Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Summer hydration – Delicious thirst quenching drinks!

Summer is my season. I often joke that I was born into the wrong climate, since I really come alive in the hot summer months and play indoors during the winter. (I’m learning how to love snow!).  Here in northern BC, we don’t take our precious summer months for granted! As the days get longer and warmer, I prefer to spend most of my time outdoors. Whether it’s going for long bike rides, picnicking with friends, or spending weekends hiking the beautiful trails around Prince George, I’m out enjoying every minute of this weather!

When being active on hot sunny days, it’s important to stay hydrated. In her blog post, dietitian Carly Phinney tells us why staying hydrated is important. She suggests that we listen to our body’s cues for sensing thirst, and she explains that water is the best way to satisfy thirst. I couldn’t agree more!  Water is budget friendly, vital for our bodies, and oh so versatile!

I recently went on a hike with some friends who brought along an interesting drink that was very refreshing. It was water, but with a twist! (Stay tuned for Vash and Nick’s great summer drink recipe below). This got me thinking, what are some healthy ways to stay cool and hydrated this summer?

  • Add fruits and vegetables to your water; it’s a great way to add some excitement to a classic beverage (think: strawberries, cucumber, berries or citrus).
  • Freeze your favourite fruits and eat them as frozen snacks throughout the day. Depending on the season, I like eating frozen grapes, cherries, and berries. (For the little ones, be sure to cut those grapes in half before freezing).
  • Make your own frozen snacks and fruit pops for a refreshing munch.
  • Mash up your favourite fruits, freeze them into ice cubes, and add to cold water.

I’d like to share two recipes that I’m going to be using a lot this summer:

One of my favourite summer drinks is a classic: homemade lemonade! This lemonade recipe is lower in sugar compared to store bought varieties, and is made extra tasty by using freshly squeezed lemons!

Three people drinking a refreshing twisted water.

Enjoying Vash and Nick’s refreshing water after a sizzling hike!

Classic homemade lemonade:

  • 2 tbsp. of honey
  • 1 litre of water (regular or fizzy)
  • 4 fresh lemons, juiced (you can use a lemon juicer or your hands)
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • A few handfuls of ice cubes (either regular ice cubes, or ones that have frozen fruit in them!)
  • Mint leaves as a garnish (optional)

Optional additions:

  • Mashed blueberries and strawberries (fresh or frozen!)
  • Sliced oranges and limes (creates a citrus medley!)

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir honey and ½ litre of water until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. In a pitcher, combine the rest of the water and lemon juice. Add in the honey mixture once cooled. Stir. Add sliced lemons, ice cubes, mint and fruits (if using). Enjoy!

The second recipe, as promised, is Vash and Nick’s delicious thirst quencher!

Man enjoying drink with a Hawaiian shirt.

There are many ways to add refreshing tastes to water. A variety of homemade lemonades can be enjoyed as part of a summer potluck.

Vash and Nick’s famous water recipe:

  • 1 cup of water (can be regular or fizzy)
  • A handful of frozen or fresh berries (whole or mashed)
  • A squeeze of lime juice (to taste)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (to taste)
  • Vash adds chia seeds for a refreshing crunch, but this is completely optional!

Let the water sit for a minute or two (bring it with you on a walk or hike), or store in the fridge for a few hours to let it really cool down. Enjoy!

Different takes on Vash and Nick’s water:

  • Mash up strawberries and mint
  • Cut up cubes of watermelon and add basil
  • Slice lemons, limes and oranges (for a citrus twist!)
  • Add some fruit-filled ice cubes

Looking for more information on healthy drinks?

Creating some fun recipes at home can help support healthy options, and get family and friends involved. What are some ways that you stay hydrated and cool during the summer?

Laurel Burton

About Laurel Burton

Laurel works with Northern Health as a population health dietitian, with a focus on food security. She is a big proponent of taking a multi-dimensional approach to health and she is interested in the social determinants of health and how they affect overall well-being, both at the individual and population level. Laurel is a recent graduate of the UBC dietetics program, where she completed her internship with Northern Health. She has experience working with groups across the lifecycle within BC and internationally to support evidence-informed nutrition practice for the aim of optimizing health. When she is not working, Laurel enjoys cooking, hiking and travelling. She is looking forward to exploring more of the North!

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5 tips for fuelling your active lifestyle

Fitness equipment and a plate of balanced food.

Fuel your active lifestyle with water and food from all four food groups!

From walking in the park to bicycling, or from backyard gardening to organized sports, physical activity is great for the mind, body, and soul. Keeping active also means keeping your body energized, strong and healthy. Try these five easy tips to fuel your active lifestyle.

1. Eat regular meals and snacks

Eating regularly gives our bodies a constant source of energy, so we’re ready for everything the day has in store.

2. Enjoy a variety of foods from all of the food groups

Each of the food groups from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide provide different nutrients to keep your body fueled, healthy and happy.

  • Vegetables and Fruits – provide vitamins and minerals to keep your body running smoothly and recover from injuries and illness. Choose fruits and vegetables from all colours of the rainbow to get the most benefits.
  • Grain Products – provide carbohydrates which our bodies use for energy. Choose whole grains more often to have consistent energy throughout the day.
  • Milk and Alternatives – provide vitamins and minerals important for healthy bones. Strong bones allow us to stay active and help prevent falls and injuries.
  • Meat and Alternatives – provide protein for building muscles, and iron to deliver oxygen to our cells.
Mug of soup.

Staying active this summer? Eat a variety of real foods to keep your energy levels where they need to be!

3. Eat real food

No need for protein powders, energy bars, or other sports supplements. Eating a variety of real foods from all of the food groups will provide your body with everything it needs to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, and it’s less expensive, too.

4. Stay hydrated with water

Sip on water throughout the day and during activities to keep your body well hydrated. Sports drinks aren’t necessary for most people, and cost more. Try flavouring your water with lemon or lime wedges to mix it up.

5. Avoid energy drinks

While they might give you a burst of energy, it won’t last. And their high caffeine content can actually be dangerous for your heart.


A version of this article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of Northern Health’s A Healthier You magazine.

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

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Foodie Friday: Sports drinks: To drink or not to drink?

Pitcher of homemade sports drink.

Sports drinks are only recommended for very specific purposes. When you are being active this year, go with water! If your situation requires a sports drink, try making your own with Rebecca’s recipe!

As the days warm and the trees turn green, more and more of us are starting our summer activities. For some of us, that includes things like running, cycling, soccer, football, and other sports. I also see more people drinking sports drinks at this time of year. When should we drink these? When should we not?

The primary purpose of sports drinks is to replace water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) that are lost when we exercise vigorously for a prolonged length of time. You don’t need a sports drink unless you are a heavy sweater or you are working out for a long time in the heat. Think marathon runner or construction worker on a hot roof all day!

So what should you drink after being active this spring or summer? Water is the best choice!

What’s wrong with sports drinks? They contain a lot of sugar and salt! Powerade® and Gatorade® contain approximately 14 tsp of sugar in their regular 946 ml containers and approximately 400 mg of salt. That’s a lot of extra calories and salt that you don’t need.

So what should we do when engaging in sports? First, drink water before you start! Afterwards, have a snack with some carbs and protein to refuel and repair your muscles. Try some chocolate milk, peanut butter and a banana, or some tuna and crackers.

If you’re going to use sports drinks for vigorous exercise or during periods when you are feeling unwell, try making your own sports drinks!

Nancy Clark’s Homemade Sports Drink

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Clark, RD

Yield: 1 quart (approximately 1 litre)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ¼ cup orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 ½ cups cold water

Instructions:

  1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
  2. Add the juice and the remaining water; chill.
Rebecca Larson

About Rebecca Larson

Rebecca works in Vanderhoof and the surrounding communities as a dietitian. She was born in the north and returned after her schooling. Rebecca loves tobogganing with her daughter in the winter, gardening and camping in the summer and working on her parents cattle ranch in her spare time.

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Naturally flavoured water: Cheers to your hydration

Fruit and herbs

Combinations of fruit and herbs can add great flavours to your water!

Drink 8 cups of water a day. That’s been drilled into our heads since we were young, right? While that guideline is actually a myth, making sure you drink enough fluid to stay properly hydrated is a definite must for living healthy. Even so, it wasn’t until a major health scare occurred in my family that I turned a leaf with a pretty significant health kick and started paying closer attention to the hydration aspect of my health.

“Every cell in your body needs water,” says Holly Christian from NH Population Health Nutrition. “It keeps you hydrated, is calorie-free and has no added sugar or sodium. Choose water regularly throughout the day.”

Sliced strawberries, orange slices and basil

Sliced strawberries, orange slices and basil

Excess sugar is a problem in many drinks and can lead to other problems, such as weight gain or cavities, so it’s always better to choose water. Healthy Families BC says that water is the best option to satisfy thirst and stay hydrated.

With all this in mind, I started filling a one litre bottle with good old-fashioned tap water and aiming to drink at least two of them every day (more when I exercised, and when it’s particularly hot outside, like now; Healthy Families BC also has some great info on why drinking water when it’s hot is important).

In order to keep me interested in water, I started flavouring it using simple fruit and herb combinations. Now, I can sip through my water consistently during the day without getting bored of the taste, I’m always properly hydrated (giving me much more energy!), I’m not taking in an excess of sugar, and I get a tasty fruit snack at the end of each bottle.

Sliced cucumbers, lemon slices and mint

Sliced cucumbers, lemon slices and mint

Here are some of my favourite flavoured water mixes:

  • A handful of raspberries and a slice of lemon.
  • Two sage leaves and a handful of blackberries.
  • Two mint leaves, a few cucumber slices and a slice of lemon.
  • A couple of large strawberries, sliced, and a handful of blueberries.
  • Two basil leaves, a couple of sliced strawberries, and an orange slice.

Next up on my list is watermelon chunks with fresh rosemary!

Have you ever tried to flavour your own water? Have any great flavours to add to our list?

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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