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Grocery shopping is the focus of Nutrition Month this March and Dietitians of Canada is serving up practical tips to help you enjoy terrific tasting food that’s also good for you. And yes, they have an app for that called eaTipster.
While conventional wisdom has always recommended we shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh produce and dairy items are stocked, we can’t avoid the inner aisles altogether. Read on for some handy tips to consider and what foods to look for when you find yourself in the centre aisles of your local grocer.
1. Flavour Boosters: It is possible to add flavour without adding more salt, sugar or fat.
Look for: Flavoured vinegars (rice, balsamic), pesto, salsa, no-salt seasoning blends, jarred garlic, jarred hot peppers, lemon/lime juices, cocoa, sesame seed oil, vanilla extract, no-salt broth and mustard. Build flavour by rubbing a roast with some grainy mustard and a pinch of dried rosemary before popping it into the oven.
2. Whole and Higher-Fibre Grains: Great for both your waistline and your heart.
Look for: Plain popcorn kernels, barley, quinoa, brown/wild rice, millet, bulgur, whole grain pasta, higher-fibre enriched pasta, oatmeal, cream of wheat, unsweetened whole grain cereals and whole wheat couscous. Cook couscous in orange juice for a nice hint of citrus.
3. Beans, Peas, Lentils: Low fat, high-fibre sources of protein.
Look for: Dried or convenient, no-added-salt canned varieties. Blend up a bean dip to serve with raw vegetables, spread on a wrap or thicken soups.
4. Canned/Jarred Vegetables: Often a source of vitamin C and fibre. Apart from any sodium they contain, they are just as nutritious as fresh.
Look for: No-salt varieties i.e. tomatoes, corn, pumpkin and beets. Try beets in wraps and salads or blended into hummus.
5. Canned/Jarred Fruit: Often a source of vitamin C and fibre.
Look for: No-added sugar options i.e. pears, peaches, applesauce, fruit cups, mandarin oranges and pineapple. Canned pineapple goes great on pizza and in coleslaw, smoothies, yogurt, fruit salad or in a stir fry.
6. Fruit/Vegetable Juice: Better than fruit drink but from a fibre stand point, it’s better to eat our fruit and vegetables than drink them.
Look for: Pomegranate juice, low-sodium and no-added sugar options. When kids want a fizzy drink, instead of pop, offer them half 100% juice, half club soda.
7. Nuts, Seeds and Nut Butters: Provide a good source of healthy fats.
Look for: Single-ingredient options that contain just the nuts or seeds. Try a new seed (chia, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower or flax seeds) in muffins, cereal, homemade granola, yogurt, salads or trail mix.
8. Fish: Provides an excellent source of protein.
Look for: Omega-3-rich fatty fish (salmon, trout or mackerel) and no- or low-sodium canned options. Enjoy canned salmon in wraps, quiche, fish cakes, dips or spread over crackers. The bones are an excellent source of calcium.
Dietitians can help you plan, shop, cook and enjoy tasty, good-for-you food that will make you feel terrific. Visit Dietitians of Canada to find a dietitian in your area.
No matter which ‘diet’ you choose, paleo, Mediterranean, South Beach or the good old government food guide, they all recommend judicious use of seeds and nuts. We aren’t talking about the handfuls of peanuts at the bar as a snack—that’s way too caloric. We are talking about incorporating the good fats and multiple minerals that these nuggets carry into every meal.
For instance, magnesium is a mineral that your body needs to regulate muscles, heart rate and help build bones (among a few hundred other processes). It is a crucial nutrient that often gets overlooked and you need 400 mg each day on average. It is found in oat bran, buckwheat and artichokes. (You eat loads of those foods, right?) Maybe this is why most North Amercians are found to be significantly magnesium deficient. Your best bet for boosting intake is to go to seeds. Sprinkling these high magnesium nuggets on every salad, pasta, stew or soup will get you much closer to your optimal intake. Shoot for two or three tablespoons per day.
Any one of these can be whizzed in a blender into a Nutella-like, but healthy, chocolate spread that contains protein, anti-oxidants and yum—with no added fats or processed sugars.
Super Seeds (approximate mg of magnesium per shot glass)
Sunflower seeds (91 mg)
Sesame Seeds (97 mg)
Pumpkin seeds (green) (150 mg)
Hemp Seeds (150 mg)
Kind of brings a whole new meaning to ‘seedy.’ Protecting each and every cell in your body is better served when you behave like a bird.