Author Archives: Half Your Plate

Eating fruits and vegetables for healthier digestion

 

It’s clear that diet has an impact on digestion. Among the foods that are most important to gut health are fruits and vegetables.

Fibre, a real ally

Fruits and vegetables have one thing in common: they contain fibre. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that our bodies can’t digest.  It can help with constipation by stimulating the movement of food through the digestive tract and softening the stool. Fibre is our ally when it comes to gut health!

Including more fruits and vegetables at your meals, in addition to keeping our blood sugar levels more stable, can keep you feeling full longer.   Fibre also helps to lower the “bad” cholesterol in our blood (LDL-cholesterol).

The gut microbiota

The microbiota is a set of microorganisms that live naturally in our gut. These bacteria feed on fibre,  which are found in fruits and vegetables.  By feeding on fibre that our body is unable to digest, these bacteria can produce different vitamins and nutrients that our body needs. Our microbiota will also protect us from different pathogens.  More research is being done to better understand the role of the gut microbiota in preventing certain diseases.

Six tips to improve digestion

  1. Eat less processed foods
  2. Take the time to properly chew your food
  3. Drink lots of water
  4. Cook your vegetables
  5. Space out fibre-rich foods throughout the day
  6. Stop eating before you feel full

A healthy gut is not only about what you eat, but how you eat. As digestion begins in the mouth, it’s important to chew your food slowly. Avoid rushed meals, as stress can negatively affect your digestive system.

FODMAP

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can try a low FODMAP diet. This diet restricts foods that may be difficult to digest, including certain fruits and vegetable such as: onions, garlic, apples, mangoes, and broccoli. Consult with your dietitian or health practitioner before trying this diet. Find a dietitian in your area by using our Half Your Plate health professional directory.

One thing is certain: by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, you stack the odds in your favour for better digestion!   And if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to a health professional for advice.

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate ambassador

2020 goals list with decoration. We wish you a new year filled with wonder, peace, and meaning.

3 Tips to Stick to Your 2020 New Year’s Resolution

By Jen Ong Tone MHSc RD, #HalfYourPlate Registered Dietitian

Did you make a new year’s resolution this year? According to a 2015 Ipsos poll, 73% of Canadians will eventually break their new year’s resolution. As your Half Your Plate dietitian, my goal is to help you create a new year’s resolution you can stick to!

Tip #1 Be realistic with your new year’s resolution.

Between work, school, family obligations, and activities, life gets busy! Is your goal realistic? Consider some barriers that may get in the way, like time, money, and motivation. Start off small and work towards that bigger end goal. For example, instead of saying “I’m going to start going to the gym everyday”, or “I’m going to eat salad for lunch every day,” try “I’m going to take the stairs at work once a week” or “I’m going to eat a salad for lunch once a week.” Small goals will pay off big in the long run.

Tip #2 Be specific with your new year’s resolution.

I often hear people say, “I want to be healthier” or “I want to lose weight.” While the intention is often good, being too general and not having clear direction with your goal, can lead you to nowhere. Instead of saying “I want to be healthier,” focus on a specific behaviour you’re looking to improve, such as your eating habits or physical activity. An example of a specific goal is, “I will fill half my plate with veggies at dinner on Wednesdays.” Being specific with your goal provides clarity and direction, which means you’ll know what to focus on.

Tip #3: Create a new year’s resolution you can measure.   2020 goals list with decoration. We wish you a new year filled with wonder, peace, and meaning.

Isn’t it satisfying to check off a box from your to-do list? Give yourself that same satisfaction by creating a new year’s resolution you can measure, with a deadline. For example, “I will try one new vegetable every week this month” has a measurable component (one time per week) and a deadline (end of month). Tracking your progress can be very motivating and can help you stick to your goal.

What can you do once you achieve your new year’s resolution? First and foremost, give yourself a tap on the back! If you’re up for it, create a new goal based on these principles. Soon, you may see that these health behaviours are becoming part of your day-to-day routine. If you don’t achieve your new year’s resolution, don’t fret. This is the perfect time to reflect and evaluate what went wrong. Was your goal realistic? Specific enough? Measurable? Once you know what got in the way, set a new goal and work towards tackling those barriers.

3 ways to use leftover grilled veggies

Grilled vegetables are prepared in many ways and are very versatile. So versatile that you’ll be happy to have leftovers to easily fill half your plate at lunch or dinner.

The quickest way to make grilled vegetables is to slice them, add a drizzle of oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, then place them on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven  or directly on the BBQ grill. You could also fry them up in a frying pan to get an equally tasty and versatile result.

For a more unique recipe, choose vegetables that are about the same size in order to prepare a Tian of vegetables. Tian is the name of the container in which this dish is cooked in Provence.  A delight, in addition to being really pretty! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

4 small red onions, sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced into julienne strips

1 eggplant, sliced

1 yellow zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 green zucchini, sliced into rounds

4 Italian tomatoes, sliced

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

5 ml (1 tsp) thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a large non-stick or pyrex dish, arrange vegetables harmoniously in rows. Alternate onion, pepper, eggplant, yellow zucchini, green zucchini and tomatoes.
  3. Add a drizzle of oil to the vegetables, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are golden brown.

What to do when you end up with a surplus of grilled vegetables?

Here are 3 simple ways to use the leftovers from this recipe without feeling like you’re eating the same thing 3 times.

1. ON A PIZZA

A simple and delicious way to reuse leftover grilled vegetables is to incorporate it into a homemade pizza. Simply add the rest of the vegetables on a pita bread, flatbread, Naan bread or homemade dough, add pizza sauce or pesto, and cover with grated cheese. You can add pieces of chicken breast or tofu to have a protein packed meal.   That’s all!

2. IN DIP OR  HUMMUS

For lovers of raw vegetables with dip or hummus, why not add roasted vegetables to enhance the flavor while stocking up on vegetables? It’s as simple as that. For hummus, just take this  recipe of hummus with beets and replace the beet with grilled veggies.   You could add a pinch of smoked paprika to grilled side of the vegetables. For the dip, simply puree the vegetables, then add a drizzle of oil and lemon juice. You can  also add  a  spoonful  of Greek yogurt to make the dip creamier. Try it!

3. TURN THE REST TO SAUCE

Pasta is a very popular dish. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a tendency to include fewer vegetables. So I suggest you turn leftover grilled vegetables into sauce to accompany the pasta. It’s a change from the classic tomato, rosé or spaghetti sauce. Besides, this sauce is quick to made. Simply  place the vegetables in the blender and add vegetable broth to make the sauce  more liquid. All that remains is to simmer for a few minutes in the pan with a dash of cream (or Greek yogurt). For more ideas for incorporating vegetables  into pasta dishes ,click  here.

Finally, you can also use grilled vegetables to  make a delicious sandwich, to add color to an omelette or  to  complete  une salad. Simple but tasty ideas! So, want to have leftovers?

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate ambassador

Golden beet, mango and lemon pie

Vegetables in a dessert? Oh yes, and it’s delicious! We already know carrot cake and zucchini bread, but many other vegetables fit well into sweet recipes. This is true of golden beets, which pair perfectly with mango and lemon. A unique way to cook with this vegetable!

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 100g chopped pecans
  • 250 ml(1 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 80 ml(1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 80 ml(1/3 cup) maple syrup

Trim:

  • 2 large (or 3 small) golden beets, peeled and cut into 4
  • 750 ml(3 cups) frozen mangoes,  thawed
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 375 ml(1 1/2 cups) water
  • 180 ml(3/4 cup) white sugar
  • 60 ml (1/4cup) cornstarch

 

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan filled with boiling water, cook beets until tender (about 25 min). Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees Celsius).
  3. In a bowl, mix the chopped pecans with the flour. Then stir in the butter and the maple syrup. Mix until dough is obtained.
  4. In a 9” pan, spread the dough with your hands to cover the bottom. Do not put dough on the edges.
  5. Bake until golden, about 12 min. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the beets and mangoes with water. Add lemon juice and zest and blend for 20 Add sugar and mix for about 20 more seconds.
  7. In a small bowl, dilute the starch with a 1/4 cup of the beet mixture. Add this back into the blender and mix for 30 seconds.
  8. In a saucepan, bring the beet mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and whisk until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and lightly cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Pour the mixture over the crust. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before refrigerating the pie at least 6 hours or overnight before tasting.

 

This pie can be eaten cold. Bon appetit!

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Ambassador

Root Vegetable Chips

Did you know that commercial vegetable chips closely resemble regular chips? Tomato and spinach purees added to commercial chips provide more colour to the product than vitamins and minerals. For a healthier option, here’s a guide to making real vegetable chips at home!

Ingredients

454 g (1 lb) root vegetables (parsnips, red or yellow beets, sweet potato, potato)*
30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil.
Salt, pepper

*1 lb of vegetables is equivalent to about 5 parsnips or 5 beets or 3 sweet potatoes or 2 potatoes or a mixture of all these vegetables.

Preparation

  1. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Wash and brush the vegetables (you can also peel them, personally I prefer to keep the skin).
  3. Using mandolin, cut vegetables into thin slices.
  4. Place the slices in a large bowl and salt. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, so that the water releases the vegetables. Drain.
  5. Add oil to vegetables and mix.
  6. Spread vegetables on baking sheets in a single layer.  Add pepper.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
  8. Leave to rest 5 minutes before tasting, for even crisper chips.

Tip

The secret to getting crispy homemade chips is to slice your vegetables very thinly. The thinner they are, the faster the moisture evaporates. This is also why you let them sit in salt for a bit before putting them in the oven. That way you get crisp, unburned, soft chips!

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Ambassador

Soup as your main meal

Soups are quick to cook and so comforting. Here are three basic rules for a soup to be satisfying enough to qualify as a full meal.

1- Stock up on veggies

Eating vegetables in a soup is a good way to easily fill half your plate at mealtime. Squash, carrot, leek, kale, green peas, corn… Just about every vegetable will be good in a soup. There are no shortage of choices!  In addition, soup is an opportunity to give a second life to veggies nearing the end of their life. And if you’re running out  of time,  you could opt for pre-cut vegetables, sold at the grocery store.

2- Add enough protein

To be supportive and nourishing, a meal should contain at least 15g of protein. That way you’ll feel full until your next snack.  For example, you could add shrimp, leftover meat (beef, chicken, pork…), eggs, tofu or legumes (lentils, chickpeas, white beans…) to a vegetable soup.

3- Don’t forget whole grain products

Whole grain products, or starchy ones, contain fibers and other nutrients that promote satiety. You could boost your soup with brown rice, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes or barley, for example.  If you can’t add these to your soup, you could supplement your meal with a slice of whole grain bread, or a few crackers.

Soup for 1

If you are home alone, soup is a great option, as it freezes very well. I recommend you make 4, 6 or even 8 portions, and freeze the portions to have a full meal you can reheat quickly. Very useful for lunch or on a busy weeknight!

Vegetarian soup

6 portions

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
796 ml canned diced tomatoes
1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup pearl barley, dry
2 cans of 540 ml white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste
(optional) flat parsley

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add carrots, celery and corn.  Brown for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the broth and diced tomatoes into the pot, then bring to a boil. Add cauliflower, pearl barley, white beans, bay leaf and herbs to season.
  4. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove the bay leaf.

Other ideas

For more recipe ideas:

Asian Chicken and Corn Soup

Lentil and Rosemary Soup

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Ambassador

Half Your “FRESH” Plate

By: Gaby Burt-D’Agnillo, #HalfYourPlate Ambassador and Vice President Ambassador Coordinator, on behalf of FRESH

What is FRESH?

FRESH, Food Resources and Education for Student Health, is a comprehensive peer nutrition education program directed by Foods and Nutrition students at Brescia University College, in partnership with the Hospitality Services Department at Western University in London, Ontario. FRESH values student participation, evidence-based information, cooperation, and a healthy campus community. Created by and for university students, and advised by faculty, FRESH’s vision is for Western University and its affiliates to be the healthiest campus in Canada.

FRESH uses multiple strategies to increase awareness, improve knowledge, build skills, and influence the campus food environment. Peer Educators engage students across Western’s campus through education sessions and hands-on cooking demonstrations to promote healthy eating behaviours. Our team is eager to answer questions and share experiences to connect with our audience. FRESH’s website and social media platforms provide a range of credible resources – recipes, videos, links, facts and tips – that students can reference as they adapt to a new life away from home.

FRESH and Half Your Plate

FRESH and Half Your Plate share a similar vision to improve the health of Canadians through education and empowerment. Half Your Plate tackles barriers to healthy eating such as affordability, lack of time, and lack of food skills. Similarly, FRESH addresses the barriers to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for students on-campus. Students lead busy lives, and must manage their time between school, work, personal life, and healthy active living. We provide tips on grocery shopping, budgeting, and meal preparation, along with nutrition education to minimize the barriers to healthy eating. FRESH is proud to assist students as they build the skills and confidence necessary to prepare healthy meals independently.

The Half Your Plate Ambassador Program supports FRESH in achieving its goals. At our cooking demonstrations across campus, we use resources from Half Your Plate to engage the student population. FRESH shares recipe cards, educational brochures, and grocery list notepads that students can use to make healthy choices on campus and improve their food literacy. Half Your Plate and their health partners believe that dietitians play an essential role in educating Canadians about healthy eating. As Foods and Nutrition students, FRESH members are proud to educate our peers in a field we are passionate about.

Want to learn more about FRESH?

Check out our Nutrition Month 2018 post on the Ontario Public Health Association’s Nutrition Resource Centre here.

Read this FRESH publication by Western University’s own faculty members in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Visit our full website at freshu.ca.

Joining Half Your Plate On Campus Ambassador Program

Are you looking to continue eating healthy on campus?  Becoming a Half Your Plate On Campus Ambassador gives you the tools to not only fill Half Your Plate at College or University but also provides you with the tools to talk to others about healthy eating.  Sign up today!

Watermelon Chia Parfait

12 fruit and vegetable snack ideas

Watermelon Chia ParfaitA nutritious snack is a great way to get some energy to your body and a great opportunity to have some fruits and veggies!  The ideal time to have a snack is when you’re starting to feel a little hungry but not so famished that you would eat anything in sight.  That kind of hunger is when you start to make less than healthy choices.  Here are 12 different snack ideas that you can go to in good moments.

  1. Chia Pudding with fruit

Have you used chia seeds? These little grains absorb liquid and become jelly. When you add pureed fruits you get the texture of jam which goes great with creamy yogurt.

  1. Zataar cucumbers

Are you bored of your cucumber slices? You won’t when you add zataar. This Middle Eastern spice mix has thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds.  It’s delicious!

  1. Hummus and veggies

An excellent pairing to your veggies is hummus. Try this recipe for edamame hummus.

  1. Avocado dip and veggies

Mash some ripe avocado with diced tomatoes and some lemon or lime juice for a creamy dip, perfect for dipping your veggies in.

  1. Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

Having a smoothie is a great way to keep your hunger down between meals. More often than not we use fruits in our smoothie but adding veggies can also be delicious and nutritious! Here are a few recipes to get you started.

  1. Energizing duo

Fruits and nuts together make an energizing duo, they each bring different nutrients to the table. You can make your own trail mix by starting with the nuts you have on hand and your favourite dried fruit. Bonus; this snack is practical since it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Bring some along with you wherever you go for a satisfying snack at any moment!

  1. Overnight oats

Overnight oats don’t require any cooking time. You can either eat them for breakfast or pack them into Tupperware for a snack later.

  1. Avocado toast

Making avocado toast is as simple as adding some slices or mashed avocado to a piece of toast and adding your favourite toppings like cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, radishes or roasted chickpeas. Change your toppings based on what’s in season and you’ll have endless combinations. Try some of these ideas.Avocado Toast from MarieEve Caplette

  1. Fruits and nut butters

Spread peanut butter on slices of apple, pear or bananas. Simple and delicious!  You could also try it on celery sticks for a sweet-salty combination.

  1. Popsicles 

There’s nothing better than a Popsicle to cool down on a hot day. Try this fresh fruit recipe.  Have fun by switching up your fruit combinations like adding mango, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, etc…

  1. Frozen grapes

Freezing fresh grapes is a simple refreshing ideas! They will be very appreciated on a hot day.

  1. Fruit skewers

Since we eat with our eyes, presentation is very important. By simply sliding fruit on a skewer you create a brand new snack! For an even more satisfying snack try alternating the fruit with cheese cubes or energy balls.

What’s your favourite snack? Get inspired by our snack Pinterest board!

Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Campus ambassador