Healthy eating should be good – nourishing and delicious. Life is too short and too busy for anything else. Healthy eating should be simple and stress-free; something you feel great about and gain energy from, so you can enjoy those things that matter most to you
We’re so excited to be part of this year’s Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign. We are celebrating Nutrition Month 2018 by helping Canadians unlock the potential of food to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.
Along with other dietitians, we will help illustrate that food has the potential to:
Fuel: Stay energized by planning nutritious snacks into your day.
Discover: Foster healthy eating habits in children by teaching them to shop and cook.
Prevent: Understand how food can help prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Heal: Learn how food can promote healing and how dietitians work in health care teams to make a difference.
Bring us together: Enjoy the benefits of bringing families and friends together with food.
There are so many dietitians who work in many diverse areas of nutrition! Did you know that you can find dietitians working in many places, including hospitals, grocery stores, community health centres, universities, rehabilitation facilities, seniors’ residences and long-term care settings?
We all have one thing in common: We love food – it unites us all! Whether we are counselling a patient recovering from a heart attack, teaching a cooking class or taking students through a tour of a grocery store, we are all passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health. You will learn so much this month about the amazing potential of food!
To make Nutrition Month come alive, we’re going to be focusing on the potential for food to discover.
To set children up for a lifetime of healthy eating it is important to start introducing them to shopping for, cooking and preparing food at a young age. According to lpsos, nearly 38 percent of parents miss the chance to teach children about food by letting them help prepare meals or snacks.
Here are some tips on how you and your kids can connect over food, this Nutrition Month.
When cooking with kids, here are some tricks to help get them involved:
Pick recipes together – let them help shop for and have a say in what foods you are making. Picky eaters are more likely to eat things that they have made!
Use it as a learning opportunity – incorporate lessons they are learning in school, like math, literacy, spelling, science and reading. For younger children, have them work on their motor skills by washing produce or mixing ingredients.
Make cooking fun – let your children’s imagination take over when cooking; turn the kitchen into a cooking show, or restaurant to get them really involved!
Set good examples – show your excitement for eating new foods! This will inspire picky eaters to be excited as well, making them more likely to try new things.
Don’t sweat the mess – be sure to stay cool about small spills and messes – they happen. Kids will feel more confident this way, plus it is an opportunity to teach them to clean up small messes on their own.
Helping your children discover food helps increase their likeliness to try new things, reduce mealtime battles and teach them food preparation skills that can last them a lifetime! Also keep in mind that your local supermarket may offer grocery store tours, food demos or cooking classes for children that can further inspire them.
Still not sure how to involve your kids in the kitchen? Here are some age-appropriate tasks to consider:
2-3-year-olds: wash vegetables, tear salad greens
3-4-year-olds: mash potatoes, mix ingredients
4-6-year-olds: measure ingredients, set the table
6-8-year-olds: toss salad ingredients, prepare a simple breakfast
8-12-year-olds: help with meal planning or make their school lunch
Teenagers: follow more complex recipes, make or plan one meal per week
Now that you know how to get your kids to help in the kitchen, here are some great recipe ideas to try preparing with them, this Nutrition Month:
Immersion blenders! What are they? How do you use them? Are these the questions you ask yourself when you think of an Immersion Blender? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let me welcome you into a life made simple with the most compact and convenient kitchen tool of all – the Immersion Blender!
What is an Immersion Blender?
An immersion blender has a long neck, a handle and a blade at the end. Most immersion blenders come with a button or an easy way to detach a portion of the immersion blender for easy clean-up. Immersion blenders are compact, handheld, light and easy to maneuver. To use an immersion blender, all you need to do is snap on the headpiece (if it comes un-assembled), plug it in and turn it on. Yes, that simple! When you’re done with the immersion blender, you can simply remove the headpiece and scrub with soapy water, rinse and let it dry.
Recipes you can make using an Immersion Blender:
Fresh, homemade mayonnaise:
Skip the shelf-stable, store bought mayonnaise. It’s time you treat yourself to a dollop of fresh, homemade mayonnaise with your next meal or recipe.
Mayonnaise is an emulsification between oil and an egg. An immersion blender comes handy in being able to whip the egg, while slowly adding the oil. The trick to getting the perfect mayonnaise is to add the oil very slowly. You need time for the emulsifier to take in the oil and to be able to give you a smooth, rich consistency.
To make the mayonnaise, you will need:
One room temperature large egg (make sure that it is room temperature)
One cup of olive oil
About 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Salt and mustard
Break egg into a medium bowl.
Add in a sprinkle of salt to give your mayo a hint of flavor.
Add in 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Take the immersion blender and rest it at the bottom of the bowl. Blend the mayo by first resting the immersion blender at the bottom of the bowl. Once the ingredients have started to combine, begin to lift the immersion blender slightly upwards to ensure you have combined everything well.
There you have it! You’re all done. With minimal clean up and time taken to make it, this recipe should be on your list of quick things to prepare! Be sure to taste your homemade mayo – it will taste quite different (and better in my opinion) than the store-bought version.
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup:
This recipe is one of my personal favorites and it has become even more of a go-to recipe since my immersion blender has made it so easy.
The ingredients need include:
1 lb cherry or baby roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 16oz can of roma tomatoes
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 small bunch of fresh basil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF
Peel the garlic cloves (mincing is not necessary as this is where the blender comes into play!)
In a medium bowl, toss the roma tomatoes and garlic with 3-4 Tbsp olive oil. Transfer to a baking pan and roast at 400ºF for 35 minutes.
Saute the onion over medium heat using in 2-3 tbsp of oil.
In a large pot, mix the roasted tomatoes, garlic and canned tomatoes. Add the vegetable broth. Add the basil, and the onion.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Let the soup cool for a bit and bring out the immersion blender. You can blend the soup right in the pot to a smooth, creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Tips and Tricks:
Be sure to use tall bowls or pots while using an immersion blender since it may splatter.
Allow hot soups or sauces to cool slightly, before using an immersion blender.
Immersion blenders are a great way to whip up meals with minimal clean up, time and work. Try using an immersion blender in any recipe that involves pureeing or blending – you won’t be disappointed!
It is no secret that changing your lifestyle can be very challenging. Part of making changes, has to do with how you approach change. Changing your habits is a process that involves several stages and it may take some time before the changes become new habits. Use these tips for setting healthy eating and active living changes you can stick to.
Keep it Simple and Realistic: Make one little change at a time, that you know is achievable. Skip dessert, go for a walk, eat an extra helping of vegetables– go easy on yourself. Simple changes will be more manageable and can make a big impact in the long run. Focus on one thing to change at a time.
Focus on the Positive: When making changes try to focus on what you can add to your routine rather than what you should stop or take away. Try reframing what you want to change to focus on the things you will enjoy more. For example, instead of trying to cut out all high fat and sugary snacks concentrate on enjoying more fresh fruit.
Make a Plan: Set a specific goal and make a plan that you can follow. Write down your plan and keep track of your progress. If you end up getting off track, don’t give up. Think about how you got sidetracked. Figure out what is working and what isn’t. You will need to adjust your plan accordingly to succeed. Make sure your plan is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Write it Down: Use a journal or an app to help track your process. This allows you to evaluate along the way. Make a schedule for the week, setting aside time to do tasks that help you reach your goal. Try making a vision board to ensure you see and will be reminded of your goal on a daily basis. If you are more technology driven, try an app such as Productive Habit Tracker or Quantify as they allow you to record and track your goals.
Work Together: Try to find someone with the same or similar goals as you. This increases accountability as well as gives the opportunity to keep each other motivated. Having people around you for support can make a world of difference when you are trying to change your lifestyle habits.
Challenge Yourself: Revisit your goals and think of ways to expand on them. For example, if you become comfortable with walking 5 days a week, consider adding strength training twice a week. Keep the challenges small and achievable but challenging enough to keep you interested and determined. Mix up your routine to stay focused and engaged.
Reward Yourself: Give yourself something to look forward to right from the start for when you achieve your goals. Think positive rewards such as something that won’t reverse your progress. Whether it be a day to relax and rejuvenate, an outing with friends/family, a new book, or something special that you’ve been wanting.
New habits, including healthy eating and regular physical activity, are challenging. It can take hard work and dedication. Keep your goals small and realistic so they become part of your routine.
Written by Sharon Charles BSc Nutrition (Candidate)
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
As we ring in this exciting year, we are faced with a fresh, new year brimming with opportunities and goals. The journey of a thousand miles indeed begins with the first step and as with any goal, the first step is to simply start. The process of starting to work on a goal is quite often daunting, yet exciting. The first few days and weeks, we are kept on track of our goals fueled by excitement however, if the light flickers and fades we are often left to battle our self-doubt, procrastination and distraction. During these times, we need a boost, a breath of fresh motivation to awaken ourselves to stay motivated to reach our goals.
As an avid reader, I often turn to books for inspirational wisdom and a pep-talk. Many of my mentors live within the books I read and guide me throughout my day with their striking words of wisdom that I catch while reading. To help you on this journey of improving and growing, I have compiled three books which have helped me strengthen my determination and drive. Consider picking one of these books up when you need some inspiration, some wise words or simply something interesting to read!
“Who Will Cry When You Die? Life Lessons from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma
This is one of my my favorite books because it felt as though the author was speaking directly to me about the challenges I face when my journey gets tough. One of my favorite quotes from this book reads:
I call the habit of self-discipline “Tough Love” because getting tough with yourself is actually a very loving gesture. By being stricter with yourself, you will begin to live life more deliberately, on your own terms rather than simply reacting to life the way a leaf floating in a stream drifts according to the flow of the current on a particular day. The tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you. (Sharma, 9)
When you to stick by your goals, you grow as a person in the sense that your determination grows, and your resolve is strengthened. Often, getting started requires more self-discipline but, the rewards of pushing yourself to realize a goal can be priceless.
“How to Become a Straight-A Student” by Cal Newport
Even if you’re not in school, this book is still for you! Through interviewing straight A students, Newport was able to get a glimpse into their world and how they think. One key take-away from this book that can be applied to anyone’s life is: balance is key. Rest, work and play can all be enjoyed and in fact, should be enjoyed every day, to bring balance and harmony to one’s life. For students about to embark on a new semester, it is important to remember that rest and play are just as important as work. No matter how stressful a schedule may get, it is important to step back, pause and take a break.
Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
There’s a reason why this book makes it to almost every inspirational book list ever made. A truly classic book, Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has stood the test of time. Every principle discussed in this book can be directly applied to our lives.
An important quote I believe is necessary for achieving goals is
“Our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar, these “magnets” attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts” (Hill, 48).
There is so much power in positive thinking. Throughout the new year, focus on thinking positively. The more often you think positively about something, the greater the chance of achieving it. In thinking positively, you eventually gravitate towards opportunities and ideas you may not have seen before.
These books all have one thing in common – they can help increase motivation for achieving your goals. Don’t let your New Year’s resolution lapse! Realize that you only need to take it one step at a time to achieve your goals during the journey of 2018!
One evening as I was grocery shopping, I came across miniature eggplants, called Thai eggplants. I was fascinated with this discovery, as this eggplant did not have the dark purple shade common to traditional eggplants. These eggplants were green with white stripes and they were the size and shape of a golf ball. They had a slight firm texture. I decided to bring some home. In relation to the taste, the Thai eggplants had a slightly more bitter flavour than traditional eggplants and the longer I left them to mature, the stronger the bitter taste became. They also had small golden seeds, similar to traditional eggplants. The seeds also had a bitter taste.
Although these eggplants are small, they are just as versatile as traditional eggplants. They can be grilled, deep fried, baked, pureed, stewed, stuffed and pickled. Nutritionally speaking, each Thai eggplant has approximately 25 calories and is a good source of fiber, potassium and manganese. After my first experience with Thai eggplants, I will most definitely include them in my cooking!
Here are some tips to help you enjoy Thai eggplants:
Eat Them Raw– Eating raw round eggplants with dips is the easiest way to enjoy them. Just rinse them, remove the stems, and slice or cut them into small wedges.
Curry Them– The Thai eggplant is a common ingredient in green and red curry. It can take some time to become tender, so slice them thin when adding them to curry dishes.
Add Them to a Stir-Fry Dish – Stir fry Thai eggplants with meat, basil leaves and red or green curry paste.
In our everyday busy routines, Western culture seems to be shifting towards food on-the-go. Especially for the younger generations, cooking has become a skill that is slowly disappearing. More often, people are reaching for on-the-go foods and take out meals.
Cooking is a wonderful skill that is meditative and peaceful. It is an opportunity to connect with our foods, to nourish our bodies and to heal ourselves with the foods we eat. By cooking our own foods, we can choose healthier options, develop the breadth of our knowledge of foods and nutrition, and open up a wider variety of foods to incorporate into our meals.
On my hunt to hone my skills in cooking, I decided what better way than to pick up a cookbook! The cook book that caught my eye was “Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook.” Resembling the ethnic mosaic of people in Canada, this cook book hand picks a plethora of delightful recipes that anyone can enjoy.
During this winter season, a hearty soup jam-packed with flavor is a great way to fight the chills. For those who love seafood and all things shrimp, the shrimp bisque recipe, would satisfy all your cravings! My personal favorite is the cozy chicken and rice soup which would be prepared by my mom as a way to warm ourselves up from playing outdoors in the snow as a child. Another savory recipe is the Hearty Thick Turkey Barley Soup.
If you find yourself with some leftover turkey after celebrating the holidays, why not whip up a batch of some hearty turkey barley soup? With some carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips and a few other vegetables, this mouth-watering soup is simple to prepare and will be devoured within seconds!
Though it may seem like a more daunting task, making bread from scratch is a tasty reward that will have you feeling more confident to take on more complex recipes. Personally, I love the smell of sweet, fresh bread baking in the oven. The scent would rise up to my bedroom and beckon me to come sit by the oven awaiting a hot, fresh bite of freshly baked bread. Included in this cookbook is a wide variety of breads you can make confidently from scratch by following the detailed instructions that are very beginner-friendly (trust me on this one!).
Offering a wide variety of recipes, this cook book has selected and presented an interesting blend of foods that will have your taste buds craving for more! Some of the recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less, many are for those who are vegetarians, and include meals that are balanced with proteins, starch and vegetables. If you find yourself wanting to pick up the truly life-long skill of cooking, this cook book is a great way to open up the doors to healthy eating and cooking!
DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in sponsored partnership with the California Dried Plum Board; however, as always, all opinions are genuine.
Happy New Year! I hope the holidays brought you peace, rest, and happy memories with friends and family. As we ease into a New Year, many of us begin by making resolutions to improve our health. I love this idea and often set annual health and nutrition goals for myself. One of my favourite nutrition goals and one I encourage for my clients, is to add a new and healthy food to their daily routine. This year, I am going to make that new food California prunes. Eating just one daily serving of 5-6 California prunes supports bone health, heart health and digestive health.
Dried plums, commonly referred to as prunes, have a unique nutrient and dietary profile and have been found to have beneficial effects on bone. Prunes are rich in nutrients vital for bone health, including vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and boron, along with antioxidants that may help shield bones from oxidative damage. Maintaining bone health is vital to long term health and ensuring our diet is rich in bone building nutrients is an important part of long-term bone health.
Traditionally known only for their digestive effects, I now encourage people to think of prunes as offering a much wider range of health benefits – consider them “The Whole Package”, when setting nutrition goals! Prunes are low in glycemic index and can promote satiety, between meals, making them a perfect snack option. The fibre in prunes has been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. California prunes are naturally sweet and one serving (5-6 prunes) has only 100 calories! Other things that I love about California prunes include their portability and versatility. They are the perfect ‘go anywhere’ snack.
I frequently encourage my clients to ‘think outside of the box’ when they are trying new foods. This helps create new flavours and it keeps food interesting. Prunes are no exception to this- they are uniquely versatile and can be used in sweet and savory meals and snacks. Prunes can be added to salads, blended into smoothies, or simmered into a rich BBQ sauce. They are an easy addition to homemade muffins and sweet breads, as well as a delicious flavour boost to your favourite trail mix.
So many of my clients come to me looking to optimize their nutrition and reduce their risk for chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. One of the main ways I encourage people to improve the overall quality of their diet is to increase their intake and variety of fruit and vegetables. Adding one serving of California prunes, to your daily routine is the perfect way to up your nutrition game and enjoy a great start to a healthy 2018!
Check out the recipes below and this link, for more information and to incorporate prunes into your day.
California Prune Energy Balls– the perfect mid-day snack
¾ cup (175 mL) almonds and walnuts mix
1 cup (250 mL) California prunes
¼ cup ( 50 mL) chia seeds
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) smooth nut butter
coconut oil, to blend
1/3 cup (75 mL) desiccated coconut
1. Place nuts in bowl of a food processor with knife blade and blitz for 10 seconds.
Add California prunes, chia, cocoa and nut butter and blend well until smooth.
Add a small amount of coconut oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture is sticky, and holds its shape when you roll a small amount between your fingers.
Take a tablespoon (15mL) of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue creating balls until mixture is all gone.
Place coconut onto a small plate and roll balls in the coconut, to coat.
Place balls in an air-tight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to a week.
Overnight Oats with California prunes: pre-prep before you go to bed- wake up to a delicious, healthy and satisfying breakfast
INGREDIENTS 1 ½ cups (375 mL) quick-cook oats
1 ½ cups (375 mL) California prunes, chopped
2 ½ cups (625 mL) Almond milk, or milk of your choice
TOPPINGS OF YOUR CHOICE · seeds · nuts · berries, etc
Place oats in a large bowl and pour almond milk over top. Mix together, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight.
In the morning, place mixture in a large saucepan over low heat. Add California prunes and cook for 10 minutes, adding more almond milk, if needed.
Once cooked divide porridge into bowls and top with your choice of toppings and the leftover chopped prunes.
Created by Sharon Charles BSc Nutrition (Candidate)
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
As the days get colder here in Canada, all you may want to do is snuggle up in a blanket and keep yourself warm. Well, a healthy and nutritious way to keep yourself cozy this season is by warming up to some meals made in the slow cooker! Here are two recipes which I can personally say are crowd pleasers and will have you eagerly awaiting the next time you can whip up a batch.
Can you believe that this recipe only calls for one ingredient – apples?! Me neither. I couldn’t believe you would only need the apples in your fridge to whip up some warm, velvety apple sauce. Obviously I tried it and obviously I absolutely loved it! Maybe you will too. The minimal prep time means there are no excuses to not have a healthy yet delicious snack on hand.
Core and slice the apples. I recommend you leave the skin on the apples.
Add half a cup of water to the slow cooker
Add the sliced apples to the slow cooker
Turn the slow cooker to high and leave it on for about 3 to 4 hours
When you return, the apples should have turned into a mush.
Transfer the lumpy apple sauce to a mixer and blend for 1 to 2 minutes.
All done! Enjoy your apple sauce!
Recipe 2: Easy Slow cooker chili
Andrea Miller Blog Easy Slow Cooker Chili! - YouTube
Snuggle up with a hearty bowl of nutritious and easy chili! This recipe also calls for minimal prep time. I must you warn you however, that once you make this delicious recipe, you’ll be reaching for more every time.
What you will need:
2 pounds ground beef
1 can of kidney beans
1 large diced onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tbsp crushed red pepper
3 tbsp ground cumin
56 oz of canned crushed tomatoes
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
Bring out a large frying pan and sauté the diced onions. When lightly browned, add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, red pepper and salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
Use a strainer to drain the excess liquid from the canned kidney beans.
Add the canned kidney beans, crushed tomatoes and bell peppers to the slow cooker.
Stir the mixture well and cover it with the slow cooker lid. Set the slow cooker to high and leave on for about 3 to 4 hours.
The hearty and warm aroma of the chili will beckon you into the kitchen when it’s done. Enjoy!
Recently, I’ve been enjoying skyr, a yogurt that has been eaten in Iceland for thousands of years, and has been gaining popularity in North American grocery stores. When I eat it for breakfast, I find that it keeps me satisfied throughout the morning, which works great with my busy university schedule. As a food and nutrition student, I was curious as to why this product was becoming so popular, and how it compares to regular yogurt or Greek yogurt. Essentially, skyr is higher in protein than regular or Greek yogurt. This is because it technically is not a yogurt at all. It is a cultured dairy product, which is actually a strained cheese, allowing it to be thicker and higher in protein than other yogurts, while also keeping a lower sugar content. Below are some nutrient comparisons between yogurts, all plain (unflavored, unsweetened):
Per ¾ cup (1 serving)
PC Plain Skyr Icelandic 0% M.F. Yogurt
PC Plain 0% M.F. Greek Yogurt
PC Plain 1% M.F. Yogurt
15% daily value
50% daily value
20% daily value
When selecting yogurt, aim for lower fat – 2% M.F. or less – contain at least 15% daily value for calcium and have no added sugar. All of the above yogurts meet these recommendations; additionally, Skyr has a higher protein content compared to Greek and regular yogurt. This can be especially great for athletes looking to add more protein to their diet. It is important to look for yogurts with no added sugars, and I find that sometimes plain yogurt tends to be a little bitter. A great way to naturally add some sweetness into your skyr is with a little bit of honey, some fruit, cinnamon or natural maple syrup. I also like to add some nuts, chia seeds or granola to give it a more satisfying crunch. Additionally, I find that skyr is a great addition to smoothies.
Snacking is something we all do – and it is something that we enjoy and look forward to! Read on to learn more about the benefits of snacking and how you can optimize your snack choices.
Benefits of Healthy Snacking
Snacks are a great opportunity to:
Add extra nutrients to your diet – This one is simple; the more nutrient-dense foods we eat, the closer we get to meeting to our recommended daily nutrient intake based on Canada’s Food Guide. Incorporating a few snacks into our day gives us more opportunities to do this.
Help us choose smaller, healthier meals – While getting more nutrients, snacking also helps keep us fuller for longer between meals. Without feeling extreme hunger at the next meal, we are more likely to choose smaller serving sizes, while making healthier choices.
Keep energy levels up between meals – Grabbing a quick bite between meals keeps blood sugar levels from dropping too low, helping us feel more energized. This is also beneficial for concentrating at work or in class; the less tired we feel, the more capable we are to get quality work done.
Stop us from buying “junk” foods at work or school – Keeping a pre-planned healthy snack within reach (in our desk, purse, backpack etc.) limits the need to go out and buy convenience foods when hunger strikes. By planning ahead, hunger and cravings can be solved without eating junk foods that are often high in salt, fat and sugar.
When Should I Snack?
The best time to incorporate a snack is 2-3 hours after your previous meal, when blood sugar levels are typically dropping. Aim for a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, daily.
What Should I be Snacking On?
The key to effective snacking is pre-planning with the right guidelines in mind. In order to keep us satisfied and remain healthy, a successful snack should have:
3-5 grams of fiber
5-15 grams of protein
It is helpful to snack on crunchy foods – they tend to be more satisfying than softer foods:
Celery sticks with hummus, peanut butter or cream cheese for protein
Apple slices with peanut butter or a piece of cheese
Roasted chickpeas and whole grain crackers
Nuts and seeds, with a piece of fruit
Whole grain crackers with cheese, hummus or tuna
Carrot sticks with hummus or veggie dip
Eating smaller pieces of food can make us feel like we are eating more: