Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Eating well for healthy aging

As a dietitian, many Elders have talked to me about food’s role in honouring our bodies and connecting us to others and to our traditions. Considering these aspects of eating can make a big difference to the health and well-being of seniors!

Wondering what you can do to eat better as you age? Or maybe you’re looking to support healthy eating for older adults in your family and community? Here are a few suggestions:

Get back to the Canada’s Food Guide basics

Look to Canada’s Food Guide when making food choices. Include a variety of foods from the four food groups: fruit and vegetables, grains, milk & alternatives, and meat & alternatives. As you age, your body needs more of certain nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Foods that are good sources of calcium are milk (canned, powdered or fresh), fortified soy beverage, yogurt, cheese, seaweed and fish with bones. If you are over the age of 50, take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU.

Consider joining a local food program

Programs that may be available in your community include:

  • Elders or seniors luncheons to share a healthy meal with others
  • Cooking groups to develop food skills like Food Skills for Families
  • Meals on Wheels for hot lunch deliveries
  • Good Food Box for a monthly offering of fresh, local produce

Eat together

Eating together is fun and enjoyable! Also, did you know that people who eat together, eat better? How does sharing dinner with a friend, joining an Elders luncheon group or teaching your grandkids a traditional family recipe sound?

Cook for yourself – you are worth the effort

Healthy meals are important for families of all sizes. A simple meal can be a healthy meal – aim to include at least three out of the four food groups. For example, yogurt with granola and berries or toast topped with baked beans and a glass of milk. Freeze leftovers for a quick meal later or reinvent them into a completely new meal.


One of Emilia’s tips for healthy eating as you age – cook for yourself because you are worth the effort! Together with some toast and a glass of milk, this “leftover” frittata is an easy and delicious way to enjoy a balanced meal.

Need some quick and easy inspiration? Here’s a tasty recipe I call “Leftover” Frittata. You can use any vegetables, meat, or fish that you want!

“Leftover” Frittata

Makes 4 servings.


  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup vegetables of your choice, diced
  • ½ cup cooked meat or fish of your choice, diced
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of your choice
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup cheese, shredded (optional)
  • ⅓ cup milk


  1. In an ovenproof skillet, cook vegetables with oil over medium heat until soft. Any vegetables like onion, broccoli, potato, spinach, carrot or red pepper work well. Add herbs and chopped meat or fish.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cheese. Pour into skillet and stir to combine with veggies and meat. Let cook until edge is starting to set.
  3. Place skillet under broiler for about 3 minutes or until top is set and light golden.

To make a balanced meal, enjoy with toast, potatoes or rice and a glass of milk!

For personalized nutrition counselling, ask to be referred to a registered dietitian in your community or call HealthLink 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian over the phone.

This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Healthier You magazine.


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.


Foodie Friday: Leftover pumpkin? Here’s a healthy go-to snack!

No-bake energy bites in a bowl.

The season of sweet treats is coming soon so it’s a great time to try a new healthy, go-to snack and use up some leftover pumpkin in the process!

As fall comes to a close and the winter season begins, your taste buds may also be shifting gears in preparation for all things Christmas. Sugar cookies, fudge, and candy canes are among the treats that many of us tend to expect during the holidays! These treats can be hard to avoid so, in preparation for this abundance of goodies, I’m carrying forward a favourite healthy fall recipe as a go-to healthy snack.

Use up those leftover cans of pumpkin puree or, better yet, put your pumpkins from Halloween to good use in this recipe that can be enjoyed any time of the year!

Full of healthy fats, fibre and protein, this quick grab-and-go snack is the perfect choice any time of the day. It’s guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth and nourish your body with good nutrition to get you through your busy day!

Pumpkin no-bake energy bites

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

Yield: About 25 one-inch balls


  • 8 oz (about 1 cup) chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry, not cooked)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia or flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and combined.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon to shape it into your desired size of energy balls (the recipe should yield about 25 balls if you aim for one inch in diameter).
  4. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Tip: Instead of balls, you can also press the mixture into a parchment paper-lined pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars.

Tip: Try adding some chocolate chips to take the decadence factor up a notch!

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!


Foodie Friday: Handling Halloween

Ingredients for stew recipe

Use some of B.C.’s delicious fall harvest vegetables to prepare a Moroccan stew this fall!

There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are changing to beautiful colours of yellow, red and orange and it is getting darker earlier (way earlier) – all evidence that autumn is here. For many children, this means that one of their most anticipated holidays of the season is near: Halloween! Kids everywhere look forward to trick-or-treating on Halloween and this can be a dilemma for many parents who worry about the sugary treats that their kids will be eating.

I often remind parents in this situation of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. Sugary treats in and of themselves are not the problem; it is when these treats replace healthy foods and are frequently eaten instead meals and snacks that they can be a problem.

Parents and caregivers are responsible for offering regular meals and sit-down snacks. In other words, parents decide what to provide and when to provide it. Children, in turn, are responsible for deciding how much to eat and whether or not to eat what is offered. This allows children to learn to self-regulate food intake (including sweet treats) by listening to their internal cues of hunger and fullness to decide how much to eat.

Now let’s apply the Division of Responsibility in Feeding to the pile of Halloween candy that your kids bring home on October 31!

As the parent or caregiver, you decide when to offer the treats. Maybe you will offer some with an after-school snack or perhaps as dessert a few times a week. When candy is on the menu, offer it along with the snack or meal and let your child choose what and how much to eat from everything that is offered. Eventually, the novelty of the candy will wear off and you will notice they will begin to eat less of the candy and more of the healthier options as long as you keep the structure of regular meals and sit-down snacks. Kids, like adults, crave variety when it comes to eating and will tire quickly of eating only the candy portion of their meal or snack.

How will you handle Halloween this year?

Another tell-tale sign of autumn is the fall harvest in our gardens, communities, and grocery stores! I myself love autumn because of the food we reap from the fall harvest: colourful winter squash from my garden, B.C. McIntosh apples (think homemade applesauce and apple pie!), and pears from the neighbours’ trees, to name a few.

The recipe below is a favourite dish in our house and I often make it before the trick-or-treating begins.

Moroccan Stew

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada‘s Simply Great Food


  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 small to medium-sized butternut squash or 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger root, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can (19 oz / 540 ml) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 4 cups low-sodium broth


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, squash, ginger, cumin and cinnamon; cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are just tender.
  4. Enjoy!
Beth Evans

About Beth Evans

As a registered dietitian, Beth is dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities make the healthiest choices available to them, and enjoy eating well based on their unique realities and nutrition needs. Juggling work and a very busy family life, Beth is grateful for the time she spends with her family enjoying family meals, long walks and bike rides. She also loves the quiet times exploring in her garden, experimenting in the kitchen, and practicing yoga and meditation.


Foodie Friday: Take the stress out of weekday mornings – busy morning breakfasts

Square of baked oatmeal and glass of milk.

Give your body’s energy factory the fuel it needs to support you throughout the day! Try Carly’s make-ahead baked oatmeal!

If you’re anything like me, you wake up on a workday morning and amble into the kitchen in search of breakfast. You may be thinking about the meetings you’ve got scheduled that day, the workout you are trying to squeeze in before work or making your kids’ lunches. Probably the last thing on your brain is a nutritious and satisfying meal to kick-start your energy.

But research shows that people who eat breakfast have more energy and better mental alertness and concentration for their workday. Think of it this way: overnight, when your body rests, so too does your energy production factory (your metabolism).When you wake up in the morning, if you don’t give your energy factory fuel (food) to work with, it won’t produce much energy. As a result, you’ll likely feel tired well into the day!

If you need a little more convincing of breakfast’s many benefits, I suggest you check out this article from Today’s Dietitian.

Because it’s so good both hot and cold and reheats well, let this filling and nutritious make-ahead breakfast take the stress out of your weekday morning routine! I like to make this ahead of time, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but you could also throw it together in less than 20 minutes while cleaning up from a weeknight supper if you’d prefer. This is a recipe I found on Epicurious – a foodie’s dream website with hundreds of well-tested recipes.

Square of baked oatmeal on a plate

This make-ahead baked oatmeal is delicious hot or cold and portions out easily for nutritious and filling weekday breakfasts!

Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup toasted, chopped walnut or pecan pieces
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups berries
  • 2 cups milk or milk alternative
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and half of the nuts. Set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the milk, egg, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish, cut bananas into 1 cm rounds and arrange evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter half of the berries into the bottom of the baking dish with the bananas. Evenly spread the dry oat mixture on top of the fruit in the baking dish. Evenly pour the milk mixture on top of the oats – make sure to get all of the corners saturated. Scatter the other half of the berries and toasted nuts on top.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and there are no wet areas. Serve with additional melted butter or maple syrup to taste.

This baked oatmeal is scrumptious both hot and cold and lends itself well to reheating or travelling. To make breakfast a breeze, allow the baked oatmeal to completely cool, then cut into squares and portion into reusable containers or wax paper for transport on your busy mornings!

Carly Phinney

About Carly Phinney

Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.


Foodie Friday: Packing school lunches: Part 2

Apple, plums, cheese slices, muffin, leftover dinner, almonds, vegetables, and yogurt in containers.

Curious as to what a dietitian packs for her own lunch? Lise loves variety in her lunch but may not get through all of this during her workday. She’ll listen to her stomach and see what she needs!

Are you worried that your kid doesn’t eat enough at school? Does most of their lunch come back home at the end of the day? Is your kid so hungry after school that they are ready to have a meltdown? What to do??

In a recent blog post, we were inspired with some school lunch ideas. The Division of Responsibility in Feeding can help us here, too, by outlining parents’ jobs with feeding and kids’ jobs with eating.

Parents are responsible for deciding what foods are offered at meal and snack times, so it is up to you to decide what to include in the daily lunch bag.

As they get older, you can involve your kids in packing their own lunches by giving them some choices, such as: “For your fruit today, do you want an apple or a banana?” or “For your milk product, do you want yogurt or cheese slices?”

Your teen will eventually be able to take over the job of packing lunch, although you can still check in: “Did you pack food from 3 or 4 food groups?” and “Did you pack your water bottle?”

Once the lunch is packed and off to school, your job is done!

The Division of Responsibility in Feeding includes jobs for kids, too. It is up to your kid to decide in what order they will eat their food items or how much of each particular item they will eat. Your kid’s appetite can change from day to day; by listening to their body’s “hungry” and “full” messages, they know how much to eat.

As an aside, many schools have changed their lunch hour so that play time occurs before eating time. This is called “Play First Lunch” and school staff find that kids are more focused on eating their lunch, are better behaved and are more prepared to learn.

If there is no afternoon snack at school, your kid will benefit from a sit-down snack after school. Make this available every day, regardless of how much they have eaten for their lunch. As with packing lunch, you are responsible for deciding what to offer for this snack. As your kids get older, they can start to manage this snack with your guidance, such as “Choose foods from 2 food groups” and “Sit at the table for your snack.”

Curious as to what a dietitian packs for her own lunch? The photo above is one example: leftover spaghetti squash with meat and veggie sauce, an apple, 2 small plums, snap peas & carrots, blueberry yogurt, cheddar cheese slices, a homemade fruit muffin and almonds. I love a lot of variety in my lunch, although I may not get through all of this during my workday – I’ll listen to my tummy and see what I need!

The recipe below is my “master fruit muffin recipe,” but I often modify the ingredients. I might swap the ratio of banana to apples, or use a plum or pear sauce instead of applesauce. In terms of flour, sometimes I use only whole wheat flour or only white flour, while at other times I throw in some oats or bran. Sometimes I add cinnamon, ginger or other spices. It all depends on what I have available in my kitchen at the time and what I am in the mood for.

Lise’s Master Fruit Muffin Recipe

Makes 12 muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1½ cup overripe banana
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare muffin tins.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl.
  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just moist, quickly spoon into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.

These fruit muffins are quite moist, and so are best eaten within a day or two. Alternatively, double the batch and freeze the muffins for future lunches and snacks.

Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise started her career as a dietitian with Northern Health in 2004 when she moved to Terrace "for a year." More than 10 years later, she is now part of the regional population health registered dietitian team and she continues to love living, working and playing in B.C.'s northwest. Lise enjoys playing outside with her husband and friends and you might find her skiing, biking or kiting. She’s passionate about local food, keeps a garden, enjoys local community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers market goodies, and carries out food preservation projects.


Foodie Friday: Keep cool this summer with homemade frozen treats

Strawberry ice pop on a plate with strawberries

Foods you make in your kitchen are going to be more nutritious (and delicious!) than the store-bought alternative. This summer, try making your own ice pops with your favourite fruit!

What a wonderful summer it has been in northern B.C.! How are you keeping cool this summer? Heading to the beach? Jumping in the pool? Enjoying a refreshing treat?

Kids love ice pops and frozen treats. They sure do hit the spot on a hot day! Have you ever tried making your own? They take only a few minutes to make and are guaranteed to be a hit! Ice pops are a fun and creative way for kids to get more fluids in the hot summer months.

Foods you make in your kitchen are going to be more nutritious (and delicious!) than the store-bought alternative. This rule applies for Popsicles and icy treats as well. The cost savings can be significant and you know exactly what ingredients are in there! It’s even better if you are able to use locally grown ingredients such as fresh B.C. fruit.

All you need are some ice pop moulds and a freezer! These moulds can be found among all the festive summer plates and glasses for under $5 at your local dollar store or larger grocery store. If you can’t find any, you can also use ice cube trays and cut pieces of firm drinking straws to use as handles.

When you have your own ice pop moulds, you can freeze whatever you like! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Blend up juicy watermelon with a squeeze of lime juice
  • Purée ripe peaches, nectarines or strawberries with a splash of water
  • Freeze your favourite smoothie. Try berries, milk, and Greek yogurt!
  • Throw some crushed raspberries or other berries into the moulds with diluted pineapple or orange juice

Here is a super easy strawberry ice cream inspired treat that is made with coconut milk, instead. The coconut milk makes this really rich, creamy and delicious.

The recipe below makes enough for twelve ¼ cup-sized ice pops (as seen in the picture) or six ½ cup ice pops.


  • 1 ½ cup strawberries, washed, core removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 can of regular coconut milk
  • 2-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey


  1. Wash and prepare the strawberries. Place in blender.
  2. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over strawberries, careful not to add any seeds.
  3. Add the coconut milk and maple syrup or honey to the blender.
  4. Blend together until smooth.
  5. Pour smooth mixture into ice pop moulds, snap on the lids. Remember that if you don’t have ice pop moulds, you can use ice cube trays and firm straws.
  6. Freeze for at least 3-4 hours, until solid.
  7. When ready to eat, run under hot water for 10 seconds to easily remove the ice pop from the mould.
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!


Foodie Friday: Enjoy B.C.’s bounty this summer

Grilled corn and tomatoes on a table.

How are you enjoying B.C.’s bounty this long weekend? Grill some local corn, pull some tomatoes from the vine, and give Marianne’s salad a try!

Summertime in B.C. is awesome! We can get outside and enjoy our favourite activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming throughout our amazing province. It’s also a great time to up our healthy eating game as our gardens, farmers markets, and grocery stores are filled with fresh B.C. produce! I know I can hardly wait for those summer months when I can finally sink my teeth into B.C.-grown nectarines, raspberries, corn on the cob, and more.

There are many benefits to enjoying B.C.-grown fruits and vegetables

  • Local produce is the freshest produce you can buy – it’s picked ripe and ready to eat and delivered to you quickly, especially if it’s coming from your own backyard! This means it tastes better, looks better, and retains more nutrients.
  • Local produce is better for the environment – fruit and vegetables grown in other countries have to travel long distances and require more packaging to make it to your plate.
  • Choosing B.C. produce supports our local economies – when you choose B.C. produce at the grocery store or shop at your local farmers market you are supporting those producers in your community.

Whether you grow your own, visit your local farmers market, or shop at the grocery store, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the bounty of B.C. And what better time to do so than this B.C. Day long weekend! If you are hosting a BBQ, having a lakeside picnic, or going to a potluck, try out this crowd-pleasing salad. It’s packed full of flavour and uses a variety of produce you can find growing in our awesome province.

Happy B.C. Day everyone!

Salad and dressing

This grilled corn, arugula, and couscous salad is a celebration of B.C. produce. Enjoy it at your next BBQ, lakeside picnic, or family gathering!

Grilled corn, arugula, and couscous salad

Adapted from The Wellness Kitchen Cookbook, by Paulette Lambert, RD

Serves 6-8



  • 1 cup water
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut from cob
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ⅓ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. In a large salad bowl, toss couscous, arugula, tomatoes, corn, avocado, pumpkin seeds, cranberries. Set aside.
  3. For the dressing, in a blender or food processor, add basil, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  4. To serve, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.


  • Keep the dressing and salad separate until you are ready to serve to avoid soggy arugula.
  • You can also replace the couscous with quinoa or millet to make it gluten-free.
Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. 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 experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.


Foodie Friday: Easy mason jar parfait

Yogurt parfait in mason jar.

Mason jar breakfasts can pack a powerful punch and are super easy to grab-and-go! Try Rilla’s recipe or mix it up with your favourite fruits and nuts.

Mason jars are a great way to take your breakfast up a notch. Their fun presentation gives a sneak peek into a colourful, appealing meal before we actually dig in!

Mason jars can be used to store and transport your meal and can also be used for baking or shaking/mixing ingredients.

This cool idea makes portion control at breakfast easy, with the added bonus of a portable and environmentally friendly container! Make a mason jar your new favourite Tupperware or lunchbox.

Need an idea to fill your mason jar?

Mix up the goodness of quinoa with greek yogurt, fruit and nuts for a breakfast with some staying power. This meal combination has a healthy dose of good fats, protein and carbs to start your day off right!

This recipe is extremely versatile. Try using granola in place of quinoa, a variety of fruit in place of blueberries, or other nuts, dried fruit or nut butter in place of almonds! The options are endless, and ensure that you’ll never be bored with your breakfast meal again!

Easy Mason Jar Parfait


  • ¼ cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp almonds
  • Pure maple syrup, to taste


  1. Prepare quinoa the night before as per package instructions. Cool overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Layer yogurt, quinoa, fruit and nuts and top with maple syrup to taste.

Try making these the night before or in batches for a quick grab-and-go breakfast in the 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!


Foodie Friday: Turn up the heat! Cooking healthy meals on the BBQ

BBQ chicken, mango salsa, asparagus, and carrots on a plate.

Think outside the steak for the grill this summer! Erin’s jerk chicken recipe is a great option for a healthy and quick BBQ dinner!

Summer is here!

Hot weather invites you to enjoy the outdoors, and cooking is no exception. Unless you enjoy cooking in a hot kitchen while gazing out at the beautiful sunshine, it’s time to pull out the barbecue and get creative!

While I was in Vancouver, I ran a community kitchen as part of a local organization that empowered families to grow their own food and cook delicious and healthy meals from their bounty. We cooked everything on a barbecue, from cedar-planked salmon to homemade wild blueberry perogies, to show that anything is possible with a little creativity and improvisation.

When you think about barbecuing, are you envisioning a juicy steak with grilled potatoes and corn on the cob?

While that is definitely an option, I like to try new things on the barbecue and also look outside of the typical steak and potato meal for cancer prevention.

Eating a diet high in red meat has been shown to increase cancer risk and grilled or barbecued meat may further increase your risk of developing cancer. According to the Dietitians of Canada, when meat is cooked at a high temperature, like on the grill, fat can drip onto hot flames. This can cause flare-ups and cancer-causing compounds may be formed. To help keep healthy while enjoying your favourite foods on the barbecue, here are a few tips.

Tips for a healthy BBQ season

  • Choose kabobs or thin cuts of meat to minimize time on the grill.
  • Trim off visible fat to help reduce flare-ups.
  • Marinate your meats to reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds by 80-90%!
  • Barbecue at a lower temperature.
  • Trim off any burnt or charred pieces.
  • Opt for vegetarian items! Grilling vegetables doesn’t increase your cancer risk.

Last night, I enjoyed this spicy jerk chicken with mango salsa, using butterflied and marinated chicken for a quick and healthy summer dinner.

Chicken, vegetables, and rice on a plate.

Butterflied chicken (or small cuts of meat on a kabob) is one way to minimize time on the grill and make your BBQ healthier this summer. What are your BBQ favourites?

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa


  • 4 chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded 1 inch thick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • ½ tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Combine spices and lime juice together to create a paste. Rub over chicken and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Turn the barbecue on to medium heat.
  3. Make the mango salsa by combining mango, red onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt together in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken on the barbecue and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip chicken and cook on the other side until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  5. Serve chicken with mango salsa and your favourite sides.

Food safety is still important on the grill. For tips to keep barbecuing safe, check out tips from Health Canada.

Don’t feel like cooking? Check out Carly’s “full-meal-deal salad” for a quick summertime dinner.

Erin Branco

About Erin Branco

Erin is a dietitian with Northern Health's clinical nutrition team at UHNBC. Erin has a passion for growing and cooking food as well as teaching patients, clients and families about incorporating a balanced, wholesome diet into a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, you can find her cooking up a storm, writing about food and nutrition, and growing vegetables at her community garden. During her dietetics internship, Erin explored the north from Fort St. John to Haida Gwaii, learning about clinical and public health dietetics with many adventures along the way.


Foodie Friday: Planting seeds for healthy eating

Tomatoes, corn, eggs, chives, and potatoes

How do you involve kids in cooking? Even young kids can wash veggies or use a butter knife to cut up hard-boiled eggs. Hands-on food experiences help build kids’ knowledge, skills, and confidence with food.

Are you interested in helping kids become good eaters? Young children can’t do much with nutrition information, but they do benefit from:

Now that summer has arrived, there are many opportunities for hands-on food experiences for children. Build curiosity and excitement by involving kids in growing and gathering food. Even one potato plant or tomato plant in a large pot, or a small pot of chives or parsley, can provide great learning experiences for kids.


  • their excitement as they see the plant starting to grow
  • their sense of pride when they water the plant
  • their anticipation when they harvest the food from the plant
  • their curiosity as this food becomes part of a meal or snack

These practical learning experiences build their knowledge, skills and confidence with food.

Here is a recipe for a potato salad that can be made with local or store-bought ingredients this summer. It’s a flexible recipe – if you don’t have one of the vegetables, no troubles (well, except the potatoes – it just wouldn’t be potato salad without the potatoes, right?). Involve your kids! Even young kids can wash vegetables, use a butter knife to cut up the boiled eggs, or mix together the dressing.

Interested in more ways to plant seeds for healthy eating? Check out the resources for parents, teachers, and childcare programs after the recipe.

Potato salad

Not your same ol’ tater salad! Lise shares a perfect summer recipe with lots of modification options for your family to explore!

Not your same ol’ tater salad



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • Pepper, to taste


  • 7 medium potatoes, diced, boiled and drained (try keeping the skin on)
  • 2-3 ears of corn, boiled, niblets cut from the cob (or 1-2 cups canned or frozen corn)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 cups green beans, steamed and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • Small bunch of chives, chopped


  1. Boil potatoes, drain and put in a large bowl.
  2. Mix together dressing and toss in with potatoes (the dressing absorbs well when the potatoes are still warm).
  3. Prepare all other ingredients and mix together with potatoes.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


Add or substitute kale, parsley, basil, baby tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, radishes, or something else! What would you or your kids tweak in this recipe?

More resources

For schools

  • Start small with a program like the BC Agriculture in the Classroom “Spuds in Tubs” program.

For childcare

  • Food Flair is a resource for early learning practitioners with many food activities for young children. See the “Fun and Learning About Healthy Eating,” “Bundles of Fun,” and “Let’s Make” sections.

At home

  • In addition to hands-on activities in the garden or in the kitchen, check out your local library’s collection of kids’ books about growing, harvesting, cooking and eating food.
  • Check out Better Together BC and the videos from winners of the Hands-On Cook-Off contest.
Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise started her career as a dietitian with Northern Health in 2004 when she moved to Terrace "for a year." More than 10 years later, she is now part of the regional population health registered dietitian team and she continues to love living, working and playing in B.C.'s northwest. Lise enjoys playing outside with her husband and friends and you might find her skiing, biking or kiting. She’s passionate about local food, keeps a garden, enjoys local community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers market goodies, and carries out food preservation projects.