Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school part 2

It’s back to school time and you might be looking for some new nut-free snacks in addition to the ones in my previous post: Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school.

Here’s my new top 5 nut-free snacks for back to school:

  1. Chia seed pudding: This is so simple to make and you can portion out 5 cups for the week. Have your kids participate in picking their fruits and toppings. Add pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts or sesame seeds for an added protein boost. A little cinnamon, honey or maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to this delicious pudding.
  2. Power balls: Power balls are traditionally made with peanut or almond butter but you can easily substitute this for pumpkin seed butter, Sun butter or Wow butter. Make on the weekend and portion into freezer baggies for a quick snack or lunch addition.
  3. Hummus: Home made hummus is packed full of protein and calcium, great for growing kids and healthy bones. Make hummus fun by blending it with some spinach and edemame to make ‘Green dip’ or with roasted beets to make ‘Pink dip’. This adds extra flavour as well as vitamins and minerals to otherwise boring old hummus.
  4. Quinoa salad: Add some veggies and voila! You have yourself a quick and nutritious snack. Flavour with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, balsamic vinegar, basil, dill, thyme, cumin, etc. Quinoa salad is easy to make in bulk on a Sunday and to scoop into individual portions for the week. Bonus, the longer the flavours soak the more tasty this salad becomes!
  5. Steel cut oats: Make ahead and divide into individual portions and add honey, cinnamon, berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds or hemp hearts for added flavour and protein.

Involve your children in the snack decision making and preparation to figure out what flavours and textures they like!

10 healthy choices for dining out at a restaurant

Last week I was invited to do a ‘Lunch and Learn’ talk about ‘Healthy Lunches on the Go.’  Most of the info I provided the participants with had to do with increasing nutrition to make their home-made lunches healthier.

With how busy life is, we all know that it is challenging to bring our own lunch from home everyday.  So here are 10 tips to help you make healthy choices when dining out at a restaurant:

  1. Choose a salad or vegetables instead of French fries
  2. Choose grilled chicken over breaded and deep fried
  3. Choose chicken, turkey or fish over beef and pork
  4. Choose whole grain over white bread
  5. Choose the meal with the most vegetables
  6. Choose water over soft drinks
  7. Choose herbal tea over coffee
  8. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side
  9. Go vegetarian
  10. Skip the dessert

Any more tips? Feel free to share!

8 simple ways to lower cholesterol with food

I often have patients who are in need of extra help with cholesterol management.  There are many simple nutritional habits which can be adopted to either prevent high cholesterol or lower it after it has been diagnosed.  To learn more about cholesterol and its function, as well as how it can affect your heart health here is a great overview of the basics:

Here are 8 simple way to lower cholesterol through your diet:

Cholesterol Lowering Checklist

□ Eat 25 raw almonds per day (mix with walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds for variety).

□ Eat 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day.

□ Eat 4 servings of viscous (soluble) fibre per day from oats, barley, other whole grains, beans, eggplant, okra, squash, sweet potato, apples, pears, oranges, bananas, berries.

□ Eat 1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed per day.

□ Eat ½ to 1 clove of raw garlic per day.

□ Eat 3 meals of fish per week.

□ Eat 1 meal with soy protein such as tofu, modified soy protein, and unsweetened soy milk per week.

□ Eat red meat only 1 time per week.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Saturated fats such as red meat, butter, dairy products, pre-packaged meals and snacks, fried foods, bakery items.
  • Refined sugar from sweetened fruit juices, candy, other desserts.
  • Unfiltered coffee, soft drinks, alcohol. 

Heart Healthy Snacks:

  • Raw vegetables and hummus or bean dip.
  • Spread almond butter on a whole grain pita and wrap a banana into it.
  • Vegetable soup with beans or barley.
  • Fruit smoothie made with unsweetened soy milk, berries, and a tablespoon of almond butter.
  • Bowl of oatmeal with fruit, cinnamon, and unsweetened soy milk.
  • Stewed apples and peaches: chop up fruit, add a little water, and cinnamon and boil in a pot.
  • Make your own trail mix of nuts, seeds and raisins.

Here’s a super cool slideshow of how to lower cholesterol through diet: