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Chana Masala (Curried Chickpeas)

Serves 5

Bring the Indian restaurant home, with this traditional Chana Masala. It’s filled with both flavour and nutrients. Chickpeas are a great source of protein, fibre and folate. It has soluble fibre which may help lower cholesterol, and insoluble fibre that helps to keep you regular. They’re also gluten free and can be part of a healthy vegetarian, vegan or non-vegetarian diet. Try it and let us know how you liked it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp mango (amchur) powder (optional)
  • 1tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ cup pureed tomatoes or 3 tbsp (45ml) of tomato paste
  • 2 (19oz/540ml) cans (4 cups) of cooked chickpeas (drained & rinsed) or 2 cups dried chickpeas, boiled
  • Cilantro to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, heat canola oil on medium heat and sauté onions till soft. Then add ginger garlic paste and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add spices, mix and add 1 tbsp water. Sauté for 5 minutes, while repeatedly adding 1 tbsp of water and mixing every minute (this creates a great flavour).
  3. Add tomato puree/paste and sauté for a minute covered. Stir in chickpeas, and cover for another 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of water and cover for another 4 minutes.
  4. With your spoon, mash some chickpeas to thicken the sauce to your liking. Garnish with cilantro and serve!

💡Tip* If using canned chickpeas, rinse with cold water- this makes them digest easily and can help lower gas produced.

💡Tip* If using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and they’ll be ready within 30 minutes of boiling.

Nutritional information (per 3/4cup serving):
263 cal / 12.5g protein / 40.9g carbohydrate / 11g fibre / 6.6 g healthy fats

Photo credit: Food Heaven

Colourful Chickpea Couscous

This colourful dish is a whole darn meal! As you know, it’s important to try and have veggies, grains, and protein with meals. Imagine getting all of that in one single recipe? Sounds almost too good to be true, eh 🤔 But we swear we’re telling the truth. There are a bunch of wonderful nutrients in each part of this recipe –the chickpeas, in particular, are a great source of folate. They’re also packed with protein, making this a great recipe for vegans and vegetarians. The veggies pack a punch too (providing you with Vitamin A and C) and the couscous gives some protein as well. So go ahead and enjoy this tasty meal with no regrets 🙏🏽 Let us know what you think in the comments!
.

Ingredients:

1 cup instant couscous
1 ½ cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup peas
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
.

Instructions:
1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pan.
2. Add garlic paste and heat for a minute.
3. Add vegetables (broccoli, red bell pepper, peas) and spices (salt, red chilli pepper). Cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add stock, chickpeas, and couscous. Let cook for 5 minutes.
5. Remove from stovetop and let sit for about 10 minutes.
6. Use a fork to “fluff” the couscous. This means breaking up any clumps (who likes clumpy couscous, am I right?).
7. Happily serve ☺.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
370 kcal / 20g protein / 55g carbs (with 13g of fibre!) / 7g healthy fats

Photo credit: Erren’s Kitchen

Nutrition for an Active Lifestyle

How to Come Out Swinging with the Help of Food

Exercise! We all do it (or at least try to 🙈) in some way, shape, or form. With the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines stating that adults under age 65 need to have at least 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise per week, it’s no wonder that physical activity is becoming a hot topic amongst not only our clientele but also our family and friends. Our bodies were simply made to move and even adapt with each workout – it’s no wonder, then, that being active comes with so many other benefits as well, such as reducing the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers [1]. Everyone seems to know this, but there is still one area relating to physical activity that is a bit of a mystery to most people, and that’s what to eat to support your work out.

A balanced diet is not just complimentary to exercise – it’s a necessity!

With so much information available online (think: almost everyone on YouTube or Instagram nowadays) it’s easy to get confused and try to figure out what applies to you and your exercise routine. The good news is that the vast majority of people who exercise don’t need to tweak their eating habits too much. The new Canada’s Food Guide is super helpful in this regard and helps to ensure that you’ll get enough of the nutrients (in particular protein, carbohydrates, and fats) that you need to improve your health and support your active living.

Let’s take a look at the new Food Guide so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about:

PROTEIN

The amount:

Getting enough protein is important for everyone, but it proves to be crucial for physical activity. Because protein is the building block of your muscles, you need to be able to get a bit more of it in your diet if you’re working out intensely to help your muscles grow and recover from any exercise you might do. This is why you’ve probably heard that you need 0.8g of protein per kg of your body weight normally but that number goes up depending on how long and vigorous your sessions might be [2] [3]. As a result, try to have at least a quarter of your plate be a source of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to having protein during your main meals, talk to a Registered Dietitian about how much more protein you might need to also incorporate into your day through snacks and pre-/post-workout bites.

The timings:

One thing that seems to be universal for most people that exercise is the benefit of having protein during or directly after your workout. Research has shown that having about 20g of protein at these times can help build muscle faster [4]. It might be easier to save the protein for after rather than during, though, as it could be a bit heavy on your stomach when moving around so much.

So what kind of protein should I be having?

You should try to reach for lean protein foods. These are good quality protein sources that are lower in fat but still have the nutrients you need. Think of skinless chicken, turkey, tuna, shellfish, and pulses like beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

CARBOHYDRATES

The amount:

Carbs are the #1 source of energy in our bodies, so it’s no wonder they play a large role in exercise nutrition [5]. In fact, whenever you eat, carbs are broken down into glucose and are used by cells in the body that need it. After these cells have been fed, extra glucose is stored in your body as “glycogen”. During intense workouts, this glycogen can be used up, causing you to feel tired and need to stop.

To avoid this, make sure you’re having enough carbohydrates in your diet. This depends on your level of exercise intensity and how much you work out, but ensuring you have a quarter of your plate be sources of carbs (such as whole grains) during breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a good start. A Registered Dietitian will be able to guide you on how much more you might need during snacks or around workouts as well.

The timings:

If you happen to be doing intense, over 1 hour workouts (or if you’re playing intense sports for that amount of time) having carbs before and perhaps even during your exercise could help refuel your body and keep fatigue at bay [4].

So what kind of carbs should I be having?

Aim to have whole grains such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, and quinoa during meal times. These will provide you with fibre and lots of B vitamins to promote bowel health and give you energy [6].

Incorporate fruits and low-fat dairy/dairy alternatives into your diet too. While these are not in the “whole grains” section of the Food Guide, fruits and dairy/dairy alternatives are sources of carbohydrates and are good sources of energy. Fruits, in particular, are also a good source of antioxidants like Vitamin C that protect your body’s cells from damage and stress associated with exercise [7] [4]. Dairy and dairy alternatives like fortified soy, cashew, and almond milk all provide calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones strong and resistant to injury.

FATS

The amount:

Remember all the anti-fat propaganda from the 90s/00s? They were wrong! Fat is actually an important part of a balanced diet. In fact, fat provides us with energy and even helps our bodies absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K [8]. Fat even helps with your brain health too – without it, we wouldn’t be able to function and work out, so it’s a good thing you only need about 2-3 tbsp of healthier cooking oils or a 1/4 cup of certain nuts and seeds daily [9] [3]. Because fat is in so many foods, this is the only amount you’ll need to think about adding into your meals in order for you to get 20-35% of your total energy coming from this great macronutrient [10].

The timings:

More good news! Because the amount of added fat needed is so little, timings aren’t really an issue. You could easily get this amount before dinnertime even rolls around through the cooking oil and margarine you might have in your meals.

So what kind of fats should I be having?

Limit sources of saturated and trans fats, like pastries and fast food. These have been linked to heart disease and wouldn’t be conducive to an active lifestyle [11].             

Reach for sources of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats instead, like olive oil, avocados, flaxseeds, and walnuts. These will help improve your heart health and work together with exercise to build a stronger you.

FLUIDS

The amount:

While there are a lot of fancy calculations out there to help you figure out exactly how much water you need, you can simply drink water throughout the day. This will stop you from getting dehydrated and help you achieve your best exercise performance [4].

The timings:

Before, during, and after exercise are all good times to stay hydrated. In particular, drinking water while you are active and keeping it closeby at all times is a great way to replenish any fluids your body is losing through sweat. Listen to your body: if you don’t remember having had water in a while or if you feel thirsty, don’t be afraid to take a time out and grab some H2O. Your body will thank you!

So what kind of fluids should I be having?

Water should be your drink of choice when being active. In the event that you are working out at a high intensity for over 45 minutes, consider sports drinks that contain electrolytes as well. This is because your body doesn’t just lose water when sweating – electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chlorine escape as well [12]. These losses (particularly of sodium) can even cause cramping, so in intense cases where this can happen sports drinks should be considered [4].

In conclusion… 

As simplistic as it may seem, combining all of these ideas into one meal plan actually creates what many of us already do or are striving towards: having three meals a day (with the odd snack in between meals) as well as fluids like water and dairy beverages throughout. I hope the tweaks to this old-age formula are not too daunting and you find yourself able to adopt a diet that can support you on your exercise journey 😌. 

It is important to remember, though, that these are all very general guidelines on exercise nutrition. Every active person is different: macronutrient and caloric needs are dependent not only on age, height, weight, and sex/gender but also the type of physical activity you partake in, the amount of time you spend training/competing daily, and the intensity at which you perform. Seeing a Registered Dietitian is therefore very important and can help you create an individualized meal plan that works best for you and can contribute to optimal performance. If you feel like that’s something you’d benefit from, contact us and we can work together to build a stronger you!

Until next time 😉,

Huda Amareh, MAHN, RD

References:

[1] Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and Participaction (2018). Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Can be accessed from: https://csepguidelines.ca/adults-18-64/

[2] Unlock Food (2019). Introduction To Protein And High Protein Foods. Can be accessed from: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Protein/Introduction-To-Protein-And-High-Protein-Foods.aspx

[3] Unlock Food (2019). Sports Nutrition: Facts on Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein. Can be accessed from: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Physical-Activity/Sports-Nutrition-Facts-on-Carbohydrate,-Fat-and-P.aspx

[4] Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528. Chicago

[5] Jequier, E. (1994). Carbohydrates as a source of energy. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 59(3), 682S-685S.

[6] Government of Canada (2019). Eat whole grain foods. Can be accessed from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/make-it-a-habit-to-eat-vegetables-fruit-whole-grains-and-protein-foods/eat-whole-grain-foods/#section-1

[7] HealthLinkBC (2018). Antioxidants and Your Diet. Can be accessed from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/antioxidants

[8] HealthLinkBC (2018). Types of Fats. Can be accessed from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/aa160619

[9] Chianese, R., Coccurello, R., Viggiano, A., Scafuro, M., Fiore, M., Coppola, G., … & Meccariello, R. (2018). Impact of dietary fats on brain functions. Current neuropharmacology, 16(7), 1059-1085. Chicago      

[10] Coaching Association of Canada (2020). Training Diet Fat – Get the Essentials. Can be accessed from: https://www.coach.ca/training-diet-fat-get-the-essentials-p154688

[11] Heart and Stroke (2018). Dietary Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol. Can be accessed from: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/fats-and-oils

[12] Baker, L. B., De Chavez, P. J. D., Ungaro, C. T., Sopeña, B. C., Nuccio, R. P., Reimel, A. J., & Barnes, K. A. (2019). Exercise intensity effects on total sweat electrolyte losses and regional vs. whole-body sweat [Na+],[Cl−], and [K+]. European journal of applied physiology, 119(2), 361-375.

Mango Banana Protein Smoothie

Serves 2

Looking for a bit of protein and carbohydrates to go with your workout? Look no further than our Mango Banana Protein Smoothie! It’s light, easy to make, and super tasty. Think of all the vitamin C from the fruits 🤤! The vitamin D and calcium from the added milk 😯! And most of all: the flavour! I’d be lying if I said I don’t make this even on my non-workout days 🙊. So have at this luscious drink and let us know what you think in the comments!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped mango
1 cup cut banana
1 scoop protein powder
3/4 cup cow’s milk OR unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup ice cubes

Instructions
1. You know what to do! Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until extra smooth.
2. Happily serve ☺.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
190 kcal / 13g protein / 30g carbs / 3g healthy fats

Photo credit: Taste of Home

Oatmeal Pancakes

Makes 12 (3-inch) pancakes. Serves 4

Oatmeal pancakes can be a great way to get fibre and keep yourself feeling full all day long (especially with added protein powder). Topping it with fruit not only adds extra fibre, but also vitamins, antioxidants and a natural sweet taste that compliments the pancakes well.

Tip* In a rush in the morning? Make pancakes ahead of time- stack them with parchment paper and freeze for 2 weeks. Warm in microwave.

Ingredients

• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup oats (quick or old fashioned)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt (optional)
• 1 ¼ cup low-fat milk (2% or less)
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
• Protein powder (with around 20g of protein, optional)
• 1 cup sliced fruit (berries/banana), fresh/frozen

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, and in a separate medium bowl combine milk, egg and oil (optional).
  2. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
  3. Heat skillet (medium-high) and grease lightly with cooking spray.
  4. Pour ¼ cup (50ml) batter in the middle of the skillet. Flip the pancake when bubbles appear, and edges are cooked (1-2mins). Cook other side till golden brown (~1min).
  5. Top with sliced fruit and enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per 3 pancakes):
314 cal / 14g protein / 50g carbohydrate / 3g fibre / 7g healthy fats

Perfect Pasta Salad with Chickpeas

When I have guests come over or I’m feeling hungry and I need a quick salad to prep, I always choose this one. It’s filled with veggies giving it fibre, vibrancy, and vitamins, and the chickpeas add some protein. Try it yourself and let us know how you liked it.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat pasta shells
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 ½ (375ml) cup canned chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • ½ zucchini, diced (optional)
  • 1-2 bell peppers (red/yellow/orange), diced
  • ½ cup corn kernels (frozen or drained, rinsed canned corn)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta for ~8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl combine yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Add pasta, diced vegetables and corn.
  3. Mix and toss to coat dressing over salad. Enjoy and share!

Nutrition Information (per serving):
165 cal / 7g protein / 33g carbohydrate / 5g fibre / 2g healthy fats

Photo credit: veganhuggs

Is Whole Wheat the same as Whole Grain?

You may have heard that whole wheat (or brown bread) is healthier than white. But is whole wheat the same as whole grain? Let’s find out. 

Grains have 3 parts to them: germ, endosperm and bran [1]. Whole grains are the least processed and have all 3 nutritious parts. Whereas whole wheat and white flour have some or all of the germ and bran removed – leaving them with less nutrition. 

Whole grains

  • Lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers [2]
  • Help in keeping a healthy weight
  • Are the least processed: have all 3 nutritious parts of a grain i.e. have more vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and healthy fats [1]

Whole wheat

  • Is a refined grain – i.e. partially processed to remove some of the germ and bran
  • Has less fibre, minerals, vitamins and healthy fats
  • Can still be a healthy choice [3]

Tips when choosing Whole Grain bread

  • Look for “100% whole grain” –  make sure it’s 100%
  • Look for at least 2g of fibre per slice (low in sodium, sugar and fat)
  • Make sure the first ingredients have the word “whole” before them ex. Whole grain wheat flour, whole rye etc
  • Multigrain / Stone Ground / Enriched ≠ Whole grain 

Tips when choosing Whole Wheat bread

  • Whole wheat ≠ whole grain
  • Look for 4g of fibre per serving
  • Where possible, choose whole grain bread more often

Conclusion

To summarize, whole grains have all 3 parts of the kernel, therefore they contain more nutrition and have more health benefits than refined grains!

Until next time,

Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD

*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualised nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first appointment.

References:

[1] All About Whole Grains. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/Cooking-with-Whole-Grains.aspx.

[2] Choosing Whole Grains FAQs. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Canada-s-Food-Guide/Choosing-Whole-Grains-FAQs.aspx.

[3] How to Choose the Best Sliced Bread. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Grocery-Shopping/How-to-Choose-the-Best-Sliced-Bread.aspx.

Cashew Chicken Curry

To all the curry lovers out there (like me :P), you have to try this cashew chicken curry! It’s simple to make, only requiring 3 spices (chili powder, garam masala and black pepper), uses healthy fats, and lean poultry. Enjoy it with whole wheat chapati or brown rice along with your choice of cooked vegetables like gobi (cooked cauliflower), okra or eggplant.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 skinless chicken breast (1lbs), cubed
  • 1 cup low fat yogurt
  • ⅓ cup cashews (or almonds), soaked in warm water (or use 2 tbsp of cashew powder)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garam masala

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onions on medium-high heat till soft.
  2. Add ginger garlic paste, and saute for 1 minute. Add chicken and sauté until its color starts changing to white (~2-3 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, blend yogurt, soaked nuts (or cashew powder) and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to the chicken. Mix well and cook for 1 minute. Add the yogurt-nut blend and mix well. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Once chicken is tender, add garam masala and cook for another 2-5 minutes. Serve hot!

Nutrition Information (per serving):
218kcal / 26g protein / 9.5g carbohydrate / 9g healthy fat

Photo credit: Twosleevers

Quinoa (Yes! Quinoa) Tacos

Serves: 4

Tacos are a fun and tasty choice for get-togethers but did you know that they can be super healthy too? We’ve added lots of colourful veggies like orange bell pepper, tomato, and red onion to ours to make this meal balanced.  Our recipe uses quinoa too, which is a complete protein (the same way beef, poultry, and fish are) but plant-based, making it more environmentally friendly and a good choice for our Meatless Monday 🙂 Take a chance and make these tacos today, you won’t regret it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (180g) quinoa
  • 1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tortillas
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Black beans (optional)

Instructions

  1. Use strainer to rinse quinoa. Place in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to roast for 4 minutes.
  2. Add stock and water to quinoa and allow to boil. Bring heat down to low and cook quinoa covered with a lid for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  4. Remove quinoa mixture from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Add onion, bell pepper, tomato, lime juice, cumin, and chilli powder, to the quinoa mixture. Mix together well and place on a baking pan. Place in oven for 25 minutes until ingredients are crispy.
  6. Divide into four portions and place in soft- or hard-shell tacos. Happily serve 🙂

Nutritional Information (per serving):

250 kcal / 40g Carbohydrates (includes 6g Fibre) / 10g Protein / 3g Healthy Fats

Photo credit: Plays Well with Butter

Is Raw Sugar Healthier than White or Brown Sugar?

You may have seen raw sugar (or turbinado sugar) being served at coffee shops or sold in grocery stores. Some brands claim that raw sugar is more natural and beneficial than white or brown sugar. So what’s the difference?

Raw sugar:

  • Is processed by boiling the cane juice only once to remove some molasses
  • Contains trace amounts of micronutrients (calcium, iron, potassium and antioxidants)
  • Has a caramel flavour, and are golden brown crystals
  • Is more expensive (2-3 times the price of white sugar)

Similarities between the 3 sugars:

  • Similar nutrient profile per tsp: 16 calories, 4g carbs [1]
  • Per 1 tsp, all 3 sugars do not provide even 1% of recommended daily intakes of calcium, iron or potassium, nor has a significant amount of antioxidants
  • All 3 are sucrose and are processed from sugarcane / sugar beet [2]
  • All 3 are added sugars that can raise blood sugars 😦

So although raw sugar has trace amounts of minerals and antioxidants, you would have to have cups and cups of raw sugar to get the same amount of minerals and antioxidants from nutritious foods like bananas (potassium), spinach (iron), milk (calcium) or blackberries (antioxidants) [1]! So if you choose to have raw sugar, consider it for its flavour more than it’s nutrition!

Bottom Line

To summarize limiting added sugars is part of a healthy diet, whether that’s white, brown or raw sugar!


Until next time,

Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD


*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualised nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first appointment.

References:

[1] FoodData Central. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/.

[2] Thalheimer, J. C. (2015, September). Added Sugars and Heart Health. Today’s Dietitian, 17(9), 38.

Photocredit: Mother Jones