June 1, 2017

Ask Alvin | June 1, 2017

We often receive food-related questions from our community members, so we asked FoodReach’s Project Leader, Alvin Rebick, to answer some of them for us. If you have questions for Alvin, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to askalvin@foodreach.ca and you may see them in a future edition of Ask Alvin!


My husband wants to buy a steamer, but I don’t understand why it’s necessary to have yet ANOTHER kitchen “gadget”. Is steaming vegetables healthier than boiling them?

The gadget that I have is a little stainless steel basket that costs next to nothing and fits nicely into a medium saucepan. Put a lid on it and you have a very good steamer. A double boiler makes a perfect steamer as well. Steaming vegetables is healthier as fewer of the nutrients leech out in the process. The vegetables are generally crunchier, more vibrant in colour and taste better as well. Boiling vegetables is acceptable as long you are conscious of time and don’t overcook them, which is the main reason for the pale, tasteless results that often ruin a vegetable’s reputation.

vegetable steamer

My child has decided that they would like to try being a vegetarian because they love animals. Is it safe for children under 10 to go meatless? I want to be supportive but I’m worried they won’t get the nutrients and proteins that they need to grow.

I can’t see any reason to discourage the consciousness of a child who has concerns for animal welfare. A plant based diet is a very healthy alternative and though a child’s dietary needs may require some special attention, your concern will lead you to do the necessary research to make sure that your child’s diet is healthy and well balanced. I think that this affords an excellent opportunity to explore vegetables and fruits as the mainstay of your child’s diet. There are many alternative protein choices including dairy, eggs, nuts, beans, pulses and tofu that offer equivalent nutritional value to animal proteins. I would embrace your child’s interest in vegetarianism and support his/her choice as it will undoubtedly lead to a diet that will support a healthy lifestyle. You might let your child’s interest impact on the whole family’s food choices in future.


Alvin Rebick  

About Alvin:

Alvin Rebick has spent most of his career working with food, including owning and operating six restaurants, all listed in ‘Where to Eat in Canada’. Alvin also co-authored two nationally-released cookbook-memoirs with his wife and business partner, Glenna. Over the past eight years Alvin has worked in the non-profit sector to increase and improve access to fresh vegetables and fruits in the hopes of bringing the best possible food to all. He is currently the Project Leader of FoodReach.

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