My First Nutrition Workshop: Organic vs Conventional & Eating the Rainbow

A day filled with pouring rain, lugging back over 50lbs of groceries from Whole Foods…. in my arms, madly cooking and preparing for my workshop…..

Turned into such a wonderful evening!

I delivered my first nutrition workshop as a nutrition graduate, to a lovely group of avid gardeners. We chatted about organic vs conventional foods and supplementing their organic harvest with protein, whole grains and eating the rainbow.

This was an outdoor workshop, so I was not exactly thrilled to look outside two hours before my workshop to see rain. Paper handouts and dry erase markers do not work in the rain, so I was hoping and wishing that it would stop!

I was met with a beautiful dry sunny evening and lovely company. The students made it such a wonderful experience, and they asked some challenging and thoughtful questions!

Is there more nutritional value in buying organic?

Unfortunately there is not enough evidence to prove that organic is better than its conventional counterpart in terms of vitamin and mineral content. One thing even I was surprised to know about organic produce, is that it tends to have more phytochemical power than conventional food items. Phytochemicals, are chemicals in the fruit and vegetables that give them their beautiful and distinct colours.

It turns out that seed varieties with higher phytochemical activity are better at resisting pests! Organic farmers choose these varieties for their crops, and end up with a more antioxidant rich product.

Of course, there are also many other factors to be considered, such as soil nutrient content, temperature, light, planting and harvesting time and freshly picked vs sitting on a retail shelf.

Buying organic is an expensive personal choice, but if you can afford it, I say buy it. There are so many other benefits to eating organic other than just a tendency to be higher in antioxidants. But the most important thing is to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, according to Canada’s Food Guide.

Eat one dark leafy green and one orange vegetable a day!

Eat more vegetables than fruit!

Try and aim for a 60:40 split. I know…. it’s strawberry season…..If I could, I would eat strawberries all day, every day. But it’s also swiss chard season, and lettuce season, and PEA SEASON! Yummm

So, eat the rainbow! It’s an easy and fun way to look at getting a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in your diet.

Think of eating the rainbow every day, or at least aim to eat it on a weekly basis if daily is too difficult.

Eat a fruit or vegetable from the red, orange/yellow, white/tan, green & blue/purple groups and you will be sure to have that variety you need to keep you healthy for life.

Speaking of eating the rainbow….what’s a nutrition talk without eating something nutritious?

So I made some Rainbow Chard Wraps, and they went over really well! The chard is used as the wrapper instead of using tortillas; a great way to get in your greens! Messy, but delicious!

Rainbow Chard Wraps

Rainbow Chard Wraps

6 leaves                    Swiss Chard, rainbow, washed and dried                  6 leaves

1 x 18 oz can          chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained         1 x 540 ml can

¼ cup                                      olive oil, extra virgin                                        60 ml

1                                                    lemon, juiced                                                      1

1 tsp                                              garlic, minced                                                5 ml

to taste                                          salt & pepper                                           to taste

1                                eggplant, sliced in 1cm cross sections                                 1

12 spears                                asparagus, trimmed                                 12 spears

1 T                                                      olive oil                                                   15 ml

to taste                                          salt & pepper                                           to taste

1 T                                              balsamic vinegar                                           15 ml

  1. Preheat grill or oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Trim the stems off of the Swiss chard leaves, par boil them and set aside.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, toss eggplant, asparagus and Swiss chard stems with second amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Place on grill or on a parchment lined sheet pan and place in oven.
  6. Cook until golden brown, turning half way through.
  7. In the same bowl, add balsamic vinegar and toss with hot vegetables.
  8. Lay Swiss chard leaf flat on a cutting board and spread hummus thinly on, leaving a 2cm border.
  9. Place a slice of eggplant, a few spears of asparagus and some Swiss chard stems over the hummus in a lengthwise manner.
  10. Roll up the Swiss chard lengthwise and cut in half crosswise. You can use toothpicks to keep rolls together if necessary.

Makes 6 servings.

Sine, E. (2013). Swiss Chard Wraps. Personal Recipe. 

Container filled of Rainbow Chard Wraps

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