Healthy Living in the North

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:


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:


  • 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


  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?


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!


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: (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.


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


  • 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.)


  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!


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

Emilia is a UBC Dietetics Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Emilia’s internship placements have taken her throughout northern BC, from Quesnel all the way to Haida Gwaii. She has been enjoying all the north has to offer, including trying cross-country skiing for the first time. With a background in psychology, she is very interested in learning more about the unique and complex health challenges facing rural communities.


Foodie Friday: Loving leftovers

Leftover Roast Stir-fry

Foodie Friday: Leftover Roast Stir-fry

Does the word “leftovers” strike memories of the mushy, reheated dinners that your mother made you eat as a child? When used right, leftovers can become much more than mush, saving you huge amounts of time on weekday meals simplifying meal prep.

Here are some tips for planning for leftovers:

  • Generally, it doesn’t take any longer to make a double portion of soups, stews, chilies, or casseroles than it does to make a single portion. Save the extra portion for when you are especially busy and don’t have time for meal prep.
  • Leftovers can be used fresh for up to three days before they should be frozen for use at a later date.
  • At the beginning of the week, cook a large quantity of rice, pasta, or quinoa so that you have enough to use in various ways throughout the rest of the week.
  • Buy a large roast or package of meat, which is generally less expensive, and either freeze the leftovers or use them in the next day or two.
  • Remember to refrigerate your food within two hours of serving it so that your leftovers stay safe to serve.

Try this easy leftover roast recipe. It’s tasty and quick for those busy weekday evenings.

Leftover Roast Stir-fry
Makes three servings


  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 ½ cups cut up leftover beef roast (or pork if you prefer)
  • 4 ½ cups chopped vegetables (whatever you have in your fridge or freezer – zucchini, peppers, snap peas, broccoli, carrots, etc.)


  1. Add soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and vinegar in a small pot and heat over medium heat until boiling.
  2. Mix water and cornstarch in a small bowl and slowly add to pot while continuously stirring.
  3. Once the sauce has thickened, it can be removed from heat and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan.
  5. Add vegetables and stir fry on medium-high for three to five minutes.
  6. Add meat and sauce and cook for an additional two minutes or until meat is reheated and vegetables are tender crisp.
  7. Serve over brown rice or egg noodles.



Foodie Friday: Northern B.C. Farmers’ Markets 2014

A picture of carrot spice muffins

Carrots: from a farmers’ market staple to a tasty breakfast treat!

This past September, I moved to Prince George to do an internship with Northern Health. This ten month term will put me that much closer to becoming a Registered Dietitian while giving me the opportunity to explore areas of B.C. that I have never been to before. During my time here, I’ve managed to check out farmers’ markets in each town that I’ve visited, including Prince George (both the indoor and outdoor market), Fort St. John, and Dawson Creek. All of these markets have exposed me to great foods that I hadn’t tried before, like Guinness jelly and pickled green beans!

There are 13 markets to choose from in northern B.C. They’re a great place to support local farmers – it’s nice to know where your money’s going — and artists in your community. Eating local reduces your carbon footprint and may introduce you to tasty new products. Food picked nearby may be fresher and higher in nutritional value than grocery store foods that are often picked weeks or months in advance of sale. In addition to produce and canned goods, you can often find homemade soaps, breads, candles, and, occasionally, live entertainment.

Remember to bring along a few bags to carry home your purchases in and be sure to take some cash since many vendors do not have access to card readers .And don’t forget to bring along the family or invite a few friends to join you!

I made this Robin Hood recipe a few weeks ago with fresh carrots purchased from my local farmers’ market. I always try including a seasonal fruits or vegetables into my baking to improve its nutritional value. I hope you enjoy this hearty breakfast muffin as much as I did!

Carrot Spice Muffins (Recipe from:
Makes approximately 12 muffins



  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 mL) oil
  • 3 cups (750 mL) grated carrots
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar (I only used a ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) natural bran
  • 2 ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp (5mL) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (4 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ½ cup (125 mL) raisins

Streusel Topping (Optional)

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lightly packed brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Beat eggs and oil until light.
  3. Stir in carrots.
  4. Add next 8 ingredients Stir just until moistened.
  5. Stir in nuts and raisins.
  6. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.
  7. Combine nuts and brown sugar for topping in small mixing bowl. Sprinkle on top of muffins.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.
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!


Foodie Friday: Can’t beat beets!

Marianne's vibrant pink dilly beet hummus

A delicious snack at home or a great contribution to appie night!

It’s amazing how our tastes evolve throughout our lives. Foods that we once swore would never cross our lips suddenly become our favourites. Sometimes it just takes an “aha moment.” That’s what happened to me when I was eight years old and “starving” on a train-ride from Edmonton to Vancouver: the first thing served from the dining car was salad and I realized it actually tasted okay.  Other times we just gradually find ourselves enjoying different flavours and textures without even realizing it. Even as adults we can still learn to love new foods.

Such was my experience with a farmers’ market staple – the beet. Honestly, I can’t even remember tasting one as a kid (which seems impossible for someone with Russian grandparents). If you’d asked me back then if I liked them, I would have scrunched my face up and said, “no way!” I remember being in Australia, living with a family there, and they served beetroot with everything. I thought they were crazy. Yet somewhere along the way, my curiosity got the best of me. I gave them a go, and now I can honestly say I love them.

Freshly picked beats.

Beets: underrated and versatile.

Beets are a pretty awesome food. They are an excellent source of folate, and a good source of potassium and fibre. They grow locally and are hearty enough to store throughout the winter. Plus, beets give us that much needed pop of colour when most of our veggie options are rather drab (potatoes, turnips, and cabbage, I’m looking at you). Beets have a ton of culinary uses: you can roast them, boil them, pickle them, or eat them raw. You can use them to make soups, top a salad, or as a garnish on your favourite sandwich. They even have a natural sweetness that works in desserts. In fact, red velvet cake was originally coloured with beets!

One of my favourite ways to introduce people to beets is a Dilly Beet Hummus. It’s a great way to pair something familiar with something new. Plus it is the most amazing shade of magenta – it will liven up any party!

Dilly beet humus on a cracker

Time for a taste!

Dilly Beet Hummus
Makes approx. 2 cups


  • 1 can (19 oz or 540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup cooked beets (cook your own, or use canned)
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup water


1. Combine all ingredients, except water, in a food processor and blend until combined. Add water until desired consistency is reached. Allow to sit for several hours before serving to let flavours meld.

Recipe from: French Fries to Flax Seeds (my food blog!)

So tell me – do you love beets? What are some of your favourite ways to prepare them?

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.


Foodie Friday: Lentil Soup

food; healthy eating; nutrition

Batch soups make delicious meals – and can cost only pennies a serving!

As a single mom, I understand the value of a dollar and how expensive food has become. However, I don’t let this stand in the way of preparing and serving healthy food. With a little effort, I manage to stay on budget while not sacrificing nutrition and flavor. Here are a few tips I find helpful:

  • Read the flyers to find out what’s on sale. Make sure you know if it really is a good deal or just regular price.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, so you only buy what you need.
  • Try a vegetarian meal, like the recipe below, once a week as meat is often one of the most expensive grocery items.
  • Buy foods that are in season; they are usually cheaper and tastier!
  • Make a grocery list and bring it to the store with you, to prevent impulse buying.
  • Buy only what you need. If you are a small family, the huge bag of potatoes really isn’t a deal if you throw out half.

Try this family favourite: my 4-year-old daughter loves this thick smooth soup with crackers or a biscuit. This soup is budget friendly with a per pot cost of about $2.24 or per serving cost of $0.22.

Food Fact: Lentils come in red, green and brown; they are easy to use as they don’t require pre-soaking. Lentils are an excellent source of fibre and a good source of protein, magnesium, potassium and folate.

Lentil Soup
(Makes 10 1-cup servings)

  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • ¾ cup celery
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

In a large pot combine lentils, water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, cloves and cayenne. Bring to a simmer. Cut up carrot, onion and celery into small pieces. Combine the vegetables, with the garlic and butter/margarine in a small pan and cook for 10 minutes; add to lentils. Simmer everything for 2 hours. Discard the bay leaf and cloves. Put soup through a blender or use a hand blender to puree. Enjoy!

For more ideas, the Dietitians of Canada has some great budget-friendly cooking tips.

What are some of your great and affordable meal ideas?


A recipe for family meals

healthy eating; food

All hands on deck makes family meals easier and fun!

If you are like most busy families today, the thought of family meals might send you screaming to the hills, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Family meals don’t have to be perfect.  Start with what your family already eats and just have everybody eat it together. Once family meals become routine, use Canada’s Food Guide to help add variety.


  • One or more family members – remember, you are a family even if you are just one!
  • Food
  • A place to eat


  1. Turn off all electronic devices. Remove toys, homework, books and other distractions.
  2. Sit down together and let everyone pick and choose from what you’ve provided in amounts that they like.
  3. Take time to enjoy the food and your time together.


Why not make cooking family meals a family affair? Have the kids help out in the kitchen. It may take more time in the beginning, but will save time in the long run as their skills develop and they take on more responsibilities. For example, kids can help plan the meals. Allowing kids to include the foods they like will make it more exciting for them to help out and more likely that they will eat the meal.

Also, you can assign tasks to each family member depending on when they get home and their abilities:

  • Younger kids set the table.
  • Older kids peel and slice the vegetables.
  • Experienced kids bake, broil or sauté the fish, chicken or meat or meat alternative.
  • Everybody helps with the clean up so that you can all get to your extra-curricular activities on time.

Family meals set the example for healthy eating. They help kids and adults become competent eaters who learn to like a variety of foods and are able to guide their food choices and intake based on their feelings of hunger and fullness.

As a bonus, I wanted to share with you a quick and tasty dish that my family likes to make on a busy week night: Quick Shepherd’s Pie


  • 4 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey*
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped carrots and celery
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables, thawed

*Substitute the turkey with beans, lentils or chick peas for an added source of soluble fibre.


  1. Cook then mash the potatoes with a little milk and margarine.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, onion, carrots; cook, stirring, until the turkey is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour and oregano over the mix and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth and frozen vegetables; bring to a simmer and cook until thickened.
  3. Ladle the stew into 4 bowls and top with the potatoes.

(This recipe was adapted from Eating Well Magazine Online:

Having kids help out in the kitchen saves time, family meals set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Can you think any other benefits?

Beth Moore

About Beth Moore

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.