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Healthy school lunch ideas for a nut-free environment

  A friend from the US who recently moved to Canada was surprised to find out about our nut-free policy at schools. I was equally shocked to find out that where she taught in the US, the kids with allergies sit separately from the other children who are allowed to bring in peanut butter and the like. Wouldn’t those sticky peanut butter fingers find their way throughout the school? The surprise turned to semi-panic at the thought that peanut butter is now never an option for her son’s school lunch. The conversation moved to what I pack for protein in my kids’ lunches.

6 Mostly Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

Lazy, slow summer days when breakfast is more often brunch is enough to give anyone the back to school routine jitters. However, showing our kids that no matter how busy life gets we still make time to eat breakfast is definitely a good thing. These breakfasts can take one task out of busy mornings and still give you the satisfaction knowing everyone can take on the challenges of the day and feel great with a high protein, healthy breakfast.

Teach Kids to Cook this Summer With These Easy Recipes!

Need ideas to keep busy these last few weeks of summer? After paying for camps and a summer holiday you may be looking for fun, free things to do. Why not use some of those lazy days to plan, shop and cook a snack or a meal together? As a dietitian and parent, I can talk about nutrients in food forever but if kids don't learn how to cook those foods, really what's the point?! Here are some tips I've learned along the way:

Eggs and heart disease and how they relate to each other (if at all)

If there is one thing that has become clear to me in 20 years of being a dietitian it is this: it’s our dietary patterns or what we eat (and drink) day in and day out that really matters.  No single food makes or breaks a healthy diet. When we start chasing down “super nutrients” and “bad nutrients” I worry we can lose sight of this and I’m not certain the end results net us where we want to be.

Skipping breakfast, why it's a bad idea

Sometimes we need a little nudge like this study to find ways around our typical excuses for skipping breakfast. Turns out it’s men aged 19-30 who are the least likely to eat breakfast with about 1 in 5 skipping breakfast on any given day. Just last month the Harvard School of Public Health reported that after following over 29,000 “healthy” men from 1992 - 2008 (16 years), those who skipped breakfast had 21% higher risk of type two diabetes than did men who ate breakfast. This was true even after accounting for known risk factors including BMI (Body Mass Index - weight/height ratio).

What's for breakfast: the protein comparison

Eat some protein at each meal. That’s pretty standard nutrition advice these days. The main reason being protein helps us to feel full, longer.  Given that, I thought it would be interesting to compare typical breakfast protein choices. Now, these are all excellent choices and we should be choosing a variety of protein-rich foods. That said, I still find this quite interesting and a good reminder to include eggs as regular part of your protein mix.

Another reason an Egg a Day is OK

There’s new research that uses more precise methods of measuring how much protein we need. It shows we may need more protein than previously thought - a whopping 30% more for kids and 70% more for adults.

Other research is showing our body is better able to build and maintain muscle when we eat protein-rich foods throughout the day, rather than all in one or two meals.

What does this all mean for most of us?

Eggs and heart health - What's really going on

If you love eggs but find yourself limiting them to a couple a week, it’s time to reconsider! Recent research shows that healthy adults can enjoy an egg every day without increasing their risk of heart disease. In fact, one study found after following adults for 20 years, that eating up to 7 or more eggs per week did not increase their risk for heart disease.1 So for this years Heart Month (February), focus on changes that will really count. Here are some ideas:

Bitty Eggs Benedict appetizers

Li'l bitty eggs Benny apps can do double duty as snacks for a New Year's party or breakfast bites for the morning after the New Year's bash! Eggs Benedict is usually made with a poached egg and English muffin but layering a slice of hard-cooked egg and ham on a round of bread to create this pint-size version produces a snack that's simple to make and easy to eat. Any leftover bits of bread and ham can be frozen to make a strata a few days or or even weeks later.

Egg-in-a-hole: Christmas version

I love easy ideas that help to make healthy eating interesting for kids. This week my daughter is having a few school pals over for a Christmas lunch, and I’m the cook!    

The idea is based on the old, “egg-in-a-hole” recipe, with a twist.

That’s the idea where you butter both sides of a slice of bread, cut out a hole from the middle of the slice (just bigger than a toonie), place the bread in a pan and crack an egg into the hole.  Pan fry for a few minutes and once the egg is mostly set, carefully flip the bread so both sides are toasted and the egg is evenly cooked.

What foods have fat and how much of them can you eat?

This past weekend a girl friend wanted to stop into a fast food outlet to get a muffin. “At least I know it’s a healthy choice” she said. Normally in social circles I don’t annoy people with nutrition facts but when she went on to say she gets them all the time, I couldn’t help myself.  I broke the news that the muffin was right up there fat and calorie-wise with a baked apple pie, donut, even a small order of fries.  She was shocked, decided she didn’t really need a 400 plus calorie muffin and satisfied herself with a coffee instead.

How to make a Striped Omelette

I often find myself assuring people that omelettes are not difficult to make. Seems there can be some apprehension when it comes to making this classic egg dish. In fact, all you need is the right equipment (I'd recommend an 8-inch (20 cm) pan for a 2 to 3 egg omelette), the right heat (medium-high), a little know-how, and a little practice. Then along comes the Striped Omelette!! Take a look!

Time crunch? Try eggs for dinner!

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, we’re just going to have eggs for dinner,” as if to suggest it’s a cop-out for a “real” meal? Eggs make an ultra-healthy, delicious, affordable meal, and are quick enough that your kids can still make it to hockey practice! In fact, it takes less time to get egg fried rice (made with leftover rice and frozen vegetables) on the table than it does to pick up take-out, and I save at least $30 per meal! The best part: My kids learn that we can do all the fun things we enjoy and still eat right.

3 or 6 minutes to boil an egg? Or somewhere in between?

Best Soft-boiled EggBit of an uproar on the other side of the pond last week as a group of British students proved that cooking expert Delia Smith was correct in recommending that 6 minutes of simmering produces the best soft-boiled egg. Many Brits have long believed that 3 minutes is the correct time.

Huevos Rancheros, egg farmer-style!

Water isn't the only liquid you can use to poach eggs. While I might not accept a challenge to try using orange juice, a simmering pot of stock or broth, or tomato juice or sauce works beautifully and will not only cook the egg to your preferred degree of poached-ness, it will also infuse wonderful complementary flavours. If you're up for trying a curried version, try this recipe for Curried Poached Eggs. Poaching eggs in a flavourful sauce is a favourite way egg farmers John and Jeanette Vanderwerff of St.