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5 Heart Healthy (and Affordable) Kitchen Gadgets

February is Heart Month! So it’s a good time to get into the kitchen and cook up some healthy meals with these 5 simple and affordable kitchen gadgets. Watch my interview on CTV Your Morning!

Sue spiralizer

1. Silicon of stainless steel steamer.
Steaming your food is one of the best ways to retain its nutrients, colour and flavour. For example, when you boil broccoli, you can lose up to 50% of its vitamin C content. When you steam broccoli, you may only lose about 10% of the vitamin C content. There’s no need to buy a special steamer pot. Instead, look for a silicon or stainless steel steamer that is adjustable and can fit a pot that you already have. You can use your steamer for veggies, fish, and dim sum dumplings!

steamer crop

2. Herb scissors

Eating too much sodium / salt can lead to high blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. One of the best ways to cut back on salt when cooking is to season your food with fresh herbs. Herb scissors are so easy to use and don’t require any special knife skills. When cutting fresh herbs, make sure the herbs are dry or semi-dry.

herb scissors

3. Zester or Microplane Grater
Using citrus is another fantastic way to add flavour without salt. A zester and microplane grater are two other kitchen gadgets that can help you make the most of your citrus. A zester gives long, thin strips of the citrus peel. A microplane grater has smaller blades than a zester, so you’ll get a smaller, finer gratings. You can also use a zester or grater for garlic, ginger, chocolate and cinnamon.

zester grater

4. Spiralizer
This has been one of the trendiest kitchen gadgets. Because the spiralizer typically has different blades, you can create a variety of different shapes with veggies like these zucchini ribbons which are a nice alternative to pasta. This is a great gadget to have on hand or those picky eaters in your family. Try it with zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, beets and sweet potatoes. It can make eating veggies a lot more fun.


5. Sheet pan
This is like a baking sheet or cookie sheet with a rim around all four edges so that any juices won’t spill out. The great thing about a sheet pan is that you can cook your protein and veggies all on the same pan (which means just one pan to wash!) Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness. The fat from the protein on the sheet pan actually adds moisture and flavour to the veggies around it.

sheet pan

YOU can Help Shape Canada’s Nutrition Policies!

Child apple vs hamburger

Are you concerned about marketing to kids? Do you want Canada’s Food Guide to be the best tool to help you and your families eat well? Are you interested in access to safe and healthy food as well as the relationship between agriculture, the environment and the economy?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then please take some time to complete Health Canada’s free online consultations on these three issues. Don’t miss your chance to have your voice heard!

1. Restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children

Health Canada wants to reduce how much advertising children see or hear about unhealthy food and beverages. This online consultation is the first step to more consultations coming in 2018. Your ideas and opinions will help Health Canada decide how to go about restricting advertising for unhealthy food and beverages to children.
Here is the online consultation survey. Survey closes on July 25, 2017.

2. Canada’s Food Guide

This is phase 2 of the consultations. After this consultation, Health Canada will create recommendations and develop them into consumer messages, tools, and resources. A new suite of Canada’s Food Guide resources will be rolled out beginning in early 2018.
Here is the online consultation survey. Survey closes on July 25, 2017.

3. A Food Policy for Canada

A food policy is a way to address issues related to the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food. The decisions we make as individuals and as a country about food have a direct impact on our health, environment, economy, and communities.
Here is the online survey. Survey closes on July 27, 2017.

Top 10 Tools in Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen

Chef Michael Smith - steamer May 2017

At the annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Toronto, Chef Michael Smith brought his kitchen to us! Take a peek at his top 10 must-have kitchen tools!

1. A good cookbook.
Hands down, the Chef’s favourite cookbook is The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. He calls this his scrapbook. It’s a timeless essential for new and experienced cooks alike.
2. 3 pots with lids. A big pot, a small pot and a fry pan. Simple as that. Smith is a fan of ceramic non-stick pans over Teflon.
3. A steamer. Because steaming veggies is “just best way to cook them,” says Smith.
4. 3 knives. A chef’s knife, a serrated knife for cutting toast, and a small knife.
5. Pepper grinder. According to the Chef, pepper tastes so much better when freshly ground.
6. Microplane zester. Use it on lemon rinds for “free flavour!”
7. Lemon reamer / citrus reamer. Because a little bit of fresh juice goes a long way!
8. Wooden spoons. They’re versatile and multi-purpose.
9. Wooden cutting board. Smith prefers the natural look of a wood cutting board over plastic.
10. Kids’ chef tools. Smith’s youngest daughter has a plastic whisk. It doesn’t work very well, but it gets her in the kitchen every Saturday morning to make pancakes with Dad.

Veggies Made Easy

eggplant pizza 1

Do you find it challenging to eat enough veggies? 60% of Canadian adults and 70% of kids aren’t getting enough fruit or veggies every day. Let’s take 3 different veggies and make 3 super easy recipes: Brussels Sprouts Salad, Cauliflower Popcorn, and Eggplant Pizza! 

Watch my TV interview clip.

Sue Kelsey nutrition month veggies

Creamy Apple and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw Salad


1 – 9 oz package Mann’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
2 T mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Zest of 1 lemon
2 T plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil

1. Whisk the mayonnaise with mustard, lemon zest, juice, sugar and salt. Whisk the oil in slowly.
2. Combine the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, apple and golden raisin and toss with the dressing.
3. May be served right away or refrigerated until serving.

Makes 4 servings. Recipe source:

Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

1 cauliflower, chopped into small pieces (or buy pre-cut/pre-chopped cauliflower)
3 T olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder

1. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil with the spices.
2. Pour oil mixture over cauliflower and toss to coat.
3. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Bake at 450°F for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy.

Makes 6 servings.

Eggplant Pizza

eggplant pizza 3

2 medium eggplants, sliced into 1 inch rounds
3 T olive oil
1 cup pizza sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup onion, sliced
1 cup green pepper, sliced
½ cup pepperoni
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 425°F, coat parchment lined baking sheet with olive oil.
2. Arrange eggplant on sheet and flip to evenly coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes.
3. Once time has elapsed, flip and season, return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven, top with pizza sauce, veggies of your choice, and mozzarella cheese. Return to oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Makes 4-6 servings. Recipe source:

Love Your Heart with these Power Bowls!

Power Bowl salad cropped png image

I’m a life longer learner and passionate about eating, delicious wholesome food! So when I was invited to a Love Your Heart – #CanolaConnect Culinary Workshop hosted by Canola Eat Well, I immediately jumped at the opportunity! It was an evening of learning, cooking, tasting and networking. Here are the event highlights!

Sue Mah standing
A fun evening of learning with my dietitian buddies! Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

The Fabulous Food
The evening began with a spread of delicious appetizers ranging from Beef Tartine on Marble Rye with Hummus and Marinated Feta to Pommes Anna with Anchovy Chili and Cured Yolk. My hands down fave was the Marinated Zucchini with Fresh Ricotta served on a Baguette Crostini. What a winner – super presentation, a combo of textures and made with canola oil! Confession – I went back for seconds!

Zucchini snag it
One of many tasty appetizers! Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

The Creative Chef
I was absolutely thrilled to meet Alexandra Feswick, Executive Chef at the Drake Hotel in Toronto! Inspired by local ingredients, Chef Alexandra created this gorgeous Power Bowl that’s bursting with flavour, colour and heart healthy goodness. “The combination of veggies is endless,” says Chef Alexandra whose salad bowl includes kale, Brussels sprouts, beets, sweet potatoes, avocado, figs and black beans.

Chef Alexandra
Chef Alexandra Feswick. Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

Power Bowl salad cropped png image
Chef Alexandra’s Power Bowl! Photography by Sue Mah

We made our own salad dressing using the star ingredient – canola oil – and mixed in a blend of fresh herbs. With a neutral flavour, canola oil absorbs the flavours of herbs and spices, making it so versatile for salad dressings, baking, barbecuing and cooking. Chef Alexandra’s advice on food? “If you source ingredients properly, food should taste the way it’s meant to taste. And I really encourage people to experiment, after all, it’s just food!”

Sue cooking salad
Mixing our own salad dressings. Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

Power Bowl with Green Goddess Dressing
Recipe by Chef Alexandra Feswick, Executive Chef at Drake Hotel

Green Goddess Dressing
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp crème fraiche
½ tsp garlic minced
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley, mint, cilantro)

1. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard + canola oil together until well combined.
2. Add in crème fraiche + garlic and mix.
3. Gently add in mixed herbs and fold into the rest of the mixture.

Power Bowl
1 cup chopped kale
1 Tbsp black beans
1 Tbsp Brussels sprouts, roasted w canola oil
1 Tbsp chopped beets, cooked
1 Tbsp diced sweet potato, roasted w canola oil
1 Tbsp amaranth seeds, cooked
1 tsp almonds, roasted with canola oil
1 tsp cashews, roasted with canola oil
½ avocado
½ fig

1. Marinate kale with Green Goddess dressing.
2. Add in the remaining ingredients and toss together.
3. Enjoy!

The Passionate Farmer

Meet Jeanette Andrashewski, a canola farmer on a third generation farm in Two Hills, Alberta (about 140 km outside of Edmonton). As one of the 43,000 canola farmers in Canada, Jeanette takes pride in producing a Canadian product. When asked why she farms, her answer is honest and honourable, “We get to be our own boss and we get to feed the world.” Rotating through other crops such as wheat, barley and peas helps to keep Jeanette’s farmland healthy, “We want our food to be safe, affordable and nutritious. Our canola oil is going to your family.”

Farmer Jeanette cares about producing safe, affordable and nutritious food. Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

The Research Dietitian
Shaunda Durance-Tod reminded us of the many nutrition and health benefits of canola oil. For starters, canola oil is low in saturated fat and packed with heart healthy omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats. Plus it’s a good source of vitamin E and vitamin K.

Dietitian Shaunda
Dietitian Shaunda. Photography by Sue Mah

The Fun & Love
Put 26 dietitians in a beautiful, spacious venue at Luxe Appliance Studio, and you’re bound to get great laughs and inspiration! In honour of Heart Month, we were asked to share how we love our hearts. Chef Alexandra goes for a run. Farmer Jeanette practises meditation. Dietitian Shaunda stays calm. And me? I wake up with a heart full of gratitude and practise yoga daily! What about you? How do you love your heart?

Group photo
Fun and friendship at the Luxe Appliance Studio. Photography by Josh-Tenn Yuk courtesy of Canola Eat Well.

Disclosure: #CanolaConnect was a sponsored event for dietitians and this is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 Foods to Keep Your Heart Healthy!

Heart healthy foods Feb 20 2017 - Sue L - 1

February is Heart Month! Did you know that 9 out of 10 adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease? The good news is that eating the right foods can keep your heart healthy.

Watch my interview on CTV Your Morning

Whole grains
Barley and oats specifically contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol which is important since high blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. The beneficial amount is 3 grams of beta-glucan fibre which is found in 1 cup of cooked barley or 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal.

Try this recipe – Vegetable, Bean & Barley Stuffed Peppers


Research shows that eating about 1.5 to 3.5 servings of nuts 5 times or more per week can also lower the bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. All nuts have high proportions of healthy fats – these are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – and it’s these fats which help to reduce our cholesterol levels. Nuts are packed with nutrition like protein, vitamin E, selenium, folate and even calcium but the calories do add up, so keep in mind that a portion size is about ¼ cup. One easy way to eat more nuts is to eat them as a snack. Or you can easily add nuts to your oatmeal, in your baking recipes or in a stir-fry.

Soy protein

About 20-25 grams of soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Plus soy protein is a great vegetarian protein. To get this amount of soy protein, try any one of these options:
– ¾ cup cooked tofu or
– ¾ cup cooked edamame beans or
– 1 cup fortified soy beverage with ¼ cup roasted soy nuts

Fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, artic char, mackerel and sardines are super sources of heart healthy omega-3 fats. These omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation and blood clotting. Aim to fish at least twice a week. A serving is 75 g of cooked fish or about the size and thickness of your palm.

Try this recipe – Salmon with Peanut Cucumber Relish

Veggies and Fruit
You can’t go wrong eating more fruit and veggies. Fruit and veggies are superstars for fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which protect us from not just heart disease but other health conditions too such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. As a general rule, try to have 1-2 servings of veggies or fruit at every meal and snack. Or just think of filling half your plate with veggies and fruit at every meal.

Barley Butternut Squash Risotto

I made this wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving dinner this year! It’s one of my all-time favourite recipes from Lucy Waverman’s cookbook Dinner Tonight.

Barley contains a unique fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Butternut squash is filled with beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, and important for vision and a healthy immune system.

5 cups chicken stock or water (I use lower sodium chicken stock)
2 T olive oil or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small butternut squash)
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat stock in pot until simmering.
2. Heat oil in heavy pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until onion is soft.
3. Add squash and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in barley and sauté for 1 minute or until barley is coated with oil.
4. Add 1 cup stock, bring to boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley absorbs most of stock. Add 2 more cups stock and cook for 20 minutes or until most of stock has been absorbed.
5. Stir in 1 cup more stock and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stock and cook and stir until barley is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season well with salt and pepper.
6. Beat in parsley and cheese. Serve immediately. Risotto thickens as it sits, but it can be reheated by beating in more stock or water.

Makes 4 servings.

7 Cooking Hacks to Cut the Sodium

Lemon basil garlic

Most of us are eating too much sodium, which can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure). In fact, the average adult has a 90% chance of developing hypertension which is itself the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. Swapping out the sodium can help.

I had a chance to chat with Shelley Martin, President and CEO of Nestlé Canada who recently announced that the company has achieved a 10% reduction in sodium across its product portfolio (by volume) such as pizzas and frozen meals. “We want to support people in the foods they love to eat by making them as great tasting and nutritious as they can be,” said Martin. For some products, the sodium content was simply reduced, while for other products, the spice mix was also tweaked.

I applaud food industry initiatives like this to help Canadians eat better. Your own habits can also make a big difference. Here’s what you can do at home, at the grocery store, and when eating out:

1. Cook from scratch. Dig out your apron and make a delicious meal from scratch using fresh, wholesome ingredients. If a recipe calls for salt, consider using less.

2. Play with herbs, spices and citrus. Basil pairs perfectly with tomatoes and pasta. Curry adds a hint of heat to meat, poultry, soups and stews. A little bit of garlic and onion goes a long way. And a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice instantly perks up any dish!

3. Rinse canned beans.
I love cooking with canned beans because they’re super convenient and easy on the budget. A quick rinse helps to wash away some of the sodium that may have been added.

4. Go easy on the bottled sauces
such as ketchup, BBQ sauce and soy sauce. I grew up on Chinese food, so soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce were our go-to flavourings. Today, lower sodium soy sauce is our pantry staple. Sometimes, I dilute the sauces with water too.

5. Read and compare food labels.
Choose the brands that have less sodium. From canned fish to frozen entrées to pasta sauces – you may be surprised to see the range of sodium found in different foods!

6. Order smaller portions when eating out. Just think – if you split an entrée with a friend, then you’re also splitting the calories and sodium content. It’s win-win. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side too if possible.

7. Give your taste buds a chance to adjust.
We all need some sodium for good health. The idea is to gradually swap out the sodium so in time, you’ll retrain your taste buds and savour the wonderful flavours that food has to offer. Your heart will thank you!

5 Reasons Why I LOVE Lentils!

1. Lentils are cheap. I paid $2.99 for a big package of dried green lentils which should be enough for at least 10 servings. Costing it out, that’s about 30 cents for a solid serving of protein! Not bad, especially when foods costs are skyrocketing these days.

2. Lentils are nutritious. A 3/4 cup serving of cooked lentils is a substitute for meat, an excellent source of iron and packs in about 25% of my daily quota for fibre.

3. Lentils need no soaking.
Unlike many other dried beans, lentils don’t have to be soaked prior to cooking – a real time saver!

4. Lentils are versatile.
For week 3 of my Pulse Pledge, I made Easy Lentils and Rice. Last week, I used a can of lentils to make an amazing Lentil Shepherd’s Pie.

5. Lentils are delicious. They add texture and soak up any spices or flavours in your recipe. Give these nutritious gems a try!

Easy Lentils and Rice

Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red or orange pepper, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
1 cup dried green or brown lentils
2 cups sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable broth

1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Fry onion, garlic, celery and red pepper for a few minutes. Add cumin and salt. Continue cooking until onions are soft.
2. Stir in the lentils.
3. Add broth and bring to boil.
4. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes until the lentils are tender.
5. Serve over cooked rice, whole grain couscous or quinoa.

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