy option (it’s not really very good). Or even just poor a bowl of cereal for dinner. But really, healthy eating with slow cooker meals is easy.

The only hard part is having it cooking while you’re home. The smell of food all day will make you salivate.

I had bought this recipe book a few months ago, and then somehow forgot about it after I put it away. Now that I’ve re-discovered it, I’m definitely going to be into healthy eating with slow cooker recipes, especially during these cold damp days of Vancouver.

Moroccan Chicken with Veggies
This is a great meal to make for tonight's meal as well as leftovers.
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  1. 1/3 cup water
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  4. 2 tsp vegetable or chicken bouillon powder
  5. 2 tsp minced garlic
  6. 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp turmeric
  8. 1/2 tsp drid thyme
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  11. 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  12. 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  13. optional pinch cayenne (I didn't add this)
  14. 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used about 1.5 lbs)
  15. 3 potatoes cut into large, but manageable chunks (the original recipe called for 4 med red potatoes cut in half)
  16. 3 carrots cut into manageable chunks (she suggested peeling, but I rarely peel my veg; I just wash them well; I want the extra nutrients of the skin)
  17. 1 med onion, chopped
  18. 1/3 cup raisins
  19. optional 1/3 cup sliced olives (I don't like olives, so I skipped this ingredient)
  20. 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  21. 3 Tbsp cilantro or mint leaves (she said finely chopped; I just tore it into small pieces)
  22. 1/3 cup Greek-style yoghurt or sour cream (I found a lactose-free one I hadn't seen before)
  1. In a large bowl, stir in water, oil, ginger, bouillon, garlic, cumin, turmeric, thyme, salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  2. Add 3 Tbsp of the mix to the slow cooker crock.
  3. Add the chicken to the remaining spice mixture in the bowl and coat it well with the sauce.
  4. Layer the veggies in the crock. First potatoes, then carrots, then onions.
  5. Sprinkle the raisins on top of that.
  6. Add the chicken next, and spoon in any of the remaining spice sauce mixture.
  7. Add the olives next (if you like olives).
  8. Arrange the lemon slices over all of that.
  9. Do not stir.
  10. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low OR 4 hours on high.
  11. Take the lemon out and squeeze out as much juice as you can to add back to the crock.
  12. Discard them lemon slices.
  13. Serve the chicken and veggies with cilantro or mint and yoghurt to garnish. (You can opt out of the garnish, if you like)
Adapted from Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking
Adapted from Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC
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