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4 trends that will change what we eat in 2021

White cloth grocery bag filled with items including baguette, lettuce, red pepper and carrot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2021! With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, our eating habits will continue to be shaped by a focus on comfort foods and a desire to keep our immune systems strong. The United Nations’ declaration of International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, along with a passion for planetary health are also driving what we put in our grocery bags.

1. Comfort Foods 

The winter is typically a time when we crave comfort foods because the days are shorter and there’s less sunlight. With the added stress of lockdown and quarantine, comfort foods will be here to stay for a while.

Comfort foods can be anything that makes you feel good and gives you a sense of safety during these times of uncertainty. Comfort foods can be nostalgic and bring back good memories.

Often, comfort foods contain carbs because eating carbs triggers the production of serotonin which is the neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy and calm.

Expect to see more comfort food offerings in grocery stores, meal kits and take-out menus.

Sue’s tips: Be kind to yourself. Comfort foods are called comfort for a reason. Think of other activities and hobbies that can also provide comfort and wellbeing – like walking the dog, yoga, meditation, and getting enough sleep.

2. Foods to Support Our Immunity

 COVID-19 reminds us of just how important it is to take care of ourselves to prevent illness and keep our immune system strong. In addition to good hygiene and physical distancing, getting the right nutrition can help.

What’s really important to remember is that there isn’t one miracle food or one special nutrient that can “boost” your immunity. Instead, think of your immune system as a team with different players. The players are the nutrients that work together to keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Some important nutrients for immunity are:

Vitamin A & Beta-carotene – (beta-carotene gets converted into vitamin A) – beta-carotene is found in dark green and orange veggies like broccoli, spinach, carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C – found in foods like oranges, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, kiwi

Vitamin D – found in foods like eggs, milk, some yogurt, salmon, mushrooms

Zinc – found in foods like beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish

Selenium – found in foods like Brazil nuts, oysters, canned fish, wheat germ

Protein – found in foods like eggs, beans, chickpeas, tofu, fish, meat, dairy –protein helps make antibodies to fight off foreign invaders in our body

Sue’s tips: Eat a variety of foods every day to get a good mix of nutrients. Talk to a dietitian or your health care professional if you’re thinking about taking supplements.

3. Fruits and Veggies

 2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Veggies, declared by the United Nations. We know that fruits and veggies are Mother Nature’s superheroes, playing an important role in preventing chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Fruits and veggies are also great sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C – two important nutrients for our immune system.

The World Health Organization recommends that we eat at least 400 grams of fruit and veggies every day – that’s about 5 servings a day. Canada’s food guide recommends that fruit and veggies make up half our plate.

Sue’s tip: Eat colourful fruit and veggies at every meal. Try them in different ways – raw, steamed, roasted, in soups, stir-frys or stews. Grow your own, buy local and buy in season.

4. Climatarian

A climatarian describes a person who is trying to fight climate change and stop global warming. The overall idea is to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce food waste.

According to research by the University of Guelph, families throw out over 3 kg of edible food each week which adds up to over $1,000 per year. Fruits, vegetables and leftovers are the most common types of foods that are wasted.

Generally speaking, a climatarian considers:

  • reducing food waste by using all parts of the plant or all parts of the animal when eating meat (e.g. use beet leaves in a stir-fry; use carrot leaves and veggie scraps to make a soup or broth; use citrus peel for zest)
  • choosing locally produced food (to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation)
  • choosing foods with minimal packaging, and reducing the use of plastics
  • choosing a sustainable method of transportation such as walking or cycling to get groceries

Sue’s tips: Reduce food waste and food packaging. Keep an inventory of the foods you have in the pantry and fridge. Use up what you have and buy only what you need.

[Image: Canva]

 

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

California Fig and Coconut Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats figs - 1

With my on-the-go lifestyle, I’m always looking for wholesome, nutritious meals especially for breakfast. I’m a fan of overnight oats because it’s a no-cook, easy to make, grab-and-go kind of recipe. I first had a taste test of this delicious recipe at a media event hosted by California Figs. Available all year round, California dried figs are either Dried Black Mission figs which have a deep earthy flavour, or Dried Golden Figs which taste a bit sweeter. You can use either type of dried fig in this recipe for a natural sweetness as well as fibre, calcium and magnesium.

California fresh figs are available from May to December. Can’t wait! Nearly 50% of California fresh figs are exported to Canada. Since 2013, 75 new products containing figs were introduced into the market. Expect to see even more product and recipe innovations as fig has been named the flavour of the year for 2018 by Firmenich, a Swiss fragrance and flavour company.

California Fig and Coconut Overnight Oats

Ingredients
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup milk
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 T chia seeds
2 tsp pure maple syrup
¼ cup (3-5) California Dried Golden or Black Mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 T unsweetened shredded coconut
Optional garnish: ½ dried fig, 1 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions
Put the oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, maple syrup, figs and coconut into a 12-ounce jar or bowl. Stir well. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Stir again just before serving and top with optional garnish.

Makes 1 serving. (Recipe source: California Figs)

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]

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 Food Innovations from the 2017 SIAL Show

SIAL Sue

This year marked the 150th anniversary of SIAL – North America’s largest food innovation show! We were there and here’s what caught our eye!

Quinoa still going strong

Making its foray into the baby / toddler food market, Bio-Kinetics introduced an organic Sprouted Whole Grain Quinoa Baby Cereal. Millennial moms will be pleased with the clean ingredient deck (nothing but quinoa). Also in this line-up are sprouted oats and sprouted buckwheat cereal. #GetKidsHookedOnQuinoaEarly

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Building on the convenience trend, France-based Sabarot showcased Le Petit Quinoa, a ready-to-slice roll of quinoa – really! Recognized as a top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award, the product can be sliced, grilled, fried and used in a variety of dishes. #ConvenienceMeetsHealthy

SIAL quinoa loaf2.

The Millennial Market

It was the name of the exhibitor booth – “Millennial Foods Inc.” – that made me stop in my tracks! Quebec-based founder Simon Letendre created a “North Americanized” version of bubble tea. Instead of using tapioca, the tea is made with Mubbles – which stands for “Molecular Bubbles” and are essentially tiny fruit juice bubbles made via a molecular spherification process. Mubbles are packaged in a small container, much like a fruit cup and can also be used in drinks, salads and desserts. #InterestingButALittleTooSweetForMe

Sial mubbles1

Healthy Snacks

Innovation often starts in the home or farm kitchen. This is true for Spokes – air-puffed potato snacks, shaped like bike spokes, with 40 calories per cup and no preservatives. Created by Calgarian #SeniorEntrepreneur Elaine Cadrin, Spokes is geared to millennials. “The millennial mom is our target,” says Mike Cadrin, Senior Sales Director and proud son, “They’re looking for a super clean ingredient deck and want something special and unique.” #LovedTheMangoHabaneroFlavour

SIAL spokes potato chips 3

Another one of our favourite snacks at the SIAL show were these Crunchy Peas – made by Zak’s Organics, a fourth generation family-run farm in the small community of Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan (where the population is under 500). Inspired by Allen Zak’s own kids, the snacks are made from organic whole green peas and available in four different taste profiles with a new #trendingflavour mango habanero launching next month. #GrownInTheCanadianPrairies

Sial Zaks crunchy peas

East Meets West

If you’ve never tasted sea vegetables, Acadian Seaplants wants you to try! Hana Tsunomata is a sea plant that’s cultivated in the east coast. It’s available in a trio of colours: pink to represent Japan’s cherry blossoms; green to represent new life; and yellow to represent the chrysanthemum which is the favourite flower of the Japanese royal family. The product must be rehydrated in water for about eight minutes and can be used to add colour and texture to salads, cold noodles or pasta dishes. Holly Reardon, Brand Strategist for the product says food service is their primary market. #SeaVeggie

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Sweet Stuff

A Quebec-based company, Great Northern Maple, developed Kombucha Syrup. The ingredients are evaporated cane juice, black tea and kefir cultures. Though the product claims to have probiotics, there is no disclosure of the amount. #DidntWinMeOver

IMG_6639

Février 29 was another top 10 finalist for the SIAL Grand Award for it’s fun way to package Maple Syrup. Designed to sit right on the counter, the syrup is packaged in a bag-in-tub container, complete with a spout. And what’s the rationale for the company’s name? February 29 makes every day exceptional, 366 days of the year. #CoolPackaging

SIAL feb 29 maple syrup2

Taking the Grand Prize at this year’s SIAL show was Taj Food’s Saffron Sugar Cubes. According to Sap Hariri, Sales Director for the product, the sugar cubes allow consumers to add flavour and sweetness their teas all at once. The sugar cubes are also available in cinnamon and cardamom flavours. #SweetMeetsSpice

SIAL sugar cubes winner

66% of Packaged Foods Contain Added Sugar!

Sue Heather - 2

A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 66% of processed foods contain at least one type of added sugar in the ingredients list. Registered Dietitian Sue Mah shared her thoughts on CBC News Network.

Watch the TV interview.

The study found that added sugars were present in products from baby food, baked goods and cereals to frozen dinners, snacks and yogurts.

Sugar, especially added sugar has been under fire for its association with health issues including heart disease, diabetes, dental cavities and obesity. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages. This does not include naturally occurring sugars which are found in foods such as fruit, milk and yogurt.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends limiting added sugars to a maximum of 10% of total calories in a day. For an average 2,000 calorie diet, 10% is about 48 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugars a day.

In the USA, added sugars must be disclosed on nutrition labels by July 26, 2018. The situation differs here in Canada. Added sugars will not be disclosed on nutrition labels. Health Canada has set the % Daily Value (%DV) at 100 grams for total sugars (added sugars plus naturally occurring sugars).

Here’s my advice:

1. Read the Nutrition Facts table. Foods with 5 grams or less sugar per serving would be considered to have “a little” sugar whereas foods with 15 grams or more sugar per serving would be considered to have “a lot” of sugar.

sugar a little a lot

2. Read the ingredients list. By 2021, different sugars will be identified individually and grouped together as “Sugars” on the ingredients list. In the meantime, look for ingredient names that indicate sugar or end in ‘ose’ which are sugars too (e.g. dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose).

3. Look at the whole food.
Just because a food has little or no sugar doesn’t mean that it is a healthy or nutritious choice. Choose wholesome, foods for minimal sugar and maximum nutrition.

2016 Year in Review: Top Nutrition Headlines and What to Expect in 2017

cauliflower-sue-pulses-sugar-final

Wow, it’s been quite a year for trending food and nutrition issues! Here’s my take on the top three nutrition headlines of the year plus what you can expect in 2017.

1. CAULIFLOWER CRISIS

Who can ever forget the $8 sticker shock on a head of cauliflower in January?! It became the poster child for rising food prices in Canada. According to the CBC, the price of fresh veggies rose by 13% in the past two years.

What to expect in 2017: The average Canadian family can expect to pay up to $420 more for food next year, according to Canada’s Food Price Report, an annual publication by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The price of meats, fish, seafood and fresh vegetables may rise as much as 4 to 6 percent. Lead author Sylvain Charlebois points to weather disruptions caused by La Nina, energy related costs and the tanking Loonie as factors affecting the price hikes.

What you can do: Look at grocery store flyers and use e-coupons. Plan your meals and plan to use the leftovers too. See more money-saving tips in my interview with CBC The Exchange.

2. INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PULSES
Declared by the United Nations, the International Year of Pulses successfully raised our awareness of pulses and their many health benefits. Chef Michael Smith, Canada’s ambassador of the International Year of Pulses, kicked off the year with an invitation for all of us to take the Pulse Pledge and eat pulses at least once a week for 10 weeks.

What to expect in 2017: The buzz about pulses will continue, starting with Global Pulse Day which occurs January 18th of every year. It’s a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the 2016 International Year of Pulses. With rising food costs, look to economical and versatile pulses to be a staple on your grocery list.

What you can do: Plan to eat at least one meatless meal each week using beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas. Here are some of my favourite recipes – including a delicious flourless chickpea chocolate cake!

3. SUGAR TAX
In February, the Dietitians of Canada released a position statement calling for a 10-20% excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and specialty coffee / tea beverages seems to be linked to excess weight in both kids and adults. In March, the Senate Report on Obesity also recommended a new tax on sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages as one of many efforts to fight obesity in Canada.

What to expect in 2017: Sugar will continue to be under fire. In his Spring 2016 budget speech, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau pledged to help families make better choices, including actions to include more information about added sugars on food labels. Earlier this month, Health Canada opened a public consultation about its proposed front-of-package nutrition labels. For the first time ever, sugar would be called out as one of the three nutrients that can negatively affect our health if consumed in excess. Health Canada proposes to set the % Daily Value (%DV) for total sugars (natural and added sugars) at 100 grams per day. Under these proposed new labelling regulations, foods which contain 15 grams or more of total sugars per serving would be considered “high in sugars” and carry a warning symbol.

What you can do: Share your opinions about nutrition labelling. Complete this brief consumer questionnaire and / or complete the technical questionnaire both by January 13th, 2017. This is YOUR chance to help shape the future of nutrition labelling in Canada.

New Nutrition Labels are Coming!

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger

It’s official! After two years of public consultations, Health Canada has finalized the changes to the Nutrition Facts table and ingredients list on packaged foods. On December 14th, 2016, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health announced that these changes are all part of the strategy to help make healthy food choices the easy choice for all Canadians.

Here’s a quick at-a-glance comparison of the old versus the new Nutrition Facts table as well as ingredients lists.


The new Nutrition Facts table puts a greater emphasis on calories, potassium, calcium and iron. For the first time ever, there will be a % Daily Value (% DV) for total sugars at 100 grams:

nutrition-labels-old-vs-new-bigger


Colours will now be identified by their name rather than collectively grouped as “colours”:

ingreds-list-new

Different sugars will still be identified individually by name, and will now be grouped together as “Sugars”:

ingreds-list-sugars

The food industry has until 5 years – until 2021 – to make these changes, but you may start seeing new labels as early as next year.

Winners of the 2016 Grocery Innovations Show

Here are a few of the winning products, as selected by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.

black-water

blk. Alkaline Mineral Water
blk. is a pure alkaline water that is infused with fulvic trace minerals.This beverage is naturally black with no artificial dyes or colouring. Fulvic acid (also called humic acid) occurs naturally in soil and sediment. Like all plain, unflavoured waters, blk has zero calories, zero sugar and zero caffeine.
My take: Tastes earthy. There are no human requirements for fulvic acid. Might make a good Halloween drink.

goh-goh-granola
goh-goh cereal
goh-goh cereal is made with air-dried milk. The first two ingredients are whole grain rolled oats and goh-goh whole milk powder. After adding water (warm or cold), the cereal is reconstituted. Available in two flavours: Honey, Hemp & Flax; and Raisin & Almond. A servings contains: 270-290 calories, 6-9 g fat, 43-45 g carbohydrates, 8-10 g protein, 3-4 g fibre, 15-20 g sugars and 10-15% DV (Daily Value) for calcium.
My take: Higher in sugars than I’d like, but tastes quite nice and is very filling. A novel idea for those who are camping, travelling or on the “goh”.

chickpea-beverage
Chickpea beverage
Made from organic chick peas, this is the first fortified chickpea beverage in the world. A serving (1 cup) contains: 70 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1 g omega-3 fat (from flaxseed oil), 2 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 0 g sugars and 30% DV (Daily Value) for calcium. (Vitamin D content not available.)
My take: Really does tastes like chickpeas. Contains more protein than other plant-based beverages such as almond beverage or rice beverage.

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