Camping is all about enjoying the great outdoors and making new memories with your family and friends. Taking a break from work or getting out of town on a long weekend, enjoying the fresh air and having an adventure are all part of a Canadian summer.
Organizing a camping trip can be an adventure in itself. Picking a park, booking a site and packing up the car are all part of the fun. One of the best parts is organizing the food and dreaming about the delicious meals you'll prepare on your trip. Celebrity chef Susur Lee agrees. There's no reason why preparing meals when camping can't be easy and delicious at the same time, he says.
Lee shares his expert tips on how to make outdoor cooking both convenient and fun.
Chef Susur Lee's top six outdoor cooking tips
1. Make a trip to the grocery store. Remember: camping is supposed to be easy and fun. Save yourself some prep time by buying conveniently prepared items from the grocery shop, such as marinades and sauces.
Also, avoid peeling and dicing vegetables out in the wild by buying pre-cut veggies. "Go to the grocery store and see what's already done for you," Lee says.
2. Marinate in advance. Lee says it's a good idea to marinate meat before you head to the campsite because it adds more flavour. Also, you can use the same marinade for different types of meat if you're short on time. Lee advises that when preparing shrimp it's best to shell them before applying the marinade to allow them to absorb more flavour.
3. Bring along basic ingredients. Simple ingredients can significantly enhance the flavour of a dish. Lee's favourite basics include spray-on olive oil, for both flavoring food and keeping your meat from sticking to the grill, and sea salt.
He's also a big fan of lemons. "Lemon is very important for grilling. It can go with grilled meat, fish and fresh herbs," he says. "Lemon is everything." Try squeezing some fresh lemon on your salad, too.
Page 1 of 2 -- Learn three more tips for preparing meals when camping on page 2
4. Make sure your equipment is in order. When you're packing your tools, take some time to ensure everything is working. This includes making sure you have enough fuel for your grill. You may need to bring extra, so figure out how much you'll be cooking before you hit the road.
Be sure to bring enough ice for your cooler. Without it, your meat and vegetables can go bad. Lee advises bringing along a fly basket as well: it will protect your food while it's out on the picnic table.
5. Location and patience are key when grilling. When you're scouting out a place to grill, make sure it's not too windy because it can interfere with how hot your grill is, Lee says. "The wind is very important; otherwise your food doesn't cook."
Try creating a barrier between the wind and your grill. If you're looking to buy a travel barbecue, consider one with windscreens. And don't forget that patience is essential when barbecuing. When you first place food on the grill, let it sit there for a while. "Don't flip food around too much or you'll lose the marks and the flavours," Lee warns.
6. Keep your food simple and rustic. Skip making a five-course meal out in the woods and focus on one or two favourite dishes instead. Remember that the point of camping is to relax and unwind! "The idea of camping is to do things together," Lee. says Something as simple as making meat and veggie kabobs can turn into a bonding experience, and is a great way to get kids involved.
When you're out camping with friends and family, the food doesn't need to be displayed in an elaborate way. Lee believes "camping food should be rustic and friendly." He suggests using big platters and aligning them across the center of the table so that everyone has easy access to your wonderful feast.
I have a habit of collecting expired sour cream. In fact, in my fridge right now is an unopened tub of sour cream many days past the
'best before' date. Would you toss it out? How do I know if it's still OK to eat? Isn't sour cream supposed to smell sour? Most people would probably throw it out, after all, we've long been told "
when in doubt, throw it out". 'Best before' dates can be confusing. And what does 'best before' really mean? Comedian
Jerry Seinfeld also has some questions about so-called 'expiration' dates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es1npWZ7zxY
In Canada, the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) lays out the requirements for date labelling on pre-packaged foods. The 'best before' date refers to the
time when an
unopened packaged food,
stored under appropriate conditions, will retain its freshness, taste and nutritional value. Unopened and storage conditions are key -
once the food is opened, the 'best before' date no longer applies. Contrary to popular belief, the
'best before' date does not guarantee product safety, either during or after the date. So really, it's more of a freshness date, rather than any indication of food safety. 'Best before' dates are
required on all food products that keep fresh for less than 90 days (most fresh foods), along with the required storage conditions, like 'keep refrigerated'. Surprisingly, they are
not required on food products with a shelf life greater than 90 days. So all those canned goods and packaged foods in your cupboard don't need to have a 'best before' date. Although many manufacturers choose to add this information to their products. If included, the best before date must have the year first, then the month and the day. For example:
Best before 15 MA 23 Meilleur avant
As always there are a few exceptions. '
Expiration' dates must be on any meal replacements, nutritional supplements and infant formulas. These products should not eaten after the expirations date as they may have lost their nutritional value. Fresh food packaged at the store (ie. grocery store salads, meals, raw meat and poultry, etc) must have a '
packaged on' as well as the 'best before' date. The other thing to remember is that the manufactures set the 'best before' dates. There are
no government regulations saying what the dates should be or how they should be determined. With all this, it's easy for consumers to
confuse 'expiration' dates with 'best before' dates and unnecessarily throw out food. As long as the package is unopened, has been stored in the proper conditions, and for canned goods, the can is not bulging, food
can be eaten past the 'best before' date, although the freshness and texture may not be its best. Best not to
overstock your pantry in the first place though. Remember, most food products go on sale at least every 3 to 4 months. When there is a sale, buy only what you will use in that time. If you are not picky about brand, most staples are on sale
every few weeks. For more information on how the read food date labels see the
Healthy Canadians site or the
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.
Here's what to do to maximize your antioxidant intake.
1. Spice it up.
Both dried spices and fresh herbs tend to be extra potent with antioxidants. “Having a really liberal approach to herbs and spices in your cooking as opposed to a tiny sprinkle is really beneficial,” says registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen.
2. Go organic.
New research from Spain is suggesting that organic produce may have extra antioxidants. “Phytochemicals are a plant’s defence mechanism—kind of like its immune system,” says Nielsen. “So when you apply pesticides and herbicides to crops, the thinking is that the plant has less need to self-protect, so it downgrades those compounds.”
3. Eat whole foods.
You can have too much of a good thing, and when you take antioxidant supplements you run the risk they’ll aid oxidation rather than fight it. “It has a reverse effect if you take too much or take it out of the right context,” says Nielsen. “When you start isolating compounds from food, they often don’t behave in the way that you would expect.”