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Healthy

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By: Melinda Lamarche

We now find ourselves at the end of the summer holidays and the start of the school routine is upon us.  It is at this time of year that many parents are scratching their heads thinking about how to keep up with packing lunches and looking for ideas and inspiration to keep things interesting in the lunchbox.

With working parents and extracurricular activities, kids are spending a lot of time outside of the home during the school week and are in need of nourishing foods to keep them going all day long.  Keeping kids well nourished not only gives them an edge in the classroom but also gives them the energy they need to keep up with school and after school fun.

Where to start

Breakfast is great for filling bellies and providing much needed nutrients after a long fast over night.   Plenty of research shows that breakfast is also key in promoting healthy development and contributing to children’s concentration and learning abilities in the classroom.  Skipping breakfast makes it hard for kids to stay focused and concentrate throughout the morning as they wait for lunch.

Start the day off with a nutritious breakfast that is not only delicious but also helps keep kids sharp and ready for learning. As for any meal, aim to include three of the four food groups to ensure that nutritional requirements are met. If possible, prepare breakfast the night before to make the morning routine even quicker, set the table or have things ready to take breakfast to go. Some great breakfast ideas include the following:

  • Oatmeal made with milk or milk alternative, sliced bananas and berries
  • Whole grain homemade muffin (make large batches and freeze individually wrapped for easy, on the go breakfasts) fresh fruit and a hard-boiled egg
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie with a homemade breakfast cookie

Going the distance

Snacking is essential in helping kids meet their nutritional requirements.  Kids have smaller tummies than adults so they are unable to eat a lot at meal times, therefore snacks are essential for meeting their needs and giving them energy boosts throughout the day.  Snacks are meant to be smaller than meals, that means we should be aiming for two of the four food groups at each snack.  Try combining a source of carbohydrates with protein to not only provide energy but to also to keep small bellies feeling full until the next meal. Some quick, easy and kid friendly snacks are:

  • Whole grain crackers with cheese
  • Fruit salad and yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Homemade muffin and dried fruit and mixed seeds
  • Vegetables and pita triangles with dip (i.e. hummus or tzatziki)
  • English muffin pizza with your little ones favourite toppings
  • Yogurt with homemade granola or whole grain cereal and raisins

Getting over the midday slump

Lunch is the main event.  As with any meal, lunch should include 3 of the 4 food groups.  Some parents find it tricky to include so much variety in the lunch bag every day, but doing so not only keeps kids interested but also contributes to overall health by helping meet nutritional requirements.  Some key essentials when packing lunch are as follows:

  • Get the kids involved. Bring them grocery shopping and encourage them to think outside the box and try new ingredients for their lunches
  • Get kids in the kitchen packing their own lunches
  • Prepare lunches in the evening to help reduce stress caused by the morning routine
  • Keep all the lunch essentials, such as containers, water bottles, napkins, reusable cutlery in one place, to help with making packing organized and quick
  • Choose containers that are easy to open, smaller children may have a difficult time with even the easiest of containers.
  • Pack safe – don’t forget about food safety when packing lunches. Keep hot foods hot with the use of a thermos and cold foods cold by using ice packs and an insulated lunch box.
  • Keep hydrated – send kids to school with adequate fluid, choose water
  • Some ideas for healthy and delicious lunches are:
    • pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and balls of fresh mozzarella
    • whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, sliced vegetables and a hardboiled egg
    • leftover vegetable and lean meat chili or homemade soup with ½ whole grain bagel and cheese
    • try breakfast for lunch – freeze leftover pancakes and serve up for lunch along side yogurt and a fruit salad or serve up hot oatmeal straight out of the thermos
    • make your favourite omelette in muffin tins and serve with toast triangles and a mix of your little ones favourite veggies
    • Experiment with different grains as the base for lunch to keep things interesting. Try quinoa or bulgur mixed with black beans, red pepper and corn, top with sliced avocado (don’t forget a sprinkle of lemon juice to prevent browning) and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Dinner still hours away?

These days kids are spending more hours away from home during the week.  This scenario calls for additional snacks to prevent dips in energy.  Again aim for 2 of the 4 food groups but consider packing larger portions or an additional snack for your kids to help fuel after school activities, especially when dinner is still hours away.

School lunch success

Packing lunches and snacks doesn’t have to be a pain, get inspired by looking up recipes and ideas for snacks and lunches, involve kids in this process as it is more likely that they will eat the foods they have been involved in choosing and/or preparing.  Keep things exciting by trying to include new foods and keep a list of the tried and true lunch and snack ideas and combinations to consult when you are at a loss for what to pack.

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

Family-Friendly Summer Treats

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

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

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services has penned an open letter to Toronto’s City Council making his case for why the city’s current street hockey ban should be lifted.  Council is expected to debate the issue later this week.

Michael Coteau says Ontario’s capital city can lead the way for other places around the province to encourage outdoor play.

“Road hockey bans are commonplace in municipalities across Ontario and I am hoping your council will show leadership by making it clear that children can and should play safely on neighbourhood streets,” he said.  “A vote to overturn the prohibition and let kids play will challenge other municipalities to abolish similar road hockey bans in their own communities.”

In his letter, Coteau, a father to two young daughters and MPP for Toronto’s Don Valley East constituency, stressed the many upsides of physical activity that go beyond on the obvious health and wellness benefits.  He said life skills such as communication, patience, perseverance and teamwork go hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle.

At paramount issue in this debate is the safety risk posed to children who are playing in the street. Council will also weigh the potential hazard for motorists as well as possible interference with city maintenance.  A city staff report recommends keeping the ban in place for those reasons.

“Transportation Services believes that the “Status Quo” option represents the best balance of competing needs. Recognizing that street hockey, basketball, and other sports activities do occur on public roadways, there are legitimate safety and liability concerns with permitting this activity,” the report states.

Coteau says he’s taken safety under consideration in his proposal and believes there are ways to encourage physical activity while also ensuring the well-being of children across the city.

“The obvious issue at hand is the safety of our children, and I agree that our kids need to be safe, but there has to be a better way than denying them of their right to play,” he said.  “That’s why I am urging all City Councillors to think carefully about this debate.”

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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

 

By: Melinda Lamarche

Summer is here and it’s time to hit the road!  Whether exploring new places or rediscovering old favourites, family road trips can be loads of fun and a chance to create lifelong memories.

To keep everyone’s spirits up throughout the journey, it’s a good idea to pack some delicious snacks to keep little tummies happy during those long stretches of highway.  Not only do homemade snacks save time and money along the way, they are also your best bet in terms of offering your family a healthy and satisfying nibble.

Below are some tips and tricks to keep you and your family well-fed while on the road, here’s to a happy (and healthy) journey!

SNACKING BASICS

  • Choose snacks those that contain a source of carbohydrate for energy and some protein to keep you feeling fuller longer, examples include: yogurt and fruit, cheese and crackers, nuts and dried fruit.
  • Before you hit the road, invest in a small cooler and ice packs. Look for reusable containers like mason jars and don’t forget to stock the napkins, wet wipes and utensils.

SNACK IDEAS

  • Yogurt, berry and granola parfait
    • Layer plain yogurt, berries and granola in a mason jar, sprinkle with cinnamon and a squirt of honey before sealing the lid
  • Hummus, veggies and bread sticks
    • Spoon a few tablespoons of your favourite storebought or homemade hummus into the bottom of a mason jar, place cut up vegetables in the hummus and place the lid on top. Serve with whole grain breadsticks or crackers on the side
  • Fruity tortilla roll ups
    • Mix softened cream cheese with a little bit of cinnamon, vanilla extract and maple syrup, spread on a whole grain tortilla. Place a mix of cut up fruit and berries on top of cream cheese, roll up and cut into 1” circles
  • Homemade mini muffins and fruit
    • Make a batch of your families favourite muffins, be sure to use whole wheat flour and keep the amount of sugar low, sneak in some mashed bananas or applesauce to hike up the nutritional value, for some fun stir in some nuts or dried fruit and chocolate chips, bake in a mini muffin tin to get more and keep portions snack sized.
  • Roasted chickpeas and cut up veggies
    • Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, place on a parchment lined backing sheet. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of olive oil, roast in a 400degrees for 30minutes, stirring occasionally, then sprinkle with your favourite flavours, try cumin, garlic powder and thyme.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with the tried and true snacks, think cheese and crackers, fruit and nuts and granola bars.

  • When buying crackers look for those that are low in fat, containing less than 5g of fat per serving, low in salt and containing at least 2-4g of fibre per serving. Choose unsalted and dry roasted nuts.
  • Granola bars can be tricky, they are one of those foods with a health halo, meaning they are often marketed as being healthier than they actually are. If buying granola bars, look for those made with whole grains (hint … whole grains should be listed as the first ingredient), low in fat and with less than 8g of sugar.  Making your own granola bars could be a fun way to experiment with your family’s favourite flavours.

So, this summer, pack your coolers and hit the road with some delicious and nutritious snacks to keep you and your crew fuelled for non-stop fun!

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:

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

 

By: Melinda Lamarche

It’s finally over!  The strange winter we’ve had has finally said goodbye and we are now enjoying beautiful spring days.  The beginning of spring also means that local produce will soon be finding its way into grocery stores and popping up at Farmers Markets around the city.

Eating fresh and local foods is not only a delicious way to enjoy fruits and vegetables, it also has a positive impact on health, the environment and the local economy as outlined below:

  • HEALTH: Buying local means fewer steps between the field and the table reducing the number of opportunities for contamination that can lead to food poisoning. In-season produce tends to have higher nutrition values than their out-of-season counterparts because they’re served up at peak ripeness.
  • ENVIRONMENT: Buying foods grown close to home decreases the distance between the farm and our tables, therefore reducing our carbon footprint.
  • ECONOMY: Buying local produce contributes to the local economy by supporting local farmers and growers.

The growing season is short in most parts of Canada due to cold and long winters but spring and summer weather allows local growers to grow delicious produce for us to enjoy.  Eating locally also means enjoying fruit and vegetables while they are in season.  During the spring and summer months we see the available produce change based on what is growing on trees and in fields at the time.

May marks the start of locally grown produce being available and is when we start seeing farmers markets re-opening across the city.  Here is your guide to what is in season this month! We start off with only a few seasonal foods being available at this time but the list will grow longer as we get closer to and throughout the summer months.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb season starts in May.  These long ruby red stalks are known for adding a tart yet delicious flavour to desserts and other dishes and are often paired with strawberries, pears or apples to add sweetness.  Rhubarb contains calcium, which plays a role in maintaining bone health, vitamin C and potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.

  • Buying Rhubarb

Look for stalks that are bright red and that have full and fresh looking leaves.

  • Storing Rhubarb

Discard leaves as they are poisonous.  You may have to peel rhubarb to remove fibrous strings, wrap stalks in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.  Rhubarb can also be frozen.

 

Rhubarb Stalks, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rhubarb Stalks, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Asparagus

Local asparagus is such a treat! It is much more flavourful than its out-of-season counterparts which travel to us from Mexico and Peru in the off season months.   Local asparagus is available in May and the start of June.

Asparagus is full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for health including vitamin A which is helpful for immune function, vision and reproductive health.  Asparagus also contains vitamin C which is an antioxidant which helps to fight against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; it also promotes tissue growth and repair.

Vitamin K, also found in asparagus, plays a role in blood clotting which helps to prevent excessive bleeding with cuts and scrapes. There is also folate which is essential in reducing the risk of heart disease as well as neural tube defects.  Folate has also been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers. Asparagus also contains two great forms of carbohydrates, fibre and inulin which is a prebiotic that promotes a healthy gut.

  • Buying Asparagus

Look for stalks that are bright green and crisp with tightly closed tips

  • Storing Aspargus

To keep asparagus fresh, trim the stems and place in a container of cold water, leave in the refrigerator and use within a few days

 

Radish

The fiery taste of local radish is available this month. This common addition to salads contains a great nutritional profile.  These little fuschia globes are full of antioxidants, including sulforaphane which has been proven to play a role in the prevention of breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancers. Radishes also contain vitamin C and fibre.

  • Buying Radishes

Look for radishes that are firm without any cracks or dry spots.  The green tops should be fresh looking.

  • Storing Radishes

Remove radish greens, wash roots well and store in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

 

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are a very interesting vegetable from the fern family.  Fiddleheads should never be eaten raw and must always be cooked.  These curly vegetables contain potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.

  • Buying Fiddleheads

Buy fiddleheads that are tightly curled, crisp and bright green.

  • Storing and Preparing fiddleheads

Loosely wrap and store in a plastic bag, do not wash fiddleheads until ready to use.

To prepare fiddleheads remove the brown papery skin surrounding the fiddleheads, rinse in cold water thoroughly to remove dirt and cook thoroughly, 15 minutes in boiling water.  Fiddleheads should always be boiled before sauteeing, frying or baking.
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:

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

Shrimp and Kale over Cauliflower Mash

Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 14-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup partly skimmed shredded mozzarella

For the Kale

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package kalettes, if you can find them Or 3 cups chopped kale
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

For the Shrimp

  • 1 lb. shrimp
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

For the cauliflower

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the cauliflower and garlic. Sauté for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the milk and 2 cups broth. Simmer for 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the while beans and mash roughly with the back of a large wooden spoon or a potato masher.
  4. Stir in the cornmeal (the mixture will start to thicken).
  5. Adjust the consistency by adding the last cup of broth to the consistency you want.
  6. Stir in the cheese and season to taste.

For the kale:

  1. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium low heat.
  2. Add the greens and garlic and sauté until softened.

If using kalettes, add a little water at the end to sort of steam them to finish them off.

  1. Remove kale and wipe out pan with a paper towel.

For the shrimp:

  1. Using the same skillet as you used for the kale heat it over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl mix the extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper together.
  3. Place shrimp into a medium bowl and pour oil and spice mixture over shrimp mixing to coat shrimp.
  4. Add shrimp to the skillet and cook the shrimp for ~1 minutes per side (pink and cooked through)

Serve the shrimp and kale over the cauliflower mash!

Inspired by http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-shrimp-cauliflower-mash-roasted-kale

Slow Cooker Asian Beef Bowl

Serves: 6 servings

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds flank steak, trim excess fat and slice into one-inch pieces (against the grain), you can also buy packages of beef cut in “stir fry” strips
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger*
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups brown rice or quinoa, cooked
  • Shredded carrots, red cabbage, julienne cucumbers and chopped green onions for serving

HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE! Instead of using brown rice or quinoa try making cauliflower rice or combining half quinoa or brown rice with half cauliflower rice.

HEALTHY ADDITION!  Add kale or a leaf of your choice on top of the rice for an added green!

 Instructions

  1. Add flour and beef to a large resealable plastic bag (e.g. Ziploc) and shake to combine until flour equally coats beef.
  2. Put beef in slow cooker
  3. In a medium blow, whisk together soy sauce, ginger, honey/maple syrup, vinegar, garlic and oil.
  4. Pour over beef.
  5. Cover and cook on high for 3.5 hours.
  6. Once done turn slow cooker off and let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately with rice (or quinoa) and top with carrots, cabbage, cucumbers and green onions.
  8. Top with additional sauce and sesame seeds if desired.

Adapted from http://momtomomnutrition.com/food-and-recipes/slow-cooker-asian-beef/

*Kitchen Hack: Peeling ginger with a teaspoon is a lot easier and less wasteful than using a knife.

  1. Cut the amount of ginger you need.
  2. Hold the ginger in one hand and use the tip of your spoon to scrape off your peel.
  3. The peel is very thin and you should find that it comes off easily.

HELPFUL LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9zgXSdnPGI

 

Korean Beef Bowl Prepared by Corey Etherington for Week 3 of Nutrition Week

By: Corey Etherington

Another successful week on our journey to healthy living!

This week we focused on portion control, something that’s been a challenge for us in the past as I tend to serve larger-than-necessary helpings that often lead to overeating. Our goal for the last seven days was to pay close attention to how much we were eating, to listen to our bodies and to walk away from the table feeling satisfied – not sick.

By applying the other lessons we’ve learned to date, including meal-planning and cooking with quality ingredients, we were able to prepare reasonable sized portions that were both healthy and delicious – and the slow-cooker only made an appearance once!

Here is what Week 3 looked like in our house:

Monday: Slow Cooker Asian Beef with Brown Rice

Ross & Corey’s Rating: Delicious!! Prep is insanely fast and easy and comes with a fun ginger peeling trick.

Edie’s Rating: Delicious!! Edie absolutely loved this dish. She even asked for it again on Tuesday night.

Corey’s Tip 1: The recipe says to cook for 3.5 hours but there isn’t a lot of liquid in this recipe so I decided to only cook it for 3 hours. Turns out that was a good decision as any longer and the meat would’ve been really dry. But… every slow cooker is different so just like Amanda told us to learn about our oven, learn about your slow cooker too.

Dietitian Tip: Cut the amount of brown rice by half and try making this dish with cauliflower rice to increase your daily vegetable intake.

Dietitian Tip: Add a green veggie like kale and serve the beef on top to add an extra crunch to the mix. Kale is a great source of Beta Carotene and C which are both antioxidants!

Tuesday: Skillet/Oven Chicken Burgers with Greek Salad

Ross & Corey’s Rating: WE LOVE BURGERS!

Edie’s Rating: More! More! More!

Corey’s Tip 1: I made a few modifications to the recipe, including: using ground turkey instead of chicken, eliminating cumin (personal taste) and barbequing the burgers for that delicious, charred quality. Lesson here – make whatever easy modifications you need to in order to ensure the family is eating a balanced, healthy homemade meal.

Corey’s Tip 2: Greek salad dressing is a staple in our house. I never put the salt in and I cut the sugar in half. I also use the optional oregano. LINK: http://www.food.com/recipe/greek-salad-dressing-57642?nl=email_share

Dietitian Tip: Corey is absolutely right! Modify recipes and replace herbs and spices that you’re not fond of with ones you love.   Experimentation is key!

Wednesday: Buddha Bowl

Ross & Corey’s Rating: Maybe we should go vegetarian?! This was so delicious!

Edie’s Rating: Edie tried this on Thursday night but only ate some sweet potato dipped in the tahini sauce. She liked it but was more interested in leftover turkey burgers.

Corey’s Tip 1: Mix-up the flavours according to your preference. This dish will work with any vegetable you have in the fridge and if the recipe is too spicy, modify it!

Dietitian Tip: This dish calls for Tumeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow color. Here are some healthy facts you might not know about it:

  • Curcuminoids or curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric
  • Research being conducted looking at the the beneficial effects of cucumin on;
    • Inflammation, aging, depression, prevention of Alzheimers Disease
Preparing vegetables for the Week 3 Buddha Bowl
Preparing vegetables for the Week 3 Buddha Bowl

Thursday: Citrus Marinated Chicken

Ross & Corey’s Rating: Ross is obsessed with this chicken, the fresh ingredients taste like an explosion of summer!

Edie’s Rating: Edie wasn’t feeling the cilantro in this dish.

Corey’s Tip 1: I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I prefer white meat so again, personal preference.

Corey’s Tip 2: This recipe calls for broiling. I am not good at broiling – I tend to overcook everything I broil so instead, I just baked the chicken.

LINK: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Citrus-Marinated-Chicken-Thighs-51178850

Dietitian Tip: Setting timers is very useful! Broiling can be an important part of a recipe but sometimes it just needs a couple minutes. Turn the oven light on and keep on eye on your food.

SUMMARY

Week three was a really good lesson for us. We listened to our bodies and as a result, our meal planning really paid off. We had leftovers for lunch and even dinner if we wanted it! One of the best parts of the week was that Edie had something new every night and because I was so prepared, we were able to sit together as a family and eat dinner every night. Edie is such a good eater when we are eating too and she is more willing to try new things. It’s awesome!

I can honestly say that this journey has been an amazing experience so far and we have learned so much.

Week 4 is all about trying new things so wish us luck and follow along!

For more expert advice on healthy eating, contact:
Amanda Lapidus, RD, BSc.Registered Dietitian, Simply Nutrition

RELATED LINKS:

Week 3: Prioritize Portions

Week 2 Recap: Quality Counts!

Week 1 Recap: Meal Plan Your Way to Success!

Stocking-Up On Nutrition Month Essentials!

Following One Family’s Journey to Healthier Eating

5 Ways to Teach Kids About Nutrition

Reading Nutrition Labels

Show Your Fruits and Vegetables Some Love this Valentine’s Day

Edie Etherington enjoying her potroast during Week 2 of Nutrition Month.

By: Corey Etherington

Quality definitely does count. The fresher the ingredients, the better the taste and the more my family eats! But – spending quality time spent with family also counts so I’m working on finding the balance between grocery shopping, working full time, and taking care of a toddler, I know it can be done!

Week 2 has been a great reminder of how important it is to be organized – I can’t even begin to tell you the degree to which a meal plan – as we discussed last week – simplifies weekday cooking!

Here is what I can say about our meals this week:

Monday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Ross & Corey’s Rating: Really tasty! A hearty meal full of flavor.

Edie’s Rating: This is Edie’s absolute favourite meal ever! I’ve actually made it a few times and she seems to love it more and more each time. She is a big fan of beef so this is a no-brainer for us and definitely something we will make again.

Corey’s Tip 1: Chopping all the veggies the night before makes this dish really easy to prepare. Throw it all in the best appliance ever – the slow cooker – and walk away!

Corey’s Tip 2: I’ve made this with stewing beef and it is just as good.

Dietitian Tip 1: This dish has a great combination of vitamins and minerals. Beef is one of many great sources of iron and it is nicely complimented by the vitamin C in the potatoes, which helps our body absorb the iron.

Dietitian Tip 2: For parents with younger kids who are just starting out on solids having your little ones suck or gnaw on the beef can often be enough to get them the iron need – it’s in the juices!

Dietitian Tip 3: When buying pre-made seasoning mixtures such as; steak seasoning be sure to read the ingredients and look for ones without added salt and MSG. Making your own mixtures at combinations and keeping them in plastic bags is a surefire way to know exactly what goes into your spice mixtures.

Tuesday: Fresh Tomato Soup & Tahini Lemon Kale Salad

Ross & Corey’s Rating: Why did I ever use tomatoes from a can?!! This tomato soup recipe is so easy and so delicious. Plus, you will learn a really fun way to peel tomatoes – my mind was blown! The Kale Salad was delicious too. We LOVED the salad dressing. I might’ve forgotten to put the quinoa until we were almost done eating but regardless, it was delicious.

Edie’s Rating: Edie looked in the bowl and said “cereal” and then cried… her dreams of cereal for dinner were shattered in that moment.

Corey’s Tip 1: Remember all of the ingredients – I forgot to buy basil which would’ve been a nice addition to the soup and I forgot to put the quinoa in the salad.

Corey’s Tip 2: Add some extra vegetables to the salad. I added an avocado and it was so delicious in the dressing.

Dietitian Tip: Take advantage of your region’s tomato season! Pureeing and canning them ensures fresh tomato flavor all year round! In Ontario, field tomatoes are in season from July to October.   Check online for your local fruit and vegetable season guide.
Ontario:
https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/availability-guide

Wednesday: Leftovers! We had a bit of everything that was in the fridge.

Thursday: Thai Chicken Soup

Ross and Corey’s Rating: I’m not a huge fan of Thai food and I actually had dinner plans with a friend so I prepped this meal for Ross. Ross’ rating… a little bland. I forgot to buy fish sauce and I think that might’ve added some flavor.

Edie’s Rating: Stay tuned… we’re going to give it a try tonight!

Corey’s Tip 1: Don’t forget the ingredients!

Corey’s Tip 2: Chop the ingredients the night before.

Dietitian: When using recipes from new websites, check for comments from people who have attempted the recipe already. This was the mistake I made with this recipe and when I tried it this week, I too found that it was bland.

Week 2 was another successful week! Because I was well prepared with my fresh ingredients, meal plan and stocked fridge, the daunting task of cooking didn’t weigh as heavy on me as it has in the past. I prepped and cooked and I even had time to bake with Edie, which is something she loves to do. I guess I’m beginning to find my balance of quality ingredients and quality time – still have lots of work to do though. Looking forward to Week 3! Keep following us for more delicious recipes.

For more expert advice on healthy eating, contact:
Amanda Lapidus, RD, BSc.Registered Dietitian, Simply Nutrition