A 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.
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.
- 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!
- Hummus and veggies
An excellent pairing to your veggies is hummus. Try this recipe for edamame hummus.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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…
- Frozen grapes
Freezing fresh grapes is a simple refreshing ideas! They will be very appreciated on a hot day.
- 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
Tofu, beans, veggies…These nutrient rich foods unfortunately aren’t often on kids favourite list. The best way to encourage your little ones to enjoy veggies is to continue to offer them a variety of options.
Of course every child has their favourites. As a parent your role is to decide what gets put on your child’s plate, and their role is to decide how much they want of it. The more you expose your children to different foods the more they will develop a taste for them. These 3 vegetarian restaurants will surely charm them!
1- Vegetarian Burger
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these burgers. Your kids will become fans of them, especially when they’re allowed to choose their toppings. You could even shape these patties into small meatballs, little kids will appreciate the finger foods.
2- The best veggie filled Mac and Cheese
What kid doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s easily a kid favourite. However mac and cheese isn’t always a great choice in terms of nutrition…unless you add lots of vegetables like in this veggie filled mac and cheese. An updated nutrient filled reimagined mac and cheese.
3- Vegetarian sweet potato curry
This simple vegetarian curry is a great curry introduction to little ones. It’s flavourful without being too spicy and you have the opportunity to add any veggies you’d like.
Every bit of curry spice adds a new intensity to the dish so start with just a little bit to make sure kids like the flavour and adding just a little more every time.
Do you eat vegetarian meals together as a family? Which ones do your kids like best?
Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Campus ambassador
Veggies are super allies when it comes to your health. They help your body fight infections, fatigue and low moods, as well as keep you full until your next meal. To keep yourself in tip top shape make sure to add veggies to every meal, ideally #halfyourplate and in variation!
You’ll have a smoothie in a few seconds simply by blending 1 banana, frozen fruits and your favourite type of milk. You could also add Greek yogurt for protein and to keep you feeling full longer. Adding veggies to your smoothies, like baby spinach, is a great way to have veggies without even tasting them!
- Soups and Stews
Soup is always a great way to start your meal. Wither homemade or store bought, you can always add more veggies! Making soup is also a great way to use up some of those veggies sitting in the fridge and to reduce your food waste.
During the summer try gazpacho, a cold soup. This refreshing cucumber avocado gazpacho is a delicious start to your meal.
- Homemade salsa
Homemade salsa is an easy way to add flavour and colour to any meal. Here are a few easy salsa recipes you can try and ways to use them.
- Oven or BBQ grilled veggies
Zucchini, eggplant, peppers and mushrooms are all delicious when grilled. All you need to do is slice them, add a bit of oil, a couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar and put them in an oven that’s pre heated to 400F or even directly on the BBQ. What a treat!
- Vegetable salads
There’s nothing easier than putting together a salad: all you need to do is toss the vegetables you have in the fridge with a vinaigrette. No cooking required and very few steps. To shake it up, try switching your type of lettuce (mesclun, Boston, arugula, baby spinach) and add shredded veggies or even fruits. The only limit is your creativity! Try this quick and easy salad recipe for dinner.
- Root Veggie Fries
I love oven cooked parsnip with just a bit of olive oil, garlic and rosemary and sweet potatoes roasted with smoked paprika, cinnamon and salt. To see how to make them try this recipe.
- Cauliflower Rice/Couscous
Cauliflower rice is a great alternative to couscous. All you need to do is pulse your cauliflower in the food processor until you get pieces similar to the size of rice (don’t puree)! Service them raw or roast them for a few minutes in the oven with a bit of olive oil.
- Veggie filled spaghetti sauce
A great way to add a boost of nutrition to your spaghetti sauce is by adding carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, peas or spinach to it. For picky eaters you can puree your sauce in a blender or food processor so the veggies become incognito!
- Replace the tortilla
You can make a wrap without a tortilla by piling your filling into Boston lettuce, like in these Korean BBQ Pork wraps.
- Replace your toast with slices of sweet potatoes
This is a totally unique way for including veggies in your meal! Check out the recipe for sweet potato toast here.
- Mushrooms in place of your ground meat
Chopped mushrooms have a texture that is simliar to ground meat.. By blending chopped mushrooms with your ground beef you’ll increase your veggie increase! It’s an easy trick! Try it for your burgers, your tacos or your sandwiches.
- Zoodles (Zucchini noodles)
An easy way to add some nutrition to your pasta dish is by adding veggies to it, like with zucchini noodles. All you need to do to make the noodles is slice your zucchini into ribbons with a spiralizer or peeler and then eat them like you would your pasta. You can find spiralizers anywhere that sells kitchen utensils.
- Spaghetti Squash
When spaghetti squash is baked in the oven you can scrape the insides with a fork and they resemble spaghetti noodles. Once you have your noodles, you can use them like you would any other pasta.
- Fruits and Veggies in your dessert
Grated carrots, zucchini and apples add really well to desserts like muffins, breads or cakes. Pureed fruits can replace half of your fat content in a recipe without affecting the texture.
Hopefully these ideas of inspired you! What are your favourite ways for adding veggies into your day? Let us know!
Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate Campus ambassador
Recipe by Chef Michael Smith, 2019
The many different mushrooms at your supermarket are all prized for their deep earthy flavours and unique textures. These distinctive vegetables are uniquely the above-the-ground fruit of a below-the-ground fungus. Mushrooms are at their meaty best in a batch of slowly simmering barley cooked like a batch of classic risotto. You’ll fill more than Half Your Plate with this hearty dish!
Serves 4 to 6, more as a side dish
5 or 6 cups of real chicken broth, canned low-salt broth, vegetable broth or
2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 head of garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound of assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup of any wine
1 cup of pearl or pot barley
1 bay leaf
4 to 6 ounces of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 to 6 sprigs or more of fresh rosemary or thyme, finely minced
a handful of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Bring the chicken broth to a full furious boil in a heavy saucepot. Turn off the heat, cover tightly and keep it hot until you’re ready for it.
Melt the butter in a second heavy saucepot or large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover tightly and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, 5 minutes or so. Toss in the mushrooms, pour in the wine and stir together. Cover tightly and simmer until the mushrooms soften and fully release their juices, 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the barley, bay leaf and the first 2 cups of the hot broth. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer, stirring frequently until the broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in another cup or so of broth and continue the cycle, adding more and broth until the barley is tender, about an hour. Taste the barley along the way monitoring its texture, continuing until you like it.
Stir the fresh rosemary or thyme into the risotto towards the end of the cooking time. Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning as need be. Finish with the fresh parsley and cheese. Serve and share.
Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish generally crafted from a particular type of high starch rice but its basic methodology works equally well with other whole grains like barley.
There are lots of different mushrooms in todays supermarkets. You can rely on standard whites but give shiitake, cremini, portabella, oyster and others a try too.
This risotto is excellent with plain white button or brown cremini mushrooms. Reserve more exotic varieties for a garnishing role so you can show off all their mushroomy glory.
Recipe by Chef Michael Smith 2019
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage prized for its sweet tender flavour and off-the-charts nutritional density. This beautiful vegetable forms heads of tightly clustered light green stems with dark green leaves. This simple dish is our favourite way to cook one of our favourite vegetables and fill Half Your Plate!
Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
2 or 3 large heads of Bok choy, roughly chopped or 8 to 12 baby heads
1/4 cup or so of grated frozen ginger, an inch or so or 1 tablespoon ground
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds
Splash 1 cup of water into a saucepot with a tight fitting lid. Swirl in the ginger, sesame and soya. Toss in the bok choy and swirl gently. Bring the works to a full furious boil, cover tightly and steam until bright green, tender and delicious, just 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with lots of sesame seeds, serve and share immediately!
Green vegetables lose flavour and texture if they’re overcooked. Worse yet they also lose their nutrition and vitality. The secret is speed. Since this dish is quick you can cook it last and serve it before it has a chance to overcook.
For fresh fast flavour on demand try freezing a few fresh ginger roots. When you need aromatic ginger in a hurry simply grate the
frozen unpeeled root through a standard Microplane Grater. You’ll be rewarded with a wildly fragrant powder. Be sure to keep the ginger in an airtight container and it won’t get freezer burnt.
Recipe from Chef Michael Smith
Spaghetti squash is known for its distinctive inner threads and their unique resemblance to cooked pasta. That unique texture and sweet
flavour anchor this dish and its group of familiar Mediterranean flavours. I love the convenience of the one baking-pan method too. A tasty and easy way to fill Half Your Plate!
Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
For the baking pan
1 spaghetti squash
2 lbs. of cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 teaspoons of sea salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
For the Salad
2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 more tablespoons of your best olive oil
1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
1 tablespoon of honey
a large bunch of fresh basil leaves, 40g package
1 cup of pine nuts
4 ounces of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Prepare and preheat your oven to 350°. Set to roast and turn on your convection fan if you have one. Ready an 18” by 13” baking pan or the like.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a dinner spoon to scoop out the inner seeds and the fibers around them. Evenly drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half and season with a teaspoon of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Position the squash cut-side down on one end of a large baking pan.
Toss the tomatoes with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and lots of pepper. Fill the other end of the pan and place the works in the oven. Roast until the squash is steamed tender and the tomatoes have roasted and caramelized, about an hour. Remove and rest until the juices settle and it’s cool enough to handle, 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile whisk together the dressing of vinegar, oil, mustard and honey. Use a dinner spoon to scoop the tender squash from the shells into a large salad bowl. Add the tomatoes and as much of their juices as you can. Add the pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese and dressing. Gently toss the works to combine. Serve and share.
The trick to cooking spaghetti squash is to use its own moisture to steam it. Roasting the halves face down on the tray contains their moisture so it can tenderize the sweet flesh. | A pro-sized baking tray is a game changer. Preparing an entire meal on just one 18×13 tray is a breeze for prep and clean up. Professional cooks use what are known as half-sheet pans to stay organized, so can you. | As you cook the squash and tomatoes you may brown and blacken some of their juices. That’s a sign of success though, not defeat. That kind of heat means the rest of the works will more than make up for any loss with extra deliciousness!
This post was contributed by #HalfYourPlate friend Amanda of EverydayAllergenFree
I may have been told by one or two friends that I’m notorious for droning on about how vibrant and beautiful fresh produce is… on more than one occasion.
When I step into a grocery store, fruit stand, or farmer’s market my senses are immediately overwhelmed by the bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables before me. It makes me come alive. And I want it all. They say you shouldn’t shop when you’re hungry because you’ll walk out with the whole store, but what if you’re always in the mood for fresh food? It’s no wonder my fridge is bursting at the seams with rappini, cauliflower, strawberries, and all my favorite ingredients from the earth.
Growing up with many food allergies (not just myself, but in my immediate family) has taught me to have an appreciation for fresh, whole foods. I’ve learned that by thinking about food with optimism and creativity, I will never feel ‘limited’. My diet is not controlled by what I can’t have (peanuts, nuts, dairy, soy, and some legumes), but by what I want to eat and what makes me feel good.
How I navigate the grocery store mirrors how I eat, naturally. I spend about half my time in the produce section, selecting a variety of fruits, berries, leafy greens, root vegetables, squash, and herbs. I ensure I have one main protein for every meal (that’s where the meat, fish, and eggs come in), and a grain (generally rice, pasta, farro, or quinoa). I’ll do a quick stop down the organic aisles for pantry staples such as coconut milk and olive oil, and of course a pit stop for coffee beans and tea. Being mindful about what I plan to eat, how much of it, and how it makes me feel is my guide. Most of the things I cannot eat are in the packaged and frozen aisles. My solution – simply avoid those aisles!
Here’s how I fill Half My Plate:
- Re-frame how you structure your plate. The new Canada Food Guide published in 2019 encourages all Canadians to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables for a healthy and balanced diet. It’s not uncommon for the protein (often meat) to be thought of as the star of the meal, and vegetables as the side dish. Let’s rethink that. Protein is certainly an important part of a balanced diet, but with all the nutrition, variety, and taste that fruits and vegetables have to offer, I try to make them the primary focus and not an afterthought.
- Pick things from different categories. I try not to think of fruits and vegetables as one category. How can you, when there is such an incredible amount of variety? When I grocery shop I try to pick up at least one item from every category; leafy greens to cook (ex. dandelion, chard), salad greens, herbs, berries, exotic fruit (seasonally), root vegetables, potatoes, squash, capsicum, mushrooms, tomatoes, citrus, hand fruit (apple/pear/banana etc.)… you get the idea!
- Aim to have lots of colours and textures. You eat with your eyes first! A plate with some canned corn and steamed broccoli is fine, but wouldn’t you be more excited to see a fresh salad with sliced strawberries and romaine, some cooked beets, and a baked sweet potato? Give your palate something to salivate over by adding visual and textural interest to your meal.
- Let their natural flavors shine! Preparing vegetables does not have to be complicated. Often times I’ll just slice up fruits and veggies and eat them raw, especially when I’m in a hurry or have had a long day. Natural foods contain so much flavor on their own. Most vegetables can simply be steamed or roasted and dressed with a little olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Appreciate and showcase the flavors that nature has to offer; there’s no need to cover them up with sauces and heavy dressings.
- Try fruit and vegetables for dessert. Growing up it was not uncommon for my Nonna to serve fennel and mandarin oranges for dessert. They cleanse your palate and pack a lot of flavor. I also like to have a bowl of berries or some sliced fruit. If you prefer to have a baked treat or something a little sweeter, why not try to add fruits and vegetables to your recipes? I often add sweet or white potato, avocado, zucchini, and other veggies to my baked goods for added flavor, texture, and nutrition.
- Snack in colour. Instead of picking up chips and crackers, why not opt for something more colourful? I like to have berries, crunchy things like carrots and jicama, and hand held fruits like pears or apples. Snacking this way leaves me feeling light and energized! An added bonus – buying fresh items that are in season can save me some money too.
Spaghetti with Zoodles and Creamy Avocado Sauce
This recipe felt like the perfect one to share in this post because it follows many of my guidelines for how I fill half my plate. There are vegetables from different categories (something leafy, summer squash, a root vegetable, a fruit, an herb), bright colours, complimentary textures (creamy avocado, crunchy carrot, firm zucchini), and flavors (earthy, mellow, zesty). It’s pleasing to the eye, nourishing for your body, and will satiate your craving for a hearty meal.
Free from: peanuts, nuts, dairy, egg, soy, fish, shellfish
*Read the label on the spaghetti to ensure it is safe before purchasing. Some brands may contain soy or other allergens.
Alternatives: If you have a gluten intolerance, use your preferred gluten-free pasta. Again, be sure to read the ingredients to confirm that it is safe for you before consuming.
(Dairy free!) Creamy Avocado Sauce
1/2 cup loose basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
The flesh of one avocado, about 1/2 cup
2 tbsp. cooking onion
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Optional: 1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, for protein
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
The base of the dish
2 servings cooked spaghetti
2 cups zucchini noodles
2 cups shredded rainbow chard leaves
1/3 cup grated carrot
salt and pepper to taste
Add the spaghetti, zucchini, and chard leaves to a large pasta bowl and pour the creamy avocado sauce over top. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle the shredded carrot over top for colour. Serve hot or cold.
Building a perfect board for guest to graze on is a holiday tradition! Loading it with fruits and veggies so that everyone can fill half their plate is a bonus. We paired up with Renee from the blog Hungry Bear Grazing to bring you the 101 on building that perfect board.
Christmas is hands down my favourite holiday as it’s filled with treasured moments with our loved ones as well as all that tasty comfort food! As we all know Christmas generally boasts a feasting style of eating, which got me thinking about a healthier, lighter and easier way to celebrate all the joyous festivities. After a lengthy and fruitless brainstorm I finally came to the conclusion that one could not go past the much loved and crowd pleasing, veggie packed grazing spread.
The grazing style of eating is one of the many perfect ways to bring people together as it’s simple, delicious and a flavour utopia. What more could you want? That being said, Christmas feasting is unfortunately known for it’s stressful ways and chaotic moments. But not to fear. the humble grazing platter is here! In true Christmas spirit I’m excited to share my go-to ingredients and tip to help you create the ultimate festive, healthy spread.
Basic shopping guide..
Cheese (3 to 4 varieties)
- Soft cheese such as brie or camembert
- Firm cheese such as cheddar or gouda
- Strong stinky cheese such as a blue
Sweet pairings (Fresh & Seasonal)
- Grapes,berries, pomegranate, pears , apples, peaches, cherries.
- Assorted dried fruits & nuts; including walnuts, cranberries, sultanas, apricots, dates etc.
- Carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, beans, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, radishes, broccoli etc
- Assorted sliced loaves, bread sticks and crackers
- Assortment of dips and bread sticks/crackers
- Cold meats, including a selection of salami & ham
- Selection of garnishes (rosemary, parsley & mint)
Now for the tips….
Ingredients are key!
Sounds simple right? It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of ingredient shopping…BUT remember quality is key. Visit your local farmers markets or an Asian fruit shop for healthy, seasonal produce. Followed by a deli to pick up local quality cheeses and meats. Remember, your goal is to have full, satisfied, happy guests. The happy part will happen naturally when there’s quality ingredients – and plenty of them!
Now, Lets begin placing your spread.
Time to raid your kitchen for wooden boards, marble platters, bowls, cake stands, mason jars, crates, dishes…everything!! Firstly I use hessian as a base of the table to give a rustic casual feel. Next start building the table by scattering your platters and dishes freely followed by most importantly…your FOOD! I also love to include foliage to add extra colour to the table followed by some garnish, my favourites are; rosemary, mint and parsley.
Get a little crazy!
Depending on your style a grazing spread is a perfect way to express it! For me personally, my style is one that has absolutely no structure so I recommend scatter nuts, herbs, berries, crackers and whatever else you feel across your platter/ table. Note: Be mindful when mixing some textures; for example place the soft cheese and meats next to textured crackers and nuts.
Happy Grazing x
Recipe by Chef Michael Smith, 2018
Leeks are milder cousins of the onion with a sweet neutral texture that absorbs any flavour and complements everything on your plate. They’re a long cylinder of bundled leaves, easy to cook and a deliciously simple way to more than fill Half Your Plate.
Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
4 fresh leeks,
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of any vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of Chardonnay (or whatever white wine you happen to be drinking)
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon of cider or white vinegar
Trim off any dark green leaves at one end of the leeks. At the other end trim the root end leaving just enough intact to hold the works together. Slice in half lengthwise and gently rinse away any grit or dirt as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Splash the oil into a large sauté pan or roasting pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and gently swirl until combined and sizzling. Carefully position the leeks cut side down and cook until lightly browned, 3 or 4 minutes.
Without turning the leeks add the juice, vinegar and thyme. Bring the works to a gentle simmer, turn down the heat and cover as tightly as you can. Continue cooking until the leeks are tender and the liquid reduces to a syrup of sorts, 10 minutes or so. Serve and share with the pan sauce drizzled over the top.
Leeks come in many thicknesses but are always the longest veg in the kitchen. Feel free to cut larger ones in half both crosswise and lengthwise to help handle that length.
Leeks grow in sandy soil so they can sometimes have grit between their leaves. That dirt tends to concentrate
near their tops so a simple rinse is all it takes to get them ready for cooking. Carefully keep the leeks intact as the water runs though, they’re much easier to handle.
Because of their length you may find it easier to prepare leeks in a roasting pan.