Healthy snacking

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

Do you ever eat mindlessly? It would be very surprising if even one reader replied, “No, never.” So if we are occasionally going to eat mindlessly, we may as well eat food that offers a big boost to our health. Chopping veggies on a regular basis, storing them in ziplock bags and gathering tasty dips is a winning approach.

Serve a platter of colourful, cut up vegetables:

  • to family members when they return from school or work.
  • as an attractive way to serve vegetables at meals and for festive occasions.
  • as a low-calorie, healthy snack for TV watching.
  • as a great way to get vitamins, antioxidants, protective phytochemicals and fibre.

To extend your crudité horizons, here’s some to serve on their own or with a dip.

Crudités

Asparagus tips
Broccoli florets
Carrot sticks
Cauliflower florets
Celery sticks
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber discs
Green onions
Green or snow pea pods
Jicama sticks
Mushrooms, sliced or whole
Parsnip sticks
Red, orange, yellow and green pepper strips
Turnip strips
Yam strips
Zucchini strips or discs

For dips, choose from the various hummus variations on display at supermarkets. “Spread Em” is a fun, cashew-based line of dips available at Famous Foods and other stores and at www.vegansupply.ca Also see the tapenades and guacamole.

Avocados are surprisingly nutritious with monounsaturated fatty acids and phytochemicals. They contain more folate and potassium per ounce than any other fruit, with 60 percent more potassium than bananas. They are great sources of vitamin C and E. When I do nutritional analyses with clients, we often discover that a low intake of vitamin E and plant foods are far better sources than pills. The average avocado provides 13 grams of fibre, equal to three medium-sized apples. Avocados are also rich in carotenoids; of commonly eaten fruits, they are highest in lutein, known to reduce risk of prostate cancer and maintain eye health.

Again, foods are superior to supplements; their plant sterols, such as beta-sitosterol, inhibit cholesterol absorption and possibly inhibit tumour growth. Avocados are among the richest sources of the powerful antioxidant glutathione and may have anti-inflammatory effects.

Limey avocado dip

Makes about 3/4 of a cup

To retain its colour, make this dressing right before use. To keep it for several hours or a day, store it in an air-tight container or tighly cover it. Freshly squeezed lime juice gives a special flavour and nutritional yeast is rich in B vitamins. Adjust all seasonings to suit your tastes.

  • 1 ripe avocado • 2 tbs. lime juice • 1 tsp. tamari or ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. each of chili powder, garlic powder and/or onion powder
  • Pinch of pepper • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

Place avocado flesh into a bowl and blend or mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in lime juice, tamari, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and (optional) nutritional yeast. Scoop avocado flesh into bowl and mash until smooth. Blend in lime juice, tamari, yeast, chili powder, garlic powder and pepper. Stir in onions and cilantro. Adjust seasoning.

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and author. The list of crudités is from the Raw Food Revolution Diet by C. Soria, B. Davis and V. Melina (Book Publishing Co). Information on avocados is from her award-winning ​Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and ​Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, ​both with B. Davis (Book Publishing Co). ​Limey Avocado Dip is from Cooking Vegetarian by V. Melina and J. Forest (Harper Collins). www.nutrispeak.com

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