When the world ended as we knew it I was determined to cook up lower cost, plant based meals and chalk my freezer full. I wanted to have a great stock pile so that when I eventually returned to work I would have so many […]
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 […]
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
Usually my blogs start out with some piece of Nutrition Misinformation that has been totally misinterpreted and this latest blog is no different. Recently I have heard a lot in the media about carbohydrates and fruit in particular. Anywhere from fruit is pure sugar to […]
Wow, 2017 is here already! Where did the last year go?! I think a lot of people are happy to see 2016 in the rear view mirror. So say so long and get on with the plan for this fresh New Year! A lot of people tend to base their resolutions on healthy eating and weight loss. There are so many diets out there that promise massive weight loss and quick results…but are they healthy? Are they effective? Do they last long term? One of the answers to these questions is yes, these diets are effective but long term they aid in creating bad to worse eating habits and the effects are usually short lived. So…let’s set you up for a win, a triple win. You want a plan that is healthy, effective and creates long term habits to maintain your healthy new lifestyle. The most important thing you want to do is find your motivation. Sometimes making changes are hard so you need to remember why you’re doing this. Is it to better your health, help you feel more energetic, improve your self-confidence, maybe it’s to keep up with your kids. It doesn’t matter. Just remember you set out on this path for a reason, so stay focused on the end goal…a long healthy life!
- Make a plan: Part of being successful is having a plan. It’s hard to stay focused when you aren’t organized with all of the right tools for success. Set aside an hour each week…for most people it’s a Saturday or Sunday afternoon but it could be a Tuesday night, whenever is convenient for you! Make a meal plan for the week and then write up your grocery list to go along with that plan. That way you have all the necessary ingredients for all the food you need and you’re not scrambling during the week to come up with ideas only to realize you don’t have all the ingredients and you end up making 2-3 extra trips to the store. Moral of the story…less time thinking and running around means more time preparing and less chances that you will end up eating take out or something less healthy (not that take out is bad but it should only be a once a week kind of option). Involve the family in the planning too! If everyone gets a say in which meals are prepared than you double your chances of success!
- Clean out your cupboards: Do a little spring cleaning early! Clear out all the chocolate, candies, chips and cookies from Christmas (wow…apparently all the delicious treat foods start with ‘C’!) and make a space for all of your healthy ingredients. Keep your absolute favorites and tuck them away. Make sure you clear out a space for healthy go to snacks which I will get to later. Maybe a shelf in your cupboard or a crisper in your fridge.
- Start small. Making too many big changes at once can be intimidating. When making your plan, keep some of your regular dishes the same, make sure you include your favorite foods! Maybe your plan includes trying 1 new recipe a week. Maybe it includes trying 1 new fruit or veggie a week. Remember every change no matter how small or large makes an impact and sets you in the right direction.
- Create your own healthy snacks on the run. Wash, cut and organize fresh fruits and veggies so they are readily available for snacking. Get out a ¼ cup measure and measure out any kind of nuts you like (unsalted) or make your own granola bars (http://www.newfoundbalance.com/recipes/healthy-snacks/chocolate-peanut-butter-granola-bites/). Make sure you have zip lock baggies or lots of tuperware containers handy. Again, it’s all about setting yourself up for a win. If you set aside an hour for prep every week then when you are pressed for time you will have healthy food to grab on the run!
- Don’t skip breakfast! Feeling tired around 11 or 2 is about more than lack of caffeine or sleep. Food is fuel and after all night fasting your body needs energy first thing in the morning. Try a high fibre option like oatmeal because it will keep you full longer and spreads out your energy. Fibre also aides in weight loss and can keep blood sugar and cholesterol stable. Try this delicious recipe here.
Hopefully these 5 tips will start you on your way! AND, remember when I mentioned keeping your favorite treats? Enjoy those too, set aside a day of the week where you sit down and enjoy your treats with the family. You can’t maintain your new healthy life without being able to enjoy your favorite snacks! Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions. Reading this article is definitely the first step!
Adrianna Smallwood, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Expert
The holidays are coming! It’s almost December and I bet most people are struggling between making a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in some capacity and tallying up the calories of all the food they will eat over Christmas. I myself have made quite […]
Fruits and vegetables are full of tons of nutrients! Here in Newfoundland we have some of the lowest rates of fruit and vegetable intake and for sure a lot of different options aren’t readily available on this wonderful island we call a rock…BUT there are […]
My next restaurant review brings to light a very important topic…Health Inspectors overstepping their duties and working outside of their scope of practice and knowledge base.
I recently had lunch at Sushi Nami on George Street. I love it there and they actually were part of our Gluten Free Fair in June for our National Celiac Conference. They made all the sushi fresh on the spot and they have a wonderful gluten free menu and even bring in gluten free soy sauce!
I was super excited to go out for lunch this day with my friend and luckily the Manager served us so I was prepared to ask tons of questions. We started with the plain, salted edamame. Always a favorite. They also offer spicy edamame but it has gluten so stay with the plain folks! I then ordered the Veggie Dragon Roll. The gluten containing version of this actually has tempura sweet potato inside so I was very curious about how they cooked the sweet potato without the gluten. So I asked the Manager. She informed me that since she was promoting gluten free and was part of the gluten free food fair she wanted to be absolutely certain that none of her customers were harmed with cross contamination. So she had called in the Health Inspector to look at her kitchen. This Health Inspector proceeded to tell her that she could use the same deep fryer to deep fry gluten free foods because the deep fryer KILLLED gluten.
So I almost fell off my chair at this point because a.) Gluten is NOT a germ or bacteria that can be killed b.) Gluten is a protein and thus it takes EXTREMELY high temperatures to denature or break it down and even then the pieces of gluten can still cause a reaction and c.) That is not something a Health Inspector SHOULD be telling people since it is clearly not something they know about or learn about in their program. This is actually the second time I have heard of this happening. I have a Chef friend whose Health Inspector also told him that gluten will be killed in the deep fryer. Celiac Disease leads to so many complications when left untreated. One of the biggest of which is Lymphoma. Consuming gluten and damaging our insides leads to these further complications. A Health Inspector should know when something is in their scope and when to say, I don’t know about that and I’m not certain if I can give you information so let me put you in contact with someone who can. That is how you become good at your job. Not just knowing about things. But also knowing when you don’t know and stepping back. Especially when a person’s well being is on the line!
The manager took this in stride and I explained to her that the deep fryer temperature was not high enough to break down the gluten and make it safe for someone with Celiac to consume (or even someone with a wheat allergy). She was extremely receptive and told me from now on that when a customer orders gluten free, the parts that were supposed to be deep fried would now be grilled. I ate my Sushi Roll and it was amazingly delicious and oh so gluten free. I never got sick and I hopefully my experience will change the next customers experience there as well!
Moral of the story: Health Inspectors need to stay within their scope of practice. The Celiac Association has a Gluten Certification Program and Professionals who know about cross contamination come into restaurants and provide training to employees and insure that the premises is gluten free. A Health Inspector might know about germs and such but clearly they have no idea about allergies or Health Conditions.
Happy gluten free eating at Sushi Nami everyone! The food is amazing and the manager is super diligent! I give it two thumbs up!
If you want to read a little more info about deep frying and cross contamination check out this blog by a fellow Dietitian
The Newfie Celiac Dietitian!