I love soup so much, you will seldom see a meal plan of mine that doesn't include at least one dinner made up of a soup of some sort.
And the leftovers...soup leftovers make me happy too. For one thing, they seem to taste better the second or third day. And you can always pair them up with a sandwich or salad and have another dinner or hot, quick, and satisfying lunch. It freezes beautifully, too, which makes me happy because then it means I've got some meal starters in my freezer.
I love soup because it can be as fancy or simple as you'd like. Soup doesn't require a recipe, most of the time, and it's a fantastic way to use up bits and pieces of ingredients that need a meal to be useful, which also means it's an economical thing to cook at the end of the food in your fridge and pantry.
However, my family doesn't love soup. It used to be the only way I could get my second son to eat a balanced meal- if it was in soup, he'd eat it. Now, however, he's older and wiser and realizes he doesn't like soup very much. Putting soup on the meal plan twice this week is a big gamble, but I'm hopeful that because one of the soups is from my freezer and new to them it will be tolerated, the best outcome I can hope for with this family.
I've been making adjustments to my love for soup against the preferences of my family, and I have come to the realization that if I turn my favourite soup flavours into a one-pot skillet meal they will eat it. It seems to be the broth they object to. Last week I made minestrone minus all the lovely broth and both boys gobbled it up without a word of complaint. I can add as much broth as I like to make my own brothy bowl, the way I like it best. This week I aim to take the leftovers from my curry soup and turn it into a potato casserole of some kind. I will keep you posted.
How can you marry the food you love with the disdain of your family in a way that makes everyone happy? Feel free to let me know!
I'm just a message away if you're looking to make happier changes in your meal times!
Enjoy your week, friends!
A few weeks ago I posted about why I like to use romaine lettuce in a different way than just a salad- and this is true of swiss chard, too. I really enjoy my weekly test kitchen because it challenges me to think about food in a different way than I usually do.
This summer I’ve used swiss chard as a topping for my burgers, in a salad, sliced up and cooked into a Vietnamese Noodle Soup, and now as a rolled appetizer, stuffed with strawberries and fresh cheese, and served with a balsamic reduction for dipping.
I know it may sound complicated to try new things. It can be scary, and maybe (like I used to be) you’re a little bit worried it won’t turn out and you’ll be wasting food by throwing it away.
While that IS a possibility, I would like to pose another perspective: trying something new is never a waste, even if you have to throw it away (and that’s a rare occasion!)
Most of the time the finished outcome will not be so bad it has to be tossed, and consider the alternate outcome- you may discover something new you love!
When testing my swiss chard appetizers, I started small, making just 2- one for my husband to try, and one for me. Both of us enjoyed them, so I plated a few and brought them to a family event so I could test them on other people too.
The overwhelming consensus was “these are really good”. And if they weren’t good? I would have known before I made a bunch and brought them to the party because I started with just 2. A few ingredients and a little time means it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out.
Here are a couple of ways to introduce something new to your cooking repertoire:
Hopefully you’ve got some interesting ideas cooking up in your head now! Enjoy your day, friends.
This week I'm playing with the Thai Basil that I am growing in my herb garden. We're going to run a late #testkitchen this week (today rather than yesterday if all goes well!), making Thai salad rolls for dinner tonight and a Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken and vegetables for dinner tomorrow.
But why bother? Why change to a different kind of basil? Why not stick with the old one that is known and loved?
Over the years I've observed there are 2 basic kinds of eaters in the world: people who can eat the same thing all the time and be perfectly content, and people who want to eat different things all the time and rarely eat the same thing twice. I don't think either extreme is healthy or sustainable. In our family, we encourage a bit of both for a few different reasons:
By now you all are used to me talking about incorporating a variety of different colours into your food but we don't usually emphasize reasons for different flavours. I'm going to hone in on one reason this morning: "...waking up your taste buds".
Raising a family of picky children with a husband who came pretty picky himself has been a journey for us. At the beginning of parenting small children I was completely unprepared for picky eaters. The idea of it was as foreign to me as living in full darkness half a year. When I was a child, if my mom put food in front of me, I ate it. To be suddenly faced with gagging, vomiting, tears, and the rest was bewildering.
However, I firmly believe food should not be a fight. Ever. We determine what foods go on the table so we fully control what response we will get. We can talk more about this a different day.
Suffice it to say, providing different flavours to ourselves and our families can allow us to enjoy different foods while we are out and about at various times in our lives. Like it or not, most of us enjoy meals at places other than home. We can't always control what's for dinner, and so it makes sense to train our taste buds.
And that is it for today, friends. If you enjoyed this post, share it! Help me grow my business by getting my name and brand known! Tune in tomorrow on Facebook for a discussion on reverse meal planning and if you haven't "liked" my page yet, please do so- I don't want you to miss anything!
All the best!
To know them is to love them.
Not convinced? Let me try.
Aside from the rhyme we learn as children, beans and other legumes are not as well loved in North America as they are in other parts of the world. Legumes make up a large part of diets around the world, from Africa to Israel, and are especially useful in regions where religion or poverty play a role in the kinds of food people eat, such as India.
If you do a quick google search you will find out many reasons why you should or should not eat legumes. I leave the final decision up to you.
In my role as a nutrition coach I stand firmly behind “common sense nutrition”. I think any food in excess is detrimental to your health and well being.
Pulses are part of the legume family. Pulses refer to beans and lentils (the seed part of the plant). Common legumes are alfalfa, soy, and peanuts.
I use both pulses and legumes as a whole often in our cooking. As a family we enjoy meals that are made strictly vegetarian but also enjoy meals where legumes complement traditional meat-based meals. For example, chana masala was my latest test-kitchen dinner for a client, and that’s a vegetarian dinner. My oldest son loved it in spite of it being a new recipe for all of us, and even went for seconds. We also eat chili a couple of times a month that incorporates both beans and meat.
Lentils can be pureed and added as filler to meatballs, meatloaf, or burgers. They add bulk with nutrition so the meat goes further, and they also give an extra boost of fibre and iron. Beans can be added to salads and soups. Roasted beans are a fantastic snack to keep with you to enjoy when you’re on the run and you know you’ll be hungry. They’re packable, require no special care, and a small amount is very satisfying. My roasted bean recipe will be posted on my Facebook page this week on #foodiefriday. Come check it out!
It's almost summer. Eating meals based on legumes and pulses makes sense in the summer because they can require no real effort beyond opening a can, rinsing them, and eating them cold. When cooking a hot meal with them they really only need to be cooked long enough to heat all the way through- much less cooking time than meat.
*Important Note: Beans and legumes usually require soaking, draining, and boiling. Always follow the package instructions or they can be toxic.
One of my final reasons to eat and enjoy this variety in our diet is a financial one. You get amazing nutrition from pulses and legumes at a fraction of the cost of meat. As someone who is the grocery shopper and meal planner for the family, I know I can attest to the cost of meat on the rise. It makes sense to branch out to seek our nutrition from a variety of sources if nothing else then to stretch the grocery budget further.
Fortunately for us, it’s not a hardship to enjoy this branch of the meat and alternates food group. Do you eat legumes and pulses on a regular basis? If not, I encourage you to schedule a few meals this summer that incorporate beans or other pulses into your regular meal.
Stuck for ideas? I’m only a message away.
This week on Facebook we are talking about Basil. Not only does it taste great in food, it’s also delicious when mixed with fresh lemon in a jug of water. Fresh flavoured water without any added extras is somewhat addictive! I highly recommend it.
Basil is a good source of Vitamin K, the dried version more so than the fresh because it’s more highly concentrated. Getting your vitamins from your diet is the most direct way to absorb your nutrition, and is infinitely preferable to loading up on supplements.
Vitamin K helps keep our bones strong... it takes more than just calcium. Because it’s a vitamin, it also works in conjunction with vitamin D to do so. There are actually 2 types of vitamin K- K1, found in foods, and K2, produced by gut bacteria.
Vitamin K also plays a role in cancer prevention. It works with Vitamin C to weaken cancer cells and causing them to rupture.
Vitamin K keeps hearts healthy and strong by preventing calcium buildup in the arteries. There is also some really interesting work being done that suggests insulin response can be treated with Vitamin K supplementation.
Vitamin K can be overdosed on when using a supplement, and is no longer sold as one because of the high liver toxicity associated with it. This is why you must get it from your diet. I know I say it all the time but I will say it again:
The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
With the opposite benefit of Vitamin E, Vitamin K causes coagulation of the blood. It exists in a delicate balance within people taking blood thinners. Some Vitamin K rich foods are required, but not too much. Do speak to your doctor about this if you have any questions.
Vitamin K deficiency is rare, and most commonly found in infants.
There are interactions associated with Vitamin K.
To summarize, Vitamin K is important to:
You can find Vitamin K in these food sources:
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, beet greens, romaine lettuce and collard greens, cucumbers, broccoli, basil (dried is the most potent), pine nuts, carrots, peas, and so much more.
For a comprehensive look at foods containing Vitamin K, check here.
Note: This post was updated on October 21, 2018.
Called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is made by our bodies after exposure to sunlight. However, because we are so aware of sun safety (and rightfully so, I think) we tend to cover up in so many ways we can’t absorb the Vitamin D the sun puts out there, and those of us in the northern latitudes really struggle to get enough naturally occurring Vitamin D.
Over on my Facebook page this week we are talking about Steelhead Trout, an excellent source of Vitamin D. It's an easy fish to make and serve, and I'll be sharing my favourite quick way to cook this fish on #foodiefriday.
Until recently, studies on Vitamin D maintained that it helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. As of early October 2018, this has been disproven in studies done over several years, with the exception of those who are shut-ins and cannot leave the home.
It also helps to regulate our immune and neuromuscular systems to keep them running strong. Although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin D keeps us healthy in many other ways, including protection from breast cancer to treatment of diabetes have been done, they are inconclusive in result.
Vitamin D also plays a particular importance in healthy outcomes for mother and baby. It seems to play a huge role in everything from prevention of infertility, bacterial infections, and pre-eclampsia to gestational diabetes and low birth weight.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin D can actually help with weight loss, and can also be an effective treatment for depression.
Vitamin D also prevents rickets, a condition that causes skeletal defects, muscle weakness, dental problems, and more. It’s not very common here in the West, but there is a resurgence. Here's another in-depth look at rickets.
Vitamin D can be overdosed on when using supplement, which is why you want to try very hard to get it from your diet. I know I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:
The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin. Around the world, there are different recommendations for how much is enough. As recently as 2010, Health Canada has adjusted the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. It’s an interesting read.
Infants to children aged 8, recommended minimum intake is 400-600 IU, children 9-adults 600-800 IU. However, the tolerable daily upper limit is significantly higher, so check out that chart (link posted above for Health Canada)
Consider how supplementation can interact with other vitamins and minerals. The human body is a delicate balance, and everything you put into your mouth will have an effect on something.
If you’re on long-term medication, check with your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation. There are several drug interactions associated with of Vitamin D.
To summarize, Vitamin D is important to:
You can find Vitamin D in these food sources:
Fatty Fish (tuna, salmon, trout), fortified foods (dairy, orange juice, etc), cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.
We’re finally past the B-Complex, and onto my favourite vitamin- Vitamin C! On my Facebook page this week we are talking about kiwifruit, a fun fuzzy berry that originated in China but is now grown many places.
For #testkitchentuesday I experimented with the meat-tenderizing properties of kiwi, and because cooking kiwi will disrupt much of its vitamin C content we also enjoyed a fresh kiwi and pear fruit salsa with the finished roast. Recipe will be posted on Facebook #foodiefriday! Check it out and use it to inspire your own test kitchen!
Kiwi is high in Vitamin C- a serving of 2 contains even more than oranges! Vitamin C is only found naturally in fruit and vegetables, so keep this in mind and make sure you eat lots of those!
Vitamin C stimulates white blood cells and is a free-radical fighting superhero. It helps to keep our immune system running strong, although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin C keeps you from getting sick are inconclusive. Common sense would dictate though, that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is going to make you healthier with the plethora of nutrition available, so eat up as much of that food group as you like. I'm not too fussy on limiting servings of fruit and vegetables- in our house, it's unlimited. Our bodies do not make their own Vitamin C- it must be part of our daily diet.
Vitamin C also plays a role in healthy cardiovascular function. It seems to play a role in stroke prevention, as a deficiency can be a risk factor.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin C can actually help prevent certain types of cancer, oral and digestive, and can also be an effective treatment for killing the cancer’s stem cells which are resistant to traditional treatments.
Vitamin C also prevents scurvy, a condition that causes bleeding gums, nosebleeds, cracked skin, poor wound healing, and ultimately death by infection or associated complications. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry about scurvy here in the West- we have Vitamin C rich foods available everywhere.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which aids in the renewal of skin and keeps us looking our best. It assists in renewing skin damaged by the sun and pollution.
You can get Vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables! If you name it, it’s likely got it. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so here’s a tip: Pair your iron-rich meals with Vitamin C-rich foods. The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin C supplements are widely available. I actually take one every day because even though we usually eat really well, I do want to support my body for those days I make less than nutritious choices, which does happen from time to time.
However, before you take a supplement- because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor. There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin C.
To summarize, Vitamin C is important to:
You can find Vitamin C in these food sources:
Kiwi, oranges, grapes, guava, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, peppers, and more.
Children from 1 to 18 years need from need from 15-1800 mg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 90-120 mg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on Vitamin C dosing for children and adults, read this article here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B12. On my Facebook page this week we are talking about eggs, an amazing protein that is readily available, offers good quality for cost, and is super good for you in many ways, though not as high in Vitamin B12 as other sources.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products, the best being beef liver or salmon. I went with eggs this week. It’s sad to me that neither of my boys like eggs, but I keep trying!
Eggs are versatile and quick to prepare. They are satisfying and nutritious and can be eaten in many different ways. I didn’t reinvent the wheel this week on #testkitchentuesday, but stuck with a tried and true egg salad sandwich. However, I did switch out the mayo for hummus, and of course use my own spices and herbs to flavour the eggs, so I will post that recipe on #foodiefriday. I’d love to hear what you do with eggs!
Vitamin B12 plays a role in maintaining energy levels and helping prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. It helps the nervous system run smoothly, regulating stress and emotion responses. Like other B vitamins, it helps with heart health, keeping skin and hair healthy, and an efficient digestive system. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in helping to prevent anemia and promoting a healthy pregnancy.
You can get Vitamin B12 from many animal food sources as well as an artificial form added to other foods and, as discussed before, supplements. Animal sources are best absorbed. Eggs only contain about 9% of the absorbable Vitamin B12, for example, and foods enjoyed by vegetarians or vegans don’t contain B12 that can be used by the human body, with the possible exception of fortified products that have had a synthetic version added.
People with digestive disorders such as Celiac or Crohn’s disease are also at a high risk of B12 deficiency.
A deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be common in the western world. Symptoms to watch for are, unfortunately, pretty common symptoms of many health issues such as joint pain and fatigue, which can be unrelated to B12 deficiency, as can anxiety, dizziness, or poor concentration. And Vitamin B9 can mask a B12 deficiency, which further complicates matters.
For more information on B12 deficiency, read this article.
There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin B12.
The best way to confirm your numbers is to see your doctor for a blood test, and the best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
To summarize, Vitamin B12 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B12 in these food sources:
Animal proteins such as beef liver, trout, sardines, lamb, tuna, salmon, eggs, dairy, and fortified products.
Children from 4 to 13 years need from need from 1.2-1.8 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 2.4-2.8 mcg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on children and senior B12 supplementation, please read these articles:
General Information on Vitamin B12
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B6.
On my Facebook page this week we are talking about avocado, a whole one providing about 30% of your daily dose of Vitamin B6. It’s actually a fairly versatile fruit, most commonly associated with guacamole and other southwestern or Mexican foods, but it can be put to use in other ways as well. I played around with it in my kitchen yesterday for #testkitchentuesday and ended up using it as a garnish on a Vegetarian Chocolate Chili.
Recipe Roundup on #foodiefriday has some other excellent recipes coming, and I'll also be sharing my chili recipe, so check it out!
Vitamin B6 plays a role in several systems in our body. Everything I have studied suggests over 100 different reactions! It helps us to regulate glucose, serotonin, and melatonin. Without adequate amounts of B6 your body can’t utilize Vitamin B12. It plays a role in brain development and function as well as in production of red blood cells and a healthy heart. It plays a role in helping deal with morning sickness. There really are too many systems to list.
You can get Vitamin B6 from several food sources, though like other B vitamins it’s a sensitive vitamin as processing in many ways will decrease the amount received. Levels of B6 in plants fare better in processing, but aren’t as available to your body as animal sources. Here is a very interesting article that discusses this.
In spite of these issues, Vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively rare in the West. It’s important to make sure you regularly get your blood checked, as a deficiency in any of the B Vitamins will lead to a host of health complications.
Because Vitamin B6 is water soluble, you need to ensure you take in enough through a balanced diet or supplements, and because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor before self-medicating.
To summarize, Vitamin B6 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B6 in these food sources:
Banana, avocado, turkey breast, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. You can also find it in pistachios, several seeds and legumes, spinach, and whole grain flour.
Children need 0.1-1 mg per day, depending on age and sex. 14 yrs to adult need 1.3-2 mg, depending on their age, sex, and whether or not they are breastfeeding.
There is definitely an upper limit. You can have severe reactions if you have too much, so if you are a vitamin taker, please read your labels.
For information on Vitamin B6 deficiency and other concerns, please check here.
For general information on Vitamin B6, please check here.
A very in-depth look at this vitamin can be found here.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I tried both avocado and kiwi; the former because I didn't know avocado was a food (more on that to follow), the latter because the fuzzy brown skin, bright green fruit, and tiny little seeds were a little too odd for me to move past.
In both cases, my mom was the cause behind both the food avoidance and acceptance.
As parents and caregivers, we model so much more than how to balance a bank account, fold bath towels, or make beds. The way we approach food becomes deeply ingrained in our children as well. The more we model an open acceptance to try new things, including food, the more our children will move into their own adulthood with a spirit of adventure.
When I was a child, my mom had the most amazing green thumb. She had houseplants flourishing in every corner and on every table. She was particularly fond of avocado plants and always had them rooting and growing in glasses of water on the kitchen counter.
I didn't know avocados were food! My mom would buy one, toss the meat, and root a plant. It wasn't until I was 21 years old and out for dinner with a friend that I found out what that green stuff was when I ordered a taco salad and he told me to eat it.
My mom enjoys eating avocados now! But it took a few years for her to develop a taste for them.
When I was not quite as old, around 18, she forced me to eat a kiwi. She described the taste as a cross between a strawberry and something else, which was a good enough description at the time. She told me I was old enough to try it and made me eat some with my eyes closed so the appearance of it wouldn't put me off. Of course she was right. They are delicious. But I wouldn't have tried it if she hadn't made it happen.
We're the great influencers of the people around us. Food is a journey for all of us and we don't all have to like the same things. But I want to encourage you to try new foods and expose your family to new foods, spices, flavours, and presentations. The more variety in our diet, the healthier we will be. No one food group can satisfy our body's nutritional needs any more than a single bar of soap can support a lifetime of personal hygiene.
It might help to have a routine in place to bring new foods into the house. Perhaps a "new month, new food" tradition- the first day of each month a new food comes home to be tasted. To help foster ownership, try having everyone in the household take turns picking the new food to try. Perhaps a recipe search or a call for suggestions on Facebook will help. Whatever you choose to do, it's never too late to adopt a more adventurous palate. Your health, and the health of the people around you, can only benefit.
Enjoy your day, friends.