Friday, June 28, 2013

3 Things to Consider for a Healthier Long Weekend

It's a sunny day in Saskatoon and I feel like everyone is ready to evacuate the city.  With images of lakes and Canada Day celebrations, I know many people will be enjoying food and perhaps alcohol over the next few days.  For those that know me, you can already guess that I'm thinking of red and white flavour combinations - I know a recent favourite has been bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, and basil.  Although a change to red and white on a stick can be watermelon, feta, and mint.  I brought that as part of my appetizer dish to my foodie group this week.  Drizzled with a dash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper, it makes a nice refreshing (and colourful) treat, plus watermelon is so delicious right now!  I posted something similar as a salad previously.

If you plan to enjoy a few happy hours over the weekend (or summer), make educated choices when it comes to your beverages and snacks.

1. Mix it up
The proof of your alcohol, mix you choose to use, and size of your cocktail can all add up on you.  Liquid calories are harder to keep track of, but you don't have to throw your diet (or healthy eating goals) out the window.  Avoid the extra sugars of pop, juice, and syrup, and opt for a light beer, small glass of wine, or hard liquor with water or soda water.  Take your time sipping an infused vodka on the rocks to avoid the mix altogether.  Keep hydrated when it's hot out by consuming water between cocktails, this will help slow you down too.  See webMD for more tips to keep your alcohol calories in check and find out how many calories are in popular cocktails

2. Veg out
Go in any grocery store right now and you're likely to stumble upon a potato chip display.  They're convenient, you know they taste good, but now that you're eating for health, you need an alternative!  Change it up and see which vegetables you enjoy either raw or baked into 'chips'.  The food choices people tend to make when under the influence of alcohol aren't usually healthy choices, so make sure you have a healthy variety available when hunger strikes.  I quite enjoy kale chips but you can get creative with many other options such as zucchini, squash, beets, and sweet potato.  The Huffington Post has ideas and recipes for 12 different vegetable chips.

3.  Move away from the food
Enjoy the sunshine, or even a walk in the rain (if it happens!), don't just plant yourself in the kitchen, around the fire, or on the beach with various bottles and bags.  Move your body, I know we've been pulling out the bikes, golf clubs, discs, frisbee, etc. to enjoy the sunshine and sneak in some activity.

Enjoy the mental break from work and chores, and enjoy some great food, friends, and fitness.  Just remember what your health goals are and choose those 'treats' carefully (and mindfully).

Happy Canada Day!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Monday, June 24, 2013

Be true to you

We had another weekend of off-and-on rainy/cloudy weather, but we are very grateful in Saskatoon to not have flood waters affecting our homes and lives.  I often think of rainy days as snuggle up with a movie days, or more so lately - as let's get in the kitchen and cook days!  I told my husband that I wanted to cook on Saturday, and I felt like I accomplished a lot - I made muffins, soup, and a Mediterranean dish (sort of a casserole).  I then managed to feed all of the muffins and casserole to family and friends.

We enjoyed venturing out to try a new local restaurant (Bon Temps Cafe) and took in Dublin to Dehli and Ziggy Marley at the SK Jazz Fest.  With such a busy weekend, I managed to knock quite a few things off of my 101 in 1001.  I also felt that the concert was right in line with my 'why' post from last week and the idea of focusing on your happiness and being the best that you can be.

Ziggy Marley: True to Myself

The Mediterranean dish that I made is called Yigandes me Spanaki, which my sister-in-law provided to me from  I took it to a BBQ and it went over really well.

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
2 1/4 pounds of fresh spinach (or 1 1/2 pounds of frozen chopped spinach) (I used a bit of fresh and frozen because that's what I had)
1 pound of yigandes beans (or large lima beans); (or ~450g canned)
1 leek, just the white stalk, finely chopped
1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh dill, thick stems removed, finely chopped
1/2 pound of feta cheese, crumbled
3 medium-large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded, finely chopped (or a 14.5 oz can of chopped unsalted tomatoes, drained)
1/2 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of dried bread crumbs
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Step 1: If using canned lima beans, rinse, and skip step1. Soak the beans in a large bowl of water overnight. The next day, drain and transfer to a large soup pot. Cover with cold water (at least 3 times as much water as beans) and bring to a boil over high heat. When a full boil is reached, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for 1 hour. Transfer to a colander to drain and set aside.
If using frozen spinach, defrost and skip step 2.
Step 2: Clean spinach well, trim roots, and discard any damaged leaves. Chop coarsely and put in a large bowl or plastic tub.
Step 3: Taking one handful of spinach at a time, squeeze gently but firmly over the sink to remove most excess liquid, and place spinach in a colander. When all the spinach has been squeezed, toss with salt and set aside to drain.
Step 4: Prepare remaining ingredients.
Step 5: Preheat oven to 340°F (170°C). Oil an 11X14 inch (or equivalent) roasting or baking pan (with 2 1/2 inch sides).
Step 6: In a large bowl or plastic tub, combine spinach, onions, leeks, dill, and 1/2 the feta cheese. Toss with hands to mix evenly.
Step 7: Distribute 1/2 the spinach mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Add the beans to make an even layer, and place the remaining spinach mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper. Pour oil over the top, and finish with an even dusting of bread crumbs. 
Step 8: Bake at 340°F (170°C) for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Time will vary depending on the amount of liquid released by the spinach, so check early and keep checking until the bottom of the pan has just a little oil left.
Remove from oven and let sit for 20-30 minutes before serving. This dish is generally served warm or at room temperature.
Yield: serves 6-8, depending on appetites.

Are you being true to yourself?

Happy eating!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching


Friday, June 21, 2013

Start asking why

Perhaps you end up answering why all the time, especially if you have a curious youngster in your life (why? why? why? why?).  It can seem like a never ending game, but they're intrigued, they're learning new information and we can learn a lot from them.

Last night I attended the Lululemon Saskatoon Sultry Summer Solstice Soiree taught by Joos Yoga's very own Jan Henrikson.  She started the evening class by asking us to think about our intention, or who we were dedicating our practice to.  For this, she asked "why do you get up in the morning?"  It may be a person, a pet, an activity, a job, a day off, etc. - whatever or whoever it is, she asked us to stop asking what and start asking why.  I liked this because she brought mindfulness to the practice, and those who know me, know that mindful eating is something I often speak or write about.  The whole idea of being in the present and making a conscious decision is very important to our health.

These days there are so many distractions, and I know many clients end up multitasking and working through lunch, or eating in the car - they're aren't finding time for a mindful meal (whatever they're choosing to eat).  We eat for so many reasons (not just hunger), but we've lost the family meal, we've forgotten to pass cooking skills on to the younger generations, we've put our health too low on the priority list.

Jan mentioned her children and her desire to get up each day and be the best version of herself, for them.  I love that, I am totally a believer in self development and my competitive spirit drives me to be a better version of myself everyday (and help you do the same).

For me, that means feeding myself nourishing foods, finding time to be active (even if it's just walking my dog), spending time outdoors, taking a moment to unplug and just be with my thoughts, and taking time to continue to educate myself.

Throughout the practice, she kept reminding us to think of our 'why'.  She also talked about leaving the past behind, which I think is very important when we're talking about emotional health.  Even thinking about nutrition and diets - forget what you've struggled with, move forward and be the best you that you can be.

Too often we compare ourselves to an unrealistic ideal.  I will continue to be me, and that's just who I am.  We can only know our own 'why' which is also important to remember when someone cuts you off in traffic or is rude to you at the check-out - you don't know their story, so don't try to create it.  Focus on you and making your health more of a priority.

Have a great weekend!
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Monday, June 17, 2013

Roll it out

As I work to expand my vegetarian recipe repertoire, I still like to look in the cupboards and be able to create a meal with my pantry staples.  This is a great creative skill to have when you don't have time to pick up groceries, are trying to eat more meals at home, or just want to see what you can create from your kitchen supplies. 

I did plan to try enchiladas at some point, since we don't usually have enchilada sauce in the house.  Otherwise, a few items you will almost always find in my kitchen include:

  • frozen berries
  • frozen vegetables (broccoli, beans, peas, etc.)
  • canned tuna
  • quinoa
  • some sort of rice (brown, wild, whole grain basmati)
  • greek yogurt
  • unsalted nuts
  • dried lentils
  • canned black beans and chickpeas
  • canned unsalted tomatoes
  • frozen loaf of bread (or pitas)
  • salsa
  • milk
  • oats
  • apples
  • raisins
  • eggs
  • onions
  • garlic
  • and of course a variety of herbs and spices
Vegetarian proteins are great to get you through the week because they're shelf stable (dried or canned).  What do you make when you don't have time to get to the grocery store?

The recipe I'd like to share with you today is adapted from Betty Crocker's Black Bean Enchiladas.

·  1 tablespoon vegetable oil
·  1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
·  1 teaspoon ground cumin
·  1 can (341ml, 12oz) whole kernel corn, rinsed
·  3/4 cup medium salsa
·  1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
·  1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
·  7 (because that's what we had) whole wheat tortillas (8-10 inch)
·  1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce (we used mild)
·  Chopped avocado, black olives, sour cream and cilantro, if desired 
    *we also added a few chopped chipotle peppers for some heat!

    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 11x7-inch (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cumin; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in corn, salsa, beans and 1 cup of the cheese. Remove from heat.
    2. On microwavable plate, stack tortillas and cover with paper towel; microwave on High 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften. Place 1/4-1/3 cup bean mixture along center of each tortilla. Roll up tightly, and place seam sides down in baking dish; spoon remaining bean mixture on top. Pour enchilada sauce over enchiladas, spreading to coat all tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
    3.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly around edges. Garnish with remaining ingredients.

Plan ahead so you can roll out supper at home when you're in a pinch.

Here's to your health,
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rabbit food?

Men might worry less about their health, but we want to help them stay healthy so they can be around to spend time with us (and grow old with us). With Father's Day on Sunday, why not help him have the energy he needs to chase the kids around or go for a leisurely (or competitive) bike ride. Healthy eating provides us with the nutrients and fibre we need to get through our daily activities, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce our risk of chronic disease (heart disease, prostate cancer, gout, and osteoporosis are four that often occur in men over 50).

The older I get, the more fathers I seem to have in my life (my own, my father-in-law, my brother who is now a new dad, and many expectant dad's as well). I know you likely have many important men in your life too. However, if you have a man in your life that thinks like Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, then you may have to get creative to fit in vegetables and fruit.
Instead of feeding him all the bacon and eggs you have, try whole grain toast, fruit salad, and greek yogurt to start the day. Or how about a bowl of oatmeal with milk, blueberries, and sliced almonds.  

If he still wants eggs: Saute vegetables to add some colour and a nutritional punch, such as with the recipe below.

Egg White Veggie Omelet/Omelette
Source: the Gracious Pantry

4 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs)
1 cup raw spinach
1/2 small onion, chopped
 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup grated zucchini
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
 2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Put the olive oil in a large frying pan and warm pan over low to medium heat.
2. Add the spinach, onion, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms. Stir continuously. If you keep the heat low, you shouldn’t need any more oil.
4. When the mushrooms have wilted, stir in the eggs and scramble them with the veggies.
5. When the eggs are cooked, quickly add the parmesan, scramble briefly to distribute and then form into an omelette. Place omelette on plate and top with tomatoes.

 Happy Father's Day!

Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching

Monday, June 10, 2013

Load 'em up

It's a bit of a chilly and overcast day, so I figured it was perfect weather to share a soup recipe.  I often find my inspiration by looking through the cupboards (or 'taking inventory' as my husband would say).  I was also trying to focus on using my Jamie Oliver cookbook over the last little while because of Food Revolution day.

Perhaps you too find that some of your cookbooks are gathering dust - pull one or two out, bookmark a few recipes and put them to use!  I also love soups as a big-batch for leftovers and a great way to get more vegetables in (since the majority of Canadians aren't getting enough).  This could also work for a Meatless Monday meal.

Spring Vegetable and Bean Soup
Source: Jamie's Food Revolution Cookbook

serves 6 to 8
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 3/4 quarts (7 cups) chicken or vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 15oz can cannellini (white) beans
  • 2 cups caulifower
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 7 cups (7 oz) spinach leaves
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make your soup
  1. Peel and roughly slice the carrots and slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice the garlic.
  2. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large pan on a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
  3. Meanwhile, drain your beans. Break up the cauliflower and broccoli into small florets. Roughly chop the spinach. Quarter the tomatoes, removing any stalks.
  4. Add the boiling broth to the vegetables in the pan. Add your cannellini beans, cauliflower, broccoli and quartered tomatoes. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

To serve your soup
Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a further 30 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat. If you like your soup a little less chunky, you can take out half of it, blend it using a hand blender or liquidizer, then stir it back into the pan (we tried this with some of the leftovers). Season carefully with salt and pepper, and ladle the soup into serving bowls.

Jamie also suggests: "If you want to give it an Italian vibe, simply add a can of diced tomatoes, the torn leaves from a few sprigs of fresh basil, and some broken spaghetti."

How will you serve up veggies for supper?
Steph Langdon, RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching