By Melissa Lafrance on July 16, 2019
Refresh your summer recipes with tips, tricks and meals that will bring a spark to any table or gathering. Explore sustainable seafood, take a chance on an unknown ingredient or head back to cooking basics. Whatever your interest, we have recipes that are sure to ignite any appetite.
You may have heard that UBC recently announced it will purchase and offer only 100% Ocean Wise-recommended sustainable seafood. Doing so will make the seafood dishes offered on our campuses more diverse. We can all contribute to protecting our oceans by diversifying our seafood choices and supporting sustainable sources.
Ocean Wise defines sustainable seafood as “species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem”.1
Want to learn more about sustainable seafood? Explore these recipes and tips:
- Familiarize yourself with Ocean Wise’s guide to sustainable seafood
- Learn about ocean-friendly seafood choices in BC or use Ocean Wise’s seafood search function
- Try one of these Ocean Wise recipes
Be Adventurous with Your Home Cooking
According to BC-based dietitian Nicole Fetterly, some foods seem more difficult to prepare than others. When we’re unfamiliar with certain foods, we’re less likely to purchase or cook them.
Here are some recipes featuring less commonly-used ingredients but that might become a favourite of yours to make once you try them out:
- Fish: Halibut with sun dried tomato and chèvre sauce (Cookspiration)
- Legumes: Lentils with roast vegetables (Pulses Canada)
- Bread: Zucchini nut loaf (Cookspiration)
- Quinoa: Cook quinoa three ways (EatingWell)
- Eggplant: Eight simple ways to cook eggplant (Kitchn)
Minimal-Ingredient Recipes and Cooking Basics
It’s been suggested that creative tasks such as cooking and baking can have a positive effect on our wellbeing by increasing our feelings of enthusiasm and flourishing.2 Cooking can also be a mindful exercise similar to meditation: increased focus while preparing food can invigorate your mind and produce more delicious meals.
The following resources can help boost your cooking abilities and confidence:
- Simple and fun cooking videos with Sarah Carey in Everyday Food
- Quick and easy recipe videos via Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube
- Sheet pan dinner ideas (Food Network)
- 11 vegetarian sheet pan-inspired recipes (Brit + Co)
Try these simple but wholesome and satisfying meals:
- Recipes from the Minimalist Baker require 10 ingredients or less and can be done within 30 minutes or less. Best of all, they are healthy and straightforward. Try this perfect bowl of oats or this comforting one-pot everyday lentil soup.
- Almond butter, banana and chia overnight oats (Berry Nourished)
- 12 no-fuss breakfasts (Melissa Baker, UBC Food Services)
- Veggie and tofu stir-fry (My Recipes)
- Sweet potato and white bean chilli (Jamie Oliver)
By Melissa Lafrance on January 8, 2019
In January, let’s think about simple diet-refresh ideas for the new year. Identifying an area where there’s an opportunity for positive change and setting attainable goals can help you achieve better eating habits. Follow along below and discover new ways for nourishment and enjoyable eating.
Week 1: Making New Year’s resolutions stick
As you welcome 2019, perhaps you want to make and maintain changes that will benefit your health and wellbeing. Focus on can, not can’t. Make resolutions stick (American Psychological Association) and learn five solutions to common struggles (The Conversation) when setting goals.
Week 2: Rethink your drink
To keep your body hydrated, adult women should aim for a daily fluid intake of about nine cups and adult men about 12 cups; your intake will vary depending on your body size and activity level. Foods that contain water contribute to this daily intake, but when drinking extra fluids, focus on tap water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. To help you rethink your drink, here are some low-sugar beverage options and ideas:
- Find out why tap water is best to quench your thirst (UBC Food Services)
- Jazz up your water with fruits, vegetables and herbs thanks to these flavoured water recipes (Food Network)
- Try no-sugar-added iced tea (Eating Well)
- If you are hosting a meeting, consider using a water jug and providing reusable cups
Week 3: Let plants be the star of the dish
Wondering what the deal is with Meatless Mondays, and why people are making an effort to reduce or avoid eating meat? Many personal reasons can influence our diet choices. In general, compared to meat-based diets, plant-based diets are more sustainable because they use substantially less natural resources and are less taxing on the environment.
Learn more about the health and environmental reasons for shifting from meat to plants:
- How avoiding meat and dairy reduces your impact on earth (The Guardian)
- How does meat in the diet take an environmental toll? (Scientific American)
- Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, and vegan diet (Nature)
Try these plant-centric ideas and recipes to jazz up your plate:
- Plant-based (meat-minimal) recipes (Bon Appétit)
- Find the right plant-based diet for you (Harvard Health)
- 20 best plant-based dinner recipes (Minimalist Baker)
Week 4: Pack your snacks with protein
Snacking during the day can help to stabilize blood glucose and energy levels. If you snack right, it can increase the variety of foods you consume and keep you satiated throughout the day so you don’t overeat later. Read about the benefits of high-protein snacking (Today’s Dietitian) and check out these healthy and easy snack ideas:
By Melissa Lafrance on October 3, 2018
Food is one of the most basic needs for our survival and health, but it also involves sharing, celebrating and demonstrating our care for others, and supporting our social connections and traditions. Food and social interactions often go hand in hand and nourishing ourselves can also cultivate our social supports.
Week 1: Holiday meal ideas and making social connections
What better way to show gratitude towards your loved ones than preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal? Here are some ideas to help you prepare a holiday feast:
- Build your menu with these Thanksgiving recipes (Greatist)
- If turkey’s not your thing, try these vegetarian recipes instead (Food Network)
The holidays can be a difficult time, especially for older citizens or those without family around. Consider volunteering on a farm: you’ll be supporting a good cause and meeting new people. Check out the upcoming volunteer opportunities at the UBC Farm, as well as other opportunities to socialize and give back on local farms.
Week 2: Comforting meals, fall produce and farmers markets
- Savour the fall flavours and make use of the bountiful array of in-season fall produce in BC
- Get to know your local farmers markets and buy farm-fresh ingredients in your community
- Use Eating Well’s healthy soup and stew recipes to stock your freezer for easy and quick dinners
Week 3: Rethink your drink
This fall, UBC launches a Healthy Beverage Initiative (HBI) to promote healthy beverage consumption. The focus is on educating the UBC community about the health impacts of beverage choices and promoting healthier drink options, particularly water.
Developed by the UBC Food and Nutrition Working Group and other key supporters, which includes faculty, staff and student stakeholders from both campuses, the HBI exemplifies UBC’s commitment to wellbeing through the Okanagan Charter. For more information about the UBC Healthy Beverage Initiative, visit UBC Wellbeing or check out this Ubyssey article.
To help you rethink your drink, here are some low-sugar beverage options and ideas:
- Find out why tap water is best to quench your thirst (UBC Food Services)
- Jazz up your water with fruits, vegetables and herbs thanks to these flavoured water recipes(Food Network)
- Try no-sugar-added iced tea(Eating Well)
- If you are hosting a meeting, consider getting a water jug dispenser and providing reusable cups
Week 4: Quality meal times
Eating behaviour is strongly influenced by the social contexts we find ourselves in1. We often model behaviours of the people we eat with and the social environment/context. Nourish your relationships through quality meal times.
- Check out how eating together is great for team building and improving productivity (Cornell University)
- Learn how meal times can enhance mental health (The Vanier Institute of the Family)
By Melissa Lafrance on June 5, 2018
It’s the time of year when we want to cook and eat outdoors. To kick off grilling season this June, we’re exploring grilling tips and tricks, as well as delicious recipes for complete meals. There are many benefits to grilling: it’s a simple, fast and low-fat cooking method that uses fresh ingredients and best of all, it’ll mean fewer dishes! Read on to learn more.
Week 1: Grilling 101
If you’re new to grilling, here are tricks and recipes to try:
- Simple tips for healthy grilling by Healthline
- A healthier way to grill by WebMD
- Optimize your gas grilling by The Spruce Eats
- 13 best grilling tips by EatingWell
- Easy grillable veggie burgers by Minimalist Baker
Week 2: Grillable Foods on a Stick
You can use reusable or wooden skewer sticks (soaked in water first to prevent burning) to prepare healthy meals that cook evenly and quickly. Try these mouth-watering skewer recipes:
Week 3: Foil Packet Meals
Foil packets allow you to easily steam-cook flavourful, portioned meals. Try these recipe ideas:
Week 4: Desserts
If you want to complete your meal with a dessert, try these sweet, grillable options from Delish:
- Grilled summer fruit skewers
- Chocolate marshmallow bananas
- Angel food cake with strawberries in balsamic
Looking for more ideas?
Each week in June, we will be sharing tips, tricks and recipes to help you create meals on the grill. Become a UBC Health Contact to receive weekly reminders.
By Melissa Lafrance on May 3, 2018
Nutrition plays an important role in our overall health, so it’s no surprise that what we eat can be key for our sexual and reproductive health. Read on to learn how to support your reproductive health and explore recipes that will bring fun and togetherness in the kitchen.
Week 1: Foods for Reproductive Health
Some of the key micronutrients for reproductive health include iron, folate, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B121, antioxidants, zinc, and selenium2.
Here are some tips and recipes to support overall reproductive health:
- General guidelines for female nutrition by the Dietitians of Canada
- Mixed bean and quinoa salad by Pulses
- Fast fish and veggie packets by Cookspiration
- Find out which foods are rich in zinc and rich in selenium by the Dietitians of Canada
- Wild rice and pumpkin seed pilaf by Berkeley Wellness
Week 2: Eating for Energy
For optimal sexual and reproductive function, we need to get enough energy from what we eat and how much we rest. When it comes to food, maintaining energy is all about avoiding drastic fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Let’s look at ways to fuel your body with nutrients that sustain energy.
- Seven eating for energy tips by Workhealthlife (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization)
- Eating to boost energy by Harvard Health Publishing
- Four ways to boost your energy with breakfast ideas by Harvard Health Publishing
- This energy ball recipe by Cookspiration contains nuts, dried fruits, cinnamon, and a hint of Canadian sweetness. They’re perfect as a snack any time you could use a burst of energy.
Week 3: Celebrating Food and Lightening the Mood
Cooking doesn’t have to feel like just another chore around the house. Take a look at some suggestions to enjoy cooking with a partner, and not worry too much about the end product being perfect. As long as it tastes good, right?
- Huffington Post’s five tips for having fun in the kitchen
- Check out Thug Kitchen recipes to lighten up the mood in the kitchen
Week 4: Cooking and Togetherness
- Try cooking with a significant other with one of these romantic recipes by Kitchn
- These romantic dinner recipes by EatingWell are sure to impress! Or try out vegetarian dinner recipes by Gourmandelle.
- What’s for dessert? I hope you like chocolate! Try blueberry and dark chocolate bread pudding by Cookspiration and avocado chocolate mousse by Cook for your Life.
Looking for more ideas?
Each week in May, we will be sharing tips, tricks and information that support sexual and reproductive health. Become a UBC Health Contact to receive weekly updates.
By Melissa Lafrance on March 7, 2018
In honour of National Nutrition Month, this third installment of our annual series takes a critical look at three popular myths. Read on for the real facts on fruits, veggies, and turmeric.
Disclaimer: The information in this feature is intended to encourage you to think critically about the information we are bombarded with. It is not meant to cause worry or make you revamp your diet completely. At the end of the day, we all need to make the food choices that make the most sense to us at the time.
Fruits and vegetables are healthy, so I can eat as much as I want, right?
It’s true that the majority of Canadians do not consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables; however, some people do and may even eat too much. There is no set maximum, but keep in mind that you can only eat so much in a day, and you need to leave room for other food groups. Eating only fruits and vegetables may result in you getting insufficient essential nutrients — not to mention the discomfort that can result from eating too much fiber-rich foods. Think moderation and variety. According to Canada’s Food Guide, adults between the ages of 19-50 should aim to consume:
- 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for females
- 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day for males
- At least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day 
Cooking destroys all nutrients in vegetables.
This is not entirely accurate. It is true that exposing vegetables to high heat or boiling water for extended periods of time diminishes some nutrients, but some nutrients are actually enhanced. Take lycopene for example, the main carotenoid in tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell matrix, thereby making the lycopene more available . Cooking vegetables breaks down the plants’ cell walls, making them easier to digest and absorb.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B, are the most vulnerable because they leach out into the cooking water. For foods high in water-soluble nutrients, steaming (even using a microwave) and dry cooking like grilling, roasting and stir-frying retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling . If you tend to boil your vegetables, don’t be alarmed: just eat a variety of cooked and raw veggies (even frozen) and you’ll be good.
Here are some additional resources:
- Tips to maximize nutrient retention by Thinking Nutrition
- Guide to avoid overcooking vegetables by the kitchn
Turmeric has superpower curing abilities.
First there was kale, then coconut oil, and now turmeric has made it into the mainstream superfood consciousness. Not only is it readily available as a common spice, but it now can also be found in concentrated supplement form. Curcumin, the principal compound in turmeric, has been studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but there still lacks clear and significant results. Some preclinical studies suggest that curcumin may help prevent and treat certain types of cancers and type 2 diabetes, however larger randomized controlled trials are needed to determine its efficacy. Also, curcumin taken orally is poorly absorbed and rapidly metabolized and eliminated in humans.
Bottom line: there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest that it can prevent disease or cure illnesses . Long before it found its way into your latte, fresh turmeric root or ground turmeric spice was known for being flavourful and commonly used in many dishes. It can continue to be safely enjoyed in that way in small doses. You can find out more about how curcumin is metabolized, its bioavailability, as well as adverse effects and drug interactions here.
Interested in learning more about nutrition, detoxes, superfoods and hormones? Check out our Debunking the Diet Workshop Series.
For other nutritional myths we’ve debunked, see the previous articles written by Melissa:
Photo credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on August 3, 2017
August is already here! This month, we offer ideas, recipes and tips that are environmentally sustainable. Read on to learn more about meatless Monday and discover plant-based recipes.
Wondering what the deal is with meatless Mondays, and why people are making an effort to reduce or avoid eating meat? There are many personal reasons that influence the choices we make when it comes to our diet.
Check out Melissa Baker’s Meatless Mondays: Plants are the New Protein article, which presents fact-based information supporting the idea of meatless Mondays or replacing meat with alternatives. Decide if you want to join the movement. Melissa is a Registered Dietitian and Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing in UBC Food Services.
Plant-based foods are highly beneficial to have in your diet. Did you know that in March, one of the ways UBC celebrated Nutrition Month was by launching a vegetarian recipe contest? Students, staff and faculty were invited to participate and many fantastic recipes were submitted. The winner of the contest was Dietetics student, Holly Heximer, with her lentil sloppy joes! Learn more and check out Holly’s lentil sloppy joe recipe.
Try these other plant-based recipes and tricks:
- Healthy vegan recipes from Cookspiration
- Learn to cook lentils(short video)
- Make Chef Michael Smith’s vegan lentil burgers (recipe demo video and lentil burger recipe)
From purchasing to eating and even discarding, the food choices we make have a great impact on our surroundings. We can all take steps to increase our awareness and to do our part to support a sustainable and friendly environment for all species inhabiting this Earth.
Ready to eat more sustainably and save money in the process? Here are five tips to reduce your food waste.
Also, try these vegan recipes:
- Flavour-packed vegan chickpea salad sandwich from Oh She Glows
- Garden veggie Buddha bowl with lentils and tahini dressing from Cookspiration
- Pho with spinach and tofu (free login required)
Ready for more delicious, sustainable recipes? This is the week to try the following:
- Lunch box chili from Cookspiration
- Hearty black bean soup
- Almond portobello steaks
- Roasted beet, walnut and arugula salad from Cookspiration
- Sweet chili tofu stir-fry from Cookspiration
Remember, if you need to purchase your lunch, there are many local and sustainable food options to purchase across the Point Grey campus. If you are in the Okanagan, learn more about environmental sustainability initiatives.
Become a UBC Health Contact
Each week in August, we will be sharing tips, tricks and information to support environmental health.. To receive weekly reminders or for more information on how you can promote health and wellbeing at UBC, sign up to be a UBC Health Contact.
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
We’re focusing on recipes and nutrition tips to support heart health and emotional wellbeing.
Since February is heart month and cardiovascular health is vital for overall health, let’s look at ways we can be kinder to our hearts.
Here are heart-healthy tips and recipes:
Feb. 14 is Valentine ’s day and it seems fitting to share recipes involving chocolate (in moderation).
Here are healthy chocolate recipes and meal ideas:
- Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
- Avocado Chocolate Mousse
- Romantic Dinners
- Romantic Dinners – vegetarian
Hangry (hungry & angry): emotional reaction caused by hunger. It can manifest itself as being reactive, irritable, induce eating-anything-in-sight behaviours. It’s a real thing!
Here are tips and recipes to help you beet (ha!) the hangry-ness:
- Eat breakfast, your colleagues will thank you! 34 Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings
- Roasted Beet, Walnut & Arugula Salad
- 27 easy high-protein snacks
- Interested in Nutritional Psychiatry? Read more on how food affects your mood.
Many emotions and feelings can manifest when we are eating. If we are paying attention by being mindful and noticing changes within ourselves, we can sometimes notice pleasure or displeasure when we eat, gratitude for the foods we have, and judgment towards our cooking abilities.
Here are easy recipes you can try to build your confidence:
Each week in February, we will be sharing tips, tricks, and information for heart health and emotional wellbeing! Become a UBC Health Contact to receive weekly reminders, tips and tricks.
By Guest Contributor on September 15, 2015
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff, faculty and students.
How do you Thrive at Work?
I try to plan my time effectively. I will schedule myself 90-minute sessions to focus on a specific task and then move on to a different project when that time is up. I feel that the brain becomes less effective after 90 minutes of focus on a specific task. I will be sure to stand up and move around if I am at my desk for any extended period of time. I do have the luxury of splitting my time in an office setting as well as being more active in a kitchen environment, so I am able to get some physical exercise during my workday. I stock my office with healthy snacks that I can eat on the go. This includes granola and yogurt, almonds, fresh fruit and healthy energy bars. I also try to drink as much water as possible during the day. I cannot stress how important this is to everyone! At the end of my workday I ride my bike home to the Commercial Drive area, which is about a 40-minute ride if I hustle. I find that this exercise is a great way for me to clear my head of work-related issues so that I have decompressed by the time I arrive at home.
How do you Thrive at home?
At home, I have two little ones (aged four and almost two) to keep me busy. We try to teach them the importance of exercise and play in the outdoors. This by default gets me outside and active during my free time. It is important for us as a family to experience nature on a weekly basis, so we try to get out for a walk in the woods at least once a week. I think that this is key to having a healthy lifestyle. Eating is an important part of our family culture. We eat mainly fresh local ingredients, and avoid processed foods for the most part. Without a healthy diet to provide the body and mind with the nutrients it needs to succeed, you are already starting off in the hole. If you don’t think breakfast is an important meal then I believe you are not properly preparing yourself for the day ahead. While at home I try to limit my screen time and instead I like to read books or listen to music. I have tried to make a commitment to myself by not checking work emails while I am at home. Unfortunately I don’t always succeed at this, but I continue to try to improve.
Want to check out Chef David’s culinary skills inn action? Attend UBC’s Centennial Harvest Feast:
On September 24, join 1000 guests celebrating 100 years of UBC at Centennial Harvest Feast—an outdoor community dinner of epic proportions. After dinner, the fun continues with Arts Night Out! Feast guests are invited to enjoy free shows and exhibits in UBC’s Arts and Culture District.
Tickets are $20-$30 and can be purchased at www.planning.ubc.ca/harvestfeast. Last year’s event sold out so be sure to get your tickets soon!
David is a homegrown Vancouver culinary artist, who has been cooking professionally for the past twenty years. He has successfully completed culinary programs at the Vancouver Community College, as well as from the Culinary Institute of America in New York state. Prior to leading the Food Services team at UBC, David held the Executive Chef position at Rogers Arena, Monk McQueen’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, and Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island. David believes that food found in the Pacific Northwest region is amongst the best in the world, and looks to provide guests with local, sustainable, organic offerings wherever possible.
In his short time at UBC, he has already won the UBC Chef’s Challenge cooking competition (twice) and played a key role in the inaugural Harvest Feast, feeding 750 students, faculty and staff on the lawns of Main Mall. He is partnering with the UBC Farm to increase the amount of locally grown produce available on campus.