Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Halloween celebrations – more than just food

One of the many beauties of living in Canada is the dramatic change in seasons, each one bringing something to look forward to. What do you look forward to in the fall?

For many, one of the most exciting days is Halloween, especially for the kids (or perhaps the inner child in all of us adults!). While it might seem odd for some cultures in the world to think about kids going door-to-door asking strangers for candy, Halloween is a huge part of our culture in North America. Do you know how Halloween originated? An ancient Celtic festival called Samhain gave birth to what we now know as Halloween. The Celts celebrated the harvest and the start of the long winter. The festival was celebrated on October 31st, when the boundary between the living and the dead was believed to be at its weakest.

Nowadays many children look forward to dressing up, trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood, and coming home with a huge loot of candy. This means eating foods that may not be the most nutritious. In my family growing up, our Halloween tradition was always having hot dogs before we went out trick-or-treating.  During this time of celebrating, it is important to recognize that food provides more than just nourishment.  Food is a huge part of our culture and celebrations, and Halloween can be used as an excellent teaching opportunity for moderating enjoyable treats.

While trick-or-treating is exciting for the children that can enjoy candy, there are many children that live with severe food allergies who are unable to take part in all of the treats that are handed out. Around 2.5 million Canadians self-report having at least one food allergy. The highest incidence is found in young children, less than three years of age. How do you ensure a fun Halloween for all the kids in your neighbourhood? One initiative that supports making Halloween safe and fun for all children is the Teal Pumpkin Project. This initiative encourages families to place a teal pumpkin in front of their home, which indicates that non-food treats are available for those who either have food allergies or other kids that cannot have candy for some reason.

Learn the details about participating in this initiative at: Teal Pumpkin Project.

Can you see yourself participating in the teal pumpkin project this Halloween? Even if you don’t have a teal pumpkin to display, definitely feel free to give out non-food treats on Halloween – you never know what the little ghosts and goblins will choose.  To make it clear that your house is giving out non-food treats, you can display a poster like this one:

teal pumpkin project poster

The Teal Pumpkin Project is an initiative that encourages families to place a teal pumpkin in front of their home to indicate non-food treats are available for those with food allergies.

If you feel like following my family tradition and possibly having a hot dog before going trick-or-treating with your little ones, check out the Prince George Farmer’s market cookbook called “Cooking with the Market” for a very unique hot dog recipe. The recipe uses zucchini as a bun and is a great way to use up those zucchini’s that you may have leftover from the harvest. The recipe is definitely unique, but it might make getting a few vegetables in before the candy a bit easier.

Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: You DO win friends with salad

All right, so for anyone who grew up in the ‘90s, I’m sure you remember that Simpsons episode where Lisa becomes a vegetarian and then her dad Homer, brother Bart, and mother Marge all chant “You don’t win friends with salad” around her over and over again. Now I know what you are all thinking: it’s Foodie Friday and Lindsay is writing a blog post about salad, come on!

Well, it’s true. I am writing about salad. But let me put your mind at ease – it’s not just any salad. This salad is what I like to call my SOS salad and in my opinion, you can definitely win friends (and fill hungry tummies) with this!

The SOS salad can be used as a meal rather than just a side dish. How can you win friends with this salad? First and foremost, it’s really tasty. It’s also filling, quick to make, and last but not least, nutritionally balanced. I personally like to make a huge batch of this salad to have on hand for lunches or dinners so that I can spend more time biking, hiking, and visiting with loved ones.

We have all heard that vegetables and fruits are important. Why? They are full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre (both soluble and insoluble). A high intake of vegetables and fruits can help lower blood pressure as well as your risk of heart disease and stroke. They can also protect against some types of cancer. Of course, there are many barriers to accessing fresh vegetables and fruit including income, geographic location, affordability, availability, and perhaps a need for increased food skills with preparation. Luckily, fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables all offer health benefits, so if accessing fresh vegetables and fruit is difficult, there are other options.

Now for this awesome salad! I will provide a list of different ingredients but please feel free to omit, substitute, or add anything that you see fit. You can definitely be creative with this.

Lindsay’s SOS Salad

Ingredients: (choose whatever you’d like)salad

  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked and cooled (you can use up leftover rice from the night before!)
  • ½ head of red lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium beet, shredded
  • ½ zucchini, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¾ cup nuts, chopped (walnuts, pecans, almonds, use whatever you’d like)
  • 1 avocado, diced (for topping)
  • ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled (for topping)

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Toast your nuts: Add chopped nuts to a small frying pan on medium heat and stir constantly until fragrant and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Once they are done, remove from pan and set aside on a separate plate or bowl to cool.
  2. Add your cooked and cooled brown rice to a large bowl. Add your lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, zucchini, shredded carrots and beets, and chickpeas.
  3. Top with toasted nuts, avocado, and feta cheese. Toss!
  4. Prepare the dressing. Add all ingredients to a jar, cover, and shake vigorously until mixed.
  5. Divide salad into bowls or containers for your lunch, add dressing to your liking, and enjoy!
Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: rolling into the summer season

I don’t know about you, but my taste for certain foods has been changing lately with the increasing temperatures. Longer and warmer days mean that my desire for fresh salads and cold items is definitely increasing. No longer am I craving hearty stews or soups!

The longer days are also bringing a lot of my friends out of hibernation. It seems like everyone is getting out much more and getting together for more barbecues and potlucks. I must admit, this sometimes leads to accidentally staying up a little later because of the prolonged sunlight, too.

When friends and family get together, I find it’s always fun preparing and enjoying meals together. This creates space to connect and learn new ways to create delicious meals. If you have children, including them in meal preparation develops cooking skills and also teaches them how to make healthy food choices. If you like to combine making and eating dinner with hanging with your pals, or you’re looking for a fun, healthy recipe to make with your kids, boy do I have an idea for you!

salad rolls, peanut sauce

In fact, I have two words for you: PEANUT SAUCE. Pair that with some salad rolls filled with whatever your heart desires and you have a fun, tasty, and healthy small meal or side dish for you and yours. My favourite peanut sauce recipe is the Orchid Lime Dressing recipe from the Whitewater Cooks with Friends recipe book. Once you try this, you will be hooked! Look for the Whitewater Cooks books at your local library! While this is one of my favourites, peanut sauce can be made with as few as 3-5 ingredients and can be a great addition to your pantry survival kit, too!

P.S Do you have a peanut allergy in your family?  Feel free to skip the peanut sauce and consider sweet chili sauce instead! Check out the most recent issue of Healthier You magazine for information on how to connect with an allergy dietitian by dialling 8-1-1.

Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: A new year for new recipes

soup, soup exchange, freezer portions

A soup exchange with friends may leave you with a freezer full of delicious ready-to-eat meals!

We’re almost ready to ring in the New Year. For most of us, this time of year is full of reflection and planning. What are your favorite moments of 2016? What are your plans for 2017?

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably started a list of goals for next year both at work and in your personal life. I believe that if you want to achieve something, you must start by verbalizing it, talking it over with someone supportive in your life, and writing it down! Ensure that your goals are SMART:

  • Specific (quantify or describe exactly what you want to achieve)
  • Measurable (can you measure if you’ve achieved your goal?)
  • Achievable (is the goal realistic? Keep it simple and be realistic with yourself)
  • Relevant (do you actually want to achieve this? Is it important to you?)
  • Timely (establish a deadline, maybe even a few)

As an example, let me share one of my goals for 2017:

A challenge that I often face is getting into a rut of making a rotation of the same five meals. This leaves me feeling a bit bored with meals and unmotivated to cook. Broadly, I want to add more supper meals to my biweekly repertoire. To make this fit into SMART goal format, I can say: “Try a new recipe at least once every two weeks so that I can have at least 10 new recipes to add to my repertoire by June 2017”. Luckily, I have gastronomically creative people (like you) in my life to give me inspiration!

If you’re looking for a fun way to discover new recipes, you may be interested in a recent soup exchange that my group of friends just had. Ten people participated, so each of us made 10 litres of soup, bagged it up into 10 one litre freezer bags and then got together for a social gathering to exchange soups. The best part is you get to leave with 10 litres of different yummy, healthy, and homemade soups and recipes to stock your freezer and build your meal repertoire. You can do this with any food item – stews, casseroles, you name it! If you are interested in hosting your own soup exchange, I’d like to share the following recipe with you to try: African Peanut Stew from the Oh She Glows cookbook. This stew is deliciously flavourful and full of fibre, healthy fats, and comfort. Triple this recipe if you’re interested in making 10 litres, or just keep it as is – the choice is yours.

The recipe may be found online via Canadian Running Magazine

Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: Prince George carrots, B.C. apples, and the urge to bake this fall

Plate of muffins

Morning glory muffins can use local Prince George carrots and B.C. apples! What will you bake this fall?

Welcome to fall!

While the summer is full of excitement and adventure, I absolutely love this time of year here. It’s the Prince George I fell in love with! Almost exactly two years ago, I moved from Halifax. I was only supposed to be here for six months but, like many, I have fallen in love with the beauty of this area and all it has to offer. I love walking through the forests full of yellow leaves and the earthy smell of the moist ground. What’s your favourite part about this season?

Fall is the time of new beginnings for me and many others. After all of the summer adventures have subsided, fall is when the kids go back to school and everyone is back at work. For me, fall is the time to start new projects and endeavours as I usually tend to spend a bit more time indoors, until the snow flies!

The cooler temperatures provide a very welcome urge to bake, too! Luckily, there are plenty of local carrots and zucchini around from the summer harvest to incorporate into muffins, breads, and loaves to give a boost of vitamins and fibre to our homemade goodies.

Do you have some funky old apples sitting in your fridge? What about old bananas in your freezer? Throw these both into your baking for extra fiber, moisture, and sweetness.

Here is one of my favourite muffin recipes using local Prince George carrots and B.C. apples:

Morning glory muffins

Makes 12 large muffins (or 24 medium-sized muffins – adjust baking time as necessary)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup raisins (or chopped dates)
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 apple, skin on, shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup very ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the carrot, raisins (or dates), nuts, coconut, and apple.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, banana, oil, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into the carrot/flour mixture, just until moistened. The batter will be thick!
  4. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes (12-15 minutes if making 24 medium muffins) or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Enjoy and share with someone you love, in a beautiful space.
Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: Prep your meals in bulk so you can get back outside!

Quinoa salad

Lindsay’s Mexican Quinoa Salad is a great option when you want to cook just once and enjoy over and over! Prep once and get back to your summer outdoor adventures!

Oh summer in the north!

I don’t know about you, but as soon as summer hits, it feels like all my weekends and evenings become jam-packed with plans. Plans to bike, hike, and go on adventures somewhere new.

The longer days of summer mean more daylight hours to be doing activities and this definitely reduces the time to prepare dinners and lunches. When life gets busy, bulk meal prep is a must! Not only does meal prep at home save you money, it also encourages greater fruit and vegetable consumption and a higher intake of fibre.

One of my favorite “go-to” meals for summer is a Mexican Quinoa Salad. Anyone who knows me will tell you: I love Mexican spices. Actually, I’m almost obsessed with Mexican spices. I have a standard blend of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika that I throw into the majority of my meal repertoire. If you’re used to buying taco or fajita seasoning, I am here to tell you that this is no longer needed! You can make your own Mexican spice mix with common spices found right in your own spice cupboard. Check out this taco seasoning recipe.

Ready to get those Mexican spices into a meal that lasts? The salad recipe below will make about 8-10 servings, so feel free to decrease it as needed. It makes a great potluck item, can definitely feed you and your friends for a few meals, is convenient to pack, and will keep well for about three days, refrigerated.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • ½ large red onion, or 1 small, diced
  • 2 x 540 ml cans black beans
  • 1 x 341 ml can corn
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Dressing

  • 3 limes, juice and zest OR 1/3 cup lime juice
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder (domestic, not international chili powder), or to taste
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Combine 2 cups quinoa and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Set aside and/or refrigerate and allow to cool.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients together in an extra-large bowl.
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in jar or blender, as desired. Pour over salad ingredients and mix well.
  4. Enjoy!
Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Foodie Friday: Something fast and fishy!

Fish tacos on a plate outside

Want to spend more time outside this spring? Dietitian Lindsay’s fish tacos are easy to make so you’ll be able to enjoy them quickly (outside, if you’d like!).

Oh, spring! Our transition from winter to summer!

Do you find your tastes for foods changing at this time of year? Perhaps that hearty stew doesn’t seem so appealing anymore and now you’re craving more salads. As the days get longer, I’m finding myself wanting to spend less time inside. This creates bit of a dilemma – as much as I enjoy being outdoors, I also love ending my day with a delicious dinner, often shared with others, whether it’s my partner, friends, or family. Really, unless I have someone build me an outdoor kitchen (any takers!?), my only option to appease both of my desires is to spend as little time as possible creating some sort of delicious dish. Or pull out the barbecue and cook everything on there!

Everyone has different reasons for choosing the foods they eat: taste, health, convenience, access. What are your reasons? For me, meals have to be three things: delicious, healthy, and take as little time as possible to prepare. Of course, there will be those weekend dinners that I’ll spend a bit more time on but day to day, they need to be quick.

So, I bring to you: Pescado Blanco Fish Tacos out of the Whitewater Cooks With Friends cookbook! These little tacos are packed with complete protein, heart-healthy fats from fish and avocados, and fibrous red cabbage. They can also be made in about 30-45 minutes – or even less time if you have leftover fish from earlier in the week.

Pescado Blanco Fish Tacos

Serves 6

Ingredients

Orange Avocado Salsa

  • 3 oranges, peeled, diced, and drained
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced finely
  • 2 medium avocados, diced into ½ inch cubes
  • ¾ tsp salt

Tacos

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ lbs fish (halibut, red snapper, cod or salmon)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 cups red cabbage, very thinly sliced

Optional: Chipotle Crema

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tsp half and half cream
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (the sauce from canned chipotle peppers)

Instructions

  1. If using chipotle crema, whisk together sour cream, half and half cream and adobo sauce until well blended. Refrigerate.
  2. Combine oranges, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, red onion, avocado and salt. Mix gently with a spoon in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  4. Wrap tortillas in tin foil and place in oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle fish pieces with cumin, paprika and onion powder.
  6. Heat oil in two sauté pans until almost smoking.
  7. Divide fish into two batches and sear in individual hot pans until just done, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Lay two warm tortillas on each person’s plate.
  9. Spread thin layer of red cabbage on each tortilla, followed by seared fish, then a spoonful of orange avocado salsa. Finish with a dollop of chipotle crema (if using).
  10. Enjoy!
Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Think outside of the cereal box

Frittata in a skillet

Frittatas are a great make-ahead breakfast that can be eaten for any meal!

This blog post is one in a series of posts giving you the tools you need to complete the month-long Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page for your chance to win great weekly prizes and the grand prize of a Vitamix blender!


We’ve all heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re anything like me, you think that this is a cruel joke because you find mornings the most challenging time of the day! On these cold winter mornings in particular, I find it hard to leave myself enough time to make something substantial for breakfast. Thankfully, I’ve come up with a way to work around this!

What comes to mind when you think of “breakfast” foods?

If you’re an average Canadian, you’re probably thinking of one of the four most common breakfast foods:

  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Toast
  • Fruit
  • Hot cereal

Around 80% of breakfasts are thrown together in five minutes or less, so it isn’t surprising that the food items above are the most common as they take very little time to prepare. But let it be known: these items don’t have to be your default for a quick breakfast (unless you want them to be)!

The trick to having healthy, delicious breakfasts in a snap is preparing on your days off or the night before. I am a huge fan of versatile meals and will often cook something for supper that I can easily eat for breakfast or lunch. Cook once and eat 3, 4, or more times!

Here are some meals that you can make for supper that can easily be turned into breakfast

  • Frittatas: You can dress them up and take them to breakfast, lunch, or supper! Serve them with toast and you have breakfast. Serve them with quinoa and some greens and you have lunch or supper. This is my favorite versatile meal! It can be disguised into whatever you need it for. Try this easy recipe to get you started!
  • Baked beans: Throw these onto an English muffin or corn tortilla with salsa and avocado. Add an egg and you could have your own version of huevos rancheros!
  • Whole grain pancakes or french toast: Top with peanut butter and banana! These are traditionally breakfast foods but they can be made for supper and saved for breakfast! Make extras, freeze them, and pop them in the toaster!
  • Roasted potatoes and veggies: Toss on a soft or hardboiled egg or onto a small amount of cheese, throw it all into a container and hit the road. You’ve made yourself a breakfast skillet!
  • Burritos and enchiladas: Switch out the bean or meat filling for fried eggs, add some peppers, mushrooms, and a small amount of cheese, and there you have it: a breakfast burrito! Make it the night before, wrap it in tinfoil, and pack it with you.

If you make these meals in advance, it only takes about 2 minutes to heat up and enjoy!

Your challenge for this week: think about how you might turn some of your common suppers into breakfast the next day! If you’re looking for other ways to jazz up your breakfast (or just need a laugh) check out the video below about breakfasts from around the world!


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn’t at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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