Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Follow Friday: World Food for Student Cooks

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My friend, and fellow dietitian, Krista McLellan wrote a cookbook! World Food for Student Cooks is geared toward uni students who love great street food and want to learn to make healthy delicious affordable versions at home. Even if you’re not a student you’ll probably enjoy this cookbook. It’s got recipes like bahn mi, spicy mango salad, and, or course, pizza.

 


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Granola: breakfast or dessert?

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I love granola. It’s part of most of my breakfasts. This despite the recent article in which dietitians decreed granola to be a dessert. Whatever. I love breakfast for supper and, apparently, dessert for breakfast. That being said, I do think that granola can be a part of a healthy breakfast just as it can be an rather unhealthy start to the day.

There are a couple of factors that come to play in making granola a part of a healthy breakfast. One is the sad fact that most commercially available granolas are just oats and sugar held together by fat. Homemade granola can be the same. It can also be loaded with healthy nuts and seeds. It all depends on what you put in it. The key is that you get to decide what goes into it. Of course, it’s still going to be calorically dense and probably will have a fair amount of sugar and/or fat in it, depending on the recipe.

This is where the second factor comes into play. It’s all about serving size. Rather than having a bowlful of granola you should be treating granola as a topping. Adding a bit of granola to a bowl of shredded wheat with some blueberries or sliced banana makes it taste a whole lot better and adds the protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals from the nuts and seeds. Granola also adds a bit of crunch to a smoothie bowl or some fruit and yoghurt. I’ve even had roasted sweet potato topped with peanut butter, yogurt, and granola.

Granola can be a healthy choice. It’s all about how you treat it.

One of my current favourite granola recipes is a modified version of Angela Liddon’s recipe in her Oh She Glows cookbook.

Feel free to share your favourite granola recipes below or your favourite ways to include granola as a part of a nutritious breakfast.


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Follow Friday: @rooted_project

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I’ve been neglecting follow Friday posts. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how most of what I blog about is tearing things apart. Granted, they all deserve our derision… That being said, after ranting a few times about how there’s so much in-fighting in dietetics I thought that maybe in an effort to counterbalance some of that, that I would start devoting my Follow Friday posts to promoting blogs, websites, and initiatives of my fellow RDs.

Since The Rooted Project held their first public event this past week I thought they’d be a great project to start this new positive series off.

The Rooted Project is the brainchild of British dietitians Rosie Saunt and Helen West. Both of whom I’ve mentioned on my blog before. Their aim is to bring evidence-based nutrition to the masses through public panels and events. If you’re in London I recommend keeping an eye on what they have in the works. If you’re not, like me, I recommend following them on twitter.


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Have you heard of banana milk?

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Image by Newtown Graffiti on flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Have you heard of banana milk? Apparently it’s poised to be the next plant-based milk alternative. Except it’s not milk. It’s juice.

Maybe banana blended with water is tasty and maybe it makes a great stand-in for actual milk in a latte. I’d be willing to give it a try. But let’s be honest here, it’s banana juice. Nutritionally (and probably favour-wise) there is pretty much no resemblance between a banana blended into water and a glass of cow’s milk.

Of course, banana milk, like almond milk (or any other plant-based milk alternative) sounds a heck of a lot catchier than banana juice or banana water. Unless it’s being fortified like crazy, calling it milk is misleading and could lead to nutrient deficiencies.

When you think of milk you probably think of nutrients like protein, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin D. Calling banana juice “milk” evokes the false perception that this water and banana mixture is also a good source of these nutrients.

According to a recipe I found online for banana milk one serving contains one banana, one cup of water, a dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. Based on this, and assuming use of a medium banana, the nutrition profile would be: 0.4 grams of fat, 1.2 mg sodium (plus that coming from the pinch of salt maybe about 140 mg), 422.4 mg potassium, 3.1 g fibre, 14 g sugar, 1.3 g protein, 20% DV of vitamin B6, and 7% DV of magnesium. Compare that to the nutrient profile of a cup of 2% milk: 5 grams of fat, 100 mg sodium, 0 g fibre, 12 g sugar, 8 g protein, 29% DV calcium, 26% DV vitamin D, 27% DV riboflavin, and 19% DV vitamin B12. Both have nutritional value but the nutrient profiles for a banana and a glass of milk are also quite different.

Go on and enjoy your banana lattes and whatever other banana juice concoctions you like but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s the same as drinking a glass of milk. It’s not, it’s the same as eating a banana and drinking a glass of water.


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An open letter to grocery stores

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Dear Grocery Stores,

I’ve noticed that over the past few years many of you (especially those that are affiliated with national chains) have moved toward discounts that are only applied to the purchase of multiple units. For example, buy two get one half price or buy four to receive a discount otherwise pay regular price. I implore you to reconsider this promotional model as it only serves to hurt your customers who need the discounts the most.

There are many reasons why these types of promotions are ill-suited to people living on limited incomes. The obvious reason is that of budget. In order to get the discount, more money must be paid up-front. Thus, more money is needed in order to save money. For someone with a tight grocery budget it may not be possible to afford to buy multiple units of a product in order to get the discount.

There are a couple of other reasons why this practice discriminates against people living on limited incomes. For many people living on limited incomes transportation is an issue. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle and have to walk, bike, or bus to the store, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to manage to lug three extra cans of beans home with you just to get the discount. Many people living on limited incomes don’t have stable living situations and may not have anywhere to store more food than is immediately needed.

Offering discounts on the purchase of multiple units only benefits those of us who are fortunate enough to have flexibility in our budgets, access to a car, and space in our kitchens. As much as most of us love getting deals, we are not the ones who truly need them. Please reconsider your promotions model. Work with the companies whose products you sell to develop promotions that don’t necessitate the purchase of multiple units to receive a discount. Do your bit to help those who need discounts the most.