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

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

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

Mexican Veggie Burgers

Every now and then on cold days such as these (when the snow is at full blast and I can’t walk to the corner store without risking frostbite) I like to prepare meals that remind me of warmer and happier times. One such meal is the wonderful Mexican veggie burger 😌. My mum would always prepare these for us as kids during the summer holidays and I have fond memories of fighting my siblings to the death for the last patty. Ah! Such fun 😅. Whip some up today and maybe double the recipe so no one gets hurt!

Ingredients:

  • ½ can (10 oz/280 mL) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • ½ can (10 oz/280 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup (125 mL) breadcrumbs
  • 1⁄3 cup (80 mL) onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) paprika
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) water
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • Low sodium salsa

Instructions:

  1. Mash lentils and chickpeas in a large bowl using a small-holed masher or fork.
  2. One by one, slowly add in most of the other ingredients (breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, paprika, red chilli powder, water). Mix after adding each one to make sure the mixture is incorporated well.
  3. Add cheese and start to form the mixture into patties. Aim for burgers that will be about 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) thick.  
  4. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve with salsa over hamburgers buns and enjoy! 

Nutritional Information (per serving):

248 kcal / 14g protein / 30g carbs / 14g healthy fats

Photo Credit: Cindy Kurman, Kurman Photography

Spicy Red Lentil & Spinach Soup

The cold weather is here and it’s here to stay, so what better way to warm yourself up than with a hearty soup! This red lentil and spinach soup is not only tasty but healthy with loads of nutrients such as iron, fibre, folate, protein, vitamin A and more. Fibre from the spinach, and protein from the lentils will keep you full, while the spices will give you a burst of flavour in your mouth! Super easy to make as well! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric 
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ inch ginger, chopped (or ½ tsp ginger paste)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped (or ½ tsp garlic paste) 
  • 2 cups (60g) fresh or frozen spinach 
  • 1 cup ( 200g) red lentils, rinsed 
  • 2 cups (500ml) water or vegetable broth (adjust for thickness)

Follow 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Place diced onion, frozen or fresh spinach and lentils into a large pot. 
  2. Add water or vegetable broth. Then add all the spices, along with ginger and garlic. 
  3. Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes or until cooked. For a pressure cooker, cook for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving):

126kcal / 9g protein / 22g carbohydrate / 0g fat 

Photo Credit: iFoodreal

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

Warm Vegetable Chili

As the daylight hours begin to dwindle and the cold weather approaches, I for one gravitate towards more simple recipes that don’t require too much of my energy. You know, the ones where I don’t need to stick something in the oven for about 40 minutes and twiddle my thumbs while I wait for it to cool (😂). Warm Vegetable Chili is just one of those recipes that won’t sacrifice speed for nutrition – this perfect mix of protein, fibre, and veggies is an excellent addition to your autumn repertoire. Bon appétit!

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) frozen vegetables
  • 1 ½ tsp of garlic and ginger paste
  • 14 oz (398 ml) red kidney beans
  • 14 oz (398 ml) black beans
  • 5.5 oz (156 ml) tomato paste
  • 28 oz (796 ml) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
  • 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) paprika
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) vinegar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly chopped coriander
  • Grated marble cheddar cheese
  • Corn chips

Instructions:

  1. Sauté vegetables and garlic paste in a pan with olive oil on medium heat. 
  2. Drain and rinse red kidney beans and black turtle beans using a large colander. Add to pan and stir.
  3. Add the rest of your ingredients with the exception of cilantro. Allow for mixture to simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove mixture from heat and allow to slightly cool. Garnish with coriander.
  5. Serve on table with bowls of grated cheese and corn chips. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per serving):

280 kcal / 14g protein / 45g carbohydrate / 5g fat

Photo credit: Marco Verch