Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Lentils

Lentil health and nutrition infographic

Lentils, health, and nutrition

As the cold weather moves in, it’s so satisfying to warm up with a bowl of something hot. Chilies, soups, and stews are a staple for many families and can be a great source of nutrition if done right. By pairing the veggies of your choice with a source of protein and fibre, you can have a complete meal ready and on the table in no time at all!

In a past blog post, I spoke about my love for the Oh She Glows food blog. I recently made their Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup and was not disappointed!

This soup is a great example of a hearty, delicious, complete meal that contains no meat; in fact, it contains no animal products at all! Going “meatless” for one or two meals a week is a great way to challenge yourself and your family to explore new flavours and try new recipes. Reducing consumption of meat, red meat in particular, may also lower your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.

Lentils are one of my favourite meatless sources of protein. One serving (100g) of lentils contains the same amount of protein as one serving of steak (26g), but with only 1.5g of fat (the steak has 18g), 18g of fibre, and half of your daily recommendation of folate and iron! If you’re hooked on lentils after trying this Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup, head on over to lentils.ca for more recipes and lentil-related nutrition tips.

Red lentils

Lentils are a great meatless source of protein!

Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup

From: Oh She Glows

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (280 g) diced onion (1 medium/large)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 (15 oz/398 ml) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 (15 oz/398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup (140 g) uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups (875 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste (for a kick of heat!)
  • 1 (5 oz/140 g) package baby spinach
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the onion softens.
  2. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, salt, and plenty of pepper. Add red pepper flakes or cayenne, if desired, to taste. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil.
  4. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 18 to 22 minutes, until the lentils are fluffy and tender.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lime juice to taste. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted bread and lime wedges.
Sarah Anstey

About Sarah Anstey

Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sarah moved to Prince George in 2013 to pursue her career as a Registered Dietitian. Since then, she has enjoyed developing her skills as a Clinical Dietitian with Northern Health, doing her part to help the people of northern B.C. live healthy and happy lives. Sarah looks at her move to Prince George as an opportunity to travel and explore a part of Canada that is new to her, taking in all that B.C. has to offer.

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Foodie Friday: Make small changes each meal to nourish your body and mind

Bowl of soup with bread and salad.

Erin’s small, nourishing change for this meal was to include beans in her soup. What changes will you make on your 100 meal journey this month?

As the season changes, are you looking to eat better? When the snow starts melting and the sun starts shining, I get inspired to make fresh and nourishing meals to recharge my body and brain.

Getting excited about eating well is what this year’s Nutrition Month is all about. This year’s theme – take a 100 meal journey – is focused on making small and lasting changes that will stick. There are about 100 meals in a month, and you can make small, nourishing changes in each meal to help you eat and feel better all year long.

Sometimes, I get too excited and want to take on the world! But too many changes at once can be overwhelming and hard to keep up. Choosing one change at a time and sticking with it will lead to lifelong positive changes.

One change that I made for a recent meal was to include more beans on my plate (or, rather, in my bowl!). Beans are packed full of plant-based protein and fibre, which are both great for keeping my heart healthy and nourishing my active body. 2016 is the International Year of Pulses, so the recipe I’m sharing this week features hearty Great Northern beans, but any other bean would work just as well.

Green Great Northern Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Great Northern Beans, dried (4 cups low sodium canned beans would work too)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 L chicken stock, low sodium
  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (1 tsp dried thyme would work, too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Note: If using canned beans, skip to #3.

  1. In a large bowl, cover the beans with 2 inches of cold water. Soak at room temperature overnight.
  2. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are soft inside, but not falling apart.
  3. In a separate pot, on medium heat, sauté garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
  4. Add chicken stock, the whole chorizo sausage, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, for as long as the beans take to cook to develop a rich flavour.
  5. Once the beans are cooked, take out the chorizo, sprigs of thyme and bay leaf. Slice the chorizo. Add the beans to the soup pot along with sliced chorizo, Parmesan cheese, and kale.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this soup with fresh crusty bread and your favourite salad to round out your meal.

My small change this meal was to include protein and nutrient-rich beans in my soup to feed my body and mind. What will your next small, nourishing change be?

To make your pledge to a take a 100 meal journey, visit the Dietitians of Canada website to receive tips and strategies to stay on track.

Erin Branco

About Erin Branco

Erin is a dietitian with Northern Health's clinical nutrition team at UHNBC. Erin has a passion for growing and cooking food as well as teaching patients, clients and families about incorporating a balanced, wholesome diet into a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, you can find her cooking up a storm, writing about food and nutrition, and growing vegetables at her community garden. During her dietetics internship, Erin explored the north from Fort St. John to Haida Gwaii, learning about clinical and public health dietetics with many adventures along the way.

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Foodie Friday: Freezer-friendly meals

A picture of lentil soup serves as an example of a freezer friendly meal.

Soup makes a great freezer friendly meal!

Fall is a busy time with kids returning to school, sports and team activities starting up, and winter to prepare for – think snow tires and shovelling. When it starts to get cooler outside, our bodies often desire a hearty and hot meal. But how do we feed our desire for this warm and nourishing meal when we are strapped for time? Instead of reaching for the phone to order an expensive and less-than-healthy meal, reach into the freezer! There are many recipes that can be eaten hot from the oven or stove that also create tasty leftovers. These can be packaged up and frozen for a convenient meal solution for future busy times.

I like to freeze leftovers like the Hearty Lentil Soup recipe below. This is a complete meal in one dish that can be easily reheated on a busy evening. Carrots, celery, onions, and tomatoes cover your vegetable requirement, lentils pack a punch with plenty of protein and fibre, farmer’s sausage adds even more protein, and I add bacon because it’s just so darn tasty! In one serving (1/8 of the recipe) of this soup, the lentils alone provide 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of fibre. Getting enough protein is important so that our bodies can build and repair our hardworking muscles, especially after we use them to shovel the driveway! Aside from all of the numbers, this soup will fill your belly, nourish your body, and just simply make you feel cozy on a cold fall or winter night.

The recipe below has been adapted from Flavour First, a cookbook written by my dietitian idol, Mary Sue Waisman.

Do you have a favourite freezer-friendly meal?

Hearty Lentil Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

• ½ pound (~4-5 strips) bacon, chopped into ½ inch cubes
• 1 cup farmer’s or Kielbasa sausage, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup onion, finely diced
• 1 cup carrots, finely diced
• 1 cup celery, finely diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 8 cups chicken broth or stock
• 19 ounce (540 ml) can diced tomatoes
• 1 pound (500 g) dry green or red lentils, rinsed well
• 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon to cook. Stir often to be sure the bacon doesn’t become crisp. Cook for about 3 minutes to render some of the fat and then add sausage, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-8 minutes until vegetables are tender and translucent but not browned.
2. Add chicken broth or stock, tomatoes, lentils, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.

References:

Recipe adapted from: Mary Sue Waisman. Flavour first: delicious food to bring the family back to the table. 2007. Centax Books.

Check out www.lentils.ca for more lentil nutrition facts and recipes.

Carly Phinney

About Carly Phinney

Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

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Let’s get cooking: Man Cave Chowder and challenge #1

All of us involved in the September Healthy Living Challenge are very excited to share a cooking demonstration with you! Loraina Stephen, population health dietitian, and Fraser Bell, vice president of planning and quality, cook up a healthy batch of Man Cave Chowder in the video below. Cooking food with lots of healthy ingredients, including a wide variety of colourful vegetables and local fish, is not only delicious, but a great way to encourage good health at all stages of life.

Our challenge to you for the first week of the September Healthy Living Challenge is for YOU to try out your cooking skills by making a Man Cave Chowder! Take a photo of you making the chowder or of the final product (or both!) and visit our contest page for details on how to enter. We might post your picture on the blog and you’ll have a chance to win a great prize.

Watch the video below as Loraina and Fraser demonstrate how to cook this recipe and see the bottom of this post for the full Man Cave Chowder recipe.

As always, we encourage everyone to go to visit NH’s position statement site for guidelines for healthy living.

Good luck and have fun cooking!

Man Cave Chowder (serves 6)
(Adapted from Cook Great Food by Dietitians of Canada (Fish and Vegetable Chowder pg. 104))

What you need:

Man Cave Chowder

Man Cave Chowder

  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped potato (medium)
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 2½ tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (398 ml) 2% evaporated milk
  • 3 cups (500 g) fish, cut into chunks (Pollock, Sole, Trout, Ling Cod, Salmon, Cod, Shrimp etc.)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

What you do:

  • Wash, peel and chop the onion, celery, red bell pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, potatoes and garlic.
  • Spread vegetables (except broccoli) onto 13×9 roasting pan or shallow baking dish and drizzle with 2 tbsp canola oil and toss to mix. Roast in preheated oven at 350°F (160°C) for 30-40 minutes, or until fork-tender, stirring occasionally.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, heat ½ tbsp canola oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add brown rice and sauté for about five minutes or until lightly toasted. Add chicken broth and let soup simmer on low for about 40 minutes.
  • When the roasted vegetables are soft, add them to the simmering rice and broth. When the rice is soft, add the fish, chopped tomato, seasoning, broccoli and evaporated milk; cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Enjoy!
Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling. (Brandon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)

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