This morning I prepared a cute little Christmas Tree plate for my son out of kiwi. Banana and strawberry. I absolutely love having fun with my food and shaping it into different things. Its so exciting to create healthy alternatives for the holidays. It’s also […]
While I have been plugging away these past few years writing blogs about food I always wanted to delve into writing a lifestyle blog. It appears I didn’t feel like I had a lot to say until I had my own little guy! Having a […]
Its almost Christmas! The holiday season can be full of stress for some people. You worry about eating too many treats, drinking too much alcohol and perhaps an ever expanding waistline…fear not for I have some tips to sneak extra nutrients into your diet that will help you throughout the week so you can treat yourself to those amazing Christmas goodies on the weekend (or maybe a couple nights during the week).
Dietitians will tell you there is no such thing as super foods. And there isn’t. All foods have particular properties, nutrients, and flavors that when combined make a healthy diet. That’s why we advise against “fad diets” that eliminate entire food groups from your daily routine. A diet rich in all foods will be rich in all nutrients. Now that isn’t to say there are certain things we can add to our meals that can super charge us with more nutrients!
What are my favorite little add ons?
Ground Flax is high in Fibre! I would say that for most of my clients this is a big one. A lot of people don’t consume enough fibre. This nutrient is important because it acts in the body to manage IBS symptoms, decrease cholesterol levels and control blood sugar. It can even help you lose weight! I like to explain it this way. Fibre is like a sponge because our body can’t break it down. So, it travels through our bodies absorbing excess fat and other things as it goes along. Since fibre isn’t broken down it sticks around in our digestive systems a little longer. This is the part that is responsible for controlling blood sugar. Food is digested over a longer period of time so we feel full longer and our blood sugar remains stable longer. So to me…..fibre is the magic key and you can always use more.
TIP: increase your water consumption as you increase fibre because too much fibre can be constipating without anything helping it to move along.
Ground Flax is also high in Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are the heart healthy fats and quite simply…they can help prevent heart disease. Omega 3’s have also been found to help with symptoms related to muscle and joint pain. If seafood isn’t your favorite thing or if you are following a plant based diet with little or not animal product, then ground flax would be a great addition to your diet! Most people get enough of other kinds of fats but not always the important Omega 3’s, this becomes especially important if your bad cholesterol is high…Omega 3’s help boost your GOOD cholesterol.
So…what types of things can you add ground flax to?
- 1 Tbsp to yogurt, smoothies or oatmeal
- Sprinkle in pizza sauce before adding toppings
- Make your own coating for chicken fingers, fish sticks, etc using flour and flax
- In baking as a substitute for some flour
- Add into spaghetti sauce, chili or other thicker based soups and sauces
- In Vegan recipes as a “flax egg”
Just like ground flax, chia seed is high in both fibre and omega 3 fats. They also have the benefit of a few other nutrients like Magnesium, Manganese and Iron.
What types of things can you add Chia Seed to?
- 1 Tbsp to Yogurt, Smoothies or Oatmeal
- Chia Seed Pudding (recipe here)
- Salad topping
- Stir fry topping
- In Vegan recipes as a “chia egg”
*I find this one can’t be added to hot foods like ground flax so I generally keep it to the above
TIP: Once you open your bags of ground flax seed and chia seed, make sure you keep them in the fridge so the omega 3 fats don’t go rancid.
These little seeds are my favorite because they are a great source of protein for anyone following a plant-based or completely vegan diet. They contain all the amino acids which is why the are considered a complete protein. 2-3 Tbsp is equal to 11g of protein.
Hemp seeds also contain other nutrients like vitamin E and the minerals, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
What exactly can you add Hemp hearts to?
- 2-3 Tbsp to Oatmeal
- 2-3 Tbsp as a salad topping
- 2-3 Tbsp sprinkled in stir fry
- In baking as a substitute for some flour
I have just recently tested this interesting little add in myself! Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is used as a topping and flavor enhancer in foods. What does it taste like….CHEESE! Nutritional yeast is high in the B Vitamins Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folate and B12 and low low low in fat…hey…delicious cheesy flavor, no fat and lots of nutrients…gimme!
Nutritional yeast is a particularly great option for 2 populations…vegans and individuals with Celiac…why? Because B12 is only found in animal products and some of the other B vitamins are more widely available in animal products. In the case of celiac, at the beginning of diagnosis B vitamins can be low because of malabsorption and because a lot of gluten containing foods are fortified with B vitamins while their gluten free counterparts are not. Why am I concerned about B Vitamins?! Because these babies are your ENERGY nutrients. They help your body utilize the energy from food. If your B vitamins are low you might find yourself getting exhausted quite easily and even occasionally grabbing an afternoon nap. Your metabolism would also be affected in this case so weight loss will not be your friend.
So now that you know the details, where can you add this?
- Roasted potatoes, fries and veggies
- Kale chips
- Stir fry
- Make your own vegan cheese sauce (with cashews as the base)
I am sure there are lots of other little things you can add to your meals to give them a nutrient boost but these are my favorites. They’re also really easy to take in your lunch bag and add to your food as you go and I’m all about convenience. Give them a try, maybe you’ll even discover a new way to use them that I haven’t listed here!
Signing off, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert,
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
Tex Mex Salad
- 2 baked skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 cup uncooked)
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups (one 16 oz. can) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups (one 15 oz. can) corn, drained
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium fresh tomato, diced, or 10-15 cherry tomatoes quartered
- Blacken corn on the stove top with 1 Tbsp of oil.
- Mix Chicken Breast, cooked and cooled quinoa, diced onion, garlic, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
- Add spices and seasonings stir into quinoa along with, black beans, and corn.Stir in oil, tomato, and pepper, immediately before serving.
Nutrition Month is here and I love, love, love this year’s theme: Unlock The Potential Of Food. Food has limitless potential and carries so many different meanings to each and every person! This particular blog is all about the Potential of food to fuel our […]
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February is Heart month and in light of this important topic I thought it would be a great time to talk about FAT! Over the past years there has been some new findings that have changed the way we look at fat in foods and it has left a lot of people scratching their heads and trying to read labels in total confusion. So what exactly are we looking for?
It turns out that it’s more complicated than simply cutting out certain kinds of fat and decreasing others. Let’s break it down and talk about the different kind of fats and the effect they can have on our bodies.
Trans fats can be found in some degree in animal products but are more widely dispersed and in great abundance in industrially produced foods. The main source of trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils. Their use was accepted for so long because they improved the length of time a food can stay on the shelf without spoiling. They can also improve the texture of foods, for example it is the ingredient responsible for holding the 2 layers of peanut butter together so that it isn’t separated like in natural nut butters. Other places you might find these partially hydrogenated oils include: hard margarines, vegetable shortenings and baked goods like cookies, cakes and muffins. So why are trans fats bad for us? They have what we call a double whammy effect on our cholesterol levels…they raise the bad cholesterol…which is bad, and decrease our good cholesterol which is also bad. We want our bad cholesterol to be low and our good cholesterol to be high!
Saturated fats are found naturally in mostly animal based foods like meat and dairy. Not all saturated fats have negative impacts on our health but most do so it is important to ensure that you are consuming lower quantities when possible. This type of fat has no impact on our good cholesterol but it does increase our bad cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats are our healthy fats and are found in plant based foods. These fats can lower bad cholesterol but they can also lower good cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, oils, avocado and peanut butter.
Omega-3 fats or polyunsaturated fats are also found in plant based foods like monounsaturated fats. These fats have many important functions in our bodies and can help lower our bad cholesterol and increase our good cholesterol. These are those fats we consider heart healthy and are found in fatty fish, oils, walnuts, flax seed and eggs.
OK…so now that we have that all straightened out…what do we do with this information??? Essentially we want to cut all trans fats out of our diet because they are bad, bad, bad. That is why you will find “tans fat free” on packaging these days! You want to limit saturated fats because they’re not totally bad but they’re not entirely good either and lastly, we want to try and increase our intake of mono and polyunsaturated fats.
Luckily I’m a Dietitian so I can tell you how to put this information into practice and which foods you should pick to make this work…but isn’t it nice to know why?!
Here are my TEN handy dandy tips on making your ticker healthier with each bite:
One Choose lean cuts of meat and lower fat (but not fat free) milk, cheese and yogurt. The reason I say lower fat but not fat free is because many products that are fat free tend to bump up the sugar content majorly and this can also be bad for your heart too.
Two Aim to eat 2 servings of fish weekly. Fish particuly high in Omega-3 fats include salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel. You might have salmon for supper one evening and save half to make a salmon salad sandwich the next day. It’s that easy!
Three Aim to eat 2 vegetarian meals each week. Plant based foods like beans, peas and lentils are high in protein but have little to no fat. Try making a big pot of vegetarian chili for supper and bring leftovers for lunch the next day….boom…your 2 vegetarian meals taken care of. Beans, peas and lentils are also high in fibre. Fibre has an added benefit of lowering your bad cholesterol as well. Double bonus.
Four Choose natural nut or seed butters like peanut or sunflower. They have to be mixed but they contain no hydrogenated fat. Try keeping the container in your cupboard upside down for a couple days before opening. This will give the 2 layers a chance to come together. Then you just have to give them a little stir and keep them in the fridge. They won’t separate after that.
Five Add ground flax and chia seeds to your yogurt, oatmeal or cereal. These are both high in omega-3 fats and high in fibre.
Six Snack on unsalted nuts and seeds. Keep your serving size at ¼ cup per day or less as calories can add up quickly.
Seven Try cooking with heat stable oils like canola oil. While Olive oil is healthy, it loses these health properties once heat is introduced as it isn’t heat stable. Use olive oil to make your own salad dressings instead.
Eight Try using plain Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream as the fat content is much lower and it still has the same great taste.
Nine Try your hand at baking. Home baked goods have half the amount of fat as store bought goods which tend to be high in hydrogenated fats. Try using olive oil in baking or switch out the oil and sub in apple sauce for an even lower fat end product.
Ten Use avocado as a base instead of mayo on sandwiches and wraps.
So there are your tips and tricks for not only lowering bad fats but increasing your goods ones. Give it a try! Remember that this is just one way of improving your heart health but it’s definitely a great starting point!
Dairy consumption seems to have decreased in the last little while. I find that in my private practice I always have clients who are avoiding it for one reason or another. Incidence of lactose intolerance seems to have increased and then there are those few […]