Blog Author: Jacob McCrae, ANSc, Practicum Student
February is heart month, the perfect time to bring awareness around heart health and learn about simple changes that we can make to help prevent heart disease and improve our overall cardiovascular health.
There are several factors that can contribute to heart disease and a lot of it comes down to certain lifestyle choices we make. Lets explore some ways on how we can adopt heart healthy behaviors:
Eat Heart Healthy Foods: Eating a well balanced diet high in fibre is important to cardiovascular health. Fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. It is recommended that women get at least 25 grams and men 38 grams of fibre per day. This can easily be achieved through eating plenty of heart healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. It is recommended that for each meal you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. You should also limit salt, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat.
Be Physically Active: Physical activity and exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy. You should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program.
Stop Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease. If you smoke, it would be a good idea to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start!
Manage Your Stress: A high stress lifestyle is another risk factor for heart disease. Practicing stress management to help you cope with life’s stresses can greatly improve your heart health. Some of the most effective methods are physical activity, stretching, yoga, meditation and deep breathing. Pick one that works for you.
These lifestyle choices can have a big impact on your heart’s health. Follow these recommendations and your heart will thank you!
Resources: Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510
A healthy heart is a happy heart! February is all about heart health & by taking care of your heart you can reduce high blood pressure, decrease the risk of a stroke or other harmful health problems. There are so many ways to taking care of your heart. We know that decreasing stress, exercising regularly & good nutrition all contribute to a healthy heart.
Here are some nutrition tips for a healthy heart:
1. Fibre- A good healthy diet will consist of 25 to 38 grams of fibre daily. Increasing your fibre will help lower cholesterol. You can get fibre from fruits, vegetables & whole grains to name a few.
2. Healthy weight-Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising regularly & eating healthy balanced meals will help shed some unwanted pounds. Learn how to portion meals from a certified nutritionist.
3.Limit High processed foods & salt- Learning to read labels can help compare & find foods that are lower in sodium. Avoid adding salt when you eat as well as cooking. To enhance flavours you can use lemons, some dried spices, or products like Mrs. Dash. Watch for highly processed foods such as cookies, muffins, wieners, chips...and the list goes on. So, choose less of these.
Be good to your heart, because a healthy heart is a happy heart!
Happy New Year!
Just want to keep all of you in line and help to set you up for the new year! Here are some nutrition tips that I would like you to consider in 2013:
1. Increase Fibre! Eeat more fibrous foods like apples, carrots, beans, and whole grains. Most of us don't get enough fibre in our regular diet. Fibre helps move things along, it helps lower cholesterol, and it keeps us full.
2. Limit your sugar intake! Got a sweet tooth? Eat more fresh or dried fruits. Fruit has natural sugars that will help keep your cravings in check. It's great to add to cereals, or yogurt.
3. Watch your sodium intake! Your body does need sodium to function, but too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. To control your sodium intake learn to read labels, use spices instead of salt to flavour your foods, and limit the use of processed foods.
4. Prep your meals! Pick a couple of recipes to make for the week that are easy to freeze like chili or banana bran muffins. Having healthy foods on hand will help to save your sanity on those days when you're stuck thinking "there's nothing to eat here!" or "I don't have time!"
5. Water, water, water! It blows my mind how many people forget to drink water (I too have to remind myself!). If you are having a hard time drinking water, just make sure that half of your fluid intake is, to quote Adam Sandler's hilarious The Waterboy, "some high quality H20!" Drink at least 2-3 litres a day, or more if you're working out.
Keep these tips in mind for the new year, and the new healthy you!
Are you ready for the holidays? Here's one more recipe - quick and delicious! - that will keep you and your fellow party-goers satiated thanks to a healthy dose of protein, a bit of natural sugar, and a chocolate-y kick!
JCJ Approved Holiday Protein Bites
2 + 3/4 C pitted dates
1/2 C water
1/2 C natural nut butter
1 C vanilla whey protein
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/4 C hemp seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
lukewarm water for rolling
Blend dates and water in a food processor. Next, add the nut butter. Add the protein powder slowly. Last, add the cocoa powder, hemp seeds, and cinnamon and mix all thoroughly.
Set aside a bowl of lukewarm water to clean hands while working with dough. Form into golf ball-sized bites. Roll in festive toppings if desired (we like red and green sprinkles!).
Freeze on a baking sheet for minimum 3 hours before packaging together. Bites can be stored in freezer until ready to eat!
Wishing you Happy Holidays and a healthy New Year!
It's already the first week of December - only a few weeks to go before the big day, December 25th!
Your behaviour during these next weeks is critical to preventing holiday weight gain. Why? You need to set the tone for the upcoming holiday food frenzy.
It's that time if year when you are rushed - you're doing Christmas shopping and wrapping, baking, decorating, socializing, partying, and general "fa-la-la" and "ho-ho-ho!"-ing. Do you see where I'm going with this?! Many of us fall victim to the trap of not having enough time to eat healthy during the holidays. People gain an average of 5-10 lbs before Christmas Day, and then a little extra during the holiday week because they figure "Oh, what the heck? - I'll hit the treadmill and eat healthy in the New Year!"
Well...why don't you start now?!?
JCJ Approved Tips for Holiday Health!
1. Make time to prepare snacks! Prepping and packing snacks means you won't be caught off guard when a holiday craving or hunger pang hits, whether you're stuck in line at the mall or at Suzy's winter concert. Grab some almonds, carrot sticks, or healthy snack bars - opt for those low in sugar! - and stash them in your purse, pocket, or glove box for a quick fix. A water bottle is a great (albeit heavy!) addition too!
2. Socialize smartly - simple swaps! You can still eat well when you socialize during the festive season. If you're partying potluck style, try bringing a fresh fruit tray with yogurt dip or tomato and mini cheese skewers drizzled with olive oil.
When surveying the buffet, choose items that are least processed and most simple for the healthiest choice.
Appetizers are a popular trend during the holidays. These items are very often deep fried & high in fat, making this a place where the calories can add up quickly! Choose appys like chilled shrimp with cocktail dip over breaded or fried shrimp, like those generally found on skewers. Pickles & olives are a great choice to feed your salty craving, rather than chips and dip. If there's a cheese platter, choose a few cubes (think: the size of a couple dice) with rye crackers & fruit over a smear of brie with a fatty or sugary topping.
When filling up your glass for a Christmas toast, choose hot chocolate or cider rather than fatty and filling egg nog. If you're looking for something a bit stronger, choose wine, light beer or champagne rather than sugary cocktails.
3. Dealing with candy canes & sugarplums: At this time of year it seems everyone loves to share their favourite sugary, chocolate-y recipe! If you have a sweet tooth, stick to one treat and then walk away. Limit yourself to just a taste...but not a taste of the whole platter!! We want you to enjoy the holidays an not deprive yourself, but don't forget to use your healthy snacks (which are ready and waiting in your purse, now that you've taken my advice!) as a smart alternative to the sweet treats. And, if the parade of sweets seems to be constant...daily...never-ending!...remind yourself "I had a sweet treat yesterday...so today, no thanks!"
Remember the holiday season is a time to celebrate with your closest family and friends. Food brings people together, so share these tools with your company and if you indulge, keep it in moderation!
For all our "wheat-free" fans, we especially want to share this recipe with you! This was created for a friend who was pregnant at the time and has IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome). I wanted to make something for her that she could eat on-the-go when in a rush to doctor's appointments or too tired to bake for herself!
We hope you enjoy JCJ's first official wheat-free recipe, and we promise we will keep 'em coming! In the meantime, don't be shy to ask us for nutrition tips and tricks or put a request in for our next round of recipe blogging!! :)
JCJ's Rice Flour Banana Bread
4 medium bananas, mashed
300g rice flour (can be found at a health food store or organic grocer)
100g dairy-free spread (or basic margarine)
4 Tsp wheat/gluten-free baking powder
1 Cup coconut milk (found at any grocery store, sometimes in the asian/ethnic cooking section)
1. Preheat oven to 350'F. Lightly grease loaf pans and set aside until ready to use. Next, mash bananas to a pureed texture in a bowl (or in a blender/food processor, if you prefer).
2. In a separate bowl, measure all other ingredients. Add mashed bananas to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
3. Transfer mix to greased loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out cleanly.
**NOTE: We have had a special request for dairy and egg-free alternatives in this recipe. The above version is dairy-free, but obviously not egg-free. Sometimes applesauce or other fruit puree can be substituted for eggs, but this bread recipe is crumbly as is, and really need the protein from the eggs to bind everything together to create a good finished product. So, we're going to take this recipe back to our test kitchen to find a JCJ-tested and approved egg-free alternative. Stay tuned!!
This recipe is a personal favourite. Several years ago when I was hospitalized, but out on a weekend pass, I hosted a "Frozen Food Party." I had all my closest girlfriends there and we worked together to make meals that could be easily frozen and saved for easy "heat and eat" meals on days when I was too tired to cook. This is a great strategy not just for people dealing with a long-term illness, but also for anyone who needs tasty, nutrient-packed meals in a quick and simple way! I made this recipe for our brunch and it was a big hit!
JCJ's No Crusti-ness Spinach Quiche
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 bunch green onions (white parts only), finely diced
4 eggs, beaten
1 container of cottage cheese (no added salt)
2 cups of low fat shredded cheddar cheese
whole wheat breadcrumbs (optional garnish)
1. Preheat oven to 325'F (165'C). Lightly grease a muffin pan.
2. Place the spinach in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until spinach softens. When wilted, set the spinach aside for later.
3. In a bowl, mix the onion, eggs, cottage cheese, and cheddar. Add the spinach to this mix and stir all ingredients until combined throughly. Divide evenly in your muffin pan.
4. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until egg is firm and fully cooked (use your judgement!). If using breadcrumbs, remove pan from oven after 30 minutes and sprinkle with crumbs to top; return pan to oven for 5-10 minutes to finish.
* Gluten-free option for replacing breadcrumbs: Grate a few cauliflower florets with a cheese grater! It will look crumbly and you can sprinkle on top. Cook until eggs are firm and cauliflower is lightly browned.
I love this recipe because it is so easy to make. You can pair it with spaghetti squash, pasta, breads to dip, or even rice! It makes quite a bit, so you can freeze the rest and save for a cold day!
JCJ Approved Easy Peasy Meat Sauce
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 onion, chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
3-4 small mushrooms, sliced
1 jar of your favourite spaghetti sauce (low in sugar & sodium would be best)
1. Halve cherry tomatoes, chop onion, and slice mushrooms. Set all aside for later.
2. Preheat pot on stove to medium high heat. Transfer ground beef into pot and cook until meat is well done and brown in colour. Drain any excess fat from the pot after browning.
3. Add spaghetti sauce to the meat. Stir until mixed thoroughly. Add tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms to the meat mix. Stir all until thoroughly mixed.
4. Change heat to low and cover pot with lid. Let meat sauce simmer for 25 minutes. Enjoy!
Yes, it's that time of year again! Fall is here, and along with the shorter days and cooler weather comes the return of our favourite seasonal flavours! For a sweet treat, pick up a Fall-inspired drink, like a cinnamon or pumpkin spice latte! To keep the calories, fat, and sugar under control try ordering your drink the skinny way: stick to a small size with skim or soy milk, sugar-free flavour or half-sweet, and skip the whip!
Another way to kick off a crisp Fall day is with a comforting bowl of Pumpkin Oatmeal! Enjoy this JCJ-tested recipe of the week! And remember, what you eat is what you wear!!
JCJ's Pumpkin Oatmeal
1/2 C quick oats
1/3 C pure pumpkin (canned raw pumpkin, not pie filling!)
1 scoop vanilla (or unflavoured) protein powder
Dash of pumpkin spice (or some cinnamon and nutmeg if you don't have the blended spice)
1/2 oz chopped walnuts (*optional)
1/8 C (about a handful) unsweetened raisins (*optional)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add about 1/3-1/2 C water and mix until ingredients are wet and you have a bit of excess water. MIcrowave covered for 45 seconds. Stir. If mixture seems thick or sticky add a bit more water. Return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Give a final stir, and add a touch of skim milk for an extra creamy texture!
Great to see everyone out at the YYC Run for Water today! We had a great race, and it was a gorgeous day!
Now, it's time to re-fuel! Kudos to Run for Water for all their awesome post-race snacks! Runners, make sure to continue your re-fueling throughout the day today. You've expended a TON of energy, and you need to be sure to replace it properly!
Yes, you did bun a whole lotta' calories this morning, so if you're hoping for a sweet treat, today might be the right day to indulge. But, try to keep that portion reasonable, and maybe save the treats until the end of the day, when your body isn't working quite so hard to recover.
Right now, your best food choices for post-race recovery are meals with a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Think of carbs as your body's version of gasoline - no gas, no go! You used up a ton of carbs during the race, so now you need to top up the tank. A healthy dose of protein will help reduce post-race muscle soreness and will aid in rebuilding you to be better, faster, and stronger!
Try half a bagel with some natural nut butter or low fat cream cheese for the perfect nutrient balance. Or, test out one of JCJ's favorite post-race smoothies!
Orange Dream Recovery Drink
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 C orange juice
1/2 C ice cubes
Blend until smooth and enjoy! Yes, it's that simple! Add a little more ice or a splash of Greek yogurt if you like your smoothie thicker; add some extra juice or water if you prefer a thinner style drink!
Keep up the great work, and remember: what you eat is what you wear!!