Tags Posts tagged with "Summer"

Summer

Lazy summer days wouldn’t be complete with our favourite warm-weather treats, but this summer, consider mixing up your family’s snacking routine with a variety of delicious – yet nutritious – bites.

Contrary to popular belief, nutritious foods don’t have to be a total yawn fest.  There are several ways to put a fun and delicious spin on healthy alternatives, see below for some inspirational ideas!

  1. Summer Salsa! Turn melon, strawberries and pineapple into a colourful salsa and serve it up with whole grain pita triangles sprinkled with cinnamon.
  2. Savvy Skewers! Layer a variety of fruit and berries onto a skewer with a dip of plain Greek yogurt spiked with honey, cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. T
  3. Popsicle Fun! Think of your favourite flavour combinations and freeze them in popsicle moulds or blend up a frozen banana with honey and a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and you have instant chocolate banana ice cream.
  4. Delicious Dippin’! Kids love to dip, offer cut up vegetables along side a protein packed new spin on hummus by blending together edamame, tahini, roasted garlic and lemon juice, it’ll also taste great with some whole grain crackers.

Hungry yet?

Mixing in some nutritious alternatives will give your family that burst of energy they need to enjoy the rest of summer to its fullest! Enjoy!

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for more than 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and new baby.

RELATED LINKS

Your Nutritional Guide to a Summer Full of Freshness

Delight Your Senses with Our Summer Produce Guide

Buy Local to Add “Spring” to Your Diet!

Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Fall Foods Your Family Should Try

Real Food: Feeding Your Children Right

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By: Melinda Lamarche

July and August are right around the corner and with these hot summer months comes another list of local fresh produce available for the picking.  The produce popping up in July and August are very similar so we’ve decided to combine them in one comprehensive guide.

Although you can find many of these fruits and vegetables year-round in the grocery store, it’s a special treat to enjoy these foods when they are available from local farmers; their fresh flavour can’t be beat!  Check out what’s available this summer and find ways to sneak these foods into your grocery bags and onto your family’s table!

Apricots

These light orange, fuzzy fruits are available in late July and August.  They are full of beta carotene an antioxidant common in orange produce.  Apricots also contain lots of vitamin C and lycopene, both with antioxidant power that help to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.  Lycopene in particular has been linked to reduced risk of prostate, colorectal, breast, lung and stomach cancers. Apricots are also full of potassium, known to help lower blood pressure and of course, like many other fruits and veggies, these little fruits also contain fibre, helping with GI and heart health.

Buying

Look for apricots without any bruises or blemishes.  Make sure there are no browning soft spots as these spots will develop mold in no time.

Storage

You can ripen apricots in a paper bag and once they’re ripe, transfer them to the refrigerator. Keep apricots in a plastic bag or container to keep them fresh a little longer

Peaches  

In late July and early August we start to see baskets of peaches on grocery store shelves and at farmers markets.  Nothing beats the taste of an in-season, locally grown peach.  Peaches are great on the nutrition front containing lots of fibre, potassium, vitamin C, beta carotene and two other antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin.  Both of these antioxidants have been found to play a role in eye health by preventing macular degeneration.

Buying

Choose peaches that are plump and firm with no soft spots, bruises or blemishes.  Tan or brown circles on a peach are a sign of spoilage and like apricots, you will quickly see mold develop on these spots.

Storage

Firm peaches will ripen at room temperature in a few days, once ripe, refrigerate to prevent spoilage

Plums

Plums are also available during these very warm summer months.  Plums are great sources of Vitamin C, beta carotene and the B vitamin riboflavin.  This B vitamin helps the body convert carbohydrates into a source of energy. Beta carotene and vitamin C have antioxidant power helping to reduce the risk of cellular damage that can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Plums are also known to have high fibre content, especially when they are dried and referred to as prunes.

Buying

Plums come in a variety of colours from yellow, to red to a dark purple. Choose firm plums but avoid those that feel too hard as these were likely picked from the tree too early and will not taste as good, even as they ripen. Avoid plums that have cracks in them or discoloured spots or bruising.

Storage

Ripen at room temperature, then store, covered in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator

Blueberries

Early summer brings us sweet strawberries, but as we move into the warmer months of summer, blueberries make their debut.  Blueberries are known for being full of nutritional value.  They contain phytochemicals called anthocyanins that act as antioxidants preventing cataracts and glaucoma.  The antioxidants in blueberries have also been found to reduce the risk of colon and ovarian cancers. Research also shows that blueberries may reduce the risk of Alzheimers, lower blood pressure and have a positive impact on heart health.

Buying

Buy blueberries that are deep blue and firm.  If some berries look crushed or damaged this is a sign of spoiling. Remove berries that are crushed or moldy as these will cause the rest to spoil quickly.

Storage

Store blueberries in the refrigerator. Wash before eating.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Raspberries

Raspberries are also available in July and August.  Raspberries are known to contain the most antioxidants per serving when compared to other berries.  Raspberries contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid which has anti cancer properties.  Their bright ruby red colour also means they contain anthocyanins which are antioxidants which have been shown to inhibit growth of lung, colon and leukemia cells.  And if all those health benefits aren’t enough, raspberries also contain lutein which promotes eye health.

Buying

Raspberries are the most fragile berry and can be crushed easily and spoil quickly.  Look for berries that are somewhat firm and have held their shape after being picked.  Take a look inside to be sure they are not starting to mold.

Storage

Raspberries can spoil very quickly, remove any berries that are crushed or moldy as these will cause the other berries in the same package to spoil quicker.  Keep refrigerated, and like other berries, do not wash them until you are ready to eat them.

Watermelon

Watermelon – the quintessential summer fruit. It is juicy and refreshing on hot summer days thanks to its high water content. These beautiful pink melons are a great source of lycopene, the antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate, lung and stomach cancer.

Buying

There are many tips and tricks to buying the perfect melon.  Choose a melon that is ripe, to determine ripeness, tap the melon, if it sounds hollow then it is ripe.  A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size.  Also, look for a side of the melon that is yellow or creamy and a bit flat, this is also a sign of ripening.

Storage

Keep the uncut melon at room temperature.  Wash the melon before cutting and store cut watermelon covered in the refrigerator.

Corn

Who doesn’t love fresh, local corn in the late days of summer?  Corn is a great source of folate which has been linked to heart health and also prevents neural tube defects in developing fetuses.  Corn also contains the B vitamin thiamin, like other B vitamins, thiamin plays a role in energy metabolism which means it is important for growth, development and the overall function of cells.  Corn is also a source of potassium which helps to lower blood pressure.  Corn helps to promote GI health with its fibre content and has been linked to a lower risk of lung cancer thanks to an antioxidant called beta-cryptoxanthin.

Buying

To ensure corn is fresh, look for ones that have bright green and moist husks with inner silk that is shiny and golden. Kernels should be plump and shiny, not dull and shriveled.

Storage

Corn loses its sweetness and flavour soon after being picked. Store corn in the refrigerator for a few days but don’t wait too long to enjoy.

Peppers

Different varieties of peppers are also available during July and August.  Peppers contain vitamin C helping to promote good immune function and acts as an antioxidant.  Peppers also contain vitamin A which is important for eye health and the B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin which play a role in energy metabolism helping the body use carbohydrates as a source of energy.  Red bell peppers contain more vitamin C and vitamin A then green peppers.

Buying

Choose peppers that are firm and feel solid.  The skin should be shiny and it should feel heavy for its size.  Avoid those that are wrinkled or shrivelled by the stem.

Storage

Store peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator

Tomatoes

Beautiful red tomatoes are popping up in gardens at this time of year.  Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene an anti oxidant with cancer fighting potential.  Lycopene has been linked to reduced risk of prostate, colorectal, breast, stomach and pancreatic cancers.  Tomatoes also promote heart health due to their folate and potassium content.

Buying

Choose tomatoes that are firm with shiny and smooth skin.  Avoid those that are bruised.

Storage

Always store tomatoes at room temperature.  Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator changes their texture and flavour.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini are another vegetable available in July and August. Zucchini are a great source of vitamin C, with just ½ cup providing more than 15% of the daily requirement for adults. This means that zucchini are full of antioxidants which play a role in boosting immune system and preventing some cancers and heart disease.

Buying

Avoid zucchini that are very large, those that are are allowed to grow beyond 6” in length and 2” in diameter tend to have less flavour.  Choose zucchini that are firm with shiny skin and avoid those that are wrinkled or bruised.

Storage

Store, covered in the refrigerator.  Try to use zucchini within 2-3 days.

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for more than 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and new

RELATED LINKS:

Delight Your Senses with Our Summer Produce Guide

Buy Local to Add “Spring” to Your Diet!

Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Fall Foods Your Family Should Try

Real Food: Feeding Your Children Right

 

Photo Credit: Creative/Wikimedia Commons

By: Melinda Lamarche

While the weather has been on the upswing for a while now, the official start to summer is just around the corner! School is winding down and friends and family are coming out of hibernation to spend quality time together, often over a meal or two (or three!)

To get you ready for this season of entertaining, we present our June produce guide featuring a bevy of popular fruits and vegetables to delight your summer senses!

This month the best finds will be cherries, strawberries, cucumbers and green peas.  There is truly nothing better than enjoying these seasonal goodies at the peak of their freshness!  These foods are not only delicious but offer great nutrition profiles, be creative and think of ways to make these foods the star of your family’s next meal!

Strawberries

Is there anything more quintessential to summer than picking and eating local strawberries?  Strawberries are available all year round at the grocery store, however we all know the flavour just doesn’t compare to the berries we can get locally this time of year.

Local strawberries tend to be smaller, but sweeter and with much more flavor than those we can buy at other times of year from other countries.  Strawberries are a great snack, quick and easy to prepare and eat and also full of nutrition.  Strawberries contain folate, Vitamin C, potassium, fibre and phytochemicals.  This nutritional profile makes strawberries strong contenders in fighting against heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure all while helping to promote and maintain gut health with its fibre content.

Buying

Look for berries that are firm and plump with no white or yellow blemishes.  If packaged into pints or plastic containers look for one that is loosely packed with no moisture developing between the berries.  Strawberries are highly perishable and even the smallest amount of moisture will make those berries develop mould in no time.

Storing

Do not wash strawberries in advance, wash only when you are ready to eat or use them in a recipe.  Store them in a covered container or resealable bag.

Cherries

Cherries are great when picked locally; not only is their vibrant colour beautiful to behold but they are tasty and healthy to boot!  Cherries come in many varieties ranging from very sweet to very tart.  They also come in different colours from a bright blood red to a yellowish pink hue.

Regardless of the type of cherry you favour, they are all a nutritious and delicious. Cherries are high in soluble fibre, meaning that they are great for gut health but also help to lower cholesterol levels by binding with cholesterol in the body and helping to excrete it. Cherries are also high in vitamin A, C and potassium.  Their vitamin C content makes them a great antioxidant which can play a role in decreasing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Buying

Look for cherries that are plump and firm with shiny exterior and bring colour

Storing

Store cherries unwashed and covered in a plastic resealable bag or container to maintain freshness

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are an undervalued vegetable in my humble opinion.  They taste great, especially when grown locally, are extremely hydrating due to their high water content and are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants.  Cucumbers contain two prominent phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.  The phytonutrients that are found in cucumbers are called lignans and cucurbitacins.  Studies have linked these two phytonutrients to decreased risk of some cancers.

Buying

Look for cucumbers that are bright green without any yellowing.  Make sure they are also firm, have no moisture or indented spots and are without significant wrinkling, especially at the ends.

Storing

Cucumbers do best when stored in a cool environment, so keep in a resealable bag in the refrigerator.

Green Peas in the Pod. (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)
Green Peas in the Pod. (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Green peas

Peas are delicious when you can pop them out of their pods and eat them fresh.  This is the time of year to enjoy them that way.  Bursting with flavor, wonderfully sweet and part of the legume family, green peas are high in soluble fibre which benefits gut health but more importantly can play a role in reducing cholesterol levels and helping to improve heart health.  Peas are also high in Vitamin C, boasting antioxidant qualities, such as the aiding in the prevention of chronic diseases and folate which has been linked to better heart health and the prevention of neural tube defects in pregnancy.

Buying

When buying peas in the pod, look for pods that are tightly closed and firm to the touch.  Give the peas a little shake, if there isn’t any noise, you know that pod is tightly packed with sweet and delicious peas

Storing

Store fresh peas in a resealable plastic bag.  If freezing, shell the peas and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet, once frozen, transfer to a plastic bag and store in the freezer.

Here’s to a wonderfully delicious and nutritious summer!

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for more than 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and new

RELATED LINKS:

Buy Local to Add “Spring” to Your Diet!

Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Fall Foods Your Family Should Try

Real Food: Feeding Your Children Right

Prolonged exposure to sun and heat can be very harmful to babies and young children.  It is important – especially at this time of year – for parents to refresh themselves on best-practices for keeping kids safe over the summer.

In 2015, the Government of Canada posted a comprehensive checklist of strategies and tips to guide parents through the year’s warmest months; please see below or refer to the Government of Canada website for more information.

Summer Safety Tips

Babies

  • Infants should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration.
  • Never leave children in a parked vehicle.
  • Keep babies consistently hydrated
  • Consult your baby’s healthcare provider before applying sunscreen to a baby younger than six months

               

Kids

  • Consult daily UV index readings to plan outdoor activities. Rays are strongest between 11am-4pm which is typically the hottest time of day. Extra protection is needed during these hours.
  • Children should wear a rimmed sun hat, breathable clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen when playing outdoors.
  • Never leave children in a parked vehicle
  • Keep kids consistently hydrated with cool liquids
  • Sunscreen should be regularly reapplied especially after swimming. Extra attention should be paid to areas of the body that are most exposed (face, lips, ears, neck, shoulders, back, knees and tops of the feet)

Following these tips will help protect vulnerable young children from the dangers of sun and heat exposure.  Though this checklist is thorough, it is only intended as a guide and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for doing your own research or consulting a trusted healthcare provider.

Stay safe and enjoy our beautiful Canadian summer!

FOR MORE SUN SAFETY TIPS VISIT THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA! http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/sun-soleil/tips-parent-conseils-eng.php

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