Snacks: What, Why and When

Nita Sharda

Snack ideas galore!

How (and what) we eat has changed. As a nation we are shifting from 3 meals a day to multiple small meals, or 3 meals and 3 snacks. Back in the day our grandmas didn’t have time to make more than three meals since they were all from scratch, and our grandpas didn’t have time to eat more than 3 meals because they worked sun-up to sun down.

Now, with working households, evolving research and a shift in the eating paradigm our days are certainly not what they once were. A day in the office might look like this; coffee, emails, yogurt, conference call, donut, coffee, emails, lunch, meetings, granola bar, dinner, TV, snacks, social media, bed. Repeat.

Sound familiar? Vaguely?

There is no problem with eating 6 smaller meals a day. In fact about 16% of Canadians are doing it1. Societal demands persuade us to work faster and longer. Time for meals has fallen to the wayside and we are all guilty of eating in the car or eating while scrolling through instagram. However, snacking may be adding calories that we would not have eaten had we stuck to 3 smaller meals. Many snacks nowadays also include a nutrient-lacking drink. A juice box, iced tea or a fancy latte etc. It doesn’t sound too harmful until we look at the 200+ extra calories we are (quickly) ingesting. Not to mention, when we dissect where these calories come from, they often aren’t nourishing. Pair one of these beverages with 200 calories of food and you have a 400 hundred calorie snack meal. Oops.

In order to stop this from happening we need to be mindful of consumption and ensure that we are getting all the nutrients we need from our combination of meals and snacks.

Here’s a bit more guidance:

One.

Just because it says snack or snack pack or snak pax or however the kids are spelling it these days doesn’t mean that it is healthy. Those granola bars and gummy packs are sugar laden regardless if they are made with “real fruit juice” or not. Solution? Homemade granola bars, and a small container of berries or grapes for a sweet bite with the added fibre of natural fruit.

Two.

Just like chocolate bars and ice cream, chips, muffins and cookies are treats. Now there’s nothing wrong with a homemade carrot muffin or a nutrient dense oatmeal cookie in you or your little one’s lunch. But recognize this is a “dessert” or a “treat”.

Fun fact – Tim Horton’s muffins have, on average, 100 more calories than their donuts. Yikes. Maybe we should start calling them cupcakes.

Three.

Include multiple food groups. Aim for 2-3 food groups per snack! It’s important to include a protein and carbohydrate. Benefits of this strategic pairing includes increased alertness, stable sugars and sustained energy. Some examples include cheese & grapes, or nuts with an apple, chicken & cherry tomatoes with a little balsamic vinegar, raw veggies with hummus, banana with almond butter, cottage cheese with black pepper and baby carrots, the list goes on!

Four.

You don’t neeeed to have snacks. As much fun as “eating-cause-I’m-bored” is…it definitely isn’t necessary. Listen to your body and eat when you experience real hunger cues. Start by drinking a cup of water, then if your body demands it, go ahead! Get nourished!

Remember, just like a meal is for nourishment, so are your snacks. You might need a little power in the mid afternoon to get you through the rest of your workday. So make it count. Give your body what it needs. A donut will result in a sugar crash, a handful of almonds and berries will give you human super powers to have the most productive 2-4pm you’ve had all week. Or something like that…

Now, in case you’re interested pictured above are the top 9 snacks I tend to rotate between (from left to right):

Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.
Please note the content of this post was written by 4th year Human Nutritional Sciences student Johanna Adriaansen. Johanna also maintains her own website and is an aspiring Dietitian!

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Thai Quinoa Salad

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeI love quinoa. But I’m really not a fan of it by itself. Are you? My preference is to enjoy it when it’s “mixed” into something like a pesto quinoa salad or as a pilaf with garlic mushrooms. Mmmmm. I’ve been making this version of a Thai quinoa salad for years now but never really took the time to standardize the recipe. With some encouragement from friends and family, I finally did it.

Here are my pre-requisites for a quinoa salad:

I want it to be hearty enough to be a meal, so I need a solid source of protein. Enter the edamame bean! A ½ cup serving of edamame beans is about 12 grams of protein.

I want color. I eat with my eyes so against the quinoa I wanted to see some yellow, red, purple and green. A colorful meal also means I’m feeding my body variety of nutrients.

I want a good-for-you dressing. I’m not fearful of fat and my mantra has always been: it’s not the quantity of fat you eat, it’s the quality. The dressing for this recipe is largely based on peanut butter. Go for a natural PB that isn’t loaded with added fats, sugar or salt. The dressing also has lovely hints of ginger which is great for digestion and amping up the flavor of this salad.

I want it to still be good the next day. C’mon, we all know many salads don’t hold up more than 24 hours. Not this recipe! I prefer to keep the dressing on the side and pour on more as I need it. The quinoa salad itself stays perfectly fine for 3 – 4 days when kept refrigerated in an air-tight container.

This recipe is a hit, no matter where I go. My vegan and vegetarian friends and mama’s all LOVE it. It’s perfect for weekday lunches, as a side or for sharing at a potluck.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeThai Quinoa Salad_vertical

Okay, okay, recipe below!

4.0 from 2 reviews
Thai Quinoa Salad
 
Prep time
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Ingredients
  • Salad:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage (we like to chop it pretty small)
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups edamame beans *steam/cook ahead of time
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • For the dressing:
  • ⅓ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds *optional
  • juice of one lime
Instructions
  1. Prepare quinoa: ensure you've thoroughly rinsed and strained it. Place quinoa in a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and the liquid has been absorbed. About 15 - 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside and cool.
  2. To the quinoa add in cabbage, bell pepper, carrots and edamame beans. Fold this into the the quinoa.
  3. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all eight ingredients. I often use a handheld blender to do this job but you could totally use your muscles and a strong fork.
  4. Garnish with cashews, cilantro and green onion. Serve chilled (or eat it up right away).
Thai Quinoa Salad_birdseye
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

My CSA Box – Part I

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

My weekly pick-up stop!

WORD OF THE DAY: lo·ca·vore

Ever heard of the word locavore? A dictionary will tell you that it’s used to describe a person interested in eating food that is locally produced and not moved long distances to market. One common – but not universal – definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles (160 km) of its point of purchase or consumption.

So what is CSA and what does it have to do with locavores?

CSA.. Hmm what does that stand for? Maybe you have an idea. It’s something about a farmer sending you a box of fresh veggies right? Oh maaaybe it stands for Canadian Shared Agriculture?! Close, but not quite. Turns out it stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s an internationally recognized concept! I’ve been quite curious about the whole scene for some time now but I am finally making a commitment and getting involved! Here’s my story on how it all went down:

Phase 1: Do the research

There is a ton of great information on CSAManitoba.org

CSA Manitoba recommends you ask a couple of key questions before you sign up. Here are a few that I wouldn’t have thought of myself;

  • Do you provide recipes for less common produce? Some provide a weekly newsletter and recipes to help you make use of those veggies you may not have come across before (like, kohlrabi!)!
  • Is the payment in full or split?
  • May I visit the farm during the season?

The website has a very good FAQ page for other questions as well. I browsed the entire website and after a solid look I came to some conclusions.

Pros of a CSA box:

  • It’s like a subscription to fruit and vegetables. That is sure to make you way healthier than Cosmo.
  • Meeting farmers! Farmer’s feed the world, I’m sure they make great friends.
  • The produce is usually picked the same day you receive it! This is a huge advantage as much of the produce we get in Canada travels far and wide. When fruits and vegetables have to travel from Florida, California or Mexico they are picked under-ripe so that by the time they reach our grocery stores they are perfectly ripe. Makes enough sense but that means that the produce is ripening in a dark cool crate instead of being in the sun, attached to plant where it can continue to receive nutrients.
  • Strengthening the local economy. After all, you decide with your dollar.
  • I’m also looking forward to being challenged by new produce, which I would most likely avoid in the store. Maybe I’ll get a fennel…or is it just fennel? What’s two fennel? Fennels? Feni?!

Cons of a CSA box:

  • I can’t see any yet, I’ll keep you posted once the goods start rolling in.

Phase 2: Chose a farm.

CSAManitoba.org is also your go-to for this step.

Out of the 23 farms listed who offer the CSA program I decided on Jonathan’s Farm. Not only did I choose them because the drop off point is very close to my home but also because they farm according to organic standards and aim for sustainable Earth friendly agriculture. Now, I’m not 100% adamant on organic all the time, because I doe have bills to pay. But if I can grab a big box of organic veggies bi-weekly then I am not complaining. Plus Jonathan is an incredibly personable name so I already know he is a good guy.

Here are a couple of things that happen on Jonathan’s farm which contribute to sustainability of the land;

  • Cover cropping; No, not like a green house where you cover up the crops, also not a crop blanket made by the crop’s grandma. Cover cropping is when the crops act as a blanket for the land. Which keeps the top soil from blowing away and wasting nutrients.
  • Nutrient monitoring; A soil test which determines the amount of minerals and nutrients in the soil and allows the farmer to determine how to best supplement their fields.
  • Crop rotation; Planting different crops on the same land each season. Different crops give and take different minerals from the soil. Changing from potatoes to wheat or barley to canola allows the earth to essentially be recycled over and over instead of depleted.

Okay, I think I’ve shared what I wanted for now. If this has peaked your interest, you can always visit Jonathan at the Wolsley Farmers’ Market on Tuesday’s from 3:30pm to 7:00pm at 980 Palmerston Ave. Stay tuned for a follow up post on my experience with my first CSA box this summer. Can’t wait!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

My loot from a few weeks ago: green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, peas, spinach, swiss chard, turnips, scallions, radishes, basil + more!

Please note the content of this post was written by 4th year Human Nutritional Sciences student Johanna Adriaansen. Johanna also maintains her own website and is an aspiring Dietitian!

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

 

 

 

 

 

Tandoori Spiced Salmon Cakes

Carrots and CakeHayyyyy friends. I’ve got another recipe to share with you today, this time, I wanted to focus on creating something that was budget friendly and easy to make. The result, tandoor spiced salmon cakes. The major protein in this recipe comes canned salmon which can typically range from $2.50 – $3.50 (Cdn) per can. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me!

In our home, I’m the only fish eater. The hubs has made it loud and clear that he’s “allergic” (ahem, liar) to any form of seafood. Because of this, I tend not to splurge on seafood and often settle for canned varieties in single servings to help me meet my 2 servings of fish per week. Salmon also has a number of health benefits, here are only a few:

  • it’s loaded with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • excellent source of calcium (from the bones)
  • it’s also one of the few foods that offer up vitamin D
  • it’s super anti-inflammatory and therefore helps to protect the health of all the tiny cells that make up your body

The inspiration for these salmon cakes came from the Food Network. I knew immediately I wanted to add an Indian flair to their version so I set out for some Patak’s Tandoori Paste. This popular paste can be found at most grocery store retailers in the ethnic food aisle. A little bit of this paste goes a long way! I also added my favorite spices: garam masala, coriander and ground cumin.
Carrots and Cake, Nita ShardaNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

CAUTION: we learned a lot while developing this recipe. Keep these two pieces of advice in mind: 

  1. DO NOT use the food processor, blender or beaters to create the mixture. Let me tell you, that’s a recipe for an epic fail!
  2. Make sure you thoroughly drain the liquid from the salmon cakes.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tandoori Spiced Salmon Cakes
 
Prep time
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Ingredients
  • 3 7.5 oz cans salmon, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed or canned corn
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs + ¼ cup panko bread crumbs in a shallow plate
  • 2 Tbsp tandoori paste
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients (first ten) into a bowl. Mix together using a fork until all ingredients are combined.
  2. Shape into 2" or 3" patties and then press salmon cakes into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides well.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe nonstick skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the salmon cakes and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cakes are heated through. About 5 - 8 minutes more.

Feel free to garnish your salmon cakes with some plain yogurt that has been spiced with salt, black pepper and some chilli powder. And of course, garnish with more fresh cilantro. These salmon cakes are great on a bed of greens, over a naan and I’ve also enjoyed gobbling it up solo.

Carrots and Cake, Nita ShardaCarrots and Cake, Nita ShardaFood photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

White Bean Spread

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeI didn’t think I would say it. But I am. Sometimes, I get sick of hummus.

haaawwwww

Okay chill–we all need variety. After all, variety is the spice of life! So what is a Dietitian and foodie to do? Improvise! I always seem to have a can white kidney beans (or cannellini beans) in my pantry so I opted to use this as inspiration to create a protein based dip. Because the cannellini bean is more pastey the result is a thick and spreadable dip. I prefer to dunk veggies and crackers into this pretty stuff but I’ve also added dollops of it onto salads.

This recipe is totally versatile. You can add more or less of any ingredient or even nix something you don’t like. For example, my sister isn’t the biggest fan of caramelized onions, but I love them. They make for a beautiful garnish and give it a sweet flavour. Love! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

White Bean Spread_jugWhite Bean Spread_all decor

White Bean Spread
 
Ingredients
  • 1 19oz can white kidney beans, rinsed
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, roasted in oven
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and add more spices as needed. Feel to also add 1 tbsp of water at a time to reach a desired consistency.
  4. Garnish as you wish! You can garnish with caramelized onions, olives, herbs or a drizzle of olive oil!

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeFood photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

The Better Broccoli Salad

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeAs per the title of this blog post, the feature vegetable in this summer salad is none other than the broccoli. Growing up we typically only enjoyed broccoli when it was cooked into saag which is a giant mush (I’m not joking) of cooked down onion, spinach, broccoli and an array of spices. Now, I have fun using broccoli in stir fry’s, roasted, dunked into a ranch dip and of course, all dressed up in a Greek yogurt dressing.

I’m sure you’ve tried a few versions of this recipe. But I really think you should make my recipe your go-to for summer potlucks, dinners or even enjoy this salad as a snack. Along with broccoli, this salad also includes a juicy apple, red onion, carrot sticks,  cranberry and pumpkin seeds. Feel free to swap out ingredients and change the quantities as you wish. The “OG” version of recipe usually calls for copious amounts of mayo and sometime bacon. THIS version is laced with a high protein dressing courtesy of Greek yogurt.Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Arrrrrright, let’s move onto what you’re really here for

The recipe.

The Better Broccoli Salad
 
Prep time
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Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 Gala apple, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grated or julienne carrots
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped SqueaK'rs, cheddar (or grated)
  • Dressing
  • ¾ cup 2% M.F. Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Pink of paprika
Instructions
  1. Place all prepared veggies, apple, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and cheese into a bowl. Toss together.
  2. To prepare the dressing stir together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, lemon, salt, pepper and paprika.
  3. Pour the dressing (only half at a time) over the salad, ensuring the veggies are well coated. Let the salad sit in the fridge for 20 minutes to soften the broccoli. Add more dressing if desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeFood photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Chia Seed Pudding

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOh, hello! Welcome back – I hope you enjoyed learning about whole grains on our last post. We’re going to take a break from nutrition education and share this uber simple recipe with ya’ll. You’ve previously seen me use and talk about the health benefits of chia seeds, like when I showcased my version of a 5 Ingridient Berry Sauce. When I heard my food friends talk about chia seed pudding, I was totally hooked and needed to give it a try.

Here’s what I love in particular about this recipe:

  • calls for only 5 ingridients
  • offers up 10 grams of fibre
  • source of calcium
  • source of protein
  • allows for customization
  • naturally gluten free
  • no cooking, just stirring

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOkay, I think you’re sold.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chia Seed Pudding
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 2 - 3
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup chia seeds (black or white)
  • 1½ cups milk (dairy or dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extra
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl. Mix very, very, very well and cover with saran wrap.
  2. Place bowl into the fridge for thirty minutes. Stir again.
  3. Return back to the fridge for at least another 2 - 3 hours. The result is a thick pudding similar to rice pudding.
  4. Top with additional fruit if you wish. I love it with tart raspberries, mango or kiwi.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Veggie-filled Mac and Cheese

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeDon’t get upset! I know what you’re thinking “why did this Dietitian take my favorite comfort food and add veggies and then butcher it with lentils?”! I realize fully that mac and cheese is all things comforting and nostalgic for many of us. Having said that, most of use could do with a bit more veggies in our life and in honour of The International Year of the Pulse, it only made sense.

The truth is, I love a good mac and cheese. You know, the kind you get at restaurants with the crispy topping. Oh, and when it has bacon, even better. Unfortunately, on almost all occasions, these variations of mac and cheese left me feeling like I had just eaten a treat. So, I wanted to create a wholesome recipe that I could enjoy and feel good about eating throughout the week. You feel me?

I remember the first time I made this recipe. My husband scratched his head and said, “babe, there is something more gritty in the texture”. I smiled and told him it was the lentils. He shrugged, grabbed a second serving and called it great. What a keeper. So yes, you should expect a slight change in the texture you’re used to, but the taste shouldn’t be all too different.

If you need to take baby steps. Maybe try the recipe with just onion and lentils. Or, just veggies. It’s your body, you’re the boss. 

I tripple-tried this recipe before deciding to have it photographed and placed on the blog. But, it fits. It truly does. Here’s what I love about this version of mac n’ cheese:

  • It uses 2% Evaporated Milk to give it the creaminess you want. It’s made by removing water from fresh milk and then heating it. Heating the milk gives it the creamy, slightly cooked taste and darker colour. It’s a source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D!
  • It includes approximately 3 cups of veggies which mean you could really add more, or less. One time I added cauliflower! Another time I opted to use mushrooms.
  • The lentils help to increase the protein and fibre content of the entire recipe, making it a one-pot-meal kinda deal.
  • You can spice it up as you wish. I keep it simple but you could also add some basil or parsley if you fancy.
  • Lastly, it’s freezer friendly and great to pull out on those day’s you might be extra crazy busy and don’t want to compromise on your nutrition. Simply place it in the oven and bake until everything is heated through and your cheese is bubbly.

I drew inspiration for this recipe from The Lean Green Bean and the Eat Shrink and Be Merry gals. Check out their versions if you wish.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeNita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Okay, recipe taymeeee.

Mac and Cheese with Lentils
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6 - 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup elbow pasta
  • ¾ cup red lentils, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp canola oil or butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1 cup spinach, thinly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 can (370mL) Evaporated Milk (I used 2% MF)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook elbow pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook red lentils according to package directions. Once lentils are cooked through, set aside.
  4. In a separate large pot, heat butter or canola oil. Add in onion and cook until translucent.
  5. Once onion is cooked through, add in remaining vegetables, garlic and spices. Saute for 10 - 15 minutes until vegetables are softened. I prefer to add my spinach last as it requires very little heat.
  6. Sprinkle vegetables with flour, ensuring the mixture is well coated.
  7. Add evaporated milk and ¾ cup of cheese, leaving some cheese for the last step.
  8. Add in cooked pasta and lentils to the vegetable mixture and combine thoroughly.
  9. Place mixture in a 9 x 13 dish, or two 8 x 8 dishes. Top with remaining cheese.
  10. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake
Food photography done by the talented Ceone Dyck. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

5 Reasons you Should be Eating Pulses

Photo from www.iyp2016.org

Photo from www.iyp2016.org

Oh hiiii! Or I should say, heho! Forgive me, I’ve been celebrating the Festival Du Voyageur over the last two weeks. Hence the blogging hiatus. Okay, one last time, HEHO!

If you haven’t caught on, over the last little while we’ve really been encouraging you to load up and experiment with legumes. For a refresher on what a legume is, visit our previous blog post. For the next little bit, we’re going to explain the WHY behind the WHAT. It’s your health (and tummy) so you should know our top five reasons for recommending legumes.

  1. High in protein.
    Whether you opt out for a lentil or bean, you’re guaranteed to consume a solid amount of protein. Protein is that good stuff you need to keep you full, maintain muscle, produce enzymes and plays in important role in maintaining our skin.

    • 1 cup cooked lentils = 18 grams of protein
    • 1 cup cooked black beans = 15 grams of protein
    • 1 cup cooked kidney beans = 13 grams of protein
      _____
  2. Source of fibre.
    Unlike most animal proteins, beans and lentils contain a complex carbohydrate component that is rich in fibre. Beyond just promoting gut health and keeping you regular with washroom visits, fibre does your body an amazing favor by helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. It’s even known to reduce the risk of colon cancer, and, it can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels to a healthy range. Oh, and one more thing: it keeps you full for longer.___

    Image from www.pulses.org

    Image from www.pulses.org

  3. Environmentally friendly.
    We’re starting to learn more and more about the agriculture industry. Here’s what we’ve come to know so far:

    • Growing pulses increases farming biodiversity
    • Pulses are highly water efficient (to produce 1 kg of lentils we need 50 litres of water; for same amount of chicken, we need 4325 litres of water)
    • Crop residues and byproducts can be use for animal feed making pulses multifunctional
    • Pulses produce very little carbon footprint, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions that pollute our air
    • The nitrogen in pulses improves soil fertility
    • Okay that’s enough bragging.
  1. Versatile.
    If you’re new to beans and lentils like most of our clients, please take comfort in knowing that these little “big” guys are extremely versatile. You can slowly start incorporating them into meals you already enjoy. Here are a few ideas:

    • Mix red lentils into your favorite mac and cheese recipe
    • Add a can of beans into homemade soups and stews
    • Throw in an extra can of beans into your chili
    • Add lentils into your hamburger patty mixture
    • Mix refried beans into your taco beef
    • Throw in ¼ cup of red lentils into your berry smoothie
    • Source recipes that use beans for baking like these black bean brownies
    • Use lentils in your homemade granola
      _
      _____
  2. Economical.
    Lentils and beans are extremely gentle on your wallet and help you maximize food dollars. For a fraction of the cost, you get the benefit of protein (see point one) and fibre (see point two) without the saturated fat that animal proteins come with. Note to the universe: I do love me a good steak, or homemade chicken fingers but prefer to enjoy veggie proteins for the bulk of my meals. I did some price checks at my local mom and pop grocer, here’s what I learned:

    • 1lb extra lean ground beef = $4.99
    • 1lb sliced bologna = $3.99
    • 1lb chicken legs = $2.49
    • 1lb bag dried red lentils = $2.19

So that’s it folks! This rounds up our top 5 reasons for eating pulses. If you’re feeling motivated by all of this information but stumped on how to put this into practice, contact me so we can discuss things further. In the mean time, stay tuned for a load of Carrots and Cake tried and true recipes featuring pulses.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

Real Talk: The Raw Food Diet

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Photo purchased from Shutterstock

Alright, raise your hands: how many of us have seen something on social media recently with a photo of a happy, fit-looking model, and the words “detox” or “cleanse” thrown somewhere in there and thought, “Oh, wow. I’ll have what she’s having”? In today’s age of social media, health fads have the ability to spread faster than ever. And us evidenced-based nutrition folks don’t like it. With all sorts of information now at our fingertips, it can be difficult to navigate through to find sources that are valid. That’s the purpose of this blog post.

The Raw Vegan Diet or also know as the Raw Food diet is a trend that is loud and clear on our radar. Actually, it’s on our front door step. Let’s learn:

What is it?

The Raw Vegan, or Raw Food diet consists of eating plant-based foods that have not been cooked, or that have been dehydrated at a very low temperature (usually not higher than 40 degrees Celsius). This is (falsey) based on the premise that cooking destroys enzymes and nutrients that are essential for human health, as well as can “produce toxins that accumulate in the body”.

Wait, is this true?

Well, there are some truths, however, don’t hop onboard just yet. Yes, cooking can destroy some nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as vitamin C. However, many nutrients actually become more bioavailable, or easily absorbed and used by the body after being heated at a certain temperature. This includes some good stuff such as lycopene in tomatoes and red peppers, and beta carotene in carrots and sweet potato.

Cooking = not a bad thing. 

Cooking vegetables also helps to break down tough cell walls in plants which releases nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible to the body. This, in turn creates less work for your digestive system (ie. spinach). Many people who have switched to a raw food diet report concerns with bloating and gas due to the excess fibre content associated with consuming large amounts of fruit and vegetables. No fun.

There is one nutrient that would be very difficult to obtain from a raw vegan diet, Vitamin B12. This micronutrient is found mostly in meat, or fortified foods – neither of which are allowed in a raw vegan diet. Deficiency of this particular vitamin leads to a host of problems including fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and depression. Not fun. Not fun at all.

What about those enzymes? Don’t I need them?

Yep, cooking does indeed denature some enzymes, which are made up of proteins. This means that they unfold and unravel so that they can no longer function properly. But guess what? These enzymes are no match for stomach acid either. Raw or cooked, proteins in food will get denatured so that the body can break them down into building blocks to use for other things. We are fully capable of producing all the enzymes we need. Our bodies are smart like that!

Show me the money. Cost?

With the rising cost of produce in Canada, the raw food diet simply isn’t economical. Since fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than other food groups, you would have to eat a much larger volume to meet your required energy intake. Therefore, you would have to buy way more (can you imagine a professional hockey player on this diet? No!). If you live somewhere where most fresh fruits aren’t in season in the winter, you’re not only paying more for imported produce, but increasing your carbon footprint due to the transportation of these foods. Those instagram collages of pretty blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are worth the double-tap but can cost a fortune.

What about the benefits?

Many raw vegans claim to feel more energetic, and have lost weight loss since starting this diet. Swapping out certain processed foods for more fruits and veggies will do that for ya. Indeed, eating more fruits and vegetables is great, and we should definitely take advantage of the nutrients that raw food provides (check out these easy recipes for Avocado Chocolate Mousse, Energy Date Balls, and Tropical Green Smoothies)! However, restricting yourself to only raw foods could really limit your variety. It would mean excluding many vegetables that have SO MUCH to offer, like root vegetables, squash, and pulses which have formed the staple diets of various cultures for centuries. I mean, how would we have survived the Great Depression without potatoes?

Despite individual testimonies, there is no evidence that shows the long term effects of a raw diet on the body. On the flip side, fire has been used for cooking for hundreds of thousands of years! Many anthropologists believe that our brains would not be as developed as they are today if it weren’t for the switch to the consumption of cooked food. Gotta love the industrial and agricultural revolution.

At the end of the day, when it comes to most of us, the best diet is no diet.

It’s all about balance

At the end of the day, when it comes to most of us, the best diet is no diet. All foods provide energy and nutrients. Eating a variety of whole foods; cooked and uncooked is the best way to ensure that we get the proper amount of nutrients we need to thrive. Our bodies will take care of the rest! When in doubt, consult with a Registered Dietitian before starting any new meal plan. They’ll tell you what’s up!

To learn more about our thoughts on detoxes, click here.

And, before peacing-out check out the video below created by Registered Dietitians Abbey Sharp and Abby Langer. I love the banter.

This blog post was written by Christy Lai, 4th Year Human Nutritional Sciences student. Follow Christy on Instagram, trust me, you’ll want to.

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda