Ten Foods to Eat Right Now

Ok, maybe not right now. Wait until you’ve read this blog post.

Recently, I had the privilege of being a guest of the Manitoba Canola Growers at the Manitoba Association of Home Economists conference. There was a ton of great information presented… and a little Tai Chi thrown in to get us off our butts… but the highlight for me was the presentation by Mairlyn Smith, the hands-down coolest (and funniest) professional Home Economist I know.

Mairlyn’s gave a talk about her top ten most awesomest foods that everyone (yes, including you) should be eating every day. Let’s see if I can name them all without checking my notes…

Ten Foods to Eat Right Now

1. Apples. Mairlyn says that if you can’t eat an apple a day, well, you’re a loser. I am proud (and relieved) to say that I eat, on average, six apples per week*. And I never peel them because, as Mairlyn reminded us, the peel is where all the antioxidants are concentrated. She also says that the white flesh of the apple is good for your heart. *This only makes me a loser one day per week. I can live with that. No, wait, I can’t.

2. Berries.  Mairlyn says that we should eat them every single day, but never out of season. What? How? Ok, ok. I admit that I have been guilty of buying the November Strawberry and the February Raspberry on more than one occasion… but, no more.  I am now only buying frozen Canadian berries to fill all of those long, lonely, berry-less months. (Next year, I am going to think ahead and freeze a winter’s worth while they’re available fresh in the market.)

Local Fresh Garden Raspberries

3. Mushrooms are the only plant-based sources of vitamin D, so eat up, Sunshine! Hot tip: mushrooms must be cooked for bio-availability, so sauté, steam, bake, stew, and roast for maximum benefit. Inspired by Mairlyn’s talk, I threw some lovely creminis in my veggie soup this week. Pow!

Mairlyn Smith's Marinated Mushrooms

4. Leafy greens, including “trendy” kale. I don’t know how leafy greens ever got a bad rap. Didn’t every little girl want Popeye’s biceps? No? Just me? Either way, load up your basket with kale, spinach, chard, or, as I did this week, fresh rapini and baby kale.

5. Orange fruits and vegetables. Do I have to list them, or is that pretty self-explanatory? (Hint: they are all a certain colour.) I am a huge fan of carrots (ask me about the time I turned myself orange), squash and sweet potatoes, so this one is a no-brainer for me. I added some cute little oranges to my basket this week, too. ‘tis the season!

Citrus Fruits; Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit.

6. Onions and garlic. Stay healthy and vampire free! Mairlyn shared this awesome tip with us on Saturday – to get the maximum benefit from your garlic, let it stand for about 5-10 mins after you chop your garlic and let it oxidize before adding to your recipe. (And eat raw, when possible, in salad dressings and salsas.)

7. Fatty fish, like salmon (my favourite), is chock full of Omega-3s which promote heart and brain health, help to reduce inflammation, and can aid in lowering cholesterol. Here’s my rather unscientific, but nevertheless logical logic – we know that fish are smart (they spend all their time in
schools) and fish eat fish. Therefore, eating fish is a smart thing to do.

Salmon cakes with lemon yogurt sauce | www.canolaeatwell.com

8. Beans, beans, beans. Eat lots… and own your farts. Beans are an extremely economical source of nutrition and form the basis of many a healthy diet. Among their many virtues, beans are high in both insoluble, which keeps things moving, and (woot woot) soluble fibre, which binds with water to form a gel that fills you up and blocks the absorption of cholesterol. Talk about bang for your buck!

9. Oats and barley. I eat oats for breakfast approximately 359 days/year. Out of habit, or a bizarre fear of high-cholesterol, or maybe because I just like ’em. For one thing, they are a great way to start the day because they keep me feeling full for hours, thanks to that soluble fibre (see above)! Mairlyn recommends steel-cut oats because they are less processed (and therefore harder to digest) than, say, rolled oats.

10. Nuts are nutrient-rich and a great source of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fibre. Pre- or post-workout, I eat almonds for their protein and calcium, but I am careful not to go, uh, nuts on them.  As Mairlyn says, a serving of shelled nuts should fit in a closed fist.

11. Canola Oil No, I have not messed up my counting. Canola oil is on the list because you can’t make a list like this without mentioning it. Even before I met the Lovely Ladies of Canola, Canola was my go-to oil. Even before my fella announced that olive oil was “yucky”, Canola was my… well, you get the picture. It’s heart healthy, full of Omega 3s and, gosh-darn it, it’s one of the prettiest crops out there. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

Eat Well…Rebecca

To make a healthy stir-fry and incorporate all of Mairlyn Smith’s top foods to live by is easy.  This Asian-inspired stir-fry uses 9 of the 11 ingredients directly in the stir-fry.

To incorporate them all, make sure to eat the berries for dessert and cook the salmon separately in the oven or on the grill and serve it on the side with the stir-fry and pot barley.

The only food that is missing are the beans.  You can always add a can of lentils or white beans, drained and rinsed into the stir-fry.  Add them with the apples and bok choy.

The Stir-fry for Maximum Health

Marilyn Smith Top 10 stirfry | www.canolaeatwell.com


2 Tbsp canola oil (30 mL)
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges (1 )
2 garlic cloves, minced (2 )
1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed,  250 mL
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 firm apples, cut into matchsticks
1/2 lbs bok choy, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces 250 g
½ cup low sodium chicken broth 125 mL
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce 30 mL
1 Tbsp freshly grated gingerroot 15 mL
1 tsp hot sauce 5 mL
2 tsp cornstarch 10 mL
2 Tbsp chopped cashews
2 cups cooked pot barley


1.  Heat a wok or large saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms and carrots until soften.
2.  In small bowl or cup, mix together chicken broth, soy sauce, ginger, hot sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.
3.  If needed, add more canola oil. Add apple and bok choy. Stir fry for about 3 minutes..
4.  Add chicken broth mixture to wok or large saucepan. Cook and stir for about 1 minute.
5. Sprinkled cashews over stir-fry and serve over barley.

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