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

Brilliant Black Bean Quesadillas

Serves: 4

This easy-to-make dish is a family favourite that we can’t wait to share with all of you 🙂. Quesadillas are a colourful addition to your weekly food plan – and a healthy one too! This strong source of protein is packed with veggies and cheese, making it not only a fun dinner choice but a complete meal option as well 😉. These are super quick to make so whip up a few for your family and friends and let us know what you think in the comments!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 can (17 oz/500 mL) black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cumin
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) red chilli powder
  • 1 cup nonfat mozzarella cheese
  • 4 soft tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse black beans in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan on high heat. Add onions and stir until they start to become soft and almost clear in colour.
  3. Turn heat down to medium-high and add beans, corn, red pepper, as well as cumin and red chilli powder. Stir for about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove mixture and heat the first tortilla on the saucepan.  Add ¼ cup of your cheese on top along with ¼ of the mixture on half of the tortilla. Fold over the other half and cook until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Happily serve 🙂.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

350 kcal / 20g protein / 50g carbs / 6g healthy fats

Photo credit: Lauren Allgood, Pinterest

Bran Muffins

Makes 12

Need help getting enough fibre? Try these fibrous and easy to make bran muffins! (No electric beater required!). Add it to your breakfast or grab it as a snack! The fibre will keep you full and help keep you regular! Wheat bran not only contains B vitamins, minerals and some protein, but also has soluble fibre – which forms a gel in your gut trapping some cholesterol and removing it 🤯! So why not try these yummy muffins that can improve gut health along with your heart health ❤!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (87g) wheat bran
  • 1 ⅓ cups (165g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (68g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, ground (optional)
  • 1 ⅓ cup (330 ml) 2% milk
  • ⅓ cup (75 ml) canola oil
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine wheat bran, flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set it aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine milk, egg and oil with a whisk. Add dry ingredients and stir only until combined.
  4. Scoop batter evenly into twelve muffin pan cups greased with cooking spray or lined with paper muffin liners. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until a fork/toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

⚠ Always remember to increase fibre intake slowly and to have more water when you have more fibre to avoid discomfort! Talk to a dietitian to find out if you are having enough.

Nutrition Information (per muffin):
161kcal / 4g protein / 23g carbohydrate / 3.5g fibre / 7g healthy fat

Photo Credit: AllBran

Honey Garlic Salmon

When I come home from a long day and want to make something quick, yet healthy, fresh and tasty – I make honey garlic salmon! With ingredients that can be found in our fridge and cupboards, and a short cooking time, dinner will be ready in minutes! High in protein, healthy omega fats, and a good source of vitamin D!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp (10ml) honey
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) low sodium soy sauce 
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp (10ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tsp (10ml) canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 4 salmon fillets (4-5 oz or 150g each) 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Season salmon fillets with a mixture of honey, soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, paprika and thyme. Let fillets marinate for 15 minutes in the fridge, covered.  
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, and saute garlic for 1 minute. Add salmon fillets, along with the marinade into the pan. Cook each side for 4 minutes, while periodically basting the top of the fillets with the marinade. 
  3. Place fillets in a baking sheet,and  broil the salmon in the oven for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked.
  4. Serve with sliced lemons, and drizzle with any extra marinade.

*Tip*  Great with a side of steamed greens and a whole grain such as bulgur, quinoa or wild rice. 

Nutrition Information (per serving):

256kcal / 25g protein / 3.8g carbohydrate / 12g healthy fat

Photo Credit: Cafe Delites

Will Fluoridated Water Affect my Child’s IQ?

To know what fluoride is and why our water is fluoridated, check out our last Fact Friday post here. Today’s post reviews the current research on whether drinking fluoridated water will affect a child’s IQ.

A recent Canadian study looked at the association between consumption of fluoride by pregnant women and their child’s IQ. From 601 mother-child pairs in six cities, they looked at how much fluoride the mothers consumed, how much was in their urine, and then tested the child’s IQ at age three [1]. To simplify, what they found was a slight decrease in IQ when the mother’s urine had a bit more fluoride a. This was only the case for boys, not girls. However the child’s IQ (regardless of sex) slightly decreased when the mother’s daily fluoride intake was higher b.   

So does this mean I should avoid fluoride while pregnant?

In the realm of research, we investigate to add to our knowledge. While this study presents that there is a potential association, we cannot prove that it is definitely true or that there is a risk with just one study. 

This study has some limitations: 

  1. Some key measurements were off – fluoride intake did not match urinary fluoride, i.e. we don’t know exactly how much fluoride the mothers were consuming to make a conclusion. 
  2. The decrease in IQ only affected the boys it is very unclear why fluoride consumption would not affect girl’s IQ as it did in the boys, although similar studies did not find a difference in sex as they did. 
  3. Previous studies had fluoride levels way above acceptable limits in Canada – these studies took place in regions where water fluoride concentrations are well above the guideline (1.5mg/L) [2]c.  
  4. High fluoride in 3 urine samples ≠ exposure to baby three urinary samples from the mother do not reflect the overall exposure of fluoride to the fetus over the whole pregnancy. 
  5. They did not take into account different ways of intaking fluoride: As mentioned, fluoride is present in toothpaste, mouthwash, some bottled water, and food i.e. measurements were off. 

Conclusion:

Though we can’t make conclusions based on one study, we can continually review what level of fluoridation is best for us. Based on years of research, we know that drinking optimally fluoridated tap water in Canada is safe, improves oral health and is better for the environment than bottled water!

a Results: With an increase of 1mg/L of maternal urinary fluoride they found an associated decrease of 4.49 points in their child’s IQ, but only when the child was a boy, and not in girls.

b When mother’s daily fluoride intake increased by 1 mg, they found an associated decrease of 3.66 points in their child’s IQ (regardless of sex).

c The researchers try to back up their results by quoting studies that have observed a similar association. But these studies took place in regions where water fluoride concentrations are well above the guideline of 1.5mg/L (the highest acceptable amount in Canada), while the study conducted in Mexico did not report a concrete fluoride value at all [3]. 

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.

Until next time,

Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD


References:

[1] Green R, Lanphear B, Hornung R, et al. Association Between Maternal Fluoride Exposure During Pregnancy and IQ Scores in Offspring in Canada. JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1729.

[2] Health Canada (2017). Fluoride and Oral Health. [online] Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/environment/fluorides-human-health.html

[3] Bashash, M., Thomas, D., Hu, H., Angeles Martinez-Mier, E., Sanchez, B. N., Basu, N., … & Liu, Y. (2017). Prenatal fluoride exposure and cognitive outcomes in children at 4 and 6–12 years of age in Mexico. Environmental health perspectives, 125(9), 097017.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This colourful mouth watering dish is a great way for you (and your kids!) to get some vegetables, protein, iron, vitamin A, & C! This recipe will give you all three macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) in one. It’s super easy and the gorgeous colours match the fall season!

You will need:

  • 6 bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ¾ – 1lb lean ground beef
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup frozen or canned corn (unsalted)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (unsalted)
  • 5 cups of water 
  • 1 cup low fat (<18% M.F.) low sodium mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

  1. in a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of canola oil on medium-high heat and sauté the onions  until softened.
  2. Add minced garlic or garlic paste, and sauté for 1 minute. 
  3. Add the ground beef and mix together. Season with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, slice the top of the peppers off and remove the inner membranes and seeds. 
  5. In a separate pot, boil water and place the cut peppers inside for 3-4 mins until they’re a bit soft. (This cuts down baking time in the oven). Drain well and place upright in baking dish. 
  6. Once meat is cooked, add the tomato sauce and corn. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes until reduced. 
  7. Now stuff each pepper with the filling, and top it with mozzarella cheese. 
  8. Bake at 350°F in the oven for 15-20 minutes!

*Want a vegetarian version? Use TVP (soy protein) instead of beef, or black beans and quinoa!*

Nutrition Information (per serving):

250 kcal / 20g protein / 21g carbohydrate / 7g fat

Photo Credit: Cooking Classy