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5 Recipes to try for Nutrition Month

Asian chicken sesame chopped salad recipe

Most of us, including myself, usually cook the same 5-7 recipes each week. With the launch of the new Canada’s Food Guide earlier this year and March being National Nutrition Month, now is the time to explore new recipes and take your taste buds on an adventure!

Here are 5 recipes that caught my eye from the Dietitians of Canada. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Layered Top to Bottom Beet Salad

beet root salad recipe

Bruschetta Fish

bruschetta fish recipe

Greek Salad

Greek salad recipe

Asian Chicken Sesame Chopped Salad

Asian chicken sesame chopped salad recipe

Crispy Chickpeas and Pumpkin Seeds with Lime

crispy chickpeas

Happy Nutrition Month! Eat well, live well – this month and all year long!

Sue

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

Barley Butternut Squash Risotto

barley-butternut-squash-risotto-crop
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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls

Shrimp Rice Rolls

A refreshing light meal or cool summertime appetizer when it’s just too hot to cook! Bonus – you can use fresh mint and basil straight from your garden!

Ingredients
2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
8 rice wrappers (about 8.5 inches in diameter)
12 cooked, large shrimp – peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mint leaves
1-2 carrots, julienned about 2 inches long
1/2 cucumber, julienned about 2 inches long

Shrimp Rice Rolls ingreds

Directions
1. Boil water in a kettle. Pour boiling water into a large bowl. Soak rice vermicelli in hot boiling water for about 5 minutes or until noodles are soft. (Or boil rice vermicelli in water for 5 minutes.) Drain.
2. Fill another large bowl with warm water. Carefully dip one rice wrapper into the warm water for 8-10 seconds so that the rice wrapper softens.
3. Place rice wrapper flat on a cutting board. Place 3 shrimp halves in the middle of the rice wrapper. On top of the shrimp, layer on 3 basil leaves, 3 mint leaves, about 1 Tbsp of rice vermicelli noodles, 2 carrot sticks, 2 cucumber sticks. Leave about 2 inches uncovered on each side of the rice wrapper.
4. Fold the short uncovered sides in towards the centre. Tightly roll up the rice wrapper.
5. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. As you are rolling up the remaining rice wrappers, cover the already made spring rolls with a damp towel to prevent the rice wrappers from hardening.
6. Serve with a sweet chili or peanut dipping sauce.
Makes 8 spring rolls.

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

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Get ready for International Year of Pulses!

The United Nations has declared 2016 as International Year of Pulses!

Dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas are examples of pulses. Packed with nutrition, pulses are are a super sources of fibre, iron and protein.

Research from the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that eating 1 serving (3/4 cup) of pulses three times a week lowered the “bad” LDL cholesterol by 5%. Because pulses are a low Glycemic Index food, they cause a slower rise in blood sugar – that’s good news for people with diabetes or anyone watching their blood sugar levels.

Here are some of my favourite pulse recipes which I’ve collected over the years! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (made with lentils)

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Red Lentil & Vegetable Dal

Chickpea Chocolate Cake (you’ve got to try this!)

Book Review: The Ultimate Hockey Cookbook for Hockey Families – by Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey

Any hockey mom or dad knows the challenges of feeding their athletes for games, practices and tournaments. In this new cookbook by Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey, you’ll find nutrition tips and winning recipes for your hockey star.

Phillips is a nutritionist, mom to three active kids, wife to Ottawa Senators’ defenceman Chris Phillips, and herself plays hockey. Kealey is a well-known recipe developer and mom to three competitive hockey players. Together the dynamic duo asked parents and wives of professional hockey pros to share their favourite recipes. The end product, which took two years in the making, is a beautifully illustrated cookbook with easy-to-make recipes from hockey greats including Daniel Alfredsson’s Power Play Meat Sauce, Jason Spezza’s Shoot-Out Sea Bass, and Nick Folgino’s Five-Hole Salad.

A few of the recipes call for veggie and phytoberry powders (a sponsor of the cookbook). While I’m not full convinced of the need for these supplements, Phillips’ nutrition advice is otherwise solid, highlighting the importance of pre-game fuel, hydration, post-game recovery and sleep. The food photography is mouthwatering and the recipes sport fun, hockey-themed names like Penalty-Kill Parfaits and Off-the-Post Purple Smoothie.

As a dietitian and hockey mom myself, I give thumbs up to The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families. If purchased at Canadian Tire, 100% of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to JumpStart, a charity that offers financial assitance to help kids across Canada play sports.

Get cooking for National Nutrition Month!

As the daughter of a Chinese chef, I’m a huge fan of cooking – and eating – delicious, wholesome meals! After all, when you cook from scratch, you can choose healthier ingredients and experiment with different flavours.
Get the kids involved too. Cooking helps to build their confidence in the kitchen and is an important life skill. Plus research shows that eating meals together as a family helps kids eat better and have healthier weights. So to celebrate Nutrition Month, here are some of my favourite tips to help you get creative in the kitchen.
Pick a theme ingredient or cuisine for the month. Then flip through magazines, pick up a new cookbook or surf the Internet for recipe ideas. Me? I’m always looking for easy and nutritious fish recipes. So I’m planning to try this Becel Maple Mustard Salmon recipe. It uses ingredients that I always have on hand and it’s ready in less than 15 minutes – perfect for my busy weeknights!
Stay organized. To save time, prep your ingredients in advance – chop the veggies, marinade the meat, and make the salad dressing the night before so that everything is ready to go as soon as you get home.
Cook once, and eat it twice. I’m planning to take any salmon leftovers from tonight’s dinner and toss it into a salad with red onions, green leafy lettuce, orange peppers and avocado. Leftover cooked beans, meat or pasta will instantly perk up a soup or stir-fry.
Make a few swaps. Do you love to bake? Use milk or yogurt instead of water to give muffins or banana bread a calcium and protein boost. Bake with an unsaturated fat such as soft non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter, shortening or lard. Swap out some of the sugar with dried fruit or grated sweet veggies like carrots or beets – it’s a great way to add fibre to the recipe too.
Share it. We eat with our eyes, so don’t forget to take a snapshot of your finished dish. Tweet it or post it on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. Share the actual recipe too and give it a rating out of five stars. Who knows – you might just inspire someone else to get cooking too – and that would be a wonderful thing!

[Sponsored]

Book Review: MINDfull – by Carol Greenwood, PhD

In the growing trend of healthy aging, MINDfull is an easy-to-read cookbook that will appeal to anyone who wants to optimize their brain health. Greenwood, who is a senior scientist at Baycrest Centre Foundation, has been studying the link between diet and dementia for years.

As Greenwood describes it, the brain “has a wonderful capacity to refresh, to renew and to repair itself and to create new brain cells and new connections throughout a person’s life.” The goal of the book is to inspire healthy lifestyle and eating habits to promote successful aging and prevent the degeneration of one’s cognitive function.

To eat your way towards a healthy brain, Greenwood recommends choosing a balanced, high quality diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables (for polyphenols), whole grains and cereals (for fibre), nuts (for monounsaturated fats), spices (such as turmeric and black pepper for anti-inflammatory antioxidants) and fish (for omega-3 fats). Vitamin E, folate and vitamin B12 are important too. These foods and nutrients support the body and brain in many ways:
• strengthens our blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach every cell in our body;
• nourishes the parts of our brain that are actively involved in speech, learning and reasoning;
• protects our body and brain against inflammation; and
• promotes the growth of new brain cells and neural connections.

Each chapter of the book features practical nutrition information, tips and science-based references. With over 100 brain-boosting recipes like Sweet Potato Waffles, Indian-Spiced Chickpeas, and Malaysian Fish Cakes, you’re sure to find a few new favourites. It’s a welcome addition to my cookbook collection.

Book Reviews

There’s no shortage of food and nutrition books out there! Here’s a sampling of my favourites over the years.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think
By: Brian Wansink, Ph.D., 2006

Hands down, this is one of my all-time favourite nutrition books! Wansink shares his entertaining, real-life research from Cornell University which sheds light on the “invisible” cues that make us eat more that we really need.  The book is filled with easy, practical tips for eating more mindfully, such including using smaller plates, taking “pause points”, and super-sharing instead of super-sizing.

10 Habits that Mess up a Woman’s Diet: Simple Strategies to Eat Right, Lose Weight, and Reclaim Your Health
By: Elizabeth Somer, M.A., RD, 2006

Somer shares common scenarios that promote overeating, such as nibbling while cooking, and finishing off your kids’ plate of food. Many of us can easily identify with these habits. You’ll find great insights from a dietitian and expert advice to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Healthy Starts Here! 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great
By: Mairlyn Smith, PHEc., 2011

Not only is Mairyln Smith one of the funniest gals I know, but she also knows how to create delicious recipes that are absolutely no fail. Smith gives the 101 on must-have kitchen toys as well as a glossary of cooking terms in case, as she notes, you missed grade 8 Home Ec class. From apples and beans to shallots and yogurt, this book offers easy everyday recipes that will wow your family and guests.

GO unDIET – 50 small actions for lasting weight loss
By: Gloria Tsang, RD, 2010

Leave it to Gloria to write a book that is so easy to read and understand! Tsang offers practical tips for weight loss and answers common questions about fat, carbs and artificial sweeteners. This is a great go-to nutrition book for anyone who wants to lose weight and eat better.

 

Cook!
By: Mary Sue Waisman, MSc., RD and Dietitians of Canada, 2011

With over 275 recipes, this cookbook is perfect for the beginner and advanced cook. Waisman, a dietitian and trained chef, compiled this collection of recipes which were submitted by dietitians using home grown Canadian ingredients. Look for my Baked Salmon with Maple Syrup, and Couscous Primavera recipes, as well as my daughter’s delightful Piggy Pancakes.

Foods that Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet
By: Richard Béliveau, Ph.D., and Denis Gringas, Ph.D., 2006

Two cancer experts share their passion for cancer prevention. Referencing the scientific literature, Béliveau and Gringas detail the benefits of various foods including garlic, green tea, berries and chocolate. At times, the content is reminiscent of my university chemistry classes, but the photography is stunning. Be sure to try the recipes in their follow up book called Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer, 2006.

In Defense of Food
By: Michael Pollan, 2008

Fans of Pollan’s widely acclaimed book The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) will not be disappointed by this book. On the first page, Pollan sums his advice in seven simple words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan promotes whole foods and values eating based on tradition, common sense, and the wisdom of our mothers and grandmothers. There are a few nutrition inaccuracies in this book, but all in all, a great read. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2009) is the Reader’s Digest version of the book.

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