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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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

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, 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!