Taste the rainbow!
This is a new recipe my family recently tried and oh my goodness was it ever good! I was pleasantly surprised at how non-zucchini-y it tasted because I’m not a huge fan of zucchini. It tasted so fresh and crisp, we all agreed this was a recipe to save!
With only 330 calories and 32g of protein per serving, this is a perfect recipe for a lighter, but healthy and nutritious summer meal!
- 2 medium zucchini OR 1 mini zucchini per person
- 1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 package (60g) of Garlic & Herb Goat Cheese by Compliments
- 1 tsp. dried basil
Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into long strips and place in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and chicken. (We chose to eat our chicken separate from the salad).
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, pepper and basil. Toss with zucchini, tomatoes and chicken. Dish onto plates and garnish with cheese.
(We recently purchased a spirooli – a vegetable spiraler, and made this recipe again using the spirooli. The zucchini “noodles” were SO cool!)
Ever since I stopped eating dairy I’ve been searching high and low for a dairy-free yogurt. I used to have one of those little single-serve yogurts every morning for breakfast and have been really missing the creamy goodness of yogurt ever since. The only “dairy-free” yogurt I was aware of was lactose-free yogurt by the brand Yoso, until I saw an ad in a magazine for coconut yogurt. Yes, COCONUT yogurt! I knew I had to find some and I finally did! I’ve had two different brands now and each were very different from each other.
*Click on images to enlarge
“Yoso” Unsweetened Premium Cultured Coconut Yogurt
This was the first brand I tried and I was SO excited to find it. I was so impressed with all the food concerns Yoso‘s Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt caters to. Not only is it dairy-free, but it’s also gluten-free, sugar free, soy-free AND artificial flavor free! I admit that the lack of sugar made it a tad bitter which was a bit of an adjustment at first, but after I few bites I absolutely loved it. It tasted so natural, fresh and healthy. A definite two thumbs up for this brand!!
Because it is pure coconut cream, I wouldn’t eat this on a daily basis as it could be quite fattening, however it would be a scrumptious occasional treat! Besides the unsweetened version, Yoso also makes a chocolate flavor and a vanilla flavor.
So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk
Compared to the Yoso brand, I was not at all impressed with So Delicious’ version of coconut yogurt. I tried both the plain kind and the vanilla kind and neither really even tasted like coconut! The vanilla did taste significantly better than the plain but neither were really “fresh” or “natural” tasting. The So Delicious brand is dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free, but is NOT sugar-free.
So Delicious offers a variety of other flavors for their coconut yogurt including strawberry, raspberry, pina colada, mango, blueberry and chocolate!
Both nutritional and taste wise, my vote is “Yoso’s” Unsweetened Premium Cultured Coconut Yogurt!
Do you know of any other “dairy-free” yogurts?
To be honest, I’ve never really paid attention to the stickers on fruit or vegetables. I’ve always assumed they were there just for scanning upon check-out. Turns out those annoying little stickers mean more than we think!
The number on the sticker not only identifies the fruit or vegetable to the cashier, but it also tells you how the product was grown! You can tell if the product was organically grown, genetically modified or grown with fertilizers and pesticides.
Check this out:
- If there are FOUR numbers, the produce was grown conventionally with the use of pesticides (e.g. A banana is code 4011)
- If there are FIVE numbers and the number starts with an “8“, the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable (e.g. A GMO banana would be labeled 84011)
- If there are FIVE numbers and the number starts with a “9“, the item was grown organically and is not genetically modified (e.g. An organic banana would be 94011)
How cool is that!
What do your fruit and vegetable stickers say?
After doing a bit of research on this topic, there seems to be a lot of conflict as to what the right approach is to preparing fresh produce. Some say that because produce pesticides are made to withstand rain, washing them with water isn’t enough, yet Health Canada says washing with water IS enough. Which one is the right way??
First of all, are fruits and vegetables really that dirty?
You might be surprised to know that fresh fruits and vegetables do not naturally contain microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, viruses and parasites) that can cause food-borne illness. Produce becomes contaminated through contact with soil, contaminated water, animals, or improperly composted manure. Fresh produce can also come into contact with harmful microorganisms during and after harvest if it is not properly handled, stored, and transported.
An Environmental Working Group Study found that on average, eating the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about FOURTEEN pesticides per day. Yikes!!
The twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables are known as “The Dirty Dozen” :
- Bell Peppers
These fruits and vegetables should be washed extra thoroughly due to their absorbent skins that are more likely to harbor contaminants or pesticide residue.
What about organic produce?
Just because organically grown produce hasn’t been exposed to pesticides or growth hormones, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is 100% clean. Even organically grown vegetables can have contaminants from a variety of other sources! For this reason, the FDA recommends you always wash ALL fruits and vegetables regardless of their source.
So how should I wash my fruits and vegetables?
Health Canada recommends washing fruits and veggies thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water and to use a produce brush to scrub items with firm surfaces, like oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots etc. They also say that bagged, pre-washed leafy greens do not need to be washed again before eating. I question this a little due to a recent story in the news about parasites found in pre-washed lettuce. In my family, we wash everything whether it says “pre-washed” or not!
On the other hand, a juicing recipe book we recently purchased suggests that all fruits and vegetables should be washed, scrubbed and soaked in a sink of cool water with 2 Tbsp. of food-grade peroxide or vinegar. This is supposed to remove any soil as well as bacteria that may have developed during transportation and handling.
Personally, my family has always washed off fresh produce with just water. However, after we started juicing and reading what the juicing book said, we figured washing produce a bit more thoroughly might be a good idea. Now we wash off all our fruits and veggies with a tiny bit of Green Earth Clorox Dish Detergent and a vegetable brush.
Whether water really is enough or not nobody seems to really know, but either way I think it is better to be safe than sorry! Washing your fruits and vegetables is an extra measure you can take to prevent food-borne illnesses, and eliminate pesticide residue.
I think a lot of people are wary about including nuts in their diet because they are under the impression that nuts are fattening. Nuts are quite high in fat, BUT…the majority of the fat is good fat (mono and polyunsaturated fats)! It is actually important to include some nuts in your diet on a regular basis.
- Low in saturated fats (bad fats)
- Rich in:
- Both good mono & polyunsaturated fats (good fats)
- Vitamins and minerals
- One ounce of nuts, five times a week has been associated with a 9-29% decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels. That is pretty significant!
- Nuts are also said to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function.
Incorporating nuts into your diet
- Eat a variety of nuts. This way you can reap the benefits of all nuts, rather than sticking to just one kind.
- Eat only UNSALTED nuts. Most of us easily surpass the recommended daily intake of sodium as it is, so we don’t need to be adding any more extra sodium into our diets.
- Substitute butter with nuts on cooked vegetables. A little sprinkle of almonds or walnuts can be a nice alternative topping for your vegetables.
- Similarly you can add nuts to your salads. We always sprinkle a few slivered almonds, walnuts or even sunflower seeds on our lettuce salads. They are a really nice addition!
- Use nut butter in place of dairy butter or margarine.
- Eat a handful of nuts as a snack rather than reaching for chips, granola bars, bread etc.
Which nuts are the healthiest? What about the lowest in fat?
Here’s a little chart that compares some of the most common nuts.
- Brazil nuts and cashews are the highest in saturated (bad) fats, while pecans and hazelnuts are the lowest in saturated fats.
- Almonds, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts are highest in mono-unsaturated heart-healthy fats
- Walnuts are the highest in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Just ¼ cup of walnuts provides 90% of the recommended daily intake of omega-3. Wow!
Nuts may be full of good fat, but an overload of them can still have negative effects, so it is important to eat nuts in moderation. A handful daily really is enough!
Are you nuts for nuts?
DID YOU KNOW?
Although we think of almonds as a nut, technically they are the seed of a fruit that grows from the almond tree.
Everyday I am able to see what search terms lead people to my blog and what pages are viewed. A popular search term lately has been “portion sizes” in relation to my Quick Ways to Measure Serving Sizes post. Given the popularity of this search term, it seems people are genuinely interested in this area, so I thought I would expand on this topic a little bit more.
Today in 2013, our portion sizes are significantly different than what they were fifty, twenty, even ten years ago! Just look at the new Tim Horton’s cup sizes, the new extra large is close to a full litre of coffee! The average restaurant meal today is more than four times larger than meals were in the 1950s. Things just keep getting bigger and bigger and it really is ridiculous. Bigger is NOT always better!! Bigger portions means more calories which in turn means more fat people!
So what can we do to better control our portion sizes?
- Put your food on a plate/in a bowl, rather than eating right out of the container. We often eat more when we can’t accurately judge the portion size.
- Check the serving size on the nutrition label if you are following Canada’s Food Guide recommended servings. CFG servings are often a lot smaller than we anticipate.
- When eating out: (1) share with a friend, (2) order smaller menu items or (3) immediately put half your meal aside before starting to eat. This way you won’t cause yourself to overeat and you’ll have lunch/dinner for tomorrow!
- NEVER “supersize!” It is already bad enough you are ordering a burger and fries at McDonalds, you and your arteries do NOT need a fatty burger quadrupled in size!
- If you know you are always short on vegetables during meals, try having your vegetables first before the rest of your meal (i.e. salad before the main course).
- ALWAYS make vegetables the biggest portion on your plate. See my Eat More Vegetables postfor more on why vegetables are so good for you!
Here are a few examples of good ways you can arrange your dinner plate:
I’ve seen this posted around Pinterest and from what I know about Nutrition, this is not a healthy way to measure serving sizes. It portions the same amount of vegetables as starch and whatever that red stuff is (fruit?). There should be a much greater number of vegetables than the other food groups!
Are YOU aware of your portion sizes?