Sunday, 17 September 2017

Inside the Honey Dish


There's always a lot of hype around honey, and with Rosh Hashana coming- which is basically a honey celebration, I figured I should take a closer look at this natural sweetener. 


Sugar substitute:

Honey is not a "sugar free" sweetener. It is made up of glucose and fructose (along with small amounts of maltose and sucrose), and has an affect on blood sugar levels. Glycemic Index (GI) is the measurement of the effect in blood sugar from eating, and generally the higher a food's GI, the faster it raises blood sugar levels. Honey's GI is an average of 61 (it varies on location and what it's made from) and in comparison, table sugar is an average of 65. In one study  comparing honey to sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), all 3 had similar impact on blood sugar levels, lipid metabolism, inflammation and increased triglyceride levels, plus increased blood sugar specifically in people with impaired glucose tolerance. On the other hand, there does seem to be a quicker decline in blood sugar levels in honey versus sugar, possibly making it a better option in small amounts. Additionally, a small study suggests that long term  honey consumption may have a positive metabolic  affect on people with type 1 diabetes. One proposed mechanism for why this happens is possibly because of the fructose and the phytochemicals within honey act as a pre-biotic by enhancing bifidobacteria in the gut. This is why honey has a laxative effect for those with fructose malabsorption, and does not fit in a low FODMAP diet. 


Complementary Medicine:

Honey is often touted as a natural miracle healer. It does appear to have antimicrobial activity that is similar to antibiotics against certain bacteria (1) and prevents food spoilage and inhibits specific food-borne pathogens (2). While honey has been demonstrated as having anti-inflammatory capabilities, there is inconclusive evidence whether honey reduces inflammation caused from smoking (3). There is evidence that it is effective for healing wounds, burns and ulcers, and sterilizing infection, by stimulating tissue growth and minimizing scar formation (4). It's even more effective for healing diabetic wounds (5) as it combats many microorganisms that are involved in the wound process, and can fight inflammation. This makes it an "all in one" remedy that's safer, faster, more effective and more economical than traditional methods of wound healing.

Antioxidant Activity:

You've probably seen loads of varieties of honey- buckwheat, clover, acacia... Basically, this tells us which flowers were pollinated to make the honey. The flower variety influences the colour, flavour, and antioxidant level of the honey, resulting in over 300 honey varieties! Generally, the darker the honey, the more antioxidant content. Honey has small amounts of many minerals (calcium, iron and potassium among others), but with the small amounts, honestly you're better off getting your minerals and antioxidants from fruits and veggies! 


Want to start using more honey?

Honey is a pasteurized food, but this is only to make it last longer and be shelf stable. It still may contain botulism, and shouldn't be given to children under age 1 (adult's immune system should be strong enough to counter this).

When substituting honey for a sugar in a recipe, use 3/4 cup honey for each cup, and cut down on all other liquids by 2 Tbsp. Additionally, lower the baking temperature by 25 ℉.

At 17 grams of carbohydrates per Tbsp., honey is a good fuel source both pre-activity and during activity. It's possibly better than glucose as it increases heart frequency while keeping the blood sugar stable. 


What do you think? Is honey part of your usual intake, or relegated to once a year? Let me know below! 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies



I've got the perfect school snack for you: high in plant based protein, low GI and high fibre plus nut free πŸ™Œ
How? you ask. CHICKPEA POWER
I love chickpeas. They are low GI, high in fibre, a great source of plant based protein, and are inexpensive to boot.
And even better for the skeptics, you can't even taste them (yay for stealth health!). So bake up a batch and let me know what you think of these chicks. 
😊






Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (540 ml)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Drain chickpeas and rinse well
  2. In food processor, finely puree chickpeas
  3. Preheat oven to 225℉
  4. Combine all ingredients
  5. Pour into 8-inch tray
  6. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.
Yield: 16 squares.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack?



What's the story with popcorn, is it a healthy snack, a guilty indulgence or something in between? Let's take a look!


  • Popcorn, in and of itself, is a complex whole grain, so it's high in fibre with a low glycemic index.
  • It's naturally vegan, gluten free and low FODMAP
  • A 2 cup portion is equal to 1 Canada's Food Guide grain serving
  • 2 cups provide less than 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fibre, plus magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and small amounts of many other essential nutrients 
  • Serving sizes on packaged popcorn is huge, ranging from 3.5 cups to 7.25 cups! (Have you ever seen such a large serving anywhere else?!) This is because popcorn is so light and fluffy, so it takes a significant amount to add up. 
  • It is considered a choking hazard, so it's recommended to not give to children under 4 (and also anyone who has difficulty chewing and swallowing)
  • Popcorns' bad rep comes from the recipes and additives to make it 'more delicious' or 'fun': Caramel popcorn, chocolate covered,  marshmallows and peanut butter... Here are 6 delish popcorn recipes that will satisfy your snack cravings and won't lessen popcorn's health benefits

Spicy, savoury popcorn from Cheryl Meyer RD of Dish & Delite


Peanut Butter Popcorn & Chili Lime Popcorn from Sarah Koszyk MA RDN Family. Food. Fiesta 

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn from Brynn McDowell RD from The Domestic Dietitian

Savoury Vegan "Cheesy" Popcorn from Julie Harrington RD of RDelicious Kitchen 

Sweet & Savoury Popcorn Seasonings from Jodi Danen RD of Create Kids Club


Not sure how to make home-made popcorn? Check out this easy 5 minute 'How-To' from Dixya Bhattarai RD of  Food Pleasure & Health

What's your favorite way to eat popcorn? Comment below, and happy snacking :)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Veggie Straws: Where are the veggies?!




Anywhere I've seen kids, I've seen veggie chips/puffs/straws. They sound healthy, with that "veggie" in the title and pictures of fresh, juicy produce on the packaging.  But what's the real deal on this kid and mom friendly snack?

Take a look at the ingredients, and you'll see potato starch is the first ingredient, followed by potato flour and corn starch. And while those are vegetables, those likely aren't the ones your mind conjured up from the packaging. Only after all those is there some mention of other veggies in the form of tomato paste and spinach powder.

You might also expect to see some fibre in these vegetable snacks (because fibre is something expected with vegetables). However, on a 28 g serving bag, you will clearly see "less than 1 gram fibre" (a comparable serving of potato chips will have 1 gram of fibre).

What about some of those vitamins or minerals vegetables are famous for? A serving of veggie straws has 2% of your daily iron and vitamin C requirements, most likely from the potato (to compare, a serving of potato chips has 10% of your daily vitamin C requirements, and the same 2% iron).

So despite their name, and snazzy packaging, veggie chips don't actually have much vegetable power.

If you enjoy this snack, I'm not telling you to toss all your packages. And because it's a packaged snack you can hold onto it for a while with its long shelf life! As it is no more healthy than most other packaged snacks, keep it as part of your snack rotation if you'd like, and try some of these other portable snack ideas more often.


  • Sliced favorite veggies and fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Low-sugar fruit leather
  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Prepared ready to eat beets  (like this or this)
  • Canned carrots or mushrooms
  • Frozen strawberries, grapes, bananas, peaches...
  • Trail mix of nuts, seeds & dry fruit


What's your favorite snack to tote around?


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Roasted Eggplant Tomato Dip


With summer picnics and BBQs going strong, this roasted eggplant & tomato dip is the perfect addition to any party, and an easy and fun way to eat your veggies (you know I'm all about those veggies!). 

It's a forgiving recipe, so you can add vegetables you have sitting around (zucchini works particularly well, and you can try parsnips, onion or leek), play around with the spices... I'm not a stickler for sticking to a recipe πŸ˜‰. This version is garlic & onion free and FODMAP friendly. 


Roasted Eggplant Tomato Dip


Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • cayenne to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375℉.
  2. Slice eggplant and tomatoes in half, place face down on roasting sheet
  3. Roast 45 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, finely dice pepper
  5. When tomatoes are cool to the touch, remove tomato skins
  6. Blend eggplant and tomatoes well
  7. Stir in diced pepper and spices

Total time
Yield:about 2 cups.








Monday, 24 July 2017

4 Tips to Improve Kids' Summer Eating



It's summer! Is this what your eating schedule looks like (constant asking for food and/or eating)? The kids are home, they get bored, so they eat. Or they bug you for food. Sound familiar? Here are 4 tips for making summer eating a little more manageable.



1. Maintain an eating schedule with extra snack times [1].




Establish an eating schedule, including meals and sit down snacks, that work for you and your kids, and stick to it. Firmly tell your kids exactly when to expect the next eating time, and they will stop asking for food in between. Make sure to give plenty of warning though when you first start this up! So for example, when your child gets up from the table after lunch, ask if he’s eaten enough, because there won’t be food coming until snack time in 2 hours. Think of snack time as "mini meals" and include a variety of healthy and fun foods. If kids do ask for food between meals, simply tell them now is not the time, and when the next meal or snack is coming.




2.  Introduce your child to mindful eating.



Ask him to identify why he's asking for food: is he physically hungry (ask him to rate his hunger on a scale of 1-10, possibly identifying if he could have eaten more at the previous meal/snack, or may require a larger meal/snack coming up), emotionally hungry (eating in response to feelings or emotions), or mouth or mind hungry (wanting a certain mouth feel or eating because "it's time to eat")[2,3]. Once your child has identified what he is hungry for, you can help him find ways to feed it that don't involve food.  



3. Make drinking water fun



Children need to stay hydrated, especially if they’re outdoors and being active. Fluid needs increase as they age, but even a 2 year old needs 3 ½ cups (875 ml) of fluid per day just to meet his basic needs before factoring in heat and activity (Click here for more fluid/age requirements).  And while they can get some fluids from juice, fruit, Popsicles and icy treats, there’s a limit to how many of those you want your kids eating (and asking you for), and honestly your best option is water. Because children have an immature thirst mechanism [4], and may not be able to identify or communicate their thirst, ensure that water is always readily available. Make it enticing by keeping it cold, offering fun cups or straws, adding carbonation, or jazzing up plain water with fruit, vegetables... I’ve recently seen rose petals added!



4. Keep to a sleeping schedule



Though longer nights and less pressured schedules may leave you wanting less hassle around bedtime, ensuring your kids maintain their sleep habits will reflect in their eating habits. A lack of sleep lowers the level of the hormone leptin (the satiety hormone) and increases ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone), as well as affecting appetite control [5].  When 14-17 year olds were sleep deprived, though their hunger levels were not affected, the appeal and their intake of sweets was more than 50% greater than when they had slept a healthy amount [6]. Even children who aren’t sleep deprived, but sleep later, had increased hunger scores [7]. Keeping to a year-long sleeping routine allows your children to maximize their sleeping time, and keep their appetite and eating habits stable as well.



Summer-time eating and feeding can be tough. What tips have you found useful, and how do you manage? 


Monday, 10 July 2017

Tips for a Better Fast



With the fasts of Shiva Asar B'Tamuz and Tisha B'av coming up, it’s the perfect time to discuss what to eat before and after a fast to keep you feeling good throughout the day and with as little negative experience as possible. Though you likely won’t feel energetic, and will be hungry after fasting 16-25 hours, there are better foods to choose prior to a fast that can prolong your fullness, and stave off the almost inevitable weakness and crankiness. Because we can go without food for long periods of time, it’s not necessary to totally change up what you eat leading up to the fast, so you can keep to your regular eating schedule, with some minor adjustments.

BEFORE THE FAST:


WATER


Firstly, and most importantly, is hydration. We all know that water is always important, but now that it’s summer, and hot, we need to be well hydrated even more so than before the winter fasts. But don’t just guzzle down liquid hours before the fast; our bodies are so well regulated that excess liquid will result in the kidneys working overtime, and all that fluid leaving your body. For maximum hydration, start hydrating a few days (at least) prior to the fast, so you’ll be fully hydrated at the start of the fast. When dehydrated, the body will take water out of the cells, causing them to shrink and making the kidneys work harder, effectively overworking the body and causing wear to the cells(1). Low-hydration can both trigger migraines and prolong them. Drinking enough prior to dehydration can reduce their length and intensity.

CAFFEINE


Research shows that caffeine-withdrawal headaches can be prevented by reducing caffeine intake leading up to the fast. However, a 25 hour fast (Yom Kippur was used in the research) is not sufficient time to experience caffeine withdrawal. Having some caffeine on the actual day of the fast may help prevent that headache (obviously not applicable when dealing with an overnight fast), but if you find it helpful, definitely restrict your intake leading up to the fast. Some people may develop headaches simply from the act of fasting over 16 hours, which is when fasting headaches come to play (2), and it should resolve within 72 hours of eating.

FIBRE & PROTEIN


High Fibre & Protein Bowl




Another cause of headaches may be reactive hypoglycemia, low blood sugar after eating (3). This can be prevented by eating foods with fibre and protein, as they slow down digestion, and are more filling (so you’re not ready to eat a couple hours into the fast). Ideally, when choosing your grains and starches, go for complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables for their fibre content (this chickpea lentil veggie soup combines all three!). Fibre is important because it’s filling and isn’t quickly digested, so it keeps you feeling full for longer than low fibre foods (4). Chose soluble fibre, such as oats, sweet potato, beans & lentils, oranges and avocado to keep your sugar and fullness levels stable through delayed digestion. As the most filling nutrient, chose protein containing food, such as beans, fish, eggs, chicken or meat, as they take longer to digest than carbohydrates and keep us feeling full for a longer time.


AFTER THE FAST:


You'll probably be very hungry once the fast is over, but try not to go to extremes in your break-fast meal. You don’t need to fit a day’s worth of food into one meal, and if you’re really in-tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, you won’t be able to eat that much. Rehydrating after the fast is extremely important. Dehydration may influence mood, brain functioning, concentration and alertness and short-term memory, plus increase fatigue, confusion and anger. But, all symptoms are reversible, so drink up! Besides for water, you can include soup and fruit and vegetables which have the added bonus of electrolytes you may have depleted while fasting. (Try this spinach quiche if you're looking for a new veggie dish). As you eat, slow down, listen to your body, and eat until you’re satisfied. It may even be helpful to take a break after relieving your initial hunger, just so you can really tune into your needs.


What do you eat before and after a fast to make it easier?

Chocolate Chip Protein Squares


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect couple. In this recipe I've added canned chickpeas for a high protein boost that makes these squares a great option for a post-exercise recovery treat, an afternoon pick-me-up, or even breakfast. (Because who doesn't want cookies for breakfast?!) They are creamy, peanut buttery, and chocolaty- a trifecta of perfection.

If you're looking to include more plant based protein options, pulses are where it's at! They are packed with protein and fibre, and canned chix are just so easy to use: open~drain~eat.
Check out the Half Cup Habit for lots of easy ways to incorporate chickpeas and other pulses into your day. (and chances to win prizes!!)

In this recipe, I recommend using low sodium chickpeas, but if you can't find those, or don't have them on hand, you can use regular chickpeas and rinse them well, which removes 40-50% of the sodium (do this all the time if you're concerned about your sodium intake!).
I also used natural peanut butter here. While you can use other types, they do have sugar in them, so even though this isn't an overly sweet recipe, you may want to cut down even more on the sugar here.




Chocolate Chip Protein Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1 24 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup less 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 /4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Drain chickpeas. If they are not low sodium, rinse well.
  3. Add all ingredients, except chocolate chips into food processer.
  4. Pulse on high for about 5 minutes, until all ingredients are well combined and there are no visible chickpeas.
  5. Add in chocolate chips and pulse until just combined.
  6. Scrape batter into 12 inch pan.
  7. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.
Yield: 8-12 squares.