Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies

You probably were told to eat your veggies growing up, and for good reason! Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients and are an excellent source of fibre. Certain groups of fruits and vegetables also offer additional health benefits. For example, cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, contain a compound called glucosinolates (glue-co-sin-o-lates), which have been linked with anti-cancer effects[1]. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as carrots, red peppers, berries and beets contain a compound called carotenoids (car-rotten-oids). This compound is what gives them their bright colour[2], but is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage and reduce inflammation[3].

Despite the numerous benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, Canadians are not getting enough. Currently only 1 in 3 Canadians eat enough fruit and vegetables[4]. Adults should be consuming a minimum of 4 cups of fruit and vegetables per day, and children a minimum of 3 cups. So how can we increase our fruit and veggie intake? An easy way is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at meal time. Choose from a variety each day and plan your meals with veggies and fruit first.

Here are 5 delicious ways to help you fill half your plate this June:

  • Grill your veggies! Grilling vegetables is an easy way to add them to your meals and also helps to enhance their natural sweetness. Toss a variety of your favourite veggies with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put on the grill, turning once until soft and grill marks appear. Click here for a guide on how to grill a variety of vegetables.
  • Repurpose your leftover grilled veggies. Use leftover grilled veggies in sandwiches, like this grilled veggie sandwich, use as toppings for pizza or add to salads.
  • Make a fruit salsa. Fresh fruit salsa is excellent served on its own with tortilla chips or as a topper for fish, chicken or burgers. Try this Peach Salsa from Foodland Ontario.
  • Keep cool with a summer salad. Salads are a great way to beat the heat and provide a delicious meal when you don’t want to turn on the oven. Click here for some summer salad inspiration.
  • Fruit for dessert! The natural sweetness of fruit, especially in the peak of their growing season makes for an excellent dessert. Grilled fruit, like peaches or pineapples, or mixed berries served over frozen yogurt are easy and delicious summer desserts!

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/crucifeous-vegetables#7

[2] https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0916p12.shtml

[3] https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/082508p50.shtml

[4] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/food-nutrition/infographic-lets-eat-healthy-canada.html

Celebrate Earth Month Through Food

crate of assorted vegetables on grass

Celebrate Earth Month Through Food

Of the total land area that we as humans occupy on the earth, we dedicate half of it to agriculture production[1].  Three quarters of this land is used for raising livestock and the remainder for crops1. Interestingly however, livestock only provides 20% of the world’s supply of calories, yet occupies the greatest proportion of agricultural land.[2] Inevitably as the population continues to grow, we will need to consider not only how much we eat but what we eat. Earth Month is a great time to celebrate our beautiful planet, and also to reflect upon what we as humans can do to help preserve it. Simple changes in our diet and lifestyle can have significant positive effects on the earth. Here are ways that we can celebrate Earth Month, through food:

  1. Embrace plant-forward meals. Eating a diet that consists mainly of plants (whole grains, legumes, soy, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) can help to reduce your carbon footprint by 55%[3]. This can easily be achieved by designing your meals to feature plant-based foods first and then use animal proteins as a garnish. Alternatively, try dedicating one day per week to a meat-free meal.
  2. Minimize your red meat consumption. Beef utilizes 20 times the amount of land and emits 20 times the amount of greenhouse gas per unit of edible protein, in comparison to plant-based counterparts such as lentils, peas and beans[4]. Switching some of your protein choices each week for a plant-based alternative can have a big environmental impact. For example try substituting half the amount of ground meat in your #tacotuesday recipe for beans or lentils.
  3. Choose locally grown foods when possible. Foods that are locally grown and in season, are not only fresher in flavour, they support your local economy. They are also more environmentally friendly as the distance the food travels from farm to plate is lessened, reducing transportation emissions and energy usage for storage and processing[5]. Check out what’s in season.
  4. Opt for sustainable seafood choices. 31% of the world’s fish stocks are fished at an unsustainable level[6]. Choosing sustainably sourced fish and seafood promotes a more viable supply. Visit Ocean Wise to learn more about sustainable seafood options.

If we really want to make an impact this Earth Month, we can all take part in Stop Food Waste Day on April 27th. Stop Food Waste Day brings awareness to the issue of food waste across the globe and what we can do to help stop it. It is estimated that 1/3 of the world’s food that is produced every year is wasted[7], and in Canada the annual cost of food waste is 31 billion dollars[8]! Considering the environmental impacts of landfills and the levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the globe, food waste should be top of mind. For more tips on how you can reduce the amount of food waste in your home visit www.stopfoodwaste.ca.

 

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/yields-and-land-use-in-agriculture

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/agricultural-land-by-global-diets

[3] https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-community/environmental-health/article/sustainable-eating-eco-friendly-diet

[4] https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts

[5] https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/food-climate-change/

[6] https://www.fao.org/3/a-i5555e.pdf

[7] https://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

[8] https://vcm-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Food-Waste-in-Canada-27-Billion-Revisited-Dec-10-2014.pdf

 

March is Nutrition Month!

March is Nutrition Month! This year, our theme for Nutrition Month is Savour the Flavour, which focuses on foods that are nourishing for your body, while putting flavour first! It also celebrates our new menu engineering philosophy that keeps both public health and planetary health top of mind, by placing more plant-based foods at the centre of the plate. Numerous studies have demonstrated that by minimizing our red meat consumption and increasing the amount of plant-based foods on our plates, it reduces our risk for disease. Additionally, this plant-forward way of eating uses more sustainable methods of production and reduces green-house gas emissions, making these foods more viable choices for the earth.

Here are few ways you can celebrate our Savour the Flavour theme this nutrition month:

1. Aim for a half a plate of vegetables or fruits at each meal.
Veggies and fruits are packed with nutrients and deliver plenty of fibre, as a result they have many health promoting benefits. Choosing fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and in season, not only heightens their flavour, but also helps to reduce emissions.

2. Make your grains whole.
Whole grains reduce our risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and assist with weight maintenance. There is also immerging evidence to support their use in improving our gut bacteria. Incorporate more whole grains into your meals by looking for grain products such as pastas, crackers, breads and cereals that list whole grains in the ingredient list. You can also try using other whole grains such as bulgar, quinoa, or farro as an alternative to rice for a side dish.

3. Be a flexitarian!
Many studies have demonstrated the health benefits of minimizing your red meat consumption by substituting for a healthier protein such as beans, lentils, fish or poultry. For example, switching 1 daily portion of red meat for legumes, you can reduce your risk for mortality by 10%. Additionally, these healthier protein alternatives also offer benefits for the earth as they help to lessen your ecological footprint.

4. Experiment with a variety of herbs and spices.
In addition to adding a punch of flavour to your meals, herbs and spices can also offer health benefits. Ginger, for example, has been used to combat nausea but it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The best way to experiment with herbs and spices is to try a recipe from a different global cuisine. It’s the unique combination of herbs and spices that give many dishes from around the world their signature flavour!

Looking for some inspiration on how you can Savour the Flavour this nutrition month? Check out some of these great recipes.