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Chickpea Ratatouille

Image: Lucia Weiler RD

Chickpeas are loaded with fibre and protein. Ratatouille is a classic veggie stew with eggplant or zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. As a dietitian I love this quick and easy way to prepare chickpeas and veggies. It’s perfect for meal prep and easy weeknight dinners.
Eat as a side dish or serve over whole grains or pasta.

Vegan and Vegetarian
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Yield: 3 – 4 servings


  • 1 medium eggplant cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bell pepper diced into 1- inch pieces
  • ½ cooking onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP olive oil, divided
  • 1 can (398 mL) cherry tomatoes
  • ½ can (270 mL) chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Arrange the eggplant and bell peppers on the baking sheet and brush with 1 TBSP olive oil (optional) and season with black pepper and oregano.
  3. Toss to coat, and then bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile teat 1 TBSP olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion for 1 minute then stir in the canned tomatoes and chickpeas. Simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.
  5. Add the baked eggplant and peppers from the oven. Stir in the basil and season to taste.
  6. Serve on its own or with cooked whole grain pasta or quinoa or millet.


  • You can substitute zucchini for eggplant or use a mixture of both
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Stop bodyweight bullying

Today is Pink Shirt Day with a focus on working together and treating others with dignity and respect. As a mom of three I have seen how kids are affected by bullying and how hurtful it is. As a dietitian I continue to see the harm done to kids by body weight comments and related bullying.  Both overweight and underweight children can fall victim of all kinds of bullying. Bodyweight bullying can easily happen even in the home environment.  Calling out a child on their body size or commenting on their food choices could damage a child’s healthy relationship food. The damage done by weight bullying can be more dangerous than the body weight itself.

Parents who are concerned about their child’s weight should consult with accredited health care professionals including a registered dietitian and address the issue with as much empathy as possible.

How can you help your child develop healthy habits?

You can play an important role in helping your child build healthy eating, drinking, physical activity, and sleep habits. Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  • Serve food ‘family style’ and allow children to serve themselves.
  • Put healthy foods in the fridge or on the counter where they are easy to see.
  • Eat family meals together as often as possible. Studies show eating together at least 5-7 times a week improves children’s health and behaviour.
  • Discourage eating in front of the television, computer, or other electronic device and have fewer meals ‘on the run’.
  • Don’t make your child clean his or her plate and don’t offer food or drinks as rewards.

Your child’s weight – helping without harming

Dietitian expert Ellyn Satter is a leader in child nutrition and her book ‘Your child’s weight – helping without harming’ has been a highly valued resource for parents and professionals.

Ellyn emphasizes good parenting with respect to the provision of food, feeding dynamics and physical activity.  The Satter model of “division of responsibility in feeding” is this:

  • Adults are responsible for the what, when and where of feeding
  • Children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating

Do you have questions about good nutrition and healthy eating? Connect with us! We offer expert personalized sessions to help you simplify eating and leverage the benefits of credible nutrition science. As dietitians we love food and look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Contact us directly or complete this Nutrition Counselling Session Registration Form for your individualized nutrition coaching appointments in a virtual format.


Introducing the NEW Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025

On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025. Every five years, these science-based guidelines are updated to offer the most current advice on “what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.”

Key message – Make every bite count!

Americans’ health is suffering.  According to the USDA, 6 in 10 adults are living with chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis that are often related to poor-quality diets. Following the Dietary Guidelines can help improve Americans’ health and it’s never too late to start dietary improvements.  People at any stage of life can make every bite count and benefit from changing to more nutrient-dense forms of foods and beverages.

How are Dietary Guidelines used?

The US Dietary Guidelines have a significant impact on nutrition in the United States.  The Dietary Guidelines form the basis of all federal nutrition policy and programs including nutrition resources. They also guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines are adapted by health professionals to meet specific needs of groups and individuals.

What’s new and what’s the same?

Here’s a snapshot of what’s new and what’s not in the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 and what it means to people and businesses.

  1. NEW – 4 overarching Guidelines in the 2020-2025 edition
    • Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
    • Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
    • Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
    • Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
  2. NEW – Guidance across all life stages now includes infants and toddlers.

    From pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to older adults, nutrition advice is provided in the Dietary Guidelines for all life stages. The edition also emphasizes that it is never too early or too late to eat healthy!

    • For first time ever the guidelines include advice for children less than 2 years of age. This will help parents know how to start their infants and toddlers out with a healthy diet. Specific recommendations include:
    • Introduce potential food allergens including eggs, peanuts and dairy to children early to help reduce the risk of developing food allergies.
    • Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
  3. NEW – Call to action: ‘Make every bite count’ with same 5 food groups and ‘MyPlate’ modelUSDA continues to use 5 food groups including dairy, unlike the Canadian Food Guide. Both Food guides recommend half the plate be filled with vegetables and fruit.  Here is how the key consumer messages appear based on the new guidelines ‘Small Changes Matter, Start Simple’ resource:
  4. SAME – Key recommendations limit saturated fat, added sugars, sodium and alcohol
    • Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
    • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older; Avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
    • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than age 14).
    • If consumed by adults, alcoholic beverage guidance remains the same as previous years:
    • 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women. Pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Some experts are disappointed because the Scientific Advisory? Committee recommended further limiting alcohol intakes to just one drink a day for both men and women however this was not reflected in the final guidelines.
  5. SAME – Lack of mention about food insecurity and food systems.

Some food and nutrition advocates were hoping to see guidance on sustainably, climate change and information about food systems including activities involving the production, processing, transport in addition to the consumption of food.  The Dietary Guidelines received some criticism for these exclusions.

The bottom line:

This is a comprehensive 164-page guidance document on what the average American should eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease. For most people the takeaway from these guidelines should be forming healthy dietary patterns. “For lifelong good health, make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans”.

Consult with Registered Dietitian to discover what the guidelines mean for your nutritional requirements, personal health and wellness or your food and nutrition business.

Want to discover more about how to make the Food Guide work for you and your business? Contact us now for a presentation / workshop.

Written by: Lucia Weiler, BSc, RD, PHEc, Co-Founder Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists

Brussels Sprout with Crisp Gnocchi

Makes: 6 servings  Time to make : 20 minutes


Brussels sprouts are a hardy vegetable that some people find challenging to cook. But because they offer so much goodness it’s worth finding ways to enjoy them more often. Here is an easy and tasty recipe that you can prepare from your pantry staples in one pot and enjoy within 20 minutes.

Did you know that brussels sprouts are very high in vitamin C and are a source of fibre, iron, potassium and folate. Adapted from NYT cooking, as a dietitian I boosted the veggies, used healthy cooking oil and added a twist of lemon juice to brighten the flavour and help the body absorb iron from the brussels sprouts.


1½  pounds (580 g) brussels sprouts
½   lemon (zested and juiced)
¼  cup extra-virgin olive oil
½  teaspoon ground black pepper
½  teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound (450 g) package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
3 tablespoons of olive oil divided
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Salt to taste


  • Trim and halve the brussels sprouts.
  • Grate ½ lemon – should have about 1 teaspoon. Squeeze the lemon –you should have about 1 Tbsp
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high. Add the brussels sprouts, season with a generous grind of pepper. Arrange the brussels sprouts in an even layer, cut-side down. Scatter the lemon zest over the top and cook, undisturbed, until the brussels sprouts are well browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the red-pepper flakes, stir and cook until the brussels sprouts are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  • In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Break up any gnocchi that are stuck together, add them to the pan and cook, covered and undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. If it’s sticking you may wish to add ½ cup water to help it cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the brussels sprouts until warmed through. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Dietitian or Nutritionist? What’s the Difference?

There is often a mix-up about the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.  Many people mistakenly use the terms “Dietitian” and “Nutritionist” interchangeably but there are big differences between the qualifications and the protection of your health. To be sure you are accessing the most qualified nutrition professional, look for the initials RD or PDt (DtP in French) after the health professional’s name or ask – are you a dietitian? Remember EVERY dietitian is also a nutritionist but NOT every nutritionist is a registered dietitian.

Let’s take a closer look at the important differences that can impact your health and wellness.

What is a Dietitian?

  • The title ‘Dietitian’ is protected by provincial laws across Canada just like a nurse, dentist, physician and pharmacist.
  • Dietitians are highly educated and trained. They have a university degree in foods and nutrition. After graduating they undergo comprehensive training, both on the job and in universities and then they have to pass a rigorous professional licensing exam.
  • Dietitians are the only regulated health professionals in the field of nutrition. This means that they must belong to a regulatory body and adhere to their standards, otherwise they will be penalized with legal action.
  • Regulated by a Health Professional College the public is protected and has access to accredited and licensed nutrition advice from Dietitians.
  • Dietitians are held accountable for safe, competent and ethical nutrition services throughout their career.

What is a Nutritionist*?

  • The title ‘Nutritionist’ is NOT protected by law so technically anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
  • A Nutritionist’s education varies with different levels of training and knowledge. The title nutritionist is often used by those who have completed privately owned training programs that vary in length and rigor.
  • The risk is that unregulated people calling themselves ‘nutritionist’ can offer advice regardless of their education or training which could be dangerous. For example recommending vitamins, minerals herbal products regardless of their knowledge and training in this area could put the public at risk of nutrition misinformation that may result in health-related harm.
  • * In the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia the title Nutritionist is also a protected title along with Dietitian.  If you live in these provinces, please refer to your provincial regulations for criteria or send us a question and we’ll be happy to direct you to the source information. Dietitians of Canada – The difference between a dietitian and nutritionist

Why Work with a Dietitian?

We are all hungry for information about nutrition and health, but not all advice out there is credible and evidence-based.  Think about it, you wouldn’t ask a celebrity how to build a safe bridge; you’d ask a professional engineer. You also wouldn’t ask any friend to fill your cavity, you’d ask a dentist. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice. So dig a little deeper and look for credentials.

If you choose to work with a Dietitian you know they are qualified health professionals who give you life-changing advice for healthy living. Dietitians are passionate about the power of food and help unlock its power for your health and wellness.

Dietitians are the most credible and trusted health professionals who promote health through food and nutrition. You can find out if your nutrition professional is a registered dietitian by checking the College of Dietitians Registry in your province or territory. Many dietitians are also found on the Dietitians of Canada website under ‘find a dietitian’.

As dietitians we are experts at translating the science to help people navigate their food and nutrition related health and wellness journey. Contact us with your questions! We’re ready to help.

Tasty Tomato Soup

This tasty and hearty tomato soup is an all time favourite that you can put together in just 5 minutes.  It’s also budget friendly & nutritious providing veggies & protein. Toss a few pantry staples into a pot, cook for 30 min over a stove and enjoy.

PREP 5 mins COOK 30 min
Makes 5 servings  (1.5 cups / 375 mL each) 


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic if, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz/ 780 ml) tomatoes
  • 1 can (19 oz / 540 mL) white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil or oregano
  • 2 cup water or low sodium broth
  • Pinch of salt to taste


  1. In a pot, combine oil, onion, garlic and sauté for 3-5 min
  2. Add the large can of tomatoes & rinsed can of beans.
  3. Add dried herbs, pepper, water or broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Video of how to make it.  Tomato Soup Recipe Cooking IMG_4184

Kitchen & Nutrition Notes:

  • White kidney beans are also called Cannellini beans are large white beans . They are popular in Italian cuisine, particularly in Tuscan dishes. Beans are inexpensive and a great way to boost plant based protein and fibre.
  • Tomatoes’ red pigment comes from lycopene which has antioxidant properties. Foods rich in the red pigment lycopene like tomatoes, have been shown to protect against some kinds of cancer.

The ultimate nutrition course for NON-nutritionists is going online!

Announcing: the n4nn ONLINE course!

Are you ready to take your nutrition knowledge to the next level? Join hundreds of your colleagues and competitors who have leveraged our successful training course – now available online!

Coming – January 25, 2021

Save now with our Black Friday Sale!

n4nn is the ONLY nutrition course in Canada developed by marketing savvy dietitians for food, beverage and product innovation professionals.

Take the full course (5 modules) or just the modules of interest.

Get more info about the course and see the course modules

Register now to take advantage of Black Friday Sale pricing!

Have a question about the n4nn Online Course? – Contact us! 

Best regards,

Lucia Weiler  & Sue Mah

Registered Dietitians & Co-founders, n4nn

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Diabetes Nutrition – Top 5 FAQ

November is Diabetes Month and a great time to check in on the concerns of people at risk or living with Diabetes. With so much free information online, as a dietitian I’m often asked questions about facts versus myths. Read on for credible tips and answers to 5 frequently asked questions about nutrition and diabetes.

There are many factors that help to manage diabetes and food is an important one.  We have long known that a balanced diet helps lead to better blood sugar control. But taking care of diabetes can be demanding and implementing a healthy way of eating is easier said than done. Registered Dietitians are here to help you along the way. Contact us for more information and support to help manage diabetes through personal nutrition counselling.

Q: Can I get rid of type 2 diabetes if I stop eating carbs?  

A: Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes you cannot ‘get rid’ of it, but you can find ways to help control it. Through diet and lifestyle changes many people find that they can control blood sugar levels. Your goal should be to manage the amount and type of carbohydrate that meets your body’s needs, not to eliminate carbs. You need the carbohydrates as energy for your brain and other body cells and they also provide many essential nutrients. Set your carbohydrate targets with the help of a healthcare professional.

Q: Do I need to give up fruit since it’s full of carbohydrate?

A: You can still enjoy fruit, you just need to know the amount that’s right for you in your meals and snacks. All fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, and canned without added sugar) are mainly carbohydrate foods. Fruit is a healthy food choice because it contains vitamins, minerals and fibre that are important for overall health. Your dietitian can help create a meal plan that will include the amount of fruit that is right for you.

Q: Is brown sugar better for me than white sugar?

A: No. All types of sugars will affect your blood glucose levels in the same way and are digested in the same way. Sugars differ in colour, flavour and crystal size, but whether it’s honey, brown sugar, agave syrup, brown or white sugar, nutritionally speaking, they are much the same. Your body can’t tell the difference between where the sugars come from and uses them all as easily digested carbohydrates for energy. The key to eating added sugars is to choose them in relatively small amounts and find ways to eat and use less.

Q: How do I read the Nutrition Facts Table for sugars?

A: The Nutrition Facts Table lists total sugars. Check for the word “Carbohydrates” and then look below it to find the amount of sugar (in grams) in one serving of the food. The amount of sugar on the Nutrition Facts Table combines both naturally occurring and added sugars found in the food. Look at the ingredient list to see if a food has added sugars. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that added sugars and sweetened foods be used in moderation. Reading Nutrition Labels can teach you about how the foods you buy may affect your blood glucose levels. Registered Dietitians can help with label reading.

Q: How can I stay motivated to take care of myself?

A:  Being newly diagnosed can be an intimidating experience. Taking care of diabetes and getting through your daily responsibilities is demanding. With these challenges it’s understandable that staying motivated is tough. You’re not alone and we have tools and resources to help you succeed and live your healthiest life possible. We’d like to offer some tips to help you get started:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Make small meaningful changes that you can keep up in the long run
  3. Get support

If you’re looking for more 1:1 nutrition support, education and life changing advice to move your diabetes management plan forward reach out to us.

Body Weight Words Matter!  Reflecting on the New Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines

For most people their body weight is a personal issue. However people living in larger bodies face hurtful stigma including language surrounding obesity and overweight.  Developed by Obesity Canada and the Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons, the new Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines represent the first comprehensive update in Canadian obesity guidelines since 2007.[1]

Decades of research in behavioral and nutrition science suggest that it’s time to update our clinical approach and recognize that some patterns of communication about body weight are more helpful than others. Registered dietitians are deeply involved in this discussion and here are some of the topline messages from leading experts that stood out to us:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI) is NOT an accurate tool for identifying obesity related complications [2]
    BMI is a widely used tool for screening and classifying body weight but it’s been controversial for decades.  A person’s BMI number is generated by considering their height in relation to their weight and it tells us about the size of the person’s body.  Experts now agree that more information than BMI is needed to determine whether a person is sick or healthy.
  2. Patient-centered, weight-inclusive care focuses on health outcomes rather than weight loss1,2
    Remember to ask permission before discussing body weight and respect the person’s answer. Health issues are measured by lab data and clinical signs. These can include blood pressure, blood sugar or reduced mobility. Shift the focus toward addressing impairments to health rather than weight loss alone.
  3. Obesity is NOT simply a matter of self-control and the ‘eat less, move more’ advice is insufficient
    The effects of a dieting lifestyle are burdensome. Evidence-based advice must move beyond simplistic approaches of ‘eat less and move more’. For example, in recent years researchers gained a better understanding of clinical evidence and body weight biology. These include the amount of food energy absorbed through the gut, the brain’s role in appetite regulation and the thermic effect of eating.[3] Environmental factors such as where people live, work and food availably also have an influence on body weight.
  4. People of higher weights should have access to evidence informed interventions, including medical nutrition therapy
    There is a lot of misinformation about body weight so evidence-based health management is key. One of the recommended interventions is to include personalized counselling by a registered dietitian with a focus on healthy food choices and evidence-based nutrition therapy.
  5. Recognize and address weight bias and stigma
    People with excess body weight experience weight bias and stigma. Weight bias is defined as negative weight–related attitudes, beliefs and judgements toward people who are of higher weight. This thinking can result in stigma which is acting on weight-based beliefs such as teasing, bullying, macroaggressions, social rejection and discrimination towards people living in larger bodies. People may also internalize weight stigma and criticize themselves or others based on body weight.

Experts consider that changes to language can alleviate the stigma of obesity within the health-care system and support improved outcomes for both people living in a larger body and for the health-care system.3,[4],[5],[6] In our Body Weight Words Matter!  chart below we provide several examples of communication interventions to help assess your attitude and reduce body weight bias.

Click here to download your copy of Body Weight Words Matter INFOGRAPHIC

Do you have questions about good nutrition and healthy eating? Connect with us! We offer expert personalized sessions to help you simplify eating and leverage the benefits of credible nutrition science. As dietitians we love food and look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Contact us directly or complete this Nutrition Counselling Registration Form for your individualized nutrition coaching appointments in a virtual format.

[1] Obesity Canada (2020) Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs)

[2] Obesity Canada (2020) CMAJ Obesity in adults: a clinical practice guideline

[3]   Rubino et al. (2020) Joint international consensus statement for ending stigma of obesity. Nature Medicine

[4] Obesity UK (2020) Language Matters: Obesity

[5] Puhl, R. (2016) Cross-national perspectives about weight-based bullying in youth: nature, extent and remedies. Pediatric Obesity,

[6] Puhl R., Peterson J. L., Luedicke J. (2013). Motivating or stigmatizing? Public perceptions of weight-related language used by health providers. Int. J. Obes.