Apples for the Teacher

Potential Health Benefits of Spinach


Popeye had the right idea about spinach! It has many health benefits such as: 
   Spinach is low in carbohydrates but rich in fiber, which helps add bulk during digestion and prevents constipation.
   It is an excellent source of carotenoids. Carotenoids that enter the body can be converted into vitamin A.
    Spinach is also rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that promotes your immune system and skin health.
    Spinach can provide your body with a good source of vitamin K, which is essential in blood clotting.
    Spinach is also rich in folate acid, iron, and calcium. It is overall a nutrient-dense vegetable.
    It also contains plant compounds like lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help block or reverse the sunlight damage to your eyes.
    Because of the rich antioxidants, spinach can actually lower oxidative stress in your body and suppress the growth of cancer cells.
    The nitrate provided by spinach is beneficial for blood pressure regulation, which can help improve heart health.

All About Spinach!


When asked to think of a leafy green vegetable that is good for your health, many think of spinach! 
However, do you know that spinach actually belongs to a different food family than a lot of other leafy green vegetables? 
While leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard, turnip greens, bok choy, arugula and collard green all belong to the cruciferous family, spinach falls into another family called the chenopod or amaranth family. The chenopod or amaranth family, also scientifically known as the Chenopodiaceae or the Amaranthaceae, contains not only vegetables but grains amaranth and quinoa as well. 

Within the Spinacia oleracea species, there are a lot of different varieties of spinach. The most popular varieties are the savoy, semi-savoy, and the flat-leafed. The savoy are varieties of spinach that have curly leaves, while the flat-leafed spinach often has smoother and wider leaves. 

Spinach originated from and has been cultivated for thousand years in the Middle East. With increased trading over time, spinach has migrated and now gained popularity around the world. Currently, China produces the greatest amount of spinach in the world.



Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Calories: 262 kcals



  • 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)



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



  • 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



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



  •  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



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



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


  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.