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.
When I was a kid, the best part about Halloween was all the candy, mostly the chocolate. Am I right? We didn't get a lot of sweets in our home, so getting all of that at once was a bounty that couldn't be beat.
I still love chocolate, but I usually lean towards the darker stuff nowadays. And hands-down the best part of carving pumpkins, besides the fun of designing, is getting all the pumpkin seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only a tasty treat, but loaded with health benefits.
Here's the recipe I use now when roasting pumpkin seeds. I've tried variations, but always go back to plain old salt. It seems like a lot of salt in the water, but they don't end up too salty, though that's a personal preference and you can change it if you wish. An important thing I can tell you is make sure they are roasted all the way through. One year I thought they were done, but once sealed up in a container they went soft- and moldy after a couple of days. You want to roast all the moisture right out of them.
They fill that craving for salty snacks, but unlike chips, are loaded with fibre- so a little goes a long way, and you won't eat too many. They have magnesium, which helps control blood pressure, and zinc, which is a key component in enabling your immune system to work efficiently, among other benefits. Omega-3's for those of you who don't like fatty fish, and L-tryptophan, the fabled amino acid that converts to seratonin and helps with sleep- and who doesn't need more restful sleep?
Roasted pumpkin seeds are full of protein and potassium- more potassium than a banana! And they aid in prostate health, so eat up, gentlemen!
Happy Halloween, friends! Enjoy your treats in moderation!
And that's ok.
There are days when all there is left in the pantry and fridge is ingredients for breakfast. There are days when the only energy left in me for cooking is something simple, like pancakes. Sure, they aren't the most nutritious of foods, but they are a crowd pleaser. And when the plague hits your house the very last thing you want is to do engage in a complicated what's-for-dinner dance with your whiny, cranky, sick family. I did make it slightly more nutritious...half whole wheat flour. And look- there is fruit. In fact, we ate a lot of fruit that night. Vitamin C, baby.
Or Rice Pudding for Breakfast...
Rice pudding for breakfast sounds decadent, right? And it is. It's been the best part of my week, this week. It's crafted in the slow cooker, so all you have to do is mix everything together, turn it to high, take a nap, top it, and eat it. My recipe made a good 5 cups of pudding, so I did share a little with a friend because I am the only person in the house who enjoys it.
My recipe uses my favorite brown rice, and the best is topping it with a drizzle of milk, sliced fresh bananas and toasted walnuts. SO good, so filling, and very nutritious. It feels decadent, but there are all 4 food groups involved, and it's very satisfying. If you don't have that much leftover rice, use what you have, and cut the recipe in half. Or make more rice!
This is an exclusive recipe created by The Meals Maven! Please share but give credit!
So when you try it, let me know what you think! And feel free to share your favorite decadent, nutritious meal. All the best to you today, friends.
We, as a society, are in the midst of a protein-obsessed craze. There are many opinions on what constitutes the right amount of protein. For the purposes of this article, I'm using the Canada Food Guide as my basis.
Today, we focus on Meat and Alternates
First, why worry about it?
Protein found in this food group is essential for building and repairing cells in our entire bodies. Inadequate servings can also lead to iron deficiency anemia and lower immune system function. Many B vitamins are also found in meat and alternates.
Iron deficiency anemia is a disease that can be caused by the inability to absorb iron, and/or insufficient amounts of iron-rich foods. Although you can get iron from non-meat sources, known as non-heme iron, the iron (heme) from meat sources is more readily absorbed by your body. Be sure to compliment the iron found in non-meat sources with vitamin C, and avoid sources of calcium at the same time as that can inhibit iron absorption. Zinc can be found in other foods as well, and is one factor associated with a higher immune system.
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Meat and Alternates is age dependent. From 2-8 years old, both boys and girls need 1 serving of meat/alternates per day. From 9-13, that jumps to 1-2 servings per day for both sexes. From 14 onward, girls need 2 servings, and boys need 3.
What constitutes a serving?
So what does this look like in a typical school lunch?
Here are some protein-rich foods you could send in a lunch. The cooked chicken, in the top left corner, is about a half serving- around 37 g. That's what my first son is taking to school tomorrow, because we also plan on eating peanut butter toast for breakfast, and pasta with meat sauce for dinner. He's in the 2-serving a day age range.
Everything else in this picture is 1 full serving of protein. Chia chocolate pudding in the top middle, sunflower seeds top right, 2 eggs below the chicken, canned tuna bottom left (my lunch!), and some cooked salmon from the freezer. A full serving of fish, for example, would be a lot for a child to eat in their lunch.
If your children are picky eaters and only like peanut butter but can't take that to school, it's ok. Chances are good they won't be lacking in this department, because many other foods have protein in them as well- such as milk and bread. Give yourself permission to skip out on a dedicated protein portion in their lunch box.
If it makes it easier, consider breaking their protein portion in 2. Give them a tablespoon of peanut butter for an after school snack, and a small handful (1/8 c. or so) of sunflower seeds in their lunch box. Or a single egg in an egg salad sandwich, and a little pork for dinner, about 1/4 c. You can eyeball servings, but if you pick up a scale you'll use it. We have a sensitive postal scale that we've used more than you'd think possible over the years. Just be sure they don't run on those awful little watch batteries.
Remember what the Canada Food Guide suggests for protein servings, and chances are good you're eating too much. I know we tend to! I also know this is controversial in the age of fad diets and fitness experts. We're all on this journey to become healthier. Pay attention to your overall consumption and your health in general.
Hopefully this will help you with your school lunches this week! Feel free to like, comment, and share. Together we can make school lunches a healthy habit!