How to Eat More Vegetables

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March is Nutrition Month and this year dietitians are encouraging people to consider not only what they eat, but how they eat too.

One example is people often say they want to increase their vegetable intake (what they eat) but it’s often a challenge to put into practice (how they eat). Some reasons include: preparation time, fear of waste, the expense, boredom, family preferences or lack of planning (vegetables are an afterthought).

When looking at how to eat more vegetables, find ways that you ENJOY eating them.  Enjoying the taste of your food is such an important part of healthy eating and creating healthy habits. Eating something you dislike the taste of will not be sustainable. Also, find strategies that work well for you. This may take some experimentation and planning from the beginning but it will be well worth the effort for nutrition and health.

Here are some tips and ideas to help get you started:

10 VEGETABLE TIPS (How to eat):
1. Batch cook and freeze individual vegetable soup, stew or chilli servings for a quick lunch.
2. Use a veggie tray as your pre-dinner appetizer while you are cooking supper.
3. Try growing your own vegetables indoors or outdoors in containers or a garden bed.
4. Have a “build your own” salad bar for a meal (a great way to introduce new vegetables to kids without pressure and satisfy the whole family).
5. Continue to expose yourself and your family to new and different vegetables. Also, try different textures by cutting or preparing them differently. (ie. Cubes vs. mashed)
6. Prepare a variety of vegetables: The more variety you prepare at a meal, the more you will eat!
7. Aim for half your plate of vegetables. It’s an easy visual goal instead of measuring food.
8. Buy vegetables in season and look for stores that sell cheaper “ugly, misshaped or blemished” vegetables that can help cut down on the cost.
9. If you need help time-wise, buy convenience vegetables: pre-cut, pre-washed, bagged salads, frozen, canned, etc.
10. Aim for both green and colourful vegetables. We get different nutrients from the different colours of vegetables.

100 VEGETABLE IDEAS (What to eat):
Soups:
1. Borscht
2. Minestrone
3. Butternut squash
4. Miso-Vegetable
5. Cheddar broccoli
6. Garden Vegetable
7. Tomato soup
8. Pumpkin soup
9. Vegetable Pho
10. Gazpacho

Sauces/spreads/dips:
11. Chimichurri
12. Beet hummus
13. Salsa
14. Tomato sauce
15. Baba ghanoush
16. Pesto
17. Guacamole with tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic
18. Antipasto sauce
19. Sambal Kecap (Indonesian dipping sauce) with tomatoes, peppers, chiles

Appetizers:
20. Veggie tray with dip
21. Cucumber rounds with whipped cream cheese on top
22. Tomato, Basil, Bocconcini cheese skewers
23. Stuffed mushrooms
24. Buffalo cauliflower bites
25. Stuffed jalapeno peppers
26. Parmesan zucchini sticks
27. Tomato and garlic bruschetta

Breakfast:
28. Omelette with spinach, mushrooms, peppers
29. Scrambled eggs with leftover veggies
30. Shakshouka (Mediterranean egg and vegetable dish)
31. Spinach quiche (or any other vegetable)
32. Stir pumpkin puree into oatmeal
33. Breakfast burrito with eggs, peppers, salsa
34. Veggie savoury waffles: shredding zucchini, carrot, etc. into your waffle
35. Smoothie with spinach or kale
36. Vegetable frittata

Mains:
37. Vegetarian chilli or any meat chilli with extra vegetables
38. Stuffed bell peppers
39. Zucchini boats
40. Buddha bowl with loads of vegetables
41. Lettuce wraps with a lentil/meat stuffing
42. Portobello mushroom with cheese burger
43. Pad Thai with red peppers and extra bean sprouts
44. Collard green wraps
45. Eggplant parmesan
46. Blend veggies into meatloaf
47. Chana masala (Indian dish with a tomato base and chickpeas)
48. Fajitas with any roasted vegetable
49. Stew with extra vegetables added
50. Pile extra vegetables on your pizza
51. Chinese hot pot with lots of vegetables
52. Vegetable lasagna
53. Sheet pan dinners: oven roasted vegetables (and protein) with herbs and oil.
54. Additions to a stir fry: artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, bamboo shoots

Sides:
55. Vegetable curry
56. Cauliflower rice
57. Zucchini noodles
58. Roasted acorn or spaghetti squash
59. Tomatoes stuffed with lentils
60. Baked or roasted beets or turnips
61. Roasted bok choy with peanuts
62. Sauerkraut
63. Chakalaka (South African vegetable relish dish)
64. Kimchi
65. Roasted carrots with honey and lime
66. Roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan
67. Ratatouille
68. Roasted radishes and asparagus
69. Baked green beans with slivered almonds
70. Minted peas
71. Sautéed kale or spinach with garlic
72. Braised red cabbage
73. Grilled veggie kebabs
74. Cabbage rolls
75. Zucchini fritters
76. Broccoli with cheese sauce
77. Grilled romaine wedges

Snacks:
78. Celery with peanut butter
79. Kale chips
80. Snap peas, grape tomatoes, carrot sticks and hummus
81. Cucumbers and tzatiki
82. Seaweed snacks

Salads:
83. Greek salad
84. Broccoli slaw
85. Caprese salad
86. Coleslaw
87. Spinach salad with berries and pine nuts
88. Beet, goat cheese, balsalmic vinegar salad
89. Tabbouleh
90. Waldorf salad
91. Sliced cucumbers with onion, dill, vinegar and oil
92. Warm arugula salad with quinoa, roasted peppers and squash
93. Seaweed salad
94. Kale salad with apples and sliced almonds
95. Caesar salad
96. Pear, pecan and blue cheese salad
97. Panzanella
98. Nicoise salad
99. Kachumbari (East African tomato and onion salad dish)
100. Taco salad

Check out NutritionMonth2020.ca for recipes, nutrition articles and more!

Mango Chicken

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Mango Chicken

  • Servings: ”6”
  • Difficulty: easy
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We’ve been making this dish for many years and it’s always enjoyable!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 2 red peppers, cut into thin slices
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (~1 clove)
  • Optional (if you like heat): 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 Tbsp soya sauce (low sodium if you have it)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2-3 cups mango chopped into cubes (~1-2 mangos)
  • Optional: 1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Optional: ½ cup unsalted peanuts or cashews as a topping

Directions

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp canola oil and wait for it to heat up.
  2. Add red peppers, onion, garlic and optional jalapenos. Sauté for ~2min. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add and heat the other 1 Tbsp canola oil to skillet. Add the chicken and cook until it is white or slightly browned on the outside but not fully cooked through. ~5min.
  4. Stir in soya sauce, fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar.
  5. Add mango and continue to cook on medium low heat until chicken is no longer pink in the inside. ~5-10min. (Do not overcook the chicken or it will be dry.)
  6. Return the red pepper mixture back to the pan and stir.
  7. Top with optional green onion or nuts.
  8. Enjoy!

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

 

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Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

  • Servings: ”5”
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sometimes we need to change things up with our vegetables. This is a delicious twist!

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower head, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1 large broccoli crown (similar size to the cauliflower), chopped into smaller pieces
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Mix all ingredients except lemon in a large bowl.
  4. Roast in oven for ~15-20minutes. Be careful it doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove from oven and squeeze lemon on it as desired. Enjoy!

Festive Cranberry Banana Muffins

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Festive Cranberry Banana Muffins

  • Servings: “12”
  • Difficulty: easy
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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)
  • 1/4 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

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Roasted Salt & Vinegar Lentils

  • Servings: “8”
  • Difficulty: easy
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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?

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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

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Prune Buns

  • Servings: “many”
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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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

Mediterranean Lil Potatoes and Tuna on Arugula

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Mediterranean Lil Potatoes and Tuna on Arugula

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