Food – Bringing us Together

As March draws to a close and Nutrition Month 2020 ends, I thought it fitting to reflect on this year’s nutrition month theme – MORE THAN FOOD. This theme was meant to get us thinking not only about the food we eat but about how and why we eat.  Food is often what brings us together.  As we now spend more time at home with our family, more than ever we are planning, preparing and eating together.  And if you are not able to physically be with those who are closest to you, you may be doing it all virtually.

As you go about your day in the kitchen, I hope you remember all the great teaching moments you can have with your children.   Most of all, I hope you enjoy spending time with your children, sharing old memories and creating new ones.  Attached is a picture of my son, Dylan, who made these easy no-bake energy balls that are not only nutritious but incredibly delicious.  On the other side of the kitchen, my daughter, Emma, and I were busy making chocolate chip cookies.  All things in moderation, I say.  All things in moderation.

Energy Balls

Ingredients

1 cup raw whole almonds

1 cup peanuts

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup raisins

2 Tbsp Pure maple syrup

1 Tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse together almonds and peanuts until they are finely ground.
  2. Add dates, raisins, maple syrup and cinnamon; pulse until thick sticky dough forms.
  3. Using a tbsp roll mixture into balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or until they are chilled.

These energy balls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

Cooking – A Skill for Every Age

The age of your child will determine what they can do to help in the kitchen.  Matching their skill level with cooking duties will help instill a sense of pride and accomplishment.  It is also a great way to teach them about nutrition and food safety.  It also provides an opportunity to teach subjects, such as language, math, and science, jut to name a few.  Check out our last blog Family Fun in the Kitchen to find out more.

Here are how cooking skills are broken down by age.

Four-year-olds can:

  • Wash fruits and veggies
  • Stir ingredients in a bowl
  • Help you pour liquids
  • Tear lettuce
  • Grease pans
  • Open packages

Five to six-year-olds can:

  • Chop fresh herbs with child-friendly scissors
  • Cut soft foods with a dull knife
  • Toss salads
  • Measure ingredients
  • Set the table
  • Peel oranges and soft-boiled eggs
  • Open packages
  • Stir cake and muffin mixes

Seven- to eight-year-olds can:

  • Pour muffin and cake mix into pans
  • Spoon and shape cookies
  • Beat ingredients with a whisk
  • Mash potatoes or other vegetables
  • Make sandwiches
  • Find ingredients in the cabinet

Nine- to 12-year-olds can:

  • Open cans
  • Use the microwave
  • Prepare kid-friendly recipes
  • Shred cheese
  • Peel vegetables
  • Use an oven with supervision
  • Use a knife with supervision
  • Stir sauces
  • Help with clean up
  • Help with meal planning

Breakfast preparation is a great place to start teaching, as there a many simple yet healthy breakfast recipes to pick from.   Here is a breakfast burrito recipe my family enjoys making and eating, regularly.

Breakfast Burrito

Ingredients

2  Eggs

1 Tbsp Milk

2  Green onions, chopped

½  Red or green bell pepper, diced

Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Shredded cheddar cheese

2  Small whole wheat tortillas

 

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir in onion, pepper, salt and pepper
  2. Spray a small non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium low heat. Pour egg mixture into skillet and as egg begins to set, use a spatula to gently push cooked portions to the centre. Tilt pan to allow uncooked eggs to flow into empty spaces.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese and cook for 1 minute or until eggs are set and cheese is melted.
  4. Divide egg in two and place each half onto a tortilla. Roll up to enjoy.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

Family Fun in the Kitchen

Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, cooking with your kids can be a fun-filled way to spend quality time together.  It also provides great teaching opportunities.  From the science of baking soda to the social importance of working together to achieve a common goal, cooking is MORE THAN FOOD.

Here are some other teaching moments for the kitchen.

Health: What makes a balanced meal or snack?

Language: How do you read a recipe or write a grocery list?

Math: How do you measure ingredients and work with fractions?

Science: What will happen when you boil an egg or make bread?

Social studies: What food is grown in Canada and around the world?

Food skills: How do you stir, chop, knead, pour and scoop?

Social skills: How can we work together, take turns and share utensils?

Try this simple and delicious breakfast quesadilla recipe that received 2nd place in a kid’s recipe challenge.  Happy cooking!

Breakfast Quesadilla

Ingredients

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 whole wheat flour tortilla

2 Tbsp diced red sweet pepper

2 Tbsp shredded applewood smoked cheddar

Directions

  1. Spray small non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.
  2. Add egg and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes or until large curds set. Remove from heat.
  3. Lay tortilla on work surface and spread scrambled egg over half of the tortilla.
  4. Sprinkle with pepper and cheddar. Fold over tortilla to cover.
  5. Heat non-stick skillet over medium low heat and toast quesadilla, turning once for about 2 minutes or until golden on both sides.
  6. Cut in half to enjoy.

 TIP

You can add some more colour and veggies to the quesadilla by chopping 1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves and stirring it into the eggs while cooking or sprinkling it over top of the peppers before toasting the quesadilla.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

Celebrate Nutrition Month – Cooking with Kefir

As we continue to celebrate this year’s Nutrition Month theme MORE THAN FOOD, you can find more inspiration for cooking with friends and family at CookspirationCookspiration is an amazing online recipe resource developed by dietitians that will help you create meal plans.  It will even create a shopping list for you.

One of Cookspiration’s featured breakfast recipes is Blueberry Kefir Pancakes.  In the February 18th Kids Eat Smart blog called Kefir vs Yogurt, we talked about kefir, which is a yogurt-like dairy product.  Like yogurt, kefir is made using a fermentation process; however, unlike yogurt, kefir is made using a group of yeast and bacteria known as kefir grains.  Both plain yogurt and kefir have a tart taste, but kefir is not as thick as yogurt, so it is most often consumed as a drink.  This recipe uses kefir in a pancake mix, which will give your pancakes a boost of calcium and good bacteria, not to mention a boost in flavour as well.  If you would like to change-up your normal pancake breakfast, try this recipe.

Blueberry Kefir Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ⅓ cups plain or flavoured kefir, divided
  • 2 tbsp semi-salted butter, melted
  • 1 container (300g) Canadian Ricotta
  • 3 tbsp sugar, maple syrup or honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Fresh basil or mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients together. Make a well in the centre.
  2. In another bowl, beat eggs and 2 cups (500 mL) kefir. Pour into the well and whisk until the mixture is combined. Stir in butter. Let rest for 10 min.
  3. In a blender, mix Ricotta with remaining kefir, sugar and vanilla. Set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes while cooking pancakes.
  4. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).
  5. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a ladle of batter and swirl to coat bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle with some blueberries and cook for 3 min on each side.
  6. Transfer pancake to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter. To make pancakes more quickly, use two skillets.
  7. Garnish with Ricotta mixture and remaining blueberries.
  8. Top with fresh basil or mint leaves, if desired.

March is Nutrition Month

Nutrition Month has been celebrated by the dietetic profession for over 30 years.  The goal for Nutrition Month is to create awareness about the importance of healthy eating.  It places emphasis on dietitians as the most importance source of reliable nutrition information.

This year’s Nutrition Month theme is MORE THAN FOOD.  As we discussed in the December 10th Kids Eat Smart blog called Kids in the Kitchen, the new Canada’s Food Guide highlights the importance of how we think about food.  As we know, “healthy eating is more than the food you eat”.  Healthy eating is also about why we eat and how we eat.

In celebration of this year’s Nutrition Month theme, dietitians have put together a collection of 12 recipes in an online e-book.  All recipes have clear easy-to-follow instructions that can be shared with friends and family.  Even better, cook together with friends and family.  I can’t wait to make and eat this yogurt bark with my kids.

Yogurt Bark

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup frozen mango cubes, thawed
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 ½ cups vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 handful of unsweetened coconut strips

Directions:

  1. Mix together the mango cubes and water. With an immersion blender, purée until smooth and evenly combined.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread the yogurt in a layer approximately one centimetre thick.
  4. Pour the fruit purée over the yogurt. With the tip of a knife, marble the mixture using circular motions.
  5. Sprinkle with toppings: strawberries, pumpkin seeds and coconut strips.
  6. Place in freezer until the yogurt is completely frozen, about two hours.
  7. Break the bark into pieces and enjoy! The bark can be stored in the freezer.

Recipe and photo sourced from Nutrition Month 2020.  For more information and to download the free recipe e-book visit www.nutritionmonth2020.ca.

What are whole grains?

In nature, grains grow as whole grains.  Whole grains are the entire seed of the plant, which includes the bran, endosperm and germ.

The bran is the outer protective layer of the grain.  It contains fibre, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The endosperm is the seed found under the bran layer.  It contains carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The germ is found within the seed.  It contains vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Research has shown that eating whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

There are many different types of whole grains. Some include:

  • Whole grain wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Hulled or pot barley
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Whole grain rye
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth

When whole grain wheat is made into refined white flour the bran and germ are removed, which means fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fibre are removed.  By law, in Canada, all refined white flour is enriched with Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Niacin (vitamin B3), Folic Acid and Iron.  Canada has recognized that refined white flour is widely used and regularly consumed by most of the population and so saw an opportunity to prevent deficiencies of these nutrients by adding them to the refined white flour.  Not all nutrients removed during the making of white flour is replaced.  Therefore, whole wheat flour still provides more nutrition and more health benefits than does refined white flour.

Photo sourced from Healthy Grains Institute. For further information visit the Healthy Grains Institute at  healthygrains.ca.

 

Kefir vs Yogurt

Whether it is in a bottle, tube, cup, or your favorite smoothie, yogurt is a very common healthy breakfast food. As a good source of calcium and protein, it is great for bone health.  An essential part of yogurt making is the addition of good bacteria that breaks down sugar in milk to other substances.  This is called fermentation.  Naturally, your stomach and intestines have healthy bacteria, and the good bacteria in yogurt helps to keep your stomach and intestines healthy.

You may have seen a similar food item on the store shelf next to yogurt called kefir.  Like yogurt, kefir is made by fermenting milk, but in a slightly different way.  Kefir is made by fermenting milk with a group of yeast and bacteria known as kefir grains.  Both plain yogurt and kefir have a tart taste, but kefir is not as thick as yogurt, so it is most often consumed as a drink.  Kefir has a larger number of different types of bacteria than yogurt and may provide more health benefits for your stomach and intestines.

If you are looking to add a little variety to your morning breakfast routine, try this kefir inspired overnight oats recipe.

Overnight Oats with Kefir, Berries, and Toasted Coconut

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups plain kefir
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted

Directions:

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight; stir. Divide oat mixture between 2 bowls. Top servings evenly with berries and coconut.

Recipe and photo sourced from My Recipes.  For more recipe ideas visit www.myrecipes.com.

Make Valentines Day a Healthy Red Breakfast Day

Valentines Day will soon be here.  As we plan to decorate our classrooms, offices and homes in red, why not think about all the healthy red food we can eat for breakfast or snack.  Red fruit and vegetables are packed with powerful antioxidants, such as lycopene and anthocyanin.  These antioxidants are not only good for helping give food their red color, but they are also good for helping keep your heart healthy. I can’t think of a better reason to eat red on Valentines Day.

Healthy Red Breakfast Day Tray

Ingredients:

  • Red apples
  • Cherries
  • Dried Goji Berries
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Red Peppers
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Watermelon or Red Grapefruit
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Grapes
  • Strawberries

Recipe sourced from Super Healthy Kids.  For more fun food ideas visit www.superhealthykids.com.

Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies are a quick and healthy breakfast that many of us drink.  However, smoothies don’t always have to be put in a cup.  You can change things up by putting smoothies in a bowl and adding additional toppings, like granola, dried berries and seeds.  This not only adds additional flavour but more energy, fibre, vitamins, and minerals as well.  The possibilities are endless.  Here is a kid created smoothie bowl recipe that might get you thinking more about using a spoon, rather than a straw, to sip your healthy breakfast smoothie.

Mango Banana Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 2 cups plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Toppings:

  • 1 cup granola
  • ¼ cup each of unsweetened coconut, dried cranberries and seeds (such as pumpkin or sunflower)
  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a blender, combine mango, yogurt, banana, and honey.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Divide among 4 bowls and top with granola, coconut, cranberries and seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

This recipe has been used with permission from Dietitians of Canada.  Get easy to understand information on food, healthy eating and disease prevention along with award-winning recipes at www.unlockfood.ca.

Food Safety After a Power Outage

In recent weeks, many of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced unplanned power outages due to inclement weather. After an unplanned power outage, the biggest food safety concern is with the food that is stored in your refrigerator and freezer.  Here are some general guidelines to help you determine what food can be kept and what can be thrown out.

Refrigerated Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.
  • Discard food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

Frozen Food in Power Outage:

  • An unopened full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours.
  • An unopened half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • Discard thawed food that has been above 4°C for more than 2 hours.

It is easier to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were present when the power outage occurred.  It is a little more difficult to determine just how long a refrigerator or freezer was without power if you were not present during the power outage.  Even if the duration of the power outage is known, there is no certainty that the refrigerator or freezer started up again as soon as the power came back on, unless someone was present to check.   It is also important to remember that, although some spoiled food may look and smell bad, not all spoiled food look and smell bad.  So, the biggest food safety advice is simple.  When is doubt, throw it out!

For further food safety information in emergency situations, please visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Image sourced from free Clipart.