Food Forward at Queen’s University

Forward Food at Queen’s University

Over reading week, 19 of our chefs here at Queen’s University took part in a two-day plant-based culinary training called Forward Food. I joined in on the fun as well! Check out our smiling faces ↓

This event, led by Executive Chef, Wanda White through the Humane Society International was the first to take place in Ontario and the second in Canada. However, this program is not new! Chef Wanda, who opened the first vegan dining hall in North America at the University of North Texas, has provided this training over 100 times in the United States.

The chefs at Queen’s prepared multiple dishes with a variety of plant proteins, grains, vegetables and spices. There was so much flavour! In fact, this was a common comment among the chefs. They were impressed with how easy it was to make tasty plant-based foods without making a ton of changes to a typical recipe. During the round table discussion on the second day of training, one chef commented “there is more than one way to cook a potato”.  Our Executive Chef, Colin Johnson, was proud that his team embraced this new challenge and noted it as a great team building exercise.

Here’s a couple of recipes our fabulous team created:



Although these new recipes are void of any animal-based products, they are intended for more than the vegan population here at Queen’s University. In fact, we could all benefit from including more plant-based foods into our lifestyle – hence “Meatless Mondays” at Leonard Hall! In addition to the environmental benefits, plant proteins are packed with fibre, protein and nutrients and are naturally low in saturated fat (the type of fat we want to limit). Basically, they are great for our health! When going meatless, be sure to incorporate a plant protein source. Protein is essential for our muscles and red blood cells. Common sources include:

This training came at just the right time with the Queen’s Vegan Pledge right around the corner! Currently, we offer a vegan and vegetarian dish everyday for lunch and dinner at each of our dining halls on campus. However, with this Forward Food training, our chefs will be able to shake things up a bit. Hospitality Services is supporting those taking the vegan pledge by increasing our signage on vegan friendly foods. Look for these symbols in retail and dining halls:


Also check out Hospitality Services webpage for an extensive list of vegan options already offered on campus:


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Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating

University is a busy time. When life gets busy, time is often stretched between different activities. Class, study, sleep, social life, eating, exercise, tv watching, the list goes on! Unfortunately, food can become a lower priority for some. I want to introduce a relatively new but great concept that can apply to anyone: Mindful Eating! This is also a great conversation to start with Bell Let’s Talk campaign on January 31st.Mindful eating means there are no restrictions placed on food. Instead, it’s about being present in the moment and listening to your internal hunger, fullness and satiety cues. Paying attention to these cues will ultimately guide your eating without judgement and lead to a healthy relationship with food.

You hear that? Ditch the food rules! Research suggests that being more mindful has decreased stress levels and improved quality of life. Great news!

Some methods of eating mindfully that are mentioned in the literature include:

  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. If you feel hungry, eat. If you feel full, stop.
  • Slow down. I know you’re a very busy student, but everyone deserves a break. Chew slowly, savour your food, take breaks while you eat. Wait 20 minutes before going for seconds to determine if your body is still hungry. You may find two bites of chocolate is more than enough when you do this.
  • Eat away from distractions. This includes your computer and Netflix. Take time for your meals and enjoy every bite! Try eating with friends and practice being mindful together.
  • Remove judgement. Avoid putting labels like “good” or “bad” on foods. You know what you like and dislike. Enjoy mindful portions of what you like (including a cookie!) without judgement. This goes for exercise too. Find a physical activity you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to do something you hate.
  • Be aware. This one is for mindless eating. Some eat out of boredom, others eat out of sadness to the point of feeling completely overfull. Pay attention to these habits and focus on mindful strategies.

Here’s a picture of me enjoying a small delicious chocolate bar mindfully. Yes, dietitians eat chocolate too 😊


P.S. If you’re looking to eat ice cream mindfully, hospitality services recently moved it to the dessert station in Leonard!

If you are interested in learning more about mindful eating, book a free one-on-one nutrition appointment with me, your friendly campus dietitian.



Mathieu, J. What should you know about mindful and intuitive eating. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(12):1982-87


Harris, C. Mindful eating – studies show this concept can help clients lose weight and better manage chronic disease. Todays Dietitian. 2013;15(3):42. Retrieved from


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A Healthy Start To 2018

A Healthy Start to 2018


Welcome back everyone!

It is officially a new year, new semester and, some may say “new you”. For many, January often includes New Year’s Resolutions. After overindulging during your December exams and then over the holidays (hello seconds and baked goods, am I right?), many will be looking to shed some pounds this semester.  If that’s the case, let’s talk about starting 2018 off right. Rather than starting a diet with an expiration date, why not develop a healthy lifestyle that will last forever?

You can start this by creating small achievable SMART goals that work for you.

For successful goals, they should be:


Specific: This means pinpointing what change you’ll make, how you’ll do it and when you’ll start. Do you want to start running on the treadmill? Or what about eating breakfast?


Measurable: Your goal should specify how often or how much you’ll do this behaviour. This should be a concrete number, so you can keep track of your progress. For example, eating at least 1 green vegetable for dinner every night this week.


Action-Oriented: Choose a goal that requires you to change a behaviour that is within your control. This will ensure a concrete plan of attack, so your goal becomes reality.  Eating breakfast everyday requires you to do something. Wishing for a set of abs isn’t quite as clear.


Realistic:  Choose a small goal that is realistic, so you are sure to complete it. You don’t want to set a goal that will discourage you, like losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Eating breakfast sounds easier.


Time-Bound: Each goal should have an end date to determine if you achieved it or not. This could be as simple as “by the end of the week” to start. When you complete one goal, you can then set a new one.


Sounds easy right? Here’s an example of a SMART goal to get started if you were skipping breakfast before:


“Everyday this week, I will eat breakfast according to the healthy plate model

(protein like ¼ cup nuts, grain like oatmeal, fruit like a banana).
I wrote about the healthy plate model in October, if you’re interested!


This goal works because it is specific to breakfast, you can measure it (everyday), it’s realistic, and it has a clear end date (end of the week).


Psst: Do you want to try something new for breakfast? We just launched some new grab n go breakfast items including a Green Gael Smoothie (it has kale!), a greek yogurt berry parfait AND overnight oats!


If you need help starting your new lifestyle, I’m here to help! Contact to book a free nutrition appointment with me (Jessica), your campus dietitian.

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Fighting the Flu

It’s about that time of year again, folks! It’s when you hear sniffles and coughs in the quiet library or during your midterm. The time of year when all you want to do is curl up in your bed with a hot drink and watch Netflix (okay maybe not the hot drink with this 20 degree weather). Catching a cold during the school year is bad news. It can make it harder to pay attention in class or study for your upcoming exams. I’m here to pass on some helpful tips to kick that cold to the curb.

A little recap to start:

The best way to prevent a cold or flu is to make your immune system strong. Here’s how:

#1: Wash your hands. Did you know the cold virus can live on surfaces for HOURS? I’m talking cell phones, door knobs, pens, you name it.

#2: Get enough sleep. If you sleep less than 7 hours regularly, you are putting yourself at risk of catching that cold! Aim for 8-9 hours every night. Start studying early so you don’t have to pull all-nighters, my friends.

#3: Load up on your fruits, veggies and protein. This means eat according to the healthy plate model that I talked about last month: ½ plate veggies, ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate starchy foods.

#4: Exercise regularly. This can also reduce your stress levels, which weakens your immune system.

If you’re already sick, here are the next steps:

  • Have a hot drink. This means hot water, tea, soups and broth which will help your sore throat.
  • Eat some chicken soup! Research has shown that it improves some of the common cold symptoms. Mom was right, I guess. Did you know Leonard dining hall serves chicken noodle at lunch and dinner every day? Try adding some extra veggies to boost the benefits.
  • Many studies suggest 2000mg Vitamin C per day may reduce the length of a cold. You can take a supplement, or just eat raw fruits and veggies that are loaded with it!









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Choosing Healthy Meals on Campus

Choosing a healthy meal can be hard when there are so many options at your fingertips. That’s where I can help! My name is Jessica, the new registered dietitian here at Queen’s University!

I would like to introduce you to the eat well plate model: a handy tool that can help you at meals. I personally use this when I prepare or choose what I am going to eat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. This tool will help provide essential vitamins and nutrients alongside aiding in portion control.

Here’s the gist: Build your plate with ½ fruit / vegetables + ¼ starch + ¼ protein. Stick to fruit at breakfast and veggies at lunch and dinner. Check out the diagram below for examples!

A healthy diet includes a minimum 25g fibre per day for women and 38g for men – It keeps your bowels regular and keeps you feeling full for longer! If you’re interested in learning more, click here to read the article “Fibre is Your Friend”.

Now how do you use this model to navigate around campus? Well.. I’ve listed a few healthy choices below.

Ban Righ: The go to place for breakfast! They offer eggs (your protein), oatmeal (your whole grain) and a nice variety of fruit in the dining hall.

Leonard: The salad bar here is wonderful! You can easily load half your plate with vegetables. Add some dry tuna or boiled egg as a protein bonus. Did you also notice the grilled vegetables that are offered daily at the grill?

West Campus: Check out the deli! You can use your TAM’s at lunch for a sub + soup / salad + beverage combo. For a healthy plate, choose a whole wheat bun, add your protein and load up on veggies!

Some Extra Healthy Facts:

· The chefs use low sodium stock for soups across campus

· Sparkling water is offered around campus at the Q water stations – this can be a good alternative to soda drinks

· You can ask for sauce on the side

· The bakery produces 1800 whole wheat buns every week for the residence dining halls

· The dining halls serve only cage free eggs

Stay tuned for more healthy options coming your way!

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Ontario’s New Menu Labelling Legislation

Ontario’s New Menu Labelling Legislation: What do those calorie counts mean and what do you do with them?

(This is going to be a talk heavy post, but stay with me, there’s just so much to cover!)

You may have already noticed that major chain restaurants and outlets have posted calorie counts for meals and food items on their menu boards.  This is a result of the new legislation from the Ministry of Ontario that requires major food outlets to clearly post calorie counts on their menus as of January 1st, 2017.  You may have also noticed that your favourite spots to eat on campus are also included in this!

One of the primary goals of this legislation is to help consumers make informed choices about what they’re eating when they dine away from home.  With Canadians dining out more frequently for a variety of reasons, it became important to help individuals make informed decisions about their purchases.  In the past you could ask for a pamphlet or visit the organization’s website for nutritional information.  But that’s hard to do when you’re trying to make an informed choice about what to order in the middle of a McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s.

Research in places within the U.S. where calorie labelling had been mandated showed varied results about the effectiveness of posted calorie information.  Some evidence pointed to a reduction of calories purchased, while other studies showed that customers looked at information but didn’t necessarily change their purchases because of it.

Regardless, the legislation will add a little more transparency between major chains and their customers.  This may also lead restaurants to eventually make different recipes or update current recipes that are more calorie friendly.

Choosing what to eat can feel like a pressured filled moment.  In addition to calories, there is a lot of different things to consider with regard to food choice.  That’s why many different health associations urged that sodium counts also be included in the legislation.  Some associations also wanted to see public education programs so that consumers like yourself could better understand how to use the information.  Posted calorie amounts is a good start that will hopefully expand to include other nutritional information for the public to use.

So now that you know that’s it’s here, what should you do with this information?

  • What exactly is a calorie?


Firstly, we have to understand what a calorie is.  A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy.  Your body needs a certain number of calories a day to keep you running at your best.  The average adult needs about 2,000 calories a day.  However, the amount of calories your body needs per day will vary from person to person for a number of reasons such as, your activity level and your current health status.


  • Should I use calorie counts to make my decision?

Look at the calories, but don’t let it be the ‘be all and end all’ deciding factor.  Some foods that have great benefits for your body could be higher in calories than you might have thought.  But that doesn’t mean you should avoid them.


For example: avocados are full of heart healthy fats so they will likely be higher in calories than other fruits.  Whole grain bread is higher in calories than white bread.  Don’t let that sway you because whole grains are rich in fibre and other nutrients.  Another great example to consider is salmon.  We all know it’s full of those great omega-3 fatty acids and other good stuff for your body.  Because it’s a rich source of these fats, it may be higher in calories than its protein source counterparts like chicken and beef.  Does that mean you should avoid eating salmon?  Absolutely not.

  • That meal is higher in calories, should I still eat it?


Building off the last tip, if something is higher in calories than you think, try to take a quick second to think about what it’s offering.  Is it a fibre rich whole grain?  Is it full of healthy fats like olive oil in a balsamic vinaigrette?  Or is it deep fried?  Is it topped heavily with sauces?  If it’s the latter two, you may want to consider other options that are going fuel your body well.


  • I really want to eat that meal that has a high calorie count, what do I do?


Moderation, Balance, and Enjoyment.  We’ve all heard these words before but how do we apply them to our choices.  It is ok if you want to eat a calorie heavy meal.  The key is to eat those meals in moderation or to consider them ‘sometimes meals’.  Save those meals for every once and a while and balance your eating patterns with other great choices more often.


When you do eat a calorie rich meal (or when you eat any meal in fact) try to be mindful and enjoy what you’re eating.  Put aside the feelings of guilt that may pop up and enjoy the flavours of the meal in front of you.

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Making Friends with Fibre


Fibre is our friend, but apparently many Canadians are giving fibre the cold shoulder. Some of us only consuming about half of our fibre needs day to day. But fibre does a lot of great things for our bodies so I’m here to give some credit to our pal fibre. It’s more than just our grandparents’ Metamucil and bran buds.

Fibre is a found in plant based foods and is a carbohydrate that is not digestible by our bodies. There are two different types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. They have different roles to play but both are important.

Insoluble fibre is a friend to your digestive tract. It’s ‘duty’ (pun intended) is to keep things moving along and help keep you regular. Soluble fibre helps to lower cholesterol and control your blood sugar levels. Fibre has also been known to lower your risk of diseases like colon cancer and cardiovascular disease!


So if you’re someone who’s been putting your relationship with fibre on ice, well then hopefully I’ve now inspired you to rekindle that connection. Here’s some tips to get you started:

  • Load up on veggies and fruit and try to leave the skin on whenever possible. In the same vein, drinking fruits and vegetables means that you’re missing out on that good fibre, so eat your veggies instead of drinking them.
  • Plant proteins like legumes, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of fibre. Try adding them to your next salad.
  • Reach for whole grains more often. Opt for whole wheat wraps, breads, and buns when making sandwiches and choose whole wheat pasta when it’s available to you.
  • Practice safe fibre intake! It’s important to increase your fibre intake gradually and drink plenty of fluids to avoid those uncomfortable symptoms of gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

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To Be Gluten-Free, or Not To Be? That is the Question…


The gluten-free diet has become one of the trendiest diets of the time, even though only a small percentage of the Canadian population has Celiac disease – an autoimmune disease that causes serious damage to the individual’s intestinal system when gluten is ingested, making it very hard for their bodies to absorb nutrients from the food they eat. Individuals who have celiac disease need to adhere to a gluten free diet for life to avoid unwanted and uncomfortable digestive complications and long-term health consequences.

The sudden interest in a gluten free lifestyle could be due to the perceived health benefits of the diet, such as weight loss and improved digestive health, among many others. Not to mention the added promotional boost from some of our favourite celebs.  This increased attention has made a vast improvement to our awareness of other grain choices and the variety of gluten free options for those who need to follow a gluten free diet.  However, for the general population, following a gluten free diet doesn’t necessarily hold the answers to your health concerns.

There is little to no evidence out there to support weight loss from following a gluten free diet among the general population. There could be a couple of factors at play for those who have claimed to have lost weight after switching to a gluten free lifestyle.  These individuals have likely started being more thoughtful about what they’re putting on their plates.  Choosing refined carbohydrates and heavily processed items less often, and including whole foods such as, fruits, vegetables, and legumes more frequently.  Opting for these choices more often could lead to weight loss over time.  Another important point is that gluten free products are not always the ‘better’ option.  It’s always important to read nutrition labels, including labels on gluten free items because they could be higher in sugar, sodium, or fat.

Rolled oats (oat flakes) in a wooden spoon on a rolled oats background. Close-up.

Rolled oats (oat flakes) in a wooden spoon on a rolled oats background. Close-up.

If you’ve been considering going gluten free for the perceived health benefits, why not try being more mindful of your grain choices instead. Giving more consideration to your grain choices throughout the day will help you reap some great health benefits and keep your diet balanced and full of variety!  Try to incorporate some of these tips on campus or in your kitchens:



  • Reach for whole grains. They’re full of fibre, which is not only great for your digestive system, but also has heart benefits and may help you manage your weight.
  • Aim for variety with your grain choices. Have pasta or noodles at one meal, and then try an ancient grain like quinoa or barley for another.
  • Add healthy fats to your diet from foods likes nuts, seeds, oils, and avocados to help you manage the size of your grain portions throughout the day.
  • Make sure half your plate is filled with veggies to also help you regulate your grain portions and keep you well on track of your nutrition and wellness goals.


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