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 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 May 4, 2017
It’s easy to reach for a bottle of ketchup or salad dressing at the grocery store. But it’s just as easy – and often healthier and less expensive – to make your own.
This month, we’re taking a look at basic food staples and finding ways to make them a little healthier by making our own instead of buying pre-made. The best way to know exactly what is in your food is to make it yourself. You also benefit from being able to customize it to your taste and can often save money, particularly when you buy the ingredients in bulk. Plus, cooking is fun and satisfying.
Check out the four-week plan and get cooking!
Let’s start small and simple. Try these recipes and tips:
- Make your own salad dressing. You can use old bottles for your dressing or mix up all the ingredients in a glass or a Mason jar.
- You can even make your own butter!
- Make homemade crackers. I’ve made these before and they are super easy and delicious on their own or with hummus or cheese.
- Try baking your own bread.
What about dairy and dairy alternatives? Most of us have these as staples in our everyday diets.
- Did you know you can make your own almond milk? The leftover almond pulp can be used in smoothies, hummus, oatmeal and crackers.
- Homemade yogurt is easier to make than you might think!
Now let’s explore condiments! Nut butters are full of nutrition and great to add to many dishes or use in a good ol’ peanut butter and jam sandwich (even better if it’s with your homemade bread!)
By Melissa Lafrance on March 1, 2016
Spring is in the air! This time of year brings warmer weather, longer days, and perhaps less cloudiness and rain and more delightful sunshine. Spring is the season of new beginnings, fresh buds blooms and the earth seems to come to life again. There’s also a common activity that many take part in – spring cleaning. March is also Nutrition Month (aka my favourite initiative), given my passion for nutrition and health. And on that note, let’s take the opportunity to debunk eight nutrition myths and learn the real facts!
Disclaimer – The information is this feature is meant to make you think about being critical about the information we are bombarded with in the media. It is not meant to cause worry or make you revamp your diet. At the end of the day, we all need to make the choices that makes most sense to us at the time. If you have concerns about your diet, consider consulting a dietitian – see the December, 2014, article in Benefits FYI for information on using your UBC Extended Health Benefits for dietitian services.
Avoid carbs if you want to lose weight.
Restricting carbohydrates (carbs) typically involves lowering or eliminating carbohydrate-containing foods like grain products, some fruits, starchy vegetables, some dairy products, as well as high sugar-containing foods. While this can help one lose weight in the short-term due to a lower caloric intake, restrictive diets are not sustainable on a long-term basis. Our bodies need carbohydrates for energy and optimal brain function. Regardless of the diet approach, long-term lifestyle changes in eating habits and physical activity are required to prevent weight loss and maintenance. Complex carbohydrates are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and fibre.
- Learn more about low carbohydrate diets.
- Learn more about smart choices to include carbohydrates in your diet.
Late-night snacking causes weight gain.
Healthy snacking is a smart way to help ensure adequate nutrient intake for energy and wellbeing. Snacking in between meals can help keep blood glucose levels stable throughout the day. Remember to snack wisely, measure portion sizes, and listen to hunger cues. Visit Healthy Snacks for Adults for great ideas and snack foods to bring to work that will keep you satisfied in between meals or after a workout. It’s more about the type and the amount of food you consume and less about the timing.
You need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to be healthy.
Food first! Most healthy individuals can meet their vitamin and mineral needs with a well-balanced diet. There are certain population groups that require some extra nutrients in the form of supplements including, but not limited to, older individuals, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with restricted diets.
Everyone should eat a gluten-free diet.
A gluten-free diet is a necessity for individuals with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested, or with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found most commonly in wheat, barley and rye. Unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you don’t need to avoid gluten. Whole grains, among other high-fibre foods, are a healthy choice and offer dietary fibre needed for proper digestion. A gluten-free diet, when not planned properly, can lack vitamins, minerals and fibre. Consult a doctor if you think you may have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
Superfoods will keep you super healthy.
Goji berries, kale, chia seeds, and quinoa: the list of “superfoods” grows every year. Just as there is no super pill to make you healthy, there isn’t one food that can make you lose weight or cure cancer. Superfoods are simply trends. There is no clear definition of what constitutes a superfood. While these foods can be beneficial to have in our diets due to their nutrient density, so are apples and carrots. Superfoods are often portrayed in the media that one only has to consume them to achieve health and wellbeing. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and you want to keep moderation and variety in mind to achieve health benefits.
Home cooking takes too much time.
Home cooking doesn’t take as much time as you might think! I urge you to get in the kitchen and be involved in the preparation of the foods that nourish you. It does not have to be complicated. It really doesn’t take that much time to grill a piece of fresh salmon and arrange a tossed vegetable salad with oil and vinegar. If you are not experienced in the kitchen, start with simple straightforward meals. Great local and fresh ingredients don’t need much tampering to construct a delicious and nutritious meal. Planning meals in advance let you use your time wisely and make extra for lunches the next day.
- Check out these 5 best time-saving cooking tips.
- If you need inspiration to get in the kitchen, please watch Michael Pollan’s Cooked Series (now on Netflix) based on his book Cooked.
- Need healthy recipes? Try Cookspiration.
Only people with hypertension need to limit their sodium intake.
Sodium is a mineral found in salt and is needed to control blood pressure and to help with muscle and nerve function. The recommended daily intake of sodium is less than 1,500 milligrams, or 2/3 teaspoon of table salt. Most Canadians consume double the amount of sodium needed largely due to the fact that the sodium we consume is hidden in prepared foods. Excess sodium can increase the risk of hypertension and the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Find out the sodium content of common foods.
- For information on lowering your sodium intake, check out the DASH Diet.
A detox diet is needed to clear the toxins from your body.
There’s been a recent obsession with “detox” diets, as if our bodies aren’t equipped to rid of “toxins”. Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. An abundance of numerous substances can eventually cause toxicity, which is why moderation is so important. There are substances that can cause acute or chronic toxicity in high amounts and it’s best to avoid these. Detox diets make big promises but don’t deliver the science to back up their claims. It is true that a couple of days free from processed foods and high in fibrous foods such as vegetables and fruits will do a digestive system some good and will in turn make you feel better. Our bodies are quite spectacular and our liver, kidneys, intestines, and lungs eliminate unwanted waste. Our insides are not dirty and don’t need to be cleansed with juices, pills or potions. Some detox diets include intestine-clearing supplements that might actually be harmful (try prune juice instead!). The gut microbiota play a crucial role in our health, immune function and digestion.
There are no “bad” or “good” foods. What is beneficial for one person, may cause another person extreme discomfort, indigestion, and even allergic reaction. We are all unique and have differing nutrient requirements. Be critical of what you hear and read as it is difficult to sift through the overwhelming amount of health information and unsupported claims.
Keep in mind that stressing about 10 calories or beating yourself up for eating the occasional treat can be more harmful than the actual food you eat. If you want advice, consult a credible and trusted health professional and seek assistance through our many benefits at UBC such as EFAP and Extended Health Benefit coverage. Do what makes most sense to you at the time and take advice from trusted sources.