Should I Take a Multivitamin?

should-i-take-a-multivitamin

should-i-take-a-multivitamin

I write this blog to be of service to you. So I love it when readers write in with topic ideas. What’s on your mind that I can answer? I want to thank the community member who asked me to address: should I take a multivitamin. Here’s what I think about multivitamins.

First I need to tell you that when it comes to nutrition, one size doesn’t fit all. We each have different nutrition needs – based on our sex, age, physical activity, health concerns, etc. And, our eating habits vary widely. That’s why for my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You weight loss program, the first thing I do is a nutrition assessment of you. It’s from the results of my nutrition assessment that I create your individual action plan. So, without doing an individual nutrition assessment, I can’t really answer whether you, specifically as an individual you, should take a multivitamin.

However, I can share my thoughts on multivitamins for adults in general for you to consider.

I do recommend a daily multivitamin if you’re a woman of childbearing age.

Who is that? Girls and women from first period to last period. The reason is that it’s estimated that 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Also, the risk of spina bifida is greatly reduced (although not 100% preventable) when women take 400 micrograms of folic acid (also called folate) in those first few days of pregnancy (i.e. before most women know that they’re pregnant). An unplanned pregnancy can be stressful enough. An unplanned pregnancy with a child who has a significant medical condition that could have been prevented – significantly more stressful. Even if you don’t ever get pregnant, folate is a B-vitamin that’s good for our own health too.

Sure, you could take folate on it’s own. But multivitamins designed for women under 50 will have 400 micrograms of folic acid in them. Getting some extra vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, calcium) along with your folic acid is probably a good thing.

I do recommend a daily multivitamin for women and men 50 and up.

Why? For the vitamin B12. At first, low B12 causes you to feel tired, lethargic, dragging. Often people think that they may be feeling this way because they have low iron. But it’s rare for men to have low iron. And, it’s rare for women who aren’t menstruating to have low iron. If your vitamin B12 levels get even lower, it causes permanent cognitive impairment. Let me repeat and clarify that. If your B12 levels get too low, you get memory loss that doesn’t return even if you raise your B12 levels back up again. Yikes! Why the concern after 50 years old? After 50, many of us have a decreased ability to absorb the vitamin B12 that we get through food. This is particularly true if you take medications for acid reflux (heart burn), and is a side-effect of a number of other medications. Getting vitamin B12 in the form of a supplement doesn’t require the same stomach function as vitamin B12 through food. We don’t have recommendations on how much you should get in a supplement. It’s somewhere around 2.4 micrograms daily.

Sure, you could take vitamin B12 on it’s own. Some people choose to get vitamin B12 shots (injections). But multivitamins designed for adults 50+ have vitamin B12 in them. Getting some extra vitamins and minerals (e.g. calcium) along with your vitamin B12 is probably a good thing.

What if I’m not in those two groups?

Then I don’t have strong feelings either way about whether you should take a multivitamin.

 

Want to know more about what vitamins you, as an individual, should take? Check out my Individual Nutritional Assessment Service (including individual action plan) today.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Healthy Habits, Supplements, Vitamins Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Child Nutrition and Anne of Green Gables

Child-Nutrition-Anne-of-Green-Gables

Child Nutrition-Anne-of-Green-Gables

Have you heard? Anne of Green Gables is back on TV. CBC has created a new series telling the story of our favourite red-headed PEI character. Now you may be thinking, “Um, Kristen, I don’t read your blog for TV updates, I read your blog for child nutrition”. Just stick with me for a minute, because I’m not really going to be talking about Anne of Green Gables. I’m really sharing a tip for supporting your child to become a healthy eater.

So what’s the connection between Anne of Green Gables and nutrition for kids?

My first cookbook, given to me as a child, was the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. I still have it (yes, that’s my book in the photo). So, whenever I think of Anne of Green Gables, I think of cooking. Specifically, I think of my first times in the kitchen as a child. I remember pouring over the pages of this cookbook, carefully choosing the recipes that I would try. Saucy Chicken, Thousand Island Dressing, Diana Barry’s Favourite Raspberry Cordial, Coconut Macaroons, and Anne’s Liniment Cake were all made by a school-age, picky-eater, yours-truly. Not every recipe turned out. But I remember feeling very grown-up indeed as I made them. With the knowledge that I now have as a dietitian and child nutrition expert, I know that I was building self-efficacy, self-esteem, cooking skills, and food-confidence. It’s amazing what one little book did for my future nutritional health.

And so, I want to encourage you to empower your kids with food by cooking with them. Teaching kids how to cook is an important life skill. One really can’t be a healthy eater if one doesn’t cook. And, cooking is learned by doing.

Preparing food can help a picky eater overcome their reluctance to try new foods. Toddlers and preschoolers are at the developmental stage when they want to do things for themselves. Use this to your advantage! I’ve known many a little one who will happily try some salad that they “made”, when they otherwise wouldn’t have touched lettuce with a ten-foot pole.

Get kids in the kitchen young. Get them helping to make a wide variety of foods. Don’t just bake treats with them. Help them to build familiarity, confidence, and positive memories with healthy foods too.

Safety is important in the kitchen. With adult supervision, there are lots of safe things that kids can do. Here’s some ideas:

What Toddlers and Preschoolers Can Do in The Kitchen

  • Washing
  • Sorting
  • Tearing lettuce
  • Tossing a salad
  • Mixing
  • Whisking
  • Stirring
  • Sprinkling
  • Spreading
  • Pouring
  • Measuring

So whether you buy a kids cookbook or invite your child into the kitchen to make family favourite dishes, I encourage you to use this strategy for minimizing picky eating.

Looking for some new recipe ideas? Check out these healthy (and delicious) kid-friendly recipes.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Parenting, Picky Eating, Preschooler (3 - 5 years), Toddler (1 - 3 years) Tagged with: ,

Tackle your emotional eating this #NutritionMonth

emotional eating

emotional eating

Does a big slab of chocolate cake make you feel better after a really bad day? Do you turn to carbs for comfort? It’s common to use food as a way to make yourself feel better when you are sad, angry, stressed or tired. But there are better ways than emotional eating to deal with those feelings.

[Note: In the spirit of full transparency, this is my personal take on a blog post created by Dietitians of Canada in honour of Nutrition Month. This post hit close to home with my experience with clients I help with my 40 Days to a Happy Healthy You weight loss program, so I knew I had to share it with you].

I often work with clients who identify with this problem. Whether you are dealing with stress eating, mindless snacking or using food as comfort, this year’s Nutrition Month 2017 campaign has a solution. Plug your problem into their three-step approach to Take the Fight out of Food. Here’s an example of how it works.

Emotional Eating: Spot the Problem

Jamie works full-time while raising a family and has a typical busy lifestyle. He turns to food for comfort when he is stressed at work or frustrated at home. He wants to learn better eating habits.

Emotional Eating: Get the Facts

Jamie hears about me. He learns that craving food when he’s stressed instead of hungry is called emotional eating. We work together to spot the patterns in his behaviour and identify his triggers, such as:

  •  Craving foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar (his weakness is bags of chips – especially at night)
  •  Eating too much without realizing it
  •  Feeling even more stress and anxiety after eating too much

Jamie learns about mindful eating as a way to manage his emotional eating habits. Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating using all senses: really seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling and feeling food. So instead of eating a whole bag of chips when he’s stressed, he can learn to be more mindful of his choice – perhaps eat a smaller portion and enjoy every bite, or choose a more nutritious snack.

Mindful eating can help him become more aware of the reason why he’s eating. It will teach him to eat when he’s hungry and stop when he feels full. Jamie learns that with my help, he can become more aware of his emotional and physical responses to food. With practice, he can manage his stress-related eating and pay more attention in the present moment when he’s making food choices.

Instead of turning to comfort food, he can learn to fight stress by doing something he enjoys, such as taking his dog for a walk, playing street hockey with his kids, reading a book or cooking.

Emotional Eating: Seek Support

Jamie finds lots of help from his dietitian – that’s me. 🙂

Crave-Worthy Healthy Recipes

Crave chocolate when stressed? Check out these recipes for healthy chocolate treats: Chocolate mint whip and chocolate chia pudding.

Posted in Cravings, Dietitian Victoria BC Tagged with: , , ,

Mint Chocolate Whip (No Added Sugar)

chocolate-mint-whip-no-added-sugar

chocolate-mint-whip-no-added-sugar

Mint chocolate is one of my all-time favourite flavours. The beauty of this recipe is that you can satisfy that mint-chocolate craving without any of the added sugar. I know because that’s exactly the situation that created this recipe. I was aiming for a smoothie but the result was more of a mousse in texture. A rich, creamy, decadent, intensely minty chocolatey mousse. YUM! Sometimes the best inventions are discovered by accident.

Serves:

1 big serving or 2 smaller servings.

Mint Chocolate Whip Ingredients

  • 3 dates (pits removed)
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • ⅓ cup of coconut milk (with the fat)
  • ½ cup milk or plant-based milk alternative of your choice
  • 2 drops of peppermint oil
  • ⅛ of an avocado (very ripe)

 

Mint Chocolate Whip Directions

  1. Blend thoroughly and enjoy immediately!

 

Looking for more healthy recipes featuring mint? Check out this recipe for pistachio-mint smoothies.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Recipes Tagged with: , , ,

Spring Picky Eater Success Strategies

Spring-Picky-Eater-Success-Strategies

Spring-Picky-Eater-Success-Strategies

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of this long, extra-snowy winter. I mean snow in Vancouver and Victoria, BC in March?! So I’m choosing to think about spring. Spring is the beginning of the season for many opportunities to give picky eaters ways to explore and be interested in food. Because for many picky eaters, veggies and fruit are less scary when you’ve grown them, picked them, or chosen them from the farmers’ market. So today, I’m sharing with you some spring picky eater success strategies.

While the saying may be, “seeing is believing”. For many a picky eater “seeing is eating”.

Well at least for some. Other picky eaters will happily participate in growing, picking, and shopping but still won’t try them. Which is okay, because all of these activities still contribute to your picky eater building food-confidence, which one-day will turn into eating a wider variety of food.

 

Picky Eater Key to Success

So go ahead and plan family activities that involve exploring food. The key is that these activities are undertaken in the spirit of fun and exploring – not pressure to eat/try the foods. For example, if you follow up your growing of the radishes with “Try them. These are the radishes that you grew. Come on, you’ll like them.”, you likely will unintentionally undo all the confidence that you built with the activity of growing the radishes. And, next time you ask your little-one to help you in the garden, she/he will refuse because she/he knows that growing leads to pressure to eat.

Grow Them:

  • Bring your picky eater to the garden centre. Let him/her choose plants and/or seeds. Plant them together in the garden. A pot on a patio is great too.
  • Fast-growing veggies like radishes and lettuce are a great match for short attention-spans.

Pick Them:

  • Do any friends or family members have veggies or fruits that you can offer to pick?
  • Plan a family trip to a u-pick farm. Strawberries are great because they grow low to the ground. Check with the u-pick farm whether they allow young children (some do and some don’t).

Choose Them at a Farmers Market:

  • Have a game where everyone in the family gets to choose 1 veggie or fruit to buy and try.
  • Enjoy the free samples that many stalls offer.
  • Encourage your child to talk to the farmer. Their enthusiasm is contagious! Ask how they grow the veggies to engage kids’ innate curiosity. For example, do the veggies grow up high in air on tall plants or secretly hidden under the ground

Looking for more success strategies for your fussy eater? Keep browsing through my blog, I share lots, such as this picky eater success tip.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Parenting, Picky Eating, Preschooler (3 - 5 years), Toddler (1 - 3 years), Vegetables and fruit Tagged with: ,

Don’t Monitor Your Body

dont-monitor-your-body

dont-monitor-your-body

Ok, I admit that I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for a couple of weeks now. I feel compelled to address this topic. Because it’s absolutely fundamental to being healthy. To having a healthy relationship with food, a healthy relationship with your body, being a healthy eater.

It’s something that I know as truth. But I’m struggling to articulate the concept clearly. I’ve been procrastinating until I have the perfect words to express it. Did you notice that I didn’t send you a message last week? Yup, I was deep in procrastination.

Why am I procrastinating so badly? Because it’s such an important concept that I want to communicate it clearly and you’ll understand completely.

The perfect words have not revealed themselves to me. Yet. However, I feel compelled to act. I can no longer keep this concept to myself. Or, shall I more accurately say, keep this concept between myself and the clients who work with me one-to-one in my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You program.

So here I go with my attempt to communicate this truth with you. And what I’ve decided to do is share with you, each Friday on Facebook, others who I see are walking on this path too. For clarification. For inspiration. Because maybe I don’t have the perfect words to express this to you. Maybe one of these other folks will create the “ah-ha” moment for you.

So what’s this concept that has me so worked up that my perfectionistic tendencies have me paralyzed?

Experience your body. Don’t observe it.

As women in our culture, we’re so disconnected from our bodies. We’re taught that our bodies are something to observe, to monitor, to control. How do we know what our bodies are doing? We weigh ourselves on a scale. We look at ourselves in a mirror. We read the labels on our clothes to see what the size is. We write down what we eat (on paper or in an app). We wear trackers to count our steps, to record our heart rate.

NO! Our bodies are our selves. They aren’t something separate from us. They ARE us. Mind-BODY-soul, that’s what makes a human being. Okay, you may not believe in souls, but the mind and body are still there. How can we know what our bodies are doing? We’re aware while we’re doing it. We feel emotions. We feel sensations. The concept of mindfulness captures this, except it’s named badly. Because I want you to get out of your mind and connect with your body. Perhaps it should be called “experience-fulness”.

Want to see “experience-fulness” in action? Watch a baby dance to music. They aren’t thinking “step left, step right, I know my body will look attractive if I bend in this direction”. They aren’t thinking at all. They’re feeling the music, experiencing the music, enjoying the music, and their body responds.

Consider the flip-side that I see so often when working with women.

When I’m working with women, the hardest things for them to do is to stop weighing themselves every day and stop writing down what they eat every day. They hold on to these so tightly because how else will they know if they’re being “good”, doing the “right” thing? The answer is so obvious, yet so different from what we’ve been trained to do. Take the actions that I’ve given them in their action plan. If they did them (i.e. experienced it), then they’ll know that they were “good”, did the “right” thing. The action-taking, the experience, is the proof – not some monitor.

Or, take for example the phrase that I hear women say so often: “I forgot to eat today.” NO! Eating isn’t a cognitive thing. Remembering to pick up the dry cleaning is a cognitive thing. You can forget to pick up the dry cleaning. You body sends you the feeling of being hungry to stimulate you to eat. You can’t forget to eat. You can disconnect yourself from your body’s sensations and not eat.

Liberate yourself from the shackles of monitoring your body to experience the joy of health.

P.S. Join me in Facebook for inspiration.

Posted in Dietitian Victoria BC, Healthy Habits, Weight Loss Tagged with: , , ,

When Can I Give My Baby Eggs?

When_Can_I_Give_My_Baby_Eggs

When_Can_I_Give_My_Baby_Eggs

I’m often asked by parents “When can I give my baby eggs?”. The old advice of waiting to introduce egg whites until babies are 1 year old has changed. But there are some important age considerations when preparing eggs for your baby. Here are all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to feeding eggs to your baby.

Eggs are an excellent first food. Yes, right from about 6 months onwards. The current advise for introducing solid foods is to offer iron-rich foods first. Then build up a repertoire of other foods, such as vegetables and fruit. Eggs are an iron-rich food. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. So good is the protein in eggs that they are the standard that’s used to measure the quality of protein found in food.

You may be thinking “Wait, but aren’t eggs a high risk allergy food?” Yes, it’s true that eggs are a common food allergen. The latest research is suggesting that this is exactly why you should introduce them earlier rather than later. There is some evidence that waiting until 12 months or later to introduce higher allergen foods may increase the risk for an allergic reaction. Or, stated the other way around, introducing common food allergens as soon as you start introducing foods (at about 6 months) may help prevent food allergy. There isn’t sufficient evidence yet that introducing higher allergenic foods before about 6 months offers any protection. The good news is that this is an active area of research so perhaps in the next few years we’ll know more about how to prevent food allergies.

There are a few more details about eggs that you need to know to introduce them. These are steps to take to ensure food safety – to prevent food poisoning. Babies are more susceptible to food poisoning so it’s recommended to follow these guidelines.

When To Give Baby Eggs

Age Guideline Safe Examples
About 6-12 months Serve only eggs with both hard yolks and whites Hardboiled eggs, eggs in cooked foods (e.g. baking), eggs scrambled well-done, firm omelets, fried eggs over-hard, hard poached eggs.
1 – 5 years Runny yolks are okay. Avoid raw eggs and eggs with runny whites. All the examples from 6 – 12 months. And, over-easy fried eggs, sunny-side up fried eggs (with whites fully cooked), soft-boiled eggs (also known as eggs and soldiers, dippy eggs), eggs poached medium.
5 years and older Eggs with runny yolks and runny whites as well as raw eggs, prepared safely, are okay. Soft scrambled eggs, eggs poached soft, French-style omelets, sauces made with raw eggs e.g. home-made Caesar salad dressing, home-made mayonnaise.

Click here for more iron-rich first food ideas for baby.

Posted in Baby, Introducing Solid Foods Tagged with: , , ,

Chocolate Chia Pudding

chocolate-chia-pudding

chocolate-chia-pudding

All I can say is chocolate chia pudding … yum!

Healthy eating is all about eating good fuel for your body AND eating for pleasure. This delicious treat fits both categories. It’s chocolatey goodness that’s made with chia seeds. Chia seeds are rich in protein, iron and fibre. The result is a gelatinous or pudding-like consistency similar to tapioca pudding. It’s also quite low in sugar.

Feel free to play with the recipe. The richest version is made with the canned coconut milk (coconut and chocolate – awesome!). I love orange chocolate and mint chocolate so sometimes I add a drop or two of mint extract or orange blossom water.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Ingredients

3 TBSP           chia seeds

1 cup              milk (dairy, plant-based alternative, canned coconut milk is especially delicious)

1 TBSP           cocoa powder

1.5 tsp             sugar

Chocolate Chia Pudding Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid.
  2. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
  3. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow gel to start.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Enjoy!

Check out more delicious, healthy chocolate recipes:

Posted in Cravings, Kids' Snacks, Recipes, Snacks

Don’t Serve the Same Food Two Days in a Row

same-food-two-days-in-a-row

same-food-two-days-in-a-row

Sometimes the simplest strategies in life can be the most effective. This certainly is the case with the successful strategy to help picky toddlers and preschoolers try new foods that I’m sharing with you today. So, what is this strategy? It’s: don’t serve the same food two days in a row. Let me explain…

As many parents of toddlers and preschoolers will tell you, 2 – 5 year olds like to eat the same foods every day. The technical term for this is a ‘food jag’. If it was up to them, they’d love to have exactly the same breakfast every day, exactly the same lunch every day, exactly the same snacks every day, and exactly the same dinner every day. We don’t know why this is so. But it is developmentally normal.

I see many well-intentioned parents happily give their kids the foods that they ask for – especially when they are healthy choices. But there are two problems with allowing kids to “choose what’s on the menu”:

  • It can lead to unbalanced diets. Kids this age don’t understand that they need to eat a balanced diet. So they can’t take that into account when choosing what they want to eat. They simply want what they want.
  • It can contribute to kids getting stuck in picky eating.

At this age when kids happily eat the same foods, we, the responsible adults, need to take the long-view. We need to encourage kids to be open to trying new foods. A way to do this without any battle or force-feeding, is to not give your child the same food at the same meal or snack two days in a row. This doesn’t mean that you need a 14 day, rotating, gourmet menu. It can be as simple as alternating between toast and oatmeal at breakfast. And, it can be as simple as rotating amongst apple slices, strawberries, and an orange at snack time.

If you’re just starting your baby on solid foods, awesome, you’re in the best position! Make this a rule from the very beginning. You’ll help prevent picky eating as your baby grows in to a toddler and preschooler.

What about if you’ve already got a picky toddler or preschooler on your hands who is firmly entrenched in the habit of having the same food every single day?. Here’s what to do (this also works for school-age kids too):

  • Step #1: Write out a list of every food that your child will eat. Organize your list by food group.
  • Step #2: Pick one meal or snack. Create a plan for next week where, at that particular meal or snack, you rotate amongst the foods your child does like. For example, say your child likes cucumber slices and raw baby carrots. But for packed lunch at daycare you always pack raw baby carrots. This week, for your child’s packed lunch at daycare, you pack raw baby carrots on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, you pack cucumber slices. Do this for 2 – 3 weeks for your child to become accustomed to the change.
  • Step #3: Move on to a different meal or snack. Or, move on to another component of your child’s packed lunch. For example, say your child likes both no-nut butter sandwiches and cheese sandwiches. But for packed daycare lunch, you always pack no-nut butter sandwiches. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, pack a no-nut butter sandwich. On Tuesday and Thursday, pack a cheese sandwich. Continue this for 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Step #4 and Beyond: Repeat this process until your child is seeing a rotation of different foods for each component of their meals and snacks. At any time after step #3, introduce new foods instead of just rotating amongst their current favourites.
Posted in Picky Eating

2017 Food Trends I Love

2017-Food-Trends-I-Love

2017-Food-Trends-I-Love

It’s a new year and so it’s time for my annual post on 2017 food trends I love. I really am lucky that my work is my passion. I honestly don’t know if I’m working or ‘off the clock’ when I’m reading food magazines, browsing food blogs, shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores, and watching cooking shows. Regardless of whether I’m working or spending leisure time, being immersed in the nutrition and food-geek world, I see many, many a food trend. Lots of which make me cringe and I can’t wait until they pass. But others get me excited. Here’s the 2017 food trends I love. Enjoy!

Hot Produce: Fennel, Radish, Persimmons, Watermelon, Dragon Fruit

Now I don’t know if any of these trends will be strong enough to knock kale out of the King of Produce spot that it’s held on to for the last many years. But perhaps they’ll be strong enough to move Brussels Sprouts and cauliflower out of the spotlight (not that there’s anything wrong with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).

I include these veggies and fruit trends on the list of food trends that I love because I hope that their trendiness will inspire you to break out of eating the same few veggies and fruit and try new things. And, overall, eat more veggies and fruit. Each vegetable and each fruit has a slightly different nutrient profile. Meaning that each one has a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, fruit, and more that’s good for us that science hasn’t yet discovered. Every fruit and every vegetable is a healthy choice. And, the more variety you get, the better.

The dark shadow of the food trend is that people can get caught up in eating one particular food. Or, get worked up if their child doesn’t like one particular vegetable or fruit. But there’s nothing to get worked up about. Our bodies are amazing. We don’t need any one particular food in order to be healthy. We can meet our nutrition needs by eating a wide variety of foods. In fact, the wider the variety, the better. So use the food trend for good – as inspiration to try new foods. Or, to try new recipes for vegetables and fruit that are already familiar to you.

Looking for recipe inspiration? Check out my recipe ideas on Pinterest. So far, I have healthy recipe ideas for fennel and healthy recipe ideas for dragon fruit. Radish, persimmon, and watermelon will be coming later this year so stay tuned.

Ugly Produce

While I’m on the topic of vegetables and fruit, there’s another trend that has been gaining steam – ugly produce. This one is a win-win-win in my eyes – it encourages eating veggies and fruit (a nutrition win), encourages less food waste (environment win) and creates a new market for farmers (economic win). So what’s ‘ugly’ produce? It’s produce that is perfectly nutritious, but just doesn’t look perfect – in other words it’s ‘ugly’. For the last few generations who have done their grocery shopping at major grocery chains, the only produce that they’ve been exposed to are perfect-looking specimens. The hidden side of this fact is that a huge proportion of perfectly good vegetables and fruit are thrown out just because they don’t look perfect. But no more! Now, some major grocery chains are starting to carry ‘ugly’ produce. Farmers markets and farm-gate sales have long been where ugly produce is revered.

Buying ugly produce does require you to shift your perspective. You need to no longer judge a book by its cover (or a carrot by how straight it is). You need to be more tuned in to what’s in season, how food smells, how heavy it is, and firm/soft it is, to determine whether something is ‘good’ or not. But once you gain these new skills, it’s super easy. And, considering the win-win-win of ugly produce, you’ll likely see just how beautiful it really is. As they say, true beauty lies beneath the surface.

No Food Waste

How about a food trend that is good for the environment and saves you money? Sound too good to be true? Well that’s just what the ‘no food waste’ trend offers.

I’ve heard estimates that 40% of all food in North America is thrown in the garbage. What a huge negative environmental impact! We know that fresh water and agriculture land is under stress. Now think that almost half of what’s being grown is going to waste. It’s a tragedy.

The good news is that taking steps to solve this problem is really easy. And, it’ll save you money. One part of the solution is what I’ve described above – buying ugly produce. No longer demanding that every single piece of your produce be the equivalent of a supermodel.

The next part of the solution will save you money – buying less that you’ll throw away. This means meal planning. I’ve talked about the benefits of meal planning before. But another benefit is that you’ll buy less food that will go bad and end up in your green bin.

Got the first two solutions under your belt and now you’re ready to up your ‘no food waste’ game? The last solution also could technically fit under the meal planning title. It’s applying the nose-to-tail philosophy from meat eating to produce. In other words, including more creative recipes that use parts of the veggies/fruit that we usually throw away. Keep your eyes tuned because I’ll be sharing some recipes that I’ve been working on.

No Alcohol

Many people get a lot of pleasure out of their weekly glass of wine or an occasional cocktail. But the reality is that alcohol does have significant calories in it. Any calories that you drink, your body doesn’t recognize, and so you still eat the same number of calories as if you hadn’t drank anything. This can contribute to creeping weight gain over time. We also know that alcohol lowers inhibitions and so while sober you may not have ordered the extra large, fully loaded nachos, after a few drinks, you’re happily elbow-deep in a platter.

It is for these reasons that I love the ‘no alcohol’ trend. The trend includes people who choose to not drink any more. And, people choosing to take a temporary break from alcohol (e.g. dry January).

What’s a non-drinker to do? More and more restaurants are now including interesting, low sugar, alcohol-free drinks on their lists. Love it! As a non-drinker myself, I really appreciate this. Whether you’re choosing to not drink for a while, or you’re the designated driver, you’re no longer relegated to choosing between plain water or a sugar-laden (or artificial sugar-laden) pop. Kombucha is showing up in more and more grocery stores and on-tap at restaurants and pubs. I’m also seeing an explosion of low sugar, no artificial-sugar, sparkling waters/pops.

Overall, this ‘no alcohol’ trend is one that I’m hoping has staying power.

Posted in Cooking, Meals for Kids, Vegetables and fruit Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

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