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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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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.


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!


  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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Is Frozen the New Fresh?


When it comes to fruits and vegetables, many people would argue that fresh is best. If you are a member of this school of thought, take a seat before reading any further. The truth is, frozen and canned produce can be just as nutritious as fresh produce. How is this possible, you ask? Well, it’s because frozen and canned produce is picked at the peak of ripeness when nutrient levels are highest. This means that you can enjoy all the goodness of nutrient rich produce all year round. Seal in the best of summer this year by freezing or canning all that delicious local produce from the farmer’s market so you can enjoy it all year.

Here are some reasons to celebrate!

  1. Convenience: Frozen and canned produce is usually peeled, pitted, and sliced, which means a lot of the work involved with cooking has already been done for you!
  2. Cost effective: Fresh fruit can be more expensive when it is sold outside of the local growing season.
  3. Year-round supply: Sometimes, transporting fresh produce to remote living areas can be difficult, so canned and frozen produce are a practical way for people to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables all year round.

Now, I realize that the skeptic in you may be wondering whether frozen or canned produce is higher in sugar and salt. The answer is – not always. With today’s demand on healthy living, you can just as easily find frozen and canned produce without any added sugar and salt. Specifically, look for no-salt-added canned vegetables, fruit canned in its own juices instead of sugar syrup, and plain frozen fruits and vegetables. If you want to be extra careful, try rinsing your canned produce to remove additional sugar or salt before eating.

Jump start your way to having more fruits and vegetables!

Now that you know fresh, frozen, and canned produce can be nutritionally the same, there’s no hiding behind the excuse of “it’s too hard to enough fruits and veggies.” Sneak more produce in your diet with the following tips:

Toss a handful of frozen berries into fresh yogurt or hot cereal in the morning

  • Blend milk, yogurt, and frozen fruit together for a yummy smoothie treat
  • Build a tasty fruit salad with canned fruit mixed with some fresh seasonal fruit
  • Liven up your favorite soup, stew, or pasta sauce with a splash of color from canned or frozen vegetables
  • Power up your comfort foods by adding antioxidant-rich vegetables like frozen broccoli and cauliflower to macaroni and cheese
  • Tantalize your taste buds by adding fresh basil and ricotta cheese to canned tomatoes for a quick and easy pasta sauce 
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Eating Late at Night Causes Weight Gain


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. 

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Vegetarian Food = Awesome Eats Without the Meats

protein rich vegetarian food

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian food. Carnivores who enjoy vegetarian food at least once a week can reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Additional benefits include being earth friendly since copious amounts of fossil fuel and fresh water is used to process meat from farm to table. In fact, there’s an international movement called “Meatless Mondays” that encourage people to enjoy vegetarian food on Monday, because people will be more prone to make health conscious decisions for the rest of the week.


Easy Steps to Enjoying Vegetarian Food

  1. Create a vegetarian food list. Add pulses, a protein rich vegetarian food, that has twice as much protein as wheat, oats, barley, and rice. (see tips below)
  2. Search for vegetarian food recipes you’d like to try. For simple, delicious, and well tested recipes, visit www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/recipes or search your favorite website for recipes using beans, lentils, peas, tofu, soy, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Reserve a spot on your fridge for a vegetarian grocery list to remind yourself of your commitment to go meatless at least once a week.


Tips on Cooking Pulses

  • “Pulse” is the term for edible seeds of legumes (plants with a pod), such as lentils, beans, dry peas, and chickpeas, but does not include fresh green beans or peas.
  • Similar to pasta, pulses can double or triple in size while cooking. Make sure you use a large enough pot when boiling legumes.
  • Pulses should be cooked slowly so their seed coats remain intact. Follow cooking time guidelines for the pulse you are cooking (see reference: www.pulsecanada.com)
  • Pulses are considered done when they are cooked until tender
  • Freely add fresh or dried spices, herbs, and seasonings while cooking
  • Avoid adding salt and acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, vinegar, balsamic, citrus until the pulses are fully cooked because acids slow the cooking process


More Tips on How to Add Pulses to Your Diet

  • Maintain a variety of legumes in your pantry – try different colors because we truly ‘eat with our eyes first!’
  • Store canned legumes on hand in case you’re in a hurry
  • Replace meat with legumes in soups, salads, rice and pasta dishes
  • Cook lentils into your favourite pasta sauce in addition to meat or as a substitute
  • Add hummus along with cheese and vegetables into a tortilla or place into pita
  • Season mashed legumes with spices to create low fat, high fibre spreads and dips