Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Northern B.C. Farmers’ Markets 2014

A picture of carrot spice muffins

Carrots: from a farmers’ market staple to a tasty breakfast treat!

This past September, I moved to Prince George to do an internship with Northern Health. This ten month term will put me that much closer to becoming a Registered Dietitian while giving me the opportunity to explore areas of B.C. that I have never been to before. During my time here, I’ve managed to check out farmers’ markets in each town that I’ve visited, including Prince George (both the indoor and outdoor market), Fort St. John, and Dawson Creek. All of these markets have exposed me to great foods that I hadn’t tried before, like Guinness jelly and pickled green beans!

There are 13 markets to choose from in northern B.C. They’re a great place to support local farmers – it’s nice to know where your money’s going — and artists in your community. Eating local reduces your carbon footprint and may introduce you to tasty new products. Food picked nearby may be fresher and higher in nutritional value than grocery store foods that are often picked weeks or months in advance of sale. In addition to produce and canned goods, you can often find homemade soaps, breads, candles, and, occasionally, live entertainment.

Remember to bring along a few bags to carry home your purchases in and be sure to take some cash since many vendors do not have access to card readers .And don’t forget to bring along the family or invite a few friends to join you!

I made this Robin Hood recipe a few weeks ago with fresh carrots purchased from my local farmers’ market. I always try including a seasonal fruits or vegetables into my baking to improve its nutritional value. I hope you enjoy this hearty breakfast muffin as much as I did!

Carrot Spice Muffins (Recipe from:
Makes approximately 12 muffins



  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 mL) oil
  • 3 cups (750 mL) grated carrots
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar (I only used a ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) natural bran
  • 2 ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (5mL) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (4 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ½ cup (125 mL) raisins

Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lightly packed brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Beat eggs and oil until light.
  3. Stir in carrots.
  4. Add next 8 ingredients Stir just until moistened.
  5. Stir in nuts and raisins.
  6. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.
  7. Combine nuts and brown sugar for topping in small mixing bowl. Sprinkle on top of muffins.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.
Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!


Farmers’ markets: Home grown community love

farmers' market veggies

Do you visit your local farmers’ market?

One Saturday afternoon, I did something that I don’t normally do – I took some time to walk around my town of Fort Nelson. It’s amazing what you see when you move slower:  I noticed, for example, how crisp and beautiful the flowers on the street corners were! During my walk, I decided to venture into the Farmers’ Market – a place that I often overlooked when driving – and I discovered the fresh locally grown foods that were displayed everywhere.

A farmer there explained to me that locally grown foods taste different than food that has been trucked up from thousands of miles away. His lettuce was picked yesterday, whereas food trucked up to us may have been picked a week ago. We also talked about how locally grown foods builds community, supports your local economy, increases food security, and reduces the environmental impact from transportation. It seems there sure is a lot to love about farmers’ markets and local food!

Farmers’ Markets feature individual vendors, mainly farmers, who set up booths, tables or stands and sell their products to the public once or twice a week at a designated place like a park or parking lot. The markets often feature produce grown naturally or organically, meats that are raised humanely on pasture, eggs and poultry, and produce.

Thanks to an increased interest in healthier foods and food security, farmers’ markets in Canada have grown. New markets appear regularly, and existing markets are seeing renewed growth.

Benefits of shopping at your local farmers’ market

Consumers love them because they can buy top-quality farm-fresh products directly from the person who produced them. Produce found at farmers’ markets is renowned for being locally grown, very fresh and produced at a much higher quality, as it’s usually organically grown with no artificial hormones. Local, fresh food is more likely to foster health and prevent illness than is heavily processed foods.  Consumers can enjoy fresh, seasonally-grown food that was produced within a drivable distance from their homes.

Farmers love them because they’re fun and let them connect with consumers who love what they sell and appreciate their hard work. They’re also an important source of income, helping farmers keep on doing what they love to do. Almost all of the money that supports local farmers goes back to the farmer, especially since the food sold at farmers’ markets undergoes a much simpler process than that sold at supermarkets.

Communities love them because they bring people together and can turn once-deserted areas into hives of activity, attracting extra business for stores and restaurants nearby.

For more information or to find a local farmers’ market, check out the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets or contact your local environmental health officer.

[Editor’s note: Don’t forget to enter the Healthy Living Week 4 Challenge and tell us about how you source local food for your chance to win a great mini freezer!]

Michael Truong

About Michael Truong

Michael is an Environmental Health Officer at the Fort Nelson Health Unit, and he really enjoys his work. He has been living in northeast B.C. for almost a year and loves his community. During the winter season, he enjoys snowshoeing with his friends and in the summer, he loves the scenery of the northern Rockies.


Changing your mindset – live well, eat well!

Kailey at the farmer's market

Do you visit your local farmer’s market for fresh, healthy food?

I think we have all used excuses like “I just don’t have the time,” or “It’s not possible” at one point in our lives when it comes to exercising or eating healthy. It’s a way of dodging the guilt when unhealthy behaviors kick our healthy living goals to the curb. We all know the routine: If we don’t have enough time to prepare a healthy meal, it’s easier to dial up dinner for delivery; if we don’t have healthy food at our fingertips, it’s easier to grab convenient processed foods at the grocery store; and if we don’t have time to work out, it’s easier to postpone it for now.

Although some days it may seem impossible to live well and eat well, it may simply be a matter of changing your mindset and challenging yourself to make healthier choices.

I challenge all readers to insert “it’s not a priority” whenever the pesky thought “I don’t have time” pops up. For example, the statement “I would like to have a healthy dinner, but there is just no time” then turns into “eating healthy isn’t my priority.” Now this excuse doesn’t seem so compelling, does it? Making health a priority may change where you are allocating those valuable 24 hours of your day. It’s time to make room for the important things in life, and health is definitely on that list.

I continually challenge myself to make healthy eating and exercise a top priority, and with a baby on the way (that’s me, 24 weeks along, in the picture), this has sky rocketed to the top of my list. As the saying goes, everything I do, I now do for two.

Below are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to help me make time for living and eating healthy:

  • Track your time. (Where is it REALLY all going?)
  • Drink plenty of water. (Instinct to grab a soda? Hit the water cooler instead.)
  • Seek out natural food. Plant a garden OR if, like me, you don’t have a green thumb, visit the farmer’s market downtown – an excellent place for fresh fruit, veggies, and much much more!
  • Avoid the grocery aisles where most processed food is stocked. Stick to shopping the ‘outskirts’ of stores instead (produce, dairy, etc). Plus all the time saved from not perusing the grocery aisles will open up more time to prepare a healthy feast at home!
  • Search the internet for short workout routines. Google and Youtube are amazing resources, and remember, 20 minutes of activity is better than none! Every move counts!

For more guidelines on living a healthier life, including physical activity and healthy eating, visit our guidelines on healthy living (position papers).

Kailey Miller

About Kailey Miller

As a disability management advisor for workplace health and safety, Kailey works with NH employees across the northeast region and Prince George. She has worked with Northern Health for about one year, and holds a master’s degree in disability management and a bachelor’s degree in psychology (BSc.). To stay active, Kailey enjoys running with her 4-year-old chocolate lab, yoga, and almost any activities outdoors.