Peggy Kotsopoulos Talks About What's in Your Kid's LunchboxSunday, January 30, 2011
The other day, Peggy Kotsopoulos spoke at a media event which took place at the Life Choices Natural Foods headquarters in downtown Toronto. During her presentation, we learned a wealth of information including ways to sweeten foods the natural way and how to add lean protein and Omega-3's to your child's meals without them even realizing it. Peggy probably spoke for a mere half-hour, but she shared so many important and interesting facts that my head is still spinning. You may have seen her on television recently making guest appearances on both Breakfast Television and CBC's Stephen and Chris show. If you've ever watched any of the t.v. segments, you will know what I mean when I say that her passion and knowledge of holistic nutrition became quite evident within the first few minutes. In this post, I will do my best to impart the wisdom she shared with us that day.
Things I Learned From Peggy:
- One cup of juice contains about 25 grams of sugar which is more than half the daily consumption.
- White breads convert to sugar in the body. While breads made with whole grains are good, sprouted grains are much better.
- Correction: I have been informed by the Canadian Aqua Industry Alliance that the following statement is incorrect: "Wild fish is better than farmed fish. Did you know that farmed salmon are fed hormones which turn their flesh white? The farmers thus inject them with food colouring to maintain its 'natural' colour." It was not my intention to present any misleading information, but merely to retell a statement that had been made.
- Yellow dye #5 has been linked to ADHD in children and has been shown to be a major cause of allergies.
- The state of Florida is the only state that is still allowed to add food dye to their oranges! (Yes, I was just as surprised by this disturbing fact.)
- Sprouts contain up to 600 times more nutrients than spinach. Amazing, isn't it? We sampled sunflower sprouts and they really do taste like sunflower seeds!
- Coconut butter/oil is actually good for you because it will not be stored in your body as fat due to quick absorption by the small intestine. It also has a high smoke point which means it won't break down in high heat as, let's say, olive oil. The latter should be reserved for light sauteing or to dress foods after they have been cooked.
- One or two Brazil nuts a day can help boost your spirits since they help to raise serotonin levels.
- (Corrected since original publication of this post.) In general, we need to keep the ratio of Omega 6:3 to 2:1. Thanks for pointing that out, Peggy!
- Chia seeds are great to have on hand and Savi seeds are the next big thing in terms of power foods.
- When cocoa powder is made from the cacao bean, the remainder is mostly fat (called cocoa butter, I think) and is used to make white 'chocolate'. Um... yuck.
|Learning about simple food substitutions at Life Choices headquarters.|
|Chocolate mousse with pumpkin purée.|
Peggy also showed us some really easy recipes such as a chocolate mousse made with pumpkin purée, cocoa powder and maple syrup. She also has a recipe for a chocolate avocado pudding. I love her suggestion to use coffee extract for a mocha version or hazelnut butter to make 'nutella'. Yum!
My favourite dish was her mini-mac muffins using whole wheat shells with flax and white cheddar by Life Choices. It was super tasty and filled with wholesome natural goodness. They can also be frozen for future meals and make for a great addition to your child's lunchbox. Here is Peggy's recipe:
Peggy suggested another fabulous idea to make your own Rob the Hotdog Kebobs using sweet pepper, tomatoes, pineapple and Life Choices hot dogs, which, thankfully, do not contain those nasty cancer-causing nitrates. I really like this idea because the kids can easily join in the fun and make their own.
Who doesn't LOVE mac n' cheese? This take on a kid-friendly staple is a guaranteed hit! You can have the ease and convenience of traditional mac n' cheese without all the artificial ingredients and food dyes (in particular, yellow dye #5 which is linked to ADHD in children). This baked mac n' cheese blends in puréed cauliflower for extra creaminess, ground chia seeds for an even greater boost in brain power and colourful veggies, including red peppers and zucchini. AND they are baked right in individual portions in muffin tins, making them an easy and portable lunch-box winner! Serve with raw veggie sticks and dip, such as hummus.
Makes: 6 Mini-Mac Muffins
- 1 pkg Life Choices Whole Wheat Shells with Flax & White Cheddar
- 1cup greek yogurt
- 1 cup pureed cauliflower (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 small sweet red pepper, diced
- 1cup zucchini, grated
- 3 oz cheddar cheese, finely grated
For cauliflower purée:
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease xx muffin cups; set aside.
- In saucepan of boiling water, cook Life Choices Whole Wheat Shells as per package instructions; drain and return to pot.
- Stir in cheese mix from package, along with yogurt and extra virgin olive oil.
- Stir in chia seeds and milk.
- Stir in cauliflower purée, red pepper and zucchini.
- Spoon into prepared muffin cups; sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake until set and cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
- Wearing oven mitt to hold pan, run knife around muffins to loosen and lift
Tip: This also makes a great substitute for mashed potato.
- Chop and steam 1 small head of cauliflower until tender
- Add cooked cauliflower to food processor or blender along with 2 tbsp
each extra virgin olive oil.
- Blend until pureed.
Other ideas included:
|Funny Face Organic Whole Grain Pizzas|
|Greek Yogurt Parfait chock-full of protein|
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Life Choices for sponsoring the event as well as providing us with a couple of bags full of their delicious products.
And also, I would like to thank Peggy Kotsopoulos for sharing her passion for food and nutrition, and for helping to make a difference in children's health and well-being.