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Home & Garden

The Great Backyard Escape

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It's coming. Can you smell it? BBQ's, the smell of freshly turned soil and that weird/awesome scent after the first big spring rain. You know which one I'm talking about. It's like Mother Nature took a long shower and the earthworms all came out to party. Speaking of parties, that also means it's time for me to start planning my pseudo famous backyard shindigs for the warmer months. I'm no Martha Stewart but believe me I've thrown more than a few memorable ones. My Margarita Mayhem and Hawaiian Hula come to mind when reminiscing. The trick to any good event whether it's a wedding or a simple outdoor BBQ is planning. In this article we'll talk about party ideas and tips & tricks to make it actually possible to relax and spend time with your family and friends instead of being that overstressed host that secretly drinks all the leftovers and passes out on the deck. (Hey, no judgment people). I'll even be sharing one of my favourite and easy to prepare ahead recipes.

Themes make it easy and fun to plan a party. Think back to your childhood. The coolest kids always had epic theme parties. I remember coming home after them and driving my mom nuts about my party which wasn't for another six months. As an adult I still love a good theme party only on a more (mostly) adult scale. Take my Hula party last year. If you've never seen a bunch of tipsy adults competing at hula hoops you've never really lived. Throw in a limbo stick and the laughter just keeps rolling. For that one I cut massive watermelons in half and took out the centres with a large melon baller. Then combined it with a variety of other fruits and filled the halves back up. They made beautiful centerpieces on the outdoor tables. The dollar store had leis and I made Hawaiian shirts and sarongs mandatory. Please tell your guests to wear underwear or the limbo game could become x-rated in a New York minute. Unless you're into that, which in that case again, no judgement. Personally due to the wide variety of flying creepy crawlies (Sawyer beetles and hornets), I purchased a small mesh portable gazebo to house the food tables. 

Let's talk about food! Being a trainer and nutritionist I want to offer people a variety of foods, some healthy, some not so much. It's a good thing for my friends that I use Macro based eating with my clients so the options are endless. No dry chicken and broccoli for my guests! Besides the epic fruit bowls that disappear amazingly fast on a hot summer day I usually have a massive vegetable tray with an assortment of dips on the side as well as crackers and hummus. I avoid processed meat and cheese trays as they are loaded in sodium and will make the partygoers thirsty and then the ratio of over inebriated hula dancers rises exponentially. I make all this the day before and store in coolers in the garage or under the deck the day of so it's super fast and easy to access. I also fill at least 4 large coolers with extra ice and keep it in a shaded place. There is NOTHING worse than running out of ice at the party. As for the meat, prep is the key. I pre make a massive amount of burger patties and store them in layers between wax paper. Then cut up bins of the toppings and store in the fridge or in coolers depending on the space needed. I always have my chicken and beef kabobs marinating overnight so they are bursting with flavour the next day. Kabobs cook fast and are easy finger food. Top it all off with a vinaigrette pasta salad and you've pretty well got it covered. Make sure you have a lot of fresh water for your guests and personally I take car keys at the start and have a local taxi service on speed dial just to be safe. I actually like my friends so getting them home in one piece is priority one. Another tip is that I never have shellfish or nuts around out of respect for allergy sufferers. Fasted way to ruin a party is to have someone go into anaphylactic shock and have to call 911 as they swell up to match your party balloons. I hope this inspires you to throw an amazing and fun filled party this summer that will have your friends talking for years to come. 

For more free recipes, fitness advice and to follow my blogs rants and raves visit my website at

Jerk Chicken - Serves 6


  • 1 tsp. grated lime rind
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt (opt)
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed


  1. Combine first 12 ingredients in blender, process until well mixed.
  2. Pour mix into large ziplock, add onion and chicken.
  3. Marinade in fridge  for 1-2 hours up to overnight. Turn bag occasionally
  4. Thread chicken cubes onto pre soaked skewers.
  5. Prepare grill. Once heated brush with oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Grill chicken, covered, for 5 minutes on each side or until done.
  7. You can also bake in your over and finish by using the broil setting for a few minutes to get a nice char.
  8. Sit back, pour yourself an awesome margarita and enjoy our amazing Alberta summer.

Terri Windover is a certified nutritionist and certified holistic nutritionist as well as a former O.P.A. bodybuilding judge. She has been involved in the fitness industry as a coach and a trainer for over 26 years and there has never been a day where she has not enjoyed the career she has chosen. Along with the fitness and nutrition education she gives her clients she encourages them to open themselves up to adventure and new experiences along the way.