Tag Archives: #healthycooking

Inflammation & Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock. Description: Selection of healthy food reducing chronic inflammation salmon fish avocado seeds nuts leafy green vegetables berries on a white rustic wooden table.

What is inflammation & why does it matter?

Inflammation is a natural and protective response by the body’s immune system to an injury, infection or harmful substances.  Symptoms of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling and pain.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Imagine cutting your finger or scraping your knee. What happens? The area turns red, is painful and perhaps starts swelling. This is acute inflammation – your immune system is sending white blood cells to your injured finger or knee to protect it. In this way, inflammation is helpful and essential and speeds up the healing process.

In contrast, chronic inflammation happens when the body continues to respond for a long time as if it was under attack by a foreign or unwanted substance. Chronic inflammation does not help the body because it fights against its own cells by mistake. Some diseases or medical conditions associated with inflammation are rheumatoid arthritis, where many joints throughout the body are permanently inflamed, psoriasis – a chronic skin disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  These chronic inflammatory diseases can last for years or even a lifetime. Chronic inflammation also contributes to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and some allergic conditions.

What you can do about managing inflammation?

With all the conditions that involve inflammation, no wonder people are interested in food choices to help reduce ongoing harmful chronic inflammation. Overall good nutrition is key to enhancing immunity and providing antioxidants that lower the stress of inflammation. You may be wondering about specific foods that have been called out as part of the ‘anti-inflammatory diet’.   Here are FIVE types of foods to keep on top of your list that may help reduce chronic inflammation:

1.Foods rich in omega- 3 fats

  • Eat oily fish 2 – 3 times / week (salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, trout)
  • Replace regular eggs with omega-3 eggs
  • Choose plant-based sources of omega-3 fats including flax oil, ground flax seeds and walnuts

2.Antioxidant rich vegetables and fruit

  • Look for colour – dark green, red, orange, yellow, purple and blue – they are chock full of antioxidants
  • Enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruit everyday – make them half your plate at each meal

3. Fibre

  • Choose fibre rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils) and whole grains. High fibre foods help support your gut health and nourish the beneficial bacteria that help fight inflammation and disease.

4. Herbs and spices

  • Add flavour with cinnamon, ginger and turmeric which seem to supress inflammation, but evidence is unclear about how often and how much to eat. Have fun exploring some dietitian approved recipes that enhance flavour with these herbs and spices.

5. Protein

  • Eat protein foods to build antibodies which play a role in supporting a healthy immune system. Include fatty fish (see tip #1 above) and lean white meat in your diet. Use cooking methods that do not char meat such as poaching, stewing, and steaming. Try acidic marinades such as lemon, lime vinegar or yogurt for a health and flavour boost. Acid ingredients tenderize meat and studies show that marinating meats may reduce harmful compounds that can form on meat exposed to high cooking temperatures.
  • Choose plant proteins including tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds.

 Bottom line

There is no single anti-inflammatory or miracle food!  However, eating an overall healthy diet is an important way to help manage inflammation.  In addition,  getting enough sleep , engaging in regular physical activity as well as other lifestyle factors (such as NOT smoking)  have a direct impact on lowering inflammation.

A registered dietitian can break down the anti-inflammatory diet for you into easy-to-follow steps and provide you with a variety of enjoyable ways to eat well.  Contact us to find out more about our personalized nutrition counselling sessions.

 

Cauliflower lentil curry (or soup)

 

Are you looking to improve your plant based eating? Dietitian’s TIP 👉 Adding lentils is a simple way to boost plant protein. Here is adding a half a cup of red lentils to cauliflower curry. Instead of curry you can just use a veggie broth for a wonderful cauliflower soup. Shout out to me with your plant-based eating question!  I’m ready to support you with our new personalized nutrition coaching program!

Brief video download of cauliflower lentil curry recipe in progress

Recipe cauliflower & red lentils

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger minced
2-3 TBsp curry powder**
1/2 cup red lentils rinsed & drained
5 cups cauliflower chopped
1.5 cups water
1 400ml can coconut milk **
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley chopped

** soup variation
⁃ omit curry powder
⁃ Omit coconut milk & use veggie broth instead

Method:

1. In a large pot heat up olive oil sautée onion and garlic for 5 min
2. Add ginger & curry powder cook for 3 min
3. Add cauliflower, lentils, water & coconut milk. Mix well & cook for 20 min
4. Serve & top w cilantro or parsley & Enjoy.

Brussels Sprouts and Carrot Bake


Image Source: Foodland Ontario

A hearty side dish of wholesome brussels sprouts and carrots in a honey mustard glaze topped with nuts and optional cheese.  Recipe inspired by Foodland Ontario and modified by Registered Dietitian and professional Home Economist to suit vegetarian and vegan dietary preferences.

6 servings (190 g per serving)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb (680 g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 2 large (150 g) carrots chopped
  • 1 large (150 g) onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Honey
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • Pinch each pepper and salt (optional)
  • 2/3 cup (70 g) walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Swiss or Mozzarella cheese (optional – omit for Vegan version)

Method

  1. Trim Brussels sprouts & wash well. Cut carrots into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
  2. In a large oven proof pot of simmering water, cook Brussels sprouts and carrots for 3-5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Chop onion.
  4. To the pot, add 1 tsp vegetable oil and sautee onions till softened and very light golden brown – about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in honey, mustard, pepper and salt (if using)
  6. Add reserved Brussels sprouts and carrots; toss to coat well.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and grated cheese (if using). Bake on middle rack of 400°F (200°C) oven for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cooking Tip: If skillet handle is not heat resistant, wrap in foil.

Nutrition Facts* per serving (190 g)

Calories: 180
Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrates: 19 grams
Protein: 8 grams
Source of 21 vitamins and minerals.

*Nutrition Facts provided using professional recipe software analysis.

Healthy eating on a budget

We heard from people who find it challenging to eat healthy on a budget. It’s such a great question and many folks, especially students, want to eat well and struggle with where to start.  Some of you may feel that you have no choice but to buy more expensive processed foods because you believe you can’t afford good nutrition.  There are many ways you can stretch your food dollar without sacrificing your health. Here are just FIVE tips to help you get started with making the most of your food dollar and eat well.

  1. Plan your meals
    Planning menus ahead lets you buy just what you need and stay on budget. It’s also a good way to avoid wasted food and help you lower you food costs. Planning reduces the time and stress of unplanned shopping trips and last minute dilemmas ‘what’s for dinner’. Before you go shopping think about what foods you’d like to eat/prepare. Know your food budget and adjust your menus as needed.
  2. Prepare a shopping list.
    Studies show that keeping a running grocery list is a great way to stay on track – it jogs your memory, saves money at the store, saves time too. It also keeps you from buying what you don’t need. Bottom line: Write a list and STICK TO IT.
    During Covid 19 many people prefer a paper list so they don’t have to handle their phones in the grocery store. When you prepare your list organize the items you need by category to match the store layout – for example, produce for veg and fruit, dairy, meat, bakery , frozen and grocery. We created this terrific Be Well Efficient shopping list that you can download from our website to help create your shopping list. Clicking on this link and then the image for your copy of the Be Well! Efficient Grocery Shopping List by L.Weiler RD
  3. Stock up on healthy staples that are on sale.
    Check for grocery store deals. Look for healthy food items on sale – fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, canned beans, canned fish and meats and poultry. Dried foods are also budget friendly like dried beans, pasta, rice and oatmeal & they keep for a long time. If you like quiona buy it on SALE. Take advantage of local / seasonal produce. The price may be lower depending on where you shop. Fruits and vegetables are frozen at their peak of freshness so they are just as nutritious as fresh. You can easily add frozen or canned veggies to main dishes like casseroles and stews. You can also use frozen fruits in oatmeal, yogurt, baking and smoothies. Great choices include any dark green or orange like edamame (which are soybeans that boost protein content), peas and carrots or dark coloured berries.
  4. Cook once eat twice.
    Plan meals to make more than what you need today and enjoy the leftovers in another meal the next day. Cook extra whole grains like quinoa or barley for dinner and make a salad bowl recipe for lunch. If you eat meat and find lean cuts on sale consider buying a bit extra, roasting it and then incorporate it into another meal later. Look for recipes from Registered Dietitians that give you tips for using leftovers in your next meal.
  5. Store food properly
    Which uneaten food do you throw out most often?  Did you know that the most wasted foods in Canadian households are vegetables (30%), fruit (15%), and leftovers (13%) of total waste. So if you toss vegetables and fruit or leftovers in the trash then you’re like many Canadians. By eating the food you buy and storing it properly you will save money and reduce waste. If you find it challenging to be mindful of food storage here are some tips you could consider:
    • Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta carotene. They’ll last for at least two weeks.
    • Leafy greens tend to wilt within a week. So, shop and plan your menu accordingly.
    • Apples spoil 10 times faster in the fruit bowl than in the fridge.
    • Potatoes like a cool, dark spot so they don’t soften and sprout.
    • Keep cooked food in the fridge for 3-4 days and if you can’t eat it, freeze it for later use.

Visit our website for more tips and insights. Follow us on IG! @LuciaWeilerRD @Nutrition4NonNutritionists

Oven Baked Pasta

Melt in your mouth and full of veggies this oven baked pasta full is the comfort food of the day.  Inspired by a fave cookbook from Chef David Rocco, but veggie boosted to become a #dietitanapproved recipe. Here is how I made it:
👉INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 lb (250g) rigatoni pasta ;
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL)  olive oil,
  • 1 large eggplant cut in small cubes ,
  • 1 leek sliced, 1 cup frozen spinach (150g) ;
  • 15 each – black olives & sundried tomatoes chopped,
  • 1 bottle (675 ml) tomato purée,
  • 1/2 lb (250 g) mozzarella cheese grated.
  • Hot pepper flakes (optional)

👉METHOD

  1. Cook pasta according to package direction (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water).
  2. In a pot heat olive oil, sautée leek, garlic; add eggplant & spinach cook for 10 min. Add tomato purée & cheese. (Rinse purée bottle w reserved pasta water & add to pot) Mix in cooked pasta & transfer the whole mixture to a shallow baking dish.
  3. Bake 20 min @ 400F.

    Serves 6. What’s your favourite pasta dish? #morethanfood #dietitiansarekey #cook #familymeals

Purple Cabbage & Potato Curry (Aloo Gobi)

  

Aloo Gobi is a classic Indian dish of potatoes and cauliflower. In this Canadian version inspired by Anita Stewart we swap in cabbage instead of cauliflower, but both can be called gobi!  Since I had purple cabbage on hand that’s what I used but any cabbage will do.  Either way it’s a one pot, super simple, comforting dish that’s full of flavour and ready in 30 minutes flat.  Serve it as a side dish with a slice of lean meat, chicken, fish or tofu. Scroll on for step by step on how to make it.

Ingredients:

Spice mixture: 

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) garam masala
  • ½ tsp ( 2mL) mustard seed (optional)
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) tumeric
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes

Veggies:

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 medium cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (1L) potato cubed
  • 4 cups (1L) shredded cabbage
  • 1 tbsp (15mL) fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • Black pepper (ground)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant for a few minutes.
  2. Add the spice mixture (cumin, garam masala, mustard seed, turmeric, and cayenne and cook until toasted, 1 minute more. )
  3. Add potatoes, ginger, cabbage and water.  Season with ground black pepper and pinch of salt to taste.
     
  4. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until potatoes and cabbage are tender, 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy  with a slice of lean meat, chicken, fish or tofu.

 

 

 

 

 

Clean and sanitize your kitchen surfaces like a food safety pro during COVID-19

You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by preventing the spread of germs. Although there are not many studies on COVID-19 specifically, scientists suggest that what we know works against other coronaviruses could work against this new strain too. Well known food safety cleaning and sanitizing practices can kill many different kids of harmful germs that cause disease.  Consider these expert tips for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces you use for food handling and preparation to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure.

3 Food safety rules to sanitize kitchen surfaces

  1. CLEAN: Remove dirt by washing down surfaces using warm soapy water & rinse with clean water.
  2. SANITIZE: This step reduces the harmful germs to safe levels on surfaces so illness is less likely to occur. Before preparing meals food safety pro’s make sure that counters, cutting boards and work surfaces are sanitized first. Chemicals approved as sanitizes for food-contact surfaces in food-service are chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonium. Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer that is easy to make at home too. You can make your own sanitizing spray using 1 tsp (5 mL) bleach for every 3 cups (750 mL) of water. (Ministry of Health & LTC Ontario)  This sanitization method works for both plastic and wooden cutting board, taps, sinks and other surfaces. (Note: Bleach is NOT recommended for marble or stone countertops!)
  3. AIR DRY: Let surfaces air dry or dry with a clean disposable paper towel.

 

More tips on cleaning and sanitizing in the kitchen are available at this link: https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/kitchen-sanitize.pdf

Spot the Nutrition MYTHS & ask for the FACTS

Image: Bigtsock

Spring is in the air, a perfect time to take a fresh look at what’s hot and what’s not in food and nutrition. As a speaker, teacher and consultant, I’m always connecting with professionals and nutrition students. I find there is a surprising increase in questions about myths and misleading nutrition advice. More and more people come forward with confusing nutrition information that hold them back from achieving their goals. According to a recent survey of dietitians the top sources of nutrition misinformation for consumers are celebrities, friends/family, blogs and social media. Don’t get trapped by myths – ask for science based facts from the experts.

Here are my top ten tips to help you spot misleading nutrition advice. Watch for these warning sings in the language used to provide you with information.

Top 10 tips to spot the Nutrition MYTHS:

  1. Quick fix promise
  2. Extreme warnings about a food or food group
  3. Sensational claims that sound too good to be true
  4. Personal beliefs /opinions presented as facts (Notice the use of language like “I believe” and don’t confuse someone’s confidence in their belief with credible scientific evidence.)
  5. Advice based on a single study or from a ‘study under way’ or observations
  6. Statements that are not supported by credible scientific associations (e.g., Dietitians of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Canada, Health Canada)
  7. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
  8. Testimonials endorsing the product, often from celebrities or highly satisfied customers
  9. Aims to sell food products or supplements
  10. Undermines a healthy, enjoyable relationship with food

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for credible food facts check out blogs, social media tips and recipes written by registered dietitians. Dietitians are the most trusted credible food and nutrition experts who understand the science behind food and its connection to health. Contact us for help to translate the power of food for your team and business.

 

How to peel a pomegranate

Are you looking to add a pop of colour & burst of flavour to your salads & roasted veggies? Pomegranate seeds are all the rage. Getting to the seeds can be messy, but by removing them under water you keep the seeds from taking over your kitchen. Scroll on for my tips on how to get to the best part of this tasty fruit.

  1. Cut off the top of the pomegranate with a sharp knife. (The top is end is crown shaped, not flat)
  2. Cut into the skin of the pomegranate from top to bottom and place pomegranate in a large bowl of water. Be sure its fully covered to keep the juices from splattering.
  3. Pull apart the fruit under water to expose the seeds and separate them from the membrane. The seeds tend to sink in water while the white membrane holding the seeds floats to the top. Just skim it off. Drain the seeds & enjoy as is, or add to salads & roasted veggies.

How do you like to eat pomegranate?

Boost your snack with berries.

Are you snacking more often? You’re not alone! Canadians love their snacks, and many would like to pick healthier options between meals. You can boost your nutrient intake by snacking on colorful fresh berries including strawberries.  Did you know California strawberries are picked in peak season and readily available in grocery stores? Strawberries are a tasty, healthy, convenient snack any time of day and you can also use them to bring on a burst of flavour in your snacks and meals.  Try this tasty, easy arugula and strawberry salad and enjoy it at home or carry it with you for eating on the go.

Recipe: Tasty Arugula and Strawberry Salad

This tasty salad is chef inspired and dietitian approved! Layers of fresh greens like Arugula, fresh juicy strawberries, sharp cheese topped with tangy sweet vinaigrette dressing make it a staple in my menu.

Here is how I like to put it together:


Image of Arugula Strawberry Salad with strawberries in foreground. L.Weiler RD

Ingredients

  • Arugula (3 cups)
  • Strawberries (8 berries halved )
  • Red onion slices (1/4 cup)
  • Sharp cheese shredded to taste (cheddar or parmesan); (2 Tbsp)
  • Cider or balsamic vinaigrette dressing* (3 Tbsp)

Serves 2 (110 calorie snacks)

* Cider Vinaigrette:

    • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp water
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
      In a small measuring cup or jar with a lid, combine oil, vinegar, water, mustard and black pepper. Mix well.  Makes about 6 Tbsp (90 mL)