Good chocolate for a better Easter

If a bunny is going to hop through your home this weekend and lay chocolate eggs in your living room (I think that’s how it works?), might I suggest you request better eggs made of better chocolate?

As busy, probably (definitely) tired people, it can be hard to find time to do a little extra, or to give a bit back. Our time is finite, and an infinite number of things will swell to fill what little we have.

For me, work and writing and wrangling Toddler and Nick are each their own full-time thing, and 24 hours is not always enough time to do all of everything I have to do. That’s why, for me, the simplest way to feel like I am making a difference in the world is to make responsible choices when I’m shopping by looking for and supporting better options for goods like chocolate, coffee, sugar, and produce, among other things.

According to World Vision Canada, “a recent Ipsos Reid poll revealed that more than half of Canadians believe they don’t consume any products made by children.” But, “there are literally dozens of household items that we buy daily that may ‘contain’ child labour.”

Fortunately, consumer demand for better products makes – and in many cases, has made – better products more widely available. Whether you’re shopping high end, or, like me, just hurriedly cramming chocolate bunnies in your basket at the drugstore while buying toilet paper (because adulthood is 80 per cent about buying more toilet paper), you have more Fair Trade, responsibly sourced options than ever.

According to World Vision, “currently about 95 per cent of chocolate sold around the world is not certified to be free from the use of forced, child or trafficked labour.” However. However! “Some of the largest chocolate manufacturers, including Mars, Ferrero and Lindt have already committed to sourcing only ethical, child-labour free chocolate by 2020.” That’s all you, by the way. And us. It’s people demanding better that’s pushing corporate interest in more ethical, more sustainable practices.

Chocolate is an easy place to start. Look for the Fair Trade logo – Camino’s on board, and some Cadbury products are too. I bought last year’s Camino bunnies at Shopper’s Drug Mart, and they were maybe a dollar more than competing, non-certified brands. Buying better consumer goods is an easy place to start; if you haven’t started, start this Easter.

For more information on good chocolate, check out World Vision Canada’s Good Chocolate Guide. The guide makes it easy to shop, highlighting specific brands whose products carry World Vision’s seal of approval. For more information on better products in general, check out

And if you’re looking for other easy ways to support kids and keep them in school and out of the poverty cycle, consider child sponsorship. Sponsorship protects kids from getting into dangerous agricultural work in the first place, and guarantees them education, better nutrition and leadership opportunities in their communities.

This Easter, think of the children! Demand better for them, both at home and not-so-far away. You’ll feel good about your purchase, and the chocolate will definitely taste better.

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This post was not sponsored. 


I think this has been my weirdest week on record, weirder than the time I was 20 and dyed myself and my hair orange at the same time and didn’t realize it. My ears are burning, and it’s not a tanning bed this time.

(If you’re wondering how you can dye yourself with a tanning bed, you can’t really. But you can turn yourself orange with a combination of tanning beds and self tanner, and then you can’t hide your shame.)


It’s like real life is happening in parallel with this other life I like the idea of, this alternate reality where I get to tell people stories and convince them to love kimchi and tuna and maybe even Spam. Of course, regular life is unyielding, and so on top of the euphoria of everything I ever wanted coming to pass, I am still wiping butts and folding laundry and finding mistakes in press releases I wrote or trying to book meetings with researchers at work.

And I know I wrote the book, and I knew that it was being edited and then designed and I understood that it would be printed and then I even had copies in my hands, and it all still felt like I could, I don’t know, get out of it maybe? Like if I panicked, maybe I could, I don’t know, stop the presses? Somehow in my mind it was going to be a real book but also maybe no one would ever know about it and I could escape judgment.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that none of it felt really, really real until this week, when people who weren’t my immediate family started getting their copies.

And then started making the recipes.

And then, well: I saw it, for real, in a bookstore I go to probably twice per week.

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Aaaaahhhh! There it is!!!

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So, here we go. Stuff’s happening now. I’ve had an interview with Megaphone, and with the Vancouver Sun. My schedule for April is filling up.

I’ll keep you up to date as more dates get booked and interviews or reviews come out. In the meantime, thank you for your support and enthusiasm and for buying copies and telling me how much you like the book! Hardly anyone tells me they like my press releases so this is a kind of gratification I’ve never known.

Blackberry frozen kefir

I keep thinking I’d like to take up embroidery (in the style of Judi Dench), because it seems like such a normal hobby to have. And because gut bacteria is starting to seem like a weird thing to dwell on and Nick thinks that “healthy poops for the whole world” is not a hobby, but the kind of thing I should talk to a mental health professional about. I think Nick is ungrateful.

Yes. Embroidery. That seems like something I could talk to people about. Because right now, I’m talking a lot about kefir and lacto-fermentation and gut flora and getting a lot more side-eye than even I’m used to. Every day, it seems, some study out of somewhere implicates intestinal bacteria in some seemingly unconnected disease or disorder, demonstrating that the relationship between our health and what we eat is increasingly complex.

A lot of nutrition information tries to sum up healthy eating in a few easily digestible tips and tricks. (Wink.) This is, I think, where phenomena like “super foods” come from – the idea that optimal nutrition is based on a simple formula, and if you just eat a carefully selected limited number of things, you will live forever. That’s a nice idea, and I can see why people are into it. Unfortunately, there is no simple one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. Your best shot at a healthy diet is a diet that includes a little bit of everything and nothing to excess. Which is great, because I don’t think I could live a lifestyle that excluded a reasonable amount of Taco Bell.

Our weird health kick is kefir, which I make because making yogurt involves too many steps. You just fill a jar with some kefir grains and milk, then strain off the grains and start all over again with new milk, either refrigerating the kefir for consumption or secondarily fermenting it with citrus peels for even better taste. We drink kefir because it makes our bellies feel nice and because it’s easily blended into things I can drink for breakfast, since I’m bad at wanting or remembering to eat breakfast. Some kefir and some frozen berries blended and poured into a tall glass is something I can consume in a rush while doing ten other things.


Kefir and yogurt are both full of good bacteria, but kefir contains roughly three times the amount of probiotic cultures. Whether that matters for long term health is unclear, but in the short term, it can be helpful; this week Toddler’s had an ear infection, and the amoxicillin the doctor prescribed can be hard on little bodies. The pharmacist’s advice was to load Toddler up with probiotics, either in the form of yogurt or supplements. And so, the kefir was useful once again.

Of course, he was unlikely to take a shot of kefir … especially not when the amoxicillin was bubblegum flavoured. So we came up with this frozen yogurt/sorbet-like thing, and he declared “it’s perfect, mum!” and ate enough to keep his little gut happy.

Maybe embroidery would be more socially acceptable. But probiotic ice cream is worth telling people about. Healthy poops for the whole world, indeed!

If you make kefir, let it ferment twice. To do this, make the kefir first, then strain out the kefir grains and let the kefir continue to sit at room temperature for an additional 24 hours, either as it is or with a strip of orange or lemon peel.

You can buy kefir grains online, or at some natural health food stores. In Vancouver, you can get them at Homesteader’s Emporium. Or, if you’re lucky, you know my friend Grace and can get them for free after a lengthy conversation about your microbiome at dinner. (I’m a bit much to be around.)

Blackberry frozen kefir

  • 2 cups twice fermented kefir, store-bought plain kefir or plain 2% yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (and defrosted) blackberries, mashed and then passed through a fine mesh sieve
  • 2/3 cup honey or cane sugar syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk kefir, blackberries, honey, and vanilla in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then process through an ice cream machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Freeze for at least one hour before serving. If freezing for more than four hours, let the dessert sit on the counter for ten minutes before serving.

Serve with an additional drizzle of honey, if desired.

Blackberry frozen kefir