The Sweet Potato vs. The White Potato

potatoes

Po-tay-toe po-tah-toe… right? ………………

Nope! There is definitely a difference amongst the  various potatoes in the potato family. So which type of potato do I choose to consume more of? Today it’s a face-off between the sweet potato and the white (russet potato).

The SWEET potato is my go to.

 So why?… what really is the difference? Here’s the Nutritional breakdown for you: 

The Sweet Potato (medium size) The White (Russet) Potato (medium size)
112 calories 170 calories
Fiber: ~4 g Fiber: ~2 g
Fat: 0 g Fat: 0g
Protein: 2 g Protein: 3 g
Carbohydrate: ~26 g  (Starch: ~16 g) Carbohydrate: ~38 g  (Starch: ~33 g)
Sugars: 5 g Sugars: 1 g
  • 10 times the amount of Vitamin A
  • Higher Vitamin C content
  • Higher carotenoid content (maintain a healthy vision)

So, as you can see. Both potatoes still a great source of natural healthy carbohydrates. However, if you are looking for the most nutritional benefit and nutrient value…. pick the sweet potato!

The sweet potato contains more fiber for less calories and carbohydrates. It’s a substantial source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, carotenoids, and fiber. You will BEYOND exceed your daily need for Vitamin A with one sweet potato.  It may contain a tiny bit more sugar… but remember this is functional sugar…you need this for fuel. Your body will utilize this form of glucose as energy. Additionally, the sweet potato has a lower glycemic index than the russet potato. Therefore, it will have a less dramatic effect on your blood glucose levels and keep you satisfied for a longer period of time.

Sweet potatoes also have more fiber than white potatoes. Insoluble fibre (as I spoke about in my previous blog post) is found in the skin of the potatoes and soluble fibre is in the potatoe itself. You should eat both for the most nutritional benefit. Fibre is a positive contributor to heart health… fiber causes foods to be digested and absorbed much slower. Therefore, causing a much less drastic insulin response (in comparison to a refined low-fiber carbohydrate product.. like bread!). It will help to regulate cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose.

In the end, everything is great in moderation. Both types of potatoes are an unrefined, natural, and whole food source of carbohydrates, protein, and fibre. They will be used as immediate source of energy in our body (as a carbohydrate). However, if you want to vamp up the nutritional benefit… the sweet potato is definitely a fair winner. GO FOR COLOUR. When it comes to picking fruits and vegetables, it is always the best to pick the ones with lots of colour (Green, orange, red, etc.). The colourful variations will provide the most antioxidants and nutrient content to your diet.

Try my sweet potato fry recipe and get a carotenoid boost: Click HERE 

spiced sweet potato fries

Enjoy

xoxox B

 

Bananas for BANANAS!

bananas

Bananas are an awesome grab-n-go snack, electrolyte replacement after a sweaty workout, a great flavour ingredient to make muffins or banana bread ….etc!

As I am sure you have already heard, bananas are very well known for their large potassium content. One medium sized banana contains 422 mg of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that is crucial to our hearts functioning. Potassium helps maintain cardiac stabilization. This electrolyte is also lost in sweat… that is why it is a great idea to have a banana after a sweaty workout to replenish what you have lost.

Bananas also contain a small amount of soluble fibre. Soluble fibres plays an important role in digestive health. One medium sized banana contains 0.7 g soluble fibre. Although this may not be huge… every bit counts! Soluble fibre can help lower blood cholesterol levels, manage diarrhea, create a healthier colon by increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract.

One banana also has 0.46 mg of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is needed to make and use protein and glycogen within our bodies. Therefore, B6 is very important if you an active individual. Your muscle synthesis, muscle development, and energy to perform activities will be impaired if you are not consuming enough Vitamin B6 in your diet! (Other food sources of vitamin B6: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tuna, salmon, pistachios, etc). Vitamin B6 is a large contributor to the formulation of Hemoglobin, which carries red blood cells throughout your body.
For more information on Vitamin B6 visit Dietitians of Canada: CLICK HERE

Below are some of my Banana Recipes: 
Chocolate Banana Chia Muffins
Wholesome Banana Bread (Dairy-Free)
Banana Mango Matcha Smoothie

Fortunately, I have no problems getting bananas in Laos. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. As you can see from the photo in my blog post. Bananas line the streets everywhere. The small miniature bananas are more popular here. They are slow-grilled on the side of the street for you to purchase. It is my new fav snack! The slow grilling of the bananas makes them warm and almost dough-like. You must try grilling the mini bananas on your bbq at home. On low, rotate the bananas, until they are browning… then enjoy 🙂

grilled banana

Until next time.

xoxo

B

Homemade Granola + David’s Tea

limited ingredient granola

I have very limited ingredients in my apartment here in Laos. I don’t have access to all the same spices/ingredients as I do at home in Canada. If I can find them here many are very pricey because they are imported. BUT there’s always a way to make things work with what you have! I was craving a granola/trail mix to top on my smoothies, yogurt, and to snack on throughout my work day. This granola mix is quick to make, free of any refined sugars, has no added oils/fats, and it is so tasty! My secret ingredient to adding the best flavour to this mix is David’s Tea!!

In a small skillet on low-medium heat, (I would prefer to cook granola in the oven but I don’t have one…. so toasting it slowly on the stove top is a great alternative!) combine the following ingredients:

1 cup oats
1/2 cup nuts (I used pumpkin seeds,almonds, and a cashew nut mix)
A handful of raisins
1/4 cup dried pineapple, chopped/diced
1.5 tbsp David’s Tea Banana Nut Bread Tea (SO delicious to drink and EAT!)
1.5 tbsp maple syrup, drizzled throughout.

Continue mixing the ingredients around in the skillet until the oats begin to brown. Once browning, turn the burner off. Allow to cool. Store in an air tight container… or get snacking! 🙂

David’s Tea creates so many amazing tea flavours. Banana Nut Bread and Forever Nuts are my two favourite flavours at the moment and I packed them to bring with me to Laos. Their teas are always bursting with flavour. Sometimes when I am craving sweets I will just have a cup of tea. Banana Nut Bread and their Birthday Cake flavour are really good at putting those cravings to a stop! They are delicious.

The Banana Nut Bread flavour contains small chunks of dates, banana, and almonds. It is delicious as a tea, to add to granola, or even cook it mixed into your morning oatmeal (so yummy). You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time…
xo
B

MSG madness!

MSG

MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is not something that I was ever concerned with living in Canada. It was very easy to avoid. The FDA requires that it is stated on the product label if it is within the food. Also, in Canada I did not have a language barrier holding me back from knowing whether their is MSG added in the food or not.

However, I have come to realize. It is in almost EVERYTHING in Lao cooking. So what is the big deal? I’m sure most of you have heard of MSG before because it made headlines when people were concerned it could have negative effects on our health.

Now you’re probably wondering why I am even concerned about MSG.

First of all, there is not enough research on this man-made ingredient to conclude the long-term and short-term risks of this product. However, there has been plenty of signs and symptoms reported from consumers on MSG sensitivity and side effects. In addition, the FDA is still investigating its effects and require all food companies to list it on the label if it is in their product. This is why I choose to avoid it when possible. 

MSG is made from sodium, glutamate and water. It is used in cooking to enhance the flavour. It has the appearance of salt granules. Some reports say that MSG’s flavour enhancing skills have the ability to over-excite our body’s cells to dangerous levels. These types of dangerous levels may kill or damage our body’s cells …leading to and worsening health issues such as, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimers, etc. (this is not yet researched enough however, it is being studied).

 

Signs and symptoms reported after MSG consumption: 

Headaches, nausea, fatigue, increased heart beat, nausea, vomiting, tingling/burning sensation, flushing of the skin, blurred vision, feeling pressure on the face, chest, back or neck.

I could be overanalyzing… but since I have been living in Laos I have gotten a lot more headaches than usual and tend to feel nauseous sometimes after eating out. When I say MSG is in everything here… I am not lying. For example, sliced mango is served with MSG on the side to dip into?! Crazy.. if you ask me. Why not enjoy mango for its natural flavour?

In Canada, the FDA requires that MSG must be stated on the food product label if it is used. It may be listed as “monosodium glutamate” in the ingredients. You can also look for “No MSG” or “MSG free” on packaging to ensure you are choosing MSG-free foods. It is also very commonly used in Chinese and Asian restaurants in cooking. You can ask for no MSG to avoid this in many places.

See below a picture of sliced mango served with a side of an MSG dip. This is a regular snack served around Laos. Even when you buy mango on the street it comes with a little bag of MSG with it.

mango MSG

Is it really worth it if you can avoid these symptoms and possibly detrimental effects on your body’s cells? No it isn’t. Be an informed consumer. Read the label. Make the wise decision and avoid MSG where you can.

My motivation for this post stems from my Grandpa. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and research is key in order to find ways to help slow down the progression of the disease. Research is still ongoing for this disease and no cure as been found. In the meantime, educating myself on the disease and how to tailor his diet to make a strong positive impact and slow the disease progression is the best I can do at this time. Avoiding MSG is just one of the small ways to make a positive change. 

xoxo until next time

with love

B

Sabaidee! Hello from Laos

Saibadee LAos.jpg

Hi friends! I am all settled in and had the opportunity to explore the city of Vientiane yesterday (Sunday) before I started my first day of work here.

Of course I went to check out the fresh food markets, many temples, and the Vientiane famous night market. Fresh fruit is at every corner wherever I walk… can’t complain about that at all. I am already in love with this city.

fresh fruit market 1.jpg

I am now sitting at my desk on my first day of world at the World Vision Laos National Office with the rest of the Health and Nutrition team. Everyone here is now calling me “Bee” because the r in Brooke is difficult to pronounce. We just went to a cafe across to the street to grab breakfast where I had a “Berry Bliss” smoothie……… MEANT TO BE!

berry bliss smoothie

Anyway… I will be in touch with my many food adventures to come while working here 🙂

xo

B

 

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Popcorn! #YUM

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Popcorn

I combine two of my FAVOURITE foods! Popcorn + Dark Chocolate. 

Try it out:

  • In a popcorn machine or in a pot on the stove, made your own popcorn in 1 -2tbsp coconut oil (depending on how much you want to make).
  • Spread the popcorn on parchment paper on the kitchen counter.
  • Melt dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) and drizzle all over the popcorn.
  • Distribute ground sea salt to taste.
  • Allow this to sit and harden on the counter…. or don’t wait and eat it warm and gooey with chocolate! and ENJOY.

Why do I choose to make my own homemade popcorn versus microwave bagged popcorn? Make your own popcorn at home with plain popping kernels – it is just as fast and saves you from consuming hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial colors, artificial flavours, unneeded sodium, and much more.

Why choose dark chocolate (>70% cacao) and not regular dark or milk chocolate? Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are the least processed forms of chocolate. Therefore, they contain the highest flavonoid content (an antioxidant). As an antioxidant, flavonoids help repair damaged body cells, fight free radical damage, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

(Milk chocolate and white chocolate are very poor sources of flavonoids).

Eggplant Quinoa Lasagna – Guilt-Free!

Everyone loves lasagna on cool winter days. It is such a hearty meal but, the traditional lasagna has a bad rep with all that cheese, ground beef, and refined carbohydrates (white pasta!).

So, since I was craving something like lasagna… I decided to make one with a healthy twist. This lasagna is made from quinoa, eggplant, and veggies. The only cheese it contains is the little bit that I grated on top. Instead of ricotta or cheese in the inside – I created a layer using Skotidakis Jalapeño Greek yogurt dip. 

As a vegetarian dish, low in fat, and with protein coming from the quinoa… it is completely guilt-free.

Veggie Quinoa Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked red/white quinoa
1 can diced tomatoes (796mL)
1.5 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cups spinach
1 medium sized eggplant (chopped into circles)
1.5 cups Skotidakis Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip (COSTCO! duel packs for a better price 🙂
+ desired amount of shredded marble cheese
2 cups marinara (I used white linen marinara sauce from costco.. all natural ingredients– avoid marinaras that have sugar on the ingredient list).

Directions:
1. Cook 1 cup of quinoa as per package instructions.
2. While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl combine diced tomatoes, italian seasoning, oregano, basil, and crushed garlic. Mix.
3. Put the tomato base into a large baking dish. (layer 1)
4. Saute peppers and red onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet for ~10 minutes to soften.
5. Quinoa should be finished cooking now, add it into the baking dish on top of the tomato layer.
6. Using washed and trimmed spinach, make a spinach layer on top of the quinoa.
7. Disperse eggplant circles evenly on top of the spinach layer.
8. Add the sauted vegetables on top of the eggplant layer.
9. Spread 2 cups marinara sauce over this vegetable layer.
10. Spread 1.5 cups Skotidakas Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip on top of this marinara layer.
11. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top as desired.
12. Preheat oven to 350F – bake for 40 minutes until brown. Broil for 5 minutes to help with browning.
13. ENJOY!!! 🙂 Add ground pepper and salt as desired. My mom also added a little bit of parmesan on top of hers!

Veg Quinoa Lasagna