Monday, 5 October 2015

Brown Bag Lunches: Healthy Food is the New Junk Food

Healthy Food is the New Junk Food
Image courtesy of dashofnutrition on Instagram
Here’s my ordeal – on a weekly basis I have to face the struggle that is eating my lunch in class. Yes, I’m one of those people who pulls out a noisy wrapper during your mid-day course.  And I hope that you are (unlike me) lucky enough to have a lunch break between your classes so that you can avoid this terrible and awkward routine. The other part of this routine that I’d like to cation you against is the dash to try and buy your lunch. Now, BEFORE you start abusing your debit cards with Timmies, Panda Express, and Subway I have some advice to share with you -  I have had the absolute pleasure (and privilege) of collaborating with healthy food guru and 3rd year Nutrition & Food Science student Anissa Armet. And yes, she is one of U of A’s own, so the secrets being shared with us are coming directly from home turf.

Consider yourselves very lucky, because these are all of Anissa’s personal health tips and handpicked recipes (so they’re not random foods that I have compiled under the influence of my “I eat everything I see” syndrome). Being the type of person who eats McDonalds and doughnuts hoping that there is something secretly healthy about them, this collaboration has definitely been an eye opener for me. It is definitely safe to say that you are all in good hands. So get ready to drool over these healthy and easy DIY snacks, because boy do they look delicious!

Strawberry Banana Whole Wheat Wrap



Just one cup of fresh strawberries will meet your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. While most people know it as the scurvy-preventing vitamin, it also acts as a powerful antioxidant that enhances immune function and may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Zucchini Parmigiana


Zucchini Parmigiana 🍅 . A melt-in-your-mouth vegetarian dish that oozes with cheese yet still manages to have a serving of veggies! This healthy twist on a traditional Italian dish saves unnecessary fat and calories by baking the zucchini instead of frying them! Who knew healthy eating could be so easy? . Ingredients: . 4 zucchini 1/2 cup red sauce 1 cup grated mozzarella Grated Parmesan cheese Seasoned whole wheat flour  1 egg, beaten (plus avocado oil to make a wash) . Scrub and chop the ends off of the zucchini. Cut in half horizontally and cut into very thin strips. Place sliced pieces on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let them stand for an hour.  Preheat oven to 400F. Pat the zucchini dry, then dip each strip lightly in the egg wash first and then the flour. Place strips on a large baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes. Halfway through, flip the strips to ensure even cooking. Once browned, add 2 tbsp red sauce to a baking dish, lining the bottom. Layer the zucchini strips, red sauce, and cheese as you would a lasagna until all ingredients are used. Cook in oven at 375F until cheese melts, approximately 20 minutes. Cut into pieces and enjoy!  #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #dinner #zucchini #parmigiana #healthy #healthyeating #healthyliving #healthychoices #glutenfree #fit #fitgirl #fitness #food #foodporn #yum #nutrition #nutritious #nourish #absaremadeinthekitchen #cheese #veggies #italian #vegetarian
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Calling all athletes! Zucchini is a good source of potassium, which is important for muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve impulses.

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip 😋 If you're the type of person who can't fathom having a piece of raw broccoli, think again! This creamy dip makes veggies that much more appetizing, while also providing a delicious source of calcium and protein! With that, this is a much better option for you than any comparable low-fat or non-fat ranch dip. Bring on the veggie rainbow! ❤️💛💚 . Ingredients: . 1 cup non-fat greek yogurt 1 package low sodium ranch dressing and dip mix 1 tbsp light mayonnaise made with olive oil (optional)  In a small bowl, mix greek yogurt with half of the package of the ranch seasoning. Taste test first before adding more. If you'd like it to be ranchier (is that a word? lol) add more of the seasoning. If you'd like the dip to be a bit creamier, add the mayo. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #recipes #snack #veggies #vegetables #dip #ranch #healthy #healthyliving #healthyeating #healthychoices #healthyalternatives #protein #fit #fitness #fitgirl #easy #quickrecipes #homemade #eattherainbow #nutrition #nutritious #nourish #food #yum
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Compared to low fat plain yogurt, non-fat Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein. So carrying those heavy textbooks around campus all day will soon be a piece of cake (sorry for the unhealthy food reference).

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna 🍝 A healthy alternative to the traditional dish that tastes amazing, and also packs a good source of fibre, Vitamin C and protein 👍🏼 . Ingredients: . 1 spaghetti squash 1 tbsp olive oil salt and pepper 1 cup red pasta sauce 2 cups shredded cheese (I used mozzarella, Asiago, aged white cheddar cheese, and Parmesan) Preheat oven to 350F. Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off of the spaghetti squash, then cut lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and throw away. Drizzle olive oil onto the exposed parts of the inside of squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place face-down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes, then allow to cool for five minutes.  Using a fork, scrape out squash "noodles" and place in a bowl. Once the shells have all the "noodles" removed, make about a 1/2 inch layer of "noodles" in the shells. Cover lightly with sauce and cheese, and repeat filling both shells until all the "noodles" are used. Alternatively, in a baking dish you could layer the squash, sauce, and cheese as you would a regular lasagna. Place back into the oven for 10 minutes, then serve! #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #recipes #supper #dinner #easy #vegetarian #spaghettisquash #lasagna #pasta #healthy #healthyeating #healthyliving #healthyalternatives #fibre #cheesy #food #yum #glutenfree #nutrition #nutritious #nourish #fit #fitness
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

As a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, and having only one third of the carbs, spaghetti squash can rightfully masquerade as a healthy alternative to actual spaghetti.

Quinoa Greek Salad

Quinoa Greek Salad got a veggie upgrade! Add any veggies you'd like to this colourful, customizable salad and you'll have a protein-packed, nutrient dense lunch for the rest of the week! Perfect for clean meal 🍅💪🏼 . Ingredients: . 1 cup uncooked quinoa 2 cups water 13 grape tomatoes, quartered  1 small bell pepper, diced 1 avocado, chopped 1/2 cucumber, chopped 1/2 red onion, diced 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped handful of kalamata olives, chopped 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled Avocado oil, or sub other vegetable oil  White wine vinegar (plain will do as well) Salt and pepper, to taste In a medium-sized pot, add quinoa and water. Bring to a boil on high heat, and turn heat down to simmer once boiling. Cook quinoa until water is absorbed and tender (about 20 min). Refrigerate quinoa overnight, or for at least 2 hours. Once cold, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Store in the fridge.  #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #recipes #greek #greeksalad #mealprep #salad #quinoa #veggies #highprotein #fit #fitness #fitgirl #healthy #healthyliving #healthychoices #nourish #nutrition #nutritious #lunch #dinner #colourful #glutenfree #yum #food #easy #mealideas
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in fibre, and is a complete protein. This means that it contains all of the 8 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. It's perfect for almost everything; from rebuilding lean muscle mass to losing weight. And the bonus is that it is extremely easy to make.

Clean Eating Spinach Artichoke Dip

Clean-Eating Spinach Artichoke Dip 👍 No need to feel guilty about having this decadent dip! I find this healthy version even tastier than the original because of the added crunch from the water chestnuts! 😊 . Ingredients: . 1 container (250mL) of low-fat cottage cheese 1 package (300g) of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped 1 can (398mL) artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and chopped 1 can (227mL) water chestnuts, diced 1 tbsp hemp hearts, optional 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, optional Reduced-sodium garlic salt, to taste  Salt and pepper, to taste In a blender, blend cottage cheese until completely smooth. Pour into large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the cottage cheese and stir well. Feel free to scarf down some crackers to taste test 😉 Store in the fridge in an air-tight container.
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Even though spinach has high levels of calcium, it also contains phytates and oxalates, which are binding factors that prevent the absorption of the calcium in our bodies. But don't worry; you're still getting an excellent source of calcium from the low-fat cottage cheese.

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars: Perfect for quick on-the-go breakfasts or snacks, especially for travelling ✈️ Making your own granola bars is yet another way to save yourself from eating unnecessary preservatives and ingredients you can't pronounce. Plus, the combinations are endless and you'll save money in the process! . Ingredients: . 1 1/2 cups oats 1 cup dates 1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped 2 tsp ground chia seeds 1/4 cup peanut butter, or other nut butter 1/4 cup honey, or sub agave nectar for vegan version 1 tsp vanilla extract Preheat oven to 350F.  Roast oats for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned (this step is optional). While oats are roasting, soak dates in warm water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pulse dates in a food processor until a "dough" forms.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, dates, almonds, and ground chia seeds until combined. In a small pot, heat peanut butter, honey, and vanilla on low until completely melted. Add to oat mixture and mix with a spatula until completely incorporated. Place granola mixture in an 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Using a spatula or fork, press firmly on the mixture so it is densely packed. . Since I'm planning on taking some of these when I travel, I baked the granola bars for 20 minutes at 350F, and then let them cool completely and cut them. This helped them stay together better, and the result was chewy and slightly crunchy perfection! You can freeze the mixture instead if you prefer them to be less chewy, then cut them into bars and store. Makes 8 bars.  #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #recipes #minimalistbaker #gastropost #granola #granolabars #homemade #travelling #snacks #breakfast #easy #healthy #healthyliving #healthychoices #nutrition #nutritious #nourish #fit #fitness #food #yum #glutenfree #vegan #dairyfree #healthyfats #almonds #dates #easy
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Oats contain a high amount of soluble fibre; more than any other grain. Fibre suppresses appetite, helps control blood glucose levels, and will keep you regular. And by making your own granola bars, you are reducing the amount of used wrappers and cardboard boxes you use.  (i.e. you’ll make less noise if you are one of the unfortunate souls eating in class)

Clean Chocolate Chip Muffins

Clean Chocolate Chip Muffins 👍🏼 With an easy recipe like this, you'll never be tempted to buy those enormous muffins at the grocery store that have nightmares for nutrition facts! Requested by one of my followers, I made these low fat, clean muffins using greek yogurt 💪🏼 applesauce 🍎 and whole wheat flour. I love when food is healthy but tastes like anything but! . Ingredients: . 1 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup oat flour (oats ground into a flour using a blender or coffee grinder) 1/2 cup coconut sugar 3/4 tsp baking soda 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp hemp hearts, optional 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, optional 1 cup greek yogurt 1 egg 1/4 cup applesauce 2 tbsp melted coconut oil 1 tsp vanilla extract 3/4 cup chocolate chips Preheat oven to 350˚F.  In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, beat together the rest of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) so that the mixture is smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until almost fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips without over-mixing.  Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners and spray them with cooking oil spray. Fill muffin liners evenly with muffin batter, then bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.  #clean #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #recipe #recipes #baking #breakfast #snack #snacks #lowfat #protein #chocolate #chocolatechip #muffins #health #healthy #healthyeating #healthyliving #healthychoices #healthyalternatives #homemade #nutrition #nutritious #nourish #fit #fitgirl #fitness #food #yum
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

Even though whole wheat flour and fortified white flour both contain vitamins and minerals, whole wheat flour has the added benefit of having an extra boost of protein and fibre, which will help keep your stomach quiet during those early morning classes.

Banana Walnut Zucchini Bread

Banana Walnut Zucchini Bread 💛 This recipe is clean, vegan, and has an extra hit of protein for good measure! Whether it's for breakfast, a filling snack, or dessert, you definitely don't have to feel guilty for indulging! . Ingredients: . 2 very ripe bananas, mashed 1/4 cup agave nectar* 1/2 cup applesauce 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 tbsp water)* 1 tsp vanilla extract  2 tbsp coconut oil, melted 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 scoop plant based protein powder (I used Vega's Protein & Greens Vanilla flavour)* 1/4 cup hemp hearts  1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped 1 heaping cup shredded zucchini, dried between paper towels . Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, agave nectar, applesauce, flax egg, vanilla extract, and coconut oil until smooth. Set aside.  In another mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour with the protein powder. Add hemp hearts, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until almost combined. Add walnuts and shredded zucchini, and mix with a spatula until just combined (don't over mix!). Pour and evenly spread out the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the loaf is browned around the edges. Allow the loaf to cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and allow to completely cool on a cooling rack. . *If you're not a vegan, you can substitute these ingredients for other products, such as honey, a regular egg or egg whites, and whey protein powder.  #eatclean #cleaneats #cleaneating #cleaneatingrecipes #healthy #healthyeating #healthyliving #healthychoices #vegan #dairyfree #banana #walnut #zucchini #protein #bread #snack #dessert #breakfast #baking #homemade #fit #fitgirl #fitness #nutrition #nourish #nourishnotpunish #strongnotskinny #absaremadeinthekitchen #food #yum
A photo posted by Anissa Armet (@dashofnutrition) on

While bananas are thought to be potassium powerhouses, they pale in comparison to other foods like potatoes, oranges, and dates. However, they are high in Vitamin B6, which is important for immune function, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, and cognitive function (brain food! Aka an A+ on all of your exams.)

If you haven’t already done so, take a second to give Anissa a follow on Instagram for a regular update on even more delectable meal and snack recipes. Congratulations if you’ve managed to last this long. You are now free to run to your kitchen!




Niabi - YouAlberta Contributor


Niabi is a third year student just starting a BA in English with a Spanish Minor. She’s a relentless optimist, hazardously curious, and tends to laugh a lot (her friends would say that she has a juvenile sense of humour). When not spending money she doesn’t have on clothes, or jamming out to Reggaeton, you can find her in a movie theatre, reading a book that involves sword fighting and dragons.

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