Summer Vegetable Kabobs with Halloumi

Supporting Bone Health for Athletes

To support healthy bones, individuals need to regularly participate in weight bearing activities, eat adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D containing foods and maintain normal hormonal levels.¹ Failing to meet any of these requirements may place an individual at an increased risk for osteoporotic fractures. To prevent osteoporotic fractures, individuals should strive to maximize their bone mineral density by age 30 and aim to reduce the rate of bone loss thereafter.¹ Fracture risk increases by up to 3 times for each 10% reduction in bone mineral density from that of a level normal for a young healthy adult.

Exercise: When engaging in exercise, it has been suggested that both weight bearing aerobic and strength-focused exercises can help to cause a slight increase in bone mineral density. Optimal exercise activities for bone health should occur in shorter intervals throughout the day and should encourage individuals to move in a variety of directions.¹

Calcium: Calcium is a mineral that helps to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in supporting metabolic functions such as muscle contraction.² Consuming enough calcium is essential for achieving maximal bone mass and to assist in slowing age associated bone loss.¹ It has been suggested that athletes and active individuals who consume lower quantities of calcium-rich foods have lower bone mineral density levels than age matched individuals who ingested adequate or higher amounts of calcium.¹ Individuals are encouraged to meet recommended intakes for calcium to maximize the bone-stimulating effects of weight bearing activity and optimize bone health.¹

Hormones: Unfortunately, it is more difficult to control hormone levels. Age related decreases of estrogen in women and testosterone in men may contribute to bone loss. In addition, long-term use of medications that increase glucocorticoid hormone levels such as Prednisone and Dexamethasone can lead to significant bone loss over time. It is important to discuss these concerns with your doctor and allied health professionals to design a bone health plan for you.

Athletes at risk of sub-optimal calcium intakes or poor bone health include:

  • Athletes with low calcium intakes because of calorie restriction/high energy requirements.
  • Athletes with inadequate intakes of calcium rich foods.
  • Athletes with malabsorption diseases affecting the small bowel (i.e. celiac disease)
  • Female athletes with impaired menstrual function

* Calcium supplementation does not guarantee improved bone health in the absence of adequate hormonal status, enough energy availability, adequate absorption and weight-bearing exercise.²

Calcium Recommendations:

Age in years Aim for an intake of milligrams (mg)/day Stay below*
Men and Women 19-50 1000 2500
Women 50-71 1200 2000
Men 51-70 1000 2000
Men and Women 71 and older 1200 2000

* This includes sources of calcium from food and supplements.

                                                                                                                               Table from Dietitians of Canada³

Calcium Content of some Common Foods:

Food Serving Size Calcium (mg)
Spinach, frozen, cooked ½ cup 154
Collards, cooked ½ cup 141
Kale, frozen, cooked ½ cup 95
Orange juice, fortified with calcium ½ cup 155
Buttermilk 1 cup 370
Soy beverage, fortified with calcium 1 cup 321
Dry powdered 4 Tbsp 302
Low fat cheddar/mozzarella 50g (1 ½ oz) 396-506
Cottage cheese 1 cup 146-217
Yogurt ¾ cup 221-332
Tofu, prepared with calcium sulfate ¾ cup 234-347
Beans ¾ cup 93-141
Almonds ¼ cup 93
Blackstrap molasses 1 Tbsp 179

Table from Dietitians of Canada³

Vegetable Kabobs with Halloumi

Makes 6 servings


1 package Halloumi cheese (~250g)

1 medium yellow or red bell pepper

1 large zucchini

1 container grape or cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil

6 large or 12 small wooden/metal skewers

Optional: 6-10 brown mushrooms


  1. If using wooden skewers, submerge them in water and allow to soak while you are preparing the vegetables.
  2. Cut halloumi into 2.5 cm cubes (hallmoui tends to crumble, so don’t be concerned if your cubes don’t look like cubes). Please in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop the pepper into 2.5 cm squares and add to mixing bowl.
  4. Cut zucchini into 1 cm thick half moons and add to mixing bowl.
  5. If using brown mushrooms, cut in half and add to mixing bowl.
  6. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and chopped basil to bowl, and mix well to coat vegetables and cheese.

Recipes adapted from:


  1. Optimizing Bone Health: Impact of Nutrition, Exercise, and Hormones. Gatorade Sports Science Institute Website. Published 2014. Accessed March 21, 2016.
  2. Calcium Supplement. Australian Institute of Sports Website. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 22, 2016.
  3.  Food Sources of Calcium. Dietitians of Canada Website. Updated 2014 . Accessed March 22, 2016.

Chocolate Pudding

Vitamin D and Muscle Strength

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which acts functionally as a hormone.¹ It promotes calcium absorption in the gut and helps to maintain adequate serum calcium levels in the blood. Vitamin D also plays a role in neuromuscular and immune function as well as in reducing inflammation.²

The main source of active vitamin D comes from exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sun exposure.¹ However, age, latitude, time of day, time of the year and skin pigmentation can impact the production of vitamin D in the skin.³ Recreational athletes at risk for vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency include those who exercise mostly indoors, have dark skin pigmentation, wear clothing that covers most or all of their body, live at latitudes >35 degrees north or south of the equator, often use sunscreen and/or suffer from disorders causing gastrointestinal malabsorption.¹

Inadequate levels of vitamin D may have significant long-term health impacts (i.e. may increase risk of colon cancer, diabetes) as well as more immediate effects on musculoskeletal health (i.e. increasing risk of injuries like stress fractures).⁴ Vitamin D deficiency has also been found to negatively impact muscle strength³

Over the past several years, it has been suggested that insufficient vitamin D levels may negatively affect performance in deficient athletes. Supplementing vitamin D in athletes with insufficient levels or encouraging higher intakes of vitamin D rich foods may have beneficial effects on an athlete’s strength, power, reaction time and balance.¹ʼ⁴ Vitamin D supplementation in deficient adults has been shown to improve tests of muscle performance and may have possible impacts on muscle fibre composition and morphology.² See below for vitamin D recommendations as well as the vitamin D content of common foods.

* It is not recommended that individuals over expose themselves to UVB radiation in an attempt to increase vitamin D levels as this can lead to sunburn and melanoma.


Vitamin D Recommendations:

Age in years Aim for an intake of Stay below
Men and Women 19-50 600 IU 4000 IU
Men and Women 51-70 600 IU 4000 IU
Men and Women 71 and older 800 IU 4000 IU

                                                                                                                             Tables from Dietitians of Canada⁵

Vitamin D Content of Some Common Foods

Food Serving Size Vitamin D (IU)
Orange juice, fortified with vitamin D 125 mL 50
Soy beverage, fortified with vitamin D 250 mL 123
Milk 250 mL 103
Skim milk powdered 60 mL 103
Rice, oat, almond beverage, fortified with vitamin D 250 mL 88-90
Yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 175 mL 58-71
Egg yolk, cooked 2 large 57-88


Chocolate Pudding

Makes 6 servings.


1/2 cup white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup skim milk powder
1 1/4 cup low-fat milk
1 15oz can evaporated fat-free milk
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
* In place of vanilla extract, try adding 1 tsp mint extract or 1 tsp coconut extract or 1 tbsp grated orange rind.



  1. Combine white sugar, corn starch, cocoa, salt and skim milk powder in a medium, heavy saucepan; stir with a whisk.
  2. Gradually add low-fat milk and evaporated milk, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute or until thick.
  4. Remove from heat; add chocolate, stirring until melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Chill at least 4 hours before serving. Add garnish if desired.

Recipe adapted from:


1) Vitamin D. Australian Institute of Sports Website. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 13, 2016.
2) Ceglia L. Vitamin D and Its Role in Skeletal Muscle. Curr Opin CLin Nutr Metab Care. 2009;12(6):628-633.
3) Pfeifer M, Begerow B, Minne HW. Vitamin D and Muscle Function. Osteoporos Int. 2002;13(3):187-194.
4) Hamilton B. Vitamin D and Athletic Performance: The Potential Role of Muscle. Asian J Sports Med. 2011;2(4):211-219.
5) Food Sources of Vitamin D. Dietitians of Canada Website. Published March 20, 2012. Updated 2014. Accessed March 8, 2016.

Vegan Date Squares

Dietary fibre includes parts of plant foods that your body cannot absorb.¹ Fibre is resistant to digestion in the small intestine and requires bacterial fermentation in the large intestine. There are two types of dietary fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. It has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and assist in moderating blood sugar levels.¹ Good food sources include oats, peas, beans, apples, barley and psyllium. Insoluble fibre helps to promote the movement of material through the digestive system and increases stool bulk.¹ Consuming more insoluble fibre may be beneficial to individuals prone to constipation. Good food sources include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables.


Ingestion of adequate amounts of dietary fibre is important as it may have a protective role against certain gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.¹ In addition, foods higher in fibre provide more nutrition to the intestinal microflora. It has been reported that a lack of nutrients in the intestinal lumen following starvation leads to significant intestinal atrophy. However, this can be reversed by the addition of fibre to the diet.²

For athletes and active individuals, increasing intakes of dietary fibre may help with weight loss or weight maintenance as well as improve overall health.³ Lower energy density diets high in fibre containing foods like whole fruits, vegetables

, grains and legumes can help individuals decrease the calorie content of their meal while still helping them to feel satiated after eating. ³

How much dietary fibre do you need?

Age Group Recommended amount per day
14-18 38g/day
19-30 38g/day
31-50 38g/day
51-70 30g/day
>70 30g/day
14-18 26g/day
19-30 25g/day
31-50 25g/day
51-70 21g/day
>70 21g/day

                                                                                                              Recommendations as per Health Canada⁴

How can I get more fibre in my diet?

Below are strategies to help increase dietary fibre.


  • Choose bread and cereal products with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving.
  • Choose wholegrain products more often than processed grain products (For example: use whole wheat pasta or brown rice instead of white pasta or white rice for dinner)
  • When baking at home, substitute at least ½ of the white flour with whole grain flour.
  • Add 1-2 Tbsp. of bran or flax seed to baked goods, entrees, yogurt, hot/cold cereal, etc.

Vegetables and Fruit:

  • Choose whole vegetables and fruits instead of juice.
  • Add a small salad or vegetable soup to your lunch or dinner meal.
  • Prepare or purchase cut up vegetables for a snack at home, work or school.
  • Add fresh or frozen fruit such as berries to yogurt or hot/cold cereal.
  • Eat the peels of vegetables and fruits when possible.


  • Add lentils, beans or soybeans to soups, casseroles and salads.
  • Choose legume based spreads like hummus to eat with vegetables or on whole grain flat bread or crackers.
  • Roast chickpeas or steam edamame for easy snacks or salad toppings

Nuts and Seeds

  • Add roasted nuts, seeds or ground flaxseeds to cereal, cold/hot cereals or baked goods.
  • Pack small portions of almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds as snacks or add to homemade trail mix.
  • Sprinkle toasted nuts to pasta dishes, rice bowls or stir-fries.

* Remember to increase dietary fibre slowly to avoid gas, bloating or diarrhea, and to increase fluid intake as you increase your fibre intake for optimal gastrointestinal health.


Vegan Date Squares

Makes 16 squares


Filling –

1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup (plus more as needed) boiling water

1 tbsp lemon juice

Crust –

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup ground flax seed

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease an 8×8″ square baking pan.
  3. In a food processor, combine the oats and flax, and process until the oats are slightly ground
  4. Add in olive oil, brown sugar and salt. Process until everything is combined.
  5. Remove mixture from the food processor into bowl, then take about ⅔ of the mixture press it down firmly into the baking pan to form the bottom crust.
  6. Clean out the food processor and add the Medjool dates and boiling water. Process until it is a soft, sticky paste. Add more or less water to achieve the desired consistency – spreadable but not too runny.
  7. When it is a good consistency, carefully spread it on top of the oat and flax crust.
  8. Take the remaining ⅓ of the crust mixture and sprinkle it evenly on top of the date layer, pressing it down lightly.
  9. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 30 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool. Cut into 16 squares.

Recipe adapted from:


  1.  Otles S, Ozgoz S. Health effects of dietary fibre. Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment. 2014;13(2):191-202.
  2. McCullough JS, Ratcliffe B, Mandir N, Carr KE, Goodlad RA. Dietary fibre and intestinal microflora: effects on intestinal morphometry and crypt branching. Gut. 1998;42(1):799-806.
  3. Manore M. Weight Management for Athletes and Active Individuals: A Brief Review. Sports Med. 2015;45(1):83-92.
  4. Dietary Reference Intakes. Health Canada Website. Updated January 23, 2006. Accessed March 1, 2016.


Cranberry Orange Muffins

Supporting Immune Function during Training


Increasing physical activity is generally associated with improved immune function and a decreased risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s). However, during times of intense training or increased stress, greater amounts of exercise can temporarily impair immune function and place athletes at higher risk for URTI’s and other illnesses.¹ It is not uncommon for athletes to experience symptoms of illness or infection around times of physical stress such as competitions.² This is a major concern as even minor illnesses can impact performance.

To maintain optimum immune competence, athletes are encouraged to eat balanced meals that are adequate in protein and energy. Diets should also have sufficient amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamins A, D, E, B6, and B12 as these micronutrients have been identified as being of particular importance in the maintenance of good immune function.³ Athletes should also consider introducing foods that contain plant polyphenols like fruits, whole grains, and legumes as well as foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, as they might have positive effects on immune function.²

In addition to the nutritional strategies already mentioned athletes should also practice good hand hygiene, follow basic food safe principles, avoid sharing equipment and personal items such as water bottles, get adequate sleep, and try to minimize stress.² Additional information for food safety can be found at:

Vegetarian Food Sources Of…

Iron: Spinach, Tomato puree, Edamame, Hot/Cold Cereals, Tofu, Lentils, Legumes, Molasses, Pumpkin seeds, Raisins, Dates

Zinc: Wheat germ, Bran, Pumpkin seeds, Baked beans, Oats

Vitamin A: Sweet potato, Pumpkin, Carrots, Winter squash

Vitamin D: Fortified juice and dairy or dairy alternative products

Vitamin E: Spinach, Wheat germ, Egg,  Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Hazelnuts

Vitamin B6: Banana, Sweet potato, Avocado, Wheat bran, Chickpeas, Soybeans, Pistachios, Sunflower seeds

Vitamin B12: Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Soy beverage, Nutritional yeast


 Cranberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fortified orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons low fat milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, do not thaw)


  1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 12-count muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix oil with the granulated and brown sugars. Beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture.
  4. Beat in the orange zest until combined.
  5. In  large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in cranberries.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from:


  1. Couto, M., Silva, D., Delgado, L., & Moreira, A. (2013). Exercise and airway injury in athletes.Acta Medica Portuguesa, 26(1), 56-60.
  2. Gleeson, M. (2013). Nutritional support to maintain proper immune status during intense training. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop series, 75, 85-97. doi: 10.1159/000345822.
  3. Gleeson, M., & Williams, C. (2013). Intense exercise training and immune function. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, 76, 39-50. doi: 10.1159/000350254.