A drinkable breakfast for those on the go!

So since we got our Vita-mix, we’ve been searching for new smoothie recipes to try. I am all for “inventing” but not every combination of vegetables and fruits is a hit (or has the appearance of being appetizing – but that is what opaque/coloured cups are for haha). Plus, there is so much out there in the world wide web! Earlier in the week my husband was talking about the combination of banana and peanut butter (I have your attention already, right? yum!). This really didn’t seem novel to me as I grew up making lots of smoothies, inventing and experimenting with milkshakes. Anyway, he was searching tonight for a “recipe”, you know, as most men do when they are motivated in the kitchen. He NEVER makes anything without a recipe, unless it is BBQ sauce or spice rubs. I find this humorous especially since I cook most things without a recipe, and sauces and spice blends are what I usually search for as recipes so I don’t end up with something over-spicy or just downright awful.

Anyways, so he finds this recipe with oatmeal. LIGHTBULB! This immediately reminds me of a child I saw whose mom would add oatmeal blended into her bottle of milk. That is another story of its own, but I thought, as a smoothie this might be worth trying…perhaps breakfast as a smoothie, but actually well balanced. Most people think of smoothies as  either fruits, vegetables, juices and water. Or the latter with milk and yogurt added. The bottom line: 2 of 4 food groups. Why not aim higher, for 3 or 4? As Dietitians we often recommend 3 or 4 food groups per meal, and 1 to 2 per snack so that at the end of the day you have achieved balanced calories, nutrients, and vitamins. All in all a better means of meeting your needs from all the food groups.

So tonight we tried a Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie from the attached link. We doubled the recipe and divided it into 4 servings. Each serving was then 1/2 serving of milk products, 1 meat/alternative serving, 1/2 fruit serving, and 1/4 grain serving. The boys LOVED it, and it was the perfect before bed snack:

Ingredients (we doubled this)

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, photo from thekitchenpaper.com
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, photo from thekitchenpaper.com
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup uncooked plain oatmeal
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 banana (frozen or fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • Blend all ingredients together

This smoothie would be the perfect breakfast on the go in your travel mug maybe in a slightly larger portion for adults, a post workout recovery food, a mid afternoon or before bed snack for the whole family, or even dessert!

I hope you enjoy this as much as our family did. Remember that the possibilities with a blender are endless, especially when we have access to our good ol’ friend the internet!

~Melissa

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My house smells of delicious-ness!

Sunday. A family day. A worship day. A relaxing day. And of course a slow cooker day!

On the weekends I try to cook a few larger meals so that there are leftovers for Monday lunch at work, and possibly Monday evening if I am running late. While getting a few necessities today (and several other non-essentials as it always seems), I wandered the aisles of Costco to plan my supper meal. The boys were with me and joyfully tried many free samples to their hearts content. Why is it that they are so keen to try new things at Costco? Is it the atmosphere? Or the unintentional peer pressure as we quickly move table to table, with eyes all around?

Fish tacos? “No mom, I don’t like that”. Lamb roast? Too expensive today. Pork roast? On sale?! Done.

Now how to prepare it…thinking…thinking…why don’t I dust off a cookbook? That is why I buy them right? It seems I review them less and less now with the internet having such an array of websites that are easier to search based on the ingredients I may have when I don’t plan ahead. Sound familiar? I am a huge fan of the scrumptious recipes in “Cook!” by Dietitians of Canada, a compilation from Dietitians, Chefs, and Nutritionists. Since I never seem to have exactly the right ingredients for most recipes, I often adapt what I can to fit my household pantry and budget. Tonight I adapted the “Pork tenderloin with rhubarb chutney” recipe and subbed a pork roast in my slow cooker for convenience.

Pork Roast for 6-8 servings

  •  One 2 – 3 lbs pork roast ( I bought the large package which was 2 large and divided it into 4 smaller roast meals so there was less leftovers)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • a few turns of my salt and pepper mills
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth (is very low sodium)
  • Throw your ingredients in the slow cooker. Give the roast a turn in the spice mixture. Cook on high for 3 – 4 hours. Walk away and do other things as part of Sunday family time! When ready, let sit for 5 minutes before carving.

1 hour before you want to eat: Prepare side dishes. This may require the full hour depending on how much attention your children are needing! 😉

#1: Salad. Be as creative as you want!

#2: Roast potatoes and yams, my own concoction

Roast potatoes and yams
Roast potatoes and yams
  • Cube 1 medium yam, peeled
  • Cube 5 small Russet potatoes, not peeled
  • Toss lightly in olive oil
  • Sprinkle & toss again with 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp onion powder, a pinch of pepper, and 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.
  • Roast in the oven at 450F for 25 minutes.

#3: Rhubarb chutney

DSCN8742
Rhubarb chutney
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp ginger powder*
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder*
  • 1 tbsp onion powder*
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 30ml balsamic vinegar
  • 30 ml white vinegar
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups frozen rhubarb (mine was partially thawed)
  • 1/3 cup Craisins
  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, ginger, onion powder, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, hot pepper flakes and vinegars. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the rhubarb and Craisins while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until mixture is thick and syrupy.

Put it all together, and Voila!

The full meal deal!
The full meal deal!

 

 

 

 

 

Hope this inspires you for next Sunday supper. ~ Melissa

Spring is in the air so I am feeling green!

I am trying to “Go Green” this year. I think I can improve on my green-ness in 3 easy ways:

  1. Composting. My family has always recycled as much as possible, but I still feel guilty whenever I am throwing out banana peels, vegetable cores, and other compostable waste. So what to do about it? I signed up at our local home show for a composting seminar for which I get a free compost bin, tools, and lessons provided I track my waste for the next few weeks and track my compost for 1 year. If you are interested in learning more about composting check out your city website and you might be surprised what they might offer!
  2. Starting a garden. Since moving into my home 3 years ago I have wanted to garden. Our yard is small and can’t fit the large garden plot I had as a child. So, we started simple the last few years with potted tomato plants since we found most of our summer time was devoted to our boys rather than yard maintenance. This year we are going to step it up since we have achieved more balance in our lives and the boys are old enough to help – so learning to garden will become a family affair. Whatever we can’t grow we will hopefully be able to buy from the farmer’s market or local farms. My friend Leanne gave me a 1 foot “garden plot” tool to help me on my way. It has a map on it to help my kids and I squeeze as many vegetables into our 1 foot plots without over doing it. I am hoping we can at least do a 1 x 12 foot plot along our garage since it is currently a wasted space. Pinterest also has lots of ideas on gardening.
  3. Eating more vegetables! Now I remember I said this was one of my family’s New Year’s Resolutions and I haven’t forgotten about this. My boys seem to be getting pickier and with progressively smaller appetites (help?!) so this has been one challenge among many lately. I feel there is even that much more pressure as I am a Dietitian and talk about food with parents every day! My potential help: I broke down and purchased a Vitamix blender. We’ve used it 3 days and let’s just say the boys have consumed more spinach in 3 days than they have in their combined 6 years of life! I receive no endorsements from this company, but sure wish I did! The best feature of the Vitamix is that it is versatile. It is so powerful it can make flours, hot soups, and can blend anything smooth – even an apple, core and all. Bonus feature: Once the kids saw what went into the blender, they were more willing to try the ingredients (such as fresh pineapple) on its own whereas before they rarely touched it. Victory is mine!

Here is the recipe we tried this weekend: Going Green Smoothie (by Vitamix), serves 4.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in the Vitamix container, blend on high until smooth consistency reached.

This provides per serving 1 vegetable/fruit serving for 4 people. 54 Calories, 0 Fat, 237mg Potassium, 14g Carbohydrate, 1.4g Fibre, 1g Protein, Source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Folate.

How do you plan to be green this spring?

Happy Easter!

Quinoa: The Superfood of 2013

Quinoa pronounced “Ki-nwa”….is it a cereal? is it a seed? is it a vegetable? I was looking for a true definition to share, and good ol’ Wikipedia seems to be the easiest to digest (haha!). Here is our history lesson for the day: “The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or ‘mother of all grains’, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season . . . During the Spanish conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as ‘food for Indians’, and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous religious ceremonies . . . [and] forbade quinoa cultivation for a time . . . the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.” (Wikipedia) I wonder if this oppression is why wheat is so popular in our diets today…hmmmmm food for thought?!

Quinoa WikipediaSo back to what is it??? It is a grain-like crop grown mostly for its edible seeds. Quinoa is “a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds” (Wikipedia). Nutritionally speaking it is most similar to cereals/grains in its nutrient profile rich in protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron but higher in potassium (like vegetables). It is considered a complete protein source, having all 9 essential amino acids. Of note though is that it is not meant as a protein replacement. In comparison of an amount one would typically consume (1/2 – 1 cup), it compares more to grain products than to the protein content of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, nuts, beans, peas, and legumes. A 1/2 cup cooked portion provides 70kcal, 2g protein, 13g carbohydrate, 1.3g fibre, and of course loads of micronutrients. This has been a common misconception with some of my clients. It is recommended as part of a healthy diet, but not to replace this food group (vegetarian, vegan, or not). I incorporate it into my diet as a “cereal/grain product” as this is what it most resembles despite its origins.

I think it is VERY interesting that 2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations, especially since it is a food that has been around for centuries. CBC news has even brought it to the spotlight in terms of its economic effects. I learned about quinoa at a young age, with my Aunt and Uncle in Victoria frequently eating the superfood. I could never pronounce it, didn’t know how to prepare it, had tried it and wasn’t too keen on it at the time as pre-teens tend to be. Now that I am a Dietitian with a broader palate for foods, it is something I enjoy. One thing I love about quinoa is its versatility. You can cook it similar to rice, make pilafs, add it cooked and cold to salads, or add it to your morning oatmeal. You can roast it and add it to cookies, granola, yogurt, breads, muffins, and the list goes on! I am constantly looking for new recipes and ways to use it to incorporate it into my family’s diet as my husband is still not keen on it.

Today I hoped to change his mind as I made Quinoa Cookies. I think this recipe can be a snack for the kids, a great breakfast cookie on the go paired with a fruit and a glass of milk, or a cookie exchange delight!

Healthy Quinoa Cookies Recipe (adapted* from Blogger Quinoa, Kale & Exhale):

  • 4 medium frozen, thawed & mashed bananas
  • 6 tbsp smooth peanut butter – I did not use natural pb this time, but you can to reduce the sugar content.
  • 1 1/4 cup fast cooking oats*
  • 1 1/4 cup cooked quinoa*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup white sugar*
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened, coconut
  • 1/2 cup white or dark chocolate chips ( I used white chocolate because my husband doesn’t like milk or dark chocolate – he is missing out!)*
  • Mix all ingredients together. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 350F degrees for 25-30 minutes. I think my oven is a bit hotter than it should be, so you may lean to 30 minutes. You can also try 375F for 20-25 minutes. I did both an they worked well to produce a soft, gooey cookie. As RAchael Ray would say, YUM-O!
  • Makes about 30 cookies about 2″ diameter.
  • Dietitians of Canada eaTracker Recipe Analyzer: 110 Kcal, 5 g fat, 15.4 grams of Carbohydrate, 1.5g fibre, and 2.5g protein
  • *Sorry no pictures as little hands have misplaced my camera cord!

If you haven’t tried Quinoa before, I hope this inspires you to try it!

Enjoy,

Melissa Lachapelle, Registered Dietitian

Pulled pork-a-licious for your next family meal

Time. We never seem to have enough of it right? I feel that way sometimes. That life is moving faster than I can handle it, that the kids are growing up too fast, and I feel rushed to do this or that most of the time. Time. It is something I could use more of, but i also could spend more of it focused on what really matters: My Family.  I counsel parents and their kids for a variety of reasons. Whether it be for poor growth, obesity, or picky eating, there is one question I ask of all my parents: Do you eat meals as a family? Some say yes, some say no, but most say that they are lucky if they all sit down for one meal a day as a family. Most do not realize how important a family meal truly is to their family’s health.

eatright ontario sums it up best: “families that eat together eat better!…Children who eat with their families also consume more fibre, calcium, folate, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E,and less saturated fat and trans fat.” A family meal is crucial to the development of healthy eating habits and implementation of any nutrition-related plan. a family meal is also an opportunity for learning about food and how to prepare it. It is a safe place to share about our day and explore family traditions – especially when it comes to holidays! There is no time like the present to start making time for family meals! Here is a recipe for your next family meal:

Pulled Pork-a-licious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1.5 kg pork roast
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 Filoncini buns, whole wheat if you can find!

Directions:

  1. Rub the roast with the vegetable oil. Place the roast into the slow cooker. Mix all ingredients together with a fork or whisk. Pour mixture over the roast. Cover and cook on High until the roast shreds easily with a fork, 5 to 6 hours (or on low 8 to 10 hours).
  2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
  3. Toast the Filoncini buns face up under the broiler on high for 3-4 minutes until a little golden brown. Spoon the pulled pork onto the toasted bun. Top with coleslaw and other bun half.
  4. Serve with your vegetables of choice. We paired ours with peppers, broccoli, and carrots.

Until the next family meal,

Melissa Lachapelle, RD

Fresh summer side eats

It has occurred to me that I have been very recipe focused with my blog. It is my intention to include more “articles” on family and pediatric nutrition as time goes on. For now I hope you are enjoying the small tidbits of nutrition advice that I find can easily be paired with a great recipe. Healthy eating can mean making simple small changes to one’s food choices and lifestyle. A nutrition overhaul is often too overwhelming and not sustainable in the long run as people tend to be over zealous and restrictive in the beginning, and then their enthusiasm for change fizzles. If you have nutrition topics you would like discussion on, please do not hesitate to send me an email!

Tonight, enthusiasm for new foods is running high in our household. I am officially on holidays for one whole week, woot woot! What better way to spend my first few hours off, than with my family enjoying some more fresh summer eats! Bryan has really stepped up his game this week. Hopefully he can maintain his enthusiasm for food and new recipes into the school year when we tend to be super busy. Wishful thinking? Well for now I will take what I can get, and tonight this is a juicy summer side salad that everyone in your family will love!

Jicama. I have never had one that I can recall…On the outside it resembles a cross between a very large potato and a turnip, though once peeled has the texture of a crisp apple or pear. It can be eaten or served many different ways: raw with ranch dip (my son Nolan’s choice), raw in summer fruit salad (Hayden, Bryan and I prefer this), in a stir fry, or with other dips like hummus. The sky is the limit with how creative you can be with it. We may explore this more as it will take our family a few recipes to get through the whole jicama. A 1/2 cup is considered a veg/fruit serving, and for those looking to keep calories at bay, it only has 25 calories per serving! It is rich in vitamin C, fibre (3g/serving), and is a source of carbohydrates. I think the best part about jicama is that is new and interesting, so both the boys (and myself of course) tried it. There is nothing like having a Friday night family taste test session!

I have a hankering for jicama side salad

  • 1 cup of diced strawberries
  • 1 cup of diced seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup of diced raw jicama (peeled first)
  • 1/2 cup mango 100% juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Combine all ingredients and mix. It tastes best when it has had time for flavours to blend together. This refreshing side salad is a great complement to any summer meal. Makes about 6  – 1/2 cup portions (1 veg/fruit serving per person).
    (Photo from myjewishlearning.com – I just liked this picture best from what I could find as ours was already chopped up!)

Enjoy!

Melissa

Fresh summer eats

Summer is finally here! I am fortunate enough to be married to a teacher who has most of the summer off, so I have been looking forward to my “holidays” from my every day cooking and meal planning. Last week my husband got an A+ for his culinary skills. He made a Chili-lime chicken and rice meal that was quick, easy, healthy, and full of fresh flavours. It was truly his best dish to date, and delicious to say the least.

He was a little hesitant to share his recipe, not because it wasn’t delicious, but because he wasn’t sure it was healthy enough for my blog. He sometimes does not give himself enough credit. He is label conscious and often tries to choose foods lower in salt and fat, he just didn’t know that would translate into healthier cooking. “Healthy” does not have to be fancy cooking that takes hours to prepare. It can be as simple as pairing 3 food groups together and making healthy choices within each of those food groups. Some of the parents that I counsel are embarrassed when they show me a food record from a summer weekend while they were traveling or away. They figure I will scold them for too many snacks. “Snack foods” can become a meal, it just depends on the snacks. Cookies, licorice, and a slurpee is NOT a balanced meal. These are considered occasional foods to have once per week, not to be used in our children’s diets every day. Carrot sticks, crackers, and cheese are often snacks foods, but in the right portions can be a balanced meal for a toddler or child (i.e. 3 food groups, healthier choices) and could be followed by a licorice at a ball game or while camping. As long as we are still doing some meal planning, reading labels, and making healthier choices at the grocery store, we can keep our summer eats healthy and easy. Cheers to Bryan for adding to our healthy summer recipe collection!

Bryan’s Chili-lime Chicken

  • 2 cups of drained canned peaches (packed in juice or water)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 4 tbsp lime juice

In the blender combine peaches, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and mustard. Blend until smooth. Add sugar, chili, and lime to mixture. Pour about 2/3 of mixture per 4 or 5 chicken breasts into a dish to marinate for 1-4 hours. Set aside remaining sauce for basting and some for dipping. You can also place the chicken and marinade in a food safe bag or container, and freeze it so it can be cooked another time.

Barbecue chicken on low for 10-15 minutes (depends on your BBQ). Baste each time the chicken is flipped. Turn up the heat on your barbecue for nice char marks to finish cooking. Serve with chili-lime rice. *While the chicken is cooking, make your Chili-lime rice. I usually make my rice in the microwave so that I don’t have to watch it on the stove while I make the rest of supper or while I watch the kids.

Chili-lime rice

  • 1 cup uncooked rice ( I usually make brown, but he made white rice)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Cook on high in microwave or on stove top for 20 minutes.

Serve your Chili-lime chicken and rice with your vegetables of choice! Our family prefers salads and fresh vegetable sticks and dip during the summer months. We had carrot sticks and peppers, but I also made cooked carrots and peas for my little guy who doesn’t have very many teeth yet.

Happy summer eats!

Tired of the same ol’, same ol’?

Friends and clients of mine often express that they get in (what I call) a food-rut. It seems to happen most when we get busy and stop planning our meals. We pick up the kids after work, rush home, open the fridge and say to our spouse “What should I make for supper?”; they reply “I don’t care”. So then we look for a few common ingredients to make any recipe that you can think of off the top of your head: stir fry, chili, mac and cheese….sound familiar?

My first maternity leave I was so overwhelmed by having this new little person to care for that I was not very organized or adventurous with our family’s diet. We still ate healthy and I cooked from scratch, but it seemed to be the same batch of recipes over and over again. We definitely got in a food-rut. My second maternity leave, I vowed to not repeat this, and made an effort to surf the web and watch cooking shows while the boys napped. I didn’t try a new recipe every day, but a few times a week and this seemed to help keep food interesting. It also helped our oldest (Nolan) try new foods, or to try foods that he didn’t like, in a new form.

I try to recommend this to my friends and clients:

  1. Try weekly menu planning – this helps keep variety in the diet to avoid the food-rut, keeps your meals well balanced, and can save you dollars at the grocery store.
  2. Pick one day or night of the week that your family is less busy. Use this day to choose one new recipe, shop for the ingredients, and prepare it for the family. If the family enjoys the new recipe, add it to your collection of favorites.
  3. If you’d rather not venture too far outside your comfort zone, or find it difficult to set aside enough time to prepare a new recipe start to finish then kick-it-up-a-notch! What I mean is choose a family favorite recipe and try a new or modified version of it. This is sure to help keep things fresh but also practical.
  4. If you find the concept of a new recipe too much, maybe try tackling a new food preparation or cooking skill. Once you have a new skill mastered, recipes will not seem so much of a stretch.

This weekend, my husband and I decided to try a new recipe AND to kick our mac and cheese recipe up a notch or two! Our recipe of choice: Spicy Fish Tacos! We typically do not fry anything in our house, but love to watch Eat St. where food trucks often serve some delicious-looking version of a fish taco. Nolan has never really liked fish other than a tuna sandwich, so I wanted to offer fish to him again in a new way. He loved this fish taco but with mayo and a smaller amount of sauce.

Last night’s delicious find: Spicy Fish Tacos adapted from Allrecipes.com

Spicy Fish Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup beer (we used Bud light lime)
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeds and ribs removed)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – We found 1 tsp too hot for the kids
  • 1-2 cups of canola oil for frying (so there is 1 cm of oil in your pan)
  • 1 pound cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions
  • 1 package of small whole wheat tortillas – I couldn’t find corn tortillas at our grocery store
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 hothouse tomatoes chopped
  • *Chopped cucumber would also pair nicely with this recipe for a fresh feel

Directions

  1. To make the beer batter: In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the egg and beer, then quickly stir into the flour mixture (don’t worry about a few lumps).
  2. To make the spicy sauce: In a medium bowl mix together yogurt and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in fresh lime juice until consistency is slightly runny. Season with jalapeno, oregano, cumin, dill, and cayenne.
  3. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or cast iron frying pan. The oil is ready when you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in it and little bubbles form.
  4. Dust fish pieces lightly with flour. Dip into beer batter, and fry until crisp and golden brown. This takes only a few minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  5. To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, and dollops of the spicy sauce.

Happy Canada Day!

Monday night madness!

Usually I feel as though there is a little Sunday night madness in our house: A busy weekend, supper, playtime, dogs barking, bedtime routine, getting the kids bags packed for the dayhome, lunches prepped for the husband and I, and prepping/planning tomorrow’s supper meal to avoid hunger cries when we get home…did I mention breathing? Sometimes it doesn’t seem like there is enough time for that. This weekend was the May long weekend, therefore, Monday night madness! My meal planning has been more of a challenge the last week or so due to my return to work, but I am sure we can all agree that every week can be considered a challenge when you are a family on-the-go.

I have opted to start my week with a slow cooker meal so that there are plenty of leftovers and we can use up some brown rice from the other day. My husband loves sausage…loves shrimp…and loves chicken. Need I say more? Jambalaya is such a great conduit to use up odds and ends, while making a balanced meal. However, it can become a meal high in fat and cholesterol if you don’t shop wisely. Choose lean chicken breast (trim any extra fat), compare sausages to find one with less fat and salt (mine was 4% fat, 11% salt – occasionally you may do better with a turkey sausage), and go easy on the shrimp! Adding extra veggies, pairing it with brown or whole grain rice, and portion control are also important to keeping this meal out of the red. There are a lot of great recipes on the internet! I am partial to The Food Network’s recipe ,but I always seem to make some modifications to fit what I have to use up, accommodate what my family likes, or boost the nutrition wherever I can. Here is my adaptation for your slow cooker:

JAMBO JAMBALAYA

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 375g MSG free Kolbassa sausage, diced
  • 1 796ml can no added salt diced tomatoes (or 3-4 large fresh tomatoes if you have)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced * can include the ribs/seeds if you like your jambalaya extra spicy
  • 1 ear of corn, remove niblets with a knife
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of no added salt canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 – 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 454g frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed
  • Serve with cooked brown rice (1/2 cup is one grain serving)

Directions

In a slow cooker, combine chicken, sausage, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, orange pepper, corn, celery, jalapeno, and chicken broth. Stir in oregano, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, bay leaves, and thyme. I usually dice my chicken and put it in a food-safe container, and mix all my other ingredients together in a second container the night before so that I can transfer them to my slow cooker in the morning.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7 – 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir in the thawed shrimp then cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through This should be about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Makes 8-12 servings to be spooned over brown or wild rice. It is also a freezer-friendly recipe so you don’t have to eat all the leftovers at once.

Happy Monday!

Melissa Lachapelle, Registered Dietitian

Oh let the sun shine in…

Today is my last day with my kids before I go back to work. Sigh… the weather is rainy, dreary and unmotivating. BUT since it is my last day I have vowed not to waste it! Nolan has been asking to make chocolate chip muffins. I thought, well, I am going to find a recipe for carrot chocolate chip muffins to boost the nutrition factor, but I soon realized we had no chocolate chips. To his disappointment I called grandma to ask for her yummy carrot muffin recipe. However I realized there was a lot of sugar and fat in it so I have since made a few adaptations (sorry mom!).

As I hope to encourage the sun to come out, I have called this my sunshine muffin recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry plain instant oats
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, unsalted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (~3-4 medium size)
  • grated rind of 1 orange (~2 tsp) & its juice (~ 2 tbsp)

Instructions:

In a food processor grind the oats and pecans until it is a mealy texture. You can add in the baking powder to ensure even distribution. In your mix master beat the oil, eggs, applesauce, and sugar together until well mixed. Then add the vanilla and baking soda/water. Once combined, add the flax, flour and oat/pecan mixture. Lastly add your carrot and grated orange juice and rind. Spoon mixture into paper lined muffin tins. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 16 minutes or until golden brown and tooth pick comes out clean. This recipe makes 18 muffins.

Nutrition facts per muffin: 200kcal, 20g Carbohydrate, 12g fat (keep in mind these are healthy fats),  5g Protein, and 3g Fibre just to name a few (using Dietitians of Canada Eatracker Recipe Analyzer).

Friends often ask me how I find the time to bake or cook with 2 kids. A few secrets: 1. Do your dishes and clean your kitchen before you start – this helps make clean up quick while your food is baking/cooking. 2. Have all your ingredients on the counter before you get your child ready to help. 3. I have Hayden in his highchair with a snack so he can’t get near the oven and I can focus more on what Nolan is doing to keep him safe. 4. Have a sink of soapy water ready so you can wash your hands easily and frequently. 5. Have patience. I am not going to say that things always go perfectly. There are times when one cries for your attention, and one makes a mess. It has taken me all year to “not sweat the small stuff” and there are still times when I struggle to balance it all. We did have some fun this morning making the muffins and taste testing them, and luckily there weren’t any tears 🙂

Happy baking!