Hopping into a Healthy Easter

Easter Bunny SnackThe tradition of giving eggs at Easter is what Easter’s all about! To celebrate the arrival of Spring, presents of eggs — a symbol of birth — were given, wrapped in gold leaf. Today, that tradition has turned into giving chocolate eggs, candy and treats.

As with all holidays we always need to remember everything in moderation. Having a few treats here and there can be ok as a part of a healthy balanced diet. This Easter season why not host a special holiday brunch and include some creative and healthy treats for the kids!

Bunny Smoothie

  • Try a smoothie to start Easter Sunday. Put 1 cup of nonfat milk, ½ cup 100% orange juice, ¼ cup cooked carrots, ¼ cup fat-free plain yogurt, 1 tbsp. honey and six ice cubes into your blender, and blend until smooth.

Plastic Eggs

  • If cooking is not for you, buy a selection of brightly colored plastic eggs. Fill them with an assortment of healthy treats, such as nuts, raisins, yogurt-covered cranberries, healthy granola or even cereal. If they are placed strategically around the house for an Easter Egg hunt, your children will love finding them, whatever they contain.

Easter Bunny Breakfast Sandwich

  • As chatted about in previous posts, Why are some kids picky eaters?, getting creative with healthy food is key to getting kids to try new foods and keep them interested in healthy foods. Check out this cute idea for serving up eggs on Easter morning:

Bunny Breakfast Egg

Supplies Needed

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice bread

For decoration:

  • Red radish
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Cherry tomato
  • Beans
  • Carrot
  • Parsley

Preparation

  1. Toast your bread lightly and cut into a circle
  2. Cook your egg sunny side up and slide onto toast
  3. Slice your decoration ingredients and have fun assembling your bunny!

Hint: To make a perfect round egg – grease a large circle cookie cutter and put it on a hot greased skillet, crack an egg and gently pour into the cutter cook until set.

* See Picture Above.

Recipe Sourced from: http://www.circletimekids.com/recipes/bunny-breakfast-egg

Ideas sourced from: http://www.ehow.com/info & www.pinterest.com

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Food Safety in the Kitchen

washing-vegetablesKids Eat Smart Foundation knows that safety is extremely important when handling food and aims to educate volunteers in food safety practices. If food is not safe it can cause people to become very sick.

Food Safety is the practice of proper handling and storage of food to prevent food borne illness. Food borne Illness is sickness caused by eating foods that are in some way contaminated. There are many things you need to do to ensure food is safe to eat.

Essential Steps to Food Safety:

  1. Handwashing
  2. Proper food handling/preparation
  3. Proper Food Storage

To prevent food contamination during preparation of meals at home:

  • Wash hands frequently – wash before, during and after food preparation. When you switch tasks in the kitchen wash hands. When dealing with raw meat wash hands frequently
  • Clean and sanitize food preparation surfaces and utensils before and after each use
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables well under running water and cut off any discoloured or bruised areas
  • Keep food at the appropriate temperature until it is ready to serve (cold foods less than 4°C and hot foods greater than 60°C)
  • Keep food covered as much as possible, especially if you are moving from one location to another (e.g. if food preparation area is separate from where food will be served)
  • Regularly check the temperature of your refrigerator to make sure it is less than 4°C
  • Store meats on the bottom shelf of your fridge to avoid cross contamination

Keeping food safe while in the kitchen is key to keeping our families safe from food borne illness.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Packing healthy for family road trips

Road TripSpring break is just upon us and for many families that means road trips! Road trips to the family cabin or to go and see Nanny and Poppy around the bay for Easter Break are traditions for many families in Newfoundland and Labrador.

But the long drives, full as they are of inventive games and good conversation (or these days perhaps IPods and DS systems) are more often than not excuses to mindlessly graze on all manner of snacks and treats full of sugar and salt and fat.

If we take some time to think about our snacks and plan ahead we can pack ourselves a nice selection of healthy treats. When preparing ahead we can be sure to avoid that common hungry walk through the candy and chip aisle in the gas station while stopping for that pee break or stretching our legs, and have our healthier treats packed in the car to keep those bellies full!

Plan healthier

A common pretense for buying unhealthy foods for road trips is that they are more convenient than other, healthier foods. Easy as it may be to give in to that misconception, the truth is that there are dozens of equally convenient foods that are also much better for you, for example:

  • Low-fat yogurt tubs or yogurt tubes
  • Cheese strings
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery with peanut butter and raisins
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Small baggies of nuts
  • Water bottles

Of these snacks, only the celery and eggs require any kind of preparation, and there are many others that make fine, easy snacks.

Include children

Rather than suggesting chips or cookies as possible snack choices, parents could easily turn food planning into a game that challenges children to think creatively and healthily about food. Parents can:

  • Make homemade trail-mix and ask children what to put it in, letting them pour and mix
  • Look for recipes together with children to decide on some new ideas
  • Arrange stops along the route to pick up local fruits (in the summertime!) or other produce, like nuts, letting children navigate or draw the route on the map

Pack extra

It’s also a good idea to pack extras of these healthy snacks for the whole trip. Sometimes when we are on vacations we tend to go for more sweets and treats as we sometimes adapt to the eating habits of our gracious hosts. Having these on hand to snack on throughout the day can help us keep a better handle on what we are eating throughout the day!

Celebrating Dietitian’s Day!

Listen to Amanda Burton, a registered dietitian in St. John's, talk about the differences between a nutritionist and a dietitian.

Click here to watch Amanda Burton, a registered dietitian in St. John’s, talk about the differences between a nutritionist and a dietitian.

Once a year, a special day is dedicated to all dietitians across Canada. It celebrates dietitians as health care professionals, committed to using their specialized knowledge and skills in food and nutrition to improve the health of Canadians.

Today, March 20, 2013 marks the fourth anniversary of Dietitians Day. It spotlights the profession and reminds us that dietitians are the smart choice for advice on proper eating, good nutrition and healthy living.

Usually when teaching in classes about healthy eating I pose the question to kids “What do dietitian’s do and where do we work?”

Usually the room goes pretty quiet and I get a few whispers and mumbles about healthy eating and working in hospitals.

This is certainly a good place to start as to the many things dietitians do in the work force but there is oh so much more!

  • Dietitians are one of a kind; they have the distinct ability to translate the complex science of nutrition into practical solutions for you on healthy eating and disease prevention and treatment.
  • Dietitians are uniquely trained to advise you on food, healthy eating and nutrition. They have a degree in food and nutrition, from an accredited university. To become a Registered Dietitian an undergraduate degree is required along with an accredited internship program. I completed my Bachelor of Science at Memorial University here in St. John’s and continued with an Integrated Internship program at Mount Saint Vincent in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Dietitians must be members of a provincial regulatory body in order to practice. This ensures the public that they are receiving nutrition advice from a qualified professional.
  • Dietitians work where you live, work and play – in health departments, hospitals, health and wellness centres, food companies, universities, and recently I learned dietitians were on staff for the menu development of the International Space Station – very cool!
  • As consumers we can sometimes get overwhelmed with nutrition information – it’s sometimes hard to tell what to believe and not to believe. For good reason, when it comes to food and nutrition advice, Canadians trust dietitians most.

To find a dietitian in your area, visit www.dietitians.ca/find.

Also, you can click here to watch a short video from Dietitians of Canada featuring local dietitian Amanda Burton speaking a little bit about the differences between a dietitian and a nutritionist.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Meeting your family’s different food needs

DIYTacos

Try some Do-It-Yourself Tacos to suit everyone’s tastes

Elderly parent? Picky toddler? Newly declared vegetarian teen? Food allergy?

When shopping for family members with different health needs or preferences, it helps to plan ahead.

  • Plan menus and grocery lists together. Include food options that everyone can enjoy. Look at cookbooks, magazines or websites for meal ideas that meet your needs.
  • At the grocery store, read food labels carefully to look for ingredients you need to avoid.
  • When checking food labels, look at the % Daily Value on the Nutrition Facts table. Choose foods with more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don’t.
  • Check if your grocery store offers tours led by a Registered Dietitian.
  • Try a “do-it-yourself” meal, such as fajitas, tacos, sandwiches or salads. Just put all the healthy ingredients on the table and let everyone assemble their favourite combo.

DIY Tacos

The key to making tacos that everyone in your family will enjoy is picking ingredients that they already like and letting everyone assemble their taco themselves.

You can buy the corn tortilla shells at the grocery store or find a recipe to make your own at home.

I recommend making your own seasoning – the packages from the store are usually overloaded on sodium and MSG, and making a mix yourself is easy. Here is a mixture of spices and a little cornstarch for thickening, that closely resembles the packaged taco seasoning you might find in the store, without the salt or MSG:

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 6 teaspoons chili powder
  • 5 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and cornstarch.
  2. Close lid securely, and shake well to mix contents. 7 teaspoons is equivalent to 1 (1.25 ounce) package of taco seasoning.

Servings Per Recipe: 21.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories: 8; Total Fat: 0.3g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 9mg; Total Carbs: 1.5g; Dietary Fibre: 0.6g; Protein: 0.3g

Filling suggestions:

  • Lean ground beef, ground turkey or pork
  • Fish – shrimp, cod, tuna (Fish tacos are all the rage right now!)
  • Scrambled eggs (Breakfast Tacos!)
  • Rice, Beans- black, kidney, garbonzo, etc.
  • Avacado guacamole, chick pea hummus, yogurt tzatziki, tomato salsa, hot sauce, shredded cheese etc.
  • Lettuce, peppers, onions, cucumber, tomatoes, shredded carrot, pickles, olives – really, any veggie that are your family’s favourites

Wishing you continued good luck during Nutrition Month in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Five fantastic foods for your pantry all year round

I know that fresh vegetables and fruit are not always available or affordable. Canned and frozen foods can be healthy too. Be sure to keep an eye out for lower sodium items and opt to pick items packed in water rather than in syrup or juices.

Plus, when they are on special, it’s a great time get stocked! A well-equipped pantry makes cooking a nutritious, delicious meal easy, any day. Having items on hand is key to creating healthy meals in a hurry!

When buying packaged foods, try to choose nutrient-rich ones that offer more vitamins, minerals and fibre, and contain less sodium, fat and sugar. Look for canned foods, such as beans, tomatoes or fish, without added salt.

Here are five fantastic foods I recommend keeping in your pantry all year round:

  1. Tomatoes – whole, diced or crushed, in cans. These make a beautiful base for a simple pasta sauce, soup or casserole.
  2. Fruit – dried, jarred or canned. Try adding a scoop of mashed canned pears to pancakes, muffins or smoothies.
  3. Legumes – including canned or dried peas, beans and lentils. These protein-rich plant foods make satisfying soups, stews and chilies that are deliciously nutritious.
  4. Fish – such as canned salmon and light tuna packed in water. These make tasty, protein-packed sandwiches, and they’re healthy additions to casseroles and pasta dishes.
  5. Whole grains – such as quinoa, parboiled brown rice or oats. Keep a variety of whole grains on hand for a nutrient-rich side dish or main meal.

Bonus items! Flavour boosters such as fresh garlic, spices, flavoured vinegars and reduced-sodium broths liven up cooking without lots of extra salt or fat.

Here’s a straightforward recipe (from AllRecipes.com) that uses three of my fave five to make a hearty, delicious meal :

Quick Beans and RIce

Quick Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice

Directions:

  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high.
  2. Add onion, cook and stir until tender.
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano and garlic powder.
  4. Bring to a boil; stir in rice.
  5. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 
Calories: 271; Total Fat: 5.3g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 552mg; Carbs: 47.8g; Dietary Fibre: 8.8g; Protein: 10g

Wishing you continued good luck in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Quick tips for cooking @ home

Stir the saucePrepare more meals from scratch with good-for-you ingredients.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated; nutritious convenience foods, such as frozen fruit, ready-to-go salads and pre-chopped vegetables, offer simple shortcuts.

Cooking from scratch allows you to control exactly what and how much of an ingredient you include in your family meals.

Tips for Cooking @ Home:

  • If sodium is a concern, choose low sodium ingredients and add only small amounts while cooking. This can drastically cut down on sodium levels in your meals.
  • If a lack of veggies are a concern, amp up traditional recipes with a variety of veggies, either frozen or fresh. You can add them to your chili, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, stir fry and/or side dishes . For meaty entrees, double up on the veggie ingredients the recipe is calling for and halve the meat.
  • Keep it simple. Buy one main ingredient. Make multiple meals. I usually like to purchase ground meats in bulk and prepare it in a variety of ways. If I purchase ground beef or chicken, for example, cooking it in bulk can allow me to make spaghetti, tacos, shepherd’s pie and chili, all in one week!
  • Get fresh! Fill your cart with more fresh foods, like veggies, yogurt or fish, to cook from scratch.
  • Skip packaged meals. Cooking simple meals is an easy way to save money on your grocery bill. Pre-packaged frozen meals are usually packed with sodium and low in nutrients.
  • Cook n’ share! Prepare big batches on weekends and swap meals with friends.
  • Make cooking fun and include your kids in the kitchen to help out with portioning, stirring or dumping ingredients in the pot!

Remember cooking at home can be fun if we plan ahead and shop smartly!

Wishing you continued good luck in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Learning to love grocery shopping

Learning to love grocery shopping with Kids Eat SmartWhen it comes to grocery shopping, many of us view it as a rather dreary chore. What with reading labels, checking prices and comparing products, supermarkets can be an overwhelming place for those trying to stick to the plan!

You can learn to love (or least not loath) grocery shopping by remembering to not shop on an empty stomach and to stick primarily to the perimeters of the supermarket.

The perimeter of the store is where you will usually find the fresh whole foods we need to make up a healthy balanced menu plan for the week.

Do take some time to read food labels and compare products so you can choose the most nutrient-rich foods in every aisle of the store.

Fill your cart with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, milk products, lean fresh meat and meat alternatives such as legumes. Try to skip the processed foods that are convenient, but are often filled with fat, sugar or salt and are low in nutrients.

Dietitians can (and do!) help you learn how to put healthy food in your cart with a few well-respected and practical dietitian-developed tools that you can use to help keep on track:

  • Dietitian of Canada’s Eatracker – consumers can track food and activity choices, analyze recipes and plan meals at www.eatracker.ca
  • Dietitian of Canada’s Nutrition Month videos – consumers can watch Registered Dietitians and Nutrition Month Spokespersons share shopping tips at www.dietitians.ca/nutritionmonth
  • EatRight Ontario’s My Menu Planner – consumers can use this tool to develop a personalized menu plan at www.eatrightontario.ca
  • Healthy Families BC’s Shopping Sense – consumers can take a virtual grocery store tour and watch shopping videos at www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
  • Dietitians of Canada’s eaTipster – download the eaTipster app for free at www.eatipster.com and get a new grocery shopping tip delivered every day in March

Wishing you continued good luck in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kids Eat Smart celebrates Nutrition MonthWelcome to March! It’s Nutrition Month, brought to you by the Dietitians of Canada, of which I am proud to be a member.

Did you know that:

  • Two thirds (63 per cent) of Canadians struggle with making healthier food choices in the grocery store at least half the time they shop
  • While many Canadians write grocery lists (67 per cent), fewer plan meals (37 per cent)
  • Half (52 per cent) of Canadians always or very often read the nutrition label on a food before purchasing

This kind of information, (gathered from a 2012 Ipsos Reid Poll commissioned by Dietitians of Canada,) led to this year’s slogan – Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

The key take-away is that healthy eating begins in the grocery store, so throughout the month, I’ll try and share practical advice to help make shopping for healthy food for you and your family a little easier.

Most of us purchase much of the food our family consumes from the grocery store. Busy lives and limited budgets sometimes mean our carts are not always filled with the best choices.

Research and common sense tells us that what is easily accessible is more frequently eaten. This is especially true with large quantities and packages of food such as snack food that requires little preparation.

Having healthier choices that are available, accessible and visible (e.g. fruit on the counter) can potentially increase the uptake and intake for everyone in the home.

I’ll kick us off today with a tip that I’ve talked about before – PLAN AHEAD.

Try to take these four steps BEFORE you head to the grocery store:

  1. THINK about what meals you’ll be making
  2. SCAN the flyers for specials
  3. CHECK your kitchen’s inventory
  4. MAKE a list

For more tips and tools on planning your trip to the grocery store, check out one of my previous blog posts Tackling the trip to the grocery store.

At Kids Eat Smart Foundation, we believe that Good Eating = Good Thinking, but you can also flip it around when heading to the grocery store – good thinking can help equal good eating too!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.