About Amanda Li

Member since 12/4/2013
Occupation: Registered Dietitian
City: Brampton
Twitter: @AmandaLiRD

Chef & Registered Dietitian with a passion to creating foods with nutritional benefits!

Favourite food: Ice Cream/Sorbet
Favourite piece of kitchen equipment: Vitamix
Favourite cooking shortcut: Freezing ginger for easy grating on a microplane!
Favourite meal(s) to prepare: Any type of soup because I find it oh-so therapeutic :p
Recipe that you have always wanted to make but have yet to attempt: Chinese Steamed Sticky Rice Wrapped in Banana Leaves!

Comments by Amanda Li:

  • Truvia® calorie-free sweetener
    I used both the packets of Truvia for the first time today in a baked good recipe. It did not alter the flavour at all, which I was very pleased with! In the past I have tried other brands of stevia including PureVia, Krisda and Natural Traditions. Natural Traditions brand is the only one that I have tried and seen that only contains Stevia, without any added sugar alcohols or natural flavours. Unfortunately, because of this, there is a very strong metallic aftertaste. For those consumers who may favour Stevia over other artificial sweeteners such as sucralose because it is more "natural" should be informed that stevia brands that include sugar alcohols (ie. erthyritol) technically isn't "naturally-sourced." Due to the high industrial demands for erthyritol, it is manufactured through a fermentation process which begins with corn as the substrate, and not actually extracted from naturally occurring sources of erthyritol such as that found in fruits like melons. Bottom-line, I would recommend using sugar and/or sugar substitutes in moderation and take the time to savour and enjoy the natural sweetness from mother nature's fruit :)
  • Chia seeds
    I’ve been a seed savvy consumer for many years now, incorporating chia, flax and hemp seeds on a regular basis in my diet. Chia seeds in particular are my favourite because: 1) neutral in flavour 2) can be digested in both whole or grounded forms 3) beyond being a good source plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and fibre, they are also a good source of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium! 4) Can be used as an egg substitute 5) Acts as a natural thickener, absorbing My favourite ways to consume chia seeds include: ➢ Chia pudding (whisk 1 cup of liquid + ¼ cup chia seeds and let it sit overnight in the fridge, adding your choice of sweetener) ➢ Chia Beverage (whisk 1 cup of liquid + 1 tbsp chia seeds and let it sit overnight) ➢ Replacement for breadcrumbs in meatballs and meatloaves (1/4 cup breadcrumbs = 1 tbsp chia seeds) ➢ Egg substitute in baked goods (1 egg = 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp warm water) ➢ Faux “poppyseed” in baked goods (just make sure you add 1-2 tbsp extra liquid in recipes) ➢ Blending into energy-boosting smoothies ➢ Adding to medjool date raw bars or power truffles One interesting fact is that the omega-3 content in chia seeds may vary between batches sold, due to the differences in temperature, humidity, soil conditions and rainfall during each harvest. The only brand of chia seeds that I have bought that has had a guaranteed amount of omega-3 fatty acids present in each serving is Salba®, which promises 3.425g Omega-3 (ALA). Nevertheless, regardless of which brand of chia seeds you end up buying, they all will have a good source of omega-3 fats and fibre ☺
  • Omega Crunch flax topping
    I’ve been a loyal customer of Omega Crunch shelled (de-hulled) flax since 2008, when I first saw and tasted their amazing product at the Good Food Show in Mississauga. I absolutely love the taste and texture of the flax, and will even eat a spoonful of it just on its own  The fact that the flax is unground, not only lends a delicious crunch but it also has a less mild and subtle “flax oil” taste, that some may find unappealing when eating ground flax. Here are a few of my favourite ways of enjoying this fabulous and oh-so versatile product. I like changing up the flavours, but hands down my favourite flavour of omega crunch is the maple! - Sprinkled on top of my ultra-thick green and icy smoothies (perfect for those who like “eating” their smoothies vs. “drinking”) - Garnish on salads - Tossed into quinoa or rice pilafs - Coating for my “pick-me up bites” Here is the link to my Chocolate Goji Berry Pick-Me Up Bite featured on the Omega Crunch Website: http://www.omegacrunch.com/blog/chocolate-goji-berry-pickmeup-bites/ - Mixed into my morning cereal; hot/cold - Coating for my chicken fingers, fish and tofu steaks - Dusted on top of my almond butter slathered toast For anyone trying to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre; Omega Crunch is an easy, simple and tasty solution! Perfect for leaving on the countertop so you can sprinkle, sprinkle and sprinkle some more on top of your breakfast, lunch and dinner meals 
  • Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts
    I love omega-rich seeds such as these hemp hearts and eat it on a regular basis. One tip I have for my clients is to combine a mason jar with the three top omega-3 rich seeds: hemp + chia + flax; and throughout the day adding a tsp or two to their porridge, yogurt, smoothie, baked goods, salads, soups, rice, etc. Hemp hearts in particular are much higher in protein compared to chia and flax and have a delicious nutty aroma. I'm not a huge fan of blending it into smoothie or soups because I find the "hempy" taste a little too overpowering. Rather, my 3 favourite ways to of eat hemp hearts is: 1. Sprinkling some on top of my peanut butter/almond butter toast 2. Tossing it with ALL different kinds of salads such as kale salad, bean salads or quinoa salads! 3. Coating my homemade protein truffles Pictures of these recipe ideas can be seen on twitter: @AmandaLiRD
  • City Snacks - freeze dried fruit
    These freeze-dried pears were hands-down totally delicious, candy-like and left you wanting more! The texture is kind of like Styrofoam in that the pear pieces are light, crisp, and easily dissolves on the tip of your tongue similar to that of cotton candy. It differs from traditional dehydrated fruit chips such as apple chips in that they are nice and crisp rather than “crunchy” and dry. The pears had an intense fruity flavour, which sometimes lacks in dehydrated fruit chips. I would highly recommend this snack for those looking for a healthier candy alternative, though would caution that 1 package probably wouldn’t be enough, so instead grab a fresh piece of fruit! Word of caution, don’t try “extending” the savouring of these freeze dried pears in your mouth, as they become very soggy and unpleasant!
  • Catelli Gluten Free Pasta
    Overall I would say this product was mediocre... here is why: 1. TASTE: Slightly sweet and not at all “whole-grainy." Side note: I’m use to eating gluten-free grains that have more of an earthy note like buckwheat, so this pasta didn’t cut it out for me. 2. TEXTURE: Soft & slightly-chewy when eaten on the day of, cooked it for 6 minutes vs. 7-9. BUT it did get mushy the next day after reheating on the stovetop. Some of the pasta strands actually broke into pieces when I was scooping it into my pan to reheat. I prefer pasta that has more of a chewy texture. 3. NUTRITIONAL PROFILE: Below is how it stacks-up compared to other gluten-free pastas that I have tried in the past, based on a 56g dry weight serving; which in my opinion is a more realistic serving size than 85g because let's face it, most of us really don't need THAT much carbohydrates in one meal. Overall, Catelli is on par with other gluten-free pasta brands when it comes to nutrition. It is however the only one that has a food additive added to it. If you are looking for a really nutrient-dense gluten-free pasta I highly recommend trying the Eco Chef's (http://www.ecochefs.com/products.php) line-up of legume based pasta. It is expensive but very tasty :) BRAND - Ingredients; Calories; Fibre; Protein; %DV Iron [/56g] (A) CATELLI - White rice flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, quinoa flour, monoglycerides; 200 kcal; 2g fibre; 4g protein; 4% DV Iron (B) RIZOPIA - Whole grain brown rice, rice bran; 200kcal; 2g fibre; 4g protein; 6% DV Iron (C) GOGO QUINOA - White rice flour, quinoa; 200kcal; 1g fibre; 5g protein; 20% DV Iron (D) SAN ZENONE - 100% organic corn flour; 200kcal; 1g fibre; 4g protein; 1% DV Iron (E) ECO CHEFS - 100% red lentil; 200kcal; 6g fibre; 14g protein; 22% DV Iron
  • Clover Leaf Tuna Salad Kits
    First off, I think the tuna salad kit is a fantastic addition to this ongoing trend of healthier "snacking." It provides a whooping 17g of protein which is far more than 1 granola bar, 1 small container of greek yogurt or even an individual container of cottage cheese! What's excites me is the ratio between the grams of carbs:protein, which is almost 1:1. This product definitely proved to be a satisfying snack for me. I ate it mid-afternoon and it kept me full until dinner time. I must add that I was a little disappointed by the flavour profile, as the tuna lacked a *zing.* The amount of black pepper was just right, but the tuna mixture could have benefited from some dehydrated parsley or chive flakes (added colour appeal) and definitely some lemon zest or extra lemon flavour, as the amount of acidity was OK but it lacked that lemony taste which I was anticipating for. As for the crackers, I would prefer one that was less buttery and more crispy such as those thin flatbread crackers. Now, let's just take a quick look at the added cost for convenience: $2.49 / tuna salad kit (85g tuna) $1.99 / flavoured tuna can (85g tuna) =$0.50 for 6 mini crackers + napkin and cute plastic spoon Bottom-line: The line-up of Clover Leaf Tuna Salad Kits proves to be a great addition to the snacking category for those who are on-the-go; need a quick and easy pick-me up; or perhaps for those times when you just forgot to pack a healthy snack but was clever enough to store some for emergencies as they are shelf-stable! (True story, I had a tuna salad kit in my cupboard which saved me during last summer's power outage!) For those who are foodie at heart, I would say, go for the "plain" canned tuna and flavour it up!
  • Red palm oil
    I spotted this product on the shelf in the natural foods section of my local supermarket a few months ago and was intrigued by the vibrant orange hue. My first reaction after seeing the product's name "Red Palm Oil" immediately made me think of "hydrogenated palm kernel oil" an ingredient found vastly in processed packaged food. It wasn't until I researched further that I came to realize that the two oils (red palm oil vs. palm kernel oil) are distinctly different. Red Palm Oil originating from the fruit of the palm tree, is a good source of monounsaturated fats and also very high in saturated fat. However most of the saturated fat is in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which get metabolized immediately by the body and emerging research is showing that MCTs may actually have a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis due to its anti-coagulation effects. Furthermore, Red palm oil is touted for its high vitamin and antioxidant content namely vitamins A and E. However, I'm not convinced that one should purchase red palm oil as a means to obtain their daily dose of vitamins A & E, which can be easily consumed from a healthy balanced diet. Nutrition aside, I was very excited to put this product to the test in terms of smell, taste and culinary versatility. When I first opened up the jar and got a swift of the oil's aroma, it reminded me of the smell of freshly cut winter squash (ie. butternut/pumpkin/acorn). Then came the "naked" taste test, which in my opinion wasn't horrible. The oil melted nicely in my mouth and had an earthy flavour. I then proceeded to use this oil in 4 different applications. The first one being an easy-over egg, which turned out beautifully crispy on one side and had a crimson tint on the flip side. Next, I cranked up the heat to high, and using my wok made a delicious stir-fry, turning my sweet onions to slightly orange in colour :p but no taste deviations. Since the oil clearly imparts an orange colour to foods, I decided to use that to my advantage. I'm a huge fan of cooking and baking with red split lentils, but I really dislike that after heat is applied, the orange lentils turn to an unappetizing dull yellow colour. Therefore, I decided to cook my lentil crepes and lentil ginger soup using the red palm oil, hoping to have the final product reminiscent of the red split lentil's original orange colour! I must say, the red palm oil is definitely a keeper for these 2 recipes! Bottom-line: In my opinion, red palm oil can be a good addition to your repertoire of culinary oils, but I would definitely make sure you store it in a cool area, so it remains solid at room temperature. This prevents the oil from spilling all over your jar! When deciding on when to use this oil, I would choose it for high-heat cooking methods such as stir-frying and for dishes where you would like to enhance/extenuate the colour of the end product. For example, red palm oil would be fantastic in red curries, paella (ie. saffron colour), biryani (ie. tumeric colour - double whammy!), and dishes using red split lentils. Lastly, I am looking forward to try making my savoury sundried tomato and herb scones using red palm oil (in it's solid state) in place of butter! I often use coconut oil in my sweet scones and they turn out amazingly flaky just as it would if I used butter.