Apples for the Teacher

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. 

Potential Health Benefits of Grapefruit

 

As we learned from last week's post, grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, pectin, and also lycopene from its pink and red hue. With these nutrients provided, eating grapefruits may actually bring you lots of health benefits!

Many studies have suggested that grapefruit consumption can be beneficial in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Here are some potential health benefits of grapefruits:

 

  • Grapefruit is low in calorie and has a glycemic index of 25, which means it does not raise your blood sugar significantly and rapidly
  •  Vitamin C in grapefruit can help prevent oxygen free radical damage, which reduces oxidization of cholesterol and reduces inflammatory conditions including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  •  Vitamin C-rich grapefruit can also act as a cold-fighter by reducing or relieving cold symptoms
  •  Lycopene act as an antioxidant, which helps fight oxygen free radicals and prevent cell damage. Lycopene can ultimately increase anti-tumor activities and greatly reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men
  • The combination of potassium, choline, lycopene, vitamin C, and fibre can all contribute to good heart health
  • The juicy grapefruit provides 91% of water, which gives your enough hydration and a good electrolyte balance
  •  The high fibre and water content in grapefruit can help prevent constipation and promote healthy gut function

All About Grapefruit!

 

Grapefruit is a large citrus fruit that has been discovered in Barbados as a hybrid of sweet orange and pomelo. Interestingly, the name grapefruit was originated from the fact that they grow in clusters on the tree, which is similar to grapes. Although grapefruits are available throughout the year, they usually peak in months from winter through early spring. 

Grapefruits vary in colour from white or blond to pink and red. Unlike its flesh, the skin colour of the grapefruit, however, are often orange, or pinkish-yellow. They usually taste tart, tangy, with some underlying bitterness and sweetness.

Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidant lycopene, and fibre pectin. Many studies suggest that consuming grapefruit can help lower your cholesterol level, promote heart health, and reduce the risk of cancer. 

Butternut Squash Fritters

 

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 5 Min

Yield: About 15 Fritters

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups shredded butternut squash lightly packed (see notes)
  • 2/3 all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ tbsp minced fresh sage
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Vegetable oil

 

Directions:

1.     In a large bowl, combine the shredded squash, flour, eggs, minced sage, salt, and pepper, stirring until mixture is combined.

2.     Line a large plate with paper towels.

3.     Liberally coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop  3-tablespoon mounds of the mixture into the pan, pressing them lightly into a round shape and spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes on one side then flip and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until both sides are golden brown and cooked throughout.

4.     Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with salt.

5.     Repeat the scooping process for the remainder of the mixture.

Note: Butternut squash can be peeled then shredded on either the large hole of a box grater or to save time, in a food processor.

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

 

Serves 6

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 35-40 min

Total Time: 55-60 min

 

Cinnamon roasted butternut squash is not only a fabulous side dish for the holidays, but it’s delicious with any meal throughout the season! Plus they’re a powerhouse of nutrition in every tasty bite!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled/seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions

1.     Preheat oven to 425F with rack on upper middle position. Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.

2.     In a large bowl, toss the squash with remaining ingredients until thoroughly coated. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, in a single layer, without overcrowding the pieces.

3.     Roast for about 40 minutes, rotating pan midway during baking. When edges are browned and cubes are fork-tender, remove from the oven immediately. You may want to start checking the squash around 35 minutes, just to be sure they do not become over cooked.

Preparation and Serving Methods for Butternut Squash

 

Some squash varieties are generally subjected to insecticide powder or spray. Therefore, make sure to wash them thoroughly in running water in order to remove dirt and any residual insecticides/fungicides.

Whenever possible, buy long neck butternut squash as it contains more meat and fewer hollow cavities and seeds. Cut the stem and slice the whole fruit into two equal halves. Remove the central net-like structure and set the seeds aside. Then cut into desired sizes. In general, wedges/small cubes are used in cooking preparations. Almost all of the squash; meat, leaves, flowers and seeds are edible.

Here are some serving tips. Butternut squash has a pleasant nutty flavour and mildly sweet taste. Fresh raw butternut squash cuts may add a special tang to vegetable salads.  It is a favorite in both savory as well as sweet dished. It can be used in a variety of delicious recipes as baked, stuffed, or stew-fried; however, it is best to steam it in order to retain the maximum nutrients.

Butternut Squash Selection and Storage

 


Butternut squashes are often available from September until the middle of December. However, since many foods arrive from South America, they can easily be found around in different seasons.

It is best to buy well-grown whole butternut squash. Look for a mature product that features a fine woody note when tapping, and is heavy in hand. The stem should be stout and firmly attached to the squash. Avoid those with a wrinkled surface, spots, cuts or bruises.

Once at home, a well-ripened squash can be stored for many weeks in a cool, humid-free, well-ventilated place at room temperature. However,  pre-cut sections should be placed in the refrigerator where they will keep well for a few days.   

Butternut Squash Nutrition Facts

 

Butternut squash is one of the most popular fall/winter squash vegetables.  Butternuts are annual long trailing vines. This squash is usually cultivated under warmer climates of South and Central American regions for their edible fruits, flowers and seeds.

Butternut squash composes of many vital poly-phenolic anti-oxidants. Butternuts are very low in calories; 100g provides just 45 calories. They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, they are a rich source of dietary fiber and phyto nutrients. Squash is one of the most common vegetables that is often recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs. 

Butternut squash has more vitamin A than a pumpkin. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of the skin. It is also an essential vitamin for optimum eye-sight. There is research that suggests that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protect against lung and oral cavity cancers.

Butternut squash has plenty of natural polyphenolic flavonoid compounds like a and b carotenes and lutein. These compounds convert into vitamin A inside the body and deliver the same protective functions of vitamin A on the body.

These squash are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folate, riboflavin, niacin vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
Butternut squash has a similar mineral profile as that in pumpkin, containing adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Butternut squash seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that benefit heart health. In addition, they are rich in protein, minerals, and numerous health benefitting vitamins. The seeds are an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan which converts to healthy benefitting GABA neuro-chemical in the human brain

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

 

Makes 15 Muffins, Prep time: 15 Min, Cook Time: 24 Min, Total time: 39 Min

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  •  2 tsp baking soda
  •  2 tsp ground cinnamon
  •  ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt
  •   3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup (not breakfast syrup)
  •  1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola, melted coconut)
  •  1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce – preferably homemade
  •  1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  •  2 cups shredded/grated apple (approx 2 apples)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray or use cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl whisk eggs, maple syrup, oil, applesauce and vanilla until combined. Pour wet ingredients into the dry, stir a few times and add the shredded apple. Gently fold everything together until no flour pockets remain.
  3.  Spoon batter into liners filling them all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F, then keeping muffins in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 350F. Bake an additional 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  4.  Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin sheet then transfer to wire rack to cool until ready to eat.
  5.  Make ahead tip: muffins stay soft, fresh and moist in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and freeze well for up to 2 months.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up (if desired) before enjoying.

Additional Notes:

  •  2 cups of white whole wheat, whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour works too.
  • You can use honey instead of maple syrup, just expect a small loss of flavour.
  • Instead of applesauce, use an extra 1/3 cup of oil. 1/3 mashed banana works as well, but muffins can be a little dry.
  • Use a sweeter variety of apple. Eg. Pink lady or Fuji
  • Why the initial high temperature? The hot burst of air will spring up the top of the muffin quickly, then the inside of the muffin can bake for the remainder of the time. This helps the muffins to rise nice and tall.

How do you like those apples?

 

What should an everyday consumer look for when faced with rows upon rows of apples?
Is there a correlation between an apple's appearance and its flavour?
How do we know if it’s best for baking or eating? 

Seek out premium apples. Look for apples that are uniform in size – the big bins of randomly seized and lopsided apples are not premium grade. Value-priced, lopsided apples are what you buy for making applesauce. Another tip is to look at the apple from the bottom side up and check the calyx. It’s the star shape on the bottom. It needs to be symmetrical and even. Even premium apples will have a calyx and will stand up on its own without toppling over. Finally colour is part of the grading criteria in premium apples.

 

Top 5 Apple Varieties

1.     Gala- Versatile, good for eating out of hand, salads, baking and freezing.

2.     Red Delicious -  Mildly sweet for eating out of hand or salads.

3.     Golden Delicious - Sweet and softer flesh, very versatile, often preferred by bakers because the skin is so tender it does not always have to be peeled.

4.     Granny Smith - Tart and tangy, very versatile and freezes well.

5.     Fuji -  Sweet and juicy, very versatile, an excellent choice for eating fresh or in salads because it is so juicy.

Apple Care and Handling

 

  •  Apples bruise very easily and should be handled the same way you would an egg.
     
  • Look for firm apples that are well shaped and have smooth skin that is free of wrinkles and bruises. Brown-ish freckled areas do not affect flavour.
     
  • Store apples in a perforated plastic bag. Cold humid storage ensures that apples maintain their crispness, juicy texture and full flavour.
     
  • Remove any fruit that is overripe or has soft spots because they naturally give off ethylene gas that will cause nearby apples to ripen too quickly and spoil. Trim and use these apples for pies or applesauce. The ethylene gas emitted by apples can also speed up ripening in most produce so store apples separately from other fruits and vegetables.
     
  • To prevent browning when preparing apples, sprinkle cut surfaces with lemon juice.

All About Apples

 

Apple Facts:

1.     Apples have existed as a wild fruit since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for more than 3000 year. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were among early cultivators.

2.     More than 2,500 varieties are grown in North America, but only the crabapple is native to North America.

3.     Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fibre.

4.     Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.

5.     Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.

6.     Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit. The largest apple ever picked weighed three pounds.

7.     Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.

8.     Apples are a member of the rose family.

9.     The top apple producers around the world are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy. Apples account for fifty percent of international deciduous fruit tree production.

10.  A peck of apples weighs about 10.5 pounds. A bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds.

11.  It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

12.  Apples have high boron content which can help improve memory, mental alertness and electrical activity of the brain.

13.  Even though they are not high in calcium, their boron content helps strengthens bones.

14.  Apples are 25% air which is why the float in water.

15.  Most antioxidants found in apples, including quercetin, are found in the skin.

16.  The most popular apple varieties are the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.

Four Peachy Health Benefits

 

1.     As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, peaches can also help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer.

2.     Vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form or applied topically, can reduce wrinkles, improve overall skin texture and help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and position.

3.     Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. One medium peach provides about 2 grams of fibre.

4.     The fibre, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in peaches all support heart health. An increase in potassium along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Peachy-keen!

 

Ah, the peach --- a classic sign of summer, a staple in warm weather recipes for desserts and salads, and anticipated addition to farmer’s markets and stands across the country from June through August. Peaches are a characteristically fuzzy fruit that is native to northwest China.  They are a member of the stone fruit family, meaning they have one large middle seed. The inner flesh of a peach can range in colour from white to yellow or orange. There are two different varieties of peaches: freestone and clingstone which refers to whether the flesh sticks to the inner seed or easily comes off.

 

Stone fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines have been shown to ward off obesity related diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Stone fruits also have a bioactive and phenolic compound with anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties that may also reduce bad cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease. Stone fruits have bioactive and phenolic compounds with anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties that may also reduce bad cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease.

 

Peaches offer a rich treasure of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and copper.  Peaches are low in calories, contain no saturated fat and are a good source of dietary fibre. Vitamin E is another antioxidant, while vitamins K is essential for blood clotting capabilities. Peaches are also a source of thamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, niacin, and foalte, which are all valuable when it comes to cells and nerves.