plant-based chili

Plant-Based Eating: Finding a Healthy Balance

In January 2019, Canadians finally got to see the long-awaited revision to Canada’s Food Guide, and it’s quite a departure from previous versions. Gone is the traditional rainbow model, in favour of a “food guide snaphot”, which is a picture of a balanced plate of food.

One of the biggest departures from the old Food Guide is the new emphasis on including plant-based proteins in the diet. At first, this notion had some pundits worried that meant an exclusion of meat or chicken, but now we know it just means a change in the name for food groups.

The former “meat and alternatives” and “milk and alternatives” food groups have merged into one grouping, collectively known as “protein foods.”

While meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk products are still part of this grouping, Canada’s Food Guide says to “choose protein foods that come from plants more often.” It explains that eating plant-based foods regularly can mean eating more fibre and less saturated fat, which can have a positive effect on health, including a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plant-based proteins include beans, lentils, soy, nuts and seeds.

To be clear, the new guide is not a call for all Canadians to become vegan. In an all-foods-can-fit environment, the new guidelines simply emphasize plant-based foods, because they are not on the radar of many Canadians. This new direction is intended to help Canadians eat more vegetables, grains and beans, in order to boost fibre and minimize saturated fat in the diet, which is good for overall health.


Five Fast Facts About Chicken

Whether it’s white or dark meat, in a sandwich or mixed with pasta or atop salad, chicken is a familiar favourite and always a crowd-pleaser. Did you know that chicken is offered on more menus than any other protein item? It’s certainly one of the top protein choices in the Canadian diet! But just how well do you really know this nutritious and versatile poultry? Here’s an overview that explains the nutritional value of chicken and busts common misconceptions.

What’s the nutritional difference between varying cuts of chicken?

Chicken is generally divided into white meat (breast and wings) and dark meat (thigh and drumstick). Fat in chicken is often found in the skin, so skinless cuts tend to be leaner. The cuts vary in calories, protein and fat content, as illustrated in the chart below:

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Chicken with Global Flair

If there’s one thing Canadians can agree on, it’s our love of chicken! Collectively, we eat about 1 billion kilograms of chicken each year. Since we eat so much of it, it’s important to drum up new recipes to keep taste buds happy.

As menus rotate in senior living settings, it’s wise to stick to residents’ favourites, and add something new to spark interest and keep everyone satisfied. Are you looking for new ideas for your preferred cuts of poultry? We’ve scanned the globe and come up with a variety of choices that speak to the growing diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds in Canadian retirement and long-term care settings.

Based upon the preference of residents, here are new ideas for chicken dishes that are inspired by Italy, Greece, China, India, Central Europe, Ukraine and the Middle East.  To find the recipes that are referenced below and many others, simply check out our recipe page.


Time to Explore the Dark Side

When it comes to chicken, do you prefer white meat or dark meat? Most North Americans have been convinced that white meat is the healthier choice, but dark meat has some amazing nutritional benefits too! It’s time to embrace dark meat for its nourishing value, succulence and culinary versatility.

Why is it dark?

Most chickens don’t fly, but they do move around using their legs and thighs. This pattern of movement preserves muscles in their wings and breasts, which remain white. At the same time, the high movement of their thighs and legs causes them to turn a darker shade due to myoglobin, the protein that provides muscles with the oxygen they need during movement. It’s myoglobin that gives dark meat its characteristic reddish colour. So, it’s pretty simple, really: dark meat is caused by increased muscle movement because chicken walk rather than fly, while white meat is the result of less movement.

Dark versus. white meat: nutrition comparison

Does all of that movement make any difference in the nutritional value of the meat? It does! White meat, such as chicken breast, is heralded for being high in protein and low in fat. Dark meat has different characteristics, with a bit less protein and more fat – but more iron and zinc.