Life Food

Take the fight out of food: Clearing the air with straight talk from the experts

By Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

(Handout)

(Handout)

Who wants to talk about gas, bloating and the feeling your innards are full of helium?

Dietitians of Canada, a national, professional association with 6,000 members across the country, wants to open up the discussion, especially given March is Nutrition Month, and the perfect time to clear the air, so to speak, on such sensitive issues.

We're a nation in constant battle with what we eat and what happens afterwards. Yet, the dietitians want to remind Canadians that "eating should be joyful, not a source of everyday frustration and confusion."

A recent Ipsos study revealed, nearly two in five Canadians said they find it challenging to avoid bloating or gassiness.

Gas is normal – doctors, nutritionists and those in the food world will assure you that passing wind is a normal part of living.

The key is understanding what’s normal for you, say the dietitians.

Gas comes from a variety of sources – everything from eating certain foods high in carbohydrates to something as simple as talking and chewing at the same time, or using a straw, even chewing gum.

Everyone is different - but for many, it's a constant battle.

“Food fights, like feeling bloated after every meal, or struggling with a picky eater, are common and unfortunately...so is running to search for an answer on the internet," says Emily Mardell, a registered dietitian from Alberta and Nutrition Month spokesperson. Research shows almost half (49%) of Canadians turn to the internet when looking for answers about what foods are best for them and their families.

“Canadians are inundated with nutrition information online, and the problem is that not all online advice comes from a credible source," says Mardell, adding "knowing where to look and who to rely on can save a lot of time, energy and frustration."

Contact centre dietitians at Eat Right Ontario and HealthLink BC revealed that Canadians struggle with five common ‘food fights’, including:

  • Food Fads: How do I know which nutrition information to trust?
  • Digestive Woes: What’s causing all this gas?
  • Picky Eating: Why is family mealtime such mayhem?
  • Eating and Stress: Why do I always turn to food when I’m stressed?
  • Managing a Condition (e.g. diabetes): How can I manage my diabetes?

During Nutrition Month, dietitians across Canada are banning together to help ease frustrations by teaching Canadians how to overcome their food fights with a simple three-step approach – spot the problem, get the facts and seek support.

"With accurate information and a good support system, Canadians will be better equipped to make decisions about food, without the fight," say company officials. Check out Take the Fight out of Food at NutritionMonth2017.ca - you'll find plenty of tips, recipes and ideas to win your food fight. You can also download the Dietitians of Canada’s free recipe app Cookspiration.

Here's a selection of recipes from the Dietitians of Canada (Dietitians.ca)

LEMON ALMOND SAUTEED GREENS

Over 3 million Canadians have diabetes and many struggle with everyday food decisions. If you’re living with diabetes it does not mean you have to give up the foods you love – including this quick, tasty, lemon-scented side dish.

  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups (1.5L) lightly packed chopped Swiss chard (or 8 cups/2 L trimmed spinach)
  • 1 cup (250mL) shredded cabbage
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) EACH salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp. (7mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. (30mL) sliced almonds, toasted*

In a large, deep skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add Swiss chard, cabbage, lemon zest, salt and pepper; saute for about 2 minutes or until chard is slightly wilted.

Stir in 1 Tbsp. (15mL) water, cover and boil, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Stir in lemon juice and saute, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender and most of the water has evaporated. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

Serves 4.

*Toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant.

 

NO-BAKE COCONUT AND BANANA LENTIL ENERGY BITES

These nutritious bites are easy to make and perfect for children to get involved with!

  • 1 cup (250mL) coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) sunflower seeds, unroasted, unsalted
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) mashed ripe banana, approx. 1 whole
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) cooked green lentils
  • 3 Tbsp. (45mL) honey
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) mini chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) coconut oil, melted (not hot)
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) coconut flour

Place coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, banana, lentils, and honey into a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scrape down the sides and pulse again. Transfer to a bowl using a spatula. Stir in chocolate chips and oil until fully incorporated. Stir in coconut flour until fully combined.

Roll into bite-size balls, about 1 Tbsp. (15mL) in size. Cover and refrigerate or freeze for 5-10 minutes. Bites will become more solid and ready to eat. Store in an air tight container in fridge to snack on during the week, or freeze until you are ready to nibble.

Makes 25-30 balls.

QUICK TIP: Coconut flour can be found at most bulk food, grocery, or health stores. You can also use almond flour. Stir in enough flour as needed to easily roll the balls.

 

SPICED YOGURT CHICKEN TIKKA

Easy and delicious.

  • 1-1/2 cups (375mL) plain yogurt, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. (45mL) tikka, tandoori or other mild curry paste
  • 1 tsp. (5mL) grated lime zest
  • 1 lb (500g) boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. (15mL) butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. (1mL) salt
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups (500mL) no-salt-added canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. (30mL) cornstarch
  • 1 cup (250mL) frozen green peas, thawed, or chopped green beans
  • 1/2 tsp. (2mL) ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. (10mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. (30mL) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups (500mL) hot cooked brown rice

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup (175mL) of yogurt, tikka paste and lime zest; add chicken and stir to coat well. Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; saute onion, garlic and salt for 3 minutes or until starting to soften. Add sweet red pepper and saute for 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Sprinkle cornstarch over chicken mixture and stir to combine. Add to skillet with peas, stirring well. Simmer, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside and sauce is thickened.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk ground cumin, lime juice and cilantro into remaining 3/4 cup (175mL) yogurt. Serve chicken in sauce on rice, topped with yogurt.

Serves 4.

NOTE: Basmati rice is traditional to serve with curries and whole grain brown basmati rice is becoming more available and adds a nice flavour to complement the curry; regular long-grain brown rice is a good alternative.