Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: The sweet and savory side to winter squash

Several types a squash are shown.

The variety of squash types gives you versatility in your meal planning.

The Sweet and Savory Side to Winter Squash

Much to my delight, winter squash have always marked the arrival of Fall. These festive vegetables are actually harvested in early fall and stored throughout the winter. There are so many varieties to choose from—acorn, butternut, kabocha, buttercup, hubbard and more. They often make me wonder why pumpkins get all the glory this time of year!

But with their hard rind, tough flesh, and often knobbly appearance it is not surprising that preparing winter squash might seem like a daunting task. With a few tips, you will be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate this hearty vegetable into your Fall and Winter meal repertoire!

Preparing Winter Squash

Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. You could also cut in quarters, wedges, or cubes. If the squash is too hard to slice, microwave on high for 3 minutes or look for pre-cut pieces at the grocery store.

Cooking Winter Squash

Just like a potato, there are many different ways to cook winter squash. They can be baked, steamed, stir-fried, microwaved, stuffed, or roasted. Roasting winter squash enhances flavour and is my preferred method because there is no peeling or chopping required! Simply bake in a lightly oiled roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until tender. Once the squash is done, you can easily scoop out the soft flesh.

Enjoying Winter Squash

There are endless ways to transform your winter squash into a delicious and healthy meal – both savory and sweet! Each type of squash offers a unique flavour, but can be easily substituted for one another in any recipe. Here are a few ideas:

Savory Side:

  • Make a colourful alterative to mash potatoes
  •  Use it for burrito filling – try  squash, black beans, avocado, and cheese
  • Add to your favourite pasta dish – toss diced roasted squash with pasta, olive oil and parmesan  or add pureed squash to homemade mac and cheese for a surprisingly creamy sauce
  • Add roasted squash  to soups, stews, or chilli – try pureeing baked squash with vegetable broth, and low-fat milk or soymilk for a delicious soup
  • Top a salad with roasted squash for a light meal – pairs well with dark greens, walnuts, cranberries and feta cheese
  • Create an edible bowl for leftovers with twice-baked stuffed squash

Sweet Side:

  • Enjoy with chopped nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup for an easy and nutritious dessert
  • Mix with yogurt and pumpkin spice and layer with granola for a new take on yogurt parfait
  • Try squash for breakfast on oatmeal, pancakes or waffles

So, I challenge you to try a new winter squash recipe this Fall!

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

As a Community Dietitian based in Terrace, Emilia supports 15 different aboriginal communities in the Nass Valley, Kitimaat Village and the Hazeltons. Emilia recently completed her dietetics internship with Northern Health as part of her dietetics training from the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about finding unique, client-centered approaches to supporting families in their current feeding efforts. In her free time, Emilia enjoys cooking, mountain biking and cross country skiing.

Share

Crave-worthy Kale with Cashew Cream!

A dark green kale salad with a cashew cream dressing is on a white plate.

This salad is sure to make a kale fan out of even the harshest kale-haters!

You’ve probably seen kale in the spotlight over the past few years with claims that it has nutritional super powers. Are you wondering what all the hype is about?

Kale is often labelled a “super food” because it’s full of good stuff for your body, like vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting anti-oxidants.

Some interesting facts about kale:

  • The calcium it contains is better absorbed than milk! Four-and-a-half cups of raw kale actually provide more calcium than a glass of milk! Kale packs in 435 mg. of calcium vs 322 mg. in one cup of milk. Considering kale wilts down quite a bit when it’s steamed, that’s actually not that much volume.
  • Four-and-a-half cups of raw kale has 10 grams of protein – the same as a standard serving of meat! Plus, it has more iron than steak and a fraction of the calories!
  • Gram for gram, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C than oranges!

This recipe appears on my menu plan at least once a month at home. It’s delicious with baked salmon and brown rice! I have converted non-kale eaters into kale-lovers with it on more than one occasion - my father-in-law even had seconds!

Cashew cream is a super easy, simple, and a delicious non-dairy form of “cream.” It has healthy satisfying fats for your heart and is great for people who are avoiding milk due to intolerance or allergy!

Steamed Kale with Cashew Cream
(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of kale, washed well
  • 1/2 cup cashews, unsalted and roasted (use sun flower seeds instead if you are worried about nut allergies) *
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or garlic powder)

Directions:

  1. Wash the kale. Holding the tough stalk in your hand, run your hand up the stem to rip off the leaves. This will leave the tough part behind, discard. Rip the leaves into bite sized pieces.
  2. Prepare a pot with 1 inch of water at the bottom. Place a steamer inside the pot and add the ripped leaves. Steam kale over simmering water for about 15 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the kale is steaming, prepare the cashew cream. Add the cashews, water and onion powder into the blender. Blend for about 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  4. Once kale is done, place in a large bowl and coat with cashew cream!

*Optional: For a really smooth cashew cream, soak the cashews in water for about 4 hours or during the day, drain before adding a fresh ½ cup of water. They will bulk up in size and blend nicely. Sunflower seeds should be soaked prior to blending.

What are some of the ways that you use kale?

Amy Horrock

About Amy Horrock

Born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Amy Horrock is a registered dietitian and member of the Regional Dysphagia Management Team. She loves cooking, blogging, and spreading the joy of healthy eating to others! Outside of the kitchen, this prairie girl can be found crocheting, reading, or exploring the natural splendor and soaring heights of British Columbia with her husband!

Share

Foodie Friday: Maple Peanut Butter Fruit Dip and snacking

The maple peanut butter fruit dip, sprinkled with cinnamon, is surrounded by chopped fruit.

Snack healthy with this maple peanut butter fruit dip.

It’s 3 p.m. You’re feeling a bit sluggish. You hear that familiar rumble in your stomach. Must be time for a snack!

Snacking is a normal healthy eating activity. It’s a great way to keep our energy up between meals and the perfect time to incorporate fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unfortunately, many pre-packaged snack foods are missing the things our bodies need, giving us added sugar, salt, and fat instead. They may be convenient, but they aren’t very filling, and may be doing more harm than good. Fortunately, there are plenty of convenient, easy to prepare, and easy to pack real food snacks. Here are 10 tasty and simple ideas to get you started on your way to smarter snacking:

  • Cut up vegetables (such as carrots, celery, peppers, or cucumbers) with your favourite dip – try this vibrant Dilly Beet Hummus!
  • Low-fat yogurt topped with granola and blueberries.
  • Cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers.
  • Homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, cereal, and chocolate chips.
  • Grab and go fruit – think apples, bananas, oranges, or pears.
  • Avocado toast – fork mash 1/4 of a ripe avocado on whole grain toast, season with salt and pepper.
  • Homemade whole grain muffins.
  • Peanut butter and banana on rice cakes.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk.

Sometimes I like to swap my veggies and dip for fruit and dip instead. In this recipe, Greek yogurt pairs with nutty peanut butter and maple syrup to create a dip that eats like a meal. The cinnamon gives it a subtle spicy kick that will have you licking the bowl clean! Plus, it’s easy enough for everyday snacking and fancy enough for guests. Give it a try!

Maple Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip (makes approximately 1 cup)

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter (no salt, no sugar added)
  • 2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix until well combined.
  2. Allow to sit for an hour to let the flavours meld…if you can. Otherwise, grab your favourite fruit and start dipping!

Source: http://frenchfriestoflaxseeds.com/2014/05/12/maple-peanut-butter-greek-yogurt-dip/

Tell me, what are some of your favourite smarter snacks?

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is the Registered Dietitian with the Shapedown BC program at UHNBC. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found creating new recipes and writing about them on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

Share

Foodie Friday: Easy fish on the campfire

A campfire on a beach can be the perfect place to make a quick, delicious summer meal.

A campfire is a great way to make a quick, delicious summer meal.

During the summer, meal prep time is often lost to outdoor activities and enjoying the sunshine. I like to call this season a time for “casual dining.” I aim for simple meals with minimal prep/cook time so I can get out of the kitchen and make good use of the warm weather. It’s even better when I can incorporate the meal making into my summer activities!

As many people do, I enjoy spending time at the lake on the weekends. Preparing supper without having to leave the beach is ideal for me. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious- and can be cooked right at the campfire, maximizing your fun in the sun!

Foil Packet Fish and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 4 white fish filets
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1-2 tsp seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash; however, any blend will work – get creative!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Note: Remember you’ll also need aluminum foil!

Directions:

  1. Slice vegetables thinly.
  2. Thaw and rinse fish filets.
  3. Tear off two pieces of aluminum foil twice as long as the filets and lay on top of each other.
  4. Grease the inside of the aluminum foil with butter where the fish will be placed.
  5. Place one fish filet in the middle of your aluminum foil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  6. Pile ¼ of the vegetables of top of the fish.
  7. Bring the ends of the foil together and seal shut.
  8. Do this for the rest of the fish filets.
  9. Cook on hot coals for 12 minutes each side.
Rilla Reardon

About Rilla Reardon

Rilla is a Registered Dietitian working for Northern Health since 2013. Rilla moved to northern BC from the east coast to continue developing her skills as a dietitian in a clinical setting while enjoying all that the north has to offer. Outside of work, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or navigating the trails around Prince George with her dog, Henry. Rilla channels her passion for nutrition into practice, inspiring others to nourish their bodies, minds and souls with delicious and healthy food!

Share

Foodie Friday: Summer Bean Salad

A colorful bean salad.

For a shot of fiber, add this bean salad to your summer menu.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…
…the more you eat the less you toot!

Contrary to popular belief, the more beans (or other high fiber foods) a person eats the less gas they will experience over time.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at your digestive track – specifically the colon. The colon is where our natural gut bacteria live and eat. This type of bacteria is also referred to as probiotic bacteria. We acquire these bacteria at birth, through probiotic foods (such as yogurt) and from our environment.

Indigestible complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, found in beans are some of our gut bacteria’s favorite food. Humans cannot digest these carbohydrates on their own, which is why they arrive at the colon intact. The symbiotic relationship with our gut bacteria makes it possible to absorb some of the nutrients these carbohydrates have to offer. Unfortunately for us, gas is a byproduct produced when breaking down the oligosaccharides. This gas then leaves the colon and we all know where it comes out.

People often experience the greatest amount of gas when they start to ingest high fiber foods in large quantities. We need to train our bodies to break down this indigestible fiber efficiently. To do so we must slowly introduce these high fiber foods to our gut. Always remember to increase your fluid intake as well. Fiber binds to liquid in the gut. Without enough liquid you can become constipated.

Tips to reduce gas:

  • Rinse pre-soaked or canned beans several times before cooking.
  •  Reduce swallowed air:
    • Chewing gum, drinking pop, sipping from a straw, and talking while eating can all increase the amount of air we ingest into our digestive tract which can increase flatulence.
    • If you are lactose intolerant look for lactose-free options or take a lactase enzyme pill before consuming dairy products
    • Steer clear of large quantities of low calorie sweeteners

You can start introducing some tasty fiber to your plate this summer with the refreshing black bean and corn salad below. I adapted it from AllRecipes.com.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels (or 1 can of corn)
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are mixed well.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing and serve.
Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!

Share

Foodie Friday: Grow your own

Rebecca's daughter waters the garden at their home.

Rebecca’s daughter waters the garden at their home.

As the days continue to get warmer and we spend more time outside, my thoughts always turn to gardening. I love watching the tiny seeds I plant turn into something green and then, with luck, something edible. After a crazy day of work, I find gardening to be a huge de-stresser – whether I’m pulling weeds or just sticking my fingers in the dirt, my stresses melt away. Gardening has some great health benefits and is a fun activity to do as a family as well. My daughter’s favorite activity is watering!

Gardening has the following great benefits:

  • The food is local and you know exactly how fresh it is.
  • It tastes great.
  • It can be cheaper.
  • It is a source of physical activity.
  • It teaches your children where food comes from.

Some vegetables that grow well in our climate without a greenhouse include: potatoes, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas, beans, beets, radishes, zucchini, cucumber, turnips, and parsnips.

If you have leftover zucchini, here are some ways to use it up:

BBQ:

Turn your BBQ on to medium heat. Take a small zucchini and cut it in half lengthwise. Brush olive oil on the zucchini and then sprinkle with herbs such as oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, etc. Grill the zucchini for four minutes on each side or until a fork goes in easily.

Stir fry:

Because zucchini cooks quickly, it can be cut into small pieces or rounds and added to a stir fry.

Make relish:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp mustard seed
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 zucchini (~12 oz), finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan combine the oil, onion, mustard seed, turmeric, salt pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) over medium heat, stirring often until the onion softens (about 6 minutes).
  2. Stir in zucchini, red bell pepper, brown sugar, and vinegar and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in ½ cup of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
  5. Whisk cornstarch with 1tbsp of water and add to the mixture.
  6. Cook, stirring until the mixture thickens.
  7. Pour into an airtight container and let cool.
  8. Store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

What are some of your favourite things to grow in your garden and how do you like to serve them?

Share

Foodie Friday: Build a Better Summer Burger

Summer burgers and saladSummer is here—as is evident by the light beaming in my bedroom window at 5:30am, the amount of things blooming in my garden, and the increasing need to mow my lawn—and nothing says summer like a juicy burger on the BBQ! You might think burgers and dietitians don’t go well together, but you’d be wrong! Perhaps because of these incorrect beliefs: dietitians only eat healthy foods; foods can easily be defined as healthy or unhealthy; and burgers can’t be healthy. All false!

Dietitians think less in black and white and more in shades of gray when it comes to food and eating. Our careful consideration of food and nutrition science clearly shows that healthy eating is defined more by the pattern of how one eats over time, rather than food by food or meal by meal.  When we translate that knowledge into practical tips for you to use, a list of things to consider about food begins to form:

  • Burgers on the barbequeFood – is it real food, local, minimally processed?
  • Nutrition – does it provide a variety of key nutrients to support growth, development, and health?
  • Eating competence – are you able to get enough food that you enjoy?
  • Culture and traditions – are you able to get and enjoy foods that support continuation of your family and cultural traditions?

Dietitians work with people where they are at and support them to make small, sustainable changes in what and how they eat. That means we would never try and convince someone who loves a burger loaded with fried onions, bacon, cheese, and mayo-based sauce to make the switch to a veggie or salmon burger (although I do make a great veggie burger!). Instead, we might offer tweaks to your usual recipe to pump up the nutrition and flavour while reducing the salt and fat a little.

Below is a typical burger recipe with a few suggestions to do exactly that. You can pick and choose from the list, do them one-by-one or a few at a time. Let your taste buds guide you!

Usual Burger Ingredients

Possible Modifications

1 lb. hamburger meat
  • Use extra lean ground beef (local if you can get it) or moose
  • Mix ¾ lb. of extra lean ground beef with ¼ lb. of lean ground chicken or turkey or ¼ – ½ cup soy ground round or mashed black beans
  • Add 1/3 cup of grated carrot, zucchini, apple or pear or 1/3 cup of ground cherries to the meat mixture
¼ cup soft bread crumbs
  • Use whole wheat bread crumbs or oatmeal
  • Use leftover cooked quinoa or brown rice instead of bread crumbs
1 egg
  • Use 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg
¼ tsp. salt
  • Leave out of the recipe
1/8 tsp. pepper
  • Be creative and add other herbs and spices like cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, etc.
4 hamburger buns
  • Use 100% whole wheat or whole grain buns
Toppings: ketchup, relish, mustard, mayo, bacon
  • Use a lower sodium ketchup, substitute with salsa or use a fruit chutney
  • Load on the veggies whether grilled veggies like mushrooms, onions, zucchini, peppers or fresh ones like sliced tomatoes, leafy garden greens, onions, grated cabbage, avocado or hot or sweet peppers
  • Add a lower fat cheese (<20 MF), preferably a sharply flavoured one for added zing!
  • Use less traditional condiments like hummus or tzatziki
  • Use lower sodium bacon or turkey bacon or leave out the bacon sometimes

 

Flo Sheppard

About Flo Sheppard

Flo has a dual role with Northern Health—she is the NW population health team lead and a regional population health dietitian with a lead in 0 – 6 nutrition. In the latter role, she is passionate about the value of supporting children to develop eating competence through regular family meals and planned snacks. Working full-time and managing a busy home life of extracurricular and volunteer activities can challenge Flo's commitment and practice of family meals but flexibility, conviction, planning and creativity help!

Share

Foodie Friday: Taste the Rainbow Potato Salad

A vibrant, colourful potato salad in a bowl.

Liven up your summer BBQ with this potato salad!

School is out, the sun is shining, and Canada Day is just around the corner. Summer is here! That means picnics at the lake and backyard barbeques with family and friends. For me, no summer barbeque is complete without the quintessential summer salad – the potato salad. While there are plenty of ready-made potato salads that you can pick up from your local grocery store, nothing quite compares to the homemade version. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

This potato salad recipe is my interpretation of the famous potato salad that my boyfriend’s mother makes. His family can’t get enough of her potato salad, and I must admit, it might even trump my own mom’s potato salad (shhh – don’t tell her!). I love this recipe because it incorporates a variety of vegetables into the salad in a way that even picky eaters can enjoy. Extra veggies mean not only extra vitamins and nutrients, but extra flavor as well!

My mom did teach me one great tip: to steam your potatoes over boiling water instead of putting them in boiling water. This lets you control how tender they get and keeps them from absorbing too much water. You end up with the perfectly cooked potato that is tender yet still keeps its shape in the salad.

So, forget the store-bought potato salad — liven up your barbeque with this colourful dish, and enjoy all of the fun that summer brings.

Taste the Rainbow Potato Salad
Serves 6-8

  • 2 lbs. of potatoes (use a mixture of colours if you can)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 5-6 radishes, grated
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 dill pickles, grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Quarter (or more if they are larger) your potatoes and steam or boil until just fork tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Hard boil your eggs by placing your eggs in a saucepan, covering with water, and bringing to a boil. Set the timer for seven minutes, then remove the eggs, and place the saucepan in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs (without draining) until they are cool. Peel and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the carrot, celery, radishes, green onion, pickles, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and Dijon mustard. Grate in your eggs, and mix thoroughly.

4. Add your potatoes, and combine gently so as not to break up the potatoes too much. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Chill in the fridge for a few hours so the flavours can meld and enjoy!

Food Safety note: As this potato salad contains eggs, mayonnaise, and yogurt, you want to make sure you keep it refrigerated or in a cooler on ice. Too much time in the hot sun equals unhappy tummies later on.

Source:  frenchfriestoflaxseeds.com (my blog).

 

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is the Registered Dietitian with the Shapedown BC program at UHNBC. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found creating new recipes and writing about them on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

Share

Foodie Friday: Tropical overnight oats

Ingredients for the overnight oats recipe and a bowl of it with the ingredients combined.

Get the day started on the right foot with this easy and tasty breakfast!

As we transition into the warmer summer months, I notice that my food choices change with the rising temperature and that I begin craving my typical summer breakfast choices. Gone are the mornings where all I want is a steaming bowl of oatmeal.

With the change in seasons, many of us see a change in our eating habits. Summer is BBQ season and a time for cool, refreshing dishes that get us away from the stove and into the sunshine. If you aren’t careful, summer can bring with it less balanced meals. Here’s a recipe to get your day started off right, with a refreshing and balanced breakfast!

I also serve this dish warm in winter months. In the warm version,  I cook the first four ingredients on the stove top and use everything else as garnish. The cool, summer version below comes together in minutes, making for a quick grab and go breakfast in the morning! Whichever version you prefer, this a great breakfast choice that packs the fibre and protein to get you through till lunch!

Tropical overnight oats:
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup instant oats or Muesli
  • ½ diced banana
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk or Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pineapple tidbits or diced pineapple
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • Garnish to your liking (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, nuts, chia seeds, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a Mason jar or Tupperware container the night before. It will be ready to eat by morning!
Rilla Reardon

About Rilla Reardon

Rilla is a Registered Dietitian working for Northern Health since 2013. Rilla moved to northern BC from the east coast to continue developing her skills as a dietitian in a clinical setting while enjoying all that the north has to offer. Outside of work, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or navigating the trails around Prince George with her dog, Henry. Rilla channels her passion for nutrition into practice, inspiring others to nourish their bodies, minds and souls with delicious and healthy food!

Share

Foodie Friday: Is your salad dressed to impress?

The ingredients to make a salad dressing.

Everything you need to make a delicious, healthy salad dressing tonight.

A good dressing is the key to bringing your favourite salad creations to life, transforming a salad from OK to yummy! I’ll admit that I use a bottle of store-bought salad dressing once in a while (especially when I’m travelling), but there are many reasons why I prefer to whip up my own:

  • It’s easy! It takes all of two minutes, does not require specialized kitchen gadgets, and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboards.
  • It’s flexible! You can create endless variations of flavours at a fraction of the cost of store-bought dressing.
  • It can be healthier because you control the ingredients!

The two main components of a basic salad dressing are acid and oil. If you are in a rush, the acid and the oil will be all you really need, but additional spices can really boost the flavour. Here are some tips to help you make gourmet dressings that are sure to impress:

Choosing your ingredients

  • Acid – Try a variety of vinegars like balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or rice vinegar. Feel free to mix and match your vinegars or try adding a splash of lemon, lime, or freshly squeezed orange juice for a citrus twist.
  • Oil – Choosing neutral-tasting oils such as canola, sunflower, or grape seed will not overpower the other ingredients; however, if you are feeling adventurous, you can go for a more flavourful oil such as sesame, flaxseed, olive, or avocado!
  • Spice – Not only do spices enhance the flavour of your dressing, they also prevent it from separating too quickly. It can be as simple as adding a bit of pepper or you can try a variety of dried or fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, oregano, or thyme. Other options include garlic, mustard (dry or prepared), soya sauce, ginger, or a touch of honey.

Preparing your dressing

  • Ratio – While the traditional salad dressing ratio is three parts oil to one part vinegar, the best ratio depends on your taste. I prefer a zesty dressing with more vinegar than oil. Once you learn the ratio that works for you, you can go ahead and just eyeball it!
  • Mix, Whisk, or Shake – The final step takes some vigorous mixing with a fork or a whisk to blend the oil with the water based acid. A good trick is adding the ingredients directly into a jar or plastic container then just giving it a good shake. This way you can store any leftover dressing in the fridge.

Getting started

Here are some salad dressing ideas to help you get started:

  • Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice (optional), canola oil, mustard, pepper.
  • Orange Twist Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest (optional), garlic, pepper, touch of honey.
  • Classic Italian Vinaigrette: White wine or red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, dried basil and/or oregano, and pepper.
  • Zesty Oriental Dressing: Rice wine vinegar, lime juice, canola oil, a bit of sesame oil, a splash of soya sauce, minced cilantro, a touch of honey.

Do you have a favourite salad dressing that you would like to share? Please comment below!

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

As a Community Dietitian based in Terrace, Emilia supports 15 different aboriginal communities in the Nass Valley, Kitimaat Village and the Hazeltons. Emilia recently completed her dietetics internship with Northern Health as part of her dietetics training from the University of British Columbia. She is passionate about finding unique, client-centered approaches to supporting families in their current feeding efforts. In her free time, Emilia enjoys cooking, mountain biking and cross country skiing.

Share