Go Green!

Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day and to an RD, that means all great green foods come to mind. Move over green beer! We have SO much more to offer the body. And not just on March 17th….EVERY DAY!!!!

Here are 10 green foods that I would encourage you to have on your weekly grocery list and some fun suggestions on how to incorporate them into your intake.

Spinach, Kale, and other dark leafy greens are great as a salad base, wrap filler, and smoothie booster. These power foods are packed with nutrients including iron and fibre. While they are incredibly high in nutrient density, they are low in caloric density. Try to have at least two handfuls each day!

 

Broccoli is amazing steamed, stir fried, roasted, or chopped on a salad. Don’t really like the flavour? Try topping with  squeezed lemon, olive oil, or a little grated cheese. Broccoli is a great source of calcium and fibre among other nutrients and is an easy one for kids to dip so a welcome addition to everyone’s snack or meal plate!

Green peas are not only packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre…they are also a source of protein. Add these to pasta sauce, rice, soup, a salad, or as a side to any meal. The frozen version of these is an easy vegetable to have on hand and favourite of many children.

Honeydew is a delicious green melon that provides a refreshing vitamin packed snack for all ages and can be added as a juicy topper to salads, cereal, and/or yogurt.

Matcha powder is a green tea powder that is packed with antioxidants. It can be added to water or your choice of milk and served hot or cold. As part of a smoothie it can be paired with milk, yogurt, veggies, fruit, and more. My favourite combinations are:

1) coconut milk, banana, key lime, and matcha

2)coconut milk, spinach, pineapple, agave, and matcha

Green peppers are packed with vitamin C among other nutrients and make a quick and easy snack, wrap addition, salad topper, or side to any meal when roasted alone or with other veggies.

Green beans and snap peas are examples of other high fibre and nutrient packed vegetables that can be served fresh, steamed, pan fried, or roasted. These are most commonly served as a side….but these also make an amazing crunchy snack. If your kids aren’t big on vegetables with their meal…try putting a few green beans or snack peas out ahead of the meal and they may just disappear in no time!

Green grapes…serve them fresh with cheese or almonds for a refreshing and satisfying snack. Or cut them in half and freeze to serve frozen in the summer for a refreshing snack that doesn’t have the sugar of a Popsicle!!!

Green apples have that sour crunch that leaves your mouth watering for more. I love mine dipped in vanilla green yogurt or paired with Swiss cheese. My kids prefer them spread with peanut butter. They are also an amazing option for adding crunch to salad. What is your favourite way to eat them???

Last but not least…AVOCADO. You knew this one was coming! If you follow me on Instagram you know we go through several of these every day! My kids will eat diced avocado with any meal and I to be honest I do too. Whether it is mashed, mixed with a little lime, and spread into a wrap or toast. Or diced to finish off a soup or salad or just as a side. This omega 3 packed fruit is one of the most important foods you can eat in a day!

So…are all of these on your grocery list each week? If several are missing…what is one you can add for the next time you go shopping?

Until next time…stay healthy!

Pi Day Pie Smoothies

Happy Pi Day!!! Yes, that’s right…its 3/14. Now before you go and grab that piece of pie, let’s see if we can make a smoothie that is equally enjoyable! Want to eat it with a spoon? No problem. Just cut the milk in half and make it a smoothie bowl!

I have a few pie favourites…apple, coconut, berry, peach, lemon mirangue, and cherry are all high on the list. I am really not a big “dessert” person though. Really, who needs all that extra sugar when we have fantastic tasting fruit?! Perhaps you want to skip and pie and the smoothie and enjoy the fruit as it is. That is an amazing plan too. But in case you want to add a little extra flare to your snack today…here are a few ideas…and some have an extra punch of veggie power too!!

Coconut Cream Pie Smoothie Ingredients

2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/2 cup Coconut Yogurt (or vanilla Greek yogurt if you cannot find coconut milk yogurt)

1 Banana

1 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 cup shredded coconut

2 Tbsp. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

 

Peach Pie Smoothie Ingredients

1-2 cups Almond Milk

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen peaches

1 cup frozen mangoes

2 Tbsp. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

 

Cherry Chia Pie Smoothie Ingredients 

1-2 cups soy milk

1 banana

2 cups frozen cherries

1 cup spinach

1/2 Tbsp. Agave

2 Tbsp. Chia seeds

 

Apple Pie Smoothie Ingredients 

2 cups almond milk

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

2 apples

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup oatbran or steel cut oats

 

These were all tested in my Vitamix but should work in any blender

Well this list could go on and on but I will stop here. Hopefully this gives you some fresh and nutritious alternatives to the traditional pie on pi day.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Does my child need a multivitamin supplement???

I have been asked several times since starting this blog to write on the topic of vitamin and mineral supplements for children. I have been hesitant to do so because it is really one that requires an individualized approach. Having said that, I have decided to write about it in general terms. If you have specific questions about yourself or your child, then I would recommend you see your family doctor or registered dietitian or contact me directly.

It it is a common question to wonder if we or our loved ones need a vitamin/mineral multivitamin or single nutrient supplements. Here are a few questions to ask yourself…

  1. Do they have allergies or intolerances that causes elimination of a portion or all of a food group? Are they vegan or vegetarian?
  2. Do they have intense aversions to certain foods that are not easily overcome?
  3. Has the child had nutrient deficiencies in the past?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, then a supplement MAY be in order. For example, if milk and milk alternative intake is limited, then calcium and vitamin D are nutrients of interest. If meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are eliminated, then iron and vitamin B12 are nutrients of interest. The next step in each of these examples is to see if the child is consuming foods in place of the eliminated foods that provide similar micronutrients. For example, the child may be drinking fortified coconut milk which provides calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients. (As an aside…we know that protein is missing in this option, but that is off of this topic. More info on that topic can be found here.)

If the child has low overall food intake or is considered a “picky eater”, a parent may be concerned; however, this alone is not reason to start a supplement. Children have important nutrient needs; however, they do not need an overabundance of food. They need high quality and nutritious food. If presented with a small eater, my first approach would be offer nutrient dense foods at all times and be cautious to not allow the child to fill up on foods that do not contribute to their health such as gold fish crackers and puffs. In addition, I would ask the parents how much milk is being consumed. Children who drink more than 16 ounces of milk per day are at greater risk of iron deficiency. This is for two reasons….

  1. Calcium in milk can interfere with iron absorption, and
  2. If milk is filling their small tummy, then there may not be enough room for adequate amounts of other foods.

Having said this, if you feel your child may have low levels of important nutrients, they may truly benefit from a supplement. Calcium and vitamin D are vital for bone health. Iron plays a critical role in brain develop, energy levels, and more. The list goes on and on for why we need all nutrients in adequate quantities. As I said at the start, you may want to check in with your family physician of local RD if you are concerned. They can assess your child and even request blood work if deemed necessary. (We had this done with Clay and he was in fact iron deficient.)

Last, but not least, if you are choosing to go ahead with a supplement, please try to keep it as “low sugar” as possible. Giving children gummies and sugar coated tablets is not great for dental health and can be confusing for them. If a child thinks it is candy and accidentally ingests too many multivitamins they are at great risk for toxicity. In fact, iron poisoning is one of the top concerns for toxicity in children and can be fatal.

I hope that his provides you with some food for thought on this topic. As always, if you have any questions you can comment below, email me, or DM on Instagram @mealsformeandmyminis.

Until next time….stay healthy!

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Its National Registered Dietitian Day…so what exactly is an RD???

I am often asked what the difference is between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian. I decided that Registered Dietitian Day was a perfect day to chat about this.

The bottom line is that Registered Dietitian is a qualified and regulated health professional with a regulated title, and just about anyone could choose to call themselves a “nutritionist”.

Okay, so why does that matter?

Well, an RD is registered with a College of Dietitians…similar to the College of Physicians or College of Nurses, etc. We are held accountable for our actions and also required to go through an assessment and set goals each year and follow up each year to ensure we are staying on track with professional conduct and development. We also are required to have malpractice insurance. A nutritionist does not have anyone that they are accountable to. If they were to give inappropriate advice, there would be no recourse.

What is the education requirement to become an RD?

RDs must complete a 4 year Bachelor of Science followed by a comprehensive dietetic internship and/or obtain a Masters of Science. Following this, the individual must write an exam and pass this exam to be registered with their college. I am a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario. If I were to move to Alberta, I would need to re-write the exam to be accepted into the College of Dietitians of Alberta. The same would be true if I moved to any other country in the world. I would need to write the exam for that country’s College of Dietitians.

Dietitians are experts in nutrition and have guiding principles for counselling and overall conduct. Nutritionist is more likely to suggest more extreme measures and typically will not have as broad an understanding of overall health, as they are not truly a health professional.

I hope that this helps to clarify if you have ever wondered about this topic. Feel free to email me anytime if you have further questions.

Until next time…stay healthy!

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Super Berry Muffins

Rhett has quite an obsession with Berry muffins these days. He wakes up asking for them in the morning and if it were up to him, he would have them at every meal and snack. This morning we didn’t have any left and he threw a small fit…you know the typical toddler “I want my way” tantrum. I explained that he would have to have something else for breakfast, but after breakfast we could bake some. This seemed reasonable to him, so that is exactly what we did. I like to keep fresh berries for eating as they are, so we used frozen in the recipe below. However, you could easily use fresh if you have an over over abundance on hand. I have called these Super Berry Muffins because berrie certainly are superfoods packed with nutrients and disease fighting antioxidants, but also because the boys were pretending to be superheroes while making them. The name seemed fitting all around. 😉

Ingredient

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup Baby Brain Organics (or an extra 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)

1/2 Tbsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup coconut milk (or alternate milk of your choice)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree)

1/4 agave syrup or honey

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup frozen berries

Instructions

1. Mix together all dry ingredient.

2. Mix together all wet ingredients.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just moistened. Try to not over mix.

4. Spoon muffin mix into pan and then add berries. You may wish to add just one Berry to each muffin if you are making mini muffins or a spoonful if you are making large muffins.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F. Baking time for mini muffins is about 12-14 minutes and for medium size muffins is 22-35 minutes.

When we were making these, there was more of a mess than I anticipated as the kids were involved, but they tasted better for it and the experience was one that will keep me smiling all day long!

Hope you enjoy!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Butter…or Margarine…or is there another option???

I am often asked if I recommend butter or margarine and the truth is that I recommend neither. If someone wants to use an added fat, I recommend that they choose oil. Butter is full of saturated fat and margarine is super processed. Going back to the basics of oil is a consistent better choice. Then the next question is…which one should I buy???

Well, truth is having a few in he home can be helpful. Here is a quick rundown of the uses of some common oils.

Avocado oil: This is a great one for cooking at medium to medium high temps on the stove or in the oven. It has a nice light flavour and a higher smoke point than olive oil.

Canola oil: This one can also be used in the oven or on stove too and is great for baking  . It has the lowest concentration of saturated fat at a 7% concentration

Coconut oil: This is one that has spiked in popularity of use over the past few years  truth is, it’s uses are endless!!! As far as ingestion goes, it works well for baking or as a spread. It is quite high in saturated fatty acids which gave it a bad reputation for a lot of yeas, but with the unique structure of its fatty acids, they are not as harmful as the fatty acids in butter, and when consumed in moderation, coconut oil can be a very healthy component of a well balanced diet. So the next time you make pancakes or toast or even rice…and reach for butter or margarine…try this as your spread instead! It also adds a lovely flavour…if you like coconut 😉.

Flaxseed oil: Although packed with nutrition, this one is not good for cooking. It is at high risk for oxidation in the presence of heat. Use this one in small amounts as a supplement or added to salad dressing or oatmeal.

Grapeseed oil: This one is similar in its properties and uses to avocado oil but has a slightly heavier flavour…although it’s not a significant difference.

Olive oil: This is likely the most popular oil in homes; however, many people are misinformed on its ideal uses. Olive oil is not the best oil for use when cooking. In fact, it is recommended to aboid heating Olive oil beyond a low heat. It is at high risk for oxidation, which means when it is heated it can become harmful to the body. Ideally olive oil is consumed fresh as part of a salad dressing or bread dipper. It can also be added to oatmeal, rice, or mashed sweet potatoes for children that are struggling to gain weight.

There are are many other oils I could discuss, but I’ll stop there at the “more popular ones”. If you have questions about others, feel free to let me know.

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

 

Peanut Chicken

I had a few girlfriends over for Thai food last weekend and it reminded me how much I LOVE peanut sauce. I also realized that since my kids love peanut butter they would likely love any dish made with it. So I decided to work on a recipe this week for a “kid friendly” (aka not too spicy) Peanut Chicken. So for any of my readers who do not have a peanut allergy in your home…I hope that you enjoy it too!

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts

2/3 cup peanut butter (this can be crunchy or smooth)

3 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. avocado oil (or for a coconut flavor addition, you can use coconut oil here)

1 tsp. pureed garlic

1 tsp. curry powder

Instructions

  1. Slice or dice chicken breasts and place into a baking dish.
  2. Mix all sauce ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Add sauce to chicken. You may wish to add water at this time to thin it out as well.
  4. Bake at 375 Degrees F for about 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The smaller the pieces, the faster the chicken will cook.

Variations and Serving Suggestions: 

  1. Diced up peppers, onion, mushrooms, and other veggies could also be added into the chicken dish while it cooks.
  2. This could be served over rice or rice noodles with stir fried or steamed veggies.
  3. This could be served with flat bread and a large salad.
  4. This could be served with potatoes or sweet potatoes and your choice of vegetable.
  5. Make a lunch for the next day with any leftovers.

As always, feel free to add a twist that will make it perfect for your family.

Until next time….stay healthy!