The times have changed when it comes to meat consumption, according to Renelle Briand of Health Canada. “Many of us grew up in households where meat took center stage on the dinner plate. Today, there is a greater emphasis on meat alternatives, vegetables, fruit and whole grain foods,” she says.
Last week, University of Waterloo’s school of public health became the first in Canada to endorse Meatless Mondays—and if a major university in Canada can do it, so can you.
Here’s why cutting back on meat is beneficial for your health:
1. Reduce saturated fat intake
The most recent Canada’s Food Guide suggests that people choose more beans, lentils, and tofu among other meat alternatives as a way to minimize saturated fat. “Though some saturated fat in our diet shouldn't be harmful, if you're eating a lot of it, that may negatively affect your health,” says dietitian Abby Langer. Since the majority of saturated fat comes from animals and animal by-products, cutting out meat is an easy way to decrease your saturated fat intake.
2. Curb the risk of cancer
“Processed meats such as lunch meats and bacon have been connected to an increased risk of some cancers,” says Langer. In 2015, The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified processed meat as carcinogen, and red meat as a probable carcinogen. To reduce your risk, limit your intake of both.
3. Improve heart health
Meat alternatives provide nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and protein. “While nuts and seeds are meat alternatives that can be high in calories, they contain monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for cardiovascular health,” says Briand.
The best part about Meatless Mondays is that it’s so simple! Here are five veggie-friendly recipes to get you started.
By now, we’re quite well-versed in the area of healthy eating. We know what foods are good for us, and we know why it's important to have a diet that’s rich in superfoods. What we could use help with is the how. How do we ensure we reach for nutrient-dense foods over less healthy options? How do we shop for superfoods on a budget? How do we avoid a #SadDeskLunch that makes us brave the iciest winds to replace said depressing lunch with a more enticing meal option from the greasy take-out joint across the street? To help us put our want for a healthier diet into action, we’re seeking expert advice from Registered Dietitian Julie Bednarski.
CL: How can we ensure we eat well?
JB: I always recommend keeping items in your kitchen that are high in fibre, protein and contain good fats. Healthy eating can be easy and cheap if you have the right ingredients on hand. Grains, including quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats and brown rice pasta, can be used to create many different types of meals from breakfast to dinner. These are high in fibre, contain protein and will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Canned beans, dried lentils, canned salmon, eggs, nuts/seeds and nut butters contain protein and healthy fats that will keep your body strong and brain healthy. Fruits and vegetables are essential for maintaining health and should be the star of every meal. Eating an array of colourful fruits or vegetables is important to ensure you are getting lots of different vitamins and minerals. My top fruits and vegetables to have in my kitchen are kale, blueberries, sweet potato, avocado, squash, beets, spinach, strawberries, kiwi, apples and arugula. Many of these are superfoods that are nutrient-rich and especially beneficial for health and well-being.
CL: How do we eat well on a budget? What are the top fruits and vegetables that should always be on our shopping lists?
JB: Kale, sweet potatoes, apples, canned tomatoes, broccoli, frozen berries and carrots. All of these foods are superfoods that contain an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Incorporating these foods into each meal ensures that you’re getting the best value and nutrients for your body. Many of these foods are low in price and store well in your fridge or freezer.
CL: How can we guiltlessly eat packaged foods?
JB: Reading food labels is the easiest way to know what you can eat guilt-free. If you don’t know what an ingredient is or you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. Look for products that have real ingredients—they can often be found in the organic section. Which leads me to my next point, look for organic or non-GMO food products as these items will have cleaner ingredients and less additives and preservatives.
CL: How can we prep food to help us eat healthier during the week?
JB: Eating healthy is all about planning ahead. Do all of your food shopping on the weekend so you aren’t rushed and make time to prep your ingredients in advance. My top tips for prepping on the weekend are:
1. Wash and chop all your vegetables, then place them into containers so that you have vegetables ready for salads and stir-fry dishes.
2. Make a large pot of quinoa or brown rice on the weekend to add to salads, soups, veggie bowls or to use as a side dish.
3. Roast a whole chicken or bake fish on the weekend to add protein to your meals throughout the week.
4. Make salad dressings in advance and store them in mason jars in the fridge, where they can last for over a week.
CL: How can we snack in a healthy way?
JB: Snacks that are high in fibre and protein and low in sugar are best. Finding ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your snacks ensures you’re eating a variety of vitamins and minerals throughout the day. My favourite go-to snacks are my very own Healthy Crunch kale chips, homemade trail mix with various nuts, seeds, dried chickpeas, apple with pumpkinseed butter and veggies with hummus.
CL: How can we organize our kitchens to help us make healthier choices?
JB: When hunger strikes, you’re more likely to reach for easy junk food instead of superfoods, especially if your kitchen is not properly organized. The first step is to avoid storing junk food in your cupboards or fridge. This will keep it out of sight and out of mind. Instead fill your cupboard with canned beans, grains (including quinoa and brown rice), nuts and seeds, and frozen vegetables. When you stock up, be careful not to overload your cupboard! It will make it difficult to see what ingredients you have and easy to fall off track. If you keep a moderate amount of these foods in your home you’ll find that they are easy to cook with, which will help you avoid the temptation to order-in.
For your fridge, store like-foods in the same place so you always know where to find them. Nutrient-packed greens should be together, proteins should be together and you should also have an area where you keep cut-up vegetables and fruit. When at the grocery store, avoid purchasing excessive amounts of food that will go bad if you do not eat them. Overstocking your fridge can be overwhelming, so it’s important to plan your meals in advance and only buy those ingredients.
CL: How can we avoid #SadDeskLunch?
JB: Prepping ingredients earlier in the week makes it easier to make a meal on the fly. I always recommend making mason jar salads that are jammed-packed with fibre and protein. These salads are quick and easy to make if you have ingredients all ready to go. In a mason jar, layer quinoa, chickpeas, spinach, cherry tomatoes, carrots, avocado, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. For your dressing, try mixing apple cider vinegar, flax seed oil, maple syrup, dill, mint, parsley and Himalayan pink salt—trust me, you’ll go from #SadDeskLunch to #FabDeskLunch!
With our country's 150th birthday around the corner, Ottawa will be pulling out all the stops when it comes to entertaining, enlightening and engaging Canadians. We can’t wait to take part in all the amazing events scheduled throughout the year.
2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada becoming a country and our capital city has an entire event-planning committee dedicated to creating the best year ever for residents and visitors alike. Ottawa 2017 (at ottawa2017.ca) is headed up by executive director Guy LaFlamme, who has spent more than 18 months imagining a year of incredible, Insta-worthy events that will happen over 12 months—all with the blessing of Ottawa's mayor, Jim Watson.
"We do a really good job of July 1st here in Ottawa," says Mayor Watson. "But we want to take that excitement and enthusiasm and spread it throughout the year. We want to transform our image from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold. We want people to understand that Ottawa’s not a stuffy grey-flannel town."
Ottawa, you have us convinced! Here are our top 10 reasons to visit our nation's capital in 2017:
Credits: Diner Entre Ciel et Terre
1. Sky Lounge:
Ever wondered what it would be like to eat dinner while hovering 150 feet in the air? It's a totally bizarre concept—and one you can experience in Ottawa in 2017. There will be five dinners and six tapas/cocktail events hosted with 22 guests per event. Guests will be strapped in at their table to experience a stunning view while noshing. Tickets go on sale soon. Sign us up!
2. La Machine:
French street theatre company La Machine makes its North American debut next summer. Unlike traditional theatre, which requires a stage, this thrilling show will take place on the streets of Ottawa; from July 26 to 30, 2017, two giant machines—a spider and a dragon—will literally walk through the city. Check out the video of a previous show, above.
Credits: Red Bull Crashed Ice
3. Red Bull Crashed Ice:
Watch downhill skaters race to the finish line on a huge track that runs along the locks of Rideau Canal next to Parliament Hill—which will complete 2016-2017 ice cross downhill season. Apparently the adrenaline rush from watching the athletes is like nothing else. The competition will occur on March 3 and 4 and will be free to watch—although Red Bull will be selling some special packages.
4. Pop-up light installations:
Crazy stunts will be appearing all over Ottawa throughout the year with limited warning. For example, the Ottawa 2017 team will have extensive lighting installations constructed quickly, appearing randomly in public venues for a single evening, then disappearing the next day. We can only guess what the Instagram snaps will look like.
Credits: Ottawa 2017
5. Agri 150:
More than 20 events throughout the year will showcase Ottawa food and drink, such as the Wine and Words Tour, which will take participants to local wineries to sample wine and cheese, with a local author to tell stories at each stop.
6. Yoga on a barge:
Not everything will be about the hustle and bustle, though—there will also be special yoga classes for the more zen among us. Think sunset, on a barge floating down the Rideau Canal, accompanied by an orchestra.
Credits: Ottawa 2017
7. Picnic on the bridge:
The afternoon after Canada Day, the Royal Alexandra Bridge, which connects Ottawa and Gatineau, will be covered with sod and will host a giant picnic party. Visitors will be able to rent space for their picnic blankets, with at least three seatings happening throughout the day. Bring your own food or purchase snacks from the local food trucks that will be parked nearby.
Credits: Christian De Araujo/Shutterstock.com
8. Ottawa Welcomes the World:
The many embassies and high commissions that reside in Ottawa will be given the opportunity to take over Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building with multi-cultural celebrations including food, film, music and more—likely one culture per day.
Credits: Ottawa 2017
9. Underground experience:
Though the Confederation Line of Ottawa's Light Rail Transit won't open until 2018, one underground station will be transformed into a futuristic world by a 10-week-long multimedia presentation. Though it's free, you'll have to sign up for a time slot in order to attend. See videos of the upcoming immersive experience here.
Credits: Courtesy of Bell
10. Inspiration Village:
Inspiration Village, which will be located on York Street in the historic Byward Market, will be built out of sustainable sea containers (similar to the image above) and will pay tribute to Canadian provinces and territories. The village will showcase special exhibits and performing arts events from May to September.
Are you excited yet? Because we sure are.