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

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

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!

“I only break for cookies”

My son Nolan has this cute T-shirt that says “I only break for cookies”. He truly embodies this saying as he is such a busy boy, and can rarely be stopped in his tracks unless cookies are to be had! It is not surprising then that “cookie” was one of his first words, one of his favorite foods, and he would specifically pick this shirt from his closet above all others.

Cookies are considered a treat in our house, but probably one we have too often! Considering this and my husband’s cereal addiction, I was looking for a way to make a healthier cookie, and use up odds and ends from the cereal cupboard. I drew inspiration from the book Better Food for Kids 2nd Edition, by Joanne Saab, RD and Daina Kalnins, MSc RD. It is a parent focused book with great nutrition information and recipes. I opted to adapt one of their recipes by reducing the sugar a bit and boosting fibre. How do you know that a cereal (or other grain) is a good source of fibre? A source of fibre will have 2g fibre/serving, a good source will have 4g fibre/serving, and an excellent source will have > 6g  fibre/serving. Below is my adapted cookie recipe.

Cereal Cookies

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries
  • 2 cups of high fibre cereal *I used 1 cup All-Bran Original® and 1 cup Fibre 1 Raisin Bran Clusters® which are both excellent sources of fibre, though you can use almost any cereal that you have on hand (preferably high fibre).

In a large bowl mix together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until it is a smooth sandy mixture. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add in dry ingredient mixture. Stir in dried cereal and fruit. Drop by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven at 350° F  for 9-12 minutes or until edges are slightly golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes ~ 3 dozen cookies.

Let me just say that everyone in my family took a break from play for these cookies. Happy baking!