As we embrace the new year, we are faced with resolutions for change. After overindulging with family and friends, the chance for a new beginning is welcome. The time to sink our teeth into achieving these goals couldn’t be better.
Living a healthier lifestyle is not all about numbers on a scale; it’s about health for life and feeling good about your body. Of course, exercise is essential to the overall success of healthy living, but research shows it’s the change in diet that offers the body superior benefits. Much nutritional acclaim has recently been given to the consumption of “superfoods”; that is, foods that are naturally occurring, calorie sparse and that have high nutritional content.
Imagine something available at your supermarket that is powerful enough to help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and, as a topper, put you in a better mood. A healthy diet incorporating a variety of superfoods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease and live longer.
One thing these foods all have in common is that they are not processed. Some examples of these foods are beans/lentils, blueberries, broccoli, oats, pumpkin, trout/salmon, spinach, onions/leeks, black beans, tea, tomatoes, walnuts, kale, quinoa, herbs, garlic, hot peppers, cinnamon, acai and cocoa. Try making these ingredients the staples of your diet and the bulk of the items in your refrigerator and pantry, and it won’t be long before you reap the incredible health benefits that these superfoods can provide.
The effect that diet can have on how you feel today and in the future is astounding. Our profession is demanding, and it affects every system in our bodies. From exerting ourselves in extreme heat conditions, to job-associated cancers, to the effects of shift work, we should take every measure available to ensure our bodies and minds can withstand not only our careers but also our lives beyond the firehouses.
A simple change in diet to incorporate these superfoods is a small tweak that even the healthiest of us can make to ensure that we all have long, health and happy lives.
I have included breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes to kick-start the change for a healthier you!
Super steel-cut oats with berries and dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 tbsp raw sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup crushed walnuts
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- ¼ cup dark chocolate shavings ( must be 70 per cent or more cocoa)
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the oats and stir continuously until they smell nice and nutty, about three minutes.
- Add three cups water, the almond milk, brown sugar and salt. Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the oats from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the lid and stir in the walnuts blueberries and chocolate. Cover again and cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring on occasion, until the oats are soft and creamy.
Grilled trout with clementine quinoa salad
- 3 clementines
- 8 thin slices fresh ginger
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup quinoa
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
- ½ tsp kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, minced (with seeds for maximum heat, if preferred)
- 2 green onions (both white and green parts), minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- ½ cup black beans, rinsed
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds skinless, centre-cut trout fillet, cut into 2-inch cubes
- steel skewers
- Peel two of the three clementines, reserving the peel and segments separately.
- Warm the clementine peels, ginger and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the oil starts to bubble, after about two minutes, remove from heat. Set the oil aside to steep while you prepare the rest of the dish. Strain and reserve the oil.
- Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a bowl and drain. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with the vegetable stock and half-teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Set aside off the heat for five minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork.
- Juice the third clementine over a medium bowl – there should be roughly two tablespoons. Whisk the clementine juice with the vinegar, honey and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in three tablespoons of the reserved clementine oil then season with pepper to taste.
- Toss quinoa with the dressing, jalapeno, green onions, shallots, black beans and cilantro. Slice the reserved clementine segments in half and add them to the salad. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- For the trout, preheat a stovetop or outdoor grill to high heat. Thread the trout cubes onto the metal skewers. Season the trout skewers with salt and pepper, and brush with the remaining clementine oil. Grill the skewers, turning as each side browns, but the trout is still moist, about three minutes per side. Place trout skewers on top of quinoa salad and enjoy!
|Photo BY Patrick Mathieu
Super greens and aged cheddar soup
- 1 ½ pounds broccoli
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced leek
- freshly ground pepper and sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup packed spinach
- 1 cup chopped packed kale
- 2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- 1 cup aged white cheddar, shredded
- Cut the broccoli florets from the stems and roughly chop the stems into half-inch pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onion, celery and broccoli stems. Lower the heat to medium, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables slowly until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer.
- Add the thyme and stir. Add the broccoli florets, spinach, kale, stock, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are very tender.
- Puree the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Add the aged cheddar one handful at a time, stirring constantly to incorporate it. Add the lemon zest and chili flakes and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Patrick Mathieu is a 13-year veteran of Waterloo Fire Rescue,
where he is acting captain. He has won several cooking competitions and
has helped raise thousands of dollars for charities by auctioning
gourmet dinners at the fire hall. Contact him at