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 June 4, 2019
Outdoor cooking and eating is much more inviting when the weather warms up. This month, let’s see what’s cooking when it comes to picnics, grilling, markets and farms.
Week 1: Picnic Ideas & Areas
How many of you have to work indoors but enjoy getting your vitamin D too? Incorporate some outdoor time during your workday by stepping away from your desk/office/workplace and eating lunch outside in nature. Here are some ideas to try:
- Check out our July 2018 Healthy Recipes & Tips article for picnic tips and recipes.
- Discover UBC Vancouver’s outdoor spaces – great for eating out or hanging out with colleagues.
- Additional spots at UBC Vancouver include the tables, benches or green spaces outside the Pharmaceutical Sciences building, the Nest, along Main Mall, and near the Forestry building and Reconciliation Pole.
- Discover UBC Okanagan’s outdoor spaces, including the Amphitheatre, Commons, and the Courtyard.
Week 2: Grilling 101
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! Our June 2018 Healthy Recipes & Tips article offers a number of tasty ideas and options.
Week 3: Farmers’ Markets
Farmers’ markets are venues that increase food accessibility and where consumers have access to local, fresh and readily available produce. It’s also a great way to learn what foods are in season and connect with your community, nearby farmers and food providers. Whether you’re in Vancouver or the Okanagan, visit one of BC’s many farmers’ markets using the BC Farmers’ Market Trail resource.
Week 4: Explore the UBC Farm
The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) at UBC Farm in Vancouver is a research centre and local-to-global food hub working towards a more sustainable, food-secure future.
Throughout the growing season, the UBC Farm hosts three markets each week, including their Farm Gate Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and their farm markets outside the UBC Bookstore on Wednesdays. Check out the 2019 market calendar and visit a market for an opportunity to purchase fresh food right from the source.
Photo Credit: UBC Brand & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on May 2, 2019
Nutrition plays an important role in our overall health, so it’s no surprise that what we eat can affect our sexual and reproductive health, including our fertility. Read on for recipes that support your reproductive health.
Week 1: Foods for Reproductive Health
In general, everyone can benefit from a healthy, balanced and varied diet. But certain nutrients and food groups may offer extra benefits in terms of sexual health. Men can benefit from foods rich in carbohydrates, fibre, folate, lycopene and antioxidants as well as lots of fruits and vegetables. And women, particularly those concerned with infertility, could benefit from a diet with a high monounsaturated-to-trans fats ratio, more vegetable protein than animal protein, an increased intake of iron, and a lower glycemic load.1 The glycemic index can help you choose foods to monitor your glycemic load and manage your blood glucose levels.
Some of the key micronutrients for reproductive health include iron, folate, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B122, antioxidants, zinc, and selenium3.
Try the following tips and recipes that aim to support overall reproductive health.
Tips from Dietitians of Canada:
- General guidelines for female nutrition
- Find out which foods are rich in zinc and rich in selenium
- Discover the power of antioxidants
- Mixed bean and quinoa salad (Pulses)
- Fast fish and veggie packets (Cookspiration)
- Wild rice and pumpkin seed pilaf (Berkeley Wellness)
Week 2: Revving the Engine
For optimal sexual and reproductive function, we need to get enough energy from food and sleep. When it comes to food, maintaining energy is mostly about avoiding drastic fluctuations in blood sugar levels. It is best to fuel our bodies and sustain our energy levels with healthy meals and snacks and to limit caffeine consumption. Caffeine has been reported to have negative effects on female fertility and pregnancy-related complications. Because opinions differ on how much caffeine we should be consuming, it’s best to consult a medical professional for a recommendation. During pregnancy, it’s ideal to consume minimal amounts of caffeine. Learn more with some facts on caffeine.
Let’s look at ways to fuel your body with nutrients that sustain energy:
- Seven eating for energy tips (Workhealthlife*)
- Eating to boost energy (Harvard Health Publishing)
- Four ways to boost your energy with breakfast ideas (Harvard Health Publishing)
- Nuts, dates, raisins and maple syrup balls are a perfect snack for a burst of energy (Cookspiration)
* Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Week 3: Celebrating Food and Lightening the Mood
Cooking doesn’t have to feel like another household chore. Try cooking with a partner or friend, and don’t worry too much about creating a perfect meal. Here are some ways you can infuse fun and flavor into your meal-making:
- Five tips for having fun in the kitchen (Huffington Post Life)
- 10 easy ways to make cooking more fun (HelloFresh)
- Recipes to lighten the mood in the kitchen (Thug Kitchen)
Week 4: Cooking and Togetherness
Spending time in the kitchen and cooking with loved ones incorporates fun and togetherness and can be a catalyst to bring us together. Add a little spice in your life with these recipes:
- Impress someone you love with these romantic recipes (Kitchn) and dinner-for-two recipes (EatingWell)
- Get cozy with these vegetarian dinner recipes (Gourmandelle)
- Dessert and chocolate are always a winning pair: try a blueberry and dark chocolate bread pudding (Cookspiration) or avocado chocolate mousse (Cook for your Life)
By Melissa Lafrance on April 2, 2019
Food accounts for a significant portion of our incomes and budgets, which is why it can be challenging to find a healthy balance between finances and optimal nutrition. This month, let’s look at ways we can stretch our food dollars, reduce food waste and still have the nourishing food that is essential for good health.
Week 1: Meal Planning & Batch Cooking
Generally, the more preparation or processing that goes into making a food product, the more expensive it is. If you reach for canned/packaged goods or produce that’s out of season, you’ll also pay more. To save money at the grocery store, avoid pre-made foods, dips, dressings and sauces.
Here are other tricks and recipes to try:
- Consider your weekly schedule and plan your meals and leftovers accordingly. Try a free meal planning app like Yummly.
- Batch cooking is a great way to avoid relying on more expensive restaurant meals or pre-made foods. You’ll have leftovers for lunch or even healthy weekday breakfasts and snacks. Check out Nutrition Stripped’s Batch Cooking 101 or the Food Network’s 50 Batch Cooking Recipes.
Week 2: Eat Well on a Budget
It’s helpful to have a solid food budget, but so is looking at other aspects of your spending. If you feel you can’t stretch your food dollar, but end up buying lunch or spending $5/day on a latte, you may need to evaluate your budget.
- Eating on a budget by Workhealthlife*
- 12 ways to save on groceries and shop on a budget by myMoneyCoach
- How much should you spend on groceries? by Global News
* Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Week 3: Waste Not to Save a Lot
Wasting food is like dumping your money in the trash, yet many of us are guilty of doing this. Here are a few waste-reducing tips and recipes:
- How to become a financially wise food shopper by Workhealthlife*
- SuperCook instantly finds matching recipes for ingredients you have and want to use up
- Expiration date vs. best-before date by Spud
* Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.
Week 4: Be Friends with Your Freezer
Freezing baked goods, snacks, fruits, vegetables and even full meals not only prolongs food freshness, but also makes it easy to eat home-cooked food when you need a quick fix.
Here are some freezer-friendly recipes and tips from Jamie Oliver:
By Melissa Lafrance on March 4, 2019
Guest contribution by Dr. Thara Vayali
Did you know that humans have three brains? There is the central nervous system (CNS) that originates in your cranial cavity (the “brain”) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that is based out of your brain, spine and pelvis. The PNS has multiple functions, two of which are the “fight and flight” response and the “rest and digest” response. The third, less-commonly-discussed one is the enteric nervous system (ENS) that originates in your intestinal tract — also referred to as the “gut brain”.
As far as we know, these brains are linked by only one vital nerve, the vagus nerve, by which they send their messages of joy and warning, back and forth. What’s astounding is that even if that vagus nerve is severed, the ENS keeps functioning without direction from the CNS brain headquarters. It is a “brain” on its own.
Mindfulness impacts the vagus nerve and thus the ENS directly. The ENS is a major factor in digestion and mental state. A mindfulness practice crosses both mental and physical aspects of health.
Let’s first learn about where the nerve hubs are:
- Origin of thoughts and reactions
- Over 85 billion neurons and 100 neurotransmitters
- 5% of serotonin, 50% of dopamine
- Origin of fight, flight, freeze and fall – the responses to situations of danger, fear and pain
- Slows digestive processes to direct attention toward managing threats
Brain, Pelvis and Vagus Nerve (PNS)
- Origin of rest, repair and digestion
- Directs digestion and bowels
Gut Tissue (ENS)
- Origin of “gut feelings”
- 100 million neurons and 40 neurotransmitters
- 95% of serotonin, 50% of dopamine
While the CNS certainly has the most influence on daily life, the vagus nerve is a two-way information highway connecting the gut to the brain. It delivers messages about the state of affairs between the brain and the gut. When the mind is at ease, the body can follow suit. Likewise, when the gut is at ease, the mind receives messages of calm. The gut brain is the group huddle for the body’s health and wellbeing.
Knowing this, let’s not only consider what we are eating, but also how we feel while we eat. A mindfulness practice is a tool that allows messages of restoration and digestion to flood the gut. An enhanced capacity for digestion can send messages of calm back to the mind
Take 10 to tame your breath and tame your gut
Before each meal, take 10 deep inhales and long exhales. This process changes your chemistry enough to signal to your vagus nerve that you are willing to go into a digestion phase of the day. Ten deep breaths is a short amount of time in relation to a day’s work – about one minute – but it can certainly feel long or inappropriate in your current rhythm.
Until it feels natural, perhaps do this by yourself, looking out a window or on a slow walk down the hall. Oftentimes, once we sit down to eat, our minds have already moved on to either hunger, conversations or time pressures.
Allow yourself the space and preparation to welcome your meals and let the nourishment begin.
Dr. Thara Vayali is a Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor and yoga teacher, UBC alum and popular guest contributor to our Healthy UBC newsletter who specializes in intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. For more information about Thara, visit www.tharavayali.ca
By Melissa Lafrance on December 5, 2018
In December, we are highlighting winter produce, feeding yourself when you’ve caught a bug, and rethinking holiday eating. You won’t find your typical guide to healthy holiday eating here. We are all unique and some of us celebrate in different ways, so it’s important to savour those special moments, especially if your festivities revolve around food.
Follow along below and discover weekly new ways for nourishment and enjoyable holiday eating.
If you’ve caught a cold or flu virus, it’s important to hydrate and get proper nutrition – even with a reduced appetite. Passing over food or skipping meals isn’t recommended because when you’re fighting a cold or flu virus, you need extra calories to support a higher metabolic rate.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you combat the bug:
- Hydrate! Learn about WebMD’s best (and worst) drinks to have when battling a cold.
- Check out this classic chicken soup from Eating Well.
- Try making Cooking Light’s flavourful quick chicken pho.
- When you have more energy to cook, consider Jamie Oliver’s collection of winter soup recipes. Freeze in batches so you have a quick dose of goodness when you need it most.
We are lucky to be able to enjoy great foods and flavourful ingredients – even through the chilly winter season.
Here are some recipes and tips for using in-season produce:
- Check out Eating Well’s five healthy foods you can enjoy this winter.
- To find local foods grown in December, check out FarmFolk CityFolk’s seasonal food chart.
- Try Ina Garten’s simple roasted vegetable recipe. If you want, sprinkle some goat cheese on your finished dish.
- Buy what might be an odd-looking squash and inspire yourself to do something with it. “Ugly vegetables” are not just ornamental; you can actually eat them. Check out The Spruce’s website to see the many winter squash and pumpkin varieties. You’ll also find great recipes if you scroll all the way down the page.
Week 3 and 4:
This holiday season, leave the guilt aside and mindfully enjoy meals that not only nourish your body, but also feed your soul. It is perfectly okay to eat foods that are sweeter and richer (oilier or creamier), with a reminder to always check in with your doctor if you are on a special or restrictive diet for health reasons
Check out some of my favourite go-to festive recipes:
- Spinach dip is a great potluck dish. Try Cookspiration’s version with pumpernickel bread and a variety of veggies.
- Another winner is Smitten Kitchen’s broccoli slaw. (I usually omit the buttermilk and mayo, and use Vegenaise instead.)
- Check out Vegetarian Times’ rosemary whole-wheat stuffing with figs and hazelnuts. (I usually add finely chopped carrots and celery, a bit of allspice, and replace the port with extra broth.)
If you choose to indulge a little, here are some tips on how to do it well and mindfully:
- Have a strategy to help with self-control. Check out Self’s 13 holiday healthy-eating tips from a registered dietitian.
- Check out Harvard Health’s 10 mindful eating tips.
- Read Psychology Today’s take on enjoying holiday eating.
For more recipes and tips, visit our online nutrition archive.
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 September 11, 2018
September is here, and so is back-to-school time. This month, we offer ideas, recipes and tips that are as stress-free as possible.
Food fuels our bodies, including our brains. Nourishing ourselves with good quality foods will help ensure peak cognitive function. It starts with a fortifying breakfast, then a recharging lunch, followed by a delicious supper, with balancing snacks to keep us going throughout the day.
Week 1: Be breakfast ready
Breakfasts that include foods with a low glycemic index 1 will produce a slower rise and lower peak in blood glucose concentration after eating. Your first meal of the day can include carbohydrates such as low-in-sugar breakfast cereals, oatmeal or whole grain toast combined with some protein such as a plain dairy or non-dairy product, eggs and nut butters to keep you satiated for longer. Here are some breakfast options to try:
- No-fuss breakfasts (Melissa Baker, Manager of Nutrition & Wellbeing at UBC SHHS)
- Healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings (Healthy Families BC)
- 34 healthy breakfasts for busy mornings (Greatist)
- Freezer-friendly breakfast sandwiches (Damn Delicious)
- Freezer-friendly spinach feta breakfast wraps (Kitchn)
- A week’s worth of oatmeal in jars (Kitchn)
Week 2: Transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch
With a bit of planning and making extra food when you do have time to cook or prep meals, you can transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch. Try doubling up on recipes so you have enough portions for a couple of lunches. It shouldn’t add any cooking/prep time.
Be prepared with these recipes, tips and healthy lunch spots:
- 15 kitchen staples to help you whip up a healthy meal (Melissa Baker)
- 13 hacks for quick lunches (Spud)
- Need to buy lunch? Find out what’s open on the Vancouver campus.
- Mouth-watering healthy lunch ideas for work (EatingWell)
Week 3: Who’s ready for snacks?
Avoid the mid-morning or mid-day run to the vending machine by incorporating healthy snacks that include a minimum of two food groups. That will help reduce the sugar spike and impending crash from eating highly processed, carbohydrate-based, easy-to-grab snacks.
Week 4: Home-Cooked Meals
How often do you get home after work, starving and with no idea what to make for dinner?
- Explore meal planners, including Martha Stewart’s Grocery Bag Weekly Meal Planner. You’ll get recipes for dinner (and possibly leftovers for lunch), grocery lists and the confidence to whip up simple meals.
Here are some time-saving tips:
- Wash, chop and store fresh veggies and fruit once or twice a week to minimize cooking and prep time on other days.
- Make grains galore. Cook extra whole grains or other sides and store portioned leftovers in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. That way, you’ll be ready when you need a healthy meal in a hurry.
- Slow saves time: consider using a slow cooker. Check out BBC good food’s vegetarian slow cooker recipes.
For those extra busy times when you don’t have time to grocery shop, consider online food ordering or meal delivery services. Here are some local options for online ordering:
By Melissa Lafrance on July 4, 2018
Summer is here! What better way to enjoy the nice weather and nature than with an al fresco outing. To kick-off summer this July, we are exploring picnic ideas and tricks, as well as delicious recipes for a nourishing and fun outdoor meal, whether it’s in a park, at the beach, or a building rooftop. Read on to learn more.
Week 1: Pack with Ease
- Opt for reusable over disposable. Check out BC Living’s picnic packing list for ideas on what to bring.
- Mason jars or repurposed glass jars are perfect for carrying liquids or anything that could potentially leak. Check out these 26 portioned meals in a jar by Greatist.
Week 2: Seriously Sizzling
- Looking for vegetarian options? Explore BBC Good Food’s collection of vegetarian picnic recipes.
- If you need recipe ideas for your next summer BBQ cookout or picnic, check out this collection of summer BBQ picnic foods made healthier.
- If you are grilling burgers and/or sausages (meat or veg), spice ‘em up with Pampered Chef’s ultimate list of toppings and Kitchn’s how to quick pickle any vegetable (no canning required).
Week 3: Snack Attack and H2O Hydration
- Build your own healthy trail mix with this recipe from The Healthy Maven.
- Don’t forget to bring water in a reusable water bottle or try a cool summer beverage idea by making your own no-sugar-added iced tea (Eating Well) or jazzing up your water with fruits, vegetables and herbs thanks to these flavoured water recipes (Food Network).
Week 4: Sandwiches and Sweet Stuff
- Need inspiration to create a delicious sandwich? Check out Tablespoon’s grilled vegetable on focaccia recipe and caprese picnic sandwiches.
- Think outside the bread and try these deconstructed sandwiches on a stick (Food Network).
- Watermelon: there’s nothing better on a hot summer day. Here are five ways to cut it according to WikiHow.
- Try making summer melon slushies (Woman’s Day) and berry trifle in a jar (All Recipes).
Looking for more ideas?
Each week in July, we will be sharing tips, tricks and recipes to help you a picnic with a punch! 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