Dietitian's Journal


Back to a more regular blogging schedule...

...after 4 weeks of mostly work (the usual stuff of a clinical dietitian's day plus mentoring dietetic interns and attending a nutrition support workshop) and some play (long, weekend walks absorbing colour & light and a bit of writing at the Hedge Society).


I really don't have much to say in this post. Just that I'm back. Hello. I hope you're enjoying this season (Autumn for some, Spring for others). And for those of us who are heading toward winter, let's remember the good things about cooler days and longer nights.  As a friend recently tweeted:

some say it's easier to eat well in the summer but I'm a much happier autumn winter cook. All those easy soups, beans, stews. Who's with me?

Mushroom-Kale-Barley Soup

During September, fresh tomatoes and eggplants occupied my attention so I completely missed National Mushroom month. In fact, I made this soup in July when organic mushrooms were on sale at a local supermarket. But soup and summer usually don't go together (unless we're talking gazpacho or chilled cucumber) so I saved the recipe and post for cooler days.

Now, neither I nor this humble soup can compete with the Mushroom Masters but I offer it to you today as a simple, nourishing, warming, everyday meal.



 Mushroom-Kale-Barley Soup

Adapted from The Clueless Vegetarian by Evelyn Raab, page 47. The original recipe does not include kale but I was harvesting the last leaves of the season from the plant on my balcony & thought they'd make a tasty, healthy and green addition to this soup so I tossed them in.

Serves 8 - 10

3 tablespoons (45 mL)  butter or vegetable oil [I used oil]
2 small onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, squished
1 pound (3 L) vegetable broth
1 cup (250 mL) barley
[a handful of fresh, tender kale leaves -- I used young 'Lacinato' kale leaves]
1 teaspoon (5 mL) crumbled dried thyme
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh dill weed
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter [heat the oil] over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the sliced mushrroms and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms have let out their juices, and the liquid is beginning to evaporate.

Now add the vegetable broth, barley and thyme, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat to a simmer, and let the soup cook, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours.  If it is becoming too thick, add more water. Add the chopped parsley and dill [and kale, if desired], simmer for another 15 minutes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.


In my information foraging, I discovered a new book, nutrition facts, research &  growing guides on mushrooms:

An interview with Greg Marley, author of Chanterelle Dreams and Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms

Nutrition facts

Mushrooms & Vitamin D

[Note: The Office of Dietary Supplements (OHS) cites research that shows "mushrooms provide vitamin D2 (erogocalciferol) in variable amounts. Mushrooms with enhanced levels of vitamin D2 from being exposed to ultraviolet light under controlled conditions are also available." I believe this is the study the OHS is referring to: Vitamin D2 Enrichment In Fresh Mushrooms Using Pulsed UV Light (PDF).]

How to grow edible mushrooms by Carolyn Herriot (renowned British Columbia gardener & author)

Growing mushrooms (from Channel 4 Food | Jamie Oliver)


Lentil Dal with Tomato & Kale

Lacinato Kale

Lacinato kale in late June, just before harvesting the first crop and combining ...

... with lentils, tomatoes & spices in this An Honest Kitchen inspired recipe.

Though I'd planned to save this post & recipe until Autumn, these past few days the weather's been cooler and wetter and my mood's been serious and introspective. Neither seems suitable for salads. So the time seems right to share this lovely dal recipe that's warming and comforting as well as simple, tasty and nourishing. Another winner from Kathryn & Lucy.


 Lentil Dal with Tomato & Kale

adapted from Lentil Dal with Tomato & Silverbeet in the Autumn 2010 issue of An Honest Kitchen by Kathryn Elliott & Lucinda Dodds.

Serves 3 - 4

1 cup (250 mL)  split red lentils, washed
2 cups (500 mL) water
2 slices fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) turmeric
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
large bunch of young kale, about 2 cups (500 mL) of harvested leaves without stems, washed and roughly chopped [the original recipe calls for silverbeet]
1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil
1 teaspoon (1 mL) mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
1 dried chilli
1 teaspoon (1 mL) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (1 mL) ground coriander

To serve: rice and some natural yoghurt (optional)

Cook the lentils:  Put the lentils, ginger and turmeric into a heavy-based saucepan with a lid. Add water. Bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The lentils should be starting to break down and lose their shape. You may need to add a bit more water, if the dal becomes too thick and gluggy.

Add the vegetables:  Add the tomatoes and kale. It will look like way too much greenery at this stage, but don't worry. Give the dal a quick stir and then place the lid back on the pan. Continue cooking gently, for about 10 minutes, until the kale has wilted and softened.

Make the tarka:  Heat the oil in a separate small saucepan or frying pan. When hot, but not quite smoking, add the mustard seeds. These should start popping almost immediately. Put in the bay leaf and dried chilli. Cook for a few more seconds, just until these start to brown, and then add the cumin and coriander. Swirl the spices around in the oil for a couple of seconds and then pour the contents of the saucepan into the lentils. The lentils may spit slightly when you do this, so take care. Cover the pan immediately and leave to absorb the flavours for a couple of minutes. Remove the lid, stir and season with salt and pepper.

Some of Kathryn & Lucy's notes with my comments in {parentheses}:

Dals get even better after they've been stored in the fridge overnight – the flavours soften and blend. They can also be frozen. {Yes, I enjoyed the dal for lunch the next day & froze a couple of portions for quick meals.)

This makes a mild flavoured dal. If you want more heat, then use a chopped up fresh chilli instead of the dried one. {I like a spicy dal so I'd also add a pinch or two more of the other spices.}

We've chosen to use split red lentils, as they're the quickest cooking. However you could use almost any type of split bean or pea in this recipe. Just be aware it may take longer to cook and need some extra water added during the  cooking. {I encourage you try the split red lentils -- they create a lovely colour scheme with the kale & tomatoes.}

A bowl of dal, with rice and mango chutney is comfort food for me [Lucy] — the silverbeet and tomato make for a wonderful, creamy dish.  {Mmmmmm.}


Elaine's nutrition notes:

This tasty combination of three, natural "superfoods" (lentils, tomato, kale) provides a full array of building blocks for good health, particularly protein, fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, assorted phytonutrients, potassium, calcium and iron. Truly the definition of a nutrient-dense recipe.

Nutrient analysis of Lentil Dal with Tomato & Kale (PDF) - I don't encourage healthy people to "count calories." But some individuals on special diets for health conditions (e.g., kidney disease, iron deficiency anemia, protein-energy malnutrition) may need this information either to make sure they're meeting their needs or not exceeding restrictions.

With my second crop of kale ready to harvest and farmers' market tomatoes at their peak, I'll be making this dal again soon.


Civic Dietetics

Cool Globes

Two of the Cool Globes on display at Vancouver's Science World this past spring

Last month while doing a search on "environmental nutrition", I stumbled across the new-to-me concept of "civic dietetics":

Making food system issues integral to dietetic practice represents a transition for the professional, calling for new applications of skills and expertise. Drawing from the work of Thomas Lyson on civic agriculture, we propose civic dietetics to mean the application of dietetics to enhance public health by addressing food system structures, impacts, and policies and their relationship to food choices....

It can be argued that the economic, ecological, and social sustainability—the “triple bottom line”—of the food system, matters as much as the nutritional value of its products. Civic dietetics provides such a framework. [bolding added]

Source: Beyond Eating Right: The Emergence of Civic Dietetics to Foster Health and Sustainability Through Food System Change  by JL Wilkins, J Lapp,  A Tagtow & S Roberts in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2010.

Here are some other results from my recent Google search on "civic dietetics":

Civic dietetics: opportunities for integrating civic agriculture concepts into dietetic practice

Local and Healthy, 2 messages or 1?

Civic Dietetics, Community Gardening and Food Recovery

National Dietitian Day -- It's all about change!

Civic Markets and Alternative Agrofood Networks


116/120This "cool globe", one of my favourites at the Science World display is called "cool careers". Made me think: perhaps "Civic Dietitian" is a new, evolving and essential role, if not career, for our times.


Tweeter's Digest: July edition

Well, hello there. Where has time gone? Until I checked my drafts folder earlier today, I hadn't realized I'd started writing 5 posts since mid-May. Time to finish & publish at least one of them.

Here's a round-up of resources I've shared on Twitter during the past couple of months:

Cancer Preventing Properties of Cruciferous Vegetables, a free full-text review article (PDF)

The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide, an open access, comprehensive database

Another reason to eat your beets: Nitrate in beetroot juice lowers blood pressure (original research article)

A recent, comprehensive review on dietary sodium & hypertension:  Blood Pressure Canada's background paper (PDF)

Salt Mountains, a compelling if not startling infographic on the prevalence of sodium in processed foods

How to cut down on sodium? Blood Pressure Canada says "Eat freshhhh!" and provides professional resources & educational tools on sodium on their well designed, informative web site.

Osteoporosis Canada recently released  new Vitamin D guidelines. 

After I read a thoughtful article on dietitians' roles in reducing food waste, on a whim I entered "don't waste food" into Google Images. The results included this classic poster from 1917: "Food - buy it with thought..."

Some further searching on "food waste" led to the excellent Love Food Hate Waste sites (main, Scotland, Wales, Australia). There's no Canadian version of this program -- yet -- but I'm hopeful.


I'll keep this list short, end here and give myself time to finish those other 4 posts. Perhaps I'll publish another one before the end of the summer, but the beans and beets take priority over words at this time of the season ;-).