Natural Health Food Stores in BC

Updated November 2013:

Sometimes I am asked, “Where can I find organic and gluten-free food?” I have listed some of the stores in Surrey, Vancouver and other communities in BC below. When I was dealing with food intolerances in 2003, many of these stores did not exist. Now you can find organic vegetables, gluten-free bread, agave nectar, chia seeds, and more at many local Price Smarts, Save-on-Foods, Extra Foods, Superstores, IGAs, Safeways and Costco. London Drugs carries many good products for people with wheat-intolerance now as well. But the biggest variety is often at natural health food stores.

choiceswr2Health food stores are a good place to find less common foods (quinoa pasta, spelt flour, tapioca flour) so that you can add variety to your diet and avoid foods you are intolerant to.  They are also a great place to buy healthier versions of some packaged foods.  Keep in mind that even though they are selling it in a health food or natural food store, it may not be healthy for you or anyone else. Read the ingredients and ask questions if you’d like to learn more.  Some of the stores below (like Choices and Donald’s Market) are regular grocery stores that have a large selection of organic goods on the shelf and a variety of organic fruit and vegetables.

In Surrey/Langley/White Rock:

In Vancouver:

In Port Coquitlam/Coquitlam/Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge:

In Burnaby/New Westminster/Richmond/Ladner:

In North Vancouver/West Vancouver/Squamish/Whistler:

  • Whole Foods – in West Van, I love stopping here after taking the ferry back from the Island
  • Nourish Market – Lynn Valley

In Abbotsford/Chilliwack/Mission:

In the Okanagan:

Vancouver Island:


Sources of more:

HANS directory

Please let me know – what stores haven’t I included?  Which have opened up recently or closed down?

Tracking Exercise and Food Habits with an iPhone app

MyFitnessPal app
iPhone app to track exercise and food

When you are ready to change a habit, it is easiest to see how you are doing if you track your progress.  If you set a goal of going to they gym four times a week, writing down the days that you go will help you to appreciate your efforts when you are doing what you planned, and motivate you to go one more time if you have not yet met your goal for the week.

Two iPhone apps that help:

MyFitnessPal allows you to record your exercise, water intake, and food that you’ve eaten. It calculates how many calories you have burned in exercise compared to how many calories you have eaten.  Although weight loss is not a simple math equation, it can help you become more aware of what you are doing.  The library of food choices is excellent.  I was able to type in Key Lime Larabar and Happy Planet Thai Coconut Soup, and found that another user had already entered the calories, protein grams and vitamin percentages.  There is a social component if you choose to use it, to allow you to add friends or strangers to cheer you on as you develop new habits.

Diet & Food Tracker by SparkPeople allows you to do similar logging, but doesn’t have quite as good a library of food choices.  They have a large group of contributors to their main SparkPeople website, with lots of inspiring ideas.

The apps are also available for Android phones and Blackberry.  You can also use just your computer to track your progress and connect with other people.

Have you used either of these?  If so, what is your experience with them?

Unhealthy Yogurt

Dairyland Cool Ones YogurtYogurt is thought of as a healthy food.  It provides healthy bacteria, protein and calcium.  Unfortunately most yogurt available in the grocery stores is not what I would consider healthy.  When my older daughter was young I bought her yogurt tubes.  I don’t buy them any more because of the food colouring and sugar in them.  I believe that yogurt is no longer a healthy food when you add sugar and colour.  Then you might as well be eating candy or cookies.

The bacteria in the yogurt helps keep our system in balance and helps us avoid sinus, ear and candida infections.  The bacteria also decreases the amount of lactose in yogurt, which means that yogurt is easier to digest than milk.  In my opinion, to buy the best yogurt:


  • artificial food colouring (“colour” as the last ingredient, Yellow #5, Red #40, Tartrazine)
  • sugar (on the ingredient list, not the nutritional panel that shows “sugars”)
  • aspartame, Splenda and other artificial sugars
  • additives or extra ingredients like cornstarch


  • plain yogurt
  • yogurt sweetened with fruit juice
  • yogurt sweetened with organic sugar
  • yogurt without colour, or coloured with beet juice or annatto

I buy plain yogurt and add flavour to it myself.  My kids like yogurt that is ready to go, so for them I buy:

  • Dairyland’s Nature’s Treat (sweetened with fruit juice)
  • Dairyland’s Cool Ones with DHA (sweetened with fruit juice)
  • Western Family Classics (sweetened with fruit juice and honey); does have “modified” starches and skim milk powder

More reading on the health benefits of yogurt:

Reasons Why Yogurt is a Top Health Food by Dr. Sears
Sugars in Yogurt

In this blog post I have been writing about dairy yogurt, but the same information applies to goat yogurt, soy yogurt and coconut milk yogurt.

Healthy Exercise Goals

This blog was written by guest blogger Maria Ginsbourg.Happy healthy woman

A while back, at a college gym, a trainer asked me what was my fitness goal. I told him I wanted to be healthy at eighty. He cocked his eyebrow.

“So you want to lose weight?”

“No. I just want to be healthy.”

“So toning?”

He didn’t get it, and I’m not surprised. Our culture is obsessed with appearances. Popular men’ s magazines say Get Ripped. Women’s magazines say Lose Weight. Considering the myriad of benefits that exercise offers, focusing on appearances seems a little – dare I say it – superficial. After all, if ‘Getting Ripped’ or “Losing Weight” are our only goals, then what stops us from trying fad diets, extreme workouts, and magic pills?

What if our exercise goals went a little deeper?

(The links take you to external sites, which provide information on achieving these very worthwhile goals.)

Live Longer and Healthier

Have a Stronger Mind & Spirit

Be healthier now

Improve your relationships

Some people say it doesn’t matter why you exercise as long as you do it. I believe that if people exercise for the right reasons, they’re more likely to have fun, stay safe and stick to their exercise regimen.

New Health Food store in South Surrey

Antony & Sons Organic Food StoreAfter visiting my naturopath Dr. Briana Sinatra, I stopped in at a new health food store that has not yet officially opened.  Almost everything in their store is organic and some is unique to the area.  It is called Antony & Sons, and is located in Elgin Corners – the corner of 32nd & 140th in South Surrey.  I recommend that you stop by if you live in the area or if you are heading out to Crescent Beach.  They have excellent prices on fresh organic produce (98c/lb for organic oranges!) and great prices on the food on the shelf.  In addition to the oranges and some basics, I bought some dried tart cherries, which I have only seen in health food stores south of the border.  They also have unpasteurized raw almonds, which are hard to find.  It is a family-run store with very knowledgeable and friendly owners.

Free Exercise Videos Online

This post was written by guest blogger Maria Ginsbourg Exercise tv's bootcamp with Kendell Hogan

My name is Maria. This year, I decided to forgo a gym membership to save money.  When it’s sunny or cloudy, I bike, run, walk or roller blade. When it rains or snows, I follow free online exercise videos. The Internet has hundreds of them, and they help me stay fit and on budget. Here’s a list of my favorite websites:

Exercise TV

Exercise TV has hundreds of instructional videos, and they come in a wide variety: cardio, weight lifting, bootcamp, dancing and yoga.  For cardio fans, I recommend Kendell Hogan’s Explosive CardioBootcamp Cardio Burn, and Power Cardio Burn. People who want a low-impact cardio routine can Walk a Mile with the always-smiling Leslie Sansone. For yoga fans, I suggest Tom Morley’s Thighs Hips and Buns Yoga, Maura Barclay’s Yoga Sculpt and Meaghan Townsend’s Beginner Yoga. Exercise TV has a number of strength training videos as well. Cindy Whitmarsh has videos for Incredible Abs and Tank Top Arms. John Spencer Ellis has a strength training video for the Lower Body.

 Yoga Yak

YogaYak has over a dozen free yoga classes, which range from 30 to 60  minutes. I often suffer from stress-induced shoulder and back pain, and so I love Michael Riel’s Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain. Diane Jacobs’ Hatha Yoga Flow 2 is great for spinal elongation.

Yoga Today

Yoga Today offers a free video every week. You have to register to see it, but the sign-up process is quick and painless. Their videos are set in beautiful outdoor locations, and the teachers often offer some words of wisdom. Their classes are often challenging and range from 50 to 60 minutes.

Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev is an Indian yoga guru. It took me a little while to get past the chanting, but I was in a great mood for days after doing his classes on Pranaayam (yogic breathing) and Yoga for Active Meditation. Meditation and yogic breathing help me feel more positive, patient and focused. Breathing exercises and meditation are great activities for people who want to exercise but can’t work out due to an injury.

Sadhana Vinyasa Flow

One thing that I missed about working out in a gym were the long 90 minute yoga classes. Fortunately, I found one such class online. It’s called a Sadhana Vinyasa Flow.  It’s a gentle class, in which the movement follow the breath.


Last but not least, Youtube has channel called YogaMazing. The host, Chaz, creates truly interactive yoga shows. He invites viewers to submit requests  and tapes them.

Hopefully these videos inspire you to exercise.  I’m sure your body will thank you.

Quick Healthy Snacks

Here are some more ideas for healthier snacks:

  • unsalted nuts (buy in the bulk section of the grocery store)
  • Wasa rye crisp crackers with sundried tomato hummus
  • Carrot sticks, celery, cucumber, red pepper, cauliflower; with dip or hummus
  • hard-boiled (organic) egg with dash of sea salt
  • pre-cut cantaloupe or pineapple
  • unsweetened applesauce (available in a jar or in small cups; berry and mango flavours too)
  • raspberries
  • panda licorice (sweetened with licorice root, not sugar)
  • homemade dried fruit and nut mix (use unsweetened, unsulphered fruit and raw nuts)
  • plain yogurt topped with berries (fresh or thawed from frozen)

Bean Quesadillas for Kids and Adults

When my older daughter was on an anti-Candida diet several years ago to clear up some health problems, I needed to get creative to find foods she could take to school to eat and that she was willing to eat.  To improve her health she was temporarily avoiding wheat, corn, dairy, ham, beef, white sugar, food colouring and other foods.  The school does not allow peanuts or nuts because some kids in the school have severe allergies.  One of the meals she liked (and still likes) is bean and cheese quesidillas.


1 rice tortilla, thawed (either in the fridge, or on the frying pan before the oil is added)
grated  cheese (soy cheese, goat cheese or other cheese)
canned Romano beans (drained and rinsed)
cilantro (optional – my daughter didn’t want it)
dash cumin (optional – my husband and I like this)

Heat frying pan on medium.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the hot pan.  Add thawed rice tortilla.  Spoon beans onto one side and top with grated cheese.  If desired, add cumin and/or cilantro.  Fold tortilla in half over beans and cheese.  Squish down with potato masher or frying pan flipper.  Wait until it browns, then flip over.  Remove when both sides are lightly browned and crisp.  Cut into three triangles and enjoy!

Avoiding Sadness with Food

head in handsIt is natural to want to avoid pain.  We usually do not like feeling sad, lonely, overwhelmed or anxious.  It becomes a bigger problem though when we eat because we are feeling sad, even though we are not hungry.  Have you ever grabbed a bag of chips, something chocolate, or a baked treat because you thought it might make you feel good?  It may not even have been at a conscious level.  Perhaps you were looking for the sugar rush, the taste you enjoyed last time, the carbohydrate high, or the memory of something that comforted you as a child.  Unfortunately the pleasure only lasts a short time and then the feelings that you haven’t dealt with come back again.  The food you ate may end up adding to your size.

Many people avoid their feelings with:

  • eating
  • shopping
  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol
  • taking drugs

Healthier ways to deal with your feelings:

  • noticing what you are feeling, acknowledging it and letting it go
  • tapping on your upper chest with your fingers where Tarzan used to pound his chest and breathing deeply
  • going for a walk
  • laughing with friends or at a tv show
  • using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • talk to a friend
  • write in a journal
  • paint, draw, create