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 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!

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!

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!

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!

When life gives you lemons. . . make meatballs!

It has been a stressful year due to many unexpected expenses we have recently had while on Maternity Leave….first we had car issues (I could write a BOOK on this so I will not go on), then we had some plumbing issues, and then our washer and dryer broke. I thought we were free and clear for 2012, but now our fridge has gone bust. There is that saying that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. In this case, I literally took my lemons and created a hodge-podge meatball recipe last night in an effort to use up as much of our not-yet-spoiled food in the fridge. It tasted great and all 4 of us were wanting more! Despite my family’s recent household mishaps, I am reminded of a sign I saw recently that read “Health is Wealth”. I am very grateful that my family is in good health, so I will stop complaining now and eat a delicious meatball!

Until the next family meal!

Trading Lemons for Meatballs

  • 2 lbs. extra lean ground beef (you could use lean ground pork, turkey or chicken)
  • ½ -1 zucchini, grated (mushrooms or carrots work great too!)
  • 1 bunch of green onions (~ 6), finely chopped
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs – now I typically make mine from stale bread and a variety of crackers – whatever you have left over at the bottom of a box, and add a little oregano and basil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or grated into a paste
  • Sauce: These meatballs are excellent with a homemade tomato sauce, mushroom sauce or in my case today I made a sort of sweet and sour sauce.
  • In a saucepan: squeeze the juice of 2 lemons, 1 cup of plum sauce, 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ¼ – ½ cup honey, ¼ cup sesame salad dressing, 1 cup low sodium beef broth, and ½ cup water (which helps clean the sauce out of the bottles).

Preheat your oven to 350° F (thank goodness ours still works!). Line a baking sheet with tin foil. By hand roll 1 to 1 ½ inch balls. Place meatballs 1 inch apart.

Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are brown and slightly firm so the meatball will not crumble when handled. This recipe makes approximately 40 meatballs. Meanwhile mix all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and let reduce on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the meatballs are ready, add to the sauce with tongs (so there are no extra fat drippings) and simmer on low-medium heat for an additional 5-10 minutes.

If you actually make 40 meatballs, I would consider 1or 2 meatballs for a child size portion, and 3 or 4 meatballs for an adult portion. I served mine with ½ – 1 cup brown rice (1-2 grains), a ½ cup steamed yams and 1 cup salad greens (2 vegetable servings).