Research supports good eating = good thinking

Common sense says that we get better results with better fuel, and research provides the data to back it up.

A project by the Toronto District School Board, ‘Feeding Our Future: The First and Second-Year Evaluation’ (March 2012) showed that 78 per cent of grade 10 students who ate morning meals on most days were on track for graduation compared to 61 per cent who ate morning meals on only a few days or not at all.

Other findings showed:

  • Middle school students who ate breakfast at school on most days achieved or exceeded provincial reading standards by a rate 10 per cent higher than students who did not have breakfast
  • Middle school students who ate breakfast at school most days achieved better results in science courses
  • Middle school students who ate breakfast at school showed higher rates of independent work, problem solving and class participation
  • Secondary school students who ate breakfast at school were half as likely to be suspended and were more likely to attend school regularly

ImageCloser to home, the Kids Eat Smart Year-End Principals Evaluation (2010-2011) showed that 100 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that Kids Eat Smart Clubs in Newfoundland and Labrador contribute to an improved atmosphere in their schools.


  • 87 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that Kids Eat Smart Clubs contribute to an improved attention span in students; and
  • 75 per cent agree or strongly agree that Kids Eat Smart Clubs contribute to decreased disruptions in the classroom.

Findings from Kids Eat Smart evaluations and the Toronto School District study let us know good eating really does equal good thinking. So how can you help make breakfast a healthy start to your child’s day?

  • Be sure to include foods from 3 of the 4 food groups
  • Include at least one fruit or veggie
  • Choose whole grains more often
  • Choose high fibre cereals
  • Be creative and shake things up – add a smoothie to the breakfast mix!

Since it started in 1992, the Kids Eat Smart Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador has taken an evidence-based approach to its program and findings from the Foundation and from other similar organizations show that nutrition programs support learning. It supports the operation of over 200 Kids Eat Smart clubs in school across the province.


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

Nutritious alternatives for Superbowl Sunday

Nutritious Southwestern Bean Dip

A nutritious alternative for Superbowl Sunday – Southwestern Layered Bean Dip – high in fibre, lower in fat

We all know that Super Bowl Sunday is not just about the game—it’s about the food!

I usually pass on the store-bought snacks and take-out foods and enjoy making delicious homemade dips for the Big Day.

By making homemade dips we can choose the specific ingredients that go in the dip. By choosing low sodium salsa and sauces, as well as low fat cheese and sour cream we can reduce fat and sodium content drastically.

Try this easy Tex-Mex layered dip with plenty of black beans, salsa and chopped fresh vegetables – which mean a healthy amount of dietary fibre – and it packs less than half the calories and fat of traditional versions of other Super Bowl favourites:

Southwestern Layered Bean Dip

Source: EatingWell

We use reduced-fat sour cream along with full-fat (and full-flavored) cheese to make the dip lighter without compromising great taste. Be sure to have lots of baked tortilla chips on hand when you serve it.


  • 1 16-ounce can nonfat refried beans, preferably “spicy”
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa (low sodium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, or Cheddar cheese (light)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned sliced black olives, (optional)


  1. Combine refried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin, chili powder and jalapeños in a medium bowl. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheese.
  2. Microwave on High until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Spread sour cream evenly over the hot bean mixture, then scatter with lettuce, tomato, avocado and olives (if using).

Makes 12 1/2-cup servings.

Per serving :146 Calories; 7 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 12 mg Cholesterol; 15 g Carbohydrates; 7 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 288 mg Sodium; 164 mg Potassium

Make Ahead Tip
Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to one day. To serve, continue with Steps 2 & 3.

Go 49ers! 🙂

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

Tackling the trip to the grocery store

Nutritious family eating starts with having healthy foods readily available in our homes.

Heading to the supermarket to stock up can be overwhelming and stressful at the best of times. With so many options, knowing what to choose for you and your kids each week can certainly be a challenge.

I like to remind myself that with a little preparation and knowledge, making the right choices can be as easy as one, two, three:


1. Make a list – I try to take the time to prepare a weekly menu and make a list to gather what we’ll need. A list helps keep me on track and avoid the things we don’t need – and it helps me look forward to all of the great meals we’ll be enjoying throughout the week!

2. Do not go shopping hungry – This is probably the biggest, most costly mistake we can make. If I shop hungry, I am almost guaranteed to come home with food I don’t need – and most of this food I end up throwing in my cart will be high in sugar, salt and fat. I try to shop either after dinner or after a filling brunch on the weekends. With a full belly in tow I am more likely to stick to my list!

3. Shop the perimeter of the store – This is where the real food is found, i.e. produce, dairy, meats, fish, etc. I try to make sure that I spend the bulk of my money here and only go to the centre of the store for frozen/canned fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.

With recent struggles for access to fresh fruits and veggies here in Newfoundland and Labrador, remember that it’s okay to buy frozen fruits and veggies to kick up the nutrition in our meals – frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy as fresh. (Sometimes even better, because they are frozen as soon as they come out of the ground!)

Need to get organized? Here’s a link to 36 free templates for organizing your menus and your shopping list from fellow blog Cheap, Healthy Food.

Good luck!


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

Kids can help make nutritious meals too!

Eating together can support healthy eating habits for both adults and children. Having kids help out in the kitchen may help them enjoy a nutritious meal that much more!

Here’s a delicious and balanced recipe perfect for a chilly winter’s night – plus some suggestions how everyone can lend a hand to help get a healthy dinner on the table:

Family Favourite Shepherd's PieFAMILY FAVOURITE SHEPHERD’S PIE
(Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation)

Here are some suggested duties for the whole family!

Younger children – mash potatoes and help spread over beef/vegetable mixture; sprinkle the paprika

Older children – gather ingredients;  prep and chop the veggies and garlic; spoon the meat mixture into the dish for baking

Adults – cook the meat mixture; oversee the baking; serve


  • 500 g (1 lb) lean ground beef, pork or lamb or a combination of these
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 75 mL (1⁄3 cup) tomato paste
  • 150 mL (2⁄3 cup) water
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) dried thyme
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 mL (1⁄4 tsp) or less salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 500 mL (2 cups) mashed potatoes
  • Paprika


  1. In skillet over medium heat, cook beef, stirring to break up meat, until brown; pour off fat.
  2. Add onions, garlic and carrot; cook until tender.
  3. Add tomato paste, water, thyme, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring up any brown bits from bottom of pan.
  5. Spoon meat mixture into 2 L (8-cup) baking or microwave-safe dish;
  6. Spread mashed potatoes evenly on top. Sprinkle with paprika to taste.
  7. Bake in 190°C (375°F) oven for 35 minutes or until heated through, or microwave on High for 9 minutes.

Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition information per serving
Calories: 258; Protein: 20 g ; Total fat: 9 g; Saturated fat: 4 g ; Cholesterol: 48 mg; Carbohydrate: 26 g; Fibre: 4 g; Sodium: 480 mg; Potassium: 785 mg

From Anne Lindsay’s Lighthearted at Home. ©2010.

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

Welcome to the new Kids Eat Smart Family Nutrition Blog!

Kristin of Kids Eat Smart

Hi, I`m Kristin with Kids Eat Smart

Hi! I’m Kristin Harris and I am a registered dietitian with the Kids Eat Smart Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I am passionate about healthy eating and living and take pride in supporting access to adequate nutritious food.

I do this by providing advice regarding food, diet and nutrition for the over 200 Kids Eat Smart clubs being run in schools across the province. We help provide access to adequate nutritious food for over 20,000 school children in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our vision is that every school aged child in Newfoundland and Labrador attends school well nourished to be ready to learn. In a nutshell, we believe that good eating = good thinking!

Of course healthy eating is something that goes far beyond the school day, so we’ve decided start this Family Nutrition Blog to share recipes, tips, menu planning, news and advice for families in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions as we move forward.