Reviving Traditional Food Practises

Reviving Traditional Food Practises
Reviving Traditional Food Practises

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 8 of Indigenous Food Challenge

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Challenge Is On!


Well, it’s been one week. It’s funny because all of the psychological build up seems to have over-inflated any concerns or worries that I had heading in to this challenge. On a personal level the first week came and went very easily. We had our share of challenges. School lunches and making a speedy meal after a long and hectic day proved to be among the biggest challenges this week.

Also, this week I traveled out of town twice – I spent one evening facilitating a community discussion on Forestry Monitoring in Clayoquot Sound in Tofino and I went to Vancouver for two nights and two days for work with the First Nations Health Council. Prior to the Indigenous Food Challenge I thought that the out of town business trips were going to be the hardest parts. In fact the trips were a breeze. In the case of the Tofino trip I neglected to eat before I left and also forgot to pack some food for the trip but with the help of a lot of water the time flew by and I made it home to have some left over salmon. The next day I prepared for my trip to Vancouver and packed an abundance of food (a can of smoked salmon, a can of moose stew, smoked moose meat, apples, salsa and organic tortilla chips). The first evening went by with ease.

The following morning I had smoked salmon for breakfast and made my way to the meeting. I allowed my self to drink peppermint tea (my one weakness) and at lunch that day I went to my room and grabbed some of my food. I brought some smoked moose meat down and shared it with some of my coworkers. The smell of the meat attracted a lot of attention and it was great to be able to engage in some interesting conversation about indigenous foods and the current status of First Nations health. One of the women sitting at my table was from Salteau First Nation. When she discovered that the moose came from her territory it immediately brought delight. It was a treat for her because she has been living in the Vancouver area and has not had access to traditional foods for quite some time.

That evening I found a market that sold fresh local seafood. I dined on crab, prawns, salmon pepperoni and a salad made from local greens and vegetables. The rest of my stay in Vancouver went by quickly. All in all the out of town trips were a piece of cake… or maybe dried fruit.

After returning home for the remainder of the week I became innovative with our menu. I made a buffalo and wild turkey meatloaf. It was a big hit with the kids. I also made a wild meat chilli with kidney beans that I soaked overnight and I also made wholegrain flour, blueberry pancakes for the kids and I experimented with corn flour and corn meal to make tortilla shells. Meals have become increasingly easier to prepare and Nitanis and I have started preparing larger meals and canning them for quick and convenient use later. We have also introduced some additional non-indigenous food items into our diet. In hindsight we did not prepare nearly enough fruit and vegetables. To supplement this we have introduced fruit and vegetables from a local farm market. Not all of the fruit and vegetables come directly from this area but they do all come from BC.

Throughout the earlier part of this week I noticed that I was feeling a little more tired than usual. This, I’m sure, is a result of the change of diet. Most likely my body is still undergoing a detoxification from all of the sugary and starchy foods and Creator know what other ingredients. By the end of week one I have been feeling much more energetic. I feel a little guilty for not engaging in as much physical activity as I ought to but I did still manage to lose five pounds through the first week. However, the snowfall at the end of this week has given me a good work out. Weight loss is an added bonus through this challenge that I’m sure will continue but the real reward has been in the overall great feeling that I have experienced over the past few days. It is great to feel a sense of confidence and comfort with the foods that our family is eating. I can feel this change already taking affect throughout my body and in my mind and spirit.

My goal for this week is to begin engaging in more physical activity.


First of all I would like to say that I have never stuck to a diet in my life. In the last 10 years I have managed to gain over 60 lbs and had 5+ kids during that time. For the first time in my life I have struggled with being fat. This has changed the way that I hold and see myself even the style of clothes that I wore was different. I was never too hard on myself due to the fact I was either lactating or pregnant over these last few years. But there were moments I would catch myself in the reflection of a window or mirror and think, “Who is that person?” My life was so busy with work and kids that to try and do a diet change or workout just wasn’t something that I could easily do. I needed help and with this challenge I am so inspired and feel in my soul that it is important. Usually when it involves my kids I will do the right thing to be healthy. An example would be quitting smoking. This I could not do on my own but when I was pregnant I did it for my baby and since I was pregnant every 2 years I completely quit after the 3rd baby. I was stupid and lit up after I walked out of the emergency hospital in Vancouver and continued to smoke till I got pregnant again.

But I still needed the support of my partner and it was only till he completely quit that I finally did and we haven’t smoked since. The weight and our lifestyle were too convenient and it was starting to show with our kids gaining weight and acting hyperactive. The death of my dad has made us work even harder to create discussion around the dinner table to talk about what is good and what isn’t. The kids have been great this first week though there has been a couple of moans and groans here and there. Overall, it has been a great success! I too have lost 3 lbs from when I stepped on the scale at 2 months pregnant and I am now 7 months pregnant with my 7th child so I have probably gained 10 lbs of baby weight. So this means after this baby is born I will be smaller then when I started!

The trickiest part is trying to pack seven kids lunches and trying to figure out something new everyday. This has proven to be a real challenge, but we are managing. Tonight’s dinner I made goose for the first time, it was amazing! And right now I have chili in the pressure cooker for those days we are too busy or just plain tired. Nighttime is when I have my sweet cravings. Before, when the kids were in bed, I would take out my chocolate from my hiding spot and have my fix… so for those nights I now eat frozen blueberries and it does the trick.

I did go through a drive-thru this week (guilty). I had to get up early and pick up my sister out of town and hadn’t had time to prepare anything… well my coffee most importantly. This is one thing I could not give up so I went to the drive through and ordered myself a soy latté. It was so good yet I will make an effort to make this a once-in-a-while treat. When I saw my sister she had a plate of deep fried oysters, fish and chips and a nice cup of coffee with cream and sugar to reward me for making the trip. I thanked her and declined her offer though I was wondering if I should just peel the coating off and eat the oyster anyway. I felt bad for my trip to the drive-thru so that was my splurge for the week.

I want to continue to take away bad habits we let our family fall into and put more positive activities in place instead. My next goal is to eliminate T.V. and video and computer games or at least limit the time that it is taking up with the kids.

My goal for this week is too try to mix up our meals and try new recipes and add some physical activity.

Kalilah (10 yrs old):

Week one has been very tough for the big change of foods. I enjoy eating a lot of the indigenous foods that we have. I miss eating burgers and the smell of fast food. I like the dried fruit, salmon and non-wheat bread that I have in my lunches. Now I’ve realized the change is helping. When I ate the old food that we used to have I didn’t feel good. My stomache would act up but it feels a lot better now. It’s better to eat the indigenous foods of our ancestors.

This week my brothers and I went to grandma and papas house. We ate spaghetti, chicken with hot sauce, bread and juice. I felt a little guilty. After, my mom and dad talked to them about our indigenous foods challenge. We noticed how they’re really trying hard to help us in our indigenous food diet when we visit them. The next night when I slept over I could tell that they were really trying because we had fruit, a tiny bit of ice cream and natural juice instead of chips, pop, lots of ice cream and who knows what else. We also went to my cousin Coda’s birthday. We had turkey dinner and birthday cake for dessert. After that I started to feel sick. I didn’t feel good. My belly felt really bad. I could tell that I was more used to the indigenous foods. Whenever I ate other foods it made me feel a little sick.

My goal for this week is to not go out of my way to visit other people to eat other foods.

Qwyatseek (8 yrs old):

My favourite indigenous foods have been goose, moose and fish. I’m not really used to all of the food that we have been eating but it’s getting easier. I really liked going to Grandma and Papas and having some treats. I know that the food we are eating now is important because we are first nation.
My goal is to try to enjoy the indigenous foods we are eating more. That’s it… good bye… thanks for listening.

Nikosis (6 yrs old):

My favourite indigenous foods have been fish and apples. I like the healthy pancakes that dad made for us. It was really yummy with the apple sauce. The only food that I miss is pineapples. I had one pop when I went to grandma and papas house but it was too sweet and sour. I just like water now. I liked the birthday cake at Coda’s birthday.

Tseeqwatin (4 yrs old):

The digenous foods I like are fish and rice… uh pizza pops… but pizza pops aren’t digenous food. I liked the pancakes. I have been crying to eat pizza, drink juice and I really, really want bacon. Moose meat is yummy. That’s it.

Tseeqwatin out of all of the kids has had the hardest time adjusting. In the past he loved bacon, pizza and fast food. I don’t think that one day went by where he didn’t ask about one or more of these foods. Even though he craves these foods he is always mindful that the ‘digenous food is good for us.’ Some foods go over a lot easier than others for Tseeqwatin. He enjoys salmon and wlld rice with balsamic vinegar and a little soy sauce. He misses drinking juice but has been managing with water and cold tea. Out of all of the kids he enjoyed the visit with his grandparents the most. He will continue to have some challenges as we go along but each day gets a little easier. Everyday he will ask for a different that is not in our diet such as hotdogs and pizza pops.

Chyyah (2 yrs old):

Chyyah is the youngest and pretty much goes with the flow. She had a visit to the dentist this week to assess some teeth that have severe tooth decay. Unfortunately, we did not get to it soon enough so she will require some further dental work. She is now completely off milk in her bottle and drinking huice. She drinks water and tea and uses honey sparingly. She enjoys eating fruit so she has made sure that our refrigerator and cupboards are stocked full of fruit. We have made an exception for Chyyah and have allowed organic bananas and grapes into her diet. Like the rest of the kids she really likes salmon and wild rice. She has also enjoyed the non-wheat bread that gets toasted for her.


  1. Tseeqwatin sounds great! And it'll be tough for a while, but he'll come around. Good luck with everything -- we're all out here rooting for you.

  2. I really admire your commitment to this change of lifestyle for you and your family Nitanis. It seems as the adjustment was the most difficult but in the long run I suppose it will be easier. And I really like the teachings that you bring to your family, hats off to you all. May the Creator continue to guide you along this path.

  3. grains and whole grains are not indigenous to the Americas, and therefore, not part of a native diet. And grains and wheats are part of the problem with the high diabetes rates amongst native north americans.