Peanut Allergies; Big Changes

Did you know that there have been serious changes to the recommendations from the medical community about how parents should treat their very young kids around peanuts and products with peanuts in them?

The guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) are now recommending that children between the ages of 4-6 MONTHS be exposed to high-risk allergens like peanuts, eggs, and fish.

The Mom bloggers at the British Columbia Mom wrote on the issue of peanuts and little kids

Despite the recommendations that my daughter had grown up with, there was no evidence to suggest that dietary restrictions on first foods helped reduce the occurrence of food allergies in children. In fact, there was a rise in food allergies and so recommendations were made to introduce these potential food allergens around 6 months of age, and on a regular basis.

In fact, in Israel there are virtually no children with peanut allergies. Perhaps not coincidentally, from a very early age, children in Israel are fed snacks containing peanuts.

Contrast that to North America where for many years the medical community advised parents to NOT feed their children snacks containing peanuts and yet there has been no decline in the number of cases of children with peanut allergies.

Anyway, getting back to the issue, the Moms on British Columbia Mom wrote about how peanut butter is way too thick and gooey for a four month old baby and peanut butter cookies are not really good snacks for very young children because they are loaded with sugar, so they have partnered with Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs and are doing a giveaway of some of the peanut butter snacks that are suitable for young children.

Give them a visit – and I hope you win the Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs!

Blugenics Karen Phytoplankton

Canada’s newest superfood is microscopic, but its health benefits are huge. Phytoplankton – found in the ocean and considered the world’s original vegetable – is also known as microalgae, packed with omega fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D and K, beta carotene, dietary fibre, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron and protein.


The Karen brand of phytoplankton – a first-of-its-kind natural health product – is approved by Health Canada and according to company-led studies and anecdotal reports from those who consume it, Karen is effective in treating everything from digestive issues, inflammation, fibromyalgia and migraines to chronic pain, low energy and skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.

The company behind Karen phytoplankton is New Brunswick-based Blugenics Innovations Ltd., which launched in November 2015. In one year alone, sales of its unique superfood have skyrocketed to $1.8 million. Company founder David Hunter credits Blugenics Innovations’ rapid growth to a remarkable discovery he made more than a decade ago when he decided to eat this “fish food.”

“At first I thought it was a joke, but when I agreed to try phytoplankton, it completely changed my life,” said Hunter, who was first introduced to the idea of eating phytoplankton while working at a fish farm, where phytoplankton was fed to shellfish.

For years, Hunter suffered from “barn-burning” migraines, chronic fatigue and severe allergies. Within days after taking phytoplankton, his health improved. “It affected me in such a profound way – I remember feeling as though I had my life back,” said Hunter, adding that his headaches and allergies are gone, his immune system is stronger and he sleeps better at night. “I haven’t had a cold in years,” he said.

Now, Hunter is on a mission to bring the health benefits of phytoplankton to all Canadians. Today, Karen phytoplankton is cultivated in a state-of-the-art facility that is certified according to strict global food safety protocols HACCP and ISO 22,000, meaning the product is non-toxic and entirely safe for consumption.

Recognizing that Karen is a “word-of-mouth champion” and that the majority of Karen users see the benefits within a couple of weeks, Hunter said the company’s focus is to get people to try the health food, offering Canadians from coast to coast a 30-day trial challenge with a full money back guarantee.

“Karen is a single ingredient superfood phenomenon similar to Quinoa, where you have this ancient product that is suddenly seeing a surge in Western society,” said Dr. Melanie Wills, a University of Guelph PhD student in molecular and cellular biology who is part of a team of researchers at Mount Allison University investigating the product’s effectiveness in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems.

Allergen-free, Karen is available over-the-counter at pharmacies, health food stores, and health and wellness centres across Canada in pure powder and tablet form for $49.99. A dermo-cosmetic moisturizing skin cream is available online for $59.99.

Add Karen Phytoplankton powder to smoothies, applesauce and yogurt, or simply mix it with water or juice and drink.

For a list of retailers or to order online, visit

BC’s Agrifood Products Offered to the World

A new international market development strategy is the latest item on the menu offering BC’s agrifood and seafood products to the world. The strategy aims to build on the record $3.5 billion worth of B.C. products exported in 2015.

B.C.’s top five 2015 agrifood and seafood export markets were U.S. ($2.5 billion), China ($343 million), Japan ($190 million), Hong Kong ($62 million) and South Korea ($54 million).

The strategy focuses on providing programs and services that support three key areas: market knowledge, generating investment, and building networks, that collectively support success for B.C. companies in the marketplace.

Research has demonstrated that businesses entering new markets need market knowledge to succeed. The strategy emphasizes that by accessing customized market profiles, cost-competitive analysis and advisory services, as well as attending market readiness seminars and workshops, B.C. companies can be better informed and prepared to succeed in attracting new customers in new markets.

The strategy also highlights the value of government investment in programs that fund the development of new products, practices or technology, help B.C. companies prepare for and participate in targeted international marketing, and support an internationally recognized food safety and traceability system.

The top five agrifood exports in 2015 were $294 million in natural health products and food preparations for manufacturing; $218 million in blueberries; $159 million in baked goods and cereal products; $131 million in mushrooms; and $124 million in chocolate and cocoa preparations.

Export success or failure can depend on the quality and reliability of information and the established contacts on the ground in the new market. The Strategy highlights the value that having B.C. Trade and Investment Representatives in 13 international locations can provide in helping connect B.C. companies with buyers and trade representatives in key markets, as can participating in incoming and outgoing trade missions, and tradeshows and promotional events.

The strategy identifies the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong as priority markets for B.C. exports, as well as 17 secondary priority markets, and others with long-term growth potential. The strategy includes goals and targets for export growth, the diversification of export markets, the development of export capacity, knowledge and skills, and the opening of new markets for B.C. products.

BC's Agrifood
BC Salmon

B.C. food businesses exported more than 600 types of foods to over 150 markets in 2015 with exports reaching a record $3.5 billion.

The B.C. government’s Export Ready Business Catalogue is also now available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean and has been distributed through B.C. government trade offices in all three countries. The guide represents B.C.’s diverse agri-food and seafood sector, and includes profiles of about 100 B.C. producers of fruits and vegetables, seafood, meat, packaged food, natural health products and beverage makers, ready to export B.C. products.

BC Farmers Appreciation Week

Just in case you didn’t know, the week of September 12th – 18th is BC Farmers Appreciation Week.

BC Farmers Appreciation Week
BC Farmers Appreciation Week

In acknowledgement of B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said, “British Columbia farmers are hard working people supporting their families and our communities by growing the foods that we enjoy every day. I ask all British Columbians to join me in celebrating and supporting them during B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week.

“B.C. farmers produce more than 300 farm products from both the land and sea and the food they grow, harvest and process are important to British Columbians. I’d like to thank all of you for support of B.C. agrifood businesses.

“In 2015, sales of B.C. agrifood products topped more than $13 billion, the highest ever. Meantime, the net cash income for primary agricultural production increased 21.5% in 2015 to $440 million, up from $362 million in 2014. We can thank B.C. farmers for helping us in reaching these milestones.

“The B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan identifies the next steps in our goal to grow the overall sector to a $15-billion-a-year industry by 2020. Farmers, growers, ranchers and the seafood sector will help us get there – it is a team effort.

“I’d encourage all British Columbians to experience your local farmers’ market, roadside stand or agrifood business during B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week and continue to support local businesses throughout the year. You will meet some incredible people producing innovative, safe, high-quality and great-tasting foods for your family, and play a direct role in supporting healthy and diverse communities, and our strong province.”

BC Hop Company Opening in Abbotsford

The BC Hop Company is hoping to quench the thirst for a key ingredient in B.C.’s growing craft beer sector.

BC Hop Company
Hop Vine

In an effort to provide the B.C. industry with a consistent supply of high-quality and local dry hops, the BC Hop Company is building a processing facility in Abbotsford that will include new technologies currently in use in Europe, .

Jati Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, and member of the legislative assembly in B.C. for Abbotsford-Mission Simon Gibson announced $285,000 in funding for the Regional Hops Drying Kiln project through the Growing Forward 2 Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation program. The funding commitment was announced at a BeerBQ event at the BC Hop Company with hop fields in full bloom in the background.

The funding will be put towards innovative pieces of equipment that will kiln dry the hops under controlled conditions. The process helps reduce rancidity and the degradation of alpha acids and essential oils improving product colour and cone structure of the dried hops.

The technology is new to Canada and the goal is to produce a superior, world-class product so producers can remain competitive in both the local and international markets.


Cheese St Grill Food Truck Post

My favourite food truck, the Cheese Street Grill is back at their regular location just outside of the Poirier Recreation Centre in Coquitlam. Now, after I exit the gym after an intense work I can once again stop and grab a grilled cheese sandwich!

Food Truck Post
Cheese St Grill

While I did not go for an intense workout in the gym today (truth be told, I am not sure that I have ever gone to a gym for an intense work out) I did manage to find time to stop and see Scott in the Cheese Street Grill food truck.

Scott set me up with a grilled three cheese sandwich on sourdough with extra caramelized onions, a mound of ham, and a dill pickle. It looked so tasty that I ate half the sandwich before I remembered to take a picture. For $11, this is still one of the best food truck values in the city.

While I was visiting with Scott he told me about an interesting new website – The Food Truck Post that he has developed. The site is designed to allow foodies to read a quick “bio” of all sorts of food trucks, see where food trucks are located, what food truck festivals and events are going on, and just as cool, the site allows people organizing events to contact food trucks directly to see what trucks might be able to come to their event.

Yes, there are other food truck apps, but so far, I am quite impressed with the way that the Food Truck Post dot com works.

BC Certified Organic

BC’s Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick has introduced Bill 11, the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act in the House so British Columbians can shop with confidence.

The regulatory changes would allow the BC government to build on a commitment that requires all food and beverage products marketed as “organic” in BC to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program by 2018, and consider the certification of products made with BC ingredients in the future.

If passed, the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act will replace the Food Products Standards Act, Agri-food Choice and Quality Act, and the Agricultural Produce Grading Act

A Couple Restaurant Updates

There have been a couple of changes in local restaurants recently and an exciting new opening you may be interested in hearing about.

First, a place I tried over the Christmas break, the Onyx Steakhouse located in Port Moody’s Suterbrook neighborhood has suddenly closed.

In its place will be another place I recently tried, Romer’s, the burger place. This will give me a convenient opportunity to try them out again.

Another place that has had a sort of “cosmetic” change is the uptown New West location of Okonomi Sushi.

Although the menu and the people are virtually unchanged, the name has changed to Bara Sushi due to a separation away from the downtown New West location of Okonomi Sushi.

Continuing with sushi in New West, the couple at Sushi Paradise have moved on and the location is now called Sushi Farm.

 I tried it today for a quick lunch and I have to say I was underwhelmed.

I had a spicy tuna and salmon sashimi donburi ($9.95) and it was not at all spicy and had a sort of mayonnaise-like cream sauce coating the generous pieces of salmon and tuna. Not what I was expecting.

I’ll probably try Sushi Farm again to see if other dishes are better.

Finally, a place that I am quite excited about, Big Smoke Burger from the Cambie and Broadway neighborhood of Vancouver will be opening another location – this one up at SFU is right near the bus loop on the residential side of the SFU community.

I understand they are opening this week so I’ll be up to pay them a visit this coming weekend.

That’s it for now. Keep on eating!


A Visit to the New Whole Foods Market in Burnaby 

The following is a photograph essay from my tour around the new Whole Foods Market location in Burnaby on Lougheed at Willingdon.

Whatever they call it, I think the Whole Foods Market is a very welcome addition to the area and I was quite impressed with all aspects of the store.

Fruit Display
Fruit Display
Vegetable Display
Vegetable Display

All of the displays of produce are perfectly arranged.

The bakery makes wonderfully beautiful pastries and assorted sweets in a variety of sizes.


There is also a wide selection of breads baked in store. They also had a large display of Terra Breads – supporting the local bakery.

Indian Dosa Bar
Indian Dosa Bar

The Indian Dosa Bar looked awesome.


And the samples of their fare looked just as yummy!

The pizza oven, although gas-fired, was also pretty awesome. I spent quite a few minutes watching the pizza guy moving this one pizza around to keep it cooking.

Pizza by the Slice
Pizza by the Slice

Once out of the oven, the pizza is sold by the slice.

There were at least three “salad bars” where you can serve yourself and pay for your bowl by the 100 grams.

Indian Food Bar
Indian Food Bar

This salad bar was filled with Indian foods that smelled just heavenly.

Free Popcorn
Free Popcorn

As well as prepared foods to eat, everywhere in the store were little kiosks (similar to the way it is in Costco) with people offering samples.


Like the Indian Dosa Bar, there was also a sushi bar where you can custom order rolls. There was also a refrigerated section with pre-made rolls and sushi combos.

Organic Eggs
Organic Eggs

Some time ago I considered getting a couple dozen chickens for my backyard. I did the math on it and it seemed like a foolproof way to make money at $4 a dozen. Maybe I should get some hens?

Meat Display
Meat Display

The meat department was pretty slick with all kinds of meats in a well organized display case. That being said, I still prefer to visit Meat Craft Urban Butchery, my local butcher shop for my meat needs.

Aging Beef
Aging Beef

It was also cool to see beef that is in the process of aging. The display case has the date the meat went in the case and when it is to be taken out. I have to give Whole Foods Market credit for doing this because beef in the aging process is not that attractive.

Like the meat display cases, the fish was also arranged in an attractive manner. I was surprised to see many pieces of Atlantic Salmon in the display cases and when I asked if it was farmed salmon I was told that it was.

Fish Display Case
Fish Display Case

They did explain that their suppliers must strict standards around how the salmon are raised and all that stuff. Still surprised me.

Olive Oil
Olive Oil

Quite the display of olive oils. From expensive to really quite reasonably priced.

Prepared Salads
Prepared Salad 

Back into the prepared food section and there was an incredible variety of salads, packaged fresh fruit, sandwiches, and ready-to-grill sandwiches.

Ready to Toast
Ready to Toast

One thing I noticed about the displays is that almost everything is positioned on the shelf to best show the product that is on sale. The nutrition labels and ingredient lists are on the products but they are positioned to the rear so that they do not distract from the attractiveness of the food for sale.


All labels are positioned behind the product, whether it is a salad or a sandwich.    

Fresh Fruit
Fresh Fruit – No Labels Showing 

Another thing I really liked about the store was the very open and uncluttered lay-out. Aisles were typically quite wide and easily maneuvered through.

Whole Foods Check Out
Whole Foods Check Out

The check out aisles were no exception. Easy to maneuver through.

Express Checkout
Express Checkout

I also appreciate this type of an attitude – 8ish items.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my experience at Whole Foods Market. No, sadly this will not be my go-to grocery store for when I need a cart full of groceries. But I will admit that in the past I had somewhat derisively referred to Whole Foods Market as “Whole Paycheque Foods” because of my perception that they were so expensive.

There is no denying that they stock lots of expensive items but I do see that they also have many products that are at an accessible price point.

I enjoyed the experience and I will be returning to the store soon to sample as many of the prepared foods that I can. I will report back once I do.

Whole Foods Market in Burnaby is located at 4420 Lougheed Highway.