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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!


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.

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