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
 
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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

Easy Kale and Parsley Pesto

Nita sharda, carrots and cakeI love me some pesto. Do you? I only began experimenting with this sauce a few years ago and now it’s a pantry staple. Better yet, I’ve even ventured into making my own version of pesto. I was inspired to use kale in this recipe by my summer CSA. We’ve been getting an abundance of kale and I’ve been experimenting with unique ways to use up this nutrient-loaded green.

Most pesto recipes call for basil. I opted not to use basil primarily because in the fall/winter months it’s actually quite pricey (at least here in Winnipeg) and sometimes I find myself visiting 2 – 3 grocery stores only to not find any! So instead I use parsley. Problem solved.

There’s also a TON of ways you can use up pesto. Here’s a few suggestions to inspire you:

  • Use it as marinade for your white fish or chicken
  • Place it on top of toast to change up your breakfast game, top with a poached egg
  • Toss it in pasta (hot or cold)
  • Make pesto spinach muffins
  • Use pesto instead of pizza sauce on your crust (my favvv)
  • Use pesto for this quinoa salad recipe
  • Flavor turkey meatballs with with pesto
  • Add small dollops to crostinis and top with cherry tomatoes for a fun appie
  • Make a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with pesto and mozzarella
  • Marinade veggies like tomato, zucchini and muchrooms in pesto and grill
  • Or, eat it by the spoonful

There you have it! Ten ways you can enjoy this pesto! 

Why is this pesto a great choice?

  • It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory olive oil
  • Helps you meet your recommended intake for greens
  • Walnuts offer up omega-3, hello heart health!
  • There’s cheese in it
  • Mic drop, enough said!

Nita sharda, carrots and cakeNita sharda, carrots and cake

Okay, recipe below.

Easy Kale and Parsley Pesto
 
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Ingredients
  • ¼ cup walnuts, toasted (or preferred nut)
  • 1½ cups torn kale, stem removed
  • ½ cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup cubed or grated parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of one lemon
Instructions
  1. To toast walnuts, warm a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and lightly toast for about 8 - 10 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful! You don't want them to burn.
  2. In a small food processor of blender add walnuts and remaining ingredients. Blend well.
  3. Taste. Add salt, pepper or more lemon juice as needed. If you find your pesto too runny, you can add another ¼ cup of walnuts.
  4. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to one week or freeze!.

Pesto in processor_close upFood 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

 

Exercise Nutrition – The Basics

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Maybe I’m pretending to smile. Or maybe I’m not. :) Photo credit: Bree-Ann Merritt Photography

It’s that time of year: the sun is shining, birds are singing, winter jackets are swapped for tank-tops, and parks are filled with ambitious vitamin D deprived Manitobans intent on soaking up every single bit of fresh summer air they can. It’s the absolute best time for outdoor workouts, trips to the zoo, or a hike with friends! But before you grab your runners, rollerblades, or dumbbells, let’s talk about how you can fuel your body to get the most out of your physical activity.

What should I eat before my activity?

The best way to ensure that you’ll be properly fueled for your next sweat session is to eat balanced meals from all four food groups every 3 – 4 hours beginning with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast (like a delicious bowl of overnight oats…see photo below *drool*).Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

What you choose to eat should ideally be determined by the timing of your workout. For example, if you had a meal at 1:00pm and plan to work out at 3:00pm, there may not be a need for a snack. If there is a longer gap you could consider the following:

2-3 hours prior to exercising, eat something that is sort of like a small meal, aiming for three food groups, and going easy on the fibre and fat (both are known to slow down digestion):

  • Chicken breast, cucumbers with sweet potato
  • Bowl of cereal with a small handful of pumpkin seeds and skim milk
  • A large salad with legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils) and quinoa

½  – 1 hour prior to exercising, focus primarily on carbohydrates – these foods are less likely to cause discomfort during your gym sesh and will give you some quick energy:

  • Yogurt
  • A medium banana
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Rice cakes

What should I eat after my activity?

We offered you up some suggestions to improve your pre-workout eats. And now, we want to share tips and tricks to ensure your post-workout meal is on point. Why do we care? Because, it’s important to refuel tired muscles. Much like your pre-workout snack, a blend of protein (approximately 15 – 25 grams) and carbohydrates will be the perfect combination to aid in the recovery process along with a ton of water. Protein is essential in building and maintaining muscle and supporting muscle recovery after exercise.  Research tells us that ingesting protein shortly after intense exercise can help build muscle and repair muscle damage. And of course, water is important to replace what you may have lost via sweat and prevent dehydration.

Similar to your pre-workout nutrition, timing is just as important for post-workout meals. You’ve got about a one-hour window to replenish your body and offer it some fuel. For most folks who exercise in the evening, a balanced dinner after activity may be sufficient. But if you just need something to tie you over before your next meal consider munching on:

  • A handful of power trail mix (pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and dried blueberries and goji berries) with Greek yogurt
  • 1 – 2 slices of sprouted wheat toast with a natural nut butter and a glass of milk
  • A few energy date balls with a glass of milk
  • ¾ cup edamame beans with a light olive oil dressing
  • Egg salad filing on top of a pice of toast
  • 1 serving of whey isolate within a fruit smoothie

Like what you see on this list above? Learn more about pre- and post-workout nutrition here. And oh! There are some recipe suggestions too – you know I’m a suck for recipes!

nuts_post_workout_snacks_v04

If you want to brush up on what your personal exercise nutrition should or could look like, contact a Registered Dietitian. We’re the trusted source for nutrition information. If you have a specific training need, let me know and I can connect you to a reputable colleague who knows the ins and outs of exercise nutrition!

Food photography and blog post written/captured by a talented student volunteer, Ceone Dyck. Ceone is a graduate of Human Nutritional Sciences. To learn more about Ceone click here or follow her on Facebook.
Please note this is not a sponsored post. 

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
 
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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
 
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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

Egg Noodle Bake

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeOh haaaayyyy. Yes, that’s a casserole dish full of carbs and yes, I am a Registered Dietitian who developed this recipe. I’ve said it before: don’t be afraid of carbohydrates! This recipe features a classic egg noodle. Because it’s difficult to trace down a wholewheat version of this popular noodle I decided to embrace it’s “white version”. Knowing it would be lower in fibre, I quickly decided that I could:

  1. Add fibre to the overall dish by loading up with veggies, and,
  2. Add split red lentils to not only boost protein but to also amp up my fibre intake

The result: an all-in-one dish that packs a ton of flavour, lasts for dayssss (*hello freezer*) and can be enjoyed by the entire family. The protein content in here is also one to be admired – cottage cheese is always such an underrated food. But in our house, I can eat a heaping bowl of it as a snack or as part of my breakfast. One cup of this stuff contains about 30 grams of protein. HOLY MOLY!

This is also the type of recipe you can adapt. For example, if mushrooms aren’t your jam then add in celery instead! Or if you’re craving more bell peppers because they’ll be in season soon, then add more! You can’t go wrong. Except…if you add zucchini, it will be very liquidy (that’s just the nature of zucchini). There is even flexibility in the type of protein you choose. I opted for some local Manitoba Chicken but you could use a lean ground pork or beef if you wanted. Even TVP would work well (although I haven’t tried that).

Let me tease you with one more photo before sharing the recipe…(and yes, that’s Bothwell Cheese for the win, duh).

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

5.0 from 1 reviews
Egg Noodle Bake
 
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Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 lb ground meat (lean beef, turkey or chicken)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups mushroom, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red split lentils
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1½ cup cottage cheese
  • ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 packgage egg noodles (about 8oz)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Brown your selected meat in a large skillet. Drain fat and then set aside on a plate.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in the same skillet and sauté onions. Once onions are slightly translucent, add in mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
  5. Then add in meat, tomato sauce, broth and red split lentils. Add in your spices: salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Feel free to add in any other spices you'd like such as red chilli flakes for some heat!
  6. Let this mixture simmer for about 15 minutes over low heat, or until red lentils are cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, place your drained egg noodles into a large casserole dish. Mix in cottage cheese.
  8. Top noodles with the meat and vegetable mixture and mix well to ensure the noodles are well coated.
  9. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and 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

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

The Whole Grain and nothing but the Grain (Part 1)

Nita Sharda, Carrots and CakeAs soon as you type the word “diet” into your preferred internet search-engine, you’ll probably be met with results like “gluten-free,” “low-carb,” or “cutting out wheat for weight loss.” This grain-free diet trend has become increasingly popular, compliments of endorsements by many celebrities and Instagram stars. But before you write off grains for good, take a look at some of the top reasons we love whole grains, and why they’re essential to your health.

SO…. WHAT IS A WHOLE GRAIN?

What makes a whole grain whole? Well, really ALL grains start out as “whole.” The harvested seed is made up of three edible parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm.

  • The bran is the darker coloured, outer skin of the seed, which is where most of the antioxidants, B-vitamins, and fiber is stored.
  • The germ is the center embryo of the seed, which stores B-vitamins, but also protein, minerals, and healthy fat.
  • Lastly the endosperm, which is the largest portion of the seed, contains starchy carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

When whole grains are refined, the bran and the germ are kicked to the curb, leaving all those wonderful and healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber behind. Whole grains are not refined, and because of that all parts of the seed are included in the final (healthy) product. Remember, you don’t want to go grain-free, you want to go whole grain.

THE GOOD STUFF

Clearly, those un-refined whole grains have got a lot of good things going on. Here are a few of the amazing benefits of whole grains:

  • Dietary fiber helps you feel fuller, faster, and longer. It also aids in digestion and promotes gut health. Fiber is found only in plant sources (nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), and grain fiber specifically has been shown to be protective against digestive cancers even more so than other forms of fiber. Beta-glucan, found in high concentration in both oats and barley, has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels remarkably. Personally, we love starting our day with a big bowl of oatmeal and fruit – which honestly keeps us feeling satisfied all the way until lunch.
  • B vitamins are metabolic champions which you need, in order to make use of all those other amazing super-powered nutrients you are consuming. These power house vitamins ensure that the food you consume is utilized and absorbed to the full extent so you can get the most out of your daily nutrient consumption! They also maintain healthy skin, hair, muscles, form red blood cells, and promote healthy immune & nervous system function – kind of incredible, right?
  • Minerals – such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, and iron are abundant in whole grains. Collectively, these compounds have the power to boost your immune system, regulate metabolism, reduce blood pressure, and keep your skin & hair looking healthy!

The moral of this story: whole grains keep you looking and feeling like the total 10 you are.

kjkj
Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

HIGH QUALITY VERSUS LOW QUALITY GRAIN

So, after reading that first section, it’s probably clear to you that not all grain products are created equal in terms of nutrient value. It’s important to choose the right grain products in order to get all those wonderful benefits described above. Refined grains, which is the bulk of what people consume today since they’re the bulk of what’s stocked on market shelves, have been linked to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes – whoa! Just about the exact opposite effect of whole grains. That can feel overwhelming, but here’s something to hold on to: little changes in your diet can make a huge difference. (psst, looking to make smart goals, click here). Look for the words “whole wheat flour” or “100% whole grains” as opposed to “enriched wheat flour” or “wheat flour” on the ingredient lists of your favourite grain products. Or, even better, opt to make more snacks and meals at home ahead of time with a healthy whole grain flour (try whole-wheat flour, oat flour, buckwheat, or spelt). And hey! Bake these super seedy chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour, you won’t regret it I promise!

Drumroll please…. a few of my favourite whole, unrefined grain swaps are:

  • Overnight oats as a replacement for boxed breakfast-cereal (get the recipe here)
  • Quinoa or brown rice noodles as a replacement for white rice in stir-fry or soup
  • 100% whole wheat wraps to replace refined, white flour sandwich bread
  • Whole-wheat or oat flour to replace white flour in baking (replacing even half is a great way to start)

It is important to note that a lot of whole grain products on the grocery shelf today get a bad rep for being “unhealthy” due to some of the other ingredients included in their making. For instance, certain brands of 100% whole wheat bread, crackers, or pre-packaged snacks may also contain high levels of sodium, sugar, or additives which are admittedly not so great. Because of this, often the whole grains themselves take the blame. The best way to avoid some of those unhealthy extras is to incorporate unprocessed whole grains into cooking or baking at home and get familiar with reading nutrition labels.

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

TO SUM IT ALL UP

Whole grains are the BOMB! (The capitalization is totally needed, I promise!). Whole grains are jam-packed with nutrients, energy, and overall deliciousness, so they make a great addition to just about anyone’s diet. Now that you’ve received a brief grain education (you are hereby granted your diploma in grain education!) you are ready to navigate the grocery store and pick out some seriously nutritious whole grains! Go forth, be adventurous, and enjoy adding those amazing whole grains into your life!

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