Busting Food Myths

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

  1. MYTH: Cooking meals at home just takes too much time.

With longer commute times than ever before, it seems like we have less and less time to cook. But, the truth is, that in the time it takes to have a pizza delivered, you can put together a great meal in your kitchen.

Here are some winning strategies you can share with your clients:

  • Post your five favourite quick meal ideas on the fridge (for example, a grilled cheese sandwich and soup). This will help when you’re at a loss for what to eat.
  • Once a month, cook a big batch of a meal you love (chili or curry) and freeze the extra portions. Simply reheat to enjoy “cook’s night off” once a week for the rest of the month.
  • Cook once, eat twice. Prepare extra dinner ingredients and use them the next day. For example, extra veggies can go into a frittata and extra fish can be used in tacos.

Good to know: Clients often ask their fitness professionals for meal plans, but different taste preferences, cooking skills, and budgets make it nearly impossible to create a one-size-fits-all plan. Instead, help your clients build their menu planning skills. Here’s a great tool to get started:

7 Steps for Quick and Easy Menu Planning

  1. MYTH: Organic food is more nutritious.

The choice to eat organic food is a personal one. In terms of nutrition and food safety, there is no compelling evidence that foods produced using organic farming methods are different than non-organic foods produced with conventional farming methods.

Reassure your clients that farmers follow best practices to manage problems with weeds, insects, and fungi in their crops. Sometimes this means using pesticides, which are tools designed to help farmers safely deter or manage pests. Whether they’re used in organic or conventional food production, all crop protection products are regulated by Health Canada, and solid scientific evidence proves they are safe for humans and the environment.

Good to know: A far more pressing priority is to help Canadians fill half their plates with veggies and fruits, regardless of how they’re grown. You can direct your clients to Half Your Plate for tips and recipes, and to Pesticide Facts for more information about pesticides.

  1. MYTH: Food is expensive in Canada.

Canadians pay some of the lowest food prices in the world. In fact, our food has never been as affordable, safe or nutritious as it is today. A major reason for this is that farmers use plant biotechnology and pesticides to grow food, without which we would pay an additional $4,000 per family for groceries each year. (For those living with food insecurity, the problem to fix is low income, not food costs.)

Good to know: The most expensive food is the food we waste – about 40% per household! To curb food waste, advise clients to start their grocery shopping at home. Plan meals with what’s on hand and then make a list to fill in the gaps. The main cause of food waste is buying too much, so buy only what you can use before it spoils.

  1. MYTH: It’s better to choose non-GMO foods.

Putting a non-GMO label on food is a marketing choice; it has nothing to do with the food’s safety or nutritional value. Genetically modified foods are safe. There is a global scientific consensus, with organizations including Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, all agreeing there are zero health or safety concerns.

Good to know:  Thanks to plant science, we can keep importing papayas from Hawaii. The ringspot virus threatened to devastate the papaya crop until researchers studied the plant’s genes and determined how to modify them to make the plant resistant to the virus.

TIP: For a tropical fruit treat, try Papaya Mango Sorbet.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.


Protein Peanut Butter Powder Cookies

By | Nutrition

Even if you decide to achieve your fitness goals and eat healthier, that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up indulging in a sweet treat every now and again. Sure, having a sugar-packed chocolate bar every day isn’t going to do you any favors if you’re trying to watch your diet, but cutting it out of your life completely can sometimes mean that you’re only going to end up craving it more.

Believe it or not, you can sometimes make little sweet treats quite a bit healthier by switching up the ingredients. While that doesn’t mean it’s going to be exactly the same as the original thing, you may find that you actually even prefer it. Little ingredient swaps actually can go a long way.

The main thing that catches people out when it comes to simple snacks is the amount of sugar that they contain. In some cases – brands will add extra sugar to their products just to try and make them taste better, but all it really does is make the product unhealthier. In this recipe, we’ve recreated peanut butter cookies without actually using processed peanut butter that contains artificial sweeteners and additives. Instead, we’ve revolved the recipe around making use of a natural peanut butter powder which only contains one ingredient! If you’re a fan of peanut butter snacks, but you’re watching your sugar intake at the same time, then this is the perfect recipe to try out!

Peanut butter powder has a lot of benefits and, while regular peanut butter can be good for getting in a quick dose of protein and fat, it can get in the way of your fitness goals if you consume too much of it. Peanut butter powder, however, contains fewer calories, provides energy, contains a much lower amount of fat and it’s much easier to mix into recipes or shakes.

For this recipe, we’ve decided to use Naked Nutrition’s Naked PB, which is an excellent substitute for processed peanut butter. Naked PB is made exclusively from peanuts that are grown on US farms and the peanuts are pressed to remove fat and oil. As well as having no artificial sweeteners or flavors, each batch is third-party tested for heavy metals. The only ingredient in Naked PB is peanuts – meaning that you’re getting completely pure peanut powder.

This recipe focuses on creating a new type of peanut butter cookies that are more health conscious but still pack a great flavor.


  • ½ cup non-fat yogurt, unflavored
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 scoops of Naked PB
  • 2 tbsps. of brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats


  1. Preheat the oven and grease a baking tray in preparation.
  2. Then, add the Naked PB, sugar, yogurt, and egg white to a large bowl. Mix the ingredients all together until a batter-like paste forms.
  3. Fold the oats into the mixture to evenly combine the ingredients.
  4. Place small teaspoon sized balls onto the baking tray, and then use a fork to flatten them down.
  5. Allow them to bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350F.
  6. Take them out of the oven, allow them to cool down, and enjoy!

PB Cookie Protein Bites

By | Nutrition

When you’re in a rush and you don’t have all that much time to whip up a quick meal to have on-the-go, it’s crucial to have healthy snacks readily available. This is especially important if you’re trying to achieve any particular fitness goals, considering snacking between meals can majorly jeopardize your progress.

However, that still doesn’t mean that you should go hungry. If you ignore your hunger cues when you’re feeling peckish by not having a snack, then you might end up even hungrier and snacking on foods full of sugar. It’s important to listen to your body, but also to be aware of how you’re fuelling it. Some people find that, if they don’t prepare meals or snacks beforehand, then they end up grabbing the closest thing available – whether that be a chocolate bar or a packet of chips. Though, it’s also understandable that you want to enjoy what you’re eating, rather than having to choke it down just for the health benefits.

These PB Cookie Protein Bites are the perfect mixture of being both delicious and providing nutrition. As you only need a handful of ingredients to make these snack bites, they’re quick and easy to make, meaning you don’t have to worry about being in the kitchen for long. The key ingredient to these protein bites is, of course, the source of protein – which mainly comes from premium brown rice protein powder.

Rice protein powder is one of the different types of protein powder that is highly recommended when it comes to supplementing your protein intake as it’s been found to have similar benefits to whey. Usually, it’s not packed full of calories, but it is very high in protein per serving, as well as being vegan friendly. It’s also incredibly versatile, allowing you to use it in all different types of recipes to suit your own individual tastes.

For this recipe, we’ve chosen to use Naked Nutrition’s Naked Rice protein powder which is made exclusively from organic sprouted whole grain brown rice. To ensure the quality of the protein, Naked Rice is made using a hexane-free extraction process to ensure the protein powder has an excellent amino acid profile. Naked Rice is made from only one ingredient and doesn’t contain any harmful additives, artificial sweeteners or flavors. Each batch of the product is also third-party tested for both melamine and heavy metals!

With the aid of this rice protein powder, these protein bites are an excellent way to satisfy your hunger and get in your daily protein at the same time!


  • ¼ cup of peanut butter (ideally natural peanut butter)
  • 2 scoops of Naked Rice
  • ¼ cup of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsps. of chocolate chips


As these protein balls don’t require baking, they’re super simple to make.

  1. Grab a medium sized bowl and add in the scoops of rice protein powder. Then add in the peanut butter and the honey or maple syrup and mix until they are well combined. Throw in the chocolate chips and mix them in as well.
  2. Roll the relatively thick dough into small round balls – you’ll be able to make about 10 balls from one batch. That’s it! You can store the protein balls in the fridge for a few days – but it’s best to consume them within a couple of days.

Clients Feeling Zapped of Energy?

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

Iron is needed to carry oxygen to our cells.

Restrict the amount of oxygen to our cells, and it’s easy to see why going all out in a workout, (or even mustering up enough energy to get there in the first place), can be a challenge for your fitness participants and clients.

Good to know: Low energy and pale skin are classic signs of low iron. Other signs are less obvious: shortness of breath, irritability, headaches, susceptibility to infections – even brain “fog” and heart palpitations.

It’s not just elite “athletes” who are at risk for low iron.

Adolescent girls and adult women are at risk for low iron, especially those who workout regularly and intensely. The risk increases with:

  • poor eating habits
  • energy restricted diets
  • long distance running (foot-strike hemolysis)
  • vegetarian or vegan diets
  • heavy menstrual flow
  • frequent blood donation
  • poor iron absorption (i.e., celiac disease, cancer)

Good to know:  Vegetarians need to eat twice as much iron as non-vegetarians because the iron in plant foods is not absorbed as well by the body compared to animal foods. Athletes at greatest risk may need to be screened regularly for iron deficiency. Reversing iron deficiency can take three to six months, so prevention is key.

How much iron do we need?

AgeAim for (mg/d)*
Men 19 and older/ Women 50+8 mg/day
Women 19-5018 mg/day

Good to know: Data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey found the diets of 12-18% of Canadian women (14 – 50 years of age) were too low in iron. Given that female athletes may need up to 70% more iron than recommended, it’s likely that this percentage underestimates the prevalence of low iron amongst female athletes.

*Male and female athletes at greatest risk for low iron should aim for more than these amounts. A registered dietitian can provide individualized advice.

Not all food sources of iron are created equal.

Heme-iron from animal foods such beef, poultry, and seafood is 10 to 15 times more easily absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant foods such as extra-firm tofu, fortified pasta, Cream of Wheat, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and spinach.

For example, beef is one of the richest sources of iron, with a 100 g serving (deck of cards sized) providing 19% of our recommended daily intake for iron and it’s also heme iron, which is very well absorbed by the body.

Bottom line: Plant and animal sourced foods have different health benefits, so including a mix of both is ideal for general overall good health.

Food Sources of Iron

Animal food sources of iron      (75 g, cooked) Amount of heme-iron (mg)


Beef liver4.9
Beef, various cuts1.4-3.3
Lean ground beef2.1
Tuna, light, canned in water1.2
Chicken, various cuts0.4- 2.0
Pork, various cuts0.5-1.5
Turkey, various cuts0.3-0.8
Lean ground chicken/turkey0.7-0.8


Plant food sources of iron (cooked) Amount of non-heme iron (mg)
Cream of Wheat, instant, ¾ cup3.0
Lentils, ½ cup3.5
Firm/extra firm tofu, 150 g2.4
Kidney beans, ½ cup2.1
Edamame, ½ cup1.9-2.4
Nuts, ¼ cup (cashews, almonds, pistachio nuts)1.3-2.2
Dried apricots, ¼ cup1.6
Hummus, ¼ cup1.4
Enriched pasta, ½ cup1.3
Raw spinach, 1 cup0.9

Good to know: Adding some meat to meals can boost the amount of iron from plant sources by a whopping 150%. Adding vitamin C-rich foods to meals (tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus) helps with iron absorption too. A bean and beef chili made with tomatoes makes for a tasty combination meal that optimizes iron uptake.

Take a food-first approach to getting enough iron.

Routine, unmonitored iron supplementation is not recommended. Iron supplements can be costly, as well as causing nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

Be wary of supplements claiming, “Excellent source of plant-based iron” – while this may be true, the amount of iron absorbed by the body may not be adequate to meet needs.

If supplements are needed, a health care provider can recommend the type, dose, and timing to meet needs while easing any discomfort.

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.


Essentials of Winter Nutrition With Dee Miller

By | Nutrition

PRO TRAINER Dee Miller discusses the importance of eating healthy in the winter, as well as the vitamins and nutrients you need. Plus, some great foods that you should try!

In this episode

2:00 -  Challenges with eating healthy in the winter

3:00 – The best foods to eat in the winter that you can get at any grocery store

5:00 – The importance of getting vitamin D

6:00 – Food sources of vitamin D

8:00 – Other vitamins you need to get in the winter

9:00 – A better way to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables

10:00 – How Personal Trainers can help their clients to eat healthy in the winter

Find out more about the Healthy Eating & Weight Loss coach course!

About Dee Miller

canfitpro PRO TRAINER Dee Miller is a sought-after speaker and educator regularly presenting at canfitpro conferences, as well as a being a continuing education provider for canfitpro. Dee has written two Healthy Eating Cookbooks, with her third coming out this summer. Connect with Dee through her website, FB@Dee Miller and Instagram protrainerdee.

Chinese New Year Medley

By | Nutrition

By The Popcorn Board

Celebrate Chinese New Year on January 25th; also know as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, with a bowl of savoury popcorn. High in fiber, popcorn is a whole grain that is 100 percent unprocessed with no additional additives, hidden ingredients, or GMOs.


  • 6 cups popped popcorn
  • 2 cups Oriental rice cracker mix
  • 3 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger (may vary to taste)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil (may vary to taste)


  1. Mix popcorn and rice cracker mix together in a large bowl.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter on HIGH until melted, about 20 seconds.  Stir in soy sauce, ginger and oil.
  3. Drizzle over popcorn mixture; toss.
  4. Spread mixture on a baking sheet and bake in a 300° F oven for 20 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Allow to cool, serve or store in airtight container.

Forks Up for Canadian Ag Day!

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

February 11th is Canada’s Agricultural Day, the one time we all get to raise a fork and thank farmers – the less than 2% of the population – who feed the rest of us.

Five Facts about Canadian Agriculture

  1. No two farms in Canada are alike. They vary in size and how they farm, but the one thing most have in common is that they are family-owned, (97%). It’s not uncommon to see three generations all working the land together.

Good to know: Farms should not be judged based on their size. Small and large farms both have the same goals: to care for the land and their animals, and produce high quality food.

  1. Farming, like any other field, leverages innovations in science and technology to improve practices. Phone apps give alerts if the temperature in the barn drops and a GPS allows farmers to precisely apply pesticides to make sure they do not overlap on the field.

Good to know: For an unfiltered glimpse into the daily lives of Canadian farms, check out Real Farm Lives, a documentary series.

  1. Without plant science innovations (pesticides and plant biotechnology), Canada would need to farm almost 50% more land to grow the same amount of food – equivalent to the combined land base of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI. The end result is a much smaller environmental footprint.

Good to know: Farmers generally don’t yearn for the nostalgic “olden days farming” where food quality and crop yields were more unpredictable and environmental awareness was low.

  1. Farmers scrutinize innovations before adopting them on their farm and there is worldwide consensus among many highly reputable organizations that genetically modified organism (GMO) technology produces food that is safe for humans and the environment.

Good to know: Farmers are not going to invest in practices that will compromise their safety, the productivity of their land or the quality of food they produce. Let’s remember, their own families live on the farm and eat the food they produce. It’s a myth that farmers are forced into decisions about what and how to farm.

  1. Thanks to farmers’ continual commitment to improving practices, our food has never been safer, more high-quality, or as affordable as is it today.

Good to know: Canadians on average spend only about $0.10 of every dollar on food.

Find out more about Canadian Agriculture:

Canadian Food Focus

Best Food Facts

Canada’s Agriculture Day

FREE Farm to Food Cookbook

Real Dirt on Farming

About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.


Cranberry Brie Bites

By | Nutrition

GoodLife Kitchen by GoodLife Fitness

Yields 20 servings

Prep: 15 mins

Cook: 25 mins


  • 1 wheel brie cheese
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 tube Pillsbury crescent dough
  • 1 package fresh sage

Quick Tip:

Let the bites cool before trying to remove them from the muffin tin.

Equipment Needed:

Measuring cups and spoons, silicone muffin tin, knife, cutting board, pizza cutter, rolling pin, and parchment paper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.Open the crescent dough onto some parchment paper, fold it over on to itself and cover the top with parchment.Roll the dough slightly with a rolling pin to create an even layer.
  1. Cut the dough into 20 squares with a pizza cutter.Spray the muffin tin with coconut oil and place one square of pizza dough in the bottom of each circle.
  1. Cut the wheel of brie into 20 pieces and place on top of the dough.Add 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce on top of each piece of brie.Top with a tiny sprig of sage on each dollop of cranberry sauce.
  1. Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough has risen and is golden brown.Remove the brie bites from the oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes before removing them from the muffin pan.

Serve and enjoy!

Nutritional Information

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 71
  • Carbs: 7g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 2g

Reality Check on Saturated Fat Consumption

By | Nutrition

By Carol Harrison, RD

The message to limit saturated fat in our diets may be well ingrained, but it’s time to update our dietary advice: the fact is that the most recent national survey of what Canadians are eating aligns exactly with current recommendations to get 10% of calories from saturated fat.

Unintended consequences of further reductions in saturated fat

Continued efforts to get Canadians to reduce their saturated fat intake could have unintended consequences. While a major source of saturated fat in the Canadian diet is calorie-rich, nutrient-poor ultra-processed food (i.e. baked goods, packaged prepared food), many Canadians still associate meat and dairy with saturated fat. Further restrictions of these foods could limit intakes of essential nutrients such as zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron, especially concerning for growing children and women.

Good to know: intakes of meat and dairy have declined over the last few decades. Today’s reality – all fresh red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) accounts for just 5% of the calories in Canadian diets, arguably a modest amount.

Focus on what matters- dietary patterns

Understandably, fitness participants can be fixated on nutrients such as saturated fat – after all, health professionals have spent a few decades hammering home a nutrient approach to dietary advice – but overwhelmingly, research is pointing to the need to switch gears and address overall dietary patterns. Here’s why:

With over 50% of our calories now coming from ultra-processed foods, it’s pretty easy to see where we’ve strayed. The biggest and most detrimental change to our diets over the last few decades has been the replacement of foundational foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, beans, nuts, beef, milk, lentils, cheese, fish), with ultra-processed foods (baked goods, pop, hot dogs, frozen pizza, candy).

Good to know: The Heart and Stroke Foundation, in their position paper on saturated fat, goes as far as to say that, ”the overall quality of one’s diet, combined with the types and quantity of food, have more impact on health than any single nutrient such as saturated fat.”

Champion the Food Guide “Eat Well Plate”

Click here to view the full image.

The single best advice for most Canadians is to focus on tweaking their plates to be more in line with the Food Guide “Eat Well Plate”.

Providing your clients with how-to strategies to achieve this may very well be the most straightforward and practical advice they’ve heard in a long time!

Good to know: Studies have shown an 11% reduction in heart attack or stroke for each serving of vegetables and fruit added per day.


About Carol Harrison

Carol Harrison is a registered dietitian who loves her daily workouts! She has a food nutrition communications company in Toronto. Follow Carol on Twitter and Instagram.


Mexican-Style Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

By | Nutrition

By Fresh n’ Lean 

Lots of healthy ingredients like quinoa, black beans, and veggies packed into portobello mushroom cups. This dish can be successfully served as a main or appetizer. Tastes great topped with mashed avocado and a side of crispy corn nachos. They’re fun looking, colourful, and always a huge crowd pleaser. Rich in flavour and ready to be served in less than 30 minutes!

Total time: 25 minutes

Makes 4 mushroom cups = 2 mains or 4 appetizers


  •  4 portobello mushroom cups
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ of a red onion, diced
  • ½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • ½ cup black beans, canned, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup sweet corn, canned, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Arrange mushrooms on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, remove stems and gills from mushroom cups and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a deep skillet. Add onions, bell pepper, and jalapenos. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until cooked through, but still a bit crunchy.
  3. Remove skillet from the heat. Add quinoa, black beans, sweet corn, salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Mix to combine.
  4. Stuff mushroom cups with quinoa black bean filling. Bake at 375F for 12 minutes, top with shredded cheddar, return to oven and broil for 2 minutes.
  5. Add avocado, salt, pepper and lemon juice to a bowl or deep plate. Mash with a fork. Serve on top of stuffed mushrooms.

About Fresh n’ Lean

5 Step Chef recipes by Fresh n’ Lean. Minimal recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Perfect for busy lifestyles and lazy cooks. Visit their website