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Nutrition Wellness

Nutrition Wellness 2020

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If you want to consult 2019's version, please click here here.

If you want to consult 2018's version, please click here here.

Quick and Healthy: 2-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

As someone who loves pancakes but also dreads assembling all the ingredients together, I started to dig around the Internet for a quick pancake recipe I could save for those mornings I choose to sleep in and end up running late (oops)!

I stumbled upon many recipes swearing by using only bananas and eggs to make the perfect breakfast that is healthy, nutritious and easy to make. Many slight variations exist for how creative you want to get for toppings, but the base stays relatively the same! Give it a try!

2-Ingredient Banana Pancakes


  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Butter or oil for cooking
  • OPTIONAL: vanilla extract, cinnamon, honey, chocolate chips, berries, maple syrup, peanut butter… you name it!


  1. Mash up the banana and eggs in a bowl until you have a runny/liquid consistency. Mix-in any of the optional ingredients if desired.
  2. Heat up a pan over low-medium heat. Add a small amount of butter or oil; if it sizzles in the pan, it’s the right temperature!
  3. Scoop and drop some batter in the pan and let it cook for about a minute or until the bottom turns into a golden color. Add more toppings if desired. Flip to the other side. Cook for another minute.
  4. That’s it! Serve warm, with syrup or more toppings as desired.

I personally love to eat the pancakes with peanut butter, but you can really get creative and do it your own way 😊.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy pancake recipe!

Source :The Kitchn ,Blogilates

Clerkship Nutrition Tips

Clerkship rotations can become busy quickly especially during on-call shifts and busy days in the OR. This can make it easy to overlook both breakfast and lunch. Below are quick and easy clerkship snacks and lunch ideas to ensure you remain well hydrated and receive enough nutrients during long days in clinics or the hospital.

  1. On your first day on a new rotation, ask your team or nursing staff where the water dispenser is. Bring a reusable water bottle and set reminders on your phone to remain hydrated throughout the day. This has become even more challenging with wearing masks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, so these reminders are all the more important.
  2. On your first day on a new rotation, ALSO ask for the best spots to eat lunch, especially important when having to socially distance during the pandemic. Ask your team or nursing staff for the details!
  3. Buy nuts, multigrain crackers and protein bars in advance and keep them in adequate quantities in your backpack. These do not spoil easily and will ensure that you always have a healthier alternative available. Oh, and make sure you have pockets available to carry these snacks, whether you wear pants with pockets, a sweater, or zip hoodie.
  4. No time to make breakfast or lunch? Grab some apple slices and/or baby carrots, along with almond butter/peanut butter packets or cheese slices. This is quick to prepare and easy to eat.
  5. Fruits are always an easy and healthy option. Grab an apple, banana, tangerine, strawberries, grapes, the list is endless! No preparation required.
  6. Looking for a quick but filling drink? Grab a protein shake or drinkable yogurt! Skip the sugary options available at the cafeteria.

These are just a few ideas! Remember to do what works for you

Topic: Healthy Alternatives

It can be difficult to strike a balance between eating healthy but also eating foods that you enjoy. I definitely endorse indulging in your “guilty pleasures”, but sometimes it is nice to find healthier substitutes. Here are my takes on some healthy alternatives:

Smoothie bowls vs. Icecream: If you have a sweet tooth for ice-cream, but are also looking for a similar option with less artificial sugar and more nutrients, a smoothie bowl is a great option. I like to buy frozen fruit from the grocery store, and add a little bit of milk. I’d recommend buying frozen fruit that has a variety in the bag so that you may try different flavour combinations; you can also freeze fresh fruit to make a smoothie bowl. For milk, I like to use oat milk, but any milk should get you to the same result. To get a consistency similar to ice-cream, it is important to use a high proportion of fruit relative to the milk. After combining all the ingredients, blend them in your blender, pour into a bowl, and enjoy a sweet and healthy treat!

Air fryer vs. Deep Fryer: Using an air-fryer has revolutionized my experience with cooking. An air-fryer is a neat cooking appliance that allows you to get similar results to deep-frying food, with little to no use of oil. Using an air fryer can help with reducing your intake of calories and fat, while still enjoying your favourite foods. Some things that I like to make in the air fryer include cauliflower wings and sweet potato fries. Depending on which air fryer you get, it may take up very little counter space, or can be easily stored in a cupboard, making it convenient to use. Overall, a great investment! Who knew that it was possible to get your food extra crispy without using large amounts of oil?

Flavoured Sparkling water vs. Pop: Carbonated drinks like pop can be satisfying to consume, but if you are looking for an option with less sugar, I highly recommend opting for sparkling water. I often buy cases of Blue Menu’s Sparkling Water, which come in a pack of 12 cans. There are a variety of flavours, including lemon, lime, watermelon, pink grapefruit, blueberry pomegranate, and mandarin orange. There are also a variety of brands to choose from. Opening a can of sparkling water is a great way to enjoy a fizzy drink, but since it’s carbonated water, there are no significant sources of calories or sugar!

Overall, these are a few healthy substitutes that I enjoy, and I hope you give some of them a try!

Maintaining a Healthy Diet on a Budget

Eating healthy and delicious food can be affordable. The key is to focus on budget-friendly foods and take measures to minimize waste. In order to ensure affordability while maintaining a healthy diet, divide your plate into three sections: one-third dedicated to meat and meat alternatives, another third to whole grains, and the remaining half towards vegetables

A key staple in healthy diets is protein sources. This can come from meat or meat alternatives. When shopping for meat, it is ideal to buy organic and grass-fed meat; however, this can be an expensive option. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with more affordable meat cuts, including pork shoulder, beef chuck, and stew meat. Moreover, protein sources such as salmon, can be bought locally during salmon season, which is usually more affordable and adds the benefit of supporting local small businesses. It is important to take measures to preserve meat through vacuum-sealing, freezing, and smoking meat to preserve protein sources for a longer period of time.

Meat alternatives are also great options and can increase the affordability of protein sources. Meat alternatives include beans, eggplants, chickpeas, and lentils. Other inexpensive options that are nutritious and contain protein sources include whole grains, which include brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa.

When it comes to vegetables, it is important to be aware of seasonal produce, which can vary by time of the year and geographic location. Oftentimes crops produced during given seasons will be more abundant, and as a result, cheaper to purchase. With both organic and non-organic food, frozen fruits and vegetables are less expensive but still retain their nutritious value

Overall, these are a few healthy substitutes that I enjoy, and I hope you give some of them a try!

Source :Food Guide Canada,Healthy eating on a budget, Five flavorful budget friendly meat choices, Life Savvy

Source :

Adequate hydration: A crucial aspect of nutritional wellness

When we think about achieving a balanced diet, our minds often immediately go towards eating healthier and avoiding junk food. Often, we forget that water is an essential portion of our diet and that adequate hydration is extremely important for our health.

Given the busy nature of medical school, it can be quite easy to go through our day without drinking enough water. It’s especially hard to remember this during clerkship when you spend the entire day running around the hospital, barely able to catch a breath. However, we should remember that being dehydrated can make us feel less alert, weak and give us terrible things such as kidney stones (we don’t want those)! In fact, the recommendation for daily water intake is about 6-8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day!

If you find it difficult to meet this hydration goal, the following tips might be useful:

  1. Always bring a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Yes, that includes at the hospital as well! Try to find a bottle that easily fits into the pockets of your white coat, this way you can take a few sips consistently throughout the day.
  2. Set alarms on your phone that will remind you to drink on a schedule, whether that is hourly or with every meal that you have.
  3. Download free apps such as ‘Daily water tracker reminder’ water or ‘Hydrocoach’ that help you track your water intake and send you frequent reminders throughout the day.
  4. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you can add fresh fruits or vegetables to give it a better flavour!
  5. Try to recognize the signs of dehydration such as a headache, increased fatigue and concentrated urine. Whenever you notice these, that’s your body telling you what it needs!

While good hydration can be easy to neglect, it is something that can completely alter your mood and energy levels. Thus, keeping well-hydrated is one of many things that can help keep us well during our vigorous training.

Source :The importance of staying hydrated (Health Harvard),, HealthLine, How to drink more water

Adequate hydration: A crucial aspect of nutritional wellness

Alvin Qiu

When I was growing up, I truly disliked vegetables. I would joke and say that I was strictly a carnivore, much to the dismay of my parents as they would stare at the non-meat portions of my dinner plate, which would go neglected and untouched. However, in recent years, I’ve made a change in my own diet to really increase my consumption of plant-based foods. I would like to preface this by saying I am not a nutrition expert and most definitely not a vegan (and I doubt I will ever be 100% vegan), but I am really interested in plant-based alternatives and I believe there are easy ways we can all incorporate more plant-based foods into our diets!

There are many different reasons people choose to adopt a more plant-based diet. My quick Google search yields results from Harvard, MD Anderson and Cleveland Clinic which would suggest numerous health benefits of plant-based diets. These range from decreased risks of cardiovascular disease, digestive disease and cancer. Personally, my interest in plant-based food stems from environmental concerns. I’m always looking for ways in my own life to promote environmental sustainability and this is what has driven me to decrease my consumption of animal products. (Interestingly enough, I recently stumbled on a page from UCLA Sustainability which even highlighted the decreased usage of water per gram of protein in plant-based food compared to animal products.)

Here are a couple easy ways that I’ve integrated plant-based alternatives into my diet:

  • 50/50 or “Flexitarian”: Recently, I’ve noticed 50/50 or “Flexitarian” ground meat or burger patties make their way into nearby grocery stores. This is great for people who aren’t fully ready to commit to plant-based meat alternatives such as Beyond Meat. Essentially, half of the product is still animal meat, but the other half is replaced with plant-based substitutes that still provide a lot of protein.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a staple for plant-based diets. I’m someone who likes “one pan” or “one pot” cooking because its so easy and time-saving (stir-fry or Instant pot soups for example). In the past, when I would reach for chicken or beef, I now find myself grabbing tofu instead. Once again, for people who do not wish to fully give up meat, it’s really easy to cut back the portion and replace it with tofu. I personally use firm or extra firm tofu because I enjoy the texture more and it holds its shape well when cooked.
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are a great source of protein when doing plant-based substitutions. I enjoy tossing them into salads or curry. Another great way to incorporate chickpeas is to make humus; vegetables (such as baby carrots) with humus are my go-to for healthy snacking.
  • Non-dairy milk: Plant-based milk has been a game-changer for me. Today, so many alternatives exist such as almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk and coconut milk. These are all readily available in numerous grocery stores, but also some people enjoy homemade versions! For breakfast, I love eating oatmeal or cereal or blending smoothies. These are all examples of where I have made a swap to plant-based milk (store-bought, unsweetened, vanilla-flavoured ones are my favourite). Plant-based milk does indeed still have a rather creamy texture and can definitely be used in cooking (making curry for example).

There are so many great resources out there for plant-based diet inspiration. Pick Up Limes, Goodful, and Cookie and Kate are popular ones that have been recommended to me. They are definitely worth checking out!

Fighting junk food cravings

As medical students, we’re often dealing with high levels of stress and this can easily start affecting our eating habits. Do you find that that excessive stress makes you crave and eat junk food that you usually don’t indulge? If you answered yes, you’re not the only one. Although indulging our cravings is a healthy habit once in a while, it becomes concerning when we do so constantly. Feeding ourselves with less nutritious foods can negatively impact energy levels. If you want to fight your cravings but find it difficult to stop regularly ordering take-out, the following tips might be helpful:

  1. Drink lots of water:

    This is definitely an underrated piece of advice! As smart as our bodies are, sometimes they can have a hard time differentiating between hunger and thirst. You might think that you’re craving a hamburger but in reality, you’re just extremely dehydrated. So the next time that you’re experiencing a major junk food craving, it might be worthwhile to chug a glass of water and to re-evaluate your craving afterwards

  2. Eat regularly and often:

    When you go for a long period of time without eating, your body goes into a state of famine and kickstarts its instinct to load up on the most calorie-dense food that you can get your hands on! Thus, packing some nutritious snacks to eat throughout the day can prevent that survival instinct from kicking in and stop you from craving a giant poutine.

  3. Eat food that you like to eat:

    As intuitive as this one sounds, many people force themselves to adhere to all sorts of diets and foods that they don’t genuinely enjoy. But ultimately, forcing yourself to consume food that you dislike just makes you that much more likely to crave unhealthy foods! There are now so many delicious and recipes that exist out there. Do yourself a favour and feed yourself nutritious foods that you enjoy eating and you won’t have to feel like you’re missing out.

  4. Get adequate sleep

    Although sleep might not seem related to diet, not sleeping enough can most definitely throw off other homeostatic mechanisms in the body and make it that much harder to fight cravings.

Source :Healthline, RMHP,

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Having a sweet tooth, I have often had countless evenings where I craved for a sweet dessert, but either felt too lazy to take out all my baking ingredients and get to work or did not want to spend hours in the process.

I started looking on the Internet for a quick, easy and healthier version of chocolate chip cookies that could be made under 30 minutes. This is how I found flourless almond butter chocolate chip cookies. As usual, many variations exist, but I love how they never require more than a few ingredients! Give it a try!

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda (I have used baking powder and it works fine!)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet, dark, milk, white… your pick!)
  • ½ cup brown sugar (can be reduced or entirely left out: I personally think the sweetness that comes from the chocolate chips is more than enough!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line 1-2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix the egg, almond butter, baking soda/powder, brown sugar (if using) and vanilla extract (if using). Mix until well combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix some more.
  3. Scoop out about 1 tbsp of cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. Flatten the top gently. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Once ready, let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

This recipe usually makes around 12 cookies for me and takes less than half an hour from start to finish! I hope you enjoy!

Source :Sally's Baking Addiction, Live Well Bake Often,

Nutrition and mental health

Your brain is a 24/7 energy-consuming factory that helps you move, breathe, and controls your thoughts and emotions. Therefore, it is not surprising that what you eat can impact how you feel. However, drawing conclusions about exactly what to eat and the type of diet that best promotes good mental well-being is difficult as a myriad of other variables impact our mental health, including genetic factors, environment, and daily stressors. Additionally, introducing placebo controls in randomized control trials remains a challenge in this field.

Nonetheless, the dietary influences on mental health, collectively known as Nutritional Psychiatry, is a novel and niche field that has recently gained traction. There have been various meta-analyses that have reported a positive association between fruit and vegetable consumption and increased happiness and mental well-being. Furthermore, literature evidence indicates that diets rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) and polyphenol foods, such as walnuts, cloves, berries, beans, nuts, flaxseeds, and corn oil exert a positive impact on mood and stress reactivity and neuroinflammation. Many systematic reviews and studies have also found positive associations between Mediterranean diets and depression while others have found no significant association. Together, these studies warrant further investigation on the impacts of diet and mental health.

Another important factor in nutritional psychiatry is gut microbiome. 95% of our body’s serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, and mood, is produced by your gut microbiota. There are various factors that can negatively impact gut microbiota, which include unhealthy lifestyle, stress, and genetic predispositions. Animal studies have shown that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin A change the gut microbiota and can normalize the behavioral and neurochemical effects of stressed adolescent rats.

Overall, due to the novelty of this field, it is difficult to draw causal conclusions regarding the composition of an ideal diet for one’s mental health. However, some evidence points to food rich in fibers and Mediterranean diets, which could be beneficial for one’s mental health.

References :,,,

New Recipes During Covid

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have tried out new hobbies, whether it be painting, going on hikes, or knitting. For me, something that I have tried to do more of is cooking! I have found that I have more time to experiment with foods in the kitchen. It can be fun to try out new recipes, while also building upon my current repertoire of cooking skills. Here are two recipes, written in a casual format, that are simple meals that I have come up with by combining random ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry!

Burrito Bowl (Serving = 2)

Time: 25 minutes


  1. Steam rice in a pot with appropriate ratio of water, until cooked.
  2. In a pan, heat oil and minced garlic.
  3. In the same pan, add the chopped pepper and onions. Season with 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp salt.
  4. Drain liquid from the can of beans, and then rinse beans. Place beans in a separate pan. Fill the empty can ¼ full with water, and add to the pan with beans
  5. Season beans with chipotle powder, garlic powder, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp black pepper. Cook until water is absorbed.
  6. Combine ingredients in a bowl to the preferred proportions, and add sauces to flavour your burrito bowl. Enjoy!

I really like this recipe because everything is very easy and fast to prepare. Think of this recipe as a skeleton - feel free to change up the vegetables, spices, and types of sauces that you add! If you would like a meat-based protein in your meal, I would substitute or add ground beef to the burrito bowl, seasoned with Old El Paso burrito seasoning.

Chicken Stir Fry (Serving = 2)

Time: 30 minutes


  1. Cut chicken breast into 1-inch pieces, and begin to cook in a pan with oil and minced garlic. Cook until white on all sides.
  2. Add vegetables and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  3. Add noodles to pan (Depending on type of noodles, you may need to boil them first until soft).
  4. Add sauces and seasonings to taste, and stir until all ingredients are coated.

The sauce can be created using proportions that match your preferences. For example, if you prefer spicy foods, you may want to add extra chili paste. Soy sauce adds most of the flavour, but I would add it in “splashes” to ensure that your meal doesn’t get too salty. In terms of the noodles, I have used instant udon noodles that come in individual packages, but you can also try out thinner noodles like vermicelli noodles. If you are vegetarian, try substituting the chicken for extra-firm tofu!

Blending Made (Even More) Basic

Alvin Qiu

Back in pre-clerkship, I would frequently show up to Case Based Learning (CBL) with a smoothie in hand. At UBC, we did CBL at 8:00 am. Now when I look back, 8:00 am doesn’t seem incredibly early, but after relying on lecture recordings in my undergraduate degree so that I could sleep in, being on campus at 8:00 am was a bit jarring. Therefore, quick and easy breakfast ideas, like having a smoothie during CBL, was great.

My go-to smoothie recipe is fairly basic:

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

The great thing about smoothies is that you can put in whatever you want, change up the ratios, and it will still turn out amazing. Blending your own smoothies is already a fairly low-effort task, but there are some “hacks” you can use:

  • Chop in advance: I like to buy frozen fruit since it’s easier (i.e. no chopping involved). However, if you can buy your fruits fresh, a great way to make blending easier is to cut your fruits in advance, portion them, and freeze them. That way, they are ready to use whenever you need them. This is also great for bananas; when you have a lot of ripe bananas sitting around, you can cut and freeze them, and then use them at a later date.
  • Blend in advance: Not a lot of people do this, but I do. If you own a larger blender, you can blend multiple portions of smoothies, and keep them in air-tight containers in the freezer. When freezing, be sure to take into account that the volume may expand! I tend to blend the equivalent of two large smoothies at a time, so I keep my extra in the fridge in an air-tight container (e.g. mason jar with lid) overnight. On the following day, when I’m ready to consume it, I just give it a good shake. One reason this ends up saving time for me is because I don’t need to go through the hassle of washing my blender as frequently!
  • Add in protein: There are ways to add protein into your smoothies. The easiest way is a scoop of protein powder. An alternative is adding something like nut butters. I prefer protein powder over nut butters since there aren’t any added oils or fats. The lack of oils means you’ll have an easier time cleaning your blender.
  • Blending soap to wash: I’m evidently very interested in making cleaning/washing easier. So, one easy way to wash your blender is to add in dish soap and water, blend on high, and then rinse. This works surprisingly well!
  • Don’t use ice cubes: I know a lot of people throw in ice cubes when they blend their smoothies. I feel that ice cubes end up unnecessarily diluting my smoothies. In addition, I prefer a thicker consistency (this is great for smoothie bowls). So instead of ice cubes, just make sure all your fruits are frozen. After blending, your beverage will be nice and cold, and won’t be diluted with water.

Happy blending!

Vitamin D intake during COVID-19

Farhan Mahmood

We have all been there, it is a nice and sunny day but we just do not feel like getting out of bed because we are just too lazy or we do not want to be bothered by facing the pandemic and going in public. That’s understandable, especially since life can get boring with someone in public places on lockdown. However, missing the sun and spending time outdoors does have its limitations that we should be wary of Vitamin D intake! Vitamin D is a vital vitamin that most of us get from going outdoors and letting the bright sunshine on our faces. However, during COVID-19 and having to stay indoors can limit the already-limited vitamin D intake of Canadians. Luckily, there are other ways for us to get our daily recommended dose of vitamin D, and that is through our diet.

Before we delve deeper into the type of foods and recipes we can consume that are high in diet, let’s explore vitamin D some more. Vitamin D is also known as ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol which is broken down into calcitriol in the body is commonly known to be important for calcium and phosphorous absorption and regulation. Thus it is important for maintaining proper bone structure. Low vitamin D levels are also associated with cardiovascular disease, orthostatic hypotension, ashram, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, muscle weakness, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndromes, cancers, and skin conditions including Psoriasis and eczema. The list goes on!

The recommended daily doses from all dietary sources should be around 1000 mg if there is minimal sunlight exposure. This is for both men and women and 19-50 years. Vitamin D levels below 30 nmol/l indicated vitamin D deficiency risk, whereas vitamin D doses above 50 nmol/l are known to be sufficient. However, too much vitamin D may also be harmful. The tolerable upper intake level for adults 19-50 is 2,500 mg.

Nevertheless, it is important to obtain vitamin D through our diet during the era of COVID-19. To start, daily vitamins may be a good idea! If you can get your hands on vitamins to supplement your diet, that may be a good fit for you. Always make sure you are consulting with your physicians and being mindful of any other comorbidities you may have before consuming vitamin D. Secondly, foods high in vitamin D include milk, yogurt, cheese, fortifies plant-based beverages, dark green vegetables (broccoli, kale and spinach), fish (salmon, sardines, cod liver, swordfish, tuna fish, or other fish with soft bones), beef liver, egg yolk, fortified cereals. Generally, salmon is known to have the highest level of vitamin D. Thus, maybe for your next breakfast, you can try to make an omelette with some cheese and smoked salmon—this would be packed with vitamin D.

Finally, although COVID-19 can lead to staying indoors all of the time, it is important to be physically active and be in tune with nature. Remember to take at least 15 minutes out of your day to walk or be physically active outside. This will also help you obtain an extra dose of vitamin D from the sun while you are at it.


  1. Sahota O. Understanding vitamin D deficiency. Age Ageing. 2014 Sep;43(5):589-91. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afu104. Epub 2014 Jul 28. PMID: 25074537; PMCID: PMC4143492.