Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: making recipe modifications work for you

I love to modify recipes, especially my baked goods, to use less sugar and oil, as well as to increase the fibre and protein. I’ve found that I can pretty reliably reduce sugar by half in most recipes. I usually add 1/4 cup-1/3 cup of ground flax seeds or oat bran to add fibre to cookies, muffins, and even waffle batter!  I have also read that 1/3 cup of ground flax seed in a recipe can reduce the need for added fat (oil) by 1-2 tbsp as ground flax seed contains heart-healthy essential fats. I also try to include a mashed fruit or vegetable into baked goods whenever possible, like in pumpkin muffins or Banana Oat Bran Loaf from the Dietitians of Canada Cook book: Simply Great Food.

flax seeds, spoon, glass dish

Flax seeds are a great source of essential fat and nutrients

This year, my kids and I cooked up lots of lentils (red and green) to try several recipes that were featured during Nutrition Month 2017.  Lentils are a great ingredient for my kids to see and use as they are high in soluble fibre, magnesium, protein and other important vitamins and minerals.

Combining my recent lentils kick with my own tendency to modify recipes, I modified this lentil granola bar recipe to reduce the added brown sugar (original recipe had 1 cup) and replaced half the oil with ¼ cup of agave nectar to balance out the moisture and sweet taste. I added raisins, sunflower seeds, and coconut to make them more nutrient dense and tasty.

My kids love measuring and mixing the ingredients.  Not to mention the enjoyment we had eating this healthy snack around the table. Try these soft lentil granola bars with your kids or grandkids for a satisfying snack!

P.S If you are making them together, consider making a short film and entering the Hands-On Cook-Off contest!

Lentil Granola bars – recipe adapted from Pulse Canada

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • ¾ cup lentil puree

Directions to make lentil puree:

  1. Wash/rinse red or green lentils well.
  2. Remove any blemished dry lentils.
  3. Add 1/3 cup lentils to 1 cup water and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until well cooked.
  5. Stir often.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 10” x 13” baking pan with greased parchment paper.
  3. In mixing bowl combine rolled oats, sugar, coconut, walnuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients: oil, egg, syrup, vanilla extract, and lentil puree.
  5. Mix until just moistened.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly browned.
  7. Removed from oven and cut into 2” bars while still warm.
Melanie Chapple

About Melanie Chapple

Melanie works as a clinical dietitian in Primary health care in Fort St. John. After completing her dietetic internship in Vancouver, she fulfilled her desire to move up north in 2006 because of the rich opportunity to gain experience working in all practice settings as a full-time dietitian. Melanie has a passion for food and nutrition, specifically baking, eating healthy snacks and sharing recipes with her clients and coworkers. In her spare time, you may see Melanie cycling through the Peace region, walking, or pulling her kids on a sled during the six months of snow.

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Foodie Friday: Celebrating Pack Your Lunch Day!

Did you pack your lunch today? You are in good company – today, March 10th, is National Pack Your Lunch Day! We all look forward to our lunch break – a time to rest and get refreshed for the rest of the day ahead of us. But how often do you spend most of your break time starving, waiting in line to purchase food because you didn’t have time to pack a lunch?

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes like this on Cookspiration.com!

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of packing a healthy lunch (for work or for travel!):

Pros:

  • Healthier: more likely to meet nutrient needs with less fat, sugar, and sodium
  • Less costly and less time spent waiting for food
  • Able to sit and enjoy your meal for 20 minutes and can still have 10 minutes to go on a refreshing walk before it’s time to go back to work

Cons: 

  • Takes planning and time to prep your lunch
  • May not have the right containers or enough variety of food at home
  • Bored of packing the same lunch all the time

Packing a lunch does not have to be a daunting task, but it does take planning! If I can get a head start on packing lunches the day before, then the morning, and day, runs much smoother.

I usually pack 2-3 snacks such as yogurt, homemade muffin, and a fruit. I’ll also pack a healthy balanced meal that includes at least 3 food groups. The easiest choice for me is to pack leftovers from dinner the night before or I may grab something like:

  • A homemade soup (like something I might have frozen a couple months ago) with 3-4 rye crisp breads and 2 tbsp natural peanut butter or sliced cheese
  • Mixed green salad with leftover salmon fillet or a small can of salmon/tuna with chopped peppers, cucumbers and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and whole grain toast and peanut butter.

In celebration of Nutrition Month, I have decided to share one the featured recipes on CookspirationSpiced Yogurt Chicken Tikka. Making this for dinner means I can enjoy leftovers for lunch.

This recipe provides four food groups in one meal. The recipe is also:

  • High in protein
  • High in vegetables including nutritious red peppers, tomatoes, and green vegetables
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the spices

Adding one can of chick peas will help increase the high soluble fibre content in addition to the brown rice! With recipes like this, every day can easily be National Pack Your Lunch Day!

Editor’s note: Cookspiration was created by the Dietitians of Canada to inspire everyone to cook any time, day or night! Recipe ideas are served up to suit your mood and what you’re doing based on the time and day. Check out the website or the app!

Melanie Chapple

About Melanie Chapple

Melanie works as a clinical dietitian in Primary health care in Fort St. John. After completing her dietetic internship in Vancouver, she fulfilled her desire to move up north in 2006 because of the rich opportunity to gain experience working in all practice settings as a full-time dietitian. Melanie has a passion for food and nutrition, specifically baking, eating healthy snacks and sharing recipes with her clients and coworkers. In her spare time, you may see Melanie cycling through the Peace region, walking, or pulling her kids on a sled during the six months of snow.

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Snacking smart

Strawberries and trail mix.

Aim for one to two food groups in each healthy snack! Unlike a treat (best saved for occasional enjoyment), a snack should provide nourishment and energy to fuel your brain and workday activities!

So, what makes a healthy snack? What is a snack anyway? Did you know that there’s a big difference between a snack and a treat? Treats like sugar-laden cookies, granola bars, chocolate, or salty chips and cheezies are low in nutrients and best saved for occasional enjoyment. Smart snacking, on the other hand, involves planning for the day and keeping healthy choices on hand. Here are some of my smart snacking suggestions!

When I’m hungry two or three hours after breakfast, I grab my homemade pumpkin muffin and yogurt for coffee breaks. When I approach the midday slump and want a coffee or a nap, I unpeel my orange and sip on rooibos tea in the cafeteria or walk down the hall to clear my brain and get refreshed until dinner time.

A snack can be as little or as big as you want, but a healthy snack is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients, fluids and fibre to help us meet our daily quotient. A sustaining snack will provide carbohydrates to fuel your brain and activity level and some protein for longer-lasting energy and blood sugar stabilization. To do this, try to include one to two food groups in your snack.

I suggest picking one carbohydrate food (grain, fruit, or milk) and one protein choice (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, nuts, or legumes) to make a nutritious snack. For times when you just need a little pick me up, then either a small fruit or yogurt will do until your next meal. I also recommend keeping healthy snacks in your vehicle for when you spend a busy day in town or go on a long drive to visit family or friends and start craving sugar. I always keep a container of trail mix and a box of sesame seed snaps in my car because they don’t freeze in the winter or melt in the summer. Keep water bottles and 100% juice boxes in the trunk for emergency fluid needs!

Roasted chickpeas and raspberries

Smart snacking is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients! Try some crunchy roasted chickpeas and a handful of fruit next time you feel that midday slump coming on!

Looking for more snack inspiration? Why not try one of Dietitians of Canada top 10 smart snacks!

  • Whole grain crackers with hardboiled egg
  • Handful of grapes and cheese
  • Veggie sticks with hummus
  • Apple slices and a chunk of cheese
  • Fresh fruit and yogurt
  • 2-4 tbsp nuts with dried apricots
  • Snap peas and black bean dip
  • Banana smeared with natural peanut butter
  • Crunchy roasted lentils or beans and green tea
  • Whole grain muffin and cottage cheese

What’s your favourite snack?


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

Melanie Chapple

About Melanie Chapple

Melanie works as a clinical dietitian in Primary health care in Fort St. John. After completing her dietetic internship in Vancouver, she fulfilled her desire to move up north in 2006 because of the rich opportunity to gain experience working in all practice settings as a full-time dietitian. Melanie has a passion for food and nutrition, specifically baking, eating healthy snacks and sharing recipes with her clients and coworkers. In her spare time, you may see Melanie cycling through the Peace region, walking, or pulling her kids on a sled during the six months of snow.

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