ZeroPoint Starter Guide
The beauty of the ZeroPoints program lies in its flexibility. With food and cooking recommendations for every taste, budget and skill level it’s impossible to eschew these foods from your regular diet. Read up on some of your favourites (and some which might not be as familiar) and get inspired to reach for ZeroPoints ingredients more often.
Skinless chicken and turkey breast
Whether you prefer your chicken and turkey breast roasted, poached, baked, or sauteed one thing’s for sure: When you have poultry on hand entire meals can be prepped and on the table in under 40 minutes. If you eat poultry regularly it’s both economical and convenient to buy chicken or turkey breasts to portion out and freeze for future use; simply double-wrap the poultry in plastic wrap, record the date on a resealable plastic bag, and store with the bag tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn. When baking, roasting, pan-frying or grilling chicken or turkey breast you can ensure even cooking by pounding the poultry with a kitchen mallet until each piece is the same desired thickness. When they’re not playing a starring role in a meal chicken and turkey breast can be added to chopped salads, Baja-style tacos, sandwiches, stir fries, lettuce wraps, and fresh rice paper rolls.
If you love seafood in all its forms you’ll be thrilled to learn that fish, shellfish (including oysters, lobster, shrimp, and mussels) as well as canned tuna and salmon are all considered ZeroPoints items in this category. Fish and shellfish can be roasted, steamed, poached, grilled, or sauteed. Canned tuna and salmon gets a sophisticated makeover when the mayo is ditched and replaced with non-fat plain yogurt, a spritz of lemon juice and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Besides offering plenty of heart and brain health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, fish and shellfish are the perfect protein for individuals and families looking to reduce their red meat and poultry intake. For the most reliable and up-to-date information on sustainable fishing and mercury levels check with the official Ocean Wise guide whenever you’re shopping for fresh or frozen seafood.
Unsure about how to prep and cook tofu on a regular basis? Don’t be. Tofu is a versatile plant-based protein that can be baked, roasted, dry-fried, grilled, scrambled, or even blended into smoothies and creamy desserts. Baked tofu can be made with sliced extra-firm or firm tofu and is an ideal recipe for the beginner tofu home cook. Simply marinade sliced or cubed tofu in your favourite combination of spices and condiments and bake in a moderately hot oven for 20 to 40 minutes, turning once (the longer the tofu bakes the chewier it becomes.) Baked tofu can be added to stir fries, sandwiches, grain bowls, and chopped Asian-inspired salads; the zestier the marinade or sauce the better. Unlike firm tofu, Japanese silken tofu is soft and custard-like and can be used to vegan-ize cheesecakes, mousses, puddings, and smoothies.
Lentils and beans
Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, dried peas, pinto beans, and lima beans: This is just a small sample of all the choices you have when it comes to ZeroPoints foods in this category. High in fibre, cholesterol free and rich in potassium and B vitamins, you don’t have to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet to reap the nutritional benefits of pulses. Beans and lentils can be purchased dried or canned and having a good selection of each will help ensure they’re more likely to be eaten on a regular basis. Add drained and rinsed canned beans and lentils to grain dishes, hearty salads, tomato sauces, curries, and Tex-Mex-inspired recipes. Dried beans and lentils are right at home in vegetarian stews, chillies, soups, and blended into creamy dips such as hummus or as a filling thickener for creamy soups.
Non-fat plain yogurt
Never before has non-fat plain yogurt had so many uses! Rich with probiotics, calcium and vitamin D, make sure to look for non-fat yogurt without added sweeteners or thickeners. Non-fat plain yogurt can be used as the base for seasonal fruit parfaits, stirred into oatmeal for an extra boost of protein, whisked into scrambled eggs, or dolloped onto savoury breakfast pancakes or vegetable fritters. Add a handful of fresh chopped herbs, a scant ½ teaspoon of minced garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper for a delicious all-purpose sauce that can be used as a salad dressing, drizzled on top of a baked yam or potato, dolloped onto a bowl of hot soup, or as a dip for crudites. Non-fat plain yogurt is a natural substitute for mayonnaise, especially in egg or tuna salad, and can be combined with a small amount of mayonnaise for a more authentic flavour.
When you have eggs in the fridge a meal is never more than 10 minutes away (and if you have a few extra minutes and ingredients you can make a slightly more involved frittata or Spanish omelette.) With so many options available you could probably make eggs a new way every morning for weeks before you ran out of cooking methods. Unsure about your poaching skills? Try using a silicon or metal poaching tray or fall back on an easier standard; the soft-boiled egg. Scrambled eggs come together in a matter of minutes and can be topped with shredded cheese, steamed or leftover roasted veggies, crumbled turkey or chicken sausage, salsa, or hot sauce. For the ultimate hands-free approach to cooking eggs try making baked eggs (or, “eggs en cocotte” as its traditionally called.) Crack an egg or two into a small ramekin, stir in a small amount of non-fat plain yogurt, some freshly chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper; bake for 12-15 minutes in a moderately hot oven and serve with fresh fruit and wholegrain toast.