slices from various fruits

Choosing the best nutritional options for your breakfast program can be tricky so that’s why we’re here to help! This month we are focusing on consuming whole fruits and vegetables rather than juice since they offer many more nutritional benefits than its counterpart, often containing added sugar.

On top of this, juiced fruit is:

  • Not a whole food: in juice, the fruit structure has changed and chewing is not needed. Chewing is an important part of the digestive process leading to feeling full.
  • Higher Consumption and Increased Sugar Intake: Did you know a cup of juice contains the same amount of sugar as a cup of soda?! Because juice is so concentrated you end up with a surprising high amount of both natural and typically sugars. Without the fibre of the whole fruit to help us feel full and help our body to balance blood sugar levels, we are left with a huge energy crash not long after drinking juice. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can negatively impact our body’s natural ability to know when it is truly hungry or full, which can often lead to overeating.
  • Reduced Fibre: The skin and pulp of a whole fruit are viable sources of daily fibre, which are often removed during the juicing process. This reduces the nutritional value of the juice significantly, compared to whole fruit.

So while serving juice at your morning breakfast program is sometimes tempting, we encourage you to consider whole fruits as the more viable option! If fresh fruit is not as easy to access in your community, then frozen fruit is a great alternative and goes great in a morning smoothie! Canned fruit packed in water is another good option for when fresh fruit is not available (careful of added sugars here).

And as always, we are here to help if you have any nutrition questions or would like to brainstorm how to spice up your morning menu!

3 tupperwares filled with rice corn olives cucumbers tomatoes green onions and lentils

(Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels)

At this time of uncertainty across Canada, here are some tips for eating nutritious meals at low cost.

During this time, encourage children to get involved in planning and cooking of meals. It is a fun activity that passes the time and that can be a great learning opportunity!

  1. Plan your meals accordingly and only buy what you need. Work to plan your meals in advance, create a grocery list and only purchase what you need. This will limit mindless shopping at the grocery store. Check out the Dietitian’s of Canada Recipe E-book for easy, simple recipes.
  2. Aim for a balanced meal. Choose foods in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide. This means having all 3 food categories in every meal to ensure your meal is balanced and nutritious. Include fruits or vegetables, whole grains and a source of protein.
  3. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce is usually just as nutritious. It is cheaper, readily available and usually sold in large bags. It can be used when cooking, making smoothies or as yummy toppings for oatmeal and yogurt.
  4. Choose different types of proteins. Dry or canned beans, canned tuna or salmon, tofu, nuts and grains are often cheaper and all great options to get adequate protein intake.
  5. Be creative with what you already have at home. Scan your fridge and cupboards to see what you have. Use apps or websites like SuperCook or My Fridge Foods to generate recipes based on limited ingredients. You’d be surprised at what you can use to create fun combinations!

 

close-up of pumpkin muesli

Be inspired by the festivities of Halloween and try this pumpkin seed recipe that is not only delicious but also simple and healthy.

Did you know that pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrients and are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids – making them a heart-healthy option? Incorporate this recipe in your program by adding it to yogurt and fruit or simply serving it as is with milk. Click here to discover this easy and fun fall treat!

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 20
Serving size: ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 4½ c. (1.25 L) rolled oats
  • 1½ cup (375 mL) raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1½ cup (375 mL) shredded coconut
  • 1½ cup (375 mL) raw sunflower seeds
  • 9 tbsp (135 mL) hemp seeds (optional)
  • 6 tbsp (90 mL) chia seeds (optional)
  • ¾ cup (185 mL) dried fruit (optional)
  • 1½ tsp (7.5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp (4 mL) pumpkin pie spice (optional)

 

For serving (optional)

  • Milk
  • Fruit (sliced bananas or berries)
  • Maple syrup
  • Yogurt

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange oats, pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and sunflower seeds on a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. If any of your seeds are already roasted, do not add them to the pan and reserve to add later.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted and golden brown, stirring once at the halfway point.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Then add to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients: hemp seeds, chia seeds (optional), dried fruit (optional), cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice (optional). Toss to combine.

Serve muesli with milk or yogurt. Fresh fruit goes a long way with this muesli since there’s no added sweeteners otherwise.

To further soften the oats, heat milk before adding to muesli. Alternatively, cover with milk of choice and allow to soak for 30 minutes at room temperature or covered in the refrigerator overnight.

A refreshing and nourishing fruit smoothie might be a perfect way to cool down at home. Smoothies are a magical food as they are both delicious and nutritious. They are also an excellent way to increase our fruit and veggie intake to ensure we are getting lots of vitamins and minerals in our diets, and are a great way to use leftover produce like ripe bananas. There is one downfall to the fruit-only smoothie, and it’s this: although they are initially quite filling, sometimes they leave us feeling hungry and unable to focus again within a few hours. Let’s dive into why this happens, and look at ways we can make sure our smoothies are satiating brain-power enhancers.

As previously mentioned, fruit is full of essential vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other food groups. They are definitely part of a healthy diet and should be eaten daily. With that said, when fruit or any added sugars are eaten and digested, our bodies break it down into carbohydrates (or glucose, or sugar). Although carbohydrates sometimes get a bad reputation, they are essential for growing children as they are the body’s first source of energy. In saying that, moderation is key and it is easy to overdo the amount of natural sugars in a fruit smoothie. An excess of glucose, even in natural sugars from fruit, causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise, and then quickly drop – think of a roller coaster. How does this manifest in a child’s behaviour? Think hyperactivity and potential behavioural problems initially, followed by the need for a nap or snacks soon after. When the body is experiencing a spike in blood sugar, studies report an increase in brain fog and an inability to concentrate, as well as behavioural problems. When the crash happens, fatigue sets in and it becomes challenging to stay on task.

So, how can we ensure our kiddos get the delicious breakfast smoothies they love while making sure they don’t fall victim to the blood sugar roller coaster and become hungry again right away? The answer is simple: mix up the fruit with sources of healthy fats, add sources of protein, and increase the fibre in your smoothies. Healthy fats, protein, and fibre all slow down digestion, meaning blood sugar levels rise and fall slower and with more stability. This ultimately allows students to maintain focus and stay full for much longer than when given a fruit only smoothie. So what can you add to your smoothies for blood sugar balance?

Delicious and affordable additions to your smoothie that contain both healthy fats and protein (a 2 for 1 special) include foods like 2% milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and seeds (chia, flaxseeds, any seed), Nuts and unsweetened nut butters can also do the job, and unsweetened seed butters (try sunflower or pumpkin seed butter) are great for nut-free alternatives. For an extra bit of fibre, spinach or any green leafy vegetable, the chia and flax seeds mentioned above, and even whole grain oats can be an easy addition. Try adding any of the above to your next summer smoothie and you will be sure to both see and feel the difference of a well-balanced breakfast smoothie.

Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  •     1.5 cups milk (any type, can be dairy free milk or 2% milk for extra healthy fats and protein)
  •     1.5 cups frozen blueberries
  •     1 large extra ripe banana (riper bananas make sweeter smoothies. Bananas can also be frozen!)
  •     2 large handfuls of greens (spinach, baby kale, romaine – whatever!)
  •     1 tbsp chia seeds
  •     1 tbsp unsweetened nut or seed butter
  •     1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Combine in a blender until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Green Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (any type, can be plant based or dairy)
  • 5 cups frozen mangos
  • 1 large extra ripe banana
  • 2 large handfuls of greens (spinach kale- whatever!)
  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ avocado
  • A few mint leaves

Instructions

In a blender, combine the oats and the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

by LAU À LA BOUFFE
BSc Nutrition // ITHQ DVS CUISINE

A classic cookie with a colourful, flavourful twist.

SERVINGS
20 cookies

TIME
Preparation: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Baking: 12 minutes per sheet
Total: Approximately 2 hours

DIFFICULTY
Intermediate

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ c. (100 g) salted butter*
  • ½ c. (100 g) white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ c. + 1 tbsp (110 g) bread flour
  • 2½ tbsp (15 g) matcha powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
  • ¾ c. (105 g) almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 2 tsp (8 g) baking powder

* If you use unsalted butter, add ¼ tsp (1 mL) of salt to the recipe in step 1.

PREPARATION

There’s no need to preheat the oven right away. Your cookie dough will have to be refrigerated for an hour before baking.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
  2. Gradually beat in the egg yolks, one after the other.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth, homogeneous dough.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll out your dough between two sheets of parchment paper to flatten (it should be about 0.5” or 1.5 cm thick when you’re done). Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  6. Cut out your shortbread with a cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until the dough is used up.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.

NUTRITION

  • 81 calories
  • 5 g fat
  • 8 g carbohydrates (0 g fibre)
  • 1 g protein

TIPS FROM LAU

If your cookies are crumbly and melt in your mouth, they’re a success. That is how shortbread should be. This recipe can also be used for pie crust or as a base for your favourite squares. The possibilities abound!

by LAU À LA BOUFFE
BSc Nutrition // ITHQ DVS CUISINE

A tasty dessert perfect for fall, this loaf is loaded with fibre and sweetened with maple syrup.

YIELD
1 loaf (10 slices)

TIME
Preparation: 10–15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Total: Approximately 1 hour

DIFFICULTY
Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 grated apples*
  • ⅓ c. (75 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. (125 mL) neutral oil (canola, etc.)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 c. (500 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) nutmeg
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts**

*You can also garnish the top of the loaf with additional apple slices before baking.
**Optional if nut allergies are a concern.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 350oF (180oC) and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients (apples, syrup, eggs, oil and vanilla) in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices) to the wet, mixing until just combined.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle the nuts over the batter.
  6. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

NUTRITION

Nutrition information for one serving.

  • 234 calories
  • 14 g fat
  • 22 g carbohydrate (4 g fibre)
  • 5 g protein

TIPS FROM LAU

For a fancier twist, whip up a little maple glaze: Mix 1 c. icing sugar with 1 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tsp milk of choice. Drizzle over the top of the cooled loaf.