Apples for the Teacher

Guacamole

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Calories: 262 kcals

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup diced onion

  •  3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavour, or serve immediately.

Tips for Preparing Avocado

 
avocado on toast.jpg

Many people avoid eating avocados simply because they do not know how to store and prepare them.  

Did you know you should not store unripened avocados in the fridge? 

You should actually store them at room temperature until they ripen. It can take up to 4 or 5 days to ripen.  You will know an avocado is ripe when it has black or dark purple skin and yields to gentle pressure. Once ripe, you can then store your avocado in the fridge for up to one week to slow down nutrient losses.


To preserve the nutrients in the avocado, it is usually recommended to prepare it in the unheated form. Heating the avocado can damage the fats in it and therefore can cause it to lose its beneficial health effects. If you like to put your avocado in recipes that requires cooking, you should minimize the cooking time and use the lowest temperature possible so you don’t change its fat profile!

All about Avocado!

 

Do you know that there are huge number of avocado varieties out there?

Avocados, which belongs to the species group of Persea Americana, actually has over 50 different commercial varieties!

These different varieties are often categorized into three basic types: West Indian avocados, Guatemalan avocados, and Mexican avocados. As you can probably tell by their names, they are categorized according to their place of origin. Avocados originated in West India, Guatemala, Mexico, or Central and South America. However, due to the hybridization, crosslinking, and normal avocado cultivation, it becomes difficult to classify into one of these categories. Fuerte is an example of an avocado variety that is Mexican-Guatemalan cross. The most popular variety of avocados is Hass avocado.

In the fruit category, avocados are quite unique in comparison to other fruits. While most fruits contain mostly carbohydrate and very little fat, avocado actually contains a very high healthy fat content. Because of its great nutritive value, and its unique flavour and rich texture, avocados are very popular amongst health conscious individuals and are incorporated into many different dishes!

Seared Scallops with Spicy Papaya Sauce

 

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Calories: 223 kcals

 

Ingredients

  • 1 small papaya - peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound sea scallops

 

Directions:

1.     In a medium bowl, combine papaya, red pepper, jalapeno, onion, lime juice, cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

2.     In a large sealable bag, combine flour, black pepper, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Add scallops, and shake to coat.

3.     In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallops; cook and stir until golden. Serve scallops over papaya sauce.

Tips for Buying and Preparing Papaya

 

When choosing papaya, consider when you are going to eat it.

If you are planning to eat it right away, then it is best to choose the ones that have a reddish-orange skin and are slightly soft to the touch.

If you plan on buying your papaya a few days in advance, then choosing those with patches of yellow colour on them is the best way to go. It will take them a few days to ripen.

Black spots on the papaya do not affect the taste, but you should avoid those that are too soft or are bruised.

Papayas are usually the same way you eat a melon -  raw. Make sure to give them a wash before you cut them in half. Scoop out the black seeds in the center with a spoon. then either scoop out the flesh or into pieces. If cutting them into pieces be sure to peel the skin off.

You can eat the flesh as it is or add it into a fruit salad or other recipes. Remember, you should add the papaya to the salad just before you are about to serve it because it tends to make other fruits in the salad very soft.

The black seeds are actually edible but some people find the peppery flavour quite bitter that's why most people just tend to discard the seeds. But if you are curious and maybe feeling a little adventurous, definitely give the seeds a try! They can be chewed on whole or you can blend them into dressings.

Potential Health Benefits of Papaya

 

Papayas are packed with goodness. They are rich in antioxidants such as carotenoid, vitamin C, and flavonoid. Papayas are also an excellent source of B vitamins like folate and pantothenic acid, and minerals such as potassium, copper, and magnesium. On top of all that they are also a good source of fibre.

Another thing papayas contain is papain, which is an enzyme that helps to digest proteins chains found in meat. The enzyme papain is especially rich in unripe papaya.

With respect to its nutritional value, papaya can benefit your health in the following ways:

  • The strong antioxidant effect of papaya can help neutralize the free radicals in your body so they can no longer create harm. Oxidative stress is reduced and several disease risks are lower.
  •  The high lycopene (a type of carotenoid) and vitamin C may help improve heart health by enhancing the protective effects of HDL, which is known as the “good” cholesterol.
  • The antioxidants including lycopene and vitamin C can reduce free radical activities and thus protect your skin from damages. These antioxidants may help defend your skin from sun damage or wrinkling.
  • Carotenoids in papaya help reduce inflammation in your body.
  • The papain enzyme helps your body to digest protein, and hence improves constipation and bloating.
  • Fibre in papaya can bind to toxins in the colon and keep them away from healthy cells. The folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E in papaya are also associated with reduce risk of colon cancer.

All about Papaya!

 

When Christopher Columbus tasted a papaya he called it “the fruit of the angels.” Papaya is not only delicious but it is packed with numerous nutrients. 

Papaya, also know as the Carica Papaya plant, belongs to the Caricaceae family of the flowering plants. They originated from Central America and Southern Mexico, but are now grown in tropical regions around the world.

Papayas usually hold a pear shape or a spherical shape and can be up to 20 inches long. The ones that we often see in the market are about 7-8 inches long, and usually weigh about 1 pound.

The skin of a papaya ranges from green to orange. When it is unripe, the skin is green; when it is ripe, the skin turns orange. The flesh is orange with yellow to pink hues, and there are many black seeds in the center of the fruit.

Both unripe and ripe papaya can be eaten, but the unripe ones should be cooked because of its high latex content that can stimulate contraction. The seeds inside the fruit are also edible, however they do taste bitter so are usually not eaten by many people.

 

Cream of Broccoli Soup

 

We all know that broccoli is very versatile. It can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways. Cream of broccoli soup is one of the most popular broccoli dishes worldwide.  Here’s a great recipe for you to try!

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Yields: 6 Servings

Calories: 205 kcals

 

Ingredients:

  •  4 Cups Water
  • 4 Cups Broccoli Floret
  •  2 Tablespoons Margarine
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
  •  1/3 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon Powder
  • 2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
  •  1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

 

Directions:

1.     In a medium-sized cooking pot, add water and broccoli florets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving all of the water.

2.     In a food processor or blender, process half the cooked broccoli until fairly smooth. Chop remaining broccoli and set aside.

3.     In a heavy-bottomed cooking pot, melt butter or margarine, add onion and celery and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until soft. Stir in flour and continue stirring constantly for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add reserved water and vegetable bouillon granules, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring constantly until thickened.

4.     Stir in milk, nutmeg, pepper, and processed and chopped broccoli, and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve garnished with grated cheddar cheese.

Tips for Cooking Broccoli

 

When preparing Broccoli for cooking, you should always rinse your broccoli under cold running water first. Then it can be cut into small pieces so it is easier to cook. The stem and florets of a broccoli provide different flavours, therefore it is a good idea to include both parts in your dish.

In fact, different cooking methods can have different impacts on the nutrition content of broccoli. For instance, glucosinolate retention seems to be the best with steaming for a shorter time, while antioxidant capacity is the best at 5-10 minutes of steaming. Vitamin C levels in broccoli appear to be the best when using a pressure cooker. Microwave cooking is also preferred over steaming when trying to achieve maximum Vitamin C retention.

If you wish to stir-fry your broccoli, a lower heat skillet at approximately 250°F/121°C with a shorter cooking time of 3 minutes or less is recommended. Broccoli can also be eaten raw. It just requires a longer chewing time than cooked broccoli, but it can be a great snack!

Potential Health Benefits of Broccoli

 

Broccoli is often referred as “super veggie” because of its beneficial health effects. It is very high in many nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, potassium, and fibre. Besides these nutrients, broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables.

This might sound surprising to some of you: broccoli actually contains 90% of water, with the remaining being 7% carbohydrate, 3% protein, and almost no fat. With all that being said, broccoli is very low in calories. It has only 31 calories per cup.

The following are some of the potential benefits of broccoli:

  • Broccoli provides a good amount of fibre which can promote gut health
  • Broccoli contains a compound family called isothiocyanates, which can reduce many risk factors and disease, possibly including the risk of cancer.
  • Broccoli may lower the cholesterol level in the body by binding to bile acids, causing cholesterol to be expelled.
  • Broccoli contains carotenoid, which promotes eye health and reduce risks of eye-related diseases

However, for those who are taking or need to take blood thinner, you may want to be careful not to consume too much broccoli. Since broccoli contains a high amount of Vitamin K, which helps blood to clot, consumption of large amount of broccoli may counteract the effect of blood thinners.

Take a look at this delicious food!

 

An array of delicous, healthy snacks was prepared by amazing volunteers through the Ontario Student Nutrition Program - Southwest Region for students at St. Patrick Catholic School in Lucan this morning!

Great work volunteers!

All About Broccoli!

 

Broccoli is one of the most common vegetables that Canadian’s put on their plates. It can be found in almost every grocery store.  But how much do you really know about this veggie?

Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family in plants. It is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the Brassica oleracea species. Before the 16th century, broccoli was mainly grown in Italy. Later on, it was brought to France with a royal marriage. It then spread over Europe and eventually gained its popularity worldwide. 

In our province, Ontario, we have various types of broccoli such as Paragon, Cruiser, and Premium Crop. Amongst these three varieties, Paragon takes up about 70% of the broccoli grown in Ontario. Of course, there are many other varieties that are grown in different parts of the world. 

As many of you may already know, broccoli is very good for our health. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, potassium, and fibre. 

Today, because of its nutritional value and versatility in dishes, broccoli is included in many different cuisines across the world. 

Almond Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding

 

The mild, bland taste of chia seeds makes them versatile to add in foods and beverages. They are usually sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, sauces, salad, or added into baked goods and drinks. They have excellent gelling ability when added in drinks. Here is an simple recipe for chia seeds!

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Cook/Ready Time: 4 Hours
Yields: 4 servings
Calories: 209 Kcals

 

Ingredients:

  •   2 Cups Almond Milk
  •  1 (16 Ounce) Packaged Fresh Strawberries, Hulled
  •   1/2 Cup Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  •  

Directions:

  1. 1.  Puree almond milk and strawberries in a blender until smooth; pour into a bowl. Stir chia seeds, honey, and vanilla extract into the strawberry puree.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours

Ways to Use Chia Seeds

 

Chia seeds are very versatile and can be used in many ways. Want some suggestions on ways you can incorporate chia seeds into your diet?

Use Chia Seeds as a Topping – Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds do not need to be grounded in order to digest in our body. With their mild flavour, chia seeds can be sprinkled most foods you like. They can be added in sauces, cereal, yogurt, salad, or just about anything!

Add Chia Seeds to Smoothies or Drinks – When soaked in liquid, chia seeds with absorb the liquid and turn into gels. This gives thickness to your smoothie or drinks, and many enjoy the gel texture chia seeds provide in beverages!

Mix Chia Seeds with Yogurt – Like in liquid, chia seeds also becomes gelatinous-like when mixed with yogurt. It provides a tapioca-like texture to the yogurt, which may be something you like. If you are wary about that texture, mixing the seeds with a blender to grind them down to a smooth texture is always something you can do as an alternative.

Ikea Supports Student Breakfast Programs

Ikea has recently partnered with Breakfast Club of Canada by donating Ikea products and breakfast bags for students utilizing the breakfast club programs.  

Westmount Public School was chosen to receive over 200 Ikea breakfast bags due to the school's close proximity to the London Ikea Pick-up and Order Point location.

Ikea also generously donated an assortment of products such as cups, plates, cutlery, muffin tins, tea towels and more to the Ontario Student Nutrition Programs (OSNP). These items will be useful when providing breakfasts to children across London-Middlesex.

Ikea believes that the Breakfast Club of Canada initiative aligns well with Ikea's core beliefs; providing a more sustainable and healthier life at home and a better life for people and communities.  

Ikea says they "believe that children are the most important people in the world. And that means all children. It means we believe all kids should have access to nature, have equal fortune in their ability to play and learn, and have a belly full of food and a mind full of curiosity. That’s why IKEA Canada chooses to support childhood development across Canada. Whether it’s physical development, play-based learning or just being able to spend family time together, we believe we can have a measurable impact that will be immeasurably important in the lives of the children we support.”

OSNP would like to thank Ikea and Breakfast Club of Canada for their generous donations. As you can see from the pictures, the students at Westmount Public School thoroughly enjoyed starting their day off with the breakfast bags!

Potential Benefits and Side Effects of Chia Seeds

 

There’s obviously a reason why chia seeds are labeled as “super seeds”. Indeed, it does not necessarily do everything well for your body, but it can definitely provide many beneficial nutrients to our body. 

Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, carbohydrate, and calcium. They are very high in antioxidant activity which gives them a long shelf life. The high antioxidant activity of chia seeds are also helpful in fighting the production of free radicals in our body, which contributes to the anti-aging and anti-cancer effects. The amazing thing about chia seeds is that it can provide an enormous amount of nutrients with very few calories. As mentioned in the last post about chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds has 139 calories. Aside from the macronutrients it provides, the 2 tablespoons of chia seeds also provide 18% Calcium of the RDA, 30% Manganese of the RDA, 30% Magnesium of the RDA, and 27% Phosphorus of the RDA within only 139 calories. Chia seeds are also very high in quality protein and fiber, which helps promote gut health. 

Besides the benefits chia seeds can bring to our health, it also has some potential side effects. As I mentioned above, chia seeds are very rich in insoluble fiber. This can be beneficial to your gut health if consumed in moderation, but it also means that over consumption can lead to gas production, bloating, diarrhea, and cramping. Moreover, individuals who are taking blood pressure medication or blood thinner should consult a physician before consuming chia seeds as it may interact with these drugs. Chia seeds can also be an allergenic food to some individuals.

The bottom line is that although chia seeds can create some potential problems, consumption should not be discouraged as there is not much evidence showing side effects happening on healthy individuals, and its nutritional benefits can be very valuable in our diets. 

All About Chia Seed!

 

This month, we’re going to introduce to you the fascinating chia seed!

So what is chia seed?

Some of you might have heard of it as a “super seed”, which commonly refers to chia seed, flaxseed, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, and sunflower seed. However, many of you may not be familiar with what it actually is and what it does in your diet.

Chia seed is a type of edible seed originated from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica and belongs to the Lamiaceae family, also known as the mint family. It is a naturally gluten-free tiny seed in black or white colour. Chia seed is a highly valued food in Aztecs due to its excellent nutrition content and the long shelf life it has. Chia seeds, either ground or whole, can be easily digested and absorbed by the human body. Also, the bland taste of chia seed makes it appropriate to add in many dishes. Therefore, the use of chia seed can be very versatile and you can enjoy many different menus with chia seeds in them!

With 2 tablespoons (approximately 28 grams) of chia seeds, you get 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 11 grams of fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Although chia seeds are often labeled as a “super food” that can help you lose weight, evidence on its weight loss effect is limited.