All Hail Kale – The Salad that Has More Calories than a Big Mac

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A kale salad with more calories than a Big Mac - a shocking look at health washing my nutritionist from Sprout Right

Look what McDonald’s has done to kale! This nutritious superfood chock full of vitamin B6, dietary fibre, calcium and more has been blended with lettuce and drenched in Asiago Caesar dressing tossed with “crispy chicken” and parmesan. A long way from the 49 calories in a 100grams of kale, the “Keep Calm, Caesar On” chicken salad contains 730 calories, 53 grams of fat and 1,400 milligrams of salt.

If that’s not enough to shock you, consider this: this is more calories and fat than a Double Big Mac. (A Double Big Mac does contain more saturated fat).

Why has this superfood undergone such a stunning transformation?! Adding kale to the menu might be a cloaked attempt at increasing sales by appealing to the healthy minded who believe they are getting a far better option at the fast food counter. The unfortunate part is that it convinces many people that they are making a good choice, when in fact they are making one very damaging to their health. The truth is, and it’s hard to hear for those who like fast food or find it convenient, fast food is not healthy food.

Consider the oatmeal at McDonald’s, also dubbed as nutritious and convincing many that it is a lighter option. The Maple Oatmeal at McDonald’s offers 33 grams of sugar. Some of that sugar may come from apples and dried cranberries but the rest blows your daily sugar allotment way out of the water. The World Health Organization suggests that you shouldn’t be consuming more than 25g of sugar in a day. That’s all of it and then some, even before breakfast is through.

And I’m not just beating up on McDonald’s the truth is not-so-healthy food is disguised as healthy food everywhere, at the grocery store, at our favourite restaurant, though fast food restaurants are likely targets. Foods that we think are ideal for our children are actually the brainchild of a marketing guru who has convinced us that yoghurt in a tube is full of calcium and therefore great for after-school re-fuelling. What is skimmed over is that it contains added sugar and sodium. That’s why kids find them so delicious! You may remember when I took a look at what’s really in probiotic yogurt and why you should get your probiotics elsewhere.

We find “breakfast cookies” at the grocery store, and think we are giving ourselves and our kids a fiber-rich boost. Granola bars? Don’t get me started. The kids like the ones with the chocolate on top and no wonder, they really are just chocolate bars disguised as something that might be healthy, with oats and nuts. I always recommend you make your own. They are far more delicious, contain no processed sugar and you control the sodium.

The truth is health-washing is everywhere and it is misleading consumers.

Don’t be tricked into eating kale at McDonald’s. Make your own kale salad at home, in just a few minutes with just a few ingredients. Here’s how.

Simple Kale Salad 

1 head of kale

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Approx. 3 tbsp or as you like

Sprinkle of salt

Remove the kale leaves from the stem. Drizzle olive oil over top and massage to coat the leaves. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for at least an hour, or ideally overnight.

Top with your favourite fruits or vegetables (try roasted beets, diced chicken, toasted pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and diced apple) and serve with a sprinkle of your favourite vinegar, a squeeze of a lemon or both. You might also like to try our simple salad dressing.  

So much delicious, and good for you.

 

2016 New Year Food Trends

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2016 Food Trends - Nutritionist from SproutRight.com shares the new superfoods!

I’ve consulted with experts from across the country and teamed up with the Canadian Health Food Association (www.chfa.ca) to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest natural health trends for the new year. The top five health food trends to watch out for in 2016 include the following:

1) Sea vegetables

Is kelp the new kale? We think so! Sea vegetables can help reduce sodium intake while supporting thyroid health, as these unique vegetables are rich in naturally occurring iodine. This 2016 everyone will be looking at the nutritional and environmental benefits of sea greens. So what makes sea veggies so trendy?

– Sea vegetables are virtually fat-free, low in calories but rich in minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, enzymes and trace minerals which are low in land vegetables due to soil demineralization.

– Sea vegetables can help us skip the salt. They add a natural seasoning to foods which comes from a balanced combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and many other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean.

– They are rich in iodine an important part of our thyroid health. Our thyroid gland plays so many important roles in our body from regulating our metabolism to enhancing our growth and development, weight control and energy.

– They can be grown sustainably. Sea vegetables have minimal impact on the environment. When choosing a sea green that is right for you we encourage you to look for those that have been grown sustainably.

2) Fibre
Fibre is primed to be the new protein. We all know fibre is good for digestive and intestinal health, but it can do so much more, from heart health to weight maintenance!  Check out our top three reasons why fibre is bound to be a big deal in 2016:

– Weight maintenance: Increasing fibre intake could have even more beneficial effects than a “restrictive” diet plan that reduces saturated fat. Whether you enjoy fibre as a supplement or in whole foods, it helps keep us feeling fuller for longer.

– Heart health: Soluble fibre has been proven to lower cholesterol, help digestion and regulate blood sugar. It works by absorbing water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance that can bind to cholesterol and bile acids, helping eliminate them from the body.

– Gut health: A recent scientific meta-analysis found that fibre intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohns Disease).

– A diverse diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides good nutrients for us, while keeping our good gut bugs healthy and happy with plenty of fibre.*

3) Sweets and savouries with a health kick

Everyone loves to indulge, but what if you could satisfy those sweet and salty cravings with food that also includes a nutritional kick? In 2016 these options are almost limitless!  Watch out for all kinds of traditional treats on the market that include a little something extra to enhance your health. Below are some new, trendy, natural ideas to satisfy your sweet tooth and get that crunch we all crave.

– New ways to crunch: In 2016 look out for chips made from beans, root veggies and even lentils. These snacks give us a great fibre kick and all the crunch we crave.

– Sweets to satisfy:  One of the exciting new products out there merges last year’s superstar, coconut, with chocolate. Cocoa boasts blood pressure-lowering effects, and recent research is pointing to additional heart-healthy benefits.

4) Vitamin C and D

These old favourites are finding new applications. Vitamin C-rich creams have the ability to protect the skin during the harsh winter months and, luckily, lesser known winter veggies like squash and Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin D is also incredibly versatile, with applications for boosting bone to heart health. Check out our three favourite findings below:

1)     We know that we should wear sunscreen every day, but did you know adding a little vitamin C serum to your daily skin-care routine can enhance your protection and give your face a little treat?

2)     Everyone always talks about Vitamin D, but not many of us actually understand why we need it. Vitamin D is crucial for the optimal performance of all our body systems. It plays many important roles in the body ranging from bone health to aiding the absorption of calcium. In 2015, new research pointed to a connection between low vitamin D and artery disease showing vitamin D may even play a role in heart health.

3)     When thinking about vitamin C in 2016 we encourage you to think beyond the lemon tree. There are all kinds of winter veggies that are rich in vitamin C including: bell peppers (red & green), kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

5) Hemp

This 2016 it will be easy to add hemp into your healthy, balanced diet. Canadians can find hemp as a raw seed, ground into flour, sprouted, as hemp milk or juice, in lip balm, as a protein or fibre supplement, and in other products including clothing and paper! Best of all, Canada has a thriving hemp industry; so many products available in your local store are Canadian grown and made! Below are three reasons everyone is going to be excited about hemp in 2016.

1)     Perfect for herbivores and carnivores alike, hemp boasts an ideal omega three-to-six ratio to help maintain heart health.

2)     Hemp is also an excellent source of protein and a great vegan protein alternative for people who are allergic to nuts.

3)     Hemp also is rich in vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Hemp seed is one of the 2016 food trends to keep you healthy. See more on SproutRight.com

If you aren’t sure where to get any of the above, check out www.chfa.ca to find your local health food store with the Find A Retailer tool by putting in your postcode.

So many to choose from and add into your daily diet! What will you add in first?

 

Kick Off 2016 Right: Take Our 10 a Day Free Challenge

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Happy New Year!

 

Well, it’s the New Year. Again. Where did 2015 go? I think I just blinked and there it went.
If you’re like most, you are feeling motivated to do something different: change your mindset or habits, take up something new that you think will help you feel better. I feel motivated after a very stressful December and then a few down days to collect my thoughts. I am ready to get back on track with a bunch of things. One of them is of course, food. After letting loose this December, I remember how crappy one can feel eating foods in larger quantities, and those with sugar, wheat and dairy, while neglecting fruits and vegetables.

I think that 2016 is your year.

 

Take the Sprout Right challenge and learn how to eat 10 servings of fruits and veg a day! Gotta do this one

Your year to make positive changes that stick. No flash in the pan or “resolution” that sticks for the first week. And because we think that, we’ve decided to support and challenge you. Who doesn’t love a challenge?!

We at Sprout Right challenge you to eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Not so hard, right? To be clear about what’s good, it’s simple. Start with piles, heaps and handfuls of fruits and vegetables in every colour of the rainbow.

Did you know it’s recommended that we eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day?

 

From what I’ve seen over the holidays, there may be one to three going in–and one of those is a white potato.

Not good enough.

You can do better. Your family can do better.

So are you ready? Amp Up Your Plants: 10 a Day Challenge to Start 2016 Right!

 

This is a WHOLE family challenge: each one of you is challenged to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Now don’t freak out. We are going to guide you through this each and every step of the way. This is a 21-day challenge with new information and support, along with recipes, each day (sent via email). And because everything is easier with a community, we are also inviting all challenge participants to a private Facebook group. This will create accountability and give you a few virtual shoulders to lean on.

Join our 10 A Day Challenge (4)

You know you want to, and don’t be scared of failing. Even if you eat one more serving a day, you’ve won. It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain, including new ways to enjoy fruits, vegetables and all that extra energy you’ll have.

Join us for three weeks, yes it takes 21 days to create new habits, and you’ll have a fantastic kick start to 2016 that’ll last way beyond what you thought.

It’s easy, and it’s free! Come join us! And bring a friend!

Amp Up Your Plants!

 

Let others know you joined! TWEET THIS.
Tweet: I'm joining the 10 a day challenge w/ @sproutright! 10 fruit & veg /day in 2016. #nutrition #resolution #icandothis http://bit.ly/1YPPsV1

5 Reasons You Need to Eat Snacks! (Yes, I’m Giving You Permission to Eat)

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Eat Snacks! Why Snacking is Good for You - Plus 50 Snack Ideas to Download

I think snacks often get a bad rap. Kids love them – does it seem like they are eating all the time? – and yet somewhere into adulthood we think it’s a good idea to see how long we can go with our bellies grumbling, our energy banks on low. Or when it gets busy with the kids, running errands or at the office, our snacks are the first thing to go! Do they seem like an indulgence? Some of my clients think they should be able to get through the day or skip a meal and keep going. Then they are also crabby, irritable and end up with cravings, especially at night when anything that’s not nailed down in the kitchen is fair game.

I learned the value of snacks when I first became a mother, when nursing required extra calories and when sitting down to have something to eat meant I was taking care of myself. I found it easier to eat frequent smaller meals through the day to keep my energy levels up, when the lack of sleep was dragging me down. I keep that principle with me even now, though thankfully I’m sleeping through the night again! Here are 5 reasons you NEED to eat snacks, and then we’ve got a gift for you – download 50 healthy snack ideas to get you going.

Reason 1: Eating every few hours is the key to keeping your blood sugar stable.

When we don’t eat regularly, our blood sugars dip. There is a cascade of activities in the body that happen in response to low blood sugar. One is the release of adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. That can lead to a host of problems from increased heart rate to a disturbance in your body’s stress response, alongside fat accumulating around the middle – aka belly fat.

Reason 2: Snacks are an opportunity to fuel the body with important and essential nutrients.

Every time you snack or eat a meal it’s an opportunity to fuel your body with what it needs to keep it running and consistently feeling great. This includes supporting your immune system to fight off all the bugs coming at you during the winter season. Think of snacks, and those good nutrients you take in, as fortifying your body so you can fight off those bugs and viruses stay healthy.

Reason 3: A healthy snack actually keeps your weight down.

When you skip or go too long between meals without a snack, cravings set in. You know, needing the 3pm coffee IV, chocolate, sugar or carb-filled snacks, which give you the energy boost you feel you need. If you want to keep cravings at bay, snacks are your new BFF.

Not eating much during the day, and then snacking (in an unhealthy way) at night is such a common thing. When you finally sit down after a long day, no surprise but you are starving! We often make bad food choices (myself included) when we are just too hungry to think!

Reason 4: Hangry… Need I say more?

We’ve all experienced the hangrys and with little kids around, witnessed what happens when someone goes too long without eating (tantrum in line at the grocery store, yes we’ve been there)! Hunger and low blood sugar affects your mood: it makes you more irritable and less able to deal with frustrations and stress. If you want to be ready for everything life throws at you, including tantrums at the grocery store, you need to eat!

Reason 5: It’s a stress-free time to take for yourself.

And finally, just as I learned when I first became a mom, taking time to have a snack is actually a great piece of self-care. You have to do nothing else but slow down and eat. So take that as an opportunity to de-stress, unwind and feel grateful for how wonderful your body is to process delicious nourishing food – and fuel you through that next errand, long meeting or load of laundry.

Now, this isn’t a call to eat anything and everything! Because we know how hard it is to think healthy on the fly, or prep something healthy in advance, we’ve created a great list for you. Just click here to access a free list of 50 Healthy Snack Ideas, and join our email list (for weekly goodies) too.

Why You Can Become Nutrient-Deficient After the Holidays: How Stress is Affecting Your Digestion

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Avoid Stress for Better Digestion - Great Tips from a Nutritionist

Tips for Dealing so You Don’t Deplete

It’s the holiday season, which means stress for most. Whether it’s the shopping, or entertaining, spending time with your least favourite family members or running between holiday gatherings, it’s a new level of busy and stress usually follows.

Stress has a knock-on effect throughout our bodies. Adrenaline, our fight or flight hormone, is released at the onset of a stressful situation: an argument, a snotty sales clerk, being yelled at in the parking lot over nabbing a parking space, you know. It’s purpose is to send extra energy to muscles for power, to the brain for focus, and it increases heart rate so oxygenated blood is available to power the body away from the perceived stress. In the old days this threat was a lion or bear, not your latest credit card statement.

Adrenaline also shuts off non-essential systems like the digestive system; this means your last meal is going to sit in your stomach undigested for hours or even days as you come down off that stress high. Not good.

Most holiday parties that I go to involve getting myself and the kids out the door by a particular time, cleaned up, dressed, with two matching socks on. Already my adrenaline rush has shut of my digestive system. I’m heading to a party with a buffet of delicious food and I’m not going to digest most of it. More importantly, I’m not going to benefit from the nutrients that food has to offer. This may not seem so important, as it’s just one meal, but as the holiday season, and stress, continues I could end up deficient in minerals and vitamins by the time the cork pops on New Years.

What can you do to weather this, to reduce your stress and improve your absorption of important nutrients?

Take a deep breath.
Whatever is thrown at you will pass. You get to choose how you respond to what’s going on, sotake a deep breath and let it go.

Don’t overbook.
You don’t have to say yes to every social gathering and obligation. Saying no is good for yourhealth. Choose the priorities and let the rest go. You really don’t have to do it all (and yes I’mstill working on this one too).

Start with raw fruit or veggies.
When you sit down to eat, chose raw fruit or veggies to start. They contain their own enzymesand will aid digestion. This will help your body to absorb more nutrients. It’s always faster to grab a banana or apple to munch on when you can anyway.

Try digestive enzymes.
Support your body’s digestive system and give it a bit of a break from breaking down all thatfood (which can get heavy at holiday parties). Take these at the beginning of a meal as theycontain what your digestive system should be producing, have have been lessened or shutdown. We can order these for you; email us for more details.

Don’t neglect your workout routine.
Exercise is known as a powerful fighter of holiday weight gain, but it is also an importantstress-buster. When things get busy, it is even more important that you stick with your workoutroutine. Don’t wait for the New Year! Mix cardio with weight training or try a yoga class. Aim to work out first thing in the morning. it’ll give you more energy, balance those stress hormones and release feel-good endorphins. And you can’t bail on it because it’s done!

Get plenty of sleep.
Let’s face it; sleep is the foundation of our health and it supports every part of our body, including the digestive system. Nothing works well when you are surviving on a lack of sleep. I feel crabby, lose patience, and don’t cope when I’m getting 5 hours a night. It messes up my hormones and digestion. Take one or two nights and get your head down on that pillow two or three hours earlier than usual. A 20 minute power nap also does wonders. Set your timer for 25 minutes – few of minutes to fall asleep and one or two to wake. You’ll be amazed at your productivity afterwards. And no groggy feeling afterwards.

Acknowledge the emotions.
I’m just as guilty as the next person to grab chips or something sweet to keep me going. Somehow it seems it will fit the bill better than a banana or apple, that are just as fast to grab. Momentary relief with eating low energy foods (refined or sweet anything) leads the body perceiving the crash that follows as yet another stress (cue abdominal fat). If you’re stressed, say it. Speak it. Write it. Somehow get it out. Call a friend or your partner and say I need you to listen and vent away. Once you’ve let it out, the mountain of stress becomes less momentous.  

Set better conditions for eating.
Grabbing something and eating in the car, by your computer (as I’m doing right now) or making a meal of the party canapes isn’t ideal. Remember that when you are under stress, your digestive system shuts off. Sit when you can. Think about eating and take a few deep breaths before you tuck in. Limit multitasking and don’t eat on the run. If you find holiday gatherings really stressful, eat alone in a quiet place a few hours before leaving.  

There may not be a way to completely avoid the stress of the holidays. I hope the above tips might help both you and your digestive system to cope better so you aren’t missing out on important nutrients. Looking for a powerful snack to fuel you through the rush? Take a look at our best snacks post.

Join our email list to receive more helpful advice and recipes for healthy living.
Do you have a question about stress and digestion, stress in general or digestion in general? Drop us a line! We’re always here to help and you might inspire our next post.

Is coffee good for me?

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Is Coffee Good for Me? A nutritionist's perspective

A new study suggests drinking coffee reduces your mortality rate – A nutritionist’s perspective

Coffee drinkers will be cheering after the recent release of a Harvard study. It suggests that one cup of regular or decaffeinated coffee a day will lower your risk for premature death from type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disease. If you drink 3-5 cups, your risk goes down further.

There are so many myths and studies around coffee, and they seem to crop up all the time: one study tells you to go ahead bottoms-up on that morning java, another study says wait a second. My parents refused to give me coffee because they said it would “stunt my growth.” Have you heard that one too?

What might be good about coffee?

Let’s take a closer look at the study: the conclusion is a result of a 30-year review of 207,000 people who participated in the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study by periodically filling out food questionnaires. During the 3-decade period, 32,000 participants died. The coffee drinkers had a 15% lower chance of mortality than those who didn’t drink any coffee. This effect was found for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers, leading researchers to believe there is something in the coffee beans that are producing an antioxidant effect to reduce inflammation.   

What’s wrong with coffee?

Other studies have cautioned against the effects of caffeinated coffee: addiction to caffeine is a worry because the body comes to rely on supplied caffeine as an energy source, rather than the body’s own mechanisms for fuelling your needs. It can mask and create sleep problems, and for those who suffer from problems with stress (let’s face it, most of us), coffee can negatively impact the adrenal glands by continuing to stimulate their fight-or-flight response (which is to release hormones that activate the body to respond to stress-inducing stimuli). Heightened stress responses can be taxing on our adrenal glands, causing their impaired functioning, which impacts our energy levels (creating such a wonderful cycle of more and more dependency).  

Another concern I have with coffee is the way it is consumed in our “super-size me” world. Most studies define a cup of coffee as 8-ounces. A large cup of coffee at most retailers is 16-ounces. So while you may be drinking “5 cups” a day and thinking you are well within that wonderful comfort zone the study highlights, your cup size might mean you are actually consuming double what is recommended.

We also need to be aware of what we are putting in our coffee. Fancy coffee drinks that include cream, whole milk and whipped cream, even chocolate and other flavourings, can account for more than 500 calories! Add two of these to your day and you are already halfway to your entire calorie count for the day!

If you are going to drink coffee, I have a few suggestions:

  • Gain the beneficial antioxidants suggested from this study, without the other negative effects, by switching to decaffeinated coffee;
  • Limit caffeine consumption to before noon so as not to disturb your sleep;
  • Because coffee is dehydrating, consume one glass of water for every 8-ounce cup of coffee;
  • Avoid giving caffeine to children. It is too hard on their delicate bodies and they have plenty of natural energy.

The conclusion

Choose your morning cup of comfort wisely; it should be a beverage you enjoy drinking but that also sets you up for a positively healthful day. If you enjoy caffeinated coffee, be sure to limit your consumption to around 3 8-ounce cups per day. And as always, it’s about living a life of balance: a cup of coffee can be a part of an overall healthy life if you eat well, exercise often and practice good self-care principles that include sleeping often and resting well.

Top 5 Immune Boosting Lunchbox Foods

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Immune Boosting Lunchbox Foods on SproutRight.com

Do you find that come winter, bacteria breed at high speed as soon the temperature changes? Sniffles, viruses and colds are already flying around schools and daycares.

Can you prevent your kids getting a cold or cough? Maybe not completely, but you can decrease the severity and duration alongside increasing the chances of avoiding it turning to a secondary -itis like bronchitis, otitis or sinusitis. Your kids’ immune army needs a leg up over what hits with the change in season.

Five Foods to Brace the Immune System

Red, yellow, orange and green peppers are a sweet side to any sandwich or wrap. They are packed with vitamin C, one of the most important immune boosting vitamins there is. Bones, skin and heart also benefit from the sweet crunch of peppers. Other vitamin C rich foods include avocados, banana, kiwi, kale, parsley, broccoli, tomatoes, mango, citrus fruits, black currants, berries, pineapple, tomatoes, cherries, cantaloupe and strawberries. Add at will.

Seaweed is packed with nutrients, trace minerals and even essential fats. There are packs of seaweed everywhere, so grab some and let the kids try it out. It’ll satisfy the need for crunch at lunch. Zinc found in seaweed is what’s going to prop up the immune army. Other zinc rich foods to include are mushrooms, asparagus, oats, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, herring, eggs, dark meat poultry and miso (as in soup).

Hummus is a sneaky way to get some virus and bacteria killing garlic into your kid’s lunch. Not that you want to embarrass your kid with a stinky lunch, but hummus or even garlic bread (made with pressed garlic mixed with butter and spread on bread then toasted) along with a Thermos full of hot soup will have the immune army standing at attention with each mouthful.

Berries of all kinds offer vitamin C as do peppers above, but also contain flavaniods. These phytonutrients boost vitamin C’s effectiveness, help reduce inflammation (think sore throat). All immune complexes are more active in the presence of flavanoids. Their anti-viral activity has been studied with more life threatening virus than the average cold or cough, so will be welcome by the body.

Kefir offers probiotics that get to the immune system where it’s most vulnerable, the intestines. Helping overall immunity to beat any type of virus or bacteria, probioitcs can also come from plain yogurt. I say plain because the addition of sugar negates the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt. Send kefir in an insulated water bottle to drink with lunch or try it with the recipe below. Note: most dairy products may increase mucus production, so when your child is sick, avoid dairy as much as you can.

Crunchy Fruit Cup

Serves 1

Note: can be made the night before and kept in the refrigerator.

1/4 cup oats or Nature’s Path Agave Granola

6 tbsp plain greek yogurt or kefir

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

6 strawberries, blackberries and/or handful of blueberries

Mix yogurt and vanilla together. Layer yogurt, berries then oats/granola from the bottom of a tall, slim container. After layering twice, finish off with berries on top and cover. Serve that day.

Recipe taken from Sprout Right’s Smart Kids Breakfast and Lunch Meal Plan.

Slow Cooker (or cook top) Roasted Vegetable Soup

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21 Days to Balance Pumpkin Soup on SproutRight.com

Recently on the Jerry Agar show, we talked about canned vs homemade soup. No surprise here but the canned variety isn’t as healthy as homemade. Sodium for one is usually more than half of your daily intake, and that’s just in one bowl. Then most of the ingredients are ends and scraps rather than the chicken that’s you’d like to eat for dinner (as in chicken noodle for instance). It’s cheaper after all and most companies are out to make a profit. Of course I encourage you to make your own homemade soup, it’s not only about taste, but you are in charge of what goes in and rather than ingest on all that sodium the canned varieties give you, you can adapt for the family’s likes and dislikes.

Making your own soup is actually really easy, and it can make for a nourishing and quick weeknight meal. For even more no-fuss meal prep, use your slow cooker or crockpot to simmer a soup or stew all-day long. It will be ready and waiting for you when you walk in the door. Most soup recipes can be adapted to cook in the slow cooker, but here I am sharing my personal favourite.

It has rich flavours that entertain the taste buds and kids really love it because it is made from the always popular flavour – chicken stock (can also use veggie stock). It incorporates fall harvest foods and is a great boost for the immune system. It’ll warm your bones on a chilly fall day.

 

Slow Cooker (or cook top) Roasted Vegetable Soup

3 large organic carrots, scrubbed but not peeled

2 beets, peeled

2 large organic parsnips, scrubbed but not peeled

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tbsp organic ghee (clarified butter), or butter

1 tbsp smoked paprika (or paprika if you don’t have smoked)

1 tsp sea salt

1 L homemade chicken stock*

2 L filtered water with sea salt, to taste

In a glass dish, pile all the vegetables, garlic, and pumpkin. Dot across the top with ghee and sprinkle with paprika and sea salt.

Place in the oven to roast at 300 degrees F for an hour.

Transfer everything from the roasting dish into the crockpot, vegetable juice, melted ghee and all. If using the cooktop, put everything into a large saucepan.

Add chicken stock and enough filtered water to cover the vegetables.

Cook on low all day or on high for 4 hours in the stock pot or simmer for 20 minutes if using your cooktop.

Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency and enjoy.

*Making your own chicken stock is easy. Cook roasted chicken bones in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar and your favourite vegetable scraps and spices like oregano and rosemary. You can slow cook this for hours for the best flavours. Remove bones before adding to your soup, or storing for later use.

Eat This, Not That: Chicken Wings vs Fried Fish

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Fried Fish or Fried Chicken Wings? It's the battle of the pub food on SproutRight.com

It’s the battle of the fried foods over here in our latest edition of Eat This, Not That.

We’ve been comparing foods lately, like ice cream and gelato, pb&j and a ham sandwich and more to find out which is a better-for-you indulgence.

And today we’re asking…The next time you are at the pub with friends which is a better option: chicken wings or fried fish (as in fish and chips)?

Both chicken and fish are sources of protein; chicken is lower in fat. Both are likely deep fried, so you won’t see much difference when it comes to those bad for you fats. Let’s take a look at calories:

– A piece of fish has over 200 calories a piece, and about 20% of your full daily fat intake. And you’ll usually want fries with that, which will cost you over 600 calories.

– Chicken wings are usually deep fried. With the skin on and fried (with no batter) you will consume about 81 calories for one small chicken wing. If you take the skin off before frying the wing, you’ll only consume 34 calories per wing. But leave the skin on, coat it in batter and fry it … well now you are looking at about 159 calories per wing. Since most servings of wings come with as much as 12 wings, you are looking at pretty much maxing your day’s worth of calories in one meal. I’ll add: sometimes people use chicken wings as a bar “snack” while consuming a beer after work. If you go on to consume a meal, you are talking about a lot of calories in one day (as much as 1900 just on wings).

Personally, I’d stay away from the fried foods. Take your chicken and fish grilled and skip the fries in favour of a salad or veggies. Fried food is hard on the stomach, plus it often contains trans fats which aren’t good for your heart health.

If you want to indulge once and a while, I say go with the fish and hold the fries. If chicken wings really are your thing, go baked and saucy or take off the skin before eating.

 

Photo Copyright: siraphol / 123RF Stock Photo

Am I a Water Snob?

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Strauss Water Canada Review on SproutRight.comI’m often asked what I drink. I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m being asked about the type of grape in my wine glass.

I drink water. I drink water and loads of it. I don’t drink pop, juice, vitamin water, ice tea or much else other than water and herb teas in the winter. I don’t add ice or make it cold unless it’s crazy hot outside. I do add lemon, lime, mint, cucumber and berries at different times depending on my mood.

Although tap water is said to be “clean,” I don’t enjoy the taste. I really notice the chlorine smell as I bring my glass to my mouth and then following this is the taste that reminds me of a swimming pool. As water is all I drink, I’d call myself a picky drinker or maybe even stretch to snobby about the water that I drink. I don’t love spring water, but will drink it. I’m always trying out different brands and kinds and if there’s something bigger and better than my reverse osmosis system that I have at home, I’m all ears.

I was asked by Strauss Water Bar to check out what they have on offer. I jumped at the chance! Now this is one fancy looking unit. Takes up valuable real estate on the counter, but it does look flash! I’ve gotta know all about it so I asked my questions of the company and here’s what I learned:

  • This unit has a triple water filtration and purification process that kills 99.9% of micro-organisms and bacteria and absorbs the chlorine–exactly what I don’t enjoy about tap water. I like what I’m hearing.
  • It does this with an activated carbon filter, a micro-mesh filter and UV light. Sounds like a Brita filter that’s been turned into a Ferrari.
  • The unit hooks right up to your main water supply so you don’t have to fill up jugs and won’t ever run out. I’m still listening. Hate running out of water standing there waiting for it to filter through into the jug.
  • Temperature control and cup size is customizable. No over-spillage and good for kids who love pressing buttons!
  • Maintains mineral levels as it doesn’t take anything out of the water, it just cleans it. Love the minerals in there still. Medicines, not so much.
  • Gives both hot and cold water. Instant tea is my dream.
  • Replacement filters are automatically sent to you before you need them. How many times have I gone over the life of my filters? Too many. Still not sure if it did any harm.
  • Costs about $1 a day and if anything goes wrong they bring me a new unit. Fast. I can’t do without water for a day so I do like this concept of speedy customer service!

I was impressed. It does a lot and although it doesn’t take out everything that I’d like it to, it would encourage drinking more water as it’s so simple. And my kids love buttons so we’d have to set a rule that they’d have to drink what they’ve poured before going back for more!

I’ve often written about how important hydration is and how we and our kids really don’t drink enough. What’s enough though? I suggest that my clients drink at least 2L of water each day. More if I’m speaking with a new mum whose breastfeeding, someone who works out regularly or suffer with constipation, dry skin and lips, lack of energy and has dark urine.

I have one kid that is like a camel and one that drinks like a fish. I wonder if having a flash unit on our counter would help the camel-like one to drink more. I might think so. I would hope so.

What gets you or your kids drinking more?

Disclosure: Thank you to Strauss Water Bar for working with me on this post. Thoughts and comments are my own.