Posts Tagged: Theresa Albert

Sick of chicken? Try cooking lentils!

Protein packed lentils are one of the most ancient crops known to have been cultivated even as much as 8500 years ago! Loads of varieties are available and they are cheap and easily found at any grocery store.  They are one of the few beans that don’t require soaking or any other preparation which makes them perfect for making healthy meals at a low cost.

Getting your family to include lentil nutrition as part of an enjoyable, healthy meal may take some work but the effort is well worth it.  Studies abound on the benefits of lentils, which include the ability to reduce blood pressure and reverse heart disease.  Break the kids in early with mashed lentils as a first food.

Some of the more common varieties include:

Puy Lentils-these small blackish green, lower starch lentils are great for creamy side dishes

Green Lentils-firm, larger pods are ideal for cold salads

Red Lentils- these are actually the hulled inside of other lentils, and are perfect for soups as they disintegrate when cooked.

All lentils rank very highly on the protein scale and when paired with cheese and/or nuts make a complete protein just as effective at building muscle as animal protein. They are also one of the best forms of fibre. A one cup serving meets the requirements for just over half of your day’s needs. Just remember when cooking any lentils, pulses or beans not to add any acid like lemon or vinegar until the very end. Doing so stops the breakdown of the fibre so that they will not cook fully. Well this can be a good thing to prevent them from becoming too mushy at the end of cooking add it at the beginning and you’ll be crunching on pebbles! Here is one of my healthy lentil recipes for delicious homemade soup.

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Preparation time: 25 minutes                                      Servings: 4                 

You can feed a family of four for under $2.00 with a soup of high-protein lentils, nutrition-packed sweet potatoes and onions. Cheese is optional and will cost a bit extra. I know it seems weird not to peel the sweet potatoes but the skins are full of nutrients and are just as delicious as white potato skins.  Just give them a good scrub and chop!

1 tsp                butter

1                      onion, chopped

1 cup               red lentils

1                      small sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed, skin on

4 cups              chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp              dried basil

½ tsp               black pepper

pinch               dried red chili peppers

1 tbsp              molasses

8 tbsp              grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Warm a large pot over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onions and sweet potato; stir. Add broth and water; then lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil, chili peppers, pepper and molasses. Grate cheese if using and serve at the table.

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Practise barbecuing and food safety!

It’s burger season! And every burger season we hear about ground meat being pulled off the shelves due to contamination with E. coli. The reason burgers are more at risk than other meats is because the flesh is ground which increases the surface area. Proper cooking of ground beef is the only way to make sure all illness causing bacteria is killed. Chicken, fish, lamb and beef burgers should always be cooked well done.

Stay safe during BBQ season!

Burgers are such a pleasant part of the season that they are worth having, as long as you keep a few grilling safety guidelines in mind. (Also remember to choose lean meats and your binders and side dishes wisely to avoid derailing your diet in one barbeque.)

Here are some tips to minimize the risks of barbequing while maximizing safety and taste.

  • Always use a meat thermometer on ground meats. Insert it horizontally and check a couple of spots in the thickest part of the burger.
  • Use your thumb to create a dimple in the middle of each burger. This will fill in as the meat shrinks during cooking and ensure that the heat reaches the risky middle.
  • Chicken, beef and salmon all need to be fully cooked to well done. One small speck of E. coli or salmonella can cause tremendous illness.
  • Use moist and nutritious toppings to enhance flavour and juiciness.
  • Gourmet ingredients can elevate your burger: ricotta cheese, blue cheeses, pesto sauce, a variety of mustards, fresh vegetables, baby lettuces and sprouts all add a burst of taste.
  • Go beyond the bun! Paleo friendly lettuce wraps, kale or nappa cabbage leaves make great bases. If you do choose bread, keep the burger to bun ratio in check and don’t be afraid to try different grains and flavours.

So now that you are armed with these food safety tips get out there and grill!

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

When poop doesn’t happen

Guest post by Theresa Albert

Nutritionists love to talk about poo. Its size, shape, frequency and texture are all fascinating to us because they express so much about the food that went in and the health of the system that is supposed to be utilizing it. So it pains a nutritionist and parents, when a child won’t, or has trouble, going number two. We know how uncomfortable it can be, and yet important.

The scoop on poop

So what is constipation and what causes it? Naturopathic doctor, Jane Shou, ND, who practices at the Rosedale Wellness Centre in Toronto says: “By definition a child who is used to regular bowel movements who goes two or more days without a bowel movement, or has pain or difficulty passing hard stool is constipated. The most common cause is insufficient fluids and/or too little fibre.” Sounds simple enough but there are other constipation causes worth considering:

  • emotional stress (moving to a new location, or change in routine)
  • too much emphasis on toilet training
  • changes in diet or the introduction of new foods
  • too much fat in diet
  • lack of exercise
  • holding stool for various reasons such as being too active to take the time to have a bowel movement which can lead to reluctance in passing firmer stool due to the association of pain
  • using a medication that may be constipating

During short bouts of constipation, food isn’t used well, bloating or cramping is uncomfortable and fatigue can set in. After a few weeks, minor nutritional deficiencies can be present. Over the long term, chronic constipation can lead to a loss of muscle tone in the bowel, leading to a lifelong problem. In severe cases, rectal fissures (painful microscopic tears in the rectum) can result. Because the bowel presses on the bladder, children who suffer from constipation may also experience bedwetting.

A professional should conduct a very thorough review of past or current issues relating to digestive function and other factors, such as patterns with diet, sleep, stress, energy, demeanour, and other current health concerns. The idea is to find the root cause of the issue and treat from that standpoint and to allow the body to heal and grow stronger for a long term resolution and to prevent future issues.

Try these simple at home remedies:

  • Gradually increase the amount of fibre and fluid in your child’s diet.
  • Provide water, herbal teas, and clear soups before every meal.
  • Serve warm water with 1/4 squeezed lemon, first thing in the morning.
  • Probiotics are fabulous for helping establish healthy gut flora, try yogurt that is free of flavourings, colours or gums such as gelatin.
  • Serve hot cereals such as oatmeal each day.
  • Epsom salts baths, being high in magnesium, can increase circulation to the lower abdomen. Magnesium supplements can soften stool and help relax muscles
  • Massage lower abdomen to stimulate circulation and movement.  Start on the lower right corner and move upwards towards the ribs, and then over to the left, and then down towards the pelvis on the left side of the abdomen
  • Encourage physical activity and awareness of responding promptly to bowel needs. If a young child indicates an urge, respond promptly and take him/her to the bathroom.

The single most important thing to do in preventing or treating constipation is to use whole foods right from the first foods stage and avoid highly processed and packaged foods. If you are already in the toilet on this, so to speak, it’s not too late to find relief from constipation… start eating healthier now. Implement as many of the techniques listed as possible and prevent a lifelong struggle with digestion.

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

 

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