Gaia is a little piece of heaven waiting for you in the Gatineau Hills.

I just attended a wonderful retreat in Wakefield Quebec.  I needed a quick getaway to recharge my batteries.  Gaia Wellness Retreat  did not disappoint.

Gaia takes care of you so you can take care of yourself and if you believe in magic you will find some here.

As a registered dietitian I feel compelled to review my experience with the food at the Gaia Wellness Retreat.

Owner and head cook, John Armstrong, oversees the vegetarian menu with help from Andrew and Jerome. These guys live for cooking and providing guests with nourishing healthy meals. Guests can expect home grown flavours right from the Gaia gardens with an emphasis on local produce. John knows that vegetarian cuisine is not just salads and quinoa.

While on a 5-day retreat I experienced a variable menu containing a healthy dose of plant-based protein. Meals are balanced and contain the recommended amount of protein, carbohydrate and fats. My favorite lunch meal during my stay was the Mexican inspired bean salad with sweet potato tortilla chips, local green salad with homemade vinaigrette and a cold  yogurt melon soup. My favorite supper was a sage flavored frittata served with cucumber tomato salad and a simple lentil soup.

image1To satisfy your sweet tooth there is an abundance of fresh and dried fruit available at any time of the day; as well as other healthy treats such as dark chocolate, hummus and crackers and my personal favorite a crunchy nut brittle. Beverages include a huge tea selection, freshly ground regular or decaf coffee and flavored spring water (during my retreat it was cucumber with apple). Feel free to bring your own drinks like kombucha. They have small refrigerators in each cabin.


At mealtime, I experienced new textures and combinations of flavors I never thought to try together. I guarantee you will be fully satisfied with each meal. If you are not accustomed to eating vegetarian you will love the variety and satiety achieved through this way of eating. You might even ask John for a recipe to bring home and incorporate into your own eating style!  (Remember that eating vegetarian is just one of a myriad of healthy diets.)

The best part is that John and his team will go out of their way to work around any food allergies, food preferences and fussy eaters (no questions asked).  No meat, fish or poultry are allowed on the premises.

Rest assured that the menu at Gaia provides for proper nutrition.

Enjoy the peace, enjoy the food….


Bill 20

In the article entitled Doctors Slam Bill 20, written by Joel Ceascu, Dr. Michael Kalin describes how young female doctors will be penalized in Québec for working part-time.  Family medicine is the ideal work environment for a women who want to practice medicine and raise a family at the same time.  However Québec’s Health Minister, Gaétan Barrette doesn’t seem to want part-time doctors.  He also doesn’t want doctors spending “too” much time with patients.

According to Dr. Louis, president of the FQOM, “bill [20] will impose unrealistic patient quota’s on each family doctor “.  GPs need to spend a reasonable amount of time listening to patient concerns and then provide a proper treatment plan.  Quality care cannot be measured in time spent with a patient. All healthcare professionals, like nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech therapists and not just doctors, need time to get to know a patient, assess their needs and then provide a plan.  Imagine if the patient is vulnerable like an elderly person with many health problems or a patient living with a severe mental health issue. These patients cannot be rushed out the door, they need proper and often lengthy care.

Dr. Kalin is concerned that bill 20 will promote what he is calling ‘assembly line medicine’.  This approach is not just a concern for doctors but for all healthcare professionals.  Imagine taking time off work to go visit a professional who can only spend 5 minutes with you.


Beans beans good for the heart


This blog came up in my Twitter feed and it immediately caught my attention.  The writer, Russ Parsons, reports that we do not have to soak dried beans before we cook them!! What?! Duh? This is new information to me.  In the interest of convenience, I buy canned beans.  I don’t have time to soak beans over night, change the water, soak some more, change the water, boil the beans, change the water….

This blog is telling me that I don’t have to do all of that.  I can simply add dried beans to a pot of water and boil for 1 hour and 15 minutes and voila they are done!  But, with 3 boys, a husband and  working full time I still don’t have time to boil my beans for that long before I add them to my recipe.

My BFF, Robin, is a dietitian living in Salmon Arm BC. She just got a pressure cooker primarily for cooking dried beans.  Robin was visiting her brother in Brazil last year and his girlfriend prepared many bean dishes.  Robin learned that Brazilians use pressure cookers to facilitate the preparation of traditional bean based meals, like black bean soup.  Take a look at the Brazilian healthy eating food guide for some inspiration.

Healthy diets include a lot of plant based foods such as fruits and vegetables; grains like oats, millet, bulgur; and legumes like kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils and split peas.  Plant based foods are sometimes not so convenient and they do need preparation.  However, the benefits are worth the trouble.  Plant based foods are low in calories, high in essential vitamins and minerals and contain fiber which helps to regulate blood sugar.  One unfortunate side effect to eating beans is flatulence.  The good news is, the gut does acclimatize to legume intake and eventually the flatulence will diminish.

I regularly make burritos with pinto beans that I heat with sautéed onions and tomatoes.  I have never cooked this recipe using dried, then cooked beans, but Robin promises the flavor is worth it. She is probably right because I also make a delicious dal recipe with sautéed onions, turmeric, curry, tomatoes, dried red lentils and water.  This recipe cooks very quickly and does not require soaking the lentils.  Red lentils cook fast as opposed to green lentils which take much longer.

If you have any legume recipes to share, please leave them in the comment section.  Do you use a pressure cooker to prepare beans?  Let us know in the comments section too!

Caryn’s New Year’s Diet

Sneakers on a Pier3 copyI’m starting off the new year with a  diet.   I want to set myself up for success, so I will not make this an all or nothing plan.  I will start with 30 days and if I have a slip up so be it.  Yoni Freedhoff says slip ups happen so I will accept that it will happen and move on. After 30 days I will assess my progress and decide what the next step is.

My diet is about social media.  I don’t think I consume it in a healthy way.  I spend an excessive amount of time on social media.  Since I did not have it growing up, it is a novelty that I cannot get enough of, kind of like junk food for some people.

I long for those days of simplicity with paper and productivity.  I remember fondly writing little notes in class and passing them to my BFF known then as my best friend.  I remember hours of phone conversations instead of endless digital chats.  When I wanted to learn something new, I would get a book on the subject or read an article in a journal.  Now I just scroll through my Facebook feed and click on the many links to learn about stuff I don’t really need to know.

One of the problems has become too much information.  I can’t take it all in. Too much of anything is unhealthy.  Too much food, even good food, is not healthy.  Eat less, is the message top nutrition scientists have been saying for years.  I am going to implement this same advice for social media consumption.

My high school buddy Dr. Tanny is also dieting.  He proposed the idea and it was just the impetus I was looking for to stop the insanity of Facebooking. Partnering up with someone who has the same goals is motivating and fun.  Exercising with someone helps with accountability and reduces the chance of missing  a workout.

We will see how far we get and what positive experiences stem from this approach to reducing the consumption of social media.  Dr. Tanny will wean himself off slowly by ranting on twitter. I will relax on Pinterest for now.

What should you eat?

There is so much nutrition information “out there” these days it’s hard t know what is right and what is wrong. I personally support research that is reputable and peer-reviewed. Read this to learn how guidelines are developed.

This phenomenon of ever-changing nutrition information has been going on forever.  It’s confusing and people feel like they don’t know what to eat.

Here is my advice:  Follow your gut. ……………………that’s a dietician joke! LOL……..hahahahaha

I think most people know on some level, what is healthy to eat regularly and what I call sometimes food.  The problem is that people often prefer the sometimes foods over the healthy ones.

Nutrition clue: Foodfood groupss that come in a box are sometimes foods.  Foods that don’t come in packages are all the time foods.

Avoid soft drinks, juice, chocolate milk, sugary coffee beverages, hot chocolate and drink water, water and more water.  Tea is great and coffee in moderation is fine.

Cooking from scratch is a nutrition gold medal.  It trumps everything else.  Singletons and families that take the time to regularly make homemade meals (no short cuts) will achieve a healthier diet in the long run!

F and V