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

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

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!

Not your grannie’s granola!

Well, the month of March came and went, and sadly I was so under the weather that I lacked all energy to do any writing or experimenting. But I am back, healthy, and ready to eat! Last night I multi-tasked. While browning my ground turkey for turkey soft tacos, I made granola. Granola, the word itself just sounds healthy. G-R-A-N-O-L-A….yummmm. But is it really? Store bought granola can be loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and ingredients we cannot pronounce, which really negates the health benefits of some of its ingredients.

This granola is packed full of good nutrition:

  • Quinoa provides a good source of fibre and protein to help regulate blood sugars
  • Oats are a great source of soluble fibre which helps to lower cholesterol
  • Canola oil and ground flaxseed are good sources of omega 3’s which are anti-inflammatory (*think heart health!)
  • Pumpkin seeds provide protein, fibre, and healthy oils (monounsaturated fats)

Here is my “Not your grannie’s granola” granola recipe!

  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 8 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 cups chopped or slivered almonds, unsalted
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds, unsalted
  • 1 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup dried cranberries – substitute these with some unsweetened cranberries/blueberries/goji berries to reduce the sugar!

Mix all dry ingredients together. Mix all wet ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until well coated. Spread granola onto 2 or 3 non-stick pans or 3 pans lined with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven at 325° F for 30-40 minutes, stirring the granola about every 7-10 minutes to ensure even baking. Keep a watchful eye so that it doesn’t get too brown or burn! Let cool then add in the dried cranberries. This can be stored in a food safe container for up to 1 week. This is a large recipe (~ 30 servings), so it is best to freeze half the granola either in meal size portions or a second large food safe container.

To complete this as a breakfast on-the-go, add ¾ cup yogurt (plain or vanilla), and ½ cup fruit of your choice. This makes a hearty breakfast on the go for my husband, myself or even my 3 year who loves it!

Enjoy!

Nutrient Analysis: This recipe makes about 30 servings, which equals ¾ cup/serving. This provides approximately 275 kcal, 36g carbohydrate, 10g protein, 5g fibre, 50mg calcium just to name a few.

This recipe was analyzed using the Dietitians of Canada recipe analyzer at www.eatracker.ca. Check it out and see what your recipes provide!

Get the Real Deal About Your Milk!

When I was a teenager I would read a variety of teen magazines and collect the milk posters that pictured celebrities with milk mustaches. They were cool right? This was and still is a very powerful milk campaign that inspired me even at a young age to make sure I consumed adequate milk products. Milk campaigns now are targeting a wider audience and trying to show the health benefits milk can provide us, rather than simply associate milk with a celebrity. There is a lot of misinformation about milk on the internet, even some websites that are anti-milk. I have no agenda other than to provide credible and reliable nutrition information to my clients, and to you! I do believe that milk does a body good, and helps us to grow in a healthy way. It has 16 essential nutrients, it helps build strong bones and teeth, it is a great recovery food post physical activity, and may even play a role in weight management. For Nutrition Month 2012,  Dietitians of Canada has looked at the scientific evidence and come up with some common milk myths to bust.

MYTH #16. Cows’ milk is full of hormones and antibiotics.

THE TRUTH: Not true! Canadian milk meets strict government standards so it’s safe and healthy. Canadian dairy farmers give their cows the best diet and health care so they produce quality milk naturally. Growth hormones to stimulate milk production are not approved for sale or permitted for use in Canada. Just like humans, cows sometimes get sick and need medications like antibiotics. If this happens, the cow is identified and milked separately until she is healthy again. Her milk is properly disposed of for a mandatory length of time, to allow for the medication to get out of her system. Milk, organic and non-organic, is a safe, nutritious choice.

MYTH #17. Cows’ milk is only good for baby cows, not humans.
THE TRUTH: Cows’ milk is not just good for baby cows. Around the world, humans enjoy health benefits from the many essential nutrients found in milk. Milk is one of the richest natural food sources of calcium and, in Canada, an excellent source of vitamin D. Both nutrients are needed to build strong, healthy bones. Milk has other health benefits too. For example, as part of a healthy diet, milk might help protect against high blood pressure and colon cancer. Canada’s Food Guide recommends you enjoy two cups (500 mL) of lower-fat milk every day for good health.
*Just to make a note here, lower-fat milk is recommended for children 2 years and up. It is NOT recommended for children under 2 years of age unless recommended and supervised by a Registered Dietitian. Children under 2 years should be consuming higher fat milk (i.e. homogenized 3.25%).
MYTH #18. Pasteurization destroys vitamins and minerals in milk.
THE TRUTH: Pasteurization has little impact on the nutrients in milk. Pasteurization is a simple heat treatment that destroys potentially harmful bacteria sometimes found in milk. This is an important process that helps to make milk safe for Canadians to drink. It is not safe to drink unpasteurized (raw) milk because it might contain bacteria that can be harmful to your health. Pasteurized milk is a natural source of 15 essential nutrients, plus it’s fortified with vitamin D (raw milk isn’t). Drink two cups (500 mL) of lower-fat milk each day to get the calcium and vitamin D you need to help build and maintain healthy bones.
If you would like to read more information about milk and its health benefits, visit Alberta Milk.

So let’s raise our glasses and have a cup of milk today!

Breakfast for supper?!

Earlier this week my husband was away for a conference, so there was little pressure to have supper meals preplanned. I occasionally like to switch things up and have a breakfast for supper type of meal. I find that breakfast is often my children’s best meal, so why not have a breakfast-like meal for supper they might be more inclined to eat? Now looking for inspiration…what to make? While on maternity leave I often watch the Rachael Ray Show for mealtime inspiration. That is not to say I make all her recipes as she presents them, but rather take note, and modify them based on what my family likes (or dislikes!) and what is in my fridge and pantry.

There was still little to be had in our fridge since last week’s breakdown, so ingredients were few and far between. It was waffle week on the Rachael Ray Show, yes! I always have flour, eggs and milk on hand! There were some really neat ideas presented on how to use your waffle iron for unconventional recipes (though some not so healthy). So I pulled out my twice used waffle iron and dusted it off. I opted to make a simple waffle, mostly due to the fact that Nolan (2yrs) is a picky eater and I knew he would like a basic waffle rather than something overly extravagant. When I told him I was making waffles he said “Mom, that is my FAVORITE!!!” and he shook in pure delight. I think he has only had a waffle twice in his life and at restaurants only, but I was rolling with it! I even had him help me pour the waffle batter onto the waffle iron (hand over hand of course) and he was that much prouder of our creation. Picky eaters such as Nolan (and most kids for that matter), are much more invested in what they are eating if they help choose it, buy it or make it. If you can find a way to get your kids involved in healthy cooking and healthy shopping, then the healthy eating part (and actual eating!) will take care of itself.

Here is our Waffles for Supper recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ¾ cup 1% milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat your waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with a whisk. Beat in all ingredients until just smooth. Spray your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mixture onto hot waffle iron. I found that 1/3 cup batter per waffle made perfect waffles. Cook until golden brown and serve warm with pureed fruit sauce – we made a warm strawberry sauce (no sugar added). This recipe makes 12 waffles. The extra waffles freeze great and can be reheated using your toaster.

Nolan's supper - this is a larger meal for him
My meal, with some pineapple on the side

Nolan paired his waffle with natural ham (nitrate and preservative free) and fruit. I gave him too much ham (1 full slice), but he loved the waffle cut into strips and the ability to dip them into his strawberry sauce. With leftover waffles to freeze and clean plates (even Hayden!), the dogs were disappointed there were no leftovers to be had!

Until the next family meal!

Breakfast, emphasis on the FAST!

My husband rarely eats breakfast, a dietitian’s nightmare! He would attest that I nag him often, grab him before he leaves for work to give him food, or even send boxes of breakfast bars with him to work so that he eats at least something healthy to start his day.  At last my efforts were rewarded: last week he had breakfast every day on his way to work! Let me explain: He is a huge cereal eater – he would eat it for any meal or snack if he had his way. We really should invest in shares with the cereal companies…one of these days. So, with this his food of choice, he needed a way to eat it on the go during his commute to work. So why not drink it from a wide-necked water bottle?  This was something I never considered before, but why not use it for double duty?

We all need to eat breakfast. Our body needs us to break the overnight fast so that we can mentally and physically function during the day. If we try to have a balanced breakfast with 3 food groups, including high fibre and protein choices, it should sustain us until our next coffee break or meal. But how can we make sure that we find the time? Making breakfast a priority may mean that you wake up a few minutes earlier or find a new way to eat your favorite breakfast foods on the go. You may:

  • Put cereal and milk in a water bottle for your commute
  • Bake muffins or loaves and freeze individual portions
  • Boil eggs the night before and refrigerate
  • Keep a healthy breakfast bar in your drawer at work
  • Make a smoothie and put in your favorite travel mug
  • Make pancakes ahead and freeze them
  • Make waffles ahead and freeze them
  • Keep fresh fruit washed and by the door
  • Pack a breakfast and lunch the night before
  • If there is a kitchen/fridge at work, keep a few healthy choices on hand for the week

Convenience is key. It is up to you whether you plan ahead so that the morning is easy, or plan to have a grumbling stomach and brain drain at that morning meeting.  Here are a few food pairing ideas to have a balanced breakfast:

  • Cereal and milk topped with berries
  • Oatmeal/granola bar, glass of milk, and banana
  • Banana and peanut butter wrap/pita
  • Boiled egg, yogurt and fruit of choice
  • Microwaved english muffin, cheese and ham with a handful of grapes
  • Bagel, cream cheese and apple slices
  • A pancake and peanut butter sandwich with an orange
  • Panini pressed peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread with a glass of milk
  • No sugar added fruit cup and toast with nut butter
  • Breakfast bar and smoothie: fruits of choice, milk, yogurt

If you have some easy, healthy breakfast ideas please feel free to comment or share!

Until the next family meal!