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Inspiring Flavours to Add Whole Food Fibre to your Diet

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Nature’s packaging may not have a nutritional label, but you can be sure that plant-based whole foods can help your digestive health and contribute to better overall health—for you and for the planet. Best of all, they do all this while being simple to prepare—and delicious .

According to Health Canada, most Canadians are getting only half of the daily recommended 25 grams (women) to 38 grams (for men) of fibre in their diets. Fibre plays a key role in digestion, helping to ease food and waste through the digestive tract, making us feel fuller, and helping to lower cholesterol and glucose. Diets high in fibre and whole grains are linked to reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

It’s easy to find good sources of fibre in nature’s rich pantry of plant-based whole foods. Vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes are packed with it.

These foods also contain prebiotic phytochemicals that, studies suggest, help feed the good bacteria of the microbiome. These compounds could be responsible for keeping your tummy happy and healthy.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, in their 2019 Sustainable Healthy Diets—Guiding Principles report, recommends a plant-based whole foods diet. The idea is that food and it’s production must support not only the individual, but also the community, and be available to sustain us in the future while protecting the planet through low environmental impacts.

It seems even small changes can have big impacts. A recent study found that reducing beef consumption even slightly and selecting fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes instead can reduce our dietary carbon footprint. Adding dietary fibre, and microbiome-boosting nutrients need not be boring. Delectable whole foods lend themselves to intriguing flavour combinations and simple preparations. Look to these recipes to enliven fibre-rich whole foods and be inspired to include more of them in your diet.

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Chickpea Salad with Nigella Roasted Sweet Potato and Grated Carrots

Chickpea Salad with Nigella Roasted Sweet Potato and Grated Carrots
Chocolate and Orange Chickpea Pudding

Spanish-inspired flavours of almond and orange and a good punch of protein make this pudding a delicious and nutritious breakfast, snack, or dessert. The tiniest amount of large-flake sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil help bring all the flavours together.

Cardamom and Ginger Scented Farro Breakfast Porridge

Look for whole grain farro, which leaves the germ and bran intact, for this satisfying porridge that’s sure to kickstart your day. While the cooking time is longer than for pearled or semi-pearled varieties, you’ll get more nutrition. Take the time to enjoy the delicate scent of cardamom and ginger wafting through your kitchen as you prepare this.

Farro, Lentil, and Vegetable Soup

Adding farro, with its nutty bite, is a delicious and convenient way to increase your soup’s fibre and nutritional value. This hearty soup is the perfect remedy to a cold January day. Lemon and chervil add a bright contrast to the fibre-packed earthy flavours.

Arugula Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash, Pomegranate Molasses, and Pine Nuts

Sage is an excellent flavour companion for squash. When combined with the earthy flavours of mushroom and hearty quinoa, this filled squash makes for a deliciously satisfying meal. Great sources of dietary fibre, winter squashes like delicata and acorn are also good sources of thiamin, which aids in the transformation of ingested carbohydrates into energy.

Mushroom Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Squash

Oven-roasted delicata squash makes a crispy treat atop this green salad. As its name suggests, this squash has a thin, delicate skin that’s tasty when cooked. Pomegranate molasses, an ingredient common in Lebanese and Middle-Eastern cuisine, brings a sweet and sour flavour to the dressing.

Fennel, Apple, and Radicchio Slaw

Licorice-flavoured fennel, tart apple, and a hint of pleasant bitterness from radicchio combines with a touch of sweet dressing for a refreshingly delicious salad. Fennel contains a number of vitamins and minerals known to be involved in digestion, including vitamin C, manganese, and niacin which helps transform the food you eat into energy. Apple adds sweet crunch and all-important fibre.

Roasted Fennel with Pine Nuts and Almond Crumb Topping

Simple and satisfying, this recipe makes the most of fennel’s texture by caramelizing the edges and roasting it until just tender. The mixture of almonds and nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavour while kicking up the levels of iron and protein.

This article was originally published in the January 2022 issue of alive with the title When Fibre Meets Flavour.

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Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Choosing Sustainable Seafood

Are you wondering what it means to buy “sustainable” seafood? The type of seafood, where it’s from, and how it’s caught or harvested all play into what makes seafood sustainable. Simply put, it means that the harvest of a particular seafood is done in a way that allows for continued harvesting into the future. But it’s not simply a question of controlling overfishing. Impacts on the environment are also key. Wild fish have the reputation of being more sustainable, but that’s only if they’re fished through managed seafood programs and don’t have other impacts such as pollution or depletion of other species.   Seafood from aquaculture can also be sustainable, provided it is done in a way that avoids any detrimental effects to the larger ocean environment or other species. Stay informed, though, since species considered sustainable one day may be under threat the next. This might mean being willing to try something new or forgoing a favourite for something that is more sustainable. While that may sound like a sacrifice, it’s also an opportunity to discover a new favourite. If you live in an area where seafood is harvested, making a decision to support local fishers and harvesters may also influence your decision about which sustainable seafood choices to make. Navigating the specifics can be tricky, but your local fish counter is a great place to start your quest for sustainable fish. Your fishmonger is a valuable source of information about where the product is sourced. You can also look for certifications from organizations such as Ocean Wise and Marine Stewardship Council. Once you get it home, sustainable seafood’s variety and versatility presents us with an ocean of delicious opportunities in the kitchen. Try these recipes for simple, flavourful, and diverse preparations. Your choices can help Ocean Wise Seafood is a seafood certification program that helps consumers and businesses choose sustainable seafood options. The program works with scientists to assess the state of aquatic ecosystems and the species they support, making recommendations on sustainable choices. They employ a simple rating of either Ocean Wise Recommended or Not Recommended. Look for the Ocean Wise symbol when you buy seafood or check out their website ( seafood.ocean.org ) to search for sustainable seafood options. They have information about various species, where and how they’re fished or harvested, and whether your choice is sustainable. It’s simple, easy, and reassuring. Face your fish-prep fears Many of us shy away from cooking seafood because we think we don’t know how, or because we may be worried about spoiling a piece of beautiful fish. Here are some quick tips to relieve your fish-prep fears. Start with the best In addition to asking at your fish counter about sustainability, don’t be afraid to ask how the seafood you’re buying has been transported and stored. Frozen fish, which is flash frozen, may be a better choice than a piece of “fresh” fish that has been around for a while. Store it properly Shellfish Store shellfish in the fridge, in a shallow pan without water, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Frozen fish Remove frozen fish from its packaging, and thaw, loosely covered, in the fridge overnight. Drain any water that collects as it thaws. Cook fresh fish within two days. Celebrate simplicity Quality seafood is its own celebration and lends itself to simple preparations: a quick grill, a dash of lemon. Keep it simple and let the flavour of the fish shine through! Let your fish warm up It may sound strange, but letting your fish come up to room temperature over about 30 minutes will help you get an even temperature when it’s time to cook. Explore different cooking methods Poached, grilled, steamed, baked—seafood does it all. If you always grill fish, explore a gentle poach or raw preparation. Know your temperature Use higher heat for grilling, and make sure the pan or grill is hot when the fish hits it. Use low heat and a gentle simmer when poaching. Skin side down Cooking fish with the skin on helps keep it together. When grilling, cook the skin side first to protect the fish as it cooks. Know when it’s done Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is barely opaque in the centre. Dive in Don’t let your fear stop you. Just get started!

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.