I’ve moved!

As of today, the Rainbow Plate blog can be found at my new website:  www.rainbowplate.com

Bookmark it in your favourites and check back often for news, tips, ideas, recipes, and of course lots of colourful rainbow plates! 

You’ll also find more information there about all the programs and services offered by Rainbow Plate. 

In good health!

Janet

Put down that phone!

Homemade veggie pizza

I truly believe that the act of dialing up some stranger and asking them to make your dinner is bad news for both your health and your wallet.  Here’s what I mean:

The other night we were sitting around, thinking of  what to eat for dinner.  We decided on pizza.  We went online to a local pizza place and started looking at the options.  We fully intended to keep it healthy, so we considered a whole wheat crust, lots of veggies, and we were negotiating on the “easy cheese” option.  By the time we had theoretically created our pizza, we were looking at a bill of about $25  (remember, this was vegetarian!).  Now, this particular pizza place doesn’t list nutritional information, but I can guarantee that, despite our healthy intentions, this pizza was going to arrive loaded with calories, saturated fat and sodium in addition to the veggies.

At this point I suggested that I just make us some pizza with what I had on hand.  So, here’s what I did:

Took some whole wheat pitas out of the freezer and put them on a baking sheet.

Opened a jar of  sun dried tomato pesto and spread some on each pita.

Loaded on fresh baby spinach (a huge pile!)

Piled on some frozen grilled mediterranean vegetables ($3.99 for a whole bag from Food Basics!)

Grated some low fat mozzarella and sprinkled a bit of crumbled goat cheese on top.

Popped them in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes, until they were heated through, the crust was crispy and the cheese had melted.

YUM!

I think I figured out that the total cost for the 3 pizzas I made was about $5 or so, and I guarantee that mine had a ton more vegetables, a healthier crust, and a lot less sodium, cheese (and fat) than the ones that would have come from the pizza place.  As a bonus, the whole thing took about 5 minutes to throw together!

Just out of the oven

So, the next time you’re about to dial-and-dine, re-think that option and make something yourself instead.  Your body and your wallet will thank you!

Ready to eat!

Real food for university students

What’s so special about this salad??

Well, to me it says a lot of things.  For starters, it makes me smile that I have somehow managed to raise at least one child who likes to take pictures of his meals the way I do!  More importantly, it is living proof that it is possible to eat simple, healthy, inexpensive and delicious meals when you are away at university.

This picture was sent to me by my son who’s away at university.  It’s what he made for dinner last night.

Dinner Salad

1. Fill a bowl with the amount of salad greens you feel like eating – either pre-washed salad greens in a bag (easiest, but a bit more expensive) or washed and torn greens of your choice (be creative – mix up the greens – the darker and more varied the colours, the more nutrients!)

2. Take the skin off of a rotisserie barbequed chicken (this step will save you a bunch of unhealthy fat and salt!), and shred or chop the meat of a breast or thigh (about 2/3 to 1 cup of meat).  If you’re interested, you can roast or poach your own chicken – less expensive, but a bit more time consuming.

3. Chop up whatever you want to add to your salad.  Some great ideas are: shredded carrots, an apple or pear, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, canned mandarin orange slices, diced avocado, shredded low fat cheese.

4. Toss it all together in a large bowl and top with a tablespoon or two of dressing:   In a glass or jar, pour the following:

1 inch of oil (canola is good, olive is even better!)

a bit more vinegar than oil (it will stay separate, so you can see how much there is)

a pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar or honey

about 1/2 teaspoon of mustard (dry mustard powder is good, use bottled dijon if you have it; probably not the bright yellow stuff, but go ahead if that’s all you have!)

whatever herbs or seasonings you have and like (oregano,basil, italian seasoning, salt free seasoning blend, fresh herbs etc.)

Now mix or shake it all up and dip a piece of greens in to taste.  Adjust seasonings to suit yourself – do you like it a bit more vinegary? less vinegary (add more oil or water or stock), sweeter? saltier, . . this is your dressing!

To kick it up a notch, add some crunchy toppings like walnuts, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds,  or pumpkin seeds.  You’ll be giving yourself a boost of fibre, healthy fats, and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Toss the salad together with the dressing and enjoy!  Round it out with a piece of crusty bread or toast or crackers.

Eat Food

The freshest apples

Huh?

You heard me right.  I said that Rainbow Plate is about keeping it simple. Well, I don’t think it can get much simpler than that.  The point is, there’s a whole lot of stuff out there trying to pass itself off as food – you know, processed, chemically-infused, mechanically-altered, packaged up stuff that our stores are full of.  Do yourself a favour (and cut the taxes you pay to the government as a bonus!) and leave most of those things behind on the grocery store shelves.

Make a commitment this year to eat more real food.  You know, the kind that doesn’t come in a package, and was once alive!  Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go all crazy and drastic.  Start by committing to make one little change – maybe a real apple for a snack instead of those “fruit snack” things.

Send me a comment and tell me what you’re going to try, or, better yet, send me a picture!

Happy Eating!

Janet

Sunshine and Rainbows for the New Year

New Years Rainbow Salad

Happy New Year!

There’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day (even if it is -5 outside) to make you feel like you can do anything.  My challenge to you is to get out and soak up some of those beaming rays, and to capture some of the energy they hold.  Even if you just sneak out at lunch for a 5 minute breath of fresh air, you’ll feel so much better!

Now, skip all those pesky guilt-inducing resolutions, and do something simple and positive for yourself.  Commit to making this the year where you look down at your plate and see a rainbow staring back at you each and every time!  It’s that simple, and it will make you happy and healthy!

Go ahead and give it a try!

Follow along with me for more . . .

Health and happiness,

Janet

Worlds Collide

Freaky!

So, last night we went to see Julie and Julia – a fabulous, uplifting movie about life, passion, cooking and following your dreams.  I came home all revved up and started my other blog, Lessons From Gus (check it out).  It’s weird how this movie has acted like a catalyst for me – to get me to take action and execute on some things I feel passionate about:  life, health, food, and of course my dog, Gus.

This morning I was going through some  emails from the week, and I opened one from my friend Julie (ironic!).  It was a link to a N.Y. Times piece written by Michael Pollan  called “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch” http://tinyurl.com/mumt9t  .  The piece, while lengthy, is a fascinating reflection that touches on the movie Julie and Julia, and looks at the evolution of home cooking in America – from the phenomenal impact of Julia Child to the current sports-like obsession with Food Network shows like Iron Chef and Hell’s Kitchen.

Pollan walks us through the changes that have occurred in American home kitchens from the 1950’s to today.    Julia Child’s endearing, fearless and human approach to putting a meal on the table empowered many women to step away from the Swanson’s frozen dinners and to mess about with real food with delicious results.  Pollan highlights the evolution of the American dinner table from this point to the current reality:  “. . . the decline and fall of everyday home cooking.”

It turns out that in 2009 we as a population (because let’s face it – Canadians aren’t much different from Americans in this respect) are enthralled with watching others  (food celebrities) cook, yet claim that we don’t have the time, interest or skill to actually do any cooking ourselves.  The kicker is that it turns out that the rise in North American obesity rates has occurred in direct relation to the decline in the time spent on home cooking.

Okay, so this is all interesting, but where do I come in?  Well, for several years now I have had this burning desire to do something relating to nutrition, food and health. With university degrees in both nutritional science and health promotion, I have carved out a rambling career path.  I’ve sold candy (!!), taught human physiology and nutrition, done weight loss counseling, and more recently developed an obsession with taking beautiful pictures of fruit and vegetables and the dishes I create from them.  The title of this blog, “Rainbow Plate,” is intended to reflect this, and is also the name of my fledgling business through which I hope to make  this obsession a success on a few levels.

I’ve long believed that the secret to making people healthier is to just help them to do more of the right things and less of the wrong things when it comes down to making choices.  The average person doesn’t need to know the chemical structure or physiological action of anthocyanins – they just need to eat more blueberries!

My stated mission for Rainbow Plate is “better health made simple.”  I am now more convinced than ever that this is the key to helping people take charge in the area of food and health.  As of this morning, I am committed to including the focus on home cooking as an integral piece of what I do.  As things unfold for me I will do my best to blog along with the process, to share what I believe and what I’m doing.  Please join me for the journey.

If you do nothing else. . . just cook dinner!

Janet Nezon