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Good Things Grow in Ontario!

Sue smiling and holding two strawberries as earrings in strawberry field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid, I remember singing the tune ‘Good things grow in Ontario!’ And that lyric still holds true today.

I was recently invited by Farm Food Care Ontario to attend a farm tour in beautiful Norfolk County where we had the chance to learn more about food and agriculture!

First stop: Strawberry Tyme Farms

Dalton and John Cooper standing in a high tunnel strawberry field

Meet Dalton Cooper, a 4th generation berry farmer and his dad John. Originally an apple farm since 1939, the family now grows berries using innovative varieties and growing techniques. Traditionally, strawberries harvest in June but a new ‘day-neutral’ strawberry fruits for 5-6 months, extending the typical strawberry season from June / July well into October.

John gave us a little strawberry physiology lesson to understand how this works. ‘June strawberries’ are named as such because they fruit in June. These berries are planted in the Fall when the days are short, and bear fruit in June when the days are long. On the other hand, ‘day-neutral’ strawberries are an annual variety planted in the spring with berries ready to pick about 12 weeks later. The berries continue fruiting regardless of the length of the day, which is why they’re called ‘day-neutral’!

The strawberries are grown on table tops in high tunnels which protect the berries from damaging heavy rains and maintains a moderate temperature. Not to mention, it’s much easier to pick these berries! The Cooper family also grows long cane raspberries, a growing technique where the berries are grown in pots and produce fruit in their second year.

Fun facts: There are 675 farms across Ontario which grow strawberries. Ontario growers produce between 6,000-7,000 tonnes of strawberries each year!

 

Next stop: Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden with their family of Jamaican workers

Image: Facebook Suncrest Orchards

Farmers Amanda and Hayden Dooney have owned the Suncrest Orchards since 2019 and work with a wonderful Jamaican family of eight employees including Raymond and George.  They’re seasonal agricultural workers who come up to the farm as early as March and stay until the end of October or longer. The farm grows and harvests seven different varieties of apples: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Sunrise, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Royal Gala and Ambrosia.

Red gala apples growing on a bush

At lunch, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with some of the workers. Amanda says, “We have huge respect and appreciation for the sacrifice they make to come up and help with our orchard.”  Livian, (pictured front left below), for example, has worked seasonally on farms for 25 years and is proud to have supported his four kids through university. Indeed, let’s all give our thanks to the amazing farmers and seasonal agricultural workers who work so hard to grow delicious and nutritious food!

Are you hosting an educational tour? Contact me to cover the event and share highlights!

This event was sponsored travel and this blog reflects my own learning experiences. Thanks to the event sponsors for hosting a truly inspiring and heart-warming event: Farm and Food Care OntarioGreenBeltMore than a Migrant WorkerOntario Apple GrowersOntario Berries and the Ontario Produce Marketing Association.

 

New Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels are Coming to Canada

A magnifying glass with the words "High in sat fat, sugars, sodium"

 

 

 

 

 

You’re probably already familiar with the Nutrition Facts information found on the back of food packages. Health Canada is now introducing a new nutrition symbol that will appear on the front of food packages. This new front-of-package (FOP) nutrition symbol will help consumers quickly identify foods which are high in saturated fats, sugars and / or sodium. Here’s what you need to know.

Background

According to Heart and Stroke, 60% of the food we buy is prepackaged and processed, and many of these foods may be high in saturated fats, sugars and / or sodium. Eating a diet that’s high in these nutrients of concern is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer. At the same time, 8 out of 10 Canadians say that nutrition is important when choosing foods.

To help Canadians make informed choices, Health Canada is introducing a new front-of-package (FOP) nutrition symbol to identify packaged foods which are high in saturated fats, sugars and / or sodium. The regulations came into effect on July 20, 2022 and food companies have until January 1, 2026 to update their packaging their labels. Over 40 countries including Chile, Argentina, Mexico and New Zealand, currently have a front-of-package nutrition labelling system.

 

What does the new front-of-package (FOP) symbol look like?

French only front-of-package symbol

Horizontal front-of-package label with magnifying glass and words

 

 

 

 

The new FOP symbol is a black and white image of a magnifying glass along with the name(s) of the nutrient(s) of concern – saturated fat, sugars and / or sodium – that are deemed high in the packaged food or beverage. It may appear either as a horizontal or vertical symbol. The FOP symbol may appear on the food package as one bilingual symbol or as two separate symbols in both official languages.

English only front-of-package symbol

French only front-of-package symbol

 

 

 

 

The FOP symbol will always appear on the upper right half of the food package. In the sample chocolate bar below, the symbol indicates that the food is high in saturated fat and sugars.Sample chocolate bar with the front-of-package symbol for high saturated fat and sugars

 

 

 

 

 

Which foods will need to show the FOP symbol?

For most packaged products, the definition of “high” means that the food or beverage contains 15% or more of the Daily Value for saturated fat or sugars and / or sodium per serving.

For example, take a look at the nutrition facts information below for a can of soup. The saturated fat is at 5% DV, the sugars is at 2% DV but the sodium is at 36% DV. So this soup would need to show the front-of-package nutrition symbol with the word sodium to let consumers know that this product is high in sodium.

Nutrition facts table for a can of soup

 

 

Front-of-package symbol for high sodium

Front-of-package symbol needed for the sample can of soup by January 1, 2026

For foods with a small serving size such as salad dressings or pickles, the criteria is 10% DV instead of 15% DV for saturated fat, sugars and sodium. And for pre-packaged main dishes that have a larger serving size, such as a frozen pizza or frozen lasagna, the criteria is 30% DV for those nutrients.

Which foods are exempted from the FOP symbol?

This is a list of some foods which are exempted either because of a recognized health benefit, technical or practical reasons. 

  • Plain fruits and vegetables
  • Plain, unsweetened 2% milk & whole milk
  • Plain cheese and yogurt*
  • Plain nuts / seeds & nut / seed butter
  • Eggs
  • Raw, plain single ingredient meat, poultry & fish, including ground meat
  • Butter, margarine, ghee; Vegetable oils; Sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup; Salt (e.g. table salt, sea salt, Kosher salt, garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt, etc.) – It would simply be redundant and impractical to put a FOP symbol on these foods.

Any of the foods noted above are no longer exempt if they’re made with an ingredient that contains saturated fat, sugars and / or sodium. For example, a bag of plain salad is exempt from the FOP regulations. But is the bag of salad contains bacon bits and salad dressing, the FOP symbol may apply. Similarly, if salt is added to plain nuts, the FOP symbol may apply.

*Cheese and yogurt made from dairy these foods naturally contain saturated fat, sugars (lactose) and sodium (needed in the cheese-making process). However, these foods contain calcium which is considered a “shortfall nutrient” since many Canadians may not be getting enough and calcium. Any plain cheese or yogurt is only exempt from the FOP symbol if a serving of the food contains at least 15% DV for calcium (or at least 10% DV for calcium in foods with a serving size of 30 grams / 30 mL or less). The ongoing need for this exemption will be reassessed after 10 years.

Other exemptions include:

  • Foods that are only sold at a farmer’s market, flea market, craft show, road-side stand or sugar bush by the person who prepared and processed the product
  • Packaged individual portions of foods that are only intended to be served by a restaurant to accompany a meal or snack, such as coffee creamers or individually packaged crackers often served with soups at restaurants
  • Foods sold in very small packages or with limited display space, such as milk, cream and goat’s milk which are sold in refillable glass containers since there available labelling space is limited to the lid

Pros and Cons

Pros: The FOP symbol will help consumers make informed food choices. In Chile, where a similar FOP labelling system has been in effect since 2016, 92% of consumers said that the FOP label influenced their food purchase. And overall household food purchases in Chile contained 37% less sodium and 27% less sugars.

Another pro is that this new nutrition labelling policy will inspire food companies to reformulate their products. In the next four years, expect to see new and improved products containing less saturated fat, sugars and sodium.

Cons: The FOP symbol could promote a “good food vs bad food” mentality which supports diet culture. Remember that we eat food for more than just nutrition. We eat food for celebration, comfort and connection.

Sue’s advice

Use the new FOP symbol as another tool to help you make informed choices. Read the Nutrition Facts table on the back of the package to see what other nutrients are offered in the food. Look at the ingredients list to determine whether any fat, sugars or sodium have been added to the product. If you happen to occasionally eat a food / beverage that has a FOP symbol, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. All foods can be enjoyed in moderation and fit into a healthy, balanced diet.

 

This article originally appeared on Canadian Food Focus, an excellent resource for information about food and farming.

 

 

Find Your Healthy with Traditional Cuisines – Week 4

Middle Easter Dolma - grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat - arranged in a white bowl with sliced lemons in the background*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.**

Welcome back to the Nutrition Month 2021 blog series!

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.

Build a community that appreciates everyone’s food cultures

In Week 1, we talked about how cultural foods should be a part of your healthy meals. Read the post here. In Week 2, we talked about the importance of forming social connections through cultural food. You can find the post here.  In week 3, we talked about the importance of instilling cultural food heritage in your children. You can find the post here.

Today we transition a bit from focusing on our culture to exploring food options from other cultures. I believe we grow a little more when we step out of our comfort zone and appreciate something from a different culture. Similarly, rejecting foods from a different culture before tasting them would be a missed opportunity to grow. In Canada, we do not just tolerate other cultures, we celebrate them, and it should be no different when it comes to food. 

How do you build a community that appreciates everyone’s food cultures? Let’s hear from my colleagues Atour Odisho and Aleeya Zack-Coneybeare!

head shot of Atour Odisho

Atour Odisho, Dietetic Graduate Studen

Atour Odisho, Dietetic Graduate Student

Instagram: @atour.in.nutrition

  1. What’s your cultural background?

I am Middle Eastern

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

In my culture, food is medicine, and in my upbringing food is emphasized in the role of nutrition and healing. It is also a way to celebrate with family and friends. There is never too much food!

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

My favourite cultural food is dolma, which is wrapped grape leaves. I love this because every Middle Eastern has a different twist to it.  Here is my recipe.

Dolma arranged on a white plate with cut lemons in the backgound

Dolma [Image: Canva]

Ingredients: 4 cups white basmati rice, 8 tomatoes, chopped, 2 bunches of flat parsley, chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 can of tomato paste (or salsa), 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses (or to taste), about 3/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp dill (or to taste), 1 tbsp of sumac, salt & pepper to taste, and 18 oz of grape leaves. You can also mix in 1 pound ground beef or lamb.

Instructions: Mix everything together, except the grape leaves. Once everything is mixed, stuff each grape leaf with the mixture. Make sure all sides are closed, so the rice doesn’t escape when cooking. Next, assort the wrapped grapes leaves in a big pot. Add water and some more lemon juice to cover all grape leaves. Add in an appetizer plate and press down to secure the grape leaves together. Set on high-medium heat until water boils, then let it simmer for 30 minutes. ENJOY!

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

I hope that Canadians continue to explore other cuisines and dishes to diversify their palates. Cook traditional dishes from other cultures, dine-in restaurants from various cultures, explore International food aisles, or just be curious and ask questions!

head shot: a grad photo of leeya Zack-Coneybeare

Aleeya Zack-Coneybeare
Dietetic Graduate Student

Aleeya Zack-Coneybeare, Dietetic Graduate Student

 

  1. What’s your cultural background?

I am Ojibway which is an Indigenous group here in Canada.

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

Food is ingrained within every aspect of our culture; it represents our way of life. Food connects our people to our traditions, our spirit, and our ancestors. Food plays an important role in our traditional ceremonies, as most usually end in a feast. We also use food to honour our spirits, ancestors, and mother earth by offering a spirit plate before beginning a feast. A spirit plate is filled with samples of all the food items at the feast, we set it outside and offer a prayer.

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

My favourite cultural ingredient is wild rice, due to its rich nutrients and the variety of recipes and meals it could be added to.

My family makes Turkey and Wild Rice soup very often! Here is the recipe.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup in a white bowl with a spoon, taken at a birds eye view

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup [Image: Canva]

Ingredients:

Turkey Stock -Turkey carcass (from a roasted bird), 1 carton chicken broth, 1 carton chicken broth, 1 onion, 2 celery sticks, 2 carrots, basil leaf, 1tsp thyme, water to cover

Soup – chicken or vegetable stock, ¾ wild rice, 2 carrots, bite-size, 2 celery sticks, bite-size, 1 tsp chicken bouillon, half yam, chopped, ½ cup corn, 2 cups shredded/chopped turkey meat

Instructions: 

Turkey Stock – In a large pot add carcass, chicken broth, onion, celery and carrots. Add enough water. Add salt, pepper, thyme and basil leaf. Bring to boil and simmer on low for 12 hours. Strain and put the stock back into the pot.

Soup – Add a carton of chicken/vegetable broth to the stock (Taste and add chicken bouillon if needed). Bring to a boil and add wild rice (cook for 30 minutes on a low boil). Add freshly chopped celery and carrots (cook for 10-15 minutes). Add chopped yam (cook for 10-15 minutes). Add corn (cook for 5-10 minutes). Add shredded/chopped turkey meat (cook for 10 minutes). Turn off heat and ready to serve!

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

I would like to say to Canadians, the Indigenous cuisine is beautiful and that I highly recommend exploring our foods and culture and all the other diverse cuisines Canada has to offer!

Bottom Line

Being accepting and wholeheartedly celebrating other traditional cuisines will allow Canadians of colour to enjoy their cultural foods with pride. There will be no guilt around carrying their cultural foods with them to school, work, or anywhere else they go. As we have discussed through this series, enjoying cultural foods is an important aspect of healthy eating. So, help your fellow Canadians to find their healthy by appreciating their cultural foods and practices!

Come back next week to learn more about traditional cuisines and healthy eating in our final post of the Nutrition Month 2021 blog series. Click here to learn more about the Nutrition Month 2021 campaign.

Let’s Talk

Have you ever tried a dish from a different culture and instantly fell in love with it? Let us know in the comments below!

headshot of Deepanshi Salwan

Deepanshi Salwan

Written 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.

 

 

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]

 

Grocery Tips during COVID-19

small images of a person, grocery cart, strawberry and hand to accompany the overlay text of tips

Here’s an easy summary of tips for grocery shopping during the COVID crisis.

The great debate – should you wipe food packages and containers?

Some health professionals are saying yes, while others are saying no. According to the National Institutes of Health, coronavirus can survive on food packages for 24 hours (cardboard) or up to 2 or 3 days (plastic and stainless steel). At the same time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food or food packaging. So what should you do?

Personally, I’m buying groceries and cooking for elderly family members. So as a precaution, I’ve decided to wipe down packaged goods with a sanitizing solution (1 tsp bleach + 3 cups water).

The key messages to lower your chances of getting COVID-19 are:  Wash your hands often. Don’t touch your face. And keep your distance.

Stay safe, stay strong everyone!

Food Innovation Winners at the SIAL 2019 Show

One of my favourite food shows is SIAL – it’s the premier event for food innovation and food inspiration. Here are just a few highlights from this year’s event in Toronto.


Winners of the SIAL Innovation Contest

It’s always exciting to see the winners unveiled at this 12th annual international competition. This year’s three grand-prize winners are:

GOLD Grand Prize – Vegan Keto Buns by Unbun Keto Foods: Described as 100% plant-based, these buns are made with almond flour, pumpkin seed protein powder, coconut flour, psyllium husk, flax meal and chia seed meal. According to the company’s website, the buns are gluten-free, vegan, keto, grain-free, starch-free and paleo. Each bun (87g) contains 260 calories, 18 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 14 g carbohydrates, 11 g fibre, 1 g sugars, 11 g protein and 370 mg sodium.

SILVER Prize – Yummy Doh Raw Cookie Dough: It’s exactly what it’s says it is – a vegan cookie dough that is safe to eat raw (there’s no egg product) and can also be baked into cookies. Made with heat treated enriched wheat flour, a 2 Tablespoon serving contains 120 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 8 g sugars, 1 g protein and 120 mg sodium.

Bronze prize – ICE Oat-based Coffee: This innovation is an oat-based coffee drink that’s made from oats and cold pressed sunflower oil. It’s marketed as a dairy-free, vegan drink for coffee lovers. The cylinder-shaped cardboard package is cool! In 100 mL, the nutritional profile is 54 calories, 1.2 g fat, 9.6 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g sugars, 0.2 g fibre, 1.1 g protein, 74 mg caffeine per can.

Hopeful Prize – Partake Pale Ale-Craft Non-Alcoholic Beer: This new award recognizes food startups. Made with water, barley, hops and yeast, and 0.3% ABV, the beer contains 10 calories per 355 ml can.

Canadian Plate Challenge
New to SIAL this year was a culinary competition hosted by the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute. Four chefs from across the country were challenged to create a healthy, sustainable dish that “tastes like Canada”, using 13 ingredients from each province and territory. The competing chefs were:
– Andrea Carlson of Burdock and Co. in Vancouver, British Columbia
– Laura Maxwell of Le Sélect Bistro in Toronto, Ontario
– Josh Crowe of Monkland Taverne in Montreal, Quebec
– Pierre Richard of Little Louis’ Oyster Bar in Moncton, New Brunswick

And the winner is…Pierre Richard for a twist on his traditional chowder. Using a variety of ingredients like dried morel mushrooms from the Yukon and snow crab from Newfoundland and Labrador, Pierre plated the dish with a bannock-inspired tuile and a pour over ‘Ocean Nage’ intended to represent the coming tide of The Bay of Fundy.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Written by: Sue Mah, Registered Dietitian & Founder, Nutrition Solutions Inc.

[Images: SIAL Canada]

The NEW Canada’s Food Guide is here!

Plate

Today, Federal Minister of Health, Ginette Petitapas Taylor launched the new Canada’s Food Guide. The new Food Guide takes a modern approach to communicating guidance to consumers, health professionals and policy makers. This first suite of resources includes a document Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers, as well as a Food Guide Snapshot.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s new in the Food Guide:

1. Positive key messages for Canadians in a modern format. Key messages are: Eat well. Live well. Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. The new Food Guide delivers healthy eating information in a mobile-friendly web application.

2. Beyond food. Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. The new Food Guide offers advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat. Tips include cooking more often, eating meals with others, being mindful of your eating habits, enjoying your food, limiting foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, using food labels, and being aware of food marketing.

3. Food groupings instead of food groups. Bye bye rainbow and the four food groups. A healthy meal is comprised of a variety of foods from three key food groupings: vegetables and fruit; whole grains; and protein foods. These foods should be consumed regularly.

4. Proportions not portions. There are no recommended servings to eat or serving sizes of food. A plate snapshot of the Food Guide gives at-a-glance information on what to eat. In the plate snapshot, 1/2 the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits; ¼ of the plate is comprised of whole grains; and ¼ of the plate is made up of protein foods.

5. Water is the beverage of choice. To help Canadians stay hydrated without adding calories to the diet, water is recommended. Alcoholic beverages are also flagged as potentially adding calories with little to no nutritive value.

The suite of online resources replaces the old “all-in-one” version of the previous Food Guides. More information and recipes are available from Health Canada. Additional consumer resources are expected to be released later this year.

Read about my chat with Canada’s Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor about the new Food Guide.

Sue + Minister of Health Ginette Jan 23 2019 - 1

Dietitians are experts in translating the science of nutrition into practical healthy living messages for Canadians. Contact me for more a presentation or workshop about the new Canada’s Food Guide.

Written by: Sue Mah, MHSc, RD, PHEc – Founder & President, Nutrition Solutions Inc.

Unlock the Potential of Food – here’s what FOOD can do for YOU!

Unlock potential of food

As dietitians, we are passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health! For March – Nutrition Month, and all year long, celebrate these benefits of delicious, wholesome, nourishing food.

Food can FUEL your body and mind. According to the Dietitians of Canada, almost half of Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is challenging for them because they are so busy, and nearly 30% turn to snacks to stay fuelled. The right food choices will not only energize you but also maximize your creativity and productivity! For a healthy snack, we love combining produce with protein – try egg and avocado toast, peanut butter on apple slices, or tuna with veggie sticks. Work with me to create wellness foodservice menus or to build a positive nutrition workplace environment.

Food can help kids DISCOVER healthy eating. Did you know that 38% of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack? Let’s get kids in the kitchen! Kids are more likely to eat what they’ve made, so take the opportunity to help kids discover and be adventurous with food. Find a recipe that you can make together. Try new foods and flavours. Shop for groceries together too.

Food can PREVENT health problems. Healthy eating, being active and living smoke-free together can prevent about 80% of premature stroke and heart disease. There are many different “diets” or “eating patterns” such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH diet and the MIND diet. Find out more about these diets at my upcoming 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 18th. We’ll look beyond the fad diets and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Food can HEAL. Dietitians believe in and understand the potential of food to help you heal and feel your best. Work with a dietitian to heal during illness and enhance your health. As the trusted food and nutrition experts, dietitians can help you: manage your blood sugar levels, lower your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol, manage the side effects of cancer care treatments, navigate a gluten-free diet, reach / maintain a healthy weight, and stay nourished when eating/swallowing is a challenge.

Food can BRING US TOGETHER. Eating together has benefits for everyone! Children who eat with their families tend to eat more veggies and fruit, consume fewer less sugar-sweetened drinks, have better academic performance, are at a lower risk for being overweight and have a lower chance of developing eating disorders. Teens who eat with their families get better grades and are less likely to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, or engage in serious fights. Adults who eat with friends and family eat more vegetables and fruit, drink less pop and have a healthier weight. Older adults who eat as part of a group setting have better overall nutrient intakes and lower rates of malnutrition. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, snack or yes, even dessert – take time to sit down and enjoy food in the company of others!

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.

spiralizer

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

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)

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