Bridge the gap between knowledge and application by following these simple, dietitian approved recipes!

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Protein Smoothie for the Win

protein smoothie

Stop for a moment and consider your favorite smoothie. What’s in it?  Is there protein? Or is it simply fruit and water? If not, you’re missing out.  Actually, you’re missing out big time.

 

Why? Smoothies are an opportunity for better nutrition, if and when they are made right. Smoothies made without much protein will likely just be providing a lot of carbohydrate to your diet, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the carbohydrates are coming from fruits and dairy. But if the carbs are coming from honey, sugar, fruit juices, nectars and other flavoring agents, then you’re just adding more calories without getting the added bonus of nutrients. (And by the way, excess calories gets stored as fat in the body.)

 

Back to protein though – when its added to a smoothie, it helps you feel fuller for longer, which means you won’t be craving more food shortly afterwards. So if you’re making a breakfast smoothie, try making a high protein yogurt smoothie or protein fruit smoothie using Greek yogurt.

Berry Toga Smoothie

1 cup frozen blueberries (0g protein)

100g plain Greek yogurt (10g protein)

½ cup milk 1% (9g protein)

Optional: 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar (0g protein)

Total Approximate Protein Content: 19 grams

 

To add a flavor punch, turn this basic into a…

Chocolate protein smoothie – by adding a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (1g protein)

Whey protein smoothie / Protein powder smoothie – by adding ½ -1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein powder (average 20-40g protein per 1 scoop)*

 

*Most people don’t need to add protein powder unless they are trying to gain weight and having difficulty doing so. There are also people who struggle with food intake or live a lifestyle where it’s a struggle to prepare homemade snacks and foods. In these situations, it may be acceptable to take a protein powder smoothie, but it still wouldn’t be my first choice recommendation. Also, some people mistakenly take protein powder thinking it’ll help them lose weight, but it may be doing the opposite if you’re already having 3 balanced meals with snacks and meeting your needs through real food.

 

For a yummy protein breakfast smoothie when you don’t have yogurt or berries, try this recipe:

 

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 cup milk 1% or plain soy milk (9g or 7g protein, respectively)

1 banana (fresh or frozen) (1g protein)

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (8g protein)

Total Approximate Protein Content: 16-18 grams

 

For some people who use protein smoothie recipes weight loss may occur, if you take them as part of a healthy diet. It’s especially useful for those who routinely skip breakfast or have breakfast at fast food chains or restaurants. Research shows that the people who successfully lose weight and keep weight off always have breakfast, ideally within 1 hour of waking up. Also, restaurant breakfasts are usually high in saturated fat (from ham, sausages, bacon and eggs, buttered bread, etc) and high in calories as well. A quick and easy breakfast smoothie will offer a tasty and nutritious alternative to eating out AND cut calories AND prevent you from overeating at lunch by getting your day started right.

 

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Healthy Lifestyle Tips For Parties & Holidays

holiday turkey

 

Hurray! Another holiday season is upon us and there’s a reason to party, get together with old friends, and recall stories of the past and talk about plans for the future. Good times, indeed. Don’t let the holidays bring a damper to your party because you’re worried about putting on weight. Remember, during the holidays, wanting to lose weight fast isn’t realistic. The goal should be to maintain your current weight until the holidays have past, and then resume your weight loss pursuits. Following the healthy living tips below will be much easier and more effective than any diet plan you’ll encounter.

 

1. Before arriving at a party, have a small snack so you’re not starving on arrival. Curb your appetite with some cheese and crackers or veggies and hummus or yogurt with fruit about an hour before your party. It’ll prevent overeating, guaranteed. (Note: Having a protein-containing snack between lunch and dinner is one of those healthy lifestyle habits that help curb cravings and prevent overeating whether you’re headed home for a ‘regular meal’ or a party!)

2. Tackle the buffet table with some tact. For the first round, fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, lean meats and small amounts of starch. If you go for a second round, choose small portions of other foods, which shouldn’t be too hard at this point since you’ll likely be getting full already from your first healthy plate.

3. Many popular “diets that work for sure” over restrict portion sizes and make it difficult for people to sustain healthy living while achieving their weight goals. Instead of following a strict regime that’s hard to maintain, use ‘the plate method’ as a guide. Fill your plate with half vegetables, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter grains at each meal.

4. Cocktail parties mean finger foods. The best healthy eating tips involve helping people become more mindful of their eating. Be very selective of what you place in your plate because chances are you’ll nibble at it without thinking how much you’re consuming. Choose raw veggies like cucumber, broccoli florets and baby carrots, which are nutritionally dense but low in calories. If you’re feeling extra motivated, skip the dip.

5. Alcoholic beverages still fit into this ‘diet plan’ but take it in moderation. Generally, men are allowed up to 2 standard drinks per day while women have their maximum set at 1-1.5 standard drinks per day. Calories from drinks can add up, so try to choose drinks mixed with diet pop or club soda versus juices and regular sodas.

6. Start a new holiday tradition by building physical activity into the celebration festivities. Healthy lifestyle choices require daily commitment. With the support of family and friends, the process will be much more enjoyable and everyone you care about will reap the benefits of better health too! Ideas of where to start include: Before serving dinner, have everyone go for a half hour walk together instead of sitting around the couch. It’ll be a great way to relieve stress and boost your metabolism a bit before eating. For more exercise tips, consider going to your local fitness center and asking one of the class instructors or personal trainers.

TRY THIS HEALTHY RECIPE (Courtesy of Dietitians of Canada)

http://www.dietitians.ca/Recipes/Mediterranean-Roasted-Beef-and-Veggies.aspx

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Green Smoothie Recipes

green smoothie

Green smoothies are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet to help you reach your recommended number of servings according to Canada’s Food Guide. Vegetables and fruit are low in fat and calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.  Green smoothie recipes using dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale are important sources of folate, a key nutrient responsible for cell division in developing babies.

Green Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

Green smoothie recipes are typically low in fat and calories depending on the ingredients. In contrast to high fat breakfasts such as eggs and bacon with buttered toast or pancakes, you’ll enjoy a fresher start to your day and some weight loss over time as you shave off calories every morning by making a healthy green shake versus eating out for breakfast. I don’t like using the term green smoothie diet and much prefer asking you to take the green smoothie challenge for the next 2 weeks to see how you feel and track whether you notice a difference on the scale as well.

As always, a good rule of thumb is to not weigh yourself daily and instead limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in. Our body weight fluctuates about 2 to 3 pounds a day depending on fluid shifts, and timing (before or after a meal or a bowel movement). Choose one day out of the week for your weigh-in. It’s best if you can weigh yourself in the morning after your first bathroom visit but before you eat or drink anything. Repeat on a weekly basis and record the number to track your trends.

Raw Green Smoothie Recipes

Try blending together the following combinations for a simple breakfast or snack:

Chocolate Jungle Monkey Shake

  • 2 dark kale leaves (green, purple, or black work just as well)
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 2tbsp plain cacao powder
  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk are okay)
  • (optional) 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar for added sweetness

Forest Strawberry & Banana Shake

  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • (optional) maple syrup for sweetness
  • Blend with water or milk to desired thickness.

Message for the Parents

For parents of young children, it’s important to remember that children model after what their caretakers eat. Even though we’re bombarded with messages on television and from peers and elders of what ‘normal food’ or kid-friendly foods are, ultimately you’ve got the power (and the responsibility) to encourage your kids to eat well. Why go the hard route of making separate foods for the adults and the kids? Use the same green smoothie recipes for kids! Consistently offering children the same foods gives them more opportunity to like it. Foster a commitment in your household to enjoy foods that are good for health, and not the mention, very tasty as well.

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Fun and Easy Recipes for Kids

cooking with kids

Kids can be the harshest critic. Their brute honesty can cut like a sharp knife. I pity the green peas that fall to the ground from complete rejection. In a moment’s desperation, don’t you sometimes cry out, “Help me! My kid is the pickiest eater in the universe! What should I do???”

The answer may surprise you. Although kids can be extremely harsh judges and getting them to eat can feel like prying open the doors of a condemned building, they too, can be won over. “But how?” you may ask. Well…get them involved in the cooking process. Let them be the chef of the kitchen and create masterpieces. When kids learn how to cook and are part of the creative process, they develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their creations. And perhaps more subtly, the seed of appreciation for the usual chefs (i.e. mom and dad) is sown. You, as the ‘usual chef’ may never reap the benefits of words of appreciation until YEARS LATER (I don’t want to give false hopes.) but granted, if you start using easy recipes for kids now, you may just save yourself a few tears down the road.

The key to success when it comes to cooking with kids is simple – easy recipes. You’re not aiming to create the next best thing since sliced bread here. Go for simple and as your child ages, upgrade from recipes for toddlers to older kid friendly recipes.

A good place to start would be snack recipes for kids such as the following. There is very minimal work to be done, but there is some cutting involved. If your child is not at a stage where they can safely manage even with adult supervision, give them the task of measuring and combining ingredients instead. Also, you can encourage them to place the assembled snacks into their own special container and say it’s their special helper task.

Simple Snack Ideas for Kids

  • Homemade granola bars or oatmeal cookies, milk
  • Homemade trail mix: dry whole grain cereal (e.g. o’s or squares), dried fruit (e.g. raisins, cranberries), pretzels, seeds
  • Raw vegetables with hummus or black bean dip
  • Whole grain crackers topped with cheddar cheese and slices of pear
  • Apples slices spread lightly with peanut butter
  • Yogurt with cut up fruit for dipping
  • Chopped hard-boiled egg stuffed in mini pitas with 100% vegetable juice
  • Fresh or canned fruits (unsweetened), small whole grain muffin

These healthy recipes for kids each have two food groups, which make it a balanced snack between meals. Snacks are very important for growing kids to provide them with the nutrition and the calories they need to support rapid growth. I know it’s much more convenient to buy packaged kid snacks rather than teaching a child how to make their own food, but the long term result is a healthier child that is also learning life skills at an early age. And that…is priceless.

Dessert Recipe for Kids

Here’s a lovely recipe created by a kid, for kids! Be warned, it’s not the healthiest recipe, but definitely a fun and messy one. Consider hosting a kids party and making this together so it’s a special treat, rather than a staple after-dinner dessert.

Dirt Cup Dessert

Ingredients:
1 package Oreo Cookies
2 boxes instant chocolate pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 container whipped topping
Gummi Worms for garnish

Directions:
Place Oreos in a food processor and blend into crumbles. You can use a rolling pin crush them if you don’t have a food processor. In a large bowl, combine cold milk and pudding mix. Stir until well blended. Add whipped topping to the pudding and stir until well blended. In an individual sized glass or clear plastic cup, place a thick layer of cookie crumbles on bottom. Then add a layer of pudding mixture and top with another layer of crumbles. Garnish with Gummi Worms and enjoy!

Dinner Recipes for Kids

Cooking with kids during dinner can be a bit more challenging, especially if they are young. What I would suggest is to give them the task of assembling a side dish that doesn’t involve a stove. Some ideas include:

  • Pre-cut colorful vegetables and have your little helper assemble everyone’s salad bowl in a unique way. Give them a challenge they can manage like every bowl must have at least 3 different colors
  • Ask them to make garnishes using cookie cutters. Give your child thinly sliced fruits or veggies with regular cookie cutters that are different shapes. Get them to garnish everyone’s dinner plate with an edible garnish.
  • Open up a can of pineapple chunks and mini wieners. Hand these and some toothpicks and have your little helper make simple appetizers for dinner or for a birthday party!

 

You WILL NOT BELIEVE What’s In This Pasta!

kitchen sink pasta

How many of you have ever stepped into your kitchen around 5pm-ish only to find that the fridge is pretty bare and nothing in the cupboards seem to appeal to you (or your family). I call it the “What’s For Dinner?” conversation that goes a something like this:

Someone at home: “What’s for dinner?”

Me: “I’m not sure…”

Someone at home: “Wanna eat out then?”

Me: (Super tempted to say “yes” and take the easy way out) “Nope! I’ll figure something out!”

 

So there I was, staring into a fridge that’s pretty wiped out with more condiments then there are fresh produce and protein items.

I wish I took a picture for you, but since I didn’t, here’s what I had available to me:

  • organic chicken sausage (mild honey flavor) from Amron’s Meat Shop
  • box of rotini pasta

As I browned the sausage without knowing what my next instruction would be in this homemade recipe, I decided I MUST have a vegetable in this one-pot meal. I look again in the fridge and what are my choices?

  • choy sum (leafy green chinese vegetable, more tender than gai lan)
  • enoki mushrooms (a thin, needle like mushroom with a mild flavor)

Now…I’m no iron chef so blending cuisines where East meets West isn’t exactly my forte, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to put on a home-cooked meal that’s healthier than eating out.

By cutting the choy sum thinly, it became disguised as a al dente cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, which was perfect! The enoki mushroom, when cut into small pieces absorbed all the juices of the chicken sausage, while giving a nice gentle mushroom aroma.

In an attempt to build more flavor dimensions, I turned once again to my “empty fridge” and found the following:

  • sundried tomatoes
  • pesto
  • pasta sauce

Now, I’ll be honest. I went for the pre-made pasta sauce first. IT WAS RIGHT THERE! DONE! READY TO GO! NOTHING SIMPLER THAN ADDING A JAR OF SAUCE  to cooked chicken in a fry pan to call it a day! After all, I ALREADY creatively added vegetables (ASIAN vegetables!!!) in didn’t I?!?! But alas, my “dietitian angel” on my shoulder (Get it? Dietitian Angel? simple-smile You WILL NOT BELIEVE What's In This Pasta! You can call me lame. I can take it.) called me out and said, try something just a slight bit more unnerving for you.

All you wonderful cooks out there must be shaking your head by now wondering why I’m so proud of adding pesto and sundried tomato to a pasta dish…obviously it’ll taste good! I guess, my pride in combining all these flavors lies in the fact that I’m not all that brave a cook. And I’m not all that good a cook for that matter, so combining items I normally wouldn’t unnerves me a bit.

If you can relate at all to this feeling, I want you to know something very important….

Do something everyday that gets you outside your comfort zone. Even if it’s as simple as throwing together a meal you never thought you could with what you have on hand. It may turn out HORRIBLY! (And you would learn how NOT to make it next time) Or, it could TURN OUT BEAUTIFULLY like my “Kitchen Sink Pasta.”

And no joke, my #1 taste tester at home said, “Hun, this may just be the BEST pasta you’ve ever made.” (We’ve been together for 12 years now. And yes, he may be my best friend, but he’s certainly honest simple-smile You WILL NOT BELIEVE What's In This Pasta! )

 

 

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Spring Quinoa Recipe with Only 5 Ingredients!

quinoa salad ingredients

Spring is finally upon us! Let’s keep our fingers (and our toes) crossed to make sure our lovely west coast weather lately is here to stay! Warmer weather almost always makes me crave simple, light flavoured foods. Hearty home-cooked winter dishes like stews, soups and braised meats had their time to shine, so it’s definitely time to try new recipes to lighten our palate.

Chances are, you’ve already heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA versus the usual KEEN-NO-WA) as being a ancient seed that is rich in protein, fiber, iron, and a source of calcium for vegans. Its mild flavour and crunchy texture makes it an extremely versatile ingredient in hot and cold recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts.

This week, I was so inspired by the spring season that I opted to make a delicious quinoa recipe with as few ingredients as possible. I’m what you would call a minimalist cook. The fewer the ingredients, the better. It’s not so much because I’m a dietitian, it’s more so because I believe that good food should be simple and easy to make, even on a budget or with minimal cooking equipment. One other bonus to recipes with few ingredients is that you really get to taste and savour each flavour component.

So, what are the ingredients?

  • Kiwi – 2
  • Apple (BC Ambrosia) – 1
  • Avocado – 1
  • Quinoa, uncooked – 1 cup
  • Balsamic Dressing, light – 1 tsp

quinoa-salad-1-1024x768 Spring Quinoa Recipe with Only 5 Ingredients!

Here’s the breakdown of nutrition benefits from this simple quinoa salad recipe:

  • Quinoa – plant based seed with high carbohydrate to protein ratio that’s high in fiber and iron, making it a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, people with diabetes or an allergy/sensitivity to gluten and wheat
  • Kiwi – source of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K with 2 grams of fiber per fruit (2″ diameter)*
  • Apple – source of potassium, vitamin A, C, K with 4-5 grams of fiber per fruit with the skin on*
  • Avocado – plant based heart healthy monounsaturated fat, niacin, vitamin A, K with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc!
  • Balsamic Dressing – a low calorie, virtually fat-free  flavour packed condiment that’s a better choice than creamy dressings

*Values taken from USDA Department of Agriculture website: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

Equipment you will need:

  • small pot
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • wooden spoon
  • fine wire mesh sieve

And last, but certainly not least… It’s SUPER simple to make!

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
  2. While waiting, cut up kiwi, apple, avocado into cubes. Set aside.
  3. Add quinoa to boiling water and cook about 15-20 minutes until the core is no longer white.
  4. Strain cooked quinoa in fine mesh strainer using cold tap water to remove bitterness and cool.
  5. Toss together with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

quinoa-salad-2-1024x768 Spring Quinoa Recipe with Only 5 Ingredients!

 

Enjoy this super simple and healthy spring quinoa salad and be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you think!

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Eating Late at Night Causes Weight Gain

potatochips

This myth has a lot of people fooled. But rest assured – this myth is busted. Although late-night snacking can lead to weight gain, it’s not because of the time on the clock. Most of the snacks we eat at night tend to be higher in calories, fat and sugar. You know what these are – chips, pop, and chocolate. Many of us eat out of habit or routine, especially when sitting in front of the television, even if we’re not hungry. Also, we tend to munch away at large bags of food rather than enjoying snacks in a small bowl to watch our portion control.

So how do we manage our munchies cravings?

  • Drink water or tea first: Sometimes, our brain confuses thirst with hunger. Drink a glass of water or tea first. You might just “quench your hunger.”
  • Change snack time: Have a snack in the afternoon instead that has a protein and carbohydrate. Examples include veggies and hummus, yogurt and berries, peanut butter and crackers, cheese and fruit.
  • Try a healthier late night snack: To curb a sweet tooth, enjoy a fresh apple with a few dark chocolate covered almonds. To satisfy the craving for something salty or crunchy, munch away on some delicious kale chips (see recipe below!)
  • Portion out: Place your snacks into a small bowl or plate so you control how much you eat.
  • Break routine: If you tend to sit down on the couch and snack, try doing a chore like folding laundry during your favorite television series so your hands are occupied and your brain starts to associate watching television with something other than food.
  • Write an activity list: If you’re eating out of boredom, write down some activities you enjoy doing other than eating. Refer to this list whenever you are tempted to eat late at night.

 

Remember that weight gain is usually the result of consuming excess calories, beyond what you physically need to nourish and meet the needs of your body. The time on the clock is arbitrary. So the next time you hear someone say, “late night snacking leads to weight gain,” please turn to the person and set the record straight. Thanks!

 

Baked Kale Chips: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear kale leaves into bite sized pieces. Wash and dry thoroughly. Drizzle olive oil and salt over kale and bake until edges are brown, not burnt, about 10-15minutes.