Peggy Kotsopoulos Talks About What's in Your Kid's Lunchbox | Toronto Teacher Mom

Peggy Kotsopoulos Talks About What's in Your Kid's Lunchbox

Sunday, 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.
The gathering listening to Peggy's nutrition talk
Learning about simple food substitutions at Life Choices headquarters.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to meet Peggy and sample some of the delicious products from Life Choices Foods. It has impacted the way I think about food and Peggy's enthusiasm has made me all excited to try new things in the kitchen. Not only is she a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, she is passionate about sharing her insights and helping children to eat healthier diets and is also a Certified Health Educator. And by the way, we took the family shopping at the Big Carrot today to find a batch of sunflower sprouts, which we added to our lunch, and bought a jar of coconut butter, which happened to be on sale. Yay!

Chocolate Pudding Pie
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:
Mini-Mac Muffins
Mini Macs ready for tasting

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease xx muffin cups; set aside.
  2. In saucepan of boiling water, cook Life Choices Whole Wheat Shells as per package instructions; drain and return to pot.  
  3. Stir in cheese mix from package, along with yogurt and extra virgin olive oil. 
  4. Stir in chia seeds and milk. 
  5. Stir in cauliflower purée, red pepper and zucchini. 
  6. Spoon into prepared muffin cups; sprinkle with cheese. 
  7. Bake until set and cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Wearing oven mitt to hold pan, run knife around muffins to loosen and lift
    out. 
For cauliflower purée:
  1. Chop and steam 1 small head of cauliflower until tender 
  2. Add cooked cauliflower to food processor or blender along with 2 tbsp
    each extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Blend until pureed.
Tip: This also makes a great substitute for mashed potato.
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.

Rob the Hot-dog Kebob
Rob the Hotdog Kebob

Other ideas included:

Funny Face Pizza
Funny Face Organic Whole Grain Pizzas
Blue berry Jam and Apple Butter
Greek Yogurt Parfait chock-full of protein
You can read Peggy's recent article called "What's in Your Kid's Lunchbox?" on the Life Choices website. You can also find plenty of other recipes to try while you're there.

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.

Peggy with Diana Mancuso, French Teacher and Mummy Blogger

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Diana,

    Your correction regarding hormones in Canadian farmed salmon is appreciated. (None are used!)

    For queries regarding imported food safety, I would suggest contacting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

    Regards,

    Jeremy / @CDNaquaculture

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your reply. I do appreciate you taking the time to voice your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your reply. I do appreciate you taking the time to voice your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. WestcoastfishfarmerMarch 30, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    I am not one to be gentle in the defence of my industry, although I do apologize for my heavy-handed response.
    I do not wish to infer that your readers are gullible, although as a teacher you are in a position of power and they may be susceptible to being misled.
    I hope that, like my own son, there are a generation of children out there who will have the chance to have their fish, and eat it too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear westcoastfishfarmer,

    Thank you for your comment. As noted in my reply below, my intention was not to provide misleading information, but to retell a statement that had been made. I do not believe my readers are gullible nor do I claim to be an expert on the matter. I have edited the post to clarify that the statement I had made has been deemed false by the CAIA. Again, thank you for shedding some light on the topic.

    Sincerely,

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jeremy and Ruth,

    Thank you for the clarification on the matter. My intention was not to provide misleading information, but merely to retell a statement that had been made. I have edited the post accordingly.

    Perhaps you can provide information on the following. Is it possible for farmed fish that have been fed hormones from another country to make its way to our seafood counters? Or are there regulations in place to prevent this from happening? I am asking as a concerned mother and would like to be 100% certain that the fish I buy for my children is safe and hormone-free. Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jeremy and Ruth,

    Thank you for the clarification on the matter. My intention was not to provide misleading information, but merely to retell a statement that had been made. I have edited the post accordingly.

    Perhaps you can provide information on the following. Is it possible for farmed fish that have been fed hormones from another country to make its way to our seafood counters? Or are there regulations in place to prevent this from happening? I am asking as a concerned mother and would like to be 100% certain that the fish I buy for my children is safe and hormone-free. Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  8. I provide communications support to Ruth Salmon at the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, and would like to submit the following statement on Ruth’s behalf:


    Diana,

    As a representative of Canada’s aquaculture industry, I’m concerned with false statements you make regarding farmed salmon in your post.

    Firstly: NO hormones are used to grow our fish.

    Secondly: Contrary to the myth that farmed salmon are ‘dyed’, they are fed carotenoids – part of the vitamin B family – to mimic their diets in the wild. In addition to giving farmed salmon their characteristic pink/orange color, carotenoids are antioxidants that are necessary for the salmon’s health.

    Ruth Salmon
    Executive Director
    Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
    www.Aquaculture.ca

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for your comment! I'm not sure about your question on olive oil but I did send a message to Peggy to see if she could provide an answer on that.

    For the event, I was sent an invitation by email. A small number of media were present and I was asked to join because I'm a 'mommy blogger'. It was definitely very informative and I could have shared more information but didn't have a chance to write down all the facts. I was going off of memory, mostly.

    ReplyDelete
  10. westcoastfishfarmerMarch 30, 2011 at 9:43 PM

    "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."
    Really?
    To quote the Beastie Boys,"Where'dya get your information from huh?"
    You should seriously check your facts before making statements like this to unknowing children and gullible parents.
    Farmed salmon, like wild salmon, will have white flesh if they do not eat any food containing carotenoids.
    No hormones, no dye, no kidding.
    www.bcsalmonfacts.ca

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! Great post. You learn something new every day!

    So, my question is about the whole coconut oil thing vs. olive oil. As I roasted my potatoes in olive oil last night at a high heat....does that mean olive oil is bad for you when used at a high heat?

    How did you hear about this event? I wish I could have come to that, it sounds like it was VERY informative!!!

    ReplyDelete

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