Category Archives: Nutrition Tips

We post nutrition news, tips, and other interesting information on this blog. If it has to do with food, it’s probably here! If there’s something you’d like us to comment on – just ask!

Nutritionist Approved Spaghetti Carbonara!

I don’t think many people would argue that the merriment of pasta, oil, bacon, eggs, cracked pepper, and parmesan cheese (aka Pasta Carbonara) makes for comfort food heaven! Unfortunately, these ingredients taken together do come at a calorie cost, and quite a steep one at that! Take the Spaghetti Carbonara at The Cheese Cake Factory for example….it will cost you 2100 calories (2300 calories if you get chicken in it) and a whopping 81g of saturated fat….That is more than a whole days’ worth of calories for many women and the same amount of saturated fat as eating 2/3 cup of butter. Scary stuff, especially for our nutritionists!

But thanks to an issue of Clean Eating Magazine, we tried a lightened up version of this tasty dish that delivers just 376 calories and 3.7g saturated fat per serving. They accomplished this by trimming down on the amount of oil, parmesan cheese and egg used, swapped out the bacon for chicken breast, and then adding in fresh asparagus to bulk up the meal. The result was so delicious it was hard to believe it wasn’t the real thing. In fact, when I served this pasta at Sunday dinner, I had everyone fooled when I announced it was a ‘lightened up’ nutritionist approved version. So thanks to Clean Eating Magazine for reinventing this classic dish to fit anyone’s healthy eating plan.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!

View This Recipe!

Vancouver Nutritionist Tips: Light Turkey Rockwell Bake

Vancouver Nutritionist Rockwell Bake

Have any leftover turkey this holiday?  Here’s what you can do with it!

If you’re anything like me, one of the most pleasurable things about a traditional turkey holiday meal is the stuffing. Our Vancouver nutritionists have figured out a way to let all that stuffing fun continue while using up some of that leftover turkey meat.

Have you ever heard of a Rockwell Bake? It’s basically stuffing ‘pound cake’ with the turkey inside! I have given this Rockwell Bake recipe from an Anna Olsen special a nutritionist’s touch, to make it low in calories, high in fibre and with enough protein to make up both the starch and the protein part of your meal (all for about only 400 calories). Rockwell Bake is the definition of comfort food, it’s so easy to make, and it’s a great alternative to the same old turkey sandwiches – enjoy!  SEE THE RECIPE HERE!

Lose Weight With Pasta That Won’t Ruin Your Diet Plan!

Are you working hard to lose weight?  This doesn’t mean you have to cut out pasta completely from your dieting plan!

Bean Pasta is all the rage these days…why?

New and innovative products are NOT hard to come by, especially with the whole world on a gluten free craze – it makes for some exciting finds at the grocery store!

At Spectrum Nutrition Vancouver, our nutritionists are only looking for products that follow our guidelines to a healthy diet, and will help our clients stay full longer, while keeping them on track with their diet plan.

Today’s product of choice is bean pasta!  Companies now are making pasta from beans instead of grains!  This is actually not at all new – I remember eating bean pasta about 12 years ago, but nobody was going gluten free back then and the products were pulled from the shelves.  Now, there are all sorts of options to choose from to add into your diet plan!

Beans are actually the protein part of the plate, but I find if you eat this type of pasta in the right proportions with vegetables – you can get away with calling it both the protein *and* the starch part of the plate!  Lose weight while eating pasta, very convenient and tasty!

There are many companies embarking on this trend at the moment, but one brand in particular that sticks out to me is Tolerant Foods:

Tolerant makes  a Red Lentil as well as a Black Bean Pasta that comes as Penne, Rotini or ‘Mini Fettuccine’ (I’m still not sure what that means!)….both types are absolutely delicious and the texture…we’ll you’d never know you weren’t eating regular old wheat pasta.

Other Brands you can pick up locally:

There are of course other brands of bean pasta that you can pick up locally in Vancouver.  Have a Costco Membership?  They sell a HUGE box of black bean spaghetti.  The texture is a little coarser and flavor is a little more ‘beany’ than the Tolerant Foods brand, however it’s WAY more economical and it goes perfectly with out diet plan friendly Soba Soup recipe, check out our recipe here: Japanese Soba Soup

Vancouver Nutritionist Recipe Tips: Christine’s Caesar Salad Dressing

vancouver nutritionist tips light caesar dressing

Lightned Up Caesar Salad – The secret? Light silken tofu!

I want to share with you my nutritionist approved recipe makeover for the oh-so-popular Caesar salad. Many of our clients have written Caesar salad off their diet plans because of its reputation for being laden with calories and fat. And rightfully so….As we have previously mentioned, the Chicken Caesar Salad at Earls (with dressing) contains 1120 calories-Almost ¾ of a day’s worth of calories for the average woman!

So how does a salad of so few ingredients (typically romaine lettuce, dressing, croutons, and parmesan cheese) amount to so many calories? Look no further than the dressing…..Half of the calories in the Earls Caesar salad above (as with most Caesar salads) come from the egg yolk and too much oil.

So what do I recommend? A flavourful, creamy, traditional Caesar with a kick, and all for 22 calories per tablespoon! With the help of soft tofu and light mayo, this recipe is a way to ‘indulge’ in a lightened up caesar salad. Enjoy!

Click here to see the recipe!

Calcium – how do you know if you’re getting enough?

Ever wonder how much calcium you’re actually getting from your calcium supplement?

It’s the amount of elemental calcium that’s important when deciding how much calcium you’re actually getting from a supplement.  If you’re taking calcium carbonate, you’re getting 40% elemental calcium.  Taking a citrate version?  You’ll actually only see 25% elemental calcium from a citrate supplement.  So if your goal is to take 500mg of calcium a day, be sure to calculate the amount you take in terms of how much elemental calcium you can expect to get from your supplement.

And remember…our bodies can only absorb about 300-500mg of elemental calcium at a time, so be sure to space your supplements throughout the day for optimal absorption.  Our favourite?  Exact brand CAL-CHEW’s. These are chewable little 20 calorie yum yums (available at the Superstore) that make taking calcium fun – the perfect afternoon treat!  They also contain vitamin D which helps your body better use the calcium in your supplement – Enjoy!

Kraft dinner healthy?

This product touts all the benefits of a whole grain product; high in fibre, B vitamins and iron so let’s see how this KD measures up!

Half a box prepared provides 100% of your daily Thiamin and folic acid intake and takes care of 30% of your daily iron needs – very important for brain development in the little ones!  You’ll also get 360 calories, 14 g protein and 6 g of fibre, that with some raw veggies or a salad with low fat dressing is a perfect lunch!

You can save 160 calories in this recipe (80 calories for a 1/2 box serving) by using 1% milk and low fat margarine.  REMEMBER: Not all margarine is created equally – be sure and pick a margarine that is made with 100% NON – HYDROGENATED vegetable oil. I recommend becel lite (the blue tub).  Enjoy!

What should you be eating to fuel your exercise?

As spring approaches, it’s time to get outside and get your body moving.  So why isn’t your waistline shrinking with all that added activity? It could be what you’re eating!  When your body is working hard, it needs energy.  Energy = glucose. That’s right: sugar, starch, the dreaded carbohydrate! So why is it that nuts seem to be the snack of choice? Nuts are energy dense to be sure, but how much energy ‘density’ do you really need: 1 cup of nuts (about the size of a ladies fist) = 1000 calories! Something to think about the next time you’re wondering why you’re not losing weight…not to mention nuts are predominately made up of fat and protein, both take hours to give you that energy boost you needs NOW when exercising.

What I recommend instead is this: have a carbohydrate rich snack about every hour during heavy activity (such as hiking) to keep your sugar levels up. Try a Fibre one or fibre source granola bar, a Sun Rype fruit bar, a banana or even a slice of whole grain bread. These snacks only contribute 100-150 calories to your daily intake but the difference you’ll feel in your energy levels will be enormous – making your hike all the more enjoyable…after all that is why we exercise isn’t it 😉

Salad dressings can really add up; especially if you’re trying to watch your weight

Salad dressing can be a blessing or a curse for those of us watching our figures. There are many store bought dressings that are reasonable in calories such as Presidents Choice Caesar Yogurt Dressing: 40 calories per tablespoon (Tbsp) or about 50% less calories than traditional Caesar dressings made from oil instead of yogurt. Incidentally, the goal for any store bought salad dressing is 40 calories or less per Tbsp and use only 2 Tbsp on yoursalad portion.

But what about making it yourself?  Diligently count those calories because for every Tbsp of oil, you’re adding 120 calories to your salad! Not to mention 1 Tbsp of honey ‘costs’ 60 calories, 1 Tbsp of sugar ‘costs’ 45 calories and the list goes on…  So what do I suggest?  Get an oil sprayer.  Lightly spritz your salad with oil instead of mixing oil into the dressing and then add other ingredients such as vinegar and spices separately. Alternatively, you can use a balsamic ‘glaze’ (balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a more syrup like consistency by simmering for 12 minutes) on your salad. Glaze can also be purchased at most grocery stores, ‘costs’ about 25 calories per Tbsp and provides a sweeter, fuller mouth feel which mimics the weight of oil based dressings without the added calories.

If creamy dressings are more your thing, try replacing the oil in your favourite salad dressing recipe with Quark light.  Quark is a soft, spreadable cheese that can be purchased in most grocery stores and when using the ‘light’ version, will only contribute 1 calorie per gram used; so each Tbsp of Quark only contributes 15 calories per Tbsp used – compare that to 120 calories for a Tbsp of oil and the choice is obvious, or at least is should be 😉  Enjoy!

La Tortilla Factory Wraps: the BEST wraps for everyday and while trying to lose weight!

Have you ever heard of La Tortilla Factory?

They are a high fibre, low calorie wrap that should be in everyone’s cupboard!  With only 130 calories per wrap and 12g fibre, these gems will keep your meal lasting and your waistline in check for sure!  Compare that to typical wraps that contain ~180 calories and only 2-3g fibre, these truly are a ‘miracle’!

Wrap this around some skinless chicken breast, coleslaw and low-fat ranch dressing and you’ve got yourself the perfect quick lunch on the go!

How much salt is in that?

Products like salsa, tomato paste, stewed or canned tomatoes and pasta sauce; any product made with tomatoes as its base, tends to pack a lot of salt. The trouble with these salty foods is that you can’t taste the salt…so more is usually added.

I recommend purchasing these products with no salt added. For example Presidents choice salsa has 85 mg of sodium per 2 Tbsp; compare that to Pace Chunky Salsa which has 230 mg of sodium for the same 2 Tbsp. Similarly, regular canned tomatoes contain 350 mg of sodium per half cup and the product doesn’t even taste salty! Start with a clean slate; why not buy canned tomatoes with ‘no added salt’ and add just a touch of your own salt at the table. That way you can actually taste the salt that’s being put into your food rather than starting out with a whole bunch of sodium that you don’t appreciate, and then adding more… just some food for thought.