Monday, February 25, 2013

Take it with a Grain of Salt... Or Not

Another element of heart healthy eating is reducing sodium intake, which may help control blood pressure (and can keep your bones strong and may lower your risk of getting kidney stones too). Here are some quick tips to lower sodium (a major component of salt) intake:

  • Take the salt shaker off the table
  • Try herbs and spices for flavouring
  • Replace garlic salts, onion salts or celery salts with the fresh product
  • If Kosher meats are used, soak them in water first
  • Foods that have been pickled, processed, cured, smoked or salted 
  • Canned vegetables, sauces, gravies, dressing, marinades 
  • Sea salt, salt substitutes, visible salt

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let’s Talk About Fat, Baby

I cannot believe it’s almost the end of February and we haven’t talked about heart healthy eating! February is heart month, after all.  I’ll do my best to squeeze in a few more posts in honour of the great organ before the end of the month.    

To start, let’s talk about fat.  Choosing appropriate fats is a huge component of heart healthy eating.  Generally (if you’re thinking about bloodwork), what you’re aiming for is:
o  Decreasing triglycerides
o  Decreasing LDL (‘lousy’ cholesterol)
o   ­ Increasing HDL (‘healthy’ cholesterol)

To help do so, try following the dietary recommendations below:

My friend and colleague Marci always makes fun of me for using charts, but I really do think they’re a great way to organize information.  Hopefully you find it helpful :)   

PS.  Yes, that title is a cheesy reference to the 1991 song.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fruit That's Iced is Just as Nice

Remember those 3 for $5 berry days in the summer? They seem so far away, especially with today's blizzard-like weather! The good news is that you don't have to look far to enjoy summer's favourite fruits; just make your way to the freezer.

Frozen fruit is just as tasty and nutritious as fresh fruit and doesn't require the preparation (washing, peeling, chopping).  You can find choices like plain strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, mixed berries, mango and peaches that typically have little to no additives. What they do have is water and fibre that can help with weight control by making us feel full.

An alternative to buying frozen fruit is making your own. You can save money and support local farmers by buying fresh fruit in-season and then freezing for later use.  Frozen fruit can be kept for up to one year.

To freeze fruit:
1.      Rinse fruit and remove any bruised or spoiled parts and cores.
2.      Place fruit pieces/slices in a single layer on a baking sheet (this will prevent sticking later on)
3.      Freeze until solid, then transfer to freezer bags.
4.      Squeeze air out of the bags and seal.
5.      Label bags with the date so you know when they'll expire.

4 Ways to Eat Frozen Fruit
1.      Icy fruit pops
2.      Muesli
3.      Refreshing smoothies
4.      Topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast or angel food/sponge cake
·        Thaw and warm up frozen fruit in a pot over the stove or in the microwave. Try adding orange or lemon zest or almond extract.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Get Me to the Greek

Most weekdays I start my day off sitting next to my friend (and amazing Occupational Therapist) Leslie in rounds. She is absolutely lovely, but has a knack for making me hungry immediately after I've eaten.  The cause: incredible breakfasts! After smelling and observing (and drooling) for months, I finally asked her for some details yesterday and she shared the secret: Greek yogurt. 

Greek yogurt is something I've been exposed to since childhood (my aunt's been sending it over with fresh honey for years), but it seems to be a fad that's recently transformed into a staple item. Brands such as Danone Oikos, Astro, President's Choice and Skotidakis all offer 0%/fat free plain versions- the nutritional claim to fame. Danone's option provides 100 calories and 18g protein in a 175g serving. That's pretty impressive, seeing as typically only meat, fish and poultry will provide that much protein for so few calories. But that's not all- this serving size of Greek yogurt can also provide about 20% of daily recommended calcium intake and it's creamy too! The only thing to caution against is sweetened or fruit flavored options, because the added sugar actually replaces some calcium and protein.

Your best bet: Breakfast a la Leslie
o   175g of 0%/fat free plain Greek yogurt
o   ½ cup of berries (you can add a serving of any fruit you like, fresh or frozen)
o   1-2 Tbsp of almonds (any nuts will do, try walnuts to include omega 3 fatty acids)
o   Sprinkle some cinnamon to top it off
o   Optional: Also try 1 tsp-Tbsp of maple syrup or honey for some extra flavor.