Tip #6: Portion Awareness

Okay, its been a while since our last tip. I have been busy with three sick little boys, but we are on the mend now and mama can get back to doing some other things. I enjoyed every minute of the extra cuddles, but it was SO sad to see them so sick.

Hopefully you have been able to make tips 1-5 part of your daily lifestyle….eating breakfast, drinking more water, filling plates with lots of colour, eating an apple a day to keep the “hangry” away, and planning ahead for meals and snacks.

This next tip ties in with the snack and meal planning process. Portion awareness is huge for a continued healthy lifestyle. Understanding what a “food guide serving” is compared to what you serve on your plate (your potion) provides an important step for mindfulness around our eating habits. Visual comparisons really help with this process.

For example, a food guide serving of pasta is 1/2 cup. Most restaurants serve 3-4 cups of pasta. How can you ensure appropriate portion sizes at home? A visual of a tennis ball can help. A tennis ball is about the same size as 1/2 cup. It is also about the size of a “medium” fruit serving. A golf ball shows us what 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter looks like. And a deck of cards is a good visual on 2.5-3 oz of meat/poultry/fish.

This is not to say that your portion has to be those sizes, but you can understand how many “food guide servings” you are having if you use those visuals. Then you can use that to help plan your day to ensure that you have adequate, but not overabundant, servings of whole grains, meats and alternatives, and milk and milk alternatives. Then ensure that you load up on fruits and veggies of all different colours.

If you are interested in knowing more about what Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends, check out this link. You can even order your own copy to post on the fridge for the family to see every day!

So once we are aware of portions, how can we translate this into portion control? Here are a few strategies that I like to use/recommend:

  1. At lunch and supper, fill half your plate with vegetables, 1/4 healthy starch, 1/4 protein.
  2. At snacks, try to have 1/2-1 food guide serving from a minimum of 2 different food groups.
  3. For foods that are more calorie-dense, choose smaller plates/bowls. I like to do this with ice cream 🙂
  4. Ensure that you put you food in a bowl or on a plate rather than just consuming handfuls of food. The latter leaves you uncertain of how much you have consumed.
  5. When a large portion is served to you in a restaurant, ask for a second plate (or take-away container) at the start of the meal. Put the portion that you want to consume on one plate, and the remainder on another. That way, you will be less tempted to over-consume.

I hope that these tips are useful for you and you can be more aware and in control of the amount of food on your plate and in your body.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

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Healthy Valentine’s Options

Are you hoping to enjoy a few valentine’s themed treats this weekend, but do not want to overload on sugar? I am with you!!! Here are a few things that I will be adding to our family’s plates over the weekend to celebrate without sacrificing on our health.

  1. Strawberries – Fresh strawberries, whole or sliced, make an amazing red pop on any plate. Add them to cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, quinoa, spinach salad, mixed with other fruit, or just on their own. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C which is a great antioxidant. Antioxidants help to slow down the course of aging, and help prevent heart disease and cancer.
  2. Raspberries – Fresh or frozen, raspberries have a rich red colour. Fresh, they add a warm feel to a plate of food and when added from frozen into oatmeal or yogurt, they make a fun swirl as they melt. They are also a wonderful addition to a smoothie to make it a rich red colour.
  3. Pomegranate Seeds – These super foods add a delicious crunch to salads, cereal, and yogurt. They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and they look amazing!
  4. Tomatoes – I like to add baby tomatoes to salads or slices of tomato to a supper plate to add to the festive feel. They are also a fun red addition to eggs or egg whites. Tomatoes, like strawberries, are full of vitamin C, and they also are en excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is a caretenoid that specifically helps to reduce cancer risk. For the best source of lycopene, try to cook your tomatoes slightly or consume them with a source of fat such as avocado or olive oil.
  5. Watermelon – This sweet fruit is consumed more in the summer, but is a great valentines choice. You can cut out heart shapes and serve it to kids or adults for a nutritious snack or desert. Pair it with other red fruits or vanilla Greek yogurt to dip it in. It is sure to be a hit. And life tomatoes, watermelon is a great source of lycopene.
  6. Red Peppers – Again, these can be served fresh on salad or main supper place or cooked stove top in a stir fry or with onions in the oven. They can also be used for stuffed peppers. Try to use healthy stuffing options such as ground chicken, quinoa, and lots of diced veggies. No matter how they are prepared, they offer an awesome red “pop” to a meal, along with lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
  7. Salmon – Salmon has a lovely pink hue to it, which makes it a common choice for a romantic valentines supper. Serve this on top of quinoa and add roasted beets (described below), steamed cauliflower, and fresh cut tomatoes and red peppers to the plate and you have a heart healthy, nutrition packed, festive plate that everyone will enjoy. (This is my main course meal for a valentines dinner we are hosting with friends this weekend.)
  8. Heart Shaped Pancakes– This one is a must! You can shape them on your own use a cookie cutter for the shape 🙂 Then add lots of red fruit on top!IMG_4330
  9. Beets – Roasted beets are super easy and SO packed with nutrition. They are also a common hit with kids as they are nice and sweet. I like to peel, dice and roast mine with mushrooms, red onions, peppers, parsnips and/or leeks. I drizzle grapeseed oil on top and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes. They come out melt-in-your-mouth. IMG_8208
  10. Lasagna or Manicotti – This is a great choice for a family valentines supper. Kids tend to love lasanga and it is red…so these factors make it a hit for “love day” at home. You can make your lasagna even healthier by using ground chicken and black beans in place of meat, whole grain or rice noodles, low fat cottage cheese, and lots of veggies in the sauce.

I hope this leaves you craving healthy foods for Valentine’s weekend. Wishing you all a weekend full of love, cuddles, and laughs with those you adore most.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Sweet and Savoury Chicken Burgers

I love making homemade burgers. For years I have made them with ground chicken or turkey or beef mixed with an egg and oats and a few spices and/or BBQ sauce. When we found out that Rhett had a severe allergy to oats I had to get more creative. I tried bread crumbs but kept searching for a way to make the burgers healthier. I developed this recipe and it meets my nutritional goals and deliciousness goals at the same time. This is a mom-approved and kid-approved burger 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

2 pounds Ground chicken

2 sweet potatoes

2 red peppers

1 large red onion

1-2 Tbsp grapeseed or avocado oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and place in a baking pan. Add in chopped onion and red pepper. Drizzle oil and balsamic vinegar over top and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes (until all veggies are soft).
  2. In a blender or food processor combine the veggies with about 1/3 cup coconut milk (or less if you don’t need that much liquid for your blender).
  3. Scoop 1.5 cups of this liquid and combine with the 2 pounds of ground chicken. I do this by hand with gloves on.
  4. Using 1/3 or 1/2 cup measure, scoop the mixture out and shape into burger patties on a piece of foil. BBQ burgers until they are cooked through and clear juices flow. Aim for internal temp of at least 170. We find they take about 15 minutes on one side and then 10-15 on the other but it depends on the heat level of your BBQ.
  5. Serve on a whole grain bun with guacamole or avocado and swiss cheese or for a lighter supper, just put the burger patty on top of a salad!

NOTES

  1. Steps 1 and 2 can be done at any time that you will have the oven on in the 24-48 hours prior making the burgers.
  2. The extra roasted veggie mixture can be frozen and used for another burger batch OR makes an amazing soup with a little more coconut milk or veggie broth added. I like to add black beans into it too.
  3. This recipe can also be used to make chicken meat balls to add to your favourite rice or pasta. Just bake the meatballs at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes depending on their size. Ensure juices run clear and there is an internal temp. of minimum 170 degrees.

IMG_4420.JPGUntil next time…stay healthy!

Hearty Tomato Sauce

February is heart month and to kick it off, I am posting my recipe for “Hearty Tomato Sauce”. It is loaded with antioxidants that help to prevent free radical damage in our bodies. This can protect against chronic illness, including but not limited to, heart disease. I have given suggestions for addition of healthy protein options if desired, as well as ideas for ways to use this sauce. Hope you enjoy and happy heart month!

Hearty Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

2 (28 oz) cans of diced tomatoes depending how thin or thick you want your final product to be

1 can tomato paste,

½ cup sundried tomatoes

½ cup chopped roasted red peppers

1 cup red onion, chopped

2 cups chopped peppers (red, orange, yellow, and/or green)

1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (I like to use baby portabella)

3 cloves garlic minced (or more if you like garlic)

1-2 Tbsp each dried oregano, basil, and parsley (add more if you desire more spice)

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large pot and place on stove with a medium high heat. Bring liquid to a boil, then turn back to medium-low and cook for 1-3 hours stirring every 15-30 minutes.
  2. For a chunky sauce, leave as it. For a smooth sauce, blend in a blender or food processor.

Protein ideas:

  • Cook up ground chicken or turkey and add it into the sauce.
  • Add in white or black beans and leave whole or blend into sauce.
  • Blend in hemp hearts.

Serving suggestions:

  • Use in a lasagna recipe.
  • Serve over spaghetti squash
  • Serve over spiraled zucchini.
  • Serve over fresh whole grain or rice or quinoa pasta.