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 🙌
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 😉. 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.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

GF Spinach Quiche- Low Fodmap



A lot of people struggle to eat their veggies, finding them boring or tasteless. This crust-less spinach quiche is such a great way to incorporate vegetables into meal. My mother has made spinach quiche for Shavuot for years. This year I made it fodmap friendly for y'all who can't tolerate oligosaccharides (it's garlic and onion free), plus gluten free because I don't like quiche crust. Since then, I've made it countless times, because it's. just. so. good!  

I find in general that spinach is an under-rated vegetable; everyone knows it's a healthy vegetable, but it's so hard to incorporate it into our daily food rotation. By pureeing these leafy greens, the texture is obviously changed, so you won't feel like a cow chewing on grass, plus it gives a creamy texture that's not usually associated with greenery. It also gives the quiche an AMAZINGLY vivid green colour that you just can't pass up 😍

Want to know the benefits of eating spinach? It's an excellent source of vitamins K and A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamins B2 and B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. It's a good source of fibre, phosphorus and vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and choline and even more! (Plus you'll feel really virtuous for eating it.) So basically, it's a veggie that should definitely be a part of your diet.

How do you like eating spinach? Comment below

GF Spinach Quiche- Low FODMAP

Serves 8 

Recipe:


1 bunch spinach
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp mustard powder
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tomato for decoration

Preheat oven to 350℉. Puree spinach, add in all other ingredients and mix well. Pour into an 8 inch square pan. Top with tomato slices. Bake for 30 minutes.





Friday, 9 June 2017

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies + Tiger Nuts




Disclaimer: I received free packages of tiger nuts and flour from Tiger Nuts USA.


Ever heard of Tiger nuts? You're not alone! Tiger Nuts USA tags them as 'a seriously healthy nutritious snack you may not have heard of'.

What are they?

Grown in Spain, tiger nuts are tubers (growing underground like potatoes, carrots and beets) that has widely been used to make a milky drink called horchata. But the popularity for its snacking capability and flour seems to be growing. It's nut free, gluten free, and allergic reactions have rarely been reported.
Tiger nuts contain unsaturated fat and protein, lots of potassium, are high in fibre and natural sugars. They also provide good amounts of manganese, thiamin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and calcium!


Whole raw (unpeeled) Tiger nuts


How do they taste?

I shared a bag of the peeled tiger nuts with my family. Here's their reactions:
  • surprise that they were chewy and not crunchy (they look hard so we expected a crunch)
  • it's sweet!
  • it tastes sort of like chestnuts- or parsnips (the company describes it as a coconut flavour)
  • "it's so good"
  • "you can get seriously addicted to these"
  • They're so filling!
When trying the unpeeled ones, we found them even more enjoyable with an extra crunch and slightly decreased sweetness. I could definitely get into these!
    Looking online for a recipe with tiger nut flour, I found loads. BUT, they were either vegan or had ingredients that I don't have or use (or both). So I did what I do, and made my own recipe.

    I decided to do a chocolate chip cookie recipe to see what this flour really tastes and acts like. Gotta say, these cook's are good! Need proof? This recipe makes 15 medium sized cookies. The first batch was finished so quickly that I was forced at gun point to make another batch STAT.







    Tiger Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups Tiger Nut flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 Tbsp. oil
    • 1/8 cup white sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
    2. Cream together eggs, oil and sugars.
    3. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, trying not to overmix.
    4. Fold in chocolate chips.
    5. The dough will be pretty wet, so you may want to use your hands to do this. Form into medium sized balls and flatten on cookie sheet.
    6. Bake for , remove from oven to cool. Yield: 15 medium cookies.


    Would you try Tiger Nuts? What would you try baking?

    Tuesday, 9 May 2017

    What are chia seeds? And why I keep making chia pudding...



    I wasn't introduced to chia seeds from Instagram, but the plethora of pictures of pretty puddings and overnight oats did spur me into buying a package when I saw them on sale.

    When I first was introduced to chia seeds in school, I was fascinated with the way they gel up without any heat and can create puddings, jams... in hardly any time. So when I finally got my hands on some I was pumped to try it.

    Quick interjection here to explain what are chia seeds and why anyone would want to eat them:

    Though they don’t have much flavour, chia has a lot of nutritional benefit. It is a source of plant protein, and is gluten free and low FODMAP at 2 tablespoons. It contains iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, along with essential omega 3 fats, and soluble fibre, assisting with lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. And unlike with other seeds, such as flax, you don’t need to grind chia to get the benefits; you can simply add it to your food and enjoy the nutritional boost (check out this great seeds comparison)! And like I've found, a package can last really long because you only use a few tablespoons at a time.

    Now back to my experimentation.
    First I tried adding chia seeds with some coconut milk, coconut flakes and dates, and it really got a pudding consistency (aka, it "pudded") and looked really pretty. But it still gives me bad feelings when I remember how it tasted. I'm not sure though if that was the coconut milk or the chia texture... My mom was a big fan though!



    Next I tried a cranberry "jam", and that was a big hit, and so delicious! The chia seeds worked really well in that, and the jam texture was spot on.


    Here's the recipe. Really simple to make, and so good on meat & chicken, and especially on a PB&J.

    Cranberry Chia Jam

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups whole cranberries
    • 2 Tbsp. water
    • 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
    • 2-3 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
    Place cranberries and water in a covered saucepan over medium heat. 
    Cook until cranberries begin to bubble and pop, about 10 minutes.
    Remove from heat and mash cranberries with a fork
    Stir in remaining ingredients.
    Transfer to glass container with airtight lid, and allow to cool before refrigerating.
    Makes about 1 cup and lasts in fridge up to one week.



    Most recently I tried a pudding again (Instagram pics got me!). This time I combined pureed strawberries and almond milk + vanilla sugar. Though significantly tastier than my first try, I still wasn't a fan (neither was Mom this time; she doesn't like almond milk). So I combined it with oats to make overnight oats, and that was terrific (Mom was also a big fan).



    For now, I'm adding chia seeds to my overnight oats and I'll definitely make more fruit jams with it because it's super cool that you can get a jam texture without adding pectin or sugar. As for making a pudding? I'll probably be convinced to try it again. Maybe a chocolate chia pudding would be good...

    Have you tried chia seeds? What's your go-to way to enjoy them?




    Monday, 1 May 2017

    Food Servings for Children




    Have you ever had the experience of making a meal you know your toddler loves, or is always willing to try, and then after plating it for him, he only takes a few bites and is done? I’ve experienced this with my nephews and it’s so frustrating. It’s time to eat, it’s their favorite meal, and yet they’ll only eat a few nibbles. What’s going on???

    I think something we forget when feeding little kids, is they have little tummies! And they’re just little people! When we feed them an adult sized plate, they don’t really need all that food, and they CAN’T eat all that food. So if they’re only eating a few bites off a large plate, often that’s enough for them to meet their needs. Think about it: a 3 year old needs 1 serving of meat & alternatives. Mom and Dad need 2-3 servings (not a whole lot much more, even though you’re so much bigger). While you can easily eat a large steak or a couple of eggs in one sitting (2 eggs = 1 serving) plus more food, your little tot most likely cannot.

    In their book, Fearless Feeding, How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, Jill Castle & Maryann Jacobsen give a handy tip of offering at each meal 1 tablespoon of food serving for each year of age (so 4 Tbsp. of veg and fruit, meat, milk and grains for your four year old). If you use a measuring spoon, you’ll realize that’s really not a lot.  

    By dividing those servings throughout the day, your toddler can meet his needs even though each serving looks tiny compared to what you’re eating. So for example, to meet his meat & alternatives servings, you can give him ½ an egg at breakfast, ½ a tablespoon peanut butter at lunch, ¼ cup chickpeas at snack and ½ ounce of chicken at supper and you have successfully provided 1 serving of meat & alternatives over the course of one day in manageable bites. Combined at each meal with a choice of half a slice of bread, some pasta or whole grains; some veggies or fruit; and milk, cheese or yogurt, your little guy will be getting his nutrients and filling up!

    I remember working as a day camp counsellor and a 2 year old camper brought a full bagel for her lunch. The next day she brought ½ of that same bagel. And on the third day she brought ¼ of the same original sandwich. Moral of that story: Kids don’t eat as much as adults and they don’t need to!

    Though the Canada Food Guide’s serving sizes for kids is the same size as adults, (see here for Servings for 1-4 year olds and Servings for 5-11 year olds), in Fearless Feeding, Jill  & Maryann use the great phrase of “starter portion sizes for the very reason that kids get overwhelmed when they see too much food. Starting off with smaller portions provides your child with the minimum amount of needed nutrients in a very non-threatening and approachable serving. It also allows your child to recognize her own hunger and fullness cues, so she can ask for more if she is still hungry, or provide an easy out if she’s satisfied with what you’ve served (this can vary daily depending on activity and how much she’s eaten at previous meals and snacks).

    It can be tough eyeballing appropriate kid-sized servings on adult dishes (larger plate sizes are often why we overeat too), so using smaller dishes is definitely helpful. Even better is to trust your child to eat enough over the course of the day, and not force her to clear her plate.

    Thursday, 20 April 2017

    5 items every pantry needs





    After weeks of emptying my pantry of all grains and legumes in preparation for Pesach/Passover when these foods can’t be eaten, it’s finally time to restock! Spring is typically a time for renewal and getting back to nature, and it’s a great time to do the same with our eating - return to natural ingredients that are good for us, taste good and are easy to prepare!

    Here are my top five foods for healthy eating to never run out of. Agree? Disagree? Is your top food missing from this list? Comment below J



    1.     Canned and/or dried pulses (dry peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas)

    2016 was the year of pulses, and I really got into them! Roasted chickpeas for snack, pureed lentils for pasta sauce, side dishes, mains… they work everywhere! They’re a great source of protein, iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Pulses have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help with weight loss. They’re also economical and so user friendly; dry pulses can stay in your pantry for a year (even longer, if you have the time to soak ‘em longer). Canned pulses are even more convenient- just open the can, rinse (you can remove 40-50% of the sodium this way), and use. They are shelf stable for several years, and so filling!

    *quick tip* use unsalted water when cooking pulses as salt toughens them when cooking

    2.   Eggs

    Eggs are another nutrient powerhouse; low in calories, a very good source of vitamins B, A and D, some hard to get minerals such as selenium and iodine; high quality protein; and omega 3 fatty acids.

    Eggs are economical, and make a quick and filling meal. Easily whip up some scrambled eggs or bake a vegetable frittata. Eggs are kid friendly and easily transportable as a hard-boiled egg or baked in muffin tins.  



    3.   Whole grains (barley, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, brown rice)

    Whole grains provide fibre and minerals, lower the risk of diabetes (or help control blood sugar), and keep us full! Whole grains can also lower cholesterol levels, prevent against certain cancers, protect the heart… the benefits are vast, so make sure to include whole grains in every meal!

    They’re easy to prepare, (check out this site for cooking times) and stay fresh in the fridge 3-4 days.

    Swap whole grains for their white counterparts (such as serving brown rice instead of white rice); add into stews and soups; serve as a side dish or add to a salad.



    4.   Canned fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)

    Fish in general is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Salmon and sardines, as fatty fish, are also high in omega 3 fatty acids (benefitting the brain, and providing anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits). Canned fish is shelf stable, economical, and all edible-so you can even eat the bones and skin.

    Chose fish canned in water (vs. oil), make sure it’s within its expiration date, and has no dents in the can. Use canned fish in loaves or patties (similar to a meat loaf or meatballs); casseroles; add to salads; or eat straight from the can!



    5.   Canned or frozen vegetables

    Packaged at peak freshness, canned and frozen veggies maintain their nutrients while lasting longer. So you can always have them on-hand for last minute supper emergencies. Easy for little kids to eat (and a fun new texture!), serve canned corn, carrots, wax beans etc. as an appetizer or in a salad; roast or stir-fry frozen broccoli, green beans, carrots or any other favorite vegetable. Look for frozen vegetables that aren’t breaded or battered, and canned vegetables without added sugar and low sodium.

    Thursday, 30 March 2017

    Decadent Walnut Chocolate Spiced Cookies




    I have a couple issues when it comes to Passover baking;
    1. The amount of sugar in every recipe
    2. The amount of potato starch in every recipe
    I try cutting down the amount of sugar the recipes call for, but always, after eating too many of these cookies (and I always eat too many, cuz they're just not filling), I feel nauseous and sick to my stomach. Plus potato starch is so expensive that I feel bad using too much of it in recipes!

    So I set out to make a cookie recipe that doesn't use potato starch and significantly lessens the sugar, using... sweet potatoes as the base


    They give the cookies a fudgy, brownie-like texture that works so well with crushed nuts (bought those whole and crushed 'em myself for really cheap! [side point, did you know you can open nuts using pliers if you don't have a nut cracker?!])


    Let's talk spices now: Spices are pretty magical with the multitude of health benefits they provide. Cayenne, with it's active ingredient capsaicin, can boost metabolism, help reduce hunger, may lower blood pressure and aid in digestion, relieve pain, improve psoriasis and reduce cancer risk! (Read more about all that here). Cinnamon also has multiple roles in the body, preventing blood clotting during normal blood flow, acting as an anti-inflammatory, reducing the risk of heart disease, helping with insulin release and sensitivity. Cinnamon is also an antioxidant that may be protective against cancer and neurodegenerative disease (check this out for more details). Plus they add so much flavour to foods. Chocolate and cinnamon is a long time combination for wonderful reasons, and chili powder is another combo with chocolate that just works so well.  

    I happened to refrigerate these, as I left the house right after combining the ingredients, but honestly I've never done that when following recipes, so I won't judge you if you decide to skip that step.

    What's your favorite spice combination? Comment below :)


    Walnut Chocolate Spiced Cookies

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 small)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 4 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
    • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Instructions

    1. Microwave sweet potato for about 4 minutes (depending on size), until soft
    2. Peel potatoes and mash
    3. Preheat oven to 300℉
    4. Combine all ingredients
    5. Refrigerate for 1 hour
    6. Wet hands and form medium sized cookies
    7. Bake for , remove from oven to cool. Yield: 15 medium cookies.







    Wednesday, 29 March 2017

    Cranberry Muffins



    Muffins. I like them as a breakfast with Greek yogurt or peanut butter, an afternoon snack, or even dessert.

    But even though they come off as seeming really healthy, muffins are often loaded with fat and sugar, and just aren't as wholesome as you might expect.
    Because I love muffins so much, I wanted to create some that I could feel good about eating and serving my family. With this recipe I've swapped in whole wheat flour and cut down on both sugar and fat, while still keeping these-ems moist and fluffy.



    The whole cranberries add an awesome tartness and (literal) pop of flavour when they explode in your mouth; do NOT omit them!

    Cranberries are high in vitamin C and fibre, plus many antioxidants that may prevent recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs), stomach ulcers and improves dental health by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, stomach lining or teeth respectively. Cranberries reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with anti-inflammatory mechanisms, inhibiting platelet buildup, preventing LDL oxidation and reducing blood pressure.


    ...But okay, fine. If you don't have cranberries you can also use blueberries or other favorite fruits.

    What is your favorite way to eat muffins?

    Wholesome Cranberry Muffins

    Ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 cup sugar-free soy milk
    3 Tbsp. lemon juice
    1 Tbsp. oil
    2 eggs
    2 cups whole unsweetened cranberries

    Preheat oven to 400℉. Combine all dry ingredients. Make a well and add in combined wet ingredients. Mix batter, being careful not to overmix. Fold in cranberries. Pour evenly into muffin tins. Yield should be 12-15 medium sized muffins. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

    Friday, 17 March 2017

    Healthy Potato Salad



    You may have looked at the title of this recipe and thought, "how can POTATOES be healthy?!" For some reason these poor spuds have gotten a really negative reputation. I was at a party a while ago that served roasted potato wedges and all the people near me were bemoaning how much they love potatoes, but how much weight they've gained from eating them! Now there's definitely a case to be said for HOW you prepare those potatoes (deep fried French fries or chips are not healthy), and how MUCH you eat of said potatoes (a quarter of your plate, along with veggies and a protein is perfect), but they do not need to be seen as a guilty indulgence.

    According to the world's healthiest foods, 1 cup of potatoes is low in calories and high fibre, plus high in vitamin B6 (important for carbohydrate metabolism, red blood cell formation, and producing neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin), potassium (more than double what's in a banana!), vitamin C, copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid, plus antioxidants.

    So basically, the humble potato is not evil incarnate, and should definitely be a part of (notice I said a part of and not all of) your diet. And this recipe is a great way to re-introduce them in a fat free way :)

    Potato salad is one of those staple foods that come to every picnic, cook-out and family occasion. My family used to have it every week at our Shabbos lunch. But when there is more mayo than potatoes or veggies, it kinda loses its "salad" status to me. Plus there's the whole food safety issue of mayonnaise sitting out in the heat that sent me looking for a mayonnaise-free potato salad. You could technically swap oil for the mayo, but this recipe I developed is free of that too.

    The vegetables not only add colour for visual appeal, they also add a crunch that really complements the slightly mushy texture of the potatoes. And with the mustard adding creaminess; you hardly miss the mayo!






    I've added in veggies for crunch and colour. What are you favorite add-ins to potato salad?

    Mayo-free Potato Salad:

    Ingredients:

    10 small potatoes scrubbed clean
    1/2 - 1 stick celery
    3 baby dill pickles
    1 medium carrot cut in half circles
    1/2 cup vinegar
    2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
    1 tsp parsley
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Boil potatoes for 5-10 minutes depending on size. When cool, cut into quarters. Combine and toss with sliced celery, pickles and carrots. Mix ingredients for dressing and pour over veggies. There will be excess dressing, but it will be absorbed by the potatoes, so allow it to sit for a while before serving. (It's even better overnight!)

    Sunday, 5 March 2017

    Adult picky eaters: how to increase variety in your diet



    Picture the scene: A family celebration when the food comes out: Aunty A won’t eat soup; Cousin B won’t touch fish, or anything that came near it. Sister C won’t eat any vegetables besides carrots and celery, but is okay picking out the other veggies, while Nephew D will eat anything as long as there are mushrooms with it. And this is before any diets, allergies or restrictions come into play!

    Picky eating is a childhood rite of passage that they eventually grow out of. But what of those who don’t?? Welcome to the adult world of picky eating.

    Being a picky eater is not necessarily a problem. There’s no law that says you need to like every food that exists. If picky eating causes you anxiety or prevents you from socializing, it may be more of a concern (see this article about avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder [ARFID]). Otherwise it can be a health concern if you’re not meeting your nutritional needs; a difficulty finding what to eat; or an inconvenience living with a limited diet. Or it can be no problem for you! (But for those around you…)

    Ellyn Satter states that while some aspects of picky eating are socially acceptable, such as choosing which foods you want (even if only one or two items), leaving unwanted food on your plate, and taking more of one food even if there’s uneaten food on your plate, it is not socially acceptable to draw attention to your food refusal or request food that is not being served.

    So what do you do if you WANT to start eating a more varied diet?

    I’ve had plenty of adult clients telling me they don’t like vegetables, but know they should be eating them. A friend told me her doctor advised her to eat more fruit, but she “doesn’t like apples”. Usually when I hear such statements I investigate. No vegetables? Are there any you like? Don’t like apples, what about berries? Or melons? There’s such a huge variety of foods that after a bit of probing they can come up with 5-6 vegetables they do like, and plenty of fruit they love eating! And just recognizing that is such an important move away from labeling yourself as a “non-veggie eater” that can move you towards a more varied diet.  True, a diet with many fruits and vegetables will likely be more colourful and nutrient dense than one with only 2 or 3 choices, but progress over perfection- allow yourself a judgement free, unpressured environment to congratulate yourself on your veggie success, and when ready, slowly introduce new foods and/or methods of preparation.

    I recently tried a new salad dressing recipe. I knew it would be risky as my family enjoys their salad relatively plain, but I like to push their boundaries and experiment a bit (must be the dietitian in me!). Mom walked in the house and immediately smelled it, and exclaimed that I had ruined the salad, and wasted the blueberries I’d used as salad toppers. When I brought it to the table and served myself, she looked at it askance, and didn’t touch it. As the meal progressed without any comment or pressure for anyone to eat the salad, Mom put a small bit on her plate and tried it. Took a bit more a little later… By the end of the meal she told me “that salad was actually very good”!

    As Ellyn Satter advises, provide yourself repeated, unpressured opportunities to introduce new foods. Don’t force yourself to try a new food, allow yourself the freedom to try it and the freedom to not finish it. By regularly exposing yourself to a new food, you just may trick yourself into liking it!

    Sometimes, not liking a food is simply a matter of HOW the food is prepared. Nazima Qureshi RD MPH of Nutrition by Nazima admits in an Instagram post that she never liked green beans (though she would eat them if served, she wouldn’t make them herself). After some thought, she realized that the method of preparation she had been raised with left the green beans mushy and an almost grey colour- not appetizing! Determined to start a relationship with green beans, she bought fresh beans and sautéed them with only a few ingredients, and promptly loved them! Changing the method of preparation can significantly alter the appearance and taste of a food, making it a lot more palatable and enjoyable. 

    If you are a picky eater, and want to try introducing more vegetables (or other foods) into your daily repertoire, here’s the step by step:

    1.       Take inventory of the vegetables you DO like eating and eat them more often!

    2.       Chose a new veggie, and prepare it along with a favourite food

    3.       Don’t force yourself to eat the new food, and don’t feel bad if you weren’t able to enjoy it

    4.       Keep introducing and re-introducing new veggies – it will likely take many times of tasting until you’re used to a flavour, but don’t give up! Having a larger food base to choose from gives you more flexibility around meal time and can also lead to a healthier you!

    Do you have a food you think you should be eating more of? How do you introduce yourself to new foods? Comment below :)