Festive Cranberry Banana Muffins

E7F4788E-110C-49BF-B148-7568A281C14B

Festive Cranberry Banana Muffins

  • Servings: “12”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These muffins are the perfect balance of sweet and sour. My kids love them! (If you prefer, you can substitute raspberries or blueberries for the cranberries.)

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas (can use thawed frozen ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375F
    2. Mash bananas in a bowl.
    3. Add sugar, egg and oil. Mix well.
    4. Gently stir in cranberries.
    5. In a separate bowl stir together the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients).
    6. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour wet mixture in. Stir just enough to combine (be careful not to over mix).
    7. Scoop into muffin liners or well greased muffin tin. Bake for 20-25min (until muffins spring back when pressed)
    8. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack. Makes 12 muffins.

    *Let cool completely if you want to decorate. I used cranberries cut in half (as flowers) with pumpkin seeds (as leaves). Stick them on with a tiny bit of icing.

Roasted Salt & Vinegar Lentils

01D38E13-48EE-400F-B757-B067FBB7DACE

Roasted Salt & Vinegar Lentils

  • Servings: “8”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

If you love salt & vinegar flavouring you need to try these. High in fibre and protein these lentils make a delicious and nutritious snack!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 2-3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Rinse lentils with cold water. Drain. Place in a pot.
  2. Cover lentils with white vinegar (until ~2 inches above lentils). Turn on your hood vent as they will smell strong!
  3. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer ~25min. Cook until slightly tender but not mushy.
  5. Drain vinegar well.
  6. Prepare a foil lined pan (cookie sheet) with a layer of paper towel on top. Place lentils on the paper towel to dry for ~1hr or pat dry well if you don’t have time. Discard paper towel.
  7. Drizzle canola oil and sprinkle salt on lentils. Mix well and spread out evenly on pan.
  8. Bake at 400F for 10 min. Stir, then bake another ~10-15 min. Be careful not to burn them.
  9. Let cool completely before storing in a jar or container. Makes ~2 cups.

 

 

Is Intuitive Eating for Everyone?

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2347

I want to say “yes!” because I’m an advocate, I see so much value in it, and have been using Intuitive Eating in nutrition counselling for many years. However, it is not a simple answer.

Intuitive Eating is not a weight loss method but a nutrition philosophy that is actually an anti-diet approach to reconnecting with your body and healing your relationship with food. Intuitive Eating has many excellent principles that are of value to everyone including: rejecting the dieting mentality, coping with emotions, respecting your body, etc. (for more information see www.intuitiveeating.org)

What I don’t see discussed very often are situations and factors that may make Intuitive Eating challenging for some people. I want to touch on one possible limitation of Intuitive Eating and that is the presence of having trustable internal cues or identifiable hunger/fullness cues. This may be temporary because many people can regain their internal cues or learn to identify and trust them but we have no evidence that everyone can. For some people these cues are not even present and for others they are not reliable for a variety of reasons (short or long-term).

Here are some factors to take into consideration that may make internal cues less reliable: 

  1. Sleep deprivation: When you are sleep deprived the hormones ghrelin and leptin are affected. Ghrelin (stimulates appetite) levels increase and leptin (suppresses appetite) levels decrease.
  1. Chronic stress: Initially short-term stress may cause appetite to decrease but prolonged or chronic stress can increase the hormone cortisol that may increase appetite.
  1. Medications: (a few examples that can affect appetite)
  • Corticosteroids ie. prednisone, dexamethasone
  • Insulin, sulfonylureas (for diabetes)
  • Vyvanse (for ADHD)
  • Some antidepressants: ie. Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Morphine
  • Levothyroxine (Synthroid) for hypothyroidism
  1. Intense training/exercise: Prolonged intense endurance training is known to suppress appetite.Therefore these athletes may need to eat beyond their hunger cues to adequately fuel themselves and for optimal recovery.
  1. Illness: When we become sick (for example the flu), we often lose our appetite. There is a physiological reason for this as cytokine production is increased when we become ill. Cytokines can reduce appetite by acting directly on neurons that regulate appetite in our brains.    
  1. Eating disorders: People struggling with eating disorders always have very individual needs, challenges, and different journeys to recovery. There are so many factors both physical and psychological that can affect their hunger and fullness cues (or lack of). For example, for someone working on increasing their food intake after prolonged restriction they may experience early satiety (because of gastroparesis). Or someone who binges may not experience or recognize fullness cues because they have been eating well beyond them for years. A person affected by an eating disorder may need to be nourished, achieve medical stability and have psychological supports and counselling first. Even then it may take a great deal of time before they are ready to trust and identify their internal cues. In my experience if the concept is introduced too early it can cause unnecessary “mental noise”, confusion, or anxiety.  

My on-going learning:

With all the hype of Intuitive Eating in recent years, I have seen and heard amazing stories of how it has changed people’s lives and relationship with food. On the other end, I have seen people struggle with some of the principles and application of it. Or they never could rely on their internal cues for various reasons.

In my professional opinion, all aspects of Intuitive Eating are not for everyone but there are Intuitive Eating principles that can be helpful for anyone.  Intuitive eating is a journey of learning and timing is important. As a Dietitian I need to be prepared, willing and open to supporting people in a variety of ways, always individualizing care. There is never going to be one single approach that works for everyone.

Prune Buns

teatime

Prune Buns

  • Servings: “many”
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

These buns were something my Babas and mom always made as part of Ukrainian holiday celebrations. My mom still makes them and shared the recipe with me!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour + ~4-5 cups all purpose flour divided (6-7 cups total)
  • 1 package quick rising yeast
  • 1 bag of pitted prunes

Directions

  1. Mix water, eggs, sugar, salt and oil in one bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl mix 2 cups of flour and yeast.
  3. Then pour liquid mixture into the flour/yeast mixture.
  4. Gradually add the additional 4-5 cups flour until dough stiffens (you can use a mixer which is easiest).
  5. Brush the top of the dough with a little bit of oil.
  6. Let the dough rise in the bowl until double (~2hrs). Punch it down.
  7. Roll out the dough into a circle and cut into triangles (see picture below).
  8. Place a prune in the middle and roll up into buns.
  9. Place buns on a greased cookie sheet, put in a warm place and let them rise again (~30min).
  10. Bake in oven till golden for ~15min at 350 F. Enjoy!

prunebuns

Dear Doctor, commenting on my weight is damaging…

drpic

…please don’t make comments about my weight without me expressing concern about it or not knowing anything about my lifestyle or behaviour. It is not helpful and in fact is damaging.

This is meant to be more of a plea on behalf of my clients rather than a critique as I know many great doctors. I know most doctors also have great intentions. However, I have clients and people I know continually telling me stories of negative experiences in the doctor’s office (and with other health professionals) that have affected them deeply. Most of them caused by a few words: you need to lose weight, you should try this diet, etc. without any other conversation on what is going on in the patient’s life.

Let me give you a few examples directly from my clients on how this is damaging:

  1. “I have had doctors congratulate me on weight loss (in a way reinforcing my eating disorder, because often my weight loss is a result of unhealthy behaviours)”
  2. “I went in for a full physical exam and without any conversation on what I was doing for exercise or any other lifestyle behaviours, the doctor weighed me and said “ooh you used to be ___Kg…we need to keep an eye on your weight”. Little did the doctor know that I was feeling really good about my health because for the first time in a while I was in a regular exercise routine and had gained muscle mass and strength with guidance of a trainer.  (To make matters worse ~10 years ago, the same situation had occurred where I gained weight with building muscle and I ended up quitting solely because of the weight gain despite the health benefits)”
  3. “I’ve had doctors make diet suggestions (i.e. keto) for weight loss when in reality I was suffering from anorexia and was already severely restricting my intake. This was obviously triggering.”
  4. “I had a doctor directly tell me that I was overweight with recommendations to “eat less, exercise more” without first asking me what I was doing.”
  5. “When I’ve shared that I have an eating disorder, I’ve had several doctors assume that I binge eat or overeat based on my weight and they’ve provided weight loss suggestions without first assessing what my eating disorder behaviours are.”
  6. “I went to see my doctor for cold/flu symptoms and she started lecturing me about how I should work on losing weight. I felt embarrassed and it has made me reluctant to see any doctor for any issue in the future.”
  7. “I’ve had doctors minimize my eating disorder because I am not underweight.”
  8. “I have had comments about my BMI (body mass index), like “are you aware that you’re in the overweight range?” Thanks for pointing that out when I already hate my body. Not helpful.”

What to do?

Ideally ending weight bias/stigma and a shift in focus to promoting health behaviours vs the number on the scale are important for doctors and any health professional. However, just as essential is the need for a patient-centered approach in terms of really listening and understanding what is going on in the patient’s life (and yes that includes addressing weight concerns if that is the patient’s concern) and then individualizing care plans.

No matter what our job title, area we specialize in or our personal beliefs (General Practitioner, Dietitian, eating disorder expert, weight-inclusive, weight neutral, Health at Every Size® practitioner, obesity specialist, certified bariatric educator, weight management practitioner, etc.), we need to address and listen to our patient or client’s experiences and concerns, not our own agenda. Otherwise we are missing the point of patient-centered care. Also, in order for patient-centered care to be evidence-based practice we must integrate the best available research evidence, clinical judgement and expertise, and client preferences and values.  We cannot let our pronounced views, title, network, paradigm or guidelines prevent us from openly listening to the people we are supposed to be supporting.

In the end, imposing conversations on weight can be just as damaging as avoiding conversations on weight. Both can make people feel unheard and unsupported. Lets do a better job at listening to the concerns of our patients.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by a health professional commenting on your weight please comment below. 

Mediterranean Lil Potatoes and Tuna on Arugula

potedit5

Mediterranean Lil Potatoes and Tuna on Arugula

  • Servings: “5-6”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The aroma of this dish cooking in your kitchen will make your mouth water! Little garlic roasted potatoes are mixed with a combination of lemon, tuna, capers, green onion, and Kalamata olives. This dish has a tangy flavour that melds so well with the peppery baby arugula underneath. The little potatoes are perfect for this recipe as they keep their creamy inside but roast to perfection with a crispy outside. As a Registered Dietitian and Mom, I’m always experimenting in the kitchen to find new and exciting meal ideas for both my family and my clients. This recipe not only makes a nutritious balanced meal but it is also easy, unique and delicious for both busy work nights and entertaining guests!

Ingredients

  • 1.5lbs Baby Potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon (~1/4 cup)
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp capers (I like to cut them in half if you have time)
  • 2 large green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 can chunk light tuna (170g), drained
  • handful of baby arugula for each plated serving
  • optional grated Parmesan cheese on top

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Cut potatoes in half and place in bowl. Mix potatoes with garlic, olive oil, and ground pepper. Pour potato mixture onto a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for ~20-25min or until potatoes are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork.
  3. While potatoes are roasting, melt butter in a skillet. Stir in lemon rind, lemon juice, olives, capers, and green onions. Cook for about 3 min. Reduce heat to low and add tuna. Stir until heated through but be careful to leave tuna in large chunks.
  4. Once potatoes are done roasting, mix them into the skillet tuna mixture.
  5. Place on top of a plate of baby arugula and sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Enjoy!

 

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

  • Servings: “6”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I have been making this recipe for over a decade and still love it! Serve over rice for a great stir fry meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (~900g) chicken breast cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tsp + 1 Tbsp Olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • ¾ cup split cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper and 1 red pepper cut into 1” square pieces
  •  

    Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup soya sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or use less if you don’t like spice)

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 Tbsp cornstarch, pepper and 2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine. Pour over chicken and marinate for 20minutes.
  2. While chicken is marinating, prepare sauce by combining the above sauce ingredients, mix and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large frying pan over medium and sauté cashews until lightly browned. Remove from the pan.
  4. Heat another tsp of oil and cook green pepper, red pepper and minced garlic until slightly softened. Remove from the pan.
  5. Heat the last Tbsp of oil and sauté chicken until no longer pink.
  6. Add the cashews, pepper mixture and sauce back to the pan with the chicken. Stir and simmer until sauce thickens. Enjoy!

 

Baba’s Borscht

Borscht

Baba’s Borscht

  • Servings: “~10-12”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I grew up in a Ukrainian family so eating borscht was a common dish especially with Christmas Eve dinner. Now I enjoy making borscht for my own family and love that it freezes well for an easy vegetable addition to meals!

Ingredients

  • 6 unpeeled beets (with tops/greens removed)
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 can 28oz/796ml diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or just water)
  • Optional: 2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Possible Toppings: hot sauce and/or sour cream

Directions

  1. Place beets in a large covered soup pot of boiling water for ~30min or until you can pierce them with a fork. Run cold water over the beets to easily rub off the skins. Then cut into small bite size cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in soup pot and sauté the onions, carrots, celery until softened ~5min. Add the minced garlic for the last minute.
  3. Add the beat cubes back to the pot along with all the rest of the ingredients. Stir and cover.
  4. Cook over medium heat for about 1 hour until vegetables are tender. Enjoy!

 

Slow Cooker Chili

SCchili

Slow Cooker Chili

  • Servings: “6-8”
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Set it and forget it with your slow cooker! I have never had great success with chili recipes in the slow cooker but this recipe worked really well. Freeze leftovers in individual containers for a quick lunch! *Adapted from Chowhound.com

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 796ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 540ml kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups (~480ml) tomato sauce
  • Optional topping: pickled jalapenos, drained

Directions

  1. Brown ground beef in a frying pan on the stove. Break into small pieces and cook until no longer pink. Add salt, chili powder and cumin. Mix well and transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Heat oil in the same pan. Sauté onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and garlic until softened.  Combine with the beef in the slow cooker.
  3. Add in diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  4. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.
  5. To be kid-friendly, (if your kids don’t like heat!) add in jalapenos to individual serving bowls if desired. Enjoy!

Chili Garlic Pineapple Chicken Skewers

chskewers

Chili Garlic Pineapple Chicken Skewers

Ingredients

  • 5-6 chicken breasts cut into 1” cubes
  • ¾ cup pineapple juice
  • 3 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee brand found in the Asian food aisle)
  • 1 clove garlic minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Fresh pineapple cut into 1” chunks
  • Green onion (optional) as garnish

Directions

  1. Make marinade by combining pineapple juice, soya sauce, honey, chili garlic sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Pour over chicken in a small dish or Ziploc bag, Stir until chicken is submerged. Leave in fridge for a minimum 1 hour but can be left overnight.
  2. Alternate threading chicken and pineapple onto skewers. (I find metal skewers work great but if using wooden skewers make sure you have soaked them in water first)
  3. BBQ skewers on tinfoil for ~10min or until chicken is no longer pink. Turn them as grilling (the pineapple will create a nice brown glaze). Enjoy!