Beans are one of those things that I didn’t like too much as a child (read: at ALL 😂) but over the years grew to love as an adult. There’s just something wonderful about trying new things and being open-minded about food!
In the midst of these ~corona times~ I keep finding beans and other canned items in my pantry and have been trying to come up with quick and fun recipes to prepare and enjoy. Enter: The Avocado and Black Bean Salad! 💪🏽
This recipe brings you a great combo of protein (from the beans), healthy fats (from the avocado), and Vitamin A, C, and fibre (from the veggies) to help support a balanced diet. A little salad dressing doesn’t hurt either, but reach for a low-fat version and remember to keep everything in moderation 😉.
These difficult times are starting to make me realize that throwing together balanced meals may not be so difficult after all! Are you getting creative in the kitchen during this corona season? Let me know all about it in the comments! 😊
1 can (1.75 cups) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, chopped OR 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes
1⁄2 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
1 medium avocado, cut into cubes
Optional: parsley and chickpeas for garnish
Instructions: 1. In a large bowl, mix together your black beans, tomato, corn and avocado cubes. 2. Top with homemade or store bought low-fat dressing then mix well and serve!
Nutritional Information (per serving): 275 kcal / 14g protein / 40g carbs (with 12g of fibre) / 6g healthy fats
Trying to get groceries these past few days was difficult, but one ingredient I noticed untouched time and time again was lentils. I have no idea why – lentils (both bagged or canned) not only last long in your pantry but are also tasty and pack a nutritious punch! They bring so much protein, fibre, and iron to any dish you decide to make that it’s definitely something to consider preparing this week 😉.
Mujaddara is a simple but popular Arab dish that takes these lentils and combines them with brown rice and caramelized onions. The new Canada’s Food Guide recommends that you have meals consisting of plant-based protein, whole grains, and lots of veggies/fruits, so I always suggest this dish to clients and ask them to get creative with adding other vegetables too 🙂. Let us know what you’d like to add in the comments!
1 cup canned lentils (any colour), drained and rinsed
1 cup brown rice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
Optional: cilantro for garnish
Instructions: 1. Add oil to a large pot and set to low heat. 2. Once a minute has gone by and the oil is hot enough, add onions. Increase heat to medium and constantly stir until onions turn a golden brown colour. This means they are caramelized and ready to be put aside in a bowl for now. 3. Using the same heated pot you cooked the onions in, add garlic paste, salt, black pepper and cumin and wait for a minute or so. Keep heat on medium. 4. Add in your vegetable stock and wait until it boils. 5. Now add in your rice and place a lid on top of the pot. Immediately turn down heat to low and allow to cook for 35 minutes. Add in lentils and continue to heat for another 5 minutes. 6. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. 7. Remove lid and stir in caramelized onions. 8. Happily serve!
Nutritional Information (per serving): 400 kcal / 17g protein / 60g carbs (with 15g of fibre) / 7g healthy fats
The classic combo, hummus and pita. Hummus can be quite expensive to buy in stores, but quite inexpensive when prepared at home. Try this easy-to-make, flavourful, and creamy hummus alongside some crunchy whole wheat pita chips. Save the extra hummus to use as a spread on sandwiches (instead of mayonnaise), or as a dip with carrots, cucumber, broccoli, or your favourite veggie. This dip is plant-based, and contains healthy fats, fibre, and iron; nutrients that are important for heart health, gut health, and for carrying oxygen in our blood.
1 (19oz/540ml) can of chickpeas (drained & rinsed), or 1 cups dried chickpeas, boiled
Protein bars are everywhere these days, but have you ever heard of protein energy balls? And did you know that you can make them at home? They’re quick, easy, and if you make enough you can eat them during the week as healthy snacks or even share them with family and friends! Everyone needs protein in their lives to help build and repair muscles, bones, and even skin, so reach for some tasty sources during the day to support a healthy lifestyle 😉
Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients we’ve used in our recipe – with the exception of the protein powder, oats, and oil, you can replace everything else with things that you might like. Not a fan of nut butters? Try using dates instead – they’re sticky too so will help keep everything together. Maybe you can’t stand chia seeds – that’s fine! Think of other nuts and seeds you might like instead, like flax seeds, almonds, or pistachios.
This recipe is ready for you to make it your own, so get to it and let us know how you did in the comments 😊
2 scoops protein powder
1 cup quick oats
¾ cup natural nut butter (such as peanut butter or almond butter)
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
Optional: coconut flakes*
Instructions: 1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pay attention to consistency – if it’s too sticky, add more oats or protein powder to help stabilize. If it’s not sticky enough to form into balls, add more nut butter. 2. Once you are happy with how the mixture feels form it into balls and place them in the fridge for an hour. 3. Happily serve 🙂.
*If you decide to add coconut flakes, coat a baking sheet with about 1 cup of flakes and use your hands to lightly roll protein balls on top until they are evenly covered.
Nutritional Information (per serving): 165 kcal / 7g protein / 9g carbs (with 3.5g of fibre) / 9g healthy fats
I’m going to be honest – this is a strange one. I, for one, am not accustomed to adding peanut butter to drinks (I kind of used to side eye those who did, actually) but after becoming a Registered Dietitian and embracing all things food I thought I’d give it a try.
Boy was I wrong! This smoothie is tasty, creamy, and nutritious all rolled up into one. The spinach gives you lots of iron and vitamin A (good for your eyes and skin!) and the banana provides you with potassium (helps your bones and kidneys!) and vitamin B6 (which boosts your immune system). On top of that, spinach and banana are good sources of fibre and therefore help keep you regular.
The peanut butter is of course the icing on the cake: if the sweetness from the banana didn’t convince you to try this, the peanut butter will make you do a double take and question whether this could really be a part of a healthy lifestyle 😉. Before you run off though, know that the spinach has (shockingly) NO taste in this smoothie 🤯. If this drink wasn’t green I honestly wouldn’t have even known there was spinach in there. So give it a go this week and let us know what you think!
2 handfuls of spinach
2 tbsp natural and smooth peanut butter
1 cup cow’s milk or unsweetened almond milk
Optional add-on: 1 scoop of protein powder
Instructions: 1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 2. Happily serve!
Nutritional Information (per serving): 220 kcal / 7g protein / 32g carbs (with 5g of fibre) / 8g healthy fats
Want a fun dish to try this week? Chicken fajitas can be a wonderful part of a balanced diet! This meal provides a large portion of spiced chicken full of protein and great vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers to keep anyone satisfied 😉. Don’t feel shy to switch it up, too – if you’re not the biggest fan of the veggies we’ve chosen, consider others instead. Almost all vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, so you can’t go wrong with mixing it up a bit 🕺🏽. Brown rice and its wonderful whole grain goodness is another great addition too. Let us know what you’ve decided to add to your dish in the comments!
Instructions: 1. Combine 4 tbsp of the oil, juice, garlic paste, and spices in a bowl and stir. Add chicken breast slices and coat meat with the marinade. Cover and place in fridge for an hour. 2. Once chicken has marinated, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat in a large pan. Cook chicken for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through to make sure it is cooked well on both sides. 3. Add onion, tomato, and bell pepper to chicken. Continue to cook for 5-7 minutes until vegetables have softened. 4. Take off heat and happily serve over tortillas or pitas ☺ Consider adding some condiments as well to enhance the flavour, as well as brown rice to provide more healthy carbs to this fantastic meal. Nutritional Information (per serving): 309 kcal / 27g protein / 15g carbs (with 2g of fibre) / 13g healthy fat
Here’s a healthy and crunchy snack you can take to work or school. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s high in protein, fibre, and contains complex carbs – elements of a fulfilling snack that can sustain and keep you energized. It also can help you reach your daily nutrient needs of iron (to help carry oxygen in your blood), potassium (to keep your nerves and muscles healthy) and folate (to make red blood cells, keep heart healthy, and lower certain birth defect risks). Try it out!
2 (19oz/540ml) cans of cooked chickpeas (drained & rinsed) or 2 cups dried chickpeas, boiled
3 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp spice of your choice (ex. chili powder, cajun, pepper, etc).
Tip: If chickpeas are not completely dry, spread them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes, to remove excess water. (This makes them crispy).
Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Line a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Season chickpeas with spice and oil. Combine well.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, giving the sheet a shake every 10 minutes to evenly cook chickpeas. Serve once cool.
⚠ 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 ¼ cup serving): 150kcal / 6g protein / 17g carbohydrate / 4g fibre / 7g healthy fat
Ever wondered how much protein is enough? What types? And when? Well today we’ll *whey* into this subject!
As mentioned in our first Sports Nutrition Article, protein is important for our health, especially for physical activity. Research is now suggesting that athletes and active individuals need more protein than what most individuals need .
Let’s look at why and what happens to the proteins we eat:
This last scenario is especially concerning for athletes and active individuals since they’re consistently working out and burning calories (energy). In other words, if we’re active but don’t have enough calories or protein, our muscles might become a source of fuel; i.e. our bodies would lose protein and not have enough to build and repair muscle.
So How Much Protein is Enough?
For best health and performance, the amount of protein should meet your specific needs. It depends on many factors: the type of exercise (intensity, duration), your weight, calorie intake, goals, age, etc. Generally the literature suggests between 1.2 – 2.0g of protein per kg of body weight a day . This range is very broad; the higher end may be better suited for athletes training for specialized sports, while the lower end may be for individuals who are recreationally active. Talk to a Registered Dietitian (RD) to find out what your specific protein needs are.
*Note: It’s important to have enough calories especially from carbohydrates, so protein is spared from being used as fuel and can be used to build other proteins (ex. muscle) . You can think of it like this: have protein to build and repair muscles, and carbohydrates to fuel.
We know it’s important to have enough protein, but recent research shows that timing may matterjust as much.
After we exercise, our body produces proteins to repair and rebuild damaged muscle – for 24 hours after exercise. This is when our bodies are more sensitive to the protein we eat . They trigger and supply building blocks to make muscle and proteins .
So When Should I Have Protein?
The key to having a good supply of protein for your body is to have moderate amounts of high-quality protein spread throughout the day and after your workout. More specifically, research recommends to:
Have ~ 15-25g† (or 0.3g per kg of body weight)immediately after or within 2 hours of exercise to best repair and build muscle § .
Examples: 2 oz grilled chicken breast, 4 scrambled egg whites, 3 oz cooked salmon/tuna, 1 cup cooked beans, ¾ cup Greek yogurt, ¾ cup cottage cheese, 2 tbsp peanut butter
Spread protein intake throughout the day (every 3-5 hours) in modest amounts in meals and snacks – since our bodies don’t store protein
Does More Protein = More Gains?
No! Extra protein will not help you build more muscle! Current research has tested this and showed that doses of more than 40g after exercise do not enhance muscle growth in most people. There’s only so much your body can use in that time!
Having excessive protein may also lower kidney function along with other negative health effects, so it’s important not to overdo it !
†Note: This amount is generally for the typical athlete but depends on your weight. Check with an RD.
§Note: Having enough energy (calories) is important to support muscles. If you do not (ex. if your goal is weight loss), then you may need more protein to support muscle growth and maintenance. This changes from person to person. Talk to an RD to find out what your needs are.
Which Protein Sources are the Highest Quality?
We’ve all heard the saying, “quality over quantity”. Well the same applies to the protein we choose to eat. If you’re active, consider high quality proteins because they’re easily used by muscles to promote muscle growth, repair and maintenance .
High-quality proteins are:
✔ Easily digested ✔ Provide essential amino acids that the body can’t make (i.e. must come from food)
Examples of high-quality proteins:
Animal sources: dairy products, egg whites, lean beef, poultry, and fish
Plant sources: soy, quinoa, pea, beans, lentils, and peanuts
Isolated proteins¶: whey, casein, egg white, and soy 
¶Note: Choose protein from food sources over supplements as they provide a natural source of protein with other nutrients to support an active lifestyle.
But there’s one more player involved, and that’s leucine – probably one of the most important amino acids for improving muscle growth after intense exercise . Proteins rich in leucine (such as whey, found in milk), have been shown to be the most effective in improving muscle growth with resistance exercise . Studies point to this branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) as the trigger for the machinery responsible for making more muscle proteins .
Foods Richest in leucine:
Animal sources: dairy products (ex. milk, yogurt, cottage cheese), egg whites, lean beef, poultry, and fish
Plant sources: soybeans, beans (ex. edamame), lentils, and peanuts
Note: there is little benefit of consuming a leucine supplement, rather high-quality proteins that contain leucine and other essential amino acids should be preferred for muscle growth promotion .
Therefore, athletes and active individuals should consider high-quality proteins that are:
Rich in other essential amino acids
Athletes and active individuals require more protein, which depends on many factors
An RD can help determine what your specific protein needs are
Consider high quality proteins, rich in leucine and essential amino acids that digest rapidly to promote muscle growth, repair and maintenance
Spread protein intake throughout the day (every 3-5 hours) in modest amounts in meals and snacks
Have ~15-25g†(or 0.3g per kg of body weight)of high-quality protein immediately after or within 2 hours of exercise to maximize gains
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ourContact Us page to book your first appointment.
 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
 Rodriguez, N. R., Vislocky, L. M., & Gaine, P. C. (2007). Dietary protein, endurance exercise, and human skeletal-muscle protein turnover. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 10(1), 40-45.
 Burd, N. A., West, D. W., Moore, D. R., Atherton, P. J., Staples, A. W., Prior, T., … & Phillips, S. M. (2011). Enhanced amino acid sensitivity of myofibrillar protein synthesis persists for up to 24 h after resistance exercise in young men. The Journal of nutrition, 141(4), 568-573.
 Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of sports sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.
 Phillips, S. M. (2012). Dietary protein requirements and adaptive advantages in athletes. British Journal of Nutrition, 108(S2), S158-S167.
 Pennings, B., Boirie, Y., Senden, J. M., Gijsen, A. P., Kuipers, H., & van Loon, L. J. (2011). Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(5), 997-1005.
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! .
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
Exercise! We all do it (or at least try to 🙈) in some way, shape, or form. With the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelinesstating 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 . 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 Guideis 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:
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  . 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.
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 . 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 skinlesschicken, turkey, tuna, shellfish, and pulses like beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Carbs are the #1 source of energy in our bodies, so it’s no wonder they play a large role in exercise nutrition . 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.
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 .
So what kind of carbs should I be having?
Aim to have whole grains such as wholegrainpasta, brownrice, 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 .
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  . Dairy and dairy alternatives like fortifiedsoy, cashew, and almondmilk all provide calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones strong and resistant to injury.
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 . 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  . 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 .
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?
Limitsourcesof 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 .
Reachforsourcesof monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats instead, like oliveoil, avocados, flaxseeds, and walnuts. These will help improve your heart health and work together with exercise to build a stronger you.
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 .
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 highintensity 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 . These losses (particularly of sodium) can even cause cramping, so in intense cases where this can happen sports drinks should be considered .
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!
 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
 Jequier, E. (1994). Carbohydrates as a source of energy. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 59(3), 682S-685S.
 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
 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.