Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Summer Bean Salad

A colorful bean salad.

For a shot of fiber, add this bean salad to your summer menu.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…
…the more you eat the less you toot!

Contrary to popular belief, the more beans (or other high fiber foods) a person eats the less gas they will experience over time.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at your digestive track – specifically the colon. The colon is where our natural gut bacteria live and eat. This type of bacteria is also referred to as probiotic bacteria. We acquire these bacteria at birth, through probiotic foods (such as yogurt) and from our environment.

Indigestible complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, found in beans are some of our gut bacteria’s favorite food. Humans cannot digest these carbohydrates on their own, which is why they arrive at the colon intact. The symbiotic relationship with our gut bacteria makes it possible to absorb some of the nutrients these carbohydrates have to offer. Unfortunately for us, gas is a byproduct produced when breaking down the oligosaccharides. This gas then leaves the colon and we all know where it comes out.

People often experience the greatest amount of gas when they start to ingest high fiber foods in large quantities. We need to train our bodies to break down this indigestible fiber efficiently. To do so we must slowly introduce these high fiber foods to our gut. Always remember to increase your fluid intake as well. Fiber binds to liquid in the gut. Without enough liquid you can become constipated.

Tips to reduce gas:

  • Rinse pre-soaked or canned beans several times before cooking.
  •  Reduce swallowed air:
    • Chewing gum, drinking pop, sipping from a straw, and talking while eating can all increase the amount of air we ingest into our digestive tract which can increase flatulence.
    • If you are lactose intolerant look for lactose-free options or take a lactase enzyme pill before consuming dairy products
    • Steer clear of large quantities of low calorie sweeteners

You can start introducing some tasty fiber to your plate this summer with the refreshing black bean and corn salad below. I adapted it from AllRecipes.com.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels (or 1 can of corn)
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are mixed well.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing and serve.
Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!

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Foodie Friday: Northern B.C. Farmers’ Markets 2014

A picture of carrot spice muffins

Carrots: from a farmers’ market staple to a tasty breakfast treat!

This past September, I moved to Prince George to do an internship with Northern Health. This ten month term will put me that much closer to becoming a Registered Dietitian while giving me the opportunity to explore areas of B.C. that I have never been to before. During my time here, I’ve managed to check out farmers’ markets in each town that I’ve visited, including Prince George (both the indoor and outdoor market), Fort St. John, and Dawson Creek. All of these markets have exposed me to great foods that I hadn’t tried before, like Guinness jelly and pickled green beans!

There are 13 markets to choose from in northern B.C. They’re a great place to support local farmers – it’s nice to know where your money’s going — and artists in your community. Eating local reduces your carbon footprint and may introduce you to tasty new products. Food picked nearby may be fresher and higher in nutritional value than grocery store foods that are often picked weeks or months in advance of sale. In addition to produce and canned goods, you can often find homemade soaps, breads, candles, and, occasionally, live entertainment.

Remember to bring along a few bags to carry home your purchases in and be sure to take some cash since many vendors do not have access to card readers .And don’t forget to bring along the family or invite a few friends to join you!

I made this Robin Hood recipe a few weeks ago with fresh carrots purchased from my local farmers’ market. I always try including a seasonal fruits or vegetables into my baking to improve its nutritional value. I hope you enjoy this hearty breakfast muffin as much as I did!

Carrot Spice Muffins (Recipe from: http://www.robinhood.ca/Recipes/Muffins-Biscuits-Quick-Breads/Bran-Muffins/Carrot-Spice-Muffins)
Makes approximately 12 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 mL) oil
  • 3 cups (750 mL) grated carrots
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar (I only used a ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) natural bran
  • 2 ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (5mL) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (4 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ½ cup (125 mL) raisins

Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lightly packed brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Beat eggs and oil until light.
  3. Stir in carrots.
  4. Add next 8 ingredients Stir just until moistened.
  5. Stir in nuts and raisins.
  6. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.
  7. Combine nuts and brown sugar for topping in small mixing bowl. Sprinkle on top of muffins.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.
Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!

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Seedy Saturday in Prince George

Seedy Saturday in Prince GeorgeA star is born and we named it kale. It’s funny how food trends come and go, then cycle back around in a different disguise. We must recognize that the media plays a big role in how we live and what we eat. Journal articles, newspapers and T.V. stations pooled together to target kale as their latest victim. The media has cloaked this green leaf veggie in a sequined shawl and thrown it on the run way for the world to see in a new light. But how “new” is it?

Kale has been grown and eaten around the world since 2000 B.C.  It likes to bath in bright sunlight and grows best in moist soils. It flourishes in colder climates and can withstand light frost. When grown in northern BC, it can be harvested from August into November – depending on when the snow sticks. For these reasons, it’s easy to understand why so many northerners grow and enjoy eating this hardy vegetable.

What makes it good for me?
Kale is a ‘dark green’ leafy vegetable high in vitamins, minerals. Vegetables are highly promoted in Canada’s Food Guide and bring bright color and delicious tastes to our plates. Kale can taste bitter to some people so zest it up by stir-frying it with garlic, lemon juice and pepper or add it to your winter soups! Explore the internet to find recipes that tempt your taste buds!

Now that you know what all the fuss is about, what’s the next step?
Seedy Saturdays of course! If you haven’t heard about these community events before, let me bring you up to speed. Seedy Saturday in Prince George (other communities across BC also have them in the winter) provides you with lots of great information you need to get growing a healthy garden. This is a great opportunity to possibly pick up some kale (and other) seeds and plant them for the summer. You can bring a friend along to listen to enthusiastic workshops outlining effective ways to grow your own food. By attending this event you are supporting local farmers and contributing to the local eating initiatives in BC. If you are living in an apartment and don’t have access to a garden … don’t sweat! There are often options available to rent out garden spaces. Connect with your local community gardens networks.

Seedy Saturday is organized by Community Gardens Prince George and supported by the Exploration Place as a Heritage Week event: Saturday February 22, 2014 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at Exploration Place, Prince George.

Celebrate local food, build community, learn new skills, and taste the difference!

Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!

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