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Find your Healthy with Traditional Cuisines – Week 1

A variety of colourful ethnic meals beautifully arranged on a plate

**To celebrate National Nutrition Month, we have a 5-week series of guest posts written by Deepanshi Salwan, MPH candidate and a dietetic graduate student at the University of Toronto.**

It’s March and we are celebrating Nutrition Month! Every year dietitians, dietetic interns, and nutrition students across Canada celebrate Nutrition month to raise awareness about nutrition and the positive impact it has on our health and wellbeing.

This year Nutrition Month centres on the idea that healthy eating looks different for everyone. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and your healthy eating will look different from someone else’s healthy eating based on culture, food traditions, personal circumstances, and nutritional needs.

To honour Nutrition Month, I have teamed up with Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Graduate Students from diverse cultural backgrounds to put together a Nutrition Month 2021 blog series! Each week for the month of March, different dietitians and dietetic students will share their food traditions, cultural recipes, and the importance of culture in healthy eating.

Without further ado, let’s get started with Nutrition Month 2021 series – Week 1.

Cultural foods should be a part of your healthy meals

Canada is a country that prides itself on multiculturalism. Yet, the mainstream diet trends tend to ‘steal’ cultural foods’ thunder. With the recent craze around healthy eating, many of you may be are bombarded with the latest trendy diets that do not adequately incorporate your cultural foods. With everyone else embarking on the next food trend, you may feel that you are doing something wrong by not jumping on board. You begin to question the health benefits of your traditional foods.

I introduce my colleagues Novella Lui, Robena Amalraj and Aja Gyimah who will share their insights on making cultural foods a part of your healthy eating.

 

headshot of dietitian Novella Lui

Novella Lui, RD

www.novellard.com  Instagram @livetonourishrd

  1. What’s your cultural background?

I am a Chinese Canadian, born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions? 

Food plays a vital role in Chinese culture, where food is always a part of celebrations. Many of the traditional foods served during celebrations bear symbolic meanings, from togetherness to fortune and luck. For instance:

  • In Lunar New Year, we eat the ‘year cake,’ a glutinous rice cake that symbolizes rising prosperity, which has the same homophonic sound as ‘yearly increase.’
  • During Dragonboat Festival, we eat glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves as they depict the commemoration of Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese poet.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe? 

I have a long list of favourite foods, but if I had to choose, my favourite is har gow, a steamed shrimp dumpling wrapped in a thin and translucent starch dough. My first memories of eating out as a child with my family were enjoying a dim sum lunch, and har gow was always one of the dishes shared among us. These shrimp dumplings always remind me of my fonds times with my cousins and relatives. You can find a har gow recipe here.

Har Gow (Chinese steamed shrimp dumplings)

Har Gow (Chinese steamed shrimp dumplings)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

All foods, including those from your own culture, fit into a healthy meal pattern. Including and embracing foods from your own culture connects you to your roots and cultural identity. At the same time, learn about other cultures by trying their foods, as food is a portal that connects and nurtures our relationships with other people.

 

Headshot of Robena Amalraj

Robena Amalraj, Dietetic Graduate Student

www.nourishwithrobena.com

Instagram @nourishwithrobena

1. What is your cultural background?

My cultural background is Indian. Specifically, I am from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions? 

India is affectionately called the Land of Spices, and food undoubtedly plays a significant role in its culture. Every region of India has distinct and unique customs but eating with hands is a common practice; it is thought that this not only makes the food taste better, but also feeds the mind and the spirit.

Rice is of particular importance in India and is viewed as the ultimate sustenance; it is often the first solid food that a baby eats and is also eaten by older adults who have trouble eating other foods. In many parts of India, rice is used as an offering during religious rituals and is a symbol of prosperity and well-being.

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe? 

My favourite South Indian food is dosa, which is a thin savoury crepe made from a fermented batter of lentils and rice. It is typically served with sambar (a lentil and vegetable stew) and chutney. My mom made it all the time when I was growing up; not only is it delicious, but it is a comforting and warm reminder of home and family. You can find a recipe here.

A plate of South India dosa with sambeer and chutney

South India Dosa served with sambar and chutney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month? 

In the health and wellness space, there is often a narrow perception of healthy food. There is a misconception that cultural foods that do not fit into this mainstream image are automatically “unhealthy”. However, healthy eating does not look the same for everyone. Culture and tradition are integral components of food and overall wellness, and you do not need to forgo your culture to be healthy!

 

headshot of Aja GyimahAja Gyimah, MHSc., RD

www.compete-nutrition.ca  Instagram @compete.nutrition

1. What’s your cultural background? 

I’m biracial: Jewish-Canadian and Ghanaian

2. What is the meaning of food in your culture? / How is food used in celebrations or traditions? 

In the Jewish culture, food is a large part of how we observe our holidays. For example, Friday nights are reserved for a family dinner because it kicks off the Sabbath or the day of rest. Also, depending on the holiday you’re required to eat specific foods, like during Passover we have a ceremonial dinner where each food item is symbolic.

In Ghanaian culture, food is tied to many celebrations, get-togethers or even just attending church on Sundays. Within my family, it used to be such a treat because my dad would spend the entire day making light soup. Since COVID, we have been ordering from local Ghanaian restaurants to support them during this time. Now, jollof rice is a staple in our house!

3. What is your favourite cultural ingredient or food or recipe? 

Fried plantain is a world-wide favourite, it’s a staple in almost every African, Black and Caribbean cuisine. I usually slice the plantain, rinse it in saltwater and then fry it until it’s brown and delicious! Find a recipe for fried plantain here. On the Jewish side, I’m a huge fan of Challah which is the only type of bread I grew up with. Challah is also the best bread to use for French toast!

fried plantains

Fried plantains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. What would you like to say to Canadians during National Nutrition Month?

All foods fit within a healthy diet and that includes our cultural/traditional foods. You’re not required to throw away the foods you’ve grown up with to follow a healthy diet. There’s plenty of room for fried plantain – haha!

 

Bottom Line

There is no single way to eat right and sacrificing your cultural foods is not necessary for achieving good health! No matter what your cultural foods or traditions are, they can be a part of your healthy eating regime. So, ditch the diet trends and incorporate your cultural foods to find your healthy.

Come back next week to learn more about traditional cuisines and healthy eating in our Nutrition Month 2021 blog series.

 Let’s Talk 

What is your favourite cultural recipe? Let me know in the comments. Click here to learn more about the Nutrition Month 2021 campaign.

I thank Novella, Robena, and Aja for their time and contribution to this post.

headshot of Deepanshi SalwanWritten by: Deepanshi Salwan, MPH candidate – Deepanshi is a dietetic graduate student at the University of Toronto. Her nutrition philosophy embraces moderation without deprivation. She believes that healthy eating does not have to be complicated and hopes to inspire her audience to live more happy and healthy lives! You can find her on Instagram @deeconstructing_nutrition.

 

9 Traditional Treats to Enjoy During the Lunar New Year 

Tray of Togetherness - a red tin filled with symbolic sweets to celebrate the Lunar New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinese Tray of Togetherness – a round tin box with dried fruits, roasted watermelon seeds and other treats for the Lunar New Year celebration. 

The Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar New Year, is the most celebrated holiday in Chinese communities worldwide. This year, the first day of the two-week celebration falls on February 12. Many activities are part of the celebration, such as putting up decorations, having a reunion dinner with family, and giving “lucky money” red envelopes.

Aside from these primary activities, assembling the Tray of Togetherness is also an important ritual. The Tray of Togetherness is a red or a black box comprised of six or eight compartments.

Traditionally, sweets are part of the box to bless one to have a sweet life. Like many celebratory foods eaten during this time, each food included in the box bears a homophonic pun with a specific good omen.

The box is presented to guests when they visit the host’s home as a way for the host to pass on luck and blessings. While the pandemic prohibits people from visiting one another, the box is still put together because it also implies luck and fortune will come to the home the year ahead.

 

What’s inside the Tray of Togetherness

To assemble the box, families generally choose treats related to fortune, family ties and health. Some examples are:

Red watermelon seeds – Red symbolizes happiness, and the word ‘seed’ in Chinese stands for fertility.

Red melon seeds

 

 

 

 

Dried candied lotus seed – Also related to fertility, the white lotus seeds carry an additional symbolic meaning: to have many descendants.

Dried candied lotus seeds

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied coconut – Come in the forms of strips and chunks; these imply togetherness, where a family of generations are bonded together.

Dried candied coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried candied lotus root – The homonym for lotus root is abundance year after year.

Dried candied lotus root

 

 

 

 

Dried candied winter melon – The dried candied winter melon pieces are rectangular strips as if they represent an individual from head to toe. They are a symbol of good growth for children and good health for all.

Dried candied winter melon

 

 

 

 

Dried kumquats – In Chinese, the word kumquat is translated as “gold orange,” which symbolizes luck and wealth.

Dried kumquats

 

 

 

 

 

Other Lunar New Year Foods 

Along with the sweets eaten in the Tray of Togetherness, other traditional snacks are part of the celebration, including:

Year Cake (Nian Gao or Chinese Glutinous Rice Cake) – The year cake implies prosperity year after year. It can be enjoyed as a sweet or a savoury item, as a New Year dish, or as an all-year-round food, depending on regional culture.

Nian Gao or Chinese glutinous rice cake

 

In Cantonese cuisine, the year cake is enjoyed explicitly during the New Year. Comprised of glutinous rice flour and brown sugar, the year cake is sliced into pieces before serving. Generally, the slices are steamed or pan-fried.

For the pan-fried method, specifically, the year cake slices are dipped into an egg wash before cooking for a crispy exterior and a chewy interior.

Crispy triangles – Like the year cake, crispy triangles can be savoury or sweet, depending on the fillings typically used in the regional culture. From the umami-flavoured filling with Chinese sausages, pork and shitake mushrooms to the sweetness offered by the peanut, sesame and sugar filling, these fillings are wrapped inside a glutinous rice dough before they are deep-fried in a wok.

Crispy Triangle pastries

 

The crispy triangles resemble the gold-coloured, boat-shaped ingots, a currency used in ancient China. Eating these symbolizes wealth will come generously to one.

 

Sesame doughnuts – Finally, sesame doughnuts, also known as “laughing dates,” are deep-fried, wheat flour-based crunchy balls. When one takes a bite, the balls look like a laughing mouth, depicting bringing happiness and laughter to the family.

Sesame doughnut pastries

 

 

 

 

Wishing you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year!

headshot of dietitian Novella LuiGuest blog written by Novella Lui, RD, MHSc – Novella is a registered dietitian and a nutrition communications strategist who is passionate about creating engaging content for a wide array of audiences.  You can find her at www.novellard.com or on Instagram @LiveToNourishRD.

 

Image sources: Adobe Stock, 699pic.com, gotrip.hk, pixtastock.com

The Science of Comfort Foods

aerial image of kitchen counter filled with baking supplies like flour, eggs, and measuring spoons

[Image: Piktochart]

Can you believe that we’re into week 11 of quarantine now? We’ve been seeing plenty of homemade comfort food pics posted on Instagram lately. In fact, the hashtag #QuarantineBaking has over 208 THOUSAND posts and the hashtag #ComfortFood has over 7.1 MILLLION posts.

There has been so much about comfort food lately in the news too:

  • In Toronto, Bradley Harder started the #PandemicPieProject – he’s baked over 200 pies and given them away to members in his community;
  • In Halifax, Amy Munch who owns Cake Babes, a wedding cake shop, has now baked over 2000 cupcakes and delivered them to front line workers; and
  • In Italy, an 84-year-old Grandma is on lighting up YouTube, demonstrating her recipe for Lockdown Lasagna.

Here are 4 reasons why you might be reaching for those comfort foods right now.

Watch my 1 minute video below about The Science of Comfort Foods

 

1 – Comfort foods trigger dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends messages between the brain cells. Dopamine is all about motivation, reward and pleasure. It gives us a feel-good sensation. So when you eat a comfort food that tastes good and is rewarding, you get a rush of dopamine. Your brain remembers this connection between your behaviour (the comfort food you ate) and the reward (the positive feeling). You may be more motivated to continue that behaviour i.e. eat a comfort food because it gives you that feel-good reward. Some psychology researchers think that even ANTICIPATING eating certain foods generates dopamine. So just THINKING about eating a cinnamon bun or chocolate cake can trigger dopamine!

2 – Comfort foods gives us social connection

As a dietitian, I always say that food unites us. My dad is a chef and to me, food is an expression of love. I remember when Jamie Oliver was here in Toronto in 2015, promoting his new cookbook. When he stood up on stage, he said “Food can be a hug”.  Wow, don’t you agree – food can be as comforting as a hug. Some interesting research from the Universities of Tennessee and New York State in 2015 found that comfort foods remind us of our social relationships / and helps us feel less lonesome especially when we are isolated. Comfort foods offer a sense of belonging. So it makes sense that we’re turning to comfort foods during these times of quarantine and physical isolation. On top of that, baking and cooking together offers psychosocial benefits. Think of those virtual dinner parties or virtual cooking classes we’ve been taking – they keep us feeling connected even when we’re not physically together.

3 – Comfort foods are associated with positive memories and nostalgia

Very often, comfort foods remind us of our childhood or home or friends and family. Comfort foods may also be linked to special person like your mom, dad, Nona, Bubbe or Grandma. When we eat comfort foods, it brings pack happy memories from our past. Sometimes even the SMELL of comfort foods can trigger these positive memories. Psychological research shows that smells are powerfully linked to areas in the brain that are associated with memory and emotional experiences 

4 – Comfort foods can give us a little more certainty and routine.

In these times of uncertainty, making and eating comfort foods can offer a sense of structure and control. We have control over the foods we are making and eating, and we also have a little more control over how we feel. Our brain tells us that eating that piece of homemade bread or pasta will make us feel good.

 

If you’re eating for comfort, that’s completely OK. Be mindful of how often and how much. Practice other healthy lifestyle habits to beat stress – try yoga, meditation, a walk with the dog, listening to music or calling a friend. Stay safe and stay well!

 

My Chat with Canada’s Minister of Health

Sue + Minister of Health Ginette Jan 23 2019 - 1

I had a serendipitous meeting with the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s Minister of Health! She was entering the TV studio green room just as I was about to leave. We were both being interviewed (separately) about the new Canada’s Food Guide.

Here’s a note from our conversation.

Canada’s Food Guide is about the food experience – cooking and eating together, and enjoying food. “When I think about food, I think about family,” said the Minister. As the youngest of 9 kids, she remembers waking up to the smell of fresh bread baked by her mom.

I shared my own experiences. As a daughter of a chef, I grew up eating together with my family. We used our prized Chinese bowls and celebratory red chopsticks every day. We ate everything from apples and bok choy to ice cream and lobster. Food was delicious, wholesome and enjoyed without guilt.

Food unites us! The new Canada’s Food Guide reminds us to enjoy food, eat mindfully and eat with others. I like that message!

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc

Canadian Researchers Invent a New Way to Detect Food Spoilage

Food spoilage patch

This tiny patch can tell you if your food has gone bad. Engineering Research Assistant Hanie Yousefi (left) and Tohid Didar, Assistant Professor Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University show off the “Sentinel Wrap” patch. Photo credit: McMaster University

Trying to figure out if a food has gone bad? For food safety, simply looking at the food or doing a little “sniff test” isn’t a reliable or accurate way of determining food spoilage. But what if there was something on the food package itself that indicated whether a food has gone bad. Now there is!

A team of mechanical and chemical engineer researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have developed a thin, plastic transparent patch – about the size of two postage stamps – called the “Sentinel Wrap” to detect harmful bacteria and pathogens on food. The patch has tiny droplets of DNA molecules printed on one side that act as sensors to signal the presence of E. Coli, a type of types of bacterium that can cause food poisoning.

In Canada, about 4 million (1 in 8) Canadians are affected by a foodborne illness every year. Because it doesn’t affect the food at all, the Sentinel Wrap patch could be installed on the inside of a food package such as raw meat or raw poultry. If harmful bacteria are present on the food, the DNA molecules on the patch would light up under ultraviolet light. Shoppers could use a handheld device such as a smart phone, to scan the patch and immediately know whether there are any harmful bacteria present in the food.

The invention can still take two years before it comes to market. Until then, prevent food poisoning by following the four principles of food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill…and ditch the “sniff test”!

8 Food & Nutrition Trends to Watch in 2018

Trends 2018

I’ve been keeping up with trends reports from around the world! Here’s what food and nutrition experts are predicting for 2018.

1. Fermented Foods. In a recent survey of 2,500 dietitians fermented foods are predicted to be one of the top trends for 2018. A source of the good, probiotic bacteria, fermented foods include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso and natto. (Today’s Dietitian)

2. New and Improved Canada’s Food Guide.
It’s been a decade since the last national food guide. With the much anticipated launch of the new Food Guide this year, we can expect to see messaging around not just what to eat, but also how to eat. (Dietitians Sue Mah & Lucia Weiler)

3. Hello Leftovers, Goodbye Food Waste. Canadians will continue to think about how their food choices can reduce food waste. Consumer strategies include a revival in the use of leftovers, right-size portioning and GIY (Grow It Yourself). (Loblaw Food Council)

4. Mindful Choices. Today’s consumers are thoughtful, mindful and conscious about making responsible food choices. They want to understand what is in their food and how it was produced in order to make informed decisions for their health, sustainability and ethical issues. (Innova Market Insights)

5. Rising Food Prices. The price of vegetables and the price of food purchased at restaurants will each rise 4-6% this year. Climate patterns are driving vegetable prices up. The average family of four in Canada will pay $348 more this year on food to a total of $11,948, and 59% of that budget will be spent on dining out. (Canada’s Food Price Report 2018)

6. Micro-markets for Food. As consumers are learning more about food, they are looking for more specialized, individualized choices that align with their personal values whether it be nutritional profile (fat, sugar, sodium, calories), location of production or antibiotic use. This is driving the development of micro-markets for specialized products. (Food Focus 2018)

7. Technofoodology. By the year 2020, there will be 24 billion internet-connected devices installed globally – that’s about 3 devices for every human on earth! This IoT (Internet of Things) revolution is changing the way we purchase, receive and interact with our food. There will be continued expansion of resources including Alexa, Google Home, “click and collect” online grocery shopping, as well as delivery of restaurant meals and meal kits. (Business Insider, Supermarket Guru)

8. Food Blockchain Revolution. Thanks to the Bitcoin, blockchain technology is taking off as a novel way for the agri-food business to record and disclose transactions in an open virtual space across the entire supply chain. From farmer to processor to packer to distributor to packaged goods maker to retailer to food service operator to exporter, blockchain technology brings a new level of transparency and information sharing. For example, in the event of a food safety recall, specific products can be traced easily and quickly. (Ketchum Food Forecast)

Choline – The Forgotten Nutrient

Egg cracked

There’s a growing buzz about choline and for good reason. Choline is essential for a healthy pregnancy and healthy brain development at all ages. And while choline was officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998, it’s only recently been added to the list of nutrients which can be voluntarily disclosed on Nutrition Facts Tables in both Canada and the USA.

Health Benefits of Choline
One of the main roles of choline is to produce a specific neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which plays a crucial role in sending messages from your brain to your muscles. During pregnancy, choline helps prevent the development of neural tube defects in the growing baby. Choline also helps to move fat out of your liver, which can prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, there may be a link between choline and better cognitive function and memory as we age. Ongoing research is exploring the connection between choline and heart health too.

How Much Choline Do You Need
The amount of choline needed depends on your age. High intakes of choline from supplements can cause a fishy body odour, vomiting, excessive sweating and salivation, low blood pressure as well as potential heart and liver problems.

choline DRI chart


Food Sources of Choline

Our bodies produce small amounts of choline, but not enough to meet our daily needs. Liver, eggs (more specifically, egg yolks), meat and tofu are among the best food sources of choline.

choline food sources 3

Health Canada Bans Main Source of Trans Fats in Foods

Trans-Fats

Trans fats. They’re the worse type of fat because they pose a double whammy to your heart health – not only do they increase the bad “LDL” (Low Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol, but they also decrease the good “HDL” (High Density Lipoprotein” cholesterol. Eating trans fats increases the risk of heart disease.

While some foods contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats, the real concern is with foods containing “artificial” or “industrially produced” trans fat. The main source of this type of trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) which are oils that have been created during a process called hydrogenation. This process changes the structure of liquid oils into a solid at room temperature. PHOs extend the shelf life of foods and are typically found in commercially baked goods (e.g. pastries, donuts, muffins), deep fried foods, French fries, hard margarine, lard, shortening, frosting, coffee whiteners, some crackers and microwave popcorn. When you see the words “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list, you know that the food contains trans fats.

While the food industry has been voluntarily removing trans fats from products over the years, many foods still contain trans fats. On September 15, 2017, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced a ban on PHOs from all foods sold in Canada, including foods prepared in restaurants, “Eliminating the main source of industrially produced trans fats from the food supply is a major accomplishment and a strong new measure that will help to protect the health of Canadians.”

The ban will come into effect on September 15, 2018.

[Photo credit: NewHealthAdvisor.com]

Should You Be Worried About Lectins?

Beans_

I love eating different grains and beans. In fact, one of my favourite meals is lentils and rice. But there’s a growing buzz about lectins in these foods. Are lectins the new gluten? Here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Lectins are a family of proteins that bind to carbohydrates. Lectins are found in all foods, but are most concentrated in legumes and grains. Uncooked, raw legumes such as red and white kidney beans are one of the biggest sources of lectins. Lectins help protect plants from attacks by pests and insects.

2. Lectins aren’t easily digested, so they pass through the stomach and into the gut where they may “stick” to the gut wall. Eating high amounts of lectins may damage the lining of the gut, potentially causing digestive issues. For example, eating RAW or undercooked or improperly cooked kidney beans can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

3. Some people, such as those with Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome, may be more sensitive to lectins. If you have these conditions, speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine the amount of lectins that will minimize any symptoms or flare-ups.

4. Cooking eliminates almost all of the lectins in foods. Boiling legumes and grains in water for example is an easy way to get rid of lectins. Soaking beans, sprouting seeds and grains, and fermenting foods are other ways to lower the lectin content of foods. Canned beans have very low lectin levels due to the canning process.

5. Remember that many lectin-containing foods also provide important nutrients. Grains offer B vitamins, iron and fibre. Legumes offer protein, fibre, iron and zinc. So don’t worry about lectins. Instead, cook your grains and legumes, and enjoy!

Easy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

Sue Heather beet hummus

A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that Canadian children are not eating enough vegetables and fruit during the school day.

The first of its kind, this study looked at 4,827 children across Canada between the ages of six and 17. Using a 24 hour recall, their dietary intakes from 9 am to 2 pm was scored against a School Healthy Eating Index. The Index looks at 11 specific criteria based on Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendations, such as intake of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, milk products and meat and alternatives.

Here are the highlights from the research:
– 1/3 of daily calories (about 750 calories) are consumed at school; almost 25% of these calories came from “other foods” such as candy bars and salty packaged snacks
– Kids are falling short on vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and protein
– The lowest scores were for green and orange vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains and milk products
– The average score was 53.4 out of a possible 100 points
– Teens’ diets scored worse than that of younger kids aged six to eight

Here are a few of my lunch ideas, as shown on my interview with CBC Morning Live today.

Chickpea Lettuce Wrap – Kids are attracted to colours in their meals! A great protein packed and flavourful recipe! Add a glass of milk or fortified soy beverage to round out the meal.
Chickpea lettue wrap

Chicken Pasta Salad – My daughter won 3rd prize in a recipe contest for this recipe when she was in grade 3. Ask your kids to grate the carrots and chop the cucumbers. Balance the lunch with a serving of yogurt.
Chicken Pasta Salad

Beet Hummus with Veggies – Kids love to dip! A great way to team up protein plus produce in the lunchbox! Add mini pitas with cheese cubes for a nutritious lunch.
Beet hummus

Apple Sailboats – It’s as easy as it looks! Slice an apple into wedges and dip in lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut cheese into triangles and attach with a toothpick. Add a handful of whole grain crackers to complete the meal.
Apple sailboats

Zucchini Waffles – Breakfast for lunch, why not? These waffles are made with grated zucchini. (Sneak in the veggies wherever you can!) Add a hard cooked egg or small piece of cooked meat / poultry for protein. Mix a few extra berries with yogurt for “dessert”.
Zucchini Waffles with Fresh Berries

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