Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Thanksgiving thoughts

Turkey, vegetables, and potatoes on a plate.

What does your family’s Thanksgiving dinner look like?

With the hustle and bustle of September behind us, it’s October and Thanksgiving has come and gone. The long weekend really got me thinking!

I have always loved this holiday because it is a time when my family is all together and it is the first break since the busy-ness of summer and back to school.

I also love this holiday because it is all about the food. Depending on your traditions, there may be roasted turkey or ham (both, for some), veggies from the garden including brussels sprouts sautéed with butter and chili peppers, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, my mother-in-law’s out of this world sweet potato dish, pumpkins and apples for pies, homemade breads, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

Handwritten recipe cards

Family recipes are a big part of holiday meals!

For many of my clients, this menu provokes feelings of deprivation or angst as many of these foods are “not allowed” on whatever diet they may be following – Paleo diet followers load their plates with turkey and a side of lard (oh, and if there is bacon, load up); Ketogenic followers head for the ham, the cheese platter, a tossed green salad, and skip the rest.

Diets like these cause people unnecessary anxiety when they are faced with prohibited foods – do they forget about their diet and eat these foods and feel guilty later? Or do they sit sadly with their list of “allowed” foods and feel deprived? And who wouldn’t feel deprived at the table with everyone else loving my mother-in-law’s sweet potato dish and, later, my mother’s homemade apple pie? No one, that’s who!

To these folks, I suggest approaching Thanksgiving dinner and other holidays as an opportunity to practice trusting their body’s own internal cues of hunger, appetite, and fullness and let these cues guide them when it comes to choosing what and how much to eat. Then, they will leave the meal feeling comfortable and nourished rather than guilty and deprived.

Here is the famous sweet potato dish!

Sweet potato casserole

Beth’s mother-in-law’s “out of this world sweet potato dish.”

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2 tbsp cream or milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 beaten egg

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup (approx.) pecan halves

Instructions

  1. Mix sweet potatoes, milk, melted butter, paprika, and beaten egg together and spread into greased baking dish.
  2. Make the topping by mixing butter and brown sugar in a pot over low heat until butter is just melted. Spread topping over sweet potato mixture and cover with pecan halves.
  3. Heat in oven at 350 F for 35 minutes.
Beth Evans

About Beth Evans

As a registered dietitian, Beth is dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities make the healthiest choices available to them, and enjoy eating well based on their unique realities and nutrition needs. Juggling work and a very busy family life, Beth is grateful for the time she spends with her family enjoying family meals, long walks and bike rides. She also loves the quiet times exploring in her garden, experimenting in the kitchen, and practicing yoga and meditation.

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Foodie Friday: Eating foods you love!

Caesar salad in a bowl.

For registered dietitian Beth, the “good vs. bad” food debate is getting old! “A healthy diet is a diet that allows you to eat foods you love in amounts that are satisfying for you.” Love kale? Try it as part of your next Caesar salad.

As a registered dietitian, I talk about food a lot, whether it’s with my clients, friends, family, or even on occasion with random strangers. Time after time, the “good food vs. bad food” theme (“healthy vs. unhealthy”) arises. Usually people start the conversation with statements like this:

  • “I only eat gluten-free bread, that’s healthy right?” (Gee, I missed the memo on that one)
  • “I eat a banana with my yogurt at breakfast – that’s bad, right, because bananas have a lot of sugar?” (They do?)
  • “Sometimes we eat chips but I know that’s bad.” (Not if you enjoyed them!)
  • “I force myself to eat kale because I heard that it’s healthy, but I don’t like the taste of it.” (That does not sound like fun.)
  • “I don’t eat anything white.” (Oh, so no cauliflower or halibut for you?)

People, people! A healthy diet is a diet that allows you to eat foods you love in amounts that are satisfying for you!

Yes, kale is a healthy food, but what’s so special about it? Nothing, really. It’s just like any of the other leafy greens and, when eaten regularly and with a variety of other foods, it will give you some vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that your body needs to keep well. And if you like the taste of kale and love eating it, all the better! I happen to enjoy eating kale, but if I didn’t, I can tell you how unhappy I would be if I had to eat it only because it’s “good for me.”

Eating is a lot easier than that! I choose when, what, and how much I eat based on what my body is telling me that I need for that particular time. I choose foods based on flavour, a variety of textures and tastes, and how hungry I feel. This means I include a wide range of foods that will meet my nutrition needs and satisfy my cravings. I do not choose what to eat based on the latest health trends or food fads and I certainly do not buy in to the good versus bad debate.

Speaking of kale, are any of you wondering what to do with all that kale you are getting out of your garden right now? Or, if you do not have a garden, then the kale your neighbours keep giving you?

Here is a list of ideas:

  • Steam it and serve it with a little olive oil and lemon juice sprinkled on top.
  • Substitute it in your favorite quiche or frittata recipe.
  • Make the all famous kale chips (a hit at my house).
  • Chop it up and add to your favourite summer pasta recipe.
  • Cook it up and freeze it for later to throw in a smoothie with frozen berries for a cool summer treat.
  • Mix it up with beans, some cooked quinoa, and roasted vegetables.
  • Add it to soups and stews.

Here’s a recipe that I adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon that adds an interesting twist to Caesar salad. It’s also a great way to use up some of that kale this time of year!

Caesar Salad

Ingredients

Dressing

  • ½ cup whole almonds
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Salad

  • One large bunch of kale, torn in to bite-sized pieces
  • One head of romaine, torn in to bite-sized pieces
  • Croutons (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the almonds in water for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
  2. Cut off the top of the garlic head to expose the raw cloves. Cover in foil and bake in the oven at 425 F for 35-40 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and golden. Let cool.
  3. Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins and into a food processor.
  4. Add the soaked almonds, oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper and ¼ cup of water. Process until smooth.
  5. Place lettuce and kale in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. If you like a bit of a crunch, add some croutons.
Beth Evans

About Beth Evans

As a registered dietitian, Beth is dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities make the healthiest choices available to them, and enjoy eating well based on their unique realities and nutrition needs. Juggling work and a very busy family life, Beth is grateful for the time she spends with her family enjoying family meals, long walks and bike rides. She also loves the quiet times exploring in her garden, experimenting in the kitchen, and practicing yoga and meditation.

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Foodie Friday: Eating well for healthy aging

As a dietitian, many Elders have talked to me about food’s role in honouring our bodies and connecting us to others and to our traditions. Considering these aspects of eating can make a big difference to the health and well-being of seniors!

Wondering what you can do to eat better as you age? Or maybe you’re looking to support healthy eating for older adults in your family and community? Here are a few suggestions:

Get back to the Canada’s Food Guide basics

Look to Canada’s Food Guide when making food choices. Include a variety of foods from the four food groups: fruit and vegetables, grains, milk & alternatives, and meat & alternatives. As you age, your body needs more of certain nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Foods that are good sources of calcium are milk (canned, powdered or fresh), fortified soy beverage, yogurt, cheese, seaweed and fish with bones. If you are over the age of 50, take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.

Consider joining a local food program

Programs that may be available in your community include:

  • Elders or seniors luncheons to share a healthy meal with others
  • Cooking groups to develop food skills like Food Skills for Families
  • Meals on Wheels for hot lunch deliveries
  • Good Food Box for a monthly offering of fresh, local produce

Eat together

Eating together is fun and enjoyable! Also, did you know that people who eat together, eat better? How does sharing dinner with a friend, joining an Elders luncheon group or teaching your grandkids a traditional family recipe sound?

Cook for yourself – you are worth the effort

Healthy meals are important for families of all sizes. A simple meal can be a healthy meal – aim to include at least three out of the four food groups. For example, yogurt with granola and berries or toast topped with baked beans and a glass of milk. Freeze leftovers for a quick meal later or reinvent them into a completely new meal.

Frittata

One of Emilia’s tips for healthy eating as you age – cook for yourself because you are worth the effort! Together with some toast and a glass of milk, this “leftover” frittata is an easy and delicious way to enjoy a balanced meal.

Need some quick and easy inspiration? Here’s a tasty recipe I call “Leftover” Frittata. You can use any vegetables, meat, or fish that you want!

“Leftover” Frittata

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup vegetables of your choice, diced
  • ½ cup cooked meat or fish of your choice, diced
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of your choice
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup cheese, shredded (optional)
  • ⅓ cup milk

Instructions

  1. In an ovenproof skillet, cook vegetables with oil over medium heat until soft. Any vegetables like onion, broccoli, potato, spinach, carrot or red pepper work well. Add herbs and chopped meat or fish.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cheese. Pour into skillet and stir to combine with veggies and meat. Let cook until edge is starting to set.
  3. Place skillet under broiler for about 3 minutes or until top is set and light golden.

To make a balanced meal, enjoy with toast, potatoes or rice and a glass of milk!

For personalized nutrition counselling, ask to be referred to a registered dietitian in your community or call HealthLink 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian over the phone.


This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Healthier You magazine.

 

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

Originally from the Lower Mainland, Emilia started her career with Northern Health as a dietetic intern in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles as a Registered Dietitian with the population health team. In her current role, she supports schools across the north in their efforts to promote healthy eating. Emilia is passionate about food’s role in bringing people and communities together, and all the ways it can support physical, mental, and social health. Her overall philosophy on healthy eating can be summarized by this Ellyn Satter quote: “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful northern outdoors by foot, skis, bike, or canoe!

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Foodie Friday: What’s your New Year’s resolution?

Carrot cake baked oatmeal in a casserole dish.

Try some healthy changes this year: Eat breakfast everyday, drink water, cook healthy meals, and add fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Drink a glass of water along with Amy’s carrot cake oatmeal recipe and you’ve hit all four objectives at once!

Have you made a New Year’s resolution this year? Above all the typical ones like saving money, spending more time with your family, and quitting smoking, the resolution that consistently tops the list seems to be losing weight.

In terms of setting a goal, dietitians encourage people to focus on healthy behaviours instead of just on weight loss, ensuring that a person is as healthy as possible at any size. Consider the big difference between these two plans:

  • A supplement-based or one-food diet program (e.g., Slim Fast, Herbal Magic, or the cabbage soup diet) that may provide short term weight loss results but will end with weight gain once you stop the program. This kind of weight cycling has negative outcomes for your physical or mental health.
  • A lifestyle behaviour based approach which encourages healthy habits that improve many aspects of your life aside from the shape of your body. Starting a special program isn’t necessary but focusing on long-term changes to your habits is. By eating a variety of nutritious foods, drinking water, exercising, and adopting other healthy behaviours your body may respond with a huge number of benefits including increased energy, improved mood, lower blood cholesterol levels, and improved sleep!

Consider some of these tips for healthy changes in 2015:

  1. Eat breakfast everyday! Did you know that sumo wrestlers consciously skip breakfast in order to gain weight? Eating in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism, puts gas in your tank to fuel your day, and keeps you from being ravenous at the end of the day.
  2. Drink 2-3 litres of water per day! Water flushes your body of toxins, keeps your brain functioning well, hydrates and revitalizes your skin, and keeps your gut working optimally. Your urine should look pale yellow.
  3. Add more vegetables and fruit to meals and snacks! Add fruit to your oatmeal, sneak veggies into your sandwiches, soups, stews, and casseroles, keep frozen berries and bananas on hand for easy smoothies, and stock your freezer with frozen vegetables for a quick dinner solution.
  4. Cook healthy meals for your family! Anything you make in your kitchen will be more nutritious than the store-bought version! Make cooking a priority for your family.

Looking for a family-friendly recipe that gets everyone running to the breakfast table and sneaks some vegetables into an unlikely place? Look no further!

Carrot cake oatmeal can be made for a nice brunch or weekend breakfast, heated up for a quick breakfast during the week, packed along as snack, or even eaten as a dessert!

This recipe includes an ingredient from every food group: whole grain oats, carrots and raisins, milk or a milk substitute, and seeds and nuts!

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is based off of a recipe from the website Oh She Glows.

Feeds six hungry people

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups quick cooking rolled oats (use gluten-free if necessary)
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed shredded carrots
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened milk (or milk alternative of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, melted honey, or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly grated ginger (or ½ tsp ground ginger)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds or walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 10-cup casserole dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flaxseed or chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the carrots, milk, sweetener, vanilla, and ginger.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. If you are using regular rolled oats instead of the quick cooking variety, I would recommend that you let it soak for 30-60 minutes or overnight. That way it will be nice and soft!
  5. Pour mixture into prepared dish and smooth out with a spoon. Press down on the oatmeal with a spoon (or your hands) so the oats sink into the milk. Sprinkle on the raisins and sunflower seeds or walnuts and press down lightly again.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 32-37 minutes or until lightly golden along edge. The oatmeal will still look a bit soft or wet in some spots when it comes out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup or some dairy or non-dairy yogurt. When the baked oatmeal is fully cool, it will firm up enough to be sliced into squares.

Enjoy it warm, at room temperature, or chilled straight from the fridge!

Amy Horrock

About Amy Horrock

Born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Amy Horrock is a registered dietitian and member of the Regional Dysphagia Management Team. She loves cooking, blogging, and spreading the joy of healthy eating to others! Outside of the kitchen, this prairie girl can be found crocheting, reading, or exploring the natural splendor and soaring heights of British Columbia with her husband!

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