feeling hungry?

you’re in luck this weekend! Taste of Calgary, the city’s most appetizing outdoor festival of food and drinks, is back this weekend for its 21st year at eau claire’s festival plaza. open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. until sunday, august 12, 2018, the festival features over forty of the this city’s most unique restaurants and beverage companies.

each booth offers bite-sized menu items so you can try a wide variety of nibbles before getting too full. sampling tickets are $1 each, and you can buy them at numerous booths throughout the festival grounds.

you’ll find classic canadiana alongside international cuisines that’ll treat your taste buds to african, east indian, italian, and asian flavours – to name a few.

now, let’s get eating! here are a few of my favourite treats that i discovered on day one of Taste of Calgary:

kokom’s bannock kitchen – cinnamon sugar infused bannock

3 tickets: yes, i started with dessert! i first tasted bannock while learning to make it in brownies as part of my cooking patch. the simple dough has such a rich heritage, and it was nice to see a modernized adaptation available. there are many flavours and styles available at kokom’s booth, such as cheese, blueberry and hot dog! i went for cinnamon sugar – a classic – and if you wanted to make it more indulgent you can take a tip from ryan (mr. fabulous) and smother it with the margarine and extra cinnamon sugar provided!

holy smoke bbq – brisket slider with mini cornbread

5 tickets: really great barbecue brings back memories of my favourite island in the south of georgia, and christmas spent on the beach in the sunshine. i have been on a search for a great barbecue sandwich ever since! this brisket slider from holy smoke is right up there! usually, you see pulled pork – you’ll find that at Taste, too – but the pulled brisket is really a delicious treat. topped only with a bit of homemade barbecue sauce, they aren’t hiding behind any fancy toppings. this sandwich is simply delicious!

the mini cornbread was good, but i didn’t think it was needed. the sandwich is the star of the show and (i can’t believe i’m going to say this) more carbs weren’t needed.

holy smoke bbq – watermelon mint feta salad

3 tickets: while you’re at holy smoke bbq getting your brisket slider, also order the watermelon mint feta salad. it is almost 40 degrees out, and you’re going to need something refreshing. this gluten-free and vegetarian dish hits the spot. it’s cooling and delicious, with a fresh, crisp bite from the mint. a salad that’s so much more than just a salad.

flower & wolf – grilled corn on the cob

3 tickets: to me, corn screams summer! boiled and topped with a little bit of butter and some salt, and i am a happy girl. sweet corn on the cob is one of my favourite things to eat. flower & wolf – the new restaurant in the sheraton suites calgary eau claire – takes this summer classic and heightens it with chilli lime butter, huitlacoche aioli, and cilantro. that lime isn’t just for garnish, make sure to squeeze it all over the corn!

empanada queen – cheese empanada

4 tickets: what is better than cheese wrapped in delicious pastry and deep fried? nothing! while empanada queen offers many flavours, i stuck with the traditional. hot and gooey cheese melting out is so satisfying and ask for the side of salsa for an extra treat for your taste buds.

family squeezed lemonade – strawberry sterling forever lemonade

5 tickets: did i mention how hot it is outside? this is calgary, it’s not supposed to be so toasty! while i’m drinking plenty of water, this incredible concoction of strawberries, lemons and fresh thyme helped cool me off, too. thanks to their packaging – no cup and straw – i was able to take this with me on the go as i headed to undrcard for a boxing class, and it didn’t spill all over my backpack.

if you’re not feeling hungry, or are on a tight budget, admission to the festival is free and includes a taste of calgary’s best musical acts.

i’m headed back today. see you there!

this post is sponsored by Bayer. to make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

it’s no secret that i’m passionate about educating women about their bodies and their health. it’s always been important, but even more so now in a world where we are constantly faced with many new pressures and responsibilities. it can be tricky trying to balance work, healthy living, family and a social life. whether it’s health-related or a personal struggle, it’s comforting to know we all go through the same things.

because we are all in this together, sharing our knowledge and experiences with each other is a powerful way to learn about our health and well-being. i’ve put together a few “good-to-know” facts about women’s health to get conversations started.

stress case

are you feeling a little stressed? it seems to be something we wear as a badge of honour nowadays. while some stress is normal, too much routine stress can take a toll on your body. if you’ve been having trouble with your digestion, frequent headaches, sleeplessness or just feeling irritable, stress may be the culprit. take a look at your day-to-day routine to see if there are things you can do to reduce your stress levels. carve out time that’s just for you or making a conscious choice to say “no” when you mean it. “no” is a complete sentence, and it feels damn good to use it as such.

hairy situation

for many women, hair represents a big part of our personal identity. after my PCOS diagnosis, i finally had a reason why mine was thin, fine and falling out at a rapid pace. at least the hair on my head, it causes hair everywhere else to grow wild! it has been something i’ve struggled with for the last few years. if you’re also experiencing thinning and brittle hair, try a supplement like Priorin. named the world’s best-selling nonprescription hair and beauty supplement in 2017, Priorin can help you achieve visibly fuller and stronger hair in as early as 12 weeks, so you can look and feel great.

PRIORIN® improve hair growth

lady business

did you know the common yeast infection is actually caused by some of the organisms present in the vagina? lucky us, right?! having a weak immune system, pregnancy and oral birth-control pills are a few things that make women more prone to yeast infections. Though it might be common, it shouldn’t be left untreated. Canesten’s CanesOral Combi-Pak is a single-dose oral treatment that you can take any time, anywhere and the external cream gives you fast relief of itching and burning.

take the test

one of the most basic pillars of your self-care is health monitoring and talking to your doctor about which tests and exams you will need at each new stage of life. pap smears, breast exams, skin checks, dental check-ups and eye exams are examples of basic tests you should talk to your doctor about.

mental reset

taking care of our mental health is equally as important as the physical. just as you would give yourself an at-home breast exam, take the time to give yourself a mental check-in. feeling well means different things to different people, but some things might actually apply to all of us: in order to thrive, we all need a good sense of self, and we all need purpose, contribution, hope, resilience and belonging.

this post is sponsored by Bayer. to make sure these products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

if i could plan a perfect sunday it would include mountains, movement, relaxation, great food, and even better company. 

knowing this love of mine, i was invited by Pursuit and Fairmont Banff Springs to experience the ultimate day trip to banff – one, for me, all accessible by transit. 

the day requires an early wake-up call, but for the rockies it’s never hard to jump out of bed. at 6 a.m. i boarded the calgary to banff Pursuit coach bus that left from the Fairmont Paliser in downtown calgary, which is only a quick walk from my condo. 

after a few more city stops, and one in canmore, we arrived in banff at 8 a.m. i jumped off the shuttle and immediately on to the #1 ROAM banff city bus that takes you to the base of sulpher mountain. 

i love taking the gondola up the mountain to the interpretive centre at the summit; if you have a bad fear of heights know the enclosed car for four is a sturdy and comfortable vessel. the scenic cableway ride takes about 15 minutes and brings you to viewing decks and hiking trails at the summit.

our sunday activities started with a complimentary yoga class at the top of sulphur courtesy of lululemon. free to everyone, this weekly class only requires you to register online and make your way to the top. you can take the gondola, as we did, or you could hike up the mountain, too. if you choose to hike, you’d have to leave the city earlier than 6 a.m., and you couldn’t take transit unless you went up the night before.

located on the fourth level observation deck of the banff gondola interpretive centre, mountaintop yoga is just as dreamy as you’d assume it to be.

360-degree views of the gorgeous canadian rockies is your backdrop for a one-hour vinyasa class. every sunday, class is led by a different yoga instructor from the community. they bring their unique style to the summit practice. thankfully for my creaky bones, our instructor was an osteopath and paid specific attention to alignment and functional movement. you can bring your own mat if you have one, but don’t worry if you don’t because lululemon will supply one for you to borrow.

after class, we snapped a few photos for the ‘gram. (#duh) and took some time to explore the interpretive centre and summit before lunch.

morning really is the best time to visit the gondola because it’s less busy. we walked along the boardwalk to the summit point taking in the beautiful views of banff below.

the walk gave me some time to get to know the five other women on this day trip with me; we chatted and strolled in the beautiful sunshine, and i obsessively asked everyone if they put their sunscreen on. it was a really hot day, and UV damage is really real. yes, i’m the most non-mom mom you’ve ever met.

the two-kilometre out-and-back stroll really worked up our appetite, and we headed back to the interpretive centre for lunch. on the third floor, you’ll find sky bistro.

perched on the summit of sulphur, sky bistro is the dining sanctuary in the sky. they pair the grandeur of the rocky mountains with a distinctly canadian menu that features the unique flavours of canada through a handpicked selection of regionally-sourced local meats, produce and ingredients. it’s all about indulgence at 7,486 ft.!

everything on the menu sounded delicious. i opted for a watermelon salad, and seafood chowder made with ocean wise seafood. it’s nice to know the restaurant takes sustainability and global conservation to heart, especially since they are located in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

back at the bottom of the mountain, we carpooled over to the Fairmont Banff Springs. the trip can also be made on ROAM transit, but when someone offers you a ride, you take it!

the world famous hotel stands as a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of banff and is known as canada’s “castle in the rockies”. it is dripping in luxury and beauty. it’s more than just a hotel, the resort offers visitors a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter, the award-winning european-style willow stream spa, and authentically local dining experiences.

while i’m not much of a golfer or a skier, those last two amenities sound right up my alley!

“a day at the spa” isn’t something i’ve indulged in before. i followed the lead of the other ladies, trading my yoga pants for swimsuit and topping it all with a plush robe – then got lost two or three times in the changeroom looking for the exit.

once i finally made it out to the pools, i was in awe. reminiscent of the hot springs that beckoned travellers over 100 years ago, the pulsating waterfalls and the mineral pool rejuvenate tired muscles and soothe troubled spirits. the intensity of oxygen inspires clarity of thought and renews strength of purpose.

willow stream spa brings to life the unique healing powers of the alpine air and the sacred waters. drawing energy from the mountains, the quiet sanctuary helps balance the rhythms of your body to reawaken your senses.

i dipped in pool after pool, smearing my eye make up (of course), lounging under the waterfalls and soaking in the outdoor hot tub.

this type of luxury doesn’t have to break the bank. weekday (mon-thu after 4pm) and weekend (fri-sun after 5pm) happy-hour access is available for $49. and twilight weekday (mon-thu) spa access is available after 7pm for only $35.

after hours of relaxing enjoyment, we headed back to the women’s changeroom to sit in the sauna before showering and getting beautiful for the rest of the day. i reluctantly handed over my robe to tour around the grand hotel. large and impressive, and eerily beautiful, the word haunted may be thrown around in hushed tones.

the tour ended at the newly renovated the vermilion room.

good looking and bold – just as i like my men – the beautiful brasserie has an effortless charm, bustling atmosphere and a menu to delight in. the kitchen serves dishes with french elegance and canadian charm. while we were still stuffed from lunch, there is always room for dessert!

profiteroles à la crème pâtissière and tarte aux pommes arrived at our table and it took all my restraint to snap a few photos before nibbling on one of the chocolatey creampuffs.
and of course, what is a brasserie without a drink? the vermillion room serves an intriguing wine list, your favourite beer on tap and a cocktail (or two).
to my delight, they also have an extensive non-alcoholic cocktail list. as a light drinker, it felt nice to order something other than a water or be offered pop when asking for non-alcoholic drinks.
i had the vermillion cooler, made of house green tea syrup, beet, and house-made lemonade. it was a mixture of tangy and earthy, while still being refreshing. they also make a booze-free G&T with SEEDLIP – the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit.

i spent the rest of the way wandering around the town of banff, popping into the little local shops and enjoying the sunshine before taking the on-it transit bus back to calgary.

i arrived home tired but blissful. and ready to do it all again!

thank you Pursuit and Fairmont Banff Springs for the perfect sunday.