“Superfoods”

Imagine eating a food so healthy and powerful that it was able to lower your cholesterol AND reduce your risk of getting heart disease, strokes, or cancer! Well, those “Superfoods” do exist, and many of them can be found at your local grocery store. Superfoods are low in calories, sugar, and salt, and contain lots of soluble fiber and nutrients such as antioxidants. However, it is very important to note that Superfoods are not miracle foods, meaning that simply eating a few blueberries per day on top of a poor diet will not make you immune to heart disease later in your life. A smart choice would be to incorporate these foods into a well balanced diet full of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy.

Here are a few of the most common Superfoods:

download (2)Salmon:

This fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which helps slow plaque growth in your arteries, and decreases your risk of heart disease or strokes. Check out other healthy fat options in our blog post here. Or, take a look at an easy salmon dinner recipe in our blog post here.

Kale:download (1)

Dark, leafy greens such as kale – but also including collards, spinach and cabbage – live up to the Superfood hype by being packed full of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and calcium. You can incorporate a cup of kale into your smoothie, or lightly season and then bake the leaves to make kale chips!

Beans and Whole Grains:Red-Bean-Chili-56408_640x428

Foods like these are sources of low-fat proteins. They contain insoluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol, as well as soluble fibers which provide a longer feeling of fullness to prevent you from overeating. They are also loaded with vitamin B, calcium, and potassium, which helps keep your brain healthy and reduces high blood pressure. A simple yet flavourful meal of chili and beans would be a great way to integrate this food into your diet.

Blueberries:Blueberry-Buckwheat-Breakfast-Pudding_RB_2

These delicious fruits are full of flavinoids (a type of nutrient) that have the power to prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure. Blueberries taste great in smoothies or in a simple yogurt bowl!

 

 

 

Types of Healthy Fats

Most people automatically think of avoiding fats when they are trying to start a healthy diet. However, despite what you may have heard, not all fats are bad! Although some fats should certainly be eaten in moderation, there are good fats that are important to one’s physical and emotional well being. Good fats fall into two categories: monosaturated or polyunsaturated. Food that contain these unsaturated fats help lower cholesterol levels, improve memory, and reduce risk of heart disease. The following are examples of Good Fats:

Monounsaturated Fats:

  • Avocadoes: A delicious way to incorporate your daily portion of unsaturated fats into a quick snack is to toss together sliced avocado with olive oil and
    avo_toastlemon juice. Afterwards, mash the avocado onto a piece of toast, and then top everything off with salt and pepper flakes. Voila! Now you made yourself a super healthy and classic recipe you will for sure want to make again!
  • Peanut Butter: A simple and tasty snack of sliced apples dipped in peanut butter is a great way to get your intake of healthy fats for the day.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Nuts (i.e almonds, hazelnuts and pecans) and seeds (i.e pumpkin and sunflower seeds) are also fantastic sources of nuts_56a7d8699133b173553cff7b6a44d3femonounsaturated fats. You can create a quick and easy trail mix combining any of these examples. You can also include a sweet element, such as raisins, to soothe yours or your kid’s sweet tooth.

 

Polyunsaturated Fats:

  • Salmon: Fatty Fish such as salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids which protects healthysalmonrecipeagainst memory loss, balances your mood, and helps battle fatigue caused by those long and tiring days. Other fish rich in omega-3 include trout, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
  • Oysters: Oysters also contain plenty of healthy fatty acids. Some other functions of omega-3 include the risk of reducing heart disease, strokes, and cancer.

The Importance of Breakfast

Sunny side-up eggs, crispy turkey bacon, toast and some milk to top it off. Who wouldn’t want a nutritious breakfast like this every day? However, this takes time to make!

Breakfast can be one of the hardest meals to follow through with. Some mornings, you accidentally wake up late or your alarm does not go off; you are in a rush. You end up grabbing whatever food you can or maybe nothing at all. Before lunch even comes around, you are starving and you want to start snacking! What do you do?

Many nutritionists have said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gets your metabolism going after hours of not eating anything.Healthy-Breakfast-4 When you skip out on breakfast, chances are you will eat some unhealthy processed food later on in the morning to make up for the missed meal; this is definitely an unhealthy habit to get into.  In addition, not eating breakfast can also cause you to eat excessively at lunch, which causes you to consume more than what your body needs.

The trick for this dilemma is to PLAN AHEAD.

There are a number of breakfast items that can be made the night before and left in the fridge. This eliminates the preparation time and allows you to wake up to a readily consumable meal. Another tip is to prepare breakfast items in portable containers. If you are ever short on time in the morning, a breakfast in a portable container allows you to eat on your morning commute or at work. Smoothies are also a quick and easy way to get the nutrients your body needs to start off the morning!

One breakfast item that you can try is Overnight Rolled Oats. They taste great, are hassle free and fill you up! For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk or soy milk [depending on how thick you like it]
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup of your of Frozen Fruit [see our previous post on how to do them!]
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 2-3 250ml jars or mugs

All you need to do with this breakfast item is to mix it all together in a bowl, pour it into a container, and refrigerate overnight. Before you eat it in the morning, you can spoon in some peanut butter, cereal, or granola to add some extra crunch!

Click here for the overnight rolled oats recipe

There are a number of quick, easy and healthy breakfast recipes out there so be sure to eat this very important meal! Make breakfast the perfect way to kickstart your day!

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

One way for you to stay on top of your budget plan is to monitor how you shop for groceries. Grocery shopping can be a difficult task, especially when there are so many options. Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you have a plan so you know what your budget is and what specific items you need to buy. For this, we utilize the SMART goal making method, which was introduced a few blog posts back.

  • Specific – Specify the items you need and shop ONLY for those items.
  • Measurable – Know how much of each item you need.
  • Achievable – Is your shopping basket within your budget?
  • Relevant – Is the item related to what you need?
  • Time-bound – Is this for current or future needs (e.g. Perishables or pantry items)?

Here are 3 easy ways to grocery shop on a budget while also ensuring nutrition-packed meals for you and your family:

HomingFromWork_m_06121. Plan Ahead – Planning ahead by using the SMART goal making method ensures that you get everything you need without compromising your budget. When grocery shopping with a set meal plan, you know exactly what items to buy,  reducing your chances of purchasing unnecessary items.

2. Shop Healthy – Believe it or not, shopping healthy is actually the cheaper option! When you look at your receipt from past shopping trips, often times you will notice that the majority of your purchase went towards “extra” or more convenient food choices, which tend to be high in calories and contain unhealthy chemicals. Replace the pre-packaged or microwavable meals with fresh ingredients from the produce section!

coupons-23. Save Coupons and Take Advantage of Events – Many grocery stores offer limited time discount events, such as Superstore’s Super Stock Up Days. Keep an eye out for these discount events, which frequently appear on mailed-out fliers or company websites, as they are a great opportunity to save money on grocery shopping. Also, take advantage of these events to buy non-perishable items in bulk so that you can have a readily accessible supply when you need them!

Grocery shopping on a budget is no easy task especially since there are so many options around. Keep in mind that you have a goal and that by shopping SMART, you can save money and eat healthy, nutritious foods!

Foods to boost your Immune System

With school and work going on, no one has time to get sick. Whether it’s a 24 hour flu or a week-long cold, viruses can put a serious setback on our daily lives. To prevent this from happening, here is a list of foods that can help you boost your immune system.

Yogurt – A healthy snack for long days, DSC_4737the probiotics in yogurt keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs and also aids in digesting. To make a filling breakfast, add oats for extra fiber and fresh fruit, such as berries, for added antioxidants.

Shellfish – Foods such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams contain selenium, a mineral that helps white blood cells produce proteins that help clear flu viruses.

Salmon – Salmon has large quantities of omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and protects the lungs from cold and respiratory infections. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also high in omega 3 and make a great snack for busy days!

Garlic – Garlic may smell but this flavourful food contains allicin, a chemical compound that fights infection and bacteria. Garlic also has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and helps in the production of illness fighting antibodies.

Chicken Soup – This classic remedy for colds helps in the process of thinning out mucus and flushing it out of your system. When chicken is cooked, it releases an amino acid that aids fb1058e3-3850-408e-8d4a-885e02dca10cin blocking the migration of inflammatory white cells in your bronchial tubes. Adding vegetables and garlic will add more nutrients as well!

Green tea – This drink has a large quantity of antioxidants and also has an amino acid that fights viruses. Adding honey will give an additional boost of antioxidants and help kill bacteria that causes coughs and sore throats. Green tea is also naturally caffeinated so it makes a great substitute for coffee on early mornings.

Beef – A 3oz portion of beef per day will provide you with a sufficient amount of zinc, this helps the development of white bloods cells. Other alternatives for zinc are chicken, pork, milk and yogurt.

Sweet potatoes – Sweet potato chips make a great snack sweet-potato-chips-640x420and also contains beta-carotene, a chemical compound which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A aids in the production of connective tissue. Other foods rich in beta-carotene are carrots, squash, canned pumpkin and cantaloupe.

Getting sick is never fun; to prevent that from happening, be sure to stock up on these immune system boosting foods. The next time you’re feeling a bit sick, be sure to include these foods as a part of your meal or have them as a mid-afternoon snack!

How to Freeze and Use Frozen Vegetables and Fruit

While it may be tempting to purchase more food items than necessary during a sale, there is a fine line between saving money and wasting food when buying in bulk. In this blog post, we will be focusing on how to effectively freeze fruits and vegetables so that they can be saved and used on a later date.

First of all, keep in mind that food that has already started to go bad will not be made better by freezing. Instead, choose to freeze fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of maturity.

Freezing Your Vegetables

The process blanching1of freezing vegetables does take some effort, however once frozen, vegetables can last up to a year (same for fruits). The first step is to wash the vegetables thoroughly and cut them down into usable portions. Then, by utilizing a technique called blanching, which involves boiling and rapidly cooling of the vegetables, you eliminate the enzymes which can alter the color, texture and flavour of the food during storage. The amount of blanching time required varies depending on the vegetable. After blanching is complete, the vegetables are now ready to be placed in freezer containers or bags; be sure to remove excess air before sealing and use airtight packaging to keep moisture out.

Cooking Frozen Vegetables

The great thing about frozen vegetables is that there is usually no need to thaw them before cooking. If thawing is necessary, thaw in the sealed packages at room temperature. You can use different methods to cook your vegetables from their frozen state:

  • boiling – use minimal amounts of water in order to retain the best color, taste and nutrition
  • reheating – in a heavy saucepan on top of a double broiler, or in the microwave
  • pan-frying – cooked over medium heat with butter or margarine
  • baking – as part of a roast or casserole; alternatively, individually on a greased baking dish

Remember that the vegetables have been cooked slightly due to the blanching process, so they will require less time to cook than fresh vegetables.

Restrictions on Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

Although all fruits can be frozen in theory, use discretion when deciding how you will use the frozen fruit. Fruits may become mushy if thawed completely, so it is best to not let them thaw completely, or alternatively, to use them in a smoothie or other blended mixture. As a general rule, high-water-content fruits and vegetables will not freeze well. Examples include celery, lettuce, cucumber, apple, grapefruit, and grapes. Other vegetables that shutterstock_87758368have qualified for the do-not freeze list include onions, radishes, potatoes (other than mashed), sprouts, and artichokes.

Freezing fruits and vegetables allows you to take advantage of discounted prices, to cut down on visits to grocery stores, and to potentially prepare meals quicker. If freezing individual vegetables does not suit you, consider using various vegetables in a soup or sauce, then freezing the soup or sauce as a whole.

Good luck and happy freezing!

Smart Snacking Tips

Snacking is something that we all do, whether it’s to satisfy a craving or to eliminate hunger. Isn’t it satisfying to lay on the couch with a bag of chips and to watch TV after a long day? Consuming a handful of chips might not seem like much at first, but over time, this can contribute to obesity, high blood sugar, and other various health conditions. There’s nothing wrong with snacking, but it’s what you’re eating that counts. The Hunger Actions team has compiled some snacks that are cost efficient, time saving, and delicious, so that you can have a healthy compromise! (Bonus: The kids will love it too!)

For Salty Cravings:

exps41201_TH1443682D37Vegetable Chips

To make your own potato chips, wash a potato thoroughly and slice into very thin rounds (or use a mandolin to save time). Cover the rounds with a sprinkle of olive oil and salt and pepper for seasoning. Place the rounds onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 400°F/200ºC until they turn golden brown and the edges begin to curl. Let them cool, and enjoy!

Tip: This also works great for kale, sweet potato, or beets!

Popcorn

Popcorn itself is low in calories and contains high amounts of fiber; due to its association with movie theatres, it is often regarded as an unhealthy snack. Unflavored popcorn without any of the extra fat can not only be healthy, but also really easy to prepare! You can experiment with your own seasoning, such as various spices, healthy dips, or salt and pepper, in lieu of butter.

Salsa

Make your own salsa by tossing tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and beans into a food processor (or whatever vegetables you prefer). If you don’t have a food processor, chop up your veggies finely, toss them into a bowl and season with salt and pepper for a delicious dipping sauce to serve with bread or pita. You can also just eat salsa by itself!

Tip: These would be delicious with veggie chips!

For Sweet Cravings:

Fruitscup-of-frozen-blackberries

Fruits are the best snacks to quench cravings for sweet food. You can eat them just the way they are or enhance their flavors with other methods of preparation. Freezing small berries and grapes are particularly delicious in the summer time (refreshing and nutrient rich). You can also make apple chips in the same way you would with veggie chips for a sweet, crunchy snack.

Guilt Free “Ice Cream”

Ice cream is absolutely delicious, but it’s hard to feel good when it’s so high in fat. To make a simple, tasty alternative, mash a banana with milk until it’s smooth and leave it in the freezer. Wait 30-40 minutes, and you will have frozen treat that you won’t feel bad about consuming.

Tip: Try adding other toppings, such as peanut butter or fruit jams for different flavors!

Cinnamon Toast

Cinnamon toast and a glass of milk is the perfect remedy for cold days. Take a slice of whole wheat toast and top it with some coconut oil and powdered cinnamon. Toast until golden brown, and dip the toast in honey. Absolutely delicious!

The next time you feel a craving coming on, give some of our recipes a try. We guarantee you and your family will love it! Be sure to take a look at next week’s blog post outlining some personal finance tips!