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MARGARET PROUSE: Unlocking the power of food

Eating well is essential for wellbeing at all times, and vegetables are a great way to eat good food. 123RF/SUBMITTED PHOTO
Eating well is essential for wellbeing at all times, and vegetables are a great way to eat good food. 123RF/SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Guardian

I don’t live with a lot of regrets, but I do wish I’d taken advantage of the opportunity to become a registered dietitian after completing my degree in nutrition. Dietitians do valuable work in community, administrative and clinical settings. 

Luckily, I can piggyback on some of their special projects, including one that’s in progress right now.

Every year, Dietitians of Canada (DC) co-ordinate Nutrition Month in March. Eating well is essential for wellbeing at all times, but I am particularly receptive to thinking about healthy eating in March. 

Warmer sunshine and longer days remind me that spring and summer will come again. And I want to be healthy and strong to get the most out of time in the garden, at the beach and on the Confederation Trail. 

This year’s theme is Unlock the Potential of Food. Dietitians of Canada say that food has the potential to fuel, to discover, to prevent, to heal and to bring us together. That’s a lot of potential. 

Food provides the fuel that bodies burn to create energy, at mealtime and snack time. When you are busy and eating on the run, it can be challenging to get a balanced diet. DC says that healthy snacks can fill the gaps. 

They offer these tips for snacking: 

- Plan and prepare ahead, keeping a selection of ready-to-eat snacks, such as cut up vegetables, nuts and cubed cheese on hand. 

- Be aware of how much you’re eating by placing an appropriate portion on a plate or bowl instead of eating from a bag or box. 

- Notice your hunger cues. Before serving yourself a big snack, ask yourself if you’re really hungry or if the problem you need to address is boredom, fatigue or stress (I see this in myself often).

- Pay attention while you’re snacking, rather than distracting yourself by doing something else such as watching a screen at the same time. 

- Bump up your daily intake of vegetables by including them in snacks every day.

Having a small serving of protein as part of a snack is a good idea because it satisfies hunger and sticks with you.   

If you give it some thought, you will come up with hundreds of snack time menus of vegetables or fruits accompanied by a little protein. 

Here are some to get you started: 

 A parfait made by layering plain or vanilla yogurt, fruit and a sprinkling of crisp bran cereal; 

Peanut butter sandwiched between apple slices; 

Skewered pineapple chunks and cubes of cheese; 

Frozen seedless grapes with cheese; 

Whole wheat mini pitas, hummus and cherry tomatoes;

Homemade trail mix with raisins, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds; 

Oat cake cookie or whole grain cracker with a slice of cheddar and a few apple wedges; 

Applesauce, a bran mini muffin and walnut pieces;  

Cottage cheese and orange wedges; 

Whole grain cereal, sliced half banana and milk;

Whole wheat melba toast with almond butter and cucumber slices.

In most cases, it takes only a small amount of food at snack time to keep you fuelled until the next meal. 

There have been some nice eggplants in grocery stores lately. It’s perfect for making this eggplant dip recipe provided by Diabetes Canada and sourced from cookspiration.com. I would use a small to medium eggplant for this and serve it for a snack with mini pitas or whole grain crackers and perhaps a little sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese. 

Eggplant Dip
1 eggplant 

3 green onions, finely chopped 

1 large tomato, peeled and chopped 

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped 

½ stalk celery, finely chopped 

15 mL (1 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar 

15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil 

2 mL (½ tsp) salt 

1 mL (¼ tsp) freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).  Prick eggplant in several places with a fork. Place in baking pan and roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool, then peel and finely chop. 

In a bowl, combine chopped eggplant, green onions, tomato, garlic and celery. Add lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to blend the flavours. Makes 500 mL (2 cups). 

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at prouse@pei.sympatico.ca.

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