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The PCSummer Retreat

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A couple of weeks ago this WonderMom was invited away for the weekend to a Muskoka retreat, hosted by President's Choice (PC) to learn about all sorts of things ranging from healthy food choices and fashion trends to proper exercise and the importance of taking "me" time.

We were asked to meet at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens in downtown Toronto for a "pre-game" meet and greet with the "players" there for the weekend.

It just so happens that the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens has been transformed into a Loblaw's on the main floor and a huge athletic centre for a local university up above. The building's historical value has been retained for generations to come, as they have not changed the outside façade.

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We gathered upstairs in the President's Choice gourmet kitchen with executive chef, Mark Russell. He had prepared a variety of foods from his "From Our Chefs" menu with every pallet in mind. After a wonderful meal we boarded a luxury coach and headed north to Muskoka for our PC Summer Retreat.

Funnily enough, the drive up to Rosseau didn't seem all that long this time. It was full of laughs and great conversation. We arrived at the luxurious "Bellevue Cottage," a private residence located on the beautiful shores of Lake Rosseau complete with all 18500 square feet of opulence. A spectacular manse designed for the finer things in life. Once settled in, our hosts had us converge on the outdoor patio for an evening of drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

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Saturday morning we were greeted in the kitchen by Andrea Buckett; a food and nutrition expert whom I am very familiar with having met her several times before at different media functions around the city. Her knowledge, love of cooking and voracious appetite for all things food is quite apparent when you hear her talk about meal preparation and the healthy goodness in each meal. When Andrea describes food it is hard not to get excited about digging in to the final product. For her, it is not only the meal itself, but what good can come out of it too.

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She allowed us to help in preparing the breakfast. For those girls who were not all that comfortable in the kitchen, Andrea made them feel at ease and more confident about meal selections and how to prepare them. Andrea knowledge of the PC brand of healthy foods is due in part to her position within the Weston Group, the parent company for Loblaw's, Shoppers Drug Mart and a host of other big name companies.

After a wonderful breakfast on the deck, we were treated to an outdoor yoga class hosted by Andrea herself. Not only can she cook, but she can also help you feel better of yourself after a great meal.

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How can you go wrong with a yoga class overlooking such beautiful vistas that Lake Rosseau has to offer? It doesn't get much better than this. We were treated to an afternoon boat cruise around the lake highlighting celebrity cottages such as, Martin Short, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.

Late Saturday afternoon we were treated to a seminar from Shoppers Drug Mart Lifestyle Expert Shoana Jensen. Her mission was to let us in on her favourite beauty finds available for summer and the importance of skin care while being exposed to the potentially harmful UV rays. They provided us each with a series of Sun Bum Skin care products, perfect for this summers cottage getaways.

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I will post a few of Andrea's wonderful, simple and healthy recipes for you each to try. We have tried a number of them already at home with great success. I must say that my favourite has to be the Grilled PC Halloom With Strawberries and Basil. It was a great hit with the entire family.

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Saturday evening was an outdoor party with a huge bonfire complete with some adult beverages and light eats. And what would a bonfire be without S'mores? Turning in that evening, I must say I was very tired, but when I think about it now, it was a good tired. A full day of outdoors activities; eating, exercising, boating and entertaining capped off with a cup of tea and a good book.

Up early on Sunday, rejuvenated and ready for the day. A healthy breakfast of Sour Cream Strawberry Swirl Muffins and my morning glass of orange juice and we were off for sun filled day on the deck with a lovely view of the lake.

I must say, I have come home with a better understanding of how easy it is to prepare foods for my family that are very healthy, great tasting and affordable. Just because the recipe sounds like a lot of work, doesn't mean that it is. I thank Andrea for getting that point across. As a mom, I realize that my life is not a 9 to 5 existence. There is always going to be the soccer games, gymnastics classes and dance recitals. It is of utmost importance to plan ahead and get it right, because in the end you will have more "me" time to enjoy that cup of tea and a good book.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank President's Choice, Shoppers Drug Mart, Joe Fresh, Chef Mark Russell and Andrea Buckett for their hospitality, guidance and expertise for making the PC Summer Retreat something to remember.