Last night was the Gala dinner for The Canadian Liver Foundation’s LIVERight Awards competition. The awards are a stamp of approval from the Liver Foundation to food manufacturers that rise to the challenge of creating delicious and convenient foods that meet health and nutritional standards.
The annual award program was created to raise awareness of North America’s most prevalent form of liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), also known as fatty liver disease. According to Liver Foundation President Gary Fagan, “An estimated 1.4 million Canadians have fatty liver disease from poor nutrition and inactivity.”
The awards are especially aimed at the growing health concern of childhood obesity and the appearance of the disease in children. One of the judging panels involved a group of grade four students who lent their palates to this worthy cause. The other judging panel included myself along with a number of nutrition and food experts. Blind judging of various categories took place at the Palais Royal in Toronto last week. The entrants were foods from large manufacturers as well as small grass roots businesses.
My favourite entry was Pita Break's Breakfast Pita, the Apple Cinnamon flavour won for best breakfast item, but the Muesli and Orange Cranberry flavour are equally delicious!
Here are some pics of the judges at work:
Here's me daring Executive Chef of Palais Royale, Steffan Howard, to be the first to try this chunky questionable looking elixir.
Theresa Albert, host of the Food Network's series Just One Bite and Nutritionist Judy Scott Welden having a giggle. It's not all work!
Winnie Chiu, Director for the Compliments Culinary Centre at George Brown College, and I assess the entrants
One of the junior judges with a "Simon Cowell-esque" assessment!
Make a statement this season by knitting your own beautiful handbag with this free and simple pattern. There are endless combinations of colour and leather to personalize your perfect bag!
A knit bag is the perfect accessory—unique, practical, and stylish. The Salta Bag’s design begins with a simple rectangle that is folded and seamed to create a classic tote. The simplicity of the style and the thickness of the yarn make this pattern perfect for the beginner who wants to create a beautiful knit accessory on the first try.
The beauty of this bag is in the texture of the chunky yarn and its contrast to the smoothness of the leather handle. We chose to make the bag in Merino Copito, a 100% merino wool, thick-and-thin, roving-style yarn that makes for a light tote you can take anywhere. The leather handle adds style and practicality, while the artisanal quality guarantees your bag will look beautiful for years to come.
To ensure that the bag is sturdy, we used a felting technique that creates a dense fabric. When felting your bag, remember to do it in stages so you don’t end up accidentally felting it too much and losing the texture of the yarn. To sew on the handle, use a darning needle and sport or fingering weight yarn in a matching or contrasting colour.
Adding a liner to your bag is optional—the fabric becomes dense enough that the contents of your bag will stay inside. If you wish to add a liner, a simple trick is to use an old pillow case cut to size and sewed in place by hand after your bag has been felted.
- 5 Skeins Americo Merino Copito (100% Wool) 100 g / 43 yards (40 m)
- 12mm (US 17) size straight and 24-inch (60 cm) circular needles
- Darning Needle
- 1 Cannes Handle Set—(contains 2 leather/nylon pieces)
- Small amount of sport/fingering weight yarn (for sewing the leather)
Note about the yarn:Merino Copito is available through Americo Original online and in store. You can substitute any bulky weight 100% wool yarn from your stash. If substituting yarn, make sure to use 100% wool. Plant based and synthetic fibres will not felt.
Note about the leather: Americo leather accessories are available exclusively through Americo Original online and in select yarn stores. Americo leather accessories are designed and made in Toronto out of genuine, vegetable-tanned leather. All leather pieces are pre-punched for an easy, fool-proof application. You can choose between many different styles of leather, whatever suits your preferences! Alternatively, you could be creative and use any trimmings or ribbon—or recycle the handles from an old bag.
20 inches (50 cm)
16 inches (40 cm)
22 inches (55 cm)
18 inches (45 cm)
6.5 stitches = 4 inches in pattern with 12 mm (US 17) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge
With 12 mm (US 17) size straight needles cast on 35 stitches. Knit every row for 20 inches (50 cm). Cast off.
Fold the bag in half from cast-on edge to cast-off edge and sew the side seams. Along the bag opening, pick up and purl 48 stitches with 12 mm (US 17) 24-inch (60 cm) circular needles. Purl 6 inches (15 cm). Cast off.
Put piece in top-loading washing machine. You do not need to add soap or detergent. Using a low water level, run a cold cycle for 15 minutes. Put in a pair of jeans (in non-interfering colour) for extra agitation. After one cycle, check for size. Repeat as necessary. Run through the rinse and dry spin cycle. Lay felted piece onto a dry towel, away from direct heat or sunlight. Shape piece to correct measurements. Allow to dry thoroughly. Do not use a clothes dryer.
If an edge ripples, baste a thread through the edge and gather in. Remove the thread after the felting is dry.
Note: All washing machines will felt at different rates. It is always best to try felting a small swatch just to see how your machine will work. If it does not felt enough try putting it through twice. Front loaders are not generally appropriate for felting, as the cycle cannot be interrupted once started.
Sew the 2 leather/nylon handles in place on either side of the bag. The top of the Cannes leather piece will be approximately 1/2 inch from the top of the bag and centred while the bag is laying flat. Sew in loose ends.
You have spent a lot of time and care completing these items through their knitting and felting stages. A little thought to its aftercare will ensure that you will have these beautiful felted items for many years to come.
After you have subjected your item to the felting process, you may think that it has gone through the most vigorous and tortured wash that yarn could ever endure. Now you assume that you can throw that felted item into the hot wash cycle along with your sheets. Do not do it! Treat your newly felted item with caution and care in order to avoid further distortion or shrinkage.
Felted handmade items can always be improved with brushing if desired.
Even a slight pressing will give a smoother appearance to felted fabric. Always press lightly using a steam iron and a damp cloth. Never press down on the fabric but hold the iron just above the fabric.
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop that features a high-end selection of yarns, textiles, custom knitwear patterns and accessories. Only natural fibers, produced especially for us in the Andean highlands of South America are offered, including luxurious wools, llama, alpaca, organic and premium cottons, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo's one-of-a kind runway pieces and classic styles for the hand knitter are created in our design lab. Americo is based in Toronto, Canada and ships internationally from their online store: americo.ca/shop.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to arrive in Washington for the Women's March on January 21, but events and rallies are planned for cities across Canada, too.
On the day after Donald Trump's inauguration, hundreds of thousands of people will unite for the Women's March on Washington to express their support for the rights of marginalized groups—and similar events are planned for cities around the world.
Though it's not officially an anti-Trump protest, the march was planned in reaction to the Republican candidate's presidential win. "The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights," the organizers say in their mission statement.
Hundreds of Canadian women will be making the trek to Washington, but there are also events planned across Canada. So if you can't make it all the way there, here's when and where you can join a march or rally closer to home:
With more than 400 years of history and a bustling contemporary cultural scene, Quebec City offers a trove of things to uncover—for repeat visitors newcomers alike.
History lesson:Auberge Saint-Antoine boasts gorgeously modern rooms in a historic wharf and cannon battery. Each room features a display of an artifact found on the site, such as 18th-century china plates or a charming pair of centuries-old dominoes. Some rooms include a private terrace, where you can take in the city sights (or a glass of wine) after a day of trekking through town.
Off the beaten path: Spend a night in a former nun's cell at Le Monastère des Augustines. This freshly restored site features wellness packages (think massages, yoga classes and meditation) and pared-back-but-comfy suites in a 377-year-old building.
Classic eats: Stop in at Le Chic Shack for an updated take on Quebec's most-beloved regional dish: poutine. With toppings such as smoked meat, mushrooms and even masala-curry sauce, this isn't your average potatoes and gravy.
Cocktails and bites: The Grande Allée is home to some of Quebec City's most luxurious estates—and L'Atelier, a swish restaurant that's a veritable hot spot come sundown. Don't miss the twist on surf and turf, lobster and beef tartare served with a side of deliciously crispy frites.
Local hero: Nordic ingredients drive the menu at Chez Boulay bistro boréal, where chefs Arnaud Marchand and Jean-Luc Boulay excel at inventive takes on culinary traditions that showcase regional flavours. A beet tarte tatin, for example, is drizzled with citrusy, semisweet birch syrup, whereas a velvety sea buckthorn meringue tart is a clever take on classic lemon meringue pie.
State of the art: The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec sits adjacent to the historic Plains of Abraham, but its new Pierre Lassonde Pavilion has a distinctly modern edge. Take in works by Québécois artists such as Riopelle and David Altmejd, and don't miss the impressive Inuit art collection.
Shop talk: Venture beyond the city's fortified walls to explore the charming St-Roch district, which is dotted with art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops (a latte at Saint-Henri micro-roaster is a must).
Old school: The Petit-Champlain neighbourhood is one of the oldest commercial districts in North America, so shops abound, but don't miss Musée de la civilisation for an afternoon immersion course in the Québécois and First Nations cultures.
No one wants to feel hangry or get hit with a midday crash—but that doesn't mean you have to visit the office vending machine. Instead, curb hunger pangs with these healthier, expert-approved alternatives.
1. Swap: Microwave popcorn for cauliflower popcorn
Even light microwave popcorn can be loaded with sodium, trans fats (which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol) and artificial colours and flavours, says Kelowna, B.C.–based registered dietitian Tristaca Curley. Instead, cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces, then roast in the oven with some olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. This low-calorie, folate- and potassium-rich sub is a satisfying twist on that movie-night favourite.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
2. Swap: Store-bought gorp for DIY trail mix
Ready-made trail mixes can be full of sugar and salt, so create your own snack of walnuts (the nut with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids), unsalted sunflower seeds, dried apple bits and unsweetened shredded coconut. Add chocolate chips for an extra hit of sweetness. "For a tart superfood top-up, add golden berries, which resemble golden raisins," says Toronto-based registered nutritionist Joey Shulman. "They're lower in sugar versus other small berries, and they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which help with fat oxidation." Or add resveratrol-rich mulberries for their antioxidant punch.
3. Swap: Potato Chips for kale chips
"Regular chips contain trans fatty acids, the bad fat that can lead to heart disease and elevated cholesterol," says Shulman. "This superfood alternative is loaded with vitamins A, C and K." Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces (discard thick stems), toss with olive oil and salt, then roast until crisp.
4. Swap: Salted pretzels for roasted chickpeas
Sure, pretzels may be low in fat, but they're loaded with salt and have no real nutritional value, says Curley. For a crunchy alternative, try oven-roasted chickpeas. These legumes are high in fibre, protein and iron, making them an ideal "fill me up" snack. Toss together chickpeas, olive oil, sea salt and your favourite spice (think smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or garlic powder), then roast until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Swap: Cheese crackers for a seaweed snack
Most crackers are processed carbs laden with artificial colours, preservatives and other additives. "In their place, top a sheet of nori with some canned tuna, smoked salmon or a meat alternative, like grilled tofu," says Curley. The seaweed is super satisfying and guilt-free: There are only five calories per sheet. Plus, sea vegetables are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iodine (essential for metabolism) and iron.
6. Swap: Chocolate pudding for avocado and cocoa pudding
Chocolate puddings can be drowning in high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthier treat, mash an avocado, then stir in two tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp seeds and a quarter cup of honey, says Curley. This pudding is low in sugar and a great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and fibre.
7. Swap: Granola bars for energy balls
Granola bars can contain as much sugar, fat and refined carbs as a chocolate bar. "Instead, stir together a cup of oatmeal with half a cup each of nut butter, hemp seeds and dried fruit," says Curley. Maple syrup or honey will help it stick together. This homemade option is high in fibre and protein, low in sugar and free of additives.
8. Swap: Chips and dip for hummus and carrot or zucchini coins
Processed foods like chips can raise blood sugar, triggering a release in insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. In the short term, these highs and lows actually increase cravings; in the long run, they can lead to weight gain. Try this clever swap from Curley. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice carrots or zucchini into coins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a side of hummus. (Brownie points if it's homemade!)
9. Swap: Banana chips for a loaded banana
This snack is often coated in sugar and deep-fried to give it crunch, so choose a fresh banana, which is glycemic index–friendly, suggests Curley. (Foods with a low-GI value are digested more slowly, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar.) Top the banana with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, then roll it in hemp seeds. "You'll get a slow, steady rise in your blood sugar, so you'll feel full for longer," says Curley. Plus, this satisfying switch-up delivers potassium, protein, iron and omega-3s.
10. Swap: Chocolate-covered almonds for apple rings with nut butter
Almonds are a great snack, but when they're coated with chocolate, they turn into a treat. For a healthier option, slice a cored apple into rings. Top each slice with natural peanut, cashew or almond butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Apples are loaded with fibre and vitamin C," says Shulman. "Look for unprocessed nut butters; they're rich in good fats, which contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats."