Blog / Recipes

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)

8 Food & Nutrition Trends to Watch in 2018

Trends 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choline – The Forgotten Nutrient

Egg cracked

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

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

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

choline DRI chart


Food Sources of Choline

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

choline food sources 3

Strawberry Santas

Strawberry Santas

Just in time for the holidays! These cuties are super simple to make and sure to put a smile on everyone’s face!

Ingredients
20 fresh strawberries
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup icing sugar (more if you’d like it sweeter; less if you’d like it less sweet)
40 mini chocolate chips

Directions
1. Slice the stem off each strawberry so that you have a flat bottom. Turn the strawberry point side up. The wide side of the strawberry faces down and is the base of the Strawberry Santa.
2. Slice the pointed tip of each strawberry (about the top 1/3 of the strawberry). This piece will be the hat.
3. Use a small piece of paper towel to dab off the flat ends of each strawberry piece. This will help the icing stay on.
4. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream and icing sugar.
5. Using a piping bag* with a round tip, pipe a swirl of the icing onto the base of the Strawberry Santa. Gently place the hat on top. Pipe a tiny pompom on the tip of the hat.
6. Add two mini chocolate chips for the eyes.

*If you don’t have a piping bag, simply scoop the icing into a plastic re-sealable bag and cut off a small corner of the bag.

Makes 20 Strawberry Santas

New Product Spotlight – PC Lentil & Bean Bites

Sue and Executive Chef Michelle Pennock

Sue and Executive Chef Michelle Pennock

Last month, I had the fantastic opportunity to taste test some of the new PC (President’s Choice) Blue Menu products in their test kitchen. And wow, was I ever impressed!

PC Blue Menu is known for their innovative, easy and convenient products. One of my favourites was Lentil & Bean Bites – delicious vegetarian meatballs! They’re made with brown rice, lentils, red beans, black beans, part-skim Mozzarella cheese, quinoa and shawarma seasoning. Looking at the nutrition information, these Lentil & Bean Bites are a source of both fibre and omega-3 fats. Plus a serving of 3 bites contains 140 calorie, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and no sugar. Pop them in the oven at 400°F for 12 minutes and they’re ready!

Executive Chef Michelle Pennock served the Lentil & Bean Bites in a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter with a colourful array of vegetables, herbed tahini and warm naan bread. Sure to be a crowd pleaser, this can be served as an appetizer or super-easy supper!

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Ingredients
6 carrots
5 tsp (25 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage (about ¼ of a head)
3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh lemon juice
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) tahini
1 tbsp (15 mL) each chopped fresh cilantro, fresh mint and fresh parsley
1 pkg (400 g) frozen PC Blue Menu Lentil & Bean Bites
1 pkg (250 g) PC Blue Menu Naan Flatbreads (2 flatbreads)
1 pkg (227 g) PC Hummus Chickpea Dip and Spread
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Arrange 1 oven rack in centre and 1 oven rack in lower third of oven.
2. Peel and trim carrots; halve crosswise. Cut larger pieces lengthwise in quarters and smaller pieces lengthwise in half. Toss together carrots, 1 tbsp oil and harissa in large bowl. Arrange in single layer on parchment paper-lined large baking sheet. Bake in lower third of oven, flipping carrots once, until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toss together cabbage, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper and remaining 2 tsp oil in separate large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
4. Whisk together tahini, cilantro, mint, parsley, remaining 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper and 2 tbsp water in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
5. Arrange frozen bites in single layer on greased separate large baking sheet. Bake in centre of oven 5 to 6 minutes. Flip bites; bake in centre of oven 3 minutes. Push bites to 1 side of baking sheet. Arrange flatbreads in single layer on opposite side of sheet; sprinkle flatbreads lightly with water. Bake in centre of oven until bites and flatbreads are hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Stack flatbreads on cutting board; cut into 6 wedges to make 12 pieces total. Arrange flatbreads, lentil bites, carrots, cabbage mixture, hummus, tomatoes and cucumber on large serving platter. Drizzle with tahini mixture.

Serves 6.
Recipe created by Executive Chef Michelle Pennock and reprinted with
permission.

PC Lentil and Bean Bites

Food and Nutrition Trends from FNCE 2017

Sue FNCE sign 1 CROP

We were thrilled to attend the centennial Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) – the world’s largest annual nutrition meeting hosted in Chicago by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics! With over 13,000 attendees, FNCE did not disappoint! The Expo trade show featured hundreds of food and nutrition products. Here are the ones that caught our eye!

PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS

Gut health is a growing trend! Prebiotics and probiotics work together to keep the gut healthy. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that actually act as food for probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in our colon where they help to maintain a balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria. From crackers to drinks to powders, these innovative products are designed to keep your gut healthy.

Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots – probiotic beverages and foods made with fermented veggies. Slogan: We’re here to ferment a food revolution!

Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots – probiotic beverages and foods made with fermented veggies. Slogan: We’re here to ferment a food revolution!

Go Live Probiotic & Prebiotic Beverages – the probiotic is housed in a foil-blister cap which can be added to the beverage when you’re ready to drink. Slogan: Think outside the bottle, look inside the cap!

Go Live Probiotic & Prebiotic Beverages – the probiotic is housed in a foil-blister cap which can be added to the beverage when you’re ready to drink. Slogan: Think outside the bottle, look inside the cap!

Regular Girl – prebiotic fibre and probiotics for the women whose life is anything but regular. Can be sprinkled on food or in beverages. Slogans: Eat, drink and be regular! You go girl! Déjà poo!

Regular Girl – prebiotic fibre and probiotics for the women whose life is anything but regular. Can be sprinkled on food or in beverages. Slogans: Eat, drink and be regular! You go girl! Déjà poo!

PROTEIN

We’ve been watching the protein trend grow for the past decade now. Featured at the FNCE show were protein packed pancake mixes and protein enhanced beauty products.

FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking Mix – boasting 19 grams of protein per 60 g serving from whey protein isolate and pea protein.

FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking Mix – boasting 19 grams of protein per 60 g serving from whey protein isolate and pea protein.

Vital Proteins – from free range bone broth collagen to wild caught marine collagen to collagen beauty water…with the belief that collagen will support bone health, joint health, gut health and a glowing skin, nails and hair.

Vital Proteins – from free range bone broth collagen to wild caught marine collagen to collagen beauty water…with the belief that collagen will support bone health, joint health, gut health and a glowing skin, nails and hair.

PLANT-BASED BEVERAGES

Move over soy, almond and rice. Make way for new plant-based beverages made from nuts and pea protein.

Elmhurst Milked Peanuts – 2 new beverage options: straight up peanuts (made with 21 peanuts) or peanuts plus Dutch cocoa. Contains 8 g of protein per cup however not fortified with either calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B12.

Elmhurst Milked Peanuts – 2 new beverage options: straight up peanuts (made with 31 peanuts) or peanuts plus Dutch cocoa. Contains 8 g of protein per cup however not fortified with either calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B12.

Bolthouse Plant Protein Milk -  made with pea protein, contains 10 g protein per cup and fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Bolthouse Plant Protein Milk – made with pea protein, contains 10 g protein per cup and fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Veggemo – veggie-based  non-dairy beverage made from pea protein. Fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, but only 3-4 g protein per cup.

Veggemo – veggie-based non-dairy beverage made from pea protein. Fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, but only 3-4 g protein per cup.

Health Canada Bans Main Source of Trans Fats in Foods

Trans-Fats

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

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

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

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

[Photo credit: NewHealthAdvisor.com]

Should You Be Worried About Lectins?

Beans_

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to learn? Love to eat?

Sign up for my free nutrition news, tips, trends, recipes and fascinating food facts!